Are Bishops Consecrated Between 1959–1967 Valid and Licit?
© Copyright 2010, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.)
1. In all discussions, the definition of terms is essential. The term “Church” as defined below by Rev. Miaskiewicz below is essential to this discussion.
2. Bishops who are not certainly licit and cannot be proven so cannot possess apostolic succession nor regain it unless validly and licitly absolved of their sins and dispensed by the Roman Pontiff.
3. Bishops who not only did not object to Paul VI but served under him in any way following the false V2 council most likely signed V2 documents. Even if they did not sign them and later accepted him as pope, they committed heresy ipso facto and incurred infamy of law.
4. Jurisdiction cannot be supplied during an interregnum.
5. We must firmly and irrevocably accept the fact that Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolica Sedis voids and nullifies even an attempt to supply papal jurisdiction during an interregnum.
“Hence in tracing the mission of the Church back to the Apostles, no lacuna can be allowed; no new mission can arise; but the mission conferred by Christ must pass from generation to generation through an uninterrupted lawful succession. The Apostles received it from Christ and gave it in turn to those legitimately appointed by them and these again selected others to continue in the work of the ministry. Any break in this succession destroys Apostolicity, because the break means the beginning of a new series which is not Apostolic…An authoritative mission to teach is absolutely necessary, a man-given mission is not authoritative…This Divine mission is always to continue the same, hence it must be transmitted with its Divine character until the end of time, i.e., there must be an unbroken, lawful succession which is called Apostolicity…In all theological works, the same explanation of Apostolicity is found, based on the Scriptural and patristic testimony just cited,” (see actual quote at CatholiCity, http://www.catholicity.com/encyclopedia … icity.html ) A sampling of the teachings of the Popes, the Councils and the theologians below prove that what is expressed in this article is exactly what the Church has always taught.
Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, Dogmatic Brevior: “For [the Church] was founded by the Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and governed by the Pontiffs, who hold in lawful and unbroken succession the authority bestowed on the Blessed Peter and promised to his successors by Christ…The successors of the Apostles as regards the power of teaching, ruling and sanctifying the faithful are the bishops collectively taken, who have their authority by Divine right. The thesis is historically certain and theologically de fide, being proposed as an object of faith by the ordinary magisterium.”
Rev. W. Wilmers S. J., “Handbook of the Christian Religion,” (an advisor at the Vatican Council): “The bishops in communion with the successor of St. Peter form one moral person with the Apostles who were gathered around St. Peter…If the Roman Catholic Church is apostolic because the body of its teachers and rulers lawfully succeeds the college of the Apostles, it follows that the assemblage of the faithful also is apostolic; for by the fact of the union with its lawful pastors who are the successors of the Apostles, it forms the Church Apostolic…Christ will therefore be all days…[until] the end of the human race on earth…without interruption to the end of time…”
Rev. Joseph H. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., “Evidence for Our Faith,” (Asst. Professor of Religion, Notre Dame Univ., 1952): “In a strict sense, apostolicity of origin means that the legitimate, juridical succession of bishops can be traced back in an unbroken line to the Apostles. As we have seen, Christ gave a definite commission to the Apostles. ‘As the Father has sent Me I also send you.’ Thus the Apostles were the official teachers, rulers and sanctifiers of His Church. In like manner, the Apostles trained and commissioned men as their assistants and successors in the government of the Church. This ‘commissioning’ by proper authority is the very basis of legitimate and juridical succession. Obviously it requires a manual and verbal transmission of authority in an unbroken line back to the Apostles and Christ. He alone has lawful authority who is lawfully commissioned. Any break with the past is certain proof that this apostolicity of origin has been lost. The Catholic Church alone, therefore, can claim this apostolicity of origin. If the Catholic Church is not the continuation of the apostolic Church, it has vanished from the earth despite the promise of the Son of God.”
Msgr. G. Van Noort, “De ecclesia Christi”:
Obviously a man does not become a genuine successor to the apostles merely by arrogating to himself the title of “bishop,” or by carrying on in some fashion a function once performed by the apostles. Neither is it enough for a man merely to possess some one, individual power, say for example, the power of orders, [or the power of jurisdiction only]…What is required for GENUINE APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION is that a man enjoy THE COMPLETE POWERS (i.e., ordinary powers, not extraordinary) of an apostle. He must, then, in addition to the power of orders, possess also the power of jurisdiction, [and vice versa]… To be a true successor of the Apostles one must either be a priest and bishop elected or appointed to the office of a bishop by “[a man] connected with one of the original apostles by a never-interrupted line of predecessors in the same office. One must also prove that in this total line no one of his predecessors either acquired his position illicitly, or even though he may have acquired it legitimately, ever lost it. For a purely physical succession proves nothing at all,” (Van Noort). Such power must also be “transmitted according to the canonical rules in force at the time. Whosoever, therefore, has not received jurisdiction according to those rules…remains without it[/b]…(Devivier and Sasia). “Obviously it requires a manual and verbal transmission of authority in an unbroken line back to the Apostles and Christ. He alone has lawful authority who is lawfully commissioned. Any break with the past is certain proof that this apostolicity of origin has been lost,” (Cavanaugh).
