+St. John Damascene+

 Antiquarianism, condemned by Pope Pius VI in Auctorem Fidei, (DZ 1533) originated at the Jansenistic Council of Pistoia in the 1700s. It resurfaced again in the late 1800s. Pope Pius XII officially condemned this resurgent heresy, the teaching that ancient practices can be reverted to despite later teachings of the Roman Pontiffs. This error was condemned in Mediator Dei (1947), regarding the liturgy, after the liberals once again began promoting it in the name of liturgical renewal. In his work The Vatican Council Decrees and their Bearing on Civil Allegiance, Henry Cardinal Manning tells us that the Vatican Council retroactively made Auctorem Fidei infallible, hence the condemnation of this error then was as infallible as it is today. Since the Novus Ordo Missae under the guise of Catholic liturgy incarnated this error, it certainly must be considered an even more dangerous heresy. Traditionalists have revived this heresy in claiming they have no need for a papal mandate since there is no pope and can proceed on their own since their bishops have jurisdiction directly from Christ, (a notion discounted by Pope Pius XII).

They base their claims to be able to proceed without papal approval on the “precedents” of the consecrations performed during a three-year interregnum between the death of Pope Clement IV (November 29, 1268) and the election of Pope Gregory X (September 1, 1271); also jurisdiction as it was exercised during the Western Schism. Precedents, however, are operating principles in common law, not Canon Law, and can be traced back to the heresy of Gallicanism. Traditionalists are not even remaining within the Church’s own legal system to try and justify their actions. Canon Law is primarily based on the laws of Popes and Councils, not just any law. Follow the trail of Traditionalists — they will circumvent the continual magisterium and attempt to misinterpret and manipulate Canon Law to accomplish this every time. Understanding the reasons why these precedents will not hold water and what really happened during these two time periods is important to understanding what follows.

“To some, the system followed by the Catholic Church seems antiquated and secretive. However, the real difficulty from a common law perspective may be the lack of understanding of the Church’s law and the lack of understanding of how canon law is applied. “While both common law and canon law have their roots in the ancient law systems of the world, they developed along different lines. Common law developed more along the lines of Germanic and English law while canon law developed more along the lines of Roman law. The common law system is generally based on a judge applying precedent while the canon law system is generally based on an individual judge applying the law to the specific case. In common law, most interpretation of law is provided by the judicial system. In canon law, interpretation is provided by the legislator. Both systems work, or do not work, based on how well they are applied,” (Canon Law and Common Law,” www.canonlawprofessionals.com/).

This common law system of precedents is referred to as “stare decisis.” According to the U.S. History Encyclopedia: “Stare Decisis is the principle of deciding judicial controversies on the basis of precedent. It is a principle of the common-law legal systems that distinguishes them from civil-law systems. Adherence to precedent, following the decision rules and reasoning set out in earlier similar cases, is frequently cited as an attribute that gives consistency and predictability to the law and that ensures political stability. However, assumptions concerning the significance and impact of adherence to stare decisis have been subjected to serious logical and empirical challenges…” The use of precedents can be traced to another source, and this is where we find the true identity of Traditionalists advocating their use. Those so advocating betray their Gallicanist mindset, for as A. Degert notes in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Gallicanism was based on: “a revival of the most ancient traditions of Christianity; a persistence of the common law,” made up of early councils, canons of general and local councils and the decretals, ancient and modern.

Then we have the case of the Western Schism, which also has been presented as a precedent but is really used by Traditionalists more in the way of an analogy. They try to compare it to our own time, but the circumstances existing today are not the same as those existing in the 14th and early 15th centuries. What results, then, is a false analogy which is rejected by scholastic theologians as an illogical and invalid argument. In his work Logic (1940), Rev. Joseph Walsh identifies such analogies as “drawn from another subject which only in appearance resembles the subject in question.” During the Western Schism, a true pope reigned all along but those living then did not know which of the three popes was the true pope. (For a complete history, see the Catholic Encyclopedia online under Western Schism.) Today NO true pope has reigned for over 60 years and no Catholic cardinals or bishops exist to elect a true pope. Ergo, the two situations are not analogous. Because only the scholastic method of determination is to be used according to Church teaching, those things determined to be fallacies under this system cannot be used as the basis for any argument hoping to arrive at the truth.

