The curse of Sts. Peter and Paul
© Copyright 2009, T. Stanfill Benns (None of what appears below — in whole or in part — may be used without the express and written permission of the author.)
Some of the most significant papal documents quoted for so many years by Traditionalists fighting the Novus Ordo and other errors all have something in common, and this is no accident. The last sentences of each of these documents state that anyone who would be so bold as to attack or infringe these papal documents incurs the indignation of almighty God and the wrath of Sts. Peter and Paul. Pope Paul IV’s “Cum ex Apostolatus Officio,’ (Cum ex…), stating that a man who commits heresy while holding the papal office was a heretic pre-election, so never became pope; Pope Pius II’s “Execrabilis,” forbidding the appeal of a Roman Pontiff’s decrees to a future council; Pope St. Pius V’s “Quo Primum;” Pope St. Pius X’s papal election law “Vacante Sede Apostolica;” Pope Benedict XV’s “Providentissima Mater Ecclesia,” promulgating the Code of Canon Law and Pope Pius XII’s “Vacantis Apostolica Sedis,” which forbids anyone to change the laws or teachings of the Church in any way during an interregnum — all can be counted among those documents which the Church teaches can neither be questioned nor violated.
In fact all the papal pronouncements containing such an oath are protected from any sort of abrogation according to Rev. Nicholas J. Neuberger, (“Canon 6: The Relation of the Codex Juris Canonici to Preceding Legislation,” Catholic University of America, 1927.) Rev. Neuberger, commenting on the phrase “hac immutabili et in perpetuum valitura constitutione” states that while such a phrase does not curtail the power nor invalidate future acts of a (legitimate) successor of the Roman Pontiff, nevertheless “the legislator attaches an especial juridical sanction to laws which have such a clause appended. Pihring advances the theory that the laws of general councils are not abolished unless a derogatory clause is annexed next to the posterior enactment…If a prior law is bound up with an oath which reads into it immunity from abrogation, the law is not countermanded unless express mention is made to that effect. The reasons for this assertion are that the legislator is mindful of a law which has an oath attached and hence abrogation would be invalid.”
There is no record, anywhere, of any abrogation of “Cum ex …” or “Quo Primum;” they have never been abrogated and in fact cannot be abrogated. Nor has “Execrabilis,” now enshrined in the Code of Canon Law; Pope Benedict XV’s law or Pius XII’s election law ever been abrogated. And when Pope Pius XII updated Pope St. Pius X’s election law, he was careful to change very little in it out of respect for his predecessor. Even John 23 did not dare abrogate Pius XII’s election law; he only “added” certain items to it. Only a future legitimate successor of Pope Pius XII, canonically elected, could validly abrogate or modify the present election law, or any of these other papal documents, in any way.
There are doubtless other laws that contain this curse, and in every case the same reason can be adduced for its use: the legislator wished it to be a seal of sorts guaranteeing the inviolability of the law, unless indicated otherwise. It is interesting though that so many related laws with this same curse come together for application in the present crisis the Church has endured over the past 50 years. First we have the law of Pope Paul IV. This is specific to the papacy and heresy, apostasy and schism in general. It should have resolved any questions concerning the validity of the Roman usurpers from John 23 to the present, but neither clear evidence of the solution to the questions of papal validity nor the existence of the curse itself ended the controversy of whether an actual pope could become a heretic or necessarily became a heretic pre-election, only to be discovered in heresy while apparently, but not actually pope. An occult heretic can be elected pope, but the minute his pre-election heresy becomes manifest, he is known to have been (actually) incapable of election according to Pope Paul IV.
