Vatican 2 Theology: The Basis for Traditionalists’ Stance on Canon Law and Epikeia

Vatican 2 Theology: The Basis for Traditionalists’ Stance on Canon Law and Epikeia

Vatican 2 Theology: The Basis for Traditionalists’ Stance on Canon Law and Epikeia

© Copyright 2013, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author. All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)

“The sacred Canon Law against which the rebellious wills and shallow intellects of men have ever clamoured is the noblest, highest, purest legislation that mankind has ever known. The jurisprudence of the Church is the perfection of wisdom and justice,” (Henry Cardinal Manning, from his work “The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost.”)


Already on this site the liberal-based interpretive theory of jurisdiction among Traditionalists has been addressed and explained and its inapplicability in the present situation made abundantly clear. Basically the Canons Traditionalists have officially appealed to in the past, 209 and 2261§2 cannot be invoked for the following reasons. To begin with, Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz and others juridically define the supplying principle in Can. 209, “the Church,” as the Pope, and without a true pope no jurisdiction can be supplied. Furthermore, Can. 209 presupposes that the priests considered for such jurisdiction are both validly and licitly ordained and are members of the Church (who have not incurred censures for apostasy, heresy or schism in a notorious manner), but this cannot be proven where Traditionalists are concerned. It also must be pointed out that Can. 2261§2 is an exception to the law and must be interpreted strictly, (Can. 19). This means that it cannot be stretched beyond its ordinary application to include those who are notorious heretics and schismatics (having adhered to the Novus Ordo and any of its services) or those who, having been ordained or consecrated by bishops without the necessary papal mandate and not in communion with a canonically elected pope are now unable to validly exercise their orders. Finally, Canon Law itself provides the rules necessary to resolve a doubt of law or fact and the interpretative theory ignores the obligation to follow this requirement. If any doubt exists concerning the validity of the Sacraments, they can neither be conferred nor received, (DZ 1151).

How is it that those who founded Traditionalism arrived at the conclusion that it was permissible for them to relax these laws and to disobey and disregard them, as they have routinely done since they embraced the various Traditionalist movements? The answer can be found in an article printed in the May 1965 edition of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review by one Fr. Robert G. Wesselmann, J.C.L., (“Canon Law: Criticisms and Reactions”). Wesselmann begins by saying: “When Pope John XXIII announced plans for an Ecumenical Council in 1959, he immediately indicated that one goal would be revision of the Code of Canon Law. At first canonists thought of revision merely in terms of tidying up the present Code — eliminating inconsistencies in terminology, incorporating laws enacted since 1917 and changing a few specific laws…in accordance with Conciliar decrees. Now even canonists are having second thoughts about the place of law in the mission of the Church.”

Some, he says, wished to abolish the law altogether; others were firm in insisting that the law must simply be obeyed and respected, not attenuated. Wesselemann comments: “There is need for public opinion that thinks of renewal in Canon Law in terms which lie midway between these two extremes,” and this statement sends up red flags. First, what role could public opinion possibly hope to play in numerous ancient laws that reflect the disciplinary traditions of the Church, including 4,000 citations from papal constitutions, 1,200 from ecumenical councils, 11,200 from the Roman Curia and 800 taken from liturgical books, numbers estimated by Rev. Amleto Cicognani? And secondly, why is it necessary to compromise with such people? The “midway” mark is nothing less than the thinly disguised thesis, antithesis, synthesis methodology of the Communists who having infiltrated the Church, were intent on moving Catholic truth ever closer to their desired ecumenical and humanist standards. Below we will see how already in 1965, this effort was well underway.

Catechetical renewal and Canon Law

The remarks made by Wesselmann under this heading show just how ignorant Catholics were of their faith in the 1960s, even those who had enjoyed a Catholic education, and how some were afflicted by scruples, especially where morals were concerned. It leads Wesselmann to observe that something was basically wrong with the Catholic school system or those teaching in it, and/or the education priests received in the seminary, and we opt for the latter. Wesselmann quotes Andrew Greeley who posed the question: Which is more important, love of neighbor or not eating meat on Friday? Greeley says that 53 percent responded not eating meat. Yet the question is not qualified; loving God is far superior to love of neighbor, and we show our love for God in abstaining from meat on Friday. Clerics had long before forgotten that it was their responsibility to ensure that Catholics understood Church teaching and Canon Law, something they woefully failed to do, as evidenced by the mass acceptance of the false Vatican 2 council. Rather than reform the schools, or the seminaries, vocations declined dramatically and schools routinely closed, which was the secret plan of the usurpers all along.

Canon Law and the Liturgy

“Most of the disdain for Canon Law stems from the liturgical renewal…Much of the criticism is [not] aimed at the Code of Canon Law but at the pharisaical abuse of the law…Yet Canon Law must be partially blamed, at least by defect, for the legalism which the liturgists decry.” Isn’t this the very accusation of legalism Pope Pius XII so roundly condemns in Mystici Corporis, where he wrote: “Not only should we cherish exceedingly the Sacraments with which holy Mother Church sustains our life, the solemn ceremonies which she celebrates for our solace and our joy, the sacred chant and the liturgical rites by which she lifts our minds up to heaven, but also the sacramentals and all those exercises of piety by which she consoles the hearts of the faithful and sweetly imbues them with the Spirit of Christ. As her children, it is our duty, not only to make a return to her for her maternal goodness to us, but also to respect the authority which she has received from Christ in virtue of which she brings into captivity our understanding unto the obedience of Christ. Thus we are commanded to obey her laws and her moral precepts, even if at times they are difficult to our fallen nature…”

Wesselmann then goes on to champion the “’rights of every person in the Church…for whom the liturgy exists’…The Code sins by defect in not promoting the use of a living pastoral theology. Nor does it provide legal structures for dialogue between the various levels of membership in the Church…In the Code, the emphasis is on institutional rights, on the rights of authority, not on the place of God’s people in the Church and their rights.” So we know that the Code, compiled of numerous binding conciliar and papal teachings regarding the liturgy was opposed to the implementation of the Novus Ordo Missae. This was seen as a major obstacle to the goals of the usurpers and their cohorts because the Code mandated the power of authority (the continual magisterium) to uphold these rights. Why else would liturgical renewal advocates, among them Roncalli, Montini and many others find Canon Law so unfriendly to their endeavors? And here the sickening me-syndrome psychology that permeated society in the 20th century also rears its ugly head. Just as parents were instructed to proceed in the psychological manuals of the day, pastors were advised that to demand obedience from their subjects violated the rights and dignity of “the People of God.” They were told, instead, to understand their children, to counsel them rather than discipline them and to love them “unconditionally.” Only now is society beginning to see the frightening results of this dangerous family experiment. And the extension of that experiment into Novus Ordo channels — the use of “dialogue” and the pastoral leniency practiced over the past several decades — has only resulted in an unhealthy familiarity of the clergy with the faithful that undoubtedly has contributed to the sexual abuse problem rampant in the Novus Ordo.

In his 1956 address to students at the Vienna Law School, “Church Life and Church Law,” Pope Pius XII addresses the very legalism Wesselmann protests throughout his article. In this address, Pius XII wrote: “Church law is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. Like everything else in the Church, it is at the service of the “salus animarum” (salvation of souls) and is therefore a matter of pastoral care. It should assist in opening and smoothing ways into the hearts of men for the truth and grace of Jesus Christ…Many canons, to be sure are only protective norms, such as those which guard the Faith from decay and keep the dignity of grace and the sacraments from sacrilege. But in addition to these there are canons which are built into the very structure of the Church by Her Divine Founder and which are indeed in direct accordance with her nature. These include such forms of organization of the Mystical Body of Christ as the laws regulating the constitution of the Church and those defining the powers of the Pope and of the Bishops. Christ founded His Church not as a formless spiritual movement but as a strongly organized association.

“Certainly Church law must not stifle the spiritual and supernatural values in whose service it exists. The charge has been made that it does this very thing and people have spoken of the “legalization” of the Church. This charge is quite often leveled at the inflexibility with which the Church holds fast to the indissolubility of a legally contracted and consummated Christian marriage…We do not need to tell jurists that the few laws of Apostolic times would not be sufficient to direct a world Church of over 400 million souls today…The new arrangement of Church laws…coincided with the physical spreading out and inner development of the Church in the 19th century…The Church has not come thereby to any “legalization.” …Church life and Church law belong together. A symbol of this for you would be that of the sainted Pope Pius X…creator of the new Church code of laws by which he opened the sources and sluices of all sacramental life,” (“The Pope Speaks,” 1956-7).

Let’s begin by noting that Wesselmann’s statement above, “In the Code, the emphasis is on institutional rights, on the rights of authority, not on the place of God’s people in the Church and their rights,” stands in direct contradiction to the teaching of Pope Pius XII. “Clergy and laity must realize that the Church is fitted and authorized, as are the Bishops for the sake of the faithful entrusted them, in accordance with Canon Law to promote ecclesiastical discipline and see to its observance,” (even in those matters which do not have their immediate origin in natural or divine law). “Clerics and laity may not exempt themselves from this discipline; rather all should be concerned to obey it…” (“The Church and its Powers of Sanctifying and Ruling,” Nov. 2, 1954) The use of epikeia by Traditionalists as a cure all for any and every canon law that is not elastic enough to serve the “people of God” in these “unprecedented times” are a clear concession to these perceived rights, which may never be demanded by any faithful under censure, hence forbidden to receive the Sacraments, nor requested from one who is a notorious heretic or schismatic. And the minute any of those who have even the slightest doubt that these men are not valid or licit yet continue to seek their services, they separate themselves from the Church through communicatio in sacris, or communication with a schismatic minister, even if the Sacraments they receive are neither valid nor licit.

What is paramount here are the rights of the Church. As Pope Leo XII taught in his encyclical letter Tametsi: “About the ‘rights of man,’ as they are called we have heard enough. It is time we should hear about the rights of God !” During an interregnum, no one is to make any determination in any way concerning “the rights of the Apostolic See and of the Roman Church, nor attempt in any way to subtract directly or indirectly from the rights of the same on the pretext of a relaxation of attention or by the concealment of actions perpetrated against these same rights even after the death of the Pontiff or in the period of the vacancy. On the contrary, We desire that the College ought to watch over and defend these rights during the contention of all influential forces” (Pope Pius XII, Vacantis Apostolica Sedis,” 1945). And this section, at least, of Pope Pius XII’s constitution was delivered by his “Supreme Authority,” hence is infallible. The Church indisputably enjoys the right to enforce Her laws, and demand obedience to those laws from the faithful, as Pope Pius XII teaches. And as Pope Pius XII also taught, in the absence of the hierarchy the role of defending these laws and rights falls to the faithful.

As this same pope also states above, the law is a matter of pastoral care. It is obvious that in the 1960s, pastors were tired of doing their jobs and wished to branch out into more social aspects of their “ministry,” such as Protestants are wont to do. The law was a shackle they wish to shed. Yet clearly the Pope warns law students and the Church in general that not all laws are “protective norms”; many in fact are woven into the very constitution of the Church. They are necessary to protect the foundation Christ provided for Her survival. It appears that already in the 1950s, the very issues Wesselmann addresses in his article were being tossed around in legal circles, and the pope clearly dismisses these accusations as baseless. But Vatican 2 theologians “knew better;” the new age of their church had already dawned. In a later address to Pastors on “Preaching the Word of God,” (September, 1956) Pope Pius XII warned theologians that: ”Theologians do not carry on their work through divine right but through the delegation of the Church…The decisive factor in knowing the truth is not the opinio theologorum but the ‘sensus Ecclesiae.’ To reverse the matter would be making theologians practically the magistri Magisterii, which is obviously an error,” (“The Pope Speaks,” 1956-7).

