+Feast of the Transfiguration+

Twice in one week now we have seen certain bloggers, presenting themselves as reliable sources of Catholic information, promoting the work of Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, as the end all, be all of theological sources. But this is far from the truth, which is why you will not find him quoted on this site. Ott is not a trustworthy source of theology and should not be used, certainly, in defending truths of faith. In the January 1956 issue of the American Ecclesiastical Review, we find a book review on Dr. Ott’s work written by John J. King, O.M.I. He states:

“The publication of this volume by Dr. Ott should bolster the argumentation of those who protested the use of thedigest approach to the study of sacred theology. Dr. Ott has attempted to compress the entire field of dogmatic theology (including fundamental, special and Sacramental dogma) into a single volume of 519 pages. The editor of the English edition calls this bookthe most remarkable work of compression of its kind that I have encountered.’ This may well be; but for all its remarkable qualities, it is not without serious defect. In the process of condensation great care must be taken to avoid all distortion. The formidable task of a work of this sort is to affect not only brevity but also clarity. Dr. Ott has had remarkable success in attaining the first; he has experienced something less than success in his quest for the second. Very often in the scientific exposition of the dogmas of the Church conciseness can be attained only at the expense of clarity and accuracy…

“This has been the case in several sections of Dr. Ott’s book and this despite the obvious scholarship which he brings to his work. The author tells us that his work is intended primarily to meet the needs of students; indeed to be used as a textbook for seminarians. As such it is clearly inadequate. For it is merely a conspectus of theology. Its treatment is positive throughout with only an occasional brief elaboration of the speculative aspect of dogma. Frequent references are given to Denzinger, Sacred Scripture and Journel, but there are few direct quotations from the statements of the magisterium, Scripture and Tradition. Because of its brevity this volume could readily confuse and mislead seminarians. They may well gather enough information to pass an examination, but they certainly would not be schooled in theology according to the mind of the Church. Doctor Ott’s book may be useful on occasion as a quick reference, provided that the inquirer does not expect to receive a complete treatment of any given point; and provided also that he later seeks clarification and amplification in a more detailed source.” (Copies of this review are available on request.)

So it seems that those who are trying to shoot down what is written on this site need to substantially step up their game if they want to be considered credible writers. And what is more important, they need to stop telling people that they can rely on the opinions of theologians versus those of the magisterium, which is exactly what King criticizes Ott for doing. Now you see why so much is quoted from the magisterium here, and from Holy Scripture. And oh, by the way, if you’re going to take my writings out of context, try to properly attribute the quote about this very subject to its proper source (Msgr. Fenton and the theologians Pohle and Preuss), instead of making it appear it is my personal opinion:

“The private theologian is obligated and privileged to study these documents, to arrive at an understanding of what the Holy Father actually teaches, and then to aid in the task of bringing this body of truth to the people. The Holy Father, however, not the private theologian, remains the doctrinal authority. The theologian is expected to bring out the content of the Pope’s actual teaching, not to subject that teaching to the type of criticism he would have a right to impose on the writings of another private theologian” (Msgr. J.C. Fenton,“The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals, Pt. II” Sept. 1949, AER). As Revs. Pohle-Preuss write in The Sacraments, Vol. IV: “It matters not what the private opinions of…theologians [are]. It is not the private opinions of theologians but the official decisions of the Church by which we must be guided.” Why would anyone choose to believe theologians over the Roman Pontiff, Christ’s voice on earth? Do they not believe that “He who hears you, hears Me”?

Cardinal Ottaviani and Msgr. Fenton no match for Ott

Msgr. Fenton’s diaries reveal that he and Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani were good friends; he knew the man fairly well. When the decision in Mystici Corporis Christi on the jurisdiction of the bishops proceeding not from God directly but from the Roman Pontiffs was issued, Cardinal Ottaviani later published an important address about it. (Msgr. Fenton reports this in his article just quoted above.) Since Cardinal Ottaviani certainly had the pope’s ear, and was doubtless aware of his intent, we surely can trust what he said in his Institutiones iuris publici ecclesiastici in 1947, as reported by Fenton. Msgr. Fenton notes in his article: “[Ottaviani] tells us [that] up until the present time this thesis had been considered as more probable and even as sententia communis [common opinion of theologians] but that from now on it is to be held as entirely certain by reason of the words of the present Holy Father…

 “Monsignor Ottaviani assumes rightly that the authoritative statement of this thesis in the papal letter raises this teaching from the status of a more probable doctrine to that of a perfectly certain proposition. This observation on the part of Monsignor Ottaviani constitutes a valuable, practical corrective to a certain tendency towards oversimplification and MINIMALISM which had begun to invade some recent judgments on the doctrinal authority of the… encyclical letters.”

