The Episcopacy (The pastoral Office)

The Pastoral Office, Chapter One

By Henry Cardinal Manning

(All emphasis within these quotes is the editor’s.)

THE EPISCOPATE: ITS JURISDICTION AND PERFECTION

In the following pages we will examine what is the teaching of the Church on the Episcopate, and what has been written by authors who are held in veneration in Rome. The subject matter will, therefore, include (1) what is of Divine faith respecting the Episcopate, and (2) what theological opinions may be safely held concerning it.

To do this more surely, I shall, first, do little else than transcribe the text of authors whose works, after due examination by censors, are printed in Rome, and are placed in the hands of students at the Roman Seminary. In following such authorities there can be no danger of error. Novelties, and opinions merely probable, or permissible, or tenable, citra censuram, are unsafe, (emph. the editor’s throughout). In theology the mid-stream is the surest waterway and has the best anchorage. Such accredited authors exhibit not only what theological opinions may be held, but they show what is actually taught and learned by the clergy under the eye of the Holy See.

I shall therefore refrain from quoting from the early Christian Fathers until the doctrine of faith and the present mind of the Church shall have been ascertained. We shall then have the mature result and enunciation of the Divine tradition. This will fix the true sense of the Fathers, and ought to preclude all conflict of interpreters and of interpretations.

1. The first authority I will take shall be the work of Peter Ballerini, De Potestate Ecclesiastica Summorum Pontificum, written to refute the errors of Febronius, and reprinted in Rome at the Propaganda Press in 1850.

(1) His first proposition is as follows: “The ecclesiastical jurisdiction was given by Christ immediately to Peter and the Apostles, and cannot be said to be given immediately to the Church, as if Peter and the Apostles received it from the Church merely as ministers of the same.” He then adds that this power was given when our Lord gave to them, with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power of binding and loosing — “quae potestas idem est ac jurisdictio” — which power is one and the same with jurisdiction; and therefore, in its origin, it is juris divini — of Divine right.”

The power of binding and loosing and the power of jurisdiction are one and the same. It is the judicial power over souls. And this is in itself a Divine power, for “Who can forgive sins but God only?” Therefore both in its nature and in its origin it is Divine.

(2) His second proposition is: “The ecclesiastical jurisdiction, given immediately to Peter and the Apostles for the welfare of the Church, was not intended to die with Peter and the Apostles, but to pass onward to the successors of Peter and of the Apostles, and to reside immediately in them, and to continue until the consummation of the world; as also the Church is intended to continue until the consummation of the world, for government of which this jurisdiction was instituted by Christ.”

In this proposition it is asserted that the jurisdiction of Peter and of the Apostles resides forever in their successors — that is, in the Roman Pontiff and in the Episcopate; and that this jurisdiction was instituted in the Roman Pontiff and the Episcopate for the government (regimen) of the Church. The Roman Pontiff alone is, in strict sense, the successor of an Apostle, that is, as a person to a person. The Episcopate is collectively the successor of the Apostolate, as a whole succeeding to a whole. “Thus, the same power, or ecclesiastical jurisdiction, by the institution of Christ, continued in the successors of Peter and the Apostles, has come down to the Roman Pontiffs who succeed S. Peter, and to others whom the Apostles constituted as Bishops, and who are the successors of the Apostles; and therefore it belongs to them by the same Divine right, and it resides immediately in the same who constitute the body of chief pastors, as it resided in S. Peter and the Apostles.”

(3) The third proposition distinguishes the primacy of Peter from the jurisdiction common to Peter and the Apostles. “The jurisdiction proper to S. Peter, by reason of his primacy, was in him singular and personal, so that he presided over the other Apostles, who were otherwise equal in power, not by a prerogative of mere order or honour, but of a peculiar right of power over them for the sake of unity; and this right over them he had not only over them one by one (severally), but also as a body, for the preserving of unity. The very same right belongs in like manner to the Roman Pontiffs, the successors of S. Peter, on whom the same primacy, for the same custody of unity, by right of succession devolves.”

The primacy of Peter consists in a twofold plenitude given to him first, and alone — namely, a plenitude of jurisdiction over the whole flock, pastors and people; and a plenitude of Divine assistance, preserving him from error in his office as Universal Teacher of the Church.

Peter and his successors possess this twofold plenitude independently of the Apostles and their successors, and can exercise this supreme office alone; but the Apostles could not, and their successors cannot, exercise their office without Peter and his successors.

The third proposition, then, affirms that all the Apostles were equal in power (omnes potestate pares), excepting only the proper and personal right of the primacy. This primacy was exclusively in S. Peter alone, and in no way common to the other Apostles; and it was instituted by Christ as the means of forming and perpetually preserving the unity of the whole Church. “By this right S. Peter had pre-eminence even over all the Apostles by reason of the primacy, so that, although they were equal with Peter in the other powers of the Apostolate, in the right of enforcing unity they were subject to Peter.”

 (4) The fourth proposition defines the powers of the Episcopate:

The powers of the Apostles did not altogether pass to the Bishops, the successors of the Apostles. For the jurisdiction over the whole Church, which, in the beginning, belonged to the Apostles, was extraordinary, and did not pass to the Bishops, their successors. In Peter alone that power was ordinary, by reason of the primacy; and therefore the inheritance of the primacy belongs to the Roman Pontiffs alone by ordinary right. To no Bishop, save to the successors of S. Peter, does the jurisdiction over other Bishops belong by Divine institution; but by a right which is ecclesiastical only. This jurisdiction has been entrusted to the Bishops of the chief sees, so that all, with the successors of Peter, conspire together for the good of unity; and this ecclesiastical institution cannot in anything prejudice the jurisdiction of S. Peter and his successors, which is of Divine institution.’ Having thus far explained the radical and essential jurisdiction of the primacy of the Roman Pontiffs, the successors of S. Peter, Ballerini goes on further to define the jurisdiction of the Bishops who succeed to the Apostles.

The Apostles had jurisdiction over the whole world, for as much as they were all alike sent by Christ into the whole world to preach the Gospel to every creature. “But when the Apostles constituted Bishops in certain places, that they might give to those places their care and labour, it was expedient that they should be bound to those same places: their jurisdiction did not reach to the whole world, as that of the Apostles, but was circumscribed within certain boundaries for the good of the Church.”

“Hence the jurisdiction of the Apostles over the whole Church was, in a manner, extraordinary, and does not descend to the Bishops, their successors. . . But this (jurisdiction over the whole Church) in Peter was ordinary, and passes with the primacy to the Roman Pontiffs, the heirs of the same primacy and jurisdiction.” Therefore as no Apostle, except Peter, had jurisdiction over another Apostle, so no Bishop, except the successor of Peter, has jurisdiction over another Bishop. All Primates and Metropolitans, therefore, receive their jurisdiction from merely apostolical or ecclesiastical institution.

“From what has been said,” he continues, “it is evident that the jurisdiction of Bishops and of the Supreme Pontiff is of Divine right, but so that the jurisdiction over the Bishops themselves belongs by Divine institution to the Roman Pontiff alone,” all other jurisdiction over Bishops being of ecclesiastical origin. S. Optatus says that “for the good of unity Blessed Peter was preferred before all the Apostles, and alone received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, to communicate them to the others.”

“But the power of binding and loosing, which, depending on the power of the keys, signifies ecclesiastical jurisdiction, though it was given by Christ Himself to the other Apostles, was not, however, given to any of them singly, as to S. Peter—sed in communi et collective cum Petro — but in common and collectively with Peter, who was also with the others when Christ said, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth,’ &c., that all may understand that Bishops, the successors of the Apostles, can do nothing except in unity with Peter and with the successors of Peter.”

(5) The fifth proposition defines the subjection of the Episcopate to the primacy. “The jurisdiction of Bishops, though it be of Divine institution, is nevertheless subject to the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiffs; so that their faculties as Bishops may, for the good of the Church, be limited or restrained by them, as to the use and exercise of the same.”

This proposition follows directly from the power of Divine right in the Roman Pontiffs over the jurisdiction of Bishop, which tametsi institutions divinae — although of Divine institution — is subject to the plenitude of Divine jurisdiction in the primacy. After quoting the words of the Council of Trent on Reservations, Ballerini adds: “In which matter there is specially to be noticed, that if there be any power given jure divino to Bishops which might seem of a kind to be left intact, it is, without doubt, the power of absolving from sin, which, it is manifest, was given without any restriction by Christ Himself to the Apostles and to Bishops the successors of Apostles. If therefore this so great and so unlimited a power, and that of Divine right, is subject to the authority of the Pontiffs, . . . what power cannot be likewise limited?”

(6) The sixth proposition distinguishes between the Divine jurisdiction of Bishops, and the use and exercise of the same. “This limitation and restriction, though it affect the faculties of Bishops, which in their origin are of Divine right, is to be referred to the matter of discipline and of ecclesiastical right.”

“It is well perhaps to explain and to confirm more clearly by another observation the plenitude of the supreme pontifical power, to which the measure and the exercise of the episcopal faculties are subject. Jurisdiction as distinct from the power of Order, if it have no subject on whom to unfold itself, is barren, and lacks all use and exercise. Hence the designation and assigning of subjects, or of a region or diocese in which the episcopal right (episcopale jus, or jurisdiction) may be exercised, is necessary for actual jurisdiction: and he who assigns to Bishops their subjects and dioceses gives also to them the use and exercise of their jurisdiction, which in its origin is of Divine institution.”

“Further, as the designation of subjects of this or of that diocese or province, which was given to Patriarchs, Exarchs, or Metropolitans, does not depend on Divine right, because Christ did not institute any partition or designation of the kind, but belongs to ecclesiastical institution; . . . so the episcopal jurisdiction, in its origin, though it is of Divine right, yet in respect to the designation of subjects and dioceses, and to the actual use of the jurisdiction itself and of episcopal faculties, is to be referred to ecclesiastical institution. And therefore nothing is thereby derogated from the Divine origin and institution of the Episcopate, because this limiting and restricting of their jurisdiction does not touch that which is of Divine origin (i.e. the jurisdiction itself), but that only which was left by Christ to the discretion and disposition of the Apostles and of their successors.”

From all these propositions the following doctrines or principles result:

1. That to Peter alone the plenitude of universal jurisdiction independent of all others was given.

2. That dependently on Peter the other Apostles received jurisdiction over all the world.

3. That to the jurisdiction of Peter the Apostles likewise were subject.

4. That Peter and the Apostles were equal as Apostles, but that Peter in virtue of the primacy was their head.

5. That to Peter and the Apostles succeed the successor of Peter and the Bishops.

6. That Peter alone has a personal succession in the Roman Pontiffs.

7. That Bishops are successors not of an Apostle one by one, but of the Apostles as a body; that is, the Episcopate succeeds the Apostolate as a whole to a whole.

8. That the jurisdiction of Peter and the Apostles is continued in the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops.

9. That this episcopal jurisdiction is Divine in its origin and essence, and inherent in the Episcopate; but its actual use is dependent on the Divine and supreme jurisdiction of the successor of Peter, who alone has power to assign subjects, to designate dioceses, and to restrict the extent and exercise of episcopal jurisdiction.

10. That there is therefore one jurisdiction of Divine origin, namely, the jurisdiction of the primacy, over all the world, i.e. universal, independent, ordinary, immediate, and episcopal, to which all, both pastors and people, are subject; and also the jurisdiction of Bishops, which is Divine in its origin and essence, but in its exercise and use dependent on the supreme jurisdiction of the successor of Peter, but nevertheless in the diocese assigned to him it is in itself ordinary, immediate and Divine.

Ballerini then excludes from his treatment of this subject certain opinions which he describes as follows:

“I have been unwilling in this place to contend about the sense in which are to be understood the testimonies of Fathers and ancient Pontiffs, by which they seem to imply that the keys were to be given to the Apostles themselves through Peter, and that the Episcopate had its origin from Peter and through Peter, and that the episcopal jurisdiction flows to others from Peter and the successors of Peter. For I am unwilling to make the opinion concerning the supreme and plenary power of the Pontiffs over Bishops to hang upon a less certain and controverted opinion. So long as the jurisdiction and authority of Bishops, which is undeniably of Divine right, is confessedly subordinate and subject to the jurisdiction of the Pontiffs in respect to the assigning of subjects, and to the exercise and limitation of episcopal faculties, as the adversaries must concede from the points established, this is enough for me, in whatsoever way its origin and propagation be explained.”

The next authority I will quote is Devoti, who was Professor of Canon Law at the Roman Seminary in 1770, an intimate friend of Gregorio Chiaramonti, afterwards Pius VII, to whom his works are dedicated, and under whose eyes they were written. In the Prolegomena to his Institutiones Canonicae, he sums up the whole subject of the Episcopate in these words: “The Universal College of Bishops, who, united with their head, represent the Universal Church, has jurisdiction over the whole world; but the jurisdiction of each Bishop singly is not extended to those nations over which no government has been committed to him. Therefore the legislation of each Bishop affects the particular diocese over which he is set, and binds the subjects who are contained in it; but beyond his own diocese, inasmuch as he has no subjects, he can have no jurisdiction. By which fact may be solved, as it seems to me, the controversy with which even the Fathers at Trent were occupied, but left still undecided, namely, whether the jurisdiction of Bishops is mediately or immediately from Christ, I am of opinion, indeed, that the jurisdiction which is attached to the Episcopate at large is immediately from Christ Himself, and the special jurisdiction which resides in each alone is mediately conferred. This, which is too briefly stated, must be somewhat more carefully explained. It is certain that Christ instituted the Episcopate, and placed in the whole College of Bishops, united with their head, the whole administrative authority of the Christian commonwealth. I here pass by whatsoever was said to Peter alone, apart from the other Apostles, and I insist only on those places in the Gospels in which authority and jurisdiction over the whole Church were given to the Apostles. But how was the power given in these places? It is always given to all the Apostles together with Peter, to no one of them separately, except to Peter alone, who first, apart from the other Apostles, afterwards together with them, received the power to govern the Church. Therefore the jurisdiction which the whole College of Bishops possesses, who succeed to the Apostles, comes immediately from Christ Himself.”

Further, he says: “But if we consider the Bishops singly, as the rulers of particular Churches, they have received no jurisdiction immediately from Christ. All such jurisdiction arises immediately from the Church, which distributes dioceses, in which each Bishop singly is to exercise jurisdiction, and assigns to him certain subjects whom he is to govern.’ But it may even be granted and conceded that the jurisdiction, not only of the whole College of Bishops, but even of each singly, proceeds immediately from God Himself. For to the fountain we must return. A distinction is to be drawn between the jurisdiction itself and the act and use of it in exercise. The jurisdiction, indeed, may be derived immediately from God; but all act and use of it is from the Church, which gives the use of it (i.e. the right of using it) to each Bishop, when it assigns to him his subjects, on whom he may exercise this jurisdiction, which is itself of Divine right; but so long as it has no subjects it remains an otiose jurisdiction. So in ordination a priest receives the power of forgiving sins; but unless he have subjects assigned to him by the Church he cannot use it.” This power of the Bishops detracts nothing from the monarchy (of the Pontiff); for though it be not precarious, but proper and native, yet, as it depends on the Supreme Pontiff, his monarchical power is certainly not diminished by their power.

It will be enough if to these two be added the words of Ferrante, whose work is used as the textbook in the Roman Seminary at this time. He says: “Whether the Bishop has the power of jurisdiction (jure divino) by Divine right, that is immediately from God, or by human right, that is from the Supreme Pontiff, was a question agitated in the Council of Trent, but not defined; for which cause the Council, defining that Bishops are superior to priests, and inflicting anathema on those who deny it, purposely abstained from using the words jure divino, which many of the Bishops asked as an addition.

“But though any one may embrace either opinion in this question, [Pope Pius XII infallibly defined this matter in Mystici Corporis  and Ad sinarum gentum — Ed.]) yet he who defends the opinion that the power of jurisdiction is of Divine right must be convinced that it is so, subject to the Roman Pontiff; who by his own right can, for a just cause, either wholly take away from the Bishops or suspend that power, or restrain it within certain limits of places or persons or faculties. For that is necessarily required by the primacy of jurisdiction over the Universal Church which by Divine right belongs to the Roman Pontiff. And he who affirms that the episcopal power of jurisdiction is derived immediately from the Roman Pontiff (which opinion indeed is not only more conformable to the reasons which prove the primacy of the Pope over the Church, but also to the testimonies of the Scriptures and of tradition) must not think that it is lawful for the Roman Pontiff to abolish the order of’ Bishops in the Church; for, as we have before seen, the order of Bishops is of Divine institution, and must exist in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.”

He had before defined the Episcopate as “Ordo praditus spirituali potestate cum regendi tum propagandi et perpetuandi sacris ordinationibus Ecclesiam Dei.” It may be well to place in immediate context with this the words of the Vatican Council, which, after defining the monarchy of the Roman Pontiff as a jurisdiction supreme, ordinary, episcopal, and immediate over the whole Church, says, “So far is this power of the Supreme Pontiff from impeding the ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which the Bishops, who, being placed by the Holy Ghost, succeed in the stead of the Apostles as true pastors, feed and rule the several flocks assigned to each, that their power is asserted, strengthened, and vindicated by the Supreme and Universal Pastor, according to the words of S. Gregory the Great: ‘My honour is the honour of the Universal Church. My honour is the solid strength of my brethren. I am then truly honoured when the honour due severally to each is not denied to him.’”

No author has drawn out with greater fullness and precision the nature of the Episcopate than Bolgeni in his refutation of the Febronianism and Regalism, which infested Italy in the last century; and the opinions of Bolgeni may be safely held as sound and Roman. He opens his work with these words: “Bishops are set by the Holy Ghost to rule the Church of God; and the Episcopate is nothing else than the power of ruling and governing the Church — by power is meant the power of order and the power of jurisdiction.” He then treats of the origin of the Episcopate, the superiority of Peter to the Apostles, the primacy of Peter’s successors, the propagation of the Episcopate, its restriction and dependence on the Roman Pontiff, and then the unity of the Episcopate. It is on this that we may dwell for a while.

He draws out from Pope Symmachus and from S. Cyprian the analogy between the unity of the Holy Trinity and the unity of the Episcopate; that is, unity in number, unity in its fountain, unity in plurality, equality in the persons; for the Episcopate of the Bishop of Eugubium is as such equal to the Episcopate of the Bishop of Rome. He then quotes the well-known passage of S. Cyprian, in which he draws out the analogy of the sun and its rays, of the fountain and its streams. He insists on the unity of the origin, of the source, and of the identity of the rays with the sun, and of the streams with the waters of the fountain. He calls the See of Peter the head, the root of the Church. He affirms that God communicates the episcopate through Peter to every Bishop, and that in this he and his brethren are all equal; for the Episcopate in him and in them is one and the same. His superiority is in the primacy, which is distinct from the Episcopate. Next he shows that there is an influx of the primacy of Peter in the whole Episcopate; for without him no Bishop can be elected, confirmed, or consecrated; and when consecrated, he receives from the successor of Peter the diocese and flock within which to rule the Church. In this sense it is strictly true that all comes through Peter; even the power of Order, which is given immediately by God in the Sacrament of Consecration, comes through Peter as the channel through which the consecration is given. This influx of the head in the members of the Episcopate he abundantly proves by the words of S. Optatus, S. Augustine, S. Leo, and many more. He quotes a letter of Stephen of Larissa to Boniface II, read in a Roman Council in A.D. 531, in which he says that “Our Lord, in the words ‘Feed my sheep,’ gave the pastoral care, through the successors of Peter, to the Churches throughout the world.” John of Ravenna, writing to S. Gregory the Great, says that Rome is “That see which has transmitted its rights to the Universal Church.” Pope Gregory IV, speaking of the Roman Church, says: ”That it has so imparted its office (vices suns) to other Churches that they are called to a share of its solicitude, not to the plenitude of its power.” In the Council of Pitres in Gaul, in A.D. 869, it is said that Bishops receive their authority in the person of Peter, “according to the authority which we received in Blessed Peter, when the Lord said, ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth,’” &c. In the Council of Rheims, in A.D. 900, it is said, “By the authority divinely conferred upon Bishops through Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles.” This is what S. Augustine says: “Christ gave this power to the Church in Blessed Peter and his successors”; and S. Leo, “Christ never gave, except through Peter, that which He did not refuse to the others,” and “He transmitted nothing to any one without Peter’s participation.” And S. Gregory of Nyssa, who says that Jesus Christ “gave the keys of heavenly blessings to Bishops through Peter.” After giving many more references he concludes as follows: “Bishops, each one in the government of his Church, act in the place of S. Peter (fanno is veci), are Vicars of S. Peter, and, by consequence, of the successors of S. Peter.”

He then quotes the capitularies of Charlemagne, who says, “That all may know the name, power, authority, and dignity of the priesthood, which may be easily understood by the words of the Lord, by which He said to Peter, whose office Bishops bear (cujus vicem episcopi gerunt, or whose Vicars Bishops are), ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind,’” &c.; and Jona of Orleans, who says, “Of what kind is the sacerdotal power and authority is easily seen from the words of the Lord to Peter (cujus vicem indigne gerimur), whose Vicar we unworthily are.” So also Hincmar of Rheims, “Blessed Peter, in whose (cujus vice) stead Bishops act in the Church.” S. Jerome also says that Bishops “stand in the place of Peter.” All these expressions affirm that every Bishop receives through Peter, but immediately from God, the whole character, grace, and power to govern, not this or that diocese, but the Church. Each particular Church which they govern is assigned to them by the successors of Peter, whom they thereby represent in every place.

The following passage from Natalie Alexander is too much to our point to be omitted: “Bishops arc called frequently by the Fathers successors of Peter, by a right, so to speak, of indirect and collateral succession, because Peter only is the fountain and origin, in a certain way, of the ecclesiastical order, and of the power which is communicated to all Bishops. But by right of direct succession, the Roman Pontiff alone is successor or heir of Peter. As the Apostles almost all had no fixed sees, Bishops cannot be called successors of the Apostles except in general, as our polemical theologians say; that is, they cannot be called specially the successors of Andrew or of Philip, whose authority, as it was extra-ordinary, died with them. But Bishops may by right, and strictly, be called successors of Peter, because Peter alone had the ordinary power to which they succeeded, and to which the authority of all prelates has relation, as to the principal and fontal authority. Therefore all Bishops may be called successors of Peter in authority, but not in the degree of authority; that is, they are successors of S. Peter in the Episcopate, not in the primacy.

The Episcopate in all the world is the representative of Peter; for Peter, as S. Augustine says, represents the Church; and this representation is reciprocal by reason of the identity and unity of the Episcopate, and of the jurisdiction which they receive partly through him and partly from him, because they possess not only the jurisdiction which is potentially inherent in the power of Order, but the actual jurisdiction in which that inherent power of government comes forth into act and exercise.” They have, moreover, a jurisdiction which is in no way contained in their other powers, whereby as delegates of the Holy See they can do what lies beyond their ordinary jurisdiction. In this manifold sense the Episcopate in all the world, and every several Bishop in his diocese, is the proper and only true representative of Peter and of the Holy See. So also Peter of Blois, in his Institutio Episcopi, addressed to a friend lately consecrated, says, “Haeres es et Vicarius Petri, pasce oves meas and again, “Christi Villicus es et Vicarius Petri.

The doctrine of the Episcopate thus stated and defended by Bolgeni is fully developed in the following passage: “Returning to the superiority of S. Peter, we have said and proved that in him the episcopal power was lodged by Jesus Christ in all its fullness and sovereignty in distinction from the other Apostles, in whom it was indeed lodged in all its fullness, but with subordination and dependence on S, Peter. This is true if each Apostle be considered alone and by himself; but if the Apostles are considered as a college or body having S. Peter as head, then this body, united with its head, possesses the Episcopate not only in its fullness, but also in its sovereignty. Let it be noted that Jesus Christ in the act of conferring the universal Episcopate, and of giving mission to His Apostles, said to them, all united together, ” Go and teach all nations; preach the Gospel to every creature.” Pope Celestine I notes this circumstance excellently when he says that all Bishops ought to execute this commandment of preaching the Word of God, which was given in common to all the Apostles: Christ “wills that we all should do what He thus commanded in common to all (the Apostles). It was not possible that each several Apostle should go throughout the world to preach the Gospel to all the nations of the earth.”

That was fulfilled by the Apostles taken all together; and it was immediately fulfilled by means of the disciples who did so. The Episcopate therefore, considered in its division into many persons, carries in itself its restriction (i.e. of offices), as Bossuet has told us; but, considered as a college or body of persons, it resumes, I say, its sovereignty. In fact, we see in the constant practice of the Church this point of doctrine clearly expressed. No Bishop by himself, nor many Bishops united together, possess the privilege of infallibility in matters of dogma, nor can make laws in matters of discipline, which oblige out of their own dioceses. And yet when the Bishops meet legitimately in a body representing the whole Episcopal College, that is, in a General Council, the dogmatic decisions which emanate from this body are infallible, and the laws of discipline bind the whole Church. In this body there is to be clearly seen the full, sovereign, sole, and indivisible Episcopate, “of which a part is possessed fully by each.” But every reader already well understands that the Bishops, in howsoever great a number they may be assembled, can never form the body, or represent the Episcopal College, if they have not at their head S. Peter in his successor.

The episcopal body is not headless (acefalo); but, by the institution of Jesus Christ Himself, has a head in the person of the Roman Pontiff. A body without a head is not that (body) to which Jesus Christ, gave the Episcopate full and sovereign. He conferred it on the College of the Apostles, including Saint Peter, who was made superior to all the Apostles. The Episcopate, which is one and indivisible, is such precisely by reason of the connection of the bishops among themselves, and of their submission to one sole Bishop, who is universal and sovereign. Therefore the full, universal, and sovereign power of governing the Church is the Episcopate, full and sovereign, which exists in the person of S. Peter and of each of his successors, and in the whole Apostolic College united to S. Peter, and in the whole body of the Bishops united to the Pope.

Lay Election of Popes Disproven by Church History

© Copyright 2009; revised 2022, T. Stanfill Benns (All emphasis within quotes added by the author)

Introduction

Appearances can be deceiving; that is why Our Lord tells us in the Gospel to “Judge not by appearances…” In general reviews of Church history, law and teaching, the statement is often found that in the early ages of the Church, clergy and people elected the Pope.  This statement leads one to believe that bishops, priests, and people voted for who would become pope and shared an active role in papal elections. But this is nothing more than an assumption, in reality. On closer investigation, the current laws of the Catholic Church governing papal election (Pope Pius XII’s “Vacantis Apostolica Sedis”) are far closer to what existed from the beginning than it appears. And while it is true that laymen can be elected pope, it is not true, as some have claimed, that this occurred with relative frequency in the first millennia A.D. Nor is it true, in any way, that the election of laymen is an indifferent matter; that the selection of laymen as papal candidates is in any way “business as usual” for the Church, or something that is looked upon as desirable. Church history reveals that only during one disastrous period were laymen elected or appointed pope, with the peripheral participation of laymen, with any frequency. As we shall see, the results of these elections were nothing short of scandalous and detrimental to religion. Following Our Lord’s advice then, we have taken a closer look not only at the history and practice of the Church where lay participation in papal elections is concerned, but at what Christ Himself has indicated as His will in this important matter.

What Did Jesus do?

Protestants have popularized the slogan “What would Jesus do?” on bracelets, in publications on coffee cups and so forth. Just as they took off with Fr. Lord’s “The family that prays together stays together,” the Protestants adopted “WWJD” as their own slogan, although it first appeared in print in a work by the Cistercian Abbot, Dom J. B. Chautard (“Soul of the Apostolate”) over 60 years ago. Chautard’s exact words to Catholics seeking to advance in the spiritual life were: “What would Jesus do? How would He act in my place? What would He advise? What does He ask of me at this moment? Such are the questions which arise of their own accord in the soul eager for interior life.”

To know what Jesus would do, we must first know what He did do and use this as our template, since no one can know the mind or motives of Our Lord in any other way. The Apostles and early Christians constantly looked to the life and works of Christ for inspiration, striving to imitate their Savior in every possible detail. Before the times of massive Church membership and government, before the Gospels were even set down in written form and distributed to the Churches, Apostolic tradition and preaching were all that existed to keep the faith alive; that and the blood of the martyrs, known to all as the seed of the faith. In this sacrifice of life itself, the Apostles and early Christians found perfection in imitating their Master. The Apostles preached, offered the Holy Sacrifice and administered the Sacraments in obedience to Our Lord. Likewise they were martyred in obedience to His teachings and instructed their followers to sacrifice all in obedience to His teachings as well; teachings which ultimately came from God the Father. It was and remains the most important lesson of all time.

Obedience

Obedience to God’s will in all things was the most predominant virtue in Our Lord. Here we have a God, obedient unto death to His heavenly Father, when at any moment a legion of angels could have delivered Him from any evil which threatened Him. Even as a Child, He could have freed Himself from the chill of the stable, the rigors of the flight to Egypt, the poverty of His life in Nazareth and the need to apprentice Himself to His stepfather as a lowly carpenter. He could have lived in a palace with servants, but He chose to stay where His Father had placed him, in obedience.

Even though it worried and frightened Mary and Joseph, He was bound to go to the Temple following His Bar Mitzvah, for in this way he was giving the first fruits of his newly declared spiritual manhood to His Father, and claiming His rightful place on the very site He would one day preach.  After St. Joseph’s death, He would remain with His Mother as her only support, continuing to work in the trade of His stepfather. And at her request and in obedience, He performed His first miracle by changing the water to wine at a wedding. Thus began His Public Life.

In the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before His death, Christ renewed His intent to obey His Father in all things. He willed to suffer a horrible agony and death to accomplish that obedience and our redemption. He told His disciples that on the other side of this horrible suffering and ignominy was new life, the Resurrection. And still they begged Him not to do His Father’s will; to escape His fate instead. Many beg us to escape our own suffering and forget we must obey. They urge us to attend illicit or invalid Masses and receive invalid or sacrilegious Sacraments; to place ourselves under some illicitly ordained and/or consecrated cleric, or accept some lay-appointed “pope” as our leader. Like Christ we have only one choice we can make if we are to accomplish our eternal goal.

What Christ taught and did

Many of us have gone to great lengths to discover what all this true obedience entails. But years of studying theological and other works seemed to provide only incomplete answers. That is because the answer lay in what Christ said and did.  This we learn from one of the great Fathers of he Church, St. Cyprian, who wrote: “Most of the bishops…set over the Lord’s churches throughout the world, hold to the method of evangelical truth and of the Lord’s tradition, and depart not by any human and novel institution, from that which Christ our master both taught and did…The Will of God is what Christ has done and taught,“(Faith of Catholics, Vol. 1, Msgr. Capel, editor). Likewise the Asiatic bishops, commenting on the approbation of the canonical books of Scripture, stated that: “As, on this principle of what Christ had done and taught, the writings of which we are speaking were admitted as sacred and divine…” (Ibid; all emph. mine).

How can what Christ taught and did lead us to the truth concerning who are valid and lawful successors of the Apostles? We need only trace Jesus’ actions in the Gospels to see the will of God in the Divine laws Christ enacted for the selection and identification of His Apostles and their true successors.

Holy Scripture tells us that:

1) Christ received his Divine commission from His Father in Heaven; He was appointed to teach, to govern and to sanctify the faithful.
2) He was the High Priest and King.
3) He did not assume this power on His own, because this would have destroyed the Divine chain of command; He was sent by His Father.
4) When He began His public ministry, Jesus first “called” his apostles to their vocation, then trained them for three years before ordaining and consecrating them all at the Last Supper.  
5) He first promised St. Peter the keys (the papacy) and made him the leader of the rest. But he did not make him Pope until after the Resurrection, because until then Christ Himself was the visible Head of the Church.
6) Also after the Resurrection He sent the Apostles to baptize and convert the whole world, investing them with the powers that He promised them and later sending them the Holy Ghost.
7) He promised to be with His Church, as He constituted it, “until the consummation of the world,” and he made this promise to all the Apostles, not just Peter. Therefore the Pope and His successors and the Apostles and their successors, the bishops, would exist until Christ comes again, and the earth is destroyed by fire.
8) Sending priests to preach in God’s name dates back to the Old Testament.
9) Christ commissioned His Apostles to: teach (teaching them all things); to govern (He gave all the Apostles jurisdiction after the Resurrection); and to sanctify (baptizing converts and doing all that He commanded).
10) Evil men would try to enter the sheepfold to steal, kill and destroy the flock.
11) Some of these would enter secretly.
12) And they would deny the Divinity of Christ.

Bishops and the ordination of priests

Men are called to the priesthood by the proper bishops of their diocese, and a true pope must grant these bishops the necessary jurisdiction to call these men. The pope granting the jurisdiction can only have been legitimately elected according to all the rules for election laid down by a previous true pope, and must be ordained and consecrated by certainly valid and licit bishops either before or immediately following his election. The Popes always have been accepted by a reasonable number of faithful, (on Pentecost a few thousand accepted Peter; during the Western Schism different papal claimants had anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 followers, and this when the world population was much smaller.) Priests are trained for eight years or more and personally receive much spiritual education and direction from their instructors and confessors.  If these priests feel that these students are not advancing as they should, they can ask them to leave the seminary at any time. So they are called and trained as Christ called and trained the Apostles. If this training deviates in any one detail from what Christ taught and did, and what His Church says He taught and did, the calling and training of men for the ministry is not a blessing, but a curse. As St. Thomas Aquinas says, it is better to have fewer, but holier priests, than many who lack holiness and proper training.

Those rightly and licitly trained and retained are eventually ordained and some are consecrated bishops. But this ordination and consecration, to truly make these men priests and bishops, must come from one who belongs to a line of bishops proving their succession from the Apostles. And because Christ placed all the Apostles under St. Peter, and made them subject to him, these bishops must be in communion with the true pope. These are two indispensable conditions of what the Church calls Apostolic Succession. The Apostles and all the men who succeeded them create an unbroken line reaching directly back to Christ. There can be absolutely no break in the matter of orders or jurisdiction received from this line, or the Church is not the Church Christ constituted when He was on earth. He promised it would last as He constituted it until the end of time and His promises are always true. If we say there can be a break either where orders or jurisdiction are concerned, we say that He is a liar and was only a man; a great prophet perhaps, but not God. But only God could have guided the ship that is the Church all these years through so many hurricanes and gales and over so many dangerous reefs without shipwreck where Apostolic Succession is concerned.

Lay participation in the selection of priests and bishops

The Church teaches infallibly that the bishops are the successors of the Apostles. Bishops alone have the completion of the priesthood Christ granted the Apostles when he placed them in charge of the worldwide Church, with Peter as their head. In the early ages of the Church, the bishops allowed the laity to nominate the clergy they believed would be good priests and bishops, then the bishops would choose the most worthy from among these men for consecration. “St. Cyprian…never promoted anyone to Holy Orders without first taking the advice of his people and clergy,” (Rev. J. Tixeront, “Holy Orders and Ordination”). “The bishop was elected by the people, by the clergy of the Church over which he was to preside, and by the bishops of the province. We hasten to add that the strict right to elect belonged to the bishops of the province while the people and inferior clergy were merely consulted…

Jules Le Breton and Jacques Zeiller comment that “The bishops were elected by the Churches but they were usually proposed by the clergy of the city, and it was for the Christian people, then, to confirm their choice,” (“The History of the Primitive Church”). Tixeront explains that this only lasted until the sixth century. “But beginning in the sixth century, the Church began by degrees to withdraw the power granted to the people and the inferior clergy to elect priests and deacons,” (Ibid). From that time on, the only vestige of their former right was the power they had to oppose the Ordination of candidates whom they deemed unworthy, the “scrutiny,” still retained today in the rite of Ordination.

This is confirmed by St. Alphonsus Liguori in his “Exposition and Defense of Faith.” He notes under the 23rd session of the Council of Trent that the heretics then proposed that “all Christians are priests, and the call of the magistrate and consent of the people” were required for ordinations and consecrations. In response to this one Council father stated that “If the people had sometimes chosen priests or deacons, the election was made by the concession of the Holy See, but the right of confirming it and giving spiritual power belonged exclusively to the Churc” Another Council attendee added to this statement that the people assisted at the election only to give the necessary testimony [to the character of the candidates] but that they did not elect.” The laity today can still present themselves at ordinations and object to the candidates to be ordained.

In Rome, for the first 1,000 years or so, the clergy (bishops and priests) of Rome elected the pope but just as in any other diocese, they accepted the recommendations of the people regarding who should be eligible for election. Rev. Tixeront reports that deacons were typically elected to the papacy, because in the course of their active ministry they acquired a greater range of pastoral experience. This does not indicate that in these early centuries, laymen were elected pope. Nor is any credence given here to the idea that laity claimed an active vote in papal elections. Catholic historians regularly complain that it is very often next to impossible to state anything with certainty concerning the papacy, especially in the years 800-1,000. And very often, in researching popes before this time, the history books will say that nothing or very little is known concerning them. Hughes tells us only that by the eighth century, the election by, clergy, Roman nobility and the people was the “customary” practice. Some have intimated that the laity cast votes directly for the popes in these elections, but if this actually happened it was an event that occurred contrary to and outside the law.

Every exception to or derogation from the law must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt when following the Scholastic method mandated by the Church. Things deviating from the law are not to be drawn into precedent, (Rev. Amleto Cicognani, “Canon Law”). No certainty can be had in this matter, and we know that a certainly valid law did exist. In an “ancient canon,” a priest writing a biography on St. Bernard shows that the faithful had only the power to nominate, as was the case with selecting priests and bishops. This Canon states: “The Church ordains that the preference shall always be given to him who, at the request of the people, with the consent and concurrence of the clergy, has been first placed by the Cardinals in the chair of Blessed Peter” (“Life and Teaching of St. Bernard,” Rev. Ailbe Luddy, Cist., 1950).

Lay participation in papal elections

It was this old law to which Pope Nicholas II referred in 1059 when he officially limited the election of a pope to the cardinals. Referring to one of the earliest laws governing elections, Pope Nicholas II wrote: “However, it would certainly be correct and even lawful, if the order of selection carefully weighed in the opinion of Pope Leo the Great was resumed…If the perversity of depraved and wicked men shall so prevail that a pure, sincere and free election cannot be held in Rome, the cardinal bishops, with the clergy of the Church and the Catholic laity may have the right and power, even though few in numbers, of electing a pontiff for the Apostolic See wherever it may seem most suitable,” (April 12, 1059). When we investigate the history of Pope Leo the Great (Pope Leo I), we discover why Luddy referred to an ancient canon — Pope Leo the Great reigned from 440-461 A.D.  The historian Philip Hughes reports that during the time of Pope Gelasius I, “A carefully noted collection of all the canons of the councils and decrees of the different popes deciding cases” already had been collected, and among these easily could have been this ancient canon, (“A History of the Church,” Vol. II). It is most likely, then, that the ancient canon referred to by Luddy appeared in this early collection, which was later included in other official collections, even the Hadriana, used by Christian princes. So very early in the Church’s history Her laws clearly limit the laity to the nomination of papal candidates only. We know this because a later law limited even this level of participation in an election.

This original law of Pope Leo I was echoed again in 769, when Pope Stephen III decreed at the Lateran Synod that the Pope was to be chosen “only from the Cardinals of the Church or the deacons of Rome” (Rev. Ronald Cox, “A Study on the Juridical Status of Laymen in the Writing of the Medieval Canonists”). There had to be a good reason for Pope Stephen to make this decision. We can only assume that he believed that even lesser clergy were not qualified as papal candidates, far less laymen. At the same time, Pope Stephen placed further restrictions on the role played by the laity: “None but clerics should take part…in the election. The laity’s share (nomination) was reduced to the opportunity of cheering the newly-elected Pope and of signing the Acta of the election in sign of agreement,” (Hughes, Ibid.). So the myth of the laity’s right to actually cast a vote for a papal candidate cannot find support in ancient canon law, in papal law or in Church history. Divine law permits only the clergy to actually elect, because to them was entrusted the government of the Church by Christ Himself. The confusion surrounding the laity’s role in papal elections is much easier to understand once Church history is explained.

