+St. Michael the Archangel+

October Prayer Intention

O Queen of the Holy Rosary, deliver us from the violence of heresy spread abroad, this intolerable moral corruption, and the attacks of our enemies.” (Pope Leo XIII has granted a plenary indulgence to those who recite the Rosary on the Feast of the Holy Rosary Oct. 7, or within its octave, and who prays for the intentions of the Holy Father.)


Not long ago I had occasion to address CMRI pseudo-clergy regarding their claims to possess a sort of charter granted by Canon Law — permission to operate under the pretense they possess a legal fiction in law as a corporation inside the Church. But according to Canons 99-100 to which they were referring, in order to be considered a physical or moral person capable of possessing such a title under a legal fiction of law they would first need to prove (a) they were still members of the Catholic Church not excommunicated for heresy, apostasy or schism; (b) competent ecclesiastical authority had created them as some sort of collegiate or other body, an impossibility and (c) they were validly appointed.

In his A Manual of Canon Law. p. 130, Rev. Matthew Ramstein, (S.T.D, Mag., J.U.D, OFM, 1947) writes under the heading, Legal or Moral Persons: “To be such, a moral person in the Church must have obtained a charter of incorporation either in virtue of the law or by decree of the competent ecclesiastical superior…” Paragraph three reads: “Where the law itself does not confer corporate personality, this must be obtained from the competent ecclesiastical superior.” This we find in Can. 147: “An ecclesiastic office cannot be validly obtained without canonical appointment. By canonical appointment is understood the conferring of an ecclesiastical office by the competent ecclesiastical authority in harmony with the sacred canons.” Canon 686 reads: “No society is recognized in the Church unless it has been erected by competent ecclesiastical authority or …approved by it.” There is no Traditionalist who can produce any such charter as referred to above since Traditionalism has never even been considered for approval by the Holy See as a corporate personality. Nor are there any laws that they can construe as granting them such status.

 This is just one more pathetic attempt by Traditionalists to gain some sort of legal recognition for themselves, since they possess no jurisdiction and only questionably valid orders. They cannot claim to issue from competent ecclesiastical authority without the papal mandate, assignment to a diocese and papal permission to establish seminaries. Schismatics such as Thuc and Lefebvre lost all status as such legal persons under Canons 188 no. 4 and 2314 by their adherence to the Novus Ordo church, so are scarcely considered competent ecclesiastical authorities. Power comes with canonical appointment to an office, not from one’s status as a moral/legal person. Traditionalists continue to invoke epikeia to “supply” jurisdiction and boast that nothing can invalidate Orders once conferred if the prescribed matter and form are used (and the intention is present). They never fail to remind their opponents that even orders conferred by heretics and schismatics are valid if illicit. But epikeia has been irrefutably proven as unable to supply for jurisdiction (see https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/epikeia-negates-the-churchs-divine-constitution/).

And now Traditionalist claims to possess valid Orders is about to be disproven by the very canons they use to try and justify their existence.

The great undoing

In the same section of the Code as Canons 99-100, under the general heading Bk. II: Laws Concerning Persons, we find Canons 103-104, under Ramstein’s subheading: “General Principles Applicable to both Legal and Moral Persons: § 1 Force, fear, fraud and error as determinants of legal acts.” Canon 104 reads: “Error annuls an action, when the error concerns the substance of the action or amounts to a conditio sine qua non — that is to say, if the action would not have been done except for the error; otherwise the action is valid, unless the law states otherwise…” (Can. 104). Merriam-Webster defines conditio sine qua non as “an indispensable condition.” West’s Law Dictionary repeats the same definition giving the example of a father who leaves his keys in the car, his young son who starts the car and backs over a playmate, with the father’s carelessness being the condition sine qua non for injury to the playmate. Revs. Woywod-Smith comment on this canon:

“The rules concerning actions done through physical compulsion or violence, moral force or fear, deceit or error are all taken from longstanding rules of Canon Law and moral theology, and the commentaries of approved theologians and canonists may be consulted for a further study of these interferences with the free will and deliberation of human actions” (A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, 1957). During an interregnum, lack of a papal mandate constitutes a condition sine qua non in order for the valid consecration of a bishop to take place. This is clear from the pontifical for episcopal ordination itself which says the consecration cannot take place without the mandate. The mandate is an indispensable condition for proceeding to the consecration. Pope Pius XII teaches in his 1945 election constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis (VAS) that:

  • Even the Sacred College of Cardinals cannot exercise the jurisdiction enjoyed by the pope during his lifetime. Any attempts to usurp such jurisdiction (and issuance of the papal mandate for consecration of bishops is one of them) are declared invalid.
  • All acts of jurisdiction must be left to the future pope.
  • No corrections, changes or dispensations can be made regarding the rights, papal laws and canon laws of the Church. Any attempts to circumvent these rights and laws are null and void (invalid).
  • Only the cardinals are able to resolve any doubts regarding VAS (preamble and para. 4)

(See https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/vacantis-apostolicae-sedis-vindicated/).

In his constitution, Pope Pius XII anticipated actors who would attempt to change the laws of the Church: ”Likewise we command that the Sacred College of Cardinals shall not have the power to make a determination in any way it pleases concerning the laws of the Apostolic See and of the Roman Church, nor attempt in any way to subtract directly or indirectly from the rights of the same on the pretext of a relaxation of attention or by the concealment of actions perpetrated against these same rights, even after the death of the Pontiff or in the period of the vacancy. On the contrary, We desire that the College ought to watch over and defend these rights during the contention of all influential forces.” Another translation of VAS reads: “Nor may the sacred College of Cardinals detract wheresoever from the laws of the same either directly or indirectly, through a species of connivance or through the simulation of crimes perpetrated against the same laws. After the death of the pontiff or in time of vacancy it will and ought to guard and defend against the same contentions of all men.” So it is clear that the pope and his predecessor, whose constitution says the same, believed they needed to do all in their power to protect Church law from those conniving against it.  No one can argue that given what we have today.

Canonists comment on error and conditio sine qua non

Rev. Charles Augustine states under Can. 104: “Whether deceit is committed by hiding the truth or telling a lie or by some machinations employing both words and deeds is immaterial. But it is important to ascertain whether the deceit practiced is the cause of one’s acting in such a way… Deceit generally causes error and therefore the canon speaks of error. Error is a state of mind in which one approves falsehood for truth. It differs from ignorance which is a lack of due knowledge” (A Commentary on Canon Law, 1931). The deceit practiced — pretending the Church could be perpetuated with questionably valid bishops alone minus the Roman Pontiff — definitely caused them to act as they did. There would have been no consecrations performed if VAS had been acknowledged as an infallible decree and simply followed. There would have been no justification for these consecrations if Traditionalists had not invoked epikeia, which in no way possible could ever substitute for Divine jurisdiction (please see link to epikeia article above).

The actions of bishops beginning with Lefebvre and Thuc, and those they “consecrated” without the papal mandate constituted fraud (dolus, in Can. 104). It was perpetrated on those wishing to remain Catholic after Vatican 2, who believed that Traditionalists were telling them the truth —that episcopal consecrations and subsequent ordinations of “priests” were certainly valid, and they possessed confessional jurisdiction in virtue of epikeia and Can. 2261 §2; (or as Anthony Cekada taught, directly from Our Lord Himself). All of these claims have been examined at length on this site and proven to be false. For decades these men have withheld the true teaching on Divine jurisdiction from their followers, hiding the fact that they lack any apostolicity and are not lawful ministers according to Church teaching. What they have done is to deceive their followers by presenting to them what is known in scholastic philosophy (logic) as a fallacy extra dictionem, under the heading ignorantio elenchi. A subordinate form of this fallacy is “…argumentum ad ignorantiam, or appeal to the ignorance of the hearers, tricking them by statements they are unable to [properly] test” (Logic, Joseph B. Walsh, S.J., 1940).

