© Copyright 2015, T. Stanfill Benns ( All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)


“Fr.” Bernard Lucien, a former St. Pius X Society cleric, wrote “The Problem of Authority In the Post-Conciliar Church,” (date unknown), a piece promoting the “Materialiter-Formaliter” or Cassiciacum thesis first advanced by the late French theologian Michel Louis Guérard des Lauriers, O.P. in the 1980s. Regardless of any enthusiastic claims concerning des Lauriers scholarship and orthodoxy (although exactly why he left the Vatican as Pope Pius XII’s confessor in the early 1950s is unclear), it must be remembered that he received consecration without papal mandate from a notoriously heretical bishop (Peter Ngo dinh Thuc) and in writing his thesis was attempting to justify the jurisdiction he had received from Thuc. Thuc’s own jurisdiction had no other source but the very Novus Ordo church he was still actively involved with, by his own admission, just prior to des Lauriers “consecration.” Lucien was a Lefebvre seminarian who later became a sedevacantist and is now reportedly affiliated with a Novus Ordo Indult mass group. He has no assurance of valid ordination and advanced his “thesis” without the approval of ecclesiastical authority.

We will call it that throughout this work, but in reality it cannot be considered more than an hypothesis, if that, because the arguments on which it is based are not cogent, complete, or frankly, Catholic. Lucien now is apparently outside the Church, so why, exactly, are the people promoting this theory still using his works patterned after des Laurier’s writings as their basis of belief? The only reason that his work is being treated seriously here is because certain Traditionalists are still promoting it to facilitate “the restoration of the Church.” Those who know this theory to be false and harmful to the faith of others have asked that it be addressed here to warn the unwary. The purpose of this article, then, is to explain the basic errors of the material-formal hypothesis as presented by Lucien and why it cannot be considered viable in any way.

Lucien sets out his theory as follows: “Since December 7, 1965…the person occupying the Apostolic See is no longer formally the pope: He no longer has any divinely assisted Pontifical authority; he however remains materially a pope insofar as he has not been juridically deposed. All the theses that affirm the persistence of Authority in the present circumstances implicitly deny the infallibility of the Church’s Ordinary and Universal Magisterium as defined by Vatican I (Denz. 1792). This affirmation is the reverse side of the proof which establishes the first part of the Thesis of Cassiciacum: the cogency of this statement will become clear when we study this proof…The Thesis of Cassiciacum will add to this decisive and radical disagreement other theological and philosophical considerations in order to make the origin and dimension of the errors in theses 11 and 12 clear. It will especially expose the voluntarist conception of authority which generally permeates these two theories, a conception which leads to a naturalistic understanding of Authority in the Church.”

We find addressed in Lucien’s treatise the exact same issues cited by all those supporting this supposed “solution” to the crisis in the Church, and all these issues already are addressed on this site. He claims the Church can never lose the papacy because this voids Christ’s promise to St. Peter, but this is contrary to Catholic teaching, (see /free-content/4-a-catholic-course-of-study-new/i-the-four-marks-cannot-exist-without-the-three-attributes/iii-indefectibility/; /free-content/reference-links/1-what-constitutes-the-papacy/what-catacomb-catholics-believe-on-indefectibility/; /free-content/reference-links/7-recent-articles/the-church-has-not-failed-and-cannot-fail/). He contends She could never lose the hierarchy because the Church infallibly teaches the hierarchy (meaning cardinals, bishops and priests) must last until the consummation, (/free-content/reference-links/7-recent-articles/binding-power-of-papacy-voids-traditionalist-acts/ , pages 23-31). And finally, the pope can become a heretic and did become one (Paul VI) but he can admit his errors, be rehabilitated and continue to lead the Church, despite his questionable election, (/free-content/reference-links/4-heresy/why-a-legitimate-roman-pontiff-could-never-become-a-heretic-but-could-only-appear-to-become-one/).

