Between a Rock and a dark place…

[The following began as a reply to an essay by Brian Miles at One Peter Five. It quickly became very lengthy and I have been encouraged to post it on my own blog as a complete article in its own right.]

“…We [viz. the Roman Pontiffs] hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty…”
— Pope Leo XIII, Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae (1894)

“Nothing filthy and wicked is set forth to be gazed at or imitated in Christian Churches….”
— St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, bk. 2, ch. 28

I was aware that you were probably being hyperbolic with the words which I cited from your article, but I note how difficult it is to find a different word that is any less problematic. Suppose we say the Church’s mission–in the entirety of its Magisterial authority, “from top to bottom”–has been “infiltrated” with evil and error (by the Vicar of Christ and the vast majority of the episcopacy?). Well, how does that claim harmonize with Christ’s promise never to let the gates of Hell prevail against His Church? Likewise, if the Church’s mission has been “eroded” (from the inside?), how does that harmonize with the dogma of the Church’s immaculate indefectibility?

In 1908, R. J. P. Hermann wrote in Institutiones Theologiae Dogmaticae (I:258) that:

The Church is infallible in her general discipline. By the term general discipline is understood the laws and practices which belong to the external ordering of the whole Church. Such things  would be those which concern either external worship, such as liturgy and rubrics, or the administration of the sacraments, such as Communion under one species…. The Church in her general discipline, however, is said to be infallible in this sense: that nothing can be found in her disciplinary laws which is against the faith or good morals, or which can  tend either to the detriment of the Church or to the harm of the faithful. That the Church is infallible in her discipline follows from her very mission. The Church’s mission is to preserve the integral faith and to lead people to salvation by teaching them to preserve  whatever Christ commanded. But if she were able to prescribe or command or tolerate in her discipline something against faith or morals, or something which tended to the detriment of the  Church or to the harm of the faithful, the Church would turn away from her divine mission, which would be impossible.”

In 1929 Emil Dorsch explained in Institutiones Theologiae Fundamentalis (II:409) that:

“The Church is also rightfully held to be infallible in her disciplinary decrees…. By disciplinary decrees are understood all those things which pertain to the ruling of the Church,, insofar as it is distinguished from the magisterium. Referred to here, then, are ecclesiastical  laws which the Church laid down for the Universal Church in order to regulate divine worship or to direct the Christian life.”

In 1931 R. M. Schultes argued in De Ecclesia Catholica (pp. 314-317) as such:

“The infallibility of the Church in Enacting Disciplinary Laws. Disciplinary laws are defined as ‘ecclesiastical laws laid down to direct Christian life and worship’….. The question of whether the Church is infallible in establishing a disciplinary law concerns the substance of universal disciplinary laws — that is, whether such laws can be contrary to a teaching of faith or morals, and so work to the spiritual harm of the faithful…. Thesis. The Church, in establishing universal laws, is infallible as regards their substance. The Church is infallible in matters of faith and morals. Through disciplinary laws, the Church teaches about matters of faith and morals, not doctrinally or theoretically, put practically and  effectively. A disciplinary law therefore involves a doctrinal judgement…. The reason, therefore, and foundation for the Church’s infallibility in her general discipline is the intimate connection between truths of faith or morals and disciplinary laws. The principal matter of disciplinary laws is as follows: a) worship….”

In 1948 Valentino Zubizarreta explained in Theologia Dogmatico-Scholastica (I:486) that:

“In establishing disciplinary laws for the universal Church, the Church is likewise infallible, in such a way that she would never legislate something which would contradict true faith or good morals. Church discipline is defined as ‘that legislation or collection of laws which direct men how to worship God rightly and how to live a good Christian life.’…. Proof of the Corollary. It has been shown above that the Church enjoys infallibility in those things which concern faith and morals, or which are necessarily required for their preservation.  Disciplinary laws, prescribed for the universal Church in order to worship God and rightly promote a good Christian life, are implicitly revealed in matters of morals, and are necessary to  preserve faith and good morals. Therefore, the Corollary is proved.”

In 1955 Fr. Berry explained in his apologetical treatise, The Church of Christ (pp. 289-291), that:

“The Church is infallible [i.e. incapable of being deceived! {cf. p. 247}] in selecting terms suitable to convey the truths which she defines. Truths can be set forth in words only, i.e., by means of creeds and dogmatic decrees. Therefore, to be infallible in teaching, the Church must also be infallible in choosing words that accurately express her meaning without ambiguity [sic].”