Rev. George Stebbing C.S.S.R., in his “The Story of the Church,” adds that Pope Nicholas II decreed that: “(1) The selection of a candidate should first be considered by the cardinal bishops, who then, with the other cardinals, should proceed to an election to be afterwards acclaimed by the rest of the clergy and the laity; (2) A Roman member of the clergy should be chosen if possible; (3) The election should be held in Rome, [but if not] the new Pope would exercise full authority even before being enthroned.” The decision to accord the Roman emperor only the right of acclamation in the election had “the effect of taking the choice out of the hands equally of the German emperors and the Roman clergy.” So how was the myth of lay involvement and the election of lay popes perpetuated and used to justify lay election today?

The Siege of Christendom

Lay involvement in elections was at its height during a period Hughes describes as “The Siege of Christendom.” At the beginning of this period, contravening the laws of Pope Leo I and Stephen III, a part in papal elections was restored to the laity and the papal election was limited to the Roman clergy and people, (822-827). The emperor also commanded that the pope swear an oath of allegiance to him, and that no pope would be consecrated until the emperor’s representative had decided that the election laws laid down by the emperor were followed to the letter. First the Roman nobility, in the 800s, then the German emperors, in the next century, either designated their choice for pope openly or reserved the right to approve the choice of the electors. Far from benefiting and providing stability to the Church, these concessions, agreed to only reluctantly by the Church, proved disastrous. Hughes calls these concessions ”unfavorable to the popes,” and describes the time period of the siege, 814-1046, as “the end of even the elementary decencies of life…These years are perhaps the darkest in all known European history. Nowhere are they darker than in Rome, where for sixty years one family dominated, making and unmaking popes at its pleasure…The details of this story are so grotesque, they lose all relation to reality.”

Rev. Stebbing adds: “[All] was covered with a cloud of ignorance, barbarism and corruption which almost seemed to envelope everything…And out of the darkness we have to make out what we are able of the persons or things that appear by the aid of the few and by the no means unimpeachable historians who lived in the period. The general barbarism and violence of the age told very disastrously on the position of the Holy See and the character of its occupant. Never was there a time when its subjection to the secular powers around it were so oppressive and so never has there been a time when so many unworthy pontiffs made their way to Peter’s chair. It was as if Divine Providence would furnish an object lesson of what the consequences would be if the Pope were anything but free, sovereign and independent.” Popes were rumored to have mistresses, they were implicated in murder and torture plots, and they were involved in all manner of intrigues. One pope was poisoned and beaten, another strangled to death in prison, and another very nearly died from a beating but survived. One, it is said, had his nose cut off. Another lay rotting in the streets before his burial and another was dug up from his grave to be deposed in full papal regalia. The features of the face of one antipope were obliterated, he was drug through the streets of Rome and he later was beheaded.

Hughes, Prof. McSorley and Stebbing explain the actual progression of papal election in these ages. First, local Roman rulers were forced to intervene in papal elections when the unruly people who participated in them revolted because their favorite candidates were not elected. On several occasions in the fifth and sixth centuries these rulers forced two rival contestants to resign, or decided from between two contestants who the true pope would be. Then the Carolingian emperors were involved in papal elections and until about 962, a Roman faction nominated every papal candidate. The freedom of election had been lost in the 800s, with the papacy treated as a prize to be won by these various political factions for their own benefit. When an agreement signed with the king of Italy in 824 gave the Roman people a share in the election again, the problems began. Yet even after this concession, we still find that the popes were not appointed, but elected by clergy and people or the Roman clergy until the latter part of the century. The 900s saw the reign of the Roman family the Theophylacts, who imposed one after another unworthy candidate on the throne of St. Peter. Eventually the German emperor Otto I stepped in, ended threats by barbarians and became the protector of Rome. Stebbing says he “nominated candidates to the papacy, summoned popes to trial and on occasion, deposed them.”

Age of the lay popes

It was Pope John XII who requested that Otto I end the interference of rival Roman factions in Church government and it was this same pope who crowned Otto I, making him master of Italy. He came to Italy shortly after the election of the first certainly known lay pope, Leo VIII, elected in 963. All historians now agree Leo was a layman. A council decreed his election invalid because Leo was a layman, but the emperor Otto later reinstated him. He reigned for only two years. It was over a several-year time period following Otto’s rule that two or three other lay popes were elected. Benedict VIII was the second layman “forcibly” elected and he is said to have been at least not incompetent or scandalous. Some believe he was a cleric on election. All agree that John XIX, brother of John XVIII was a layman when elected, and Hughes reports that he “revived the worst traditions of his tenth century predecessors.” But Rev. Stebbing disagrees.

“John XIX was clearly aware of his lack of preparation for this sacred office, and deplored it openly. He determined to guide his conduct by the advice of the best and wisest men he could find to counsel him. In this way…he was able to bear himself with dignity and escape the pitfalls laid for his want of ecclesiastical knowledge.” John XII, pope at the beginning of Otto’s reign, was one of the most scandalous popes to be elected during this approximately 225-year period. His degeneracy was equaled only by Benedict IX, who ruled off and on from 1032 to 1046. Benedict was one of two very young men made popes during these times, although several respected historians firmly state that he was somewhere between 18-30, not 12 at the time of his election, and some maintain he was a cleric. Others believe he was a layman. Benedict’s successor is said to have bought the papacy from Benedict to end the scandal and his evils resulting from his reign, (Stebbing). But soon this evil period would end.

The differing reports of historians concerning the number of lay popes tells us only that we cannot assume they were laymen, particularly since this was not the usual practice of the Church. No one can “prove” the status of these popes, one way or the other, if even the historians disagree. The practice of the Church shows that on all but a few confirmed occasions, clerics were elected to the papacy. The issue here is NOT whether laymen were or were not elected; no one is contesting this. The issue is whether they were ordained and consecrated following election. Even if one or two were not ordained or consecrated before their deaths, (and we know of two confirmed instances of this —Adrian V and Stephen II), Divine jurisdiction was still received and could be exercised in the external forum, according to Canons 109 and 218.

Painful transition

The papacy was at the mercy of its protectors, be they the Romans or the Germans. Unlike today, they were not their own city-state. The Popes have never had their own armies, other than palace guards. Whatever Rome suffered, they suffered. They could have fought the nominations of the emperors and the Theophylacts, but soon realized that disastrous consequences followed. Popes who did not go along with the powers that be were murdered, poisoned, imprisoned, tortured and held, basically, under house arrest. The emperors exacted a stiff fee for their protection. Even though the clergy at times had only a “nominal” part in the election (Hughes), this was preferable to the alternative. Having no part in the election, the confusion and harm to the faithful brought by contested elections, (which occurred anyway) and outright extended vacancies of the Holy See, known to be disastrous, was what they were facing.

The Church was relieved when Henry III, emperor of Germany, came on the scene, for Henry proved to be a better emperor than previous ones. Hughes records that in 1024 he “put an end to the scandals” in Rome, deposed three claimants to the papacy, and “nominated as pope a good German prelate…who took the name Clement II.” All in all, Henry nominated a total of three popes to the papacy. And the people and clergy confirmed his nominations without complaint. Henry, after all, was not a common man, but of royal blood. And the men he appointed were all bishops. One of them, Pope Leo IX was a saint. The man who succeeded him, Victor II, was the last pope nominated by an emperor. The Roman clergy elected Stephen IX and his successor and the next Pope, Nicholas II, ended the appointment of popes by the emperors. But this did not come about without a final opposition on the part of the imperialists, which made for a protracted transition. 

Even after Pope Nicholas II’s law was passed in 1059, ending the reign of the emperors over the papacy, the Church’s affair with imperialism was not over. On Nicholas II’s death, a pope was elected according to the new law, and then German and Lombard bishops selected another man favored by the nobility of Rome (antipope Honorius II). A schism ensued which lasted three years. It took a council to condemn Honorius before Pope Alexander II could begin his reign. (Over one-fourth of the entire list of antipopes in the Church’s history can be found during the time period from 814-1061.) As Hughes comments, the condemnation of lay involvement “suffered somewhat of an eclipse.” 

The next round against imperialism came with the condemnation of lay investiture. Emperors, foiled at interfering with papal elections, still did not hesitate to engage in simony and appoint bishops to sees without papal approval. It was a deeply ingrained abuse that had been part and parcel of the state-run situation in Rome for over two centuries, and unless it also was eradicated, Rome would never be entirely free.

Hughes comments that Gregory VII’s reign, which began in 1073 and ended in 1085 “were years of scarcely uninterrupted storm.” Lay investiture was challenged; a Roman council was convened which declared all those receiving sees from laymen excommunicated as well as the laymen who were offering them. King Henry IV of Germany failed to take Pope Gregory VII’s decision seriously, and prepared to appoint five bishops to sees. Gregory VII threatened him with censure, and Henry responded by trying to unseat the pope. For a time Gregory was even kidnapped, but was eventually returned to the Vatican. The excommunication was delivered to Henry, who submitted to the pope. Later however he returned to his old practices and the excommunication was renewed. The pope was taken prisoner again. He died with Italy divided, imperialism still threatening, and another three-year schism in progress. But the excommunication of Henry left a lasting impression, or should have. With time and troubles that demanded greater attention, imperialism subsided. It would come to life again during the Great Western Schism, the Reformation and in our own times.

Perpetuity of Pope Nicholas II’s law

The experiment of laymen even nominating other laymen as popes, or confirming a nomination made by the emperor, should have left a very bad taste in the mouths of Catholics, as Rev. Stebbing notes above. It resulted in the most shameful behavior and painfully embarrassing history for the Church. The Church only agreed to the conditions imposed by the emperors in fear of their lives and in hopes of purchasing what little modicum of order remained. Certainly no one should point to these regrettable years to prove that the feasibility of laity participating in any way in the election of the unworthy (whether the one “elected” is a cleric or layman) is anything worthy of repetition. Most certainly it is not something that can be cited as a precedent that would grant permission. (Even during the “Siege” period, historians note, clerics assisted in the election by at least confirming the emperor’s nomination.) The very last vestige of any participation in an election by an emperor came with Pope St. Pius X’s removal of the emperor’s right to veto a papal candidate prior to election. This is the reverse of nominating a candidate in that it amounts to deflecting the nomination of a candidate considered unworthy. This power was not the grant of an actual vote. It was a refusal right exercised by the last remaining Catholic emperors in St. Pius X’s own papal election. He later abrogated this veto in his 1904 papal election law, Vacante sede apostolica.

Both the historian Hughes, writing in 1935 and Rev. Anscar Parsons in his canon law commentary “Canonical Elections” (1939) state that Pope Nicholas II’s law was still in effect at the time that they wrote their works, since his “decree fixed the law for all future times,” (Hughes). Inasmuch as the law that he wrote limited papal electors to the cardinals who were to elect a cleric, this part of the election has never changed. Hughes notes that Nicholas’ law stated that, “Henceforth, the only electors were the cardinal bishops and the cardinal clergy of Rome. They were to elect, by preference, a cleric of the Roman Church. The emperor is not accorded any rights…” Pope St. Pius X’s election law and Pope Pius XII’s reordering of his law, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis codified Pope Nicholas II’s law, effectively retaining its relevant parts and abrogating the rest. Pius XII admits the possibility that a layman could be elected (Six ans se sont, 1957), but only if deemed “fit” prior to his acceptance of the papacy. This is because at least two laymen already were officially listed as valid popes, a dogmatic fact which is indirectly infallible. Pius XII’s papal election law makes no specific mention of the election of a layman, however, although he orders that anyone elected who is not yet a priest must be ordained and consecrated. He addressed the matter of electing a layman only because those clamoring for novelty and change in the Church (Yves Congar and others) brought it up and the matter needed to be clarified. One would think that Traditional conclavists, who should be decrying innovations at every turn, would have been the last to resort to one.

In writing his papal election law, Pius merely added that a two-thirds plus one majority was needed for valid election and eliminated Pope St. Pius X’s requirement: that cardinal-deacons not yet ordained could not participate in the election unless they had first received permission from the Pope before his death. (This reflected the former law of Pope Sixtus V, who in 1586 decreed that there would be three levels of Cardinals: six cardinal bishops, 50 cardinal priests, age 30 or greater and 14 cardinal deacons. The cardinal deacons, he said, “could be 22, provided they became priests within one year of their appointment,” (Glenn D. Kittler, The Papal Princes). When Pope St. Pius X wrote his papal election law in 1904, Canon Law had not yet been codified. When it was codified, with this saint as the primary author of the Code and Pope Pius XII as one of his many assistants, this law was strengthened.  It was incorporated into the Code under Can. 232. This Canon states: “Cardinals… must be at least priests and be endowed with exceptional learning, training and experience,” (Revs. Woywod-Smith). Some have tried to say that the restriction of the right to election to Cardinal priests and bishops was an innovation strengthened by antipope John 23. But Pope Stephen III’s law above proves this is far from the truth.

We have explained before that the mention of the stipulation for emergencies found in Pope Nicholas II’s law cannot be interpreted as a privilege allowing the laity only to elect. It is included in a law intended to be in effect in perpetuity, but this does not give it the status of a privilege or extend it beyond its original purpose. It does lay down the method for proceeding in an emergency, and we do find ourselves in such an emergency. However, as Pope Pius XII decrees in his Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, only the cardinals, (and as others have taught, in their absence the bishops) can decide what is to be done in the present situation. “If…a pure, sincere and free election cannot be held in Rome, the cardinal bishops, with the clergy of the Church and the Catholic laity may have the right and power, even though few in numbers, of electing a pontiff for the Apostolic See wherever it may seem most suitable,” (Nicholas II, April 12, 1059).

If we reference Pope St. Leo II’s law as Pope Nicholas II advises, all this provision says is that an election may be held outside of Rome with the usual provisions made for the laity; that of nomination at best and affirmation at the least. This is a restatement of an ancient law specifically designed to exclude direct lay participation in elections, (actual vote or appointment). The Church’s laws in this regard have not changed in nearly 1600 years.  There should no longer be any doubt about this. The Church fought valiantly to escape State control; She knew its many dangers. And to return to such a system would be to invite the return of calamity, as we have seen.

Apostolic succession never absent

Even during the tumultuous times of the Church’s “Siege” era, despite any irregularities in papal elections, one thing never changed, and this can be proven historically: whether laymen or clerics in minor orders, the one elected was always ordained and consecrated as soon as possible, then crowned. They were accepted as popes afterward by the entire Church. Inexperienced popes had full benefit of all the great minds at the Vatican for training, advice and briefing. In this manner they obtained full Apostolic succession since they were ordained and consecrated by successors of the apostles, to continue the Church’s Divine mission. No lay pope-elect has ever ruled the Church for any meaningful period of time without benefit of ordination/consecration. The instances of clerics elected pope remaining for a time without orders happened in the early ages of the Church when lay interference in elections was at its peak or Rome was undergoing attack from barbarians or foreign armies. These popes were elected validly by the cardinals and clergy, were accepted by the faithful and all were clerics on election. This is a far cry from lay people electing a questionably valid and illicit priest or a disqualified layman, or lay people and/or illicit clergy electing an illicitly ordained priest who is then consecrated by an illicitly consecrated bishop.

Research to date ascertains that five popes experienced delays in their consecrations, meaning that they were either deacons or priests at the time of their valid and licit elections, so were members of the hierarchy, (Can. 108). They also were subsequently accepted by the faithful. Stephen II, a deacon or priest on election in 752, simply died that same year before he could be consecrated; scarcely anything is known about him. The same is true of Adrian V, a cardinal-deacon elected in July 1286 who is confirmed as dying before receiving consecration. He reigned for 36 days (some say six weeks) and died in August. His only remarkable act was to suspend what some cardinals considered an overly strict law regarding Conclave rules enacted by his predecessor Gregory X, (1911 Catholic Encyclopedia). His successor, John XXI, later ratified the suspension of these rules. Eventually, however, the very rules Pope Gregory X proposed were adopted: the requirement that cardinals must remain inside the Conclave until the election of the pope regardless of any privations. These later became the permanent rules governing conclaves, and remain to this day.

As for the other three, Pope St. Leo II, a cardinal-priest was not consecrated for 17 months, being elected in January 681, sometime after the death of Pope Agatho on Jan. 10, 681. It is quite interesting to note that several historians do not date Leo II’s reign as Pope until 682, following his consecration, even though he was elected in 681. Pope St. Leo II was consecrated on Aug. 17, 682 and on this same day confirmed the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, which had been in session at the time of Pope Agatho’s death, (Rev. Newman C. Eberhardt, C.M., “A Summary of Catholic History,” Vol. I. Eberhardt cites this confirmation as being made in “a letter to the emperor.”) Pope St. Leo II is listed as reigning from 682-683 in the Council of Constantinople documents cited by Henry Denzinger’s “Sources of Catholic Dogma,” (1957 edition).  

Pope St. Leo II died in 683, shortly after his consecration. His successor Benedict II, also had to wait 11 months before receiving consecration. Pope Gregory IV, elected as a cardinal-priest, waited six months after his election before being consecrated in March, 828. Once again, these delays were certainly not Church policy, but were imposed by agreements made by Rome with the emperors. They are nothing to be passed off lightly. And given the one precedent we have, certainly ordination and/or consecration have never been postponed for more than two years, but exceptions should never be drawn into precedent.

The Western Schism

While Martin V was only a subdeacon when elected, he was initially a cardinal from the Roman obedience of Gregory XII, later declared the valid pope, (although Martin left the Roman line as many others did). Martin V was held in good repute according to the Catholic historians consulted, and many in his family served as cardinals before him. He was an expert in Canon Law. Immediately following his election, over a three-day period he was made deacon, priest and bishop. One would think today that Martin V was at least a material schismatic prior to his election; but the laws governing schismatics at that time were not then what they later became. And Gallicanism was not condemned as a heresy until the Vatican Council convened, although it is said that as a cardinal Martin firmly opposed conciliarism. In this he agreed with Cardinal Zabarella, one of the “leading” cardinals during the Council of Constance. Historian Walter Ullmann says of Zabarella: “There seems to be a genuine dislike on the part of Zabarella for anything approaching so-called self-help by the citizens, in the sense that they could take the law into their own hands: if the faithful of either [papal] obedience believe in the justness of their cause, they will be saved,” (The Origins of the Great Western Schism).

This is precisely the position taken by Pope Paul IV in his 1559 Bull, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio; he did not hold the cardinals who left the obedience of one they held to be a doubtful pope as bound by any censures or guilty of schism, regardless of the time spent in that obedience or whether they acted as electors. He approved of calling upon the civil power to facilitate a new election, which was done at Constance. Even a great Saint, Vincent Ferrer, had endorsed a false pope, (Benedict XIII). And 140 years later, Pope Paul IV held none of them to any censures, and indicated that those only were to be considered heretics and schismatics who knowingly and willingly embraced error or departed from the obedience of one certainly known to be a true pope, having been “canonically elected.” How to tell, outside canonicity, that an election is valid is set down by St. Bernard: character of the one elected, dignity and integrity of the electors, (canonicity of the election), the validity and character of the one consecrating Innocent II a bishop, lack of prejudice owing to family connections and the absence of intimidations by civil authority, (ibid Ailbe Luddy). And none of them seem to have been seriously considered as determinants during the Great Western Schism.

Before Pope Martin V’s election, two of the papal claimants were deposed and Gregory XII resigned, but not before insisting that he formally convene the Council of Constance. Some historians remark that Gregory XII always believed he was the true pope. As a cardinal he had taken a vow to resolve the schism if elected, even if this meant tendering his resignation. But pressure from his family and the secular government caused him to rethink this course of action. He backed off from a mutual agreement with Pedro Luna (Benedict XIII) to resign simultaneously, sensing that Luna was not sincere in his offer to resign. Following Gregory’s failure to honor his vow, Odo Colonna, the future Martin V and several other cardinals left him in disgust. The false Council of Pisa was the unfortunate outcome of these failed negotiations, resulting only in the election of yet a third line of antipopes.  St. Vincent Ferrer also later abandoned Luna for his stubborn refusal to resolve the schism. As early as 1394, “the University [of Paris]… canvassed its doctors and graduate theologians for a thorough census of opinion,” (Thos. Neill, PhD., Neill Schmandt, PhD., History of the Catholic Church).  Unfortunately, their recommendations were met with inaction.

The preferred solution chosen by the University was voluntary abdication, rather than mediation or the convening of a general council, but “the popes rejected the idea.”  In 1398, the French hierarchy voted to withdraw obedience from the Avignon pontiff and for five years acknowledged none of the claimants as pope. Cardinal Zabarella condemned this move of “subtractio,” as outright disobedience. But had the popes done what they were asked to do, had they shown true compassion for the faithful and the Church, the French would never have been disobedient, the cardinals would not have left Pope Gregory XII, and the schism would have ended 20 years sooner. It is easier to understand how men elected by cardinals on two different sides, each with their own obediences and at least somewhat plausible claims, might think they are popes. It is impossible to understand how men without any orders or with only illicit orders, schismatics and most likely heretics, in spite of the Code of Canon Law and Pope Pius XII’s election law and contrary to Church history and practice, could think they had even a prayer of a chance at valid election and Apostolic Succession.

Who can depose doubtfully elected popes?

Some have said material schismatics can elect and be elected, because Cardinals from all obediences and even lay people were allowed to elect the pope at Constance. Six representatives from each nation joined 23 cardinals to elect Martin V. The old Catholic Encyclopedia states that these representatives were all prelates. What is a prelate? Can. 110 tells us that prelates are clerics. Attwater’s A Catholic Dictionary tells us that “the principal prelates are bishops,” followed by prefects apostolic and major superiors of religious orders. Would it really make sense that the Council would invite the minor clergy far less lay people to this election, excluding bishops, archbishops and abbots? This ridiculous attempt to use every possible ruse and all misinformation to convince people that the laity played a role in Church government they clearly never enjoyed is reprehensible. These people forget that the Church during the Western Schism had a true pope all along.

That pope, believing he was indeed the true pope convened Constance before he resigned. By convening Constance, he more than likely supplied for the election of a true pope because he knew the intended outcome of the council would be an election. When the Church (the pope primarily and the body of bishops only secondarily) supplies for defects, She can in effect remedy every flaw in the election. She obviously remedied these flaws at Constance, or the Church would have never recognized Gregory as pope and would not have retained Her Apostolic succession.

Constance did not depose “popes;” the true pope resigned. The Church’s recognition of Gregory XII as the true pope proves this; it could not have been otherwise. No one may depose a canonically elected, ordained and consecrated pope certainly accepted by the faithful except in the case of heresy pre-election. This is the teaching of Pope Paul IV in Cum ex Apostolatus Officio and also is the common teaching of theologians. Constance deposed only doubtful popes, a practice we see from above that has existed since the earliest times in Church history. The Roman political factions deposed papal claimants right and left, Otto I deposed papal claimants, Henry III also deposed papal claimants. In his work Canon Law, Rev. Amleto Cicognani explains that the Gallicanists erred in believing that what really applied to an extraordinary situation (the calling of a General Council to judge doubtful popes), also applied ordinarily, so that these bishops believed they could likewise judge, and were superior to even a certainly valid pope. The historian Franzen Dolan explains that there were really very few participants at the council who held to “radical ideas” such as those espoused by Marsilius of Padua. He states that the council never considered defining that it held itself superior to the pope. Instead, he points out, “the overwhelming majority” simply wanted to dispose of the troublesome antipopes and protect the Church “against similar cases of schism in the future.”

For a wonderful look at Apostolic succession expressed in principle, we need only look as far as the current law of Pope Pius XII on the election of a Roman Pontiff. Even before Canon Law was codified during the reign of Pope St. Pius X, Pope St. Pius X revised papal election law, compiling the essence of all the old laws on election into one manageable document, which addressed the needs at the time. Pope Pius XII would later issue his own law, but with very few changes to Pope St. Pius X’s law and only minor additions. So the present document governing elections, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, is nothing less than a compendium of teaching on papal election law issuing from the continual magisterium. In faithfully following these rules, the cardinal-priests and cardinal-bishops link in a very meaningful way to all that has gone before in the Church and connects it to the future of the Church. That is why, as one theologian so eloquently explains:

“The pope has [jurisdiction] immediately from God on his legitimate election. The legitimacy of his election depends on the observance of the rules established by previous popes regarding such election…In the absence of legitimate election, no jurisdiction whatsoever is granted, neither de jure, NOR DESPITE WHAT SOME HAVE TRIED TO MAINTAIN, DE FACTO… A doubtful pope may be really invested with the requisite power, but he has not practically in the Church the same right as a certain pope — he is not entitled to be acknowledged as Head of the Church, and may be legitimately compelled to desist from his claim…

That the Church should remain thirty or forty years without a thoroughly ascertained Head and representative of Christ on earth, this could not be [Catholics reason]. Yet it has been, and we have no guarantee that it will not be again…We must not be too ready to pronounce on what God will permit…We, or our successors in future generations, may see stranger evils than have yet been experienced…contingencies regarding the Church, not excluded by the Divine promises, cannot be regarded as practically impossible, just because they would be terrible and distressing.(“The Relations of the Church to Society — Theological Essays,” Rev. Edmund James O’Reilly, S.J. as quoted by John S. Daly; from the chapter “The Pastoral Office of the Church,” all emphasis by Rev. O’Reilly in the original. Rev. O’Reilly was the theologian of choice in Ireland for local Irish Councils and Synods, was a professor of theology at the Catholic University of Dublin and was at one time considered as a candidate for a professorship at the prestigious Roman College by his Jesuit superior.)

The Church thereby recognizes that whenever several papal claimants exist, the best plan is abdication and the only other recourse is declaration that such men were never popes. As Cardinal Zabarella wrote: “It is the people themselves who have to summon the neighboring bishops for special purposes if the properly instituted bishop neglects his duty of summoning his colleagues,” (Ibid. Ullmann; emph. mine). In a case such as ours, Zabarella says, “good clerics and loyal believers and followers of the Church” would need to resolve the situation, and God would have to intervene, since the Church, “cannot not be.” This also was the gist of Pope Nicholas II’s emergency clause. St. Robert Bellarmine concurred over 100 years later by suggesting the Imperfect Council, which must be convened by the bishops and could only act to denounce all usurpers and provide the Church with a pope.

Church practice, however, also would allow laymen to officially declare a man a false pope, and Pope Paul IV’s “Cum ex Apostolatus Officio” states this as a contingency in the case of removing a usurper. When the location of true bishops and clergy is unknown, it seems to be the only option. Especially if an election could be proven invalid according to existing Canon Law and Church teaching and was then easily and generally recognized as invalid, the claimant could be dismissed. In our current situation it may no longer be possible to summon true bishops, yet still the Church “cannot not be.” Divine intervention is the only answer left to us, whether this means miraculously revealing the location of the hierarchy or some other miracle. What Christ promised will always be.

Apostolic succession in Canon Law and Church teaching

Christ set down the essentials for apostolicity by His own ordination and consecration of the Apostles, lending Orders its divine origin, then His appointment of Peter to the papacy. Thus was the Divine form for this most essential mark of the Church established, a mark without which the other marks cannot exist, (1911 Catholic Encyclopedia). He gave the power of binding and loosing to the Apostles, and this they used to determine the method for designating Peter’s successors. St. Peter appointed Linus to succeed him, but all the rest, save the exceptions mentioned above, were elected by at least some members of the clergy of Rome.  Nowhere in Holy Scripture does Jesus accord any power in the administration of His Church to laymen. He set St. Peter over the sheep (bishops) and the lambs (the rest of the faithful) in appointing him pope.

This is why Pope Nicholas II, following Pope Leo I, groups them in precisely the same way: “ the cardinal bishops, with the clergy of the Church and the Catholic laity.” He gave the power of binding and loosing to Peter primarily and the Apostles as governed by Peter. The people do not share this power. The Church has condemned the teaching that the people themselves can directly elect or appoint their own ministers. (DZ 570, 960, 967, 1502; Denzinger’s “Sources of Catholic Dogma”). Their participation was always confined to nomination and/or acclamation. If emperors appointed the popes, or had a major share in their appointment, the Church supplied for such a situation, but only reluctantly. At the earliest opportunity she condemned the abuse to return to Her common and constant practice. And She has repeated these condemnations throughout Her history.

Doctrine develops; and the doctrine of the Church concerning the role the laity could rightfully play in ecclesiastical government developed slowly and painfully. But today there can be no doubt how the Church has decided in this matter. Hughes relates that it also was Pope Leo I who, although agreeing to ordain and consecrate a certain number of men elected to Episcopal sees who were not clerics, insisted that the law that they be clerics prior to election must be observed in the future. And this in the fifth century! The specious objection that this law was often not observed later on must be totally disregarded. It was the stated will of the legislator that it certainly be observed, and the legislator possessed the power to bind and loose in Christ’s name. This is upheld in DZ 967 and 424:Those not rightly ordained or sent are not lawful ministers. This means that while a priest who is a bishop-elect has the power to rule his diocese prior to consecration, (external jurisdiction only), this is not true of one who is not a cleric.

If one not a cleric is elected, Canon Law nullifies the election (or appointment). This ancient fact is reflected in the 1917 Code of Canon Law (Canons 147, 153, 154 and 453). First of all, governing all the rest, Can. 147 states that no office in the Church can be validly obtained without a canonical appointment, understood as “the conferring of an ecclesiastical office by the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the sacred canons,” (the canon in this case being Can. 160, which refers readers to Pope Pius XII’s papal election law, “Vacantis Apostolica Sedis.” The canonists Bouscaren-Ellis report that this includes the papacy and Canon 109 and 219 confirm this.) Then Can. 153 declares that only a cleric may be elected to an office and must have the qualifications demanded by common law or particular law; if not properly qualified, conferral of the office is at least voidable. Canon 154 pronounces as null and void any office involving the care of souls that is granted to one not a priest. These two laws are repeated in Can. 453 in the case of pastors.

Some have tried to sidestep these laws by saying that a layman elected pope (by laymen, no less; and clerics deposed for heresy are reduced to lay status under Can. 188§4) receives jurisdiction directly from God and may exercise it (indefinitely) without the benefit of ordination and consecration. Church history and practice (tradition), Canon Law and infallible Church teaching tell us this cannot be true. Competent ecclesiastical authority only may elect, in accordance with the sacred canons, which always insisted on the participation of the clergy. And only when legitimately elected can a man accept the election and simultaneously receive the Divine jurisdiction that grants the actual office. The acquisition of Divine jurisdiction is entirely dependent on this legitimate election. Even the ancient laws demand that a certainly qualified cleric be elected, or in the rare case of a layman elected, that, at the very least, the one elected be confirmed (ordained and/or consecrated), by valid and licit clergy and acclaimed by the entire Church. The only reason the papacy survived the “Siege” era is because Apostolic Succession was always guaranteed

Certainly laymen can be and have been elected, in straightened circumstances or times of emergency, but this is not the constant practice of the Church. Even then, valid and licit clergy always supplied for the election of even an unworthy cleric or layman, at the request of a layman (emperor) and with the participation of cardinals as well as lesser clergy other than cardinals. But this is not possible today. The definition of Apostolicity/Apostolic Succession given in the old Catholic Encyclopedia leaves no doubt that unless a man possesses not merely valid and licit appointment or election but the actual valid and licit orders necessary to his particular office, he can never be counted as a successor of the Apostles.

  1. a) The one who is claiming apostolicity must be able to prove that he possesses Orders and jurisdiction, which proceed in a direct and unbroken line from the Apostles to a bishop yet possessing them today.
  2. b) This bishop must be lawful, (i.e., he must have received his episcopacy from Pope Pius XII). He cannot have been separated from the Church by heresy, apostasy or schism.
  3. c) The doctrine he teaches must be unchanged from the time of the Apostles to the present, with no deviation, either, from those teachings of the Supreme Pontiffs proceeding from the ordinary or extraordinary magisterium.
  4. d) The transmission of power must be both material and formal, meaning it must consist of actual succession from an unbroken line of orders conveyed by those with the authority (jurisdiction) to transmit it, for no one can give an authority he does not possess.
  5. e) An authoritative mission is absolutely necessary for apostolicity to exist and a man-given mission is not authoritative. Unless apostolicity exists, none of the other marks can exist.
  6. f) No new mission can arise because the mission given by Christ to the Apostles must pass from themselves to their legitimate successors in an unbroken line until the end of the world.
  7. g) This notion of apostolicity derives from the teaching of Christ Himself. To deny this is heresy.
  8. h) Any concept of apostolicity that excludes authoritative union with the apostolic mission robs the ministry of its Divine character. No one may disregard any teaching based on Divine law and retain membership in the Church.

This also is testified to by the unanimous teaching of theologians, (http://www.betrayedcatholics.com/ApostolicSuccession.html).

Active lay involvement in elections forever condemned

Finally, The Council of Trent and Pope Pius VI put an end to all controversy concerning the role the laity is to play in the future where the election of bishops or any other ministers are concerned. Occurring only 125-150 years after Constance, it was the first opportunity the Church had to address these matters once the error of Gallicanism found expression in Protestantism. That Trent and Pope Pius VI intended to end these abuses is unquestionably evident in the infallible documents below:

From the Council of Trent: “This Holy Synod teaches that, in the ordination of bishops, priests and other ordersthose who are called and instituted only by the people, or by the civil powerand proceed to exercise these offices, and…those who take these offices upon themselves, are not ministers of the Church, but are to be regarded as ‘thieves, robbers and those who have not entered by the door,'” (DZ 960; Canons 108-109; Can. 147). “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.” (The Council of Trent, Sess. 23, July 15, 1563; DZ 967, 424; emph. mine).

Condemnation of the Jansenists: Pope Pius VI also condemned a Jansenist version of this same notion: “‘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 is derived from the community of the faithful to the pastors — heretical,” (DZ 1502; Canons 108-109; emph. mine).

These infallible teachings prove that if anyone is instituted by “only by the people, or by the civil power…” [or] “…by the community of the faithful…” as a true priest or bishop without being  “rightly ordained nor sent” and … proceed to exercise these offices…” as “lawful ministers of the Word and of the Sacraments,” they are excommunicated for heresy. In comparing the wording of these condemnations to what happened during the “Siege era” of the Church and the Western Schism, as well as today, it is clear that the Church had these abuses in mind and intended to proscribe them forever here by issuing these anathemas. It is clear from the wording that this was done to protect apostolic succession, and that no one not rightly ordained or sent can be intruded as a lawful minister — be this person a pastor, a bishop or a Pope, who after all is simply the bishop of Rome.

This also was emphasized later in the Constitution “Charitas,” issued by Pope Pius VI: “We therefore severely forbid the… illicitly consecrated men… to assume episcopal jurisdiction or any other authority for the guidance of souls since they have never received it.” So let us hear no more talk of emperors only appointing popes, laymen elected pope, laymen not ordained or consecrated before their deaths and the appointment of laymen to Episcopal offices, even by ecclesiastical authority, with no need of orders. Regardless of what happened in the past, all these things are now forbidden by the Council of Trent and other Church teachings as reflected in Canons 153, 154, 333 and 453.  Pope Gelasius taught that once the Church has ruled on a matter, it can NEVER be discussed or questioned again, (DZ 161).

As Pope Pius XII also later taught in “Ad Apostolorum Principis” : “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” (condemning the lay investiture of Chinese bishops behind the Iron Curtain). How astute Pope Pius XII was in observing that those laymen intruding bishops and the bishops intruded would use the excuse of another custom to exempt themselves from obeying infallible decrees. It was this very appeal to abolished customs that contributed to the destruction wrought by the liturgical reformers at the false Vatican 2 council.

Conclusion

In summarizing what is stated above, the following observations can be made. First of all, the laity as a group never possessed an active vote in papal elections, as the assay of the various early Church laws and actual Church practice cited above proves. Secondly, any participation in the government of the Church by the Roman nobles or the emperors was either the result of tacit agreement by the Holy See or an official, signed agreement between the Vatican and its various “protectors,” at a time when the Vatican had no other choice in the matter.  In the third place clergy, including cardinals, always confirmed any nomination by ruling nobles and emperors, providing orders and/or consecration when necessary, and officiated at the coronation. The remaining nobles and laity also affirmed the election. Fourthly, it could be said that at the time, the failure of the clergy to insist on installing their own candidates rather than accepting a poor choice from the emperor was the result of force and fear. This excused them from any guilt in not obeying the Church’s own laws and practices, since papal election laws were then merely ecclesiastical. Confirmation, coronation and acclamation by the official body of the clergy and the faithful, then, supplied for any deficiencies and effectively legalized such elections.

Until its condemnation at Trent and by Pope Pius VI, election by nomination of the emperor was not identified as a heresy, although it was strictly forbidden for several hundred years. Likewise the Vatican Council forbade the holding of the Gallican articles for several hundred years before their eventual condemnation in 1870. So today, is it lawful and within the bounds of Catholic belief to advocate that we return to the idea that a General Council is above a valid, licit, canonically elected Pope? Most certainly not! And neither is it lawful or within the bounds of Catholic faith and belief to now return to a method of papal election that has since been condemned as heretical. Some will object that the condemnations above were only intended to apply to the institution of Protestant ministers. But when a man not a priest or bishop is “elected” to an office that requires the reception of the priesthood and episcopacy according to invalidating and incapacitating canon laws, and he is not a priest or bishop, but rules and performs as one, this is what the condemnation is forbidding. Or if an illicitly ordained man is elected, even by the people and (illicit) clergy, and he presumes to teach and preach as well as administer the Sacraments, this is clearly likewise condemned.

Canon Law demands that all orders and jurisdiction must be bestowed upon the clergy and proceed only from the clergy, (Can. 118, 147).  In authentically interpreting Can. 147, Pope Pius XII cited DZ 960, in forbidding Chinese secular authority to approve the consecration of bishops. The Divine mission promised to the Apostles by Christ belongs to the bishops, but it can be activated only by the successor of St. Peter. The power that is promised to the pope is “episcopal and ordinary,” (Can. 218). In other words, it requires episcopal consecration, either before or after election, if apostolic succession is to be continued. Episcopal or episcopacy means “an order superior to the priesthood” that includes the power to “govern their flocks…ordain priests and to confirm,” Attwater’s “A Catholic Dictionary; also defined by the Council of Trent). Ordinary means “a cleric with ordinary jurisdiction,” (Ibid.; emph. mine).  This is nothing more but the foundation of apostolic succession: orders and jurisdiction. Divine jurisdiction is transmitted only when ecclesiastical authority Can. 147) posits a legitimate election, (109, 218). Canons 218 and 219 are only a restatement of Divine and infallible teaching. The people or secular authority have no right to appoint even a cleric to an office, as Trent teaches, and the cleric thus appointed cannot exercise such an office even if they appoint him. Only the proper ecclesiastical authority (the cardinals, or the bishops and priests, in their absence), the governing body of the Church, was authorized by Our Lord to designate the one to whom He will transmit Divine jurisdiction, in the papacy.

What did Jesus do?

