(Text printed by Disandro’s St. Athanasius Institute, Argentina. 1985)

Seven years ago now, the Latin text of this paper was published in a basic, explanatory edition with a carefully considered Spanish translation. At the time, functioning as pope was Giovanni Montini, who by a strange coincidence figured in the series of popes by the name Paul: Paul VI was his hierarchical style in the secular history of the pontificate.

Both the Latin edition of the text and the Spanish translation appeared in Spanish America for the first time, and for the first time the teaching of a renaissance Pope shone brightly in the midst of a storm completely unknown by the Tridentine Church in that same part of the Americas. His admonitions resonated, which at the time, four centuries ago, seemed to be the result of ephemeral controversies of the same Roman Curia. And all the same, the inexorable course of a time, erosive for the Faith, brought the Bull of Paul IV in direct comparison with the acts and teachings of Paul VI, the pope of unrestricted semantic change in a revolutionary and subversive age, also characteristic of the Church.

The first edition made its way through Argentina and America and opened up, together with the Breve[1] of St. Pius V, which it completes, a deeper understanding of events, conceptions, and decisions (undoubtedly directed by the unfathomable mystery of Providence), so as to shake from within the Church of Rome the very make-up of tradition and the mystic edifice as an expression of the purity of the Trinitarian and theandric[2] faith. Within Roman Catholicism, a fissure like that of the Lutheran reform seemed to become apparent; the sense of the great ecumenical councils of the glorious past seemed to die out. At that time, there was no Cardinal Ratzinger to present to view the design of the enormous destruction that took place over 20 years and to discriminate between the untouchable and the disposable in five centuries of arrested development for Christian life.

The St. Athanasius Institute, a very modest group of people faithful to divine paradosis[3], a very modest center of learning for understanding the Sources in their purity of Abundant Life, agrees with many friends about the urgency of issuing a second edition, improved in every way possible for the ease of the reader and the student.

Americans now know this text; they transcribe it; they quote it, sadly often without giving credit, even in Argentina, to the source of their information, resorting to limited, critical, cautionary remarks that are not always perfectly clear. Nevertheless, in the face of the semantic revolution that other Roman pontiffs have described, what matters, of course, is to affirm the unity of the Trinitarian faith overlaying authoritarian contradictions all too evident in the Church of today.

The mission of the philologist is to suggest, on the fringe of the disputes that inevitably result, the integrity of the text and to summarize as far as possible its historico-systematic meaning. Each one will then make pertinent conclusions or will confront the line of reasoning of that text with a variable criterion for interpretation. However, what we cannot deny in any case is the existence of the document and it historic design, past or imminent. To do so would be foolish and contrary to the truth. [C.A.D. {= Carlos Alberto Disandro}] 1985.


The Church is the Mysterium Theandricum,[4] a phrase that expresses the comprehensive Mysterium Ecclesiae, or the Sacramentum Trinitatis.[5] The relation or nexus of this Mysterium or Sacramentum with the history of mankind, in its complete temporal manifestation, constitutes the true central point of world history, hidden for positivist reasons or owing to the revisionism with which research pretends to understand that history.

In turn, the history of the Roman Pontificate is a fundamental aspect of that nexus in its mystical order—a sacred power that we would say encapsulates the priesthood of Melchisedech and transcends the law and the prophets, or the cultural expressions that appear in different periods of time—and in its religious juridical authority, in its temporal or political implications, etc. Within the history of the pontificate, the “utterance” of the legitimate Pontiff always has the character of clarification, growth, consolidation, interpretation. It decides, repairs, revives, reorients, deepens, condemns, anathematizes in such a way that the passage of time proposes no mere substitution of stages of indifferent validity but a kind of organic expansion that unites in a living way the notions “inviolable principle” and more or less unforeseen or independent “succession of time or transitory change.” It is this that rejects and demolishes progressivism or dialectical modernism rooted in cycles of abolishment and reassumption. It is this that proved to be confused because of the semantic war concentrated within the Roman Church since the death of Pius XII. A revealing “new impulse” and a “new authority,” that is to say, the resetting of the “new good,” propose a complete change in the relation of “principle” and “succession of time.” One can summarize in this judgment the pastoral focus of Vatican II, the propheticism of Paul VI, the horizon of unfelt destructions characteristic of those 20 years of semantic warfare. All that is, all in all, an idea of the Mysterium Ecclesiae, an idea that we put down to a latent or explicit Docetism, in a monophysitism of human nature, in a neo-ebionism[6] that corrupts the life of the faith.

