+Feast of Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows

O Mother most sorrowful, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Last week’s blog mainly addressed the material formal issue. This week, as promised, the claim that those who left the Novus Ordo and became members of some Traditionalist sect of any kind did not become heretics or schismatics will be examined. But first a word needs to be said about the disinformation being spread regarding lay papal elections and the use of the Western Schism in way of analogy to the current situation.

Some have falsely stated that in one election, one lay person elected a pope. Wrong. A thorough overview of history on this topic tells us that yes, lay persons nominated the papal candidate and the laity helped in confirming the nomination. What it does not say is that first the cardinals and the clergy had to approve the candidate selected. Second, times were so tumultuous at this point in Church history that not to go along with the powers that be would have been to forego a papal election entirely. Historians agree that during this time, when the laity played a role in papal elections and when certain laymen and other unworthy candidates to the papacy were elected, was one of the darkest times for the Church. But the men elected then were not heretics and did not preach heresy from St. Peter’s Chair. Nor did the openly foment schism prior to their election. This was an exception to the general rule and cannot be pointed to as justification for a papal election today. For a general history of papal elections in the Church and the laity go to:

As far as the Western Schism goes, I have been pointing out for over a decade that it cannot be used as a true analogy to the situation as it has existed since Oct. 9, 1958, for several reasons. The Western Schism wasn’t even a true schism so-called, and historians agree on this. It was rather a confusion over who was validly elected pope and should be paid obedience. The best answer to how the situation should be viewed is given by St. Antoninus:

 “The question was much discussed and much was written in defense of one side or the other. For as long as the schism lasted each obedience had in its favor men who were very learned in Scripture and Canon Law, and even very pious people, including some who – what is much more – were illustrious by the gift of miracles. Nonetheless the question could never be settled without leaving the minds of many still in doubt. Doubtless we must believe that, just as there are not several Catholic Churches, but only one, so there is only one Vicar of Christ who is its pastor. But if it should occur that, by a schism, several popes are elected at the same time, it does not seem necessary for salvation to believe that this or that one in particular is the true pope, but just in general whichever of them was canonically elected. The people are not obliged to know who was canonically elected, just as they are not obliged to know Canon Law; in this matter they may follow the judgment of their superiors and prelates.”

And this is where a distinction needs to be made. The cardinals and bishops engaged in this schism were validly ordained and consecrated. Over a period of nearly 40 years, the jurisdiction of the hierarchy was not extinguished, because there was a true pope all along in the line of Urban VI. As the Catholic Encyclopedia explains, the true pope, Gregory XII, lifted all the censures any of the hierarchy might have incurred prior to the resolution of the schism and the election of Pope Martin V (see also https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/articles/a-catholics-course-of-study/canon-law/the-truth-about-the-western-schism-and-supplied-jurisidiction-the-truth-about-the-western-schism-and-supplied-jurisidiction/). None of the cardinals and bishops electing Martin V labored under these censures.  No questions existed concerning membership in forbidden societies, lack of proper intention, the mental state of the consecrator or the actual pontifical in use. We are sailing in uncharted waters today with no captain at the helm of the ship; the situation is entirely unprecedented. Nothing then prevented the valid election of a true pope to end the schism because there had been one all along; it was a continuous succession with existing hierarchy emanating from that succession. But this is not the case today. And the reason it is not the case is that there has not been and is not today any valid Pius XII bishop to lift the censures for heresy and schism precisely because the canonical mission necessary for legitimate succession no longer exists.

Traditional “clergy” all incurred censure for heresy and schism

Let us take a quote from Donald Sanborn on public defection from the Faith: “Defection from the faith must be legally known, which happens either by declaration or by notoriety. But the notoriety requires that not only the fact of the crime be publicly known, but also its imputability (Canon 2197). In the case, however, of defection from the Catholic Faith, either through heresy or through schism, it is necessary that the defection be pertinacious in order that it be imputable…. Defection from the Catholic Faith on the part of conciliar popes, although it be public with regard to fact, is not public with regard to imputability” (The Material Papacy https://www.sodalitiumpianum.com/the-material-papacy/). A summary of what Sanborn teaches in this piece is provided below, followed by my objections.

Sanborn: 1. Heretics who are born into non-Catholic sects, who err in good faith, are not members of the Church, I concede; heretics, however, who have been baptized in the Catholic Church, who err in good faith, are not members of the Church, I deny.