Of course to claim all this is possible, Lucien denies in the process that Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, the perpetual “fly in the ointment,” is an infallible document. But Lucien’s so-called thesis is yet another example of how Traditionalists, in Modernist fashion, skirt papal authority and abandon scholastic method to appeal to their audience. We wish to warn all those who hold themselves as true Catholics that the material-formal movement is simply a Society of St. Pius X-like attempt to redirect Traditionalists back into the Novus Ordo and “reunite” the Church. It was always the dream of the Modernists to eliminate the magisterium of the Church. A church like the Novus Ordo where the magisterium is constantly adjusted to the “needs and desires” of the people of God is exactly what the Modernists aimed for; they did not want to destroy the Church altogether, only reduce it to a democracy. They used the Traditionalist movement as a vehicle for accomplishing this, pretending Tradition existed entirely in the retention of Mass and Sacraments outside communion with a true pope. But the true definition of Tradition, found in the old Catholic Encyclopedia article under Tradition, identifies it not with the liturgy and Sacraments but the continual magisterium primarily. An article will be posted to the Free Content site soon explaining this connection in detail.

The heretical pope controversy revisited

In his first few pages, Lucien notes that, (1) “The Thesis of Cassiciacum does not appeal to any pre-existing theory on the problem of an heretical pope. (2) This is what gives it force and essentially allows it to establish “something approaching a certitude of the order of Faith.” That is rich, since the term heretical pope was declared an oxymoron by the Vatican Council. The Sources of Catholic Dogma, compiled by Henry Denzinger, (items which are hereafter referred to as DZ) tells us that the pope’s faith is “never-failing [being] divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this chair, (DZ 1837). When the pope “in accord with his supreme apostolic authority, explains a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance promised him in Blessed Peter, [he] operates with that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer wished that His Church be instructed in defining doctrine on faith and morals…,” (DZ 1839). He who contradicts this is anathema, (DZ 1840). No true pope, in his formal capacity, could ever utter heresy. As a private person, yes, according to Henry Cardinal Manning and theologians generally; as one who appears to be pope but who was not legitimately elected, yes, according to Pope Paul IV’s Bull, Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, (1559). But this can never be true of a validly elected pope speaking officially (publicly) to the universal Church authoritatively AS pope. Numbers two and three above are addressed below.

(1) What Lucien is really saying is that by ignoring the fact that a pope CAN NEVER be a heretic in his official capacity, thus contradicting infallible teaching, one is then able to consider how he could commit heresy in his official capacity and still be a human being capable of rehabilitation who could remain pope; or not. The decision is left to the “material pope.” This is in perfect agreement with the accursed tenets of Novus Ordo liberal charity (peace not war; no capital punishment; counseling and understanding, not removal from office for Novus Ordo priests who abuse children, ad nauseum) in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching.

(2) Come again? Something approaching a certitude of the order of faith? If one does not already possess a certitude of the order of faith, then one cannot call him or herself a Catholic. Lucien needs to be reminded of just how that certitude runs, because he then will discover that he himself does not understand it. Being subject to the Roman Pontiff is necessary for salvation, (DZ 469). The belief that certitude can only be approached but not attained contradicts the following set of papal condemnations concerning the ability to arrive at certitude, (DZ 553-557). These are all binding statements. But when it is morally impossible to render such subjection, such as in the absence of a Roman Pontiff, or if one doubts his legitimacy for grave reasons, one is not required to be subject to him. This means not subject in anything, not just a few things. Why would any of the faithful, “clerics” or not, be required to agonize over what they must obey or not obey concerning a “material pope”? This is absurd. The beauty of Catholicism lies in the fact that it is based on absolute or formal certitude, that is, infallibility. In things infallible, all we must do is accept with an irrevocable assent and obey; other papal teaching on non-infallible matters must be accepted with a firm and sincere assent. How hard is that?

In his ABC of Scholastic Philosophy, Rev. A. C. Cotter explains, “Formal certitude is a firm assent (or dissent) based on motives which are in themselves infallible and are known to be infallible…Now only an infallible motive excludes the very possibility of error…Therefore only an infallible motive is a sufficient guarantee for the (logical) truth of a judgment…A guide is not called infallible because there is no special reason for doubting his knowledge or because it is highly improbable he will lead us astray…We call a motive or reason for judging infallible only when it cannot lead us into error.” If we can be absolutely certain of the source, because Christ guaranteed its infallibility, why in heaven’s name would we need “something approaching a certitude of the order of faith?” Yet the only possible foundation for this restoration is the teaching of Divine revelation as presented by the Church for belief. THAT is formal certitude, and we are bound to learn it and believe it.

