Who do we believe on Cum ex — Hergenrother, or the popes?
© Copyright 2014, 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.)
Some now point to the writings of “the learned” Cardinal Hergenrother, who wrote “The Catholic Church and Christian State” in 1876, to prove that, as Hergenrother claims, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio (Cum ex…) is only a disciplinary law and could not possibly be infallible. Learned he may have been, but like so many theologians writing even after the Vatican Council; and despite subsequent papal teaching to the contrary, he failed to fully apprehend the full import of the Vatican Council documents, especially in relation to Cum ex… His work after all was one about the civil law, and it is true that anything in Cum ex… which excommunicates those possessing civil power long ago lost all effect. But how could he possibly hold the primary gist of Cum ex… as non-infallible, and only a mere disciplinary decree, when the Vatican Council infallibly taught the following: “If anyone thus speaks that the Roman Pontiff has…not the full power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals but also in those things which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church…Or that this power is not ordinary and immediate…over pastors and faithful altogether and individually; let him be anathema.” Hergenrother says in his work, “The Bull…only contains penal sanctions against heresy, which belong to disciplinary laws alone…Besides the renewal of old, there is an addition of new punishments, which equally belongs to the sphere of discipline.”
Henry Cardinal Manning refers to various past bulls in his “The Vatican Decrees and Their Bearing on Civil Allegiance.” In that work he says: “The Vatican Council… definition, by retrospective action, makes all Pontifical acts infallible, the Bull Unam Sanctam included.” Manning also names as infallible the bulls Unigenitus and Auctorem Fidei, Auctorem Fidei being a bull almost entirely devoted to disciplinary measures.
Nothing is more official in the way of pontifical acts than a papal bull. In his “A Catholic Dictionary,” Donald Attwater defines a bull as: “The most solemn and weighty form of papal letter.” Of course there are those who have said and do say that the above Vatican Council quote states only that that the pope has jurisdiction over the faithful in matters of discipline as well as faith and morals, not that he can be infallible in such matters. But as we will see below, Pope Pius IX clarified this matter, shortly after the Vatican Council ended, in two separate constitutions. We also must object to Hergenrother’s statement in his work that “Infallibility only relates to moral precepts, to the general principles which the Pope prescribes to all Christians as a rule of conduct, not to the application of these principles to individual cases,” (emph. his). Clearly from what the Vatican Council teaches above, the pope’s power extends to “individuals,” not just the general body of the faithful.
Taken in the context of a refutation to the Old Catholics, who were interpreting it wrongly, one might be able to understand in a remote way how Hergenrother arrived at his conclusions; but I most vehemently disagree with them as a denial of the Vatican Council teaching quoted above and the teachings of the Church on this subject throughout the centuries. We must obey God, not men. So let us get it straight, once and for all, that nothing a cardinal says will trump papal teaching, ever. Christ did not guarantee the cardinals’ faith would never fail; only Peter’s. He only wished or willed that the hierarchy of the Church should last until the end of time (DZ 1821), and since when has anyone ever cared what God willed? People refuse to do God’s will on a daily basis to follow their own evil will and have since the beginning of time. This misunderstanding of papal teaching and power is what has caused Catholics to misapprehend their faith for centuries. Already in the 1970s, Traditionalists were teaching the ordinary magisterium is not infallible, most notably some among the SSPX, “Fr.” Oswald Baker, “Fr.” Khoat in the 1980s and others, when this is clearly an infallible teaching, (DZ 1792). It appears in Baker’s own written sermons and this author heard it personally from Khoat. Both were guilty of heresy. Pope Pius IX condemned this error among writers and theologians years before the Vatican Council convened, (See DZ 1683) so it is nothing that was introduced with infallibility.
This is the other topic Traditionalists totally misrepresent and fail to understand — heresy, apostasy and schism. How could such matters be limited to disciplinary actions when they most intimately concern whether a person does or does not possess the faith, and what penalty will be assessed for this?! The only reason Protestants were ever able to claim Cum ex… “depoped” a pope is because they did not read that bull correctly or understand it in the light of faith. From the beginning of my studies on Cum ex…, I made the proper distinction, one some readers obviously have either missed or ignored, (/articles/a-catholics-course-of-study/traditionalist-heresies-and-errors/heresies-concerning-papal-authority/why-a-legitimate-roman-pontiff-could-never-become-a-heretic-but-could-only-appear-to-become-one/). And I do not HAVE to use only Cum ex… to demonstrate (yes, even amateur scholastics are required to demonstrate their arguments) that these popes were never popes, from the beginning; that is dictated by Canon Law and Pope Pius XII’s election law. Even if Hergenrother was correct and Paul IV’s bull was only disciplinary in nature, it would still be binding on Catholics. But he is NOT correct; and the proof of this lies in the fact that whether Cum ex… appears in Denzinger’s or not (and the very fact that it might confuse some in the same way it confused Protestants is a good reason why it might not be included), it is the entire basis for nearly every Canon written on the determination (not just the censures) of what constitutes heresy, apostasy and schism.
