“Bp.” Pivarunas and Bp. Thuc’s heretical orientation

Notes on “Bp.” Pivarunas and Bp. Thuc’s heretical orientation

© Copyright 2014, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author. All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.

  1. Pivarunas is arguing beside the point. He has yet to prove that he is a member of the sacred hierarchy. He repeatedly insists that the Church’s mission — the salvation of souls — must continue forward, and he and his fellow priests and bishops must be intended to perpetuate this mission. But Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey states in his Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II that only the sacred hierarchy is entrusted with this mission, (p. 350, A. 1). By definition, Pivarunus is not a member of this hierarchy, for only those made bishops by appointment of the Holy See, and only those bishops in communion with the Roman Pontiff, can be considered members of the sacred hierarchy. Certainly those who are outside the Church cannot be considered members of the hierarchy. Only those possessing the mission to preach may do so (see DZ 967). Only those with the office and power to receive converts may so receive them. These men could continue this mission as laymen if they repented of their sins and made amends, but not as clerics. By all the definitions of the Canons they are working to the destruction, not the salvation of souls.
  2. There is no benign interpretation of excommunication where heresy is concerned. This is the practice of the Church. (Mahoney, Billot, Woywod-Smith, et al; see below). One suspect of heresy incurs the excommunication if they do not remove the suspicion within six months, (Can. 2315). Thuc did not do so; in fact he accepted the Bulla Regia appointment from Paul 6 after that and confirmed his excommunication. This is proven by his use of the title even in his declaration. Other documents state that like Lefebvre, whom Thuc was seen in the company of at Vatican 2, Thuc signed V2 documents.
  3. To remove such excommunication, Thuc would need to have been abjured by a valid and licit bishop so designated by the Pope, or by the offices of the pope or the pope himself, and to have made the profession of faith. He also would need to have been absolved in the confessional and to have made amends, insofar as possible, for the damage done by his heresy and schism. In addition, he would have needed to be dispensed from infamy of law by a true pope; and all the same could be said of Lefebvre. Obviously none of this happened. As long as these men were under infamy of law, the acts they performed are considered by the Church as though they never took place.(see Trad Acts Null).
  4. Under Can. 188 n. 4 Thuc lost his office as Bishop; he was effectively reduced to the lay state. When in doubt as to whether a law applies, one returns to the old law, (Can. 6 §4). The old law governing excommunications under Canons 188 n. 4 and 2314 is “Cum ex…,” as a footnote to both of these canons proves. There is no doubt under this law that Thuc incurred the ipso facto excommunication. The law simply states that those who receive those so excommunicated “knowingly” also are excommunicated. It does NOT excuse the “Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals, Legates, Counts, Barons, Marquis, Dukes, Kings and Emperors” from incurring the censure, as “Cum ex…” states below:

“Now therefore, having thoroughly discussed these matters with Our venerable brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, upon their advice and with their unanimous consent, We approve and renew, by Our Apostolic authority, each and every sentence, censure or penalty of excommunication, suspension and interdict, and removal, and any others whatever in any way given and promulgated against heretics and schismatics by any Roman Pontiffs Our Predecessors…All and sundry Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals, Legates, Counts, Barons, Marquis, Dukes, Kings and Emperors who in the past have, as mentioned above, have strayed or fallen into heresy or have been apprehended, have confessed or been convicted of incurring, inciting or committing schism or who, in the future, shall stray or fall into heresy or shall incur, incite or commit schism or shall be apprehended, confess or be convicted of straying or falling into heresy or of incurring, inciting or committing schism, being less excusable than others in such matters, in addition to the sentences, censures and penalties mentioned above, (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…” Please note the infallible hallmark of this Bull, “by Our Apostolic Authority…”

