+St. Lawrence of Brindisi+
I am not willing to devote any more time to these baseless allegations that are floating around about my last blog on immediate jurisdiction. Nor do I believe any of my readers are really interested in hearing more about them either, since several of them say they fully understand the point I was trying to make. However, there is an issue that does need to be addressed and it is no trifling matter. It is something very difficult to pin down but yet it is essential for all to understand it in order to protect themselves from its stealthy penetration into their thought processes. Because it is so subtle, it is an error many will deny they advance, and that is why it must be nipped in the bud if at all possible.
In the 19th century an error was condemned by Pope Pius IX in his Syllabus; its name was liberalism. It took many forms and wore various masks. One of these was the mask of the liberal Catholic, which in its extreme form manifested in the 20th century as the Novus Ordo church. In its most diluted variation, it presented as a seemingly attractive and Catholic attempt to practice charity, but the reality was far different. For this variety of Liberals excused the inexcusable, gave the benefit of the doubt where it was not due, tolerated the intolerable, questioned the unquestionable, and essentially made it possible to live comfortably and in peace with its very enemies. That this is something the Church not only condemned as a heresy but looked at in horror was explained by Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany, in a little book written in 1886, Liberalism is a Sin. This book was specifically approved and recommended by the Sacred Congregation of the Index. We will comment from this book at length and recommend that all purchase a copy.
The appearance of good can be deceiving
In his opening pages, Fr. Sarda explains how “…Appearances may be fair and the devil may present himself as an angel of light. The danger is the greater as the outward show is more seductive. Heresy has never been so insidious as under its present form of liberalism. Its most fatal shaft is its plea for liberality of mind. This in its own eyes is its cardinal virtue. Intellectual freedom from dogmatism is its boast, a boast in reality the mask of IGNORANCE AND PRIDE… Foes in the midst of battle cannot well be friends. Where the pressure of conflicting forces is most intense, there is little opportunity of reconciliation. Yet this absurdity and contradiction we find in the odious and repulsive attempt to unite liberalism with Catholicism.” And here attention must be paid especially to the word seductive. Because Liberalism can present itself as a tendency or a simple “difference of opinion” in matters where no such thing is allowed to the Catholic. And this is especially true when it comes to accepting the decrees of the Roman Pontiffs precisely for what they are.
Before continuing with Rev. Sarda’s comments, it needs to be pointed out that the entire purpose of praying at home is not to create yet another sect, but to honor the Sacraments by abstaining from them and diametrically oppose Traditionalism in all its many forms. We pray at home to escape the evil of mortal sin, the mortal sin committed by those daring to offer the Latin Mass and confer the Sacraments despite excommunications for schism, heresy, communicatio in sacris and infamy of law; excommunications that render Traditionalist pseudo-clergy the equivalent of vitandus. We are not simply “sheltering in place,” resigning ourselves to the Quietistic existence Traditionalists would love to assign us so they may continue their mission of deceiving souls — not saving them — undisturbed. No; we are not allowed to stand by idly and watch while those we love and who should be our brethren labor under such an intolerable deception. Nor are we allowed, in this day and age where such deception continues to present daily in new forms, to fail to condemn it every time it opens its mouth.
Some would have us believe that if there could just be a little bit of compromise and a little more respect for the enemy; a little less insistence on absolute obedience to papal decrees and a little more cooperation; also the abandonment of the idea that we need to study hard to know our faith which discourages so many, souls could be won over to the pray-at-home position. Well that is all fine and good, but this attitude was condemned by Pope Leo XIII in his dogmatic letter to Cardinal Gibbons and Americans in general, Testem Benevolentiae. There he wrote:
“On account of our apostolic office, having to guard the integrity of the faith and the security of the faithful, [We] are desirous of writing to you … [regarding the errors of Isaac Hecker]. The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them.