A brief caveat: Fr. Berry’s words raise a huge question mark against Pope John XXIII’s avuncular and facile claim, upon calling for the Second Vatican Council, that the “substance” of doctrine is quite distinct from the way in which doctrine is expressed. As you may know, I have gone to great lengths to document that fiddling with the Church’s manner (or “style”) of expression is tantamount to fiddling with the Church’s teaching as such.

But back to Fr. Berry:

“Since the Church is endowed with infallible authority for the express purpose of preserving intact the deposit of revealed truth and for expounding it without error, she must also be infallible in judging of doctrines and facts so intimately bound up with revealed truths that they cannot be denied or questioned without endangering revealed truth itself. Such doctrines constitute the secondary object or extent of infallibility… [which] includes … general disciplinary matters

“Under this head are included the laws and precepts established by ecclesial authority for the regulation of worship or for the guidance of the faithful throughout the world. Such laws and precepts are necessarily subject to the infallible authority of the Church, because of their intimate connection with doctrines of faith and morals [e.g. the law prescribing communion under one species presupposes the doctrine of the Eucharistic, transubstantiional Real Presence of Christ]. … Hence in making laws, the Church implicitly passes a twofold judgment:–one of doctrine, the other of prudence….

Another brief detour: As St. Thomas explains in ST II-II, q. 53, a. 1, imprudence is a sin. Therefore, to ascribe decades-long, universal, and unflinching imprudence to the entire Conciliar Magisterium, is to ascribe grave sin to that Magisterium in the same degree, whereby, as St. Thomas says, “the spiritual treasure of grace is … taken away”.

Returning to Fr. Berry:

“[In passing a law, the Church] judges that the law is not opposed to any revealed truth and that, under the circumstances, it will assist and guide the Christian faithful in the performance of their Christian duties. The Church is necessarily infallible in this doctrinal [sic!] judgment, for if she were not, the faithful might be led into errors of doctrine at any time [such as at any statistically representative Novus Ordo Mass]. But there is no promise that the rulers of the Church shall always enjoy the greatest degree of prudence; consequently, there is no guarantee that their laws and precepts will always be the best possible under the circumstances. Neither is the Church infallible in applying her laws to particular cases. The pope, for instance [!], may be mistaken in declaring a particular marriage valid or invalid. [By extension, the] prayers prescribed or approved for universal use in public worship cannot be opposed [the inconvenient and ongoing ‘facts on the ground’ notwithstanding]. Hence, the axiom, Lex orandi est lex credendi….

Fr. Berry’s reference to prudence does not address whether the popes and bishops could be guilty of genuinely sinful imprudence, upon which all traditionalist resistance depends. No one has asked or expected that Vatican II was “the best possible” expression of episcopal prudence, but simply that we may be shown how its fleet of imprudent novelties can be reconciled with Catholic Tradition, and how the Masonic compromise of the liturgy examined in your essays does not amount to a rupture of the highest order.

In any case, in the same vein as all of the above, Msgr. Van Doort explains in his 1959 dogmatic treatise on the Church that (p. 91):

“The Church’s infallibility extends to … ecclesiastical laws passed for the universal Church for the direction of Christian worship and Christian living…. [Thus,] it can never sanction a universal law which would be at odds with faith or morality or would be by its very nature conducive to the injury of souls…. If the Church should make a mistake in the manner alleged when it legislated for the general discipline, it would no longer either be a loyal guardian of revealed doctrine or a trustworthy teacher of the Christian way of life. It would not be a guardian of revealed doctrine, for the imposition of a vicious law would be, for all practical purposes, tantamount to an erroneous definition of doctrine; everyone would naturally conclude that what the Church commanded squared with sound doctrine. It would not be a teacher of the Christian way of life, for by its laws it would induce corruption into the practice of religious life.”

Also in 1959, Serapius Iragui wrote in Manuale Theologiae Dogmaticae that:

“Outside those truths revealed in themselves, the object of the magisterium’s infallibility includes other truths which, while not revealed, are nevertheless necessary to integrally preserve the deposit of the faith, correctly explain it, and effectively define it…. D) Disciplinary Decrees. These decrees are universal ecclesiastical laws which govern man’s Christian life and divine worship. Even though the faculty of establishing laws pertains to the power of jurisdiction, nevertheless the power of the magisterium is considered in these laws under another special aspect, insofar as there must be nothing in these laws opposed to the natural or positive law. In this respect, we say that the judgement of the Church is infallible…. 1) This is required by the nature and purpose of infallibility, for the infallible Church must lead her subjects to sanctification through a correct exposition of doctrine. Indeed, if the Church in  her universally binding decrees would impose false doctrine, by that very fact men would be turned away from salvation, and the very nature of the true Church would be placed in peril. All this, however, is repugnant to the prerogative of infallibility with which Christ endowed His Church. Therefore, when the Church establishes disciplinary laws, she must be infallible.”