  1. It is not the practice of the Church, in receiving bishops from heresy, to automatically reappoint them as bishops. “Cum ex…” in fact teaches that such men are “completely and entirely, forever deprived of, and furthermore disqualified from and incapacitated for their rank…” St. Robert Bellarmine confirms this on CMRI’s own site at http://www.cmri.org/02-bellarmine-roman-pontiff.html
  2. Pope Paul IV also states: “Further, whoever knowingly presumes in any way to receive anew the persons so apprehended, confessed or convicted, or to favor them, believe them, or teach their doctrines shall ipso facto incur excommunication, and, become infamous. They shall not and cannot be admitted orally, in person, in writing, through any spokesman or pro-curator to offices public or private…” Only the Roman Pontiff can dispense from the impediment of infamy. 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, [from defect] 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,”  (emph. mine).

Canon 2314 §1, n. 3, declares that by adhering to a non-Catholic sect, one incurs infamy of law. Canon 985 states that by the commission of heresy, apostasy or schism the offender is also irregular by virtue of a crime, and Can. 2314 likewise attaches infamy of law to this irregularity, which is incurred ipso facto. When imposed in the form of a penalty attached to law, this sentence takes place immediately. Revs. Woywod-Smith state that it seems both irregularities apply, whenever subjects openly express a non-Catholic creed. By a non-Catholic creed is included all those who believe the Church can exist indefinitely with out a Roman Pontiff and violate the laws of the Church he and his predecessor laid down and hold as remaining inviolate during an interregnum. Ignoring excommunications and censures issued by the Church as meaningless and choosing to function despite these disciplinary decrees is itself a heresy, as is seen below.

  1. The same comments on Can. 2294 §1 also are provided by Rev. Augustine: “Legal infamy involves irregularity [from defect] according to Can. 984 n. 5, and therefore no layman affected by it can receive the tonsure or any other order without an apostolic dispensation…Legal infamy entails disability, or disqualification for any ecclesiastical benefice, pension, office, dignity; if conferred the act is invalid,” (emph. mine). Here Rev. Augustine refers us to Can. 2391 and a discussion of the word dignus, or dignities and explains that this refers to fitness. (Canon 2391 disqualifies unworthy candidates from election.) Dignities refer to one “who possesses the necessary qualifications, Revs. Woywod-Smith speak of the dignity of the priesthood or the ministry under Can. 968 where the “positive qualifications are required by law for ordination…The irregularities and impediments are not penalties, although some are incurred by the commission of crimes, but they are conditions imposed to safeguard the dignity of the ministry. For this reason the Code states that not only ordination but also the exercise of the orders actually received is forbidden if, even without his own fault, the person incurs an irregularity or impediment.” Rev. Tanquerey tells us that in general order signifies: “A certain grade or dignity, or an assemblage of men adorned with this dignity…Order is the grade or dignity, of itself permanent, resulting from the actual ordination.” Order here is considered synonymous with dignity. If infamy makes invalid the dignities received then these men are not, nor could they ever be, clerics.
  2. The theologian Jean-Marie Herve, writing in the last century, described as unworthy those who are able to receive the Sacraments validly yet cannot profit from them. He refers this definition to public sinners who have been denied the sacraments and those under various censures including penalties for heresy and schism.  He also stresses that it is the strict duty of the minister to ascertain worthiness in order to protect the Sacraments from sacrilege and avoid scandal. While certain exceptions can be made in the case of the other Sacraments concerning their administration despite the unworthiness of the recipient, and reasons can be advanced that would allow their administration for a very serious reason, Herve points out in his “Sacraments,” (Dogmatic Theology, Vol. I) that this cannot be the case with Holy Orders. “In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the public good demands that the unworthy applicant even if he be secret, be repelled even though his offense cannot be juridically proved. In this case the reception of the Sacrament is considered inferior in worth to the worthy exercise of the sacred functions and the public good of the Church. According to Pesch: ‘He who trenches on a public good thereby loses his right to a private good if the public good cannot effectively be defended without injury to the latter.’” He goes on to quote Can. 731 #2 concerning the conferring of the Sacraments on heretics and schismatics: “It is forbidden to administer the Sacraments of the Church to heretics or schismatics even if they err in good faith…unless they first reject their errors and are reconciled with the Church.” Here it appears he is referring to juridical infamy.
  3. Candidates to become CMRI bishops are “elected,” and it is election and appointment that Can. 2391 is concerned with. As Rev. Augustine notes under this Canon, “he is worthy who possesses all the qualities positively prescribed for an office by law and is without the negative qualities that render one unworthy of holding a benefice.” He notes that infamy is one of these negative qualities that render one unworthy. In the case of infamy of law, the Traditionalists in general do not deny that they all have belonged to the Novus Ordo, SSPX or other schismatic/heretical organizations at one time; otherwise they would not be invoking Can. 2261 §2 and Can. 209 for their right to operate. Nor would they have been conditionally reordained if they did not believe they had been ordained by heretics and/or schismatics. Therefore they admit their irregularities and impediments openly. And these affiliations with non-Catholic sects cannot help but bring with them infamy of law under Canons 984 n. 5, 2294 §1 and 2314 §1.

