No pope no Church; no bishop no priest

Traditionalists today forget that the Catholic Church cannot exist without a true pope. This also is the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Popes themselves and the theologians.

Pope Pius IX teaches this fact from his own mouth: “May God give you the grace necessary to defend the rights of the Sovereign Pontiff and the Holy See; for without the Pope there is no Church, and there is no Catholic Society without the Holy See,” (Allocution to religious superiors, June 24, 1872; Papal Teachings: The Church, by the Monks of Solesmes, translated by Mother E. O’Gorman, St. Paul Editions, 1962; no. 391, p. 226 ).

St. Thomas Aquinas writes: “In order that the Church exist, there must be one person at the head of the whole Christian people,” (Summa Contra Gentilis, Vol. IV, 76).

The Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches: “It is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers that this visible head is necessary to establish and preserve unity in the Church,” and this from Christ’s guarantees to St. Peter found in Holy Scripture, (Revs. McHugh and Callan edition, p. 104.).

Revs. Devivier and Sasia, whose work was personally endorsed by Pope St. Pius X, wrote: “As it is to the character of the foundation that a building owes its solidarity, the close union of its parts, and even its very existence, it is likewise from the authority of Peter that the Church derives Her unity, her stability, and even Her existence Herself. The Church, therefore, cannot exist without Peter,” (Christian Apologetics, Vol. II, p. 111).

Traditionalists today may call themselves priests and bishops, but they are doubtfully valid at best, are usurping the powers of the papacy and pretending to perpetuate the Church without a pope contrary to all Church teaching. It is the popes — NOT the bishops and priests, so-called — to whom we must listen. Men not certainly lawful pastors have no power over us whatsoever. The rights of priests are dependent on the bishop, the bishops’ rights and duties are dependent on the pope, and we have no true pope OR bishops. This is evident from what is stated below.

What are the rights and duties of a priest?

“Consequently, it is not easy to say in a way applicable to all cases what are the duties and rights of a priest; both vary considerably in individual cases. By his ordination a priest is invested with powers rather than with rights, the exercise of these powers (to celebrate Mass, remit sins, preach, administer the sacraments, direct and minister to the Christian people) being regulated by the common laws of the church, the jurisdiction of the bishop, and the office or charge of each priest,” ( Canon 108: “Those who have been assigned to the ministry, at least by the first tonsure, are called clerics.” Canon 118: “Only clerics can obtain the power of either orders or ecclesiastical jurisdiction…”

Apostolicity means possessing both orders AND jurisdiction.

“Apostolicity of mission consists in the power of holy orders and the power of jurisdiction derived by legitimate transmission from the Apostles. Any religious organization whose ministers do not possess these two powers is not accredited to preach the Gospel of Christ. For ‘How can they preach,’ asks the Apostle, ‘unless they be sent?’ (Rom. 10:15). It is Apostolicity of mission which is reckoned as a note of the Church.” ( see “apostolicity” header).

From the Catechism

What does Father Thomas Kinkead tell American Catholics on lawful pastors in the catechism used in Catholic schools in the 1940s and 1950s, before the decline of the Church? In his An Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism, #4, Fr. Kinkead writes in Q. 115: “What is the Church? A. The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ, partake of the same sacraments, and are governed by their lawful pastors under one visible head.” The Baltimore Council’s approved catechism (#3) for adults also written by Rev. Kinkead tells us in the answer to question # 494 that lawful pastors are “those in the Church who have been appointed by lawful authority and who have therefore a right to rule us.” Note that this says nothing of the supposedly “validly” consecrated bishops who have created these priests; it mentions only lawful authority. Valid consecration is not sufficient; if a bishop has not been approved by the pope and consecrated with the papal mandate he cannot function validly, (see Etsi multa and Charitas below).

“Even if valid orders exist, where jurisdiction is lacking there is no real apostolicity. Schism, as well as heresy, destroys apostolic succession,” (Rev. Thomas Cox, Pillar and Ground of Truth, 1900).  In his Manual of Christian Doctrine, written for religious congregations and Catholic institutions of higher learning, seminary professor Rev. John Joseph McVey wrote in 1926:

Q. 60: Who after the pope are lawful pastors of the Church?

A. The bishops who have been canonically instituted, i.e., who have received from the Sovereign Pontiff a diocese to govern.

Q. 73: Why is it not sufficient to be a bishop or priest in order to be a lawful pastor?

A. Because a bishop must also be sent into a diocese by the Pope, and a priest must be sent into a parish by the bishop. In other words, a pastor must have not only the power of order, but also THE POWER OF JURISDICTION, (emph. McVey’s).