“It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. The Vatican Council says concerning this point: ‘For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother, the Church, has once declared, nor is that meaning ever to be departed from under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.’” (end of Pope Leo quote). This is clearly the condemnation of all the Novus Ordo ever was and is, so it is undeniably dogmatic. Msgr. J.C. Fenton notes that Pope Pius XII condemned it as doctrinal minimism in Humani Generis. But it doesn’t apply to us today? Listen to what Rev. Sarda has to tell us on this topic:
“The liberal subjects God’s authority to the scrutiny of his reason and not his reason to God’s authority. He accepts revelation not on account of the infallible revealer but because of the infallible receiver. With him the individual judgment is the rule of faith; he believes in the independence of reason. It is true he accepts the magisterium of the Church, but he does not accept it as the sole authorized expounder of divine truth. He reserves as a coefficient factor in the determination of that truth his own private judgment. The true sense of revealed doctrine is not always certain, he thinks, and human reason has something to say in the matter, as for instance the limits of the Church’s infallibility, which may be determined by human science. He is intellectually free to accept or reject, but he is intellectually bound to no one. Liberal Catholics are deluded into the notion that incredulity is a virtue rather than a vice. Any chastisement of errors shocks their tender susceptibilities, and they detest any Catholic legislation in the direction of what they are pleased to call intolerance. The Ultramontane interpretation is violent and extreme and does much more harm than good by driving back the well-disposed at such a show of ill-liberality. Thus they erect into a dogma what is called the principle of toleration.” So if these shoes fit on certain feet, then wear them.
All the above succinctly describes Traditionalists and all who sympathize with them. They may be considered ultra-conservatives politically, but they are Catholic liberals of the moderate and tainted variety, as Rev. Sarda describes them. An Ultramontane my entire life, a totally unabashed defender of the papacy, of course I can expect only attacks from such people. But try as they might, they cannot change the FACT that when Pope Pius XII defined as certain that bishops can only receive their jurisdiction through the pope, those dissenting from that decision discreetly began to organize. Following the false Vatican 2 council, these men established a series of groups called Traditionalists who claimed, through various subterfuges, that they received jurisdiction directly from Christ. So from the release of Mystici Corporis in 1943 to the first establishment of these groups, the only ones claiming and practicing immediate jurisdiction were the Protestants, an undeniable fact.
What is stated above is the conclusion Traditionalists wish no one to fully understand, and will go to any lengths to suppress. So much so that Anthony Cekada even misstated the wording of the Council of Trent to deny this was the case. I don’t think it is too outrageous to claim that they do not want anyone to connect the dots and especially want to keep any possible affiliations with Gallicanism under wraps. This at least until it is time for their “great king and holy pope” of prophecy fame to appear and “unite the clans.” But try as they might, they cannot hide the fact that what they are doing contradicts Church teaching on so many levels.
Employing a condemned error to condemn an “error”
The irony is that what these critics are peddling as erroneous involves an error itself. The real objection to the original statement made by this author, that immediate jurisdiction is a Protestant heresy, is that it could not be said to proceed as a logical conclusion from the other facts provided. Yet the only way this statement could be true is if it is somehow believed that Pope Pius XII’s decision was not binding, (and that observation was made by a reader, not me). Yet it certainly IS binding, since Mystici Corporis is entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis. Actually the implication that such a conclusion cannot be made is a philosophical error condemned by the Church. ‘Ah, but it is only an error, not a heresy, so that is OK; we still remain within the Church.’ And that is exactly what liberals, the anti-infallbilists and the Modernists who followed them were condemned for teaching.
The errors advanced by Nicholas d’Autrecourt regarding conclusions and evidence, condemned by Pope Clement VI, reads: “…From one matter another matter cannot be inferred or concluded; or from the non-existence of one, the non-existence of another” (DZ 554).; “That the certainty of evidence does not have degrees” (DZ 556); “That it cannot be shown clearly that in truth all things which are apparent are true” (DZ 567). These teachings were condemned as erroneous, false and presumptuous. Now the interesting part here is that if one looks up Nicholas of Autrecourt on the Internet, it refers you to a Catholic Encyclopedia article on Fideism, a topic we have touched on many times in various articles. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains under this head:
“It is not surprising, therefore, that the Church has condemned such doctrines. In 1348, the Holy See proscribed certain fideistic propositions of Nicholas d’Autrecourt (cf. Denzinger, Enchiridion, 10th ed., nn. 553-570). In his two Encyclicals, one of September, 1832, and the other of July, 1834, Gregory XVI condemned the political and philosophical ideas of Lamenais. On 8 September, 1840, Bautain was required to subscribe to several propositions directly opposed to Fideism, the first and the fifth of which read as follows: “Human reason is able to prove with certitude the existence of God; faith, a heavenly gift, is posterior to revelation, and therefore cannot be properly used against the atheist to prove the existence of God”; and “The use of reason precedes faith and, with the help of revelation and grace, leads to it.” The same proposition were subscribed to by Bonnetty on 11 June, 1855.”
