(This article is divided into two parts, which treat of legal principles used by Traditionalists to justify their operations, The first part is treated at length, Epikeia and Its Application by Traditionalists; the second part Necessity Knows No Law, will be treated in a much briefer article following epikeia below).
Epikeia and Its Application by Traditionalists, Pt. I
© Copyright 2022, 2023 T. Stanfill Benns (Emphasis within quotes added by the author.)
- The papal election constitutions Vacante Sede Apostolica and Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis both forbid the use of epikeia, defined as a correction to the law, as well as any other changes to canon law or papal law during an interregnum.
- Ultimately, the invocation of epikeia is a quasi-legal maneuver — an attempt to supplant the Divine constitution of the Church.
- Bishops do NOT receive their jurisdiction immediately from Christ, but only through the Roman Pontiff, and this must be held as certain (Mystici Corporis, Ad sinarum gentum, Humani generis, Ad Apostolorum Principis.).
- In the absence of the Roman Pontiff, all papal jurisdiction ceases and cannot be appealed to or invoked during an interregnum, (Pope Clement I, Vacante Sede Apostolica, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis).
- This includes “supplied jurisdiction” under Canons 209 and 2261 §2, for the Roman Pontiff alone supplies it as approved authors attest.
- Traditionalists long ago refused to elect a Roman Pontiff, relinquishing any claim whatsoever to even pretend to validly possess jurisdiction.
- “It is from the institution of Christ Himself … by Divine right that the blessed Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy” (Vatican Council; DZ 1825). The Roman Pontiff has the “full and supreme power of jurisdiction, ORDINARY AND IMMEDIATE, over the churches altogether and individually, and over the PASTORS and faithful altogether and individually” (Vatican Council; DZ 1831).
- Unless the Roman Pontiff is included in the Apostolic College of Bishops, and the other bishops are in communion with him, jurisdictional power cannot exist. The Divine constitution of the Church consists in God the Father sending His only-begotten Son to earth to appoint St. Peter as the head of the Apostolic College; and through him all power and authority flow. He alone is divinely appointed by God to possess this authority and power and only he can share it with the bishops. Sever the head bishop from the body of bishops, and the connection to the Divine is lost.
Before proceeding with what follows below, it is necessary to remind readers of betrayed-catholics’ position regarding Traditionalist works on jurisdiction and epikeia. First of all, any pre-October 1958 work by an approved author, especially Canon Law dissertations which assay and summarize the various scholastic works, are to be taken as the standard and the final word on these matters. No one after that date has the right or the authorization to evaluate these works and arrive at conclusions contrary to them, not taking into consideration all the present-day circumstances. This is why no works of our own, per se, exist on these matters. All works here are based on the conclusions of others applied to the situation today. Because both Can. 209 and epikeia are invoked at length in the article to be analyzed below, the conclusions from two comprehensive works on these topics, written during the reign of Pope Pius XII, need to be set down here to avoid any confusion.
If Catholics sincerely believe that Pope Pius XII was the last true pope, then all that he taught and decided during his reign, everything written and approved by institutions known to be loyal to the Holy See prior to his death must be carefully adhered to and followed, not interpreted or piece-mealed to suit what others style as an “emergency.” No one receiving an education even in “conservative” institutions in the 1960s, 1970s were instructed by those approved by the Holy See and certainly those attending Traditional “seminaries” were mis-instructed, at best. Most of the detailed works on various canons and other topics are one-of-a-kind and cannot be duplicated. Because they provide these invaluable detailed histories of law and practice that today could not even be accomplished owing to a lack of access to materials, they must be considered the governing sources for any credible work.
The proper use of epikeia
From the conclusions page, found in The History, Nature, and Use of Epikeia in Moral Theology, by Father Lawrence Joseph Riley, Copyright 1948, The Catholic University of America Press, INC. Imprimatur: + Richardus Jacobus Cushing. D.D., 7 May, 1948:
- Epikeia may be defined as follows: A correction or emendation of a law which in its expression is deficient by reason of its universality, a correction made by a subject who deviates from the clear words of the law, basing his action upon the presumption, at least probable, that the legislator intended not to include in his law the case at hand.
- Epikeia may be used only with the greatest discretion; in the internal forum it may be applied to affirmative precepts and to negative precepts (ecclesiastical and civil), but very infrequently with regard to affirmative precepts, because the latter, binding semper but not pro semper, are more susceptible of interpretation than of epikeia.
- Epikeia is not to be identified with interpretation, dispensation, presumed permission, excusing cause, or popular acceptance of human law.
- Epikeia is a lawful institute of Moral Theology, based ultimately on the intention of the legislator to exclude from his law a particular case, and hence the presumed intention of the legislator is of the highest import in regard to epikeia.
- The intention of the legislator not to include a particular case in his law is not a merely interpretative intention, but exists in the mind of the legislator at least virtually though perhaps only implicitly… In a case where the evidence regarding this presumed intention of the legislator is so unsubstantial that the subject cannot even hesitatingly assent that he is free, epikeia may not be used…
- Epikeia may not be applied to precepts of the natural law, nor to precepts of the divine positive law of the New Testament.
- It seems probable that the use of epikeia was not permissible in reference to precepts of the divine positive law of the Old Testament.
- Human invalidating laws sometimes cease to bind; but epikeia may not be applied to human invalidating laws.
Revs. Cicoganni, Bouscaren-Ellis, Woywod-Smith, Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz, Rev. Raymond Kearney, Revs. McHugh and Callan — all these canonists and theologians warn of the great caution that must be used in applying epikeia, and the many dangers of abuse in attempting this application. So this easily amounts to a common opinion, if not a unanimous one.
Yet Traditionalists did not even follow the basic rules that govern the application of epikeia. As seen above, a specific law must be invoked. But what specific law did Traditionalists refer to when calling epikeia into play? There is a law that could have applied to this situation had it been consulted. Canon 20 reads: “ (1) If a general or a particular law contains no definite prescription concerning a case, (2) unless there is a question of applying a penalty, the rule for deciding such a case must be taken from (3) laws given in similar cases, (4) from the general principles of Canon Law based on equity, (5) from the methods and practices of the Roman Court [Curia] or from the (6) common and constant teaching of approved canonists” (numbers added for ease of reference). Because equity is included in (4), it seems Traditionalists, while never mentioning this law specifically, at least referred to it implicitly. Below we will follow the numbers in Can. 20.
(1) There was a law, however, that laid down definite prescriptions in this case. And in his work Canon Law, Abp. Amleto Cicognani states: “If there is a law covering the case, this rule [Can. 20] is not to be applied according to the meaning of Can. 18…” (p. 621). This then immediately disqualified any appeal to Can. 20. The law we are referring to happens to be an infallible law that has direct bearing on what can and cannot be done during an interregnum. It is Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, (VAS), Pope Pius XII’s infallible papal election law. This constitution is a rewrite of the codification of all election laws enacted by Pope St. Pius X. Several things would have been clarified by consulting this one law. First of all, in the very first paragraph, the pope teaches that when a pope dies, nothing can be done by the College of Cardinals until a new pope is elected. If the Cardinals (in reality only bishops) attempt to usurp any act of papal jurisdiction, that attempt is null and void. This would include the appointment of bishops and the establishment of dioceses, as well as other acts.