The canonists T. Lincoln Bouscaren and Adam Ellis comment: “Substantial error invalidates an act according to Canon 104. Error means a false judgment of the mind. Ignorance and inadvertence, though not identical with error, have the same juridical effect. Error is substantial if it affects the substance of an act; otherwise it is accidental. But a circumstance which does not of its nature affect the substance of a transaction (for example the age of a horse in a contract of sale) may, by the express stipulation of the parties, be made a condition sine qua non. In that case it is substantial not by nature, but by express agreement. Error is said to be the cause of the contract if but for the error the contract would not have been entered into otherwise. Error is of law if it concerns existence or meaning of the law; of fact if it concerns any other fact. Error of law or a fact, if it is substantial, renders an act null and void. The same is true if the error, though not substantial by nature, is made so by a condition sine qua non. Any other error leaves the act valid unless the law provides otherwise” (Canon Law, a Text and Commentary, 1946).

Traditionalists guilty on both counts

Canon 104 applies to two separate actions by Traditionalists. First, Traditionalists committed a substantial dogmatic error by shrugging off VAS as a mere “ecclesiastical law” which had either ceased to exist because it could no longer be implemented or a law to which epikeia could be applied. In reality, VAS was an infallible decree binding on all Catholics. It is clearly infallible given the language used in the constitution itself. It is also entered into the Acta Apostolica Sedis. Moreover, this constitution, like its forerunner, Pope St. Pius X’s (Vacante sede apostolica), is a codification of papal election law which dates back to the earliest centuries. While rewriting Pope St. Pius X’s previous constitution, Pope Pius XII was careful to substantially retain the original codification in his own constitution. VAS infallibly declares that any acts during an interregnum which violate papal law or attempt to correct, amend or dispense from these laws or canon law itself are null and void. (To read the first four paragraphs of this constitution go to https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/vacantis-apostolicae-sedis/). Epikeia is defined not only by modern theologians but by the ancients as a correction or emendation of the law (The History, Nature, and Use of Epikeia in Moral Theology, Father Lawrence Joseph Riley, 1948, The Catholic University of America Press, Inc.).

Traditionalists gravely erred in denying the Divine constitution of the Church, employing epikeia to correct or dispense from canon law without even pretending to present credible research to justify such an unprecedented exception to Church teaching and practice. They refused then and refuse now to even acknowledge the existence and binding nature of VAS, while daring to acknowledge Pope Pius XII as the last true pope. They flagrantly defy their obligation to address the fact that because they disobeyed an infallible decree whose existence, import and effects were never even publicly presented or discussed, VAS invalidated the “sacramental” acts issuing from this presumed permission. This does not only indicate that they erred, it proves that they deliberately acted as they did in order to be recognized as valid hierarchy and the continuation of Christ’s Church on earth. This deception, coupled with Can. 104 and VAS, nullifies everything they have done.

Secondly, in VAS Pope Pius XII infallibly forbids any usurpation of papal jurisdiction. The pope alone has the right to approve the appointment of bishops, the establishment of dioceses in which seminaries may be erected: these are all jurisdictional acts. According to Can. 215, “The Supreme Authority of the Church has the exclusive right to erect dioceses…” (Decisions entered into the AAS also reflect the restriction of erecting religious foundations to the Roman Pontiff.) Canon 331 states: “…The Holy See has the exclusive right to pass judgment on the suitability of any candidate for the episcopate.” Canon 1518 also tells us: “The Roman Pontiff is the supreme administrator of all ecclesiastical goods.” Woywod-Smith comment: “The legal person who holds title to church property and goods is not free to use and dispose of these goods at will… The Roman Pontiff is by his very office the supreme administrator.” (So what about all those fancy churches and residences?)