Q. 77: How is the power of jurisdiction communicated?

A. Priests receive their jurisdiction from the bishop of the diocese; bishops receive theirs from the pope; and the Pope holds jurisdiction from Jesus Christ. A bishop who did not have his spiritual powers from the Pope, a pastor who did not have his from the lawful bishop, would be AN INTRUDER OR SCHISMATIC,” (emph. McVey’s). So not only are Traditionalist “priests” and “bishops” illicitly ordained and consecrated, without a true pope they possess NO jurisdiction whatsoever.

Canonical mission is the conveying of the actual office by the Pope (to bishops) or the bishop (to priests), or the superior (to religious). (Delegated) jurisdiction, the power to execute the duties of that office, is granted to priests only by a validly ordained and consecrated bishop whose consecration was approved by a canonically elected pope (meaning his election was held without any doubts whatsoever about its legitimacy as prescribe by Canon Law and Pope Pius XII’s papal election constitution governing papal elections.) This means only bishops consecrated prior to Pope Pius XII’s death on Oct. 9, 1958 are considered validly consecrated.

Heretics and schismatics lose all jurisdiction

St. Robert Bellarmine says. “There is no basis for that which some respond to this: that these Fathers based themselves on ancient law, while nowadays, by decree of the Council of Constance, they alone lose their jurisdiction who are excommunicated by name or who assault clerics. This argument, I say, has no value at all, for those Fathers, in affirming that heretics lose jurisdiction, did not cite any human law, which furthermore perhaps did not exist in relation to the matter, but argued on the basis of the very nature of heresy. The Council of Constance only deals with the excommunicated, that is, those who have lost jurisdiction by sentence of the Church, while heretics already before being excommunicated are outside the Church and deprived of all jurisdiction.

For they have already been condemned by their own sentence, as the Apostle teaches (Tit. 3:10-11), that is, they have been cut off from the body of the Church without excommunication, as St. Jerome affirms… All the ancient Fathers…teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and outstandingly that of St. Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 2) who speaks as follows of Novatian, who was Pope [i.e. antipope] in the schism which occurred during the pontificate of St. Cornelius: “He would not be able to retain the episcopate [i.e. of Rome], and, if he was made bishop before, he separated himself from the body of those who were, like him, bishops, and from the unity of the Church.’” (An Extract from St. Robert Bellarmine’s De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. 30, ( This link is placed merely for purposes of attribution; no endorsement of this site is hereby intended.)

St. Robert Bellarmine, (de Romano Pontifice, Bk. 2, Chapter 40) also teaches: “The Holy Fathers teach unanimously not only that heretics are outside of the Church, but also that they are ipso facto deprived of all ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity …Saint Nicholas I (epist. Ad Michael) repeats and confirms the same. Finally, Saint Thomas also teaches (II-II, Q39, A3) that schismatics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and that anything they try to do on the basis of any jurisdiction will be null…” Further, St. Robert Bellarmine cites the unanimous teaching of the Fathers in his work “de Romano Pontifice,” where he states: “Heretics who return to the Church must be received as laymen, even though they have been formerly priests or bishops in the Church. St. Optatus (lib. 1 cont. Parmen.).”

Without such jurisdiction priests cannot act validly (confession, marriage, etc.), unless the Church supplies it, (in “emergency” situations). Priests must be assigned an office by a valid bishop in communion with the pope. A valid bishop can only convey an office if he possesses jurisdiction (Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, 1559, still retained in the 1917 code) and no one who has committed heresy possesses jurisdiction. Without this office and valid assignment to it by a valid bishop, priests cannot say Mass publicly.

Revs. Woywod-Smith, A Practical Commentary on Canon Law, (under Can. 804) write:

“699. A priest who desires to say Holy Mass in a church other than that to which he is attached must show authentic and still valid letters of recommendation (commonly called ‘Celebret’) to the priest in charge of the church. A secular priest must obtain these letters from his Ordinary, a religious priest from his superior, and a priest of an Oriental Rite from the Sacred Congregation of the Oriental Church. A priest who has a proper ‘‘Celebret’’ shall be admitted to say Mass, unless it is known that in the meantime he has done something for reason of which he must be kept from saying Holy Mass

“If the priest has no ‘Celebret,’ but the rector of the church knows well that he is a priest in good standing, he may be allowed to say Mass. If, however, he is unknown to the rector, he may nevertheless be permitted to say Mass once or twice,” provided he fulfill certain conditions.

“700. The Council of Chalcedon (451) ruled that no strange cleric or lector should be permitted to minister outside his own town without letters of recommendation from his own bishop. Pope Innocent III issued the same prohibition but said that the priest who did not have his letters of recommendation might be admitted to say Mass if he desired to do so out of devotion: he might not, however, say Mass before the people, but privately. The Council of Trent again made the rule absolute—as the Council of Chalcedon had it—that no priest should be permitted to celebrate Mass and administer the Sacraments without letters of recommendation from his own bishop.”

As St. Pius X taught in Acerbo nimis (1905): “Pastors…are obliged by the precept of Christ to know and to nourish the sheep confided to them; now to nourish is first of all to teach… (a) And so the Apostle said, ‘Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the Gospel, (b) indicating thus that the first office of those who are set up in any way for the government of the Church is to instruct the faithful in sacred doctrine.” So how is it that Traditionalists violate this teaching by rushing to provide Mass and Sacraments and failing entirely to instruct the faithful in sacred doctrine?   How is it that despite Pope Boniface VIII’s teaching that unless all the faithful are subject to the Roman Pontiff, they cannot save their souls, Traditionalists fail to require strict obedience to papal law and teaching?

Canon 147 teaches: “An ecclesiastical office cannot be 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,” and this canon has been officially interpreted by Pope Pius XII to mean exactly what Pope Pius IX taught in the paragraph from Graves diurturnae quoted below, and the Council of Trent taught in the 1500s.

“This Holy Synod teaches that, in the ordination of bishops, priests and other orders…those who are called and instituted only by the people, or by the civil power…and proceed to exercise these offices, and…those who take these offices upon themselves, are not ministers of the Church, but are to be regarded as ‘thieves, robbers and those who have not entered by the door,’” (DZ 960; Canons 108-109; Can. 147.) “”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.” (The Council of Trent, Sess. 23, July 15, 1563; DZ 967, 424). Having taught this infallibly, would “the Church” really be willing to supply jurisdiction for them?

When Can. 209 says the “Church” supplies, that term is interpreted to mean the Roman Pontiff, who is the only one throughout history who has EVER supplied jurisdiction. The Pope is the ONLY one who holds primacy of jurisdiction in the Church. All this is according to the Vatican Council decrees and is further explained in Rev. Francis Miaskiewicz’s Canon Law dissertation Supplied Jurisdiction According to Canon 209, (1948, Catholic University of America). And when Canon 2261 §2 says priests may act in emergency situations to administer the Sacraments, it is assumed that the Church (the Pope) will supply jurisdiction. But we have no true pope to supply it, so priests cannot now receive this jurisdiction. Without it they cannot act, as NO ONE may usurp papal jurisdiction during an interregnum. This Pope Pius XII infallibly teaches in his papal election constitution, (Vacantis Apostolica Sedis, 1945):

We declare invalid and void any power or jurisdiction pertaining to the Roman Pontiff in his lifetime, which the assembly of Cardinals might decide to exercise (while the Church is without a Pope)… If anything contrary to this prescript occurs or is by chance attempted, we declare it by Our Supreme authority to be null and void.”  And if even the cardinals (some of whom are also bishops) cannot exercise it, and they are superior in rank to bishops, certainly bishops could not presume to do so. Only the pope can supply the papal mandate; this is an act of papal jurisdiction.

Validly consecrated bishops such as Lefebvre and Thuc long ago incurred heresy and communicatio in sacris by celebrating the Novus Ordo Missae. They publicly admitted they celebrated this false liturgy in communion with a false church and Lefebvre never left that church. (Thuc vacillated back and forth between Traditionalism and the Novus Ordo throughout his life.) Therefore they incurred the penalty for notorious heresy, (Can. 2314 §1). Canon 2314 §3 further provides that if they commit communicatio in sacris (Can. 1258) they also incur a vindicative penalty, which only the pope is able to lift, (Can. 2295). Canon 2294 (Revs. Woywod-Smith commentary) classifies any act performed under the imposition of a vindicative penalty invalid. Furthermore, in his papal election law, Pius XII declares any act usurping papal jurisdiction during an interregnum null and void. One cannot presume to act validly and licitly without a papal dispensation from this penalty while the Church is without Her head.