Yet in Ott’s work, we find it still listed as only a more probable opinion “(Sent. probabilior).” Already in the late 1800s, Henry Cardinal Manning, in his The Pastoral Office, demonstrated that it was then a common opinion, as Msgr. Fenton notes above.

It seems to be a very clear choice to believe the words of Cardinal Ottaviani, confidante of Pope Pius XII, and Ottaviani’s friend, Msgr. Fenton, over anything a theologian such as Ott, who obviously exhibits minimalist tendencies, might claim. Pope Pius XII’s decision is sententia certa (theologically certain) — implicit in Scripture and Tradition, as this teaching truly is — not probabilior. To deny this is censured as a theological error and constitutes a mortal sin against ecclesiastical faith (Cartechini’s Theological Notes, 1951). Pope Pius XII settled a matter that had been disputed for centuries, and when Rome speaks, the case is closed. Here is an example of Sententia Probabilis, taken from the Internet:

Sententia Probabilis – probable teaching – a teaching that is well founded on good authority yet is open to question. Pious beliefs and tolerated opinions also fall under this note and have the lowest degree of certainty.

  1. Example: Judas received Holy Communion at the last supper
  2. Denial of any of these teachings is licit provided piety is given to legitimate authority.

Dr. Ludwig Ott’s continued reference to Pope Pius XII’s decision on the bishops’ reception of jurisdiction as only probable clearly reveals his minimalist orientation. On pg. 9-10 of his work we read: “A teaching which is theologically certain is a doctrine on which the teaching authority of the Church has not yet finally pronounced but whose truth is guaranteed by its intrinsic connection with the doctrine of revelation.” But this could be true only when it is not a decision on a controverted matter that settles the question, as Pope Pius XII did with the bishops. Ott’s work was written years after the release of Humani generis and Pope Pius XII’s teaching on the ordinary magisterium and the possibility of infallible statements in encyclicals. Yet still Ott taught in his work that: “Only those …doctrinal teachings of the Church… which emanate from general councils representing the whole episcopate and the papal decisions ex cathedra [are infallible]. The ordinary and usual form of the papal teaching activity is not infallible.”  This contradicts papal teaching.

No wonder Rev. King above warns Catholics that his work has serious defects and cannot be trusted. And now we know why Traditionalists venerate him as their theologian extraordinaire! When a pope has gone to the trouble of making a decision on a certain matter, how can it then still be considered as a probable opinion?

According to Rev. Francis J. Connell, this would be the case only if the subject at issue is expressed by the pope or the Holy Office as something that “…cannot be safely taught… There are many doctrines not contained in the Deposit of Faith but so intimately connected with it that the authority to teach revealed truth infallibly would be rendered in great measure ineffective unless the infallible magisterium extended to them also. On this account it is held as certain by theologians that such doctrines constitute a genuine object of infallibility though indirect or secondary. And when there has been a definitive and official pronouncement on such a doctrine by the infallible magisterium THIS DOCTRINE TOO IS UNCHANGEABLE FOR ALL TIME” (“Does Catholic Doctrine Change,” November, 1947, AER). And here Rev. Connell refers to Pope Leo XIII’s decision on Anglican Orders (DZ 1966) where the pope pronounces that he declares them “invalid and entirely void: in light of the teachings of his predecessors and on Our authority, Our own inspiration and certain knowledge…”

Msgr. Fenton writes in yet another article: “Those who on their own initiative presume to question or to contradict a doctrinal statement proposed authoritatively in a papal encyclical, even in cases where the Holy Father does not make a definitive decision, may well be said to be striving for something MANIFESTLY BEYOND THEIR COMPETENCE. No individual and for that matter no group of individuals within the ecclesia discens can be said to have the competence to dispute with the visible head of the Church militant on a matter connected with the Church’s deposit of divine revelation. At least in an indirect manner, however, every rejection of an authoritative doctrinal pronouncement contained in a papal encyclical is opposed to the theological virtue of faith” (“The Religious Assent Due to the Teaching of Papal Encyclicals,” July, 1950, AER). This tells us who is TRULY competent in presenting the teachings of the Church and who is not.

