© Copyright 2009, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author. All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless noted otherwise.)
Since CMRI clerics have condemned Patrick Henry for writing without ecclesiastical approval, it is important to state why we feel free to debate despite canonical and papal prohibition and free to write without the necessary approval. The Popes themselves give us our permission, so we need not seek permission from an inferior.
Pope Leo XIII: “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 when 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…”
Pope Pius XII: “The initiative of the lay apostolate is perfectly justified even without a prior explicit ‘mission’ from the hierarchy…Personal initiative plays a great part in protecting the faith and Catholic life, especially in countries where contacts with the hierarchy are difficult or practically impossible. In such circumstances, the Christians upon whom this task falls must, with God’s grace, assume all their responsibilities… Even so, nothing can be undertaken against the explicit or implicit will of the Church, or contrary in any way to the rules of faith or morals, or ecclesiastical discipline,” (“The Mission of Catholic Women,” Sept. 29, 1957, The Pope Speaks, Vol. IV).
The Issue of Licitity
Point One: St Paul states that we must “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.” The faithful have no way of knowing if Traditionalist clergy are representatives of the true Church. The faithful are not obligated to follow any but their legitimate or lawful pastors; only legitimate pastors can minister to them and engage in the Church’s mission to save souls. Rev. Thomas Kinkead’s Baltimore Catechism No. 3 teaches this under questions 489 and 494. Cardinal Gasparri states the same in his Catholic Catechism. Since no valid and licit bishop appointed Traditionalist priests and no pope approved the consecration of Traditionalist bishops, how can they prove they are lawful pastors?
Point Two: The definition of apostolicity in the Catholic Encyclopedia explains that unless validly ordained and consecrated priests are also licit, they cannot possess apostolicity. Proceeding as it does directly from Divine Faith, apostolicity is an absolute necessity for the Church’s very existence, (see the article on apostolic succession posted at /free-content/reference-links/1-what-constitutes-the-papacy/apostolic-succession-are-schismatic-clergy-and-laymen/ ). This ties in directly to Can. 147 §2. This Canon reads: “An ecclesiastical office cannot be validly obtained without canonical appointment. By canonical appointment is understood the conferring of an ecclesiastical office by the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the sacred canons.” This canon applies to all ecclesiastical offices, even the papacy. All Traditionalists, save Lefebvre and Thuc received the episcopacy outside the provisions of this canon, yet they claim to occupy and exercise the offices of bishop. How can they be true pastors?
Point Three: There are presently several self-proclaimed bishops who have laid claim to various territories and are functioning in the office of bishop. This contrary to the prescription laid down in DZ 363: Let no one unless canonically elected extend his hand for consecration to the episcopacy. But if he should presume to do so, let both the one consecrated and the one consecrating be deposed without hope of restoration.” Have Traditionalist bishops not incurred this deposition for ignoring the present-day canonical provisions, in addition to the excommunication prescribed by Pope Pius XII? And if not deposed because they are not in fact even clerics, aren’t they guilty of simulating the Sacraments?
Point Four: Anthony Cekada, stated that DZ 960 and 967 above applied only to the Protestants and has no application to us today. He said this because he believes the Protestant ministers referred to by Trent as a rule were not validly consecrated bishops. Yet many priests and some bishops defected to the Protestant church following the Orthodox schism, the Reformation and during the French Revolution and other schisms as well. And since Pope Pius XII refers to this teaching of Trent and applies it to all ecclesiastical offices, it must have universal application. This decision on Can. 147 is entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis (Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3 under Can. 147); it is normative, hence a part of the ordinary magisterium, as “Humani Generis” states. It was written in 1950, long before “Ad Apostolorum Principis” was ever written, (1958). This clearly shows Pope Pius XII’s pre-existing mindset on this much broader issue, of which “Ad Apostolorum Principis” was only one example. Since Traditionalists claim to continue the Church as it existed at the death of Pope Pius XII, why would they be exempt from Pope Pius XII’s authentic interpretation of this Canon?
