+St. Thomas of Villanova+
It seems like another lifetime ago, but when my children were teens we lived in South Texas not very far from the banks of the Guadalupe River. One year following a spate of heavy rains the river overflowed its banks and threatened several towns lying nearby, ours being one of them. Where we lived at the time, the neighbors hosted country western barn-style dances, held under a large, covered carport-type structure. The evening the river was due to crest, one of these dances was attended by a good-sized crowd, as the rain beat down noisily on the tin roof. Everyone assured us the waters would not reach the area where we lived at the time. As I watched the twirling figures in the distance, it reminded me of a song from my youth — about a young man playing in a dance band on the Titanic. He asks a member of the audience to dance with him, even though the iceberg is looming just over his shoulder on the starboard bow.
Despite assurances from the neighbors, I was not taking any chances. As my husband and family looked on in amusement, I shifted all my books to the upper level of our bi-level residence, packed to-go bags for each family member and carefully watched the forecast. We went to bed that night serenaded by the tunes of the dance band, with the river due to crest in the early morning hours. When I opened my eyes the next morning, the first thing I noticed was the humid warmth of the room and the silent ceiling fan blades above our bed – the power was off. I whipped back the covers and ran to the window to see — water spread out over the entire landscape.
To get a better view I looked out the front door and breathed a sigh of relief. The trailers down the road had water up to their skirting but the flood waters had stopped just short of our steps. My prayers to Our Lady of Guadalupe had been answered and I murmured a heartfelt thank you to her. Our EMT-trained daughter was dressed and ready to go as a motorboat pulled up down the road to visit those needing flood assistance. Off she went with her to-go bag as I waved goodbye. A few South Texans died that day and many along the river lost their homes, for the second time in two years. As close as the waters came, it paid to be prepared. But the behavior of the folks drinking and making merry at the dance the night before never left me.
Eat, drink and be merry
Once again, I am watching as the ship begins to take on water and even those who should know better dance to the tunes of the band. Or is it the pied piper they are mesmerized by? I have to believe it is the latter. All this was choreographed long ago, by those engineers of doctrinal warfare plotting the destruction of the Catholic Church first, then the rest of mankind: as the Church goes, so goes the world. While everyone dismisses doom and gloomers, even some of those who were once skeptical about the precarious state of affairs globally and nationally are noticeably becoming uneasy, waiting anxiously for the next shoe to drop. How close everything is to the universal collapse is anyone’s guess, but I don’t think that those who rationally assess what is happening have any doubts that it could come at any time.
Those on the “Catholic” front who should be wearing sackcloth, adding ashes to their food and preaching prayer and penance are instead merrily planning an illegal conclave. How far these plans will go and whether they will be realized or not is anyone’s guess. It puts one in mind of the Bible verse: “As in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark. And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be” (Genesis 6:1-7; Mark 13:32-37; Luke 12:35-48). And regarding the “reign” of the pseudo-clergy over the people, we hear this from Holy Scripture: “They have reigned, but not by me: they have been princes, and I knew not: of their silver, and their gold they have made idols to themselves, that they might perish… They shall offer victims, they shall sacrifice flesh, and shall eat it, and the Lord will not receive them” (Hosea 8: 4, 13).
Why is it that no one can see that there is nothing new under the sun here, that all this has happened before? Who has ever considered God’s will in any of these manmade Traditionalist movements? And especially now in these conclave plans to “resurrect” His Church by breaking the very laws He set down to keep it in existence?! For as the prophet Jeremiah warned: “Because you have sacrificed to idols, and have sinned against the Lord: and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have not walked in his law, and in his commandments, and in his testimonies: therefore are these evils come upon you, as at this day” (Jer. 44: 23). Whether we participate in such evils or not, we will all pay for these sins. And by ignoring Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis this is exactly what they are doing. This also happened before the “election” of the “Kansas thrift-store pope” David Bawden in 1990. Like Traditionalists today, Bawden had everyone convinced that Pius XII’s election constitution was only “an ecclesiastical law;” that in this “emergency” he would not wish his law to bind, when this is precisely why it was written — to protect the Church from being hijacked.
A page from a false pope’s playbook
What is really amazing here is that in calling for this conclave, Traditionalists are following Bawden’s very own instructions, a man they have ridiculed for decades. In a website article posted a few years ago, Bawden (now deceased) wrote:
“Excommunicates and those under suspension may vote. However they are admonished to observe the effects of the censure in ALL of their other activities as required by Canon Law. It might be wise for them to refrain from voting, but they may if they wish and we may not forbid them… Anyone, who has committed heresy in public should publicly and in writing renounce it, and this should be required for admission to the election, as proof of desire to return to the Church. They must also observe the censure of excommunication. All electors must accept the sede vacante and the jurisdiction of the Pope elected in this election. Such acceptance should be in writing and made by a vow to accept the Pope so elected. (Anyone: who does not have this level of belief should attempt to obtain it or prove why this election should not be held.) After the election all of the electors will have to show their acceptance of this Pope as supreme head of the Church. Before the election begins this vow should be made publicly by all electors individually in the presence of the other electors.”
This is basically everything that Traditionalists are advocating. But at that time Bawden, knowing his own limitations, was making concessions the Church would never make. He had already publicly admitted in 1982, eight years before his election, that he was a heretic for belonging to the SSPX. (This letter was not discovered until long after his “election.”) The excerpt above was his initial attempt to contact those with whom he corresponded and prepare the groundwork to convene an election. Traditionalists may deny they have ever admitted to committing heresy with its subsequent excommunication, deposition and legal infamy, but they have done so at least implicitly by invoking Can. 2261 §2 to claim supplied jurisdiction. Why would they need to invoke it if they were not excommunicated? And what other excommunications could they possible be referring to?
Minimalism started the downhill slide
How did it come to this? In one word, minimalism — a term you have heard on this blog many different times; a fatal error Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton crusaded against in his articles for The American Ecclesiastical Review and Pope Pius XII later condemned in Humani generis. We have seen, in articles and comments posted here, how even some of those calling themselves pray-at-home Catholics reduce papal decisions to meaningless formulas that need not be obeyed, and that is minimalism. Msgr. Fenton defines minimalism as follows:
“Ultimately theological minimalism was a device employed by liberal Catholics to make the rejection of authoritative papal teaching on any point appear to be good Catholic practice. Sometimes it took the crass form of a claim that Catholics are obligated to accept and to hold only those things which had been defined by the explicit decrees of the ecumenical councils or of the Holy See. This attitude…was condemned by Pope Pius IX in his letter Tuas Libenter (DZ 1683). Another crass form of minimalism was the opposition to the Vatican Council definition of papal infallibility. The men who expressed that opposition sometimes claimed to hold the doctrine of papal infallibility as a theological opinion but they showed a furious hostility to the definition which proposed that doctrine as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith” (“The Components of Liberal Catholicism,” The American Ecclesiastical Review, July, 1958).
In other words, minimalism was an attack on papal authority. No matter what the popes taught, it could be undercut and explained away, and a good “emergency” was all that was needed for it to be utilized to its full extent. Already in the 1950s the Modernists were in complete control, if covertly, and Pope Pius XII knew this, predicting, “…after me, the deluge.” So where does this attack on papal authority, this watering down of papal and conciliar teaching, censures levied in Canon Law and the faithful observance of moral laws lead? A reader recently supplied the following, from an unidentified source, but it is so compelling that it needs to be included here. It explains where eventually minimalization leads, and how truly dangerous it is, which is why Pope Pius XII condemned it in the first place. And it perfectly illustrates the very tactics used by Traditionalists for decades.
“If you bring up the obligation ‘We have to accept Catholic dogma or become heretics,’ the liberal Catholic will answer,‘Yes, but the dogmas have to be interpreted broadly so that almost no one really falls into heresy.’ There is always a minimization, a restriction to avoid reaching the final consequences and not reach a more complete and richer understanding of Catholic truths. This attitude of soul evolves. That is, no liberal Catholic remains in the same position. It is like a leprosy that progresses and eventually consumes the whole person. If the person has a long life, at its end he will have lost or almost lost the Faith.
“Summarizing, these are the basic characteristics of the liberal Catholic:
- He takes a contradictory position, which accepts two radical and opposed mentalities.
- He is hypocritical because he says he wants to serve God when he wants to serve himself.
- Also, he lies to himself by veiling the concessions he makes.
- He is resentful, revengeful and deceitful.
- His error evolves towards apostasy.”
The front presented by Traditional groups is that they are religious conservatives, even ultra-conservatives; but while they may be ultra-conservative from a political standpoint ,but doctrinally they are actually liberal progressives, if held against the Catholic standard as it existed during the reign of Pope Pius XII. This is why their behavior so closely corresponds to what is described below.
Traditionalists paint themselves as liberal Catholics
Nothing better describes the contradictory position of some Traditionalists, at least, than the material-formal dichotomy, or the very idea that the Catholic Church could truly exist for an extended period minus bishops lacking jurisdiction. Nor can anything more certainly typify hypocrisy than the condemnation of someone who professes views to justify a claim, (Bawden), then the subsequent use of those very same views to support a papal election by the laity. Bawden’s concessions made to voters, clergy and religious alike are carefully veiled with precautions; this doesn’t lessen the fact they simply are not and cannot be condoned by the Church. And Traditionalists embrace these same concessions. Deceit is more or less the hallmark of Traditionalism as will be explained in greater detail below. For they have managed to convince hundreds of thousands over the years that they possess certainly valid orders, can constitute Christ’s Church without a pope and can substitute epikeia, a shaky legal principle at best, for jurisdiction that proceeds only directly from God Himself, so is a matter of Divine law. When reprimanded or prodded, these “good Catholics” will immediately resort to hateful invective, even to calumny, defamation and any other manner of evil to defend themselves. One pseudo-cleric actually stooped to falsifying a translation of the Council of Trent!
Another good example of concessions made by Traditionalists is the fact that those participating in Trad discussion forums as well as social media sites, in order to be allowed to comment, must tolerate various positions allowed to be discussed among members as though they each possessed some grain of truth. These include such topics as the material-formal thesis, the Siri stupidity, conservative Novus Ordo practice passing as “semi-Traditionalism,” or even what is presented as the pray-at-home position (sufficiently subservient to those holding contrary positions to merit toleration). This is nothing less than a mortal sin against truth. It can be described only as doctrinal relativism — the condemned philosophical position that “all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual.” This reduces to what these people truly are, practitioners of the likewise condemned errors of Traditionalism/Fideism, which denies that the faithful can arrive at certitude regarding Catholic truth. It also is a form of Indifferentism, which tolerates all beliefs as equally acceptable.
As for apostasy, the belief in a non-Christian religion, think on this for a moment. If Traditionalists truly believe Christ came to earth to die for our sins, open the gates of Heaven and establish a Church intended by Him to last forever; if they truly believe that He appointed St. Peter and all his legitimate successors, canonically elected, to head that Church, and if they believe that Christ gave these successors of St. Peter His own power to bind and loose, then how could they possibly question the authority of a Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, a Cum ex Apostolatus Offiicio, or any other document of the extraordinary OR ordinary magisterium?! On questioning or disregarding these pronouncements, always prefaced with the pronoun “We,” to indicate the popes are speaking with Christ’s own authority, are they not questioning and denying Christ Himself, who promised to bind and loose? Isn’t this outright heresy and schism, and are not heresy and schism ranked alongside apostasy in Cum ex…and Can. 2314?