  1. – In this sense, we find illustrative the prudential documents of the papacy, the canonical and doctrinal cautions, the disciplinary measures, the resolutions or decrees or censures etc., to the extent that they warned of, illustrated, defined or settled complex situations in which they nevertheless anticipated assured outcomes later explicit in the fabric of events, disputes, teachings, important figures or successive conflicts. Many of those documents (which we listed in the theological category of pronouncements of the faith) lacked genuine efficacy, were unknown or disobeyed, were relegated without greater consequences to the formal archives, while the passage of time defined new instances and caused new contradictions to emerge. Nevertheless, such “utterances” do not lose their illuminative standing, especially if the times in which they were recorded are in some way the stimulus and origin of the present circumstance; and if those precautions of the past—obstructed and denied by the same authority they had a tendency to defend—seem fulfilled in the today’s Church, governed by a false pontiff raised up from those backgrounds combatted or retracted for centuries, coddled and acclaimed as “Holy Father” by the entire apostolic hierarchy, held as a Doctor of these ecumenical times, hailed by all worldly and social powers as the expert on humanity, on peace that is made in the midst of violence, on the truth that overtakes unfailing and heavenly Truth. These are the facts, the unquestionable realities that confront the Faith. And these are the overwhelming terms and limits: on one side, the Pontificate and all its apostolic bodies, with all the charisms, authority, jurisdiction, and power; on the other side, a simple member of the faithful who, illuminated by Faith and by the knowledge of languages, sources, texts, doctors of the Church, councils, imprescriptible and transparent, points out the apostasy of a semantic war that the Pontificate and apostolic bodies are conducting precisely against the Faith, against the Church, against the Mysterium Theandricum. The terms, I repeat, are overwhelming. But the light of faith also is overwhelming.

Two different considerations suggest these reflections: (1) In the theandric mystery that is the Church, How could the apostasy of Roman authority happen and consequently, in that null-and-void authority, continue the mission of abolishing the Church, that is to say, the life of Faith? (2) In the strictly historical scheme that pertains to the explicit and concrete course of canonical and jurisdictional authority and that extends, say, from Pius V (1566-1572) and Paul VI (1963-1978), How could they and how did they happen, namely, the precise modulations, the efficacious combinations, the abundant decisions crowned by what affirms our previous account: Rome under the power of a false pontiff, the bishops happily embarked on anti-Christian apostasy, the Faith trampled underfoot by the teachers of the Faith, the sacraments destroyed or denied by the ministers of the sacraments, without which some at least cannot exist? Doesn’t the comparison of these two limits seem contradictory and perverse, and wouldn’t it be better to be silent so that the infallible “authority,” as they affirm, may heal, liberate, guide.

The first question has a mystico-theological character and cannot be resolved except in the framework of a Theology of Faith, of a grand and definitive Ecclesiology that enlightens us about the nature of the Church, about her existence in the world, about her theandric dimension, subject nevertheless to detours and advances unintelligible by the historicist or positivist reassessment. The second question, on the other hand, alludes to concrete temporal matters, personages, acts, and decisions that gave birth to a scheme where the theandric mystery went into exile or became obscure in order to give way to the power of the world over the Church. One can perfectly reconstitute that scheme, one can follow step by step that obscurity like a rhythmic contraction of the heart of the Faith and her semantics, while the latter, the semantics of the Faith, is expressed in concrete, historical, irrevocable, and unmistakable conditions. The mysterious margin of union or separation between the two categories mentioned remains, of course: the theological category that involves a contemplation of the Mysterium Ecclesiae; the historical category that entails names, decisions, events, and conflicts, unequivocally different, but which appear aligned in one direction: the triumph of the Antichrist against the Unique Sacrality of the Church.