Infamy of law bars the valid exercise of orders received
Can. 1325 decrees that whoever denies the faith explicitly or implicitly by their “silence, subterfuge or manner of acting” incurs the excommunication for heresy. No valid and licit bishops could ever be justified for remaining silent all these years in light of the crisis in the Church, when two or three of these bishops could have resolved the problem. Their manner of acting would ipso facto excommunicate them. Those who incur ipso facto excommunication also automatically incur infamy of law. 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,” (all emph. within quotes in this article is the author’s). Canon 988 also states: “Ignorance of irregularities which arise either from crime or from defect, and ignorance of impediments, does not prevent one from incurring them.” Canon 2314 §1 declares that by the commission of heresy, apostasy or schism the offender also incurs infamy ipso facto. When imposed in the form of a penalty attached to law, this sentence takes place immediately.
Infamy is an additional penalty separate from excommunication. As explained in Rev. Eric MacKenzie’s “The Delict of Heresy” on pg. 69 and 72: “The joining of the non-Catholic [NO] sect may follow after the externalization of heretical error as a consequence, or may itself be the first internal act which manifests the internal sin of heresy…As a penalty for his aggravated delict, he incurs juridical infamy ipso facto. This is quite independent of infamy of fact and may be incurred without the loss of reputation in the judgment of the general public. It is a juridical status which consists of a series of incapacities…[These] must be presumed responsible for their external acts in violation of the law of the Church, until and unless the contrary is proven. Consequently, when they formally joined their sect, or publicly lived in accordance with its tenets and its practices, they are presumed to have incurred this juridical infamy, along with the general excommunication for heresy.” Therefore one is presumed to have incurred infamy until positive proof is offered that heresy itself was not committed.
Infamy of law is both a vindictive penalty and an impediment to Orders barring the excommunicate from the exercise of valid legal acts issuing from the clerical state, (or rights or privileges enjoyed by the laity). These are two separate things. Impediments require a dispensation and indeed Can. 2295 states: “Infamy of law ceases only on dispensation granted by the Apostolic See.” A dispensation is not the same as absolution in the internal or external forum nor abjuration or Profession of Faith. The local ordinary can absolve from infamy of fact after the usual period of “laudable conduct for three years,” but only the Pope can dispense from infamy of law. Pope Pius XII specifically states in the preamble to his 1945 election law that during an interregnum, no one can so dispense from those laws which the Roman Pontiff alone is wont to dispense and if they do, the dispensation is null and void.
As Woywod-Smith state, one under infamy of law cannot validly grant or obtain any offices, benefices, dignities, legally and validly perform any ecclesiastical acts or invoke any rights. So any offices or benefices Traditional clerics claim to posses, any right to elect, all right and power to function as clerics validly and licitly and officiate at sacred functions, any right to solicit tithes in the name of the Church — all are forbidden and invalidated by infamy of law. The only possible exception would be the simple laity, who at least are not certainly formal heretics in the eyes of the Church and therefore do not incur the actual infamia juris, as we saw above. They would still need to be dispensed, however, in the external forum. As in many other instances, formal excommunication in the case of those who are not aware of the law at all or are not schooled in Canon Law; also those invincibly ignorant or who are not well grounded in the faith, (Canons 2218, 2219) is not certain. However, material heresy is at least present, and this bars any who commit such heresy from Church membership; they are as much outside the Church as those formally excommunicated, but may not be guilty of the actual sin against the faith. This is true at least until a true Pope and hierarchy examines the case. In any event, even non-Catholics are allowed to validly witness a marriage conducted in the extraordinary form and to administer emergency Baptism.
Divine law prevails and ignorance is not common error
Moral theology teaches and Pope Innocent XI has defined that where validity of the Sacraments and matters of eternal salvation are concerned, one must take the safer course wherever certitude cannot be obtained. The nature of supplying DIVINE jurisdiction, in the case of supplying that jurisdiction which is transferred directly from the Roman Pontiffs to bishops following their consecrations, is not a matter of ecclesiastical law but of Divine law, since this power was transmitted directly from Christ to St. Peter.