Ah, but this is precisely what Traditionalists longed to be. And they took their position from people like Wesselmann who were obligated to obey Pope Pius XII even after his death, but who chose instead to commit themselves to the destruction of the Church.

Theological criticism

Wesselmann informs us through another author that Canon Law is “’a blight on Christian theology and practice’” and supports its separation from moral theology in the seminaries to present it “in the abiding principles of the Gospel without the refinements of legal concepts.’” Wesselmann favors reorienting Canon Law to the laity and eliminating certain canons that impede “changing needs and inspiration of the Spirit.” In other words, he advocates the orientation of Canon Law not to the common good, as taught by St. Thomas Aquinas, but to individual needs, which upends the entire purpose of all law. He believes the system should be “left open” for the benefit of the laity, and suggests that not many laws be made or retained about lay people in order to facilitate “transition.” Unfortunately we know only too well what such transition led to and its tragic consequences for the entire Church of Christ on earth. And obviously, given what Pope Pius XII teaches above, this was never the teaching of the true Church.

Canonical equity and multiple dispensations

Here we get to the meat of the matter as concerns Traditionalists, for this addresses the principle of epikeia, imbuing it with precisely those same properties that Traditionalists ascribe to it today. In choosing to favor epikeia as the answer to the problem of “multiple dispensations,” leaving it up to the laity (who he already has admitted are largely ignorant of their religion), Wesselmann effectively dilutes all authority of the hierarchy in the Church, pretending the laity are able and qualified to decide for themselves on moral matters without the strictures of “legalism.” He writes: “To be able to do away with the present system, we would need greater emphasis on equity (justice tempered by fairness, moderation, mercy) in enacting and enforcing laws and more frequent exercise of the virtue of epikeia by the subjects of the law…For the subjects of law, it means willingness to apply the law in concrete circumstances, not according to its letter but according to its spirit…” He wishes to leave the determination of this “equity” to the average layperson, and encourages “the rejection of constant readiness to place any and every perplexity before one’s superiors…The present penal section of the Code…is needlessly complicated and might be virtually abolished,” as it was in effect when the 1983 Code of Canon Law was issued.

Entirely ignored here is how the laity is to determine the “spirit” of these laws. Canonists writing before Wesselmann had laid out the method by which even the laity could determine its spirit. But few lay people ever cracked open anything concerning the law so knew nothing of this method. And obviously canonists were not well versed in it either, or chose to ignore it as “legalistic bunk” with which the faithful should not be “burdened.” As noted in the site article “Who May interpret Canon Law?” the canonist Rev. Matthew Ramstein, S.T. Mag, J.U.D., OFM (“A Manual of Canon Law,” 1947) says that even private individuals may use the rules for proper interpretation provided in Canon Law itself in trying to resolve certain cases not covered in the Code, provided that no authentic interpretation of the law is available. Speaking of Pope Benedict XV’s Motu Proprio promulgating Canon Law, Monsignor Amleto Cicognani writes: “There is no prohibition in the Motu-proprio of private interpretation, which may be doctrinal or usual…It is said to be doctrinal when it is given by those skilled in canon law; customary (also called usual) when it is derived from unwritten practive, that is custom…General rules for the right interpretation of the Code are given in Canons 17 ff, besides those of Canons 5 and 6, (“Canon Law,” 1935, pgs. 434, 598-9).

As Rev. Nicholas Neuberger explains in his dissertation, “Canon 6,” (Catholic University of America, 1927), “Of old, the jurists distinguished between a mere declaration of and the interpretation of the law. The declaration today is called comprehensive interpretation. Its scope is not to change the law but determines the sense of the law comprehended therein from the beginning. Therefore, it adds or subtracts nothing from the original meaning…The comprehensive interpretation adds nothing anew but explains more and more the significance attached to the words… Ordinarily, every private individual may interpret laws according to the rules of jurisprudence, unless a special prohibition has been made…The code, in Canon 6 §2 bids us have recourse to the doctrine of the approved authors. The authentic, however, always remains the guide for the doctrinal.” So the sense or “spirit” of these laws is very well defined for conscientious canonists and lay people who wish to consult them. But it was never the intention of the Novus Ordo crowd to obey anything that went before, although one would think it would be the intention of Traditionalists. And the “spirit” of the law is not to be equated with its sense, according to Wesselmann. For he associates “spirit” with the “liberty” of Christians, redefined by John 23 in his “Religious Liberty” allocution, to do as they see fit, regardless of whether he believes their consciences are properly formed. The entire thrust of employing epikeia in his article is to reduce Canon Law to “directive regulations” and “suggestions of law.” This is all too akin to other efforts to dilute Christianity in general by relegating even the natural law to the status of the “Ten Suggestions.” Therefore the “moral principles…of the Gospel” Wesselmann says are superior to Canon Law were not safe either, for once Canon Law was relaxed, there was no legal framework left to protect them.

Subsidiarity, marriage cases

As noted elsewhere, the idea of subsidiarity as defined by Pope Pius XII and Vatican 2 subsidiarity are two entirely different animals. Pope Pius XII encouraged the participation of the laity in the salvation of souls process by promoting Catholic Action, which promptly disappeared following his death. Wesselmann suggests the Church, contrary to Her own definition of the lay state in the 1917 Code, involve the laity in the actual legislative process of the Church, something the Church has long condemned. Pope Pius XII was very careful to place specific restrictions on this participation, but as we all know today the Novus Ordo church has removed all barriers between laity and clergy in its quest for liberty, equality and fraternity. Here is mentioned collegiality at all levels, in order to pay homage to and accommodate the precious “People of God.” Thus is the entire hierarchical structure of the Church overthrown as anticipated, for without their true shepherd all the sheep scattered.

Marriage is simply an outline of what the Novus Ordo would do and has done over the past several decades, flouting its law of equity in granting countless annulments and dissolutions of marriages for the benefit of “the human person.” Pope Pius XII was well aware of what they were already up to here in his own time.


It is quite interesting to note that Traditional personalities such as Fr. Gommar de Pauw, (Bp.) Robert McKenna and Fr. Lawrence Brey were contributors to the Homiletic and Pastoral Review at least into the mid-1960s, even after the convening of Vatican 2. Sedeprivationist Guerard des Lauriers wrote for other publications as well. Nor do their letters and articles reflect any particular beef with the Vatican 2 church, although by 1964 De Pauw had separated himself from the Novus Ordo and had begun the Catholic Traditionalist Movement. He operated under the displaced Chinese bishop Blaise S. Kurz, a Franciscan. But unfortunately Kurz wrote on de Pauw’s behalf: “The aim of the Catholic Traditionalist Movement is simply the FULL implementation of ALL decisions of the recent Ecumenical Council, including the one providing the people with a choice between the old Latin liturgy and the new vernacularized one,” (“Declaration,” para. 7, Bishop Kurz ordained one priest, Gunther Storck, who later joined the Thucites. Des Lauriers “consecrated” Storck bishop April 30, 1984, ( ). At any rate it appears that all these men, doctors of Canon Law or not, imbibed the pernicious spirit of change in the Church to varying degrees. This accounts for the adoption of their present views on Canon Law in general and jurisdiction, epikeia and other points of law in particular. They then carried these false liberal and ecumenical ideas of Canon Law into the Traditionalist movement and communicated them to their fellow “clerics.” Yet why, then, was their official stance to condemn the Novus Ordo and all it stands for?

Only they can answer such questions. But the fact remains that they have taught the faithful and others tenets of a false religion and have abided by those tenets themselves. Never before in the history of the Church would statements such as those presented above have been tolerated in a purportedly “Catholic” publication by no less than a canon lawyer. Gesselmann was right about one thing: These men failed to receive proper training in the seminaries, and he can include himself in the mix. How often have you heard Traditionalists fling the “legalism” accusation at their opponents who accuse them of violating Canon Law? The teaching of Pope Pius XII is the final word on this, and it proves their accusations are not only contrary to Catholic Faith but also are supportive of the present church in Rome. Since the entire basis for this legalistic claim proceeded from the liturgical renewal movement, how could these self-righteous supporters of the immemorial Latin Mass justify their invocation of epikeia knowing that much of what prompted it was the very type of thinking and believing that destroyed the Mass?! Is it just coincidence that these Novus Ordo traitors were out to get rid of all disciplinary law, especially the various censures that forbid them to function in the first place and which place Traditionalists outside the Church? Is it surprising that this article definitely plays down the role of the hierarchy in favor of individual autonomy?

The fact that des Lauriers, McKenna and Storck all eventually supported the outrageous “material papacy” hoax (see the site article under this title) proves that these men and the organizations responsible for their creation never really abandoned their loyalties to the counterfeit church set up by the usurpers. They simply recognized an opportunity to appear to be ultra-Catholic and function without any juridic constraints or direction. And they seized upon that opportunity to indulge in their own ambitions at the expense of the faithful. For them, all roads really do lead back to Rome, but it is NOT the Rome of the Sovereign Pontiffs beginning with St. Peter and ending in the reign of Pope Pius XII.

Content Protection by
Vatican 2 Theology: The Basis for Traditionalists’ Stance on Canon Law and Epikeia

The Origin and Use of Epikeia

The Origin and Use of Epikeia

© Copyright 2009, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.)

For the past 36 years, Traditionalist clergy so-called have operated chapels and Mass centers. They have celebrated the Sacred Mysteries, preached from their pulpits, absolved penitents from their sins, consecrated and ordained priests and bishops and have liberally distributed literature that passes for Catholic teaching. They have done all this despite the absence of the Roman Pontiff, the Head of the Mystical Body on earth, the man to whom alone Christ entrusted the keys of orders and jurisdiction and the universal governance of the Church. To operate without his guidance, Traditionalist have long relied upon two principles they claim allow them to function with a clear conscience in times such as these, when no authority exists to whom to appeal. These principles are known in legal circles as epikeia or equity and ecclesia supplet. Aristotle first proposed the principle of epikeia, which then was applied to Greek and Roman law. It is explained and retained by St. Thomas in his Summa Theologica. This principle was first applied to ecclesiastical law during the time of the Great Schism. Ecclesia supplet, actually a concession granted by the law, is found in Can. 209. This Canon provides jurisdiction in cases of common error or doubt, for the benefit of the faithful, whenever it is lacking. Both principles will be explained below. Of course the lawgiver would not wish us to yield, but rather to flee. This is equity as described by St. Thomas of Aquinas.

St. Thomas teaches in the Summa that epikeia or equity is part of the virtue of justice. He describes the use of epikeia as follows: “It was not possible to lay down rules of law that would apply to every single case. Legislators…attend to what commonly happens, although if the law be applied to certain cases it will frustrate the equality of justice and be injurious to the common good, which the law has in view.”(St Thomas then goes on to give the examples of application in the use of epikeia, such as a madman who has deposited his sword with another and wishes to redeem it to do harm, or fight against his country. In another place, St. Thomas cites the example of citizens fleeing from an enemy. The gates of the city are ordered locked by the authorities, but the use of epikeia demands that they be opened for the welfare of these citizens.) “In these and like cases it is bad to follow the law, and it is good to set aside the letter of the law, and to follow the dictates of justice and the common good This is the object of epikeia which we call equity. Therefore it is evident that epikeia is a virtue.” However, “Epikeia does not set aside that which is just in itself, but that which is just as by law established.” (“Summa Theologica,” Pt. II-II, Q. 120, Art. 1).


So just what is meant by the principle of epikeia? Epikeia or equity “consists of the principles of natural justice so far as they are used to explain or correct a positive human law if this is not in harmony with…positive law in its literal interpretation. The law must be expounded… according to the intent of the lawgiver and the principles of natural justice,” (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1 Law, Concept of, V. Cathrein).