Secondly, in paragraph two, the law reads: “The laws issued by Roman Pontiffs in no way can be corrected or changed by the assembly of Cardinals of the Roman Church while it is without a Pope, nor can anything be subtracted from them or added or dispensed in any way whatsoever with respect to said laws or any part of them.” As Rev. Lawrence Riley notes above in his conclusions:
“Epikeia may be defined as follows: A correction or emendation of a law which in its expression is deficient by reason of its universality, a correction made by a subject who deviates from the clear words of the law, basing his action upon the presumption, at least probable, that the legislator intended not to include in his law the case at hand” (dissertation submitted to the faculty of the School of Sacred Theology of the Catholic University of America, 1948). Obviously Pope Pius XII did not wish VAS to be tampered with in any way, clearly showing his mind in the matter for he states: “In truth, if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, We declare it, by Our Supreme Authority, to be null and void.” This is an undeniable indication of an infallible document. So right off the bat, there is no possible way epikeia could be used to correct VAS, which forbids any changes whatsoever to this constitution. This also rules out the use of equity in (4) above, since in a conflict of law, the higher law prevails.
(2) There is also a question of using epikeia to correct or interpret penalties or even abolish them, in the case of Traditionalists. Canon 20 rules that it cannot apply to penalties, and VAS teaches there will be no changes to canon laws during an interregnum.
(3) (5) (6) No attempt has ever been made to follow the remaining guidelines of this canon as required in order to justify the use of epikeia. The reasons why seem clear enough: Traditionalists were afraid that someone would point to the fact they could not invoke it at all, since it amounted to correcting the law and interpreting penalties.
But there is more. In Rev. Riley’s conclusions listed above, we see that the presumed intention of the legislator, to exclude from his law a particular case, is of the highest import in regard to epikeia. And there was a process that needed to be followed here in order to determine what exactly the mind of Pope Pius XII was even before validly ordained Traditionalists could proceed to exercise their orders. “Bp.” Robert McKenna and Fr. Noel Barbara, among others —in various letters and publications — admit that they “presume” Pope Pius XII would have wished Lefebvre and Thuc to consecrate bishops for the good of the Church and the faithful. No proof whatsoever is presented to support this bold statement. Guerard des Lauriers, supposedly a trained theologian, could waste time confabulating his material-formal nonsense, but could not be bothered to justify his own “consecration” by a mental incompetent? Pope Pius XII would have wanted this?!! Or by Lefebvre, a suspected Freemason himself whose own ordination and consecration was suspect?
No proof was forthcoming because it did not exist, and these men had to know that, if they had any knowledge at all of what was taught in Pius XII’s papal encyclicals. Not to mention the censures levied for violation of canon laws regarding failure to seek orders from competent authority and consecration without the papal mandate. Notice Riley says above that at LEAST a probable opinion must exist regarding the legislator’s intent and that means five or more examples from approved authors/reliable documents of at least implicit permission to proceed.
But given the weight, expressed intent, invalidating clauses and infallible nature of VAS, there can be NO DOUBT that such an intent to allow such things to take place during an interregnum is lacking. The Pope is clear; during an interregnum, all stands just as it did upon the Pope’s death and if anyone dares to make innovations, the attempt is null, void and invalid.
Can Traditionalists claim supplied jurisdiction?
(Taken from Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz’s conclusions listed in the dissertation Supplied Jurisdiction According to Canon 209, Catholic University of America, 1940):
- The Church in all probability does not supply in common error about a clear and certain law.
- The Church does not supply in common error of law unless that error is built upon a basis of genuine probability.
- Common error must be about the existence of a particular office or about the validity or the possession of jurisdiction by some particular person or persons; it must be particularized.
- The Code has abolished the need of a colored title. But if common error about any fact is to exist, it must, of philosophical necessity, be occasioned by the presence of some kind of title.
- There is no legal argument available to support the theory which attempts to identify error and ignorance as far as the application of Canon 209 is concerned.
Comments: There are several clear and certain laws, VAS above being only one of them. Another one of these laws is Can. 2314 n. 3 which forbid those excommunicated for communicatio in sacris from acting, even if validly ordained (which in the case of Traditionalists is highly doubtful). These laws preclude the possession of ALL jurisdiction, and there can be no doubt these laws have their affect and apply to them. Traditionalists freely admit they do not possess offices. They cannot and do not possess jurisdiction at all owing to their excommunication and the absence of the Roman Pontiff, who alone supplies jurisdiction to bishops who then may delegate it to priests.
A colored title according to Miaskiewicz is (a) true, when validly received from a fully competent superior; (b) colored, when conferred by a competent superior but is invalidated by some secret defect by the one granting it or receiving it. This defect, such as revocation, deposition, etc. must be unknown to the public. And so we come to (c) putative, which Miaskiewicz states is a title only pretended to be held, whether in good faith or in bad faith. But on pages 111-112 of his work, he restricts the actual meaning of the colored title to (a) and (b), intimating that a putative title in the matter of common error was not sufficient to qualify since all absence of any doubt must be proven, and (over time) sufficient investigation would reveal the fictitious nature of a putative title.
Finally there is common error itself, which has been fiercely debated among theologians writing in the years before Pope Pius XII’s death. Miaskiewicz cautions that it must be proven to exist, and is not as easily verified as some would like it to be. He further warns that it cannot be confused with common ignorance, since “Error signifies a false judgment whereas ignorance expresses merely an absence of knowledge” (p. 152) “…If any and all jurisdictional activity is to be considered as valid because of the verification of common ignorance, what jurisdictional act could ever be called invalid?” (p. 155). So given all the above, Traditionalists never possessed jurisdiction in virtue of their excommunication. for heresy and communicatio in sacris and therefore can possess no offices. Because of this they cannot claim any title, colored or otherwise, and cannot appeal to common ignorance or error, because information has been available for decades to dispel it. We will consider next deficiencies of Traditionalist attempts to lay claim to at least some jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction articles available on the Internet
Only two articles online, written by Traditionalists, appear to treat jurisdiction at any length and in any detail. Both of these articles, while not without some merit, entirely miss the point and fail to address the major issues facing Catholics today. The most glaring omissions in both articles are the following:
- These authors fail to begin their works by first explaining the nature and source of jurisdiction and how it is conveyed.
- They do not address the fact at all that those invoking jurisdiction for any reason must be rightly ordained/consecrated and appointed by canonical authority.
- No mention is made of the fact that without a Roman Pontiff no jurisdiction whatsoever can be supplied, and that includes in danger of death. The Roman Pontiff alone can supply such jurisdiction. This is stressed by Revs. Miaskiewicz, Bancroft and Szal.
- Very little mention is made of the decisions of the Roman Pontiffs.
- Traditionalist authors are used as sources, when they are schismatics and therefore outside the Church.
- These authors falsely appeal to the needs of the faithful as the primary reason for the invocation of epikeia and supplied jurisdiction.