Canons 953 and 2370 demand the presentation of the papal mandate proving the priestly candidate has been approved by him and appointed to a diocese by the pope prior to consecration. This necessity of the mandate is reiterated in the pontifical for episcopal consecration itself; without it, the consecration cannot proceed. This constitutes a conditio sine qua non — an indispensable condition specifically confirmed by Canon Law and VAS — which declares that acts usurping papal jurisdiction are null and void if even attempted. Since VAS is the higher law governing all activity during an interregnum, and especially given its infallible nature, it clearly prevails over any other law. It lays down conditions which must be obeyed until a true pope is canonically elected.

We return to the example above for the existence of a conditio sine qua non. “But a circumstance which does not of its nature affect the substance of a[n] [trans]action… may, by [the] express stipulation [of the parties], be made a condition sine qua non. In that case it is substantial not by nature” (but by command of the Supreme Pontiff, whom all are bound to obey if they wish to be saved.) Here Bouscaren and Ellis used the example of parties agreeing to a contract, so the example is not exact. What this basically boils down to, however, is that the Church requires that the specified matter, form and intention be observed to guarantee validity in each of the seven sacraments. The reception of the papal mandate is not part of these three requisites necessary for validity. It is, though, an added indispensable condition, not able to be omitted during an interregnum, for the Sacrament of episcopal Orders to be validly conveyed.

Bouscaren and Ellis state: “…If but for the error,” the instance or act would not have occurred. “Error is of law if it concerns existence or meaning of the law; of fact if it concerns any other fact. Error of law or a fact, if it is substantial, renders an act null and void. The same is true if the error, though not substantial by nature, is made so by a condition sine qua non.” The act of consecration was nullified in advance, not after the fact. It could not happen, therefore, the pope infallibly teaches, it did not happen without his permission. The person consecrating was forbidden to act and incapacitated from conveying orders without the mandate. He appeared to convey them, but his acts were empty gestures; the recipient received nothing. Even if there was a question of whether Canon 104 states that either error or what “amounts to a conditio sine qua non” must be present. In this case, in two different instances — both error and conditio sine qua non — were present. If there is any question about whether VAS amounts to such a condition, the law itself solves the problem: “…otherwise the action is valid, unless the law states the contrary…” (Canons 103-104).

Well VAS is the prevailing law in this case and it DOES state the contrary. And this is not the only problem Traditionalists have with their Orders, as the following article points out in great detail: https://www.betrayedcatholics.com/necessary-intention-in-traditionalist-orders-lacking-2/, There are also other conditions, which refer to some future event, (such as obedience to a true pope when elected or Sanborn’s alleged pledge to adhere to the material-formal position prior to his “consecration” by McKenna) which invalidate episcopal consecration, according to the opinion of several approved and respected theologians. All this, coupled with what is presented here, at the very least establishes serious positive doubt about these consecrations that no truly sincere Catholic could possibly ignore. And no one may receive Sacraments where there is a solid doubt regarding their validity without committing grave mortal sin.

“But not even a pope can invalidate Orders received!”

The theologian Suarez explains as follows: “In the first place, when a law establishes a substantial form for some act, then in no case can that act subsist without the form thus laid down. If that form be disregarded, then invalidity will result from the attempt to posit the action. For, as there can be no valid Sacrament without the form designated by Our Lord (nor in regard to it can there be any epikeia or dispensation by one other than by Christ Himself), the same must be said cum proportione of every act devoid of the SUBSTANTIAL FORM DESIGNATED FOR IT BY LAW. In the second place, every invalidating law either disqualifies entirely the person involved from positing the act in question or disqualifies him from making a contract except in accordance with the form designated by law. Now, this incapacity which has been effected by law cannot be removed by epikeia.(Ibid., Father Lawrence Joseph Riley, The History, Nature, and Use of Epikeia in Moral Theology).

In his Canon Law, Abp. Amleto Cicognani makes almost an identical statement under Can. 16 regarding both disqualification and the fact that incapacity cannot be removed by epikeia. He further comments that: “No ignorance of invalidating or disqualifying laws excuses from their observance; namely no ignorance of the aforementioned laws can make acts valid which they have rendered invalid nor can it make persons capable of acting whom they have declared incapacitated from acting. Nor can subjects be excused from the observance of these laws, for the matter is in no way dependent on the will of the agent but on the contrary depends entirely on the will of the legislator who issued such laws because the common good required it… Canon 2199 rules that the imputability of an offense depends on the evil will (dolus) of a delinquent, or on the extent to which his ignorance of the violated law or his omission of proper diligence was culpable…”

Fr. Riley adds to this quote in his conclusions: “Epikeia can never confer the capacity to act. Epikeia cannot bestow upon him the power which he does not now possess, nor can epikeia restore the power which the law has withdrawn.” VAS withdrew the power of bishops to consecrate without the papal mandate. Pope Pius XII did not nullify anyone’s Orders, as Traditionalists sneeringly allege against those questioning the validity of their pseudo-clergy: he withdrew the power of those attempting to confer them without the papal mandate during an interregnum, so that whatever they did had no effect. And this is assuming they ever validly received any Orders in the first place which only a true pope could determine! The ACT of episcopal consecration (or ordination) is not nullified — the ones attempting to convey Orders and those attempting to receive them are declared incapable of ACTING and receiving. This is a very important distinction. You can scarcely nullify something that could never take place to begin with. It is no different than declaring a marriage invalid before it ever occurs if either party is not of canonical age (Can. 1067); the persons attempting to marry are declared incapable of receiving the Sacrament of matrimony. This same principle is simply applied to episcopal orders in Pope Pius XII’s election law (VAS).


“A prohibitory law of its very nature admits the excuse of ignorance or moral incapacity and on this basis will frequently cease in its cogent force. Not so an invalidating law. Invalidation is not premised on an obligation but is derived from the will of the legislator who seeks to protect the common good of society and wishes to safeguard it more compellingly from fraud, injury and danger. The inviolable observance of invalidating laws is constantly urgent because their transgression presents a far graver danger to society itself” (Doubt in Canon Law, Rev. Roger Viau, S.T.L, J.C.L., 1954, pg. 69; Catholic University of America dissertation). And VAS is definitely an invalidating and prohibitory law, not to mention an infallible one. Above we see the reasons why such laws cannot be relaxed to accommodate the wishes of Traditionalists disingenuously claiming they act on behalf of the common good.  As proven in previous works, their violation of Canon Law and papal law work to the destruction, not the salvation, of the faithful.

Canon 21 reads, “Laws enacted for the purpose of guarding against a common danger bind, even though, in a particular case, there is no danger.” And as history amply proves, during the vacancy of the Holy See, there is definitely danger — danger of an attempted takeover of the Church, of lay interference in the election, of unworthy candidates elevated to the episcopate and the papacy, of the violation of papal law and Canon Law on which the Church’s foundation is laid — all these are deadly serious reasons for invalidating future acts that would lead to these things. And the teachings found in VAS are not just fears harbored by Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII but are a reflection of precautions taken throughout the centuries by occupants of the Holy See. The hierarchy has been forbidden to exercise any sort of papal jurisdiction or attenuate Church law during an interregnum since the early Middle Ages. This is verified in a footnote to VAS.

SSPX “priests” eager to become bishops, who could never have been ordained because a true pontiff did not exist to appoint bishops to the dioceses in which these seminaries were erected, rushed in to “save the Church,” only to decimate it. Having usurped papal jurisdiction in establishing such seminaries without pontifical approval, Lefebvre and other “bishops” were automatically incapacitated from validly conferring orders on anyone. Canon 104 is set in stone because VAS says so, and VAS cannot be contradicted unless Traditionalists would like to deny the supreme jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff over the Church. But these men are the real deal and are going to eventually hold a papal election? Either we believe in the Church Pope Pius XII left to us or we believe in nothing. Traditionalists must choose or pay the ultimate price.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email