Manual of Christian Doctrine: “Q. What is human law? A. Human law is a rule promulgated by either Church or state authority… It comes from God inasmuch as He makes men sharers in His authority…It is divided into civil law and ecclesiastical law…[which] is that which has been established for the spiritual welfare of the faithful,” (A Seminary Professor, published 1926 by John Joseph McVey). Positive human law is that which obliges us to perform an obligatory act, such as yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk. But if the pedestrian is a carjacker with a 357 Magnum, of course such a circumstance would justify violating the law.

In his treatise on human law, St. Thomas Aquinas treats those things which are beside the letter of the law, basically reiterating what was said above with the following qualifications: “Nevertheless, it must be noted, that if observance of the law according to the letter does not involve any sudden risk needing immediate remedy, it is not competent for everyone to expound what is useful and what is not useful…Those alone can do this who are in authority and who, on account of such like cases, have the power to dispense from the laws. If however, the peril be so sudden as not to allow of the delay involved by referring the matter to authority, the mere necessity brings with it a dispensation, since necessity knows no law…[But] if it be a matter of doubt, he must act according to the letter of the law, or consult those in power,” (Ibid, Pt. I-II, Q. 96, Art. 6). The Traditionalist Thuc-line bishop Moises Carmona invoked St. Thomas’ teaching on this necessity, which must accompany epikeia to justify his consecration by Bp. Thuc in 1982, ( And yet there were none in “power” as the Church defines this power to consult.

Rev. Amleto Cicognani quotes ancient Roman law, stating, “In all things but especially in law (human law is meant) equity is to be regarded,” (“Canon Law”).

Revs. McHugh and Callan make it clear that epikeia applies only to human law. “All human law is subject to epikeia…Epikeia is at once lawful and dangerous…It is dangerous, for it rests on the judgment of the individual, which is prone to decide in his own favor to the detriment of common good as well as self. Epikeia by its very nature imposes certain limits on its use. Epikeia is not applicable to the Divine law; for the Divine Lawgiver foresaw all cases that could arise, and so excluded all exceptions…One may not excuse modern forms of cheating, because they were not thought of when the Decalogue was given. One may not omit baptism on the ground that Christ Himself would have excused from it, had He foreseen the circumstances. Epikeia is not applicable to those laws whose universal observance is demanded by the common good,” for example that the Church would not wish the laws governing diriment impediments to oblige, owing to serious inconvenience…” If there is a doubt that the lawgiver would not wish his law to be subject to epikeia, “One should investigate to the best of one’s ability and have recourse, if possible, to the legislator or his representative for a declaration or a dispensation. It is never lawful to use epikeia without reasonable certainty that the legislator would not wish the law to apply here and now…A person should not use epikeia except in necessity, when he is thrown on his own resources and must decide for himself. Even then, he must be sure that he acts from sincerity and disinterestedness,” (“Moral Theology: A Complete Course,” Vol. I, #s 411- 415).

Rev. H. J. Davis, S.J. agrees with McHugh and Callan concerning the use of epikeia: “Natural and Divine law do not admit of the use of epikeia, since the Divine Author of such law has foreseen every contingency,” (“Moral and Pastoral Theology,” Vol. I).

The Jesuits T. Lincoln Bouscaren and Adam Ellis have this to say concerning epikeia: “Epikeia is an interpretation exempting one from the law contrary to the clear words of the law and in accordance with the mind of the legislator. It is evidently a very exceptional thing. It may be used with prudent discretion and is justified only in a particular case where (a) the strict interpretation of the law would work a great hardship; (b) in view of the usual interpretation it may be prudently conjectured that, in this particular case, the legislator would not wish the law to be strictly applied. 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).

Revs. Prummer, Jone and Card. Cicognani all concur that invalidating and incapacitating laws are beyond the scope of epikeia.

Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz, in his Canon Law dissertation “Supplied Jurisdiction According to Canon 209” wrote: “The important point to bear in mind is that jurisdiction…is a juridical factor and that jurisdictional laws are at least equivalently invalidating or incapacitating laws…The required power of jurisdiction is necessary to posit validly a jurisdictional act. Those who have not that power, even should they possess all other qualifications, simply cannot validly act.” Were these men validly and licitly admitted to seminary for training, did they receive valid and licit tonsure and minor Orders, did they receive the requisite training? Are these men validly and licitly ordained? Were the bishops who ordained these men validly and licitly ordained and consecrated? Have they since lost their jurisdiction owing to heresy apostasy or schism under Can. 188 no. 4? Did they obtain a papal mandate? So not only do they not possess jurisdiction licitly, but neither were called, trained, ordained and/or consecrated licitly.

From “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., 7 May, 1948:

• Epikeia 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 may not be applied to precepts of the natural law, nor to precepts of the divine positive law of the New Testament.

• 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.

Father Riley informs us on page 344:

“In short, it may be concluded that in regard to matters which touch the essence of the Sacraments, the use of epikeia is always excluded.”

Father Riley informs us on page 347:

“In regard to the essence of these Sacraments, what has been explained above of all the Sacraments is applicable to them – viz., that epikeia is never licit.”

Father Riley informs us on page 387.

“At most, epikeia can excuse the individual from the precept, but it can never confer the capacity to act. Epikeia cannot bestow upon him the power which he does not now possess, nor can epikeia restore the power which the law has withdrawn. For such bestowal or restoration of power a positive act is required.”

Father Riley informs us on pages 232 and 233:

“Intimately connected with this problem is the question of whether or not epikeia has any standing in the external forum. It would appear to be the rather general consensus of authorities today that it has not. Writing in Apollinaris, D’ Angelo points out that St. Thomas considers epikeia to be a merely moral element, and that modern writers believe it to have reference only to moral, and not to juridic matters…Van Hove contends that, since epikeia is not an act of jurisdiction, it has value only in the internal forum. …Hilling seems almost unwilling to give any standing to epikeia at all. Believing that it practically amounts to self-dispensation, which is in contradiction to law as a binding norm, he concludes at the most that it may be recognized in the internal forum.” Revs. Cicoganni, Bouscaren-Ellis, Woywod-Smith, Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz, Rev. Raymond Kearney — all these canonists warn of the great caution that must be used in applying epikeia, and the many dangers of abuse in attempting this application.

Canon 11: “Those laws only are to be considered invalidating or inhabilitating which explicitly or equivalently state that an action is null and void, or that a person is incapacitated from acting,” (A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, Revs. Callistus Smith and Stanislaus Woywod, O.F.M, 1925; the text of all Canon Law quotes is taken from this work.)

Canon 16: “No ignorance of invalidating or inhabilitating laws excuses from their observance, unless the law explicitly admits ignorance as an excuse. As a rule ignorance or error is not presumed when it concerns the law or its penalty…”

Can. 108: “…By divine institution, the sacred hierarchy of orders consists of bishops, priests and ministers; the hierarchy of jurisdiction consists of the Supreme Pontificate and the subordinate episcopate…”

Can. 109: “Persons who are received into the ecclesiastical hierarchy are not accepted by the consent or at the call of the people, or of the secular power, but are constituted in the degrees of the power of orders by sacred ordination. In the Supreme Pontificate, the person legitimately elected and freely accepting the election receives jurisdiction by the divine law itself; in all other degrees of jurisdiction by canonical appointment.”

Can. 196: “The Catholic Church possesses, by divine institution, the power of jurisdiction or government. This power is twofold: that of the external forum, and that of the internal forum, or forum of conscience. Finally the internal forum is subdivided into the sacramental and extra-sacramental forum.”

Can. 203: “The delegate who acts beyond his mandate” (the authorization given to priests by their local ordinary to posit jurisdictional acts) “either as to the matters or the persons over which he received power, acts invalidly…,” (This is an invalidating law.)

In addition, whenever epikeia is invoked (and Traditionalists are not always clear when this occurs), it involves the use of a probable opinion: that the legislator would not want his law to bind in a certain set of circumstances.

So according to what has been said above:

1. Epikeia applies only to positive human law.

2. Its use must involve something posing a sudden risk that needs immediate remedy.

3. Certain limits are imposed upon its use:

a.) In cases of doubt it must not be used. Instead, one must act according to the letter of the law and consult the proper authority.

b.) It cannot be applied to incapacitating and invalidating laws, or irritant laws, whose universal observance is demanded by the common good.

c.) It cannot be applied to laws originating from the Divine law, and the laws governing jurisdiction are demonstrably of Divine origin as shown above.

d.) It should be appealed to only in absolute necessity.

4. It must therefore be used with great prudence.

5. Great care should be taken to avoid acting out of self-interest or against the common good.

6. Habitual and general use of epikeia is an obvious abuse.

Rev. Jean-Marie Herve regarding the true status and import of Can. 879 §1: “The power of jurisdiction is required de fide, on the authority of the documents of the Magisterium (DZ 920)…This is proved from the constant practice of the Church, and it has been consecrated in the code (C. 872, 879). For as we have already seen, even in the early centuries, only those administered the sacrament of Penance who had jurisdiction, namely the Bishops and the priests who were appointed and delegated by them…In virtue of ordination itself, no one receives any diocese or parish to govern. Neither is it delegated, because neither the consecrating Bishop nor the Pope has this intention, but they confer jurisdiction in another manner…” (“Manual of Dogmatic Theology, The Sacraments, Vol. II).

Epikeia and the Western Schism

Walter Ullmann revealed that the principle of epikeia was used during the time of the Western Schsim to arrive at the conclusion that in the present crisis, an ecumenical council should be called to depose the papal claimants and resolve the schism. Speaking of epikeia and the Conciliarists, Ullmann said: “As a glance at Canon Law confirms, all these proposals (based on epikieia) however ingenious they may have been were, from the point of view of Canon Law, illegal,” (Origins of the Western Schism, 1948). Ullmann mentioned that there is a proper way to harmonize equity with the law that is used by theologians, but condemned what he called “this extra-legal, meta- juristic method of explaining canonistic enactments” known as epikeia. And this is the same abuse we are witnessing today. According to Ullmann, epikeia is an entirely Aristotelean concept, first expounded upon to any extent by the layman Marsilius of Padua in his “Defensor Pacis” in 1326. Conrad of Gelnhausen, one of the layman who promoted a move to end the Western Schism, used Marsilius’ reasoning, also that of John of Paris, to formulate his own theories for arriving at a solution to the schism. Unfortunately the church later condemned Marsilius and John of Paris for their heretical teachings.

Ullmann further stated that all the supporters of a General Council called to depose the claimants to the papacy without the authority of any one of these claimants invoked epikeia, “especially Jean Gerson, who made great use of this idea.” This group also was the first to espouse the error that a true pope could become a heretic, although “There was, it is true, great uneasiness about this interpretation,” Ullmann noted. (He goes on to say that several bishops and a patriarch did not advocate deposition except in the case of heresy.) All this, however, occurred long before Pope Paul IV issued Cum ex, meaning that the laity during the 14th and 15th centuries could not be considered as culpable for their errors as those promoting these same errors today.

In discussing “the qualities or dispositions of the perfect ruler,” Marsilius of Padua, even before the Western Schism began, was preparing the way by preaching a false use of epikeia. Marisilius also invoked the Aristotelian concept of “equity” (epikeia) as a means of serving justice when the existing positive laws prove unworkable, owing to their fallibility and deficiency. This is why the principle came to be used as a foundation stone for papal deposition. This concept of limiting the positive law (the non-prohibitive laws “on the books” at a given time) in order to employ “equity” became very important during the Conciliar Movement because it promised to provide the authority over the Pope that would allow the clergy and people to gain the ascendancy. Marsilius’ work also was later “sanitized” by Nicholas of Cusa, who used his writings to promote a primitive democracy. Later Robert Cardinal Bellarmine would expound on these same principles. The works of both writers were eventually adapted by Thomas Jefferson to formulate the democratic process for America.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Marsilius, also Jean of Jandun taught that while God is the source of all power; nevertheless “It [said power] sprang immediately from the people who had in addition the power to legislate. Law was the expression of…the will of the people, who, by the voice of the majority, could enact, interpret, modify, suspend and abrogate it at will. In the Church, according to the Defensor Pacis,” the faithful have these two great powers, the elective and the legislative,” allowing them to nominate bishops and determine who may be ordained. “The Church…has no visible head…The ecclesiastical power comes directly from God and consists essentially in the power to consecrate the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and remit sins, or rather to declare them remitted. All priests are possessed of equal authority and equal jurisdiction…” The author of this Catholic Encyclopedia article comments concerning these heretical doctrines: “Luther would have recognized his theories in these heretical assertions and the Gallicanists of later times would willingly have subscribed to such revolutionary declarations…Marsilius may well be reckoned one of the fathers of the Reformation.”