He created the hierarchy, the ecclesia docens, that they might teach, govern and sanctify the laity, the ecclesia discens; Divine law says that the laity has no governing power in the Church, (Can. 108, 109). He promised to bind and loose, guaranteeing His confirmation of de fide decrees in Heaven already enacted by His Church on earth. He promised that not only the papacy, but also the bishops and priests — the Church as He constituted it — would last “unto the consummation.” He demonstrated by his actions that unless these priests and bishops were first ordained (and consecrated), as He first ordained and consecrated His Apostles before sending them on the Divine mission, they could not be His successors. He gave the power concerning binding and loosing to His Church, and She has never failed to teach that cardinals must elect (preferably) a cleric as pope and that only in emergencies can the Universal Church — cardinals and other bishops and priests, with laymen allowed only to nominate candidates or to acclaim them — act outside this law.  Christ came to earth solely to do his Father’s will, and we must do as He did. Therefore, we must “depart not by any human and novel institution, from that which Christ our master both taught and did…The Will of God is what Christ has done and taught.”

It is as the Vatican Council solemnly proclaimed: “The doctrine of Faith, which God has revealed, has not been given over to be perfected by human intelligence, as though it were a philosophical theory,” (DZ 1800, emph. mine). It is not for us to question how Christ will revive His Church in these seemingly impossible circumstances, or even if, instead of reviving, He will arrive for the General Judgment. One of the two must occur. We are dealing with doctrines of faith, which cannot be questioned. A paraplegic cannot propel a bicycle forward, and a man missing even one of the two legs of orders and jurisdiction can never claim succession to the Apostles. It is what Jesus said, and what He did. It is what His Church unquestionably teaches that He said and did. If we once admit that any man can state otherwise and speak the truth, then we admit that man is a god in his own right and we deny Christ’s Divinity. “God alone is true and every man a liar.”

Jesus promised He would be with us unto the consummation. Lift up your heads, He tells us, for your redemption is at hand. If we keep our eyes on Heaven and remember what Jesus said and did while on earth, we cannot lose sight of our salvation.

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Bibiliography

(books consulted or quoted for this work):

Primary sources

  • Holy Bible, Douay-Rheims version, John Murphy & Co., 1899
  • Rev. Stanislaus Woywod, Rev. Callistus Smith, “A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law,” 1957
  • Rev. T. Lincoln Bouscaren, Rev. Adam Ellis, “Canon Law: A Text and Commentary”
  • 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia, several volumes
  • Henry Denzinger’s “Sources of Catholic Dogma,” 1957
  • Donald Attwater’s “A Catholic Dictionary” 1941

Papal documents

  • Pope Paul IV, “Cum ex Apostolatus Officio,” 1559
  • Pope Pius VI, “Charitas”
  • Pope Pius XII, Six ans se sont,” 1957
  • Pope Pius XII, “Ad Apostolorum Principis”
  • Pope Pius XII, “Vacantis Apostilicae Sedis”

Historical Sources

  • Abbot Dom J. B. Chautard, “Soul of the Apostolate,” 1945
  • Msgr. Capel, editor, “Faith of Catholics,” Vol. 1, 1885
  • Rev. J. Tixeront, “Holy Orders and Ordination,” 1928
  • Rev. Ailbe Luddy, O. Cist., “Life and Teaching of St. Bernard,” 1950
  • Philip Hughes, “A History of the Church,” Vol. I-II, 1935
  • Philip Hughes, “A Popular History of the Catholic Church,” 1951
  • St. Alphonsus Liguori, “Exposition and Defense of Faith,” 1846
  • Rev. Ronald Cox, “A Study on the Juridical Status of Laymen in the Writing of the Medieval Canonists,” 1959; Catholic University of America
  • Rev. George Stebbing C.S.S.R., “The Story of the Church,”1915
  • Rev. Anscar Parsons, canon law commentary “Canonical Elections,” Catholic University of America, 1939
  • Glenn D. Kittler, “The Papal Princes,” 1961
  • Thomas Neill, PhD., Neill Schmandt, PhD., “History of the Catholic Church,” 1957
  • Karl Bihlmeyer, Herman Tuchle, “Church History — the Middle Ages,” Vol. II, 1963
  • Joseph Lortz, Edwin Kaiser, “A History of the Church,” 1939
  • Rev. Newman C. Eberhardt, C.M., “A Summary of Catholic History,” Vol. I, 1960
  • Walter Ullmann, “The Origins of the Great Western Schism,” Burns, Oates and Washbourne, 1949
  • August Franzen, John Dolan, “A History of the Church,” 1965
  • Rev. Edmund James O’Reilly, S.J., “The Relations of the Church to Society — Theological Essays” 1892
  • John Farrow, “Pageant of the Popes,” 1942
  • Joseph McSorley, “Outlines of Church History,” 1944, (McSorley was a former professor of theology at the Catholic Univ. Of America)
  • Notre Dame Sisters, “A Compendium of Church History,” 1911

 

VACANTIS APOSTOLICAE SEDIS Vindicated

VACANTIS APOSTOLICAE SEDIS Vindicated

VACANTIS APOSTOLICAE SEDIS Vindicated

CONSTITUTIO APOSTOLICA 

VACANTIS APOSTOLICAE SEDIS*

DE SEDE APOSTOLICA VACANTE ET DE ROMANI PONTIFICIS ELECTIONE

(Heading under Pope Pius XII’s election Constitution at Vatican.va
demonstrating it is an apostolic constitution.

An apostolic constitution is a papal document that deals with serious doctrinal matters regarding the definition of dogma, changes in canon law or other ecclesiastical matters. Apostolic constitutions are issued as papal bulls because of their solemn, public form.

Points addressed

  1. The charge that there has been a false “interpretation” of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS) is hereby refuted. The sense of this document is taken from the canonists approved by the Church, and from ancient Church documents cited in VAS itself.
  2. Only the cardinals were commissioned with the right to resolve any doubts regarding this constitution and it should go without saying that this cannot in any way devolve upon men claiming — against the clear, infallible directives of VAS itself — that they are clerics, in violation of this very law.
  3. The opinion advanced contrary to the prohibitions of VAS — that during an interregnum bishops constitute the Catholic Church without Her Supreme Head — can clearly be traced to the initial appearance of the Gallicanist heresy during the time of the Western Schism.
  4. VAS alone infallibly declares those “consecrated” during an interregnum without the papal mandate are incapable of exercising their orders, lacking the mandate.

Preamble to VAS

“Continually in the course of the centuries, Our Predecessors solemnly determined to order and define the procedures of governance of the vacant Apostolic See and the election of the Roman Pontiff, for which they were supposed to provide; and in the same manner they endeavored to apply themselves with watchful care and to devote their energies to useful rules in the weighty business divinely entrusted to the Church, to wit, electing the successor of Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, who on this earth is the Vicar of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and as supreme Pastor and Head feeds and rules all the Lord’s flock.

“However, since there was already a desire to have collected into one place these laws about electing the Roman Pontiff, enlarged in number in preceding ages, and since some of them, less accommodated to special circumstances, had become outdated on account of changed conditions, the great man Pius X, our Predecessor, with judicious advice decided forty years ago to reduce them (appropriately selected) to a summary, having published the well-known Constitution Vacante Sede Apostolica on the twenty-fifth of December of the year 1904…

“Wherefore, having seasonably considered the matter, SURE OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND THE PLENITUDE OF OUR APOSTOLIC POWER, WE have undertaken to publish and promulgate this Constitution, which is the same as that given by Pius X, of holy memory, but reformed throughout, “which,” to use the words of the same Predecessor of Ours, “THE SACRED COLLEGE OF CARDINALS SHALL SOLELY USE during the vacancy of the Apostolic See and in electing the Roman Pontiff,” the Constitution Vacante Sede Apostolica, having therefore been abrogated, according as it had been brought forth by Our Predecessor Pius X. But let the chapters of Our Constitution at hand be considered as these that follow.

Comment: Confirmed as follows in The Catholic Encyclopedia Dictionary, 1941: “All previous legislation concerning the conclave was codified and renewed by Pius X’s bull, Vacante Sede Apostolica (Dec. 25, 1904). The bull of Pius X is rather a codification than a reform.” Pope St. Pius X, then, commenced the codification of Canon Law by beginning at the top with the codification of the laws governing papal election.

In the second paragraph of the preamble above, Pope Pius XII explains that the entire constitution of Pope St. Pius X was a codification of all papal election law. So when we read this constitution, we know that we are not just reading any papal document, but the most relevant and important elements of what the Church practiced throughout Her entire history in electing Christ’s vicars. Moreover, as noted above, this is a most solemn document, and one that is both infallible and doctrinal in nature as well as one that reforms the previous papal election law listed under Can. 160. This will be addressed below.

ON THE VACANT APOSTOLIC SEE CHAPTER I

Concerning the Power of the Sacred College of Cardinals while the Apostolic See is Vacant

  1. During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, regarding those things that pertained to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff while he lived, the Sacred College of Cardinals shall have absolutely no power or jurisdiction of rendering neither a favor nor justice or of carrying out a favor or justice rendered by the deceased Pontiff; rather, let the College be obliged to reserve all these things to the future Pontiff. (1) Therefore, We declare invalid and void any power or jurisdiction pertaining to the Roman Pontiff in his lifetime, which the assembly of Cardinals might decide to exercise (while the Church is without a Pope), except to the extent to which it be expressly permitted in this Our Constitution. (2)
  2. Likewise we command that the Sacred College of Cardinals shall not have the power to make a determination in any way it pleases concerning the laws 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.
  3. The laws issued by Roman Pontiffs in no way can be corrected or changed by the assembly of Cardinals of the Roman Church while it is without a Pope, nor can anything be subtracted from them or added or dispensed in any way whatsoever with respect to said laws or any part of them. This prohibition is especially applicable in the case of Pontifical Constitutions issued to regulate the business of the election of the Roman Pontiff. In truth, if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, We declare it, by Our Supreme Authority, to be null and void. (3)
  4. Nevertheless, if any doubts should arise concerning the sense of the regulations that are contained in this Our Constitution, or even concerning the means according to which these things should be set forth in practice, or about any other chapter at all of this our Constitution, We ordain and declare that the power of imposing an authoritative decision about these things is only in the hands of the Sacred College of Cardinals, for which purpose We grant full faculty to the same Sacred College of Cardinals…

[1] Pii IV Const. In eligendis, VII Idus Oct. 1562, § 6; Clem. XII Const. Apostolatus officium, IV Non. Oct. 1732, § 6.
[2] Clem. V in Conc. Viennensi, cap. 2, Ne Romani in pr. de elect., I, 3 in Clem.
[3] Leonis XIII Const. Praedecessores Nostri, 24 Maii 1882.

The following interpretation of VAS is given below:

book page 650

(The above paragraph was excerpted from A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, Revs. Stanislaus Woywod and Callistus Smith, 1957; Appendix III commentary on VAS. This same statement can be found almost word for word in Revs. Bouscaren-Ellis’ Canon Law, A Text and Commentary under Can. 219)

Comments on paragraphs 1-4 above

Notice that Revs. Woywod-Smith state the following regarding VAS.

  • Even the Sacred College of Cardinals cannot exercise the jurisdiction enjoyed by the pope during his lifetime.
  • All acts of jurisdiction must be left to the future pope.
  • No corrections, changes or dispensations can be made regarding the rights and laws of the Church.
  • Only the cardinals are able to resolve any doubts (preamble and para. 4)

Pope Pius XII clearly states that should anyone even attempt to usurp papal jurisdiction, or to correct, change, add or dispense from any of the laws of the Church, such attempts or acts are null and void. This would include:

  1. acting without the papal mandate contrary to the Sacred Canons, which several documents throughout Church history, beginning with the Council of Trent and even before that time, reserve only to the Roman Pontiff;
  2. the establishment of seminaries, acceptance of those professing a vocation and any attempt at ordinations and
  3. presuming the existence of supplied jurisdiction to provide Mass and Sacraments, or claiming, as the Protestants do, that such jurisdiction is provided directly by Christ. Such jurisdiction can be supplied only by a reigning pontiff and has never been supplied in any other way.
  4. Only the cardinals are able to resolve any doubts regarding VAS.
  5. The violations of the Sacred Canons are too numerous to mention here.

This summary and explanation of Pius XII’s election law above was made by approved and seasoned canonists writing during Pope Pius XII’s reign. All papal election laws are promulgated to provide the maximum protection for the Church when She is at Her most vulnerable point — during the vacancy of the Holy See. VAS is also further validated by Pope Pius XII’s subsequent definition of the extent of episcopal powers, issued three years later in Mystici Corporis and Ad sinarum gentum. Pope Pius XII knew well the dangers the Church faced and not only his revision of VAS but his pronouncements in many other papal documents reflect this. But as will be demonstrated below, VAS does not stand alone; it is also based solidly on the practices of the Church throughout the ages.

Historical significance of VAS

A discussion of the history behind Pope Pius XII’s infallible teaching in the first three paragraphs (and other portions of the constitution that follow) is related by the historian Walter Ullmann in his work, The Origins of the Great Schism (1948). A little background should be given here before delving into the points brought out in this discussion and why they were relevant at the time. Historically, Gallicanism first reared its head as a heresy during the Western Schism in the teachings of several men condemned as heretics, among them Marsilius of Padua, John Jandun, John Hus and Wycliffe. The theologians Pierre d’Ailly and Jean Gerson, also Conrad Gelnhausen, supported the Gallicanist position, not formally condemned until the 1600s. So what exactly is Gallicanism?

 “The Gallican school held 1) that the Pope’s definitions were not infallible in themselves but only after acceptance by the Universal Church and 2) that a general council’s authority was above that of a Pope” (M.L. Cozens, in his 1928 A Handbook of Heresies).  To this should be added the errors of Febronianism, first advocated by the German bishop of Trier, Johann Nickolaus von Hontheim, (using the pseudonym Febronius), in 1763. Hontheim taught that Christ did not give “…the power of the keys to Peter but to the whole Church; that the pope’s power, as head of the whole Church… is of an administrative and unifying character, rather than a power of jurisdiction. “Hontheim advanced along the same lines, in spite of many inconsistencies, to a radicalism far outstripping traditional Gallicanism” (The Catholic Encyclopedia). It is Hontheim’s Febronian version of Gallicanism, foreshadowed by opinions advanced during the Western Schism, that prevails today.

Two lay canonists writing at the time of the Western Schism early on contended that Urban VI was the true pope. The names of these canonists were Baldus de Ubaldis and Joannes de Lignano. Ullmann calls Ubaldis one of the two “greatest jurists of the 14th century.” Lignano he styles as enjoying respect and “authority in ecclesiastical circles… His reputation was great.” Concerning their determinations, Ullmann relates what later became law under future popes: “Both jurists deal at length with the authority of the cardinals over the pope and both reach the conclusion that cardinals have no jurisdictional powers over the pope; they cannot be accusers, witnesses, and judges in one… all disputes concerning intentions, motives and will must be decided by a judge, but who should be the judge in this case? Certainly nobody else but a general council… [which could only be] lawfully summoned by… Urban VI… Baldus refers to a commentary of Clem. I.iii.2, which passage expressly lays down that during a vacancy the Sacred College cannot exercise papal jurisdiction, nor can the cardinals change the constitution of the Church,” and here Ullmann notes this is found in Pope Pius X’s Vacante Sedis Apostolica. This quotation is cited in the footnotes to Pope Pius XII’s constitution above. So clearly it is an ages-old teaching held by the Church.

The conciliarists (those believing a council able to dictate to the pope) taught that a council could be called by the people, because the congregation of all Christians is superior to the pope. Ubaldis and Lignano taught that Urban VI and his line was the true pope and must call the council, because no one is superior to the pope. This ultimately was the teaching followed to call the Council of Constance and end the schism. The conciliarists’ propositions presented at the council were never approved by the Apostolic See, being explicitly rejected by Pope Martin V. As mentioned above, the Gallicanist heresy was condemned in 1682 and The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Gallicanism states: “Stricken to death, as a free opinion, by the Council of the Vatican, Gallicanism could survive only as a heresy; the Old Catholics have endeavoured to keep it alive under this form.” This was certainly the intent of Henry Cardinal Manning, who lists in his reasons for calling the Vatican Council:

“Gallicanism is nationalism: that which the Gospel casts out; that which grew up again in medieval Christendom. It is the Christian Judaism which strove to elect its own High Priest; the national factions which rent the Sacred College; the nationalism which set up two or three uncanonical Popes, and two or three national obediences; the spirit of egotism, worldliness, and avarice, which caused whole nations of Europe to apostatise from the Divine will, from the unity of the Church, and to erect Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Anglicanism on the schismatical basis of national Churches… The Gallicanism of 1682 was a feeble imitation of the preamble of the 24th of Henry VIII, by which the schism of England was accomplished.” So basically Cardinal Manning believes that Gallicanism was the prelude to Protestantism, the beginning of the conspiracy to rob the pope of his Christ-given jurisdictional powers. And with the resurgence of Gallicanism in the last century, this is what they have done. Below we shall see how Traditionalists have revived this heresy by denying VAS.

Neo-Gallicanism

We will call this resurgence of Gallicanism in the 20th century neo-Gallicanism, because it does add new elements to the original heresy. These include the belief that:

  1. The existence of an interregnum can forever remain uncertain, as is pretended by those embracing the material/formal hypothesis.
  2. Formal heresy, existing pre-election but manifested only post-election, cannot be certainly determined and does not automatically depose one appearing to be pope from office.
  3. Pope Paul IV’s bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio cannot be the old law governing these cases because it was abrogated by the 1917 Code of Canon Law.
  4. There is no strict obligation, in the case of an extended interregnum, for the laity to force the remaining cardinals/bishops to elect a pope once manifest heresy is ascertained.
  5. Despite infallible Church teaching, bishops alone can retain and continue the apostolic succession during an interregnum and can then rule the Church indefinitely, under the pretext of an emergency or “necessity.”
  6. That they can then claim supplied jurisdiction, which only a canonically elected pope can provide.

As stated many times on this site, if bishops such as Lefebvre, Castro de Meyer, (Mendez) and Thuc truly were Catholic and had the Church’s best interests at heart, they easily could have and should have convened an imperfect council called only to announce the deposition of the usurpers and elect a true pope, per the advice of St. Robert Bellarmine. That this was not the case tells us, or should, that they followed a hidden agenda and had no intention of perpetuating the papacy. Only those bishops consecrated under Pope Pius XII could validly have accomplished this. It was their sacred duty and obligation. They failed, and in truth they were not Catholic to begin with because almost immediately, they violated the only applicable laws that governed this situation — Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex…  and Pope Pius XII’s VAS.

In so doing they denied every papal election law the Church has abided by throughout Her long history, not just that of Pope Pius XII. They denied the very right of the Church to nullify and preclude any breach of papal jurisdiction and Her Sacred Canons. It was once again two lay persons who had to remind these men of their responsibilities. And they themselves made huge mistakes, although this writer’s only intention was to champion the papacy. To the best of my knowledge the only mention of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis ever published was made in this author’s first work, Will the Catholic Church Survive…? in 1990. At that time only a rough translation of this document was available. A better translation was made in 2012. In 1990, I allowed others to convince me that despite the infallible nature of VAS, Pope Pius XII would never have wished his law to impede a papal election and it would be a mortal sin to do so. This would be true of an election by valid bishops and clergy (but not the laity). However, I was not advanced enough in my studies then to understand this. For Traditionalists had done their best to obscure the true nature of infallibility and the strict obedience owed to papal decrees.

The question is: why does complete silence on the part of Traditionalists shroud this election constitution? And why have they been allowed to deny the applicability of Cum ex… to the current situation? Proofs demonstrating that the bull was never abrogated have been available since the mid-1980s, and further corroborating proofs were available on this site in the early 2000’s. They have never been refuted yet have been consistently ignored. This easily proves the ill-will and lack of Catholicity on the part of all those concerned. These two combined documents, Cum ex… and VAS — related historically on at least two points — could possibly have resolved the situation if those wishing to rally the faithful had mobilized them in the 1970s, 1980s and pressured any remaining bishops to act. Had they explained their inability to provide Mass and Sacraments unless this was done, the faithful would have been strongly motivated to pursue this course. Instead Traditionalists suppressed both documents and proceeded to violate the teachings of the Church by flaunting VAS and setting up mass centers, ordaining priests and consecrating bishops. For this had been their plan all along — to establish a headless Church answerable to no one.

Lefebvre was a member of the scandalous French secret society, the Priory of Sion; when asked about it, he never denied he was a member. In fact at one time, he most likely was this society’s grand master, reportedly sharing this “honor” with Angelo Roncalli. Other Traditionalist organizers in the US and Mexico who established mass centers in both countries belonged to the Priory’s sister organization, the St. John’s Knights of Jerusalem (Shickshinny Knights; see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/reference-links/4-heresy/tracing-traditionalism-to-its-masonic-origins/  This was a set up folks, and for awhile at least, everyone fell for it. Many are still trapped in these Traditionalist sects, because they are either hopelessly brainwashed or unaware of their true origins. Knowledge of the absolute binding nature of Cum ex… and VAS, in order to remain members of the Catholic Church, would have prevented this, and Traditionalist “clergy” knew it. Holy Scripture cries, “My people have been silent, because they had no knowledge” (Osee 4: 6) and nothing could more aptly apply to Traditionalists than this verse. Are there supporting proofs showing further how these infallible decrees affect us today? There are, and this will be explained below.

The Mind of Pope Pius XII

What other clues do we have that Pope Pius XII was aware of this tendency to Gallicanism in the Church and was determined to stamp it out? Even before issuing VAS, in June 1943, Pope Pius XII had defined the role of the bishops in his infallible encyclical Mystici Corporis as follows: “Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church, for they are united by a very special bond to the divine Head of the whole Body and so are rightly called ‘principal parts of the members of the Lord;’ moreover, as far as his own diocese is concerned, each one as a true Shepherd feeds the flock entrusted to him and rules it in the name of Christ. Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent, but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying the ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff…”

And again in October 1954, in Ad Sinarum Gentum the pope taught: “But the power of jurisdiction, which is conferred upon the Supreme Pontiff directly by divine rights, flows to the Bishops by the same right, but only through the Successor of St. Peter, to whom not only the simple faithful, but even all the Bishops must be constantly subject, and to whom they must be bound by obedience and with the bond of unity.” Henry Cardinal Manning had already addressed this topic in the 1870s (see Manning’s The Pastoral Office), and even then, the majority of bishops at that time believed as Pope Pius XII later taught: the bishops do not receive their jurisdiction directly from Christ but instead this jurisdiction flows to them from Christ only through His Vicar. And these pronouncement, Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton reports, are doctrina certa because a decision was made on a question formerly in dispute. Therefore it is not able to be challenged or reformed. This was clarified in the August 1950 issuance of Pope Pius XII’s infallible encyclical, Humani generis.

Another indication of Pope Pius XII’s mind in this matter is the authentic interpretation he approved June 29, 1950 regarding Canon 147, issued through the Sacred Congregation six weeks prior to releasing Humani generis. This canon is directly connected to the conferring of offices. It reads: “An ecclesiastical office is not validly obtained without canonical appointment. By canonical appointment is understood the conferring of an ecclesiastical office by the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the sacred canons.” Now according to the Sacred Canons and the rite of episcopal consecration, bishops can become bishops and receive their office only through the Roman Pontiff. Without such canonical appointment the office is not obtained. Isn’t this exactly what is stated in VAS?!

The decision of the Sacred Congregation (AAS 42-601) gives the text of DZ 967 and yet another version of DZ 960, varying slightly from the Denzinger translation: “Those who undertake to exercise these offices merely at the behest of and upon appointment by the people or secular power and authority, and those who assume the same upon their own authority, are all to be regarded not as ministers of the Church but as thieves and robbers who have entered not by the door… His holiness Pope Pius XII…in order to preserve more inviolate these same sacred principles and at the same time forestall abuses in a matter of such great importance… deigned to provide as follows…” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3, T. Lincoln Bouscaren, 1953).

And here several censures, specially reserved to the Holy See, are mentioned. These censures are quite interesting in themselves. They are incurred: “1) by those who contrive against legitimate ecclesiastical authority or who attempt in any way to subvert their authority; 2) by anyone who, without a canonical investiture or provision made according to the sacred canons, occupies an ecclesiastical office or benefice or dignity or allows anyone to be unlawfully intruded into the same or who retains the same and 3) by those who have any part directly or indirectly in the crimes mentioned in numbers one and two” (Ibid.).

It seems safe to say that someone who ignores all the laws regarding the proper reception of an office and sets themselves up as authorities outside the sacred canons would be considered by Pope Pius XII to have contrived against legitimate ecclesiastical authority, i.e., that of the Roman Pontiff. This would apply to Traditionalist “priests,” “bishops” and any among the faithful assisting them or adhering to them. Pope Pius XII once again addressed these same circumstances in Ad apostolorum principis, issued June 29, 1958, three months before his death. The problem had not gone away by any means but had surfaced in China. He wrote to the bishops there:

“38. 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

“45. Well known are the terms of the Vatican Council’s solemn definition: “Relying on the open testimony of the Scriptures and abiding by the wise and clear decrees both of our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, and the general Councils, We renew the definition of the Ecumenical Council of Florence, by virtue of which all the faithful must believe that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold primacy over the whole world, and the Roman Pontiff himself is the Successor of the blessed Peter and continues to be the true Vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church, the father and teacher of all Christians, and to him is the blessed Peter our Lord Jesus Christ committed the full power of caring for, ruling and governing the Universal Church….

“46. We teach, . . . We declare that the Roman Church by the Providence of God holds the primacy of ordinary power over all others, and that this power of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate. Toward it, the pastors and the faithful of whatever rite and dignity, both individually and collectively, 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 spread throughout the whole world, in such a way that once the unity of communion and the profession of the same Faith has been preserved with the Roman Pontiff, there is one flock of the Church of Christ under one supreme shepherd. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth from which no one can depart without loss of faith and salvation.

“47. 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.

“48. 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.

For decades, Traditionalists have duplicitously attempted to exempt themselves from this encyclical using various deceits, most notably singling out the world “lawfully” to indicate that the consecration of their “bishops” has been unquestionably valid, if illicit. The rest they pretend to cover with epikeia, demonstrated historically in blog posts and articles on this site to be condemned by the Church when applied to episcopal consecrations. But here we are talking about bishops consecrating without the papal mandate who were themselves unquestionably validly consecrated while a Roman Pontiff was reigning, not men who were notorious heretics and schismatics, guilty of communicatio in sacris, branded with infamy, suspected of membership in a secret society and acting during an interregnum! Therefore it is VAS, as the overriding document, supported by all the rest, specific to our situation, which prevails here. All these documents taken together can be seen to point to one thing and one thing only: no one may claim any consecration is certainly valid during an interregnum without the papal mandate. Those claiming such consecration were very likely only laymen to begin with, if one carefully traces out all the implications of the canons and VAS. And even if they were priests, priests cannot consecrate anyone.

Pope Pius XII’s curious addition to VAS

There is one other interesting detail that demonstrates Pope Pius XII’s true intent in revising Pope St. Pius X’s election law. The canonists Woywod-Smith explain that the revisions were made mainly to increase the vote needed for election from two-thirds to two-thirds plus one, to exclude the possibility that the candidate voted for himself. But in comparing the two election laws, one other notable addition is made, not present in Pope St. Pius X’s law. That addition is the insertion of the following phrase into paragraph three of the constitution: “In truth, if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, We declare it, by Our Supreme Authority, to be null and void.Any attempt, then, to change any of the laws of the Church, or usurp her rights, especially those governing papal elections, are null and void. And this can only be seen to anticipate exactly what happened following Pius XII’s death. The pope’s addition of this phrase can be seen to be nothing less than a pointed statement that try as they might, all the Modernist, Gallicanist efforts to subvert the election of a true pope would come to naught.

Vacantis Book

One of those laws indirectly referenced in VAS (but not noted as such, coming from other sources as well) is none other than Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, which is retained in para. 36 concerning the deposition of cardinals (referring to Can. 188 §4, with Cum ex… cited by Gasparri as one of the fonts both from Pope Paul IV and Pope St. Pius V). Such deposition deprives one who has “publicly lapsed from the Catholic faith” of the office of cardinal, and only cardinals can participate in the election. This could and most likely did apply to a good number of cardinals attending the conclave, Roncalli especially, who gave more than one indication of his lapse from the faith in a public manner. Another indirect reference to the bull is found in Pope St. Pius X’s/Pius XII’s citation of Paul IV’s 1558 Const. Cum secundum Apostolum, listed in the footnotes for paragraph 93 regarding the discussion of candidates for papal election prior to the death of the reigning pontiff. This bull of Paul IV’s made direct reference to the problems encountered with Cardinal Morone which prompted the issuance of Cum ex Apostolatus Officio in 1559. At that time Morone was on trial for heresy and Paul IV feared he could be elected on the event of his death. 

While specific papal laws may not be mentioned in the body of the text or the footnotes to the constitution, they are included in the reference made in that third paragraph above, where Pope Pius XII declares: “The laws issued by Roman Pontiffs in no way can be corrected or changed by the assembly of Cardinals of the Roman Church while it is without a Pope, nor can anything be subtracted from them or added or dispensed in any way whatsoever with respect to said laws or any part of them,” and this especially applies to VAS itself. Anything so added, subtracted, changed, corrected or dispensed from is null and void. Technically speaking, Traditionalists have summarily dispensed everyone from obeying or even acknowledging Cum ex…  as an applicable document and have entirely dispensed themselves as well from obeying VAS. The meaning of this document and its penalties are perfectly clear and require no interpretation. Dispensation is a relaxation of the law in special circumstances (Donald Attwater’s A Catholic Dictionary).

Even when allowed, dispensations are always to be interpreted strictly. And here we see that Pope Pius XII says that during an interregnum, THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED!  And if attempted, any changes and dispensations are null and void. To the charge that null and void in paragraphs one and three does not equal invalid, I respond that Pope Leo XIII declared in Apostolica curae that “…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 require.” Pope Alexander VIII, in condemning the Gallican articles, declared them “…null and void, invalid, useless” (DZ 1326). So goodbye epikeia, goodbye necessity. No wonder Traditionalists are scared to death to mention this law — it entirely destroys their position at every level.

Consequences of VAS for Traditional pseudo-clerics

  • Is it clear from the above that VAS is an infallible, unquestionably binding papal document?
  • Is it clear to the reader that Pope Pius XII fully intended to make null, void and invalid any attempt to usurp the jurisdiction he alone enjoyed in his lifetime during an interregnum?
  • Does this not apply to all those Traditionalists claiming to be clerics who have usurped this jurisdiction since Pius XII’s death?
  • Do Catholics not owe to such infallible decrees an unwavering and irrevocable assent, especially since VAS is the most solemn of documents?

The answer to all the above being a resounding “yes,” why are we still conceding even the possibility of any validity to Traditionalists when only a true pope could determine this? If a doubtful pope is no pope, then certainly a doubtful bishop is no bishop. It is true that doubt alone, under pain of mortal sin, is enough to cause any honest and fervent Catholic from ever resorting to Traditionalists. But is it enough to assure an unwavering and irrevocable assent to this and various other infallible papal decrees? Let us walk through this process and see how many roadblocks we encounter to make it possible that these men, even if they actually received orders, could ever validly function as bishops. If we fail to accept the clear meaning of Pope Pius XII’s words in words in VAS, what prevents us from questioning every other infallible document? It is not just the papal mandate that is forbidden here, but the change in and erasure of all the canon laws Traditionalists have effected by their relentless resort to the epikeia principle. Some of these are listed below. 

According to Canon Laws in existence at the death of Pope Pius XII, those seeking ordination from a schismatic bishop commit communicatio in sacris. The penalty for communicatio in sacris is rendered in Can. 2314, with reference to Can. 1258. Rev. Ignatius Szal states in his Communication of Catholics with Schismatics, (Catholic Univ. Of America dissertation, 1948): “The reception of holy Orders from the hands of schismatic bishops has practically always been forbidden by the Church. Rarely has the Holy See ever considered it necessary to receive orders from a schismatic bishop. THE PROHIBITION TO RECEIVE HOLY ORDERS AT THE HANDS OF A SCHISMATIC BISHOP IS CONTAINED IN THE GENERAL PROHIBITION AGAINST ACTIVE RELIGIOUS COMMUNICATION AS EXPRESSED IN CAN. 1258§1[canon on communicatio in sacris].” And here we are talking about receiving such orders during the reign of a true pontiff, not during an interregnum.

Also from Rev. Szal: “On August 7, 1704, The Holy Office also stated that, “The decree which prohibited Catholics from being present at the Masses and prayers of schismatics APPLIED ALSO IN THOSE PLACES WHERE THERE WERE NO CATHOLIC PRIESTS and with reference to such prayers as contained nothing contrary to faith and the Catholic rite…On May 15, 1709, the Holy Office forbade Catholics to hear the confession of schismatics or to confess to them…Under no circumstances, not even in the case of necessity, according to a response of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith on Feb. 17, 1761, was it permissible for a Catholic to confess his sins to a schismatic priest in order to obtain absolution from him…” (This very same teaching on necessity is repeated by Pope Pius VI in Charitas, 1791; see below.) “On two other occasions, May 10, 1753, and April 17, 1758, the Holy See again forbade Catholics to participate in the masses of schismatics. In 1769, certain priests “were called to task for joining in the celebration of Mass with schismatics. The ignorance was inexcusable, and the act was a sacrilege which violated the true faith.” This and Szal’s quotes above are indications of God’s signified will, legitimate authority directing the people to avoid these men. These directives come from the office of Christ’s Vicars on earth and no Catholic may question or disobey them without incurring excommunication and losing their membership in the Church.

“For the right of ordaining bishops belongs only to the Apostolic See, as the Council of Trent declares; it cannot be assumed by any bishop or metropolitan without obliging Us to declare as both schismatic both those who ordain and those who are ordained thus invalidating their future actions.” (see Can. 2265 §1 [2-3]) We therefore severely forbid [these]… 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.” (Pope Pius VI, Charitas)

Those receiving these orders from schismatics not only are ipso facto excommunicated for heresy, they also incur infamy of law. Infamy of law invalidates the exercise of orders and participation in sacred functions. Revs. Woywod-Smith explain the effects of infamy of law under Can. 2294 §1: “A person who has incurred infamy of law is not only irregular, as declared by Can. 984 n. 5, but in addition, he is incapacitated from obtaining ecclesiastical benefices, pensions, offices and dignities, from performing legal ecclesiastical acts, from discharging any ecclesiastical right or duty, and must be restrained from the exercise of sacred functions of the ministry.” The authors continue: “The person who has incurred…an infamy of law…cannot validly obtain ecclesiastical benefices, pensions, offices and dignities, nor can he validly exercise the rights connected with the same, nor perform a valid, legal ecclesiastical act.” Canon 2295 states: “Infamy of law ceases only on dispensation granted by the Apostolic See.” So not only does VAS make null and void all ecclesiastical acts undertaken during an interregnum, Canon Law, which cannot be changed or dispensed from during an interregnum declares all jurisdictional acts of these men illegal and invalid. 

Under the heading “Jurisdictional rights and prerogatives of the pope” in the Catholic Encyclopedia online, please read the additional matters that only a pope can decide at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12260a.htm.  This includes the grant of the papal mandate, the erection of dioceses, the transfer of bishops from one diocese to the other as well as other rights and prerogatives. Both Lefebvre and Thuc resigned their appointments by Pope Pius XII and accepted appointments from John 23 and Paul 6, one of many of their acts of communicatio in sacris. Once they incurred infamy, under the canon above, they were capable only of conveying questionably valid orders that could never be exercised. And it is now clear that in consecrating bishops, they could not act validly at all. Those maintaining these men validly ordained and consecrated Traditionalists are dispensing themselves from Canon Law, on many different levels, and as VAS proclaims, such dispensation, correction, or relaxation of a law in special circumstances, is null and void.

But aren’t schismatic ordinations and consecrations valid?

Ordinarily, yes, when a canonically elected pope reigns. “Clement VIII, in his instruction Sanctissimus of August 31, 1595, stated that those who had received ordination at the hands of schismatic bishops who apart from their schismatic status were properly consecrated — the necessary form having been observed — did indeed receive orders, but not the right to exercise them. In this he repeated the doctrine of the glossators. Benedict XIV, in the Constitution Etsi pastoralis, of May 26, 1742, confirmed this doctrine of Clement VIII.” (The Communication of Catholics with Schismatics, Rev. Ignatius Szal, A.B., J.C.L.; Catholic University of America Canon Law dissertation, 1948). But the pope teaches in VAS that while they are valid, all jurisdictional acts emanating from them are null and void during an interregnum simply because he is not there to review and approve the men being consecrated; they must wait for the new pope to be elected. Consecrations in any other time period other than an interregnum would be presumably valid in themselves but useless because they cannot be validly exercised. And without that approval, these men possess no offices which allow them to teach or preach, erect seminaries (with papal approval) and admit candidates for the priesthood. Lefebvre and Thuc accepted their “offices” from a lay authority, a usurper occupying the Holy See (and this is even worse than a lay authority) who had no power to grant such an office. As such, under Can. 147 they became the equivalent of vitandus, which further complicates their situation (Can. 147, Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3; AAS 42-601 and 42-195).

Does the pope have the right to declare that these orders are not valid? If the pope can decide Anglican orders were invalid, and if he can decide particular cases that are presented to him, of course he can. He has the fullness of apostolic jurisdiction. Furthermore, as Rev. J. Tixeront explains in his Holy Orders and Ordination (1928): “The Apparatus of Innocent IV (1243-1254) expounds the theory that the pope has the right to place diriment impediments not only for Matrimony, but also for the conferring of all the Sacraments, Baptism included. As Saltet remarks, this theory tells volumes about the development given to the idea of pontifical authority since the time of Gregory VII and Urban II.  As Donald Attwater explains in his A Catholic Dictionary: “Diriment impediments are obstacles arising either from natural law or the law of the Church which prohibits marriage between the persons affected and makes null and void any attempted marriage between them.”

While this appears to be an opinion still open for debate, doesn’t it sound like Pius XII is placing a diriment impediment to Orders here considering the wording of VAS? And that these orders would be null and void if even attempted? As in Holy Scripture, Fr. Felix Sarda says in his Liberalism is a Sin, so with papal documents; they are to be taken literally unless indicated otherwise by the very sense of the statement. In their Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, (1951),  Parente, Piolanti and Garofalo, under hierarchy write: “Jurisdiction originates through canonical mission…and the valid use of orders, IN MOST CASES, cannot be prevented, while jurisdiction is revocable.” Parente is most likely referring here to Can. 104, the effects of which are explained  in the summary below. And this canon finally solves the riddle of how Traditionalist pseudo-clergy were entirely incapable of receiving Orders.

So please, Traditionalist hypocrites, do not pretend that you are the heirs of the Church left to us by Pope Pius XII. This is an outrageous lie, and the infallible words of VAS, Mystici Corporis, Ad Sinarum gentum and Humani generiswhich teaches that encyclical letters entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis are binding on Catholics for belief — prove this. Nor can you presume to correct, dispense yourselves from or interpret Canon Law, which VAS forbids. You may be heirs to the hidden Avignon “papacy,” to the Coptic “papacy” of the Eastern Orthodox, to a shadowy, false papacy yet to be established, but NOT heirs to the papacy established on earth by Jesus Christ, founded on St. Peter the Rock. This you have never been and will never be.

Summary

It doesn’t require a PhD to determine that what has been done here is nothing short of criminal and worthy of hell. There was never any intention by Traditionalists to follow the law or try to restore the Church once the Novus Ordo Missae was introduced. There was every intention to confuse the faithful, misinform them, pacify them with what they wanted and desired, fleece them, and when anyone dared question the operators, they moved on to the next round of unsuspecting suckers recently leaving the Novus Ordo or other sects. By ignoring Cum ex… and VAS, also the teachings of St. Robert Bellarmine regarding a doubtful pope, they were able to shift the focus to the “loss of the Mass,” rallying the faithful behind the secondary consequences, not the actual cause of the problem. A simple survey of Scripture and saintly literature proves that the Mass could end only with the coming of Antichrist. Antichrist proper could only reign unopposed; a king reigning during an interregnum. Had John 23 and Paul 6 been actively opposed and a true pope elected, they would have gone down in history as antichrists, not Paul 6 as THE Antichrist.    