Not only do we find references to antiquarianism in Mediator Dei; we find them also in Ad Apostolorum Principis as well. There Pope Pius XII condemned antiquarianism because the Chinese bishops had used it to justify deviation from the very form of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They had done this by allowing themselves to be elected bishops by the clergy and laity and receiving consecration without papal mandate, a requirement written into the Catholic episcopal rite itself. This is precisely what Traditionalist bishops do today, some being elected by fellow “clergy,” others simply materializing onto the Traditionalist stage. All lack the papal mandate. They excuse the need for this by pointing to customs and practices allowed hundreds of years ago, and as seen below this is the very thing condemned by Pope Pius XII in two separate papal documents. We must note that this involves two errors. One, it uses the excuse of previous usage to justify the action. Two, it then involves the actual deviation from the sacramental form in omitting the papal mandate, something Pope Pius XII tells the faithful is defined by the Vatican Council as belonging to the powers of the Roman Pontiff alone.

So read what is said by Pius XII below with this in mind.

 Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII, Nov. 9, 1947:

“Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. NO MORE CAN ANY CATHOLIC IN HIS RIGHT SENSES REPUDIATE EXISTING LEGISLATION OF THE CHURCH TO REVERT TO PRESCRIPTIONS BASED ON THE EARLIEST SOURCES OF CANON LAW. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.

“This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise. It likewise attempts to reinstate a series of errors which were responsible for the calling of that meeting as well as for those resulting from it, with grievous harm to souls, and which the Church, the ever watchful guardian of the “deposit of faith” committed to her charge by her divine Founder, had every right and reason to condemn. For perverse designs and ventures of this sort tend to paralyze and weaken that process of sanctification by which the sacred liturgy directs the sons of adoption to their Heavenly Father of their souls’ salvation.”

Ad Apostolorum Principis, Pope Pius XII, June 29, 1958:

“… For those who profess themselves most interested in the welfare of their country have for some considerable time been striving to disseminate among the people the position, devoid of all truth, that Catholics have the power of directly electing their bishops. To excuse this kind of election they allege a need to look after the good souls with all possible speed

“For it has been clearly and expressly laid down in the canons that it pertains to the one Apostolic See to judge whether a person is fit for the dignity and burden of the episcopacy and that complete freedom in the nomination of bishops is the right of the Roman Pontiff. But if, as happens at times, some persons or groups are permitted to participate in the selection of an episcopal candidate, this is lawful only if the Apostolic See has allowed it in express terms and in each particular case for clearly defined persons or groups, the conditions and circumstances being very plainly determined.

“Granted this exception, it follows that bishops who have been neither named nor confirmed by the Apostolic See, but who, on the contrary, have been elected and consecrated in defiance of its express orders, enjoy no powers of teaching or of jurisdiction since jurisdiction passes to bishops only through the Roman Pontiff as We admonished in the Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis in the following words: ‘. . . As far as his own diocese is concerned each (bishop) feeds the flock entrusted to him as a true shepherd and rules it in the name of Christ. Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff.’

“And when We later addressed to you the letter Ad Sinarum Gentem, We again referred to this teaching in these words: ‘The power of jurisdiction which is conferred directly by divine right on the Supreme Pontiff comes to bishops by that same right, but only through the successor of Peter, to whom not only the faithful but also all bishops are bound to be constantly subject and to adhere both by the reverence of obedience and by the bond of unity.’

“Acts requiring the power of Holy Orders which are performed by ecclesiastics of this kind, though they are valid AS LONG AS THE CONSECRATION CONFERRED ON THEM WAS VALID, are yet gravely illicit, that is, criminal and sacrilegious.

“To such conduct the warning words of the Divine Teacher fittingly apply: ‘He who enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up another way, is a thief and a robber.” The sheep indeed know the true shepherd’s voice. ‘But a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.’

“We are aware that those who belittle obedience in order to justify themselves with regard to those functions which they have unrighteously assumed defend their position by recalling a usage which prevailed in ages past. Yet everyone sees that all ecclesiastical discipline is overthrown if it is in any way lawful for one to restore arrangements which are no longer valid because the supreme authority of the Church long ago decreed otherwise. In no sense do they excuse their way of acting by appealing to another custom, and they indisputably prove that they follow this line deliberately in order to escape from the discipline which now prevails and which they ought to be obeying…

“…The faithful are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience not only in matters which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church.” 

“From what We have said, it follows that no authority whatsoever, save that which is proper to the Supreme Pastor, can render void the canonical appointment granted to any bishop; that no person or group, whether of priests or of laymen, can claim the right of nominating bishops; that no one can lawfully confer episcopal consecration unless he has received the mandate of the Apostolic See.

“Consequently, if consecration of this kind is being done contrary to all right and law, and by this crime the unity of the Church is being seriously attacked, an excommunication reserved specialissimo modo to the Apostolic See has been established which is automatically incurred by the consecrator and by anyone who has received consecration irresponsibly conferred.”