Lastly, in 1962, Sacrae Theologiae Summa (I:722-723), Joachim Salaverri explained the following:

“Regarding disciplinary decrees in general which are by their purpose connected with things which God has revealed. … The purpose of the infallible Magisterium requires infallibility for decrees of this kind…. Specifically, that the Church claims infallibility for herself in liturgical decrees is established by the law of the Councils of Constance and Trent solemnly enacted regarding Eucharistic Communion under one species. This can also be abundantly proved from other decrees, by which the Council of Trent solemnly confirmed the rites and ceremonies used in the administration of the sacraments and the celebration of the Mass.”

All of this gets at the crux of the entire matter, namely, that pretty much all the Church has been doing since Vatican II has been at odds with, or at least in remarkable ‘tension’ with, traditional orthopraxis, and highly conducive to the injury of souls. If the Church has succumbed to Masonic infilitration to such an extent that her legitimate authority has legislated a defective liturgy, law, and doctrinal restatements, then the Church is plainly fallible. Given, however, that the Church is indefectible, either there are no problems to lament of in the Conciliar revolution–no novelties, no damning (and cleverly embedded) ambiguities, etc.–or the authority for such changes was simply lacking.

As the Council of Trent bluntly warns us: “If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments and outward signs, which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses, are incentives to impiety rather than the service of piety: let him be anathema.” Yet, the entire basis of the loyal opposition to V2 and the regnant pastoral agenda is that the licitly promoted ceremonies (including ecumenical gatherings), vestments, aesthetics, worship, and so on, “are incentives to impiety”. If the past half-century has been the fruit of diabolical and humanistic sabotage, then either the Church has become one big incentive to impiety, or the changes responsible for the chaos do not flow from the true channels of authority established by Christ. We cannot embrace the idealized spiritual dimension of the Church while rejecting her living, pastoral, and juridical directives.

As Pope Pius XII taught in Mystici Corporis Christi (1943):

“We deplore and condemn the pernicious error of those who dream of an imaginary Church, a kind of society that finds its origin and growth in charity, to which, somewhat contemptuously, they oppose another, which they call juridical. But this distinction which they introduce is false: for they fail to understand that … [our Divine Redeemer established] a Society, perfect of its kind and containing all the juridical and social elements…. The Eternal Father indeed willed it to be … a real kingdom in which all believers should make Him the entire offering of their intellect and will, and humbly and obediently model themselves on Him, Who for our sake “was made obedient unto death.” There can, then, be no real opposition or conflict between the invisible mission of the Holy Spirit and the juridical commission of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ, since they mutually complement and perfect each other — as do the body and soul in man – and proceed from our one Redeemer who … [said:] ‘He that heareth you, heareth me.’

And if at times there appears in the Church something that indicates the weakness of our human nature, it should not be attributed to her juridical constitution, but rather to that regrettable inclination to evil found in each individual, which its Divine Founder permits even at times in the most exalted members of His Mystical Body, for the purpose of testing the virtue of the Shepherds no less than of the flocks, and that all may increase the merit of their Christian faith. … Certainly the loving Mother is spotless in the Sacraments by which she gives birth to and nourishes her children; in the faith which she has always preserved inviolate; in her sacred laws imposed on all; in the evangelical counsels which she recommends; in those heavenly gifts and extraordinary grace through which with inexhaustible fecundity she generates hosts of martyrs, virgins and confessors.

Yet, in your part-two essay you speak of “all seven sacraments … wasting away under the withering influence of the Devil reigning in the Church through Masonic sects” as “a narrative description of our times”. Even more astoundingly, you claim that the Masonic putsch has achieved

“a degree of distortion so pronounced that it effectively obscures [the] Sacred Mysteries from all but keenest (or most pious) observers. … [For] when the Church ceases acting as if Christ is truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament, the faithful stop believing that Christ is truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament.”

As you go on to note, Eucharistic praxis is the flip-side of Eucharistic faith. Therefore, to assert that the Church [sic!] has ceased acting properly towards the Blessed Sacrament, you are ipso facto asserting that she has ceased believing in the Blessed Sacrament. Unfortunately, as one canonist rightly notes, heresy consists not only of words but also of “signs, deeds, and the omission of deeds.” (B. Merkelbach, Summa Theologiae Moralis, 8th ed. [Montreal: Desclée, 1949], I:746)

If the putsch was and is formally enacted and sustained by the Magisterium itself, then you are effectively claiming that the normative guidance of the Church at large has led not to an illumination of the truth but rather to its almost total burial. Such a state of events, if intended as a description of the genuine Church of Christ, is directly contrary to Pius XII’s teaching about the absolutely immaculate security of the Church in the Sacraments and in her general disciplines (i.e. pastoral policies). On the other hand, admitting such a description of the reigning clerical order would make sense if that order were regarded as moles, double-agents, impostors–infiltrators who do not, in fact, enjoy the authority of Christ.

