+St. Peter in Chains+
Prayer Society Intention for the Month of August
May God instill in us a true love of the papacy and may the Holy Ghost grant us the graces needed to appreciate and understand papal teachings.
In every era of Catholic history, the laity has been forced to adapt itself to the conditions and circumstances of the times in which they live, according to the Church’s own direction and teaching regarding the errors and needs of that specific time. There can be no doubt that the time in which we presently live is the most difficult time in the history of the Church. The popes knew these times were approaching and for this reason encouraged Catholics, beginning at the Vatican Council, to assist the hierarchy in spreading the faith. This eventually led to the founding of Catholic Action and the development of the lay apostolate, which while related are actually two separate entities, as Pope Pius XII explains. Since Catholic Action is mainly conducted under the direction of the hierarchy, which no longer exists today, it is the lay apostolate which will be addressed in this article. Pope Pius XII tells us: “This initiative of the lay apostolate is perfectly justified even without a prior explicit mission from the hierarchy” (The Mission of the Catholic Woman, Sept. 29, 1957).
Pope Pius XII speaks further on the apostolate below:
“The lay apostle must always remain within the limits of ORTHODOXY and must not oppose itself to the LEGITIMATE prescriptions of COMPETENT ecclesiastical authorities…The rule which applies to the lay apostolate in general [hierarchical approval], which We have just recalled, is naturally valid, and even more so for “lay theologian[s].” But if he wishes to publish writings on theological matters, the layman also needs the explicit approval of the ecclesiastical authority. The activity of the Catholic layman is especially necessary in the fields in which theological research borders on that of the secular sciences… On the other hand, to acquire the necessary competence, it is obviously necessary to make the effort demanded by serious training.” The Pope continues:
“Such training, whose necessity for teachers no one doubts, is just as necessary for every lay apostle… The Catholic newspaperman who exercises his profession in a spirit of faith is quite naturally a lay apostle… In certain countries where Communism is in power, it has been reported that religious life was able to continue underground thanks to the work of lay apostles, even after the arrest of the priests” (Guiding Principles of the Lay Apostolate, Six ans se sont, Oct. 5, 1957, https://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12LAYAP.htm). In a summary made by those attending this Congress of the Lay Apostolate, the following observations were made regarding what is needed to undertake such work:
- “Greater knowledge of the faith. In this respect, laymen are too often illiterate. There is danger of a lack of balance between a temporal culture which is ever more highly developed and a religious culture which would remain childish.
- “A knowledge of the world and of its needs. This means that we must have religious surveys, study centers and research institutes. Good will alone is not enough. It must be supported by real technical competence, professional, civic and social.
But already the pope had said earlier that year to the 14th Congress of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, in an address given the week before: “Personal initiative plays a great part in protecting the faith in Catholic life especially in countries where contacts with the hierarchy are difficult or practically impossible. In such circumstances the Christians upon whom this task falls MUST, with God’s grace, assume all their responsibilities. It is clear however that — even so — nothing can be undertaken against the explicit and implicit will of the Church or contrary in any way to the rules of faith or morals or to ecclesiastical discipline” (Sept. 29, 1957; both of these addresses to the laity were entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis.). We have quoted this many times, calling it our marching orders, our canonical mission. Now we will comment on the points made above by Pope Pius XII and how they apply to the present situation in which we find ourselves.
The dilemma facing lay Catholics today
What we have been tasked to determine today is whether or not those presenting themselves as hierarchy and the actual continuation of the Catholic Church are truly successors of the Apostles, duly sent by Our Lord through His Vicar. For if this is not the case, they have no right to teach and command us, being unable to issue legitimate prescriptions which can only be enforced by competent ecclesiastical authority. Such a determination must be made before any other activity can be commenced upon, for otherwise we cannot be certain that we are able to invoke the canonical mission granted to us by Pius XII, since this can be done only when there IS no hierarchy. Logic has an order, and this order must be observed.
Evidence to prove that Traditionalists, whether posing as clergy or officious laity, do not have the right to command our obedience and teach us must be presented if we are to be able to arrive at anything in way of certitude about the matter. We are ordered to remain within the limits of orthodoxy as Pope Pius XII recognized them in his time, so we can only use the teachings of the Church Herself and those of the pre-October 1958 approved theologians. Even then, given the already advanced infiltration in the Church, only those most loyal to the papacy and most conservative among these men should be consulted, if orthodoxy is to be maintained as the pope commands. The Church orders us to make such determinations using only the method of philosophy taught by St. Thomas Aquinas, Scholasticism. And Scholastic philosophy teaches that: “Every judgment must be based on proof. In doubt, facts cannot be presumed, but must be proved” (Bernard Wuellner, S.J., Summary of Scholastic Principles,1956).