What is most objectionable about these articles, even though they limit invocation of jurisdiction by Traditionalist pseudo-clergy, is that they are written from the point of view of Traditionalists and those who appeal to them for mass and sacraments. Both authors pointedly ignore the actual teachings of the Church in their totality and assume they are dealing with men capable of receiving the approval of the Church, in some capacity, to function. In doing so they completely ignore de fide teaching and papal decisions which leave no doubt whatsoever that what Traditionalists claim to possess cannot and does not exist.
In 1950, Pope Pius XII issued two papal decisions removing any doubt that those pretending to be the continuation of the Catholic Church today could ever constitute Christ’s true Church on earth. The first of these was issued June 29, 1950 as an authentic interpretation of Can. 147, based on the teachings of the Council of Trent:
The Council of Trent, Sess. 23, Ch. 4:
”In the ordination of bishops, priests and of other orders… the consent or call or authority of the people or of any secular power or magistrate is not so required for the validity of the ordination but rather [this Holy Synod] decrees that those who are called and instituted only by the people or by the civil power or magistrate and proceed to exercise these offices and that those who by their own temerity take these offices upon themselves are not ministers of the Church but are to be regarded as ‘thieves and robbers who have not entered by the door’ (Jn. 10:1)” (DZ 960).
“If anyone says that the bishops are not superior to priests… or that orders conferred by them without the consent or call of the people or of the secular power are invalid; or that those who have been neither rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical authority but come from a different source a are lawful ministers of the Word and of the Sacraments, let him be anathema (DZ 967).
Canon 147 reads: “An ecclesiastical office is not 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.” Traditionalists never received an office, for neither Marcel Lefebvre or Bp. Ngo dinh Thuc themselves possessed or could possess an office after resigning their offices from Pope Pius XII and participating in communicatio in sacris with the Novus Ordo church. Certainly heretics are not competent ecclesiastical authorities and the sacred canons requiring the papal mandate and assignment of dioceses for the erection of seminaries all were ignored. This decision of the Sacred Congregation, approved by Pope Pius XII, gives an authentic interpretation of this law making it equivalent to the law itself, citing the text of DZ 967 from the Council of Trent below and yet another version of DZ 960, varying slightly from the Denzinger translation:
“Those who undertake to exercise these offices merely at the behest of and upon appointment by the people or secular power and authority, and those 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…His holiness Pope Pius XII…in order to preserve more inviolate these same sacred principles and at the same time forestall abuses in a matter of such great importance…deigned to provide as follows…” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3, T. Lincoln Bouscaren, S.J., 1953; AAS 42-601) And here censures are levied against those who violate this law, reserved in a special manner to the Holy See. So in promoting the heresy of jurisdiction outside the proper ecclesiastical channels, Traditionalists deny the teachings of St. Paul and our Lord in Holy Scripture, where they say men must be sent; this is the de fide teaching of the Council of Trent. Pope Pius XII’s teaching on Canon 147 is entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis and is therefore binding on all Catholics. Traditionalists readily admit they possess no offices; ergo, they are not validly appointed by the Church.
But this was only the introduction to what would follow.
Episcopal power does NOT come to bishops directly from Christ
Another myth that Anthony Cekada and other Trad pseudo-clergy circulated for decades is that bishops receive their jurisdictional power directly from Christ in virtue of “consecration.” This despite the fact that since the 1800s, as Henry Cardinal Manning wrote in his The Pastoral Office, it has been the common opinion of theologians that the bishops receive their jurisdiction only through the Roman Pontiff. The matter was left open to discussion until the issuance of Mystici Corporis in 1943, stating that indeed the bishops do receive their jurisdiction only through the Roman Pontiff. Six weeks after issuing his decision on Can. 147, Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical Humani generis on Aug. 12, 1950. The import of this encyclical is explained below by Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton. Msgr. Fenton begins by quoting the following pertinent paragraphs from Humani generis:
“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 these two paragraphs are 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.”
- Unless an actual office is conveyed according to the sacred canons, which govern the proper appointment of bishops and those to whom they might delegate any jurisdiction, such men receive no authorization or power to do anything. They lack apostolicity, as the Council of Trent and the Catholic Encyclopedia explains and are to be considered as thieves and robbers.
- This is true for two reasons:
- a) they are not “rightly” nor “duly” ordained, having received their orders from heretics and schismatics and thus having incurred excommunication for such reception;
- b) they were therefore incapacitated from ever receiving jurisdiction and did not in fact receive it, having never been appointed to an office by competent ecclesiastical authority.
- Having never been rightly ordained, they could not possibly become bishops.
- All jurisdiction received by bishops issues solely from the Roman Pontiff.
- In the absence if the Roman Pontiff, such jurisdiction can neither be received nor supplied for; it simply cannot and does not exist.
Given Pope Pius XII’s decision on Can. 147, and regarding the jurisdiction of the bishops, there is absolutely no way that Traditionalists could validly claim any type of extraordinary or supplied jurisdiction. To do so they would need to deny teachings of the Church they are bound to accept to even pretend to remain Catholic. And any claim that epikeia could somehow provide them with such jurisdiction is the stuff of which fairy tales are made. And this is true even when penitents are in danger of death.
“The source of jurisdiction for the sacrament of Penance in danger of death has been controverted among the authors. Some have held that it is from the divine law. The reasons are (1) the granting of jurisdiction in this case is handed down in a constant tradition of the Church the beginning of which is not known; a tradition of this kind is a sign of the divine law; (2) if the Church had power to change this, that power and its use would not be for the good of the faithful but for their harm. Suarez considers it the true opinion that the jurisdiction comes from the Church. The words of the Council of Trent signify that this tradition has arisen from the Church and is at most an Apostolic tradition. All the documents granting this jurisdiction indicate that it is a grant of the Church.
“In giving this jurisdiction, the Church has always prescribed an order and a manner to be observed. THEREFORE ITS ACTUAL GRANT IS NOT IMMEDIATELY FROM CHRIST but it has been given to His vicars who are bound by the divine and even natural precept of charity to provide sufficiently for the necessity of the faithful” (Communication in Religious Worship With Non-Catholics, Rev. John R. Bancroft, C.S.S.R., J.C.B, S.T.L., Catholic University of America Canon Law dissertation, 1943). Miaskiewicz writes on pg. 194 of his work: “When the Church OR MORE SPECIFICALLY THE ROMAN PONTIFF is said to supply jurisdiction in any case whatsoever, be it in common error or in doubt, it is readily understood that the Pope acts in virtue of the plenitude of the jurisdictional power Christ entrusted to his person.” So according to VAS and the theologians above, in the absence of the Roman Pontiff — the source of all jurisdiction — it cannot be supplied, even to a vitandus in danger of death.
Traditionalists indignantly assert that because the popes would wish this natural precept of charity to yet exist, that this gives them the right to presume it still does exist. They accuse those who insist the Church cannot and does not supply any sort of jurisdiction in the absence of the Roman Pontiff, as clearly indicated above, of wishing evil to the faithful and for them to be deprived of all helps to salvation and the graces necessary for achieving it. But in all truth, Traditional pseudo-clergy are the ones who deprived the faithful of any possibility of electing a true pope while bishops appointed by Pope Pius XII yet existed. It was their obligation to rally the faithful to help find them and demand they elect a true pope.