Let me reiterate that the point is that we are not free to accept just-barely-orthodox dogmas while resisting “to the face” the Church’s universal and official disciplines.

To wit, eighty years before Pius XII wrote Mystici Corporis, Pius IX taught in Tuas Libenter that “it is not sufficient for learned Catholics to accept and revere the aforesaid dogmas of the Church, but … it is also necessary to subject themselves to the decisions pertaining to doctrine which are issued by the Pontifical Congregations.” If the Church’s authority remains intact, then this principle still holds: regardless of how wacky or imprudent they seem to us, even “decisions pertaining to doctrine” issued by the various dicasteries are to be regarded as extensions of the papal shepherding.

A year later, in Quanta Cura, Pius IX spoke strongly against the pastoral-No/dogmatic-Yes approach to the Church’s shepherds:

“[We cannot] pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that ‘without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.’ But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.”

Six years later in Pastor Aeternus the First Vatican Council declared:

“[T]he gates of Hell, with greater hatred each day, are rising up on every side, to overthrow, if it were possible, the Church and Her divinely-established foundation….

“That which the Prince of Shepherds and great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ our Lord, established in the person of the Blessed Apostle Peter to secure the perpetual welfare and lasting good of the Church, must, by the same institution, necessarily remain unceasingly in the Church; which, being founded upon the Rock, will stand firm to the end of the world. [Except, perhaps, for the current era, in which popes and virtually all the bishops abet the “revolution in cope and tiara” by promoting Masonic blasphemy and indifferentism from the highest seat in the Church?] For none can doubt, and it is known to all ages, that the holy and Blessed Peter, the Prince and Chief of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of mankind, and lives, presides, and judges, to this day and always, in his successors the Bishops of the Holy See of Rome, which was founded by him, and consecrated by his blood.

“Thus, whosoever succeeds Peter in this Chair, obtains, by the institution of Christ Himself, the Primacy of Peter over the whole Church. Therefore, the disposition of truth remains, and Blessed Peter, persevering in the fortitude of the Rock that he accepted, has not relinquished the governance of the Church that he received.

“Therefore, it has always been necessary that each Church — that is, those who are the faithful everywhere — should agree with the Roman Church…. [F]ull power was given to him, in Blessed Peter, by Jesus Christ our Lord, to pasture, to rule, and to govern the Universal Church [i.e., not merely to avoid decreeing outright heresy by the skin of his teeth]….

“Hence we teach and declare that, by the appointment of our Lord, the Roman Church possesses a superiority of ordinary power over all other Churches, … to which all, of whatever rite and dignity, both pastors and faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound, by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters which belong to faith and morals, but also in those that appertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world, so that the Church of Christ may be one flock under one Supreme Pastor through the preservation of unity both of communion and of profession of the same faith with the Roman Pontiff. This is the teaching of Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and of salvation. …

“If anyone, then, shall say that the Roman Pontiff has the office merely of inspection or direction, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the Universal Church, not only in things which belong to faith and morals, but also in those which relate to the discipline and government of the Church spread throughout the world; or assert that he possesses merely the principal part, and not all the fullness of this supreme power; or that this power which he enjoys is not ordinary and immediate, both over each and all the Churches and over each and all the Pastors and the faithful; let him be anathema. …

“[T]his See of holy Peter remains ever free from all blemish of error, according to the Divine promise that the Lord our Savior made to the Prince of His disciples: ‘But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.’ (Lk 22:32).

“This gift, then, of truth and never-failing faith was conferred by heaven upon Peter and his successors in this Chair, that they might perform their high office for the salvation of all; that the whole flock of Christ, kept away from the poisonous food of error by them, might be nourished with the pasture of heavenly doctrine; that the occasion of schism being removed, the whole Church might be kept one, and, resting on its foundation, might stand firm against the gates of Hell.

How do the above excerpts suggest any vulnerability in the See of Peter, such that its universal decrees and guidance could be “eroded” or “infiltrated” by enemies of the truth? How does the above suggest that the true Vicar of Christ, far from being the rock-like principle of unity and doctrinal purity, could in fact be the primary catalyst of doctrinal confusion, pastoral errors, ecclesial disunity, revolution and novelty, etc.?

Indeed, only three years after Vatican I, Pius IX repeated his condemnation of doctrine-yes/discipline-No in Quartus Supra, in the context of Armenian churches who insisted on maintaining their liturgical and canonical customs over against Rome’s recent mandates and interventions:

[T]he neo-schismatics say that it [i.e. the dispute with Rome] was not a case of doctrine but of discipline, so the name and prerogatives of Catholics cannot be denied to those who object. … We do not doubt that you know well how vain and worthless this evasion is. For the Catholic Church has always regarded as schismatic those who obstinately oppose the lawful prelates of the Church and in particular, the chief shepherd of all. … [D]iscipline is often closely related to doctrine and has a great influence in preserving its purity. In fact, in many instances, the holy Councils have unhesitatingly cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed [or adulterated] its discipline. …

But the neo-schismatics declare that they do not oppose the Catholic Church’s principles in the least. Their sole aim is to protect the rights of their churches and their nation and even the rights of their supreme Emperor; they falsely allege that We have infringed these rights. By this means, they fearlessly make us responsible for the present disorder. Exactly in this way did the Acacian schismatics act towards Our predecessor St. Gelasius. …

But since discipline is the rampart of faith, the Apostolic See needed to restore discipline. …

[Citing Pope St. Gelasius:] “But let no one try to trick you by saying that ‘the controversy is not about religion [viz. faith and morals] but about customs [viz. discipline and pastoral policies],” as the ancient schismatics did, or that the Apostolic See is not dealing with the cause of Catholic communion and faith but is simply pained by the insult of being apparently despised by its critics….

Apparently, then, dissent from the Church’s universal disciplines and pastoral initiatives, as if they were heresies in pantomime, is tantamount to fomenting schism. Moreover, insofar as “discipline is the rampart of faith,” what would it say about the Magisterium if its sweeping disciplinary (i.e. liturgical, canonical, catechetical, etc.) changes were the very means by which the faith has been compromised and obscured for decades? As you yourself argue in part 1 of your series:

[S]uppose the enemy sought, above all else, to compromise the liturgical bulwark that had never previously failed to repel these same heretical assaults. … [S]uppose the Devil understood … that so long as the Mass of the Ages remained in place – and thus the Church’s indefectible lifeline to the Most High – whatever attacks his forces might muster, her standard would nevertheless remain high. Conversely, then, suppose he saw that if he could somehow manage to change that standard – and substitute her flag for a foreign banner – he might at last succeed in bringing the Bride of Christ to heel. … [T]he manifestly obvious fact that the Church and the world have seemingly lived this [Masonic] Instruction to the letterFrom top to bottom the aims of humanism have supplanted the Church’s missionary enterprise, a fact which brings into sharp relief why the Magisterium of today sounds like a consumptive kitten when read alongside the lion she once was.

The contradiction is palpable in the very words you find yourself constrained to use. It was not the Devil who compromised the Church’s “liturgical bulwark”–it was the Conciliar popes and prelates. The Devil did not manage to change the Church’s “standard”–the Conciliar popes and prelates did so. Is it “manifestly obvious” or only “seemingly” so that the Church has been usurped by Masonic plotters? Is the revolutionary discontinuity in question a “fact” or merely something that “sounds like” a magisterial defection? If “the Magisterium of today” no longer operates or speaks like the Magisterium that “once was,” what happened to that preterite priesthood?

The bitter pill to swallow is that, if you grant that the changes in question were willed by the authentic Magisterium, you cannot, short of accusing the Magisterium of apostasy, regard them as humanistic corruption to which half a dozen popes have formally wed the Church. Conversely, if you dare believe your own lying eyes and agree that the Conciliar changes inaugurated a genuine rupture in the life of Catholics, then the only way to salvage the Church’s indefectible authority is to deny that the changes were effected by that authority in the first place. If they are in fact the work of the Devil, then the reforms are to be rejected in whole, not parsed in the light of Tradition in order that they are more smoothly assimilated into the ongoing life of the Church. As St. Paul enjoins us in II Corinthians 6:

“Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?”  

Lastly, let us recall some medieval precedents which address both the gravity of and the treatment due to doctrinally and pastorally reckless popes, such as we seem to have been saddled with since The Great and Powerful Council. In the Liber Diurnus, papal successors swore and oath admitting that they, even as popes, would be excommunicated (and thus “unpoped,” so to speak) for manifestly proposing or even supporting heterodox novelties:

“I will keep without sacrifice to itself the discipline and the rite of the Church. I will put outside the Church whoever dares to go against this oath, may it be someone else or I.

“If I should undertake to act in anything of contrary sense, or should permit that it will be executed, Thou [O Lord] willest not be merciful to me on the dreadful Day of Divine Justice.

“Accordingly, without exclusion, We subject to severest excommunication anyone — be it ourselves or be it another — who would dare to undertake anything new in contradiction of this constituted evangelical Tradition and the purity of the orthodox Faith and the Christian religion, or would seek to change anything by his opposing efforts, or would agree with those who undertake such a blasphemous venture.”

We often hear how a “naive” and gentle John XXIII and “hapless” and overwhelmed Paul VI (who, allegedly, wept when he saw the final versions of the new mass, etc.) were merely duped into supporting Modernist, Masonic, Zionist, etc. conspirators, yet as common sense and the above papal oath make clear, the buck stops with the Chief Shepherd. Paul VI cooperated with the Masonic infilitrators and ratified, as universal normative law, all of the changes so passionately decried by traditioanlists. Interestingly, the same defense has been given about the “theologically simple” Honorius I vis-à-vis the “subtle” and crafty Sergius, yet that did not prevent three ecumenical councils from condemning him for failing to employ his apostolic powers when confronted with tricky theological machinations (by the Monothelites). In our own age, the weakest form of your thesis is that the revolution does not “[amount] to, or ever could amount to, a defection. Instead, amounts primarily to confusion and an overall weakening of the Church’s mission. It’s a sickness; but while the Bride of Christ may be sick, she isn’t terminal.” Yet, as the case of Honorius shows, even the failure adequately to ward off known enemies of the faith is to terminally compromise the status of a pope, much less and entire generation of “stealth Arian” bishops.

But to continue, Pope Innocent III had no pretensions about the inviolability of his role as Pope:

“‘Without faith it is impossible to please God.’ … And so the faith of the Apostolic See never failed, even in the most trying circumstances, but always continued intact and undiminished, so that the privilege of Peter remained constant and unshaken. To this end faith is so necessary for me that, though I have for other sins God alone as my judge, it is alone for a sin committed against faith that I may be judged by the Church. For ‘he who does not believe is already judged’.” (Sermo 2: In Consecratione, PL 218:656)

And again Innocent III soberly warned:

“Still less can the Roman Pontiff boast, for he can be judged by men — or rather he can be shown to be judged, if he manifestly ‘loses his savor’ in heresy. For he who does not believe is already judged.” (Sermo 4: In Consecratione, PL 218:670)

Just as a Catholic who rejects the Church’s faith is automatically “dismembered”, so a pope who manifestly (i.e. publicly) deviates from the Church’s orthodox tradition is “decapitated”. Going by your analysis, then, insofar as popes since at least Paul VI have been willing collaborators with what is apparently a Masonic subversion of the faith, they either forfeited their authority by siding with the revolution, or retained their authority and we are obliged to embrace all the reforms by faith, not by sight. Let him who has eyes to see, behold, yes–but, of course, we walk by faith and not by sight.

+ + +

In any case, even if we as traditionalists are deeply disturbed by how our shepherds are leading us, the public forum is not the place to thrash out our discontent with and declare  our verdict upon our true shepherds, as Pope Leo XIII made abundantly clear in a number of his writings:

“[N]othing can more grievously concern us than seeing the spirit of harmony among Catholics disturbed, the peace of souls shaken, trust emptied, and the submission befitting children to the fatherly authority that governs them discarded. …

“By certain indications it is not difficult to conclude that among Catholics – doubtless as a result of current evils – there are some who, far from satisfied with the condition of “subject” which is theirs in the Church, think themselves able to take some part in her government, or at least, think they are allowed to examine and judge after their own fashion the acts of authority. A misplaced opinion, certainly. If it were to prevail, it would do very grave harm to the Church of God, in which, by the manifest will of her Divine Founder, there are to be distinguished in the most absolute fashion two parties: the teaching and the taught, the Shepherd and the flock, among whom there is one who is the head and the Supreme Shepherd of all.

“To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor. In this subordination and dependence lie the order and life of the Church; in it is to be found the indispensable condition of well-being and good government. On the contrary, if it should happen that those who have no right to do so should attribute authority to themselves, if they presume to become judges and teachers, if inferiors in the government of the universal Church attempt or try to exert an influence different from that of the supreme authority, there follows a reversal of the true order, many minds are thrown into confusion, and souls leave the right path.

And to fail in this most holy duty it is not necessary to perform an action in open opposition whether to the Bishops or to the Head of the Church; it is enough for this opposition to be operating indirectly, all the more dangerous because it is the more hidden. Thus, a soul fails in this sacred duty when, at the same time that a jealous zeal for the power and the prerogatives of the Sovereign Pontiff is displayed, the Bishops united to him are not given their due respect, or sufficient account is not taken of their authority, or their actions and intentions are interpreted in a captious manner, without waiting for the judgment of the Apostolic See.

Similarly, it is to give proof of a submission which is far from sincere to set up some kind of opposition between one Pontiff and another. Those who, faced with two differing directives, reject the present one to hold to the past, are not giving proof of obedience to the authority which has the right and duty to guide them; and in some ways they resemble those who, on receiving a condemnation, would wish to appeal to a future council, or to a Pope who is better informed.

On this point what must be remembered is that in the government of the Church, except for the essential duties imposed on all Pontiffs by their apostolic office, each of them can adopt the attitude which he judges best according to times and circumstances. Of this he alone is the judge. It is true that for this he has not only special lights, but still more the knowledge of the needs and conditions of the whole of Christendom, for which, it is fitting, his apostolic care must provide. He has the charge of the universal welfare of the Church, to which is subordinate any particular need, and all others who are subject to this order must second the action of the supreme director and serve the end which he has in view. Since the Church is one and her head is one, so, too, her government is one, and all must conform to this.

When these principles are forgotten there is noticed among Catholics a diminution of respect, of veneration, and of confidence in the one given them for a guide….

That obligation … is … especially pressing upon journalists [and bloggers?]. If they have not been imbued with the docile and submissive spirit so necessary to each Catholic, they would assist in spreading more widely those deplorable matters and in making them more burdensome. The task pertaining to them in all the things that concern religion and that are closely connected to the action of the Church in human society is this: to be subject completely in mind and will, just as all the other faithful are, to their own bishops and to the Roman Pontiff; to follow and make known their teachings; to be fully and willingly subservient to their influence; and to reverence their precepts and assure that they are respected. He who would act otherwise in such a way that he would serve the aims and interests of those whose spirit and intentions We have reproved in this letter would fail the noble mission he has undertaken. So doing, in vain would he boast of attending to the good of the Church and helping her cause, no less than someone who would strive to weaken or diminish Catholic truth….

(Epistola Tua, 1885)

“It is certainly sad and painful to treat with severity those whom We cherish as children, but to act in this way, whatever it may cost, is sometimes a duty for those who have to labor for the salvation of others and keep them in the way of holiness. A greater severity becomes necessary when there is reason to believe that the evil only increases with the passage of time and is working harm to souls. These are the motives, Venerable Brother, which have brought you to use your powers to censure a state which is surely reprehensible, both because it is harming the sacred authority of bishops, and because it attacks not merely one, but a great number of bishops, describing their acts and their government in acrimonious terms, summoning them, so to say, before a court of law, as if they had failed in their most important and sacred duty.

No, it cannot be permitted that laymen who profess to be Catholic should go so far as openly to arrogate to themselves in the columns of a newspaper, the right to denounce, and to find fault, with the greatest license and according to their own good pleasure, with every sort of person, not excepting bishops, and think that with the single exception of matters of faith they are allowed to entertain any opinion which may please them and exercise the right to judge everyone after their own fashion.

“… It is Our first duty to take care, uniting Our efforts to yours, that the divine authority of the bishops remain sacred and inviolable. It belongs to Us also to command and to effect that everywhere this authority may remain strong and respected, and that in all things it may receive from Catholics the submission and reverence which are its just due. In fact, the divine edifice which is the Church is supported, as on a foundation visible to all men, first by Peter, then by the Apostles and their successors the Bishops. To hear them or to despise them is to hear or to despise Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself [cf. Luke 10:16]. The Bishops form the most sacred part of the Church, that which instructs and governs men by divine right; and so he who resists them and stubbornly refuses to obey their word places himself outside the Church [cf. Matt. 18:18]. But obedience must not limit itself to matters which touch the faith: its sphere is much more vast: it extends to all matters which the episcopal power embraces. For the Christian people, the bishops are not only the teachers of the faith, they are placed at their head to rule and govern them….
“[T]here are in the Church two grades, very distinct by their nature: the shepherds and the flock, that is to say, the rulers and the people. It is the function of the first order to teach, to govern, to guide men through life, to impose rules; the second has the duty to be submissive to the first, to obey, to carry out orders, to render honor. And if subordinates usurp the place of superiors, this is, on their part, not only to commit an act of harmful boldness, but even to reverse, as far as in them lies, the order so wisely established by the Providence of the Divine Founder of the Church. If by chance there should be in the ranks of the episcopate a bishop not sufficiently mindful of his dignity and apparently unfaithful to one of his sacred obligations, in spite of this he would lose nothing of his power, and, so long as he remained in communion with the Roman Pontiff, it would certainly not be permitted to anyone to relax in any detail the respect and obedience which are due his authority. On the other hand, to scrutinize the actions of a bishop, to criticize them, does not belong to individual Catholics, but concerns only those who, in the sacred hierarchy, have a superior power; above all, it concerns the Supreme Pontiff, for it is to him that Christ confided the care of feeding not only all the lambs, but even the sheep [cf. John 21:17]. At the same time, when the faithful have grave cause for complaint, they are allowed to put the whole matter before the Roman Pontiff, provided always that, safeguarding prudence and the moderation counseled by concern for the common good, they do not give vent to outcries and recriminations which contribute rather to the rise of divisions and ill-feeling, or certainly increase them. …
“Not only must those be held to fail in their duty who openly and brazenly repudiate the authority of their leaders, but those, too, who give evidence of a hostile and contrary disposition by their clever tergiversations and their oblique and devious dealings. The true and sincere virtue of obedience is not satisfied with words; it consists above all in submission of mind and heart.
“But since We are here dealing with the lapse of a newspaper, it is absolutely necessary for Us once more to enjoin upon the editors of Catholic journals to respect as sacred laws the teaching and the ordinances mentioned above and never to deviate from them. Moreover, let them be well persuaded and let this be engraved in their minds, that if they dare to violate these prescriptions and abandon themselves to their personal appreciations, whether in prejudging questions which the Holy See has not yet pronounced on, or in wounding the authority of the Bishops by arrogating to themselves an authority which can never be theirs, let them be convinced that it is all in vain for them to pretend to keep the honor of the name of Catholic and to serve the interests of the very holy and very noble cause which they have undertaken to defend and to render glorious.