And that was the plan. Suppress, misdirect, misinform, omit, ignore, distract, misinterpret — they had it all down to a “T.” Delay at all costs until it is too late to do anything. Circulate idiot theories such as material/formal and recognize and resist, fancy slogans for the intellectually lazy, (according to the scholastic theologian A.C. Cotter, S.J.). Isn’t this what has happened to our country as well? Is there any doubt that the ultimate source of this is all the same? How could VAS, or Cum ex… for that matter, possibly mean anything other than what it obviously states? Pope Pius XII saw this coming. He pulled out all the stops because he feared that few faithful bishops were left and may even have had doubts about his own cardinals. In issuing Mystici Corporis in 1943, he resolved an issue that had been circulating since the Council of Constance. The Catholic Encyclopedia reports: “[Gallicanist] principles even appeared at the Council of Trent, where the ambassadors, theologians, and bishops of France repeatedly championed them, notably when the questions for decision were as to whether episcopal jurisdiction comes immediately from God or through the pope…” (article on Gallicanism).

If this heresy was not still a threat, then why did Pope Pius XII address it at all, and why did he keep addressing it? Why, in 1954, after calling together a committee to call an ecumenical council, did he suddenly decide to abandon it? Was it not because of the very warning Pope Pius XI received from Cardinal Billot when he also proposed to call a council in 1923? “As early as May 23, 1923, Pope Pius XI had wanted to convoke an Ecumenical Council to condemn the modern errors of Communism and Modernism. The Cardinals at that time voiced strong opposition to the idea, stating that so many bishops had been imbued with Modernist and liberal ideas that such a Council would do more harm to the Church than good. Cardinal Billot said: ‘The worst enemies of the Church, the Modernists… are already getting ready… to bring forth a revolution in the Church, like that of 1789 [in France].’ Due to the dangers involved, Pope Pius XI gave up on the idea of an ecumenical council” (Fr. R. Dulac, Episcopal Collegiality of The Second Vatican Council, (French publ.), pgs. 9-10).

Frere Michel reports in his The Whole Truth About Fatima, Vol. III that sharp divisions wracked the preparatory commission for a council under Pope Pius XII, with the progressives making extensive inroads (pgs. 300-301). The entire process was effectively paralyzed by the impasse posed by the progressives. Pope Pius XII abandoned the idea of the council saying he was too old to see it through, although, Frere Michel reports from Civilta Cattolica, “…He did so against his better judgment.” Already Pope Pius XII was surrounded, and he knew it. In 1952 he became so ill it would have been impossible for him to have seen a council through. The enemy was already within the gate, and they were gunning for him. After a near-death experience and a vision of Christ in 1954, Pius XII all but shut down Holy Office operations. In a most telling move, he neglected to appoint a cardinal camerlengo to preside at the conclave following his death. In his will, he left all his writings to those who might benefit from them. 

Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis is among them. It is the padlock on the Church’s door keeping everything inside unmolested, just as it was when he left us. Let the heathen rage, but that padlock will not be broken. It stands as a testimony to who and what Pope Pius XII was, and his determination to forever keep whole and intact the Deposit of Faith he was chosen to guard.

Summation of Principles Stated Above

  • VAS is an unquestionably infallible document compiled from the teachings and practices of the Church throughout the centuries and therefore represents the sum total of all Her laws regarding papal election and what is permitted and prohibited during an interregnum.
  • This law specifically governs us in the absence of a canonically elected Roman Pontiff, and as St. Robert Bellarmine teaches, a doubtful pope is no pope.
  • The import of VAS is clear. It differs little from the election law issued by Pope St. Pius X, and that primarily a) in the number of votes required to validly elect and b) Pope Pius XII’s addition to paragraph three that leaves no doubt about its infallibility.
  • The summary of this constitution given by the canonists Woywod-Smith and Bouscaren-Ellis is what has been used by this author as the basis for this article and others previously published.
  • If Traditionalists truly acknowledge Pope Pius XII as the last pope of the Catholic Church they are bound to obey unequivocally all the teachings of this infallible constitution.
  • This means accepting all papal teachings and Canon Laws of the Church, as stated and understood prior to the death of Pope Pius XII, which VAS forbids anyone to correct, change, or dispense from, in whole or in part.
  • According to the existing Canon Laws of the Church, which must be upheld precisely as they exist; and in keeping with the long-held conviction by Traditionalists that the Novus Ordo church is not the CATHOLIC Church, Marcel Lefebvre and Peter Martin Ngo dinh Thuc, by their own admission, committed communicatio in sacris by publicly professing themselves as members of that non-Catholic church and participating in its religious activities.
  • As a result, they incurred ipso facto excommunication for heresy/schism, deposition from any offices they held and infamy of law, invalidating any future acts involving the Sacraments.
  • Because the granting of the papal mandate is an act of papal jurisdiction, it is reserved to the pope alone. Any attempt to consecrate bishops without this grant is null, void and invalid.
  • The necessity of the papal mandate for valid consecration is a conditio sine qua non under Can. 104, which reads: “Error annuls an action, when the error concerns the substance of the action or amounts to a conditio sine qua non — that is to say, if the action would not have been done except for the error; otherwise the action is valid, unless the law states otherwise…” (Can. 104). And VAS, also Can. 2445, most clearly leave no doubt in this matter.
  •  In this case Pope Pius XII has made the possession of the papal mandate a conditio sine qua non and declared those violating the law (the cardinals presumably) incapable of acting.
  • “No ignorance of invalidating or disqualifying laws excuses from their observance; namely no ignorance of the aforementioned laws can make acts valid which they have rendered invalid nor can it make persons capable of acting whom they have declared incapacitated from acting. Nor can subjects be excused from the observance of these laws, for the matter is in no way dependent on the will of the agent but on the contrary depends entirely.” Abp. Amleto Cicognani, Canon Law, 1935, Can. 16).
  • In order to be considered a Catholic adhering only to the Church as She existed until the death of Pope Pius XII, all must reject ALL Traditionalist pseudo-clergy and abide solely by Church law and teaching as VAS commands.

© Copyright 2022, T. Stanfill Benns (All emphasis within quotes is the author’s.)

 

Necessary intention in Traditionalist Orders lacking

© Copyright 2022, T. Stanfill Benns (All emphasis within quotes added by the author)

Introduction

It has always been the contention of those operating Traditionalist chapels, from their very beginning in the mid-1960s, that they continued all the teachings and Traditions of the Catholic Church just as they existed on the death of Pope Pius XII. If it was not actually stated by anyone, at least in the beginning, it was an implicit belief among the faithful at least, and that is why they followed them in the first place. But were these men truly following Church teaching as they allowed everyone to believe? What exactly did it mean to be a Catholic in good standing in the Church during the reign of Pope Pius XII?

St. Robert Bellarmine’s definition of the Church was adopted as the preferred definition by theologians: “The Church is a union of men who are united by the profession of the same Christian faith and by participation in the same sacraments, under the direction of their lawful pastors, especially of the one representative of Christ on earth, the Pope of Rome,” (De eccl. mil. 2.) And from Mystici Corporis there is this formal definition: “68. Now since its Founder willed this social body of Christ to be visible, the cooperation of all its members must also be externally manifest through their profession of the same faith and their sharing the same sacred rites, through participation in the same Sacrifice, and the practical observance of the same laws. Above all, it is absolutely necessary that the Supreme Head, that is, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, BE VISIBLE TO THE EYES OF ALL

According to Pope Pius XII, four factors alone are necessary in order that a man be counted as a member of the true Church. These are (1) the reception of Baptism, and thus the possession of the baptismal character, (2) the profession of the true faith, which is, of course, the faith of the Catholic Church, (3) the fact that a person has not cut himself away from the structure or the fabric of the ‘Body,’ which is, of course, the Church itself, and (4) the fact that a person has not been expelled from the membership of the Church by competent ecclesiastical authority.

Canon Law determines who is among those who have cut themselves away from the fabric of the body. The law indicates when this has occurred by attaching ipso facto (latae sententiae) penalties to those offenses which automatically result in excommunication. If one’s offense is publicly known or could easily become publicly known it is called notorious, and it takes effect immediately, without any official sentence by a superior (Canons 2197, 2232). Those penalties regarding heresy and schism, (rejection of the Roman Pontiff as head of the Church), are the main type of penalty treated below. Their commission is publicly known and has been for decades, and the penalties, therefore, are binding on the offender. Those presenting as clerics are public figures and are assumed to have incurred the penalty because their actions are more visible to the public eye.

These definitions of the Church and the penalties levied by Canon Law were supposedly commonly known to the pre-Vatican 2 clergy who studied them in seminary courses. They were expected to have been especially internalized by the bishops and other Church officials. The one thing emphasized in both these definitions is the union of the faithful with their common head the Supreme Pontiff. St. Bellarmine emphasizes direction by lawful pastors, Pope Pius XII mentions observance of the same laws. Mystici Corporis, an infallible encyclical binding the faithful to belief, also defines that bishops do not receive their jurisdiction directly from Christ. “Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent, but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying the ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff.” So in one encyclical we are given a pretty clear idea of how the Church is set up and is supposed to operate.

False analogies misrepresented the situation

Those writing for decades on the crisis in the Church keep comparing it to the time of the Arian heresy, the Western Schism or to different periods in Church history when either antipopes reigned or there was a longish interregnum (the longest one previous to this lasted nearly three years). Yet during the Western Schism, a true pope did reign, but no one was sure who he was. And in in the case of antipopes, there was always a true pope for them to oppose. It hardly needs to be said that a three-year interregnum can scarcely compare to almost 64, so why is it even mentioned? The answer to that question can only be that every excuse and implausible explanation available has been advanced to keep those in Traditionalist groups from questioning their keepers and to make it appear they are justified in conducting their operations. That is the general overview; now we descend to specifics.

Challenges to the validity and liceity of Traditionalist orders have always been met with the response that even those ordained and consecrated by heretics and schismatics are considered valid and can confect valid sacraments. The key word here is “can.” And upon that one word rests a plethora of ifs and maybes, never addressed, often carefully concealed and generally ignored. For there is no real comparison, either, to past situations where there was an extended descent of illicit schismatic clerics issuing from men who were unquestionably validly ordained and consecrated and who unquestionably validly ordained and consecrated others. The Orthodox were allowed to proceed as they always had with the pope supplying jurisdiction for the sake of the faithful, according to Rev. Journet, Can. Mahoney, Rev. Herve and others. The Jansenist consecrations were recognized as valid by the Holy See until questions arose shortly before Pius XII’s death. Pope Leo XIII drew the line for the Anglicans regarding Parker and Barlow. As all know, Lefebvre’s own ordination and consecration are gravely doubtful and the consecrations by Thuc have been called into question for decades, owing to his mental state, affiliation with the Novus Ordo church and previously scandalous behavior.

But most importantly of all, these ordinations and consecrations did not take place during a time such as ours, a grave situation unparalleled in the history of the Church resulting in this extended interregnum. Here we have no assurance the Holy See would ever declare Traditionalist orders valid and every reason to believe that they would at least require their conditional if not absolute ordination before allowing them to function, depending on each specific case. So let us dispense now with all the illogical false analogies, which amount to no argument at all, and look at the facts as they really stand.

  • Lefebvre was questionably ordained and consecrated himself; Thuc’s consecrations are doubtful owing to his mental state, intentions and what Pontifical was used. An entire book (The Sacred and the Profane, Clarence Kelly) was written proving this and there is evidence in this case that has not even been presented yet.
  • Both men were notorious heretics and schismatics and incurred infamy of law, and moreover, their personal lives were scandalous.
  • This is true of Lefebvre on account of his questionable ordination and consecration (and no, we cannot have moral certainty about his orders without an investigation by the Holy Office under a validly elected pope and a decision on these orders. Until then no one may use a probable opinion on the validity of the Sacraments of those ordained and consecrated by him.)
  • Lefebvre’s personal involvement in Freemasonry is another black mark against him that would need to be investigated, because it could affect his intention in receiving orders, especially from a man reputedly a Freemason.
  • Thuc is infamous for his bizarre behavior in the Clemente Dominguez affair and numerous ordinations of unworthy men for the priesthood and episcopacy.
  • Once they consecrated their first bishop post-Vatican 2, men who also incurred censure for heresy, schism and infamy of law for communicating a divinis with them, their future acts as well as the acts of those they have “consecrated” are declared invalid. This will be proven below.
  • Bishops consecrated by these two men are the first generation. But they could not be considered certainly valid bishops until a true pope decided if they were actually consecrated. And theologians are clear on the fact that mere observance of matter and form (the use of the rite used prior to the reign of John 23) is not sufficient to prove validity.
  • We are now four to five generations removed from the initial consecrations by Lefebvre and Thuc. This is doubtful validity upon doubtful validity compounded.
  • This does not even address the men who supposedly were ordained priests by Lefebvre, Thuc and the first set of bishops they are said to have consecrated.

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches below in his Summa Theol. II, Q. 82, Art. 7, 9, Pt. III: “The Minister of the Holy Eucharist”:

“I answer that, as was said above (aa 5, 7), heretical, schismatical, excommunicate, or even sinful priests, although they have the power to consecrate the Eucharist, yet they do not make proper use of it; on the contrary they sin by using it. But whoever communicates with another who is in sins, becomes a sharer in his sin. Hence we read in John’s Second Canonical Epistle (11) that ‘He that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works.’ Consequently it is not lawful to receive Communion from them, or to assist at their mass.” (Article 9)… “And therefore whoever hears their mass or receives the sacraments from them, commits sinBy refusing to hear the masses of such priests, or to receive Communion from them, we are not shunning God’s sacraments; on the contrary, by so doing we are giving them honor: but what we shun is the sin of unworthy ministers(reply to objection 1). Furthermore St. Thomas states in reference to heretical, schismatic and excommunicated priests, “Such persons as are separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication, can indeed consecrate the Eucharist..; but they act wrongly, and sin by doing so; and in consequence they do not receive the fruit of the sacrifice, which is a spiritual sacrifice (Article 7). And further, “But because he is severed from the unity of the Church, HIS PRAYERS HAVE NO EFFICACY” (reply to objection 3 of article 7).

This, ultimately, is the charter for those who keep the faith at home, in order to honor the Sacraments and avoid cooperation in sin.

In summary, those who dare to assume a jurisdiction not granted to them by the pope, supplied or otherwise, are devoid of even the possibility of obtaining it. Are these idle words, not able to be demonstrated? Hardly. But needless to say no one will point to the papal decrees and canon laws that tell us what these men really are, and when anyone dares point to them they are told that the pope didn’t infallibly declare it, the laws have ceased to exist, that there is some divergence of opinion regarding what it meant, the person pointing it out is not qualified (and they are?!) ad nauseum. Of course these are observations made by self-appointed defenders of the indefensible never approved as theologians by the Holy See, and even approved theologians are not permitted to interpret the documents of the Roman Pontiff.  Once a papal document or one issuing from the Holy See is presented as evidence in ecclesiastical court, no other evidence is allowed to be entered against it (Can. 1812 §1; 1816).

Those who minimize papal teaching by claiming it is impossible to know what the popes really mean or how to classify what they teach are working for the Traditionalist cause regardless of how they actually present themselves in public. Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton tells us: “It is, I believe, to be presumed that the Vicar of Christ speaks to the faithful in a way they are able to understand Our Lord did not teach in any way but authoritatively nor does His Vicar on earth when He teaches in the name and by the authority of his Master. Every doctrine proposed by the Holy Father to the entire Church militant is, by that very fact, imposed upon all the faithful for their firm and sincere acceptance.” And people want to disagree with this statement and still call themselves Catholic?

If you were pastor hunting and searching the Internet for information on an individual, would you still seek him out if he had a rap sheet as long as your arm and was pretending he possessed credentials he could not prove he ever received? Well what is presented below is the equivalent of a rap sheet and according to Canon. 2200, it is up to the accused to prove themselves innocent, not for us to assume they are innocent without such proofs. Has anyone ever seen even an attempt to explain these things? No, because they are dismissed as the work of incompetents and fools not worthy of a response. Sound familiar? Deplorables and Wal-Mart crawlers? Little people? Maybe some people out there are willing to be ruled by a religious elite, but I am not one of them. So take this in the spirit it is written — an attempt to unmask those who are continuing to destroy our Church just as they have done for the past 100 years. I am an investigative reporter by trade, and they didn’t call me the pit bull because I wrote happy news.

A parallel in time

Before presenting proofs, however, the groundwork needs to be laid for the conclusions that will later be drawn. This we take from the articles written for The Homiletic and Pastoral Review by Msgr. Joseph Przudzik, Ph.D., J.C.B., S.T.B., A.M., A.A.S.W. Rev. Przudzik wrote two articles for this clerical publication in 1947, one on “The History of Anglican Orders” and the other on the status of the Polish National Church, entitled “Schism in America.” In this last article Przudzik uses the same principles established in his article on Anglican orders to determine the validity of clergy serving the schismatic Polish National Catholic Church and its various offshoots. His conclusions are the same based on the same basic principles, but he provides us with a rare insight concerning similarities between Polish and present-day schismatics.

Like Traditional sects in America, the Polish National Church in the 1960s had “…divided and subdivided into a number of small organizations…Acting on Protestant principles of private interpretation, as soon as some member of the congregation disagreed on any matter with their priest, they split and formed a new congregation and usually a new sect.” Concerning the bishops and priests founding these sects Przudzik comments: “The breaks were caused essentially by pride rebelling against authority, by malice, by desire for financial gain or by other human weaknesses… worked upon and so presented they gave a semblance of reason to the rebellion… Rationalizations, sophistries, half-truths [were] used by these heresiarchs…to mislead the people.” It was Przudzik’s belief that these mensought ordination only to persuade deluded followers that they were still Catholics… For no Pole would accept permanently a bishop who had undergone no sacramental consecrationAnd these attitudes and behaviors are exactly what we see among Traditionalist sect leaders today.

Przudzik zeroes in on the primary head of the PNCC from whom all other orders flow; Francis Hodur, a validly ordained Catholic priest consecrated a bishop by the Jansenists. He traces Hodur’s line of episcopal orders back through a maze of Old Catholics and Jansenists dating back to the 1700s and whose lines eventually became contaminated by Modernism and other heresies, even apostasy. He emphasizes that while these aberrations do not necessarily invalidate the orders given, “It is not as safe, however, to concede the valid Orders of Stenhoven’s successors [Stenhoven being the initial breakaway Jansenist bishop in the 1770s] as one might grant the original validity of his own OrdersOne can only conclude there is some doubt about validity.” Rev. Bernard Leeming S.J. seems to admit the same the same regarding the sacraments of the Arians (Principles of Sacramental Theology, 1957, p. 653).

And today Modernism is so rife it has permeated churches of all kinds. He also points out that the Jansenists (and even the Old Catholics, initially) “…no more thought of questioning the Pope’s primacy of honor than they doubted the validity of their own apostolic line. Not so the attitude of their American offspring, who claim not only equality but even superiority to the Roman position and claims. This is evidenced in their assumption of titles similar to those of the Catholic Church and their setting up of a hierarchical system similar to that of Rome.” It is interesting to note that the Gallicanists at the time of the Western Schism also accepted the pope’s primacy, but not his jurisdiction. Today even the pope’s primacy, the weight of his infallible decrees, is reduced to an expression of opinion. But all of this was foretold by Pope St. Pius X in his Pascendi dominici gregis: “They speak of modern philosophy and show such contempt for scholasticism… [They hold that] ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic parts.”

Minimism, as Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton ably points out in his articles on the topic, is the Modernist tool to relegate the papacy to only the symbol of a power exercised long ago, since Modernism is all about such symbols. But the Modernist variety of Gallicanism has gone a step further — it has eliminated the need for the papacy entirely, just as Pope St. Pius X warned in his Pascendi: “…They propose to remove the ecclesiastical magisterium itself,” and the necessity of a visible head for the Church. This they have done, proffering a million excuses for why they are allowed to do it. They condemn the Novus Ordo church for its Modernist infestation when they are just as infected by Modernism themselves, but in a more insidious way. The Novus Ordo wears its Modernism proudly on its sleeve; the Traditionalists cloak it in pious protestations to preserve the Latin Mass and rescue true Catholics from the Novus Ordo menace — their detestable claim to work for the salvation of souls. But that is not what the Catholic Church teaches they are doing, as will be seen below.

While the PNCC bears certain similarities to Traditionalists, there is one major difference which needs to be emphasized here. The PNCC nor any other sect separating itself from the Catholic Church never claimed to be the valid successor of that Church or that Church itself. It was always understood, as it could easily be when a legitimate Roman Pontiff ruled the Church, that such churches were breakaways and splinter groups not recognized by Rome and were to be avoided as such. But Traditionalists claim to be the genuine continuation of THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, not just another sect openly challenging the pope and/or deviating in some fashion from what She teaches and believes. And yet Traditionalism glaringly lacks, and is unable to ever provide, the one thing that would unquestionably make itself Catholic: the Roman Pontiff. The question to be answered below is: Can anyone on this earth officially function in the Church’s name in Her absence, without Her express pardon, permission, delegation and approval?

 Thuc and Lefebvre didn’t continue the Church of Pope Pius XII

If it was truly the intention of Abp. Marcel Lefebvre and Bp. Peter Martin Ngo dinh Thuc to continue the Church Christ established on earth, good friends that they were, they would have refused to sign Vatican 2 documents, gathered like-minded, validly consecrated bishops together and elected a pope. The resources on how to do this existed, the urgent necessity of the obligation was evident even to a blind man and there were bishops who did not attend Vatican 2 who could have responded. Cardinal Zabarella urged it in such cases in the 15th century and St. Robert Bellarmine sanctioned the calling of an imperfect council to accomplish it. Traditionalists were well aware of this.  Until the late 1970s, the Church, as such, was believed to be continued by some priests validly ordained during the reign of Pope Pius XII, men ordained between 1958 and 1968 — before the changes in the rites of the Sacraments — and by others whose status could not always be verified in the Catholic Directory. Lefebvre priests eventually emerged from their seminaries to supplement these men. And then the consecrations began, first by Lefebvre and later by Thuc. There was brief talk of electing a pope following the consecrations, then silence. And that silence has reigned ever since.

So for nearly two decades the Church consisted of Lefebvre, a few sympathetic bishops here and there and these rag-tag priests, several of them later accused of homosexual relations, even pedophilia, who presented themselves as able and willing to care for the faithful. Yet if the clergy and faithful exiting the Novus Ordo church in the 1960s and 1970s truly intended to BE that Church, how is it that they ever thought it could exist without the very element that was its most distinguishing and important part — the Roman Pontiff? Surely having left the Novus Ordo, they tacitly at least were admitting that Paul 6 was a doubtful pope, or they would never have been able to justify their departure. The controversy over his status has raged since the early 1970s. Never in Church history has there been a time when a false pope was not opposed by at least one antipope; a brief glance at Church history could have told them that.

Yet Lefebvre and Thuc were in and out of negotiations with the Novus Ordo even after their first consecration of bishops, and until Thuc released his totally inadequate and contradictory declaration in February 1982, during the reign of Wojtyla, there was no indication that they believed the popes of the Novus Ordo were heretics.  Mexican Sedevacantism founder Fr. Joaquin Saenz-Arriaga had declared the Vatican 2 popes heretics since the early 1970s and even heralded Paul 6 as the Antichrist, but no one paid much attention. Thuc did name Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio in his declaration, a possible source for commencing an election, but along came Guerard des Lauriers with his material-formal hypothesis and all talk of ever restoring the papacy came to an end. Sedevacantists gradually separated themselves into little sects just as the rest of their Traditionalist brethren before them and the schism continued.

Lefebvre, Thuc and even Saenz were obligated to know that bishops alone could not rule the Church of Christ. For as Pope Pius VI wrote in condemning Febronianism:

“All the more must be deplored that blind and rash temerity of the man who was eager to renew in his unfortunate book errors which had been condemned by so many decrees; who has said and insinuated indiscriminately by many ambiguities that every Bishop no less than the Pope was called by God to govern the Church and was endowed with no less power; that Christ gave the same power Himself to all the apostles AND THAT WHATEVER SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE IS OBTAINED AND GRANTED ONLY BY THE POPE, THAT VERY THING, WHETHER IT DEPENDS ON CONSECRATION OR ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION, CAN BE OBTAINED JUST AS WELL FROM ANY BISHOP …” (DZ 1500).

And there is also the more recent infallible teaching of the Vatican Council: “But that the episcopacy itself might be one and undivided, and that the entire multitude of the faithful through priests closely connected with one another might be preserved in the unity of faith and communion; placing the Blessed Peter over the other apostles, He established in him the perpetual principle and visible foundation of both unities upon whose strength the eternal temple might be erected” (DZ 1821). But these bishops were going to erect a new and better temple without the pope? Bishops trained in theology and holding positions of authority in the Church? Such men could not plead ignorance of these decrees or exempt themselves from blame. And the laity should have been asking questions instead of practicing blind obedience.

Presumably all Catholics know it is schismatic not to render obedience to the (a) pope. The Anglicans and Methodists are run by bishops only, but it is not schismatic for Catholics to behave as they do? They could plead that the Church was experiencing an interregnum but when did any interregnum in history last over three years? Did they educate themselves about this? And did they not even understand the meaning of the word interregnum, which is given as: 1. the time during which a throne is vacant between two successive reigns or regime; 2. a period during which the normal functions of government or control are suspended; 3. a lapse or pause in a continuous series, all of which apply to the papacy with one exception: in the Church an interregnum is always indicative of an ongoing election. Could a country function for even three years without a king, a president or prime minister? Was there any COMMON sense — far less CATHOLIC sense — left at all in these people exiting the Novus Ordo church?

There is one simple catechism quote that clarifies everything here and will help others understand what follows. In his Manual of Christian Doctrine, written for religious congregations and Catholic institutions of higher learning, seminary professor Rev. John Joseph McVey wrote in 1926:

Q. 60: Who after the pope are lawful pastors of the Church?
A. The bishops who have been canonically instituted, i.e., who have received from the Sovereign Pontiff a diocese to govern.
Q. 73: Why is it not sufficient to be a bishop or priest in order to be a lawful pastor?
A. Because a bishop must also be sent into a diocese by the Pope, and a priest must be sent into a parish by the bishop. In other words, a pastor must have not only the power of order, but also THE POWER OF JURISDICTION, (emph. McVey’s).
Q. 77: How is the power of jurisdiction communicated?
A. Priests receive their jurisdiction from the bishop of the diocese; bishops receive theirs from the pope; and the Pope holds jurisdiction from Jesus Christ. A bishop who did not have his spiritual powers from the Pope, a pastor who did not have his from the lawful bishop, would be AN INTRUDER OR SCHISMATIC,” (emph. McVey’s).

So not only are Traditionalist “priests” and “bishops” questionably ordained and consecrated, without a true pope they are incapable of possessing ANY jurisdiction whatsoever. And this is from the approved catechisms of the Church. (See also the Catholic Encyclopedia articles on Apostolicity and Apostolic Succession.) It is a well-known fact that the laity even in the 1950s were woefully ignorant of their faith and more intent on religious externals than any intellectualization of their faith, although that will not necessarily excuse them. We will leave the question of the culpability of the laity, then, to a future pope, if some miracle provides us with one. What we are concerned about here is the culpability of what passed in the 1970-80s for bishops, the ones who were supposed to be leading the faithful but instead used them to set up their own false church.

In 1944, Rev. Alan McCoy O.F.M., J.C.L. wrote a dissertation, Force and Fear in Relation to Delictual Imputability and Penal Responsibility, (Catholic University of America). Under the general heading of “Delictual Acts Interdicted by Divine Authority,” regarding censures, he writes: “When an act is intrinsically evil, or involves contempt of the faith or of ecclesiastical authority, or works to the detriment of souls… imputability is not taken away in such cases since in these instances the observance of the law still urges under the pain of sin, even though the most severe personal hardship or danger, or also the greatest private harm might come from such observance.” Censures are generally ignored by Traditionalists who tend to regard them as inapplicable in their self-declared state of emergency. Epikeia and necessity cover all. Yet the primary purpose of penalties in Canon Law is not simply to punish and prompt the offender to reform, but to protect the faithful.

In a 1945 article for the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, “The What and Why of Punishment – Part Two,” Msgr. Joseph Przudzik notes regarding the primary purpose for censures: “Ultimately it would seem, that no essential reason for punishment can be assigned other than the common good… ‘The custody of public safety is not only the highest law but is the whole reason why public authority exists… Canon 2215 …says that the penalty is for the delinquent’s correction and for the penalizing of the crime. This punishment, this juridical correction is also treated elsewhere in the Code as ‘towards the public restoration of injured justice or of scandal.’ Again we note that the public welfare is proposed as intrinsically the ultimate end of punishment.” And it is left to the Church to determine what endangers souls the most and how stringent that punishment must be.

Below we will discover how very far from the vaunted “salvation of souls” and the common good the solution to the crisis in the Church proposed by Traditional bishops and foisted on the faithful really was. And remember when reading below that these many censures levied by the Church are intended to protect the faithful from scandal and mortal son.

Canons governing episcopal consecration

Can. 951: “The bishop is the ordinary minister of sacred ordination.” Woywod-Smith comment on this canon: “A validly consecrated Bishop could validly confer all orders from the minor orders to the episcopate inclusively though he be a heretic, schismatic or deposed or degraded from the episcopal dignity, for he nevertheless retains the episcopal character in virtue of which he can validly ordain provided he observes the essential form of ordination and has the intention to do what the Church does in performing the sacred ordination rites.”        

Canon 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.”

Canon 2370: “A Bishop who consecrates another and the assistant bishops or the priests taking their place as well as the one who receives episcopal consecration without having obtained an Apostolic mandate are suspended ipso iure until the Holy See has granted a dispensation.”

Under the above canon, the canonist Rev. Charles Augustine comments: “This suspension ipso iure lasts until the Apostolic See expressly dispenses therefrom.” He then lists the following in his footnotes: “For the right of ordaining bishops belongs only to the Apostolic See, as the Council of Trent declares; it cannot be assumed by any bishop or metropolitan without obliging Us to declare as both schismatic both those who ordain and those who are ordained thus INVALIDATING their future actions.” This quote is taken from Pope Pius VI’s Charitas, 1791, issued against three bishops who consecrated another bishop without the papal mandate. Augustine notes it is listed as the Fontes, or old law, for Can. 2370, commenting that this is “…an example of its effective application.”

Since Traditionalist pseudo-clergy deny that these consecrations without the mandate invalidated their future actions, we cite Can. 6 §4: “In case of doubt whether some provision of the canons differs from the old law, one must adhere to the old law.”)  Rev. Augustine notes that such consecrations without the mandate are of themselves valid, while confirming above that all further ACTS by the initial consecrator and the one consecrated are invalid (in referencing Charitas). In Rev. Ignatius Szal’s Canon Law dissertation, Communication of Catholics With Schismatics, Szal notes that in the late 12th century when the antipope Victor IV and Paschal III reigned:

“These schismatics had ordained many of their adherents to the episcopate…The Third Lateran Council took action by declaring that the ordinations performed by these schismatic popes were null and void, as also the ordinations conferred by those who had been consecrated by them… The Canon used the word “irritas” in reference to the ordinations conferred by the schismatics. However the term was to be understood in reference to the execution or the EXERCISE of these orders, rather than to their validity… Clement VIII in his Instruction Sanctissimus Aug. 31, 1595 stated that those who had received ordination at the hand of schismatic bishops who apart from their schismatic status were properly consecrated — the necessary form having been observed — did indeed receive orders but not the right to exercise them…”  In other words, these men validly but illicitly RECEIVED orders according to Church teaching and that of St. Thomas Aquinas, yes; but all the acts EMANATING from those orders were null and void. They could violate the censure and confer the Sacraments, but they only committed sacrilege, multiplied their censures and caused those seeking them out to commit sacrilege as well.

This is best explained in application by Rev. Bernard Leeming in his Principles of Sacramental Theology, 1957:

“619. Various expressions which seem at first sight to indicate invalidity of orders mean, in fact, a practical legal invalidity in the sense that the church to which the Bishop or priest was consecrated owed him no support or obedience and that his acts had no legal effect. This is true of the expression ordine irritos, ordines irritare, ordines exsufflare or sacramenta exsufflare. Not to be ordained may only mean not to have the right to the title in emoluments and jurisdiction of the office as may the expression ordinationes nullas vires obtinent. There is no force or power in such an ordination.” And even here Leeming seems uncertain about the extent to which these invalidating clauses actually apply, in saying it “may only mean.”

On the other hand, under hierarchy in their Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, Pietro Parente, Piolanti and Garofalo wrote: “The valid use of orders, in most cases, cannot be prevented.” So obviously in some cases they CAN be prevented, but the authors do not specify what such cases might be. We are only left to speculate on the application.

Let us here pause to address the objection that null and void does not necessarily mean invalid despite its use in Canon Law and certain papal documents which seems to indicate that this is precisely what it means (see the full text of Charitas referenced above; also Pope Paul IV’s bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio). Pope Leo XIII provides an authoritative definition of this term in his constitution Apostolica Curae, addressing the administration of Holy Orders: “To obtain orders nulliter means the same as by an act null and void — that is invalid — as the very meaning of the word and as common parlance requires.” And invalid is the word used interchangeably with null and void in the documents of Pope Paul IV and Pope Pius VI cited above. Leeming also lists invalid as “synonymous with null or void” (p. 266).

Canon 2370 is intended to apply to bishops who presumably held an office from which they might be suspended. Ironically, however, neither Lefebvre nor Thuc possessed any offices in the first place, having resigned the offices assigned them under Pope Pius XII to accept new offices from the usurpers. They were already considered heretics and schismatics, and also became infamous. They lost their offices and all possibility of obtaining jurisdiction under Can. 188 n. 4. Their acts of communicatio in sacris (Can. 2314 §1, no. 3) were external — public — so there can be no doubt of this. If those leaving and remaining separated from the Novus Ordo church believed that church to be a non-Catholic religion, they cannot excuse men who were bound to know better from continuing to maintain contact.

The obligation to avoid all non-Catholic worship bound them even under grave fear, as Rev. McCoy states above. So in ignoring their censures for heresy and schism by setting up for themselves what appeared to be some form of respectability, though it could never qualify as an office (and Traditionalists deny they possess any offices, at least in the strict sense under Can. 145) they violated Can. 147, which leads us to an entirely new condemnation and set of censures.

Canon 147 states: “An ecclesiastical office is not validly obtained without canonical appointment. By canonical appointment is understood the conferring of an ECCLESIASTICAL OFFICE by the COMPETENT ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY in harmony with THE SACRED CANONS.” An authentic interpretation of this canon was rendered by the Sacred Congregation (AAS 42-601) and gives as its source the text of DZ 967 and yet another version of DZ 960, varying slightly from the Denzinger translation: “Those who undertake to exercise these offices merely at the behest of and upon appointment by the people or secular power and authority, AND THOSE WHO ASSUME THE SAME UPON THEIR OWN AUTHORITY, are all to be regarded not as ministers of the Church but as thieves and robbers who have entered not by the doorIf anyone says that those who have not been duly [rightly] ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical nor canonical authority BUT COME FROM A DIFFERENT SOURCE are lawful ministers of the word and of the Sacraments, LET THEM BE ANATHEMA.

His holiness Pope Pius XII…in order to preserve more inviolate these same sacred principles and at the same time forestall abuses in a matter of such great importance… deigned to provide as follows…” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3, T. Lincoln Bouscaren, 1953).  The excommunications that follow are ipso facto and specially reserved to the Holy See, for allowing oneself to be lawfully intruded into an office. It extends also to those who have any part in it, directly or indirectly. There then follows a brief statement that reads: “Excommunication as vitandus inflicted for accepting office from lay authority, (AAS 42-195). See Can. 2394.” In the same volume, this canon references a priest named as vitandus acting as a diocesan administrator without the proper appointment. Revs. Woywod-Smith state under this canon: “The Congregation of the Council, on June 29, 1950, ruled that those who without canonical provision (cfr.  Canons 147 §§ 1-2, 332 §1) SEIZE or allow themselves to be illegitimately thrust into or retain an ecclesiastical office, benefice or dignity, and all who take part in this, incur ipso facto excommunication reserved in a special manner to the Apostolic See.”

Canon 2258: This canon requires that when anyone is named a vitandus it must be publicly proclaimed that such is the case, he must be mentioned by name and ordered to be avoided. The authentic interpretation of Can. 147 satisfies two of these conditions, and it seems here that an entire class of men is intended, not just specific individuals. This happens also when an interdict is declared against an entire community. An authentic interpretation of the law is considered to have the same effect as the law itself, (Can. 17). Not only Can. 147 but the other papal decrees quoted here show such men are considered at least the equivalent of vitandus and the mind of the lawgiver is expressed vehemently in other laws on this same topic by Pope Pius XII. Publication of the FACT that they are so considered and would be considered by the Church as such cannot have the same effect, of course, as an actual papal declaration; but because the other two conditions are in place it can serve as at least a partial fulfillment. This is true because the laity have an obligation to demand that vitandus and anyone operating under a latae sententiae excommunication that is notorious — the one Traditionalists all incur for heresy, apostasy and schism — are obligated to deter them from exercising their orders and may ask that a declaratory sentence be issued against them (Canons 1325, 2259, 2294; 1935, 2223).

Traditionalists can argue that Thuc, Lefebvre and those they “ordained and consecrated” never assigned anyone to an office, but the wide description of an office under Canon 145 does match their functionality as non-clerics. Certainly the laity exercised their “right to demand the sacraments” from them, and so commissioned them under what they believed to be this right. And on their part Traditionalists responded to their demands. Therefore they accepted a sort of office from these laity, whether they call it that or not. And if they have not accepted such an office from the Church, where else could any pretended authority have come from?

Canon 147 also has Pope Pius VI’s Charitas for its footnote (Fontes). These Fontes likewise list Pope Pius IX’s Etsi Multa, which declares the Old Catholic bishop Joseph Humbert Reinkens a vitandus and an apostate.  Reinkens was already an excommunicated heretic for denying the definition of papal infallibility prior to ordaining and consecrating priests and bishops in Germany. On February 11, 1911, Pope St. Pius X also declared the Old Roman Catholic Arnold Harris Matthew and two other bishops excommunicated in the bull Cravi Iamdiu Scandalo, denouncing Mathew for “arrogating unto himself the title of Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of London [and] all others who lent aid, council, or consent to this nefarious crime, by the authority of Almighty God, we hereby excommunicate, anathematize and solemnly declare to be separated from the communion of the Church and to be held for schismatics.” This bull called Mathew a pseudo-bishop and condemned him as a vitandus.

Pope Pius IX’s condemnation of Reinkens reads:

“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.’” Calling him a “pseudo-bishop,” Pope Pius IX then states:

“We declare the election of the said Joseph Hubert 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 Hubert 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.” Clearly he considers Reinkens a vitandus. And it appears as though those who followed him may have been excommunicated as vitandus as well.