But oh no; instead there was Guerard des Laurier’s material-formal lunacy and the idiotic antics of the “recognize and resist” crowd. This bunch actually believes their efforts will magically turn a heretical layman who never became pope in the first place (and could never become one) into a true Roman Pontiff! And then, when their pseudo-bishops failed to act, Traditionalists demonized and ridiculed all three attempts by the laity to try to elect a pope (and yes there were three, not just one). So who was really acting in the interests of the common good and for the “salvation of souls”?!
The common good and the imputability of acts
While Traditionalists spurn the idea their clergy could possibly be guilty of heresy, Canon Law indicates otherwise. Simply by resorting to such men as Lefebvre and Thuc for their Orders, they placed themselves outside the Church according to Can. 2314. Proofs of this have been available on this site for many years. Also mentioned previously is the following. In 1944, Rev. Alan McCoy O.F.M., J.C.L. wrote a dissertation, Force and Fear in Relation to Delictual Imputability and Penal Responsibility, (Catholic University of America). Under the general heading of “Delictual Acts Interdicted by Divine Authority,” regarding censures, he writes:
“When an act is intrinsically evil, or involves contempt of the faith or of ecclesiastical authority, or works to the detriment of souls… imputability is not taken away in such cases since in these instances the observance of the law still urges under the pain of sin, even though the most severe personal hardship or danger, or also the greatest private harm might come from such observance.” He then lists these delicts, under various headings in the 1917 Code as: “HERESY, APOSTASY AND SCHISM; COMMUNICATION IN SACRED RITES WITH HERETICS; USURPATION OF PRIESTLY FUNCTIONS AND SACRILEGE …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. And I hardly think anyone being honest about the subject could ever consider Lefebvre and Thuc anything but unworthy prelates. Another theologian writing on doubt in the law observes:
“A prohibitory law of its very nature admits the excuse of ignorance or moral incapacity and on this basis will frequently cease in its cogent force. Not so an invalidating law. Invalidation is not premised on an obligation but is derived from the will of the legislator who seeks to protect the common good of society and wishes to safeguard it more compellingly from fraud, injury and danger. The inviolable observance of invalidating laws is constantly urgent because their transgression presents a far graver danger to society itself” (Doubt in Canon Law, Rev. Roger Viau, S.T.L, J.C.L., 1954, pg. 69; Catholic University of America dissertation). And VAS is definitely an invalidating and prohibitory law, not to mention an infallible one. Above we see the reasons why such laws cannot be relaxed to accommodate the wishes of Traditionalists disingenuously claiming they act on behalf of the common good. As seen above, the laws they have violated work to the destruction, not the salvation, of the faithful.
There are grave penalties for all the delicts mentioned by Rev. McCoy, which are detailed in Canon Law; and it is not a coincidence that no pope exists to deal with the many contemptible delinquencies committed by those described above. Nearly all would have been defrocked long ago, and the actors appearing on the Traditionalist stage today know this. We are dealing with a similar situation in this country today, where criminals are released from jail or prison to run free and commit crimes of every possible description, and the population at large is helpless to protect themselves. Many are con men who successfully swindle people out of huge sums of money or fraudulently acquire their property and other goods. But nothing can compare to those who come to us clothed as our spiritual benefactors but instead rob us of every spiritual good by presenting error as truth.
The true source of all jurisdiction
The Church Herself teaches that if those presenting as bishops were not in communion with a true Roman Pontiff, vested members of the Apostolic College, then they are usurpers and imposters and cannot possibly possess such succession.
Pietro Parente, others, Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology
“Only in dependence on the ministerial power of the Church, indefectibly faithful to the mandate of its Founder, do men of all times and places find the guarantee of the continuity of the means of salvation established by the Redeemer…The Church, moreover, is a well-organized Body in which every vital movement, linked to an external rite must depend in some way on the visible head. It is necessary therefore that every infusion of new, vital energies, caused by the Sacraments be in some way dependent on the visible head of the Church and on Her hierarchy…” (“Intention (of the minister of the Sacraments,). This reads: dependent in some way on the visible head of the Church AND Her hierarchy, not OR Her hierarchy. But you can really have a Church without the Roman Pontiff? And then there is this:
Msgr. G. Van Noort, S.T.D., Christ’s Church, Vol. 2, 119-122, 1959
“Apostolicity of government or mission or authority means the Church is always ruled by pastors who form one, same juridical person with the apostles. In other words, it is always ruled by pastors who are the apostles’ legitimate successors… For on no one but the APOSTOLIC COLLEGE under the headship of Peter did Christ confer the power of teaching, sanctifying and ruling the faithful until the end of the world. This triple power therefore necessarily belongs and can only belong to those who form one moral person with the apostles; their legitimate successors.
“How could a man belong to the College of the successors of the Apostles unless he be united to the head of the college and acknowledged by him as belonging to it? A man could hardly be a cabinet member if the president refused to accept him. Any man then who boasts Apostolic Succession but is not united to the Roman Pontiff may indeed actually possess the power of orders; he may even by purely physical succession occupy a chair formerly occupied by an apostle — at least he could do so — but he would not be a genuine successor of the apostles in their pastoral office; he would be a usurper.”
And like it or not, that is what Traditionalist pseudo-clergy are: USURPERS. Because we have no Apostolic College we have no Church! What is written above comes from REAL theologians writing when the Church WAS the Church, not these Traditionalist jokers today who dare pretend they know something about theology. They cite theologians often, but you will never read these citations in their writings. And then there is this:
“Above the prerogatives of his colleagues St. Peter had the unique distinction of being the principle of the Church’s unity and cohesion. As the Church has to endure to the end of time, so has the unifying and preserving office of St. Peter. Without such a principle, without a head, the body of the Bride of Christ would be no better than a disjointed congeries of members, unworthy of the Divine Bridegroom. In fact the connection of the Church with Christ and the Apostles would be loosened and weakened to the breaking point” (Apostolic College). And after almost 64 years, we are well beyond that breaking point today.
Rev. E. S. Berry, the Church of Christ, (p. 399).” “Christ evidently intended that His Church be governed by bishops — bishops by the power of Orders as well as by the power of jurisdiction… After the Ascension St. Peter and his successors [took] the place of Christ as visible head of the Apostolic body, with full authority to carry out His will: ‘Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven.’ Consequently the Roman Pontiff, as successor of St. Peter, has sole authority to accept new members into the Apostolic body, i. e., he alone has authority to constitute bishops, since authority to teach and govern the faithful was conferred upon the Apostles as a body and can be obtained only by incorporation into that body.
“Bishops are shepherds for portions of the flock that was committed in its entirety to the pastoral care of St. Peter and his successors; but no one becomes a shepherd of any portion of a flock unless he be made such by the chief pastor of the whole flock. It is also evident that the chief purpose of the primacy — the preservation of unity — could not be realized if the bishops of the Church were not subject in all things to her supreme pastor.”