The journalist Louis Veuillot, in his 1866 work The Liberal illusion predicted what we are seeing today among these liberal Catholics parading as the true Church: “Which way would these liberal Catholics go, caught as they would be between the true Catholics anathematizing them and the true disbelievers demanding guarantees of the repudiation of Catholicism? … If such liberal Catholics …furnish the guarantees demanded by those in the opposing camp, they will cut themselves off from true Catholics; they will commend liberty for imposing silence on the enemies of liberty. They will lend a hand to persecuting the true Catholics and in so doing they will become apostates from the faith, while still remaining only half-hearted liberals.” One couldn’t find a better confirmation of what has been said above. Pope St. Pius X warned us in his encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis that the injury to the Church is more certain whenever the knowledge of Her is more intimate.
If nothing else but to dodge the growing objections to their inability to possess canonical mission jurisdiction, first raised by several authors in the 1980s and maintained by this author since that time, Traditionalists may very well feel the pressure to elect a pope, to provide at least some semblance of legitimacy. But their pride will not permit them to admit it is no longer possible because they themselves are questionably ordained and consecrated and are ineligible to vote. All those bishops who might once have been able to gather and elect have since passed away. Those claiming to be clerics today possess no jurisdiction of any kind, and epikeia cannot and does not supply it. Apostolicity no longer exists; the Divine grant of jurisdiction has been allowed to expire. Does this mean the Church Herself no longer exists? No, because Christ is still the head of His Mystical Body, there are still Catholics on earth who love Him and keep the faith, and He has promised to be with them until the consummation.
As explained in an earlier blog, Pope Pius XII commanded the faithful to fulfill the duties of the hierarchy in their absence. But ONLY in accordance with the rules of faith, morals and ecclesiastical discipline; nothing can be done contrary to the implicit or explicit will of the Church. Yet everything Traditionalists have done is contrary to that will. Faith has been so minimized by these men that it no longer resembles the true Catholic Faith. And this has been reflected in their morals — the Shuckardt affair, the Trento debacle, the St. Gertrude the Great scandal; also various scandals that have hounded the SSPX and cast a shadow over certain independent groups. How is this any different than the Novus Ordo or even Protestant sects? Why do the people following these pretenders drift aimlessly from sect to sect, settling doctrinally and morally for whatever they can get?
Coercive persuasion and the three D’s
According to Robert Jay Lifton (1961) in his definitive work on mind control, Farber, Harlow, and West (1957) described the Korean thought reform system used to brainwash prisoners of war as the “DDD syndrome”: debility, dependency, and dread. Anyone leaving the disaster that was created by Vatican 2 and the new mass suffered severe psychological debility. They were extremely traumatized and vulnerable, and those offering to provide what they wanted and felt that they needed knew this. Over time they had learned to become dependent on the clergy, for everything, and had no idea how to sort out what was happening to them. Attempts to curb this dependency by establishing Catholic Action groups prior to Vatican 2 met with only a modicum of success. Dependency on the clergy was pronounced and bled over even to those not certainly validly ordained or consecrated, after the death of validly ordained priests. These men were only too happy to persuade vulnerable Catholics that they had to preserve the Latin Mass and receive the Sacraments. This dread of being deprived of Mass and Sacraments — graces these men insisted were absolutely necessary to salvation — fueled their continued flight from group to group over the years, after scandals broke and infighting erupted.
Tell me that this does not describe a cult-like mentality. And the sad fact about such a mindset is that those suffering from it are unable to realize it and withdraw — why it is called the operation of error. They mistook the Church for a religious version of the nanny state and cannot disengage themselves from the Traditionalist teats. Now they are preparing to elect the ultimate cult leader, and yes that is all any “pope” they might elect will ever be. They cannot face the reality of our situation, that God has pronounced His judgement on a guilty people who refused to honor Him and His Vicar on earth, by depriving them of Mass and Sacraments, just as Holy Scripture predicts. These people are so irrational they would rather risk their very souls than admit that no certitude regarding the validity of their clerics can be had at all without a decision by a CANONICALLY ELECTED pope. The Catholic Encyclopedia, commenting on Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolica Curae, tells us that even a slight doubt regarding orders must be referred to the Holy Office for a determination and that this usually involves conditional ordination. Some sedevacantists even admit this regarding the Thuc consecrations.
The real crime here committed by Traditionalists and those who cooperate with them in any way is and always has been crass indifference to the enormity of the sins of sacrilege and idolatry, sins specifically and directly offensive to God. Those in good faith who pray at home do so to avoid these loathsome and grievous sins — it is as simple as that. They hearken to the words of Christ, who has taught, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” and “Obedience is better than sacrifices.” Electing a Traditionalist grand poohbah and calling him pope will not unite Traditionalists nor render them obedient. It will only further entrench them in their errors and officially brand their pseudo-pope as yet another antichrist. And the mark of this antichrist will be the very liberal Catholicism they have so long condemned in their Novus Ordo brethren.
+Feast of Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows
O Mother most sorrowful, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
Last week’s blog mainly addressed the material formal issue. This week, as promised, the claim that those who left the Novus Ordo and became members of some Traditionalist sect of any kind did not become heretics or schismatics will be examined. But first a word needs to be said about the disinformation being spread regarding lay papal elections and the use of the Western Schism in way of analogy to the current situation.
Some have falsely stated that in one election, one lay person elected a pope. Wrong. A thorough overview of history on this topic tells us that yes, lay persons nominated the papal candidate and the laity helped in confirming the nomination. What it does not say is that first the cardinals and the clergy had to approve the candidate selected. Second, times were so tumultuous at this point in Church history that not to go along with the powers that be would have been to forego a papal election entirely. Historians agree that during this time, when the laity played a role in papal elections and when certain laymen and other unworthy candidates to the papacy were elected, was one of the darkest times for the Church. But the men elected then were not heretics and did not preach heresy from St. Peter’s Chair. Nor did the openly foment schism prior to their election. This was an exception to the general rule and cannot be pointed to as justification for a papal election today. For a general history of papal elections in the Church and the laity go to:
As far as the Western Schism goes, I have been pointing out for over a decade that it cannot be used as a true analogy to the situation as it has existed since Oct. 9, 1958, for several reasons. The Western Schism wasn’t even a true schism so-called, and historians agree on this. It was rather a confusion over who was validly elected pope and should be paid obedience. The best answer to how the situation should be viewed is given by St. Antoninus:
“The question was much discussed and much was written in defense of one side or the other. For as long as the schism lasted each obedience had in its favor men who were very learned in Scripture and Canon Law, and even very pious people, including some who – what is much more – were illustrious by the gift of miracles. Nonetheless the question could never be settled without leaving the minds of many still in doubt. Doubtless we must believe that, just as there are not several Catholic Churches, but only one, so there is only one Vicar of Christ who is its pastor. But if it should occur that, by a schism, several popes are elected at the same time, it does not seem necessary for salvation to believe that this or that one in particular is the true pope, but just in general whichever of them was canonically elected. The people are not obliged to know who was canonically elected, just as they are not obliged to know Canon Law; in this matter they may follow the judgment of their superiors and prelates.”
And this is where a distinction needs to be made. The cardinals and bishops engaged in this schism were validly ordained and consecrated. Over a period of nearly 40 years, the jurisdiction of the hierarchy was not extinguished, because there was a true pope all along in the line of Urban VI. As the Catholic Encyclopedia explains, the true pope, Gregory XII, lifted all the censures any of the hierarchy might have incurred prior to the resolution of the schism and the election of Pope Martin V (see also https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/articles/a-catholics-course-of-study/canon-law/the-truth-about-the-western-schism-and-supplied-jurisidiction-the-truth-about-the-western-schism-and-supplied-jurisidiction/). None of the cardinals and bishops electing Martin V labored under these censures. No questions existed concerning membership in forbidden societies, lack of proper intention, the mental state of the consecrator or the actual pontifical in use. We are sailing in uncharted waters today with no captain at the helm of the ship; the situation is entirely unprecedented. Nothing then prevented the valid election of a true pope to end the schism because there had been one all along; it was a continuous succession with existing hierarchy emanating from that succession. But this is not the case today. And the reason it is not the case is that there has not been and is not today any valid Pius XII bishop to lift the censures for heresy and schism precisely because the canonical mission necessary for legitimate succession no longer exists.
Traditional “clergy” all incurred censure for heresy and schism
Let us take a quote from Donald Sanborn on public defection from the Faith: “Defection from the faith must be legally known, which happens either by declaration or by notoriety. But the notoriety requires that not only the fact of the crime be publicly known, but also its imputability (Canon 2197). In the case, however, of defection from the Catholic Faith, either through heresy or through schism, it is necessary that the defection be pertinacious in order that it be imputable…. Defection from the Catholic Faith on the part of conciliar popes, although it be public with regard to fact, is not public with regard to imputability” (The Material Papacy https://www.sodalitiumpianum.com/the-material-papacy/). A summary of what Sanborn teaches in this piece is provided below, followed by my objections.
Sanborn: 1. Heretics who are born into non-Catholic sects, who err in good faith, are not members of the Church, I concede; heretics, however, who have been baptized in the Catholic Church, who err in good faith, are not members of the Church, I deny.
Objection: Dom Charles Augustine, in his A Commentary on Canon Law, Vol. 8, pg. 335 writes: “Charity does not require mental gymnastics in order to excuse what is manifest, [evident, obvious, not obscure]. However, the thesis here defended does not depend on identifying pertinacity as defined by the moralists, but as defined by canonists: conscious rejection of dogma on the part of a baptized person… Obstinacy may be assumed when a revealed truth has been proposed with sufficient clearness and force to convince a reasonable man.” (For a primer on what the CHURCH, not Sanborn, considers to be heresy, see the article at https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/1-22-15-material-heresy-and-membership-in-the-church-pt-ii-proofs/).
Sanborn: 2. Excommunication is either latæ sententiæ or declared. If it is the first, the argument does not hold, because censures against heresy require imputability, that is, notorious pertinacity.
Objection: See Augustine above. Also, based on decisions issued by the Holy Office, Revs. Woywod-Smith wrote: “Nevertheless, in the external forum they are not free [from the penalties of Can. 2314] for, according to Can. 2200, when there is an external violation of Church law, malice is presumed in the external forum until its absence is proved. The Holy See insists that converts from heretical or schismatic sects be not received into the Church until they have first abjured the heresy or schism and been absolved from the censure, (Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda, July 20, 1859). Sanborn should have spent time in his article offering proofs from approved sources that he and the Roman usurpers should not be held guilty of heresy, schism and other grave crimes in order to overcome the presumption stated in Can. 2200. Given his inability to find any bishops in the 1990s willing to consecrate Traditionalists, it should be clear that there was no one left to abjure form heresy and receive him or anyone else back into the Church.