Rev. Nicolas Neuberger, in his Commentary on Canon 6 has cited the Church’s laws concerning discipline as negatively infallible, meaning that they cannot work to the harm of souls or the destruction of the divine principle of perpetuity and infallibility on which the Church is built. Volume V (v), of the Catholic Encyclopedia, under “Discipline” states that it is the unanimous opinion of the theologians that “discipline enjoys a negative, indirect infallibility, i.e., the Church can prescribe nothing that would be contrary to the natural or Divine law, nor prohibit anything that the natural or Divine law would exact.” Pope Pius IX declared the unanimous opinion of theologians to be infallible, and hence anything determined by them unanimously must be firmly believed. (DZ 1683). Those things which are indirectly infallible also are binding, and if they are based on the divine or natural law they must be accepted with an irrevocable assent. Also, as Rev. Patrick Madgett explains: “In analyzing the solemn teaching of the Church, we find that the Church exercises the fullness of Her infallible teaching authority to demand an irrevocable assent to matters which are not explicitly revealed, and apparently not even implicitly revealed. These definitions and decisions… of Ecclesiastical Faith are so intimately connected with faith that one could not deny them without implicitly denying some article of faith. They are to be believed…on the word of the Church, God’s infallible teacher,” (Christian Origins, Vol. II, 1943; emphasis Madgett’s).
While those who are contesting the authority of this bull say that Cum ex… is not listed in Denzinger’s “Sources of Catholic Dogma,” what is listed there for belief by Wycliffe’s followers and the Hussites is the following: “”Whether he believes that the pope canonically elected, who lived for a time, after having expressed his own name, is the successor of Blessed Peter, having supreme authority in the Church of God,” (DZ 674). The canons governing papal elections are found in Pope Pius XII’s election law, Vacantis Apostolica Sedis. There we find that one deposed for heresy cannot be admitted to the conclave, per Can. 188 §4, which all admit is the retention of Cum ex.. in the Code, (one of many citations, mainly under canons regarding heresy). Matters of faith so intimately connected with discipline are precisely what Rev. Madgett refers to above. Legitimacy of election is inextricably bound up with the grant of Divine jurisdiction, which cannot be bestowed on an unworthy person. This is divine law, and as such is intimately connected to Christ’s bestowal of power, granting infallibility. Destroy this and we have no guarantee that what the pope teaches on faith and morals is free from error. Cum ex… guarantees the faith of the Roman Pontiff; without that faith, we have no Church.
Papal Decrees and their Binding Nature
Infallible and authoritative statements: both are binding
Rev. J. C. Fenton, personally commended by Pope Pius XII, writes in his “Infallibility in the Encyclicals,” (American Ecclesiastical Review, March 1953): “If [the pope’s] supreme power is exercised within the field of dogma itself, that is, by declaring that some particular truth has been revealed by God and is to be accepted by all men as a part of revelation,” Fenton continues, “then the assent called for by the definition is that of divine faith itself. If, on the other hand the Holy Father, using this supreme apostolic authority, does not propose his teaching as a dogma, but merely as completely certain, then the faithful are bound to accept his teaching as absolutely certain. They are, in either case, obliged in conscience to give an unconditional and absolutely irrevocable assent to any proposition defined in this way.” And how is Cum ex… any exception to this rule, even if it is not infallible (which it is)?
Rev. Fenton concludes that the Church can definitely command the faithful to accept its judgments and condemnations with an internal assent, (“Lamentabili sane exitu”). In addressing the statement by others that Canon Law declares that “Nothing is to be understood as declared or defined dogmatically unless this be manifestly certain,” (Can. 1323), a reference made by Hergenrother, Rev. Fenton observes that Catholic scholars accept the unqualified and authoritative judgments or decisions expressed in the encyclicals (and other documents) as absolutely true, not just as morally or practically certain. In way of example, Fenton points to the fact that prior to the issuance of “Mystici Corporis,” Cardinal Ottaviani held as only a probable opinion that bishops receive their jurisdiction directly from the Roman Pontiff. When “Mystici Corporis” was released in 1943, Ottaviani immediately changed his teaching to reflect the definition of Pope Pius XII, that the bishops may exercise their jurisdiction only through the Roman Pontiff.