Pope Pius IX: “No one can be considered a bishop who is not linked in communion of faith and love with Peter, upon whom is built the Church of Christ; who does not adhere to the supreme Pastor to whom the sheep of Christ are committed to be pastured; and who is not bound to the confirmer of fraternity which is in the world.”
The arguments flying back and forth on this topic for decades have centered on one de fide teaching that has been key to all of this from the beginning. I will state it one more time and if people wish to ignore it then they can consider themselves outside the Church.
The only way these men could claim to preserve the Catholic Church in any meaningful way was to carefully follow all of Her teachings and laws in trying to construct something that remained true in every way possible to the original, but this they repeatedly failed to do. There was a void and they were determined to fill it, and that for their own benefit. This can be styled as nothing less than a contempt of faith, and such contempt has been defined above. To attract the followers they needed to stay in business, the salvation of souls had to be emphasized to the exclusion of the glory of God and good of the Church. Traditionalists do one of two things: either they offer as proof treatises after the style of Sanborn and Cekada replete with all the technical scholastic terminology (which Msgr. Fenton says is not necessary for a so-called “scientific” presentation) or like McKenna, they reduce their “proofs” to a few pages or a few sentences. Seldom do they rely on anything from the magisterium. But the teachings of the Church on what we are experiencing today were out there, as seen below. No one, however, one was interested in playing by the Church’s rules.
Thomas William Allies on Jurisdiction
Had McKenna or any of the others truly wished to cite something on the subject of jurisdiction and succession that made perfect sense and came from an impeccable source, he could have resorted to the following. In 1865, Thomas William Allies M.A., a convert from Anglicanism, issued the third edition of a little work called The See of St. Peter, translated and circulated by the express order of Pope Pius IX. There he treats of the subject of jurisdiction, how it is transmitted and how it becomes inoperable. He begins by commenting on the Anglican Bishops, Barlow and Parker, whose consecrations were later determined invalid by Pope Leo XIII in Apostolica Curae:
“The confirmation of Parker was made by those who had no authority to make it; they were without any recognized jurisdiction. Let it be allowed that he (Barlow) had been duly consecrated; still he was disabled from executing his functions: He and his colleagues had no jurisdiction. On the supposition that they were true bishops, they had power to administer the Sacraments, but in no particular place, nor to any particular persons. They were bishops, but they had no subjects; all acts of jurisdiction performed by them under these circumstances would be null: acts of their Order, irregular. Supposing them to be true bishops, nay, to have been consecrated by the Supreme Pontiff himself and under no canonical disabilities, THEY COULD NOT CONFER ORDERS WHICH SHOULD BE VALID IN RESPECT OF EXECUTION; as they had no jurisdiction themselves, they could confirm none upon Parker and that defect must still inhere in Parker’s successors — time cannot cure it” (pgs. 61-62). Allies continues:
“Acts flowing from Order, although done wrongly and illicitly, are yet, when done, valid; but acts flowing from jurisdiction, if done upon those over whom the doer has no jurisdiction, are absolutely invalid and null… All this doctrine may be summed up thus; all spiritual power of the sacerdotal character is given together with a certain consecration, and therefore the keys are given with the order; but the use of the keys requires its proper matter, which is a people made subject by jurisdiction, and therefore one before he has jurisdiction has the keys, but has not the ACT of using them. A consequence of this is that while in all schismatics, heretics, excommunicated, suspended or degraded persons, the power of the keys remains as to its essence, yet the use of the keys is barred through defect of matter.
“For the use of the keys requiring superiority in the user over him on whom it is used, the proper matter on which the use of the keys is exercised is a spiritual subject; and since it is through the order of the Church that one is subject to another, therefore a former subject may be subtracted from his obedience by those who have the rule in the Church. Whence, as the Church deprives heretics, schismatics, and such like, by withdrawing their subjects, either simply or partially, so far as they are deprived, they cannot have the use of the keys” (pgs. 69-71). AND REMEMBER, ALL OF THE ABOVE IS PRESUMING VALID ORDINATION / CONSECRATION AT LEAST, AND NO CANONICAL DISABILITIES. There is grave doubt about the validity of Traditionalist orders and numerous canonical disabilities exist.
Reading the above, it is clear that there can be no jurisdiction without the proper assignment of subjects, and that barring such assignment, it cannot and does not exist.
On the pope’s supremacy of jurisdiction
Following the issuance of Allies’ work, the Vatican Council condemned with anathema those who taught that the pope’s “…full and supreme power of jurisdiction is not ORDINARY AND IMMEDIATE, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the PASTORS and faithful altogether and individually” (DZ 1831). SO POPE PIUS XII’S DECISION ON EPISCOPAL ORDERS WAS ONLY A FURTHER CONFIRMATION OF THIS INFALLIBLE TEACHING.
So unless the pope assigns a bishop to a diocese or a mission territory containing spiritual subjects, he has no subjects (Vatican Council, DZ 1828). And if he has no subjects because he has no assignment or jurisdiction then he has none to delegate to priests. Collecting subjects who seek him out will not suffice, because supplied jurisdiction under Canons 209 and 2261 §2 assumes there is a true pope reigning to supply, and that in most cases such subjects already were lawfully assigned to minister to them. Nor can they appeal to God to supply jurisdiction when He has willed to supply it only through His Son’s Vicar. Commenting on the topic of episcopal jurisdiction, a very respected theologian explains this concept as follows:
“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). This is the same observation Parente makes above. And if no physical or moral person can intervene, neither can a pseudo-legal principle. The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches regarding Apostolicity:
“An authoritative mission to teach is absolutely necessary, a man-given mission is not authoritative. Hence any concept of Apostolicity that excludes authoritative union with the Apostolic mission robs the ministry of its Divine character…The intention of Christ is apparent from the Bible passages, which tell of the conferring of the mission upon the Apostles. ‘As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you’ (John 20:21). The mission of the Apostles, like the mission of Christ, is a Divine mission; they are the Apostles, or ambassadors, of the Eternal Father. ‘All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth…’ (Matthew 28:18). THIS DIVINE MISSION IS ALWAYS TO CONTINUE THE SAME, hence it must be transmitted with its Divine character until the end of time, i.e. there must be an unbroken LAWFUL succession which is called Apostolicity.” So what has validity to do with any of this?
Traditionalists of various shades and descriptions have continued all these years to falsely teach that you can claim Apostolic succession and grant jurisdiction to yourself, OVERRIDING GOD, by using some quasi-legal principle laced with cautions as a substitute for a Divine mission. Traditionalists writing on jurisdiction believe that the need of the faithful and an appeal to common error is sufficient to justify invoking Can. 209, but that appeal is not possible without a true pope. To be Divine, such a mission can be assigned to bishops only by the Pope, who receives his mission directly from Christ. Ergo, Traditionalist “logic” regarding Apostolic succession and jurisdiction forces one to assume that a “presumption” concocted by men not even certainly validly ordained and consecrated is the equivalent of a divinely authorized mission, making man equal to God in authority! So welcome to another church that passes for Catholic but really teaches secular humanism.
This usurpation of papal rights and power in this very same way was attempted before by the Gallicanist faction active during the Western Schism, where epikeia also was used to effect “…the restriction of the pope’s plentitude of power and his subjugation to a body, be it the Sacred College [of cardinals] or a general council, which shall exercise control over his actions. But this trend of opinion was not only illegal, it was above all against a fundamental article of Faith” (Walter Ullmann, The Origins of the Great Schism, 1948). And this book was written by a secular author! Later, the Gallicanist position was restated by the Anglicans to justify their rejection of the papacy. While still calling themselves Catholic, they even claimed to remain within the unity of the (“invisible”) Church. But Catholics cannot see or believe this is all about denying the absolute necessity of the papacy?
How is it possible that anyone, especially one presenting as someone knowledgeable in theology, can claim to possess Apostolic succession and jurisdiction via epikeia when to do so is the denial of a basic Catholic truth: that God Himself is the source of all authority in His Church and His Vicar is the dispenser of that authority on earth? This alone convicts every Traditionalist pseudo-cleric of heresy. This is the denial of DZ 1831, the canon of the Vatican Council on the pope’s supreme jurisdiction to which an anathema is attached. We are talking about a sacred spiritual power here, granted to act in Christ’s name as His duly commissioned representative, not some mere temporal delegation of power. It is this basic misunderstanding of what the Church teaches regarding the Divine transmission of authority that keeps Traditionalists in business and their followers enslaved to them. Those who believe that a quasi-legal principle such as epikeia can actually dethrone God and place men not authorized by Him in charge of His Church are definitely no longer members of the Catholic Church established by Christ.
And finally, from Rev. Joseph Riley quoted above:
“The Church as it was constituted by Christ (Pope, bishops, priests) was established forever as a hierarchico-monarchical society… to remain unchanged until the end of time… NOWHERE IN REVELATION IS THERE ANY EVIDENCE OF ANY INTENTIONS TO PERMIT EXCEPTIONS TO — OR CHANGES IN — THIS CONSTITUTION IN FUTURE HISTORY BY THE USE OF EPIKEIA OR ON ANY OTHER BASIS. MEN ARE FREE OF COURSE TO FOUND OTHER CHURCHES, DIFFERING IN CONSTITUTION AND NATURE… BUT SUCH CHURCHES ARE NOT CHRIST’S… To maintain that Christ had some intention for the future, contrary to that made manifest in the actual establishment of His Church is a refusal to believe in the efficacy of the divine promise that Christ would be with the Church unto the consummation of the world; it is a denial of the [four marks] and indefectibility of this divinely established institution” (p. 330-31).
AND REV. RILEY HAS SAID IT; WE DIDN’T. THIS CLASSIFIES ALL TRADITIONALISTS AS SCHISMATICS, JUST AS WE HAVE ALWAYS CLASSIFIED THEM.
It is a travesty that Traditionalists have been able to perpetrate the lie that they are the continuation of the true Church on earth without the juridical progression from the Divine constitution of the Church which alone can guarantee that claim. Limiting the Divine constitution of the Church to the service of the faithful is a perversion of the mission Christ entrusted to His Church. First, as Rev. E.S. Berry states in his The Church of Christ, “The Church, in common with all the works of God, must have for its final purpose the manifestation of God’s glory… Perpetuity follows also from the very purpose for which the Church was instituted, namely, the glory of God and the salvation of souls.” Thus in defining infallibility, the Vatican Council decreed: “Faithfully adhering to the Tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Saviour, the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of the Christian people…” (DZ 1839).
By placing the faithful first and their need for the sacraments paramount to the exclusion of the needs of the Church and the glory of God is nothing more than parroting the very verbiage of the false Vatican 2 council and its pandering to the “people of God.” We are here to serve the Church for the honor and glory of God, as its members; the Church is not here to cater to us. How many Traditionalists hypocritically condemn the Novus Ordo church when in reality they are only a mirror image of that church themselves! The “salvation of souls” so vaunted by Traditionalists, is a privilege issuing solely from jurisdiction. The Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches: “The power of jurisdiction… has reference… to Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church; for to this latter belong the government… and direction of the faithful in the way of salvation.” Having never received jurisdiction, these men are incapable of ever obtaining the salvation of souls and in truth can work only to their damnation.
The powers of teaching and preaching can be obtained only by possessing jurisdiction. Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton writes: “The power of jurisdiction within the Church is possessed and exercised only by those to whom Our Lord has given the commission and the duty to take care of the subjects of this society. The men who have been given the Apostolic power are bound in conscience to employ it and to guide and direct the faithful in the way of eternal salvation…. Those who hear or heed the men to whom Our Lord has given the Apostolic power of jurisdiction by that very fact hear and heed Our Lord himself” (“Magisterium and Jurisdiction,” The American Ecclesiastical Review, March 1954). Notice Msgr. Fenton says it is Our Lord who commissions his bishops and priests. And His commission can issue only from the Roman Pontiff canonically elected. “Where Peter is, there is the Church” (St. Ambrose). And where he is not, the Church cannot and does not exist.
Necessity Knows no Law, Part II
Necessity and the necessary means to salvation
Traditionalists to this day claim that “necessity knows no law” as taught by St. Thomas Aquinas and detailed in Canon Law provides them with the authority to operate as clergy. They would be speaking more plainly, however, if they switched proverbs, for the proverb they actually should be citing is “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This proverb was first noted in one of Aesop’s Fables, 6th century BC, then later is uttered by Plato in his Republic: “Our need will be the real creator.” This was loosely translated in the 16th century as Mater artium necessitas or “The mother of invention is necessity” (Wikipedia). Not surprisingly, invention indicates origination, innovation — something foreign to the Church, but not to Traditionalists. For it is not hard to prove that while they cited necessity knows no law, the citations they used to justify their actions were actually unrelated to what they were proposing, which was forbidden by Church law.
So to those unfamiliar with St. Thomas Aquinas and Canon Law, their references appeared sufficient and served as a cover for their real intentions: to invent a new hierarchy, a “Catholic” church without the pope, that would serve the needs of their followers who were clamoring for the Mass and sacraments. Traditionalists grandly flaunt their stated mission in this world as the salvation of souls, and indeed that is and was the Church’s primary, though not only, mission on earth. But it is not their mission. To possess an apostolic mission requires certainly valid orders and jurisdiction, which these men never possessed, and apostolicity of doctrine, when they deny the de fide teachings of Trent and the Vatican Council. Such men cannot and do not issue from the apostles nor do they teach what the Church has always taught. This has been proven repeatedly from impeccable sources in the articles found on this site.
But to be more specific, necessity is an actual rule governing all Canon Law. It states: “Necessity renders licit what is not licit in the law” (Rule 4). But this does not provide the wide scope that Traditionalists pretend it provides. It does not state that necessity makes valid what is invalid because this would be absurd. And as we have seen above, it is not the liciety of acts we are concerned about here; it is the presumed validity Traditionalists claim, and which they can never prove. Liciety cannot exist without first proving validity, so making something licit is scarcely an issue here.
What those following Traditionalists should truly be concerned within is this: What is really necessary for Catholics to save their souls?
1) Valid Baptism
2) Observance of the Commandments and laws of the Church
3) Obedience to the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs
4) Membership in Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, which has not been lost through heresy, apostasy or schism.