Canon 2245, April, 1951, AAS 43-217,: “A decree of the Holy Office concerning the consecration of a Bishop without canonical provision is as follows: A Bishop OF WHATSOEVER RITE OR DIGNITY who consecrates to the episcopacy anyone who is neither appointed nor expressly confirmed by the Holy See and the person who receives the consecration, even though they were coerced by great fear, (Can 2229 §3, no. 3), incur ipso facto an excommunication most specially reserved to the Holy See.” Can. 2229 §3, no. 3 states: “Grave fear by no means excuses from penalties latae sententiae if the crime involves contempt of faith or of ecclesiastical authority or public damage to souls.” The canonist Augustine comments under this canon: “Hence no one is excused from the penalty laid down in Canon 2314 or from that established in Canon 2335 which forbids membership in Masonic societies.” And lest some try to wiggle under the canonical fence regarding the different rites, notice Pope Pius XII says here “of whatsoever rite or dignity.”

Can 2314 §1 states: “All apostates from the Christian faith and each and every heretic or schismatic incur the following penalties:

  1. ipso facto
  2. If they have been admonished and do not repent, they shall be deprived of any benefits dignity, pension, office or other position which they may hold in the Church; they shall be declared infamous and if they are clerics they shall, after renewed admonition, be deposed.
  3. If they have joined a non-Catholic sect or publicly adhered to it, they incur infamy ipso facto and if they are clerics and the admonition to repent has been fruitless they shall be degraded. Canon 188 n. 4 provides moreover that the cleric who publicly abandons the Catholic faith loses every ecclesiastical office ipso facto and without any declaration.”

And it must be mentioned here again that when there is doubt about how and when any canon in the Code is to be applied, one must return to the old law as Can. 6, n. 4 instructs. In this case the old law under both Can. 2314 and Can.188 n. 4 is Pope Paul IV’s infallible 1559 bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio.

“We likewise consider it fitting that those who do not refrain from evil through love of virtue should be deterred therefrom through fear of penalties. Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals [etc.]…, who must teach others and give them good example to keep them in the Catholic FaithWHEN THESE PREVARICATE, THEY SIN MORE GRAVELY THAN OTHERS; for they not only lose themselves, but drag down with them to perdition and the pit of death countless other peoples entrusted to their care and government or otherwise subject to them… all and sundry Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals…WHO, IN THE FUTURE, SHALL STRAY OR FALL INTO HERESY OR SHALL INCUR, INCITE OR COMMIT SCHISM being less excusable than others in such matters… (all these persons) are also automatically AND WITHOUT ANY RECOURSE TO LAW OR ACTION, completely and entirely, forever deprived of, and furthermore disqualified from and incapacitated for their rank (para. 3. Notice that this applies to the future as well as to those living in the 1500s.)

“Further, if ever at any time it becomes clear that any Bishop, even one conducting himself as an Archbishop, Patriarch, or primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, even as mentioned, a Legate; or likewise any Roman Pontiff before his promotion or elevation as a Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has strayed from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy, or has incurred schism, then his promotion or elevation shall be NULL, INVALID AND VOID. It cannot be declared valid or become valid through his acceptance of the office, his consecration, subsequent possession or seeming possession of government and administration… The persons themselves so promoted and elevated shall, ipso facto and without need for any further declaration, be deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power…” (para. 6).  In paragraph five, Cum ex… declares those consorting with heretics as infamous. This bull’s censures are identical to those levied against vitandus.

Can. 2264: Cum ex… also is listed as a footnote to this canon which states that if a declaratory (latae sententiae) sentence has been issued, which appears to have been issued in way of the vitandus notification listed under Can. 147, all acts of jurisdiction are invalid unless jurisdiction is supplied under Can. 2261 §2. But under Can. 2261 §3, the law states vitandus can be resorted to only in danger of death. Today we lack the supplying power, the Roman Pontiff, so this is not even possible. Can. 219 states that: “The Roman Pontiff, legitimately elected, obtains, from the moment he accepts election, the full power of jurisdiction by divine right.”

The very act of heresy, deposition and infamy itself, then, committed by Lefebvre, Thuc, et al.— before they ever began ordaining Traditionalists — invalidated their acts. The subsequent ordinations and consecrations themselves may or may not have been valid, but the Church has the right and the duty, for the good of the faithful, to nullify the attempted administration of sacrilegious sacraments with the exception of Orders that would result from these acts. For they are divine, having been established by Our Lord Himself, and therefore they and the faithful who might think they are receiving them must be safeguarded from all abuse. Traditionalists may have been ordained and consecrated, they may have received the character, but all their sacramental acts are worthless because they are notorious heretics and schismatics and/or vitandus, and the majority of theologians agree vitandus are no longer members of the Church.

Until they a) abjure and are absolved from their heresies, b) their own orders are examined by a true pope, and c) they are either dispensed from any irregularity or ordered to be conditionally or absolutely ordained, they must be considered as possessing no validity whatsoever. For if a doubtful pope is no pope, then likewise a doubtful bishop or priest is no bishop or priest. The Catholic Encyclopedia recommends the following regarding the resolution of orders:

“Apart from exceptional circumstances, such as arose in 1896, the Holy See does not indulge in purely theoretical pronouncements on questions like that of Anglican Orders, but limits its intervention to cases of practical difficulty that are brought before it — as when persons or classes of persons who wish to minister at the Church’s altars have undergone ceremonies of ordination outside its fold. And even in thus intervening the Holy See is chary of doctrinal decisions, but applies a common-sense rule that can give practical security. Where it judges that the previous orders were certainly valid it permits their use, SUPPOSING THE CANDIDATE TO BE ACCEPTABLE; where it judges the previous orders to be certainly invalid it disregards them altogether, and enjoins a re-ordination according to its own rite; where it judges that the validity of the previous orders is doubtful, EVEN THOUGH THE DOUBT BE SLIGHT, it forbids their use until a conditional ceremony of re-ordination has first been undergone” (Anglican Orders).

All the above is expressed in Pope Pius VI’s 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…”  The effects of Charitas are those visited upon vitandus, just as those of Pope Paul IV, Pius IX and Pope St. Pius X above.

Some have said that despite Pius VI’s decision, Pope Pius VII later reinstated all the constitutional bishops. This he could do as he had not impugned their consecration as bishops but only qualified them as illicit, voiding only any of their future acts. Pius VII did however, at one point, complain in a letter to Louis XVIII written in 1816: “of the bad faith of the constitutional bishops, protesting that the old bishops had not only refused to resign, but had, by writing and conduct, assailed the Holy See. ‘We willingly forget the offenses shown to us personally,’ he wrote the French king.

‘But we cannot forget those offered to the authority and dignity of the Church and of its head.

“Now in case any of these bishops are nominated to sees, they cannot obtain canonical institution from us unless they first give the Church and the Holy See suitable satisfaction,’” (Artaud de Montor, The Lives and Times of the Popes, 1911). The king suggested these bishops resign, but the pope became ill and the negotiations were delayed. Because of his failing health, “The Pope was more anxious to bring the affairs of the Church of France to a definite form… On May 30, 1819, the bishops, to the number of 40, wrote warmly to the pope. Pius VII replied by a brief, which finally arranged all,” (Ibid.).

Canon 2372: “Those who dare to receive orders from an excommunicated, suspended or interdicted minister, provided he has been declared such or condemned to one of the three aforementioned penalties, or from a notorious apostate, a notorious heretic, or a notorious schismatic, ipso facto incur suspension a divinis reserved to the Apostolic See.” And Rev. Francis Hyland, in his 1928 Catholic University of America dissertation Excommunication, notes: “Tanquerey remarks that the Church is wont to declare as vitandi only notorious heretics and schismatics who have already ceased to be members of the Church…” (pg. 9).

Regarding Can. 2245 and the Holy Office decree, Rev. McCoy, cited above, further discusses on page 92 what the Code considers to be acts involving contempt of the faith. He identifies the titles in the Code containing these acts as XI and XII of the fifth book, concerning “Delicts Against the Faith and Unity of the Church and Delicts Against Religion.” These include HERESY, APOSTASY AND SCHISM; COMMUNICATION IN SACRED RITES WITH HERETICS; USURPATION OF PRIESTLY FUNCTIONS AND SACRILEGE, among other offenses.  On page 97, under the heading “Acts that Work to the Detriment of Souls,” McCoy writes: These are all acts which draw people away from the faith or from the practice of Christian morals and thus expose them to the danger of eternal damnation…”

“Those acts which, by their nature, work to the detriment of souls are listed particularly in Titles XVI and XVII of the fifth book of the Code…bearing the headings: ‘Offenses Committed in the Administration or Reception of Orders or the Other Sacraments’ and ‘Offenses Against the Obligations Proper to the Clerical and Religious State.’” Among the offenses McCoy lists that work to the detriment of souls are: “…the administration of Sacraments to those who are forbidden to receive them…THE CONSECRATION OF A BISHOP WITHOUT A PAPAL MANDATE…THE RECEPTION OF ORDERS FROM UNWORTHY PRELATES… the negligence of a pastor in the care of souls.” It must be noted here however that this particular Holy Office decree was issued against men who at the time were bishops in good standing in the Church, who possessed actual offices; NOT HERETICS WHO POSSESSED NONE. That is a different kettle of fish and is handled differently by the Church. If we consider all that is said above by Rev. McCoy, and all that is forbidden by the canons listed, it begins to appear that far from rushing to save souls, Traditionalists instead have worked to foster contempt of the faith and promote schism. But of course they will always rationalize as follows.

But in this emergency…

Traditionalists argue that necessity knows no law and they can resort to epikeia to justify their ordinations and consecrations. But as has been explained at length in a separate work, Pope Pius XII’s 1945 election constitution, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, (VAS), which infallibly decrees what can and cannot be done during an interregnum, forbids any correction or change in the law during an interregnum. “The laws issued by Roman Pontiffs in no way can be corrected or changed by the assembly of Cardinals of the Roman Church while it is without a Pope, nor can anything be subtracted from them or added or dispensed in any way whatsoever with respect to said laws or any part of them… In truth, if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, We declare it, by Our Supreme Authority, to be null and void.

Here we are talking both papal laws and Canon Law, which is largely taken from papal and conciliar law. Some may object that Can. 20 advises the use of epikeia, and to invoke it would not be a violation of the law.  But Can. 20 specifically states there must be no other provision in the case considered, and such provision was already laid down in VAS. It also recommends consulting the laws given in similar cases and the common and constant teaching of approved authors. Laws given in similar cases point to the summoning of the bishops to elect a pope (Council of Constance) and a good number of authors agree on this, namely St. Robert Bellarmine and those supporting his teaching. St. Bellarmine also recommends the calling of an imperfect council in the absence of a pope if the cardinals cannot elect. Finally, Can. 20 cannot be used in anything involving penalties. And VAS is a document levying several penalties.

The reason why this infallible law nullifies epikeia is explained as follows: “Epikeia may be defined as: A correction or emendation of a law which in its expression is deficient by reason of its universality, a correction made by a subject who deviates from the clear words of the law, basing his action upon the presumption, at least probable, that the legislator intended not to include in his law the case at hand,” (The History, Nature and Use of EPIKEIA in Moral Theology by the Rev. Lawrence Joseph Riley, A.B., S.T.L., a dissertation submitted to the faculty of the School of Sacred Theology of the Catholic University of America, 1948). Abp. Amleto Cicognani also refers to it as a correction of the law. So applying epikeia has done nothing; all is null and void. Not only is a correction to the law forbidden, but the probable presumption that the law should be changed could not be reconciled with VAS itself or the penalties levied by Pope Pius XII above, nor could it be reconciled with other papal decisions rendered by this same pope.

Even aside from their equivalent status as vitandus, Traditionalists could never have been supplied jurisdiction because it is withdrawn from them by VAS and under the canons and their Fontes above. And because we have no Roman Pontiff to supply, no jurisdiction could be supplied to anyone anyway. This is clear from VAS, which insists all be referred to a future pontiff, and no jurisdiction enjoyed by the deceased Roman Pontiff in his lifetime can be exercised after his death, even by the cardinal. If such jurisdiction is exercised, it is null, void and invalid. We also see in Charitas above that Pope Pius VI ordered the same in this matter, decreeing that the bishops he pronounced as schismatics are forbidden to decide any “matters that relate to ecclesiastical jurisdiction.” And if they attempt this, it is null, void and invalid.

Consequences cascading from the Canons

The canons above tell the real story. They say more than it appears. Given the explanation provided by the old law under Canon 2370, we can have no doubt 1) that these men, for their contemptuous acts outside papal law, are considered schismatics, and suffer for this the consequences of Can. 2314 and Can. 188, no. 4; and 2) With the exception of ordination and consecration, anything Lefebvre, Thuc, et al., or those they consecrated have done, is invalid. The orders given are questionably valid until the circumstances of their administration can be investigated by the Holy Office. In the meantime, any acts proceeding from those orders is considered to be invalid. Some may argue that actual schism could exist only if a true pope reigned. But to honestly maintain their position sedevacantists, at least, were obligated to consecrate just enough bishops to call an imperfect council and elect a pope. That might have been possible then and would have eliminated all suspicion of setting up a false church, but it would not be possible today. There was initially talk of doing this prior to the Thuc consecrations, but it soon ceased.

For along came Guerard des Lauriers with his material-formal hypothesis and quite suspiciously, all talk of ever restoring the papacy came to an end. Sedevacantists gradually separated themselves into little sects just as the rest of their Traditionalist brethren before them and the schism continued. All attempts to explore the possibility of an imperfect council, suggested by this author long before participating in an (invalid) conclave as an absolute last resort, was shot down by those who had the money and the influence in Traditionalist circles to do such a thing. The question is why, unless the plan all along was to set up a model of the more “traditional” Catholic church either to keep people quiet long enough to complete the Church’s destruction or until the Church could be refashioned along totally Gallicanist lines. As things stand today, it seems to be the latter. Given the failure of sedevacantism to do what the Church commanded, they must rightly be judged as schismatic, especially since they base their existences on the vacant See.

The language of the Holy Office decree, entered into the AAS under Can. 2245; also the fact that this censure is reserved in a most special manner to the Holy See (a fairly rare occurrence), makes it clear that the Holy Office had no intention, for the good of the faithful, of allowing these men to function in any manner, whether they acted as priests or not. They were declared the equivalent to vitandus under Can. 147 by an authentic interpretation entered into the AAS, which is binding on the faithful for belief. Traditionalists assumed power “on their own authority,” coming from a “different source” (DZ 960); and the laity “called” them and “consented” to their ministrations, (Can. 109). So it cannot be said that they did not accept their office from lay authority exactly as the rescript reads. Those behaving historically in a like manner were condemned as vitandus as well. Therefore it is not unjust to consider them as such.

Canon 2372 applies to both Lefebvre and Thuc who were clearly schismatic regarding their dealings with the Novus Ordo but were not questioned as such until years later. Canon 2370 would apply then to all those men who sought ordination from Lefebvre and Thuc prior to their consecration of bishops. In the exterior forum, all these men were schismatics even before their ordinations, for either they were raised in the Novus Ordo sect or were practicing Traditionalists. Even if they recognized their errors and left the Novus Ordo, it would still have been necessary for them to be dispensed from their irregularities, for heresy and schism are permanent irregularities that bar a man from ever receiving orders. The canonists Revs. Woywod-Smith and Ramstein go into detail regarding the need of readmittance to the Church for such heresy, citing Can. 2200 as proof of this need, and in addition they would also be required to receive a papal dispensation to qualify for ordination. But one more question needs to be addressed: did these men ever even become clerics?

Tonsure is a jurisdictional act

Now the first thing that must occur for a man to be admitted to the clerical state is what is known as tonsure. “By divine ordinance, the clergy are distinct from the laity” (Can. 107), and tonsure is the ceremony which marks that distinction. A man cannot be ordained without first tonsure. Few chronicling the change in the rites of the Sacraments by the Novus Ordo in 1968 mention the fact that Paul 6 later abolished the ceremony of tonsure in 1972. He must have realized that this also was essential to finalizing the destruction of the priesthood. It is interesting that the canon following the first mention of tonsure in the Code references DZ 960 and 967 from the Council of Trent on the prohibited institution of ministers by the laity and leads us back to Can. 147. Rev. Charles Augustine comments on this canon:

“This canon is directed against certain innovations which cropped out throughout the history of the Church but were introduced especially by the so-called reformers in the 16th century. The “consent of the people” was the favorite cry of Arnold of Brescia and his followers in the 12th century. It was repeated by Wycliff and Hus, Calvin and Zwingli. Against these the Council of Trent declared IT IS AN ARTICLE OF FAITH that the people have no voice in the choice of ministers.”  And nothing could be clearer than this.

Tonsure is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas and is unanimously accepted by canonists as an ecclesiastical ceremony or administrative act — not a rite of Sacred Orders conferring an indelible mark — issuing from the office of a bishop.  And we know that both Lefebvre and Thuc possessed no offices in the Church. So tonsure could not be given validly by a vitandus or anyone laboring under a vindicative penalty for heresy. Not only could it not be validly given; it could not be validly received by those presenting as candidates for the priesthood without first obtaining a dispensation from the Holy See for the same censure of heresy, schism and infamy of law under Can. 2314. And this presents Traditionalists with a very big problem.

Because, as St. Thomas explains, “The ministers of the Church are severed from the people in order that they may give themselves entirely to the divine worship. Now in the divine worship are certain actions that have to be exercised by virtue of certain definite powers and for this purpose the spiritual power of order is given while other actions are performed by the whole body of ministers in common, for instance the recital of the divine praises. For such things it is not necessary to have the power of Order but only to be deputed to such an office, and this is done by the tonsure. Consequently, it is not an Order but a preamble to Orders… “Reply Obj. 2: Although a man does not receive a character in the tonsure, nevertheless he is appointed to the divine worship; hence the appointment should be made by the supreme minister, namely the bishop.” (Summa Theologica, Vol III, Q. 40, Art. 2, Suppl.).

Commentaries on the Code of Canon Law, with the Latin and Castilian legal text, by Lorenzo Miguelez Dominguez; Arturo Lobo; Sabino Alonso Morán (Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos 1963 Volume II, page 396) also read:

“The tonsure received produces the incardination in some diocese, not being able to exist in acephalous clerics. And once incardination is produced by means of the prima tonsura, the Bishop of the diocese is the only one who can promote the tonsured to higher orders; he is the only legitimate ordinary minister of his subsequent ordination. In the ordination of the tonsured, the domicile of the tonsured no longer counts, but only his actual incardination, however this may have taken place.

*Ordinarily the tonsure is received in order to dedicate the tonsured to the service of his own diocese. But it can also be received in order to enter into the service of another diocese.

Two cases: that the foreign diocese be determined or indeterminate.

1º If it is determinate:

(a) the tonsure is conferred by one’s own bishop by reason of domicile, according to canon 956;

(b) The tonsured is ipso facto incardinated in the diocese to which he is destined, according to canon 111.2;

(c) The bishop of this diocese is the one who must confer higher orders on him or give him dimissorial orders.

2° If the diocese of another is indeterminate:

(a) he is conferred tonsure by his own bishop by reason of domicile, as in the previous case;

(b) he is incardinated in the diocese of the ordaining bishop, who can confer higher orders on him;

(c) in due time, he is to be excardinated from that diocese, incardinated in another diocese, the Bishop of the latter being his proper Bishop, from the moment of incardination, for all

incardination, for all effects and purposes

(S. C. Conc., 10 March 1923: AAS 16 [1024] 51; CPI 17: February 1930: AAS 22 [1930] 195; CPI 24 July 1939, 1 and 1: AAS 31 [1939] 321).

So clearly here, as the Sacred Congregation demonstrates, the only way such a person can be validly tonsured is by a bishop in possession of a validly conferred diocese, which none of those floating bishops, be they Lefebvre, Thuc, Castro de Meyer or anyone else can claim to have possessed. And if the administrative powers of that bishop have been rendered invalid, guess what? It never happens. Why is this important? Because according to the canons, “Those who have been assigned to the divine ministry at least by the first tonsure are called clerics,” (Can. 108), and this is based on Divine law. And from Can. 118:ONLY CLERICS CAN OBTAIN THE POWER OF EITHER ORDERS OR ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION…”

So if the grantor’s act of conveying tonsure is invalid, and the grantees are unable to even seek ordination without a dispensation from the pope, which is no longer an option, does anyone really believe that these men could possibly have received ordination? Notice that Pope Pius VI in Charitas above classifies as invalid the deputations or confirmations of those consecrated as bishops without papal approval and the one(s) consecrating. So from what is presented below, from the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments by Aloysius Cardinal Masella, Dec. 27, 1955, this appears to be one of those acts.

“The purpose [of this Instruction] is that the unworthy may in due time, even at the last moment, be absolutely held off from joining the sacred ranks lest dishonor and disgrace touch the Church of God…The Bishop must pass final judgment on the priestly vocation of their candidates, most earnestly examining it along with the canonical fitness of the candidates according to the norms given by approved authors of moral, ascetical and mystical theology. This fitness must be supported by positive proofs, especially concerning the virtue of chastity.” So tonsure cannot even be received unless these proofs are provided, and Lefebvre, Thuc, et al. could not provide them; their confirmations of these proofs were invalid.

These pseudo-bishops had no right or power to call anyone to the priesthood, and never possessed the ability to graft them into it. And this goes back as far as we find Lefebvre and later Thuc (and others) first ordaining priests, for their heresy was committed by accepting Vatican 2, the sacramental changes and the Novus Ordo mass as valid before these “ordinations” ever began. Dispensing themselves from the law in this “emergency” will not work, either; Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis declares null and void every dispensation from Canon Law during an interregnum, as explained above.

How intention is lacking in Traditionalist consecrations

As discussed in the first part of this document, the situation among Traditionalists cannot be compared to those sects which openly declare themselves separated from Rome. Traditionalists, rather, claim they ARE the Catholic Church, and as such they must be held to all the standards that Church has established in order to claim to validly confect Her Sacraments. This is an important distinction that has not been previously made but needs to be examined in depth in order to draw out the necessary conclusions. A schismatic bishop separating from Rome and starting his own Church, with branches here and there, does not claim to be the Catholic Church, although he may celebrate the Latin Mass and administer the Sacraments. He can validly ordain priests and consecrate bishops given he uses the proper form and has the right intention. He is judged differently because Rome no longer expects of him what She once did, given his rejection of the papacy.

But the Church would scarcely tolerate in her own ministers what she is forced to tolerate from this schismatic sect and its leader. Either members of Her hierarchy are Catholic and abide by all Her laws and teachings — particularly obedience to the Roman Pontiff in all things, since it is necessary for salvation, (DZ 469), — or they are not. They cannot at one and the same time claim to be the only surviving members of the hierarchy while failing to satisfy all the requirements necessary to belong to that body. These requirements are explained below:

Msgr. G. Van Noort, S.T.D., Christ’s Church, Vol. 2, 119-122, 1959

“Apostolicity of government or mission or authority means the Church is always ruled by pastors who form one, same juridical person with the apostles. In other words, it is always ruled by pastors who are the apostles’ legitimate successors… For on no one but the APOSTOLIC COLLEGE under the headship of Peter did Christ confer the power of teaching, sanctifying and ruling the faithful until the end of the world. This triple power therefore necessarily belongs and can only belong to those who form one moral person with the apostles; their legitimate successors.

How could a man belong to the College of the successors of the apostles unless he be united to the head of the college and acknowledged by him as belonging to it? A man could hardly be a cabinet member if the president refused to accept him. Any man then who boasts Apostolic Succession but is not united to the Roman Pontiff may indeed actually possess the power of orders; he may even by purely physical succession occupy a chair formerly occupied by an apostle — at least he could do so — but he would not be a genuine successor of the apostles in their pastoral office; he would be a usurper.

Rev. E. S. Berry, the Church of Christ, (p. 399).

“Christ evidently intended that His Church be governed by bishops — bishops by the power of Orders as well as by the power of jurisdiction… After the Ascension St. Peter and his successors [took] the place of Christ as visible head of the Apostolic body, with full authority to carry out His will: “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven.” Consequently the Roman Pontiff, as successor of St. Peter, has sole authority to accept new members into the Apostolic body, i. e., he alone has authority to constitute bishops, since authority to teach and govern the faithful was conferred upon the Apostles as a body and can be obtained only by incorporation into that body.

“Bishops are shepherds for portions of the flock that was committed in its entirety to the pastoral care of St. Peter and his successors; but no one becomes a shepherd of any portion of a flock unless he be made such by the chief pastor of the whole flock. It is also evident that the chief purpose of the primacy — the preservation of unity — could not be realized if the bishops of the Church were not subject in all things to her supreme pastor.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia under the Apostolic College:

“As the Church has to endure to the end of time, so has the unifying and preserving office of St. Peter. Without such a principle, without a head, the body of the Bride of Christ would be no better than a disjointed congeries of members, unworthy of the Divine Bridegroom. In fact the connection of the Church with Christ and the Apostles would be loosened and weakened to the breaking point.” Only bishops headed by the pope, a bishop himself, truly govern the Church.

Pope Pius IX:

“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.”

Now remember, to be the true successors to Christ’s Church they claim to be, all the ceremonies and rites necessary to Orders must have been received by Traditionalists according to the laws and teachings of the Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia and Rev. Clarence McAuliffe present the Church’s teaching on the priesthood as necessary for valid episcopal consecration. “One Order does not depend on the preceding Order as regards the validity of the sacrament.  But the episcopal power depends on the priestly power, since no one can receive the episcopal power unless he have previously the priestly power” (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supplement Q. 40 A5). McAuliffe affirms this in his Sacramental Theology, page 370: “However, the more probable teaching is that a baptized male cannot be VALIDLY consecrated a bishop unless he has previously been ordained a priest.  This seems to be evident from the form of episcopal consecration: ‘Accomplish in Thy priest the fullness of Thy ministry.’”

So from all we have seen above, we have at best men who were:

  • excommunicated as heretics for communicatio in sacris and branded infamous presenting as candidates for the priesthood;
  • never properly examined for fitness and who apparently never received valid tonsure;
  • “priests” who never even became clerics because they never received tonsure raised to the episcopacy by bishops without the papal mandate whose own orders are in question and who are
  • under censure for heresy and schism, not to mention all the other censures enumerated above;
  • “bishops” who were never priests and were not even eligible for the priesthood ordaining and consecrating others without the papal mandate who suffer all the same disabilities and censures mentioned above.

Now would someone please tell me what person in their right mind would ever think that such men, men who are not even Catholic and suffer under the most severe censures the Church can levy, could dare call themselves the true Church of Christ? These men did not just set up a schismatic sect for themselves, they set up an entire Church and called it Catholic! They are no better than their Novus Ordo counterparts who they have never ceased to castigate and constantly point to as the root of all evils.

In his article for The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, “Are Liberal Catholic Orders Valid?” Dr. Leslie Rumble, M.S.C. writes in a footnote: “In his 1956 work ‘Anglican Orders and Defect of Intention’ Rev. Francis Clark, S.J. observes: “To what an extent a visible separation from the true Church of Christ exerts an influence on the external rite itself, that is, whether such a rite does or does not continue the ritual profession of the faith of the Church must be determined by the Church, Herself. It belongs to the true Church to determine whether a rite performed in given circumstances is an “exteriorization” of Her own faith — that is, whether it is her own act — or whether it is, on the contrary, an act expressing the faith of another separated Church, qua separated,” (qua meaning in what manner or how being defined by the Church).

“In this latter case, the rite is not valid,” Dr. Rumble observes. “Thus Pope Leo XIII decreed in the concrete that Anglican ordinations do not remain acts of the true Church; in them ‘ritual contact’ with the faith of Christ’s Church is not maintained” (ibid., Dr. Rumble). And here readers must remember that Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican Orders invalid for lack of intention as well as invalid form. For he also proclaimed in this same document: “The Church does not judge about the mind and intention in so far as it is something by its nature internal; but in so far as it is manifested externally She is bound to judge concerning it.” Surely what has been documented here is enough to prove that all obedience to a Roman Pontiff and the absolutely necessary inclusion of him in the Apostolic College is absent in Traditionalists.

IT IS DE FIDE FROM THE COUNCIL OF TRENT AND HENCE THE UNANIMOUS OPINION OF THEOLOGIANS THAT BOTH ORDERS DULY RECEIVED AND JURISDICTION ARE NECESSARY FOR TRUE APOSTOLICITY TO EXIST, AND THAT PER POPE PIUS XII’S DECISION ON EPISCOPAL ORDERS IN MYSTICI CORPORIS, BISHOPS RECEIVE THEIR JURISDICTION ONLY FROM THE ROMAN PONTIFF. What we are looking at above is a vile imposture where the very Church Herself has been presented as something She is not and could never be. A Church without a pope, and no prospects of obtaining one; bishops possessing no power to forgive sins or confer graces, but offering only curses, in their ministrations; a series of questionable acts repeatedly condemned by the Roman Pontiffs made to appear as inconsequential and even non-existent. All this, they believe, the Church gladly tolerates and even approves in the interest of “saving souls.” But this is far from all.

The substantial nature of the Sacrament

Bernard Leeming, S.J., The Principles of Sacramental Theology, 1957

  1. “It is possible for a minister to have the intention of not doing what the Church does, and if such is the case the Sacrament is invalid. This teaching is universally accepted by modern theologians, who agree that a Sacrament is invalidated even by a secret intention of the minister contrary to the substantial nature of the Sacrament.”

Comment: The substantial nature of the Sacrament includes the intent to induct a man into the Apostolic College to function there in union with his fellow bishops, in obedience to and under the direction of the Roman Pontiff. This is the entire purpose of the episcopacy.

  1. Heretics may not intend to do what the Church really does and yet may have sufficient intention provided their intention is to do what the true Church does or to do what Christ wished. In this case, the object they will may be in fact what the Church does, for their intention of doing what Christ willed prevails over the intention not to do what the Roman Church does. If however there is a prevalent intention not to do what the true Church does, then the intention is not sufficient; because in fact the object they will is not what the true Church does and what Christ willed. These conclusions or explanations follow from the generally accepted principle that it is not enough to intend to do what the Church does.

Comment: The object Traditionalists will is to present themselves as the true Church of Christ on earth and convince their followers it can exist without a pope and bishops in communion with him. The Vatican Council teaches that Christ wished his Church to last until the consummation, and that with Peter at its head the episcopacy be “one and undivided” (DZ 1821). Traditionalists pretend they are preserving the episcopacy, the Apostolic College. But without Peter they destroy the unity of the Church, something not only contrary to Christ’s will but deserving of anathema.

  1. In the case of bishops or priests who fall into heresy the presumption stands that they intend to do what Christ wills unless the nature of their heresy gives ground to suspect that they are so convinced that Christ does not will a particular effect of Sacraments that they absolutely exclude this from their intention” (end of Leeming quotes).

Comment: Now Leeming states that the effect of the Sacrament of the episcopacy is to include the one consecrated into the “In orders the bishop gives a man the recognized standing as a minister in the united body [of Christ; the Church]… (no. 554). Included in that united body is the head bishop, the Roman Pontiff. If the consecration is performed with the intention NOT to include the Roman Pontiff as head bishop in this Body — which certainly has been and must be the case — and to induct the one “consecrated” instead into a body separated from the Church by heresy and schism, consisting of men who then are presented to others as full successors of the Apostles in the Catholic Church, then this constitutes a prevalent intention not to do what the true Church does.  Such acts can only be described as evil and treachery of the worst kind. And not only are these acts evil and treacherous; they cannot be valid. Msgr. Van Noort elaborates on Rev. Leeming’s effect of the Sacrament as follows:

“[For] bishops to actually function as pastors of their dioceses, they must be adopted by the authority of the Supreme Pontiff. Adoption (assumption) is a short form standing for adoption or assumption into the corporate body of the pastors of the Church. It designates the factor by which the formal admittance of a selected or elected candidate is brought to its final conclusion… In saying that papal adoption is necessary, we do not mean it is merely necessary because it be ecclesiastical law currently in force; WE MEAN IT IS NECESSARY BY THE DIVINE LAW ITSELF. Even though this necessity has never been explicitly defined, it follows absolutely from Catholic principles. It is a fact that a Bishop cannot act as a pastor of the Church unless he be a member of that body which is a continuation of the Apostolic college. Now the Roman pontiff as Christ’s vicar presides over that college with full and supreme authority.

It would be ridiculous therefore to think that someone could be constituted a member of that body in such fashion as not to need to be acknowledged or adopted in any way by the very head of that body, i.e., the Roman Pontiff. Again, the Roman Pontiff is the supreme shepherd of the entire Church to which the bishops may be compared as subordinate shepherds for each individual part of the Church. Clearly it would be nonsensical to think someone could take charge of part of the sheepfold without the agreement of the one who rules the universal sheepfold with complete authority(Christ’s Church, Vol. II, Msgr. G. Van Noort, S.T.D.,1959; nos. 200, 202, 203). Until a papal decision is rendered on the validity of these mens’ orders, there can be no certainty they are even validly ordained or consecrated, far less any certainty that these pseudo-bishops could be incorporated into any body of bishops of which the Roman Pontiff was not a member. This is a matter of Divine law which cannot be contested.

Oswald J. Reichel, M.A., B.C.L., F.S.A., A Complete Manual of Canon Law, 1896

Valid and Regular Ordination:

  1. Besides the essentials of ordination three things are necessary to make it valid and regular: (1) It must be given by persons properly qualified to give it;

(2) it must be given in a regular manner;

(3) it must be given to those who are fit subjects to receive it. Ordination is called invalid when it conveys no spiritual gift or power of order; irregular when it is valid in itself but conveys no position in the Church. The irregular recipient is capable of performing every function of order, but the exercise of the spiritual gift is either impeded through some fault of his own, or forbidden by the Church.

  1. To bestow orders in a regular manner they must be given:

(1) after examination and probation,

(2) after fasting and prayer, and

(3) unconditionally and gratuitously. A bishop is forbidden to lay hands suddenly on anyone, by which is understood that he may neither ordain without previous examination as to knowledge, nor without previous probation as to character.

Comment: Why is it that we hear only of “matter and form” from these Traditionalists when according to Rev. Reichel three additional requisites appear necessary to validity? We know for a fact many of these “orders” (in the case of priests) were not given after “examination and probation,” nor by those “qualified to give it” or “fit subjects to receive it.” And these are the “priests” who later became “bishops.”

Rev. Jean Marie Herve, Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 1, Sacraments

“474 c) It is required, and also sufficient, that there be an internal intention, at least implicit, of performing the rite as it is customarily performed in the true Church, with all that this includes, or is thought, even falsely, to include.”

Comment: There is obviously no internal intention on the part of Traditionalists to perform this rite as it is customarily performed by the Church. The absence of the papal mandate and the subterfuge that must be resorted to in order to gloss over the parts of the episcopal consecration ceremony violate this requirement. One observer has commented: “This …does not address the question of whether this is also the case for formal heretics. I believe that it is not, because a formal heretic who intends what he believes, formally holds an intention which is a contradictory of what the Church does.”

“481. b) Any condition concerning the future invalidates a sacrament. For a rite conferred under such a condition is not valid when the matter and form are performed, for at that time the intention of the minister is lacking; nor is it valid when the condition is met, for the matter and form are no longer present.” (P. Pouratt, V.G. in his Theology of the Sacraments, 1910, confirms as follows: “If the intention were dependent on a future, contingent fact, it would not really be existing when the sacrament is conferred, and hence by defect of intention the sacrament would be void” p. 401).

Comment: Any obedience pledged to a pope would necessarily be a future one, if such obedience is declared at all. If Traditionalists consecrate using the entire consecration formula, they must somehow amend the following:

“I …, elected to the Church of…, from this hour henceforward will be obedient to Blessed Peter the Apostle, and to the holy Roman Church, and to our Holy Father, Pope …. and to his successors canonically elected. I will assist them to retain and to defend the Roman Papacy without detriment to my order. I shall take care to preserve, to defend, increase and promote the rights, honors, privileges and authority of the holy Roman Church, of our Lord, the Pope, and of his aforesaid successors.

Examination Q. 5: Will you exhibit in all things fidelity, submission, obedience, according to canonical authority, to Blessed Peter the Apostle, to whom was given by God the power of binding and of loosing, and to his Vicar our Holy Father, Pope N. and to his successors the Roman Pontiffs?”

The two Traditional consecrations available for viewing online differ from each other. Pivarunas’ consecration by Carmona in 1991 shows Carmona announcing, in place of the papal mandate: “Our Holy Mother the Catholic Church asks you to promote this priest to the high office of bishop.” Pivarunas then reads aloud in Latin the Oath of Obedience to the Holy See, seeming to read it in its entirety but omitting the name of the pope. The examination follows. The recent “consecration” of Charles McGuire omits the oath of obedience entirely, and the consecration begins with an explanation of the examination, which then follows in the ceremony.  It is difficult to tell if any fealty to the Roman Pontiff is pledged re Q. 5 above. 

In a 1993 article for Fr. Francis Fenton’s The Athanasian, John K. Weiskettel gives this evaluation of Daniel Dolan’s subsequent consecration by Mark Pivarunas: “Meanwhile, those questioning the consecration have also been divided as to details. Not only have some declared it invalid, decried it as scandalous, or even expressed doubts about Father Dolan’s qualifications for the office, but Father Clarence Kelly of the Society of Saint Pius V has gone so far as to denounce it as a sacrilege.” And this from Traditionalists familiar with the scandal and doubt involved in all the Thuc consecrations.

So Traditionalists must have in some way reworked the consecration rite to indicate they render obedience to a future pope, (implied in omitting his name), to some head bishop (or Holy Mother Church, whoever that now is) or omit it entirely. This then would basically exclude any inclusion of the one consecrated in the Apostolic College — a contrary intention as reflected in Msgr. Van Noort’s comments — or relegate it to a future event, as Rev. Herve states above. Since the See is vacant and the only pope one could pledge obedience to would need to be a future one, this would necessarily be the case. Either way, it apparently would be invalid. Also, Pope Pius XII teaches: “It shall be in no way right to understand from what we have declared and ordained above as to matter and form, that it would be lawful to neglect in any way or to omit the other established rites of the Roman Pontifical. Indeed, We ever command that all the prescribed details of that Roman Pontifical be religiously observed and carried out.” (Pope Pius XII, Sacramentum Ordinis); just one more papal command for Traditionalists to ignore.

  1. N. B. a) There is no sacrament even with a condition concerning a necessary future event v.g. “I absolve you, if the sun rises tomorrow,” if the minister wishes that his intention depend on such a condition.

Comment: So if the minister asks the candidate Q. 5 above, regarding obedience to the Roman Pontiff, and it is intended in a future sense, (which if the question is asked at all is the only way it could be intended), then both the minister and the candidate must agree to a future event to both ask and answer the question.

Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, Manual of Dogmatic Theology, 1959:

Tanquerey requires: “That if the intention be conditional it is necessary that it be equivalent to an absolute intention. If the condition is of the future, for example ‘If you will have made restitution within a month I absolve you,’ that is not equivalent to an absolute intention BECAUSE IT PREVENTS THE SACRAMENTAL FROM PRODUCING ITS EFFECT IN THE PRESENT. Once the condition has been verified the form avails nothing since it is now a part of the past.”

Tanquerey then refers to Can. 1092 and this could be used as a parallel case in law since there is doubt about these ordinations and consecrations. This canon, written for matrimonial cases, states:

  1. If the condition is of the future and either necessary or impossible or sinful but is not contrary to the essence of the sacrament it is considered as not added …
  2. If the condition is of the future and is contrary to the essence of the sacrament, it renders it null and void.
  3. If the condition is of the future and licit, it suspends the validity of the sacrament.

Tanquerey notes that no. 3, however, applies only to contracts. He also cites Can. 732 which states when there is a prudent doubt about the validity of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation or Holy Orders, they may be repeated conditionally.