Having said this, we return to Can. 2294 §1 and the canonists, who clearly agree that no layman can receive tonsure who suffers from infamy of law. To receive tonsure, one must definitely produce positive proofs of fitness. All candidates for Traditionalist orders are selected from among the various Trad sects. They are “called” by a bishop who himself suffers from the impediment of infamy of law, and who cannot validly or legally make one capable of acquiring benefices. Any attempts to do so are null and void, and were most likely also null and void concerning their own tonsures and training. If one has never been validly admitted to the clerical state and become a cleric; if he has not been called by the proper bishop; if he has not received the proper and required training at an approved and supervised seminary; if he has received orders from a heretic or a schismatic; if he has not presented dimissorial letters; if a bishop has been consecrated without the papal mandate and if no one has attempted to prevent these delinquents from perpetrating all these acts, then no greater evidence of unworthiness for the priesthood and episcopacy could possibly be presented.

Pivarunas says that the situation in China referred to in “Ad Apostolorum Principis” was that bishops were being intruded into sees whose rightful occupants were in prison or in exile, where our situation is that they are vacant. He is right; the situation is different. By all accounts the Chinese bishops intruded were validly and licitly ordained and their consecrations were valid all except for the mandate. If not, the Pope would have mentioned this. Also they were not consecrated during an interregnum.

The CMRI and others believe that they receive jurisdiction directly from God. This is called extraordinary jurisdiction, condemned by the Church. It is implicit in the beliefs of all the Protestants. St. Francis de Sales and Van Noort both advance good arguments against this teaching, condemned by the Church at the Council of Trent.

Did sedevacantists knowingly resort to Thuc? Could they and should they have known and understood that he was suspect of heresy? Did they ask if he had signed Vatican 2 documents? Rev. Joaquin Saenz-Arriaga, whose teachings undeniably were known to the Mexican bishops, certainly should have known and understood the laws and teaching of the Church. Carmona was the rector of a Mexican seminary, and should have understood the implications of heresy, apostasy schism and irregularity. Guerard des Lauriers, who had benefit of pre-Vatican 2 training, certainly should have been aware of these teachings. If nothing else, he should have known that if Thuc still laid claim to the Bulla Regiae title, by that very fact, he was admitting his acceptance of Paul 6. What happened to the claim, known at least to the Mexican bishops, that Thuc was consecrating those men only to provide electors (candidates?) for a papal election? There is no doubt that this is exactly what was going on. I was an eyewitness to the discussion of this eventuality by Fr. Dan Jones and others, later writing an article about it for Jones’ newsletter in 1982. Did the Mexican bishops agree to consecration only on the contingency that a papal election would follow? Both are dead now, and people can and do say what they want on the matter. But if Carmona was so certain of what was said in the Pontificale, why did he express doubts that he was actually consecrated once he returned to Mexico?

