12-2-14: Infallible proofs the See is indeed vacant

12-2-14: Infallible proofs the See is indeed vacant

© 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.)

Introduction: Baalim’s Ass Braying

Baalim was an evil idolater and diviner who appears in the book of Numbers as one who was preparing to sell out Israel but was diverted from this evil by a “dumb” animal. After being beaten by her master, the animal spoke to Baalim and accused him of hurting her without any reason for she had never hurt, yea only served him. Baalim had to agree with her. Because of this account in Holy Scripture, these verses are sometimes referred to when a person not otherwise thought able to speak the truth in believable fashion manages to convey it. In presenting what is below, that is all I am doing. I am demonstrating only what the Church already has taught and decided decades, even centuries ago. I am not claiming any authority of my own. The sources used for all these articles are papal decrees, documents from the general councils, Canon Law and the writings of theologians. These are my credentials.

Recently a video of the late [Canon] Gregory Hesse (d. 2006) was re-circulated in which he attacks sedevacantism, promoting instead the St. Pius X Society (SSPX) position. This position, also held by other Traditionalists, falsely maintains that the current Roman usurper is materially but not formally “pope,” (see the refutation of this absurd hypothesis at /articles/bombshell-basis-for-the-material-pope-theory-why-traditionalists-never-left-the-novus-ordo-church/ ). It is important to note that this revisiting comes on the heels of a year-long crusade bySSPX members and “clergy” to discredit Pope Paul IV’s infallible Bull, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, written in 1558. One Traditionalist antipope commented years ago that Paul IV’s bull was the bane of his existence, since it proved he was never elected and could never be elected. The SSPX’s unsuccessful campaign contending that Cum ex… is not infallible has been dealt with in detail at the following links below.







(These last three links explain how and why Cum ex… has been retained in the 1917 Code.)

In way of prefacing the following remarks, it is important to note that while Hesse and other Traditionalists claim that a papal election is “merely an administrative act,” and papal election laws have been changed frequently and practically with impunity, this is not the case. The Liber Pontificalis shows only about 50 additions, changes or adjustments to these laws over the last 2,000 years, some of them made by popes and others by councils. Many were introduced to correct abuses or address problems arising from circumstances in existence at various times in history. Minimizing the daunting task of electing a successor to St. Peter by relegating it to an administrative act clearly shows the contempt of Traditionalists for the papacy. The Holy Ghost is the one guiding the election and inspiring the voters, who swear they will elect only the one they believe God wishes to reign. Their duty is to see that everything done in conclave is carried out according to the election law of the pope, in order to assure a canonical election. For without such assurance there is no guarantee the man elected is a true pope, and Peter must continue in his successors until the consummation. The necessity of a canonical election of the Roman Pontiff is spelled out in numerous Denzinger references, which are provided below.

The initial send of Pope St. Pius V’s “Inter Multiplices to this email group was intended to show that of his own accord, and as sovereign pontiff with immediate jurisdiction in the affairs of the Church (see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10602a.htm), also not in consultation with anyone else, Pope St. Pius V endorsed and strengthened Pope Paul IV’s bull. St. Pius V makes it clear that Cum ex… is “inviolable,” and commands “it be observed to the letter, according to its contents and wording.” For this reason we have provided the annotated copy of Cum ex… above. Those reading this bull should ask himself or herself if it is really likely that such a saintly pontiff would have bothered to issue this confirmation of the bull were it not of the most supreme importance regarding the subject of heresy and schism. Is it any wonder that in light of this fact, the Church used Paul IV’s bull in Her 1917 Code of Canon Law as the entire foundation for almost every single law regarding heresy? How ironic that Traditionalists have for decades championed Quo Primum as the end all, be all of papal documents in regard to the Mass, yet despite Pope St. Pius V’s clear command, shrug Cum ex… off as negligible, a mere disciplinary law, which is disproven in the links listed above.

