+Third Sunday after Easter+

(St. Anselm, Abp.)

In way of a reminder, or for those who are new to the idea of praying at home, I am going to repeat and highlight a binding Church teaching here that has practically been the foundation stone for this site since it first appeared on the Internet. Long before Pope Pius XII wrote Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, (VAS), negating acts contrary to Canon Law or usurping papal jurisdiction that were attempted during an interregnum, the Council of Trent condemned the idea that those acting without out jurisdiction, who were “neither rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical authority “ (DZ 967) could ever be considered true ministers of the Church. This concept is best expressed as follows:

“A Christian society whose bishops go back to the apostles only through the power of order, and not also through the power of jurisdiction, cannot claim to be Apostolic, and consequently cannot be the Church of Christ,” Revs. Devivier and Sasia, Christian Apologetics, Vol. II), 1924. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Church also  states in part: “Apostolicity of mission consists in the power of holy orders and the power of jurisdiction derived by legitimate transmission from the Apostles. Any religious organization whose ministers do not possess these two powers is not accredited to preach the Gospel of Christ. For ‘How can they preach,’ asks the Apostle, ‘unless they be sent?’ (Rom. 10:15).”

In 1950, Pope Pius XII issued a binding decree (AAS 42-601) on the true interpretation of Can. 147, stating that those never canonically appointed to such offices but who: “’…assume the same upon their own authority, are all to be regarded NOT AS MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH but as thieves and robbers, who have entered not by the door’” (DZ 960). Pius XII then issued three ipso facto excommunications for violating this law, all of them reserved in a special manner to the Holy See, which included anyone assisting such individuals in their efforts. Without the necessary jurisdiction and appointment to an office by competent ecclesiastical authority according to the sacred canons, THEY ARE NOT APOSTOLIC MINISTERS; THEY CANNOT FUNCTION VALIDLY (Can. 147). Their ability to function validlydepends on the possession of an office, regardless of their alleged reception of orders.

One might be considered validly ordained if it could once be proven that the ordaining or consecrating prelate used the proper matter and form and possessed the proper intention. But this can be determined only by the pope, as we have pointed out repeatedly. The presumption, however, also repeatedly stated, What is important to understand here is what is expressed in the following: “Commentary in Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils: “The council [of Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] declared absolute ordinations, that is, sine titulo, invalid. Though it used the words (null, void), it is very probable that it had in mind “void of effect through permanent suspension,” (pg. 96;   See Mansi, VII, 901, 945.) This is the very principle evidenced in Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS) regarding acts not authorized by the Holy See personally or permitted under Canon Law.

As the Holy Office decreed Nov. 18, 1931: “A lapsed Catholic who receives orders from a schismatic bishop can be received back into the Church only on the understanding that such ordinations, even if valid, will be completely disregarded, (Dr. Leslie Rumble, Homiletic and Pastoral Review: “Are Liberal Catholic Orders Valid,” 1958). Lefebvre  and Thuc were schismatics and those they ordained and consecrated were lapsed Catholics, one-time members of the Novus Ordo and Traditionalist organizations who were never validly absolved, abjured by the Holy Office, did not do penance or publicly condemn the schismatic prelate consecrating or ordaining.  This is what Canon Law requires of them. And as  VAS states, during an interregnum, any violation of Canon Law or presumption of papal jurisdiction (abjuration of heresy) is considered null and void.

As related in his Principles of Sacramental Theology, (1955), Rev. Bernard Leeming wrote that Pope Innocent IV, as a private doctor, opined that ”…the Pope could set up diriment impediments in the case of all the sacraments and could take away a bishop’s power to confirm. He supports this by the text,’ Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven,’ and adds that “obedience must be given to the Pope” in all things not contrary to faith or specially forbidden. Rev. J. Tixeront, in his Holy Orders and Ordination, (1928), cites the same opinion by Innocent IV, but quotes Louis Saltet (a Catholic historian who contributed to the Catholic Encyclopedia) to the effect that, “This theory tells volumes about the development given to the idea of pontifical authority.”  We must remember that Pope St. Pius X, in his previous election, law also had declared null, void and invalid all these same acts. All that Pope Pius XII added to this is to declare that part of VAS binding during an interregnum by virtue of  his Supreme Authority. Without a true Roman Pontiff, NOTHING can be presumed to be valid, most especially the conferral of Orders.

