+St. Anthony Mary Claret+
The last blog post addressed errors regarding the office of bishops and the continuation of this office until the consummation. It also challenged statements that the episcopate can exist without the Roman Pontiff insofar as these bishops can actually function and be of practical use to God for His faithful. This present accuser, whose accusations were addressed in our last blog, initially raised this same basic argument in 2013 — rightly insisting that schismatic bishops ordinarily can validly consecrate, yet denying the Roman Pontiff has the power to bar the valid use of any powers given in these consecrations. Regarding the matter of the Chinese Nationalist bishops performing such consecrations, Pope Pius XII taught in Ad Apostolorum Principis that these particular acts in China were valid. Pope Pius IX taught the same in the case of the Old Catholic Reinken in Etsi Multa, but withdrew all Reinken’s powers and the powers of those ordained by him. Pope Pius XII likewise withdraws these powers from those acting outside papal law or even Canon Law during an interregnum in his papal election law Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis.
In both these cases, reigning popes were able to assess these individually and rule accordingly. Today there is no reigning pope to evaluate these situations. Nor is there a previous case that can be cited where bishops openly supporting a schismatic sect ordained men as Catholics who then pretended they were able to function in the absence of a canonically elected Roman Pontiff. This is a violation of Pius XII’s infallible constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. It presupposes that bishops have the power to function outside the constitution of the Church Christ established, which undeniably rests on its foundation stone, St. Peter. The Church clearly teaches, in various authoritative and binding documents, that the bishops cannot function unless a papal election is actively in progress, and the cardinals electing are unquestionably validly appointed by the previous pontiff and remain Catholic. This is no ordinary interregnum, for never before in the history of the Church has a false pope reigned without being at least opposed by a true contender to the papacy. The cardinals who are primarily bishops and all other bishops must be in communion with the successor of St. Peter and must act as one, undivided unit with him: that is what the present accuser is protesting.
All this was covered long ago in the following excerpt from a work written by Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, posted to the website at https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/?s=Episcopacy. It was intended to inform Catholics of good will that the unanimous teaching of approved theologians, presented in this work by Manning, was the same as that infallibly confirmed and clarified in all its points by Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis Christi and Ad Sinarum Gentum. So it is not as if this matter was openly contested by a majority until this decision by Pope Pius XII — that the bishops do not receive their jurisdiction directly from Christ but only through the Roman Pontiff — was issued, as some pretend. The Church’s approved theologians were already united in their teaching on this doctrine, which indeed followed in the train of the definition of the Vatican Council regarding the papacy.
The question of the schismatic bishops does not take the 1917 Code of Canon Law’s condemnation of heretics into consideration. There Can. 2314 declares that anyone who commits the offense of communicatio in sacris, participating in the services of non-Catholics as Lefebvre, Thuc and other one-time bishops did, incur a vindicative penalty and are then incapable of administering valid Sacraments. And this is in addition to Pope Pius XII’s election law declaration. So how could Lefebvre or Thuc, who openly endorsed Vatican 2 while pretending to hold the conservative position, possibly have validly ordained or consecrated anyone? If there is any serious doubt whatsoever in this regard, and there most certainly is, they could not and did not.
Please read the excerpts from Chap. 1 at the link provided above and return to the blog. In Chap. 2 of this same work, pgs. 37-38, Manning continues to quote from 19th century theologians: “And yet the successor of Peter is not the only shepherd of the sheep. There are others who, with and under him, are veri pastores — true shepherds each of the portion of the flock assigned to them. They receive that assignment and mission, mediately, through the Vicar of Jesus Christ ; but the jurisdiction they receive is in itself and in its essence Divine in its origin, Divine in its authority, Divine in its obligations binding together the shepherd and the sheep in reciprocal duties and mutual relations which are not of man, or by man, but of the Holy Ghost. The sheep are his, and he is theirs. It is strictly true, as the Council of Trent and the Council of the Vatican have said, that the Bishops who are assumed by the authority of the Vicar of Christ are legitimate and true Bishops, true pastors whom the Holy Ghost has placed to rule the Church of God. This Divine order is expressed in the Preface of the Holy Mass on the Feasts of the Apostles, in which we pray that the Eternal Pastor may not forsake His flock, but keep it always, by His blessed Apostles, with a continual protection that it may be governed by the same rulers whom He had bestowed upon it as pastors and vicars of Himself.”
So why would the Church insert this prayer into Her liturgy if it was impossible by virtue of Divine Faith for this order of rulers to ever cease to exist? Reading the first chapter presented in the web article linked above, it is as Manning explains and the Vatican Council teaches: 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” (p. 3). And the Vatican Council reflects this teaching in stating that “In His Church He wished the pastor and Doctors to be even unto the consummation of the world” (DZ 1821). For immediately following that quote, the Council mentions that Christ wished this to be so in order that the episcopacy “might be one and undivided.” Manning himself later wrote that the Vicar of Christ, like his Master, would be taken away for a time, according to St. Paul’s teaching on “he who withholdeth.” This is confirmed by approved authors mentioned in previous blog posts, cited by Manning.