  1. – In these alternatives, both theological and historical, Pope Paul IV’s highly illustrative Bull of February 15, 1559, Cum ex apostolatus officio[7], comes into play, as well as its subsequent confirmation by the apostolic constitution of St. Pius V in the motu proprio[8] of December 1566. Both documents are offered here in their Latin text, that of Paul IV in its entirety and that of Pius V with the final paragraphs (of a formal, legal character) deleted, and are accompanied by a translation into Spanish, probably the first in the Spanish-speaking world. The Institute of St. Athanasius (in Córdoba, Argentina), proposes to offer material for study that may permit making painstaking inquiries into the critical juncture of the present; to summarize the conflicting moments of contradictory centuries; and to deduce, of course, the explanations capable of conceiving and affirming what I call “semantics of the Faith.”   Putting aside the theses that could be supported in the present circumstances and conditions of the Roman Church, nobody more or less informed about the dramatic tensions taking place and shaking the formerly solid edifice of the Church could discount the importance of this document, which exactly foresees the possibility of an apostasy like that adduced on the theological level, and the possibility of a series of historical events that extol heresy as the constitutive principle of religious life in the Church. What has happened, then, between Paul IV and Paul VI over the course of four dramatic centuries?

We are in the difficult and dense intervals of the Council of Trent. Convoked by Paul III in May 1542, the Council could only begin its sessions in December 1545. Interrupted between 1552 and 1562, the deaths of three pontiffs were recorded during that recess: Julius II (who had reopened it after Paul III), Marcellus II, and Paul IV. Succeeding the latter was Pius IV, who specially reopened the Council and brought it to an end (December 1563). In turn, St. Pius V (1566-1572) set about the great work of the purification and reform of the Church, as this expression is understood in the classic theological sense. For his part, Paul IV did not wish to, nor could he, resume the Council owing to the difficult political conditions in Christianity, because of the tensions and intrigues in papal government, or for other reasons that are unclear in the common interpretation of historians. As a matter of fact, he governed without the presence of the Council, and in such circumstances he promulgated the document upon which we are commenting. Naturally this chapter in the history of the Church, which covers the first half of the 16th century, represents the gravest crisis since the days of the Great Western Schism and the prolegomena of the Council of Constance.[9] Nevertheless at one or another juncture—that of Trent or that of Constance—neither the doctrine nor the Faith within the hierarchical levels of the Church was affected, as took place later after the death of Leo XIII and continues to take place following the death of Pius XII. The distinction between hierarchy and heresy was sharp and therefore illustrative of the doctrinal clarity in the Church, an indication, in turn, of the life of the Faith. Why, then, the Bull of Paul IV?

The document transcribed herein belongs to the fourth and last year of the reign of Paul IV, and undoubtedly was occasioned by the grave canonical, jurisdictional, and theological circumstances that these years of the Council’s recess reveal. One should consider that the Bull Cum ex apostolatus officio aimed at preventing, in some efficacious manner, heretical invasion in the hierarchical body of the Church, without excluding the possibility that a heretic pope might be elected by the conclave of cardinals. The dramatic events in Germany, England, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, etc. had shown in new times a new faith, and in the new faith a different conception of canonical authority, and in this a new historical establishment of open rejection of primordial Sacrality (without which the Church cannot exist as theandric mystery). What could happen, then, in the Roman Church, if a heretic occupied the seat of apostolic governance? Moreover, is this possible? The document of Paul IV inevitably involves, then, a teaching that both the “progressives” (for whom authority lacks sacred grounding) and the “traditionalists” (for whom the crises are explained only on the margin of authority) refuse to see. But Paul IV is unequivocal on this point, and because of this very reason, I believe, his pruritic text has been systematically concealed by both sides.

