+St. Hilary, Bishop+
The length of the articles on this site has been objected to from time to time by some who think there can and must be a simple answer to the problems facing us today. This of course does not stop them from reading and quoting from even lengthier articles and works on the Internet, but I digress. Presenting the answers to the crucial questions of our times has taken many years and much study, but over time the answers become much clearer than when the subject was first addressed. Hindsight is always very helpful and newer developments and research finds are the stuff that helps crystallize conclusions and dispel all doubt. As often as possible, the works of the Roman Pontiffs are used on this site, as they most certainly should be, as the final word in matters of faith and morals. And when such teachings specifically address a certain circumstance and can be applied to a particular situation, then there can be no doubt, there must be no doubt, about the answer to that question.
But of course there are always the naysayers, or those who simply will not admit that such answers are conclusive regardless of what the popes might infallibly teach. This seems to be true even when these same people teach that denying one doctrine of faith results in heresy. What is stated below has been repeated numerous times on this site, but as long as these errors continue to circulate then this same teaching will be repeated. When everything began in the 1960s early 1970s, after concerned Catholics had exited Vatican 2, the first thing that should have been done was to discover whether or not there was any kind of papal instruction that covered the situation and gave the faithful any idea of what should be done. As it turns out, there were several of these documents. And yet one, primarily, governs our case.
Four indispensable papal teachings
It took a while for many of these documents to even be uncovered and evaluated thanks to Traditionalists, who didn’t even bother to address them comprehensively or honestly in the early days. Some of them were difficult to find in English, some of them were not easy to understand. Some respected “priests” even openly declared these papal decrees were not authoritative, and therefore could not be binding. But it was the duty of anyone pretending to take the place of the Church on earth to locate and translate these important guiding documents. This would have given us some general idea of how we were to proceed and what we should do. Four documents especially stand out as essential for a basic understanding of how to proceed during the Great Apostasy — Pope Paul IV’s infallible bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio (Cum ex…), 1559; Pope Pius XII’s infallible encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, 1943; Pope Pius XII’s infallible constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS),1945 and Pope Pius XII’s binding constitution Ad apostolorum principis, 1957. It is among these four documents that we find the answers to most of what arose following Vatican 2. These papal decrees will be examined below.
Cum ex Apostolatus Officio told us that no one who sat in the papal seat and professed heresy could possibly have been Catholic or presumed to be validly elected. This is confirmed by the Vatican Council in no uncertain terms. In Cum ex…, Pope Paul IV established the fact that anytime we see someone such as John 23rd and Paul 6 teaching error — which they most certainly did, and most Traditionalists will even acknowledge that — then we know that these men were heretics before their election and were not validly elected. And this is true of both John 23rd and Paul 6. So there was an answer to that question; it should not even have been something discussed early on in Traditional circles because it was readily able to be established. And still we have the arguments going on and on about whether a heretic can become a Pope, which is impossible unless you deny the teachings of the Vatican Council and become a heretic.
Now regarding Mystici Corporis, we have a statement that has been upheld and defended on this site for several years and there really isn’t any getting around it — you either accept what the Pope says as binding or you don’t. And if you don’t then you’re outside the Church. Because at that point in time it doesn’t become a matter of just denying the specific dogma the Pope is teaching. At that time it becomes a matter also of denying his authority to teach and the necessity of obedience to the Pope for salvation, and these are two separate things. In Mystici Corporis Pope Pius XII clearly taught that the Pope alone has power over the bishops and they do not receive their power directly from Christ; Christ alone had the power to establish the order of jurisdiction in the Church and did so establish that order. Anything they do after the fact is in direct violation of the order He established.
VAS is a document originally attributed to Pope St. Pius X and rewritten and appended by Pope Pius XII. Pope St. Pius X codified his election law from all the papal election documents that had existed since the very beginning of the Church. So that’s really a pretty important document, because it represents the entire history of papal elections in the Church. How does one dismiss that history as documented in VAS itself and still try to pretend to be a Catholic? Now one of the things specifically mentioned in this papal election constitution is how the Church is supposed to operate when there is no Roman Pontiff. It is the blueprint for our times, complete in the first four paragraphs of the document. Outside of what exists on this site, there is no open discussion of it on the Internet, but I’m sure those behind the scenes who think they are trying to run the show are well aware of it.
Invalid, null and void
Now one of the first things VAS addresses has to do directly with what Pius XII taught in Mystici corporis — that without the Pope as head Bishop the other bishops have no real power. And this is restated in the first paragraph, first chapter of VAS. This teaching is not new, although Pope Pius XII was the first to state this decisively. It was commonly held by theologians even before he wrote Mystici Corporis. What that paragraph says is that during an interregnum not even the Cardinals have the right to usurp the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff. “We declare INVALID AND VOID any power or jurisdiction pertaining to the Roman Pontiff in his lifetime, which the assembly of Cardinals might decide to exercise” (while the Church is without a Pope). This teaching that the cardinals can do nothing without the pope during an interregnum is not new; the footnotes to VAS list it as dating back to the 1100’s and Pope Clement III.