The censure for heresy is incurred, regardless of pertinacity or notoriety, unless and until it is taken before an ecclesiastical judge. The judge is the one who determines the nature and extent of the crime and whether it is imputable, pertinacious and notorious. The only difference here is that Can. 2232 does not require the delinquent to observe the censure publicly until an ecclesiastical hearing has been held, unless he is “conscious of his offense” or “the offense committed is notorious.” Woywod-Smith note under Can. 2233 that “penalties latae sententiae are automatically contracted by the offense.” And Can. 2232 states that “a penalty latae sententiae automatically (ipso facto) binds the offender in both the internal and external forum.”
Sanborn: 3. Those who have received Catholic baptism are legally members of the Church until they cease to be either through pertinacious and notorious heresy, pertinacious and notorious schism, or pertinacious and notorious apostasy/excommunication.
Objection: Here Sanborn is assuming that Traditionalists cannot be proven to be any of the above, owing to his false interpretation of pertinacity and imputability. However, a schismatic is defined by Rev. Szal and other theologians as: “One who, having received baptism and still retaining the name of Christian nevertheless refuses obedience to the Supreme Pontiff,” (while yet recognizing him as the head of the Church) “or refuses to communicate with those members of the Church subject to him.” In the strict sense, Szal noted, the following elements also are essential for schism to exist: “One must withdraw directly (expressly) or indirectly (by one’s actions) from obedience to the Roman Pontiff and separate oneself from ecclesiastical communion with the rest of the faithful; one’s withdrawal must be made with obstinacy and rebellion; in relation to those things by which the unity of the Church is constituted; yet despite this formal disobedience the schismatic must recognize the Roman Pontiff as the true pastor of the Church.”
It is hard to see here how this does not describe Traditionalist sect members, who have followed who they believe to be bishops for decades, indirectly denying the necessity of the papacy by their actions. This despite the fact that all Catholics know it is the papacy — not the Mass and Sacraments — which defines the Church. Despite decades of warnings from this author and others that these so-called bishops and priests cannot and do not continue Christ’s Church on earth without the pope, they have obstinately adhered to them — but this is not pertinacity?! They have refused to have anything to do with those who have separated from these pseudo-clerics, refused to dishonor the Sacraments and who have insisted on following only papal teaching. The Canon Law Digest notes several instances of those reduced to the lay state or declared vitandus who have established sects or intruded themselves into some ecclesiastical position without approval by the Holy See. Copies of this are available on request.
Sanborn: 4. The (Roman usurpers’) defection from the Catholic Faith is neither declared nor notorious as cited above and therefore there is neither tacit renunciation nor censure.
Objection: Whenever there is a doubt of law on any given matter, one consults the old law — in this case the footnote to Can. 2314 on heresy and schism. The old law for this Canon is Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, and as explained in our last blog it is most certainly still in effect as a footnote to the Code. This bull leaves no doubt that no declaration is needed and demands only that the heresy of the offender, be he bishop cardinal or pope, be CLEAR. If Paul 6’s heresy was not clear, why did nearly half the Church leave after Vatican 2? Why would they leave a Church they knew they must be members of to be saved if they believed it was still the Church?
Sanborn: 5. The right of electing is not jurisdiction. It is not a right of making law. It is not an office. It is merely a moral faculty of designating legally him who should receive supreme authority. Nothing therefore, is required for the possession and for the exercise of this right except that someone be legally designated by him who has the legal right to designate the electors of the pope.
Objection: The right to elect is a privilege that is granted with the offices assigned to Cardinals appointed by the pope and to certain other clerics and religious by their respective superiors. This right is lost through the commission of heresy, schism or apostasy, as Cum ex… explains. This bull is also the old law for Can. 167 n. 4, which declares the votes of heretics at an ecclesiastical election invalid. Indirectly, Paul IV’s bull Cum ex… and another bull regarding the election of those promoting themselves for election during the lifetime of a reigning pontiff are referred to in Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, which bars cardinals from the election who have tacitly resigned their offices by lapsing from the faith. This is a reference to Can. 188 n. 4, whose parent law is Cum ex.
Sanborn: 6. it does not pertain to the faithful, but to competent authority to legally [publicly] accuse him who has been elected to the papacy of not intending the good of the Church… [But he admits this could be done privately]. The faithful have no right to condemn legally someone elected to the papacy, but only with a private judgment by comparing the changes of Vatican II with the previous magisterium and practice… The faithful cannot give their assent to formulas which are contradictory. Because, however, the “magisterium” of Vatican II contradicts the previous magisterium, the faithful cannot not accuse, by private judgment, him who promulgates this “magisterium,” in the same way that the faithful of Constantinople accused Nestorius” (a bishop who kept his See for three years after being accused of heresy by the faithful).
Objection: False, Mr. Sanborn. Canon Law gives us this right and you have no power or authority to dismiss it or to deprive us of it. “Any of the faithful may at all times denounce the offense of another for the purpose of demanding satisfaction… or to get damages for losses sustained through the criminal act of another [regarding crimes] or out of zeal for justice to repair some scandal or evil. Even an obligation to denounce an offender exists whenever one is obliged to do so either by law or by special legitimate precept or by the natural law in view of the DANGER TO FAITH or religion or other imminent public evil,” (Can. 1935). Canon 2223 refers us to Can. 1935. Under this heading for Can. 2223, “Rules by Which the Judge or Superior Must Be Guided in the Imposition of Penalties,” we also find: “It is as a rule left to the discretion of a superior to declare a penalty latae sententiae; but he must issue thedeclaratory sentence if an interested party demands it or if the public welfare requires it.” Canon 1325 binds us also to defend the faith in such situations when our silence, subterfuge or manner of acting would indicate we are in agreement with the errors. So Sanborn also is advising the faithful to ignore their obligations and cooperate with heresy.
Pope Paul IV: “It shall be lawful for all and sundry who would have been subject to persons so promoted and elevated, had these not first strayed from the Faith or been heretics, or incurred or incited or committed schism…to depart with impunity at any time from obedience and allegiance to said promoted and elevated persons and to shun them as sorcerers, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs…ALL may implore the aid of the secular arm against those so advanced and elevated,” (Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, 1559).
Pope Alexander VII: (proposition condemned and prohibited as at least scandalous): “Although it is evidently established by you that Peter is a heretic, you are not bound to denounce him if you cannot prove it,” (DZ 1105).
St. Thomas Aquinas: “If the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith,” Summa Pt. II-II, Q. 33, Art. 4, Reply Obj. 2).
Throughout his article, Sanborn quotes nothing to support his argument on heresy, a topic he could have been and should have been familiar with. All this is explained in the following articles: https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/reference-links/4-heresy/what-constiutes-material-heresy-and-schism/ (please note especially the quotes from The Jurist); and on the topic of pertinacity https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/reference-links/4-heresy/pertinacity-and-heresy/ These articles refute, from pre-October 1958 sources, all that Sanborn says above. And yet he keeps saying it and reinforcing it. But there is a reason for that.
Nearly all of us at some time were (unwitting) members of the Novus Ordo church, a schismatic sect. Some of us left the minute the new mass was introduced, such as myself, at the age of 17; In 1967, at the age of 17, Donald Sanborn began a four-year stint in a Novus Ordo seminary, leaving there for the SSPX in 1971. He presumably was required to attend the NOM until he left. Marcel Lefebvre ordained Sanborn a priest in 1975. In 1983, Sanborn left the SSPX on doctrinal grounds to join the SSPV. He later left the SSPV when Clarence Kelly rejected the validity of bishops consecrated by Peter Martin Ngo dinh Thuc. He started his own group, the Roman Catholic Institute and later founded Most Holy Trinity Seminary, headquartered in Florida. In 2002, he was consecrated a bishop by “Bp.” Robert McKenna, who himself was consecrated by Thuc “bishop” Guerard des Lauriers. (It was des Lauriers who wrote the material-formal thesis.) So this man changed his non-Catholic sect affiliation four different times, and both he and Anthony Cekada, having [according to them, anyway] studied Canon Law, were well aware of the nature of heresy and schism in the censures. But of course they are going to do everything in their power to make it appear that even material “cardinals” are not guilty of heresy. So if not them, then who? Not Traditionalist pseudo-clergy apparently!
Sanborn, from what he states above, disassociates non-Catholics from heretics and schismatics. But this is not what Rev. Ignatius Szal notes in his work The Communication of Catholics with non-Catholics (1948): “The general norm governing the communication of Catholics with schismatics is enunciated in Canon 1258… This Canon does not expressly mention schismatics but uses the more general term non-Catholic, a term which includes all those who are not of the true faith, namely heretics, schismatics, infidels and apostates… Consequently, schismatics are comprehended in the present law in exactly the same way as communication with all other non-Catholics.” Rev. John Bancroft says basically the same thing in his Communication in Religious Worship with non-Catholics (1943). But he includes in his definition everyone outside the Church, whether validly baptized or not, since the most accepted canonical definition includes infidels (p. 2). So Sanborn’s definition, not being supported by any proofs, obviously is incorrect. And since he and his confreres are the survivors of more than one of these non-Catholic sects — without being able, as are the laity in most cases, to excuse themselves on the grounds of ignorance — they are at least schismatics.
Schismatics cannot vote in elections nor be elected
Because Traditionalists possess no juridical status in the Church, ordinary or otherwise, and also because they have incurred the censures for schism, heresy and the vindicative penalty of infamy of law, they cannot act as electors under Canons 167 and 188 n. 4, and the parent law for both these canons is Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. Both canons forbid those who have fallen away from the faith from voting, and if they do so their vote is invalid. Can. 188 n. 4 is explicitly mentioned in Pope Pius XII’s 1945 election constitution VAS. Of course material-formal proponents long ago trashed this constitution as only an “ecclesiastical law” but obviously they never read it. Because the pope anticipated maneuvers such as theirs and infallibly proclaimed that if they attempted to dispense from it, correct it or dismiss it, or correct or dispense from any canon laws during an interregnum, such acts would be null, void and invalid (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/vacantis-apostolicae-sedis-vindicated/). Sorry to burst your bubble, boys.
And yes, in an emergency situation even valid bishops and senior clerics not heretics or schismatics can elect, in the absence of the cardinals. After carefully studying the matter, they would need to adjust the law, according to the method provided in the canons, to account for present circumstances. In the whole, however, it could be followed with care, using one of the alternatives Pius XII provides. But sadly there are no electors known to exist who are not under censure for heresy or schism. In fact, in neither the Thuc or the Lefebvre camp can it be said there is any certainty regarding the transmission of Orders, and without the Roman Pontiff to supply there can be NO jurisdiction, so apostolicity — that divine guarantee of perpetual succession promised to the Apostles — does not exist in Traditionalists. All inclusion of the laity in any ecclesiastical election is forbidden under pain of invalidity of the election (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/vacantis-apostolicae-sedis/, para. 32). And Pope Pius XII decrees infallibly in VAS that any attempt to violate the provisions of his constitution are null and void. Pope St. Pius X was the one to first exclude all lay involvement in his previous election law, which is substantially restated in VAS.
In the preamble to VAS, Pope Pius XII reminds cardinals electing “…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.” A papal election, then, is a matter of Divine law, the power of jurisdiction flowing, as Ludwig Cardinal Billot wrote “…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” (Ludwig Cardinal Billot, S.J., Tractatus De Ecclesia Christi (Rome: Aedes Universitatis Gregorianae, 1927), Vol. 1. p. 524). Papal elections can be conducted only by valid and licit hierarchy because they are an act involving the application of jurisdiction conveyed by Divine right. Even a layman could be elected, but prior to his acceptance and ordination/ consecration he would need to be deemed “fit” by the proper examination, just as every other candidate for Orders. This Pope Pius XII teaches in his address to the Second World Congress for the Lay Apostolate, Oct. 5, 1957.
Was Six ans se sont entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis? Yes it was, and we find proof of this in a most unlikely place. It is listed as footnote #3, Chapter IV — The Laity, in Paul 6’s “Lumen Gentium,” given November 21, 1964, (cfr. Pius XII, Allocution “ecoule’s, 5 Oct. 1957: AAS 49 , p. 927. De “mandato” et missione canonica, cfr. Decretum De Apostolatu laicorum, cap. IV, n. 16, cum notis 12 et 15.) This inclusion in the AAS, according to Pius XII’s Humani generis, means it is binding on all the faithful.
In Six ans se sont, Pope Pius XII clearly laid down the roles of both laity and clergy. Earlier, he had already made clear distinctions in these roles in his authoritative interpretation of Can. 147 §2 (ecclesiastical offices cannot be “validly obtained without canonical appointment …which is the conferring of an ecclesiastical office by the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the sacred canons.” This interpretation is also a document of the ordinary magisterium: see AAS 42-601). Bouscaren and Ellis point out that this also applies to the papacy. In his Canon Law dissertation Canonical Elections, (CUA, 1939), Anscar John Parsons states in the opening paragraphs of Chapter I that:
“Canonical election is one of the methods employed by the Church for providing worthy incumbents for ecclesiastical offices. The Code sets forth the principle of public law that no office can be VALIDLY obtained in the Church unless it is duly granted by competent ecclesiastical authority” (and the footnote he lists to that paragraph is Canon 147). “This principle is a clear deduction from the teachings of fundamental theology. The Church is a perfect society hierarchically constituted and therefore its posts of jurisdiction and power cannot be seized by force nor obtained by usurpation. Even though a candidate for ecclesiastical office be elected by a group of voters presented by a noble family, or nominated by a king, these actions are devoid of affect unless they are followed by a formal act of the ecclesiastical authority.” This is why Can. 219 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law states that: “The Roman Pontiff legitimately elected obtains from the moment he accepts the election the full power of supreme jurisdiction by divine right.” Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex… also mentions the necessity of “canonical election,” and propositions in Denzinger denying the necessity of canonical election were enacted before the Code was introduced (DZ 650, 652, 674; condemnation of the errors of John Huss and Wycliffe)
The papacy is undeniably an office. And Traditionalists and all other non-Catholics, on numerous counts, are undeniably incapable of electing or being elected to that office according to the Sacred Canons. Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis infallibly forbids anyone to violate these canons; if any attempt is made to do this, it is null and void. So Traditionalists are dead in the water. If they wanted to claim any connection at all to the pontificate of Pope Pius XII and the Divine continuum Christ established on earth for His Church, they would have obeyed all the Canons and papal decrees and ceased functioning long ago. This was the only way to maintain that “ritual contact” with the Church necessary to remain Catholic. But they are non-Catholics, heretics and schismatics, like it or not. Any attempt to “elect a pope” will be just one more laughable faux pas automatically annulled by Pope Pius XII.
Only God is not laughing. And they would all do well to read the signs of the times — to prepare for the punishment that He will soon send us all for heaping even further attacks and insults on His cherished Bride, the Church.
Prayer Intention for September
“That we may know the truth, and that the truth shall set us free” (2 John 1: 4-6)
+Nativity of Our Lady+
Novus Ordo conservatives struggling with their options after realizing Francis cannot be a true pope are trying to retrace the steps of those of us who years ago hammered out the consequences of false papal elections and determined that John 23, not Francis, could not possibly have been validly elected pope, a fact which invalidated all future elections. Why anyone in this quasi-Trad realm cannot clearly see that all this began with the reprobate Roncalli and his council and therefore that the entire slate post-Pius XII must be wiped clean is beyond me. It is so blatantly obvious and yet those still attached to the idea that V2 was somehow okay and simply was taken too far predominates with them. Strangely the Francis’ deniers call to their “cardinals” comes at the same time that others in the traditional camp are rallying around their “bishops” and urging them to elect a pope. Hmmmmm…
Sedes and even the Lefebvrist bunch in the early days talked about electing a pope but opted to stick with their “bishops” instead. The only hope for restoration of the papacy fallaciously held out to these Catholics was the much disputed, now hotly contested, (and frankly heretical) material-formal “thesis” written by “Bp.” Guerard des Lauriers, which only serves to support the equally heretical teachings of Sedevacantists on jurisdiction. According to this theory, the usurpers in Rome can validly and licitly appoint cardinals who can validly elect popes. And such a man could validly become a formal pope if he recanted all his previous errors. Why is this position identified as heretical and not erroneous? Because Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio (Cum ex…), Pope Pius XII’s papal election constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS) and his address Six ans se sont (given to the Second World Congress of the Lay Apostolate and listed in the Acta Apostolica Sedis) all outlaw material-formal.
This is not to mention, as others have already pointed out, that material-formal is an entirely novel hypothesis never before entertained theologically. Particularly during an interregnum, it must be entirely disregarded. What is so very distressing about the call for these conclaves is that they will deepen the divide in what is left of the Church, if that is even possible, and result in even further lapses from the faith. It reminds me of a verse from the book of Samuel, where the people asked him to “Pray for thy servants to the Lord thy God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for a king…” And Samuel said: “Therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in truth, and with your whole heart, for you have seen the great works which he hath done among you. But if you will still do wickedly: both you and your king shall perish together” (I Sam. 12, 19, 24-25). I first found these words following the realization of the consequences resulting from my own disastrous conclave experience.
The upshot of that verse is, endeavor first to fear God and learn His truth, to rightly serve Him, and this is not what previous conclavists nor Traditionalists have done. They have either fearlessly ignored or dismissed all His laws and Church teaching to act on their own ideas of what should be done to continue the Church. When the faithful came to those FIRST priests exiting from the Church, those who had been certainly validly ordained, that was one thing. At least there was the appearance of valid authority. But the Lefebvre “priests” were a different story. And as time wore on and Lefebvre’s true agenda and beliefs became better known, it should have become clear that he had never really left the Novus Ordo church. Then there was Thuc, and material-formal was born with his consecration of des Lauriers. Those who had objected to Lefebvre’s consecration of bishops had no scruples about being consecrated by Thuc, even though he too was affiliated with the Novus Ordo. So what gives?
Motivation for material-formal hypothesis
Nearly 35 years ago, an ex-SSPX member close to higherups in the organization confided to me that all Lefebvre really wanted to do was to find a way to lead his followers right back into the Novus Ordo church, albeit with some concessions on the part of John Paul 2. Lefebvre and Thuc were friends dating back to Vatican 2. Both of them continued their relations with the Novus Ordo despite their consecrations, regardless of what their I-have-a-horse-in the race “bishops” would like to pretend; it has all been a hoax from the beginning. A CMRI opponent of the material-formal theory has suggested that Guerard des Lauriers may have been acting on behalf of Lefebvre in introducing material-formal. Some claim Thuc was not in favor of material-formal, but he signed himself as Archbishop of Bulla Regia on several different documents in 1981 and 1982, a titular bishopric he received from Paul 6. This reflects the teaching of des Lauriers and Sanborn in material-formal that the Novus Ordo usurpers may validly appoint bishops and cardinals and that cardinals may then validly elect a pope if they recant their errors.
Another Traditionalist cleric had this to say in an online newsletter about the Lefebvre/Thuc connection: “The only common thread of the those holding this [material-formal] opinion now is that they were all former Lefebvrist priests. This is troubling because of [not knowing]… where their intentions truly lay. In other words, having spoken with dozens of pre-Vatican II priests who all claimed that the Church would be restored and therefore they need have nothing to do with Sedevacantists whom they felt were beneath them, the same priests now have their chapels closed as they lay in green peace; whereas the Sedevacantists continue to demonstrate their legitimacy in preserving the Roman Catholic Faith and Liturgy in the wake of the Conciliar Church which departs further and further from Catholicism” (Catholic Tradition Newsletter, A33, 2019). The author also noted that material-formal has now lost legitimacy because it rested on the fact that there still remained validly created cardinals pre-Vatican 2 to participate in a papal election when this is no longer true.
Yet material-formal fits in perfectly with the Gallicanist premise of Traditionalism, which already erodes papal laws and teachings and the authority of the papacy. As Henry Cardinal Manning explains, the Gallicanists “…distinguished between …the See and him that sat in it… The See of Peter is not the material chair, nor the collective body of the Church around it …[They] denied the infallibility of the person while they affirmed the infallibility of the See…The doctrine affirmed by the schools and by the Holy See was that infallibility attaches to the office, and that the office is held not by many, as if in commission, but by one…” (The True Story of the Vatican Council, p. 59-61). A. Degert in his Catholic Encyclopedia Article on Gallicanism, says the same: The contention, therefore, of the Gallicanists, used to explain away the primacy, was that only the line of popes, the Apostolic See was infallible; but each pope, taken individually was liable to error. Formally, as a body, the popes were infallible. Materially, individually, they could err.” And this basically is what material-formal proponents are saying in making exceptions for these usurpers; it’s a variation of the same principle. It was a question of the infallibility of the See then, and it still is today.
Papal document debunks material-formal
Material-formal proponents would grant the usurpers administrative capabilities, i.e., partial jurisdiction, just as they falsely accede jurisdiction to themselves, but not the ability to teach infallibly. As others also have pointed out, this contradicts papal teaching and Canon Law which states that the Pope receives the full power of jurisdiction the moment he accepts election, (VAS, Can. 219). One cannot ‘not be’ and still ‘be’ at the same time; the papacy is an all or nothing proposition precisely because its powers are bestowed by Divine right. But material-formal need never have been advanced in the first place. Already there were answers to the questions posed by the situation in which we found ourselves, provided in infallible documents. That these were not used as the template guiding Traditionalists should tell us two things: 1) there were ulterior motives in advancing material-formal, also in the refusal to even consider gathering bishops to elect a pope, and 2) there was never any real intent to perpetuate the Church las it was left to us by Pope Pius XII.
All the questions material-formal proponents try to answer by human means, with no Roman Pontiff to say yea or nay to their convoluted theories, are explained in the papal documents mentioned above: first of all Cum ex Apostolatus Officio issued by Paul IV in 1559. This document tells us all we need to know about the situation existing for the past nearly 64 years. It teaches that:
- Paragraph three of Cum ex… clearly shows this bull is infallible, (particularly in paragraph six), and further decrees:
- ALL past penalties against heretics and schismatics are declared renewed and ordered to remain in force and be observed forever.
- Bishops, archbishops and cardinals falling into heresy or schism are “automatically and without any recourse to law or action, completely and entirely, forever deprived of, and furthermore disqualified from and incapacitated for their rank…”
- In paragraph six, “If ever at any time it becomes clear” that any bishop, archbishop or cardinal, also any Roman Pontiff (before his election) has become a heretic, schismatic or apostate, then (a) any promotion to office is null, void and invalid; (b) it cannot be declared valid or become valid even in virtue of acceptance, possession or consecration; (c) or by any obedience paid to the Roman Pontiff guilty of any of these crimes, regardless of the passage of time; (d) such a person cannot be considered quasi-legitimate; (e) no power of administration is given, spiritual or temporal; (f) their deeds remain without any force and confer no right on anyone; (g) 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.
- Paragraph seven further states that: “It shall be lawful for all and sundry who would have been subject to persons so promoted and elevated, had these not first strayed from the Faith or been heretics, incurred or incited or committed schism; for clerics, secular or regular, and for laymen; likewise for Cardinals, even for those who participated in the election of one straying from the Faith, or of a heretic or schismatic to the Papacy… to depart with impunity at any time from obedience and allegiance to said promoted and elevated persons and to shun them as sorcerers, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs… Nor shall they be liable to reprisal through any censure or penalty, as renders of the Lord’s robe, for departing, for the reasons set forth above, from fealty and obedience to said promoted and elevated persons.” (To read the bull in its entirety go to https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/cum-ex-apostolatus-officio-pope-paul-ivs-1559-bull/).
Here we must comment that paragraph seven might have applied to cardinals and clergy following the election of Paul 6, but not long after that. Cardinals over 80 ousted by this usurper in 1971 had the perfect opportunity to rectify the situation, since everything had unfolded by then, and elect a true pope. But failed in their duties to the faithful, proving they were a part of the plot all along. After the heresies of Vatican 2, the changes in the sacramental rites and the institution of the Novus Ordo mass, all remaining hierarchy who should have departed, yet failed to denounce Paul 6 and all these heresies, remained heretics themselves. Such an event was not anticipated by this bull and does not in any way excuse them. Every argument addressed by material-formal proponents; every asinine controversy raised by Traditionalists over the past five decades is answered by this bull. When it was first released in the 1970s, it was immediately attacked by Lefebvre’s St. Pius X Society, as one might suspect. This was first documented by the bull’s translator, Argentinian Professor Carlos Disandro, who published a Latin and Spanish edition of the Bull in 1978.
The attacks and discreditation of the bull continue to this day. Two arguments are primary with these specious objectors: first that the bull was abrogated by the 1917 Code (they only wish), when in the Latin edition of the 1917 Code, Cum ex… is referenced numerous times, and is the primary foundation law for nearly every canon regarding heresy; and second, that it was a disciplinary law and therefore could not be infallible. For proofs that the bull is contained in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/cum-ex-apostolatus-officio-is-retained-in-the-1917-code-of-canon-law/.
Popes and theologians on discipline
In regards to discipline, hear it from Pope Pius IX first:
“But the neo-schismatics have gone further, since ‘every schism fabricates a heresy for itself to justify its withdrawal from the Church.’ Indeed, they have even accused this Apostolic See as well, as if We had exceeded the limits of Our power in commanding that certain points of discipline were to be observed…Nor can the Eastern Churches preserve communion and unity of faith with Us without being subject to the Apostolic power in matters of discipline. Now such teaching is not only heretical after the definitions and declarations of the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican on the nature and reasons for the primacy of the Sovereign Pontiff, but it has always been considered to be such and has been abhorred by the Catholic Church…” (Quartus Supra, 1873). Here the pope is emphasizing that one who denies he can order them to observe disciplinary laws is really denying he possesses supreme jurisdiction over them as pope, an implicit denial of papal authority.
Three years after writing Quartus Supra, Pope Pius IX, also taught, in Quae in patriarchatu:
“In fact, Venerable Brothers and beloved Sons, it is a question of recognizing the power (of this See), even over your churches, not merely in what pertains to faith, but also in what concerns discipline. He who would deny this is a heretic; he who recognizes this and obstinately refuses to obey is worthy of anathema.” We also find this condemnation from Pope Nicholas I in the early ages of the Church, condemned at a Council in Rome: “If anyone condemns dogmas, mandates, interdicts sanctions or decrees promulgated by the one presiding in the Apostolic See, for the Catholic Faith, for ecclesiastical discipline, for the correction of the faithful, for the emendation of criminals, either by an interdict or threatening of future ills, let him be anathema,” (DZ 326). And all these points are addressed in Cum ex. (The listing of this teaching in the 1957 edition of Denzinger’s tellingly omits discipline, but Henry Cardinal Manning gives the proper citation in his work on Civil Allegiance.)
And since Traditionalists are so fond of their theologians, to the exclusion of quoting the popes, we also offer the following:
“From the mind of the Church as expressed in solemn documents, and from the common teaching of theologians, we know that the Church is likewise [negatively] infallible in Her disciplinary decrees…The reason here is the Church’s infallibility as the custodian of morals, rather than of doctrine. When we say that the Church is infallible in laying down these decrees, SUCH AS CANON LAW, all that we mean is that they must be accepted as a good means to achieve the purpose intended — well-regulated Church discipline… [We do not mean] they are immutable, but we must recognize them as good, and abide by them.” ” (Rev. Patrick Madgett, Christian Origins, Vol. II). Abp. Amleto Cicognani writes: “The disciplinary laws issued by the Roman Pontiffs do not enjoy in a strict sense the note of infallibility… However, on account of the divine assistance which Christ promised to His Church, no disciplinary law at variance with orthodox faith or good morals has been or ever will be issued by the Roman Pontiff for the universal Church” (Canon Law, 1935).
In explaining what constitutes documents issuing from the extraordinary magisterium, the authors Parente, Piolanti and Garofalo write: “…A solemn declaration of the Pope, through a bull or other document; declaration of an ecumenical council or of a particular council approved by the Pope; symbols and professions of faith emanating from or approved by the Church…” (Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology,1951, p. 72). But Pope Paul IV’s bull is not infallible? Why do people insist on believing the rantings of these Traditionalist “theologians” and ignore the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs and those writing with the Church’s approval?! Does anyone really believe such behavior demonstrates the loyalty and obedience owed to Christ’s Vicars and the true Catholic Church as She existed for 1958 years, to the very Deposit of Faith itself?
NO “Trads” propose revamping Pius IX’s Vatican Council
Even those Francis objectors referred to by sedevacantists as “Semi-Traditionalists” will at least quote Cum ex… and defend it, unlike their Gallicanist critics. In a recent article written about petitioning the NO “cardinals” to jettison Francis, the author notes: “The very Traditionalists who rail against Vatican II’s teaching on collegiality, who mock the admittedly absurd “Synod on Synodality,” and say that the bishops and bishops conferences have too much power, would like to weaken the papacy to the point that the Church becomes, for all intents and purposes, like a collection of squabbling territories with a president at the head possessing limited powers… In their eyes, Holy Mother Church has become nothing more than a political game where two opposing sides scheme and maneuver for power.” (July 29, 2022 The Remnant, Chris Jackson; https://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/fetzen-fliegen/item/6068-how-about-we-keep-the-papacy-and-dump-bergoglio).
Whether the author intended it as such or not, this is a perfect description of Sedevacantists and other Traditionalists sects recognizing various “bishops.” Already, Jackson reports, there is talk by some Traditionalists of “re-examining Vatican I” to rid it of the influence exerted by those “pesky ultramontanes.” He goes on to write: “Likewise, the Church laws on the papacy laid down at Vatican I are laws for our own safety’s sake. If we cut down all of the laws regarding the papacy in order to accommodate Francis and become Neo-Gallicans (if such were even possible) where are we left? What chance of a restoration do we have? We would have cut off the only God-given future means to one. We would then be at the mercy of an impotent, democratized, and collegial church. The Devil would have us trapped.”
Trapped indeed; and not by the devil but by neo-Gallican Traditionalists who would like nothing better than to eliminate any ultramontane influence entirely. After holding themselves as mini-popes for decades and ignoring and dispensing themselves from Canon Law from the outset, this would be right up their alley. Jackson must be given credit here for his support of and loyalty to at least the idea of the papacy, even if he still believes we have “Catholic” cardinals left and that John 23 through Benedict 16 were legitimate. It is more than we can expect from Sedevacantists. They should be eager to try and explain why this goes back to John 23, not Francis. Instead, they are recommending Jackson consider the material-formal “option”! But after all, what else could we expect? Is it really a coincidence that the call by one Traditionalist author last month for sede bishops to come together and elect yet another false pope coincides with Jackson’s call to the Novus Ordo “cardinals” to do the same?
The answer to Jackson posted on one Trad website reads as follows: “…Semi-trads have veritably destroyed the concept of submission to the Pope… They have utterly wrecked the Papacy.” Uh, EXCUSE ME? Who has utterly wrecked the papacy? This is a classic case of projection. This blame needs to be spread around in quite a wide circle and not confined by any means to “semi-Trads.” Traditionalists rejecting the Novus Ordo usurpers have placed themselves in a position that can be resolved only by compromising truths of faith. Sedevacantists claim that they “very much believe in the Papacy,” but what they have done speaks so loudly that what they say is worthless.
There was a better road by far Trad/Sede clergy could have taken, but it would have required great sacrifice, rigorous study, a profound humility and unflagging intellectual honesty. These were qualities none of them possessed. All they needed to do was follow the example of the God-Man whose priesthood they have simulated and dishonored these many years and abide by the many instructions left to us by His Vicars. The battle is fully on for the “reformation” and ultimate rejection of the papacy and all it teaches. Catholics blind to this until now need to stand up and fight for their very souls, to be inflamed with righteous anger and to demand the truth (and proofs necessary to substantiate it) from the heresiarchs who pretend to lead them. St. John Chrysostom said regarding anger: “He who is not angry when he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is a hotbed of many vices” (Homily 11). St Thomas Aquinas also said: “Consequently, lack of the passion of anger is also a vice, [for it is] a lack of movement in the will directed to punishment by the judgment of reason.”
Traditionalists who believe that a conclave can be held by the laity — that men excommunicated for heresy and schism and declared infamous could be validly elected as Christ’s true voice on earth — are woefully ignorant of the very faith they pretend to profess. It is the strict obligation of those who propose to engage in this dangerous enterprise of calling a conclave to make all information about this event available for scrutiny and intense discussion before ever seriously considering it; to offer complete transparency and open discussion on the Church’s true teaching on this topic, something they have never done in the history of their existence. ALL Catholics should be welcome to ask questions, present evidence, engage in discussion since all will be negatively impacted by such a reckless act. Much of this evidence to date has been dismissed and suppressed so that it may not even be considered. And that is the hallmark of cowards and dictators, not men worthy of the papacy.
Catholics are bound to defend their faith; to stand up and demand answers to these questions. Pope Leo XIII teaches: “When necessity compels, not only those who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but as St. Thomas maintains: ‘Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.’ To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God…” (Sapientiae Christianae). See also http://www.catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Five%20Minute%20Sermon_Show_Forth_Our_Faith.html on the duty to defend the faith.
This blog is the first installment of a series on the dangers of calling a conclave, on any pretext. While Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio precludes any consideration of the material-formal hypothesis, we have yet to examine Pope Pius XII’s infallible teachings in Vacantis Aposolicae Sedis and Six ans se sont. We also need to refute the fallacy, long promoted by Traditionalist pseudo-clergy, that they have not incurred censures for heresy and schism which disqualifies them for election. So please stay tuned — one false pope is quite enough; three would be a travesty. Pray for the Church!