The motu proprio of St. Pius V betrays the same worries, now that the Council has been closed. Right in the middle of the task of ecclesiastical restructuring, the dangers of the corrupting infiltration of the Faith, of apostolic authority, and of apostolic Tradition do not appear to have lessened, insofar as this document practically reopens all the causes of heresy that could have been substantiated before competent tribunals. In view of the subsequent circumstances of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and in light of the appearance of indivisible solidity in the great pontificates until Pius XII, the subject of the Bull and the motu proprio could have seemed an excessive caution, a presumption born of the tension of unending conflicts, in short, a definite taste of authoritarian pontiffs for maximizing the canonical signification of the truth and, consequently, of the force of the heresiarchs, heretics, and heresies. And yet we are now witnesses to the recurrence described with cautious foresight by Paul IV and Pius V: heresies, whose causes the popes have not impeded, rise to the highest canonical dignities and are even directed to possessing the pontificate; conclaves that elect masons or crown notorious modernist popes—or supposed popes who in their exercise of authority do battle against the Faith— render tradition unimportant and destroy it, and obscure the spiritual horizon of the Church. Indeed, it would be sufficient to summarize the history of modernist heresy with popes Pius X and Pius XII in very recent times, or with the canonical labyrinths of the “nouvelle théologie,”[10] finally erected as a rule of faith and as a revolutionary statute of a supposed pontiff said to be invested with the full authority of Tradition, and this summary would then be sufficient to confer renewed interest in these documents of the Christian past. Without going into other explanations, let us agree that the texts herein printed have an indubitable prophetic tone, and their wariness, which exhibited at first glance a certain coarse realism [tremendismo] of the Faith, has developed in these contradictory times into unmistakable brilliance to confront the deception, to combat resolutely and courageously the semantic adulterations, and to maintain without betrayals the purity of the Trinitarian and theandric Faith.

  1. ­The document consists of an introduction and ten clauses or sections. Of these, numbers 8-10 are of a legal and formal character or correspond to the procedures of the Vatican chancery. But let us examine the substantial subjects of the Bull dedicated to preventing heresy from taking possession of the hierarchical bodies or even gaining the Apostolic See so as to destroy doctrine, discipline, jurisdiction, etc. The introduction, without mentioning it explicitly, defines the situation caused by the Protestant heresy that “rises up against the discipline of the true Faith in a genuinely perverse manner,” a phrase that we could apply to theological, liturgical, Biblical, and canonical modernism. In other words, the struggle of popes like Pius X and Pius XII against modernist teachings, or against the “nouvelle théologie,” confronted again a situation like that of the 16th century. Was, by chance, the Bull reissued for all to read in public places, or was the opinion of Paul IV brought to public notice as a perpetual vigilance of the Shepherd, just as the same text states? Did someone call to mind this severe canonical case-in-point that cut off at the root the advance of the anti-Christian powers within the apostolic hierarchy? Did someone put a stop to Montini or Daniélou[11] in accordance with these unequivocal norms? Did someone stand in the way of their path to the cardinalate or the papacy? Did someone call for their immediate removal from office just as Paul IV and Pius V commanded and still command? Be that as it may, Paul IV clarifies at once a fundamental theme in the post-medieval theological debates that we noticed in the semantic war, namely, “upending by ill-willed and totally inappropriate means the understanding of the Holy Scriptures.” Does Paul IV not point to the wicked work that we will see reaching its highest point within the hierarchy in cardinals Bea (The New Psalter) and Daniélou (The Theology of Jewish Christianity), to cite two well-known examples? And how could the Biblical modernism of Bea develop and establish itself after the warnings, rebukes, and condemnations of St. Pius X, infect the pontificates of Pius XI and Pius XII, and emerge triumphant with John XXIII? Is authority in the Church a living organ or a bureaucratic organ?

