“Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages. — Pope Pius XII, MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS
With this blog we conclude the article from Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton and our comments on its contents. But I would like to return for a moment to the statements made on unity by Msgr. Fenton in Part I of this blog series. There Msgr. Fenton wrote:
“The factor that unites men in their activities within God’s supernatural kingdom on earth is, of course, divine charity, the supernatural love for God which necessarily involves the love of our neighbors, and particularly of those who are closest to us as our fellow members of Our Lord’s Mystical Body. Theological discussion is meant to contribute towards unity in the line of thought by reason of its accuracy. It attains that accuracy through the faithful adherence to the teaching of the Church’s magisterium. It is meant to serve the unity of charity within the true Church of Jesus Christ by showing Catholics how and why they must consider and treat each other as brothers in Christ precisely by reason of their membership in God’s household, the Church.”
And here we also would like to include Henry Cardinal Manning’s definition of unity, so pertinent to our own times: “[The definition of infallibility]… declares that the ends for which [the charism of infallibility] is given is (1) that the whole flock of Christ on earth may never be misled and (2) that the unity of the Church may always be preserved. Unity of faith generates unity of mind, unity of heart, unity of will. Truth goes before unity. Where truth is divided unity cannot be. Unity before truth is deception. Unity without truth is indifference or unbelief. Truth before unity is the law and principle and safeguard of unity” (The True Story of the Vatican Council, 1870).
But the best explanation of why there is no unity is found in Daniel 8:12, 24, where the prophet speaks of the coming of Antichrist: “And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice,because of sins: and truth shall be cast down on the ground, and he shall do and shall prosper… And he shall destroy the mighty, and the people of the saints.” There is no unity because there is no truth, and there is no truth because Christ’s mouthpiece on earth, His Vicar, enabled by the Holy Ghost, has been taken away, along with the Holy Sacrifice.
The objector mentioned in Part 1 who criticized the use of Msgr. Fenton’s works on this site also sneered at the idea that Catholics praying at home can enjoy any kind of unity without the presence of the visible head of the Church on earth, the Roman Pontiff. But that statement is missing the entire point of how and why the Church yet exists in Her visible members today, residing as they do in the unity of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church. And to say that this means the Church today cannot enjoy a modicum of unity in obedience to the decrees and commands of the Continual Magisterium is a concession to Traditionalism that simply will not be allowed on this site. For it is Traditionalism that has made it appear that apostolicity exists only in those purporting to possess valid orders and that without the existence of those claiming to be bishops and priests, apostolicity — which contains all the other marks — is lacking and the Church itself cannot exist. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To begin with, the very mark of apostolicity — which the Catholic Encyclopedia states “virtually contains the other three marks” — presumes that in the preservation of this essential mark, there is no deviation from the term apostolicity itself as intended by Our Lord. The entire definition of apostolicity as explained in the Catholic Encyclopedia is that the Church ever remain the very same Church Christ established, precisely as He established it. Traditionalists are excluded from this definition as the Encyclopedia explains:
“Therefore the Church is called Apostolic because it was founded by Jesus Christ upon the Apostles. Apostolicity of doctrine and mission is necessary. Apostolicity of doctrine requires that THE DEPOSIT OF FAITH COMMITTED TO THE APOSTLES SHALL REMAIN UNCHANGED. Since the Church is infallible in its teaching, it follows that if the Church of Christ still exists it must be teaching His doctrine. Hence Apostolicity of mission is a guarantee of Apostolicity of doctrine. St. Irenæus (Adv. Haeres, IV, xxvi, n. 2) says: “Wherefore we must obey the priests of the Church who have succession from the Apostles, as we have shown, who, together with succession in the episcopate, have received the certain mark of truth according to the will of the Father; all others, however, are to be suspected, who separated themselves from the principal succession”, etc. In explaining the concept of Apostolicity, then, special attention must be given to Apostolicity of mission, or Apostolic succession… Apostolic succession must be both material and formal; the material consisting in the actual succession in the Church, through a series of persons from the Apostolic age to the present; the formal adding the element of authority in the transmission of power. It consists in the legitimate transmission of the ministerial power conferred by Christ upon His Apostles.”
So Traditionalists, in excluding the very Vicar of Christ and the only dispenser of that formal power to bishops, cannot and do not possess apostolicity of mission. And if they do not possess apostolicity of mission then they cannot possess apostolicity of doctrine or the other three marks, either. Yet in the absence of the juridic Church, apostolicity of doctrine and the recognition of the necessity of apostolicity of mission can and is retained by strict adherence to all that was taught by the popes prior to the death of Pope Pius XII, and all the teachings of those specificallyrecognized and approved by them. This includes Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton, a domestic prelate, papal chamberlain, and the recipient from Pope Pius XII of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award for faithful service to the Church and the Roman Pontiff. This was addressed in our last blog. All the four marks yet exist, and can be demonstrated, as long as they are proclaimed and practiced by members of the Mystical Body.