Objection: Dom Charles Augustine, in his A Commentary on Canon Law, Vol. 8, pg. 335 writes: “Charity does not require mental gymnastics in order to excuse what is manifest, [evident, obvious, not obscure]. However, the thesis here defended does not depend on identifying pertinacity as defined by the moralists, but as defined by canonists: conscious rejection of dogma on the part of a baptized person… Obstinacy may be assumed when a revealed truth has been proposed with sufficient clearness and force to convince a reasonable man.” (For a primer on what the CHURCH, not Sanborn, considers to be heresy, see the article at https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/1-22-15-material-heresy-and-membership-in-the-church-pt-ii-proofs/).

Sanborn: 2. Excommunication is either latæ sententiæ or declared. If it is the first, the argument does not hold, because censures against heresy require imputability, that is, notorious pertinacity.

 Objection: See Augustine above. Also, based on decisions issued by the Holy Office, Revs. Woywod-Smith wrote: “Nevertheless, in the external forum they are not free [from the penalties of Can. 2314] for, according to Can. 2200, when there is an external violation of Church law, malice is presumed in the external forum until its absence is proved. The Holy See insists that converts from heretical or schismatic sects be not received into the Church until they have first abjured the heresy or schism and been absolved from the censure, (Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda, July 20, 1859). Sanborn should have spent time in his article offering proofs from approved sources that he and the Roman usurpers should not be held guilty of heresy, schism and other grave crimes in order to overcome the presumption stated in Can. 2200. Given his inability to find any bishops in the 1990s willing to consecrate Traditionalists, it should be clear that there was no one left to abjure form heresy and receive him or anyone else back into the Church.

The censure for heresy is incurred, regardless of pertinacity or notoriety, unless and until it is taken before an ecclesiastical judge. The judge is the one who determines the nature and extent of the crime and whether it is imputable, pertinacious and notorious. The only difference here is that Can. 2232 does not require the delinquent to observe the censure publicly until an ecclesiastical hearing has been held, unless he is “conscious of his offense” or “the offense committed is notorious.” Woywod-Smith note under Can. 2233 that “penalties latae sententiae are automatically contracted by the offense.” And Can. 2232 states that “a penalty latae sententiae automatically (ipso facto) binds the offender in both the internal and external forum.”

Sanborn: 3. Those who have received Catholic baptism are legally members of the Church until they cease to be either through pertinacious and notorious heresy, pertinacious and notorious schism, or pertinacious and notorious apostasy/excommunication.

Objection: Here Sanborn is assuming that Traditionalists cannot be proven to be any of the above, owing to his false interpretation of pertinacity and imputability. However, a schismatic is defined by Rev. Szal and other theologians as: “One who, having received baptism and still retaining the name of Christian nevertheless refuses obedience to the Supreme Pontiff,” (while yet recognizing him as the head of the Church) “or refuses to communicate with those members of the Church subject to him.” In the strict sense, Szal noted, the following elements also are essential for schism to exist: “One must withdraw directly (expressly) or indirectly (by one’s actions) from obedience to the Roman Pontiff and separate oneself from ecclesiastical communion with the rest of the faithful; one’s withdrawal must be made with obstinacy and rebellion; in relation to those things by which the unity of the Church is constituted; yet despite this formal disobedience the schismatic must recognize the Roman Pontiff as the true pastor of the Church.”

It is hard to see here how this does not describe Traditionalist sect members, who have followed who they believe to be bishops for decades, indirectly denying the necessity of the papacy by their actions. This despite the fact that all Catholics know it is the papacy — not the Mass and Sacraments — which defines the Church. Despite decades of warnings from this author and others that these so-called bishops and priests cannot and do not continue Christ’s Church on earth without the pope, they have obstinately adhered to them — but this is not pertinacity?! They have refused to have anything to do with those who have separated from these pseudo-clerics, refused to dishonor the Sacraments and who have insisted on following only papal teaching. The Canon Law Digest notes several instances of those reduced to the lay state or declared vitandus who have established sects or intruded themselves into some ecclesiastical position without approval by the Holy See. Copies of this are available on request.

Sanborn: 4. The (Roman usurpers’) defection from the Catholic Faith is neither declared nor notorious as cited above and therefore there is neither tacit renunciation nor censure.