Lammenais and de Bonald were the main propagators of Fideism’s sister system Traditionalism. Their errors were condemned by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 and 1834. This pope also condemned Bautain, who was made to correct one of his errors by stating: “We do not have the right to expect from an unbeliever that he admit the resurrection of our divine Savior before we shall have proposed definite proofs to him and these proofs are deduced by reason from the same tradition” (DZ 1623). So in other words, proofs from Revelation, also Christ’s vicars, must be presented before one can expect anyone to believe. (Lammenais is mentioned repeatedly by Rev. Sarda in his work on Liberalism.)
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Traditionalism as: “A philosophical system which makes TRADITION the supreme criterion and rule of certitude.” Fideism is a bit more complicated but is very similar in its tenets. “Fideism (Lat. fides, faith), [is] a philosophical term meaning a system of philosophy or an attitude of mind, which, denying the power of unaided human reason to reach certitude, affirms that the fundamental act of human knowledge consists in an act of faith, and the supreme criterion of certitude is authority.” And it is precisely erroneous thinking regarding the understanding of certitude that Traditionalists have spread all these years.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on certitude, “Many truths, indeed, have to be accepted on authority; but then it has to be made evident that SUCH AUTHORITY IS LEGITIMATE, is capable of knowing the truth, and is qualified to teach in the particular department in which it is accepted.” And surrounded on all sides as we are today, only the Roman Pontiffs and those approved pre-1959 theologians respectfully commenting on what they teach can be trusted. As Rev. A.C. Cotter S.J. teaches in his The ABC of Scholastic Philosophy, (p. 284): “Authority clothed with the necessary conditions is true authority. False authority makes the same claims although it lacks these conditions.” Cotter comments that those following self-styled teachers of any philosophic system have the “duty to investigate for themselves. Authority is not the last criterion of truth or motive of certitude.”
In other words, faith or intuition in itself is some kind of proof or evidence without any need for external evidence; it is in fact even superior to external evidence. It is no coincidence that these errors emphasize Tradition in a non-Catholic sense. And it is no coincidence, either, that what passes as the continuation of the Church following the death of Pope Pius XII calls itself Traditionalist. Material-formal alone teaches that arriving at formal certitude is an impossibility because human reason cannot fully know the truth; “Catholics are not to seek things above themselves,” and on whose all-knowing judgment is this statement made? But these are words we have heard for decades. They want us to believe evidence is useless in attempting to arrive at the true; truths cannot be deduced by resorting to the reasoning process but by obedience to “authority,” legitimate or not. Isn’t that what has kept Traditionalists in business all these years?
Rules of Engagement: Give the enemy no quarter
My mentor, teacher and father, God rest his soul, instilled in me the operating principle that you never insult your readers by talking down to them, or fail to challenge them with things they can test for themselves. I have always tried to follow his advice. While the Baltimore Catechism is a starting point intended for children and teens and should be studied by all of us for starters, Pope St. Pius X expected priests and bishops to instruct the faithful from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, a much more advanced work (see Acerbo Nimis). And Catholics today will find much in these lesser catechisms dedicated to Mass and Sacraments, taking up fully half of the 1943 Baltimore memorial edition of the Kinkead version I consulted. Baptism and Marriage, of course, should be studied, and one should have a general knowledge of the Mass and all the other Sacraments. But we are ADULTS here, at least I hope so, and capable of learning so much more. Consider what one author had to say about this:
“Good will is not held in a vacuum and ignorance is often culpably sinful. If all Catholics have a moral duty to understand their faith AT THEIR LEVEL OF SECULAR EDUCATION, few of us are going to be saved… Pope Pius XI said: ‘In our day and age, unenlightened heroism is not enough.’ How much longer are we Catholics going to pretend that if our hearts are in the right place, we can safely continue to live in an intellectual void?” Peter Michaels, This Perverse Generation, (Sheed and Ward, 1949).
And from Pope St. Pius X: “I admit and recognize the external arguments of revelation that is divine facts and especially miracles and prophecies as very certain signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that the same arguments have been especially accommodated to the intelligence of all ages and men, even of these times” (Oath Against Modernism, DZ 2145). This same pope also wrote: “A Christian… should humbly seek the reason, insofar as he can, of how [what the Church teaches] is so. If he can understand, let him give thanks to God; if he cannot, let him not push his horns to the struggle but submit in all veneration” (1 Mach. 7:4-6; DZ 2120). In other words, some must simply believe and obey whatever they cannot understand.