As Rev. A. C. Cotter, S. J. explains, manifest means two things: “a) A certain quality of the object, which we may compare to the illumination which makes a material thing visible to the eye; b) The act of the mind seeing or understanding the object (together with the consciousness of this act and its infallibility); c) ‘To the mind’ is added in the definition in order to exclude the senses. Strictly speaking, only the mind judges and the words ‘objective evidence’ refer primarily to judgments.” He defines the object as “anything which the human intellect, without God’s special assistance, may know…For ‘object’ we may also substitute ‘truth,’ ontological truth, ontological meaning conformability to the mind; intelligibility vs. nonsense. In other words, a manifest heresy would be something which would stand out as not in conformity with Catholic truth. In order to understand this, objective evidence, the “ultimate and universal motive of certitude,” often needs to be examined and properly understood. Scholastics teach, against fideism (that man cannot be sure of anything unless it is proven by God infallibly) that evidence is immediate, when something becomes manifest without the need of demonstration. It is mediate when it becomes manifest only after demonstration. Evidence can be intrinsic or internal, such as when one understands internally from merely considering the weight of facts themselves or it can be extrinsic, when one examines the evidence presented by others. The strength of evidence from others relies on the authority and credibility of the witnesses. And yet many do not believe that they have infallible evidence of heresy, schism or error even when they have the infallible testimony from witnesses of the most authoritative grade — the Popes and the Councils.
In evaluating manifest heresy in light of “Cum ex…,” Catholics were told they could have no certainty of their own because the heresies of the V2 popes were not sufficiently manifest, when this is the error of fideism. In the case of “Quo Primum,” the Tridentine was said to never be able to be abrogated, although it was so abrogated despite all objections to the contrary. Actions and practice speak louder than words. This argument devolved to the major difference existing between the Tridentine Mass and the NOM: the point of “for many” vs. “for all.” This point was unnecessarily obscured by those insisting that many and all held basically the same meaning. But the form of the consecration is irrefutably established as “for many,” both in DZ 698 and DZ 715; and this can be nothing less than the Church speaking infallibly. Furthermore the Council of Trent later explains the distinction between the two terms in the sixth Session Ch. 3, ‘Who are justified for Christ’: “But, though He died for all, yet all do not receive the benefit of His death, but those only unto whom the merit of His passion is communicated. For as in truth men…if they were not born again in Christ, they would never be justified, that in the new birth, there is bestowed upon them, through the merit of His passion, the grace whereby they are made just.” Again, this is a truth which is not to be questioned but merely accepted.
Likewise Pius II’s “Execrabilis,” which forbids, “An execrable, and in former ages unheard-of abuse, [which] has sprung up in our time; namely, that some people, imbued with the spirit of rebellion, presume to appeal to a future council from the Roman Pontiff…” This is essentially what happened at the false V2 Council, since neither John 23 or Paul 6 had the authority to call it, and called it precisely to “escape the consequences of their sins…Consequently, we enjoin that nobody dares under whatever pretext to make such an appeal from any of our ordinances, sentences or commands and from those of our successors, or to adhere to such appeals, made by others, or to use them in any manner.” Yet how many insisted on separating out the “good” V2 decrees from the heretical or erroneous, when all were condemned outright?
There was a similar problem with Pope Benedict’s “Providentissima Mater Ecclesia.” In his bull promulgating Canon Law, Pope Benedict XV explained how the Church spent 13 years purging laws from her books which had been abrogated over the centuries by other papal laws, were no longer able to be applied for various reasons, adjusting and reconciling laws that were too strict or too lax and laws that no longer served the common good. This was done “for the restoration and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline.” To accomplish this, Pope St. Pius X began by codifying all papal election law and issuing his Constitution on papal elections, “Vacante Sede Apostolica.” He then consulted all the bishops, appointed a commission of Cardinals, then called together only Canon Law experts to do the actual work on the rest of the Code. These were succeeded, as they died, by yet other experts appointed by Benedict XV, until the work was completed. Pope Pius XII himself was one of those who assisted these men in their labors. In the process, a commission for the authentic interpretation of the Code was established to resolve questions as they arose. These decisions are reflected in the revised editions of the Code issued in the 1950s. So in consulting these works, we can be relatively certain that the authors have reconciled their comments with the decisions of the Roman Pontiffs and the decisions of the Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code. These decisions, Can. 17 states can be made only “by the lawmaker and his successor and by those to whom the lawmaker has committed the power to interpret the laws. The authoritative interpretation of the law has the same force as the law itself.”