This then applies also to unity. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “Hence the Church which has Christ for its founder is not to be characterized by any merely accidental or internal spiritual union, but, over and above this, it must unite its members in unity of doctrine, EXPRESSED BY EXTERNAL, PUBLIC PROFESSION; in unity of worship, manifested chiefly in the reception of the same sacraments ; and in unity of government, by which all its members ARE SUBJECT TO AND OBEY THE SAME AUTHORITY, which was instituted by Christ Himself… it was the intention of Christ that His Church should be one, and that, not in any accidental internal way, but essentially and visibly. Unity is the fundamental mark of the Church, for without it the other marks would have no meaning, since indeed the Church itself could not exist.”
All this has been covered before in previous blog posts. Doctrine taught by the legitimate successors of the Apostles and obeyed, honored and preserved by true Catholics is a living entity. Those praying at home possess all the above marks as far as they are able and have access to the necessary Sacraments and their substitutes, according to God’s will for this time. They are visible, breathing proof the Church on earth still exists. And indeed God promised it would exist until the consummation. Biblical prophecy had to be fulfilled at some time in history, and we should thank God that it is being fulfilled both by us and in us, if we correspond with grace. But if we do not accept all the Church teaches, precisely as She teaches it, then we cannot claim to possess the marks. We can be One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic only if we accept all of Her teachings and make certain that we know what those teachings are and how the Church Herself understands them.
As one reader commented recently, all of this is really rather simple. If we wish to know what we should do and believe, we must read the encyclicals, bulls and constitutions of the popes and believe and obey whatever they say. We should read the articles here and here in order to understand that we are not alone in this; Catholics have been deprived of clergy and been forced to pray at home in ages past. The reason so much has been posted to this site over the years is because Traditionalists have confused the laity regarding the entire nature of the Church and very few indeed have informed them of their obligation to avoid unlawful pastors, which Traditionalists most certainly are. Untangling the web they have spun to entrap their followers takes time, prayer, study, and perseverance. As noted in our last blog, Traditionalists and those of the Novus Ordo sect present many teachings previously condemned by the Church as still in force and remain silent about other dogmas which may be somewhat difficult to understand but are essential to the faith. This is the very same method used by the Modernists, and it is described below by Msgr. Fenton in concluding his article.
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Pope Benedict XV and the rules for theological discussion
(Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, July 1956)
(5) The part of the Ad bravissimo which has been perhaps most frequently mentioned in the years since its original appearance is that in which the Sovereign Pontiff asked his people to refrain from “using distinctive names by which Catholics are marked off from Catholics.” From the context there can be hardly any room for doubt that the term to which the Pope objected was “integralist.” And, for this reason, some Catholic lecturers and writers have professed to see in this a condemnation of the group to which the name “integralists” had been applied. The text of the encyclical and the actual history of Modernistic literature show us that such a claim is entirely erroneous. The Ad beatissimi definitely and clearly objects to the use of the name. In no way does it state or even imply any dissatisfaction with the persons to whom that name had been applied. And, in point of historical fact, it is quite evident that the term “integralists” was not first used by the opponents of the Modernists but by the Modernists themselves.
T. Benns: This assignment of names began in the late 19th, early 20th century, with tags such as liberal, moderate, progressive used to distinguish the tendencies of the hierarchy. These categories follow the political order, when no Catholic can rightly be described as liberal or moderate, and certainly not progressive, since these are attitudes condemned by the Church. Later it would extend to Traditionalist sects, but then these sects certainly cannot be called Catholic.
“The theologians who contradicted and exposed the original Modernists protested against their efforts to pass over or to modify some individual dogmas of the Catholic Church. They insisted that the content of Divine Revelation presented to us by the ecclesia docens must be believed, kept, and professed integra, in its entirety. In taking this stand they were merely repeating the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, who condemned the doctrine of those who “contend that it is opportune, in order to attract the wills of those who differ from us, to set aside some points of doctrine as of lighter moment or so to modify them that they no longer retain the meaning which the Church has always held.’”