Lay theologians can teach, but only under the direction of the hierarchy. However, moral theology teaches that when something becomes impossible to obtain or observe, the obligation to obey the law ceases. “No law can bind a subject to do the impossible or anything morally evil,” (Wuellner; also Revs. McHugh and Callan). “In a conflict of law, the higher law prevails” (Wuellner). Now the faithful are bound under pain of heresy to profess their faith “…whenever silence, subterfuge or manner of acting” could be interpreted as a denial of faith (Can. 1325). Not to defend the faith in these times when it is assailed on every side by the enemy would be an evil which no law can command us to commit. Defending the faith is the higher law, and fulfilling a canonical mission in the absence of the hierarchy, assigned to us by Christ’s Vicar, is a law one is bound to obey. The very survival of the Church Christ founded depends on it.
I have been accused by some of functioning in the exercise of my canonical mission without the necessary competence. Yet not only do I have a wealth of experience most of these critics lack, learning firsthand the evils of Traditionalism, I also have the benefit of receiving the last of what passed for a Catholic education in the late 1950s, early 1960s, something most of them, sadly, were unable to enjoy. Furthermore, I was baptized by a domestic prelate, Msgr. Daniel M. Reidy, and confirmed in 1961 by Bishop Leo C. Byrne, ordained a bishop in 1954 during the reign of Pope Pius XII. Was it valid? Since it happened before the false V2 council convened and not long after Pius XII’s death, it was valid if illicit, and within that timeframe it could have been licit; but only a true pope could determine this. Cardinal Gracias told the Lay Apostolate Congress: “The duty (of the Lay Apostolate) arises from the fact of Baptism and Confirmation, according to the inspiration of grace and state of life and exterior circumstances” (Catherine Buehler, delegate to the first Lay Apostolate Congress, 1954).
I have my own theological library sporting some 3,000 plus volumes, culled mainly from a seminary library, and have studied some of the best theological works available from it since 1981, often clocking in hours of study per day for decades. My friends and family can testify to this, and I don’t believe that is something most can claim to have done. This is not a boast; the fruits of study can only be judged by God. But I have done my best to “make the effortdemanded by serious training” as best I could, since there were no Catholic teachers. I also worked for 25 years as a community newspaper reporter for publications owned by (older) Novus Ordo “Catholics,” who thankfully gave me free rein to include religious articles and points of view as well as a fact-based, conservative presentation of the news. This could be easily confirmed by consulting the archived articles I have written or by speaking to my publishers. And as Pius XII says above, “The Catholic newspaperman who exercises his profession in a spirit of faith is quite naturally a lay apostle.” Of course reference to myself as competent will be interpreted as further proofs of “pride.” But as St. Teresa of Avila said, “Humility is truth.” I cannot very well lie about who I am. Readers have a right to know my credentials and critics are obligated to document and prove their assertions. Not to do so is a sin.
Those exiting the Novus Ordo and Traditionalist sects should spend at least three years doing penance and re-educating themselves in the truths of Faith before attempting to defend the faith publicly according to Canon Law. I did my “time” between 1985-1989. (I did write a few things for publication, though, since I wasn’t aware of this law until 1988-89). They then should proceed cautiously, which I failed to do; I have been catching up ever since. But as my own experience proves, not proceeding cautiously usually ends in disaster, since false zeal so easily misleads. As those attending the Congress noted above, a greater knowledge of the faith is required to undertake this mission and Catholics are too often illiterate in these matters.
Canonical mission explained
In his The Role of the Laity in the Church, (written in 1954 by the Chair of dogmatic theology at Louvain University), Msgr. Gerard Philips, S.T.D., et M., has this to say about such a mission. “The Code of Canon Law clearly admits a‘canonical mission’ for laymen in the field of religious instruction (Can. 1333). The concept is not therefore contrary to juridic principle… The bishops’ conference held at Paris in 1946 declared the mandate of Catholic Action” is conferred on the faithful by the virtue of their baptism. “The mandate itself is a designation for the apostolate, it is a very serious matter. It is not a privilege but a call to duty… Fr. Koester is of the opinion that a ‘mission’ can only be granted to laymen in necessity, when no one else is available” (pgs. 128-29). And Pope Pius XII has confirmed this, specifying how it must be carried out.
Msgr. Philips continues: “To a certain extent, …bishops can share their role as ‘witness’ and ‘one sent’ with those who have received only the initial consecration of Baptism and Confirmation… Laymen…can also receive a special mission, a canonical designation or mandate that is a type of official recognition for a more determined ecclesiastical task” (pg. 171). And this we have received not from just any bishop, but from the Roman Pontiff himself, head bishop and Christ’s Vicar on earth. But that is not good enough or sufficiently compelling for some people. Msgr. Philips emphasizes that: “Anyone who would have a vital and victorious faith must pay the required price of effort and study. No sincere intellectual will be content with a grammar school acquaintance of the vital questions nor will anyone expect encyclopedic knowledge from him. The intelligence of a truly adult Christian is all that is required. It is impossible for him to solve problems of the moral order without the dogmatic premises on which they depend. To suppose otherwise is blind pragmatism.” And pragmatism is an error condemned by the Church.
And in another work from 1957, A Call to the Laity, Abp. Richard Cushing writes: “The hour has come for us to cease to expect a child’s study of a child’s catechism to give adults an appreciation of an essentially intellectual religion. The effort to attain the intellectual vision, the clear thinking and the moral integrity for which the Holy Father calls can be based only on a systematic study by the laity of the principles of justice and charity as they apply to modern problems of life and thought “(pg. 28). In other words, you don’t take a knife to a gunfight, and this is a battle of major proportions, not High Noon.
There are good reasons why study of the faith should not be limited to the Kinkead Baltimore Catechism, generally preferred by Traditionalists. Written in the 1880s. this catechism cannot possibly cover the major doctrinal issues addressed by Pope Leo XIII and his successors. It especially omits the many addresses by the popes on the importance of the lay apostolate and how to deal with the modern-day heresies of our times, particularly Modernism and its various offshoots. This is true even of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which for all its importance is still incomplete. Those who believe the Church can be run by questionably valid bishops only might be fine with this, since these bishops despise the teachings of Pope Pius XII on the necessity of an office for valid jurisdiction and the decision that bishops do not receive their powers directly from Our Lord by Divine right. But those who accept and exercise their canonical mission from Pope Pius XII know how crucial to their understanding of the faith papal teaching in its entirety truly is.\
Authority and canonical mission
In the absence of the hierarchy, people have been confused about who they should obey and what is most authoritative. It is only common sense to rely on the documents and organs approved by the magisterium, and these include the lesser catechisms, to instruct ourselves. However, as noted above, the catechism simply will not suffice. Had Traditionalists opened catechetical centers and refrained from what they could not do, fulfilling the canonical mission already available to them, we would not be in this predicament. But pride, lust for power and greed entered in — how profitable could such centers, run with help from laity properly trained, have been? And how could they exercise any power by reducing themselves to the state of the laity? There would be no need to go to great lengths to present and defend the truth if they had simply done what God willed them to do. But no; they could not lower themselves to do that. And so those obligated to expose their errors had to go higher – to the Roman Pontiffs themselves, the General Councils, the Sacred Congregations, to warn others they were not authorized to do what they pretended to do.
These sources cannot be contradicted, which is exactly why they must be consulted; once a document of the Roman Pontiff is presented in ecclesiastical court by the faithful — who are allowed to object to Traditionalists’ claims under Canon Law — the judge must rule in favor of the one presenting the document. But these are laws Traditionalists curl their lips at and consistently ignore. Having been given a canonical mission by a true pope, NO ONE can prevent those receiving it from exercising such a mission. And that includes rank newbies on the scene who think they have all the answers, can’t be certain they were validly baptized and have never been validly confirmed. This is not to say that lack of Confirmation prevents anyone of good will from engaging in the apostolate, but first they must prove they are truly Catholic and serve their three years of probation. And too often that proof of Catholicity is woefully lacking.
The laity are encouraged to study the encyclicals
Some insist we cannot understand the encyclicals; only the bishops could understand them and explain them to us. We are not smart enough wah, wah, wah. So read up on them from the theologians and learn, okay? That was their job, as Msgr. Fenton tells us: to explain them, and he does. And the fact that they are written in Latin does not matter; if translations to English are somehow inaccurate, then I am sure that God will forgive us if we happen to err.
That is why we rely on trustworthy theologians. It is entirely untrue that the faithful were not expected to read and even study them; examine the picture on page one and the one below, taken from two different works, and you will see that they came with Discussion Club outlines. Notice that the page here on Mediator Dei gives printed instructions on exactly how to conduct such discussions, indicating that a priest was not required to lead them.
I have several encyclicals of every kind, all with these Discussion Club outlines provided for the laity. Fr. Charles Hugo Doyle, in his little work Let Us Know the Pope, mentions that: “Every effort on the part of the laity must be made to pass on to others, in the discussion clubs and in the home, the life and work of the Vicar of Christ on earth.” He concluded his pamphlet by pleading that “… a definite course of study on the life and work of the pope be systematically taught in our Catholic institutions of learning.” We have a job to do, and that job demands more of us than some are able to give. Let them be satisfied then with the catechism. But no one is free from sin who misrepresents the practice of the Church prior to Pope Pius XII’s death as a pretext to discredit others who desire to render a higher level of service. Truly their motives are suspect. And given the presence of a papal mission, it could even be styled as contradicting papal teaching.
Today is the feast of St. Peter in Chains. Tragically, he is still in chains in our century, imprisoned by men who have usurped his authority and banished him from the earth, and here I mean both the Novus Ordo usurpers and Traditionalist pseudo-bishops, who falsely claim to continue the true Church without him. Then there are others as well, who while professing to accept and follow him, reduce the magisterium to an unintelligible oracle of yesteryear, dictating to others that they are incapable of comprehending Christ’s very own voice on earth. To all of them I repeat the warning of Henry Cardinal Manning: “The faithful read in the ruin of all who lay hands on the Vicar of Christ the warning of the Psalmist, ‘Nolite tangere Christos meos ‘; and of our Lord Himself, ‘Whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder’ (Matt. 21:44).’” (The Vatican Council Decrees, 1887)
What in the world…
A word here about the growing number of nasty little traddie trolls. Whether they call themselves Traditionalists, sedevacantists or some other variation of “Catholic” — their names are legion — the Church instructs us that we are not allowed to wrangle with non-Catholics (Can. 1325). Once their real agenda becomes apparent, regardless of any self-righteous invective delivered under the guise of piety, we are to simply ignore them since they thrive on attention. What they are speaks so loudly we cannot hear what they are saying anyway. People who are truly Catholic will avoid them. It is a sad fact that today they seem to be multiplying and adding to the chaos and insanity spreading worldwide. We should neither be disturbed nor surprised. We must pray that God will somehow bring them to their knees, regardless of what that might cost them. And we must also pray that we ourselves do not fall into the pit but may persevere in the faith until the very end.
To read up on troll behavior, see hater trolls at https://crgsoft.com/trolls-on-the-internet-the-types-of-trolling-that-you-will-find-on-the-network/ We must remember that it was the very ones meant to be members of Christ’s kingdom on earth who hated the truth so much they nailed Him to the Cross. And then their precious Temple, emptied of the Holy Ghost, the Shekinah, was destroyed…
You never cease to amaze me. St. Joan of Arc was given the nickname, “The Brave” by her childhood friends, one of them being the Sieur Louis de Conte, page and secretary to Joan, with her from the beginning until the end. St. Joan never tired of her mission from God.
This article you wrote here took courage; you have always stood up against each assault thrown at you, no matter the cost. And I have on many occasions silently given you this same nickname.
The saddest thing to me is how anyone could “throw away” all the documentation, the hard work, the countless hours of study presented on your site. How absolutely foolish if one does not study it all before condemning it, as many Traditionalists have done in the past to quickly steer people back to their “chapels”. Their motto must be, “Don’t let the laity know. Keep telling them they are incapable of knowing.”
One man I recently met had bragged that his father had been a theologian and that he himself had read every papal writing. I asked him if he had read “Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio” by Pope Paul IV which is one of the most important documents for our time, along with VAS by Pope Pius XII. He had not read it, and I was not surprised. And also not surprised that he had absolutely no interest in it, as though already brainwashed against it.
We must beware of the hypocrites, the ones who blame and belittle readers for their honest beliefs and their searching for the truth, for their trusting totally in God’s true Vicars on earth, and trusting God will grant them the grace to understand if they only ask.
We’ve not only the right, but the duty to ask, and it shall be given us, seek and we shall find. Don’t let anyone discourage you from undertaking a serious study of your Faith.
I can positively claim as I have studied your site, Teresa, for 10 years now, that the most important work written during these latter days in my opinion are the writings on BetrayedCatholics.com. You are the only one I know who has carried out this mission. If there is another writer like you out there, let him or her come forward and join us. That would be remarkable!
Thank you Teresa: I found this article quire informative and comprehensive. I agree with all you mention. JMJ
Thank you, Teresa, for this article. If I understood correctly then according to the Pope encyclical section “Catholic Action Not a Monopoly of the Lay Apostolate” and “Consider Reform of Terminology and Organization” not always for Catholic Action was required mandate even in normal times . Because Pope Pius XII’s plan was that each bishop could decide for himself whether to reject such movements or not, as well as whether to grant them a mandate.
Yes, in normal times we had to have the approval of our bishops. Without the hierarchy, Pope Pius XII has given us permission to proceed cautiously on our own. Remember, it was the bishops who failed us and did not do what the pope instructed them to do, which is why we are here today.