Pope Innocent IV wrote in 1254, but what these authors call his opinion or theory was, as Saltet said, the kernel sown which later blossomed into the fullness of the pope’s supreme jurisdiction. The ”development” of the idea of papal authority came full circle with the Vatican Council. Unfortunately those opposing the definition of infallibility not only left the Church but reorganized, to more effectively dismantle and oppose Her. Henry Cardinal Manning believed that this effort 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, which translates today, even in the writer William Strojie’s opinion, to Traditionalists, especially those of the SSPX variety. 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 hatched even before the Council convened, writing: “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 being used by LibTrads and Protestants  to cast Pope Pius XII in the role of Honorius in the 20th century. What we see in the persistent opposition against VAS by those claiming these me to be only illicit , and by their refusal to accept other other papal teaching is only the continuing flow of that same Gallicanist/Old Catholic/Modernist current. Strojie, Peter Anson and  others have warned us of the Old Catholic invasion in our times, but no one is listening.

One of the first LibTrad pseudo-bishops, Francis Schuckhardt, was “consecrated” by an Old Catholic bishop, Daniel Q. Brown. Several of these so-called bishops have been consecrators of certain LibTrads, especially among independents. And one of the men Schuckhardt “ordained” became involved with a rigorist Jansenist sect and went on to become one of the first proponents of the “illicit only” theory now being promoted by himself and others. We have spoken of the Jansenists and their rigorist beliefs in our last several blogs and now we will discover where it is those beliefs originated, how they have filtered down to various sects today and how they have misinterpreted papal teaching to make it appear that the Church still considers those lacking both an office and jurisdiction to be the teaching body of Christ’s Church.

Jansenist/Old Catholic ideology and LibTrads

Many years ago I ran across a very good piece on Old Catholics, entitled The Jansenist Heresy: Old Catholicism is Born.  Its author, listed by way of initials, states: “I am indebted to one of the seminarians of the Society of St. Pius X at Ridgefield, Connecticut whose research made this article possible — A.C.” After offering a summary of anti-papal and other Old Catholic teaching, A.C. comments: “The Old Catholic movement was a liberal and modernist movement. Indeed most contemporary modernists would have little difficulty accepting most of their tenets.” Under the heading Old Catholic Sects: General Observations, he describes the behavior of Old Catholic clergy, sadly failing to see they correspond almost identically with that of the SSPX and LibTrads in general. These are listed as follows:

“1.The first thing one notices when one begins to study these sects is that there are indeed a large number of sects calling themselves Old Catholic. It seems that there are about as many as there are Old Catholic bishops… (T. Benns: Just as with the LibTrads.)

“2. This phenomenon is joined to the fact that the Old Catholics foment what seems to be a never-ending series of schisms among themselves. This is explained by the fact that they began in schism. It is understandable, therefore, that they should have so many schisms among themselves. (T. Benns: The never-ending schisms is the dead giveaway.)

“3. Old Catholic clergy are inclined to excommunicate each otheat the slightest provocation. (At the drop of a miter?) This is borne out by Peter Anson’s book on their forebears, Bishops at Large, and by studying some of their more recent activities. (T. Benns: Their internecine squabbling on these things is almost as never-ending as their schisms and is what foments them.)

“4. A typical fiction which an Old Catholic will try to promote is a denial that his group is schismatic or heretical. Invariably, such a person will point to another group, supposedly distinct from his own, and say that it is schismatic or heretical. For instance, an Old Catholic may tell you “We are not Old Catholics, but Old Roman Catholics. There is a difference. The other group is schismatic and heretical. We are legitimate.” Such talk is nonsense. There are no real differences among all these groups, no matter what name they go by. They all originate, in some tenuous way or another, in the Jansenist heresy and schism. Common sense tells us that if something was hatched from a duck’s egg, if it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, and if it quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck. (T. Benns: Projection is a psychological ploy intended to deflect blame. There are no real differences in these groups as the author says, and all tend to exhibit Jansenist tendencies to one degree or another.)

“5. Most of these groups distort history in an attempt to prove their claims. A quick reading of some of the literature they publish demonstrates this. They distort the Jansenist controversy and avoid giving an honest account of the outrageous activities of Mathew and Vilatte. (T. Benns: One is reminded of all the stories defending Thuc from accusations of dementia and returning to the Novus Ordo; or to the defense of LibTrad pseudo-clergy and “seminarians” accused of homosexual tendencies and sexual abuse, when these accusations were well-documented.)

“7. For the most part, these sects are presided over by clergymen who are ignorant in matters of religion. Some are trained for a short period of time by ignorant superiors, others “study on their own for a while, others grant themselves degrees from non-existent universities, while still others are simply ordained without any pretense of an education at all. (T. Benns: This ignorance is what has cost the faithful so much and has resulted in the denial of so many truths.)

“9. In most casesit is impossible to prove that an ordination or consecration performed by an Old Catholic bishop in this country is unquestionably valid. In Europe, the question is less complicated, since the Jansenist sects enjoy a certain amount of stability. In this country, however, there exists a multitude of different Old Catholic sects. Consequently, no one has a centralized and comprehensive body of certified documentation which keeps track of the lines of the ordinations and consecrations performed in all these splinter groups. This casts some doubt upon the validity of the orders they claim to possess. Since the Catholic Church teaches that one cannot act if there is a positive doubt regarding the validity of a sacrament, one is obliged to treat their clergymen as though they were invalidly ordained. 

(T. Benns: WHY must Catholics consider them invalid? Because Pope Pius XII teaches that during an interregnum, they cannot be considered valid. This for two reasons: 1) Because consecrations and ordinations without the mandate usurp papal authority and violate the canons and 2) Until declared valid and their cases resolved, there can be no presumption of such validity. I know the LibTrads quote Leeming to the effect that “The minister of a sacrament is presumed to intend what the rite means…” [even in cases where the minister is wicked or a heretic]. “This principle is affirmed as certain theological doctrine, taught by the Church, to deny which would be at least theologically rash.” Principles of Sacramental Theology, 476, 482.) What they will not tell you is that reflex principles cited by moral theologians also declare that presumption must yield to truth. That truth is it must yield to an infallible papal ruling that regardless of the intention or the state of the minister, during an interregnum, all must be considered invalid, void of effect. For only a true pope canonically elected could settle the case. The Old Catholic commentator ends with Pope St. Pius X’s excommunication of the Old Catholic “bishop” Arnold Harris Mathew and those he attempted to consecrate below.

Pope St. Pius X’s condemns the pseudo-bishops

“We have learned that priests of your country, namely Herbert Ignatius Beale and Arthur William Howarth, of the clergy of Nottingham, seeking their own glory rather than that of Jesus Christ, and being carried away by the fire of ambition, having attempted on various occasions to be elevated to the episcopal dignity by non-Catholics, have recently proceeded with such temerity that, having obtained their wish, they have arrogantly announced unto Us that they have procured episcopal consecration. Nor does their announcement lack authentic testimony; for he who was the principal author of this sacrilegious crime, the pseudo-bishop Arnold Harris Mathew, has not feared openly to confirm this deed, having transmitted to Us letters swollen with pride. And, moreover, he has not hesitated to arrogate unto himself the title of “Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of London.”

“Turning Our thoughts and Our solicitude first of all to you, Beloved Sons, of whose constant and devoted good will we have ever received such illustrious testimony, We vigorously exhort you to guard zealously against their frauds and snares.

“Furthermore, lest We should appear to betray Our office, being faithful to the examples of Our Predecessors, We hereby proclaim the aforesaid consecration to have been illegitimate and sacrilegious, and to have been performed in a manner wholly contrary to the mandates of this Holy See and the sanction of the Sacred Canons.

“The above-named priests, therefore, namely Arnold Harris Mathew, Herbert Ignatius Beale, and Arthur William Howarth, and all others who lent aid, counsel or consent to this nefarious crime, by the authority of Almighty God, we hereby excommunicate, anathematize, and solemnly command and declare to be separated from the communion of the Church and to be held for schismatics, and to be avoided by all Catholics and especially by yourselves.

“Given at Rome, at Saint Peter’s, under the Ring of the Fisherman, the eleventh day of February 1911, in the eighth year of Our Pontificate.” (The foregoing was translated by Father William Jenkins (SSPX) from the official Latin edition of Acta Apostolicae Sedis, year III, vol. III, no. 2, February 15, 1911.)

Meaning of the prefix ”pseudo”

Thuc and Lefebvre were not Catholics at the time they ATTEMPTED (note this wording appears in Pope Pius XII’s VAS) to ordain and consecrate men of the various LibTrad sects. Pseudo is defined online as meaning sham; false; spurious; pretended; counterfeit. (Merriam-Webster). It corresponds to Can. 104 which states that “error annuls an action” whenever a certain condition is required for its proper fulfillment. The canonists Bouscaren-Ellis write: “Error of law or a fact, if it is substantial, renders an act null and void. The same is true if the error, though not substantial by nature, is made so by a condition.”  It was always a condition, from the time of the Council of Trent, that bishops could receive an office or approval for an office only from the pope. It is a condition, based on ancient practice and dating to the time of the Gallicanist heresy, that during an interregnum nothing can be decided involving the rights usually exercised by the pope or against canon law or papal law.  We see the word spurious, or false, used by Pope Pius VI in Charitas below:

“Furthermore, We declare specifically that the elections of the said Expilly… [et al], are unlawful, sacrilegious, and utterly void. We rescind, efface, and abrogate them, as well as the recent creation of the so-called dioceses of Moulins, Chateauroux, and others. We similarly declare and decree that their consecrations were sinful, and are illicit, unlawful, sacrilegious, and at variance with the regulations of the sacred canons; since they were rashly and wrongfully elected, they lack all ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction for the guidance of souls and have been suspended from all exercise of the episcopal office.

“We prohibit severely both those who have been or are to be elected as bishops from rashly accepting episcopal consecration from any metropolitan or bishop as well as the SPURIOUS bishops and their sacrilegious consecrators and all other archbishops and bishops from daring to consecrate on any pretext those who have been or are to be wrongfully elected. Furthermore, We command those who have been or are to be elected, to behave in no way as archbishops, bishops, parish priests, or vicars nor to call themselves by the name of any cathedral or parochial church, nor to assume any jurisdiction, authority, or faculty for the care of souls under the penalty of suspension and invalidity.”

Pseudo-bishop is also found in refence to an Old Catholic bishop in Pope Pius IX ‘s Etsi Multa: “[The Old Catholics] have chosen and set up a PSEUDO-BISHOP, a certain notorious apostate from the Catholic faith, Joseph Hubert Reinkens. So that nothing be lacking in their impudence, for his consecration they have had refuge to those very Jansenists of Utrecht, whom they themselves, before they separated from the Church, considered as heretics and schismatics, as do all other Catholics. However, this Joseph Hubert dares to say that he is a bishop, and, what passes belief, he is recognized… [by]  all his subjects as a lawful bishop… The holy martyr Cyprian, writing about schism, denied to the pseudo-bishop Novatian even the title of Christian, on the grounds that he was cut off and separated from the Church of Christ… We declare the election of the said Joseph Hubert Reinkens, performed against the sanctions of the holy canons to be illicit, null, and void.

And as we noted in a previous blog, Pope Pius XII taught: “Acts requiring the power of Holy Orders which are performed by ecclesiastics of this kind, though they are valid as long as the consecration conferred on them was valid, are yet gravely illicit, that is, criminal and sacrilegious” (Ad Apostolorum Principis).I believe that it was St. Robert Bellarmine who taught that a man who was not even a Catholic could not validly be elected pope. Likewise one cannot consider men consecrated by schismatics, specifically to head schismatic sects, to be valid, either.

And for proof of this we can return to Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, which clearly states that: “Further, if ever at any time it becomes clear that any Bishop, even one conducting himself as an Archbishop, Patriarch, or primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church… or likewise any Roman Pontiff before his promotion or elevation as a Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has strayed from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy, then his promotion or elevation shall be NULL, INVALID AND VOID.” Those claiming that these men are “only illicit” who dare to quote this bull need to draw out is FULL implications.

As the Old Catholic commentator notes above, “One is obliged to treat their clergymen as though they were invalidly ordained.” The Church Herself declares that their promotions could never be valid, even when a reigning pontiff existed! The commentator indicates that the validity of the Old Catholics cannot be presumed, just as no one can presume LibTrads were validly ordained by Lefebvre and Thuc. This cannot be the case with US, however, because of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS);  the pope clearly declares their ATTEMPTED acts of no effect, reflecting the private teaching of Pope Innocent IV and later Clement II. Pope Pius XII cites Clement II in VAS as stating that no one may exercise the power belonging solely to the pope during an interregnum. The Council of Chalcedon was held in 451, so the principle “void of effect “was already at work in the early days of the Church. No one can claim it was a novelty that was introduced by Pope Pius XII.


Since the establishment of Traditionalism, these men calling themselves bishops and priests have resorted to Canon Law to try and prove their legitimacy. This is truly absurd when one considers that, as Pope Pius VI taught in Charitas, no trumped up “necessity” could justify their activities. Since canon law (Can. 147) pointedly declares they are not valid unless they are appointed by legitimate authority according to the sacred canons, these laws do not even apply to them in the clerical realm. They apply to them only as (lay) heretics and schismatics simulating the Sacraments. That is the true meaning of “pseudo” and “spurious” here. The term “illicit only” presumes their Orders and sacraments to be valid when this is clearly contrary to the Council of Trent and papal teaching. But most importantly it is a denial of the only law now governing us, VAS, and the Church’s right to determine who are members of the hierarchy. TRUE bishops no longer exist because the Church proclaims that not only were these men considered false bishops when a true pontiff reigned, there can be no valid conveying of Orders at all during an interregnum!

Interregnums were intended to last at the most for only less than a month according to VAS. The longest interregnum in the Church’s history lasted less than three years. So VAS, and prior to its issuance Pope St. Pius X’s election law, was intended as a stopgap measure only, to make certain nothing was done to usurp papal jurisdiction or violate canon law during the vacancy of the Holy See. LibTrads often point to the “colored title” theory, pretending that their “orders” alone are sufficient to claim that they possess rights and privileges in the Church. They quote Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz’s  work on Can. 209 (supplied jurisdiction) and the canonists Wernz-Vidal as follows: “There is no jurisdiction without a title. And where, by mandate of the Church or her rightful representatives, jurisdiction is required for the validity of a certain act, there, if the minister acts without the proper jurisdiction, he acts fruitlessly because invalidly.” They thus ASSUME there is a validly ordained and/or consecrated minister who COULD possess the title, a sophism called “presuming that which is yet to be proven.” This when the Council of Trent and Pope Pius XII commenting on Trent’s anathema both teach infallibly that they are “not to be regarded AS MINISTERS OF THE CHURCH (see above).

This is so very confusing for readers because at the same time they admit that “None of the faithful believe the illicit bishops have a papal mandate to do what they are doing.” But it has nothing to do with what the faithful believe, only with what the Church teaches — for as just stated in our last blog: THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE BOUND TO BELIEVE. How about the FACT that they cannot possibly possess the mandate because there was no pope to issue one?! And that the Church says during an interregnum, no valid ordinations and consecrations can even take place if they usurp papal rights and violate canon law, which they most certainly do?

I consider myself an Ultramontane as did St. Anthony Mary Claret, Henry Cardinal Manning, Fr. Frederick Faber, Wilfred Ward, Louis Veuillot, William Peter Allies, Donoso Cortes and Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton. The Vatican Council should have resolved all the questions regarding the pope’s supremacy of jurisdiction, but sadly, as can be easily seen from the above, it did not. Ranged on the opposite side, following John Henry Cardinal Newman, Bp. Ullathorne, Dom Cuthburt Butler and a host of others who believed the definition of infallibility would only harm reunion efforts with schismatics.  Newman, especially, was quite cozy with the Anglicans and Old Catholics. He and his followers gave lip service to the definition but continued to travel the road to Modernism and ecumenism. That is where ignoring the integral teachings of the popes leads.

We see all the indicators here of Old Catholic influence:

— The attempt to “foment a schism” among those who pray at home;

— The “excommunication” of those who point out to others that “illicit only” is not Catholic;

— The tendency to Jansenistic rigorism, Liberal charity, quietism, Americanism, anti-Semitism;

— Their denial of the Vatican Council teaching on the pope’s supreme jurisdiction;

— Considering as “valid” men educated in heresy by heretics and schismatics;

— Their distortion of self-evident truths and dogmatic facts to shore up their claims, and

— Since the Catholic Church teaches that one cannot act if there is a positive doubt regarding the validity of a sacrament, [LibTrad ordinations and consecrations], one is obliged to treat their clergymen as though they were invalidly ordained.

And in our case, the absolute necessity of acknowledging the infallible truth that they could not have been ordained and consecrated during an interregnum. Instead they treat these men as valid and insist that others do the same. We cannot and will not let these errors stand. Readers deserve to know when they are being misled and to be able to fully access the truth, and we are obligated to provide it. This according to today’s epistle:  “For such is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2).

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