+St. Rose of Lima+
Because the three new articles on the front page (on epikeia, Intention in Traditionalist orders and Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis) are lengthy and yet essential to understanding the situation among Traditionalists today, an attempt will be made here to summarize all three articles and point out the basic underlying principles they share in common.
A reader asked recently, “Who decided for all Catholics that episcopal consecrations had to happen and that epikeia could be applied? Was it (Lefebvre or) Thuc? Was it the priests who were to be consecrated?” It appears that it was Marcel Lefebvre’s Society of St. Pius X that first began to appeal to this principle in the 1970s, according to various articles by the SSPX and others on the Internet. Their approach was later adopted by Sedevacantists and other Traditionalist sects. What they claimed then and yet claim today is that the laws they are exempting themselves from a) are human laws that Pope Pius XII (or in the case of the SSPX, John 23) enacted or kept in force but b) which Pope Pius XII (and John 23) would not wish to bind the faithful to in the present situation. As explained in both the new site articles on epikeia and VAS, however, a general assumption or presumption that Pope Pius XII and his predecessors would wish these laws to no longer apply simply cannot and will not suffice to justify invoking this principle, which is not even a law, but only a vehicle for amending the law in certain cases.
Epikeia in a nutshell
To properly justify using the epikeia principle, two things would first need to be proven. One, it would need to be clearly demonstrated that there is no other law that would apply in this case per Canons 20 and 17 (Abp. Amleto Cicognani, Canon. Law, 1935), for epikeia comes into play in a case where there is no specific law covering a situation, as explained under Can. 20. Two, under this same canon, those invoking epikeia would have to prove, from at least five different sources that would establish at least a probable opinion that the legislator would wish for his law to be disregarded. This Rev. Joseph Riley states in his 1948 CUA dissertation on epikeia. And no, Traditionalist pseudo-clergy and their apologists may not determine how and when this principle is to be applied when there is dissertation by a fully approved and qualified theologian to consult.
It is not surprising that neither the SSPX nor the Thucites and other Sedevacantists omitted this process to prove their case. For had they followed the dictates of Can. 20 it would soon have become clear that they could not obtain the proofs they needed. They failed to consult the one law that would have provided all the necessary answers, and having carefully considered that law, their hands would have been tied. That law is Pope Pius XII’s infallible papal election law, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS), governing interregnums.
As explained in the epikeia and VAS articles, Rev. Riley defines epikeia as “a correction or an emendation of the law,” and this definition is taken from several older approved authors. Paragraph three of VAS clearly forbids interpreting, correcting or dispensing oneself from papal or Canon Laws during an interregnum. This has been pointed out many times before. Not only that, but it also renders null, void and invalid any attempt to correct or amend these laws, and this infallibly with the Pope’s “supreme authority.” Likewise in paragraph one, any attempt to usurp papal authority is rendered invalid. This would include presuming to consecrate bishops without papal approval of episcopal candidates, and any acts by such men so presuming would also be invalid. This totally dismantles any claim Traditionalists have to epikeia and supplied jurisdiction. For throughout the history of the Church, the only supplying force for such jurisdiction is the Roman Pontiff, and in his absence that power does not exist even in the Cardinals, as VAS states. Proofs for this are provided in the epikeia article.
What is important to note here is that Traditionalists, who pass themselves off as the only ones educated in Canon Law and therefore able to “interpret” and apply it, made no attempt whatsoever to follow the law, verify their claims, and provide the proofs necessary to support their “mission.” These proofs of jurisdiction they were obligated to provide under Can. 200. These men failed to exercise any due diligence whatsoever and not only that: they presented their pretensions to the world as the sole continuation of the Catholic Church on earth. They dared to treat the laws and infallible teachings of the Roman Pontiffs regarding jurisdiction as mere human laws, when it was glaringly evident this was not the case at all. Epikeia only suspends human law in unforeseen circumstances. But the entire scope of jurisdiction is not human law, but divine law, and epikeia cannot be applied to divine law, as Rev. Riley and many others point out. Canonical mission can proceed only from God himself, through the proper channels, as Ludwig Cardinal Billot explains:
“For authority [in the Church] comes directly from God through Christ, and from Christ to his Vicar, and from the Vicar of Christ it descends to the remaining prelates without the intervention of any other physical or moral person” (Louis Cardinal Billot, S.J., Tractatus De Ecclesia Christi (Rome: Aedes Universitatis Gregorianae, 1927), Vol. 1. p. 524). And if no physical or moral person can intervene, neither can a pseudo-legal principle such as epikeia.
This is why Pope Pius XII’s decision on the jurisdiction of bishops proceeding only from the Roman Pontiff was so important. That decision cannot be questioned in any way and must be firmly and irrevocably accepted as certain or true by all Catholics. It seals the chain of command issuing from God the Father to His Son, and from His Son to St. Peter and his successors. Disrupt this Divine transmission of sacred power by one iota and the entire establishment of Christ’s Church on earth unravels. It is the glue that holds together the entire Church and Divine chain of command. And without even the possibility of obtaining any such jurisdiction in the Church, as VAS seems to indicate, all attempts to procure it are null, void and invalid. This brings us to the article on why intention is lacking in Traditionalist orders.
Traditionalist pretensions to validity shot down
Apostolic succession — Divine and canonical mission — depend on two things: Certainly valid ordination and consecration received from competent authority (and administered to those free of diriment impediments and other irregularities), conferred according to the Sacred Canons, with the proper jurisdiction conveyed by receiving an office in the Church. This definition alone, given in an authentic interpretation of Can. 147 approved by Pope Pius XII, should prove to anyone believing themselves Catholic that Traditionalists are not capable of validly exercising any putative orders. This follows from what was said above on jurisdiction and VAS. Moreover, Traditionalists totally disregarded VAS, and proceeded to ordain and consecrate despite its warnings of invalidity.
Some maintain that VAS may have only nullified any acts proceeding from such orders. But it is clear from Pius XII’s decision on Can. 147, Pope Pius VI’s Charitas, and papal documents dating from the 5th century, that it has always been the practice of the Church to consider such Orders invalid until normalized by the Holy See. Proofs of this are provided in the intention article. Invalidating laws such as VAS are to be interpreted strictly (Can. 19) and to proceed to consecration without a papal mandate would nullifies the effects of any episcopal orders if the strict interpretation is observed as it should be.
Invalidating laws are to be interpreted strictly because they protect the common good, something Traditionalists claim they are protecting. But their work for the salvation of souls could never be validly exercised because such a mission issues from jurisdiction alone (Council of Trent catechism), a jurisdiction they cannot and do not possess. In fact, as one canonist points out in his dissertation cited in both the works on epikeia and intention, all Traditionalists have done point to their “contempt for the faith;” and the acts they have perpetrated are “intrinsically evil.”
Their lack of intention in receiving consecration was invalid for the same reason their fallacious claim to jurisdiction is invalid: it violates the very essence of canonical mission in the Church. Every instance of those in the Thucite and especially the CMRI sect pretending to receive episcopal orders is accompanied by some doubt or expressed reservation from other Traditionalists, either about the ceremony itself, the consecrator, or the worthiness of the one receiving consecration. These sects have been battling over this for more than two decades. Then there are the secret consecrations that have taken place, or consecrations that cannot be completely verified as valid in matter and form.
Among these are Thuc’s consecrations of Guerard des Lauriers, a consecration predicated on des Lauriers part, on the fact that des Lauriers promised to hold the Sedevacantist position strictly. He later reverted to his previous sedeprivationism, (the material-formal position), following the consecration. Some say he never really retracted it; others say he did, or at least Thuc believed he did. Either way, des Lauriers intention in receiving orders and Thuc’s intention in conveying them, one or both, were affected because no conditions are to be placed on the reception of orders by either the consecrator or the one consecrated/ordained. And if they are, the orders received are invalid.
And here is the real reason that Traditionalists, beginning with the Orders conveyed by Lefebvre and Thuc, could never have received valid consecration. All theologians consulted on the validity of intention agree that if one places a condition on their intention, then the Orders received are invalid. So what condition did Traditionalists place on their reception of episcopal consecration?
Well we have two sets of things going on here. First, the consecration formula itself explicitly declares that the bishop is not to proceed without the papal mandate, so the entire ceremony is prefaced with an act of papal disobedience. This nullifies the following attempt to consecrate per VAS. The reason for this is that no ceremony can be considered a true act of Christ, His Vicar and His Apostles without the necessary link to the canonical mission Christ instituted. And during an interregnum, when the Church is without a Roman Pontiff who alone can approve bishops, that link is missing.
Second, as noted in the article on epikeia, “all spiritual power of the sacerdotal character is given together with a certain consecration, and therefore the keys are given with the order… [So] before he has jurisdiction [he] has the keys, but has not the ACT of using them” (Wm. Allies). But here we have NO certain consecration, so these men did not even RECEIVE the keys, far less the ability to be able to activate their use. This is the important component that is missing in all this: There is no certainty the keys were ever transmitted in the first place. You cannot activate something when you don’t even possess it. In the third place, men being consecrated must swear obedience and submission to the Roman Pontiff “…according to canonical authority.” Yet it is impossible, given the situation today, to do this without swearing obedience to some future pope, and without implicitly agreeing the Church can exist without one indefinitely.
This is called a condition concerning the future, because no obedience could possibly be owed to a current pope but would need to be deferred to a future one. All the theologians consulted agree that any intention contingent on a future event, even one considered necessary, as a pope is necessary to the Church, invalidates the intention. And Rev. Bernard J. Leeming writes: “It is possible for a minister to have the intention of not doing what the Church does, and if such is the case the Sacrament is invalid. THIS TEACHING IS UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED BY MODERN THEOLOGIANS.”
And given that these men “ordained and consecrated” willingly attempted to receive orders, knowing a pope is necessary to the Church but willfully flying in the face of papal decrees and obedience to these decrees, they could not have possessed the proper intention to do what the Church does. This is especially true because they were presenting themselves not as a schismatic sect, but as THE true continuation of the Catholic Church, and were therefore bound by all Her laws and teachings.
What is so egregious about this is that in assuming they become members of the Apostolic College, Traditionalists exclude from that college the one person who alone can assure its unity and doctrinal apostolicity, its connection with the Divine — the Roman Pontiff. They therefore become just one more church established by man, joining the Novus Ordo and the Protestant sects. That they have managed to pull this off for decades is a travesty. This despite numerous objections and proofs which first became available in the 1980s.
People worry that if their cover is blown now that many will leave to re-join the Novus Ordo, or join the Orthodox, a Protestant sect or simply lose their faith. That is on them, however, not those making these facts known. Had they studied their faith in the first place before making these decisions, there would not be anything to discuss here. If they refuse to do it when they finally realize they have been scammed, then they don’t really love their faith, they only love the idea of it and the religious externals which accompany it.
I hope this will help those struggling to understand these complicated subjects to see how they are interrelated and prove the case at hand. Sometimes the real story gets lost in all the proofs that must be presented to document the case. But that shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow what can more easily be explained. Some have said that epikeiacannot be disproven; they are sadly mistaken. If Catholic teaching is taken in its totality, not compartmentalized for personal convenience, the facts shine out with super-bright clarity. Such is the case with the truths regarding canonical mission, which are only a reflection of the Divine light above.
What in the World…
Since the 1970s I have been monitoring earthquakes and other disasters worldwide which seem to have increased over the years. In the 1980s, after writing a piece on earthquakes and researching the three days of darkness, I began reading about what type of catastrophe might trigger these phenomena and was surprised at what I found. I ran across a strange map that said it depicted how the U.S. would look following a pole shift, and up until that time I had never heard of such a thing. Later talk about Planet X and 2012 was pooh-poohed and this seemed to downplay the likelihood of such an occurrence. But then hype about global warming (a smokescreen to throw everyone off) ramped up and the geomagnetic poles began to drift. Not wishing to be a reactionary, I just kept watching. Now it seems that a geomagnetic pole shift is inevitable, and no one is really sure what that will mean for planet Earth.
Some, however, who have studied it for decades, seem convinced that it does not bode well for earth’s population; and this is true for the most part no matter where you live. What is not known is exactly when it will happen, how severe such an occurrence will be, how long it will last, who exactly will and will not survive, and how — IF — life will go on afterwards. All we have to base any of our conjectures on are the descriptions in private prophecy of the three days, which perfectly tally with the effects of a pole shift. What is interesting is how so much of what may be coming can be related to Holy Scripture. And indeed, it even seems that pole shifts or similar events are described in the Old Testament. So if you haven’t heard of a pole shift, or if you have and would like to see how it may be mentioned in the Book of Apocalypse, check the Catacombs section of the site in the next week or so for an article on this topic.