Church membership; heresy and schism
Point Five: In Point One above, Kinkead’s Catechism states that in order to be certain they are in the one, true, Church, the faithful must adhere only to lawful pastors operating under a canonically elected Pope. We have seen that apostolicity is not present among Traditionalists, since it requires not only certainly valid ordination/consecration but also jurisdiction and grant of office from verifiably lawful authority. And unless we understand the teachings of the Church in exactly the manner in which the Church Herself intends, we forfeit Church membership for heresy, (DZ 1800). The Catholic Encyclopedia states that without apostolicity, none of the other marks can exist. Pope Pius IX states that, “each one of these marks so clings to the others that it cannot be separated from them,” (DZ 1686). Rev Kinkead states in his catechism that the four marks cannot exist without the three attributes: authority, infallibility and indefectibility (Q. & A. 519-520), which have primary reference to the papacy. Where are the irrefutable proofs comparable to these given here that show the Traditionalist church possesses these four marks?
Point Six: Bp. Pivarunas was affiliated with Francis Schuckhardt who is a known schismatic at best and was a member of his congregation at one time. He has admitted to belonging to this non-Catholic sect by the very fact of leaving it and helping to expose its head. Some of those in CMRI have been “reordained” conditionally. They also point to Can. 2261 §2, which allows excommunicates to confer the Sacraments when the faithful request them and no one else is available to confer them. The reordinations are an admission that these men were affiliated with a non-Catholic sect. The use of Can. 2261 §2 is an implicit admission that those citing it consider themselves excommunicated, if they truly are clerics. Because these priests and bishops have known for many years they operate outside the law and refuse to amend, they long ago were reduced to the lay state, (Can. 2314 §1; Can. 188 n. 4). Revs. Woywod-Smith, commenting on Can. 731 state: “All canonists and moralists agree that those who are heretics or schismatics and know they are wrong cannot be given the Sacraments of the Church [ordination, consecration; others] unless they renounce their errors and are reconciled with the Church,” (see also Canons 1935 and 2309 §3). And Can. 2259 reads: “Every excommunicated person is deprived of the right to assist at the divine offices…”
Point Seven: Those affiliating with a non-Catholic sect, or who have committed heresy and/or schism also incur infamy of law, (Canons 984 n. 5 (1) also 985 n. 1; 2314 §1, n. 3 and Can. 2294) which bars all clerics from exercising orders or receiving them. Only the Pope can dispense from this vindictive penalty. Those claiming to be bishops and priests cannot claim to be mere material heretics since by their actions they have admitted their guilt, (Can. 1325 states that heresy is judged by one’s “silence, subterfuge or manner of acting.” Canon 2259 states that notorious facts alone are sufficient to bar one from divine services.) Nor will ignorance and their assumed lack of pertinacity excuse them, (and this includes Thuc). Even lay people are not automatically assumed to be material heretics when received into the Church as converts or when they are received back into the Church from heresy; it is assumed they have committed some heresy, and not in a material way. This is the opinion of Can. Mahoney and others. Infamy of law, like Can. 147, bars one from assuming office, not for a lack of licitity, but because they have disturbed ecclesiastical discipline, (Can. 2216 commentary; Woywod-Smith). Now if only the Pope can dispense from these penalties, and they cannot function without this dispensation, when and how were they dispensed?
Point Eight: Canon Law states that those possessing ordinary and delegated power must be able to prove they truly possess it, especially when it is claimed for “a universality of affairs,” (Can. 200). Unless a priest or bishop possesses either delegated or ordinary jurisdiction to forgive sins, he acts invalidly (Can. 872, 203). Can. 209 clearly states that “the Church supplies” such jurisdiction, (but Can. 209 does not apply to Traditionalists). Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz, in his “Supplied Jurisdiction According to Can. 209,” defined the Church as the Pope, but Traditionalists cannot appeal to the pope to supply jurisdiction, because the Church possesses no visible Head at this time. Therefore CMRI and others claim extraordinary mission jurisdiction, the belief that bishops receive jurisdiction directly from God and may exercise it at will outside the direction of the Roman Pontiff. How can they maintain this when both Pope Pius XII, in his “Mystici Corporis Christi” and even the antipope John 23 have condemned the proposition that bishops may exercise the ordinary jurisdiction they possess without papal direction? In any case, all their acts have been infallibly declared null and void by Pope Pius XI” in Vacantis Apostolica Sedis, and any attempt to exercise the orders they falsely believe that they hold is voided and nullified by this infallible document.