We would like to close this section with a quote from Pope St. Pius X:

When we love the Pope we do not dispute whether he commands or requires a thing or seek to know where the strict obligation of obedience lies or in what matter we must obey; when we love the Pope we do not say that he has not yet spoken clearly — as if he were required to speak his will in every man’s ear and to utter it not only by word of mouth but in letters and other public documents as well. Nor do we cast doubt on his orders, alleging the pretext which comes easily to the man who does not want to obey, that it is not the Pope who is commanding but someone in his entourage. We do not limit the field in which he can and ought to exercise his authority; we do not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of other persons — no matter how learned — who differ from the Pope. For whatever may be their learning, they are not holy, for where there is holiness there cannot be disagreement with the Pope” (Allocution, to the members of the Apostolic Union on their 50th anniversary, Nov. 18, 1912).So who loves the pope? Sadly, it would seem that very few at all truly love him today, for very few obey him without question.

What follows is directly connected to the Divine constitution continuum established in the papacy which was meant to be perpetuated in an unbroken chain for the Church to exist.

Jurisdiction, supplied and otherwise

The Vatican Council has defined that the pope possesses the fullness of jurisdiction in the Church, yet it seems that we always find those who quibble with what the pope teaches also in the company of those who question the Church’s teaching on jurisdiction. Accept the faith as it has always been taught and there are no worries; but no one seems able to do that. What we are supposed to believe regarding the Church’s mission on earth and jurisdiction is very clear. It is a de fide teaching of the Church Traditionalists refuse to accept. One of their favorite theologians, Louis Cardinal Billot has summed it up quite nicely:

For authority [in the Church] comes directly from God through Christ, and from Christ to his Vicar, and from the Vicar of Christ it descends to the remaining prelates WITHOUT THE INTERVENTION OF ANY OTHER PHYSICAL OR MORAL PERSON” (Louis Cardinal Billot, S.J., Tractatus De Ecclesia Christi (Rome: Aedes Universitatis Gregorianae, 1927, Vol. 1. p. 524). This quote comes directly from Cardinal Billot, not some other source; it doesn’t get any simpler than that. Interrupt that chain and all contact with the divine is lost. This Church is a Divine, not a human institution and any meddling with its Divine constitution reduces it to just one more non-Catholic Church, as Rev. Joseph Riley notes below:

“The Church as it was constituted by Christ (Pope, bishops, priests) was established forever as a hierarchico-monarchical society… to remain unchanged until the end of time… NOWHERE IN REVELATION IS THERE ANY EVIDENCE OF ANY INTENTIONS TO PERMIT EXCEPTIONS TO — OR CHANGES IN — THIS CONSTITUTION IN FUTURE HISTORY BY THE USE OF EPIKEIA OR ON ANY OTHER BASIS. MEN ARE FREE OF COURSE TO FOUND OTHER CHURCHES, DIFFERING IN CONSTITUTION AND NATURE… BUT SUCH CHURCHES ARE NOT CHRIST’S… To maintain that Christ had some intention for the future, contrary to that made manifest in the actual establishment of His Church is a refusal to believe in the efficacy of the divine promise that Christ would be with the Church unto the consummation of the world; it is a denial of the [four marks] and indefectibility of this divinely established institution” (The History, Nature and Use of EPIKEIA in Moral Theology, Rev. Lawrence Joseph Riley, A.B., S.T.L., a dissertation submitted to the faculty of the School of Sacred Theology of the Catholic University of America, 1948, p. 330-31).

It is true that the Church must remain unchanged, but it was changed the day Pope Pius XII died and all the cardinals elected a heretic to office, accepted by all the bishops who later formally apostatized from the faith at the false Vatican 2 Council. THAT was the great apostasy, the stars (bishops) falling from heaven (the Church) in the Apocalypse. Without the election of a true pope the Church as Christ constituted it ceased to exist. Because everyone focused on the lack of Mass and Sacraments and refused to address the one element most necessary to the preservation of unity and stability in the Church, the window of time to elect a true pope slowly closed and now cannot be reopened; only a miracle can restore the papacy. This is the truth Traditionalists deny: the necessity of the papacy for the Church to exist at all.