The question based on the above is whether a future pledge of obedience to the Roman Pontiff by a bishop is contrary to the essence of the sacrament of (episcopal) Orders. Since consecration makes a bishop a member of the Apostolic College — the united body of bishops which can function only under the direction and supervision of the Roman Pontiff, and this college as a governing body of the Church cannot exist without its head — the question seems to answer itself. Oddly enough, were the Pontiff’s need to exist simply flat out denied and the other conditions were fulfilled, the Orders could be valid. Given that these men are saying they ARE the Catholic Church, and at least recognize the need to pay lip service to papal obedience of some sort, by doing this they are bound to abide by all Her laws and teachings to the letter, which means no consecrations can be undertaken until a true pope is elected.

Ludovic Cardinal Billot, S.J. On the Sacraments of the Church: A Commentary on the Third Part of St. Thomas, Vol. 1.

Thesis XVIII (q. 64, a. 8): “I respond, that an internal intention is certainly in itself invisible, but is made visible through the external action with which it is connected, if not with metaphysical or physical necessity, then certainly with moral certitude…”

Comment: That external action is one repeated countless times by Traditionalists, despite objections, warnings and theological demonstrations, belittled and ignored for decades. It consists of repeated defiance of all that has been taught by the popes and councils on episcopal consecration and jurisdictional matters. It is reflected in the repeated violation of Canon Law and the utter disregard for the penalties inflicted. The manifest contrary intention is to continue what many believe to be the true Church of Christ against His will with only bishops minus a true pope at its head. Rev. Billot states later in his treatise that:

“Ordinary occult heresy or theological dissidence will pose little danger of hidden invalidity… What does pose such a danger — almost the only thing that poses it — is something vastly rarer and perhaps infinitely more malicious, namely, the conviction that this Sacrament, validly performed, could confer grace, coupled with the determined intention that it not do so. Such a combination would characterize the mind of a demon.” But here we are NOT speaking of occult heresy but heresy that is public and notorious! And in functioning as priests and bishops without any assurance of validity, in confecting the Sacraments when expressly forbidden to do so even though they know they do not transmit grace but involve themselves and the one receiving in mortal sin, THE EFFECTS BILLOT DESCRIBES AS ISSUING FROM THE DEMONIC MIND ARE EXACTLY THE SAME!

Therefore, it is:

  • this BENIGN AND HIDDEN SORT OF MALICE, characterized as demonic by Cardinal Billot,
  • described above by Rev. McCoy as “INTRINSICALLY EVIL, WORKING TO THE DETRIMENT OF SOULS [and involving] CONTEMPT OF THE FAITH,”
  • coupled with a CONTRADICTORY INTENTION OR ONE “CONCERNING THE FUTURE,”
  • THAT INVALIDATES THE SACRAMENTS CONFERRED BY TRADITIONALISTS.

Their absolute contempt for the papacy, veiled cleverly by only deferring to the Roman Pontiffs in certain instances that benefit themselves — accompanied by their complete refusal to observe the penalties inflicted and refrain from scandalizing the faithful — is further proof of their intransigence. And poor Billot, who fortunately passed away before the final curtain came down on the Church, would not live to see the heights to which these demons would ascend.

The crème de la crème

In his A Manual of Canon Law. p. 130, Rev. Matthew Ramstein, (S.T.D, Mag., J.U.D, OFM, 1947) writes under the heading, Legal or Moral Persons: “To be such, a moral person in the Church must have obtained a charter of incorporation either in virtue of the law or by decree of the competent ecclesiastical superior…” Paragraph three reads: “Where the law itself does not confer corporate personality, this must be obtained from thecompetent ecclesiastical superior.” This we find in Can. 147: “An ecclesiastic office cannot be validly obtained without canonical appointment. By canonical appointment is understood the conferring of an ecclesiastical office by the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the sacred canons.” Despite claims recently made by  the CMRI sect, there is no Traditionalist who can produce any such charter as referred to above since Traditionalism has never even been considered for approval by a true Roman Pontiff as a corporate personality. Nor are there any laws that they can construe as granting them such status. In the same section of the Code as Canons 99-100, under the general heading Bk. II: Laws Concerning Persons, we find Canons 103-104, under Ramstein’s subheading:

General Principles Applicable to both Legal and Moral Persons:                                                            
1. Force, fear, fraud and error as determinants of legal acts 

Canon 104 reads: “Error annuls an action, when the error concerns the substance of the action or amounts to a conditio sine qua non — that is to say, if the action would not have been done except for the error; otherwise the action is valid, unless the law states otherwise…” (Can. 104). Merriam-Webster defines conditio sine qua non as “an indispensable condition.” West’s Law Dictionary repeats the same definition giving the example of a father who leaves his keys in the car, his young son who starts the car and backs over a playmate, with the father’s carelessness being the condition sine qua non for injury to the playmate. Revs. Woywod-Smith comment on this canon: “The rules concerning actions done through physical compulsion or violence, moral force or fear, deceit or error are all taken from longstanding rules of Canon Law and moral theology, and the commentaries of approved theologians and canonists may be consulted for a further study of these interferences with the free will and deliberation of human actions” (A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, 1957).

During an interregnum, lack of a papal mandate constitutes a condition sine qua non in order for the valid consecration of a bishop to take place. This is clear from the pontifical for episcopal ordination itself which says the consecration cannot take place without the mandate. The mandate is an indispensable condition for proceeding to the consecration. Pope Pius XII teaches in his 1945 election constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS) that:

  • Even the Sacred College of Cardinals cannot exercise the jurisdiction enjoyed by the pope during his lifetime. Any attempts to usurp such jurisdiction (and issuance of the papal mandate for consecration of bishops is one of them) are declared invalid.
  • All acts of jurisdiction must be left to the future pope.
  • No corrections, changes or dispensations can be made regarding the rights, papal laws and canon laws of the Church. Any attempts to circumvent these rights and laws are null and void (invalid).
  • Only the cardinals are able to resolve any doubts regarding VAS (preamble and para. 4)

(See https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/vacantis-apostolicae-sedis-vindicated/).

In his constitution, Pope Pius XII anticipated actors who would attempt to change the laws of the Church: ”Likewise we command that the Sacred College of Cardinals shall not have the power to make a determination in any way it pleases concerning the laws 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.” Another translation of VAS reads: “Nor may the sacred College of Cardinals detract wheresoever from the laws of the same either directly or indirectly, through a species of connivance or through the simulation of crimes perpetrated against the same laws. After the death of the pontiff or in time of vacancy it will and ought to guard and defend against the same contentions of all men.” So it is clear that the pope and his predecessor, whose constitution says the same, believed they needed to do all in their power to protect Church law from those conniving against it.  No one can argue that given what we have today.

Canonists comment on error and conditio sine qua non

Rev. Charles Augustine states under Can. 104: “Whether deceit is committed by hiding the truth or telling a lie or by some machinations employing both words and deeds is immaterial. But it is important to ascertain whether the deceit practiced is the cause of one’s acting in such a way… Deceit generally causes error and therefore the canon speaks of error. Error is a state of mind in which one approves falsehood for truth. It differs from ignorance which is a lack of due knowledge” (A Commentary on Canon Law, 1931). The deceit practiced — pretending the Church could be perpetuated with questionably valid bishops alone minus the Roman Pontiff — definitely caused them to act as they did. There would have been no consecrations performed if VAS had been acknowledged as an infallible decree and simply followed. There would have been no justification for these consecrations if Traditionalists had not invoked epikeia, which in no way possible could ever substitute for Divine jurisdiction (please see link to epikeia article above).

The actions of bishops beginning with Lefebvre and Thuc, and those they “consecrated” without the papal mandate constituted fraud (dolus, in Can. 104). It was perpetrated on those wishing to remain Catholic after Vatican 2, who believed that Traditionalists were telling them the truth —that episcopal consecrations and subsequent ordinations of “priests” were valid, and they possessed confessional jurisdiction in virtue of epikeia and Can. 2261 §2; or as Anthony Cekada taught, directly from Our Lord Himself. All of these claims have been examined at length on this site and proven to be false. For decades these men have withheld the true teaching on Divine jurisdiction from their followers, hiding the fact that they lack any apostolicity and are not lawful ministers according to Church teaching. What they have done is to deceive their followers by presenting to them what is known in scholastic philosophy (logic) as a fallacy extra dictionem, under the heading Ignorantio elenchi. A subordinate form of this fallacy is “…argumentum ad ignorantiam, or appeal to the ignorance of the hearers, tricking them by statements they are unable to [properly] test” (Logic, Joseph B. Walsh, S.J., 1940).

The canonists T. Lincoln Bouscaren and Adam Ellis comment: “Substantial error invalidates an act according to Canon 104. Error means a false judgment of the mind. Ignorance and inadvertence, though not identical with error, have the same juridical effect. Error is substantial if it affects the substance of an act; otherwise it is accidental. But a circumstance which does not of its nature affect the substance of a transaction (for example the age of a horse in a contract of sale) may, by the express stipulation of the parties, be made a condition sine qua non. In that case it is substantial not by nature, but by express agreement. Error is said to be the cause of the contract if but for the error the contract would not have been entered into otherwise. Error is of law if it concerns existence or meaning of the law; of fact if it concerns any other fact. Error of law or a fact, if it is substantial, renders an act null and void. The same is true if the error, though not substantial by nature, is made so by a condition sine qua non. Any other error leaves the act valid unless the law provides otherwise” (Canon Law, a Text and Commentary, 1946).

Traditionalists guilty on both counts

Canon 104 applies to two separate actions by Traditionalists. First, Traditionalists committed a substantial dogmatic error by shrugging off VAS as a mere “ecclesiastical law” which had either ceased to exist because it could no longer be implemented or a law to which epikeia could be applied. In reality, VAS was an infallible decree binding on all Catholics. It is clearly infallible given the language used in the constitution itself. It is also entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis. Moreover, this constitution, like its forerunner, Pope St. Pius X’s (Vacante sede apostolica), is a codification of papal election law which dates back to the earliest centuries. While rewriting Pope St. Pius X’s previous constitution, Pope Pius XII was careful to substantially retain the original codification in his own constitution. VAS infallibly declares that any acts during an interregnum which violate papal law or attempt to correct, amend or dispense from these laws or canon law itself are null and void. (To read the first four paragraphs of this constitution go to https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/vacantis-apostolicae-sedis/). Epikeia is defined not only by modern theologians but by the ancients as a correction or emendation of the law (The History, Nature, and Use of Epikeia in Moral Theology, Father Lawrence Joseph Riley, 1948, The Catholic University of America Press, Inc).

Traditionalists gravely erred in employing epikeia to correct or dispense from canon law without even presenting credible research to justify such an unprecedented exception to Church teaching and practice. They refused then and refuse now to even acknowledge the existence and binding nature of VAS, while daring to acknowledge Pope Pius XII as the last true pope. They flagrantly defy their obligation to address the fact that because they disobeyed an infallible decree whose existence, import and effects were never even publicly presented or discussed, VAS invalidated the “sacramental” acts issuing from this presumed permission. This does not only indicate that they erred, it proves that they deliberately acted as they did in order to be recognized as valid hierarchy and the continuation of Christ’s Church on earth. This deception, coupled with Can. 104 and VAS, nullifies everything they have done.

Secondly, in VAS Pope Pius XII infallibly forbids any usurpation of papal jurisdiction. The pope alone has the right to approve the appointment of bishops, the establishment of dioceses in which seminaries may be erected: these are all jurisdictional acts. According to Can. 215, The Supreme Authority of the Church has the exclusive right to erect dioceses…” (Decisions entered into the AAS also reflect the restriction of erecting religious foundations to the Roman Pontiff.) Canon 331 states: “…The Holy See has the exclusive right to pass judgment on the suitability of any candidate for the episcopate.” Canon 1518 tells us: “The Roman Pontiff is the supreme administrator of all ecclesiastical goods.” Woywod-Smith comment: “The legal person who holds title to church property and goods is not free to use and dispose of these goods at will… The Roman Pontiff is by his very office the supreme administrator.” (So what about all those fancy churches and residences?)

Canons 953 and 2370 demand the presentation of the papal mandate proving the priestly candidate has been appointed to a diocese by the pope prior to consecration. This necessity of the mandate is reiterated in the pontifical for episcopal consecration itself; without it, the consecration cannot proceed. This constitutes a conditio sine qua non an indispensable condition specifically confirmed by Canon Law and VAS — which declares that acts usurping papal jurisdiction are null and void if even attempted. Since VAS is the higher law governing all activity during an interregnum, and especially given its infallible nature, it clearly prevails over any other law. It lays down conditions which must be obeyed until a true pope is canonically elected.

We return to the example above for the existence of a conditio sine qua non. “But a circumstance which does not of its nature affect the substance of a[n] [trans]action… may, by [the] express stipulation [of the parties], be made a condition sine qua non. In that case it is substantial not by nature” (but by command of the Supreme Pontiff, whom all are bound to obey if they wish to be saved.) Here Bouscaren and Ellis used the example of parties agreeing to a contract, so the example is not exact. What this basically boils down to, however, is that the Church requires that the specified matter, form and intention be observed to guarantee validity in each of the seven sacraments. The reception of the papal mandate is not part of these three requisites necessary for validity. It is, though, an added indispensable condition, not able to be omitted during an interregnum, for the Sacrament of episcopal Orders to be validly conveyed.

Bouscaren and Ellis state: “…If but for the error,” the instance or act would not have occurred. “Error is of law if it concerns existence or meaning of the law; of fact if it concerns any other fact. Error of law or a fact, if it is substantial, renders an act null and void. The same is true if the error, though not substantial by nature, is made so by a condition sine qua non.” The act of consecration was nullified in advance, not after the fact. It could not happen, therefore, the pope infallibly teaches, it did not happen without his permission. The person consecrating was forbidden to act and incapacitated from conveying orders without the mandate. He appeared to convey them, but his acts were empty gestures; the recipient received nothing. Even if there was a question of whether Canon 104 states that either error or what “amounts to a conditio sine qua non” must be present. In this case, in two different instances — both error and conditio sine qua non — were present. If there is any question about whether VAS amounts to such a condition, the law itself solves the problem: “…otherwise the action is valid, unless the law states the contrary…” (Canons 103-104). Well VAS does state the contrary.

The theologian Suarez explains as follows: “In the first place, when a law establishes a substantial form for some act, then in no case can that act subsist without the form thus laid down. If that form be disregarded, then invalidity will result from the attempt to posit the action. For, as there can be no valid Sacrament without the form designated by Our Lord (nor in regard to it can there be any epikeia or dispensation by one other than by Christ Himself), the same must be said cum proportione of every act devoid of the substantial form designated for it by law. In the second place, every invalidating law either disqualifies entirely the person involved from positing the act in question or disqualifies him from making a contract except in accordance with the form designated by law. Now, this incapacity which has been effected by law cannot be removed by epikeia. (Ibid., Father Lawrence Joseph Riley, The History, Nature, and Use of Epikeia in Moral Theology).

Fr. Riley adds to this quote in his conclusions: “Epikeia 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.” VAS withdrew the power of bishops to consecrate without the papal mandate. Pope Pius XII did not nullify anyone’s Orders, as Traditionalists sneeringly allege against those questioning the validity of their pseudo-clergy: he withdrew the power of those attempting to confer them without the papal mandate during an interregnum, so that whatever they did had no effect. You can scarcely nullify something that could never take place to begin with. It is no different than declaring a marriage invalid before it ever occurs if either party is not of canonical age (Can. 1067). This is something entirely within the realm of the powers of the papacy. After all, decisions were frequently made by the Holy Office declaring orders doubtfully valid or never received at all and ordering conditional or absolute ordination in certain cases.

Conclusion

“A prohibitory law of its very nature admits the excuse of ignorance or moral incapacity and on this basis will frequently cease in its cogent force. Not so an invalidating law. Invalidation is not premised on an obligation but is derived from the will of the legislator who seeks to protect the common good of society and wishes to safeguard it more compellingly from fraud, injury and danger. The inviolable observance of invalidating laws is constantly urgent because their transgression presents a far graver danger to society itself (Doubt in Canon Law, Rev. Roger Viau, S.T.L, J.C.L., 1954, pg. 69; Catholic University of America dissertation). And VAS is definitely an invalidating and prohibitory law, not to mention an infallible one. Above we see the reasons why such laws cannot be relaxed to accommodate the wishes of Traditionalists disingenuously claiming they act on behalf of the common good.  As proven in previous works, the laws they have violated work to the destruction, not the salvation, of the faithful. This was noted also in the  quotes from the dissertation written by Rev. McCoy above.

Canon 21 reads, “Laws enacted for the purpose of guarding against a common danger bind, even though, in a particular case, there is no danger.” And as history amply proves, during the vacancy of the Holy See, there is definitely danger — danger of an attempted takeover of the Church, of lay interference in the election, of unworthy candidates elevated to the episcopate and the papacy, of the violation of papal law and Canon Law on which the Church’s foundation is laid — all these are deadly serious reasons for invalidating future acts that would lead to these things. And the teachings found in VAS are not just fears harbored by Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII but are a reflection of precautions taken throughout the centuries by occupants of the Holy See. The hierarchy has been forbidden to exercise any sort of papal jurisdiction or attenuate Church law during an interregnum since the early Middle Ages. This is listed as a footnote to VAS.

An important note to readers

We began this article by referring to Msgr. Joseph Przudzik’s assessment of the orders conferred by the Polish Catholic National Church. We wish to repeat here his preface to the final assessment of those Orders, although it does not specifically apply to the case at hand above. In Part 2 of Schism in America he writes:

“In view of the paucity of material and the difficulties in getting at it, it is understandable that this article does not consider itself an authoritative interpretation of the validity of the orders of the various… Polish sects. The conclusions… enumerated are therefore private opinions of the present writer which are offered in all humility and with the consciousness that there is a possibility they may not represent the mind of the Church. For that reason, the author puts them forth only tentatively. He freely and willingly submits his opinions to any future decision that may eventually be rendered by the infallible authority of the Catholic Church. AT THE SAME TIME, THE PRESENT WRITER BELIEVES THE SUBJECT OF SUFFICIENT CURRENT INTEREST AND IMPORTANCE TO MERIT PRESENT CONSIDERATIONAs far as can be gathered from the present available documents, according to the rules of logic and orthodox theology, ALL THE EVIDENCE POINTS TO THE HIGHLY PROBABLE INVALIDITY OF [THESE] ORDERS.”

To this I would add that I believe there is a very low degree of possibility that what is presented here, if it is weighed in its entirety, is mistaken. And today it is of the utmost importance to end this ungodly imposture foisted on those who think they are members of the Church Christ established on earth. It should also be noted here that I have compiled a great deal more information and theological proofs to back up my conclusions than Msgr. Przudzik was able to present. That being said, only the Roman Pontiff could make a decision regarding these orders, and I have always sworn to abide by his judgement. But this does not mean that until that time these men are valid and can function in any way whatsoever. This is forbidden by Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, Can. 2200 and all the papal excommunications and censures cited above.

The evidence shows that Traditionalist pseudo-clergy cannot be CONSIDERED AS VALID until a decision is forthcoming from the Holy See. Until then, the faithful cannot without grave sin consult or attend their services or receive the “sacraments” or any such thing from any of these men. Not only do they themselves commit sin in doing so, they commit a second sin by cooperating with the person who administers the sacrament requested. I would like to close with the following from Msgr. Przudzik, commenting on the inroads made by the Polish schismatics:

“Such is the result of 40 years of tunneling under the Church of God. It cannot be said that from the schismatics’ point of view it is certainly unsuccessful. Indeed it urges upon all faithful members of the Catholic Church the necessity of realizing just how grave the situation is. Too frequently and too long has the importance of the break been minimized. Perhaps the realization of how many souls are being led astray frequently without even realizing they are being led out of the Catholic Church will start some large-scale, concentrated effort to bring them back.” And this is far truer in our situation than it could ever have been during a time when a true Roman Pontiff reigned. May God have mercy on us all.

EPILOGUE

The magic show

Simon Magus or Simon the Magician first appears in Acts 8: 9-29, and also is mentioned by St. Justin Martyr in his works. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “By his magic arts, because of which he was called ‘Magus’, and by his teachings in which he announced himself as the ‘great power of God’, he had made a name for himself and had won adherents… [Following his conversion] Simon offered [the Apostles] money, desiring them to grant him what he regarded as magical power, so that he also by the laying on of hands could bestow the Holy Ghost, and thereby produce such miraculous results… He appeared as an opponent of Christian doctrine and of the Apostles, and as a heretic or rather as a false Messias of the Apostolic age.” The Church derives the word simony from this heretic, but the better takeaway from his story is his title as magician.

Simon envied the apostles. It wasn’t their inner spiritual life and conviction he wished to obtain but their power, and that to awe others with its miraculous results. He coveted the episcopacy. He was so enamored with the thought of this power and what it could do for his reputation and career that he offered to buy it from the Apostles. It is believed that after initially repenting he returned to his career as a magician. Had Traditionalists existed then, they would have been happy to provide him with orders. Today they have managed to create an empire Simon would have been proud to claim for his own. Appealing to the ignorance of their followers, they have managed to convince them that they are the actual Catholic Church, the continuation of the line of apostolic successors that existed following the death of Pope Pius XII. But as seen above they lie; they can never constitute that succession. To be an apostolic successor, one could possess jurisdiction without orders, but one cannot possess Orders without jurisdiction.

No one will question that Traditionalists present as the only true Church, and definitions found on the Internet confirm this.

1.“We traditional Catholics believe in the 2000 years of Catholic teachings, practices and tradition.”

  1. “A Traditional Catholic does all in his power to preserve the Holy Faith in a manner consistent with how it has always been understood, and who strives to preserve all of the liturgical rites and customs of the Church as they were before the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ revolution. Traditionalists are not some ‘branch of the Church,’ or (necessarily) some ‘splinter group’; they are usually and quite simply Catholics.”
  2. “Traditionalist Catholics believe that they are preserving Catholic orthodoxy by not accepting all changes introduced since the Second Vatican Council.”

So based on the above, can we say that Traditionalists are magicians? Do they do what magicians do? Magic is defined as “the art of influencing or predicting events and producing marvels…  the art of controlling the actions of spiritual or superhuman beings…” It can also mean “one of the members of the learned and priestly class,” taken from the cult of the Magi. Magicians perform magic tricks and illusions with the help of props, making the impossible appear to be possible to the audiences they entertain. Now an illusion is defined by Merriam-Webster as: (1) “A misleading image presented to the vision: optical illusion. (2) something that deceives or misleads intellectually.” And we find it mentioned by St. Paul in 2 Thess. 2:9, where he tells us the Mystery of Iniquity will appear “in all power, signs and lying wonders” to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Traditionalists to all appearances present as valid priests and bishops able to operate as such, when in fact the Church forbids them to function.  They refuse to answer questions regarding their validity and ability to function. They insist they uphold the teachings of the Church, but they tacitly deny the necessity of the Roman Pontiff for the Church’s existence and fail to abide by the infallible teachings of the continual magisterium They use theological-sounding arguments to attempt to prop up their position, arguments that appear to be learned but can be, and have been, proven to be actual heresies, errors and logical fallacies. And according to the teachings of the Church, arguments based on logical fallacies are invalid.

They also act as entertainers, actors celebrating the Church’s Latin Mass and “sacraments” with all due pomp and splendor, to produce optical wonders and effect magical graces. Only we know from all the above that this cannot happen when they are forbidden to celebrate Mass, administer the “sacraments” and commit mortal sin by doing so, involving those who receive them in mortal sin as well. This is not grace; this is evil perpetrated as good. And it is evil they are well rewarded for; witness the fruits of their labors reflected in the grand church buildings and rectories many of them have built. Were they truly confecting the sacraments, it might be called simony, since they could not exist without their well-heeled followers.

Over time this impersonation of the Church has resulted in a lessening of the horror that it once had, or should have had, when the scarce few “woke” Catholics first realized what was actually happening and disowned them. Those now exiting this sect often do so almost reluctantly, on principle and faith alone, rather than with any sense of horror or urgency. There is no real appreciation of the enormity of the offenses committed against Our Lord, which are seen by those departing this group in a light filtered through an emotional attachment to what they thought was the Mass, the Eucharist and other religious externals. There is a general forgetfulness that these men act only in Christ’s stead and are His ambassadors, that they do not and cannot act in any other way, and that anything anyone once thought they received from them acted to their damnation, not their salvation.

The best way to describe this reaction is desensitization, a mental process that works to lessen genuine responsiveness to something negative or aversive after repeated exposure to it. One of the key reasons it is difficult to completely dismiss these men as offensive to Our Lord and useless, even possibly as agents of the devil, is their claim to possess validity, something they cannot be at all certain they possess and have no right to exercise without that certainty. It is this dilution of evil, based on the propaganda instilled by Traditionalist sects, that causes so many to return to them eventually.

All that Traditionalists do is designed to create illusion and deceive. They practice a sleight of hand with the faith, literally, in imposing hands to ordain “priests” and consecrate “bishops,” who because they are not validly consecrated wear only the mitres common to wizards. Epikeia is the magic wand they wave to make all their acts virtuous and valid. They somehow presume the magical lifting of all their censures in this “emergency,” penalties still on the books in the 1917 Code and binding. In this way they circumvent the scrutiny of the Holy Office, sidestepping the necessary reconciliation of any Orders they may be judged to have received, the lifting of any irregularities and vindicative penalties, the public adjuration of their errors and the performance of any penance assigned. Without this no one has any assurance they are even priests, far less bishops. All this is far more than a contradictory intention or one based on a future event. It is the sort of malice envisioned by Cardinal Billot, only on a much grander scale.

The science of illusion

Pope St. Pius X explains the dual personality of a Modernist in his encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, where he describes such a heretic as “…proclaiming publicly his profound respect for authority, while continuing to follow his own bent.” This is how Traditionalists dismiss the papacy and is followed by a contempt for dogma and discipline, which the pope also notes.  St. Pius X further condemns Modernists for their rejection of logic in the scholastic method of philosophy and theology, and for using sentiment and emotion to hijack the intelligence. What he says about this is very revealing, for he explains that faith is to be reduced to a “religious sentiment” and dogmatic formulas “sanctioned by the heart.” Sacraments are only “symbols and signs, although not devoid of a certain efficacy… [They are] the result of a double need, for everything in their system is to be explained by INNER IMPULSES OR NECESSITIES,” and this describes Traditional pseudo-clergy’s quest for power and adulation as superheroes with magical powers, swooping in to save the Church.

Everything about the methods of the Modernists speaks of Traditionalism. But those who identify only the Novus Ordo church with the introduction and practice of Modernism would never believe it existed or could exist in their own “true” church. They fail to heed Pope St. Pius X’s warning that “They are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in Her very bosom and heart and are the more mischievous the less conspicuously they appear… They put their desires for Her ruin into operation not from without but from within; hence the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain the more intimate is their knowledge of Her.” St. Pius X also observes that there were among the Modernists those who were not necessarily for reform in worship; he calls them “admirers of symbolism,” (the retention of the Latin Mass). Today this is all Traditionalists have left: SYMBOLS of what were once the REALITIES of the Catholic faith — the “magic” peddled by Traditionalist pseudo-clergy.

Final comments

Traditionalists claim to be the true Church on earth, yet by defying all Her laws, commanded by Pope Pius XII to be kept in place unchanged, they demonstrate their contempt for the faith and thus make manifest their true intentions. Although unable to claim any type of jurisdiction, they cite as their “mission” the salvation of souls, although they could never have received such a mission, which is conveyed only by the grant of jurisdiction. The attenuation of the episcopal rite of consecration to exclude obedience to the Roman Pontiff, or postpone it to the future, makes it very clear that a) they are not the continuation of Christ’s Church on earth and b) cannot possibly possess the intention to function as bishops who will continue that Church as Christ Himself established it. Rev. Leeming states above that: “In the case of bishops or priests who fall into heresy the presumption stands that they intend to do what Christ wills unless THE NATURE OF THEIR HERESY gives ground to suspect that they are so convinced that Christ does not will a particular effect of Sacraments that they absolutely exclude this from their intention.

The presumption in this case cannot stand and must therefore yield to truth: claiming existence as THE true Church, they are bound to obey and be in communion with a visible Roman Pontiff. Pietro Parente et al state under the subject of Intention in their Dogmatic Dictionary: “The Church, moreover, is a well-organized Body in which every vital movement, linked to an external rite must depend in some way on the visible head. It is necessary therefore that every infusion of new, vital energies, caused by the Sacraments be in some way dependent on the visible head of the Church and on Her hierarchy…” It is this very necessary dependence they absolutely deny; they are convinced that bishops alone can rule the Church indefinitely without electing a Roman Pontiff. And this is diametrically opposed to Christ’s expressed will and intention for His Church.

The destruction of the Church was planned long ago, and the methods devised; Modernism was one of these specifically developed to infiltrate the Catholic clergy, seeding the evolution of dogmas and false philosophy. The Hegelian method used to move the process forward can be seen to apply to what we see unfolding today; the evolution of dogma and worship, accomplished by the philosopher Hegel’s pagan formula, thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Thesis is a statement or theory put forward as a premise to be defended or proved; Antithesis is the opposite or contradiction of the thesis and Synthesis is the compromise that results in resolving the conflict between thesis and antithesis. It can be seen at work easily in Communism.

The object is a final composite of two sides or philosophies, not admitting any one thing as absolute truth. The creation of the Novus Ordo church was only the first step in the Church’s destruction; the dragon cast down to earth. The second step was the creation of the antagonist church, the dragon pursuing the woman, to make it appear there was an alternative to the NO and better deceive the elect. The constant struggle between the two churches would then result in a new church, or the absorption of the antagonist church into the first church, which to some extent has already occurred. Agents of destruction were active on both sides, owing to the successful infiltration of Modernists beginning in the 19th century. The new church in Rome was Modernism proper; Traditionalism was the Gallicanist version of the same error.

Both churches were devoid of any sort of authority or power to confer the sacraments, only in different ways. The Novus Ordo openly, with its false popes, revision of the rites of the Sacraments, and finally the desecration of the Mass. Traditionalists secretly, hidden in a maze of Church laws and teachings they consistently misrepresent, deny and dismiss; topics the average layperson, barely educated in the basic catechism, can scarcely grasp. What would the faithful do if they discovered their true plight? Then there could be an actual return to the faith, and this Satan wished to prevent at all costs. Traditionalism is the holding cell, until their plans for the new super church are accomplished. As demonstrated in previous articles, Traditionalists are really only the creatures of the Old Catholics and Gnostic-infiltrated sects existing prior to Pope Pius XII’s death. We can speculate about their origins and the source of the infiltration, but that is about all we can do. The rest is in God’s hands.

 

Necessary intention in Traditionalist Orders lacking

© Copyright 2022, T. Stanfill Benns (All emphasis within quotes added by the author)

Introduction

It has always been the contention of those operating Traditionalist chapels, from their very beginning in the mid-1960s, that they continued all the teachings and Traditions of the Catholic Church just as they existed on the death of Pope Pius XII. If it was not actually stated by anyone, at least in the beginning, it was an implicit belief among the faithful at least, and that is why they followed them in the first place. But were these men truly following Church teaching as they allowed everyone to believe? What exactly did it mean to be a Catholic in good standing in the Church during the reign of Pope Pius XII?

 

St. Robert Bellarmine’s definition of the Church was adopted as the preferred definition by theologians: “The Church is a union of men who are united by the profession of the same Christian faith and by participation in the same sacraments, under the direction of their lawful pastors, especially of the one representative of Christ on earth, the Pope of Rome,” (De eccl. mil. 2.) And from Mystici Corporis there is this formal definition: “68. Now since its Founder willed this social body of Christ to be visible, the cooperation of all its members must also be externally manifest through their profession of the same faith and their sharing the same sacred rites, through participation in the same Sacrifice, and the practical observance of the same laws. Above all, it is absolutely necessary that the Supreme Head, that is, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, BE VISIBLE TO THE EYES OF ALL…

 

According to Pope Pius XII, four factors alone are necessary in order that a man be counted as a member of the true Church. These are (1) the reception of Baptism, and thus the possession of the baptismal character, (2) the profession of the true faith, which is, of course, the faith of the Catholic Church, (3) the fact that a person has not cut himself away from the structure or the fabric of the ‘Body,’ which is, of course, the Church itself, and (4) the fact that a person has not been expelled from the membership of the Church by competent ecclesiastical authority.

Canon Law determines who is among those who have cut themselves away from the fabric of the body. The law indicates when this has occurred by attaching ipso facto (latae sententiae) penalties to those offenses which automatically result in excommunication. If one’s offense is publicly known or could easily become publicly known it is called notorious, and it takes effect immediately, without any official sentence by a superior (Canons 2197, 2232). Those penalties regarding heresy and schism, (rejection of the Roman Pontiff as head of the Church), are the main type of penalty treated below. Their commission is publicly known and has been for decades, and the penalties, therefore, are binding on the offender. Those presenting as clerics are public figures and are assumed to have incurred the penalty because their actions are more visible to the public eye.

 

These definitions of the Church and the penalties levied by Canon Law were supposedly commonly known to the pre-Vatican 2 clergy who studied them in seminary courses. They were expected to have been especially internalized by the bishops and other Church officials. The one thing emphasized in both these definitions is the union of the faithful with their common head the Supreme Pontiff. St. Bellarmine emphasizes direction by lawful pastors, Pope Pius XII mentions observance of the same laws. Mystici Corporis, an infallible encyclical binding the faithful to belief, also defines that bishops do not receive their jurisdiction directly from Christ. “Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent, but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying the ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff.” So in one encyclical we are given a pretty clear idea of how the Church is set up and is supposed to operate.

 

False analogies misrepresented the situation

Those writing for decades on the crisis in the Church keep comparing it to the time of the Arian heresy, the Western Schism or to different periods in Church history when either antipopes reigned or there was a longish interregnum (the longest one previous to this lasted nearly three years). Yet during the Western Schism, a true pope did reign, but no one was sure who he was. And in in the case of antipopes, there was always a true pope for them to oppose. It hardly needs to be said that a three-year interregnum can scarcely compare to almost 64, so why is it even mentioned? The answer to that question can only be that every excuse and implausible explanation available has been advanced to keep those in Traditionalist groups from questioning their keepers and to make it appear they are justified in conducting their operations. That is the general overview; now we descend to specifics.

 

Challenges to the validity and liceity of Traditionalist orders have always been met with the response that even those ordained and consecrated by heretics and schismatics are considered valid and can confect valid sacraments. The key word here is “can.” And upon that one word rests a plethora of ifs and maybes, never addressed, often carefully concealed and generally ignored. For there is no real comparison, either, to past situations where there was an extended descent of illicit schismatic clerics issuing from men who were unquestionably validly ordained and consecrated and who unquestionably validly ordained and consecrated others. The Orthodox were allowed to proceed as they always had with the pope supplying jurisdiction for the sake of the faithful, according to Rev. Journet, Can. Mahoney, Rev. Herve and others. The Jansenist consecrations were recognized as valid by the Holy See until questions arose shortly before Pius XII’s death. Pope Leo XIII drew the line for the Anglicans regarding Parker and Barlow. As all know, Lefebvre’s own ordination and consecration are gravely doubtful and the consecrations by Thuc have been called into question for decades, owing to his mental state, affiliation with the Novus Ordo church and previously scandalous behavior.

 

But most importantly of all, these ordinations and consecrations did not take place during a time such as ours, a grave situation unparalleled in the history of the Church resulting in this extended interregnum. Here we have no assurance the Holy See would ever declare Traditionalist orders valid and every reason to believe that they would at least require their conditional if not absolute ordination before allowing them to function, depending on each specific case. So let us dispense now with all the illogical false analogies, which amount to no argument at all, and look at the facts as they really stand.

 

  • Lefebvre was questionably ordained and consecrated himself; Thuc’s consecrations are doubtful owing to his mental state, intentions and what Pontifical was used. An entire book (The Sacred and the Profane, Clarence Kelly) was written proving this and there is evidence in this case that has not even been presented yet.
  • Both men were notorious heretics and schismatics and incurred infamy of law, and moreover, their personal lives were scandalous.
  • This is true of Lefebvre on account of his questionable ordination and consecration (and no, we cannot have moral certainty about his orders without an investigation by the Holy Office under a validly elected pope and a decision on these orders. Until then no one may use a probable opinion on the validity of the Sacraments of those ordained and consecrated by him.)
  • Lefebvre’s personal involvement in Freemasonry is another black mark against him that would need to be investigated, because it could affect his intention in receiving orders, especially from a man reputedly a Freemason.
  • Thuc is infamous for his bizarre behavior in the Clemente Dominguez affair and numerous ordinations of unworthy men for the priesthood and episcopacy.
  • Once they consecrated their first bishop post-Vatican 2, men who also incurred censure for heresy, schism and infamy of law for communicating a divinis with them, their future acts as well as the acts of those they have “consecrated” are declared invalid. This will be proven below.
  • Bishops consecrated by these two men are the first generation. But they could not be considered certainly valid bishops until a true pope decided if they were actually consecrated. And theologians are clear on the fact that mere observance of matter and form (the use of the rite used prior to the reign of John 23) is not sufficient to prove validity.
  • We are now four to five generations removed from the initial consecrations by Lefebvre and Thuc. This is doubtful validity upon doubtful validity compounded.
  • This does not even address the men who supposedly were ordained priests by Lefebvre, Thuc and the first set of bishops they are said to have consecrated.

 

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches below in his Summa Theol. II, Q. 82, Art. 7, 9, Pt. III: “The Minister of the Holy Eucharist”:

 

“I answer that, as was said above (aa 5, 7), heretical, schismatical, excommunicate, or even sinful priests, although they have the power to consecrate the Eucharist, yet they do not make proper use of it; on the contrary they sin by using it. But whoever communicates with another who is in sins, becomes a sharer in his sin. Hence we read in John’s Second Canonical Epistle (11) that ‘He that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works.’ Consequently it is not lawful to receive Communion from them, or to assist at their mass.” (Article 9)… “And therefore whoever hears their mass or receives the sacraments from them, commits sinBy refusing to hear the masses of such priests, or to receive Communion from them, we are not shunning God’s sacraments; on the contrary, by so doing we are giving them honor: but what we shun is the sin of unworthy ministers(reply to objection 1). Furthermore St. Thomas states in reference to heretical, schismatic and excommunicated priests, “Such persons as are separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication, can indeed consecrate the Eucharist..; but they act wrongly, and sin by doing so; and in consequence they do not receive the fruit of the sacrifice, which is a spiritual sacrifice (Article 7). And further, “But because he is severed from the unity of the Church, HIS PRAYERS HAVE NO EFFICACY” (reply to objection 3 of article 7).

 

This, ultimately, is the charter for those who keep the faith at home, in order to honor the Sacraments and avoid cooperation in sin.

In summary, those who dare to assume a jurisdiction not granted to them by the pope, supplied or otherwise, are devoid of even the possibility of obtaining it. Are these idle words, not able to be demonstrated? Hardly. But needless to say no one will point to the papal decrees and canon laws that tell us what these men really are, and when anyone dares point to them they are told that the pope didn’t infallibly declare it, the laws have ceased to exist, that there is some divergence of opinion regarding what it meant, the person pointing it out is not qualified (and they are?!) ad nauseum. Of course these are observations made by self-appointed defenders of the indefensible never approved as theologians by the Holy See, and even approved theologians are not permitted to interpret the documents of the Roman Pontiff.  Once a papal document or one issuing from the Holy See is presented as evidence in ecclesiastical court, no other evidence is allowed to be entered against it (Can. 1812 §1; 1816).