While the introduction advances two important doctrinal aspects, the first paragraph takes note of, we would say, other mystical aspects, without excluding a reference to the mysterium iniquitatis[12] that could operate in the context of the hierarchy and reach the long-desired goal: “that we see the abomination of desolation in the holy place,” foretold by the prophet Daniel. The reference alludes to Daniel 9:27: et in dimidio hebdomadis deficiet hostia et sacrificium; et erit in templo abominatio desolationis.[13] And then in 12:11: et a tempore cum ablatum fuerit iuge sacrificium et posita fuerit abominatio in desolationem, dies mille ducenti nonaginta.[14] The prophetic text is therefore interpreted from the life of the Church and the Antichrist: in the life of the Church, the cessation of the sacrifice (hostia et sacrificium[15], iuge sacrificium[16]), and the restoration of the Antichrist: abominatio in desolationem[17], the expression from chapter 12 that makes explicit the force of the genitive:[18] it happens that the abominatio installs itself in loco sancto[19], which is the furtherance of the desolation in the Church deprived of the Sacrifice. What is important are not those nuances that we can give to the text (commonly displayed in medieval prophecies), but the fact that with it Paul IV indicates in the Bull an ostensible interpretation: the apostasy of the hierarchical body of the Church, whose distinctions of rank, we would say, appear again and again with a certain insistence in the document so that nobody is confused. Well, then, do we not have the “new Mass” and the invalid authority of Montini owing to the work of an apostate hierarchy? Has not the prophetic warning of Paul IV come to pass? What is, according to the text of the Biblical prophet and according to the pope’s allusion, the abominatio?

Two images in the introduction complete the description: “hunting the foxes,” or rather the hierarchs who within the Church are destroying her; and “repelling the wolves” that prowl about, for which Paul IV uses the exact term, “bark,” that is to say, utter the truth. But what has, on the plane of historical occurrence, the slyness of the foxes and the boldness of the wolves been within the clerical bodies? History can be perfectly summed up if one remembers the pontificate of Pius X, which is precisely the answer that the Holiness of the Church gives in reply to the Masonic papal conclave of 1903. Foxes and wolves have destroyed the efforts of the great pope who opens the 20th century with a promise. Who were the drivers of Foxes and Wolves in a Church that seemed to recover her pristine liturgical and doctrinal glory?

The second paragraph of the Bull reaffirms all the condemnations against heretics and schismatics. And let us note that this recapitulation comprises not only the resolutions, judgments, and censures of all the preceding popes but the sentences that all the Councils imposed. And here Paul IV seems to prophetically warn anew against what will occur in respect to the Council of Ephesus – disavowed in the title Montini gave to the Most Blessed Virgin, namely, the title “mother of the Church”[20] – and in respect to the Council of Trent, disavowed in the supposed theology of the “new Mass.” This is part of the desolation; this is furtherance of the abomination, and therefore an unmistakable prelude to the Antichrist. Here also Paul IV, by including the series of ecclesiastical and temporal high offices in the frame of the aforementioned judgments and censures, indicates the probable direction of the apostasy.

The third paragraph attempts to fill out the canonical remedies that bar the way to heresy, and seems to represent the originating motive for this document: to strip the heretics on the rolls of the hierarchy of their titles, offices, and dignities, including the rank of cardinal, without the necessity of judicial procedure of law or of fact. Moreover, concerning the judgments, censures, and penalties anticipated in the remote or immediate past, Paul IV, in the beginning of paragraph 3, thoroughly explores and develops the doctrinal question and its canonical efficacy. As to the stripping of titles and offices, he insists on the impossibility of the guilty parties’ being restored or returned to their old dignities, by which the pope underscores the seriousness of the case and the sentence.

The fourth and fifth paragraphs emphasize other consequences and requirements with respect to the nomination of new officials for the vacant positions, or with respect to the canonical and procedural consequences for those who have welcomed, favored, or supported those charged as heretics and schismatics. Finally the sixth and seventh sections resolve the question about those who, having defected from the Faith, were promoted to any ecclesiastical dignity, without excluding the case of a papal election, in the sense that such an election or promotion is null, void, and without any effect. In order to remove any doubt in the case of a false pope, Paul IV underscores the fact that the assumption of papal jurisdiction does not acquire validity either by possession of the office, or by the enthronement and adoratio,[21] or by the obedience that has been accorded to him, or by the passage of time from the election in the conclave or from the enthronement.

  1. – Let us now summarize what I have called the doctrinal background of the Bull. The mystery of the apostasy in the Church can develop, and it develops in the hierarchical levels, without excluding the pontificate. And, on the horizon of the life of the Church, that mystery would entail the cessation of the Sacrifice and the abomination of desolation in the holy place. Accordingly, it is the most primary function of the Shepherd to be watchful so that this does not take place in the Church. But it could occur. Heresy and schism work by trying to gain access through the hierarchy and pontificate. This is possible. In order to prevent the spread and rise of heresy and schism, it is necessary to nip in the bud the relationship of ecclesiastical dignity and heresy or heretic. In this sense, Paul IV admits the certain possibility that a papal conclave may unanimously elect as pope a heretic. This election lacks validity with all the canonical consequences that derive from it. Therefore, according to Paul IV, it is not contrary to the Faith to affirm that there could occur the case of a heretic pope (a false pope, naturally) elected by he unanimous vote of the cardinals, an outcome that could suggest, in turn, the electors’ heretical unanimity. It is certainly not necessary, but it is possible. This would be, I believe, the abominatio in desolationem: the Church without a pope and without legitimate electors, they being automatically dispossessed of their dignities. Nevertheless, these—a false pope and deposed cardinals—would have been able to bring about, according to the convergence of events of the mysterium iniquitatis, the abolishment of the Sacrifice of the Altar, that of which the prophet Daniel explicitly speaks: deficiet hostia et sacrificium; et erit in templo abominatio desolationis.[22]

 Paul IV adds that no one stripped of his canonical dignity in such conditions and proceedings can be rehabilitated, restored, or put back in his former office. And this certainly involves an extreme sentence or censure in keeping with the extreme gravity of the canonical procedure, since in reality all those officials so interrogated, investigated, or judged would be implicitly accused of wishing to destroy the Church. For that reason, St. Pius V widens, in a certain sense, the judiciary margin of the Bull by decreeing the reopening of all the canonical procedures without excluding those that might have already been resolved according to the authority of the recently ended Council of Trent. And for that reason, the motu proprio of 1566, upon declaring and establishing that decreta in reorum favorem numquam fecisse nec in futurum posse facere transitum in rem iudicatam (last part of paragraph 1),[23] attempts, without being unjust with respect to persons, to maintain vigilance with respect to the realities, and for that very reason to give formal notice of and to proclaim the all-embracing legal capacity of the inquisitors to summon, investigate, conduct preliminary hearings, and exonerate, including those declared innocent.

Finally, according to this doctrinal line, we would now demote the hierarchical body of bishops that could also in totum[24] sustain, favor, and share heretical and schismatic authority, and consequently would lack jurisdiction. And this assuredly dark horizon would complete the abominatio in desolationem[25], or, as the text of the Bull says, abominationem desolationis in loco sancto videre,[26] since every cathedral (seat of wisdom and the Faith) would be occupied by heretics or miniature heresiarchs who would bring about what the canonical providence of our text tries to impede: Catholicae Ecclesiae unitatem et inconsutilem Domini tunicam scindere.[27]

One point remains in the penumbra or in the background of the text, one question alone that it is necessary in any case to formulate, to wit: according to that teaching of Paul IV, Can a legitimately elected pope, unaffected either in the instant of the election or in the following process until his enthronement, fall into heresy and could then that canonical pope (with all the force of that expression) consequently incur the automatic dispossession that the Bull definitely establishes and specifies? In other words, could this Roman text be considered an explicit antecedent for the teaching summarized in the maxim: Papa haereticus est despoitus?[28]

In explicit terms, the document does not list or include this case. It is worth bringing it forward. Implicitly I believe it is so, and that the supposition is probable that the minute and extended deliberation shared by Paul IV with his theologians, advisors, or more intelligent cardinals, may have brought this issue to a solution rather more suggested than formulated, on account of the special circumstances of the Church, inasmuch as the Council was unfinished. In other words, it is difficult to think that the question of a heretic pope would escape the analysis of the problem. Of the three levels that the problem involves, namely, episcopal or cardinalitial hierearchy, a pope elected in a null manner, and a canonical pope who brought heresy upon himself, the first two predominated because of the experience that faced the Pontificate on the vast confines of its once undisputed prerogative. The third inevitably came to light in the theological comparative scrutiny such as, I believe, results from a more strict analysis of the Latin text.

In effect, it is true that Paul IV recalls in passing the adage Pontifex Romanus omnes iudicat, a nemine in hoc saeculo iudicandus,[29] which would seem to contradict all the particulars of the Bull that pertain to the definite case of a pope in his duties of office. But it is not so. The maxim is understood of the pope who preserves legitimacy in re,[30] otherwise paragraphs 6 and 7 would be contradictory. For this reason, the continuation of this adage adds that Romanus Pontifex, si deprehendatur a fide devius, possit redargui,[31] using a verb (deprehendi[32]) and a phrase (a fide devius[33]) having a strong reference to the subject that the context always understands as a serious situation or a set of circumstances contrary to the faith. That awakens the remembrance of Daniel’s prophecy and for that very reason the direct responsibility of the pontiff. Thus we ought to note that both the phrase (already emphasized) and the mention of the prophecy do not pertain to inconvenient expedients, straying or heretic cardinals or bishops (since that begins to be detailed in paragraph 2), but to the pontiff’s strict duty (of which the introduction and paragraph 1 speak) in the care of the faith.

Supposing that the context should be understood in that way, in other words a canonically elected pope a fide devius possit redargui,[34] a state of affairs that prepares, for that reason, the abomination in the holy place, how would we understand, in the framework of the Bull, the persistence or cessation of his investiture? Does a pope a fide devius continue being pope? The content of the subject is mentioned as a certain possibility, [and] the extreme consequence is also envisioned in the prophecy; in the midst of these two instances, what are we to say about that pontiff? By analogy, the conclusion arising from the whole conceptual orientation of the document would seem to impose itself, namely, that he has lost his legitimacy.

In the second place, we deduce the same conclusion at the beginning of paragraph 5, which deals with those who have favored, protected, or promoted heresy. In the Bull, those individuals incur the same sanctions. Now then, if in that case bishops, cardinals, etc. are considered to be deposed of their dignities, offices, and benefices, what would be the motive for excluding someone who has the greater responsibility for stopping the fulfillment of the aforesaid prophecy? By analogy, it is evident that a canonically elected pope who would promote, protect or encourage heresy or heretics would lose the titles of canonical legitimacy and would cease being pope. That conclusion would coincide with a passage in paragraph 2, where the enumeration of official duties and dignities with jurisdiction says: of whatever rank, condition and preeminence, including bishops and archbishops, etc., or of any other whatsoever ecclesiastical dignity. What could be that “other dignity” in the Church, if the next paragraph mentions cardinals, legates, etc.? Does it not unmistakably suggest the jurisdictional dignity of the Roman pontiff? I believe so.

In the teaching of Paul IV, we would thus have the following chain–like progression of arguments [gradación[35]]: Any ecclesiastical dignity whatsoever, any rank or condition whatsoever, can incur heresy and in that case we must consider the person who holds that dignity to be ipso facto[36] deposed. In the case of the pope, the incomparable gravity of the effect of heresy (leaving the Roman See vacant) is not an obstacle to the realization of the principle. In any event, we would have three different possibilities in the case of the “heretic pope”: a) “heretic” before his elevation, b) “heretic” owing to deviation from the faith (a fide devius), c) “heretic” owing to promotion of the heresy of others. In the three cases, the Bull would establish the voidance of the legitimate office. The heretic pope would find himself deposed.

We arrive thus at the final point of our commentary. The text of Paul IV, viewed in the complex circumstances of the 16th century, represents inherently an anticipation of the advances of an apostasy that could affect, in the strict sense, the jurisdictional primacy from the apostolic and cardinalitial levels. In turn, the motu proprio of Pius V, upon confirming the Bull once the Council of Trent had been concluded, foresees, in continual vigilance of all the causes of heresy, a time of exceptional perversity in promoting heresy, and consequently a time that heralds the cessation of the Sacrifice and the abomination in the holy place. Could we not infer that Montini and his counselors, theologians, and cardinals fundamentally satisfy the explicit and implicit conditions described in these texts, and that from any perspective whatsoever—canonical, mystical, or historical—we find ourselves precisely in those times of the abominatio in desolationem? In this case, the cessation of the Sacrifice and the vacancy in Rome inevitably foretell other mystical, canonical, and historical lapses. We could call the new times —which demand a new St. Athanasius — “Athanasian.” Does this man perhaps now exist in the mystical backgrounds of the desolate Church? (End of Disandro’s Introduction)

[1] Translator’s Note: “Brief” or papal letter.