This also is upheld in Ad Apostolorum principis, where Pope Pius XII taught: “For it has been clearly and expressly laid down in the canons that it pertains to the one Apostolic See to judge whether a person is fit for the dignity and burden of the episcopacy, and that complete freedom in the nomination of bishops is the right of the Roman Pontiff.” So clearly that right is violated whenever the Roman Pontiff is unable to nominate such bishops. This decree falls within the pope’s ordinary magisterium; it is entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis.
The Cardinals are basically just bishops, and Mystici corporis says that without the Pope the bishops have no power; the Cardinals have no right to do anything that would require papal jurisdiction during an interregnum. That covers a pretty wide field. And next VAS states that during an interregnum these same Cardinals cannot in any way violate the rights of the Church or laws made by the Roman Pontiff; the very right just mentioned above in the papal law laid down in Ad apostolorum principis. Because if the bishops cannot act without the Roman Pontiff, then he alone can dictate what could be done in the emergency the Church faces today. And finally it exhorts the Cardinals to defend the papacy in the event of a situation arising such as it has and did, and of course, cowards that they were, the majority violated their cardinalitial oaths, fled the scene and threw the flock to the wolves. They later commenced to invoke powers they no longer possessed and gathered to convene Vatican 2 and destroy the Sacraments.
Finally we come to the third paragraph of VAS. “The laws issued by Roman Pontiffs in no way can be corrected or changed by the assembly of Cardinals of the Roman Church while it is without a Pope, nor can anything be subtracted from them or added or dispensed in any way whatsoever with respect to said laws.” And this especially pertains to the election constitution itself which is quite lengthy and goes into the conclave process. (This is of no concern to us now because a true Pope at this time cannot be elected.) So then we come to the final and most crucial part of this whole document which states: “In truth if anything adverse to this command should by chance happen to come about or be attempted, WE DECLARE IT. BY OUR SUPREME AUTHORITY, TO BE NULL AND VOID.” Now all accept Pope Pius XII as a valid Pope, correct? And therefore if he infallibly declares that something is invalid, null and void, we must believe it is, correct? So if we deny that he has the power to infallibly declare something we deny infallibility and are excluded from Church membership.
Because in paragraph one we were already seeing that papal jurisdiction cannot be usurped during an interregnum. And if it is, then such acts are null and void. This means that nobody — not the Cardinals, far less the bishops — can claim to possess jurisdiction during an interregnum; they must elect a pope. Traditionalists usurped that jurisdiction specifically in violation of this constitution. Lefebvre, Thuc, et al, first violated Canon Law (which is predominantly papal or conciliar law) by ordaining unqualified men as priests without possessing the necessary jurisdiction. This jurisdiction they lost when founding their various schismatic sects; ergo, their acts were null and void. So no priests were ever created to consecrate as bishops, and even if they had been created, such consecration was a usurpation of papal jurisdiction. Because papal approval of episcopal candidates and the issuance of the papal mandate are required per the episcopal ordination rite itself, such usurpation rendered their consecrations null, void and invalid. All any remaining validly consecrated bishops could rightly do following Pope Pius XII’s death was to elect a true pope. And we’ve gone to great lengths to show that epikeia invoked to supposedly cover all of this mess is prohibited by VAS and cannot possibly supply for anything that these Traditionalists have done. Please read the articles here and here.
Invalid and illicit are NOT the same
Now that being the case, and given the wording of VAS, how is it that we keep finding on various blogs and websites statements to the effect that “Traditional sacraments are only illicit; no one can prove they are invalid.” Really? I thought we just read in the first paragraph of an infallible constitution written by an incontestably and unquestionably true Pope that the actions of anyone usurping papal jurisdiction or violating the law during an interregnum are null, void and invalid. Pope Leo XIII declared in Apostolica curae that “…to obtain orders nulliter means the same as by act null and void, that is invalid, as the very meaning of the word and as common parlance require.” Pope Alexander VIII, in condemning the Gallican articles, declared them “…null and void, invalid, useless” (DZ 1326). The word illicit here is nowhere mentioned in Pius XII’s constitution. In his A Catholic Dictionary, Donald Attwater wrote: “[Illicit means] Unlawful, forbidden. Illicit must be distinguished from invalid,” and invalid is here defined by the popes. A sacrament or sacramental may have its effect if illicit, as all know. However, its reception and administration is sinful, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches. In certain cases it may have the possibility of becoming licit, but that is not what we are talking about here.
Despite the above, those who should know better insist, for some strange reason, on referring to Traditionalist sacraments as only illicit. And they are even bold enough to use it in the same context with the definition of infallibility and the nature of heresy, explaining that denying one truth of faith is enough to cast you outside the Church. What could possibly motivate this strange refusal to recognize an infallible document issued by a man Traditionalists recognize as a true pope? Several things come to mind. First, they could still believe, despite infallible teaching, that bishops receive their power directly from Christ. Secondly, they might believe that true bishops possessing certain jurisdiction still exist on this earth, something that has been shown on this blog to be impossible given our current situation. Third, they could anticipate, at some future date, that a true pope will be elected and Pope Pius XII will be declared a false pope, a collaborator with the Modernists, which has been falsely claimed by various Traditionalists. In that case they could claim VAS no longer existed, and illicit could then be declared licit. What else could it be that would prompt them to deny an infallible decree?
Why “melding” is so dangerous
This fully illustrates the problems outlined in the last blog written here, which explained why the melding of all the views of one group together indiscriminately and presenting the authors of these views as in agreement with each other is misleading, unCatholic and therefore outright dangerous from a faith standpoint. Welcome to a demonstration of The Delphi Technique, which employs the HEGELIAN dialectic, not the scholastic dialectic of St. Thomas Aquinas. For where Catholic teaching is concerned, unless each, particular term has been defined and explained sufficiently and documented as a Catholic truth, no one is going to be able to discern Catholic truth even if it exists in part in such a document. This is because premises are being built on things that have not yet been defined and proven to exist, things essential to Catholic belief. This is the fallacy of arguing beside the point also known as begging the question — assuming to be true that which has yet to be proven.
Those assuming these men are illicit would have us automatically believe them to be validly ordained and consecrated, when Pope Pius XII clearly teaches their actions during an interregnum are invalid. For no man can proceed illicitly if he is not already a validly ordained priest or validly consecrated bishop. One of the errors mentioned by Rev. Joseph B. Walsh S.J. in his 1940 work Logic under the begging the question fallacy is “…assuming a proposition implicitly contained in the one to be proved.” Failure to identify that missing presumption — that validity is required before liceity can even be considered a possibility — invalidates the argument. That is something that cannot be done and will not stand in scholastic theology.
What these authors citing a lack of liceity are trying to prove is that the faithful should not frequent the sacraments of Traditionalists because it is against the law and is mortally sinful; also because it violates the teaching of the Council of Trent which is de fide, of faith. This is something we have proven ourselves for decades, alongside the invalidity issue, but only as it pertained to priests validly ordained before the death of Pope Pius XII. However, this particular question is beside the point today as all these priests are dead. The only pseudo-clergy remaining are those issuing from Lefebvre, Thuc and a few others, ordained and consecrated during an interregnum and hence falling under the infallible provisions of VAS.
The inference here is that it is not really important whether they are valid or not, while the infallible decree of a true pope requires us to believe that they are much worse than illicit; they are not even possible pretenders to the throne but absolute interlopers who must be repelled. One can receive something illicitly and still validly receive the sacrament or sacramental. But where there is invalidity, nothing is conveyed nor can anything be conveyed. Invalidity, when specifically laid out in the terms as it is in VAS, can be nothing more and nothing less than an indicator that there is an element of fraud involved (and I’m not talking fraud in a civil, criminal aspect here; I’m talking fraud only as it is covered in Canon 103 and 104 in the Code of Canon Law). Call it spiritual fraud, if you will, but invalidity — especially when it’s so easily shown to be the case — can’t help but suggest fraud.
What has been going on for the past 64 years had to happen so that Scripture could be fulfilled. The Church had to be betrayed just as Her Divine Lord was betrayed; the Passion of the Church had to play out. But that doesn’t excuse those who did not insist that the laws and infallible teachings of the Church be known and observed. It has been emphasized here, over and over again, that it doesn’t matter what errant website authors or blogsters have to say regarding the teachings of the Church, the status of Traditionalists or the meaning and application of Canon Law. The popes and ecumenical councils alone must be believed, and these brazen sophists cannot gainsay them.
There is a cunning form of deception going on here and that deception is based on a shameful suppression and total dismissal of Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. It would have us admit that failure to avoid Traditionalists owing to a lack of liceity is a heresy, while leaving Trad clerical egos intact and yet admitting their validity. It is nothing more than a disgusting form of human respect, and it is bought at the cost of denying an infallible teaching every bit as worthy of our obedience and irrevocable acceptance. VAS is the bull elephant in the Traditionalist living room, as we have said before. Those who continue to ignore this decree and its infallible consequences dare not count themselves as Catholics.