It is clear from Cum ex… 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,” (see link above: annotated guide to Cum ex). This is why even those suspect of heresy (“deviated” the Latin deviasse) are not qualified as candidates for election, for Cum ex.. also is one of the fontes for Can. 2200, which presumes those suspect of heresy guilty until proven innocent. The argument Hesse presents on material/formal heresy as applying to the papacy and apostolic succession is a false argument because the Church holds those accused of heresy re Can. 2200 guilty until proven innocent by a proper bishop or a true pope. Therefore these antipopes are equally guilty under this same canon, for as demonstrated at /free-content/reference-links/4-heresy/what-constiutes-material-heresy-and-schism/,  the Church has always considered them heretics until proven otherwise, and it all goes back to Cum ex!  It is Hesse’s opinion that the Church does not consider them guilty, which is contrary to the 1917 Code and Church teaching up to the death of Pope Pius XII. Many Traditionalists pretend to embrace the Church as She existed before Pope Pius XII’s death, yet either cling to Liberal, (condemned) teachings circulating even then or adopt whatever they choose from the Vatican 2 era that suits them, including the1983 code.

Below I intend to demonstrate that the arguments made by Hesse in his Youtube video are not scholastic as required by the true Church and that overall, his position represents only a “compromise” or synthesized position intended to “blend” newchurch belief with that of the unchanging and unchangeable Church. This from a Society daring to use the name of St. Pius X, who decreed, in his oath against Modernism, that Catholics must accept unaltered “the doctrine of faith transmitted from the apostles through the orthodox fathers, always in the same sense and interpretation, even to us…”  Before ever attempting to hold those elected following the death of Pope Pius XII as true popes, Hesse must prove them so, and prove them so from Canon Law (1917 Code, which was in force in 1958), infallible papal documents, infallible decrees of general councils and the writings of approved theologians concurring with papal teaching. Without such proofs, Lefebvre, Thuc and any other so-called “bishops,” also their “successors — cooperating in any way with the Novus Ordo or those operating outside the Church — are nothing more than non-Catholic ministers. And we are forbidden under penalty of excommunication to cooperate with them, (Can. 2314, nos. 1 and 3, Can. 1258.)

Why SSPX “catholicism” is not Catholic

Already several deviations from the sense of what the Church has always held can be detected among Pius X Society followers.

• They accept the missal of a man (John 23) who was the first to introduce the words “for all men” into the English translation of missalettes widely distributed in January 1959 in the U.S., (Our Parish Prays and Sings). Then they piously protest this rank change and advise their members not to attend Novus Ordo services.

• They pretend to pray the same Latin Tridentine Mass perpetually mandated by Pope St. Pius V while praying this 1962 missal that omits the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, banishes the Collect, abolishes the Communion of the People, omits the final blessing and the Last Gospel and changes or abolishes numerous feasts and other features of the immemorial Latin Mass. Not all these changes were introduced at once in all locales and in some missals, at least, the Collects and Last Gospel seem to have been retained.

• They hold the antipopes as valid or potentially valid, determining for themselves what among the false Vatican 2 council changes are to be accepted, which laws and teachings are to be observed, and who among them are clerics. This is sheer Gallicanism, the same heresy that prevailed during the Western Schism, with the people/clergy dictating to their alleged “popes” how the cow will eat the cabbage.

• They invoke epikeia, or the “emergency” principle, “a sudden risk needing immediate remedy,” (St. Thomas Aquinas). Epikeia also was thrust  into the equation during the time of the Western Schism. In his “The Origins of the Great Schism,” 1948, historian Walter Ullmann observes: “As a glance at Canon Law confirms, all these proposals [maintaining the bishops could call a general council to depose a pope] however ingenious they may have been were, from the point of view of Canon Law, illegal.” Ullmann further stated that all the supporters of a General Council called to depose the claimants to the papacy without the authority of any one of these claimants invoked epikeia, “especially Jean Gerson, who made great use of this idea.” This group also was the first to espouse the error that a true pope could become a heretic, he reports, although “There was, it is true, great uneasiness about this interpretation.”