In promulgating the Code, Pope Benedict XV wrote: “Therefore, having invoked the aid of Divine grace, and relying upon the authority of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, of Our own accord and with certain knowledge, and in the fullness of Apostolic power with which we are invested, by this Our constitution, which we wish to be valid for all time, We promulgate, decree, and order that the present Code, just as it is compiled, shall have from this time forth the power of law for the Universal Church, and we confide it to your custody and vigilance.” There is no doubt that this decree is infallible for it contains in this sentence all the necessary marks required for infallibility. But who has kept the law and followed it “just as it is compiled,” even as set forth by commentators in the 1950s? Again, Catholics should have the highest degree of certitude possible concerning these laws. Having already been fairly recently adjusted for their applicability and relevancy, there should be little question that very few indeed would not still apply to us today, in all their aspects. Instead laymen and mere priests, (never well instructed in Canon Law themselves, from all accounts), instead of enforcing these laws with the due vigilance counseled by Pope Benedict XV, have instead consistently acted contrary to the law, dispensed from these laws, or have changed these laws to “suit the times.” These are acts allowed only to the lawgiver, his successors or the Commission for the law’s interpretation established by the Code. Is Canon Law itself infallible? Indirectly at least, according to the constant teaching of the Church on this matter, which tells us She could legislate nothing that would act against the best interests of the faithful.
The Vatican Council provides the most recent testimony to this teaching: “This power of jurisdiction on the part of the Roman Pontiff, is truly episcopal and immediate; and with respect to this the pastors and the faithful of whatever rite and dignity, both as separate individuals and all together, are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church…” (DZ 1827; emph. mine). Needless to say, this is an infallible pronouncement which must be obeyed.
The Vatican Council also condemned the following: “For the doctrine of the faith has not been handed down as a philosophical invention to the human mind to be perfected, but has been entrusted as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence also that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding…” (DZ 1800). This teaching reflects the later issuance of Pope Pius XII’s papal election law.
Pope Pius IX also taught, in his encyclical Qui Pluribus: “How many, how wonderful, how splendid are the proofs at hand by which human reason ought to be entirely and most clearly convinced that the religion of Christ is divine, and that ‘every principle of our dogmas has received its root from above, from the Lord of the heavens,’” (St. John Chrysostom, emph. mine; DZ 1638).
Pope St. Pius X made this statement in his Oath Against Modernism: “I accept sincerely the doctrine of faith transmitted from the Apostles through the orthodox fathers, always in the same sense and interpretation, even to us,” (DZ 2145). Pope St. Pius X also taught that “Hence the triple authority in the Catholic Church [is] disciplinary, dogmatic and liturgical…” (DZ 2091).
And when the Faith is cast aside, unreality is all that is left. What is reality? Rev. Michael
Mahony S. J. defines reality as: “Scholasticism [based on logic]…which accounts for these laws of thought…Because we discover through experience that reality which, independent of the mind, is constituted according to those laws…antecedent of our knowing them…Scholasticism admits these laws are in the mind but not of the mind.
They are engendered in the mind by objective reality [and] put us therefore in touch with reality,” (“Formal Logic,” 1918). Speaking of the scholastic system and its connection to reality, Pope Pius XII’s infallible encyclical “Humani Generis” states: “This philosophy acknowledged and accepted by the Church, safeguards the genuine validity of human knowledge…the mind’s ability to attain certain and unchangeable truth…Whatever new truth the human mind is able to find cannot be opposed to truth already acquired, since God, the Highest Truth, has created and guides the human intellect, not that it may daily oppose new truths to rightly established ones, but rather that, having eliminated errors which may have crept in, it may build truth upon truth in the same order and structure that exist in reality, the source of truth.”
Rev. A. D. Sertillanges, O.P., has this to say about knowledge and reality: “In the last analysis, God is our only Master, He who speaks within us, and from Him along with us all instruction comes to us; strictly speaking, thought is incommunicable from man to man…The source of knowledge is not in books, it is in reality, and in our thought. Books are signposts; the road is older and no one can make the journey to truth for us. It is not what a writer says that is of importance to us; the important thing is what it is. Our mind has the task not of repeating but of comprehending, — that is we must “take with us,” cum+prehendere; we must vitally assimilate what we read, and we must finally think for ourselves…We must recreate for our own use the sum total of knowledge,” (The Intellectual Life). So basically God speaks to us through our conscience, when rightly formed, and uses human reason to assimilate and apply these truths of Faith. Conscience is inviolate, for as Holy Scripture teaches: “All that is not from conscience is sin,” (Rom. 14:23). Rev. Peter C. Yorke writes: “God gave to us our reason to tell us, to interpret to us His divine laws, both natural and revealed. And if at any time that reason, that conscience tells us that some command given to us is wrong and should not be done, it does not matter who gives the command, we should not do it. And if our conscience tells us that a certain line of action is the right one, and that it is incumbent upon us to carry it out, even though that line carries us straight from the Pope, if we do not do it we shall suffer damnation,” (“A Catholic Cabinet of Information,” Revs. Abbo and Hannan editors). For more information on conscience see this topic on the sidebar.
We have already written much on the 1945 election law of Pope Pius XII. This law abrogated the previous 1904 election law of Pope St. Pius X, yet generally left Pope St. Pius X’s law intact with a few exceptions. When Pope St. Pius X wrote his law in 1904, Canon Law had not yet been codified. He stated in his law that “If a cardinal has not at least been ordained a deacon, he cannot participate in the election unless he has a special privilege granted by the Roman Pontiff.” When the Code was later written, with this saint as the primary author and Pope Pius XII as one of his many assistants, the laws concerning cardinals were strengthened and incorporated into the Code under Can. 232. This Canon states: “Cardinals…must be at least priests and be endowed with exceptional learning, training and experience,” (Revs. Woywod-Smith). So this law abrogated the part of Pope St. Pius X’s election law on deacons, since cardinals are now required to be at least priests on appointment. In this Canon, then, Pope St. Pius X set out all the prerequisites that he expected candidates for the papacy to possess. At the time Pope Pius XII wrote his election law, he merely recognized the abrogation of his predecessor’s law by the Code. Cardinals in Pius XII’s day were all priests since the law had already been in effect for nearly 30 years. The other major addition was Pope Pius XII’s requirement of a two-third’s plus one vote by cardinals, to exclude the possibility that one elected pope might be thought to have voted for himself.
As noted in several other places on this site, Pope Pius XII’s election law tells us how to conduct ourselves during an interregnum. “Laws given by the Roman Pontiffs are in no way able to be corrected or changed through the meeting of the cardinals of the Roman Church [the See] being vacant; nor is anything able to be taken away or added, nor is there able to be made any dispensation in any manner concerning the laws themselves or some part of them. This is very evident from pontifical Constitutions [on]…the election of the Roman Pontiff. But if anything contrary to this prescript occurs or is by chance attempted, we declare it by Our Supreme authority to be null and void,”(“Vacantis Apostolica Sedis,” para. 3, Ch. 1). Pius XII orders that all is to be left to the future Roman Pontiff and no one, in the meantime, may exercise that jurisdiction reserved only to the pope. If they do so, their actions are null and void, (para. 1, Ibid). It goes without saying that if even the cardinals could not change or dispense from the laws in any way, the clergy and laity could scarcely presume to do so. And yet they have presumed, from many different Traditionalist levels. This law is roundly ignored and placed under the category of only an ecclesiastical law, even though it is clear that all these laws mentioned above are special legislation, as Rev. Neuberger indicates when he explains that any violation of such laws would be invalid. It is as though these laws were placed in our path to show us that every obstacle we faced over the years could be both explained and removed by these papal laws.
• Pope Paul IV’s Bull tells us that all attempts at electing men shown to be heretics pre-election is null and void and all the acts of such men are null and void; laity and even the electors of these men are excused from any censures and the law states that these usurpers may be forcibly removed.
• The Tridentine Mass is the Mass of all time and any attempt to supplant it with the Novus Ordo Missae, (as well as the Novus Ordo Missae itself, since it is the worship of a non-Catholic sect) was null and void.
• The false Vatican II council, called by heretics and schismatics during an interregnum, was never convened.
• All attempts to circumvent, supplant, revise, dispense from or dismiss the Code of Canon Law promulgated infallibly by Pope Benedict XV and the actions issuing from such attempts are null and void, per Pope Pius XII’s papal election law.
• Any attempts to usurp the jurisdiction of Pope Pius XII by issuing dispensations, annulments, commutations, consecrating without a papal mandate, erecting seminaries, ordaining without the necessary jurisdiction, administering Sacraments without the necessary jurisdiction, is null and void. The acts issuing from any valid but illicit orders received also is null and void.
All these laws were known to exist by the 1980s, although the curse attached to them was not taken seriously, and the consequences of these laws were never drawn out. While Catholics have never really considered that they might have incurred at least the curse attached to “Cum ex…” and Pope Pius XII’s election law, these oaths or curses were not idle words without effect. It is clear that all of us are affected by these curses, which might explain why we have waited all these years and yet there has been no resolution of the crisis in the Church. Others in the past believed that judgment had been passed on us all for violating the law of the Church, but for different reasons. It is the opinion of Rev. James Coleridge that God has given Satan “judicial permission” over the world because “…men have not loved the truth,” (“Discourses on the Latter Days”). The prophet Daniel tells us that the Continual Sacrifice will cease because of sins. He also says we will be punished because “We have done wickedly and revolted,” (Dan. 9:5). We know how God punished the Jews for their sins of disobedience to His laws, but no one seems to think we should suffer the same punishments. Only Christ’s promises to always be with His Church till the very end give us any hope. But there is yet something else to consider.
In the 1970s, already the idea of the cessation of the Continual Sacrifice owing to the lack of true priests as a punishment for our sins was common knowledge. William Strojie, Hugo Maria Kellner and the writers for Veritas all agreed on this obvious fact. Veritas advanced the theory that we all are under divine interdict, “an ecclesial censure by which members of the Church, while remaining in the communion of the faithful, are excluded from participating in certain sacred offices and from the reception and administration of certain sacraments, (Can. 2268).” The writers believed that the focus was on the Mass and its restoration, also a return to true doctrine in opposition to the false V2 council. Already Veritas fully recognized that the John 23 “mass” with St. Joseph added to the Canon was not and never could be the true Latin Tridentine Mass, which Pope St. Pius V said could never be suppressed. Yet only a true Pope could restore the Mass and Sacraments through the return of valid and licit hierarchy under his jurisdiction; he alone has the Divine assistance necessary to teach doctrine infallibly. Yet it was the opinion of Veritas, apparently, that once true cardinals disappeared, electing a true pope was all but impossible. While this is the case as long as no valid and licit bishops and priests can be found, it does not explain how we are to believe on one hand that the Church as Christ constituted it will last unto the consummation, and on the other hand believe the hierarchy will not one day be restored, the pope included, even if this must be done by divine intervention.
We have come far from those days when answers appeared simple, but the interdict and the curses, held in place by our Lord Himself, still remain. Our disobedience to His laws, our blindness to the truth, merits damnation. Resisting the known truth is a sin against the Holy Ghost that the catechism says cannot be forgiven should we die in that particular sin. Is there a way to appease the wrath of almighty God and the indignation of Sts. Peter and Paul? Only by following the laws of the Church so many have spurned all these years and heeding the examples in Scripture of those who wished to avoid physical and spiritual destruction. The inhabitants of Nineveh and Tyre, warned that they were about to be destroyed for their sins, avoided their fate by fasting and wearing sackcloth and ashes. If God could have found ten good men in Sodom and Gomorrah, that place would have been spared. The remedy was given at La Salette and Fatima: Prayer and penance. In a sharp retort to someone who asked him about the La Salette Secret, Pope Pius IX replied that if men do not do penance, they all shall perish. What is the penance so sorely needed today? “For obedience is better than sacrifices,” (1 Kings 15: 22); “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifices: and the knowldge of God more than holocausts,” (Osee 6: 6); “I will have mercy and not sacrifice,” Matt. 9:13 and 12: 7).