Objection: Whenever there is a doubt of law on any given matter, one consults the old law — in this case the footnote to Can. 2314 on heresy and schism. The old law for this Canon is Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, and as explained in our last blog it is most certainly still in effect as a footnote to the Code. This bull leaves no doubt that no declaration is needed and demands only that the heresy of the offender, be he bishop cardinal or pope, be CLEAR. If Paul 6’s heresy was not clear, why did nearly half the Church leave after Vatican 2? Why would they leave a Church they knew they must be members of to be saved if they believed it was still the Church?

Sanborn: 5. The right of electing is not jurisdiction. It is not a right of making law. It is not an office. It is merely a moral faculty of designating legally him who should receive supreme authority. Nothing therefore, is required for the possession and for the exercise of this right except that someone be legally designated by him who has the legal right to designate the electors of the pope.

Objection: The right to elect is a privilege that is granted with the offices assigned to Cardinals appointed by the pope and to certain other clerics and religious by their respective superiors. This right is lost through the commission of heresy, schism or apostasy, as Cum ex… explains. This bull is also the old law for Can. 167 n. 4, which declares the votes of heretics at an ecclesiastical election invalid. Indirectly, Paul IV’s bull Cum ex… and another bull regarding the election of those promoting themselves for election during the lifetime of a reigning pontiff are referred to in Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, which bars cardinals from the election who have tacitly resigned their offices by lapsing from the faith. This is a reference to Can. 188 n. 4, whose parent law is Cum ex.

Sanborn: 6. it does not pertain to the faithful, but to competent authority to legally [publicly] accuse him who has been elected to the papacy of not intending the good of the Church… [But he admits this could be done privately]. The faithful have no right to condemn legally someone elected to the papacy, but only with a private judgment by comparing the changes of Vatican II with the previous magisterium and practice… The faithful cannot give their assent to formulas which are contradictory. Because, however, the “magisterium” of Vatican II contradicts the previous magisterium, the faithful cannot not accuse, by private judgment, him who promulgates this “magisterium,” in the same way that the faithful of Constantinople accused Nestorius” (a bishop who kept his See for three years after being accused of heresy by the faithful).

Objection: False, Mr. Sanborn. Canon Law gives us this right and you have no power or authority to dismiss it or to deprive us of it. “Any of the faithful may at all times denounce the offense of another for the purpose of demanding satisfaction… or to get damages for losses sustained through the criminal act of another [regarding crimes] or out of zeal for justice to repair some scandal or evil. Even an obligation to denounce an offender exists whenever one is obliged to do so either by law or by special legitimate precept or by the natural law in view of the DANGER TO FAITH or religion or other imminent public evil,” (Can. 1935). Canon 2223 refers us to Can. 1935. Under this heading for Can. 2223, “Rules by Which the Judge or Superior Must Be Guided in the Imposition of Penalties,” we also find: “It is as a rule left to the discretion of a superior to declare a penalty latae sententiae; but he must issue thedeclaratory sentence if an interested party demands it or if the public welfare requires it.” Canon 1325 binds us also to defend the faith in such situations when our silence, subterfuge or manner of acting would indicate we are in agreement with the errors. So Sanborn also is advising the faithful to ignore their obligations and cooperate with heresy.

Pope Paul IV: “It shall be lawful for all and sundry who would have been subject to persons so promoted and elevated, had these not first strayed from the Faith or been heretics, or incurred or incited or committed schism…to depart with impunity at any time from obedience and allegiance to said promoted and elevated persons and to shun them as sorcerers, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchsALL may implore the aid of the secular arm against those so advanced and elevated,” (Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, 1559).

Pope Alexander VII: (proposition condemned and prohibited as at least scandalous): “Although it is evidently established by you that Peter is a heretic, you are not bound to denounce him if you cannot prove it,” (DZ 1105).

St. Thomas Aquinas: “If the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith,” Summa Pt. II-II, Q. 33, Art. 4, Reply Obj. 2).

Throughout his article, Sanborn quotes nothing to support his argument on heresy, a topic he could have been and should have been familiar with. All this is explained in the following articles: https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/reference-links/4-heresy/what-constiutes-material-heresy-and-schism/ (please note especially the quotes from The Jurist); and on the topic of pertinacity https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/free-content/reference-links/4-heresy/pertinacity-and-heresy/ These articles refute, from pre-October 1958 sources, all that Sanborn says above. And yet he keeps saying it and reinforcing it. But there is a reason for that.

Nearly all of us at some time were (unwitting) members of the Novus Ordo church, a schismatic sect. Some of us left the minute the new mass was introduced, such as myself, at the age of 17; In 1967, at the age of 17, Donald Sanborn began a four-year stint in a Novus Ordo seminary, leaving there for the SSPX in 1971. He presumably was required to attend the NOM until he left. Marcel Lefebvre ordained Sanborn a priest in 1975. In 1983, Sanborn left the SSPX on doctrinal grounds to join the SSPV. He later left the SSPV when Clarence Kelly rejected the validity of bishops consecrated by Peter Martin Ngo dinh Thuc. He started his own group, the Roman Catholic Institute and later founded Most Holy Trinity Seminary, headquartered in Florida. In 2002, he was consecrated a bishop by “Bp.” Robert McKenna, who himself was consecrated by Thuc “bishop” Guerard des Lauriers. (It was des Lauriers who wrote the material-formal thesis.) So this man changed his non-Catholic sect affiliation four different times, and both he and Anthony Cekada, having [according to them, anyway] studied Canon Law, were well aware of the nature of heresy and schism in the censures. But of course they are going to do everything in their power to make it appear that even material “cardinals” are not guilty of heresy. So if not them, then who? Not Traditionalist pseudo-clergy apparently!

Sanborn, from what he states above, disassociates non-Catholics from heretics and schismatics. But this is not what Rev. Ignatius Szal notes in his work The Communication of Catholics with non-Catholics (1948): “The general norm governing the communication of Catholics with schismatics is enunciated in Canon 1258… This Canon does not expressly mention schismatics but uses the more general term non-Catholic, a term which includes all those who are not of the true faith, namely heretics, schismatics, infidels and apostates… Consequently, schismatics are comprehended in the present law in exactly the same way as communication with all other non-Catholics.” Rev. John Bancroft says basically the same thing in his Communication in Religious Worship with non-Catholics (1943). But he includes in his definition everyone outside the Church, whether validly baptized or not, since the most accepted canonical definition includes infidels (p. 2). So Sanborn’s definition, not being supported by any proofs, obviously is incorrect. And since he and his confreres are the survivors of more than one of these non-Catholic sects — without being able, as are the laity in most cases, to excuse themselves on the grounds of ignorance — they are at least schismatics.

Schismatics cannot vote in elections nor be elected

Because Traditionalists possess no juridical status in the Church, ordinary or otherwise, and also because they have incurred the censures for schism, heresy and the vindicative penalty of infamy of law, they cannot act as electors under Canons 167 and 188 n. 4, and the parent law for both these canons is Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. Both canons forbid those who have fallen away from the faith from voting, and if they do so their vote is invalid. Can. 188 n. 4 is explicitly mentioned in Pope Pius XII’s 1945 election constitution VAS. Of course material-formal proponents long ago trashed this constitution as only an “ecclesiastical law” but obviously they never read it. Because the pope anticipated maneuvers such as theirs and infallibly proclaimed that if they attempted to dispense from it, correct it or dismiss it, or correct or dispense from any canon laws during an interregnum, such acts would be null, void and invalid (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/vacantis-apostolicae-sedis-vindicated/). Sorry to burst your bubble, boys.

And yes, in an emergency situation even valid bishops and senior clerics not heretics or schismatics can elect, in the absence of the cardinals. After carefully studying the matter, they would need to adjust the law, according to the method provided in the canons, to account for present circumstances. In the whole, however, it could be followed with care, using one of the alternatives Pius XII provides. But sadly there are no electors known to exist who are not under censure for heresy or schism. In fact, in neither the Thuc or the Lefebvre camp can it be said there is any certainty regarding the transmission of Orders, and without the Roman Pontiff to supply there can be NO jurisdiction, so apostolicity — that divine guarantee of perpetual succession promised to the Apostles — does not exist in Traditionalists. All inclusion of the laity in any ecclesiastical election is forbidden under pain of invalidity of the election (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/vacantis-apostolicae-sedis/, para. 32). And Pope Pius XII decrees infallibly in VAS that any attempt to violate the provisions of his constitution are null and void. Pope St. Pius X was the one to first exclude all lay involvement in his previous election law, which is substantially restated in VAS.