5) Prayer and good works
6) True contrition for sins, a Perfect Act of Contrition each day and amendment of life in lieu of Penance
7) Spiritual Communion in the absence of the Eucharist
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Baptism and Penance are the two Sacraments necessary for all for salvation, as well as Orders for the Church (but this presupposes that Penance and Orders can be received without danger of grave sin and invalidity, which is not the case today). Pope Pius XII details the observance of numbers 3-5 as necessary for Church membership in Mystici Corporis Christi. And 6-7 have always been accepted as substitutes for the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. Catholics are forbidden to receive the Sacraments if even the slightest doubt exists that they may be invalid. Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS) declares all consecrations and establishment of seminaries, hence tonsure and ordination resulting therefrom, as acts of papal jurisdiction; these he affirms are invalid during an interregnum.
Pope Pius VI taught in Charitas, regarding the nullity of actions issuing from illicitly consecrated bishops:
“We therefore severely forbid the said Expilly and the other wickedly elected and illicitly consecrated men, under this punishment of suspension, to assume episcopal jurisdiction or any other authority for the guidance of souls since they have never received it. They must not grant dimissorial letters for ordinations. Nor must they appoint, depute, or confirm pastors, vicars, missionaries, helpers, functionaries, ministers, or others, whatever their title, for the care of souls and the administration of the Sacraments UNDER ANY PRETEXT OF NECESSITY WHATSOEVER. Nor may they otherwise act, decree, or decide, whether separately or united as a council, on matters which relate to ecclesiastical jurisdiction. For We declare and proclaim publicly that all their dimissorial letters and deputations or confirmations, past and future, as well as all their rash proceedings and their consequences, are utterly void and without force.”
Why didn’t Traditionalists cite this papal decree which so clearly refers to necessity? Precisely because this teaching is the basis (the fontes cited) for Can. 2370 excommunicating those daring to consecrate bishops without a papal mandate. Does the St. Thomas Aquinas’ reference Traditionalists regularly cite on necessity clarify anything? No; rather it further muddies the waters. For they provide the following.
St. Thomas Aquinas on necessity knows no law
St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa on absolution in danger of death: “On the contrary, spiritual necessity is greater than bodily necessity. But it is lawful in a case of extreme necessity, for a man to make use of another’s property, even against the owner’s will, in order to supply a bodily need. Therefore in danger of death, a man may be absolved by another than his own priest, in order to supply his spiritual need… I answer that, If we consider the power of the keys, every priest has power over all men equally and over all sins: and it is due to the fact that by the ordination of the Church, he has a limited jurisdiction or none at all, that he cannot absolve all men from all sins. But since ‘necessity knows no law’ [Cap. Consilium, De observ. jejun.; De reg. jur. (v, Decretal)] in cases of necessity the ordination of the Church does not hinder him from being able to absolve, since he has the keys sacramentally: and the penitent will receive as much benefit from the absolution of this other priest as if he had been absolved by his own.”
But do they quote this from St. Thomas Aquinas regarding necessity?
“If, however, the peril be so sudden as not to allow the delay involved in referring the matter to authority, the mere necessity brings with it a dispensation, since necessity knows no law.” (Summa I, Q-96, A-6.) St. Thomas then continues in in Article Six. “Whether he who is under a law may act beside the letter of the law; (1) There must be a sudden risk; i.e., something requiring immediate remedy; (2) The authority, who would normally decide the course of action must be unavailable; (3) Observation of the letter of the law would be hurtful to the common good.” (To be a law, it must tend toward the common good. All three of these conditions must exist before one may act outside the letter of the law.) “Nevertheless, it must be noted, that if the observance of the law according to the letter does not involve any sudden risk needing instant remedy, it is not useful for everyone to expound what is useful and what is not useful to the state; those alone can do this who are in authority, and who, on account of such like cases, have the power to dispense from the laws.” (Q-95, A-6.)
And in another place he states:
Summa I, Q. 97, Art. 2. “Therefore human law should never be changed unless in some way or other the common weal be compensated according to the extent of the harm done in this respect. Such compensation may arise either from some very great and very evident benefit conferred by the new enactment or from the extreme urgency of the case due to the fact that either the existing law is clearly unjust or its observance is extremely harmful. Wherefore the jurist says that in establishing new laws there should be evidence of the benefit to be derived before departing from a law which has long been considered just.”
First, regarding the Summa quote on danger of death, Traditionalists who pose as clerics have yet to prove that they are truly validly ordained and consecrated and able to offer the Sacraments to anyone. During an interregnum Pope Pius XII says they are not. He also says that any attempt to dispense from or violate the Canons or papal law is null and void, so necessity or no, nothing they have done is valid or licit. Clearly this citation from St. Thomas is a circular argument based on a point yet to be proven and it is no argument at all. By asking their followers to accept such an argument they are inviting them to disobey an infallible papal decree and endanger their souls. But they are the ones claiming to be all about the salvation of souls? This is yet another example of the devious mind games used to make them appear to be the answer to everyone’s prayers.
Secondly, concerning the conditions which must be observed, there was need of a remedy and the proper authority was unavailable. But the third condition was not fulfilled. Observing the law, not acting outside of it, is what would have protected the common good, as such laws are intended to do. So even if we were talking here about a human law, and not one emanating from Divine law, Catholics were obligated to obey it obey it in obedience to VAS and not risk frequenting Traditionalists. Although there was no true pope, papal teaching was readily available at seminary and other libraries, as were periodicals written for the clergy, Canon Law dissertations and many other useful works. I know, because many of them are sitting in my library. And today they can be downloaded from the Internet.
Thirdly, how can one be compensated for violating the law, when that law issues from Divine Law? Or compensated for sending them to hell by involving them in schism? Did anyone ever explain the benefits and detriments to be derived from acting outside the law? there was never any interaction with the laity. All was decided for them at the top by the almighty “clergy.” And they even used Canon Law to absolve them from any wrongdoing.
Canons on neccessity
What about the Canons they cite to prove that the Code both approves of the use of necessity knows no law and absolves them from any consequences? Well here we have a problem. The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) writers explaining this refer to both the 1917 Code of Canon Law and the Novus Ordo 1983 “revision” of the Code, which of course can be no revision at all. That alone disqualifies their arguments. Even in citing the 1917 Canons, they fail to quote the entire context and advise their readers of its full meaning and implications. The first canon they cite is Canon 2205 which states:
“The Code of 1917 spoke of necessity in Canon 2205, §2 and §3; the Code of 1983 [N.C.] deals with it in cc.1324, §4 and 1324, §1, 5. The law does not say what is meant by this item; it leaves to jurisprudence and doctors the task of giving it a precise meaning. But it is clear from the context that necessity is a state wherein goods necessary for life are put in danger in such a way that to come out of this state the violation of certain laws is inevitable…The Code recognizes necessity as a circumstance which exempts from all penalties in case of violation of the law (N.C. 1324, §4), provided that the action is not intrinsically bad or harmful to souls; in this latter case necessity would only mitigate the penalty. But no latae sententiae penalty can be incurred by anyone who has acted in this circumstance… This law of necessity can be resorted to only when one has exhausted all possibilities of re-establishing a normal situation, relying on positive law.” https://sspx.org/en/disposition-law-case-necessity-church
This article is brief. The references it quotes are written by a post-Vatican 2 “theologian.” The links direct readers to purchase one of his works. And the Canon he quotes gives the lie to what is said above:
“Physical violence which deprives a person of all freedom of action absolutely excuses from liability. Grave fear, even though only relatively such, necessity and even grave inconvenience excuse as a rule from all liability if there is a question of purely ecclesiastical laws. If however an act is intrinsically evil, involves contempt of the faith, or of ecclesiastical authority or works to the detriment of souls, excuses based on great fear, necessity and great inconvenience diminish but do not destroy liability.” The canonist Rev. Charles Augustine writes under this canon: “To the external forum may be referred three kinds of acts here specified, namely contempt of faith, contempt of ecclesiastical authority and spiritual damage. Contempt of faith spells apostasy or heresy, contempt of authority implies schism, if not also heresy and spiritual damage may be summed up under the heading of cooperation, scandal and hatred.”