In the New Law, Our Lord declares from the very moment of His entry into the world that it is with obedience that He will replace the sacrifices of the Ancient Law: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not; but a body thou has fitted to me: Holocausts for sin did not please Thee. Then I said: Behold I come … that I should do Thy will, O God…We are sanctified by the Body of Jesus Christ once. And every priest shall standeth daily ministering and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins…For by one oblation he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. And the Holy Ghost also doth testify this to us. For after that he said: ‘And this is the testament which I will make unto them after those days, saith the Lord. I will give my laws in their hearts, and on their minds I will write them: and their sins and iniquities I will remember no more,’ (Jer. 31: 33; Supra. 8:8). Now where there is a remission of these, there is no more an oblation for sin,” (Hebrews 10: 5-18; Phil. 2: 8; Phil. 4: 18).
Here of course we see the old law of sacrifice replaced by the new, but God also is saying to us that whatever His laws command, that we must do. As we learned under the section on Canon Law, God’s signified will demands that we follow all those laws promulgated by the Church Christ established on this earth, and to which He gave the power to bind and loose in His name. It is these very laws and the ones commenting on them with the Church’s approval that tell us we must not dishonor God with sacrilegious sacrifices and Sacraments. Why are we ignoring those laws which Holy Scripture says are written on our hearts and minds? St Alphonsus Liguori, that great Doctor of the Church teaches:
“The cause of all our chastisements is sin,…and still more than sin, our obstinacy in it, as St. Basil says…When God calls by the voice of His punishment, He desires that He should be heard; if He be not, He shall be compelled by ourselves to curse us: “But if thou wilt not hear the voice of the Lord thy God…all these curses shall come upon thee:…cursed shalt thy be in the city, cursed in the field…(Deut. 28:15)…Who required your perpetual exercises and your visits of devotion to the Church? I will have nothing from you unless you abandon sins: Offer sacrifices no more in vain. Of what use are your devotions if you do not amend your lives. My soul hateth…your solemnities. Know, says the Lord, that your solemnities are hateful to My soul whilst you think by these to avert your chastisement without removing your offenses: With burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted; a sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit ,” (Ps. 1: 18). No devotions or alms or penitential works are accepted by God from a soul in the state of sin and without repentance…Cardinal Hugo…says: “Honor God not in appearance, but by works, (Ps. 4: 6). It is that which is meant by ‘the sacirfice of justice.’ Honor Him by bewailing your sins…by a change of life, and then hope in the Lord.; but to hope while you continue in the state of sin is not hope — it is rashness, it renders you odious in the sight of God and more deserving of punishment,’” (Sixth Disourse on Natural Calamities and Divine Threats, Catholic Treasures). So it is God who is cursing us personally and through His Church, because we have left Him no choice.
If those sinfully offering Mass and administering sacraments would simply announce from the pulpit that they are no longer able to do so, explain why and lead their followers away from sin, then God would perhaps lighten this inevitable punishment or delay it, at least. And we can see that punishment approaching mpre closely each day. As Cardinal Pie states, “holiness consists in orthodoxy,” not in a convincing display of exterior piety. It is my personal belief that if these priests and bishops had done what they should have done from the beginning, the crisis in the Church would have been solved long ago. The reason it has gone on for so long is that these men have not repented, Catholics have not demanded that they do what they are supposed to do, as Canon Law legislates, and God has no choice but to punish us for our sins. Many have become at least material heretics by attending these non-Catholic services and obeying false popes and pastors. Canon Law prescribes that they study their faith and do penance for three years before they are worthy to be received back into the Church by the lawful authorities.
This also is what Holy Scripture advises us to do. St. Paul tells us to hasten to “the throne of grace,” St. Alphonsus says, that we might obtain “seasonable aid.” In other words, do not delay in requesting this grace. All who in Jesus’ lifetime asked for His assistance as He passed by received it, but those who failed to ask did not receive it. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.” Those who refused the wedding invitation were cast into the outer darkness, but as the book of Apocalypse tells us, when sinners wash their garments in the Blood of the Lamb, they will become white as snow. “Now is the acceptable time,” St. Paul tells us. And he who hesitates is lost.