In the preamble to VAS, Pope Pius XII reminds cardinals electing “…to apply themselves with watchful care and to devote their energies to useful rules in the weighty business DIVINELY ENTRUSTED TO THE CHURCH, to wit, electing the successor of Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, who on this earth is the Vicar of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and as supreme Pastor and Head feeds and rules all the Lord’s flock.” A papal election, then, is a matter of Divine law, the power of jurisdiction flowing, as Ludwig Cardinal Billot wrote “…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” (Ludwig Cardinal Billot, S.J., Tractatus De Ecclesia Christi (Rome: Aedes Universitatis Gregorianae, 1927), Vol. 1. p. 524). Papal elections can be conducted only by valid and licit hierarchy because they are an act involving the application of jurisdiction conveyed by Divine right.  Even a layman could be elected, but prior to his acceptance and ordination/ consecration he would need to be deemed “fit” by the proper examination, just as every other candidate for Orders. This Pope Pius XII teaches in his address to the Second World Congress for the Lay Apostolate, Oct. 5, 1957.

Was Six ans se sont entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis? Yes it was, and we find proof of this in a most unlikely place. It is listed as footnote #3, Chapter IV — The Laity, in Paul 6’s “Lumen Gentium,” given November 21, 1964, (cfr. Pius XII, Allocution “ecoule’s, 5 Oct. 1957: AAS 49 [1957], p. 927. De “mandato” et missione canonica, cfr. Decretum De Apostolatu laicorum, cap. IV, n. 16, cum notis 12 et 15.) This inclusion in the AAS, according to Pius XII’s Humani generis, means it is binding on all the faithful.


In Six ans se sont, Pope Pius XII clearly laid down the roles of both laity and clergy. Earlier, he had already made clear distinctions in these roles in his authoritative interpretation of Can. 147 §2 (ecclesiastical offices cannot be “validly obtained without canonical appointment …which is the conferring of an ecclesiastical office by the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the sacred canons.” This interpretation is also a document of the ordinary magisterium: see  AAS 42-601). Bouscaren and Ellis point out that this also applies to the papacy. In his Canon Law dissertation Canonical Elections, (CUA, 1939), Anscar John Parsons states in the opening paragraphs of Chapter I that:

“Canonical election is one of the methods employed by the Church for providing worthy incumbents for ecclesiastical offices. The Code sets forth the principle of public law that no office can be VALIDLY obtained in the Church unless it is duly granted by competent ecclesiastical authority” (and the footnote he lists to that paragraph is Canon 147). “This principle is a clear deduction from the teachings of fundamental theology. The Church is a perfect society hierarchically constituted and therefore its posts of jurisdiction and power cannot be seized by force nor obtained by usurpation. Even though a candidate for ecclesiastical office be elected by a group of voters presented by a noble family, or nominated by a king, these actions are devoid of affect unless they are followed by a formal act of the ecclesiastical authority.” This is why Can. 219 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law states that: “The Roman Pontiff legitimately elected obtains from the moment he accepts the election the full power of supreme jurisdiction by divine right.” Pope Paul IV’s Cum ex… also mentions the necessity of “canonical election,” and propositions in Denzinger denying the necessity of canonical election were enacted before the Code was introduced (DZ 650, 652, 674; condemnation of the errors of John Huss and Wycliffe)

The papacy is undeniably an office. And Traditionalists and all other non-Catholics, on numerous counts, are undeniably incapable of electing or being elected to that office according to the Sacred Canons. Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis infallibly forbids anyone to violate these canons; if any attempt is made to do this, it is null and void. So Traditionalists are dead in the water. If they wanted to claim any connection at all to the pontificate of Pope Pius XII and the Divine continuum Christ established on earth for His Church, they would have obeyed all the Canons and papal decrees and ceased functioning long ago. This was the only way to maintain that “ritual contact” with the Church necessary to remain Catholic. But they are non-Catholics, heretics and schismatics, like it or not. Any attempt to “elect a pope” will be just one more laughable faux pas automatically annulled by Pope Pius XII.

Only God is not laughing. And they would all do well to read the signs of the times — to prepare for the punishment that He will soon send us all for heaping even further attacks and insults on His cherished Bride, the Church.

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