A bull issued by Pope John XXII on April 3, 1327, reproached the Emperor Louis of Bavaria, already excommunicated for favoring heresy, for cooperating with Marsilius in his errors and condemned Marsilius’ teachings. A commission appointed by the Pope specifically condemned five of the main theses of “Defensor Pacis,” including the ones denying the necessity of jurisdiction and the necessity of a visible head for the Church, (DZ 495-500). In the initial condemnation, Marsilius and Jean of Jandun are repeatedly referred to as “sons of Belial.” At the end of the condemnation, the Pope pronounces them “manifest and notorious archheretics,” (DZ 500).

So clearly the very arguments that precipitated Gallicanism have been revived today, using the very principles of epikeia appealed to by Traditionalists. And this despite the very considerable development of the doctrine on the primacy over the past seven centuries. Yet regardless of their mistaken beliefs, Catholics of the 14th and 15th centuries eventually restored a true pope to the throne despite these obstacles, unlike Catholics today. Ullmann noted that Gelnhausen, misapprehending the (then) less certain doctrines of the Church’s constitution reasoned much as Traditionalists reason now: “That the Church universal is superior to the pope follows from Boniface VIII in Unam Sanctam: nulla salus extra ecclesiam. The Church is constituted by the pope and the faithful. The pope is only a secondary head of the Church, Her primary and principal head being Christ, Himself…Christ still reigns over Christianity. The pope may die or be killed and Christianity lives. Even if there were no pope at all, the body and members of the Church would continue to exist,” (Ibid., Ullmann).

Ullmann commented on these statements as follows: “In short, the congregation of all Christians is superior to the pope. And every dispute must be admitted to a ‘superior’ for jurisdiction. This is in literal agreement with John of Paris…” John of Paris was deprived of his license to teach and preach for promoting his theories on the Eucharist. He died before his appeal could be heard in Rome. In the preface to his translation of John’s work, J.A. Watt noted that “keen interest is shown in him by the theologians and jurists of Gallicanism…John of Paris was pre-eminently one of ‘our forefathers’ from whom the Gallicans claimed to derive the liberties which assured the French Crown of its independence of any ecclesiastical authority in temporal affairs and the French church a high degree of autonomy of papal spiritual jurisdiction.” As has been mentioned elsewhere, Gallicanism was long ago condemned as a heresy by the Church, although it had not yet been formally condemned in John of Paris’ time.


As it was in the beginning, so it shall be in the end. The beginning of the Protestant Reformation, as the Catholic Encyclopedia author noted above, can be dated from the time Marsilius began circulating his work in 1325. It is even possible it helped promote and prolong the Great Schism, which did not officially begin until 1378. In any event, if it was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, it also, then, was the beginning of what would culminate in the Great Apostasy. So Gallicanism seemingly spearheaded it all. Ullmann credited the publicists of the early 14th century with influencing the Cardinals, clergy and people in general by spreading erroneous and heretical ideas concerning the papacy and secular power. He castigated the canonists for accepting the points of view promulgated by the publicists, but noted that the canonists had little influence during this time period.

“The writings of the publicists had gained far greater currency and were therefore far better known to men of letters than the somewhat recondite disquisitions of canonists. The former set forth revolutionary theories in a demagogic form, whilst the latter’s views were known only to a limited circle of savants. The attacks against the papacy by the publicists were, for understandable reasons, answered by the Popes with counter-measures.” Ullmann includes among the publicists of these times William of Ockham, John of Paris, Michael of Cesena, as well as the 13th century writers Thus, Cardinal Hostiensis and Cardinal Johannes Monachus, who “taught that the Pope should be ruled by the College of Cardinals.” On the one hand, the Conclavists took the rights of the people championed by these men to new heights, by insisting laity could elect. But the usurpers elected then swung the pendulum in the opposite direction once they ascended the “throne”. The pope is untouchable, impeccable; the equivalent of a god. Even outright heresies or the specter of schism and harm to the Church cannot, will not remove them. Such was the attitude of the intransigent antipope Benedict XIII, deposed by the Council of Constance.

The same situation prevails today that existed in the time of the Western Schism. We see many of the publicist mentality out to promote themselves and their own strange agendas, which always amount, it seems, to some new way to circumvent the law. Certainly there is enough guilt to go around, since all of us have been guilty of the publicist attitude at one time or another. All the more reason, however, for a return to the Canons and teachings of the Church, that God’s will may be done on earth.

Content Protection by
Vatican 2 Theology: The Basis for Traditionalists’ Stance on Canon Law and Epikeia

Ignorance Among Traditionalists: Both Culpable and Damning

+Palm Sunday+

It has come to my attention that many Traditionalists are under the impression they are not “allowed” to judge the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs, the Ecumenical Councils or approved theologians and must instead rely solely on whatever is fed to them by their so-called priests and bishops. Some may think these deluded souls can be excused owing to invincible ignorance, but unfortunately it seems most of them will not fall into that category.

Of all the theologians writing on invincible ignorance, the Scottish Bishop George Hay provides one of the best descriptions of this unfortunate state available. Hay is commended by Henry Cardinal Manning as “one of the most energetic and learned…Vicars Apostolic of Scotland in the last century,” (from Manning’s Miscellanies, 1870, “The Bishop of Rome.”). To quote Hay at length is not necessary. He states quite clearly in his The Sincere Christian that no one — not Turks, heathens or Jews; not sincere Protestants living where there are no Catholics and especially not non-Catholics living amongst Catholics (which describes Traditionalists with access to these and other articles, and most importantly, papal encyclicals) can plead invincible ignorance and expect to be saved. The reason is simple: God died for all men although all did not take advantage of the graces He made available to them, (Council of Trent, Sess. 6, Ch. 3). No one who is truly invincibly ignorant will be condemned for his ignorance per se, but the question is more complicated than just this one consideration.

“Although this invincible ignorance will certainly save a man from sin, in wanting that of which he is invincibly ignorant, yet it is plainly impossible and childish to suppose that this invincible ignorance in one point will make up for the want of all the other conditions required,” Hay wrote. Even validly baptized, sincere Protestant adults having no acquaintance with Catholics cannot retain their baptismal innocence without Confession and therefore cannot be saved unless they manage to make a Perfect Act of Contrition or its equivalent before death, Hay explains, (although their children dying before the age of reason can gain heaven). Owing to the absence of the Church today as a visible juridic Body, and the many deliberate obfuscations and misrepresentations of the faith by Her enemies, this author prays that God is more lenient in this regard than in the past, especially in certain cases. Nevertheless, Bp. Hay comments, “For invincible ignorance to exist, three things are necessarily required:

1) “That a person has a real and sincere desire of knowing the truth. For if he be cold and indifferent about an affair of so great concern as his eternal salvation; if he be careless whether he be in the right way or not; if being enslaved to this present life, he takes no care about the next, it is manifest that an ignorance arising from this disposition is a voluntary ignorance and therefore highly culpable in the sight of God…

2) “For one to be in invincible ignorance it is required that he be sincerely resolved to embrace the truth wherever he may find it and whatever it may cost him.  For if he be not fully resolved to follow the will of God, wherever it shall appear to him, in all things necessary to salvation; if on the contrary, he be so disposed that he would rather neglect his duty and hazard his soul than correct an ill custom, or disoblige his friends, or expose himself to some temporal loss or disadvantage…Such a disposition must be highly displeasing to God and an ignorance arising from it can never excuse him before his Creator…(all emphasis in bold throughout this work is the author’s unless stated otherwise).

3) He must sincerely use his best endeavors to know his duty, and particularly that he recommend that matter earnestly to Almighty God, and pray for light and direction.

For whatever desire he may pretend of knowing the truth, if he do not use the proper means for finding it, it is manifest that his ignorance is not invincible but voluntary; for ignorance is only invincible when one has a sincere desire to know the truth with a full resolution to embrace it, but either has no possible means of knowing it or, after using his best endeavors to know it, yet cannot find it.” (Nor does a formal doubt excuse, for all are expected to resolve such doubts.) “A person brought up in a false faith, which the Scripture calls sects of perdition, doctrines of devils, perverse things, lies and hypocrisy; and who has heard of the true Church of Christ, which condemns all these sects, and sees the divisions and dissensions which they constantly have among themselves, has always before his eyes the most cogent reasons to doubt of the way he is in.” And the dissension among Traditionalists who claim the name Catholic but deny truths of the Catholic faith should be a red flag for all.

Bp. Hay goes on to remind his readers that many are called and few are chosen, and that broad is the path to destruction and narrow is the way to salvation. When asked if he is saying that none who are in heresy and invincible ignorance can be saved, he answers, “God forbid that we should say so! All the above reasons only prove that if they live and die in that state they will not be saved…No man knows or can know what may have passed between God and the soul in his last minutes.” Many attempt to appeal to the various exceptions cited in Canon Law to justify their ignorance in matters of faith. But Canon Law does not generally excuse one from observing the law for reasons of ignorance, the general rule being “Ignorance of the law is no excuse…”

Those now in Traditionalists sects should be advised that Can. 16 tells us NO ONE can plead ignorance when it comes to invalidating and incapacitating laws. In other words, followers of Traditionalist “priests,” once the question has been raised concerning their validity or (even their liceity) cannot neglect or refuse to investigate the matter. The law clearly states that a mere doubt regarding sacramental validity or the validity of any given ordination or consecration is sufficient to absent themselves from all contact with Traditionalists. (This will be addressed fully in the next blog on epikeia.) Affected or pretended ignorance “is never admitted as an excuse from latae sentenetiaecensures” (Can. 2229), and this sort of ignorance is often the kind exhibited by Traditionalists.  Referring to this canon, Abp. Amleto Cicognani writes under Can. 16: “In law, affected ignorance is held equivalent to fraud, so much so that it does not excuse from any penalty.” It should be further noted that grave fear does not exempt from latae sententiaepenalties either, whenever a specific act would constitute contempt of faith or of ecclesiastic authority, or public injury to souls (Can. 2229 §3).

Traditionalists are instructed by their “clergy” that they are to obey without question and cannot make any judgments regarding what they are “taught” by these men. They also are warned against even the casual reading of any literature that questions their leaders’ authority or the correctness of what they teach. This might have some traction were these men truly priests and bishops educated in papally approved Catholic seminaries, but we know this is not the case. As bishop Hay warns above, no one can claim even invincible ignorance if they do not make such inquiry and the necessary judgments that inquiry requires! Any sect operating on the premise that such inquiry is forbidden or even strongly discouraged is operating as a cult, not a sect.