Rev. Raymond Kearney tells us that: “The very law of nature demands that power be not entrusted to a person who is not sufficiently competent to make proper use of it…The Church can supply only that power, the disposition of which is entrusted to her; she cannot, therefore, supply what is required by divine or natural law…” (“Principles of Delegated Jurisdiction”). Kearney cites the theologian Sanchez, who states that in the event a baptized male was invalidly elected Pope, the Church COULD supply; he does not say She should or would supply. In fact he says those claiming the Church supplies in such instances: “must prove not merely that it would be good for the Church to supply…, but that [She] actually does so supply.” Sanchez cannot be said to have envisioned the case where the entire hierarchy of the Church was not visible but hidden, and therefore, with the faithful, could not even accept the election of such a pope. The words above also were written in 1929, before Pope Pius XII’s 1945 election law was written. Once this law was entered into the AAS to become a part of the ordinary magisterium, it was no longer possible to speculate on such matters because Rome had spoken; nothing in the law can be changed or dispensed from during an interregnum, even by the cardinals. Only a future pontiff, canonically elected and duly accepted, could ever determine the matter.
As for common error, this must not be confused with common ignorance, or the de fide necessity of jurisdiction itself, by the faithful. Both Revs. Francis Miaskiewicz and Rev. Kearney, who cite several others in their respective canon law commentaries, condemn the “liberal and excessively radical” extension of Can. 209 to cases involving “ignorance, confusion and false certitude,” (Miaskiewicz, “Supplied Jurisdiction According to Canon 209,” p. 214). Miaskiewicz cites two cases of the Rota ruling that common ignorance is not sufficient to invoke the Canon. He then states: “All light, unsubstantial, negative, and therefore improbable doubts do not become beneficial factors for the supplying of jurisdiction, for they are all, taken singly or even collectively, juridically inadequate to make any demands upon the jurisdictional favors which Can. 209 is ready to bestow,” (ibid., p. 220). Rev. Kearney treats the case, proposed by Kelly, that as long as no one knows the minister lacks jurisdiction, the Church will supply it. He then demonstrates this teaching as “inadmissible…Knowledge, true or false, is inconceivable without sense perception; the mind conceives what the senses perceive…Error is a false judgment; it is a positive act of the mind by which something is misapprehended. Ignorance, however, implies no act of cognition; it is a lack of knowledge. Since error is defective knowledge, it presupposes ignorance. Thus an infidel to whom the Gospel has not yet been preached is in ignorance of Christ, not in error concerning Him, since no judgment has been made. Error adds ignorance to a false judgment. In a word, ignorance is nothing, while error is something,” (“The Principles of Delegation,” p. 132-34).
In other words, there must be some solid fact that causes one to believe the priest (or bishop) already possesses jurisdiction, even if this fact is not true (common error), or there must be some positive doubt concerning the existence or the application of a law in this regard. “Common error is scarcely conceivable without some apparent title…some foundation for error…The object of such an error must be the personal qualifications of an agent who is, therefore, believed to possess powers that he actually lacks…All that is required is that here and now many of the faithful are in error; they must labor under a false impression or persuasion. They must be so mentally disposed that they would respond that this particular agent is a confessor, a pastor, a judge or the like…Until such a state of mind is corrected, or entirely lost by the lapse of time, the error exists virtually, subconsciously but really,” (ibid., p. 125). Once the early changes were made to the missal by Roncalli and the false Vatican II Council convened, but especially after it ended, bishops were held accountable. Had they openly departed, renounced the changes and the antipopes and declared them antipopes, they would not have incurred censure, according to Pope Paul IV’s “Cum ex apostolatus officio,” which holds bishops and cardinals to a much higher standard. The remedies for the ignorance of Traditionalists concerning the mechanics of jurisdiction, and its absolute necessity for the validity of absolution, have been available for over two decades. Any possibility of “common error” ceased to exist at this time, and in reality could never have provided the necessary jurisdiction, in the absence of the Roman Pontiff to supply it.