What does Holy Scripture have to say about supplied jurisdiction? A reader recently checked this out and found the following commentary on St. Paul which led to further commentary on the same topic.

Rev. Leo Haydock’s Douay-Rheims Bible commentary

Romans 10:15: “And how can they preach, unless they be sent?” Haydock: Unless they be sent. Here is an evident proof against all new teachers, who have all usurped to themselves the ministry, without any lawful mission, derived by succession from the apostles, to whom Christ said, (John xx. 21.) As my Father hath sent me, I also send you. (Challoner) — The Almighty sends people to preach two different ways. The one is extraordinary by internal inspiration, as was that of John the Baptist, and all the other prophets; in which case, however, extraordinary proofs must be given that they are sent by God; and the other is ordinary, which is derived from Christ, and from the apostles and their successors, whom he has appointed to be his vicegerents on earth. (Estius).

John 10: 1 — “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber.  But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep…” Haydock: In this parable the fold is the Church: the Good Shepherd, and also the door is Christ: the thieves and robbers are false guides; the hirelings, such ministers as seek their own profit and gain, and a good living, as they call it; the wolves, heretics…

John 10: 7-8 — “I am the door of the sheep. All others, as many as have come, are thieves and robbers: and the sheep heard them not.” Haydock:  All they who came are thieves, meaning those who came of their own accord, without being sent: not so the prophets, who had their mission from God.”

 The Council of Trent, Sess. 23, Ch. 4:

”In the ordination of bishops, priests and of other orders… the consent or call or authority of the people or of any secular power or magistrate is not so required for the validity of the ordination but rather [this Holy Synod] decrees that those who are called and instituted only by the people or by the civil power or magistrate and proceed to exercise these offices and that those who by their own temerity take these offices upon themselves are not ministers of the Church but are to be regarded as ‘thieves and robbers who have not entered by the door’ (Jn. !0:1)” (DZ 960).

“If anyone says that the bishops are not superior to priests… or that orders conferred by them without the consent or call of the people or of the secular power are invalid; or that those who have been neither rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical authority but come from a different source are lawful ministers of the Word and of the Sacraments, let him be anathema (DZ 967).

 Authentic interpretation of Can. 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.” Traditionalists never received an office, for neither Marcel Lefebvre or Bp. Ngo dinh Thuc themselves possessed or could possess an office after resigning their offices from Pope Pius XII and participating in communicatio in sacris with the Novus Ordo church. Certainly heretics are not competent ecclesiastical authorities and the sacred canons requiring the papal mandate and assignment of dioceses for the erection of seminaries all were ignored. The decision of the Sacred Congregation issued June 29, 1950 gives an authentic interpretation of this law, citing the text of DZ 967 above and yet another version of DZ 960, varying slightly from the Denzinger translation:

“Those who undertake to exercise these offices merely at the behest of and upon appointment by the people or secular power and authority, and those who assume the same upon their own authority, are all to be regarded not as ministers of the Church but as thieves and robbers who have entered not by the door…His holiness Pope Pius XII…in order to preserve more inviolate these same sacred principles and at the same time forestall abuses in a matter of such great importance…deigned to provide as follows…” (Canon Law Digest, Vol. 3, T. Lincoln Bouscaren, S.J., 1953; AAS 42-601) And here censures are levied against those who violate this law, reserved in a special manner to the Holy See. So in promoting the heresy of jurisdiction outside the proper ecclesiastical channels, Traditionalists deny the teachings of St. Paul and our Lord in Holy Scripture, the de fide teaching of the Council of Trent, and Pope Pius XII’s teaching on Canon 147, entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis and binding on all Catholics. (And no, the usurper Francis in Rome and his false and frequent entries into this source do not diminish the weight it enjoyed under Pius XII.)

All Canon Laws remain in force

The wording in all these documents is the same; they all refer to those illicitly (most likely invalidly) ordained and consecrated by those not possessing papal authority to execute these actions, and therefore incapable of obtaining jurisdiction. How many Traditionalists daring to call themselves clergy sin gravely in ignoring the censures for heresy and other censures attached to the various canons, forbidding them to exercise any orders received, if indeed they even received them! And no, Canon Law does not “develop” during an interregnum to exclude these censures, when no true pope or the Sacred Congregations of the Holy Office are able to address questions regarding the law. In their Canon Law Digest commentary on Can. 17, Vol. 5 (1963), the canonists Bouscaren and O’Connor write the following:

“His eminence, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Canons of the Code, Maximus Cardinal Massimi, declared shortly before his death… that it was his personal opinion he no longer preferred to give authentic replies since all the canons were already sufficiently clear in their obvious meaning.  It is interesting to observe that no officially promulgated replies have since been given for the Code of the Latin church since his death [in 1954].” So this very experienced cardinal, the last of his kind, believed that the Code should be taken exactly as it stood, supplemented by the authentic interpretations already given for over 35 years. In an eerie way it almost anticipates the death of Pope Pius XII four years later and seems to echo the very language both he and his predecessor, Pope St. Pius X, employed in their nearly identical papal election constitutions:

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” (Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis). The canonists Woywod-Smith and Bouscaren- Ellis all confirm that this means the cardinals “…cannot make any changes in the laws of the Church or dispense from them.” This is based on an ancient law dating back to the 13th century, according to the footnotes of Pius XII’s constitution. So who do we believe, Pope Pius XII or the bloggers who tell us that such laws no longer apply, or can be ignored or minimalized? Pope St. Pius X’s election law was a codification of ALL papal election law, so are objectors also going to nullify the laws governing papal elections throughout history?


Documents in this author’s possession show that Sedevacantists, at least, knew they should elect a pope and were actually discussing it just before the Thuc consecrations. Plans by Thuc bishops and their supporters to hold an “incomplete council” were in the works as late as 1989. They decided instead to remain a headless band of mini-popes, continually dividing and subdividing over financial and doctrinal issues. These men are not just individuals who might be able to convey the Sacraments during an extended interregnum and therefore can be resorted to safely; they are men who regardless of their true status, must be considered outside the Church and therefore as non-Catholics until a true pope decides otherwise (Canon 2200).

There has not been one scintilla of evidence from a true pope or an ecumenical council that has ever been produced by Traditionalists proving that (a) The pope teaches jurisdiction comes directly from God Himself: (b) It can be supplied to them by anyone other than the pope and (c) They can operate outside the Divine constitution Christ established for His Church during an interregnum. Their few entirely inadequate attempts to justify their use of epikeiaand appeal to supplied jurisdiction, also to discredit papal teaching, will be addressed in position papers currently in progress and soon to be posted to the website.

As shown above, all these teachings are in direct contradiction of papal decrees and the de fide teaching of the Council of Trent. So no, thank you, we will not join you, but will follow St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote on this topic:

“Such persons as are separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication, can indeed consecrate the Eucharist..; but they act wrongly, and sin by doing so; and in consequence they do not receive the fruit of the sacrifice, which is a spiritual sacrifice” (Article 7). And further, “But because he is severed from the unity of the Church, HIS PRAYERS HAVE NO EFFICACY” (reply to objection 3 of article 7). “And therefore whoever hears their mass or receives the sacraments from them, commits sin… By refusing to hear the masses of such priests, or to receive Communion from them, WE ARE NOT SHUNNING GOD’S SACRAMENTS; ON THE CONTRARY, BY SO DOING WE ARE GIVING THEM HONOR: BUT WHAT WE SHUN IS THE SIN OF UNWORTHY MINISTERS (reply, objection 1). That says it all and should be sufficient in silencing these people; but of course it won’t.

Finally we leave you with one more quote on the authority of bishops from Pope Pius VI, Post tibi factum addressed to the Archbishop of Trier in 1782:

“Even in the case where the episcopal authority would come directly from God, as certain doctors claim, nevertheless it must be held for certain and firmly maintained that this authority does not extend of its own right to the faculty of dispensing from the general laws of the Church without the express or at least tacit permission of the superior power which has established these laws. IT IS IN FACT A DOGMA OF FAITH THAT the authority of the bishops, even admitting that it stems directly from Christ, remains dependent on the authority of the Roman Pontiff. Whence it follows that the bishops must ever remain subject to the decrees of the Apostolic See and to the venerable prescriptions of the canons under penalty, if it should happen, that one of them infringed these prescriptions and canons, of being refused the concession in the future. For the same reason it is not less certain that the authority of the bishops can itself be restricted and reduced within certain limits as to its exercise and its use by the superior hierarchical authority.


Please join us here in praying for our enemies: https://biblehub.com/drbc/psalms/35.htm

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