So first of all, Lefebvre and Thuc are notorious heretics and schismatics (notorious by fact, meaning Catholics know what they did was an act of treason against the Church, they know that they did it because they have confessed it or otherwise confirmed it publicly and they know what they did was wrong; Can. 2197 no. 3). These two men automatically lost their offices and all jurisdiction. They cannot plead ignorance; for as Pope Celestine I taught: “No priest may be ignorant of the canons,” far less a bishop! These men were forbidden to function by papal decree, interregnum or no, (see Etsi multa and Charitas below). So even when not operating during an interregnum, past papal laws have declared the operations of such schismatics/heretics null and void in similar cases. During an interregnum, the acts of those who violate papal laws or usurp papal jurisdiction are infallibly declared null and void by Pius XII above.

Schismatic bishops can validly consecrate when a canonically elected pope is reigning, because then the reigning pope can judge and rectify such consecrations. But during an interregnum, such consecrations are null ab initio, (from the outset) because the pope infallibly forbids it. All affairs are to be referred to the future pope in advance of their accomplishment. Any attempted these consecrations are considered as though they never happened. Traditionalists cannot presume to consecrate bishops without a papal mandate, as Pope Pius IX unequivocally demonstrates in Etsi Multa. If a priest is not consecrated a bishop, he cannot validly ordain priests because technically he is still a priest himself. And since Traditionalist consecrations of bishops never happen, ordinations cannot happen either.

All comes back to Can. 147, explained above. In order to function as a valid and lawful pastor, one must be assigned an office. All must be done in accordance with the canons. All offices are lost on the commission of heresy, (Can. 188 no. 4 and Can. 2314 §2; also St. Bellarmine above).

Pope Pius IX, Etsi Multa (November 1873)

“24. But these men [the Old Catholics], having progressed more boldly in the ways of wickedness and destruction, as happens to heretical sects from God’s just judgment, have wished to create a hierarchy also for themselves, as we have intimated. They have chosen and set up a pseudo-bishop, a certain notorious apostate from the Catholic faith…

“25. But as even the rudiments of Catholic faith declare, no one can be considered a bishop who is not linked in communion of faith and love with Peter, upon whom is built the Church of Christ; who does not adhere to the supreme Pastor to whom the sheep of Christ are committed to be pastured; and who is not bound to the confirmer of fraternity which is in the world.

26. We additionally excommunicate whoever has adhered to them and belonging to their party has furnished help, favor, aid, or consent. We declare, proclaim, and command that they are separated from the communion of the Church. They are to be considered among those with whom all faithful Christians are forbidden by the Apostle to associate and have social exchange to such an extent that, as he plainly states, they may not even be greeted,” [Vitandus!] (

Pope Pius IX, Graves Diurturnae (March 1875):

“We have already reproved and condemned this deplorable sect [the Old Catholics] which has produced from the old store of the heretics so many errors opposed to the principal tenets of the Catholic faith. This sect overthrows the foundations of the Catholic religion, shamelessly rejects the dogmatic definitions of the Ecumenical Vatican Council, and devotes itself to the ruin of souls in so many ways… [The faithful] should totally shun their religious celebrations, their buildings, and their chairs of pestilence, which they have with impunity established to transmit the sacred teachings. They should shun their writings and all contact with them. They should not have any dealings or meetings with usurping priests and apostates from the faith who dare to exercise the duties of an ecclesiastical minister without possessing a legitimate mission or any jurisdiction. They should avoid them as strangers and thieves who come only to steal, slay, and destroy.” ‪

Pope Pius IX, Quartus Supra (January 1873)

“As Our predecessor Pius VI warned in his Apostolic letter condemning the civil constitution of the clergy in France, discipline is often so closely related to doctrine and has such a great influence on its preservation and its purity, that the sacred councils have not hesitated to cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed its

Pope Pius VI, Charitas (April, 1791)

“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 whatsoeverFor 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…”

It is a sin of presumption to think Christ would supply jurisdiction in the pope’s absence as some teach today. There is no law in the Church anywhere that says in the present “emergency” situation Our Lord would supply jurisdiction; Charitas above says no “pretext of necessity” would justify such a belief. Pope Pius XII’s infallible papal election constitution says it does not/cannot occur. Even Our Lord cannot supersede a pope’s infallible decree, for He promises to bind in Heaven whatever His Vicar binds on earth, and He is ever true to His promises. The Church’s teachings must be taken as a whole, as a flawless composite of integral truth. One truth cannot contradict the other. If the Traditionalist scenario is true then the popes quoted above are liars. We are to obey God not men, and God speaks to us only through his VICARS and those in communion with them. The choice is and has always been our own. The Church infallibly commands us to be subject to the Roman Pontiff if we wish to be saved (Boniface VIII). And we cannot be subject to them by following men who refuse to observe the teachings of the continual magisterium and insist on functioning outside communion with a canonically elected pope.



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