Michael de la Bedoyere commented on this tendency to blind obedience in his Christianity in the Marketplace, noting that the training necessary to execute the high standards of Catholic existence was available to Catholics then (the 1940s), and by extension it is still available to Catholics today in all the papal documents online. Bedoyere nailed the real problem to the wall when he wrote:  “What too often is lacking is the interest and training in APPLYING those standards and knowledge to every circumstance in life. The man of the world HAS to think for himself if he wants to act intelligently at all, for there is no one to think for him; THE CHRISTIAN IS IN DANGER OF NEVER THINKING FOR HIMSELF BECAUSE HE EXPECTS ALL HIS THINKING TO BE DONE FOR HIM…” (The ideal of action) “is not to act just BECAUSE someone else tells one to, but to act for oneself BECAUSE ONE SEES FOR ONESELF, in the light of God’s will and the teaching of the Church or one’s lawful superior [who today can only be past popes], that the action IS right…”

Peter Michaels also states, in his work This Perverse Generation (1949): “If all Catholics have a moral duty to understand the faith at their level of secular education, few of us are going to be saved… How much longer are Catholics going to pretend that if our hearts are in the right place, we can safely continue to live in an intellectual void?” Traditionalists may obey their (unlawful) “superiors” and refrain from making the required judgments, but they do not and cannot escape the Church’s latae sententiae, ipso facto censures for heresy, schism, and communicatio in sacris. That is something they will never hear from their erstwhile “clergy,” but it is the absolute reality that constitutes the Catholic Church. And so these unfortunates, who willfully choose not to educate themselves, will go to the end thinking they are members of the Church, only to find at their private judgment they left Her long ago, and God expected them to put forth far more effort to discover the truth than they were willing to expend. It is a terrifying thought, one not many will be willing to entertain. But it is not just a thought or an opinion — it is Church teaching, Church law, and they are bound by it. In fact the Church condemns this practice of Traditionalists under the titles of Fideism and Traditionalism.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states that Fideism teaches there is no need of intellectual assent based on objective evidence and the only thing expected of Catholics is to make an act of faith. The article explains that Fideists falsely teach: “The supreme criterion of certitude is authority…,” noting that, “An act of faith cannot be the primary form of human knowledge. Authority, indeed, in order to be a motive of assent, must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid; before we believe in a proposition as revealed by God we must first know with certitude that God exists, that He reveals such and such a proposition, and that His teaching is worthy of assent, all of which questions can and must be ultimately decided only by an act of intellectual assent based on objective evidence. Thus, fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge but logically ruins faith itself… As to the opinion of those who maintain that our supernatural assent is prepared for by motives of credibility merely probable, it is evident that it logically destroys the certitude of such an assent. This opinion was condemned by Bd. Innocent XI in the decree of 2 March 1679 (DZ 1171), and by Pope St. Pius X in the Lamentabili sane.”

And here we see mirrored the very assent the followers of these Traditionalists are expected to give contrary to the teachings of these holy popes and the unanimous opinion of theologians: acceptance of the orders and the sacraments these self-appointed “clerics” dispense as valid. Not only are their claims based on the thinnest possible evidence, which cannot even be said to amount to a probable opinion, their teachings and actions have been proven over and over again to be in direct contradiction of the constant teachings of the continual magisterium.

Pascal Parente and other authors define Traditionalism as: “A philosophico-religious system, which depreciates human reason and establishes the tradition of mankind, which is bound up with language, as the criterion of truth and certainty,” (Dictionary of Theology; many Traditionalists experience this as the teachings offered them on the “sensus catholicus”). This error was condemned by Pope Pius IX in Qui pluribus and by the Sacred Congregation in 1855 (DZ 1649) So it must be understood, as explained elsewhere, that the choice of the name Traditionalism was not a random one. Those selecting this name for their sect in the 1970s following the cessation of the Latin Mass, did not necessarily intend for it to reflect the Traditions of faith as most Traditionalists innocently assume. For true Tradition is bound up with the deposit of faith Christ entrusted to His Apostles and the transmission of that same deposit by the Roman Pontiffs, unchanged, throughout the centuries. This is definitely something not transmitted by Traditionalists.

By leading those wishing to be Catholic away from the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs and exerting a false authority they insist must be obeyed, Traditionalist “clergy” falsify the Catholic faith and drag souls with them into hell. Those who prefer lies to truth should be scrambling to discover what it really means to be a Catholic or be prepared to give an accounting to Truth itself when they leave this world.

Content Protection by
Vatican 2 Theology: The Basis for Traditionalists’ Stance on Canon Law and Epikeia

No Papal Mandate in Episcopal Consecrations = No Apostolicity

+Seven Sorrows of the BVM +

(This article is longer than the others so please bear with me here. Also, as is the case in all my blogs and articles, any emphasis within the texts quoted is my own unless otherwise noted.)

Can. 953: “The episcopal consecration is reserved to the Roman Pontiff in such a manner that NO BISHOP IS ALLOWED TO CONFER EPISCOPAL CONSECRATION ON ANYONE UNLESS HE HAS FIRST ASCERTAINED THAT THERE IS A PAPAL MANDATE TO THAT EFFECT.” A papal mandate is permission issued specifically by the Roman Pontiff to those consecrating any bishop confirming the bishop’s nomination or election and assuring his fitness for consecration. As Abp. Cicognani comments in his Canon Law, according to a rule of law, wherever the Church in Her laws does not differentiate, neither should we. So how do Traditionalists and their pet theologians explain away “NO BISHOP” and ANYONE here? Yet those claiming to be bishops in the Traditional movement have attempted to dismiss these papal decrees forbidding their so-called consecrations using every possible loophole they can find. Necessity and epikeia are the excuse most often used for the consecration of these men they call bishops but as will be seen below and in the later article on epikeia, this will not suffice.

It must be remembered that there can be no apostolic succession without an unquestionably canonically elected pope, (and no, lay people and not even so called Traditionalists “clerics” can pose as electors). Validly and licitly consecrated bishops must be approved and appointed by a canonically elected pope and be fully in communion with him to ordain priests and assign them to parishes. Apostolic succession exists only when orders AND jurisdiction both are present, and neither is the case with Traditionalists whose orders are at best questionably valid (see Jurisdiction cannot be present because it was never received, it CANNOT come directly from Christ Himself as our last blog demonstrated, and without a canonically elected Roman Pontiff it cannot be supplied, even in danger of death.

Traditionalists are robbers and thieves because they have not come through the door. They have not received their jurisdiction through the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the canons as Can. 147 and Pope Pius XII demands. They have not been rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical authority, because even in the case of “priests,” the ordination proceeds without the dimissorial letters. Impediments also are removed in those to be ordained by “bishops” who have no jurisdiction whatsoever and whose acts are made null and void under the terms of Pope Pius XII’s papal election constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis.

Pope Pius VI’s Charitas is listed as one of the sources from the old law for Can. 147, which states: “An ecclesiastical office cannot be validly obtained without canonical provision. Canonical provision means the grant of an ecclesiastical office by competent ecclesiastical authority, made according to the sacred canons.” After quoting this teaching from the Council of Trent, (“If anyone says that… those who are neither duly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical authority, but who come from elsewhere are legitimate ministers of the word and of the Sacraments, let him be anathema,” DZ 960,) the Sacred Congregation of the Council declared under Can. 147:

“In order to preserve more inviolate these same sacred principles and at the same time forestall abuses in a matter of such great importance, His Holiness Pope Pius XII has deigned to provide,” an ipso facto excommunication especially reserved to the Holy See for: “1) those who contrive against legitimate ecclesiastical authorities or attempt in any way to subvert their authority; 2) anyone who without a canonical investiture or provision made according to the sacred canons occupies an ecclesiastical office, benefice or dignity, or allows anyone to be unlawfully intruded into the same, or who retains the same; 3)  those who have any part directly or indirectly in the crimes mentioned in one (1) and  two (2),” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3, under Can. 147. And as Pope Pius IX teaches, Catholics are bound in conscience to obey also any decree issued by the Sacred Congregations.) This proves without a doubt that the section of Trent referring to unlawful pastors is not limited to the Protestants. These censures are very similar in nature to the excommunication found in Can. 2345 and Pope Paul IV’s condemnation in Cum ex Apostolatus Officio of those who usurp ecclesiastical offices. The canonists Revs. T. Lincoln Bouscaren and Adam Ellis, editors of the Canon Law Digest, say that Can. 147 applies also to the Holy See.

This excommunication is listed under Can. 2394, which automatically deprives anyone, not just bishops, of an office seized illicitly and recommends them for punishment by the Ordinary. This for taking possession “of an ecclesiastical benefice, office or dignity by his own authority or before he has received the necessary letters of confirmation or institution [from the bodies or individuals electing or nominating clerics for various offices] and has exhibited them to the persons designated by law.” The meaning of offices will be explained below. Pope Pius XII was deadly serious about the confirmation of all offices by the necessary superior; he was guarding here the rights of the hierarchy, i. e. the Church. This is why only a year later he would write Ad Apostolorum Principis. So clearly the mind of the Church in this matter is that expressed here by Pius XII, as well as by the Council of Trent and Pope Pius VI in Charitas.

Offices and those who occupy them

We already know what constitutes canonical appointment; it has to be done by the authority who in the canons is indicated as the one competent to make the appointment and confirm it. In this case those priests and bishops “electing” or choosing candidates for the episcopacy are not certainly even clerics and cannot elect or appoint anyone; they do not constitute competent ecclesiastical authority. In the case of bishops, the Roman Pontiff, even if one existed, could only confirm such an election or appointment if made by competent ecclesiastical authority. The mandate provides proof the appointment has been reviewed and approved and permission given to consecrate, and this would not happen if the electing or appointing body was found to be wanting in any way.

Next must be determined what constitutes an office. By office, according to Can. 145, is meant, “in a broad sense…any employment which is legitimately practiced for a spiritual purpose. In the strict sense, an ecclesiastical office means a stable position created either by the divine or ecclesiastical law, conferred according to the rules of the sacred canons and entailing some participation at least in ecclesiastical power, whether of orders or jurisdiction. In law, the term ecclesiastical office is used in its strict sense…” unless a specific law indicates otherwise. If Traditionalists were qualified to assume an office, they would have to call it an office, but they are not qualified to assume anything.

No matter what kind of bishop is intended here, when they are appointed or elected, they are assigned to a specific office according to this definition. These Trad clerics cannot claim jurisdiction of any kind, because jurisdiction is a grant of authority made by a competent superior in communion with the Roman Pontiff to be exercised over specific subjects. Nor can they claim certainly valid orders. Lefebvre and Thuc may have been validly appointed, but without the papal appointment of the bishops they consecrated, these bishops were never validly created for ANY position. Both Lefebvre and Thuc have huge clouds hanging over their heads where intention, their own validity and fitness are concerned. This cloud would need to be lifted before any question of the validity of their ordinations and consecrations could be decided by a true Roman Pontiff. They certainly could not give to others what they did not receive themselves, (please see website link on Apostolic Succession above).

Those they created, whether priests or bishops, are only doubtfully valid AT BEST; and according to Pope Pius VI in Charitas, the whole affair is null and void. They possess no jurisdiction and cannot use any assumed power of Orders for any purpose. This because we cannot resort to doubtfully valid ministers according to Pope Innocent XI’s declaration that it is not safe to receive sacraments from such persons, (DZ 1151). Furthermore, Can. 154 declares that, “Offices which entail the care of souls cannot be validly conferred upon clerics who are not ordained priests.” Like it or not, Trads all have assumed an office they are not qualified to possess. And if the office of bishop is not validly held, how can such men possibly call and create priests?

The canons say they cannot. A priest cannot create a priest, and in most cases these “bishops” are not even priests themselves! In the consecration rite, these men are specifically called to the office of bishop. If they cannot accept such an office because papal appointment was never made, how can they receive it?! As Rev. Patrick Madgett S. J. teaches in Vol. II of his work Christian Origins (1943) under bishops: “A successor in any office or task is one who is lawfully substituted in place of another to perform the same duties, with the same powers.” And Trad “bishops” present as successors of the Apostles with all the same duties and powers but are not lawful and are at the very least doubtfully valid.