Guilt remains for heresy, schism, harm to souls
In his 1944, dissertation, Force and Fear in Relation to Delictual Imputability and Penal Responsibility, (Catholic University of America), under the general heading of “Delictual Acts Interdicted by Divine Authority,” McCoy confirms what Augustine says above: “All authors [admit that] when the observance of a law, even of a merely human law, was necessary for protecting the public good, or when its violation led to contempt of faith, or of the law, or of ecclesiastical authority,” then there was no excuse from (grave guilt) or penal sanctions (p. 50). He further stated: “Intrinsically evil acts are distinguished from those acts which are extrinsically or merely positively evil acts. Their immoral character is so indelibly proper to them by their very nature that they cannot be made objectively good, not even by divine power. And therefore those causes which are admitted as exempting from merely positive laws… namely abrogation, dispensation, contrary custom, EPIKEIA, can never take away the objective immorality of such intrinsically evil acts (p. 91).
”When an act is intrinsically evil, or involves contempt of the faith or of ecclesiastical authority, or works to the detriment of souls… imputability is not taken away in such cases since in these instances the observance of the law still urges under the pain of sin, even though the most severe personal hardship or danger, or also the greatest private harm might come from such observance. And the reason for this is that some spiritual good, either of God or of the Church or of individual souls is involved…” He then list those acts tending to contempt of faith as: “the crimes of apostasy, heresy or schism; spontaneous assistance in the propagation of heresy and communication in sacred rites with heretics; celebration of mixed marriages before a non-Catholic minister; the usurpation of priestly functions...”
On page 97, under the heading “Acts that Work to the Detriment of Souls,” McCoy continues: “These are all acts which draw people away from the faith or from the practice of Christian morals and thus expose them to the danger of eternal damnation…Those acts which, by their nature, work to the detriment of souls are listed particularly in Titles XVI and XVII of the fifth book of the Code…bearing the headings: ‘Offenses Committed in the Administration or Reception of Orders or the Other Sacraments’ and ‘Offenses Against the Obligations Proper to the Clerical and Religious State.’” Among the offenses McCoy lists that work to the detriment of souls are: “…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, conspiracy against the Roman Pontiff…interference with the liberty and rights of the Church, (Can. 2334)…”
And McCoy adds: “Almost any delict can tend to contempt of the faith or of ecclesiastical authority if it is committed in certain aggravating circumstances.” So what has been presented above proves that there has been a blatant misrepresentation of the teachings of the Code and the actual import of this law. More importantly in fact, MOST importantly, is the charge of conspiracy against the Roman Pontiff, which seems to be evident in Traditionalist usurpation of magisterial authority.
Orders presumed; validity cannot be proven
Another article authored by a Sedevacantist “cleric” writes: “When ordinary or delegated jurisdiction is lacking, the Church is able to supply the jurisdiction. The supplying of jurisdiction by the Church is a provision of the law whereby jurisdiction is supplied automatically at the very moment in which it is exercised (ad modum actus), lest the spiritual welfare of a person suffer harm because of a lack of jurisdiction by the priest through no fault of the beneficiary. This is especially true of the jurisdiction we call sacramental. St. Thomas Aquinas explains that the power of jurisdiction is not granted to a man for his own benefit, but for the good of the people and for the glory of God. Also, when showing that all validly ordained priests can absolve a penitent at the point of death, the Angelic Doctor brings up the principle that “necessity knows no law”, which applies to our present circumstances in a particular way… To deprive the faithful of the sacraments in order to fulfill the requirements of a positive ecclesiastical law would be contrary to the divine law.”
Here again, this author presumes the valid ordination of those to whom he refers when this has been proven false by Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. And by the Church supplying, as we have pointed out time and time again, is meant the pope. As theologians all agree and Pope Pius XII teaches in Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, all papal jurisdiction ceases on the death of the pope and cannot be supplied by anyone else. As to positive ecclesiastical law, infallibility and papal jurisdiction are Divine law. That is what the Vatican Council defined; that God has revealed this. Canon 196 states: The Catholic Church possesses, by Divine institution, the power of jurisdiction or government. This power is two-fold: that of the external forum and that of the internal forum…” But of course they have perpetually refused to acknowledge the following truths:
“The Pope can exercise his authority independently of the intervention of the bishops. Peter can and must feed all the lambs (the bishops) as well as the sheep (the faithful). Hence the Pope is rightly termed by the Fathers and the councils the episcopus Episcoporum, episcopus universalis ecclesiae and Pastor pastorum. THIS IS A DOGMA OF FAITH… Accordingly the Pope’s primacy of jurisdiction over the Church of Christ is not circumscribed by general councils, by the College of Cardinals, BY ANY GROUP OF BISHOPS nor for a stronger reason by the faithful or by civil rulers or by any human power whatsoever. The end of the ecclesiastical society is higher than that of every human society and authority” (Aabp. Amleto Cicognani, Canon Law, 1935, p. 71).
The denial by all Traditionalists of the Vatican Council decrees and the pope as a necessary member of the Apostolic College, ruling the Church, is the real necessity they are fleeing from. Next we will briefly address yet another legal principle used by these pseudo-clerics to attempt an end run around VAS. Needless to say, they fail miserably.
All the above is only further proof that those following Traditionalists were misinformed, misdirected and that information necessary for them to make an informed decision regarding their spiritual welfare was withheld from them. There was no sudden risk to the faithful; the “clerics” who kept harping about being the experts had every opportunity to instruct those who were asking for the Sacraments that they could keep the faith at home until things were studied carefully and in a professional manner. Traditionalist position papers circulating on the Internet today are woefully lacking in the research and documentation department and fall far short of any resemblance to the scholastic method practiced for centuries by theologians. The Roman Pontiffs are seldom mentioned in their works.
The flimsy legal maxims of necessity and epikeia can never override the infinite power that emanates from God the Father, to His Son Jesus Christ, to St. Peter, assisted by the Holy Ghost, and finally to the bishops entrusted to St. Peter’s care. We belong to a Divinely instituted Church, not a church founded by men. We are kingly race, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation.