“All support should be withdrawn from any organizations [or factions… or synods…] which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted.”


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Western Schism and the Unity of the Church – select passages

(I was recently asked about this issue, and the following are some notes I put together about it.)
I. Fr. James Edmund O’Reilly, The Relations of the Church to Society – Theological Essays (1882)
If we inquire how ecclesiastical jurisdiction has been continued, the answer is that it in part came and comes immediately from God on the fulfilment of certain conditions regarding the persons. Priests having jurisdiction derive it from bishops or the pope. The pope has it immediately from God, on his legitimate election. The legitimacy of his election depends on the observance of the rules established by previous popes regarding such election. …
We may here stop to inquire what is to be said of the position, at that time, of the three claimants, and their rights with regard to the Papacy. In the first place, there was all through, from the death of Gregory XI in 1378, a Pope – with the exception, of course, of the intervals between deaths and elections to fill up the vacancies thereby created. There was, I say, at every given time a Pope, really invested with the dignity of the Vicar of Christ and Head of the Church, whatever opinions might exist among many as to his genuineness; not that an interregnum covering the whole period would have been impossible or inconsistent with the promises of Christ, for this is by no means manifest, but that, as a matter of fact, there was not such an interregnum. …
The great schism of the West suggests to me a reflection which I take the liberty of expressing here. If this schism had not occurred, the hypothesis of such a thing happening would appear to many chimerical. They would say it could not be; God would not permit the Church to come into so unhappy a situation. Heresies might spring up and spread and last painfully long, through the fault and to the perdition of their authors and abettors, to the great distress too of the faithful, increased by actual persecution in many places where the heretics were dominant. But that the true Church should remain between thirty and forty years without a thoroughly ascertained Head, and representative of Christ on earth, this would not be. Yet it has been; and we have no guarantee that it will not be again, though we may fervently hope otherwise. What I would infer is, that we must not be too ready to pronounce on what God may permit. We know with absolute certainty that He will fulfill His promises. We may also trust that He will do a great deal more than what He has bound Himself by his promises. We may look forward with cheering probability to exemption for the future from some of the trouble and misfortunes that have befallen in the past. But we, or our successors in the future generations of Christians, shall perhaps see stranger evils than have yet been experienced, even before the immediate approach of that great winding up of all things on earth that will precede the day of judgment. I am not setting up for a prophet, nor pretending to see unhappy wonders, of which I have no knowledge whatever. All I mean to convey is that contingencies regarding the Church, not excluded by the Divine promises, cannot be regarded as practically impossible, just because they would be terrible and distressing in a very high degree.
II. A. Dorsch, Institutiones Theologiae Fundamentalis (1928)
The Church therefore is a society that is essentially monarchical. But this does not prevent the Church, for a short time after the death of a pope, or even for many years, from remaining deprived of her head. Her monarchical form also remains intact in this state.
III. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2009 [1955]), pp. 94-95
OBJECTION I. At the time of the Western Schism the Catholic Church lost her unity for many years by being divided into two, and even three, parties each following a pope of its own choosing.
ANSWER.—The Western Schism caused great harm to the Church in many ways, but it did not affect her unity. After the death of Gregory XI, in 1378, the cardinals proceeded to elect Urban VI as his successor. Three months later, several cardinals claimed the election of Urban to be invalid and selected Robert of Geneva as Pope, under the name of Clement VII. Differences of opinion naturally arose regarding the validity of these elections; some believed Urban VI the rightful pope, while others accepted Clement VII. In 1409 an attempt was made to remedy this situation, but the result was disappointing, and matters were made worse by the election of a third claimant, who took the name Alexander V. Thus matters continued until the Council of Constance, in 1417, when Martin V was elected and recognized by all as the lawful Pope.
At no time during these troubles did any one ever entertain the idea that there were three popes, or that the Church was divided in its government. All admitted that there could be but one legitimate pope, and each party followed the one whom they believed to be lawfully elected successor of St. Peter. The Church was no more divided by the schism than our own government would be by a disputed election to the office of presidency.
IV. Msgr. G[?]. Van Noort, Dogmatic Theology, Volume II: Christ’s Church (Cork, Ireland: Mercier Press, 1958), p. 131
It might seem that unity of rule suffered a setback in the Church at the time of the Western Schims, when for forty years (1378-1417) two or three men claimed to be sovereign pontiff. But with the preservation of unity of faith and communion, hierarchical unity was only materailly, not formally, interrupted. [The same occurs during any papal interregnum, since, from the death of one pope to the election of the next, Catholics literally have no idea who is the Roman Pontiff. Yet, despite this material lack of the ruling power, Catholics are still visibly and formally united under the same principle of authority. — EBB] Although Catholics were split three ways in their allegiance because of the doubt as to which of the contenders had been legitimately elected, still all were agreed in believing that allegiance was owed the one legitimate successor of Peter, and they stood willing to give that allegiance. Consequently, those who through no fault of their own gave their allegiance to an illegitmate pope would no more be schismatics than a person would be a heretic who, desirous of following the preaching of the Church, would admit a false doctrine because he was under the impression that it was taught by the Church.
V. Frs. Rumble and Carty, Radio Replies, Volume 3 (1942)
413. … Although there were three rival claimants to the office of Pope at that time, each with his own following, it is clear that, as a matter of fact, Catholics were not subject to one single Pope. But, as a matter of law, they were. And that makes all the difference. No Catholic said that there ought to be three Popes. All admitted that there should be only one, and that only one of the three could be the lawful Pope. There was, then a lawful Pope, however confused people may have been as to which one was the lawful Pope. The office for which the claimants were contending was the office of St. Peter. And it was to this office that the authority of St. Peter was annexed. In the civil order, no one will admit that the authority attached to the throne in some given kingdom is lost because some pretender wins the allegiance of a certain number of subjects. And when the pretender dies, or renounces his claim, and the subjects revert to a single king whom all acknowledge as lawful ruler, no one holds that his authority is due to the return of the subjects who were deceived. The authority all along was inherent in his office. So the authority annexed to the office of the Pope persisted continuously and in unbroken descent from St. Peter. Subsequent endorsement of that authority by parties who had been led astray did not confer that authority, but merely acknowledged it as possessed by one particular Pope to the exclusion of all pretenders.
VI. Frs. Rumble and Carty, Radio Replies, Volume 4 (1954)
     152. Did not the Great Western Schism disprove the unity of the Catholic Church?
No. What is known as the “Great Western Schism” lasted from 1378 till 1417. It was not strictly a schism at all. During that period besides the lawful Pope, there were two others who unlawfully proclaimed themselves Popes, each having a following convinced that his claims were right. By 1417 things were straightened out, and one lawful Pope was acknowledged by all. The unity of the Church as a Church was no more affected by this than the unity of the Kingdom of England was affected by the fact that at various times there were Pretenders to the Throne with followers convinced of their rightful claims.
     153. Where was unity then?
However confused Catholics might have been as to which was the true Pope, all admitted the truth of the one Catholic Church, all acknowledged Papal authority, and all agreed that there could be but one true Pope. They held no schismatical principles, and were not schismatics.
     154. How do you explain such confusion?
It is explained by the liability of the human judgment to arrive at wrong conclusions, above all when people are not familiar with all the facts of the case. In quite good faith people can support wrong causes. The essential unity of the Catholic Church is not affected by the fact that all Catholics are not individually infallible in such matters.
     155. The Great Western Schism must have permanently injured the Church.
It did not. It was but a transitory historical episode; and as I have said was not really a schism at all. The confusion was ended by the Council of Constance in 1417 when the lawful Pope Gregory XII resigned, the two Pretenders were declared not lawful Popes at all, and Pope Martin V was elected and acknowledged by everybody as the one true Pope. Over five hundred years have elapsed since then without any recurrence of such confusion.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Words of counsel from Francis to all Christians…

Those who have been entrusted with the power of judging others should pass judgment mercifully, just as they themselves hope to obtain mercy from God. For judgment without mercy to him who has not shown mercy (Jn. 2: 13). We must be charitable, too, and humble, and give alms, because they wash the stains of sin from our souls. We lose everything which we leave behind in this world; we can bring with us only the right to a reward for our charity and the alms we have given. For these we shall receive a reward, a just retribution from God. We are also bound to fast and avoid vice and sin, taking care not to give way to excess in food and drink, and we must be Catholics. We should visit churches often and show great respect for the clergy, not just for them personally, for they may be sinners, but because of their high office, for it is they who administer the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. They offer It in sacrifice at the altar, and it is they who receive It and administer It to others. We should realize, too, that no one can be saved except by the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and the holy words of God, and it is the clergy who tell us his words and administer the Blessed Sacrament, and they alone have a right to do it, and no one else. …

Our lower nature, the source of so much vice and sin, should be hateful to us. Our Lord says in the Gospel, it is from the heart of man that all vice and sin comes (cf. Mt. 15: 18-19), and he tells us, Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you (Lk. 6: 27). We are bound to order our lives according to the precepts and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so we must renounce self and bring our lower nature into subjection under the yoke of obedience; this is what we have all promised God. However, no one can be bound to obey another in anything that is sinful or criminal. The man who is in authority and is regarded as the superior should become the least of all and serve his brothers, and he should be as sympathetic with each one of them as he would wish others to be with him if he were in a similar position. If one of his brothers falls into sin, he should not be angry with him; on the contrary, he should correct him gently, with all patience and humility, and encourage him. …

All those who refuse to do penance and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are blind, because they cannot see the light, our Lord Jesus Christ. They indulge their vices and sins and follow their evil longings and desires, without a thought for the promises they made. In body they are slaves of the world and of the desires of their lower nature, with all the cares and anxieties of this life; in spirit they are slaves of the devil. They have been led astray by him and have made themselves his children, dedicated to doing his work. They lack spiritual insight because the Son of God does not dwell in them, and it is he who is the true wisdom of the Father. It is of such men as these that Scripture says, their skill was swallowed up (Ps. 106: 27). They can see clearly and are well aware what they are doing; they are fully conscious of the fact that they are doing evil, and knowingly lose their souls. …

We should all realize that no matter where or how a man dies, if he is in the state of mortal sin and does not repent, when he could have done so and did not, the devil tears his soul from his body with such anguish and distress that only a person who has experienced it can appreciate it. All the talent and ability, all the learning and wisdom which he thought his own, are taken away from him, while his relatives and friends bear off his property and share it among themselves. Then they say, “A curse on his soul; he could have made more to leave to us and he did not.” And the worms feast on his body. So he loses both body and soul in this short life and goes to hell, where he will be tormented without end. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Keep your eyes on the Cross and your hearts on Him who redeemed us by that Cross!

H/T to New Sherwood

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Again with the atavistic pining for a proper papal presence…

A couple days ago I posted a passage from Pope Leo XIII that illuminates how previous popes would have spoken to “the land of the free* and the home of the brave**”.

I now want to present another papal statement, this time from Pius XII, that I think breathes with the same Holy Spirit. In a letter dated 28 August 1947, Pius XII replied to President Truman with the following words, among others:

“[A]ll defenders of the rights of the human person will find wholehearted cooperation from God’s Church, faithful custodian of eternal truth and loving mother of all. From her foundation almost two thousand years ago she has championed the individual against despotic rule, the laboring man against oppression, religion against persecution. Her divinely-given mission often brings her into conflict with the powers of evil whose sole strength is in their physical force and brutalized spirit and her leaders are sent into exile or cast into prison or die under torture. This is history of today but the Church is unafraid. She cannot compromise with an avowed enemy of God. She must continue to teach the first and greatest Commandment incumbent on every man: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, with all thy strength.” And the second like unto the first: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” It is her changeless message that man’s first duty is to God, then to his fellowman, that that man serves his country best who serves his God most faithfully, that the country that would shackle the Word of God, given to men through Jesus Christ, helps not at all the lasting peace of the world. In striving with all the resources at her power to bring men and nations to a clear realization of their duty to God, the Church will go on, as she has always done, to offer the most effective contribution to the world’s peace and man’s eternal salvation.”

No need to be coy here: Is not Cuba still “an avowed enemy of God”? And how long has it been since we could say with a straight face that America is not also an avowed enemy of God?

Yet, compromise is the name of the game. The house always wins. America, please proceed. Cuba, carry on.

You have nothing to fear from the Church of What’s Happening Now.

* pronounced “liberal”

** pronounced “brazen” 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

A perpetually open mind is like a perpetually open mouth…

Does the following have anything to do with “the papal visit” in the United States? Only very obliquely. If you do want a connection, I suppose the following analysis might help illuminate the way Francis is addressing the United States, and, in turn, the way Americans are generally responding to him. Evola is an author I have only recently begun exploring, so I welcome you to join me in pondering the following on its own terms.

American “Civilization” (from “Civiltà Americana”) by Julius Evola (1945):

[John Dewey’s] theories are entirely representative of the vision of man and life which is the premise of Americanism and its ‘democracy’.

The essence of such theories is this: that everyone can become what he wants to, within the limits of the technological means at his disposal. Equally, a person is not what he is from his true nature and there is no real difference between people, only differences in qualifications. According to this theory anyone can be anyone he wants to be if he knows how to train himself.

This is obviously the case with the ‘self-made man’; in a society which has lost all sense of tradition the notion of personal aggrandisement will extend into every aspect of human existence, reinforcing the egalitarian doctrine of pure democracy. If the basis of such ideas is accepted, then all natural diversity has to be abandoned. Each person can presume to possess the potential of everyone else and the terms ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ lose their meaning; every notion of distance and respect loses meaning; all life-styles are open to all. To all organic conceptions of life Americans oppose a mechanistic conception. In a society which has ‘started from scratch’, everything has the characteristic of being fabricated. In American society appearances are masks not faces. At the same time, proponents of the American way of life are hostile to personality.

The Americans’ ‘open-mindedness’, which is sometimes cited in their favour, is the other side of their interior formlessness. The same goes for their ‘individualism’. Individualism and personality are not the same: the one belongs to the formless world of quantity, the other to the world of quality and hierarchy. …

There is a popular notion about the United States that it is a ‘young nation’ with a ‘great future before it’. Apparent American defects are then described as the ‘faults of youth’ or ‘growing pains’. It is not difficult to see that the myth of ‘progress’ plays a large part in this judgement. According to the idea that everything new is good, America has a privileged role to play among civilised nations. …

The structure of history is, however, cyclical not evolutionary. It is far from being the case that the most recent civilisations are necessarily ‘superior’. They may be, in fact, senile and decadent. There is a necessary correspondence between the most advanced stages of a historical cycle and the most primitive. America is the final stage of modern Europe. Guenon called the United States ‘the far West’, in the novel sense that the United States represents the reductio ad absurdum of the negative and the most senile aspects of Western civilisation. What in Europe exist in diluted form are magnified and concentrated in the United States whereby they are revealed as the symptoms of disintegration and cultural and human regression. The American mentality can only be interpreted as an example of regression, which shows itself in the mental atrophy towards all higher interests and incomprehension of higher sensibility. The American mind has limited horizons, one conscribed to everything which is immediate and simplistic, with the inevitable consequence that everything is made banal, basic and levelled down until it is deprived of all spiritual life. …

“Our” [Italian] American Media

Americanisation in Europe is widespread and evident. In Italy it is a phenomenon which is rapidly developing in these post-war years and is considered by most people, if not enthusiastically, at least as something natural. Some time ago I wrote that of the two great dangers confronting Europe – Americanism and Communism – the first is the more insidious. Communism cannot be a danger other than in the brutal and catastrophic form of a direct seizure of power by communists. On the other hand Americanisation gains ground by a process of gradual infiltration, effecting modifications of mentalities and customs which seem inoffensive in themselves but which end in a fundamental perversion and degradation against which it is impossible to fight other than within oneself. …

The Industrial Order in America

In his classic study of capitalism Werner Sombart summarised the late capitalist phase in the adage ‘Fiat producto, pareat homo’. In its extreme form capitalism is a system in which a man’s value is estimated solely in terms of the production of merchandise and the invention of the means of production. Socialist doctrines grew out of a reaction to the lack of human consideration in this system.

A new phase has begun in the United States where there has been an upsurge of interest in so-called labor relations. In appearance it would seem to signify an improvement: in reality this is a deleterious phenomenon. The entrepreneurs and employers have come to realise the importance of the ‘human factor’ in a productive economy, and that it is a mistake to ignore the individual involved in industry: his motives, his feelings, his working day life. Thus, a whole school of study of human relations in industry has grown up, based on behaviourism … with the precise aim of defining the best means to obviate all factors that can hinder the maximisation of production. … The private lives of employees are not forgotten – hence the increase in so-called personnel counselling. …

On the other side of the Iron Curtain man is treated as a beast of burden and his obedience is maintained by terror and famine. In the United States man is also seen as just a factor of labour and consumption, and no aspect of his interior life is neglected and every factor of his existence is drawn to the same end. In the ‘Land of the Free’, through every medium, man is told he has reached a degree of happiness hitherto undreamed of. He forgets who he is, where he came from, and basks in the present.

American “Democracy” in Industry

… The big businesses are run in the same way as government ministries and are organised along similar lines. They have co-ordinating and controlling bodies which separate the business leaders from the mass of employees. Rather than becoming more flexible in a social sense the “managerial elite” (Burnham) is becoming more autocratic than ever – something not unrelated to American foreign policy.

This is the end of yet another American illusion. America: the ‘land of opportunity’, where every possibility is there for the person who can grasp it, a land where anyone can rise from rags to riches. At first there was the ‘open frontier’ for all to ride out across. That closed and the new ‘open frontier’ was the sky, the limitless potential of industry and commerce. … Given the ever increasing specialisation of labour in the productive process and the increasing emphasis on ‘qualifications’, what used to seem obvious to Americans – that their children would ‘go further’ than they would – is for many people no longer obvious at all. Thus it is that in the so-called political democracy of the United States, the force and the power in the land, that is to say the industry and the economy, are becoming ever more self-evidently undemocratic. … If the mask of American ‘democracy’ were thereby removed, it would become clear to what extent ‘democracy’ in America (and elsewhere) is only the instrument of an oligarchy which pursues a method of ‘indirect action’, assuring the possibility of abuse and deception on a large scale of those many who accept a hierarchical system because they think it is justly such. This dilemma of ‘democracy’ in the United States may one day give place to some interesting developments.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

A reminder of how a papal visit might have played out a hundred or more years ago…

“[S]ince We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty, Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth, … We direct Our first thoughts to those most unfortunate of all nations who have never received the light of the Gospel, or who, after having possessed it, have lost it through neglect or the vicissitudes of time: Hence do they ignore God, and live in the depths of error. Now, as all salvation comes from Jesus Christ–for there is no other Name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved–Our ardent desire is that the most Holy Name of Jesus should rapidly pervade and fill every land.

“And here, indeed, is a duty which the Church, faithful to the Divine Mission entrusted to her, has never neglected. What has been the object of her labors for more than nineteen centuries? Is there any other work she has undertaken with greater zeal and constancy than that of bringing the nations of the earth to the Truth and Principles of Christianity?

— Pope Leo XIII, Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae (1894)

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

“In 1968 there were 338 annulments, in

“In 1968 there were 338 annulments, in 2002 there were 50000. Get used to it, Trads” #GetThumb

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment