+St. John of the Cross+
As the discussion of whether there are any true bishops left alive on earth continues, a reader has pointed out the following translation, found on one Traditionalist site, of the 1870 Vatican Council decree on the Church of Christ. It differs from the one found in Henry Denzinger’s Sources of Catholic Dogma, although it seems that Denzinger offers the more accurate translation. From the Traditionalist site:
“So then, just as He sent apostles, whom He chose out of the world , even as He had been sent by the Father , in like manner it was His will that in his church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time. In order, then, that the episcopal office should be one and undivided and that, by the union of the clergy, the whole multitude of believers should be held together in the unity of faith and communion, he set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and instituted in him the permanent principle of both unities and their visible foundation.”
This is a translation of the Latin as follows:
Constitutio I. de Ecclesia Christi
Pastor aeternus et episcopus animarum nostrarum, ut salutiferum redemptionis opus perenne redderet, sanctam aedi ficare Ecclesiam decrevit, in qua veluti in Domo Dei viventis fideles omnes unius fidei et charitatis vinculo continerentur. Quapropter, priusquam clarificaretur, rogavit Patrem non pro Apostolis tantum, sed et pro eis, qui credituri erant per verhum eorum in ipsum, ut omnes unum essent, sicut ipse Filius et Pater unum sunt. Quemadmodum igitur Apostolos, quos sibi de mundo elegerat, misit, sicut ipse missus erat a Patre: ita in Ecclesia sua Pastores et Doctores usque ad consummationen saeculi esse voluit. Ut vero episcopatus ipse anus et indivisus esset, et per cohaerentes sibi invicem sacerdotes credentium multitudo universa in fidei et communionis unitate conservaretur, beatum Petrum caeteris Apostolis praeponens in ipso instituit perpetuum utriusque uni tatis principium ac visibile fundamentum, super cajus fortitu dinem aeternum exstrueretur templum, et Ecclesiae coelo in ferenda sublimitas in hujus fidei firmitate consurgeret.
Denzinger’s translation reads: “Thus as He sent the apostles, whom He had selected from the world for Himself, as He Himself had been sent by the Father, (John 20: 21), so in His Church He wished the pastors and the doctors to be “even to the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28: 20). But that the episcopacy itself might be one and undivided, and that the entire multitude of the faithful through priests closely connected with one another might be preserved in the unity of faith and communion, placing the blessed Peter over the other apostles He established in him the perpetual principle and visible foundation of both unities, upon whose strength the eternal temple might be erected and the sublimity of the Church to be raised to heaven might rise in the firmness of this faith.”
Use of the word should in De Ecclesia Christi
The closest one can get to defining what might be meant in the Vatican Council document by the word should is by consulting legal definitions following the method advised by Rev. Matthew Ramstein, S.T. Mag, J.U.D, of the Friars of Minor Conventual. Ramstein wrote the following in 1947 regarding how one is to interpret passages of Canon Law. Because much of Canon Law is derived from papal law, it seems reasonable to assume that this same method can be used to determine the finer distinctions in the two translations of the Vatican Council teaching.
Normally the word “shall” (or must) indicates a compulsory requirement and “may” is used for one that is permissive. Because should is somewhat ambiguous, some believe it has no place in legal documents. The following is a sampling of majority opinions regarding the use of should in legal documents today.
Should means that a certain feature, component and/or action is desirable but not mandatory (majority opinion).
Should means the term used in the interpretation of a standard to reflect the commonly accepted method yet allowing for the use of effective alternatives.
Should means that the described action is necessary and expected with some flexibility allowed in the method of compliance,
Should means implementation of the policy is expected but its completion is not mandatory. The policy is directive with substantive meaning, although to a lesser degree than “shall” for two reasons. (1) “Should” policies recognize the policy might not be applicable or appropriate… due to special circumstances. The decision to not implement a “should” policy is appropriate only if implementation of the policy is either inappropriate or not feasible. (2) Some “should” policies are subjective; hence, it is not possible to demonstrate that a jurisdiction has implemented it.
Old English sceal, Northumbrian scule “I owe/he owes, will have to, ought to, must” (infinitive sculan, past tense sceolde), a common Germanic preterite-present verb (along with can, may, will), from Proto-Germanic *skal- (source also of Old Saxon sculan, Old Frisian skil, Old Norse and Swedish skola, Middle Dutch sullen, Old High German solan, German sollen, Gothic skulan “to owe, be under obligation;” related via past tense form to Old English scyld “guilt,” German Schuld “guilt, debt;” also Old Norse Skuld, name of one of the Norns), from PIE root *skel- (2) “to be under an obligation.” https://search.aol.com/aol/search;_ylt=A0geK.CpLrxfvqEAxEBpCWVH;_ylc=X1MDMTE5NzgwMzg4MQRfcgMyBGZyA2NvbXNlYXJjaARncHJpZAN4cFJudzFoVVNYLlJ6Qlk1RTBSTERBBG5fcnNsdAMwBG5fc3VnZwMyBG9yaWdpbgNzZWFyY2guYW9sLmNvbQRwb3MDMARwcXN0cgMEcHFzdHJsAzAEcXN0cmwDMjgEcXVlcnkDRX
Ground sense of the Germanic word probably is “I owe,” hence “I ought.” The sense shifted in Middle English from a notion of “obligation” to include “futurity.” Its past tense form has become should (q.v.). oportet, dehibeo (verb), conpos (adjective), debere, debet, ut mori (https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/the/latin-word-for-c6dc9bc9f77b486a13b3f63ffb2ffd1cb3fef4db.html). None of these Latin words are found in the Latin version of the council documents.
Use of the word wish in De Ecclesia Christi
The word wish does not appear to have any legal connotations, and like should seems to imply not that Christ guarantees pastors and doctors will indeed last until the consummation, but that it is His will or intention for the Church that they do so. This is quite different than guaranteeing that the Church can never be without pastors and doctors. Peter alone was guaranteed the privilege of never failing to teach the truth and given special protection in this regard. Christ could not guarantee that mere men without this protection, given that they have the use of free will which He cannot withdraw from them, would continue without Peter’s successor as their head to carry out His wishes and desires or honor His will for the Church.
voluit (Latin) Verb
Inflection of volō (third-person singular perfect active indicative)
- Cognate with Sanskrit वृणीते (“vṛṇīte”), Old English willan (“to will, wish, desire”).
- Under will, also listed as a reference, the following is found: (rare, intransitive) To wish or desire (that something happen); to intend (that). (9th-19th c.)”God willthat all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (Tim. 2:4). https://www.wordsense.eu/voluit/ ; https://www.wordsense.eu/will/ – English
While the word should might be an acceptable alternate translation, the actual Latin word voluit indicates the literal translation is wish. Some translations of this same section of the Vatican Council decree use the word will, and certain individuals take this as a concrete indication that whatever Christ wills must inevitably come to pass. But the above Scripture quote in (2) explains how the use of will does not mean an absolute guarantee; Christ willed that all men be saved and know the truth as well, but all men have not done so. He also taught that when He comes again He would scarcely find faith on earth.
What is the difference between wish and should? Should indicates an obligation exists to carry out the act. But shouldas defined above seems to indicate a flexibility in terms, meaning the fulfilment of any action is not mandatory. Certainly the hierarchy were bound to perpetuate the Church as Christ constituted it. They chose the path of Judas Iscariot instead, exercising their will and their idea of what the Church was meant to be, not Christ’s. So the Church has determined in its council language there was no guarantee on Christ’s part the condition will be inevitably fulfilled. Wish also translates to will and desire, and neither term gives any indication whatsoever that something is being promised in an unqualified manner.
We must remember that this section of the Vatican Council is the one session dealing with the Church specifically. The Council did not take up any definition of the Church Herself, only the papacy. And as Henry Cardinal Manning said in his The Vatican Council Decrees and their Bearing on Civil Allegiance, it is precisely the definition of the papacy that defines the Church. Without a true pope the Church cannot exist. The above should end the arguments of those who believe that the hierarchy sans the pope will exist unto the consummation, but it has not and most likely will not. For there are those who simply cannot imagine that a “faithful” bishop will not come to rescue them and provide them with what they wish to possess in way of Mass and Sacraments. They have found who they believe is such a bishop, as mentioned in a previous blog, although no certainty can be had regarding his valid ordination far less any supposed episcopal consecration!
Now they are preparing what they believe is a case for his existence by presenting the belief of some of the early Church Fathers that St. John never died and is still alive on this earth; that St. John will appear to rescue the episcopacy and restore the faith of doubting Catholics that it has ceased to exist. Well excuse me, but the episcopacy was never guaranteed to remain unto the consummation without its head bishop, nor was it ever granted the gift of infallibility without being united to the Supreme Pontiff. This is the teaching of the Vatican Council as seen above and has been reiterated by Henry Cardinal Manning in his works. The tell-tale red flag here is this seizing by the R&R crowd on the perpetuity of the episcopacy, not the PAPACY. It easily condemns them as the Gallicanists they truly are and exposes their agenda to re-establish the Church based on the Gallicanist idea of the pope as a ministerial head only. This has all been treated at length in articles on this site and recent blog posts where cogent arguments are provided to prove that the Gallicanist heresy is alive and well among Traditionalists.
That they would use St. John the Evangelist as a cover for these activities is not only an outrage, it is blasphemous. It sheds an abundance of light on the recent accusations made by a certain individual against this author, claiming that truths of faith have been denied, and among these truths that Christ constituted the Church, including the episcopacy, to last till the end of time. But as the Vatican Council explains, it was indeed His will that the episcopacy last until the very end, but since when have men today concerned themselves with learning and obeying God’s will, which is expressed in His laws and those of the Church?! Those who are promoting the sudden appearance of St. John the Evangelist indeed quote the early Fathers to prove he could still be alive, but these Fathers’ opinions on this topic are nowhere cited as unanimous. Therefore, we are not bound in any way to believe them, although of course we should respect their teachings on this matter.
After quoting the Fathers, they then descend into St. John’s presence in certain Marian apparitions, which have absolutely no claim whatsoever on us as far as belief is concerned. We may believe them with ecclesiastical faith if we choose; this is all. They also note that St. John’s symbol is the eagle, and this is indeed interesting but for reasons they fail to draw out. We know in these times that the woman clothed with the sun, described in St. John’s Apocalypse, is ever with us and indeed carries us “in the crossing of her arms,” as she told Juan Diego during her Guadalupe apparition to him. Who was it who stood beneath the Cross with Christ’s Mother?
The only Apostle who did not abandon Our Lord, St. John. We are experiencing the Passion of the Church, so will there be a St. John at our side? Yes, in every way, for it is St. John who gave us the Apocalypse, the wings of the great eagle, the very words of the Holy Ghost in Scripture, that carry the Church into the desert. There She is nourished by the prophecies of this last book of the Holy Bible, written by St. John who was inspired by the Holy Ghost.
We are living all he saw, all he wrote, all he experienced in just such a mystical manner. If we are lonely in this earthly exile, so was he in his exile on Patmos. If Our Lady is with us, and we know she is, so is he. Will he manifest himself to us in this cataclysmic time? With God all things are possible. But he would not come to supplant as a bishop the role given by Christ to St. Peter; he would have Peter’s successor at his side. And he certainly would never come in defiance of all existing laws of the Church established by his beloved Savior. “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” Jesus told us. St. John above all loved his Master so would never violate the very laws made by the Church on earth that Christ has bound in Heaven. The successors of Antichrist know their time is growing short; they will work every false miracle within their power to deceive the elect. And make no mistake — those parading as clergy are leading R&R Traditionalists by the nose right through the back door of the Novus Ordo church. Whoever has not loved the truth as taught by the Church shall be given the operation of error to believe lies. And when the blind lead the blind, all shall fall into the eternal pit.
Thanks, Teresa for clarifying this. We live in confusing times and it’s easy to be disturbed by false information.
I love St. John, and I like the thought that he stands by us in this last age just like he stood by Our Lord during His Passion and death.
This should end the debate on this issue. Discovering your website is the best thing that has happened to me in life after my withdrawal from the NO and wondering in the darkness of Traditional Catholicism for many years.
May God keep and preserve you as you labour tirelessly in the vineyard of the Lord.