Apostolic succession, interregnums
Point Nine: Bishops have ordinary jurisdiction, but only under the direction of St. Peter. They may not exercise it without the permission of the Roman Pontiff, (defined in “Mystici Corporis,” as Rev. J. C. Fenton notes in AER; DZ 2287). Any assumption that they may exercise jurisdiction directly from Christ as a bishop contradicts this infallible definition of the Pope. Pope Pius XII’s mind is more than adequately expressed in his many papal documents, but is specifically expressed in reference to our times in his “Vacantis Apostolica Sedis,” the 1945 papal election law. Traditional bishops have released themselves from papal obedience stating that impossibility excuses them. How do they reconcile this release in the light of the infallible declaration found below in Pius XII’s papal election law, where he states that if the laws are indeed violated or changed, the actions of the perpetrators are null and void? Based on this declaration, how can Traditionalist ordinations, consecrations and appointments be considered certainly valid? At the very most they would be doubtfully valid until a future pope can rule on their validity; for although they may believe they have received (the character of) ordination or the episcopacy, even in the few cases where this is true, they cannot use these powers validly or licitly.
Point Ten: All Traditionalists presume that at best any heresy they have committed is material, and they cite Can. 2219, which states that in penalties, the milder interpretation is to be applied. No one is a competent judge in his own case; only a bishop or the pope can judge in cases of heresy, apostasy and schism, which are inflicted ipso facto and are assumed so inflicted until the contrary is proven, since malice is presumed in the external forum (Can. 2200). Any plea that the law does not apply to a particular case would need to be submitted to the proper authority, and there is none at present. Until an appeal is possible, the guilty party must observe the censure, especially since it is not occult and has in fact become notorious (Canons 2219, 2259). Those trained as priests are held to a higher standard, especially where invalidating and incapacitating laws are concerned. Superiors themselves are held to an even higher standard. So why have Traditionalists chosen to act in violation of this Canon?
Point Eleven: Those laboring under infamy of law, incurred under Can. 2314 for involvement in a non-Catholic sect (whether Novus Ordo, Traditionalist, or Orthodox), are to be prevented from receiving orders or exercising the sacred ministry, (Can. 2294 §1). Even tolerati whose heresy is notorious (and a number of Catholics believe Traditionalists hold heretical doctrines) or who have been censured by a declaratory or condemnatory sentence must be prevented from actively assisting at Divine services, (Can. 2259). Canon 1935 also states that an obligation exists on the part of the faithful to denounce anyone who is a danger to the faith. Who but the laity can denounce and prevent these clerics? Are the faithful to disobey Canon Law even though they are aware that those providing “Mass and Sacraments” are, by law, considered illicit and their acts invalid?
Point Twelve: Pope Pius XII’s election law declares any presumed dispensation from the vindictive penalty concerning infamy of law invalid. It also nullifies any exercise of those episcopal powers resulting from illicit consecrations, and calls the validity of these consecrations themselves into question until a canonically elected Roman Pontiff can render a decision. Likewise it calls into question any other laws violated to allow the function of the clergy during an interregnum. So how can any of the operations of Traditionalists possibly be considered even valid, with the exception of absolution in danger of death, considering the inhabilitating and incapacitating penalty of infamy of law? Shouldn’t all of you be gravely concerned that you are laboring under the curse contained in Pope Pius XII’s papal election law?