• They eagerly jump to dismiss the greater bulk of [the 1917 Code] of Canon Law with their claims that these laws are now doubtful, particularly since there is a “new code.” They give their heretical antipopes the benefit of the doubt by claiming they are only material heretics, hence not culpable and able to be reformed.

• They refuse to acknowledge that a large group of dissident Catholics do not accept their “popes,” hence their “code” according to this self-same principal, and that this in itself establishes doubt and calls the validity of those reigning since 1958 into question. St. Robert Bellarmine taught that a doubtful pope is no pope just as a doubtful law is no law. “If a papal election is really doubtful for any reason, the one elected should resign so that a new election may be held.But if he refuses to resign, it becomes the duty of the bishops to adjust the matter. They [the bishops] can and ought to decide, when occasion demands, who is the legitimate pope; and if the matter be doubtful they should provide for the Church by having a legitimate and undoubted pastor elected. That is what the Council of Constance rightly did… ” (Rev. E. S. Berry, “The Church of Christ,” Bellarmine, de Concillio, ii, 19) The Council of Constance first confirmed this teaching in its practice, having deposed two popes after the council was convened by the true pope, Gregory XII, who then resigned.

• All the above is the direct result of employing a false philosophy to determine theological questions. Now all Catholics know that the Scholastic philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas is the only philosophical system approved and accepted by the Church. Pope Pius IX condemned those who held that “the methods and principles which have served the Doctors of Scholasticism when treating of theology no longer correspond with the exigencies of time or the progress of science.” Pope Leo XIII wrote in Aeterni Patris, (August 4, 1874): ‘To depart rashly and unadvisedly from the wisdom of the Angelic Doctor is dangerous and contrary to our will.’” And from Pope Urban V, in a letter to the Academy of Toulouse, “We command you to follow the doctrine of St. Thomas as the Catholic doctrine, and study to embrace it with all your power.”

The methodology developed by the Church to employ this philosophic system is vast and is founded on logic. Arguments and methods contrary to those used in this system are dubbed sophistic, or false. Petitio principii or begging the question is one of those false arguments, the one that best applies here.  It is assuming as true that which has yet to be proved, i.e., assuming that there must be a pope until the consummation in order that the promises made to the Church by Christ are fulfilled without any significant gaps in the succession. Now as has been pointed out elsewhere, such promises cannot be satisfied by a doubtful fulfillment. The fact that the See is vacant, based on Cum ex… and Vacantis Apostolica Sedis, also other papal documents, must simply be accepted as infallible teachings of the Church; and proofs that both these documents are infallible, at least in those parts concerning the validity of the one elected, cannot be overcome. If the interregnum has surpassed in time any known before we have only the lack of true bishops to blame, who should have come to the Church’s defense. That they did not proves beyond a reasonable doubt that no truly Catholic bishops, including cardinal bishops, existed. This fulfills Christ’s prophecy in Matt. 24:21 and 26:31: that the shepherds would flee as they did at the time of the crucifixion and we would experience things in our day and time previously unknown to man.

In the end, this entire situation has been the result of the refusal, even of the Catholic hierarchy, to accept the disciplinary teachings of the Church and the documents of the ordinary magisterium as infallible. This is reflected in the diaries left to us by Msgr. J. C. Fenton on the state of the Church shortly before and after the false council. Pope Pius IX addresses the disciplinary doctrines applying to our own situation today in Quartus Supra (1873), Quae in Patriarchatu, and especially in Etsi Multa; and in Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII mandates the necessity of accepting documents of the ordinary magisterium entered into the Act Apostolica Sedis as infallible, (but of course today, nothing in the Acta after the death of Pope Pius XII is to be considered Catholic teaching). Such acceptance is absolutely NOT a question of differing opinions, or theological controversy. It is most certainly a question of who is obedient to the teachings of the Roman Pontiff and who, in the end, is a true Catholic. Catholics are required to accept even non-infallible papal teachings of a validly elected pope with a firm and sincere consent. Catholics today, however, are so disenchanted with the papacy that obedience is the furthest thing from their minds, even in the case of infallible teachings. But these teachings just mentioned above DO bind them, as do the teachings concerning the canonical election of a pope.