Ignored entirely in all this is the fact that Rev. Saenz before his death in the early 1970s, and Dr. Carlos Disandro in 1978, three years before the Thuc consecrations of des Lauriers, Carmona and Zamora printed the full text of Pope Paul IV’s 1559 Bull, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio.  Several Traditionalist publications ran excerpts, mostly of para. 6, from the Bull.  Such an important document, it seems, would have been read front to back and studied at length before proceeding with anything like what would later occur. Instead, many seemed intent on minimizing the mention of schismatic alongside heretics in the bull; of relating it positively to Canons 188 n. 4 and 2314. To this day there are those who insist that despite its infallible earmarks, testified to by Henry Cardinal Manning and the definition of infallible marks given at the Vatican Council, the Bull is not infallible. Those who quote Cum ex are denigrated as almost unCatholic. Despite its clear terms, they are accused of interpreting it and interpreting it wrongly. Their critics insist that the Bull is not retained in the Code, although the evidence proving that the Bull is indeed contained in several footnotes to the Code has been available for many years on this site. Taken in its entirety, Cum Ex could have successfully been used to find answers to many controversies about the crisis in the Church. But there are reasons why some prefer that its true status as a solution to this crisis not be brought to light.

The consideration of schism as equivalent to heresy in the Bull and its incontestable relation to the Code as the old law is what gave Traditionalist clerics pause. Prior to the Bull’s discovery and subsequent English translation, laity at least and to some extent priests ignorant of Rev. Saenz’s works could claim ignorance of the indisputable nature of the penalties. But once the Bull was “promulgated,” this immunity ceased, especially in the case of clerics. Pivarunas and others claim that the penalties concerning heresy and schism may be interpreted benignly, but this is not what Canon Law or Pope Paul IV’s Bull says.

Regardless of any mitigating circumstances, a heresy is a heresy and results in ipso facto excommunication. One can be absolved and other punishments also connected to the crime may be softened, but the heresy will still remain a heresy. Can it be adjudged as material and not formal heresy? Not unless very plausible and convincing evidence can be produced. Generally heresy is considered material only when the following three conditions are fulfilled: a) The offender is a baptized non-Catholic raised among Protestants who is following his own religion, as in the case above; b) nevertheless, this person is sincerely seeking the truth, and c) is fully prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church as soon as the heresy is discovered. There also is such a thing as aggravating circumstances in such cases, which make the delict (crime) more grave. Canon 2207 says offenses are aggravated owing to the dignity of the offender’s [perceived, in this case] position and the abuse of his office. Canon 2234 states that a person who has committed several offenses “shall not only be punished more severely, but shall also be subjected to surveillance…,” although such surveillance by superiors is no longer possible. These factors would offset any mitigating circumstances.

“One who is well versed in the law, or one who holds an office in regard to the things pertaining to the office,” is presumed to be unable to claim ignorance of the law or its penalty or ignorance of some fact concerning the delict, (Ignorance in Relation to the Imputability of Delicts, Rev. Innocent Swoboda, O.F.M., J.C.L.) Swoboda explains that in a pastor, priest or judge, a knowledge of the law is so strongly presumed that even if ignorance is claimed, it would most likely be considered crass by an ecclesiastical court, or culpable, (meaning the offender is at fault). Crass ignorance is subjectively defined by Swoboda as “a complete lack of diligence when it is known that the truth could be easily discovered….a complete and total failure to use any effort to fulfil the obligation of knowing the law or the pertinent facts surrounding the law. The failure itself may arise from mere sloth or from a sinful habit of acting without due consideration of the results of one’s own conduct…Only the ignorance of those things which can be easily learned can be considered crass or supine,” (and Swoboda combines both error and ignorance for the purposes of his dissertation).

Canon E. J. Mahoney writes, in his questions and answers: “The liberal view [is that] baptized non-Catholics in good faith are members of the body of the Church precisely because they are not excommunicated…The view diametrically opposed to this is [that] the excommunication of heretics applies to material as well as formal heretics…

If a choice had to be made between theses two views…, there is no question that the second fits in best with Catholic discipline, and, in particular, with our practice in reconciling converts…The solution which I think is the correct one consists in perceiving a distinction which the Code itself supplies. The Sacraments are to be denied both to material and formal heretics but for different reasons; to formal heretics because they merit punishment, the censure of Can. 2314 §1; to material heretics because they are excluded by Can. 731 §2, which is a necessary deduction from the concept of the Church: [basically, the Church is a society of men professing the same Christian faith, participating in the same worship, receiving the same Sacraments, from lawful pastors in communion with the Pope, etc…] Those who reject the rule of faith proposed by the Church are not members of the Church, and may not lawfully share in the privileges of members, as, for example, the reception of the Sacraments.”

Mahoney then cites Billot, who explains that formal heresy and schism cannot be excluded as a possibility in these cases. “…In reconciling converts…it is difficult in the first place to say with certainty that a given convert has not incurred the censure. It is not amongst those which crass ignorance excuses, and it is not unlikely that, during a given period previous to his submission, there was sufficient knowledge for incurring a censure. Therefore absolution from censure is given at least ad cautelam…Moreover, the important distinction between the internal and the external forum must always be remembered. The external government of the Church regards the external actions of people…It is open to the authority of the external government of the Church to regard the members of heretical sects as excommunicated, even though, in the internal forum of conscience, they may be guiltless of any act meriting punishment. We say it is “open to them” to do so, but whether they do, as matter of fact, must depend on their own avowal, explicit or implicit. Even though there is no express direction from the competent authority that all converts are reckoned to be excommunicated, the absolution from censure, should, in my opinion, always be given…It is at least a liturgical law…In the “Ordo Administrandi,” [England] …rubric two takes it for granted that absolution from censure will be given to all who have reached the age of puberty. Nothing is said about omitting the absolution in cases where it is said not to have been incurred…Lastly, and the most important point of all…the license of the Ordinary is always necessary before reconciling a convert with the Church.”

Can. E. J. Mahoney’s words are only strengthened by the commentary of Revs. Woywod-Smith on Can. 731: “All canonists and moralists agree that those who are heretics or schismatics and know they are wrong cannot be given the Sacraments of the Church unless they renounce their errors and are reconciled with the Church. Numerous decrees of the Holy Office put this point beyond controversy.” As Mahoney observes above, “Those who reject the rule of faith proposed by the Church are not members of the Church, and may not lawfully share in the privileges of members…”

Identifying heresy

To condemn a person as a heretic you must produce the specific doctrine doubted or denied, explicitly or implicitly. The article denied by the one in question must directly correspond to a doctrine condemned by the Church as heretical. In his “Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology,” Rev. Pascal Parente states that in order to judge something truly heretical, it must be opposed to a truth revealed by God, and also declared infallibly by the Church to be revealed by God. Rev. Garrigou-Lagrange expounds further on the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas concerning heresy. Aquinas defines heresy as “obstinately [embracing] a false opinion concerning truths that belong to the faith, either directly or principally…or indirectly and secondarily, like revealed verities of less importance…A heretic is one who refuses ‘to choose whatever Christ has truly taught,’” (“The Theological Virtues”). A heretic must be pertinacious, Rev. Garrigou-Lagrange tells us, meaning that “The sin of heresy consists in an obstinate upholding of a personal view, recognizable as being against the faith, after the opposite truth or truths of faith have knowingly become sufficiently manifiest. (…Once [heresy] becomes commonly known, especially on a large scale, it passes as manifest heresy…) Such a position cannot be ascribed to ignorance. It is the product of ill-will…[Pertinacity] can be instantaneous, a sudden seizure of ill-will against the faith after it has been sufficiently propounded by the Church.” For formal heresy to exist, “It is not necessary that the individual believer realizes that the truth in jeopardy has been revealed.” So what is needed from the outset is proof that a false opinion concerning truths of faith was actually expressed publicly and denied directly or indirectly.

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