The Reverence and Obedience We Owe the Roman Pontiff

© Copyright 2013, T. Stanfill Benns (All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)

We must believe that Our Lord established St. Peter and all his legitimate (canonically elected) successors as his infallible vicars on earth, supreme in jurisdiction (Vatican Council). And as Pope Boniface VIII explains in his Unam Sanctam, “Of the one and only Church, (there is) one body, one head, not two heads as a monster, namely Christ and Peter, the Vicar of Christ…” (DZ 468). If we disrespect Christ’s vicar, we disrespect and disobey Our Lord himself. Therefore we would do well to learn the importance of the love, respect and obedience we owe to the popes, who teach us in Christ’s stead.

I have a little booklet written in 1949 by Charles Hugo Doyle S. J. called, “Let Us Know the Pope.” Doyle wrote books on spiritual direction, marriage and child rearing as well as other works during the 1940s-50s. He begins his booklet by commenting: “That every Catholic should know something of the life, character and work of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, is too self-evident to require emphasis. Yet the lack of such knowledge is appalling…Even educated Catholics know scarcely anything about him.” And here we are talking about the post-WWII period, when one has been led to believe the Church was thriving and healthy at that time.

Doyle does an able job in a short space of defending Pius XII and pointing out what a great pope he truly was. I remember as a child kneeling in my Catholic grade school classroom and praying for Pius XII when the announcement came that he had entered on what would be his last illness. The nuns taught us a great reverence of the pope and that awe and reverence has remained with me all my life. That is why I wish to emphasize here that without a clear understanding of what the pope means to the Church, there can never be an accurate conception of what Christ meant His Church to be.

In his work, Rev. Doyle quotes Karl Adam who once remarked: “When men break with Peter, then the fellowship of faith perishes and along with it belief in Jesus Christ. Where there is no rock, there is no Church, there is no Christ,” and this is precisely what St. Thomas Aquinas states, the Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches, Pope Leo XIII wrote in Satis Cognitum and Pope Pius XII would later write. Too bad that those presenting as the true Catholic Church — Traditionalists — cannot see that their arrogant abuse of papal jurisdiction and total disregard for all Church law has resulted in precisely what Adam described — it has successfully driven Christ from their midst. There can be no greater example of a lack of fellowship among the faithful than that provided by Traditionalists, who quarrel bitterly amongst themselves, split regularly into rival factions just as the Protestants have for centuries, and ridicule and deride all those who dare question their credentials and “right” to do as they please.

Who among the followers of these false christs and prophets have ever heard them suggest what Rev. Doyle advises the faithful to do?  “Mothers [must] nourish the babes at their breasts with devotion to the See of Peter…The pleading words of Pius IX,  ‘to inculcate a love for the See of Peter’ [must] be fulfilled in our Catholic schools, and…study on the life and work of the pope systematically taught in our Catholic institutions of learning…Every Catholic [should] say some prayer daily…for the Vicar of Christ.”  And finally, “That every Catholic put into practice the teaching of Leo XIII when he said: ‘As regards opinion, whatever the Roman Pontiffs have taught or shall hereafter teach must be held with a firm grasp of mind and, as often as occasion requires, must be openly professed. Especially in regards to the liberties so-called, which are sought after in these days — all must stand by the judgment of the Apostolic See and think as she does…and let the past be redeemed by a special obedience of all to the Apostolic See.’”

But the best primer on love for and obedience to the pope is provided by Pope St. Pius X below:

“To love the Pope, it is sufficient to reflect who he is. The Pope is the guardian of dogma and morals; he is the depository of the principles which ensure the integrity of the family, the grandeur of nations, the sanctity of souls. He is the counsel of princes and peoples; he is the chief under whose sway none feels tyrannized, because he represents God Himself. He is par excellence the father who unites in himself all that is loving, tender, divine.

“And how must the Pope be loved? Not in word alone. but in deed and in truth. Non verbo neque lingua, sed opere et veri. “Not in word nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth” (a) When we love someone, we seek to conform ourselves in everything to his thoughts, to execute his will, to interpret his desires. And if Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, Si quis diligit me, sermonum meum servabit: “If anyone love me, he will keep my word” (b), to show our love for the Pope we must obey him. And this is why, when we love the Pope, we do not dispute whether he commands or requires a thing or seek to know where the strict obligation of obedience lies, or in what matter we must obey; when we love the Pope we do not say that he has not yet spoken clearly — as if he were required to speak his will in every man’s ear, and to utter it not only by word of mouth but in letters and other public documents as well.

Nor do we cast doubt on his orders, alleging the pretext which comes easily to the man who does not want to obey, that it is not the pope who is commanding, but someone in his entourage. We do not limit the field in which he can and ought to exercise his authority; we do not oppose to the Popes authority that of other persons — no matter how learned — who differ from the Pope. For whatever may be their learning, they are not holy. For where there is holiness, there cannot be disagreement with the Pope” (Allocution to the members of the Apostolic Union, November 18, 1912, on the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Union. Congratulations on the piety of the Union vilerims — Duties of priests).

True; we have no pope. But unless these hirelings would have us believe that the Church is no longer in need of one, they should at least be insisting on teaching all their followers of the necessity of the papacy and the hope of its return, upholding all papal laws and teachings in the meantime, insisting the faithful study past laws and teachings of the Continual Magisterium and tolerating no disobedience whatsoever to papal decrees. And they need to take very seriously the statement made by Rev. Mateo Crawley-Boevey, that great apostle of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who traveled the world at the command of Pope St. Pius X promoting enthronement in the home.  In his “Jesus King of Love” Fr. Crawley-Boevey wrote the following: “What wrath do they not bring down upon themselves, who, in thought, word or deed, dare to profane this second Eucharist, the Pope?”

For already, earlier in his work, Fr. Crawley-Boevey relates how he had informed (Pope St. Pius X or Pope Pius XI, I believe) of his idea that the pope was a second Eucharist, and the pope had agreed, replying: “You are quite right in saying the pope is as a second Eucharist. Unfortunately the beauty and necessity of devotion to the pope is not always understood. You, my son, spread this devotion wherever you preach the King of Love.” And the good priest did. In his book he also wrote: “The Gospel testifies most explicitly that the pope is, by divine right, our visible Jesus upon earth…Yes dear apostles, the pope is a visible Jesus, concealed beneath a thin white veil as in the sacred Host; another Jesus, a living, authentic Jesus is truly present under the cover and disguise of Peter…To the Pope, this Eucharist of the Vatican, we owe the greatest, the most profound respect, the highest honors, as a homage of our intellect; to him we owe an immense, devoted, tender and filial love, as a homage of our will. To prove our submission, our steadfast obedience, our unswerving devotion to the pope, we should be ready, as O’Connell the great Irish hero says, to waive all personal interests, and if necessary seal our loyalty with our blood.”

A very sobering testimony, that. And who among Traditionalists even come within 100 miles of inculcating in their “flocks” these sentiments so necessary to their salvation? For without some kind of obedience and subjection to the Continual Magisterium, how can they possibly hope to be saved?! How they will cringe at seeing here the pope compared to the Eucharist, which along with the other Sacraments they teach as the only means to salvation. And yet they ignore the words of Pope Boniface VIII who infallibly taught that without subjection to the Roman Pontiff, we cannot be saved. This means subjection and obedience at least to the wealth of those teachings from the past, since we now have no true pope to teach us. But this they have no intention of fostering among the faithful.

For while the cat is away, the mice will play; and as mice are wont to do, they have done great damage by their constant nibbling at the foundations of the Church and Her sacred dogmas.  I remember well one woman who called me distressed at what she saw going on in the “Traditionalist” school her children attended. They were rewriting the catechism, she said, and it was sadly wanting in Catholic teaching. She objected because there was no mention of the pope to the little ones, and one woman who was overseeing the rewrite snapped back at her when she objected to this: “We don’t need a pope anymore.” Well neither did the Anglicans, or the Lutherans or the Orthodox, but then they cannot be counted as Catholics.

No rock, no Church; no Peter, no Christ. The sandstone of mere human opinion upon which Traditionalists’ non-Catholic church is built will eventually crumble. For none of them have the approval of the Church, nor can they point to such approval from the past to support what they teach. The devotion they pretend to offer to Christ the King will be shown to be a patent lie when He comes to ask them all for an accounting.  For the Pope is Christ’s mouthpiece; “He who heareth you, heareth Me.” How can we possibly disrespect the Pope and not show disdain for the One he represents? How can the mere lip service shown to the Sovereign Pontiffs by these deceitful men possibly reflect even one scintilla of inclination to obedience to all they have commanded us to do?

As already seen in articles posted here recently, disobedience to the Pope, violation of papal laws, usurpation of papal jurisdiction and disregard for the rights of the Church are rampant today. This is not a baseless statement but one that has been proven time and time again by the facts.  We may not have a pope, but we have their teachings. And as long as we draw breath these teachings bind us in every way. For Christ promised that what is bound on earth He will bind in Heaven, and Heaven is where we want to be. “Not my will, but Thine be done…on earth, as it is in Heaven.”

It’s really very simple.

If one wants an answer that is superior to theological opinions found in books, catechisms, even St. Thomas Aquinas, any document from the ordinary or extraordinary magisterium will do. This includes, of course, all the general councils and their anathemas. It also includes Canon Laws, especially those based on Divine law, such as jurisdiction. When it comes to matters of faith, who would be willing to settle for less? The popes are the best interpreters of their own laws and the laws of their predecessors. The language they use is clear and precise. If there is any question of its meaning, it can be cross-referenced to other papal documents that will nearly always clear up any confusion that may arise.

There is scarcely a question we have today that cannot be explained by studying these definitive teachings. It is essential for us during this protracted interregnum to rely solely on papal documents because the teachings of the Church have been so suppressed and misrepresented for so long. One of the primary points that must be clarified is the existence of the four marks. It is a truth of faith that the juridic Church cannot exist without the pope, and yet Traditionalists teach today that they and their clergy possess the four marks and three attributes. That this is a blatant heresy which cannot be tolerated will be proved in reading the various articles found in this section.

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