Can. 148 defines appointments as any of the following: (1) free appointment by the legitimate superior; (2) by the so-called “institution” in cases where a patron has the right to nominate or present to the ecclesiastical superior the person who is to obtain the office; (3) confirmation by a superior in the case of elections and (4) In the case of postulation in religious officers, when voters appoint a certain candidate for office the superior accepting the determination of the voters is said to grant admission and (5) an office may be obtained simply by election and acceptance of the elected, but only if the law does not require confirmation of the elected.  Canon 110 states:

“Though the Holy See gives some of the clergy the title of prelate without jurisdiction as a mere honorary title, the term ‘prelates’ properly denotes in law clerics, either secular or religious, who have ordinary jurisdiction in the external forum.” Under Canons 147 and 148, Rev. Augustine comments that: “The competent authority in conferring major ecclesiastical offices (prelacies) is the Roman Pontiff.” A prelate is one who “rules over the clergy and people of a district that is separated from every other diocese,” (Revs. Woywod-Smith, Can. 319). Donald Attwater defines a prelate as, “A dignitary having jurisdiction in the external forum. The principal prelates are the bishops; others are vicars and prefects apostolic.” So regardless of whether Traditionalists claim to be “residential bishops” or not, they are bound to be confirmed by the Roman Pontiff for consecration regardless.

This is demonstrated by what Pope Pius IX taught regarding the Old Catholics in Germany:

Etsi Multa, Pope Pius IX, Nov. 21, 1873

“24. But these men, having progressed more boldly in the ways of wickedness and destruction, as happens to heretical sects from God’s just judgment, have wished to create a hierarchy also for themselves, as we have intimated. They have chosen and set up a pseudo-bishop, a certain notorious apostate from the Catholic faith,Joseph Humbert 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 Humbert dares to say that he is a bishop, and, what passes belief, he is recognized and named in an explicit decree by the most serene Emperor of Germany and is proposed to all his subjects as a lawful bishop. But as even the rudiments of Catholic faith declare, no one can be considered a bishop who is not linked in communion of faith and love with Peter, upon whom is built the Church of Christ; who does not adhere to the supreme Pastor to whom the sheep of Christ are committed to be pastured; and who is not bound to the confirmer of fraternity which is in the world.

“And indeed “the Lord spoke to Peter; to one person therefore, so that He might found unity from one”; to Peter, “the divine dignity granted a great and wonderful consortium of his power, and if He wished anything to be common with him and the rest of the princes, He never gave, except through him, what He did not deny to the others.” Hence it is from this Apostolic See, where blessed Peterlives and presides and grants the truth of faith to those seeking it, that the rights of venerable communion flow to all; and this same See ‘for the Churches spread throughout the whole world is certainly the head, as it were, of their members, from which if one cuts himself off, he becomes an exile from the Christian religion, as soon as he begins not to belong to its structure.

“25. Therefore 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. ‘Whoever he is,’ he says, ‘and whatever sort he is, he is not a Christian who is not in the Church of Christ. Let him boast and preach his philosophy and eloquence with a proud voice; he who does not have fraternal charity and does not retain ecclesiastical unity, loses also what he previously had. Since by Christ one Church was founded divided into many members throughout the world, so likewise one episcopate, diffused in the harmonious multiplicity of many bishops. Subsequent to the teaching of God and the conjoined unity of the Catholic Church, he attempts to build a human church. Therefore, he who does not retain unity of spirit nor communion of peace and thus separates himself from the bond of the Church and the college of the priesthood cannot have the power nor the honor of a bishop because he kept the unity or the peace of the episcopacy.’”


“26. We have been undeservingly placed on this supreme seat of Peter to preserve the Catholic faith and the unity of the universal Church. Therefore following the custom and example of Our Predecessors and of holy legislation, by the power granted to Us from heaven, We declare the election of the said Joseph Humbert Reinkens,performed against the sanctions of the holy canons to be illicit, null, and void. We furthermore declare his consecration sacrilegious. Therefore, by the authority of Almighty God, We excommunicate and hold as anathema Joseph Humbert himself and all those who attempted to choose him, and who aided in his sacrilegious consecration. We additionally excommunicate whoever has adhered to them and belonging to their party has furnished help, favor, aid, or consent. We declare, proclaim, and command that they are separated from the communion of the Church. They are to be considered among those with whom all faithful Christians are forbidden by the Apostle to associate and have social exchange to such an extent that, as he plainly states, they may not even be greeted.”

Does this even give Traditionalists any pause whatsoever, that something so similar to their own elections and consecrations of bishops results in a sacrilegious act and VITANDUS excommunication for those following said bishop?! And here we see Pope Pius IX holds Reinkens’ election null and void, and this following “custom, the example of Our predecessors and holy legislation.” Likewise Pope Pius VI’s Charitas held France’s appointment of constitutional bishops null and void, so surely Pope Pius IX was referring to Charitas as well as other decrees in Etsi Multa. When such consecrations are performed during an interregnum outside the laws of the Church, Pope Pius XII has decreed they are null and void altogether.

Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, Pope Pius XII, 1945 (paras.1- 3, Ch. 1)

  1. While the Apostolic Seat is vacant, let the Sacred College of Cardinals have no power or jurisdiction at all in those things which pertain to the Pope while he was alive…but let everything be held, reserved for the future Pope. And thus we decree that whatever power or jurisdiction pertaining to the Roman Pontiff, while he is alive (unless in as far as it is expressly permitted in this, Our Constitution) the meeting of Cardinals itself may have taken for exercising, is null and void.
  2. “Likewise we order that the Sacred College of Cardinals is not able to dispose of the laws of the Apostolic Seat and the Roman Church in any manner it wishes, nor may it attempt to detract wheresoever from the laws of the same, either directly or indirectly through a species of connivance, or through dissimulation of crimes perpetrated against the same laws, either after the death of the Pontiff or in time of vacancy, [however] it may seem to be attempted. Indeed, we will that it ought to guard and defend against the same contention of all men.
  3. “Laws given by the Roman Pontiffs are in no way able to be corrected or changed through the meeting of the cardinals of the Roman Church [the See] being vacant; nor is anything able to be taken away or added, nor is there able to be made any dispensation in any manner concerning the laws themselves or some part of them. This is very evident from pontifical Constitutions [on]…the election of the Roman Pontiff. But if anything contrary to this prescript occurs or is by chance attempted, we declare it by Our Supreme authority to be null and void(private translation commissioned by Irene Keast).

In the above papal paragraphs, we find the phrase “null and void” just as it is found as follows in Charitas: “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 whatsoever. Nor may they otherwise act, decree, or decide, whether separately or united as a council, on matters which relate to ecclesiastical jurisdiction. For 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…”

And in Ad Apsotolorum Principis: “Bishops who have been neither named nor confirmed by the Apostolic See, but who, on the contrary, have been elected and consecrated in defiance of its express orders, enjoy no powers of teaching or of jurisdiction since jurisdiction passes to bishops only through the Roman Pontiff as We admonished in the Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis.” This key phrase referencing jurisdiction and teaching is what Traditionalists consistently ignore, which is why they must pretend to receive their jurisdiction directly from Christ.

In Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, no change in the law is allowed even to the cardinals, most of whom were bishops. There can be absolutely no usurpation of papal jurisdiction; all must be left to the future pope. Even any attempt at such things is null and void and this is infallibly decreed in Etsi Multa, Charitas, and is clearly stated in equivalent terms in Ad Apostolorum Principis. And the cardinalate is directed by Pope Pius XII to prevent any such crimes from occurring. We live in an interregnum. Traditionalists have created their own “hierarchy” and yet all is an illusion; their acts were null and void. They will say the law does not apply to them, that they are allowed to function and call the law itself into question. They say this about all these laws and infallible decrees except those they feel serve their purpose. They offer no proofs whatsoever giving them direct permission to proceed; all the proofs are against them. Yet still they continue to offend God, violate the law and refuse to do His will.

And there is something else that to date no one seems to have pointed out. In the episcopal consecration ceremony, any and ALL bishops, whether being consecrated as ordinaries or for other positions are asked to present the “Mandate or Apostolic Letter from the Pope,” which is read aloud. The Bishop-elect then kneels before the consecrator and solemnly swears an oath to submit himself to the Holy See, an oath which in the case of Traditionalists, if indeed it is even made, is as barren and worthless as the episcopal ceremony itself. As we have seen above, all such candidates for the episcopacy must be approved by the Roman Pontiff and present themselves for consecration within three months of such approval. In his Ad Apostolorum Principis as well as in Charitas, no distinction is made between residential bishops, titular bishops, missionary bishops, etc.

In the episcopal rite of consecration, the one being consecrated is consecrated for the OFFICE of bishop. The one being consecrated makes this solemn oath to submit to the Holy See as follows: “I shall render to our Holy Father, Pope N., and to his aforesaid successors an account of my whole pastoral office, and of all things pertaining in any manner whatsoever to the state of my Church, to the discipline of the clergy and the people, and finally to the salvation of the souls which are entrusted to me: and in turn I shall receive humbly the apostolic mandates and execute them as diligently as possible.” (Some Trad bishops have removed all reference to the papal mandate from the rite, something that is strictly forbidden by the Church. Only the pope can attenuate the rites of the Sacraments.) Later in the rite, the consecrator says to the one being consecrated: “Will you teach the people for whom you are ordained, both by words and by example, the things you understand from the divine Scriptures? Will you receive, keep and teach with reverence the traditions of the orthodox fathers and the decretal constitutions of the Holy and Apostolic See?“ If these so-called bishops are not teaching obedience to the Roman Pontiffs and the continual magisterium — and they are not — then this oath is worthless. (See the two rites compared at“Bishop” Anthony Cekada and others pretend that only ordinaries or residential bishops can hold an office, but the rite itself contradicts him. As seen above, even a priest or religious can hold an office by appointment of the superior.

The Catholic Encyclopedia under “bishop” elaborates further on the above. In the case of those allowed to make recommendations for candidates to the episcopacy, “this does not juridically bind the sovereign pontiff, who has the power to choose the new bishop from persons not included in the list of recommendations.” In certain countries where bishops are elected, the votes are sent to the Holy See for approval along with a list of “useful information” about each of the candidates. “Whatever the manner of his nomination, the bishop has no power until his nomination has been confirmed by the Holy See…” The request to receive the papal mandate, which is to be read aloud, followed by the oath of the one consecrated, is the first and most important part of the entire rite. This should be obvious to any rational person, because in the wording of the rite, it is implied that without the papal mandate, the man seeking consecration has no right to be consecrated.

Nullity according to Pope Leo XIII’s constitution on Anglican Orders

Then we have yet another problem to address, that of those who challenge the true meaning of null and void in all the above decrees. One person claims it need not be interpreted to mean exactly what it says, according to canonists and theologians, and does not mean that all the acts so declared are invalidly or even illicitly performed before or after the fact. Unfortunately, this is not the teaching of the Holy See and does not provide the out these “bishops” are so desperately seeking. In fact it strengthens the case for invalidity — something surely unintentional in raising this issue on our opponents’ part — but providential for those who believe the Roman Pontiffs enjoy the primacy of jurisdiction and supreme power in the Church and are to be obeyed when defining terms over theologians and canonists. From Pope Leo XIII in Apostolicae Curae:

“For to obtain orders nulliter means the same as by act null and void, that is invalid, as the very meaning of the word and as common parlance requires. This is especially clear when the word is used in the same way about Orders as aboutecclesiastical benefices. These, by the undoubted teaching of the sacred canons, were clearly null if given with any vitiating defect. Moreover, when some doubted as to who, according to the mind of the pontiff, could be called and considered bishops validly and lawfully ordained, the said Pope (Pope Paul IV) shortly after, on October 30, issued a further letter in the form of a brief and said:

We, desiring to wholly remove such doubt, and to opportunely provide for the peace of conscience of those who during the aforementioned schism were promoted to Holy Orders, by clearly stating the meaning and intention which we had in our said letters, declare that it is only those bishops and archbishops who were not ordained and consecrated in the form of the Church that cannot be said to be duly and rightly ordained’” Pope Leo XIII continues:

“The authority of Julius III, and of Paul IV, which we have quoted, clearly shows the origin of that practice which has been observed without interruption for more than three centuries, that Ordinations conferred according to the Edwardine rite should be considered null and void. This practice is fully proved by the numerous cases of absolute re-ordination according to the Catholic rite even in Rome.

“Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void” (end of Pope Leo XIII quote).

Commenting on Canon 11 (invalidating and disqualifying laws), Abp. Cicognani wrote: “Invalidating and disqualifying laws certainly bind in conscience… Certain acts are not to be upheld as valid, nor are they considered to be a source of rights or emoluments. However, it should be noted that if the laws forbid and at the same time nullify an act…they oblige in conscience to omit the act…” Hence what is stated in Canon 11: “Laws only are to be considered invalidating or disqualifying which explicitly or equivalently state that an act is null and void or that a person is incapable of acting” (Canon Law, 1935). But the real key to everything Traditionalists have attempted to do is found under Can. 15, and will be examined in the article on epikeia.

This clarifies the true definition of null and void, and it was likewise made clear by Pope Paul IV in his Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, where he states: ”If ever at any time it becomes clear that any Bishop…Archbishop, Patriarch, or primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church…or likewise if 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, [or has incurred schism], then his promotion or elevation shall be null, invalid and void.” But it raises yet another issue: If the presentation of the papal mandate is omitted from the form quoted above, is not this an alteration of the form calling it into question, just as the Anglican form was called into question and declared null and void?

Pope Leo XIII in his constitution on Anglican Orders quotes this from Pope Paul IV’s Praeclara carissima as follows: ‘“Those who have been promoted to Ecclesiastical Orders by anyone but a bishop validly and lawfully ordained [see the Council of Trent, DZ 960, 967] are bound to receive those orders again.’” And those bishops not validly and lawfully ordained were, Leo XIII continues, those promoted to the episcopate and other orders not according to the accustomed form of the Church… the form and intention of the Church.” Was Lefebvre validly and lawfully ordained and consecrated? We have grave doubts. Thuc was apparently validly and lawfully ordained and consecrated, but neither he nor Lefebvre could ordain and consecrate “priests and bishops” without the jurisdiction they lost by affiliating with the Novus Ordo church and minus the papal mandate. At that point they were outside the Church and their actions were nullified by Pius XII’s law governing interregnums.

Here several things must be addressed. Despite any alleged validity of the consecrators, the papal mandate is an essential part of the consecration ceremony. Secondly, no one whatsoever may tamper with the rite of consecration in its essentials. According to Pope Pius XII in the first paragraph of Sacramentum Ordinis: “As the Council of Trent teaches, … the seven Sacraments of the New Law were all instituted by Jesus Christ Our Lord, and the Church has no power over the substance of the Sacraments…” The omission of this part of the consecration ceremony is essential to its validity, since the bishop receives no power without it as the Catholic Encyclopedia observes above.

It also is essential to the profession of the one consecrated that he is in communion with the Roman Pontiff, also his predecessors, and recognizes him as the supreme head of the Church. The Chinese bishops were not denying Pope Pius XII was their pope, they were simply disobeying him; pertinaciously continuing in such disobedience after a rebuke would constitute rejecting papal authority, which automatically results in incurring the censure for heresy. So to omit this ceremony also calls into question the orthodoxy of the subject seeking to be consecrated as well as the intention of the one consecrating. Do they intend to carry on the mission of the Church as it was constituted by Christ? Obviously not, or they would have recourse to a true pope for the mandate, and in his absence would abide by his laws. Without the mandate, all their machinations are null and void for want of the proper form and intention.

CMRI attempts to justify their consecrations by stating on their website: “The strict observance of Pope Pius XII’s decree on the prohibition of the consecration of bishops without papal mandate would become injurious to the salvation of souls.” This is the same rationalization used by conclavists to justify various attempts at election: “The Church has to have a pope because she cannot exist without one.” But the danger of a lay election and even one posited by doubtful clergy is actually a greater danger, given the possibility of electing an unfit candidate, as was later proven in all these cases. Moreover, lay elections are condemned by papal election law and other binding papal and conciliar documents. Pope Pius VI’s Charitas would have Catholics stay at home rather than resort to the Constitutional bishops; Etsi Multa issues similar warnings and declares null and void the old Catholic bishop(s) and Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis forbids anyone to act outside papal laws during an interregnum under the pain of nullity (invalidity). These and all other papal teachings are what the faithful are bound to obey.

The proofs provided above demonstrate the collective minds of the Roman Pontiffs regarding the function of bishops who are not approved by him or his canonically elected successors and declare those so proceeding excommunicated. Traditionalists posing as clergy falsely claim that even though they may be excommunicated they still possess jurisdiction, supplied or provided by Christ, demonstrated earlier to be A COMPLETE LIE. There is NO Church teaching to support this conjecture, forbidden by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis, that in this emergency Christ would supply such jurisdiction. Nor would the pope supply it to doubtful clergy in any event. To possess true apostolicity, one must possess both valid and licit Holy Orders AND jurisdiction (see the Catholic Encyclopedia article on this topic), something none of these pretenders can lay claim to. And what of the oaths they took in their phony consecration ceremonies to uphold the teachings of the Holy See? Such oaths, if they were even taken, were as phony as the consecrations themselves, invalidated by the lack of the indispensable papal mandate and the (at least implicit) denial by Traditionalists of the necessity of the papacy.

There is no shame or blame in keeping the faith at home in light of such compelling evidence that these men are not providing true Mass and Sacraments and are involving their followers instead in sacrilege and cooperation in sin, both mortal sins. In fact, as we will see in the blog on epikeia, Catholics are bound to avoid these pretenders and their “sacraments” whenever such serious doubt becomes known to them. The real issue at stake is your immortal soul and whether Our Lord will acquire an accounting from you for choosing to follow these men and ignoring the Vicars He sent to speak for Him. Are you willing to take that risk? Are you willing to continue to cooperate in sin and incur communicatio in sacris for participating in false worship, placing you outside the Church and unable to save your soul?



Content Protection by
Vatican 2 Theology: The Basis for Traditionalists’ Stance on Canon Law and Epikeia

Infallible teaching on the error of Antiquarianism

+St. John Damascene+

 Antiquarianism, condemned by Pope Pius VI in Auctorem Fidei, (DZ 1533) originated at the Jansenistic Council of Pistoia in the 1700s. It resurfaced again in the late 1800s. Pope Pius XII officially condemned this resurgent heresy, the teaching that ancient practices can be reverted to despite later teachings of the Roman Pontiffs. This error was condemned in Mediator Dei (1947), regarding the liturgy, after the liberals once again began promoting it in the name of liturgical renewal. In his work The Vatican Council Decrees and their Bearing on Civil Allegiance, Henry Cardinal Manning tells us that the Vatican Council retroactively made Auctorem Fidei infallible, hence the condemnation of this error then was as infallible as it is today. Since the Novus Ordo Missae under the guise of Catholic liturgy incarnated this error, it certainly must be considered an even more dangerous heresy. Traditionalists have revived this heresy in claiming they have no need for a papal mandate since there is no pope and can proceed on their own since their bishops have jurisdiction directly from Christ, (a notion discounted by Pope Pius XII).

They base their claims to be able to proceed without papal approval on the “precedents” of the consecrations performed during a three-year interregnum between the death of Pope Clement IV (November 29, 1268) and the election of Pope Gregory X (September 1, 1271); also jurisdiction as it was exercised during the Western Schism. Precedents, however, are operating principles in common law, not Canon Law, and can be traced back to the heresy of Gallicanism. Traditionalists are not even remaining within the Church’s own legal system to try and justify their actions. Canon Law is primarily based on the laws of Popes and Councils, not just any law. Follow the trail of Traditionalists — they will circumvent the continual magisterium and attempt to misinterpret and manipulate Canon Law to accomplish this every time. Understanding the reasons why these precedents will not hold water and what really happened during these two time periods is important to understanding what follows.

“To some, the system followed by the Catholic Church seems antiquated and secretive. However, the real difficulty from a common law perspective may be the lack of understanding of the Church’s law and the lack of understanding of how canon law is applied. “While both common law and canon law have their roots in the ancient law systems of the world, they developed along different lines. Common law developed more along the lines of Germanic and English law while canon law developed more along the lines of Roman law. The common law system is generally based on a judge applying precedent while the canon law system is generally based on an individual judge applying the law to the specific case. In common law, most interpretation of law is provided by the judicial system. In canon law, interpretation is provided by the legislator. Both systems work, or do not work, based on how well they are applied,” (Canon Law and Common Law,”

This common law system of precedents is referred to as “stare decisis.” According to the U.S. History Encyclopedia: “Stare Decisis is the principle of deciding judicial controversies on the basis of precedent. It is a principle of the common-law legal systems that distinguishes them from civil-law systems. Adherence to precedent, following the decision rules and reasoning set out in earlier similar cases, is frequently cited as an attribute that gives consistency and predictability to the law and that ensures political stability. However, assumptions concerning the significance and impact of adherence to stare decisis have been subjected to serious logical and empirical challenges…” The use of precedents can be traced to another source, and this is where we find the true identity of Traditionalists advocating their use. Those so advocating betray their Gallicanist mindset, for as A. Degert notes in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Gallicanism was based on: “a revival of the most ancient traditions of Christianity; a persistence of the common law,” made up of early councils, canons of general and local councils and the decretals, ancient and modern.

Then we have the case of the Western Schism, which also has been presented as a precedent but is really used by Traditionalists more in the way of an analogy. They try to compare it to our own time, but the circumstances existing today are not the same as those existing in the 14th and early 15th centuries. What results, then, is a false analogy which is rejected by scholastic theologians as an illogical and invalid argument. In his work Logic (1940), Rev. Joseph Walsh identifies such analogies as “drawn from another subject which only in appearance resembles the subject in question.” During the Western Schism, a true pope reigned all along but those living then did not know which of the three popes was the true pope. (For a complete history, see the Catholic Encyclopedia online under Western Schism.) Today NO true pope has reigned for over 60 years and no Catholic cardinals or bishops exist to elect a true pope. Ergo, the two situations are not analogous. Because only the scholastic method of determination is to be used according to Church teaching, those things determined to be fallacies under this system cannot be used as the basis for any argument hoping to arrive at the truth.

Not only do we find references to antiquarianism in Mediator Dei; we find them also in Ad Apostolorum Principis as well. There Pope Pius XII condemned antiquarianism because the Chinese bishops had used it to justify deviation from the very form of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They had done this by allowing themselves to be elected bishops by the clergy and laity and receiving consecration without papal mandate, a requirement written into the Catholic episcopal rite itself. This is precisely what Traditionalist bishops do today, some being elected by fellow “clergy,” others simply materializing onto the Traditionalist stage. All lack the papal mandate. They excuse the need for this by pointing to customs and practices allowed hundreds of years ago, and as seen below this is the very thing condemned by Pope Pius XII in two separate papal documents. We must note that this involves two errors. One, it uses the excuse of previous usage to justify the action. Two, it then involves the actual deviation from the sacramental form in omitting the papal mandate, something Pope Pius XII tells the faithful is defined by the Vatican Council as belonging to the powers of the Roman Pontiff alone.

So read what is said by Pius XII below with this in mind.

 Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII, Nov. 9, 1947:

“Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. NO MORE CAN ANY CATHOLIC IN HIS RIGHT SENSES REPUDIATE EXISTING LEGISLATION OF THE CHURCH TO REVERT TO PRESCRIPTIONS BASED ON THE EARLIEST SOURCES OF CANON LAW. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.

“This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise. It likewise attempts to reinstate a series of errors which were responsible for the calling of that meeting as well as for those resulting from it, with grievous harm to souls, and which the Church, the ever watchful guardian of the “deposit of faith” committed to her charge by her divine Founder, had every right and reason to condemn. For perverse designs and ventures of this sort tend to paralyze and weaken that process of sanctification by which the sacred liturgy directs the sons of adoption to their Heavenly Father of their souls’ salvation.”

Ad Apostolorum Principis, Pope Pius XII, June 29, 1958:

“… For those who profess themselves most interested in the welfare of their country have for some considerable time been striving to disseminate among the people the position, devoid of all truth, that Catholics have the power of directly electing their bishops. To excuse this kind of election they allege a need to look after the good souls with all possible speed

“For it has been clearly and expressly laid down in the canons that it pertains to the one Apostolic See to judge whether a person is fit for the dignity and burden of the episcopacy and that complete freedom in the nomination of bishops is the right of the Roman Pontiff. But if, as happens at times, some persons or groups are permitted to participate in the selection of an episcopal candidate, this is lawful only if the Apostolic See has allowed it in express terms and in each particular case for clearly defined persons or groups, the conditions and circumstances being very plainly determined.

“Granted this exception, it follows that bishops who have been neither named nor confirmed by the Apostolic See, but who, on the contrary, have been elected and consecrated in defiance of its express orders, enjoy no powers of teaching or of jurisdiction since jurisdiction passes to bishops only through the Roman Pontiff as We admonished in the Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis in the following words: ‘. . . As far as his own diocese is concerned each (bishop) feeds the flock entrusted to him as a true shepherd and rules it in the name of Christ. Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff.’

“And when We later addressed to you the letter Ad Sinarum Gentem, We again referred to this teaching in these words: ‘The power of jurisdiction which is conferred directly by divine right on the Supreme Pontiff comes to bishops by that same right, but only through the successor of Peter, to whom not only the faithful but also all bishops are bound to be constantly subject and to adhere both by the reverence of obedience and by the bond of unity.’

“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.

“To such conduct the warning words of the Divine Teacher fittingly apply: ‘He who enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up another way, is a thief and a robber.” The sheep indeed know the true shepherd’s voice. ‘But a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.’

“We are aware that those who belittle obedience in order to justify themselves with regard to those functions which they have unrighteously assumed defend their position by recalling a usage which prevailed in ages past. Yet everyone sees that all ecclesiastical discipline is overthrown if it is in any way lawful for one to restore arrangements which are no longer valid because the supreme authority of the Church long ago decreed otherwise. In no sense do they excuse their way of acting by appealing to another custom, and they indisputably prove that they follow this line deliberately in order to escape from the discipline which now prevails and which they ought to be obeying…

“…The faithful are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience not only in matters which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church.” 

“From what We have said, it follows that no authority whatsoever, save that which is proper to the Supreme Pastor, can render void the canonical appointment granted to any bishop; that no person or group, whether of priests or of laymen, can claim the right of nominating bishops; that no one can lawfully confer episcopal consecration unless he has received the mandate of the Apostolic See.

“Consequently, if consecration of this kind is being done contrary to all right and law, and by this crime the unity of the Church is being seriously attacked, an excommunication reserved specialissimo modo to the Apostolic See has been established which is automatically incurred by the consecrator and by anyone who has received consecration irresponsibly conferred.”

And so Traditionalists, believing themselves to be validly ordained and consecrated when they are not, argue, “Well the pope didn’t say not invalid, only unlawful, so we can still function, and our acts will be valid.” Note, however, that Pope Pius XII also says that those consecrating must have been validly consecrated themselves in order for such lawfulness to be presumed, and we have every reason to believe these Traditional consecrations were all, at the very least, doubtfully valid. And even the lawfulness of such consecrations and ordinations is refuted by the Council of Trent: “In the ordination of bishops, priests and of other orders …those who by their own temerity take these offices upon themselves are not ministers of the Church, but are to be regarded as ‘thieves, robbers who have not entered by the door’” (The Council of Trent, Sess. 23, July 15, 1563; DZ 960). Notice that Pope Pius XII repeats this very language in paragraph 42 of his constitution above. (One conclavist contended that Trent was written only for the Protestants. However, the same teaching is cited by Pope Pius XII under Can. 147, which will be treated in the next blog post). Also from the Council of Trent:

“If anyone says that … those who have neither been rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical authority, but come from a different source, are the lawful ministers of the Word and of the Sacraments, let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Sess. 23, July 15, 1563; DZ 967, Can. 7; also DZ 424). By their actions, these Traditionalists present both as lawful and valid ministers; yet in reality, they most likely are only laymen; and as such, Pius XII’s excommunication reserved only to clerics does not apply. What does apply, however, are the excommunications reserved in a special manner to the Apostolic See for “pretending to say Mass or hear Sacramental Confessions by one who is not an ordained priest (Can. 2322 §1) and “for the usurpation and retention of goods and rights of the papacy” (Can. 2345). The sending power here, the grantor of jurisdiction necessary to possess apostolic succession, is the Roman Pontiff himself. He would never approve those men seeking ordination and consecration today from doubtfully consecrated bishops who were ordained themselves by notoriously schismatic bishops (Lefebvre, Thuc, et al). As will be explained in the article on epikeia, even being only doubtfully (not certainly) valid prevents any of these men from dispensing the Sacraments and their followers from receiving them.

Auctorem Fidei, Pope Pius VI, Aug. 28, 1791

The following is condemned in Pope Pius VI’s Auctorem Fidei, referenced above: (Errors regarding the proper order of the liturgy) “by recalling it to a greater simplicity of rites, by expressing it in the vernacular language, by uttering it in a loud voice” (DZ 1533). Also, The proposition which states ‘that power has been given by God to the Church, that it might be communicated to the pastors who are its ministers for the salvation of souls’; if thus understood that the power of ecclesiastical ministry and of rule is derived from the COMMUNITY of the faithful to the pastors, — heretical” (DZ 1502). And so how can Traditional “priests”— with at least the implicit approval of the Traditional community (the “faithful”) — elect or appoint Traditional “bishops” without a papal mandate and not become heretics?!

Charitas, Pope Pius VI, April 13, 1791

And from Charitas, by Pope Pius VI, written in reference to those who were appointed as constitutional bishops by the state in France, not the Pope, and were therefore acting outside the Pope’s jurisdiction:

“Love, which is patient and kindly, as the Apostle Paul says, supports and endures all things as long as a hope remains that mildness will prevent the growth of incipient errors. But if errors increase daily and reach the point of creating schism, the laws of love itself, together with Our duty, demand that We reveal to the erring their horrible sin and the heavy canonical penalties which they have incurred. For this sternness will lead those who are wandering from the way of truth to recover their senses, reject their errors, and come back to the Church, which opens its arms like a kind mother and embraces them on their return. The rest of the faithful in this way will be quickly delivered from the deceits of false pastors who enter the fold by ways other than the door, and whose only aim is theft, slaughter, and destruction

“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 whatsoever. Nor may they otherwise act, decree, or decide, whether separately or united as a council, on matters which relate to ecclesiastical jurisdiction. For 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…”

“At length We beseech you all, beloved Catholic children, in the kingdom of France; as you recall the religion and faith of your fathers, We urge you lovingly not to abandon it. For it is the one true religion which both confers eternal life and makes safe and thriving civil societies. Carefully beware of lending your ears to the treacherous speech of the philosophy of this age which leads to death. Keep away from all intruders, whether called archbishops, bishops, or parish priests; do not hold communion with them especially in divine worship. Listen carefully to the message of your lawful pastors who are still living, and who will be put in charge of you later, according to the canons. Finally, in one word, stay close to Us. For no one can be in the Church of Christ without being in unity with its visible head and founded on the See of Peter.”

And in Artaud de Montor’s The Lives and Times of the Popes, Vol. VIII, Catholic Publication Society 1911, we find 266 pages devoted to Pope Pius VII, including several of Cardinal Consalvi’s verbatim communications to Napoleon on behalf of the pope. One of these addressed Napoleon’s nomination of 15 constitutional bishops for the pope’s approval to take possession of the newly created sees, a right guaranteed to him in the concordance signed with Pope Pius VII. Cardinal Consalvi wrote to the emperor on behalf of Pope Pius VII as follows:

  1. The case of the constitutional bishops is already decided by the Apostolic See, in the dogmatic brief of Pius VI beginning ‘Charitas.’ THAT DOGMATIC DEFINITION CANNOT BE REFORMED. His Holiness may mitigate the penalties therein inflicted on the said bishops, but the judgment of his predecessor is irrefragable.
  2. “The Catholic Church and the whole episcopal body has received and respected this judgment of the Holy See… The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was condemned by the same dogmatic judgment of Pius VI, as containing errors against the deposit of faith… His Holiness observes that, as his predecessor found it impossible to yield to the request made… it is equally impossible for him to admit to his communion and invest with canonical constitution the constitutionals, who, contrary to the dogmatic decision contained in said briefs, persist in maintaining the error condemned in them, refuse to acknowledge their illegitimate character, and to adhere and submit to the judgment pronounced by the Holy See.
  3. “A matter of faith is in question. His Holiness observes that, according to the rules of faith, it belongs to him, and to no other, to judge what the constitutional bishops have done… by pronouncing the profession of faith and the oath, and to confer institution if they are nominated… The rules and constant practice of the Church have always required that none should be received into its bosom, much less assigned as pastors, who have left any heresy or schism, unless they avow expressly that they condemn especially their errors.

Thus is ended the contention of certain Traditionalists who hold Charitas was never a dogmatic decree, or was later qualified or rescinded. Please note above that Pope Pius VI says nothing about a lack of validity on the part of these bishops but addresses only jurisdiction, just as Pope Pius XII does in Ad Apostolorum Principis. On this basis he declares that without said jurisdiction, which only he could grant, all the future acts of these bishops are null and void. And they cannot use the pretext of necessity to justify their actions. This is all very interesting, because in the last paragraph he tells the faithful to listen to their true bishops in exile and warns them not to resort to the ministrations of the constitutional bishops lacking jurisdiction. This resulted in a “home alone” like situation where these Catholics were without Sacraments and Mass for quite some time, yet the pope did not see this as justification in any way to allow them to seek out the bishops he sanctioned.

We have the popes, clearly telling us over and over, that these men have no jurisdiction and precisely why they have no jurisdiction. Pope Pius XII, in deciding that the bishops receive their power from the Roman Pontiff, not directly from Our Lord, squashes every possibility such jurisdiction could ever be granted by Christ. And to those Traditionalists who attempt to quote previous arrangements and canons in support of their consecrations without the papal mandate, we quote the following from Pope Pius IX’s Quartus Supra:

“28. However, some resent and bemoan both Our declaration that this Apostolic See has the right and power to elect a bishop either from the three names recommended or apart from them and Our prohibition against the enthronement of an elected Patriarch without Our prior confirmation. They call Our attention to the customs and canons of their churches as if We had abandoned the provisions of the sacred canons. We might respond to these men in the same way Our predecessor St. Gelasius did when the Acacian schismatics brought the same false accusation against him: They cite the canons against Us without knowing what they are saying since they show that they are themselves in opposition to the canons by the very fact that they deny obedience to the first See although its advice is sound and correct. For these are the very canons which recognize the full, divine authority of blessed Peter over the whole Church. Indeed, they proclaim that he lives and exercises judgment in his successors to the present time and forever, as the Council of Ephesus affirmed.”

And forever means even now, even though he who withholdeth, who Henry Cardinal Manning tells us is the Roman Pontiff,  has been taken out of the way for a time.




Content Protection by
Translate this page »