[2] Translator’s Note: “god-man”

[3] Translator’s Note: “tradition”

[4] Translator’s Note: “god-man mystery”

[5] Translator’s Note: “mystery of the Church” and “hidden truth [or mystery] of the Trinity”

[6] Translator’s Note: Docetism : “[t]he assertion that Jesus Christ was not a man but only seemed to have a human body and lead a human life”; monophysitism: “[t]he heresy that there is only one nature in Jesus Christ, his humanity being entirely absorbed in his divinity, and his body not of one substance with ours”; ebionism “denied the divinity and virgin birth of our Lord; observed the Jewish Law…and used only one Gospel, attributed to St. Matthew” (from Atwater’s A Catholic Dictionary).

[7] Translator’s Note: lit. “Since on account of the office of apostleship.”

[8] Translator’s Note: “of his own accord.”

[9] Translator’s Note: The sixteenth ecumenical council (1414- 1418), which ended the Schism of the West.

[10] Translator’s Note: “new theology,” a French anti-scholastic, theological movement in the 1940s, which Pius XII attempted to end in his encyclical Humani Generis. It served as the basic preparation for Vatican II.

[11] Translator’s Note: French Jesuit bishop and cardinal (1905-1974) who was an influential figure in the “New Theology” movement. He was a peritus at Vatican II.

[12] Translator’s Note: “mystery of wickedness”

[13] Translator’s Note: “and in the half of the week, the victim and the sacrifice will fail; and there will be in the temple the abomination of desolation.”

[14] Translator’s Note: “and from the time when the perpetual sacrifice will be taken away, and the abomination unto desolation will be established, [there will be] 1,290 days.”

[15] Translator’s Note: “the victim and the sacrifice”

[16] Translator’s Note: “perpetual sacrifice”

[17] Translator’s Note: “abomination unto desolation”

[18] Translator’s Note: referring to the genitive case of the word desolationis, “of desolation,” in Dan. 9:27.

[19] Translator’s Note: “in the holy place”

[20] Translator’s Note: the Council of Ephesus (431) declared Mary the Mother of God (in Greek, Theotokos).

[21] Translator’s Note: The homage rendered to a newly elected pope, viz. the kissing of the foot and hand and reception of the kiss of peace.

[22] Translator’s Note: “the victim and the sacrifice will fail; and there will be in the temple the abomination of desolation.”

[23] Translator’s Note: “The decrees incurred in favor of the guilty parties… have never been applicable nor in the future can be applicable to a decided case.” N.B. The Latin is not an exact quotation from the original.

[24] Translator’s Note: “wholly, altogether, entirely”

[25] Translator’s Note: “abomination unto desolation”

[26] Translator’s Note: “seeing the abomination of desolation in the holy place.”

[27] Translator’s Note: “rending the unity of the Catholic Church and the seamless coat of the Lord.”

[28] Translator’s Note: “A heretical pope is deposed.”

[29] Translator’s Note: “The Roman Pontiff judges all men, in this world [he is] to be judged by no man,” (DZ 330)

[30] Translator’s Note: “in reality”

[31] Translator’s Note: “ A Roman pontiff would be able to be convicted of falsehood, if he should be detected to be deviant from the faith.”

[32] Translator’s Note: “to be discovered, detected”

[33] Translator’s Note: “turning aside, wandering, deviant from the faith.”

[34] Translator’s Note: “turning away from the faith would be able to be convicted of falsehood.”

[35] Translator’s note: The Spanish word gradación is a term of art referring to the technical rhetorical device variously called in the English-speaking world gradatio, climax (‘ladder”), ascendus [“ascent”] or “marching figure,” where words or sentences mount by degrees of increasing importance.

[36] Translator’s note: “by that very fact.”






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