Rev. Fenton then goes on to explain in the article that teachings of the ordinary magisterium, (as stated in the Vatican Council documents and in Canon Law), are binding even when they are only indirectly addressed to the Church militant and even when they are only secondarily concerned with matters of faith and morals. “In other words, the Holy Father is empowered, not only to obligate the disciples of Jesus Christ to accept, on faith or as certain, statements within the sphere of the Church’s doctrinal competence, but also to impose the duty of accepting other propositions within the same sphere as opinions…Humani Generis reasserts the right of the Roman Pontiff to demand an opinionative assent. When, in his encyclicals or in any other documents or utterances of his doctrinal office, he imposes a teaching upon the members of the universal Church militant with anything less than his suprema magisterii potestas, he is calling for such an opinionative judgment…The theologians of the Catholic Church have always recognized the fact that an intention on the part of the Holy Father is requisite if the faithful are to be bound by the teaching contained in his official Acta. Hitherto, however, there has been too much of a tendency to consider that such an intention would have to be manifested by some sort of formula, as for instance, the use of such terms as ‘define’ or ‘declare.’ The Humani Generis has put an end to this dangerous minimism.” (And Hergenrother dismisses Cum ex… even though it does contain “define and decree.”)
It must be remembered that the teaching of Humani Generis was not extant at the time Hergenrother wrote. This encyclical made it clear that all that was needed for a papal proclamation to bind the faithful was its listing in the Acta Apostolic Sedis. This encyclical also confirmed that infallible teaching could be found even in encyclical letters. Nor had it yet been defined in Hergenrother’s day that the bishops held ordinary authority through Christ but could exercise it only with permission of the Roman Pontiff. In his day Hergenrother was certain that “The doctrine of the power of the bishops needed no definition, being previously doubted by no one,” (p. 32). And yet Henry Cardinal Manning, Hergenrother’s contemporary, had written his work “The Pastoral Office,” very carefully examining, from the best theological minds of the times, the arguments pro bishops as subject to the pope and con as possessing ordinary jurisdiction directly from Christ, with the former winning out even then. But those championing Hergenrother obviously are unaware that he is being less than honest in his writings, or do not care as long as they make their point. Nor do they fear the dangers of minimism, or take into account the many theological developments concerning the frequency of infallible teaching in papal documents. Certainly they do not show any regard for Pope Pius IX’s infallible pronouncement on disciplinary law, which after all only repeats the teaching of the Vatican Council.
Disciplinary decrees are infallible
(From Pope Pius IX’s “Quartus Supra,” On the Church in Armenia, Jan. 6, 1873):
“Definition of a Schismatic
12. But the neo-schismatics say that it was not a case of doctrine but of discipline, so the name and prerogatives of Catholics cannot be denied to those who object. Our Constitution Reversurus, published on July 12, 1867, answers this objection. We do not doubt that you know well how vain and worthless this evasion is. For the Catholic Church has always regarded as schismatic those who obstinately oppose the lawful prelates of the Church and in particular, the chief shepherd of all. Schismatics avoid carrying out their orders and even deny their very rank. Since the faction from Armenia is like this, they are schismatics even if they had not yet been condemned as such by Apostolic authority. For the Church consists of the people in union with the priest, and the flock following its shepherd. Consequently the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop, and whoever is not with the bishop is not in the Church. Furthermore, as Our predecessor Pius VI warned in his Apostolic letter condemning the civil constitution of the clergy in France, discipline is often closely related to doctrine and has a great influence in preserving its purity. In fact, in many instances, the holy Councils have unhesitatingly cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed its discipline,” (see Madgett’s quote above).
“Authority of the Holy See
13. But the neo-schismatics have gone further, since ‘every schism fabricates a heresy for itself to justify its withdrawal from the Church.’ Indeed they have even accused this Apostolic See as well, as if We had exceeded the limits of Our power in commanding that certain points of discipline were to be observed in the Patriarchate of Armenia. Nor can the Eastern Churches preserve communion and unity of faith with Us without being subject to the Apostolic power in matters of discipline. Teaching of this kind is heretical, and not just since the definition of the power and nature of the papal primacy was determined by the ecumenical Vatican Council: the Catholic Church has always considered it such and abhorred it. Thus the bishops at the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon clearly declared the supreme authority of the Apostolic See in their proceedings; then they humbly requested from Our predecessor St. Leo confirmation and support for their decrees, even those which concerned discipline.”