Necessity of canonical election

DZ 570d, 650, 652, 674; Cum ex Apostolatus Officio: It is of faith that “a 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.” This was an article of faith proposed for belief to the Armenians and to Wycliffe and the Hussites. Msgr. J. C. Fenton states that these articles are to be considered as dogmas of faith, (“The Concept of Sacred Theology,” pgs. 132-33). Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex… reads: “Subjects [are] bound in fealty and obedience to future Bishops, Archbishops, Primates, Cardinals and the canonically established Roman Pontiff,” even though they are allowed to depart “with impunity” from a man only appearing to be pope who is schismatic and/or is teaching heresy. All those whose elections are suspect owing to canonical irregularities enumerated in Vacantis Apostolica Sedis would fall under this category.  This would include the absurd claims concerning Siri, his “successor” Gregory XVIII, the infamous Kansas “pope,” the late Lucian Pulvermacher, (“Pius XIII”) and others now claiming to reign. Roncalli’s election has long been suspect, rendering him a doubtful pope along with Montini. Before Montini usurped the papal throne, Roncalli had invalidly appointed an additional 33 bishops as cardinals to the college, bishops intended to promote his already in progress aggiornamento, meaning that a two-thirds majority plus one of truly Catholic electors voting for Montini was impossible. Pope Pius XII clearly states in his election constitution that this two-thirds plus one majority is necessary for the validity of the election, and that is not the only teaching by this pope governing the validity of the election. And for those who claim that Siri was elected before any of this occurred, well PROVE IT according the rules of evidence prescribed by the very Catholic Church you brazenly claim to belong to. It cannot be done.

Canons 109 and 219: Both canons state that in the Supreme Pontificate, the person legitimately elected and freely accepting election receives the full power of supreme jurisdiction by divine law or divine right. This legitimacy is a matter of Divine, not ecclesiastical law. This jurisdiction comes directly from God Himself, not the electors, who only designate the person who is to receive divine jurisdiction. Canon 109 specifically states that the laity and secular power are excluded from any involvement in ecclesiastical appointments, (DZ 967). Hesse wrongly states that the laity ever elected a pope; the laity, St. Alphonsus Liguori teaches, at best nominated those to be elected, but the clergy then constituting the official electoral body of the Church were always required to confirm these nominees.

Canon 147: “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.” Revs. Bouscaren-Ellis, in their commentary on Can. 145, define the term ecclesiastical office as something “permanently established…by law, divine or ecclesiastical. The papacy is an office established by divine law; as is also the episcopate in general.” Canon 109 states all other degrees of jurisdiction outside the papacy are received by canonical appointment. Laypersons are not members of the competent ecclesiastical authority. Cardinals who later proved they were Modernists and worse by orchestrating the false Vatican 2 council were deposed, so therefore lost their offices and were not members of such authority either.

Canon 160: The election of the Roman Pontiff is governed exclusively by the Constitution, “Vacantis Apostolica Sedis” listed under this canon. Canonical election refers to the papal constitution indicated by this canon, and Pope Pius XII leaves no doubt about its binding nature, as we will see below. This constitution is simply a revision and restatement of Pope St. Pius X’s previous constitution on papal elections, Vacante Sede Apostolica, with only two really notable changes cited by commentators: the extension of the time limit for holding the election (from 10 days to 15 days) and the amendment of the two-thirds majority vote necessary for election to two-thirds plus one, to exclude the possibility that any elector voted for himself.  There is yet a third notable addition that these commentators missed, however; one that substantially changes Pope Pius XII’s entire document. In both Pope Pius X’s and Pius XII’s election law, the items under Caput I, articles 1-3, are the same, except for the addition to no. 3 noted below.