And so Traditionalists, believing themselves to be validly ordained and consecrated when they are not, argue, “Well the pope didn’t say not invalid, only unlawful, so we can still function, and our acts will be valid.” Note, however, that Pope Pius XII also says that those consecrating must have been validly consecrated themselves in order for such lawfulness to be presumed, and we have every reason to believe these Traditional consecrations were all, at the very least, doubtfully valid. And even the lawfulness of such consecrations and ordinations is refuted by the Council of Trent: “In the ordination of bishops, priests and of other orders …those who by their own temerity take these offices upon themselves are not ministers of the Church, but are to be regarded as ‘thieves, robbers who have not entered by the door’” (The Council of Trent, Sess. 23, July 15, 1563; DZ 960). Notice that Pope Pius XII repeats this very language in paragraph 42 of his constitution above. (One conclavist contended that Trent was written only for the Protestants. However, the same teaching is cited by Pope Pius XII under Can. 147, which will be treated in the next blog post). Also from the Council of Trent:

“If anyone says that … those who have neither been rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical authority, but come from a different source, are the lawful ministers of the Word and of the Sacraments, let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Sess. 23, July 15, 1563; DZ 967, Can. 7; also DZ 424). By their actions, these Traditionalists present both as lawful and valid ministers; yet in reality, they most likely are only laymen; and as such, Pius XII’s excommunication reserved only to clerics does not apply. What does apply, however, are the excommunications reserved in a special manner to the Apostolic See for “pretending to say Mass or hear Sacramental Confessions by one who is not an ordained priest (Can. 2322 §1) and “for the usurpation and retention of goods and rights of the papacy” (Can. 2345). The sending power here, the grantor of jurisdiction necessary to possess apostolic succession, is the Roman Pontiff himself. He would never approve those men seeking ordination and consecration today from doubtfully consecrated bishops who were ordained themselves by notoriously schismatic bishops (Lefebvre, Thuc, et al). As will be explained in the article on epikeia, even being only doubtfully (not certainly) valid prevents any of these men from dispensing the Sacraments and their followers from receiving them.

Auctorem Fidei, Pope Pius VI, Aug. 28, 1791

The following is condemned in Pope Pius VI’s Auctorem Fidei, referenced above: (Errors regarding the proper order of the liturgy) “by recalling it to a greater simplicity of rites, by expressing it in the vernacular language, by uttering it in a loud voice” (DZ 1533). Also, The proposition which states ‘that power has been given by God to the Church, that it might be communicated to the pastors who are its ministers for the salvation of souls’; if thus understood that the power of ecclesiastical ministry and of rule is derived from the COMMUNITY of the faithful to the pastors, — heretical” (DZ 1502). And so how can Traditional “priests”— with at least the implicit approval of the Traditional community (the “faithful”) — elect or appoint Traditional “bishops” without a papal mandate and not become heretics?!

Charitas, Pope Pius VI, April 13, 1791

And from Charitas, by Pope Pius VI, written in reference to those who were appointed as constitutional bishops by the state in France, not the Pope, and were therefore acting outside the Pope’s jurisdiction:

“Love, which is patient and kindly, as the Apostle Paul says, supports and endures all things as long as a hope remains that mildness will prevent the growth of incipient errors. But if errors increase daily and reach the point of creating schism, the laws of love itself, together with Our duty, demand that We reveal to the erring their horrible sin and the heavy canonical penalties which they have incurred. For this sternness will lead those who are wandering from the way of truth to recover their senses, reject their errors, and come back to the Church, which opens its arms like a kind mother and embraces them on their return. The rest of the faithful in this way will be quickly delivered from the deceits of false pastors who enter the fold by ways other than the door, and whose only aim is theft, slaughter, and destruction

“We therefore severely forbid the said Expilly and the other wickedly elected and illicitly consecrated men, under this punishment of suspension, to assume episcopal jurisdiction or any other authority for the guidance of souls since they have never received it. They must not grant dimissorial letters for ordinations. Nor must they appoint, depute, or confirm pastors, vicars, missionaries, helpers, functionaries, ministers, or others, whatever their title, for the care of souls and the administration of the Sacraments under any pretext of necessity whatsoever. Nor may they otherwise act, decree, or decide, whether separately or united as a council, on matters which relate to ecclesiastical jurisdiction. For We declare and proclaim publicly that all their dimissorial letters and deputations or confirmations, past and future, as well as all their rash proceedings and their consequences, are utterly void and without force…”

“At length We beseech you all, beloved Catholic children, in the kingdom of France; as you recall the religion and faith of your fathers, We urge you lovingly not to abandon it. For it is the one true religion which both confers eternal life and makes safe and thriving civil societies. Carefully beware of lending your ears to the treacherous speech of the philosophy of this age which leads to death. Keep away from all intruders, whether called archbishops, bishops, or parish priests; do not hold communion with them especially in divine worship. Listen carefully to the message of your lawful pastors who are still living, and who will be put in charge of you later, according to the canons. Finally, in one word, stay close to Us. For no one can be in the Church of Christ without being in unity with its visible head and founded on the See of Peter.”

