© Copyright 2013, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author. All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)
What has always amazed me is how Traditionalists will argue at length on the Mass, on jurisdiction and other topics; they will even cite the Council of Trent and occasionally bring in Denzinger’s “Sources” when it suits them. But when it comes to proving their validity and liciety, they behave as though there is nothing to condemn them, nothing which restrains them and nothing that will support the arguments of those who challenge their credentials. They resort to the arguments of theologians primarily and twist Canon Law to prove their case, if they cite it at all. They pick and choose from the encyclicals to support their positions. They use past popes as props on their websites at the same time they are flagrantly disobeying their orders. They violate every rule of scholasticism in existence, banking on the fact that the average Traditionalist will never know the difference, or even know that the popes have decreed that those not using the scholastic method are censured.
As proven over and over again, these men are not lawful pastors; they have no standing whatsoever in the Church. If a true pope ever once again headed Christ’s Church, they most likely would be exiled to a distant island monastery, there to do penance as laymen for the rest of their lives. They are not needed and not wanted; Scripture warns us of hirelings who enter at the window, not the door. They have no head, recognize no authority and basically make up the rules as they go. How even the least informed Catholics could mistake them for what remains of the true Church on earth is a mystery. A headless Church is no Church, and a Church not strictly operating at least on the directives of past pontiffs cannot claim to be Catholic.
What we have tried to demonstrate here is that there ARE answers to what happened to the Church and they come from the Roman Pontiffs. The sum total of their teachings instructs us on how to carry on in their absence. Their laws draw the lines in the sand we need to observe as obedient Catholics. Their teachings on Christ’s promises to His Church assure us that Christ is still with us and will remain with us as long as we accept these teachings, study them and follow them. (This Rev. Madgett notes in Vol. II of his work, “Christian Origins”). Christ’s promise to Peter was not that the occupant of Peter’s chair itself was to physically last till the end, but that as long as there WAS a canonically elected pope to fill the See, he would remain free from error in faith and morals, (Ibid). The insistence that a true pope must exist until the very end is not consistent with the prophecies found in Holy Scripture nor does it coincide with the predictions of saints and holy people throughout the centuries, (common opinion of theologians). To follow anyone or anything else in the absence of Christ’s vicars on the pretext that the “hierarchy” cannot cease to exist per Christ’s promise is to allow man to usurp papal authority and pretend to speak in Christ’s name. This we cannot do. Those who allow this to go on are making a mockery of everything that ever constituted the Catholic Faith and Christ’s institution of a Divine society on earth. They are no better than the Anglicans, the Lutherans and all the other breakaway sects these churches spawned in defiance of the Roman Pontiff.
There can be no defense of this stance because Pope Pius XII in his “Six ans se sont” has defined the hierarchy as the bishops in union with the pope and Traditionalist “bishops,” who as schismatics are not even successors of the apostles, are scarcely in union with a true pope. Priests are not to be officially considered, in a jurisdictional capacity at least, as a part of the hierarchy, (Can. 108), although they are included in the hierarchy of Orders. Hierarchy cannot be considered outside of the necessary union of the bishops with the pontiffs, a Protestant/Old Catholic view, which Traditionalists have espoused from the very beginning. There have been accusations that the acceptance of all that the popes teach, be it firm and irrevocable or firm and only conditional (in non-infallible matters) amounts to an idolization of the popes, but nothing could be further from the truth. Christ gave to one man and his successors the promise of infallibility and that promise does not extend to bishops and priests, far less to those passing themselves off as such today, without even so much as a pretense of loyalty and strict adherence to papal teaching.
Rev. J. C. Fenton, doctrinally profound as usual, reminds Catholics that: “Actually there is no such thing as a teaching issued by the Holy Father — in his capacity as the spiritual ruler and teacher of all the followers of Jesus Christ — which is other than authoritative. Our Lord did not teach in any way other than authoritatively, nor does his Vicar on earth when he teaches in the name and by the authority of his Master. Every doctrine proposed by the Holy Father to the entire Church Militant is, by that very fact, imposed upon all the faithful for their firm and sincere acceptance. Hence if we find in an encyclical letter or for that matter, in any document of the Holy Father’s ordinary magisterium which has been registered in his official Acta [Apostolica Sedis], a doctrinal declaration proposed precisely as morally certain, all of the faithful owe to that declaration a full and morally certain assent or adherence. If, on the other hand, we find in these same documents some teaching set forth absolutely without qualification, either directly or through the unqualified condemnation of its contradictory as heretical or erroneous, it would seem that all Christians are bound to give that proposition an absolute certain and irrevocable assent,” (The American Ecclesiastical Review,” March, 1953, “Infallibility in the Encyclicals”).
If the Vicar of Christ is speaking in His name, and he is; and if Catholics really and truly believe that the Pope is His Vicar on earth and is vested with infallibility, why is there any question about obeying all he says? If Christ were standing in the Holy See instead, would they question Him as well? Would they have the unmitigated gall to challenge His decisions and choose which ones they would obey? This is the crucial point we wish to make here; the all-important truth we hope to impress on everyone reading these pages. If we truly love our Catholic faith and believe all that it teaches; if we love Our Lord with our whole heart, mind, will and strength, we will be quick to obey the pope knowing that he is the closest thing to Christ on earth and knowing that the commission Christ entrusted him with is subject to His binding and loosing in Heaven. We may not have a living, breathing pope teaching us in His name today, but we have living documents from the Continual Magisterium still demanding our assent. Christ’s promise to Peter yet endures, and His words shall not pass away.