+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.
While VAS may have only nullified any acts proceeding from such orders, it is possible that the reception of orders itself, in violation of Pius XII’s decision on Can. 147, were rendered invalid. Proofs of this are provided in the intention article. Such invalidating laws are to be interpreted strictly and to proceed to consecration without a papal mandate would seem to nullify 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 appears to nullify 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 it appears 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 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.
+St. John Eudes+
Site revision nearly complete!
The website revision begun a few months ago is nearing completion and hopefully readers are better able to navigate the site and find the articles they are looking for. Please note that we have three new “position paper” articles on the front page that express the results of further research into Traditionalist claims to possess valid orders and to be able to invoke epikeia to serve as a substitute for jurisdiction. This research easily demonstrates that according to the teachings of the Church, there is NO substitute for jurisdiction during an interregnum. It also examines the types of intention required to validly administer and receive episcopal orders and reveals a fatal flaw among those receiving them from Traditional pseudo-bishops without the papal mandate. This effectively puts an end to all Traditionalist pretensions to possess any connection whatsoever with the Church as She existed under Pope Pius XII.
As promised last week, we will now explain how the doctrinal minimalism that downplayed the authority of encyclicals and other papal documents for decades first took shape in the Church. This malaise, which first developed between the end of the Vatican Council and the death of Pope Pius XII, is explained below.
From the top
If readers wonder why Traditionalist pseudo-clergy pretend to be the continuation of Christ’s Church minus Her head and how such an outrageous imposture could ever be foisted on those calling themselves Catholics, there is an answer. This divergence in the Church began long ago with the Gallicanists, beginning in the 14th century during the Western Schism. This group, advocating for “reform,” attempted to reduce the pope to an equal member of the apostolic college, acting as only a ministerial head, and teaching that an ecumenical council of bishops was superior to the pope. Other heretics during the same time period (the Western Schism) advocated for a democratic Church (John of Paris), and Hus and Wycliffe also were condemned by the Church for anti-papal heresies. This later resulted in a broader-based Conciliar theory, which held the cardinals superior to the Pope during a doubtful election and, according to some more radical Conciliarists, that the Church could even exist without him.
According to one work published by Sheed and Ward in 1963, based on an Anglican work printed in 1913: “Anglicans have claimed that their own ecclesiology… lies fully in the tradition of the Conciliar movement, ‘…[on] the principles set out in the 15th century at Constance and at Basle… Roughly speaking, the ideas of [the Catholic theologian Jean] Gerson and his congeners were those of a reformed Episcopal communion’ (Figgis).” (Adrian Hastings, One and Apostolic, p. 187-88). One modern Protestant author has also written that “…Luther was familiar with the writings of the conciliarists (Gallicanists) Pierre d’Ailly, Jean Gerson, and Wessel Gansfort, and …Luther takes up some of the major themes of these writers into his own theology,” (Tim Enloe, Martin Luther and the Quest for Conciliar Reform of the Church). D’Ailly and Gerson were the ones who held that the bishops receive their jurisdiction immediately from Our Lord, and all bishops, therefore, are equal in power to the Roman Pontiff.
Henry Cardinal Manning in his The True Story of the Vatican Council, lists as one of the reasons for calling the council as the clarification of the decrees of the Council of Florence on the papacy, which were then being “…Misinterpreted by Gallicans and by Anglicans.” So if anyone really wishes to know the history of Gallicanism as “a Protestant heresy,” there it is. For Cardinal Manning’s summary of Gallicanism up to the time of the Vatican Council, read my previous blog here https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/gallicanism-protestantism-and-immediate-jurisdiction/. Its development after the Vatican Council, however, is what is interesting. Below I have excerpted pages from a longer article to provide some background.
Gallicanism and the Vatican Council
The current that fed the beliefs predominating after Vatican 2 issued directly from the one and only Vatican Council which ended in 1870. Henry Cardinal Manning believed that “current” began with an actual conspiracy hatched by Gallicanist sympathizers and the Old Catholics. He describes this conspiracy in his work written after the close of the Council, (The Vatican Decrees and Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance, p. 11, 115-116) as the “Old Catholic” conspiracy, clearly seen today among Traditionalists. He also identifies it as “The Protestant church… [which] has become a political agent, a tool of the state…in the hands of Liberals, to fight Catholicism” (p. 115). He then goes on to explain how this conspiracy was planned out, even before the Council convened. “Before the Vatican Council assembled, there was an opposition systematically organized to resist it [by the Old Catholics]…” Stanley Jaki, in his 1996 introduction for the release of an exact reproduction of Manning’s The True Story of the Vatican Council, relates that Cardinal Manning, although he could not include it in his work, believed that circumstances surrounding the Vatican Council amounted to “a plain conspiracy to make Pius IX the [Pope] Honorius of the 19th century.” Today these same tactics are used to cast Pope Pius XII in the role of Honorius in the 20th century.
In 1870, 533 bishops voted to approve the definition of infallibility; only two opposed it, and they later accepted the definition following the vote at the feet of Pope Pius IX. Earlier, 60 left to avoid voting on the definition at all. Many of them would later accept the definition. A total of 1,000 bishops had been summoned but only about 686 bishops attended at one time or another during the council. Another 56 participating in the voting included cardinals and superiors of religious orders. However, doubts were raised following the council on the actual meaning of the interpretation and application of the terms surrounding the definition. This occurred because both sides emerged from the convocation claiming vindication, according to Jaki. On one side ranged the inopportunists opposed to the definition (Gallicanists and others), and on the other the opportunists (Ultramontanes) led by Manning, who favored it. One of the council’s primary goals was to extinguish the last vestiges of Gallicanism, which continued to be taught, particularly at the Old Sorbonne in Paris, even after Pope Alexander VIII voided the four Gallican Articles in 1690 (DZ 1322-1326).
A good number of bishops still holding this error or sympathizing with it came to the council. The main fear among both churchmen and those in government positions was that the definition would not be politically expedient and would spark fears the pope’s infallibility would extend to the temporal power. Opponents of the definition pretended the papal prerogative could then be used to depose government officials. Cardinal Manning’s work Civil Allegiance… actually was a response to Prime Minister Gladstone of Great Britain on this very issue. The cardinal handily demonstrated that there was no possibility Pope Pius IX or any of his successors could use the pope’s temporal claims in this way, unless the world would once again convert to Catholicism.
Manning quoted the following from Pope Pius IX’s discourse of July 20, 1871 to a literary society in Rome to quell his opponents:
“Among all other errors, that is malicious above all which would attribute (to the infallibility of the pope) the right of deposing sovereigns, and of absolving people from the obligation of allegiance… But altogether different are the conditions of the present time from the conditions of those ages; and malice alone can confound things so diverse, that is to say, the infallible judgement in respect to truths of Divine Revelation with the right which the Popes exercised in virtue of their common authority when the common good demanded it….Some would have me interpret and explain even more fully the definition of the Council. I will not do it. It is clear in itself and has no need of other comments and explanations. Whosoever reads that Decree with a dispassionate mind has its true sense easily and obviously before him.”
But that was only one of several “doubts” the Council definition supposedly left unanswered. The rest would be revealed in a work by a Benedictine writing a history of the Vatican Council 60 years later.
In his work The Vatican Council, Dom Cuthburt Butler, writing in 1930, raises several other “doubts” regarding the Council definitions First, he acknowledges Ultramontanism officially became “Catholic” with the definition of infallibility. But then he differentiates from the Ultramontane doctrine of Bellarmine, which he says was upheld by the definition, and the “new Ultramontanism,” advocated by the English convert Wilfrid Ward, Henry Cardinal Manning, Louis Veuillot, Father Frederick Faber, and also Monsignor J.C. Fenton and Father Ronald Knox (in the 20th century), as well as others. Secondly, he proceeds to paint Manning’s party as going “…far beyond the positions laid down by Bellarmine, which had become the accepted theses of the Ultramontane theological schools as to what were to be accepted as infallible pronouncements of the pope or infallible writings of the Church” (p. 73, Vol. I). He also writes that Ward, though a “man of great intellectual power and a profound thinker,” was “prone to adopt positions of extreme intransigence” (p. 72-73, 75). He had little use for Veuillot, styling him as “a journalist without theological training [who] strained the idea of the pope’s infallibility beyond all theological bounds” (p. 75). So the enemy’s tactics have not changed one iota; they are still trying to discredit journalists to this day!
But what was the difference between the two Ultramontanist schools? Namely this, that Bellarmine wrote long before the council convened, and the dogma of infallibility had developed considerably during that time. According to Butler, Bellarmine’s teaching on infallibility ran as follows:
- The government of the Church is not a democracy or an aristocracy, but a monarchy.
- Christ made St. Peter the monarchical head of the Church and the Roman Bishop has succeeded not only to the See, but to the primacy and prerogatives of Peter, and this by divine ordinance — iure divino, not merely iure ecclesiastico.
- Christ is the Supreme Head of the Church; the Roman Pontiff the ministerial Head under Him on earth.
- The Keys signify supreme power over the whole Church, so the Pope has absolute power to rule the Church and can promulgate laws binding in conscience.
Butler also lists the teachings of Bellarmine on calling a General Council stating that a pope is above the council, the council is not authoritative unless the pope approves its acts, and no one including a general council can preside as judge over the pope. This could easily have been demonstrated merely by publishing Pope Pius II’s Execrabili, superior in every way to Bellarmine’s observations. But Butler’s sympathies “lay with those…who sided very much with the inopportunists” (Jaki’s introduction to the 1996 reprint of Manning’s True Story…, p. xi). And Jaki identifies these mainly as the British aristocracy and Henry Cardinal Newman, who felt the definition was ill-advised and ill-timed. Butler also quotes Bellarmine’s teaching that should a pope become a formal heretic he would, by that very fact, cease to be Pope and could be judged and declared deposed by the Church, (since he automatically resigns from any and all offices per Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, the Fontes for Canon 188 no. 4).
The “new” Ultramontanism
But infallibility was not yet defined when Bellarmine made this statement; he would need to have explained that his application of formal heresy could apply only to one who was a heretic prior to election and therefore was never validly elected. Such a heresy would be already present in some identifiable form but would only become manifest following ascension to the papal throne. Pope Paul IV upholds papal infallibility as understood today in his Cum ex Apostolatus Officio when he mentions the heresy as being incurred prior to election, even though it “becomes clear” only following said election. The necessity of canonical election as expressed in Denzinger’s (DZ 674) is an infallible teaching, as is Pope Pius XII’s papal election constitution, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. This can mean only that without such canonical process, no true pontiff can presume to be validly elected.
Of what does Butler’s “new” Ultramontanism consist? It is mainly taken from Wilfred Ward, who held that:
- encyclicals and other papal documents can be considered infallible and are binding in conscience;
- documents of the pontifical congregations, if published on papal authority, are likewise binding; • ex cathedra pronouncements are not rare but are frequent;
- no restrictions should be placed by theologians on what constitutes an ex cathedra pronouncement;
- that such a pronouncement need not comply with any formula dictated by theologians and any man of good will and ordinary intelligence can discern when a teaching of the popes’ is infallible.
And every one of these points above was confirmed as doctrinal teaching by Pope Pius XII in Humani generis.