These topics below already have been covered in several articles on the site. Before continuing, the reader may wish to visit the links listed in the Introduction.

Cum ex… resolves all material-formal questions and is infallible

1.) A bull is the “most solemn and weighty form of papal letter,” (Donald Attwater, “A Catholic Dictionary”), and is generally believed to be a document of the extraordinary magisterium in most cases. There are two types of infallibility: ordinary and extraordinary (solemn declaration). These types are called the “magisterium” of the Church, or teaching authority: “…which resides in the Roman Pontiff and in the bishops, inasmuch as they are subject to and united with him,” (Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, Parente, Piolanti, Garofalo, 1951, p. 71.) On page 72, the Dictionary lists the following sources from which a declaration of the extraordinary magisterium can issue: “…A solemn declaration of the Pope, through a bull or other document; declaration of an ecumenical council or of a particular council approved by the Pope; symbols and professions of faith emanating from or approved by the Church.”

2.) In paragraph one, Pope Paul IV defines the meaning of Holy Scripture, (the abomination of desolation found in the book of Daniel) refuting the then-popular errors of the Protestants, who “strive to rend the Lord’s seamless robe by corrupting the sense of the Holy Scriptures with cunning inventions,” (preamble).

3) In paragraphs two and three, Pope Paul IV states that he invokes his apostolic authority in issuing the bull. This is a clear indication of infallibility according to the theologians.

4.) In paragraph three, Paul IV pronounces: We sanction, establish, decree and define, through the fullness of Our Apostolic power, [that] all censures, sentences and penalties, keep their force and efficacy and obtain their effect.” Some of these sentences and penalties were very severe. If the pope here specifies he is invoking his supreme Apostolic power precisely to keep all these censures and penalties in effect, one can hardly say that Cum ex… can be dismissed as only a disciplinary decree (as Lucien and others pretend). Nor can it be said that disciplinary decrees cannot be infallible. For as Pope Pius IX taught the Armenians in Quartus Supra:

“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…Nor can the Eastern Churches preserve communion and unity of faith with Us without being subject to the Apostolic power in matters of discipline. Now such teaching is not only heretical after the definitions and declarations of the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican on the nature and reasons for the primacy of the Sovereign Pontiff, but it has always been considered to be such and has been abhorred by the Catholic Church. It is for this reason that the bishops of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, openly declared the supreme authority of the Apostolic See in their proceedings; then they humbly requested Our predecessor, St. Leo, to sanction and confirm their decrees, even those which concerned discipline,” (This encyclical was listed in the Acta Sanctae Sedis, which preceded the Acta Apostolica Sedis as the formal record of all binding papal documents.)

And this same pope taught 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 — September 1, 1876, to the clergy and faithful of the Chaldean Rite). Can true Catholics really read the words of this pope and believe that Cum ex…, even if primarily a disciplinary decree, was not infallible?

No declaration needed and no rehabilitation possible

5.) The entire premise of material-formal, stated by Lucien above, is that the Vatican 2 antipopes, now succeeded by Francis, could denounce the false V2 council and the teaching of their predecessors and magically become pope, as if their long-term heresy and betrayal of the Church was really not all that culpable. But if we follow Cum ex… as we are bound to do, we see that this is not what Pope Paul IV taught in regards to the consequences of their heresy in paragraph three. “In addition to the sentences, censures and penalties mentioned above, (all these persons, namely the hierarchy, who) have strayed or fallen into heresy or have been apprehended, have confessed or been convicted of incurring, inciting or committing schism, or who, in the future, shall stray or fall into heresy or shall incur, incite or commit schismbeing less excusable than others in such matters, 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…They can never at any time be re-established, re-appointed, restored or recapacitated for their former state.”