In his work, Manning presents the teaching of the approved theologians regarding the true origins and constitution of the episcopacy. He makes it clear that “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…
“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…”
How could the confusion currently existing on this matter continue to persist given what Manning has written, especially considering what the Vatican Council and Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius XII taught? Great stress is laid on a teaching by Pope Leo XIII quoted by the accuser, as follows:
“But if the authority of Peter and his successors is plenary and supreme, it is not to be regarded as the sole authority. For He who made Peter the foundation of the Church also ‘chose, twelve, whom He called apostles’ (St. Luke vi. 13); and just as it is necessary that the authority of Peter should be perpetuated in the Roman Pontiff, so, by the fact that the bishops succeed the Apostles, they inherit their ordinary power, and thus the Episcopal order necessarily belongs to the ESSENTIAL CONSTITUTION of the Church. Although they do not receive plenary, or universal, or supreme authority, they are not to be looked at as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs; because they exercise a power really their own and are most truly called the ordinary pastors of the peoples over whom they rule.”
This accuser fails, however, to quote the defining paragraph that follows, which reads: “But since the successor of Peter is one, and those of the Apostles are many, it is necessary to examine into the relations which exist between him and them according to the divine constitution of the Church. Above all things the need of union between the bishops and the successors of Peter is clear and undeniable. This bond once broken, Christians would be separated and scattered, and would in no wise form one body and one flock. “The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms to be expected in the Church as there are priests” (S. Hieronymus, Dialog, contra Luciferianos, n. 9).” Well this bond has been broken, so how can those calling themselves bishops with no right to this title pretend they have gathered the flock and can claim unity? This is what Leo’s entire encyclical is about.
Pope Pius XII states much the same as Pope Leo XIII regarding the actual power of the bishops, writing in Mystici Corporis Christi:
“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.”
This only clarifies and further defines what is said by Pope Leo. So if the teachings of Satis Cognitum are taken in their totality and not out of context, and if they are considered alongside the authorities quoted by Cardinal Manning, who wrote during this Pope’s pontificate, we can see that this is precisely what the Church taught then and yet teaches today. Wouldn’t Pope Leo XIII have objected otherwise? And as for the true nature of the Body of Christ, elaborated upon in the last post, Pope Leo also seems to agree, for he writes as follows:
“For this reason the Church is so often called in Holy Writ a body, and even the body of Christ – ‘Now you are the body of Christ’ (I Cor. xii., 27) – and precisely because it is a body is the Church visible: and because it is the body of Christ is it living and energizing, because by the infusion of His power Christ guards and sustains it, just as the vine gives nourishment and renders fruitful the branches united to it. And as in animals the vital principle is unseen and invisible, and is evidenced and manifested by the movements and action of the members, so the principle of supernatural life in the Church is clearly shown in that which is done by it… The head, Christ: from whom the whole body, being compacted and fitly jointed together, by what every joint supplieth according to the operation in the measure of every part” (Eph. iv., 15-16). And so dispersed members, separated one from the other, cannot be united with one and the same head. “There is one God, and one Christ; and His Church is one and the faith is one; and one the people, joined together in the solid unity of the body in the bond of concord.” Regarding the Church’s existence without her head he ALSO says:
“This unity cannot be broken, nor the one body divided by the separation of its constituent parts” (S. Cyprianus, De Cath. Eccl. Unitateccl. Unitate, n. 23). And to set forth more clearly the unity of the Church, he makes use of the illustration of a living body, the members of which cannot possibly live unless united to the head and drawing from it their vital force. Separated from the head they must of necessity die…” Of course those who are separated from the head in this manner are those in heresy, who willfully abandon their faith and do not use the graces given to them to either confirm it before they abandon it or return to it once they have departed. Pope Leo then explains what is truly needed from the faithful to remain members of Christ’s Mystical Body.
“…Indeed, Holy Writ attests that the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were given to Peter alone, and that the power of binding and loosening was granted to the Apostles and to Peter; but there is nothing to show that the Apostles received supreme power without Peter, and against Peter. Such power they certainly did not receive from Jesus Christ. Wherefore, in the decree of the Vatican Council as to the nature and authority of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, no newly conceived opinion is set forth, but the venerable and constant belief of every age (Sess. iv., cap. 3).
Did those quoting from this encyclical even read it in its entirety?! Everyone should read it completely through before trying to expound on it. It can be found at https://www.papalencyclicals.net/leo13/l13satis.htm. The Pope himself writes:
“Agreement and union of minds is the necessary foundation of this perfect concord amongst men, from which concurrence of wills and similarity of action are the natural results. Wherefore, in His divine wisdom, He ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite man to God, and whence we receive the name of the faithful – “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. iv., 5). That is, as there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all Christians, without exception, have but one faith. And so the Apostle St. Paul not merely begs, but entreats and implores Christians to be all of the same mind, and to avoid difference of opinions: “I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms amongst you, and that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. i., 10).