By the time the council adjourned, a host of other questions remained unanswered, including the question of discipline listed as infallible along with faith and morals in the council documents (DZ 1831). Following the Council, Pope Pius IX left no doubt regarding the infallibility of disciplinary decrees. This came in a letter addressed to the universal Church and amounted to a decision regarding the questions surrounding disciplinary acts; so there can be no doubt that it was to be taken as an infallible pronouncement, despite the restricted view of the Vatican Council definition held by Butler and his friends.
And some of those friends included the Secretary General of the Council, Bishop Josef Fessler of Austria, (favored by Butler’s friend Bishop Ullathorne, an inopportunist, p. 91, Vol. I); also Council consultant, Professor Joseph Hergenrother, later named a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. Fessler held Bellarmine-style Ultramontane “tendencies” according to Butler. Hergenrother was an Ultramontane of the Bellarmine school, not a “new” Ultramontane such as Manning. It would be these two men who initially declared Cum ex… only a disciplinary decree, denying the infallibility of past bulls and decrees of the popes. (More about Fessler and Hergenrother below.) Pope Pius IX and his successors may have exercised their infallibility to strike down the errors surrounding the Vatican Council definitions, but that would not deter those wishing to carry Gallicanism and Liberalism into the 20th century.
Butler’s objections countered by the popes
Quartus Supra, dealing with the Armenians:
“As Our predecessor Pius VI warned in his Apostolic letter condemning the civil constitution of the clergy in France, discipline is often so closely related to doctrine and has such a great influence on its preservation and its purity, that the sacred councils have not hesitated to cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed its discipline… But the neo-schismatics have gone further, since ‘every schism fabricates a heresy for itself to justify its withdrawal from the Church.’ Indeed, they have even accused this Apostolic See as well, as if We had exceeded the limits of Our power in commanding that certain points of discipline were to be observed…Nor can the Eastern Churches preserve communion and unity of faith with Us without being subject to the Apostolic power in matters of discipline. Now such teaching is not only heretical after the definitions and declarations of the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican on the nature and reasons for the primacy of the Sovereign Pontiff, but it has always been considered to be such and has been abhorred by the Catholic Church. It is for this reason that the bishops of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, openly declared the supreme authority of the Apostolic See in their proceedings; then they humbly requested Our predecessor, St. Leo, to sanction and confirm their decrees, even those which concerned discipline.”
Three years after writing Quartus Supra, we also hear the following from Pope Pius IX in Quae in patriarchatu: “In fact, Venerable Brothers and beloved Sons, it is a question of recognizing the power (of this See), even over your churches, not merely in what pertains to faith, but also in what concerns discipline. He who would deny this is a heretic; he who recognizes this and obstinately refuses to obey is worthy of anathema.
Already in 1863, six years prior to the council, Pope Pius IX had resolved the issue of the pontifical congregations, writing in Tuas Libentur that Catholics must: “…subject themselves to the decisions pertaining to doctrine which are issued by the Pontifical Congregations and also those forms of doctrine which are held by the common and constant consent of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions, so certain that opinions opposed to these same forms of doctrine, although they cannot be called heretical, nevertheless deserve some theological censure, (DZ 1684, Canon 1324).
And Cardinal Manning reports in his True Story… that in signing the petition to call the council, the bishops had asked that it be determined whether past acts were infallible as well (p. 113). And he affirms in his Civil Allegiance… that these were indeed so affirmed. So we can discount Butler’s allegations they had no intention of determining past acts infallible. Fortunately, Pope Pius XII cleared away the seeds of dissension sown by Butler and others dissatisfied with the definition. This occurred first in his encyclicals Mystici Coproris and Ad sinarum gentum. There he laid to rest a long-running controversy about the nature of the jurisdiction of bishops. The Gallicanists taught, as related by Butler, quoting the Maurist Benedictine Dom Jamin who wrote in 1768 (p. 30-31), that:
“Infallibility in dogmatic judgments has been given only to the body of bishops. No particular bishop, even the bishop of Rome, may attribute to himself this glorious privilege. Jesus Christ spoke to all the Apostles in common, and in their persons to all the bishops, the promise “I am with you all days, even to the consummation…” To maintain that the right of judging causes which concern the faith appertains only to the Pope or to the Holy See, and that they ought to be carried there in the first instance, is a pretension unknown to all antiquity and contrary to the practice of the Church. Six years after the close of the Vatican Council Hergenrother wrote, in his The Catholic Church and Christian State (1876):
“The doctrine of the power of the bishops needed no definition, being previously doubted by no one,” (p. 32). And yet Henry Cardinal Manning, Hergenrother’s contemporary, had already written his work The Pastoral Office, very carefully examining, from the best theological minds of the times, the arguments pro, for bishops as subject to the pope, and con, as possessing ordinary jurisdiction directly from Christ, with the former winning out even then. Bishop Joseph Fessler in his work The True and False Infallibility of the Popes (1875) likewise defends the rights of bishops against the assertions of the Old Catholic Dr. Schulte. Their beliefs even then were contrary to the Vatican Council teaching, which clearly states that “to Peter alone, before the other Apostles, whether individually or all together, was confided the true and proper primacy of jurisdiction by Christ” (DZ 1822). Of course no papal decision was denied here, as Pope Pius XII did not end the controversy until the 1940s, when he taught:
“Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church …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 (Mystici Corporis Christi, 1943). And in Ad sinarum gentum (1954): “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.”
Nevertheless, until a decision was made on this teaching, many theologians seemed to believe that the bishops possessed ordinary jurisdiction directly from Our Lord. Why else would Pope Pius XII have addressed it? And even after the definition on the bishops, Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton notes that the tendency of such theologians was to behave as though the definition could be revised in the future. He describes this error as doctrinal minimalism, condemned in Humani Generis. So clearly Gallicanism survived even the Vatican Council, intended from its inception to stomp out its traces forever. And in 1950, Humani generis would firmly establish as Catholic doctrine the “neo-Ultramontane” stance denigrated by Butler. But Traditionalists, the new Gallicanists, pointedly ignore Humani generis and papal teaching in general, just as their predecessors once did.
Where we are today
So where is all of this today? Well it appears we are seeing the survival of the Old Catholic heresy expressed in Traditionalism, (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/traditionalisms-true-orientation-explained/). Butler’s “old” Ultramontanes put the reform principles of the Gallicanists to work and founded Modernism, setting up a figurehead “pope” in the Vatican we know to be the Antichrist. The collegiality articles approved at the false Vatican 2 council were the work of Yves Congar, who actively lobbied for increased lay involvement on the Church long before Roncalli threw open the council windows. The following information comes from a reader who found it on a Traditionalist website:
“Many progressivist theologians [believe] the very essence of the Papacy is collegial, that is, not coming from only one man as the successor of Peter, but rather from the College of Bishops as a successor of the College of Apostles. Following the council, Congar wrote a book in which he states: “There is the thesis that affirms the power in the Church, even the power of the Pope, would always be collegial. The Pope would always act as ‘head of the College.’ He could not act by his own power as ‘Vicar of Christ’ (I place the last words between quotation marks because I am not comfortable with this expression, which I personally avoid using)…” !!!
An English Novus Ordo author, Paul Lash, observes: “Only 37 years after the promulgation of Lumen gentium, the Church would be far more rigorously and monolithically controlled by Pope and Curia than at any time in its history. The Church has paid a heavy price for John Paul II’s lack of interest in administration.” In noting this he suggests that collegiality be expanded. A Novus Ordo bishop, BC Butler relates that the false pope Francis is considering a greater collegiality and expanded role for NO bishops. So the reign of the bishops over the pope has been a long time aborning. Soon even the idea that the false church needs a pope will disappear into the mist of history with the advent of the coming world church.
In the meantime, this poor contingent of pray-at-home Catholics supporting Cardinal Manning’s version of Ultramontanism, the only genuine brand which received the blessing of Pope Pius IX, will continue to promote obedience and reverence for the Roman Pontiffs placed over Christ’s Church as the sole possessor of the primacy and all jurisdiction, honoring their teachings and decrees until the very end.
Today we celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the issuance of Humani generis. This infallible papal encyclical addressed many of the errors circulating not long after the end of World War II. Among them were some of those very errors and heresies which still plague us today, several which readers will find familiar. That these teachings yet are contested after seven decades proves that those claiming to continue the true Catholic Church of Pope Pius XII are doing nothing of the sort. Here we will enumerate those errors and in next week’s blog we will explain the nature of the division in the Church that existed long before the false Vatican 2 council. This dichotomy eventually led to the rejection of papal teaching, particularly certain decisions issued by Pope Pius XII.
Errors condemned by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis
- Eirenicism (i.e., ecumenism, which would allow Catholic doctrine to be distorted or perverted) (paras. 11, 12, 43);
- Theologians can authentically interpret the Divine deposit, (para. 21);
- The pope is unable to permanently end theological discussions and disputes, (para. 19, 20);
- What is taught in official papal documents is not binding, (para. 20);
- Hypotheses and conjectural notions can be legitimately employed in theological argument, (paras. 35, 37);
- False teachings on Scholasticism and true certitude (pragmatism, necessity of scholastic method — paras. 3, 17, 18, 31, 32, 34);
- Ex cathedra pronouncements are rare, (para. 21);
- Restrictions can be placed by theologians on what constitutes an ex cathedra pronouncement and theologians may dictate a formula for the actual wording of the pronouncement, (para. 21);
- Encyclicals and other papal documents are not infallible or binding in conscience, (para. 20);
- The pope binds the faithful in obedience only when condemning teachings or acts as heretical, (para. 18);
- Ordinary magisterium pronouncements are not binding in conscience, only the extraordinary (ex cathedra) variety, (paras. 18, 20);
- Minimalism — watering down papal teaching to make it appear it is not applicable or binding (paras. 14, 16, 43);
- In conclusion, Pope Pius XII commands teachers to accept and observe his teachings, (paras. 42, 43).
This encyclical was issued seven years after Mystici Corporis Christi and reinforces the teaching of that encyclical. In Humani generis, Pope Pius XII admonishes those who do not accept the definition of the Church as synonymous with Christ’s Mystical Body in Mystici Corporis. He also includes in Humani generis the paragraph below, addressing encyclical letters in general and how they are to be accepted by all the faithful as documents of the ordinary magisterium.
“Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their teaching authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: ‘He who listens to you, listens to me’; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents, purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.”
In his article “Humani Generis and the Holy Father’s Ordinary Magisterium” (American Ecclesiastical Review, 1951), Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton explains how this paragraph is to be understood by the faithful. He touches on some very important points below which I hope will help readers better understand some of the subject matter discussed recently on this blog.
“Each sentence of this paragraph [from Humani generis above] contains an important theological truth. The first expresses a sometimes obscured fact about the Holy Father’s teaching activity. The second sentence brings out a truth which has not hitherto been set down very frequently in that section of theological writing dealing with the Holy Father’s teaching power. It constitutes a striking contribution to theological literature. The third stands as a necessary inference from the first and the second sentences. It has definite and intensely practical implications for present day theologians.