Three years after writing “Quartus Supra,” we also hear the following from Pope Pius IX, in “Quae in patriarchatu”: “In fact, Venerable Brothers and beloved Sons, it is a question of recognizing the power (of this See), even over your churches, not merely in what pertains to faith, but also in what concerns discipline. He who would deny this is a heretic; he who recognizes this and obstinately refuses to obey is worthy of anathema,” (emph. mine – Pope Pius IX, September 1, 1876, to the clergy and faithful of the Chaldean Rite.) Notice that the inclusion of disciplinary laws as infallible is not anything new, but goes back to the very beginnings of the Church. Notice also that anyone who would deny that disciplinary laws ARE infallible is a heretic. So Pope Paul IV’s law did not just become an infallible decree retroactively following the Vatican Council definition; owing to the seriousness of its subject matter especially, it was infallible from the very beginning. Once we examine these Cum ex… quotes below in light of the above, and in relation to the marks required for infallibility, how could anyone possibly claim this bull is not infallible?
Countering Hergenrother’s objections
Let us here address the objections made by Hergenrother. These later will be compared to the council definitions for infallibility, since Hergenrother relies mainly upon “the rules universally received among theologians.” The absolute necessity of adhering first of all to the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs, and secondarily only to the teachings of those theologians in agreement with them, cannot be emphasized enough.
First, Hergenrother says that because the use of the Apostolic power is referred to only in the introduction, it is not to be counted as applying to the whole document, but this is not true. This power is referred to in the numbered paragraphs (two and three), whereas the preamble is not numbered. In paragraph three this power is stated emphatically and the purpose of the Bull made immediately clear in the same paragraph. He objects that the bull is modeled on civil law and has only to do with penal law, taking the meaning of Paul IV’s work entirely out of context. This is true especially since, as Henry Cardinal Manning points out in his work on civil allegiance, those censures levied for the civil authorities can apply only if these authorities are subject to the pope. Concerning the reinstatement of all previous censures, Paul IV had to lay the foundation for his later teaching in paragraph six of the bull by first renewing all past censures, for only then could he proceed to the meat of the matter. Having done this he demonstrated why it was necessary to renew the censures, applying them not only to bishops and cardinals but even one appearing to be a validly elected pope.
Second, despite clear evidence of a definition, Hergenrother denies that one has been made because, “Other papal disciplinary laws have been issued out of the ‘fullness of power,’ and the word ‘define’ is used in other places also of judicial judgments.” This statement indicates that not only is he eliminating Cum ex… as an infallible decree, he is not admitting the possible infallibility of any disciplinary laws here. He does not address the binding of the bull with an oath, stating only that Paul IV’s mention of it as remaining valid in perpetuity does not mean that other bulls and laws containing this same clause were not later repealed. This is true, as circumstances can change in the Church. But rather than being repealed, practically the entirety of Pope Paul IV’s law has been enshrined in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, something Hergenrother did not live to see. It should be noted that the infallibility of disciplinary laws is a teaching most hated by the Gallicanists and Modernists, whose contempt for authority is addressed by Pope Pius VI in Auctorem Fidei and Pope St. Pius X in his condemnations of Modernism.
Thirdly, concerning whether the bull contained a definition of some matter that until then was not decided, Hergenrother wrote: “The question was not about controversies, but about articles of faith settled long ago by the Church.” Here Hergenrother appears to be entirely oblivious to the circumstances of the bull and to the very import of the definitions just advanced by the Vatican Council. We know that the entire purpose of the Council was to teach that the pope could NEVER lose his faith and decide wrongly on a matter concerning faith, morals (or discipline); this because he is guided by the Holy Ghost. Christ prayed for Peter that his faith never fail, and Christ’s prayers, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches in his Catechism of the Summa, are always heard. The controversy of whether a pope could fall into heresy as a pope continued through the 20th century, but after the Vatican Council it could only be considered in the context of a pope falling into such heresy as a private person. In that case, as Pope Paul IV taught in 1559, he could be corrected, as was John XXII, who then graciously retracted his error, (although what he denied was not yet a dogma defined as revealed). Theologians kept treating this subject without qualifying it in the 1900s, so that by the time the question arose in earnest concerning the last six antipopes, Traditionalists were no longer sufficiently familiar with the fact that it could apply only to the pope as a private person. Thus the Gallicanist teaching reared its head again about deposing popes, and the race was on. Those buying the Hergenrother argument are using it to point fingers at sedevacantists and stay-at-home Catholics, saying that Cum ex… is no longer viable and cannot be invoked. But if they deny there was any definition, isn’t that a clear indication that they never even understood why the bull was written, and what it set out to address?