“Such passages certainly need no interpreter; they speak clearly enough for themselves. Besides, all who profess Christianity allow that there can be but one faith. It is of the greatest importance and indeed of absolute necessity, as to which many are deceived, that the nature and character of this unity should be recognized. And, as We have already stated, this is not to be ascertained by conjecture, but by the certain knowledge of what was done; that is by seeking for and ascertaining what kind of unity in faith has been commanded by Jesus Christ.” But many believe they can adhere to their own opinions, even in contradiction to those of a true pope. And they refuse to realize that all this confusion and misunderstanding is the work of the Devil. As St. Peter warns us: Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5: 8).
Doesn’t Cardinal Manning’s work make this matter clear? And when Pope Pius IX tells us that without the pope there can be no Church, are we not bound to believe what he is teaching us? What the other Church authorities quoted in the last post are teaching us? Those making these accusations keep pointing to my “teachings” as erroneous. What teachings? I only offer the teachings of the Popes and Councils, Canon Law and approved theologians and try to explain them and cross reference them as best I can. The claim that I am the one teaching such things is simply a distraction created by the accuser and others to avoid sufficiently proving their own points. If readers do not wish to read what is offered here, no one is keeping them from pushing the exit button. No one can be drug into heaven as one Traditionalist from long ago put it. But they certainly have an obligation to avoid and denounce those who would drag them into hell. If all that is left is the laity to defend the faith, Pope Pius XII gave us hope that at least we rank as honorable members of Christ’s Mystical Body on earth following all the continual magisterium has taught.
“The faithful, and more precisely the laity are stationed in the front ranks of the life of the Church, and through them the Church is the living principle of society. Consequently, they must have an ever-clearer consciousness, not only of belonging to the Church, but of BEING THE CHURCH, that is, of being the community of the faithful on earth under the guidance of their common leader, the Pope, and the bishops in communion with him. THEY ARE the Church, and therefore even from the beginning, the faithful, with the consent of their bishops, have united in associations directed to the most diverse types of human activity. The Holy See has never ceased to approve and praise them,” (The Catholic Church in Action, by Michael Williams, quoted from an address delivered by Pope Pius XII Feb. 20, 1946, to the newly made cardinals). We cannot be the entire Church as She was constituted by Christ on earth, but according to His will we are the only visible evidence that the Church yet exists at all.
Today is the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, another great champion of the papacy. During the arguments leading to the declaration of infallibility at the Vatican Council, St. Anthony was gravely offended by the errors, blasphemies and heresies being voiced at the council by the Gallicanists opposed to the definition. This so disturbed the good saint, who already had suffered much from the heat in Rome and the need to study so closely the arguments made at the council, that he suffered a stroke. Nevertheless, he delivered an address at the Vatican Council two days later, telling the council fathers:
“Having heard …certain words that extremely displeased me, I resolved in my heart that I must in conscience speak out, fearing the ‘woe’ of the Prophet Isaiah, who says: ‘Woe is me, for I have been silent!’” He then gives his endorsement of the definition: “The Supreme Pontiff is infallible in the sense and manner that is held in the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church… I ardently desire that this faith of mine should be the faith of all… Doubt not, most eminent fathers, that this declaration of the infallibility of the Supreme Roman Pontiff will be the winnowing fork or fan with which our Lord Jesus Christ will clean his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into His barn or granary and burning the chaff in unquenchable fire (Luke 3:17). This declaration will separate the light from the darkness (Gen. 1: 4)… Would that I, in confessing this truth, might shed all my blood and suffer the same fate. I supremely desire, most eminent and reverend fathers, that all of us should acknowledge and confess this truth.”
And so this great Saint, who wrote over 70 works on the faith in his lifetime and served as a bishop on this very continent (Cuba), professed his faith. In so doing, he prophesied exactly what we are experiencing today. Why anyone professing the name Catholic would dare to question the necessity of the Roman Pontiff in order that the Church might exist, is incomprehensible to me. Gallicanism is an intolerable evil and the Vatican Council was supposed to have eradicated it permanently, according to the historians. Yet here we are. Some would say that if the bishops could not comprise the Church without the pope than neither can the laity. But those bishops claiming today to be Christ’s successors are not true Catholics, and the only ones left professing the faith are those who revere all that the popes have taught and follow the laws of the Church. If the Church cannot cease to exist, then how else can it be identified at all? We exist as members of Christ’s Mystical Body, and that is enough for us, because it is His will for us in these times.
All would do well to remember the words of Holy Scripture, quoted by Cardinal Manning regarding what will happen to those who fail to recognize the pre-eminence of the Supreme Pontiffs: “Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Matt. 21:44.)