In both versions we read: “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. This prohibition is especially applicable in the case of Pontifical Constitutions issued to regulate the business of the election of the Roman Pontiff.” Pope Pius XII adds to this, in Vacantis Apostolica Sedis: “In truth, if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, We declare it, by OurSupreme Authority, to be null and void.

Let us put this into perspective. First of all, this applies to papal election law. But while Cum ex… is not specifically an election law, it does very much apply to papal elections in the pertinent para. 6 of the bull.  The words “promotion and elevation” to the cardinalate, pontificate are specifically mentioned. While it is not an election law per se, this bull very much does regulate the business of electing the Roman Pontiff, insofar as it qualifies the candidates eligible for election, as well as provides remedies should someone be elected who is not qualified. It would seem, therefore, that Pope Pius XII includes Cum ex… as one of the laws that, should it be ignored, abrogated, or dispensed from in any way, would invalidate any papal election. This is especially true since it is the parent law of Can. 188, no. 4 concerning deposition, and VAS declares disqualified to elect any cardinal who has suffered deposition. It also is the parent law of Can. 2200, which qualifies as guilty until proven innocent anyone accused of heresy. Both Roncalli and Montini made public statements, performed public acts that called their faith into question pre-election, and certainly their actions post-election confirmed any suspicions. Thus does Pope Paul IV and Pius XII  lay to rest the material/ formal papacy hypothesis; Cum ex… teaches such a man elected could never be accepted as “quasi-legitimate.”

Vacantis Apostolica Sedis disqualifies those who are deposed from office: “Canonically deposed Cardinals, or those who have renounced the cardinalitial dignity with the Roman Pontiff’s consent, have no legal right at an election.” The term “canonically deposed”refers to the fact that anyone guilty of “publicly lapsing from the Catholic faith” automatically resigns from their office. As Revs. Woywod-Smith explain concerning latae sententiae penalties under Can. 2222: “In laws to which a penal sanction is attached, the law itself serves as a warning, and if…violated, immediate action may be taken.”Cardinals who promote themselves before the election or allow others to do so incur an excommunication that can be lifted only by the Roman Pontiff, so therefore cannot vote in the election, (see Vacantis Apostolica Sedis, paras. 34, 36, 109). Based on the number of cardinals who accepted all the Vatican 2 changes and pledged allegiance to Roncalli and Montini, it is obvious that the majority of these men were no longer Catholic by the time of Pope Pius XII’s death. Msgr. J. C. Fenton confirms this in his diaries written even before Pius XII’s demise and at the time of the false Vatican 2 council.

Canon 2391 §1: “A college which knowingly elects an unworthy person is automatically deprived for that particular election of the right to hold a new election.” Here the commentators, Revs. Woywod-Smith, note that the term “unworthy” means excommunicated, suspended, interdicted, infamous, or a notorious apostate, heretic or schismatic. Those suspect of heresy, under Cum ex… and Can. 2200 also are included. This is mentioned specifically by Pope Pius XII in his election legislation above. Also, the necessity of a majority of two-thirds plus one for the validity of the election IS required, and who can prove two-thirds of the cardinals were even Catholic by that time? Rev. Anscar Parsons, in his Canon Law dissertation “Canonical Elections,” informs his readers that, “Historically the election for the Holy Father has been the prototype for the election of inferior prelates.” Moreover, those canon laws governing what to do when some provision is not covered in the law direct the inquirer to similar laws in the Code, and this would remain within the canonical framework intended by the Church for papal elections, (Can. 147).


Once it is accepted as proven that John 23 through Francis were never popes to begin with, the entire succession based on their papacies — Vatican 2, the new Mass, the changes — all can be wiped out as though they never existed. The Church shall be left to “start from scratch” so to speak. This is in perfect accord with Cum ex… as well as the Council of Lyons, which declares all antipopes and their issue null and void. We have witnessed the completion of the Great Apostasy, the exodus of Catholics from the Church following Vatican 2. We have seen the abomination of desolation as defined by Pope Paul IV and our Lord standing in the Holy Place. We have experienced the terrible aftermath of a world deprived of the Continual Sacrifice after “he who withholdeth” — the Roman Pontiff, Cardinal Manning teaches — was taken out of the way.