Traditionalists have gone all out lately to refute Cum ex… and with it the teaching of the Vatican Council, to which it is so closely related. First they present Hergenrother’s arguments. Then the following was cited not long ago by a member of the St. Pius X Society on the Society’s discussion forum: “Pope Adrian VI († 1523) stated that ‘it is beyond question” that a pope can ‘err in matters touching the Faith, he can “teach heresy” in decrees. He also stated ‘many Roman Pontiffs were heretics…If by the Roman Church you mean its head or pontiff, it is beyond question that he can err even in matters touching the faith. He does this when he teaches heresy by his own judgement or decretal. In truth, many Roman pontiffs were heretics. The last of them was Pope John XXII († 1334).’ (Quaest. in IV Sent.; quoted in Viollet, Papal Infallibility and the Syllabus, 1908). (According to the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia, this work was published in 1512 from the notes of his student and without his supervision, but as it saw “many editions” it would appear that the pope did not repudiate the passage as not his own, in a work attributed to him.)
This is presented as though it is a direct contradiction of the Vatican Council’s definition of infallibility. But notice the highlighted phrase above. This is exactly what the Vatican Council fathers decided after long debate; a pope can err as a private doctor but never in his official capacity, i.e., ex cathedra, when teaching all the faithful on faith and morals; Henry Cardinal Manning explains this in his history of the Vatican Council. “His own judgment or decretal” means speaking as a private person, for nowhere does he indicate in this passage that such heresy was ever promulgated publicly. All this was examined and discussed at the Vatican Council before the definition was ever rendered, as Cuthbert Butler’s “The Vatican Council” history reveals. And certainly there is no question that what Pope Adrian said above is binding; no source is quoted for this quote in way of a papal pronouncement of any sort. Of course it is true, unless the pope was somehow mistaken as to the extent of the problem; but otherwise we have no reason to doubt him.
The definition in this bull was not only the answer to the question “Can a pope become a heretic?” It also was an important precursor to the Vatican Council definition itself, a sort of reverse mirror image of infallibility as it was later defined. The Council worked hard to prove that never had a pope been guilty of heresy in his public capacity. Pope Paul IV taught that should it ever appear that a pope was a public heretic there was a logical solution; it happened before the election, invalidating the election. After his bull was published, it seems even those popes erring as private doctors could be considered able to be removed if they did not recant. So if Paul IV did not teach “anything” in this bull, as its critics claim, then why can’t we find any mention of this subject elsewhere? After all it was not a new idea; already St. Bernard, a Doctor of the Church who died in the 1100s, had condemned the antipope Anacletus II with these words: “Behold Innocent [II], the Christ…for they that are of God willingly adhere to him, whilst opposed to him stand Antichrist and his followers. We have seen the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place…He persecutes Innocent and with him all innocence,” (“Life and Teaching of St. Bernard,” Ailbe J. Luddy, O Cist., Gill and Son, 1950). Pope Pius IX knew the contents of the Secret of La Salette, even though it had not yet been released to the people. Melanie had also received a message from Our Lady intended only for the pope, and while writing down that message had asked how to spell infallibility. Shortly after that the council preparations began. Our Lady knew the fierce attack that would be launched against the papacy. Her prediction to Melanie — that Rome would lose the faith and become the seat of Antichrist — is nothing more than we already knew to be an eventuality from the hand of Pope Paul IV. But God blinded many to the truth because they did not love it or wish to know it; they did not want to live in the latter days.
A fourth point Hergenrother makes is that “like other disciplinary laws of former times, [the bull In Coenae Domine and by inference Cum ex… has] altogether lost its binding force.” (Please see the article: “Cum ex: Infallible and Retained in the Code,” also “How Cum ex Is Retained in the Code,” on this website.) The Bull of Pope Paul IV, as well as that of Pope St. Pius V’s Quo Primum, is further protected from any sort of abrogation by virtue of its makeup. according to Rev. Nicholas J. Neuberger, (Canon 6: The Relation of the Codex Juris Canonici to Preceding Legislation, Catholic University of America, 1927). Rev. Neuberger comments on the phrase “hac immutabili et in perpetuum valitura constitution” (roughly translated, “our constitution is to remain unchanged in perpetuity,”) found in various papal documents. He states that while such a phrase does not curtail the power nor invalidate future acts of a (legitimate) successor of the Roman Pontiff, nevertheless “the legislator attaches an especial juridical sanction to laws which have such a clause appended. Pihring advances the theory that the laws of general councils are not abolished unless a derogatory clause is annexed next to the posterior enactment…” and, in addition, if a prior law is bound up with an actual ‘oath’ which reads into it immunity from abrogation, the law is not countermanded unless express mention is made to that effect. The reasons for this assertion are that the legislator is mindful of a law which has an oath attached and hence abrogation would be invalid.”