And in Artaud de Montor’s The Lives and Times of the Popes, Vol. VIII, Catholic Publication Society 1911, we find 266 pages devoted to Pope Pius VII, including several of Cardinal Consalvi’s verbatim communications to Napoleon on behalf of the pope. One of these addressed Napoleon’s nomination of 15 constitutional bishops for the pope’s approval to take possession of the newly created sees, a right guaranteed to him in the concordance signed with Pope Pius VII. Cardinal Consalvi wrote to the emperor on behalf of Pope Pius VII as follows:

  1. The case of the constitutional bishops is already decided by the Apostolic See, in the dogmatic brief of Pius VI beginning ‘Charitas.’ THAT DOGMATIC DEFINITION CANNOT BE REFORMED. His Holiness may mitigate the penalties therein inflicted on the said bishops, but the judgment of his predecessor is irrefragable.
  2. “The Catholic Church and the whole episcopal body has received and respected this judgment of the Holy See… The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was condemned by the same dogmatic judgment of Pius VI, as containing errors against the deposit of faith… His Holiness observes that, as his predecessor found it impossible to yield to the request made… it is equally impossible for him to admit to his communion and invest with canonical constitution the constitutionals, who, contrary to the dogmatic decision contained in said briefs, persist in maintaining the error condemned in them, refuse to acknowledge their illegitimate character, and to adhere and submit to the judgment pronounced by the Holy See.
  3. “A matter of faith is in question. His Holiness observes that, according to the rules of faith, it belongs to him, and to no other, to judge what the constitutional bishops have done… by pronouncing the profession of faith and the oath, and to confer institution if they are nominated… The rules and constant practice of the Church have always required that none should be received into its bosom, much less assigned as pastors, who have left any heresy or schism, unless they avow expressly that they condemn especially their errors.

Thus is ended the contention of certain Traditionalists who hold Charitas was never a dogmatic decree, or was later qualified or rescinded. Please note above that Pope Pius VI says nothing about a lack of validity on the part of these bishops but addresses only jurisdiction, just as Pope Pius XII does in Ad Apostolorum Principis. On this basis he declares that without said jurisdiction, which only he could grant, all the future acts of these bishops are null and void. And they cannot use the pretext of necessity to justify their actions. This is all very interesting, because in the last paragraph he tells the faithful to listen to their true bishops in exile and warns them not to resort to the ministrations of the constitutional bishops lacking jurisdiction. This resulted in a “home alone” like situation where these Catholics were without Sacraments and Mass for quite some time, yet the pope did not see this as justification in any way to allow them to seek out the bishops he sanctioned.

We have the popes, clearly telling us over and over, that these men have no jurisdiction and precisely why they have no jurisdiction. Pope Pius XII, in deciding that the bishops receive their power from the Roman Pontiff, not directly from Our Lord, squashes every possibility such jurisdiction could ever be granted by Christ. And to those Traditionalists who attempt to quote previous arrangements and canons in support of their consecrations without the papal mandate, we quote the following from Pope Pius IX’s Quartus Supra:

“28. However, some resent and bemoan both Our declaration that this Apostolic See has the right and power to elect a bishop either from the three names recommended or apart from them and Our prohibition against the enthronement of an elected Patriarch without Our prior confirmation. They call Our attention to the customs and canons of their churches as if We had abandoned the provisions of the sacred canons. We might respond to these men in the same way Our predecessor St. Gelasius did when the Acacian schismatics brought the same false accusation against him: They cite the canons against Us without knowing what they are saying since they show that they are themselves in opposition to the canons by the very fact that they deny obedience to the first See although its advice is sound and correct. For these are the very canons which recognize the full, divine authority of blessed Peter over the whole Church. Indeed, they proclaim that he lives and exercises judgment in his successors to the present time and forever, as the Council of Ephesus affirmed.”

And forever means even now, even though he who withholdeth, who Henry Cardinal Manning tells us is the Roman Pontiff,  has been taken out of the way for a time.




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