 Nothing could be clearer than this. And notice that Paul IV rules this way because “they are less excusable than others” in these matters. Certainly the hierarchy educated under Popes St. Pius X through Pius XII had no legitimate excuse whatsoever for deviating in any way from the true course and selling out their Church. Both Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII, in their respective papal election constitutions, ratified Cum ex… as still applicable by teaching that deposed cardinals cannot vote and cannot be elected. Prof. Carlos Disandro went to great lengths to point this out in his 1979 “Doctrinal Precisions,” (see Archive/membership section of site). Both papal election constitutions teach that should anything be done to usurp papal jurisdiction, and if any papal laws — especially those laid down in Pope Pius XII’s election constitution, Vacantis Apostolica Sedis (VAS) — are broken, these acts are null and void, and this by infallible command (para. 3, VAS). So let Lucien beware: Cum ex… is not the outdated, abrogated old law he portrays it to be. If anyone, God forbid, should act on what he is proposing in his treatise, it will be null and void.

6.) Pope Paul IV, unlike Lucien, considered heresy and schism, “the greatest and deadliest crime” that can exist in God’s Church,” (para. three). His bull does not drip with the deadly poison of liberalism in regards to heresy and the virtue of charity as does the writings of Lucien, Sanborn and others, who, because they are outside the Church themselves, have no intention of admitting their errors. They have no fear of being accused of suffering the infamy incurred by those who defend such heretics and schismatics, pronounced in para. five of the bull.

Finally, and most importantly, if Cum ex… is accepted for what it truly says and the context in which it is said, it will be clear to all that a man who was a heretic prior to his election, such as the last six antipopes, could scarcely regain something he never obtained in the first place. Cum ex… is quite clear on this point, using language that unmistakeably indicates that such a man never truly became pope but only appeared to do so. Nor, according to Pope Paul IV’s bull Cum ex…, could he ever regain his office even if he was at one time considered to be pope.

No quasi-legitimacy, no remedy for invalidity

7.) But paragraph six is the one that torpedoes the rudderless material-formal ship, and refuses to rescue the survivors. First it eliminates as true electors all those cardinals who in any way whatsoever have shown any signs of heresy or schism, invalidating all their acts. Their heresy and contrary intention may not have been evident at the “election” of John 23, but certainly it was detectable shortly following his election concerning the two-thirds plus one who cast their votes for him. This majority of the cardinals is required by Pope Pius XII’s 1945 papal election law for validity, (VAS, para. 69). If only ONE of those cardinals casting their vote for Roncalli was a heretic — and the heresy of many of them was demonstrated by their acceptance of the false Vatican 2 council — that election was never valid. Because the John 23 missal abrogated the Tridentine rite in 1962 and the faithful already were reading “for all men” in their English missalettes in 1959; and especially in light of Roncalli’s open and friendly dealings with Communists and Freemasons, the communicatio in sacris with those even favoring heresy, the deviasse referred to in Cum ex…, was already “clear,” as Pope Paul IV terms it, (see /free-content/reference-links/4-heresy/annotated-guide-to-cum-ex/). In fact, according to Msgr. J. C. Fenton’s diaries, it was already “clear” in the late 1950’s before Pius XII’s death, with some questioning the direction the Church was taking not long after Roncalli’s election. Roncalli’s misbehavior in France and disfavor with Pius XII; also his long association with Montini was common knowledge. Are we conjecturing here? Not according to the evidence presented by Msgr. Fenton, who was so rattled by the blatant heresy at the planning sessions for the council that he exclaimed: “If I did not believe God, I would be convinced that the Catholic Church was about to end,” (commenting on Vatican II, Nov. 23, 1962).