I have subtitled this section the rules of engagement because Rev. Sarda very pointedly lays out these rules. I have always cited them and adhered to them. First of all, this entire issue really arose when I denied the actual validity of Traditionalist orders; then the objections began. Secondly, it was insinuated that it would not be possible to prove such invalidity and until then Trads retain the title to it because no one can disprove they cannot use epikeia to claim it, but that is a falsehood. Thirdly, the infallibility of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis has been challenged on the basis that “null and void” in this constitution should not be taken literally. And on whose venerated authority is this advanced? We can believe only the pre-October 1958 Church, Her popes and councils and Her approved theologians. Rev. Sarda explains that:
“It is a rule of sound exegesis that any passage in Holy Scripture should always be interpreted according to the letter unless such meaning be in opposition to the context. We can only have recourse to a free or figurative interpretation when this opposition is obvious. This rule applies also to the interpretation of Pontifical documents.” Please demonstrate, then, why Pope Pius XII’s infallible document nullifying Traditionalist acts should not be taken literally. And do not speciously object that null and void does not mean invalid when Pope Leo XIII and Pope Clement VI both teach that these words mean just that. Every excuse is being made to regard these Traditionalist pseudo-clerics in a more sympathetic light and give them the benefit of the doubt. Rev. Sarda puts the kabosh to that.
“To treat as a liar the man who propagates false ideas, in the eyes of the [liberal theologian], is to sin against the Holy Ghost. To him the falsifier is simply misguided; it is not the poor fellow’s fault. He has, simple soul, been misled. We ought neither to resist nor combat him. We must strive, [instead], to attract him by soft words and pretty compliments. How the devil must chuckle over the mushy charity held out as bait to abet his own cause!” And there we have it all. I owe NOTHING to traditore Traditionalists; no use of “Fr.” before their name, no publicly expressed RIP when they pass (although we may pray for them privately); no “respect” for the garbage they spew out as theological discourse and weekly tales about their cats. And most emphatically, no lip service to their great work for the “salvation of souls” when such work can truly be termed only the damnation of souls. They are the sworn enemies of my Lord Jesus Christ, my Church and my beloved popes and here they will always be treated as such. “Give the enemy no quarter!” Rev. Sarda shouts, and this I have always practiced.
Traditionalist followers deceived by these men I leave for God to sort out, but many of them fall into the category of tainted Liberals as well, and that is heresy. I cannot fail to say what the Congregation of the Sacred Index has confirmed. I pray for them to see the truth and try to provide it for them, but only God can grant them the grace to accept it. God alone knows the consciences of men and tainted liberals may not realize that their approach is the administration of a deadly poison offensive to God. That unfortunately cannot be taken into consideration when the error is disseminated publicly, no matter what personal feelings may dictate.
I end with more of Fr. Sarda’s pithy statements, which I adopt for my own.
“By use of their reason the faithful are enabled to suspect and measure the orthodoxy of any new doctrine presented to them by comparing it with a doctrine already defined. If it be not in accord they can combat it as bad and justly stigmatize as bad the book or journal which sustains it. They cannot of course define it as ex cathedra but they can lawfully hold it as perverse and declare it such, warn others against it, raise the cry of alarm and strike the first blow against it. The faithful layman can do all this and has done it at all times with the applause of the Church; it behooves watch dogs to bark. Faith possesses a power of its own which it communicates to its friends and defenders. It is not they who give the truth power, but truth which charges them with its own vigor. This on the condition that they use that power in its defense…
“Instead of augmenting our forces, it would paralyze and nullify the vigor of those who would be able, if alone, to do something for the defense of the truth… The kind of soldiers we need go into the deadly breach and never flinch. No compromising, no minimizing with them. They plant their banner on the topmost height and form a solid, invincible phalanx around it that not all the legions of earth and hell combined can budge a single inch. They make no alliance, no compromise with a foe whose single aim, disguised or open, is the destruction of the truth. They know the enemy by nature is implacable, and his flag of truce but a cunning device of treachery… There is then no sin against charity in calling evil, EVIL, its authors, abettors and disciples, BAD; all its acts, words and writings INIQUITOUS, WICKED, MALICIOUS. In short, the wolf has always been called the wolf, and in so calling it no one ever believed that wrong was done to the flock and to the shepherd.”
“Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining many, desire as it were, to be in collusion with the Church’s enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith.” ~ St. Peter Canisius