“When the Church, or more specifically the Roman Pontiff, is said to supply jurisdiction in any case whatsoever, be it in common error or in doubt, it is readily understood that the Pope acts in virtue of the plenitude of the jurisdictional power Christ entrusted to his person. Naturally it rests within the scope of such broad power to grant, to extend or to restrict the share of others in the exercise of this power in anyway whatsoever, be it by the ordinary canonical commission or by the extraordinary supplying in certain emergencies. But it is important that just as in the case of common error, so in the case of doubt, the vast jurisdictional power of the pope is limited to ecclesiastical laws alone. By this token divinely instituted laws, be they natural or positive, are outside the ambit or beyond the control of the pope or any of his inferiors. And thus quite obviously, Canon 209 must be understood as applying exclusively to doubts that might arise from difficulties in the theoretical understanding or practical application of ecclesiastical laws,” (Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz, “Supplied Jurisdiction According to Canon 209,” p. 194).
Papal jurisdiction cannot be supplied during an interregnum
When we speak of the power that is alleged by some to supply jurisdiction to those bishops consecrated between 1959 and 1967, after the election of antipopes Roncalli and Montini and before the change of the ordination and consecration rites in 1968, we are passing judgment on God’s very exercise of divine jurisdiction as inferiors, not on ecclesiastical laws. As stated above, the laws changed following the issuance of “Vacantis Apostolica Sedis.” During an interregnum, not even the valid and licit cardinals or, in their stead, valid and licit bishops can determine any but the most urgent cases involving ecclesiastical law, and this only as pertains to a papal election.
One cannot claim at the same time that a bishop cannot tender a resignation to a superior who does not exist and likewise pretend that the supplying principle could be presumed in the absence of the Roman Pontiff. Therefore the matter of a putative bishop not being able to tender resignation is a moot point, since neither can an absent pontiff supply the very jurisdiction that would make such a resignation necessary. The case cannot be decided until a true pontiff is canonically elected per Pope Pius XII’s 1945 election law, “Vacantis Apostolica Sedis.” For this law states that during an interregnum:
1. “While the Apostolic Seat is vacant, let the Sacred College of Cardinals have no power or jurisdiction at all in those things which pertain to the Pope while he was alive…but let everything be held, reserved for the future Pope. And thus we decree that whatever power or jurisdiction pertaining to the Roman Pontiff, while he is alive (unless in as far as it is expressly permitted in this, Our Constitution) the meeting of Cardinals itself may have taken for exercising, is null and void.
2. “Likewise we order that the Sacred College of Cardinals is not able to dispose of the laws of the Apostolic Seat and the Roman Church in any manner it wishes, nor may it attempt to detract wheresoever from the laws of the same, either directly or indirectly through a species of connivance, or through dissimulation of crimes perpetrated against the same laws, either after the death of the Pontiff or in time of vacancy, [however] it may seem to be attempted. Indeed, we will that it ought to guard and defend against the same contention of all men.
3. “Laws given by the Roman Pontiffs are in no way able to be corrected or changed through the meeting of the cardinals of the Roman Church [the See] being vacant; nor is anything able to be taken away or added, nor is there able to be made any dispensation in any manner concerning the laws themselves or some part of them. This is very evident from pontifical Constitutions [on]…the election of the Roman Pontiff. But if anything contrary to this prescript occurs or is by chance attempted, we declare it by Our Supreme authority to be null and void.” — Vacantis Apostolica Sedis, paras.1- 3, Ch. 1; Pope Pius XII, 1945, Acta Apostolica Sedis (AAS) 38-65.
Because Pope Pius XII’s document above is entered into the AAS, and obviously contains an authoritative doctrinal statement, it is to be accepted by Catholics with a firm and irrevocable assent. We can do nothing during an interregnum without certainly valid and licit bishops ordained during Pope Pius XII’s lifetime, or ordained afterwards by presenting unquestionably positive proofs that a perpetual pontifical mandate was granted to a select few who have maintained strict doctrinal orthodoxy.
Many priests and bishops who “retired” in the 1960s were afraid they would lose their pensions if they spoke out. They also feared the loss of human respect that would follow. Their manner of acting gave everyone the impression that they remained members of the Novus Ordo church, and they did nothing to convince anyone otherwise. Lay members who openly condemned V2 changes and the abrogation of the Tridentine Mass in print and in public speeches and comments were acting in bolder fashion than their shepherds. In this country especially, where free speech and assembly was not punished or discouraged, there was no excuse. Such bishops might possibly save their souls by public penance and true contrition for their sins. But like so many others, they would need to confess their sins to a valid and licit priest or bishop and be dispensed personally by the Roman Pontiff before they could ever function again in their capacity as priests, since it is not the custom of the Church to appoint even absolved excommunicates to the office of bishop. When the Church most needed defenders, Her bishops abandoned Her. None of the Canon Laws Pope Pius XII left in full force until another pope can be elected would relieve them from responsibility for such a reprehensible act. (See also the article on Traditionalist clergy simulating Mass and Sacraments.)