“The first statement of this paragraph condemns any minimizing of the authority of papal encyclicals which might be based on the subterfuge that the Holy Father does not use the fullness of his doctrinal power in such documents. The teaching of the encyclicals postulates an assensum per se, an acceptance by Catholics precisely because it is the teaching of the supreme doctrinal authority within the universal Church of Jesus Christ on earth. It demands such acceptance even when the Holy Father does not use supremam sui Magisterii potestatem. In other words, Catholics are bound to tender, not merely a courteous acknowledgment, but a genuine and sincere inward acceptance, to teachings which the Holy Father sets forth with a note or qualification LESS than de fide or even doctrina certa…
“Catholics are obliged in conscience to accept these condemnations, and to reject the proscribed propositions inwardly and sincerely. In the last analysis, this process involves the command to adopt an opinion, since the Church, in designating a proposition merely as something rash or ill-sounding (to mention only two of these doctrinal censures inferior to those of heresy and error), has not given a definition or completely definitive judgment on the matter in question. This irrevocable decision is to be found only in the definitions properly so called, THE DESIGNATION OF SOME PROPOSITION AS DE FIDE OR AS CERTAIN.
“It is impossible to see the full meaning of this teaching without having an accurate understanding of what constitutes the suprema magisterii potestas of the Roman Pontiff… It is perfectly certain that this same magisterium ordinarium et universale can also be the vehicle or the organ of a definition within the field of the Church’s secondary object of infallible teaching. The encyclicals of the Holy Father can be and actually are statements of this magisterium. Hence they may be documents in which a dogma is defined or a certain truth of Catholic doctrine (which, however, is not presented precisely as revealed) is brought to the people of God on earth…The Humani generis likewise adverts to the fact that, when a person hearkens to the authoritative teaching of the ecclesia docens, that person is actually hearkening to the voice of Our Lord Himself. Once again, it takes this means to remind us that the Church does not teach in this world other than as the instrument and the body of Jesus Christ. The man who quibbles about the Church’s doctrinal authority is finding fault, in the last analysis, with the means by which Our Lord brings His divine truth to the children of men.
“An example of this procedure is to be found in the treatment of the question about the immediate source of episcopal jurisdiction in the Holy Father’s encyclical Mystici corporis. Prior to the appearance of that document there had been many excellent theologians who had contended that the residential bishops of the Catholic Church receive their jurisdictional authority immediately from Our Lord. A greater number of theologians, (and writers de iure publico ecclesiastico) held, on the contrary, that these men received their powers from Our Lord through the Roman Pontiff, in such a way that they came immediately from the Holy Father. In the Mystici corporis, the Pope spoke of the residential bishops’ ordinary power of jurisdiction as something ‘immediate sibi ab eodem Pontifice Summa impertita.’ That phrase was rightly taken as an indication that the controversy had been settled, once and for all. Where before the teaching that the bishops received their power of jurisdiction immediately from the Roman Pontiff had been qualified as ‘communis,’ it now became known as ‘doctrina certa.’
“The fact that the Sovereign Pontiff had, as it were ‘gone out of his way;’ or ‘taken the trouble;’ to speak out on a question which had hitherto been regarded as controversial, was taken as an indication that he wished to put an end to the discussion… The fact that a question is thus treated by the Roman Pontiff is, according to the Humani generis, an indication that the Holy Father intends that this subject should no longer be considered as a question open to free debate among theologians… If the decision is irrevocable, but only in the sense that the Holy Father has placed this teaching within the category of doctrina certa (but not doctrina de fide) then the theologian is free to argue about the possibility of a de fide or dogmatic definition of this point, BUT HE IS DEFINITELY NOT FREE TO TEACH OR TO HOLD THAT THE DOCTRINE SET FORTH BY THE HOLY FATHER CAN BE REJECTED OR MODIFIED AT ALL. No teaching is set forth as certain unless it has been defined as true, unless there is no possibility, no fear or danger, that the opposite may turn out to be true.”
READERS MUST BE PERFECTLY CLEAR ABOUT THE ABOVE DECISION ON THE BISHOPS, BECAUSE TODAY SO MANY TRADITIONALISTS HAVE CLAIMED THAT THEY POSSESS THEIR EPISCOPAL POWERS DIRECTLY FROM CHRIST, WHEN THIS IS THE CONTRADICTION OF A PAPAL TEACHING THEY MUST HOLD FIRMLY AND IRREVOCABLY. There is no possibility that this decision will ever be reformed. All the above is important to keep in mind to be better able to know when certain teachings of the popes must be obeyed firmly and irrevocably. In teaching theology to the laity at the Catholic University of America, Msgr. Fenton and Rev. Edmund Burke were careful to first educate their students in the different grades of doctrinal certainty to better assist them in knowing not how to practice only the minimal degree of obedience owed to these teachings, but to instruct them in determining “the full significance of the magisterium.” (AER, December 1957). Because we have no true pope, true unity is not possible. The closest we can come to such unity is what Henry Cardinal Manning describes in his The True Story of the Vatican Council:
“Unity of faith generates unity of mind, unity of heart, unity of will. Truth goes before unity. Where truth is divided, unity cannot be. Unity before truth is deception. Unity without truth is indifference or unbelief. Truth before unity is the law and principle and safeguard of unity.” This is why I try to stay as close as possible to all the Roman Pontiffs teach, regardless of what that may be, or the grade of doctrinal certainty attached to it. It is the only guarantee of truth, and the closest thing to unity that we can find. No number of bishops or theologians teaching prior to Vatican 2 could possibly equal or supersede the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs. And those who believe that avoiding the lesser censures for error saves them from sanctions are sadly mistaken.
The consequences of teaching condemned propositions
It is the common teaching and practice of Traditionalists that one may teach anything as long as it is not formally heretical. In fact, in cases of heresy, they often appeal against a decree of a Council or an infallible teaching of a pope, because the actual import of what they are appealing against is unclear to them (when it would be clear to any reasonable person). The Church has condemned numerous errors, not as heretical, but as being false. Are we permitted to teach something which the Church condemns as merely being untrue? Does error have rights, as long as it is not heresy?
Canon 2242, paragraph 1 provides that: “Only offenses which are grave are punished with censures.” A grave offense is a mortal sin. Therefore, only mortal sins are punished with censures. Canon 2257 states: “Excommunication is a censure by which one is excluded from the communion of the faithful with the consequences enumerated in the following Canons, which consequences are inseparable. It is also called anathema especially when inflicted with the solemnities described in the Pontificale Romanum.” For many centuries, before the codification of Canon Law, the censure of excommunication was inflicted ipso facto, whenever one publicly or privately defended or taught a condemned proposition, no matter what type of condemnation may have been attached to the proposition. Therefore, the Church presumed that such is a mortal sin. Because so many today do not understand with what authority the Church condemns propositions, this matter needs to be addressed and it must be understood: we are bound under pain of mortal sin to condemn all that the Holy Catholic Church condemns.
Some propositions are condemned with a censure attached. For instance, the Church might have said that anyone who teaches a certain proposition is excommunicated. Now, Can. 6, para. 5 provides that no censure of excommunication suspension, or interdict exists, unless it is restated in the Code of Canon Law. This law is to simplify matters and refer people to one list of censures, which Woywod-Smith provide in the back of their commentary. However, Canon 2317 provides that: “Persons who stubbornly teach or defend, either publicly or privately, a doctrine which has been condemned by the Apostolic See or by an Ecumenical Council not, however, as formally heretical, shall be barred from the ministry of preaching the Word of God and of hearing sacramental confessions, and from every other office of teaching, without prejudice to other penalties which the sentence of condemnation of the doctrine may perhaps have decreed….”
And this is a restatement of a papal law written some 350 years before the issuance of the 1917 Code, listed in the Fontesto this canon.
“Further, whoever knowingly presumes in any way to receive anew [heretics, apostates or schismatics] so apprehended, confessed [and this includes notorious heresy or schism under canon law] or convicted, or to favor them, believe them, or teach their doctrines shall ipso facto incur excommunication, and, become infamous.” This is taken from Pope Paul IV’s 1559 bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. So Canon 2317 apparently revokes the general provision of Canon 6, paragraph 5 in virtue of this older law and retains in force each and every penalty attached to a particular condemned proposition in the bull of condemnation. Therefore, a censure may very well be attached to a condemned proposition, and as such, may be inflicted ipso facto, by the teaching of the proposition. And when in doubt about the application of this law to the laity, one is instructed under Can. 6 no. 4 to abide by the old law (Pipe Paul IV’s bull) which states “…Both they and laymen appointed as aforesaid…”
In comparing Canon 2317 and the Constitution Apostolica Sedis of Pius IX, Rev. Leech, J.C.L., writes: “The new law (Can. 2317) has a wider extension in this case than the Constitution. By the latter, it was forbidden under penalty to defend or teach not every condemned proposition, but only those condemned under pain of excommunication; the new law comprehends in the present instance every condemned proposition that is not formally heretical, without regard to penalties attached to the condemnation.” (Teaching a heretical proposition is already covered under Canon 2314, which provides for an ipso facto excommunication). “It must be noted that those penalties, even of excommunication, which the Holy See or a General Council, when condemning a proposition attached to the teaching of such propositions, are still in force and are incurred according to the conditions set down in the particular sentence of condemnation.”
Reverend Charles Augustine, in his A Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, lists the following decrees, found in Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum, which come under the provision of Canon 2317:
- Errors of Wycliff and Hus, censured in Inter cunctas, by Martin V;
- Errors of Luther, which are not heretical, condemned in Exsurge Domine, by Leo X;
- The proposition condemned by Clement VIII, stating that confession and absolution can be made by letter or message;
- The 45 propositions condemned by the Holy Office in decrees dated September 24, 1665 and March 18, 1666;
- The 65 propositions condemned by the Holy Office on March 4, 1679;
- The 68 propositions of Michael de Molinos, condemned in Coelestis Pater, by Innocent XI. (Quietism);
- The 32 propositions condemned by Alexander VIII on August 24 and December 7, 1690. (Jansenism)
- The 101 propositions of Quesnel, condemned in the Bull Unigenitus and Pastoralis Official, by Clement XI. (Jansenism);Five proposition condemned in Destestabilem, by Benedict XIV
- Eighty-five propositions condemned in Auctorem Fidei, by Pius VI. (These are the propositions of the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia, which have raised their ugly head at Vatican II and among Traditionalists.
- Finally, the errors of the Modernists, which are not formally heretical (although Pope St. Pius X called this system “the synthesis of ALL heresies”); and
- The censures contained in Lamentabili and Pius X’s Syllabus of Errors, if the specific proposition is to be censured.
Rev. Augustine explains that “The penalties attached to the transgression of this law, for clergymen, consists in the withdrawal of their faculties. Laymen guilty of this delinquency must be removed from [any] teaching office.” Remember that those propositions condemned as formally heretical are covered under Canon 2314. The balance in the above decrees, if taught, render the teacher excommunicated by the act of teaching them. This applies even if the delinquent is in good faith, as Can. 2200 states. And it also applies to any layperson teaching such doctrines on the behalf of others. Those who wish to retain their membership in the Church and avoid the shipwreck of their faith need to fully familiarize themselves with the strict obligation to accept even the opinions of the Roman Pontiffs as binding. If all believe he speaks for Christ on earth, and this is a de fide truth of faith, they cannot fail to hearken to everything that he teaches.