This tells us that the oath attached to Cum Ex…, Quo Primum, Execrabilis, the constitution of Pope Benedict XV promulgating Canon Law, also the election laws of both Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII, guarantees these laws immune from abrogation, as their legislators obviously intended. The oath for all these laws reads in Cum ex… : “No one at all, therefore, may infringe this document of our approbation, reintroduction, sanction, statute and derogation of wills and decrees, or by rash presumption contradict it. If anyone, however, should presume to attempt this, let him know that he is destined to incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul.” The oath reads more or less the same for the other documents. Now if one were to ask Traditionalists if this oath unquestionably prevented Quo Primum from being abrogated, the collective exhale would be “Most certainly!” Yet claim the same status for Cum ex Apostolatus Officio and quite a different response is received. That the last phrase of this bull contains the oath should alert the reader that it refers to the entire bull, not just certain parts. If Hergenrother and his present fans wish to incur the wrath of Sts. Peter and Paul in order to continue justifying their use of spurious clergy, then they can explain this to St. Peter when he meets them at the pearly gates.
Commenting on Canon 6, Revs. Woywod and Smith relate in their commentary on the Code: “In reference to the former Canon Law the Code states that, as a rule, the old discipline is retained…The student of Canon Law must keep in mind the rules of Can. 6 throughout the whole course of study of the Code, for these rules are the key to the correct interpretation of all the laws of the Code.” Can. 6, no. 5 reads: “All former ecclesiastical penalties of which no mention is made in the Code are abolished.” The Latin version of the Code definitely lists Cum ex… in its footnotes, also recorded by Peter Cardinal Gasparri in his Fontes (sources). This is true not only for Can. 188§4 but also for several other Canons dealing with heresy, (Codex Iuris Canonici, Peter Cardinal Gasparri, Newman Press, 1957.) The Code lists Cum ex… as a source not only for Can. 188§4, but also for Canons 167§3, 2200, 2264, 2314, 2316 and 2317, and there may be others, (actual copies of this listing are available upon request). Rev. Cicognani comments: “Under the canons are placed footnotes or notes…first from the ‘Codicis Iuris Canonici,’ the Constitutions of Popes, from the Sacred Congregations, and from Liturgical Books…In the Code there are nearly 26,000 citations of the old law. Of these, 8,400 are from Gratian’s Decretum; about 1,200 from Ecumenical Councils; about 4,000 from Papal Constitutions; about 11,200 from the Sacred Congregations and 800 from liturgical Books. Rev. Neuberger comments that fewer fontes are provided for the penal laws, making the mention of Cum ex… more auspicious. Other Canons concerning the interpretation of the law must also be followed to determine the history behind Cum ex.
History of Cum ex…
As Canon Law instructs us to do, in doubt of the meaning or extent of any law we must look at the mind of the lawgiver, the circumstances and the purpose of the law, (Can. 18). The meaning of the words also must be considered. I have done my best to document the circumstances on my site and one other writer also presented the history of the bull. Once the circumstances are known, the intent of the law becomes clear, as does the purpose of the law. Rabid Protestants were running amok when Pope Paul IV reigned, denying papal power and even considering the popes a perpetual line of antichrists. Scripture was being falsified, as Paul IV notes in the preamble of his bull. The Great Apostasy had begun, and the Inquisition with it. Few recognize the significance of Paul IV’s use of Scripture in paragraph one of his bull; probably because they are so certain that this decree has become an irrelevant artifact. But what he says not only defines this phrase of Scripture — a rare event throughout the papacy — it also addresses and settles a controversy that rages yet today, the very controversy that relates to the “falsifying of Scripture” that Pope Paul IV referred to in his preamble. For the abomination is none other than the Antichrist; and Paul IV is essentially saying that the Antichrist would appear to be a pope, but he would instead be a rank usurper. The very meaning of Antichrist in the Catholic Encyclopedia is “A king who reigns during an interregnum,” a man reigning as a Pontifex Maximus of old rather than a true Catholic Pontiff. And a pope defining a phrase of Holy Scripture is definitely an infallible act; Scripture is revealed truth.
Now is this becoming clearer? The Protestants were saying the popes validly elected could lose the faith and become Antichrist; Pope Paul IV was saying no, this could only happen if such a man were never validly elected. And he had good reason for thinking along these lines. Pope Paul IV suspected one of his cardinals, Giovanni Morone, of heresy, for reading forbidden books and associating with Lutheran ministers, among other things, and this prompted him to write Cum ex. Many believed Morone innocent, but Paul IV had him arrested and tried for heresy. The trial lasted for two long years. During that time, Pope Paul IV published two bulls; one on “engaging in intrigues to reach the pontificate” (Artaud de Montor, “Lives and Times of the Popes,”) on Dec. 16, 1558 and the other only two months later — Cum ex Apsotolatus Officio. De Montor tells us that St. Charles Borromeo so strongly approved of the 1558 bull that he “absolutely declined to talk about the future pope.”
The first bull was most likely written after Paul IV realized his health was failing, for he died the same year Cum ex…was written. Seeing that sympathy was mounting for Morone and support gathering for his exoneration and future election; knowing he would be a likely candidate, the pope took the appropriate precautions. (This provision can still be found today, reflected in Pope Pius XII’s papal election constitution Vacantis Apostolica Sedis.) When no verdict came in Morone’s trial, the pope realized there, too, the dangers it would pose to the Church should a man not cleared of heresy be elected. When Paul IV died, Morone, still a prisoner, was released to attend the conclave. At first he was one of three frontrunners, but ran full force into Cardinal Ghislieri, the future Pope St. Pius V. Of all people, Hergenrother is reported to have written, in his “The History of the Popes,” that Morone’s campaign was quashed by the intervention of Cardinal Ghislieri, who pointedly remarked that Morone’s election would be invalid owing to the question mark hanging over his orthodoxy.
Now something is very wrong here. Apparently, Hergenrother was well aware of the situation concerning Morone and what prompted it. He either knew or should have known the seriousness of the situation or at least appreciated the fact that Pope Paul IV, whether justified in his eyes or not, saw Morone’s election as a grave threat to the welfare of the Church. Considering the tone of his work on the Christian State, perhaps he felt that Paul IV was too strict and was unpopular for this very reason. If this was truly the case, and Paul IV was wrong about Morone and too censorious of the clergy, why does the historian Hughes, who had little good to say of him, praise him for beginning what he describes as an almost impossible and very much needed reform of the clergy? And more to the point, why does no one mention the fact that when Cardinal Ghislieri became Pope St. Pius V, not only did he fail to undo the “damage” Pope Paul IV had wrought, but soon after his election he issued the bull “Intermultiplices,” solemnly renewing and confirming Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. If this great saint really believed Pope Paul IV had been remiss in any way in writing Cum ex, or in suspecting Morone, why would he have made this one of the first acts of his papacy? Doesn’t this in itself prove the bull was infallible? Cum ex Apostolatus Officio was both a prophecy and a warning. Its meaning apparently escaped even the very learned, such as Hergenrother was styled to be. But despite its archaic phraseology, the bull is clear on these facts:
1) The pope is taking measures to prevent a heretic from usurping the Chair of Peter, an event he describes as the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place (para. 1); 2) Therefore he renews all censures for all heresies ever in existence “to trap the foxes busily ravaging the Lord’s vineyard,” (para. 1);
3) He then very carefully explains how this could happen to various persons, leading up to paragraph six, and precisely what the results of such a catastrophe would be;
4) It is clear from his explanation that in order for these censures to apply to a “pope” (para. 6), such a man would needed to have committed heresy BEFORE his election, invalidating said election, or at least be suspected of doing so (“before they deviated from the faith), became heretics, incurred schism or permitted or encouraged any of these.” This is why even those suspect of heresy (“deviated”) are not qualified as candidates for election, for Cum ex.. is one of the fontes for Can. 2200, which presumes those suspect of heresy guilty until proven innocent.
5) The fact that such an “election” would indeed be invalidated is clearly laid out: even if enthroned and pledged obedience, none of these false popes’ deeds or acts shall have any force; no passage of time shall validate them and they cannot be considered even quasi-legitimate; persons promoted by the one elected will be deprived ipso facto of any dignity, office, honor title and this is to have effect “without exception.”
It is important to pause for a moment here and ask ourselves: was the truth that Cum ex… taught one revealed by God to be accepted by all men as a part of His message? Isn’t the message that Cum ex… really conveys the same as that of the Vatican Council — that Christ’s promise that Peter’s faith will never fail prevents anyone capable of committing heresy in the papal office from having ever ascended to that office validly? The bull says “Should it ever become clear…” that this is the case. Well how else would it become clear that an apparent pope was not validly elected unless his errors somehow became manifest in the course of his teaching, or his heresy, which up to that time would have remained occult, became public knowledge? Paragraph six of this bull deals indirectly with the fact that when a pope is elected, it is assumed that he receives Divine jurisdiction from Christ and assistance from the Holy Ghost to preserve him from error. It assumes he becomes Christ’s Vicar and acts in His stead. How could a law that defines what is a violation of Divine law itself not be intimately bound up with that law? How can this bull, which safeguards Christ’s promise to St. Peter, not be infallible, especially when its premise is based on an interpretation of Holy Scripture?
Cum ex… never taught and could not teach that a man validly elected to the papacy could ever “become” a heretic. The bull notably presumes that should it ever appear to happen that such a man was elected, the election is invalid and he is a usurper. The deviation from faith alone proves they were never fit for the office, for why else would the promotion to office be declared null and void from the beginning? As St. Robert Bellarmine taught, one cannot become the head of an organization when one is not even a member. Pope Pius XII’s papal election law provides that those deposed under Can. 188 no. 4 are not eligible to participate in the conclave. In Church history, Councils have declared clerics deprived of their offices only when they were created by antipopes or those in obedience to them. Cum ex… is the document that set the tenor for all future papal elections concerning even a suspicion of heresy. Only a Roman Pontiff legitimately elected can obtain Divine jurisdiction, (Canons 109 and 219). In a doubt of law, the old law applies. Cum ex … is the old law governing heresy, apostasy and schism, listed in the fontes of Canon Law for these crimes. It is a law that was waiting for its true fulfillment and application when the Great Apostasy would come to a close, in this our own day and time. That the bull does fit all the requirements for an infallible decree of the extraordinary magisterium, given the solemnity of a bull, is demonstrated below.
Cum ex… per the marks of infallibility defined by the Vatican Council
DZ 1839: The Pope is infallible when:
(A) He speaks in his capacity as the ruler and teacher of all Christians.
“The Roman Pontiff, who is Vicar of God and of Jesus Christ on earth, holds fullness of power over peoples and kingdoms…We wish, as much as possible with God’s help, in line with our pastoral duty, to trap the foxes that are busily ravaging the Lord’s vineyard and to drive the wolves from the sheepfolds…lest we come to an evil end like the husbandman…” (para.1). (Pastors teach, among other things – Ed.)
(B) He uses his supreme apostolic authority.
“Now therefore, having thoroughly discussed these matters with Our venerable brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, upon their advice and with their unanimous consent, We approve and renew, by Our Apostolic authority, each and every sentence, censure or penalty of excommunication, suspension and interdict, and removal, and any others whatever in any way given and promulgated against heretics and schismatics by any Roman Pontiffs Our Predecessors…” (para. 2).
“Through this Our Constitution, which is to remain forever effective, in hatred of such a crime the greatest and deadliest that can exist in God’s Church, We sanction, establish, decree and define, through the fullness of Our Apostolic power, that although the aforesaid sentences, censures and penalties keep their force and efficacy and obtain their effect…(all these persons) are also automatically and without any recourse to law or action, completely and entirely, forever deprived of, and furthermore disqualified from and incapacitated for their rank…” (para. 3).
(C) The doctrine on which he is speaking has to do with faith and/or morals.
“We must see attentively to driving away from Christ’s fold those who, in Our time more consciously and balefully than usual, driven by malice and trusting in their own wisdom, rebel against the rule of right Faith,” (para. 1).
(D) He issues a certain and definitive judgment on that teaching.
“The Roman Pontiff, who…judges all, but can be judged by no one in this world — (even he) may be corrected if he is apprehended straying from the Faith,
“If ever at any time it becomes clear that any Bishop, even one conducting himself As… a Roman Pontiff, [who] before his promotion or elevation as a Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has strayed from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy, or has incurred schism, then his promotion or elevation shall be null, invalid and void,” (para. 7).
(E) He wills that this definitive judgment be accepted as such by the universal Church.
“No one at all, therefore, may infringe this document of our approbation, reintroduction, sanction, statute and derogation of wills and decrees, or by rash presumption contradict it. If anyone, however, should presume to attempt this, let him know that he is destined to incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul,” (para. 7)
Who is the Head of the Catholic Church?
The Head of the Catholic Church is Jesus Christ. Yes the Pope is the visible head of the Church; but Christ is the eternal Head of His Mystical Body. The Mystical Body continues to exist with Christ as its Head and the faithful as its members and will continue to exist until the consummation. The pope is only the visible symbol Christ uses to represent this reality. Christ who placed Peter as head of the Church can certainly withdraw him as its head if He chooses. But this does not destroy the Church that Christ Himself founded and keeps in existence; for He founded it before Peter officially became pope (following the Resurrection). This is the desert(ed) existence that St. John refers to in Apocalypse 12; we have been deserted by the hierarchy as well as our brethren and God has carried us into the desert on the wings of the Holy Ghost, (great eagle), there to speak to us “face to face.” We don’t believe only “homealoners” will be saved; we believe that God knows His own and will take care of them. I do believe that those who have access to the truths of faith and fail to study them, then publicly renounce their errors and do penance are in grave peril of losing their souls. Especially in danger are those who go so far as encouraging others to return to the stench of the vomit-filled anti-church in Rome; “dragging others with them to perdition.” It is as St. Paul tells us in Holy Scripture: those who do not sufficiently love the truth will be given the operation of error, to believe lies.
Dearest Jesus, please send to us a true Pope!