Second, it limits the heresy of the person elected pope to pre-election only, stating that such heresy or schism invalidates the election and renders it null and void. Thirdly, it states that there can be no remedy for this invalidity: “It cannot be declared valid or become valid through his acceptance of office,” nor by “the passage of any time; nor shall it be held as quasi-legitimate,” (one wonders if Pope Paul IV was not gifted with prophecy here). The cardinals and the one they elect shall be “deprived of any dignity, position, honor, title, authority, office and power…without need for any declaration.” And according to paragraph five, this happens not only in the case of one who is a heretic pre-election, but in the case of those cardinals who, following such an “election,” fail to confront the one elected for deviating from the faith. Notice that in paragraph five of the bull that it is “…(all these persons, namely the hierarchy, who) have strayed or fallen into heresy or have been apprehended, have confessed or been convicted of incurring, inciting or committing schism, or who, in the future, shall stray or fall into heresy or shall incur, incite or commit schismbeing less excusable than others in such matters…” who lose their offices with no hope of recovering them.

This is the censure found in Can. 188 no. 4. It applies to all the hierarchy, but only to a validly elected pope who would commit heresy as a private person, (which is not the case in our situation). It differs from Can. 2314 §1-2 in that it treats of clerics only and not the laity. Both laity and clergy are ipso facto excommunicated for heresy, apostasy and schism; clergy alone ipso facto lose their offices as a consequence of this excommunication; they are deposed in virtue of the act of public heresy, apostasy or schism. Therefore they lose any jurisdiction they may ever have possessed. This is why it is so ludicrous for Lucien, Sanborn, et al to go on and on about who deposes the pope, when, how, etc. The one posing as pope tacitly resigns his office as a consequence of heresy, apostasy or schism; he tacitly resigns and thus deposes himself. The V2 antipopes all were clerics at one point, so are subject to this canon. The Traditionalists have no such guarantee of certainly valid ordination and for all practical purposes can be considered laymen. This according to the ruling of the Holy Office on the errant priest Michael Collins, listed in the Canon Law Digest, Vol. 4, under Can. 211, (Dec. 15, 1956; entered into the AAS as binding).

It is important to note here that even if Lucien did not accept Cum ex… as an infallible document, which it demonstrably is, he still would be bound to accept its teaching with a firm and sincere assent. To hold otherwise would be to contradict what Pope Pius IX said in Quanta Cura, where he condemns the teaching that, “without sin and without damage to a man’s profession as a Catholic, assent and obedience can be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See which have as their object a reference to the general good of the Church and its rights and discipline, as long as this refusal does not affect dogmas of faith and morals.” Here Pope Pius IX is only reiterating what Nicholas I and the Roman Council taught in 860 A. D.: “If anyone condemns dogmas, interdicts, sanctions or decrees, promulgated by the one presiding in the Apostolic See, for the Catholic faith, for ecclesiastical discipline, for the correction of the faithful, for the emendation of criminals, either by an interdict of threatening or future ills, let him be anathema,” (DZ 326). Lucien condemns what he terms a disciplinary decree promulgated by Pope Paul IV, aimed at ecclesiastical criminals, but of course his skewed definition of heresy would not allow anyone to consider him guilty of the attached anathema. If Catholics cannot see past this slick maneuver to escape blame, practiced so many times by the Traditional clerics they choose to follow, then they need professional help.

Msgr. J. C. Fenton identifies what Pope Pius IX and Nicholas I condemn as “Catholic minimism, which would restrict the fields of necessary doctrinal obedience in the life of the faithful to the region of explicit statements on dogma alone,” (March 1953 American Ecclesiastical Review, “Infallibility in the Encyclicals”). In this same article, Fenton quotes Pope Leo XIII in Immortale Dei, outlining the duties of Catholics, to the same effect: “It is necessary to hold whatever the Roman Pontiffs have taught or are going to teach as accepted with firm assent, and to profess these things openly whenever the occasion requires it.” Lucien, Sanborn and all the others engaged in this entirely man-inspired quest to “restore the Church” are guilty of this minimism and much worse: they fail to accept the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs, preferring the arguments of theologians and their own conclusions to those of Christ’s Vicar. Regardless of what they may call themselves, they are not practicing Catholics.

No deposition necessary because no office ever obtained

8.) Lucien says (hypothetically) the occupant of the See is not deposed; he initially asks if he is deposed or is only “deposable,” but does not ABSOLUTELY say he should be deposed. First, he says, those with authority in the Church (and who might they be?) must demand he retract his errors and only then is he considered deposed (by Christ?). If he complies with the demand, Lucien and others propose, he is ipso facto formally established as pope, but this is not the case. As Cum ex itself says, no warning or judicial sentence is necessary and no rehabilitation is possible. Paragraph seven solves the problem of deposition the material-formal crowd devotes so much time to examining and explaining. It makes one wonder what exactly des Lauriers was thinking when he wrote his original piece on Cassiciacum, for he was a theologian in the pre-V2 Church although perhaps one who found disfavor with the pope. Cassiciacum entirely ignores Cum ex… and Canon Law to arrive at its alleged “theory.” But it is a theory based only on the opinions of theologians and not on the teachings of the popes individually, or those teachings reflected in the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

Canon 2198, with Cum ex Apostolatus Officio as the old law supporting this canon, establishes the criteria for determining manifest heresy. Canon 2198 states: “In order for a crime to be called public, it is necessary that the fact be publicly known as a criminal or morally imputable act — in other words, that the act is known as a crime. Thus if a person has been dangerously wounded or killed, it is not enough that the fact is known, but it must also be known the act was a criminal one, [not self defense or an accident]. …The offender must be known to the public to make the act a public crime, (Can. 2197 no. 4). If the offender does not stand identified before the public as the perpetrator of the criminal act, his offense is occult, called formaliter occult in the Code.” (Canon 2197 no. 4 says an offense is materialiter occult if the offense itself is not publicly known. Under this canon it is noted that “The Code calls an offense public when knowledge of it has been spread among the people [as few as six in a small community]) or when it was committed under circumstances which make it practically impossible to keep the offense secret, (Can 2197 no. 3).

If this is the canon on which the material-formal theorists base their reasoning, they are in very deep water. Always the sedevacantists, at least, have formally and publicly accused the Roman usurpers as heretics and false popes; there is no “formaliter occult” where the heresy (crime) is not publicly known because it has been publicly known since 1969 at least. Nor is it materialiter, because sufficient numbers of sedevacantists have publicized these heresies over the years. So the call for a Francis to “repent” is negated by this canon. This is the reason that the material-formal proponents have engaged in a campaign to shame sededvacantists into admitting their stand contradicts the dogma of indefectibility. If they can disband sedevacantists, then they can eliminate the public nature of the outcry against the Novus Ordo pretenders to the papal throne and claim Francis is either a formaliter or materialiter occult heretic.

Note this well, for it is exactly what is happening in the Traditional movement today. But even this will not save the Roman usurpers. Because if Cum ex… is obeyed, as it must be, there IS no deposition from office per se because the office was never bestowed in the first place; it only APPEARED to be bestowed. Canon 2198 goes on to explain (Woywod-Smith commentary) that when an offense violates ecclesiastical law, it must be tried in ecclesiastical courts. When it violates civil law only, (in this case fraud on a massive scale), the civil power may be called on to arrest the offender and punish him. This is exactly what Pope Paul IV recommends in paragraph 7 of Cum ex… where he states: “For the greater confusion of persons thus promoted and elevated, if they attempt to continue their government and administration, all may implore the secular arm against those so advanced and elevated.”

NO ONE, then, is deposing a true pope, since such a person was never elected. They are escorting out of the building a mere man devoid of all office and title, a layman for all practical purposes, who only appeared to function as a validly elected public official. The faithful are encouraged to implore the secular arm to remove these people, but if no one even publicly denounces them as imposters and usurpers, how is this ever to come about? It is all a moot point today anyway since there are no Catholic governments to whom the faithful could even appeal. But this does not mean there should not have been and could not have been a public outcry from the outset. If there remained any hope of electing a true pope such an outcry might still be effective, but sadly this is not the case.

Heresy in the Code and Cum ex…

9.) Let us now examine Lucien’s statements concerning heresy in light of Cum ex… as quoted above. Like Donald Sanborn, whose work on material-formal this author examined at length and refuted several years ago, Lucien fails to recognize in Cum ex… the exposition of nearly all the Church’s current teaching (1917 Code) on heresy, apostasy and schism. Both Sanborn and Lucien would be bound to accept Paul IV’s teachings on this subject with a firm assent even if they were not the very definition of what is and is not heresy, which the Church has determined they certainly are. How else explain the constant references to Cum ex… found in the footnotes in Canon Law as the very source of the law itself? There is no reason to repeat the Church’s true teachings on heresy here as covered under Canon Law, teachings Lucien did not even attempt to research at any length. It is enough to direct readers to the Free Content site under heading 4. Heresy (also The true Nature of Heresy under “A Catholic Course of Study on the same page) so they can cover these topics themselves.

Lucien’s contention that Cum ex… was abrogated by the 1917 Code, and is not represented as anything but references in the footnotes to the Code, are false statements long ago disproven by approved authors who had actually researched the origins of Canon Law and the intentions of the lawmakers who codified it. Please join the site at least long enough to view the entire series on the history and relevance of Cum ex…, (also Carlos Disandro’s related article, Doctrinal Precisions,) found under the Archives in the membership section. The Archives feature the original material-formal piece published against Donald Sanborn, a lengthy analysis of his evaluation of this hypothesis. For a more complete understanding of the subject it is recommended that this article be read as well.

It has been said that no canonists cite Cum ex… in their works; that it has not been retained in the Code; that it is not certainly infallible. That those making these claims have not even thoroughly examined the matter is bad enough. But that they prevent others from esteeming a Bull that has direct bearing on their salvation is truly indefensible. Having made this observation, let Catholics decide for themselves. The Code lists Cum ex… as a source not only for Can. 188 no. 4, but also for Canons 167 §3, 2198, 2209, 2264, 2294, 2314, 2316 and there may be others as well. Rev. Amleto Cicognani observed in his Canon Law, (1935): “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. Surely this is a very eloquent reply to those who think that since the Code the old laws of the Church have lost all utility, and the history of their sources is become meaningless…,” (emph. mine).Outside the Code there still remains in force…the old written law, contained (at least implicitly) in the Code,” along with several other laws, customs and privileges listed by Cicognani. He continues: “In a commentary on the Canons the footnotes must never be neglected, lest that occur of which Quintilian spoke: ‘the pediments are viewed, the foundations are hidden.’”

10. Finally, in his Canon 6: The Relation of the Codex Juris Canonici to Preceding Legislation, (Catholic University of America, 1927), Rev. Nicholas Neuberger states” “The old legislation…is destitute of legal value unless the Code has embodied it in the Canons.” Cum ex… is quite noticeably embodied in the Canons, and is moreover embodied in canons carrying great weight, the most important of these being Canons 188 no. 4 and Can. 2314. Under Can. 2314, it is interesting to note that Cum ex… is one of the last laws mentioned, and all the laws in the footnotes are listed in chronological order. Most of what is listed before Cum ex… appears to be the old canon laws as they existed prior to the 1917 Code. These are probably the canons Pope Paul IV renews in his bull. So it is not an exaggeration to say that Cum ex… is the entire source of this most important canon. It is no wonder Traditionalists are eager to discredit Cum ex. For if they accept this Bull for what it is and for what the Church SAYS it is, they can no longer claim to harbor doubts concerning how the laws governing heresy work, since Cum ex… is now the prevailing law. The Code provides for doubts of law under Canon 6 no. 2 and 6 no. 4, instructing the faithful that in the case of a positive doubt (based on serious reasons), the old law is to be followed, either in whole or in part. And Cum ex… is indisputably that “old law.”


As noted before on this site in many places, Traditionalists are fragmented into numerous sects and are vulnerable to theories such as material–formal primarily because they fear the inescapable alternative: we live in the end times predicted in Daniel, Matthew 24, St. Paul’s works and the Apocalypse, the Great Apostasy occurred long ago, he who withholdeth (the Supreme Pontiff, according to Cardinal Manning) was taken out of the way, the Holy Sacrifice ceased, Antichrist Paul 6 and his infernal system has already come, and we await the physical chastisement which most likely must occur before the Church can be restored. Pope Paul IV laid it all out in Cum ex… 400 years before it occurred. They cling to the material–formal theory because it validates their continued attachment to “hierarchy” and the ability of that hierarchy to validly and licitly provide them the Mass and Sacraments. They will fight to the death to have it their way until this crisis is resolved, to resolve it on their terms and to fiercely defend their attachment to their “clerics” and the services they provide. This despite the sea of proofs from Divine Revelation as defined by the Church that their position is no different than the Protestant Reformers who preceded them and those modern lovers of reform the Modernists, whose ranks they now occupy.

The fact that the juridic Church cannot exist without Christ’s Vicar as Her head does not concern them. Their leaders have carefully woven fictions like material-formal to fit their circumstances and beliefs to the facts, to placate them and to maintain their positions, but they have not presented Church teaching and Catholic truth as it exists for those willing to seek it out to prove their case. In 1958, we lost the head that Christ told us was the rock and foundation of our faith; the only guarantee of truth on this earth. He alone was empowered to teach on behalf of our Lord. No one will contest the fact that at best, we have only a doubtful pope. They will tell you basically all of Canon Law is doubtful but they will not draw out those conclusions where a false pope is concerned. This is true even though it was St. Robert Bellarmine, who their leaders quote at length in support of theories such as material-formal, who advanced the “a doubtful pope is no pope” maxim. For those who will take the time to examine the analysis of Sanborn’s piece on material-formal, in the Archives of the membership section of this site, the end result of material-formal is nothing more than the triumph of Antichrist’s system.

For by appealing to Paul 6’s Lumen Gentium (before he purportedly ‘lost” the papacy), they manage to place the last piece of the puzzle and afford Traditionalists the jurisdiction they lack. This neat package is no more than the same type of sellout offered SSPX members recently to lead all back into the apostate N.O. to live happily ever after. The concerted effort to dissolve and redirect sedevacantists into the St. Pius X Society and CMRI as well as other sects is only an attempt to make it appear that no one is imputing heresy to the material occupant of the See, so he cannot be formally declared a heretic. But their efforts to use Can. 2197 and 2198 to this effect come too little, too late. When Montini officially introduced the “new mass” in 1969 — beginning even prior to that, following the completion of Vatican 2 in 1965 — the Church lost half her membership, including priests and nuns. Those remaining part of the V2 sect were not Catholics at all, having accepted an entirely new religion. Those departing sought out non-Catholic sects (including all shades of Traditionalism) so they were no longer Catholic either. And the rest, for various reasons, refused to attend anything in way of church services. So good luck to them in rounding up anyone now who even remotely qualifies as “Catholic” to comprise the majority needed to satisfy the criteria listed in Can. 2196 and 2197. Those believing Francis to be a “non-imputable” material “pope,” should he “convert” would only bring about the re-installation of an antipope.

In the opening of his thesis, Lucien states: “It is important to realize that a ‘thesis’ is not a dogma. It represents a theological opinion which attempts to explain the facts, and as such is not binding on the Catholic conscience. The thesis that the pope is only materially pope, but not formally pope is but one way of explaining the situation. The magisterium of the Church, when it is once again established, will decide whether this is the correct explanation or not.” This is outrageously disingenuous, for what theses like Lucien’s and others are composing is encouraging readers to trust the opinions of men and ignore Canon Law and other papal teachings binding on their collective conscience. The faithful are not allowed to consider “theses” advanced by those not approved by the Church, especially those whose ordinations and consecrations are irregular.

This irregularity, unfortunately, applies to all Traditionalists presenting as clerics; they are not permitted to preach or teach in the Church; they are not lawful pastors. The faithful are allowed to defend their faith and instruct others in the truths of faith only if they are careful to follow the rules of ecclesiastical discipline and rely primarily on the teachings of the popes, Councils, Canon Law and approved theologians. While it is true that this author claims these men are not clerics — and this is solidly based on Church law and papal teaching, presented in the articles written on these topics — they have presented themselves as clerics. Yet according to the very laws for which Cum ex… serves as the old law, until their status can be finally determined by a true pontiff, they must be treated as hirelings and avoided.


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