 

Those who minimize papal teaching by claiming it is impossible to know what the popes really mean or how to classify what they teach are working for the Traditionalist cause regardless of how they actually present themselves in public. Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton tells us: “It is, I believe, to be presumed that the Vicar of Christ speaks to the faithful in a way they are able to understand… Our Lord did not teach in any way but authoritatively nor does His Vicar on earth when He teaches in the name and by the authority of his Master. Every doctrine proposed by the Holy Father to the entire Church militant is, by that very fact, imposed upon all the faithful for their firm and sincere acceptance.” And people want to disagree with this statement and still call themselves Catholic?

 

If you were pastor hunting and searching the Internet for information on an individual, would you still seek him out if he had a rap sheet as long as your arm and was pretending he possessed credentials he could not prove he ever received? Well what is presented below is the equivalent of a rap sheet and according to Canon. 2200, it is up to the accused to prove themselves innocent, not for us to assume they are innocent without such proofs. Has anyone ever seen even an attempt to explain these things? No, because they are dismissed as the work of incompetents and fools not worthy of a response. Sound familiar? Deplorables and Wal-Mart crawlers? Little people? Maybe some people out there are willing to be ruled by a religious elite, but I am not one of them. So take this in the spirit it is written — an attempt to unmask those who are continuing to destroy our Church just as they have done for the past 100 years. I am an investigative reporter by trade, and they didn’t call me the pit bull because I wrote happy news.

 

A parallel in time

Before presenting proofs, however, the groundwork needs to be laid for the conclusions that will later be drawn. This we take from the articles written for The Homiletic and Pastoral Review by Msgr. Joseph Przudzik, Ph.D., J.C.B., S.T.B., A.M., A.A.S.W. Rev. Przudzik wrote two articles for this clerical publication in 1947, one on “The History of Anglican Orders” and the other on the status of the Polish National Church, entitled “Schism in America.” In this last article Przudzik uses the same principles established in his article on Anglican orders to determine the validity of clergy serving the schismatic Polish National Catholic Church and its various offshoots. His conclusions are the same based on the same basic principles, but he provides us with a rare insight concerning similarities between Polish and present-day schismatics.

 

Like Traditional sects in America, the Polish National Church in the 1960s had “…divided and subdivided into a number of small organizations…Acting on Protestant principles of private interpretation, as soon as some member of the congregation disagreed on any matter with their priest, they split and formed a new congregation and usually a new sect.” Concerning the bishops and priests founding these sects Przudzik comments: “The breaks were caused essentially by pride rebelling against authority, by malice, by desire for financial gain or by other human weaknesses… worked upon and so presented they gave a semblance of reason to the rebellion… Rationalizations, sophistries, half-truths [were] used by these heresiarchs…to mislead the people.” It was Przudzik’s belief that these men “sought ordination only to persuade deluded followers that they were still Catholics… For no Pole would accept permanently a bishop who had undergone no sacramental consecration…And these attitudes and behaviors are exactly what we see among Traditionalist sect leaders today.

 

Przudzik zeroes in on the primary head of the PNCC from whom all other orders flow; Francis Hodur, a validly ordained Catholic priest consecrated a bishop by the Jansenists. He traces Hodur’s line of episcopal orders back through a maze of Old Catholics and Jansenists dating back to the 1700s and whose lines eventually became contaminated by Modernism and other heresies, even apostasy. He emphasizes that while these aberrations do not necessarily invalidate the orders given, “It is not as safe, however, to concede the valid Orders of Stenhoven’s successors [Stenhoven being the initial breakaway Jansenist bishop in the 1770s] as one might grant the original validity of his own Orders… One can only conclude there is some doubt about validity.” Rev. Bernard Leeming S.J. seems to admit the same the same regarding the sacraments of the Arians (Principles of Sacramental Theology, 1957, p. 653).

 

And today Modernism is so rife it has permeated churches of all kinds. He also points out that the Jansenists (and even the Old Catholics, initially) “…no more thought of questioning the Pope’s primacy of honor than they doubted the validity of their own apostolic line. Not so the attitude of their American offspring, who claim not only equality but even superiority to the Roman position and claims. This is evidenced in their assumption of titles similar to those of the Catholic Church and their setting up of a hierarchical system similar to that of Rome.” It is interesting to note that the Gallicanists at the time of the Western Schism also accepted the pope’s primacy, but not his jurisdiction. Today even the pope’s primacy, the weight of his infallible decrees, is reduced to an expression of opinion. But all of this was foretold by Pope St. Pius X in his Pascendi dominici gregis: “They speak of modern philosophy and show such contempt for scholasticism… [They hold that] ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic parts.”

 

Minimism, as Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton ably points out in his articles on the topic, is the Modernist tool to relegate the papacy to only the symbol of a power exercised long ago, since Modernism is all about such symbols. But the Modernist variety of Gallicanism has gone a step further — it has eliminated the need for the papacy entirely, just as Pope St. Pius X warned in his Pascendi: “…They propose to remove the ecclesiastical magisterium itself,” and the necessity of a visible head for the Church. This they have done, proffering a million excuses for why they are allowed to do it. They condemn the Novus Ordo church for its Modernist infestation when they are just as infected by Modernism themselves, but in a more insidious way. The Novus Ordo wears its Modernism proudly on its sleeve; the Traditionalists cloak it in pious protestations to preserve the Latin Mass and rescue true Catholics from the Novus Ordo menace — their detestable claim to work for the salvation of souls. But that is not what the Catholic Church teaches they are doing, as will be seen below.

 

While the PNCC bears certain similarities to Traditionalists, there is one major difference which needs to be emphasized here. The PNCC nor any other sect separating itself from the Catholic Church never claimed to be the valid successor of that Church or that Church itself. It was always understood, as it could easily be when a legitimate Roman Pontiff ruled the Church, that such churches were breakaways and splinter groups not recognized by Rome and were to be avoided as such. But Traditionalists claim to be the genuine continuation of THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, not just another sect openly challenging the pope and/or deviating in some fashion from what She teaches and believes. And yet Traditionalism glaringly lacks, and is unable to ever provide, the one thing that would unquestionably make itself Catholic: the Roman Pontiff. The question to be answered below is: Can anyone on this earth officially function in the Church’s name in Her absence, without Her express pardon, permission, delegation and approval?

 

Intention of Thuc and Lefebvre to continue the Church of Pope Pius XII

If it was truly the intention of Abp. Marcel Lefebvre and Bp. Peter Martin Ngo dinh Thuc to continue the Church Christ established on earth, good friends that they were, they would have refused to sign Vatican 2 documents, gathered like-minded, validly consecrated bishops together and elected a pope. The resources on how to do this existed, the urgent necessity of the obligation was evident even to a blind man and there were bishops who did not attend Vatican 2 who could have responded. Cardinal Zabarella urged it in such cases in the 15th century and St. Robert Bellarmine sanctioned the calling of an imperfect council to accomplish it. Traditionalists were well aware of this.  Until the late 1970s, the Church, as such, was believed to be continued by some priests validly ordained during the reign of Pope Pius XII, men ordained between 1958 and 1968 — before the changes in the rites of the Sacraments — and by others whose status could not always be verified in the Catholic Directory. Lefebvre priests eventually emerged from their seminaries to supplement these men. And then the consecrations began, first by Lefebvre and later by Thuc. There was brief talk of electing a pope following the consecrations, then silence. And that silence has reigned ever since.

 

So for nearly two decades the Church consisted of Lefebvre, a few sympathetic bishops here and there and these rag-tag priests, several of them later accused of homosexual relations, even pedophilia, who presented themselves as able and willing to care for the faithful. Yet if the clergy and faithful exiting the Novus Ordo church in the 1960s and 1970s truly intended to BE that Church, how is it that they ever thought it could exist without the very element that was its most distinguishing and important part — the Roman Pontiff? Surely having left the Novus Ordo, they tacitly at least were admitting that Paul 6 was a doubtful pope, or they would never have been able to justify their departure. The controversy over his status has raged since the early 1970s. Never in Church history has there been a time when a false pope was not opposed by at least one antipope; a brief glance at Church history could have told them that.

 

Yet Lefebvre and Thuc were in and out of negotiations with the Novus Ordo even after their first consecration of bishops, and until Thuc released his totally inadequate and contradictory declaration in February 1982, during the reign of Wojtyla, there was no indication that they believed the popes of the Novus Ordo were heretics.  Mexican Sedevacantism founder Fr. Joaquin Saenz-Arriaga had declared the Vatican 2 popes heretics since the early 1970s and even heralded Paul 6 as the Antichrist, but no one paid much attention. Thuc did name Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio in his declaration, a possible source for commencing an election, but along came Guerard des Lauriers with his material-formal hypothesis and all talk of ever restoring the papacy came to an end. Sedevacantists gradually separated themselves into little sects just as the rest of their Traditionalist brethren before them and the schism continued.

 

Lefebvre, Thuc and even Saenz were obligated to know that bishops alone could not rule the Church of Christ. For as Pope Pius VI wrote in condemning Febronianism:

 

“All the more must be deplored that blind and rash temerity of the man who was eager to renew in his unfortunate book errors which had been condemned by so many decrees; who has said and insinuated indiscriminately by many ambiguities that every Bishop no less than the Pope was called by God to govern the Church and was endowed with no less power; that Christ gave the same power Himself to all the apostles AND THAT WHATEVER SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE IS OBTAINED AND GRANTED ONLY BY THE POPE, THAT VERY THING, WHETHER IT DEPENDS ON CONSECRATION OR ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION, CAN BE OBTAINED JUST AS WELL FROM ANY BISHOP …” (DZ 1500).

 

And there is also the more recent infallible teaching of the Vatican Council: “But that the episcopacy itself might be one and undivided, and that the entire multitude of the faithful through priests closely connected with one another might be preserved in the unity of faith and communion; placing the Blessed Peter over the other apostles, He established in him the perpetual principle and visible foundation of both unities upon whose strength the eternal temple might be erected” (DZ 1821). But these bishops were going to erect a new and better temple without the pope? Bishops trained in theology and holding positions of authority in the Church? Such men could not plead ignorance of these decrees or exempt themselves from blame. And the laity should have been asking questions instead of practicing blind obedience.

 

Presumably all Catholics know it is schismatic not to render obedience to the (a) pope. The Anglicans and Methodists are run by bishops only, but it is not schismatic for Catholics to behave as they do? They could plead that the Church was experiencing an interregnum but when did any interregnum in history last over three years? Did they educate themselves about this? And did they not even understand the meaning of the word interregnum, which is given as: 1. the time during which a throne is vacant between two successive reigns or regime; 2. a period during which the normal functions of government or control are suspended; 3. a lapse or pause in a continuous series, all of which apply to the papacy with one exception: in the Church an interregnum is always indicative of an ongoing election. Could a country function for even three years without a king, a president or prime minister? Was there any COMMON sense — far less CATHOLIC sense — left at all in these people exiting the Novus Ordo church?

 

There is one simple catechism quote that clarifies everything here and will help others understand what follows. In his Manual of Christian Doctrine, written for religious congregations and Catholic institutions of higher learning, seminary professor Rev. John Joseph McVey wrote in 1926:

 

  1. 60: Who after the pope are lawful pastors of the Church?
  2. The bishops who have been canonically instituted, i.e., who have received from the Sovereign Pontiff a diocese to govern.
  3. 73: Why is it not sufficient to be a bishop or priest in order to be a lawful pastor?
  4. Because a bishop must also be sent into a diocese by the Pope, and a priest must be sent into a parish by the bishop. In other words, a pastor must have not only the power of order, but also THE POWER OF JURISDICTION, (emph. McVey’s).
  5. 77: How is the power of jurisdiction communicated?
  6. Priests receive their jurisdiction from the bishop of the diocese; bishops receive theirs from the pope; and the Pope holds jurisdiction from Jesus Christ. A bishop who did not have his spiritual powers from the Pope, a pastor who did not have his from the lawful bishop, would be AN INTRUDER OR SCHISMATIC,” (emph. McVey’s).

 

So not only are Traditionalist “priests” and “bishops” questionably ordained and consecrated, without a true pope they are incapable of possessing ANY jurisdiction whatsoever. And this is from the approved catechisms of the Church. (See also the Catholic Encyclopedia articles on Apostolicity and Apostolic Succession.) It is a well-known fact that the laity even in the 1950s were woefully ignorant of their faith and more intent on religious externals than any intellectualization of their faith, although that will not necessarily excuse them. We will leave the question of the culpability of the laity, then, to a future pope, if some miracle provides us with one. What we are concerned about here is the culpability of what passed in the 1970-80s for bishops, the ones who were supposed to be leading the faithful but instead used them to set up their own false church.

 

In 1944, Rev. Alan McCoy O.F.M., J.C.L. wrote a dissertation, Force and Fear in Relation to Delictual Imputability and Penal Responsibility, (Catholic University of America). Under the general heading of “Delictual Acts Interdicted by Divine Authority,” regarding censures, he writes: “When an act is intrinsically evil, or involves contempt of the faith or of ecclesiastical authority, or works to the detriment of souls… imputability is not taken away in such cases since in these instances the observance of the law still urges under the pain of sin, even though the most severe personal hardship or danger, or also the greatest private harm might come from such observance.” Censures are generally ignored by Traditionalists who tend to regard them as inapplicable in their self-declared state of emergency. Epikeia and necessity cover all. Yet the primary purpose of penalties in Canon Law is not simply to punish and prompt the offender to reform, but to protect the faithful.

 

In a 1945 article for the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, “The What and Why of Punishment – Part Two,” Msgr. Joseph Przudzik notes regarding the primary purpose for censures: “Ultimately it would seem, that no essential reason for punishment can be assigned other than the common good… ‘The custody of public safety is not only the highest law but is the whole reason why public authority exists’… Canon 2215 …says that the penalty is for the delinquent’s correction and for the penalizing of the crime. This punishment, this juridical correction is also treated elsewhere in the Code as ‘towards the public restoration of injured justice or of scandal.’ Again we note that the public welfare is proposed as intrinsically the ultimate end of punishment.” And it is left to the Church to determine what endangers souls the most and how stringent that punishment must be.

 

Below we will discover how very far from the vaunted “salvation of souls” and the common good the solution to the crisis in the Church proposed by Traditional bishops and foisted on the faithful really was. And remember when reading below that these many censures levied by the Church are intended to protect the faithful from scandal and mortal son.

 

Canons governing episcopal consecration

Can. 951: “The bishop is the ordinary minister of sacred ordination.” Woywod-Smith comment on this canon: “A validly consecrated Bishop could validly confer all orders from the minor orders to the episcopate inclusively though he be a heretic, schismatic or deposed or degraded from the episcopal dignity, for he nevertheless retains the episcopal character in virtue of which he can validly ordain provided he observes the essential form of ordination and has the intention to do what the Church does in performing the sacred ordination rites.”        

 

Canon 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.”

 

Canon 2370: “A Bishop who consecrates another and the assistant bishops or the priests taking their place as well as the one who receives episcopal consecration without having obtained an Apostolic mandate are suspended ipso iure until the Holy See has granted a dispensation.”

 

Under the above canon, the canonist Rev. Charles Augustine comments: “This suspension ipso iure lasts until the Apostolic See expressly dispenses therefrom.” He then lists the following in his footnotes: “For the right of ordaining bishops belongs only to the Apostolic See, as the Council of Trent declares; it cannot be assumed by any bishop or metropolitan without obliging Us to declare as both schismatic both those who ordain and those who are ordained thus INVALIDATING their future actions.” This quote is taken from Pope Pius VI’s Charitas, 1791, issued against three bishops who consecrated another bishop without the papal mandate. Augustine notes it is listed as the Fontes, or old law, for Can. 2370, commenting that this is “…an example of its effective application.”

 

Since Traditionalist pseudo-clergy deny that these consecrations without the mandate invalidated their future actions, we cite Can. 6 §4: “In case of doubt whether some provision of the canons differs from the old law, one must adhere to the old law.”)  Rev. Augustine notes that such consecrations without the mandate are of themselves valid, while confirming above that all further ACTS by the initial consecrator and the one consecrated are invalid (in referencing Charitas). In Rev. Ignatius Szal’s Canon Law dissertation, Communication of Catholics With Schismatics, Szal notes that in the late 12th century when the antipope Victor IV and Paschal III reigned:

 

“These schismatics had ordained many of their adherents to the episcopate…The Third Lateran Council took action by declaring that the ordinations performed by these schismatic popes were null and void, as also the ordinations conferred by those who had been consecrated by them… The Canon used the word “irritas” in reference to the ordinations conferred by the schismatics. However the term was to be understood in reference to the execution or the EXERCISE of these orders, rather than to their validity… Clement VIII in his Instruction Sanctissimus Aug. 31, 1595 stated that those who had received ordination at the hand of schismatic bishops who apart from their schismatic status were properly consecrated — the necessary form having been observed — did indeed receive orders but not the right to exercise them…”  In other words, these men validly but illicitly RECEIVED orders according to Church teaching and that of St. Thomas Aquinas, yes; but all the acts EMANATING from those orders were null and void. They could violate the censure and confer the Sacraments, but they only committed sacrilege, multiplied their censures and caused those seeking them out to commit sacrilege as well.

 

This is best explained in application by Rev. Bernard Leeming in his Principles of Sacramental Theology, 1957:

 

“619. Various expressions which seem at first sight to indicate invalidity of orders mean, in fact, a practical legal invalidity in the sense that the church to which the Bishop or priest was consecrated owed him no support or obedience and that his acts had no legal effect. This is true of the expression ordine irritos, ordines irritare, ordines exsufflare or sacramenta exsufflare. Not to be ordained may only mean not to have the right to the title in emoluments and jurisdiction of the office as may the expression ordinationes nullas vires obtinent. There is no force or power in such an ordination.” And even here Leeming seems uncertain about the extent to which these invalidating clauses actually apply, in saying it “may only mean.”

 

On the other hand, under hierarchy in their Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, Pietro Parente, Piolanti and Garofalo wrote: “The valid use of orders, in most cases, cannot be prevented.” So obviously in some cases they CAN be prevented, but the authors do not specify what such cases might be. We are only left to speculate on the application.

 

Let us here pause to address the objection that null and void does not necessarily mean invalid despite its use in Canon Law and certain papal documents which seems to indicate that this is precisely what it means (see the full text of Charitas referenced above; also Pope Paul IV’s bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio). Pope Leo XIII provides an authoritative definition of this term in his constitution Apostolica Curae, addressing the administration of Holy Orders: “To obtain orders nulliter means the same as by an act null and void — that is invalid — as the very meaning of the word and as common parlance requires.” And invalid is the word used interchangeably with null and void in the documents of Pope Paul IV and Pope Pius VI cited above. Leeming also lists invalid as “synonymous with null or void” (p. 266).

 

Canon 2370 is intended to apply to bishops who presumably held an office from which they might be suspended. Ironically, however, neither Lefebvre nor Thuc possessed any offices in the first place, having resigned the offices assigned them under Pope Pius XII to accept new offices from the usurpers. They were already considered heretics and schismatics, and also became infamous. They lost their offices and all possibility of obtaining jurisdiction under Can. 188 n. 4. Their acts of communicatio in sacris (Can. 2314 §1, no. 3) were external — public — so there can be no doubt of this. If those leaving and remaining separated from the Novus Ordo church believed that church to be a non-Catholic religion, they cannot excuse men who were bound to know better from continuing to maintain contact.

 

The obligation to avoid all non-Catholic worship bound them even under grave fear, as Rev. McCoy states above. So in ignoring their censures for heresy and schism by setting up for themselves what appeared to be some form of respectability, though it could never qualify as an office (and Traditionalists deny they possess any offices, at least in the strict sense under Can. 145) they violated Can. 147, which leads us to an entirely new condemnation and set of censures.

 

Canon 147 states: “An ecclesiastical office is not validly obtained without canonical appointment. By canonical appointment is understood the conferring of an ECCLESIASTICAL OFFICE by the COMPETENT ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY in harmony with THE SACRED CANONS.” An authentic interpretation of this canon was rendered by the Sacred Congregation (AAS 42-601) and gives as its source the text of DZ 967 and yet another version of DZ 960, varying slightly from the Denzinger translation: “Those who undertake to exercise these offices merely at the behest of and upon appointment by the people or secular power and authority, AND THOSE WHO ASSUME THE SAME UPON THEIR OWN AUTHORITY, are all to be regarded not as ministers of the Church but as thieves and robbers who have entered not by the doorIf anyone says that those who have not been duly [rightly] ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical nor canonical authority BUT COME FROM A DIFFERENT SOURCE are lawful ministers of the word and of the Sacraments, LET THEM BE ANATHEMA.

 

His holiness Pope Pius XII…in order to preserve more inviolate these same sacred principles and at the same time forestall abuses in a matter of such great importance… deigned to provide as follows…” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3, T. Lincoln Bouscaren, 1953).  The excommunications that follow are ipso facto and specially reserved to the Holy See, for allowing oneself to be lawfully intruded into an office. It extends also to those who have any part in it, directly or indirectly. There then follows a brief statement that reads: “Excommunication as vitandus inflicted for accepting office from lay authority, (AAS 42-195). See Can. 2394.” In the same volume, this canon references a priest named as vitandus acting as a diocesan administrator without the proper appointment. Revs. Woywod-Smith state under this canon: “The Congregation of the Council, on June 29, 1950, ruled that those who without canonical provision (cfr.  Canons 147 §§ 1-2, 332 §1) SEIZE or allow themselves to be illegitimately thrust into or retain an ecclesiastical office, benefice or dignity, and all who take part in this, incur ipso facto excommunication reserved in a special manner to the Apostolic See.”

 

Canon 2258: This canon requires that when anyone is named a vitandus it must be publicly proclaimed that such is the case, he must be mentioned by name and ordered to be avoided. The authentic interpretation of Can. 147 satisfies two of these conditions, and it seems here that an entire class of men is intended, not just specific individuals. This happens also when an interdict is declared against an entire community. An authentic interpretation of the law is considered to have the same effect as the law itself, (Can. 17). Not only Can. 147 but the other papal decrees quoted here show such men are considered at least the equivalent of vitandus and the mind of the lawgiver is expressed vehemently in other laws on this same topic by Pope Pius XII. Publication of the FACT that they are so considered and would be considered by the Church as such cannot have the same effect, of course, as an actual papal declaration; but because the other two conditions are in place it can serve as at least a partial fulfillment. This is true because the laity have an obligation to demand that vitandus and anyone operating under a latae sententiae excommunication that is notorious — the one Traditionalists all incur for heresy, apostasy and schism — are obligated to deter them from exercising their orders and may ask that a declaratory sentence be issued against them (Canons 1325, 2259, 2294; 1935, 2223).

 

Traditionalists can argue that Thuc, Lefebvre and those they “ordained and consecrated” never assigned anyone to an office, but the wide description of an office under Canon 145 does match their functionality as non-clerics. Certainly the laity exercised their “right to demand the sacraments” from them, and so commissioned them under what they believed to be this right. And on their part Traditionalists responded to their demands. Therefore they accepted a sort of office from these laity, whether they call it that or not. And if they have not accepted such an office from the Church, where else could any pretended authority have come from?

 

Canon 147 also has Pope Pius VI’s Charitas for its footnote (Fontes). These Fontes likewise list Pope Pius IX’s Etsi Multa, which declares the Old Catholic bishop Joseph Humbert Reinkens a vitandus and an apostate.  Reinkens was already an excommunicated heretic for denying the definition of papal infallibility prior to ordaining and consecrating priests and bishops in Germany. On February 11, 1911, Pope St. Pius X also declared the Old Roman Catholic Arnold Harris Matthew and two other bishops excommunicated in the bull Cravi Iamdiu Scandalo, denouncing Mathew for “arrogating unto himself the title of Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of London [and] all others who lent aid, council, or consent to this nefarious crime, by the authority of Almighty God, we hereby excommunicate, anathematize and solemnly declare to be separated from the communion of the Church and to be held for schismatics.” This bull called Mathew a pseudo-bishop and condemned him as a vitandus.

 

Pope Pius IX’s condemnation of Reinkens reads:

“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.’” Calling him a “pseudo-bishop,” Pope Pius IX then states:

 

“We declare the election of the said Joseph Hubert 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 Hubert 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.” Clearly he considers Reinkens a vitandus. And it appears as though those who followed him may have been excommunicated as vitandus as well.

 

Canon 2245, April, 1951, AAS 43-217,: “A decree of the Holy Office concerning the consecration of a Bishop without canonical provision is as follows: A Bishop OF WHATSOEVER RITE OR DIGNITY who consecrates to the episcopacy anyone who is neither appointed nor expressly confirmed by the Holy See and the person who receives the consecration, even though they were coerced by great fear, (Can 2229 §3, no. 3), incur ipso facto an excommunication most specially reserved to the Holy See.” Can. 2229 §3, no. 3 states: “Grave fear by no means excuses from penalties latae sententiae if the crime involves contempt of faith or of ecclesiastical authority or public damage to souls.” The canonist Augustine comments under this canon: “Hence no one is excused from the penalty laid down in Canon 2314 or from that established in Canon 2335 which forbids membership in Masonic societies.” And lest some try to wiggle under the canonical fence regarding the different rites, notice Pope Pius XII says here “of whatsoever rite or dignity.”

 

Can 2314 §1 states: “All apostates from the Christian faith and each and every heretic or schismatic incur the following penalties:

  • ipso facto
  • If they have been admonished and do not repent, they shall be deprived of any benefits dignity, pension, office or other position which they may hold in the Church; they shall be declared infamous and if they are clerics they shall, after renewed admonition, be deposed.
  • If they have joined a non-Catholic sect or publicly adhered to it, they incur infamy ipso facto and if they are clerics and the admonition to repent has been fruitless they shall be degraded. Canon 188 n. 4 provides moreover that the cleric who publicly abandons the Catholic faith loses every ecclesiastical office ipso facto and without any declaration.”

And it must be mentioned here again that when there is doubt about how and when any canon in the Code is to be applied, one must return to the old law as Can. 6, n. 4 instructs. In this case the old law under both Can. 2314 and Can.188 n. 4 is Pope Paul IV’s infallible 1559 bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio.

“We likewise consider it fitting that those who do not refrain from evil through love of virtue should be deterred therefrom through fear of penalties. Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals [etc.]…, who must teach others and give them good example to keep them in the Catholic FaithWHEN THESE PREVARICATE, THEY SIN MORE GRAVELY THAN OTHERS; for they not only lose themselves, but drag down with them to perdition and the pit of death countless other peoples entrusted to their care and government or otherwise subject to them… all and sundry Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals…WHO, IN THE FUTURE, SHALL STRAY OR FALL INTO HERESY OR SHALL INCUR, INCITE OR COMMIT SCHISM being less excusable than others in such matters… (all these persons) are also automatically AND WITHOUT ANY RECOURSE TO LAW OR ACTION, completely and entirely, forever deprived of, and furthermore disqualified from and incapacitated for their rank (para. 3. Notice that this applies to the future as well as to those living in the 1500s.)

“Further, if ever at any time it becomes clear that any Bishop, even one conducting himself as an Archbishop, Patriarch, or primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, even as mentioned, a Legate; or likewise any Roman Pontiff before his promotion or elevation as a Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has strayed from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy, or has incurred schism, then his promotion or elevation shall be NULL, INVALID AND VOID. It cannot be declared valid or become valid through his acceptance of the office, his consecration, subsequent possession or seeming possession of government and administration… The persons themselves so promoted and elevated shall, ipso facto and without need for any further declaration, be deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power…” (para. 6).  In paragraph five, Cum ex… declares those consorting with heretics as infamous. This bull’s censures are identical to those levied against vitandus.

Can.  2264: Cum ex… also is listed as a footnote to this canon which states that if a declaratory (latae sententiae) sentence has been issued, which appears to have been issued in way of the vitandus notification listed under Can. 147, all acts of jurisdiction are invalid unless jurisdiction is supplied under Can. 2261 §2. But under Can. 2261 §3, the law states vitandus can be resorted to only in danger of death. Today we lack the supplying power, the Roman Pontiff, so this is not even possible. Can. 219 states that: “The Roman Pontiff, legitimately elected, obtains, from the moment he accepts election, the full power of jurisdiction by divine right.”

The very act of heresy, deposition and infamy itself, then, committed by Lefebvre, Thuc, et al.— before they ever began ordaining Traditionalists — invalidated their acts. The subsequent ordinations and consecrations themselves may or may not have been valid, but the Church has the right and the duty, for the good of the faithful, to nullify the attempted administration of sacrilegious sacraments with the exception of Orders that would result from these acts. For they are divine, having been established by Our Lord Himself, and therefore they and the faithful who might think they are receiving them must be safeguarded from all abuse. Traditionalists may have been ordained and consecrated, they may have received the character, but all their sacramental acts are worthless because they are notorious heretics and schismatics and/or vitandus, and the majority of theologians agree vitandus are no longer members of the Church.

Until they a) abjure and are absolved from their heresies, b) their own orders are examined by a true pope, and c) they are either dispensed from any irregularity or ordered to be conditionally or absolutely ordained, they must be considered as possessing no validity whatsoever. For if a doubtful pope is no pope, then likewise a doubtful bishop or priest is no bishop or priest. The Catholic Encyclopedia recommends the following regarding the resolution of orders:

“Apart from exceptional circumstances, such as arose in 1896, the Holy See does not indulge in purely theoretical pronouncements on questions like that of Anglican Orders, but limits its intervention to cases of practical difficulty that are brought before it — as when persons or classes of persons who wish to minister at the Church’s altars have undergone ceremonies of ordination outside its fold. And even in thus intervening the Holy See is chary of doctrinal decisions, but applies a common-sense rule that can give practical security. Where it judges that the previous orders were certainly valid it permits their use, SUPPOSING THE CANDIDATE TO BE ACCEPTABLE; where it judges the previous orders to be certainly invalid it disregards them altogether, and enjoins a re-ordination according to its own rite; where it judges that the validity of the previous orders is doubtful, EVEN THOUGH THE DOUBT BE SLIGHT, it forbids their use until a conditional ceremony of re-ordination has first been undergone” (Anglican Orders).

 

All the above is expressed in Pope Pius VI’s 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…”  The effects of Charitas are those visited upon vitandus, just as those of Pope Paul IV, Pius IX and Pope St. Pius X above.

 

Some have said that despite Pius VI’s decision, Pope Pius VII later reinstated all the constitutional bishops. This he could do as he had not impugned their consecration as bishops but only qualified them as illicit, voiding only any of their future acts. Pius VII did however, at one point, complain in a letter to Louis XVIII written in 1816: “of the bad faith of the constitutional bishops, protesting that the old bishops had not only refused to resign, but had, by writing and conduct, assailed the Holy See. ‘We willingly forget the offenses shown to us personally,’ he wrote the French king.

‘But we cannot forget those offered to the authority and dignity of the Church and of its head.

 

“Now in case any of these bishops are nominated to sees, they cannot obtain canonical institution from us unless they first give the Church and the Holy See suitable satisfaction,’” (Artaud de Montor, The Lives and Times of the Popes, 1911). The king suggested these bishops resign, but the pope became ill and the negotiations were delayed. Because of his failing health, “The Pope was more anxious to bring the affairs of the Church of France to a definite form… On May 30, 1819, the bishops, to the number of 40, wrote warmly to the pope. Pius VII replied by a brief, which finally arranged all,” (Ibid.).

 

Canon 2372: “Those who dare to receive orders from an excommunicated, suspended or interdicted minister, provided he has been declared such or condemned to one of the three aforementioned penalties, or from a notorious apostate, a notorious heretic, or a notorious schismatic, ipso facto incur suspension a divinis reserved to the Apostolic See.” And Rev. Francis Hyland, in his 1928 Catholic University of America dissertation Excommunication, notes: “Tanquerey remarks that the Church is wont to declare as vitandi only notorious heretics and schismatics who have already ceased to be members of the Church…” (pg. 9).

 

Regarding Can. 2245 and the Holy Office decree, Rev. McCoy, cited above, further discusses on page 92 what the Code considers to be acts involving contempt of the faith. He identifies the titles in the Code containing these acts as XI and XII of the fifth book, concerning “Delicts Against the Faith and Unity of the Church and Delicts Against Religion.” These include HERESY, APOSTASY AND SCHISM; COMMUNICATION IN SACRED RITES WITH HERETICS; USURPATION OF PRIESTLY FUNCTIONS AND SACRILEGE, among other offenses.  On page 97, under the heading “Acts that Work to the Detriment of Souls,” McCoy writes: “These are all acts which draw people away from the faith or from the practice of Christian morals and thus expose them to the danger of eternal damnation…”

 

“Those acts which, by their nature, work to the detriment of souls are listed particularly in Titles XVI and XVII of the fifth book of the Code…bearing the headings: ‘Offenses Committed in the Administration or Reception of Orders or the Other Sacraments’ and ‘Offenses Against the Obligations Proper to the Clerical and Religious State.’” Among the offenses McCoy lists that work to the detriment of souls are: “…the administration of Sacraments to those who are forbidden to receive them…THE CONSECRATION OF A BISHOP WITHOUT A PAPAL MANDATE…THE RECEPTION OF ORDERS FROM UNWORTHY PRELATES… the negligence of a pastor in the care of souls.” It must be noted here however that this particular Holy Office decree was issued against men who at the time were bishops in good standing in the Church, who possessed actual offices; NOT HERETICS WHO POSSESSED NONE. That is a different kettle of fish and is handled differently by the Church. If we consider all that is said above by Rev. McCoy, and all that is forbidden by the canons listed, it begins to appear that far from rushing to save souls, Traditionalists instead have worked to foster contempt of the faith and promote schism. But of course they will always rationalize as follows.

 

But in this emergency…

Traditionalists argue that necessity knows no law and they can resort to epikeia to justify their ordinations and consecrations. But as has been explained at length in a separate work, Pope Pius XII’s 1945 election constitution, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, (VAS), which infallibly decrees what can and cannot be done during an interregnum, forbids any correction or change in the law during an interregnum. “The laws issued by Roman Pontiffs in no way can be corrected or changed by the assembly of Cardinals of the Roman Church while it is without a Pope, nor can anything be subtracted from them or added or dispensed in any way whatsoever with respect to said laws or any part of them… In truth, if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, We declare it, by Our Supreme Authority, to be null and void.

 

Here we are talking both papal laws and Canon Law, which is largely taken from papal and conciliar law. Some may object that Can. 20 advises the use of epikeia, and to invoke it would not be a violation of the law.  But Can. 20 specifically states there must be no other provision in the case considered, and such provision was already laid down in VAS. It also recommends consulting the laws given in similar cases and the common and constant teaching of approved authors. Laws given in similar cases point to the summoning of the bishops to elect a pope (Council of Constance) and a good number of authors agree on this, namely St. Robert Bellarmine and those supporting his teaching. St. Bellarmine also recommends the calling of an imperfect council in the absence of a pope if the cardinals cannot elect. Finally, Can. 20 cannot be used in anything involving penalties. And VAS is a document levying several penalties.

 

The reason why this infallible law nullifies epikeia is explained as follows: “Epikeia may be defined as: A correction or emendation of a law which in its expression is deficient by reason of its universality, a correction made by a subject who deviates from the clear words of the law, basing his action upon the presumption, at least probable, that the legislator intended not to include in his law the case at hand,” (The History, Nature and Use of EPIKEIA in Moral Theology by the Rev. Lawrence Joseph Riley, A.B., S.T.L., a dissertation submitted to the faculty of the School of Sacred Theology of the Catholic University of America, 1948). Abp. Amleto Cicognani also refers to it as a correction of the law. So applying epikeia has done nothing; all is null and void. Not only is a correction to the law forbidden, but the probable presumption that the law should be changed could not be reconciled with VAS itself or the penalties levied by Pope Pius XII above, nor could it be reconciled with other papal decisions rendered by this same pope.

 

Even aside from their equivalent status as vitandus, Traditionalists could never have been supplied jurisdiction because it is withdrawn from them by VAS and under the canons and their Fontes above. And because we have no Roman Pontiff to supply, no jurisdiction could be supplied to anyone anyway. This is clear from VAS, which insists all be referred to a future pontiff, and no jurisdiction enjoyed by the deceased Roman Pontiff in his lifetime can be exercised after his death, even by the cardinal. If such jurisdiction is exercised, it is null, void and invalid. We also see in Charitas above that Pope Pius VI ordered the same in this matter, decreeing that the bishops he pronounced as schismatics are forbidden to decide any “matters that relate to ecclesiastical jurisdiction.” And if they attempt this, it is null, void and invalid.

 

Consequences cascading from the Canons

The canons above tell the real story. They say more than it appears. Given the explanation provided by the old law under Canon 2370, we can have no doubt 1) that these men, for their contemptuous acts outside papal law, are considered schismatics, and suffer for this the consequences of Can. 2314 and Can. 188, no. 4; and 2) With the exception of ordination and consecration, anything Lefebvre, Thuc, et al., or those they consecrated have done, is invalid. The orders given are questionably valid until the circumstances of their administration can be investigated by the Holy Office. In the meantime, any acts proceeding from those orders is considered to be invalid. Some may argue that actual schism could exist only if a true pope reigned. But to honestly maintain their position sedevacantists, at least, were obligated to consecrate just enough bishops to call an imperfect council and elect a pope. That might have been possible then and would have eliminated all suspicion of setting up a false church, but it would not be possible today. There was initially talk of doing this prior to the Thuc consecrations, but it soon ceased.

 

For along came Guerard des Lauriers with his material-formal hypothesis and quite suspiciously, all talk of ever restoring the papacy came to an end. Sedevacantists gradually separated themselves into little sects just as the rest of their Traditionalist brethren before them and the schism continued. All attempts to explore the possibility of an imperfect council, suggested by this author long before participating in an (invalid) conclave as an absolute last resort, was shot down by those who had the money and the influence in Traditionalist circles to do such a thing. The question is why, unless the plan all along was to set up a model of the more “traditional” Catholic church either to keep people quiet long enough to complete the Church’s destruction or until the Church could be refashioned along totally Gallicanist lines. As things stand today, it seems to be the latter. Given the failure of sedevacantism to do what the Church commanded, they must rightly be judged as schismatic, especially since they base their existences on the vacant See.

 

The language of the Holy Office decree, entered into the AAS under Can. 2245; also the fact that this censure is reserved in a most special manner to the Holy See (a fairly rare occurrence), makes it clear that the Holy Office had no intention, for the good of the faithful, of allowing these men to function in any manner, whether they acted as priests or not. They were declared the equivalent to vitandus under Can. 147 by an authentic interpretation entered into the AAS, which is binding on the faithful for belief. Traditionalists assumed power “on their own authority,” coming from a “different source” (DZ 960); and the laity “called” them and “consented” to their ministrations, (Can. 109). So it cannot be said that they did not accept their office from lay authority exactly as the rescript reads. Those behaving historically in a like manner were condemned as vitandus as well. Therefore it is not unjust to consider them as such.

 

Canon 2372 applies to both Lefebvre and Thuc who were clearly schismatic regarding their dealings with the Novus Ordo but were not questioned as such until years later. Canon 2370 would apply then to all those men who sought ordination from Lefebvre and Thuc prior to their consecration of bishops. In the exterior forum, all these men were schismatics even before their ordinations, for either they were raised in the Novus Ordo sect or were practicing Traditionalists. Even if they recognized their errors and left the Novus Ordo, it would still have been necessary for them to be dispensed from their irregularities, for heresy and schism are permanent irregularities that bar a man from ever receiving orders. The canonists Revs. Woywod-Smith and Ramstein go into detail regarding the need of readmittance to the Church for such heresy, citing Can. 2200 as proof of this need, and in addition they would also be required to receive a papal dispensation to qualify for ordination. But one more question needs to be addressed: did these men ever even become clerics?

 

Tonsure is a jurisdictional act

Now the first thing that must occur for a man to be admitted to the clerical state is what is known as tonsure. “By divine ordinance, the clergy are distinct from the laity” (Can. 107), and tonsure is the ceremony which marks that distinction. A man cannot be ordained without first tonsure. Few chronicling the change in the rites of the Sacraments by the Novus Ordo in 1968 mention the fact that Paul 6 later abolished the ceremony of tonsure in 1972. He must have realized that this also was essential to finalizing the destruction of the priesthood. It is interesting that the canon following the first mention of tonsure in the Code references DZ 960 and 967 from the Council of Trent on the prohibited institution of ministers by the laity and leads us back to Can. 147. Rev. Charles Augustine comments on this canon:

 

“This canon is directed against certain innovations which cropped out throughout the history of the Church but were introduced especially by the so-called reformers in the 16th century. The “consent of the people” was the favorite cry of Arnold of Brescia and his followers in the 12th century. It was repeated by Wycliff and Hus, Calvin and Zwingli. Against these the Council of Trent declared IT IS AN ARTICLE OF FAITH that the people have no voice in the choice of ministers.”  And nothing could be clearer than this.

 

Tonsure is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas and is unanimously accepted by canonists as an ecclesiastical ceremony or administrative act — not a rite of Sacred Orders conferring an indelible mark — issuing from the office of a bishop.  And we know that both Lefebvre and Thuc possessed no offices in the Church. So tonsure could not be given validly by a vitandus or anyone laboring under a vindicative penalty for heresy. Not only could it not be validly given; it could not be validly received by those presenting as candidates for the priesthood without first obtaining a dispensation from the Holy See for the same censure of heresy, schism and infamy of law under Can. 2314. And this presents Traditionalists with a very big problem.

 

Because, as St. Thomas explains, “The ministers of the Church are severed from the people in order that they may give themselves entirely to the divine worship. Now in the divine worship are certain actions that have to be exercised by virtue of certain definite powers and for this purpose the spiritual power of order is given while other actions are performed by the whole body of ministers in common, for instance the recital of the divine praises. For such things it is not necessary to have the power of Order but only to be deputed to such an office, and this is done by the tonsure. Consequently, it is not an Order but a preamble to Orders… “Reply Obj. 2: Although a man does not receive a character in the tonsure, nevertheless he is appointed to the divine worship; hence the appointment should be made by the supreme minister, namely the bishop.” (Summa Theologica, Vol III, Q. 40, Art. 2, Suppl.).

 

Commentaries on the Code of Canon Law, with the Latin and Castilian legal text, by Lorenzo Miguelez Dominguez; Arturo Lobo; Sabino Alonso Morán (Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos 1963 Volume II, page 396) also read:

 

“The tonsure received produces the incardination in some diocese, not being able to exist in acephalous clerics. And once incardination is produced by means of the prima tonsura, the Bishop of the diocese is the only one who can promote the tonsured to higher orders; he is the only legitimate ordinary minister of his subsequent ordination. In the ordination of the tonsured, the domicile of the tonsured no longer counts, but only his actual incardination, however this may have taken place.

 

*Ordinarily the tonsure is received in order to dedicate the tonsured to the service of his own diocese. But it can also be received in order to enter into the service of another diocese.

Two cases: that the foreign diocese be determined or indeterminate.

 

1º If it is determinate:

(a) the tonsure is conferred by one’s own bishop by reason of domicile, according to canon 956;

(b) The tonsured is ipso facto incardinated in the diocese to which he is destined, according to canon 111.2;

(c) The bishop of this diocese is the one who must confer higher orders on him or give him dimissorial orders.

 

2° If the diocese of another is indeterminate:

(a) he is conferred tonsure by his own bishop by reason of domicile, as in the previous case;

(b) he is incardinated in the diocese of the ordaining bishop, who can confer higher orders on him;

(c) in due time, he is to be excardinated from that diocese, incardinated in another diocese, the Bishop of the latter being his proper Bishop, from the moment of incardination, for all

incardination, for all effects and purposes

(S. C. Conc., 10 March 1923: AAS 16 [1024] 51; CPI 17: February 1930: AAS 22 [1930] 195; CPI 24 July 1939, 1 and 1: AAS 31 [1939] 321).

 

So clearly here, as the Sacred Congregation demonstrates, the only way such a person can be validly tonsured is by a bishop in possession of a validly conferred diocese, which none of those floating bishops, be they Lefebvre, Thuc, Castro de Meyer or anyone else can claim to have possessed. And if the administrative powers of that bishop have been rendered invalid, guess what? It never happens. Why is this important? Because according to the canons, “Those who have been assigned to the divine ministry at least by the first tonsure are called clerics,” (Can. 108), and this is based on Divine law. And from Can. 118: “ONLY CLERICS CAN OBTAIN THE POWER OF EITHER ORDERS OR ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION…”

So if the grantor’s act of conveying tonsure is invalid, and the grantees are unable to even seek ordination without a dispensation from the pope, which is no longer an option, does anyone really believe that these men could possibly have received ordination? Notice that Pope Pius VI in Charitas above classifies as invalid the deputations or confirmations of those consecrated as bishops without papal approval and the one(s) consecrating. So from what is presented below, from the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments by Aloysius Cardinal Masella, Dec. 27, 1955, this appears to be one of those acts.

 

“The purpose [of this Instruction] is that the unworthy may in due time, even at the last moment, be absolutely held off from joining the sacred ranks lest dishonor and disgrace touch the Church of God…The Bishop must pass final judgment on the priestly vocation of their candidates, most earnestly examining it along with the canonical fitness of the candidates according to the norms given by approved authors of moral, ascetical and mystical theology. This fitness must be supported by positive proofs, especially concerning the virtue of chastity.” So tonsure cannot even be received unless these proofs are provided, and Lefebvre, Thuc, et al. could not provide them; their confirmations of these proofs were invalid.

 

These pseudo-bishops had no right or power to call anyone to the priesthood, and never possessed the ability to graft them into it. And this goes back as far as we find Lefebvre and later Thuc (and others) first ordaining priests, for their heresy was committed by accepting Vatican 2, the sacramental changes and the Novus Ordo mass as valid before these “ordinations” ever began. Dispensing themselves from the law in this “emergency” will not work, either; Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis declares null and void every dispensation from Canon Law during an interregnum, as explained above.

 

The Final Blow

As discussed in the first part of this document, the situation among Traditionalists cannot be compared to those sects which openly declare themselves separated from Rome. Traditionalists, rather, claim they ARE the Catholic Church, and as such they must be held to all the standards that Church has established in order to claim to validly confect Her Sacraments. This is an important distinction that has not been previously made but needs to be examined in depth in order to draw out the necessary conclusions. A schismatic bishop separating from Rome and starting his own Church, with branches here and there, does not claim to be the Catholic Church, although he may celebrate the Latin Mass and administer the Sacraments. He can validly ordain priests and consecrate bishops given he uses the proper form and has the right intention. He is judged differently because Rome no longer expects of him what She once did, given his rejection of the papacy.

 

But the Church would scarcely tolerate in her own ministers what she is forced to tolerate from this schismatic sect and its leader. Either members of Her hierarchy are Catholic and abide by all Her laws and teachings — particularly obedience to the Roman Pontiff in all things, since it is necessary for salvation, (DZ 469), — or they are not. They cannot at one and the same time claim to be the only surviving members of the hierarchy while failing to satisfy all the requirements necessary to belong to that body. These requirements are explained below:

 

 

Msgr. G. Van Noort, S.T.D., Christ’s Church, Vol. 2, 119-122, 1959

“Apostolicity of government or mission or authority means the Church is always ruled by pastors who form one, same juridical person with the apostles. In other words, it is always ruled by pastors who are the apostles’ legitimate successors… For on no one but the APOSTOLIC COLLEGE under the headship of Peter did Christ confer the power of teaching, sanctifying and ruling the faithful until the end of the world. This triple power therefore necessarily belongs and can only belong to those who form one moral person with the apostles; their legitimate successors.

 

How could a man belong to the College of the successors of the apostles unless he be united to the head of the college and acknowledged by him as belonging to it? A man could hardly be a cabinet member if the president refused to accept him. Any man then who boasts Apostolic Succession but is not united to the Roman Pontiff may indeed actually possess the power of orders; he may even by purely physical succession occupy a chair formerly occupied by an apostle — at least he could do so — but he would not be a genuine successor of the apostles in their pastoral office; he would be a usurper.

 

Rev. E. S. Berry, the Church of Christ, (p. 399).” “Christ evidently intended that His Church be governed by bishops — bishops by the power of Orders as well as by the power of jurisdiction… After the Ascension St. Peter and his successors [took] the place of Christ as visible head of the Apostolic body, with full authority to carry out His will: “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven.” Consequently the Roman Pontiff, as successor of St. Peter, has sole authority to accept new members into the Apostolic body, i. e., he alone has authority to constitute bishops, since authority to teach and govern the faithful was conferred upon the Apostles as a body and can be obtained only by incorporation into that body.

 

“Bishops are shepherds for portions of the flock that was committed in its entirety to the pastoral care of St. Peter and his successors; but no one becomes a shepherd of any portion of a flock unless he be made such by the chief pastor of the whole flock. It is also evident that the chief purpose of the primacy — the preservation of unity — could not be realized if the bishops of the Church were not subject in all things to her supreme pastor.”

 

The Catholic Encyclopedia under the Apostolic College: “As the Church has to endure to the end of time, so has the unifying and preserving office of St. Peter. Without such a principle, without a head, the body of the Bride of Christ would be no better than a disjointed congeries of members, unworthy of the Divine Bridegroom. In fact the connection of the Church with Christ and the Apostles would be loosened and weakened to the breaking point.” Only bishops headed by the pope, a bishop himself, truly govern the Church.

 

Pope Pius IX: “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.”

 

Now remember, to be the true successors to Christ’s Church they claim to be, all the ceremonies and rites necessary to Orders must have been received by Traditionalists according to the laws and teachings of the Church. The Catholic Encyclopedia and Rev. Clarence McAuliffe present the Church’s teaching on the priesthood as necessary for valid episcopal consecration. “One Order does not depend on the preceding Order as regards the validity of the sacrament.  But the episcopal power depends on the priestly power, since no one can receive the episcopal power unless he have previously the priestly power” (Saint Thomas, Summa Supplement Q. 40 A5). McAuliffe affirms this in his Sacramental Theology, page 370: “However, the more probable teaching is that a baptized male cannot be VALIDLY consecrated a bishop unless he has previously been ordained a priest.  This seems to be evident from the form of episcopal consecration: ‘Accomplish in Thy priest the fullness of Thy ministry.’”

 

So from all we have seen above, we have at best men who were:

  • excommunicated as heretics for communicatio in sacris and branded infamous presenting as candidates for the priesthood;
  • never properly examined for fitness and who apparently never received valid tonsure;
  • “priests” who never even became clerics because they never received tonsure raised to the episcopacy by bishops without the papal mandate whose own orders are in question and who are
  • under censure for heresy and schism, not to mention all the other censures enumerated above;
  • “bishops” who were never priests and were not even eligible for the priesthood ordaining and consecrating others without the papal mandate who suffer all the same disabilities and censures mentioned above.

 

Now would someone please tell me what person in their right mind would ever think that such men, men who are not even Catholic and suffer under the most severe censures the Church can levy, could dare call themselves the true Church of Christ? These men did not just set up a schismatic sect for themselves, they set up an entire Church and called it Catholic! They are no better than their Novus Ordo counterparts who they have never ceased to castigate and constantly point to as the root of all evils.

 

In his article for The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, “Are Liberal Catholic Orders Valid?” Dr. Leslie Rumble, M.S.C. writes in a footnote: “In his 1956 work ‘Anglican Orders and Defect of Intention’ Rev. Francis Clark, S.J. observes: “To what an extent a visible separation from the true Church of Christ exerts an influence on the external rite itself, that is, whether such a rite does or does not continue the ritual profession of the faith of the Church must be determined by the Church, Herself. It belongs to the true Church to determine whether a rite performed in given circumstances is an “exteriorization” of Her own faith — that is, whether it is her own act — or whether it is, on the contrary, an act expressing the faith of another separated Church, qua separated,” (qua meaning in what manner or how being defined by the Church).

 

“In this latter case, the rite is not valid,” Dr. Rumble observes. “Thus Pope Leo XIII decreed in the concrete that Anglican ordinations do not remain acts of the true Church; in them ‘ritual contact’ with the faith of Christ’s Church is not maintained” (ibid., Dr. Rumble). And here readers must remember that Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican Orders invalid for lack of intention as well as invalid form. For he also proclaimed in this same document: “The Church does not judge about the mind and intention in so far as it is something by its nature internal; but in so far as it is manifested externally She is bound to judge concerning it.” Surely what has been documented here is enough to prove that all obedience to a Roman Pontiff and the absolutely necessary inclusion of him in the Apostolic College is absent in Traditionalists.

IT IS DE FIDE FROM THE COUNCIL OF TRENT AND HENCE THE UNANIMOUS OPINION OF THEOLOGIANS THAT BOTH ORDERS DULY RECEIVED AND JURISDICTION ARE NECESSARY FOR TRUE APOSTOLICITY TO EXIST, AND THAT PER POPE PIUS XII’S DECISION ON EPISCOPAL ORDERS IN MYSTICI CORPORIS, BISHOPS RECEIVE THEIR JURISDICTION ONLY FROM THE ROMAN PONTIFF. What we are looking at above is a vile imposture where the very Church Herself has been presented as something She is not and could never be. A Church without a pope, and no prospects of obtaining one; bishops possessing no power to forgive sins or confer graces, but offering only curses, in their ministrations; a series of questionable acts repeatedly condemned by the Roman Pontiffs made to appear as inconsequential and even non-existent. All this, they believe, the Church gladly tolerates and even approves in the interest of “saving souls.” But this is far from all.

The substantial nature of the Sacrament

Bernard Leeming, S.J., The Principles of Sacramental Theology, 1957

  1. “It is possible for a minister to have the intention of not doing what the Church does, and if such is the case the Sacrament is invalid. This teaching is universally accepted by modern theologians, who agree that a Sacrament is invalidated even by a secret intention of the minister contrary to the substantial nature of the Sacrament.”

 

Comment: The substantial nature of the Sacrament includes the intent to induct a man into the Apostolic College to function there in union with his fellow bishops, in obedience to and under the direction of the Roman Pontiff. This is the entire purpose of the episcopacy.

 

  1. Heretics may not intend to do what the Church really does and yet may have sufficient intention provided their intention is to do what the true Church does or to do what Christ wished. In this case, the object they will may be in fact what the Church does, for their intention of doing what Christ willed prevails over the intention not to do what the Roman Church does. If however there is a prevalent intention not to do what the true Church does, then the intention is not sufficient; because in fact the object they will is not what the true Church does and what Christ willed. These conclusions or explanations follow from the generally accepted principle that it is not enough to intend to do what the Church does.

 

Comment: The object Traditionalists will is to present themselves as the true Church of Christ on earth and convince their followers it can exist without a pope and bishops in communion with him. The Vatican Council teaches that Christ wished his Church to last until the consummation, and that with Peter at its head the episcopacy be “one and undivided” (DZ 1821). Traditionalists pretend they are preserving the episcopacy, the Apostolic College. But without Peter they destroy the unity of the Church, something not only contrary to Christ’s will but deserving of anathema.

 

  1. In the case of bishops or priests who fall into heresy the presumption stands that they intend to do what Christ wills unless the nature of their heresy gives ground to suspect that they are so convinced that Christ does not will a particular effect of Sacraments that they absolutely exclude this from their intention” (end of Leeming quotes).

 

Comment: Now Leeming states that the effect of the Sacrament of the episcopacy is to include the one consecrated into the “united body [of Christ; the Church].” Included in that united body is the head bishop, the Roman Pontiff. If the consecration is performed with the intention NOT to include the Roman Pontiff as head bishop in this Body — which certainly has been and must be the case — and to induct the one “consecrated” instead into a body separated from the Church by heresy and schism, consisting of men who then are presented to others as full successors of the Apostles in the Catholic Church, then this constitutes a prevalent intention not to do what the true Church does.  Such acts can only be described as evil and treachery of the worst kind. And not only are these acts evil and treacherous; they cannot be valid.

 

Oswald J. Reichel, M.A., B.C.L., F.S.A., A Complete Manual of Canon Law, 1896

Valid and Regular Ordination:

  1. Besides the essentials of ordination three things are necessary to make it valid and regular: (1) It must be given by persons properly qualified to give it;

(2) it must be given in a regular manner;

(3) it must be given to those who are fit subjects to receive it. Ordination is called invalid when it conveys no spiritual gift or power of order; irregular when it is valid in itself but conveys no position in the Church. The irregular recipient is capable of performing every function of order, but the exercise of the spiritual gift is either impeded through some fault of his own, or forbidden by the Church.

 

  1. To bestow orders in a regular manner they must be given:

(1) after examination and probation,

(2) after fasting and prayer, and

(3) unconditionally and gratuitously. A bishop is forbidden to lay hands suddenly on anyone, by which is understood that he may neither ordain without previous examination as to knowledge, nor without previous probation as to character.

 

Comment: Why is it that we hear only of “matter and form” from these Traditionalists when according to Rev. Reichel three additional requisites appear necessary to validity? We know for a fact many of these “orders” (in the case of priests) were not given after “examination and probation,” nor by those “qualified to give it” or “fit subjects to receive it.” And these are the “priests” who later became “bishops.”

 

Rev. Jean Marie Herve, Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 1, Sacraments

“474 c) It is required, and also sufficient, that there be an internal intention, at least implicit, of performing the rite as it is customarily performed in the true Church, with all that this includes, or is thought, even falsely, to include.”

 

Comment: There is obviously no internal intention on the part of Traditionalists to perform this rite as it is customarily performed by the Church. The absence of the papal mandate and the subterfuge that must be resorted to in order to gloss over the parts of the episcopal consecration ceremony violate this requirement. One observer has commented: “This …does not address the question of whether this is also the case for formal heretics. I believe that it is not, because a formal heretic who intends what he believes, formally holds an intention which is a contradictory of what the Church does.”

 

“481. b) Any condition concerning the future invalidates a sacrament. For a rite conferred under such a condition is not valid when the matter and form are performed, for at that time the intention of the minister is lacking; nor is it valid when the condition is met, for the matter and form are no longer present.” (P. Pouratt, V.G. in his Theology of the Sacraments, 1910, confirms as follows: “If the intention were dependent on a future, contingent fact, it would not really be existing when the sacrament is conferred, and hence by defect of intention the sacrament would be void” p. 401).

 

Comment: Any obedience pledged to a pope would necessarily be a future one, if such obedience is declared at all. If Traditionalists consecrate using the entire consecration formula, they must somehow amend the following:

“I …, elected to the Church of…, from this hour henceforward will be obedient to Blessed Peter the Apostle, and to the holy Roman Church, and to our Holy Father, Pope …. and to his successors canonically elected. I will assist them to retain and to defend the Roman Papacy without detriment to my order. I shall take care to preserve, to defend, increase and promote the rights, honors, privileges and authority of the holy Roman Church, of our Lord, the Pope, and of his aforesaid successors.

Examination Q. 5: Will you exhibit in all things fidelity, submission, obedience, according to canonical authority, to Blessed Peter the Apostle, to whom was given by God the power of binding and of loosing, and to his Vicar our Holy Father, Pope N. and to his successors the Roman Pontiffs?”

The two Traditional consecrations available for viewing online differ from each other. Pivarunas’ consecration by Carmona in 1991 shows Carmona announcing, in place of the papal mandate: “Our Holy Mother the Catholic Church asks you to promote this priest to the high office of bishop.” Pivarunas then reads aloud in Latin the Oath of Obedience to the Holy See, seeming to read it in its entirety but omitting the name of the pope. The examination follows. The recent “consecration” of Charles McGuire omits the oath of obedience entirely, and the consecration begins with an explanation of the examination, which then follows in the ceremony.  It is difficult to tell if any fealty to the Roman Pontiff is pledged re Q. 5 above. A traditional priest lists the current rite for consecration here: http://www.traditionalcatholicpriest.com/2014/11/21/traditional-catholic-rite-for-consecrating-bishops-1892/

 

In a 1993 article for Fr. Francis Fenton’s The Athanasian, John K. Weiskettel gives this evaluation of Daniel Dolan’s subsequent consecration by Mark Pivarunas: “Meanwhile, those questioning the consecration have also been divided as to details. Not only have some declared it invalid, decried it as scandalous, or even expressed doubts about Father Dolan’s qualifications for the office, but Father Clarence Kelly of the Society of Saint Pius V has gone so far as to denounce it as a sacrilege.” And this from Traditionalists familiar with the scandal and doubt involved in all the Thuc consecrations.

 

So Traditionalists must have in some way reworked the consecration rite to indicate they render obedience to a future pope, (implied in omitting his name), to some head bishop (or Holy Mother Church, whoever that now is) or omit it entirely. This then would basically exclude any inclusion of the one consecrated in the Apostolic College — a contrary intention as reflected in Msgr. Van Noort’s comments — or relegate it to a future event, as Rev. Herve states above. Since the See is vacant and the only pope one could pledge obedience to would need to be a future one, this would necessarily be the case. Either way, it apparently would be invalid. Also, Pope Pius XII teaches: “It shall be in no way right to understand from what we have declared and ordained above as to matter and form, that it would be lawful to neglect in any way or to omit the other established rites of the Roman Pontifical. Indeed, We ever command that all the prescribed details of that Roman Pontifical be religiously observed and carried out.” (Pope Pius XII, Sacramentum Ordinis); just one more papal command for Traditionalists to ignore.

 

  1. N. B. a) There is no sacrament even with a condition concerning a necessary future event v.g. “I absolve you, if the sun rises tomorrow,” if the minister wishes that his intention depend on such a condition.

Comment: So if the minister asks the candidate Q. 5 above, regarding obedience to the Roman Pontiff, and it is intended in a future sense, (which if the question is asked at all is the only way it could be intended), then both the minister and the candidate must agree to a future event to both ask and answer the question.

Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, Manual of Dogmatic Theology, 1959:

Tanquerey requires: “That if the intention be conditional it is necessary that it be equivalent to an absolute intention. If the condition is of the future, for example ‘If you will have made restitution within a month I absolve you,’ that is not equivalent to an absolute intention BECAUSE IT PREVENTS THE SACRAMENTAL FROM PRODUCING ITS EFFECT IN THE PRESENT. Once the condition has been verified the form avails nothing since it is now a part of the past.”

 

Tanquerey then refers to Can. 1092 and this could be used as a parallel case in law since there is doubt about these ordinations and consecrations. This canon, written for matrimonial cases, states:

  1. If the condition is of the future and either necessary or impossible or sinful but is not contrary to the essence of the sacrament it is considered as not added …
  2. If the condition is of the future and is contrary to the essence of the sacrament, it renders it null and void.
  3. If the condition is of the future and licit, it suspends the validity of the sacrament.

 

Tanquerey notes that no. 3, however, applies only to contracts. He also cites Can. 732 which states when there is a prudent doubt about the validity of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation or Holy Orders, they may be repeated conditionally.

 

The question based on the above is whether a future pledge of obedience to the Roman Pontiff by a bishop is contrary to the essence of the sacrament of (episcopal) Orders. Since consecration makes a bishop a member of the Apostolic College which can function only under the direction and supervision of the Roman Pontiff, and this college as a governing body of the Church cannot exist without its head, the question seems to answer itself. Oddly enough, were the Pontiff’s need to exist simply flat out denied and the other conditions were fulfilled, the Orders could be valid. Given that these men are saying they ARE the Catholic Church, and at least recognize the need to pay lip service to papal obedience of some sort, by doing this they are bound to abide by all Her laws and teachings to the letter, which means no consecrations can be undertaken until a true pope is elected.

 

Ludovic Cardinal Billot, S.J. On the Sacraments of the Church: A Commentary on the Third Part of St. Thomas, Vol. 1.

 

Thesis XVIII (q. 64, a. 8): “I respond, that an internal intention is certainly in itself invisible, but is made visible through the external action with which it is connected, if not with metaphysical or physical necessity, then certainly with moral certitude…”

 

Comment: That external action is one repeated countless times by Traditionalists, despite objections, warnings and theological demonstrations, belittled and ignored for decades. It consists of repeated defiance of all that has been taught by the popes and councils on episcopal consecration and jurisdictional matters. It is reflected in the repeated violation of Canon Law and the utter disregard for the penalties inflicted. The manifest contrary intention is to continue what many believe to be the true Church of Christ against His will with only bishops minus a true pope at its head. Rev. Billot states later in his treatise that:

 

“Ordinary occult heresy or theological dissidence will pose little danger of hidden invalidity… What does pose such a danger — almost the only thing that poses it — is something vastly rarer and perhaps infinitely more malicious, namely, the conviction that this Sacrament, validly performed, could confer grace, coupled with the determined intention that it not do so. Such a combination would characterize the mind of a demon.” But here we are NOT speaking of occult heresy but heresy that is public and notorious! And in functioning as priests and bishops without any assurance of validity, in confecting the Sacraments when expressly forbidden to do so even though they know they do not transmit grace but involve themselves and the one receiving in mortal sin, THE EFFECTS BILLOT DESCRIBES AS ISSUING FROM THE DEMONIC MIND ARE EXACTLY THE SAME.

 

Therefore, it is:

  • this BENIGN AND HIDDEN SORT OF MALICE, characterized as demonic by Cardinal Billot,
  • described above by Rev. McCoy as “INTRINSICALLY EVIL, WORKING TO THE DETRIMENT OF SOULS [and involving] CONTEMPT OF THE FAITH,”
  • coupled with a CONTRADICTORY INTENTION OR ONE “CONCERNING THE FUTURE,”
  • THAT INVALIDATES THE SACRAMENTS CONFERRED BY TRADITIONALISTS.

 

Their absolute contempt for the papacy, veiled cleverly by only deferring to the Roman Pontiffs in certain instances that benefit themselves — accompanied by their complete refusal to observe the penalties inflicted and refrain from scandalizing the faithful — is further proof of their intransigence. And poor Billot, who fortunately passed away before the final curtain came down on the Church, would not live to see the heights to which these demons would ascend.

 

The magic show

Simon Magus or Simon the Magician first appears in Acts 8: 9-29, and also is mentioned by St. Justin Martyr in his works. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “By his magic arts, because of which he was called ‘Magus’, and by his teachings in which he announced himself as the ‘great power of God’, he had made a name for himself and had won adherents… [Following his conversion] Simon offered [the Apostles] money, desiring them to grant him what he regarded as magical power, so that he also by the laying on of hands could bestow the Holy Ghost, and thereby produce such miraculous results… He appeared as an opponent of Christian doctrine and of the Apostles, and as a heretic or rather as a false Messias of the Apostolic age.” The Church derives the word simony from this heretic, but the better takeaway from his story is his title as magician.

 

Simon envied the apostles. It wasn’t their inner spiritual life and conviction he wished to obtain but their power, and that to awe others with its miraculous results. He coveted the episcopacy. He was so enamored with the thought of this power and what it could do for his reputation and career that he offered to buy it from the Apostles. It is believed that after initially repenting he returned to his career as a magician. Had Traditionalists existed then, they would have been happy to provide him with orders. Today they have managed to create an empire Simon would have been proud to claim for his own. Appealing to the ignorance of their followers, they have managed to convince them that they are the actual Catholic Church, the continuation of the line of apostolic successors that existed following the death of Pope Pius XII. But as seen above they lie; they can never constitute that succession. To be an apostolic successor, one could possess jurisdiction without orders, but one cannot possess Orders without jurisdiction.

 

No one will question that Traditionalists present as the only true Church, and definitions found on the Internet confirm this.

1.“We traditional Catholics believe in the 2000 years of Catholic teachings, practices and tradition.”

  1. “A Traditional Catholic does all in his power to preserve the Holy Faith in a manner consistent with how it has always been understood, and who strives to preserve all of the liturgical rites and customs of the Church as they were before the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ revolution. Traditionalists are not some ‘branch of the Church,’ or (necessarily) some ‘splinter group’; they are usually and quite simply Catholics.”
  2. “Traditionalist Catholics believe that they are preserving Catholic orthodoxy by not accepting all changes introduced since the Second Vatican Council.”

 

So based on the above, can we say that Traditionalists are magicians? Do they do what magicians do? Magic is defined as “the art of influencing or predicting events and producing marvels…  the art of controlling the actions of spiritual or superhuman beings…” It can also mean “one of the members of the learned and priestly class,” taken from the cult of the Magi. Magicians perform magic tricks and illusions with the help of props, making the impossible appear to be possible to the audiences they entertain. Now an illusion is defined by Merriam-Webster as: (1) “A misleading image presented to the vision: optical illusion. (2) something that deceives or misleads intellectually.” And we find it mentioned by St. Paul in 2 Thess. 2:9, where he tells us the Mystery of Iniquity will appear “in all power, signs and lying wonders” to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

 

Traditionalists to all appearances present as valid priests and bishops able to operate as such, when in fact the Church forbids them to function.  They refuse to answer questions regarding their validity and ability to function. They insist they uphold the teachings of the Church, but they tacitly deny the necessity of the Roman Pontiff for the Church’s existence and fail to abide by the infallible teachings of the continual magisterium They use theological-sounding arguments to attempt to prop up their position, arguments that appear to be learned but can be, and have been, proven to be actual heresies, errors and logical fallacies. And according to the teachings of the Church, arguments based on logical fallacies are invalid.

 

They also act as entertainers, actors celebrating the Church’s Latin Mass and “sacraments” with all due pomp and splendor, to produce optical wonders and effect magical graces. Only we know from all the above that this cannot happen when they are forbidden to celebrate Mass, administer the “sacraments” and commit mortal sin by doing so, involving those who receive them in mortal sin as well. This is not grace; this is evil perpetrated as good. And it is evil they are well rewarded for; witness the fruits of their labors reflected in the grand church buildings and rectories many of them have built. Were they truly confecting the sacraments, it might be called simony, since they could not exist without their well-heeled followers.

 

Over time this impersonation of the Church has resulted in a lessening of the horror that it once had, or should have had, when the scarce few “woke” Catholics first realized what was actually happening and disowned them. Those now exiting this sect often do so almost reluctantly, on principle and faith alone, rather than with any sense of horror or urgency. There is no real appreciation of the enormity of the offenses committed against Our Lord, which are seen by those departing this group in a light filtered through an emotional attachment to what they thought was the Mass, the Eucharist and other religious externals. There is a general forgetfulness that these men act only in Christ’s stead and are His ambassadors, that they do not and cannot act in any other way, and that anything anyone once thought they received from them acted to their damnation, not their salvation.

 

The best way to describe this reaction is desensitization, a mental process that works to lessen genuine responsiveness to something negative or aversive after repeated exposure to it. One of the key reasons it is difficult to completely dismiss these men as offensive to Our Lord and useless, even possibly as agents of the devil, is their claim to possess validity, something they cannot be at all certain they possess and have no right to exercise without that certainty. It is this dilution of evil, based on the propaganda instilled by Traditionalist sects, that causes so many to return to them eventually.

 

All that Traditionalists do is designed to create illusion and deceive. They practice a sleight of hand with the faith, literally, in imposing hands to ordain “priests” and consecrate “bishops,” who because they are not validly consecrated wear only the mitres common to wizards. Epikeia is the magic wand they wave to make all their acts virtuous and valid. They somehow presume the magical lifting of all their censures in this “emergency,” penalties still on the books in the 1917 Code and binding. In this way they circumvent the scrutiny of the Holy Office, sidestepping the necessary reconciliation of any Orders they may be judged to have received, the lifting of any irregularities and vindicative penalties, the public adjuration of their errors and the performance of any penance assigned. Without this no one has any assurance they are even priests, far less bishops. All this is far more than a contradictory intention or one based on a future event. It is the sort of malice envisioned by Cardinal Billot, only on a much grander scale.

 

The science of illusion

Pope St. Pius X explains the dual personality of a Modernist in his encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, where he describes such a heretic as “…proclaiming publicly his profound respect for authority, while continuing to follow his own bent.” This is how Traditionalists dismiss the papacy and is followed by a contempt for dogma and discipline, which the pope also notes.  St. Pius X further condemns Modernists for their rejection of logic in the scholastic method of philosophy and theology, and for using sentiment and emotion to hijack the intelligence. What he says about this is very revealing, for he explains that faith is to be reduced to a “religious sentiment” and dogmatic formulas “sanctioned by the heart.” Sacraments are only “symbols and signs, although not devoid of a certain efficacy… [They are] the result of a double need, for everything in their system is to be explained by INNER IMPULSES OR NECESSITIES,” and this describes Traditional pseudo-clergy’s quest for power and adulation as superheroes with magical powers, swooping in to save the Church.

 

Everything about the methods of the Modernists speaks of Traditionalism. But those who identify only the Novus Ordo church with the introduction and practice of Modernism would never believe it existed or could exist in their own “true” church. They fail to heed Pope St. Pius X’s warning that “They are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in Her very bosom and heart and are the more mischievous the less conspicuously they appear… They put their desires for Her ruin into operation not from without but from within; hence the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain the more intimate is their knowledge of Her.” St. Pius X also observes that there were among the Modernists those who were not necessarily for reform in worship; he calls them “admirers of symbolism,” (the retention of the Latin Mass). Today this is all Traditionalists have left: SYMBOLS of what were once the REALITIES of the Catholic faith — the “magic” peddled by Traditionalist pseudo-clergy.

 

Conclusion

Traditionalists claim to be the true Church on earth, yet by defying all Her laws, commanded by Pope Pius XII to be kept in place unchanged, they demonstrate their contempt for the faith and thus make manifest their true intentions. Although unable to claim any type of jurisdiction, they cite as their “mission” the salvation of souls, although they could never have received such a mission, which is conveyed only by the grant of jurisdiction. The attenuation of the episcopal rite of consecration to exclude obedience to the Roman Pontiff, or postpone it to the future, makes it very clear that a) they are not the continuation of Christ’s Church on earth and b) cannot possibly possess the intention to function as bishops who will continue that Church as Christ Himself established it. Rev. Leeming states above that: “In the case of bishops or priests who fall into heresy the presumption stands that they intend to do what Christ wills unless THE NATURE OF THEIR HERESY gives ground to suspect that they are so convinced that Christ does not will a particular effect of Sacraments that they absolutely exclude this from their intention.

 

The presumption in this case cannot stand and must therefore yield to truth: claiming existence as THE true Church, they are bound to obey and be in communion with a visible Roman Pontiff. Pietro Parente et al state under the subject of Intention in their Dogmatic Dictionary: “The Church, moreover, is a well-organized Body in which every vital movement, linked to an external rite must depend in some way on the visible head. It is necessary therefore that every infusion of new, vital energies, caused by the Sacraments be in some way dependent on the visible head of the Church and on Her hierarchy…” It is this very necessary dependence they absolutely deny; they are convinced that bishops alone can rule the Church indefinitely and are never required to elect a Roman Pontiff. And this is diametrically opposed to Christ’s expressed will and intention for His Church.

 

The destruction of the Church was planned long ago, and the methods devised; Modernism was one of these specifically developed to infiltrate the Catholic clergy, seeding the evolution of dogmas and false philosophy. The Hegelian method used to move the process forward can be seen to apply to what we see unfolding today; the evolution of dogma and worship, accomplished by the philosopher Hegel’s pagan formula, thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Thesis is a statement or theory put forward as a premise to be defended or proved; Antithesis is the opposite or contradiction of the thesis and Synthesis is the compromise that results in resolving the conflict between thesis and antithesis. It can be seen at work easily in Communism.

 

The object is a final composite of two sides or philosophies, not admitting any one thing as absolute truth. The creation of the Novus Ordo church was only the first step in the Church’s destruction; the dragon cast down to earth. The second step was the creation of the antagonist church, the dragon pursuing the woman, to make it appear there was an alternative to the NO and better deceive the elect. The constant struggle between the two churches would then result in a new church, or the absorption of the antagonist church into the first church, which to some extent has already occurred. Agents of destruction were active on both sides, owing to the successful infiltration of Modernists beginning in the 19th century. The new church in Rome was Modernism proper; Traditionalism was the Gallicanist version of the same error.

 

Both churches were devoid of any sort of authority or power to confer the sacraments, only in different ways. The Novus Ordo openly, with its false popes, revision of the rites of the Sacraments, and finally the desecration of the Mass. Traditionalists secretly, hidden in a maze of Church laws and teachings they consistently misrepresent, deny and dismiss; topics the average layperson, barely educated in the basic catechism, can scarcely grasp. What would the faithful do if they discovered their true plight? Then there could be an actual return to the faith, and this Satan wished to prevent at all costs. Traditionalism is the holding cell, until their plans for the new super church are accomplished. As demonstrated in previous articles, Traditionalists are really only the creatures of the Old Catholics and Gnostic-infiltrated sects existing prior to Pope Pius XII’s death. We can speculate about their origins and the source of the infiltration, but that is about all we can do. The rest is in God’s hands.

 

We began this article by referring to Msgr. Joseph Przudzik’s assessment of the orders conferred by the Polish Catholic National Church. We wish to repeat here his preface to the final assessment of those Orders, although it does not specifically apply to the case at hand above. In Part 2 of Schism in America he writes:

 

“In view of the paucity of material and the difficulties in getting at it, it is understandable that this article does not consider itself an authoritative interpretation of the validity of the orders of the various… Polish sects. The conclusions… enumerated are therefore private opinions of the present writer which are offered in all humility and with the consciousness that there is a possibility they may not represent the mind of the Church. For that reason, the author puts them forth only tentatively. He freely and willingly submits his opinions to any future decision that may eventually be rendered by the infallible authority of the Catholic Church. AT THE SAME TIME, THE PRESENT WRITER BELIEVES THE SUBJECT OF SUFFICIENT CURRENT INTEREST AND IMPORTANCE TO MERIT PRESENT CONSIDERATIONAs far as can be gathered from the present available documents, according to the rules of logic and orthodox theology, ALL THE EVIDENCE POINTS TO THE HIGHLY PROBABLE INVALIDITY OF [THESE] ORDERS.”

 

To this I would add that I believe there is a very low degree of possibility that what is presented here, if it is weighed in its entirety, is mistaken. And today it is of the utmost importance to end this ungodly imposture foisted on those who think they are members of the Church Christ established on earth. It should also be noted here that I have compiled a great deal more information and theological proofs to back up my conclusions than Msgr. Przudzik was able to present. That being said, only the Roman Pontiff could make a decision regarding these orders, and I have always sworn to abide by his judgement. But this does not mean that until that time these men are valid and can function in any way whatsoever. This is forbidden by Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, Can. 2200 and all the papal excommunications and censures cited above.

 

The evidence shows that Traditionalist pseudo-clergy cannot be CONSIDERED AS VALID until a decision is forthcoming from the Holy See. Until then, the faithful cannot without grave sin consult or attend their services or receive the “sacraments” or any such thing from any of these men. Not only do they themselves commit sin in doing so, they commit a second sin by cooperating with the person who administers the sacrament requested.  I would like to close with the following from Msgr. Przudzik, commenting on the inroads made by the Polish schismatics:

 

“Such is the result of 40 years of tunneling under the Church of God. It cannot be said that from the schismatics’ point of view it is certainly unsuccessful. Indeed it urges upon all faithful members of the Catholic Church the necessity of realizing just how grave the situation is. Too frequently and too long has the importance of the break been minimized. Perhaps the realization of how many souls are being led astray frequently without even realizing they are being led out of the Catholic Church will start some large-scale, concentrated effort to bring them back.” And this is far truer in our situation than it could ever have been during a time when a true Roman Pontiff reigned. May God have mercy on us all.