For it is precisely as Rev. Berry, agreeing with Rev. Edmund O’Reilly, S. J., teaches in his aforementioned work: “For although the See remain vacant for many years, the Church always retains the right to elect a legitimate successor.” He then states that in the event it appears the power and authority of the Apostles has lapsed, as it does today, then, “[It] cannot be renewed except by a direct intervention of Christ in conferring them anew and re-establishing His Church. Such an act on the part of Christ would have to be confirmed by the performance of miracles as the only means by which we could be assured of its reality.” And just such a miracle is indicated in many prophecies of saints and holy people as well as Scripture commentators. Earlier in his work, Berry reminds us, as Pope Pius XII later taught in his encyclicals, that, “the Apostolic See of Rome is the only particular Church to which the promise of perpetual indefectibility has been made.” Pope Leo XIII teaches in Satis Cognitum: “It is opposed to the truth, and in evident contradiction to the divine constitution of the Church, to hold that while each bishop is individually bound to obey the authority of the Roman Pontiffs, taken collectively, [emph. his], the bishops are not so bound…Christ wished that by the strength and solidity of the foundation the gates of hell should be prevented from prevailing against the Church. All are agreed that the divine promise must be understood of the Church as a whole, and not any certain portions of it.”

The See is vacant; the burden of proof rests on Hesse, who already has admitted his six antipopes are/were material heretics. But no such proof can be produced without rending the fabric of Church law and infallible papal teachings. “He who has the presumption of law in his favor is freed from the burden of proof,” (Can. 1827, 1917 Code).  Under Canon 2200, material heretics are held guilty until proven innocent because “the evil will is presumed.” We are back at ground zero: October 9, 1958. The 1917 Code, the unadulterated Latin Mass, the indefectible See are all in place. Where do we go from here without violating any laws of the Supreme Pontiffs as Pope Pius XII infallibly taught in Vacantis Apostolica Sedis and who is willing to make that journey? If it is not possible to elect a true pope today and we must pray and watch, as Christ instructed, then what do we do in the meantime? Hesse himself has provided the answer in instructing those not able to attend a Latin Mass to remain at home and pray. When it is finally understood that without a true pope all this time even the Latin Mass is not possible because the Continual Sacrifice has ceased, this will be the only option. We live in the Last Days. Let us be gathered together from the four corners of the earth as the Gospel for the Last Sunday after Pentecost foretells, whether for the Final Judgment, or its prelude: the reassembling of the “dry bones” and the restoration of all things in Christ.

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  1. norma porcia

    It is quite easy to understand why most of those adhering to the SSPX and other Trad groups dismiss Cum Ex and Pius XII’s election law. If Marcel Lefebvre was ordained priest and consecrated bishop by a probable Freemason, Achille Lienart, then it would follow that their imagined heirarchy will just crumble. Laymen receiving the sacraments from lay ministers, just like the NO ministers of the eucharist. What a blow to human pride. And a good number of trad priests/bishops were ordained by him.

    • T. Stanfill Benns

      Yes, it would certainly spoil their game wouldn’t it. While I do think Lefebvre was a Mason and a high-level one, above all he was a heretic who joined a non-Catholic sect and adhered to three antipopes. What is amazing is that in Pope Pius IX’s Etsi Multa, and Cum ex… as well, we read that those defending and promoting these pseudo-clergy are as guilty as these clergy themselves. They are all to be considered as heretics to be avoided (vitandus) Pope Pius IX says. This is also covered under Canons 2315 and 2316 in the 1917 Code, which explains why Cum ex… is the old law supporting them. Once they are admonished they have six months to repent and if they do not retract the heresy , they incur the censure. Thee canons cover those who freely and knowingly propagate heresy or attend non-Catholic services, Their ability to know this has been out there since at least the mid 1980s. So the prospects for them definitely do not look good.


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