T. Benns: Here and in the paragraphs that follow Msgr. Fenton explains how integralism became a “dirty word” used to shame those insisting that objective truth is one, as Pope Pius XII teaches, and is not to be deviated from or minimized, for anyone or in any situation. The detraction the Modernists resorted to and their devotion to useless questions is still very much alive among Traditionalists. In an earlier article for the American Ecclesiastical Review, Msgr. Fenton observed: “The religious proposition of the integralists is also represented as characterized by a rigidity of doctrine. All that this expression would seem to mean is a resistance to any teaching which the integralist regards as involving a change in Catholic doctrine. Certainly there can be little to stigmatize in this attitude.” And how many times have Traditionalists accused those pointing out their errors of exercising this rigidity?
“The Modernists replied to this insistence on the fides integra by dubbing their opponents “integralists.” They worked to spread abroad the notion that these “integralists” were men of inferior culture, working for dishonorable motives to discredit the efforts of their betters. They could thus pass over any evidence adduced by the “integralists” without betraying their own inability to cope with the situation. The Modernists were obviously poor theologians. But they were outstandingly able in the field of publicity. Results of the systematic work of detraction they accomplished against their opponents remain until this day. One of those results is the stigma which, in the popular mind, still is attached to the designation ‘integralists.’”
T. Benns: And publicity and the manipulation of public opinion, by those such as Fr. Felix Morlion, John Courtenay Murray and his friend Henry Luce, publisher of Time/Life magazine, also the writings of many others, is what catapulted the Modernists into the Vatican itself.
“Far from repudiating or condemning the men to whom the title “integralist” had been applied, Pope Benedict XV went out of his way, in the Ad beatissimi, to state their basic thesis. He insisted that it is the duty of all those who are devoting themselves “to the good of the Catholic cause” to work in this way: “ut summo opere contendant integram conservare fidem et incolumen ab omni erroris afflatu, sequentes eum maxime, quem Christus constituit custodem et interpretem veritatis” (from the letter Testem benevolentiae, Denz., 1967.) This, rather than inquiry into useless questions, was what the Catholic Church demanded of its theologians, according to Pope Benedict XV.
“(6) One of the false reports sedulously encouraged by the Modernists and their sympathizers was that Modernism itself was a brief and relatively unimportant movement in the Church. People were led to believe that, with the exception of Loisy and a few like him, those who had been infected by the errors condemned by St. Pius X quickly acknowledged their mistakes, and that Modernism as a movement ended with the issuance of the Pascendi dominics gregis.
“The Ad beatissimi is a blessing to the Church for many reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that it points out that more than seven years after the Pascendi dominici gregis had been published, “this so pestilential evil” had not been entirely stamped out. It warned that it was still creeping abroad, secretly but with a certain effectiveness. It was still a movement against which loyal Catholics should be on their guard, and against which they were to stand. It was something which Pope Benedict XV felt called upon to condemn again, in its teachings and in its very spirit.”
T. Benns: The fact that bishops did not work together to take all precautions to exclude those of a Modernist bent from their seminaries and refuse imprimaturs to those writing books that exhibited Modernist tendencies, as Pope St. Pius X had ordered them to do, shows that the Modernists had stealthily infiltrated the episcopal ranks long before the death of Pope Pius XII. The poison was already circulating in the veins of the hierarchy and would eventually lead to their own self-destruction, and that of the Church.
“In the light of this encyclical it is difficult to see how anyone can ever hold that the Modernist movement was dead after 1907, and that there was no real Modernism for the Association of St. Pius V to fight against after the issuance of the Pascendi dominici gregis. The great lesson of the Ad beatissimi is its insistence upon the need of serious and loyal work by Catholic theologians to keep the Catholic faith in all of its integrity and purity. This, according to the encyclical, is exactly what the Catholic Church demands of those who devote their lives to its service. The document takes cognizance of the fact that anything done in this direction will be accomplished in the face of strong opposition.The Church, according to Pope Benedict XV, insists that its priests contend with all their might to prevent the setting-aside or the changing of any dogma of the faith on the part of Catholics. The language of the Ad beatissimi obviously implies that Pope Benedict meant that work for the integrity and purity of the Catholic faith is faced with serious opposition.”
T. Benns: Clearly priests did not fulfill their duties, particularly when it came to the education of the laity as commanded in papal encyclicals, also the proper direction of liturgical renewal. Even bishops did not oppose the Modernists as they were commanded to do, something later addressed by Msgr. Fenton in a subsequent essay. And this is why priests themselves were at a loss to carry out their duties; they had no leadership from the top.
“Thus the Ad beatissimi indicates the existence of a second kind of controversy in the field of sacred theology, and shows that sometimes this second kind of controversy may be required of any theologian. The first kind of controversy with which the encyclical was concerned was that between two men who supported opposite opinions on a point which had not as yet been settled by a decision of the Holy See. This second type of controversy is one in which a theologian points to or argues against some teaching which threatens the purity or the integrity of the Catholic faith.