Point Thirteen: The many laws Traditionalists violate amount to contempt for ecclesiastical discipline, particularly where the adoption of the mild interpretation of censures is concerned. CMRI’s website states: “The 1917 Code of Canon Law will continue to be the priests’ guideline.” Guidelines? The law is the law, and these laws primarily issue from the Ecumenical Councils and official documents of the Roman Pontiffs. To deny that censures for heresy and schism, also for occupying offices in violation of Can. 147 do not apply is a denial of the necessity of ecclesiastical discipline. This is a teaching of the Jansenist heretics condemned by Pope Pius VI, yet not as officially heretical. However, exhibiting such a disposition results in incurring the censure pronounced in Can. 2317, which bars those holding such propositions from preaching, hearing confessions, and from teaching, even if such teaching is only private. Why are you not bound to observe these?
Point Fourteen: From the definition of the Vatican Council and the teachings found in Pope Pius XII’s “Mystici Corporis Christi” concerning the absolute necessity of a visible head for the Church’s very existence, is it not understood by all that the necessity of a Visible Head is a de fide truth of faith? At one time the articles on your website indicated that you believe bishops and clergy may elect a pope in the present situation. So it is clear that you appreciate this necessity, even though election by unlawful and non-Catholic pastors such as yourselves would be null and void. In the absence of Cardinals, Pope Pius XII’s papal election law would even marginally allow this, given that the bishops and senior clergy who might effect it could prove beyond any possible doubt, or by miracles (per the teaching of St. Francis de Sales), that they were valid and licit ecclesiastics, issuing from the line of Pope Pius XII, who never fell into any excommunication or infamy of law. If you really believed in the necessity of the papacy and believe that you are true bishops, why wasn’t this done in the first place, to preserve unity and ecclesiastical discipline in the Church?
Point Fifteen: Based on what is published to CMRI’s website, this group obviously believes that we live in the times of Antichrist. Why, then, are they not in conformity with the unanimous opinion of the Early Fathers and doctors (St. Alphonsus, St. Francis de Sales, others): That during this time the Holy Sacrifice will positively cease and will not be publicly celebrated anywhere? While it is said by some that during this time the Mass could be said secretly and sporadically, this is not the case with Traditionalists, whose Masses are celebrated regularly and publicly. The unanimous opinion of the Fathers is regarded as at least indirectly infallible where the interpretation of Holy Scripture is concerned, (DZ 786, 1788). Those teaching contrary to the Church on this matter deny a truth of faith and must be “…punished with the penalties prescribed by law…” (DZ 786). Yet as in all the other cases enumerated above, CMRI and other Traditionalists consistently continue to operate in defiance of Church law and teaching. Therefore they cannot be the Catholic Church.
Traditionalists in general, CMRI included, claim that Christ has commanded them to work for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls. For many years they have criticized homealoners who believe that they are outside the Church and possess no jurisdiction. But here we cite the unanimous opinion of modern theologians from Rev. Dominic Prummer: One may not use a probable opinion concerning the validity of the Sacraments, the means necessary to salvation or the rights of a third party, (DZ 1151). CMRI claims to be working for the common good and the salvation of souls, but we should ask, if this is true, why it is that Rev. Alan McCoy O.F.M., J.C.L., in his Catholic University of America Canon Law dissertation, “Force and Fear in Relation to Delictual Imputability and Penal Responsibility,” lists the following offenses as positively detrimental to souls, under that very heading in Canon Law: “…the administration of Sacraments to those who are forbidden to receive them…the consecration of a bishop without a papal mandate…the reception of Orders from unworthy prelates…the negligence of a pastor in the care of souls.” One cannot claim to work for the common good on one hand and commit these offenses on the other. The laity wishing to remain faithful to all that the Church ever was have every right to follow those pre-1959 authors who were truly legitimate pastors and follow the teachings of the Church. And those who are not legitimate pastors have no right to command them in anything. There are solid reasons for why homealoners believe as they do, and what has been presented here proves this beyond a reasonable doubt.