“This was the type of controversy into which the opponents of the Modernists were being drawn fifty years ago. The Ad beatissimi points out the immediate and necessary objectives of such controversial writings when it asserts that Catholics must avoid the teachings and the spirit of those who are contradicting the doctrines of the Church. The rules for this second type of controversy must be seen in the light of this essential objective. It is clear that the defender of the Catholic truth must write modeste, that he must avoid all intemperate language, and that he must be guided always by the standards of truth, justice, and divine charity.”
T. Benns: This second type of controversy was carried on by theologians within the Catholic Church writing when the Church was still the Church. At that time, those against whom the faithful theologians such as Msgr. Fenton were writing could be referred to the Holy See by their bishops for disciplinary action if they refused to withdraw their false teachings, although bishops derelict in their duties already in the 1940s and 1950s often did not report them to the Holy Office. Under Canons 1935 and 2223, we as laity are guaranteed the right to be heard in calling these heretics out as a danger to the faith and in the absence of the hierarchy, as Pope Pius XII teaches, we are obligated to do so.
The behavior we see today mirrored in the discussions of the many-splintered Traditionalist sects and their publicists, also other non-Catholic sects, is nothing more than a continuation of Modernism as it existed even before the death of Pope Pius XII. There can be no Catholic charity, no truly Catholic discussion when there are no true Catholics to engage in it. True Catholics follow the rules as Msgr. Fenton has laid them down. True Catholics are integralists championing papal authority, not Modernists refusing to acknowledge the necessity of the papacy, or at least obedience to all papal decrees and teaching in its absence. This is best explained by Rev. Francis J. Connell below, in an answer to John Courtney Murray’s teaching on religious liberty ( American Ecclesiastical Review, January, 1952).
“As Catholics we must regard the Church’s teaching and practice as the proximate criterion of the tenableness of any theological theory that may be proposed; and when the theory seems to be opposed to the Church’s teaching or practice, a thorough investigation should be made to see if a reconciliation is possible. This should be done, not at the end, after support for the theory has been sought from other sources, but at the very beginning. For, if no reasonable way of establishing such a reconciliation can be found, the theory should be abandoned, however convincing the arguments in its favor may seem. Now, Fr. Murray’s theory on the relation between Church and State seems in some respects to be out of harmony with the Church’s teaching and practice. If he can prove that there is no opposition, theologians will cease to object to his opinions on this ground. But if he cannot or will not prove this point, he must expect that his theory will be viewed with suspicion.
“However, since Fr. Murray prefers to attack me instead of answering my objections, the task devolves on me of defending myself against his charges. I shall try to follow as closely as possible the order in which he brings up his objections…” Fr. Connell concludes his article with the following: “…Let me add a word about the attitude which Fr. Murray manifests toward me in his article. Frequently he uses expressions indicating that I have shown a lack of intellectual ability in this controversy. He ascribes to me ‘a lack of breadth, depth, comprehension and clarity,’ ‘falsity of perspective,” and “confusions in my political thought.’ He says that I give no idea of what is the speculative problem with which I am dealing, that I have a “genius for the peripheral,” and that I am guilty of logicism. This last he defines as ‘the achievement of a pseudo-consequence by a concatenation of propositions that represent mere conceptualizations,’ which, I take it, is a somewhat complicated way of saying that I am rather stupid.” So the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This is a picture-perfect example of how Traditionalists treat their opponents. They refuse to look for any conceivable way to reconcile differences, whenever possible, for the betterment of the Church and to promote unity among the faithful. And when this is not possible, they also then refuse to abandon their heretical teachings. To discredit their critics they then resort to ad hominem attacks since they cannot answer in kind the valid objections their opponents have raised. They reply in a condescending manner, reminding readers of their “seminary training” and “clerical authority,” when scholastic philosophy teaches that: ”Authority clothed with the necessary conditions is true authority. False authority makes the same claims although it lacks these conditions… Authority is not the last criterion of truth or motive of certitude.” And we have gone to great lengths to demonstrate that according to the teachings of the Continual Magisterium, these men have no authority whatsoever, and can be considered only pseudo-clergy. So much for their “seminary training,” which does not even teach them how to argue their non-existent cases in scholastic form.
This is why, repeatedly, given these ad hominem attacks, we have been forced to launch a defense against them on this site. For as Msgr. Fenton so aptly states: “The worst scandal that can be given comes from allowing a contradiction of Our Lord’s teaching to go unanswered. Of that I am absolutely sure. The people who utter the contradiction are usually so incompetent that nothing about much can be done about them.”
And all we can say to that is Amen.