(Est Sane Molestum, 1888)

“[O]rder should prevail in the Christian society by so much the more [since] the political prudence of the Pontiff embraces diverse and multiform things, for it is his charge not only to rule the Church, but generally so to regulate the actions of Christian citizens that these may be in apt conformity to their hope of gaining eternal salvation. Whence it is clear that, in addition to the complete accordance of thought and deed, the faithful should follow the practical political [i.e. disciplinary and pastoral] wisdom of the ecclesiastical authority. … Every one has to regulate his mode of conduct according to this constitution of the Church, which it is not in the power of any man to change. Consequently, just as in the exercise of their episcopal authority the bishops ought to be united with the apostolic see so should the members of the clergy and the laity live in close union with their bishops. Among the prelates, indeed, one or other there may be affording scope to criticism either in regard to personal conduct or in reference to opinions by him entertained about points of doctrine; but no private person may arrogate to himself the office of judge which Christ our Lord has bestowed on that one alone whom He placed in charge of His lambs and of His sheep. Let every one bear in mind that most wise teaching of Gregory the Great: ‘Subjects should be admonished not rashly to judge their prelates, even if they chance to see them acting in a blameworthy manner, lest, justly reproving what is wrong, they be led by pride into greater wrong. They are to be warned against the danger of setting themselves up in audacious opposition to the superiors whose shortcomings they may notice. Should, therefore, the superiors really have committed grievous sins, their inferiors, penetrated with the fear of God, ought not to refuse them respectful submission. The actions of superiors should not be smitten by the sword of the word, even when they are rightly judged to have deserved censure.'”

(Sapientiae Christianae, 1890)

“We direct Our first thoughts to those most unfortunate of all nations who have never received the light of the Gospel…. And here, indeed, is a duty which the Church, faithful to the Divine Mission entrusted to her, has never neglected [I presume, by neither erosion nor infiltration]. 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? …

“[I]t remains for Us to address all those throughout the world whose salvation has long been the object of Our thoughts and watchful cares; We mean Catholics, whom the profession of the Roman Faith, while it renders them obedient to the Apostolic See, preserves in Union with Jesus Christ. There is no need to exhort them to True and Holy Unity, since through the Divine Goodness they already possess it; nevertheless, they must be admonished, lest under pressure of the growing perils on all sides around them, through negligence or indolence they should lose this great Blessing of God. … [A]bove all, let them lay down for themselves as a Supreme Law, to yield obedience in all things to the teaching and Authority of the Church, in no narrow or mistrustful spirit, but with their whole soul and promptitude of will. …

“There is likewise a great danger threatening unity on the part of that association which goes by the name of Freemasons, whose fatal influence for a long time past oppresses Catholic nations in particular. Favored by the agitations of the times, and waxing insolent in its power and resources and success, it strains every nerve to consolidate its sway and enlarge its sphere.  It has already sallied forth from its hiding-places, where it hatched its plots, into the throng of cities, and as if to defy the Almighty, has set up its throne in this very city of Rome, the Capital of the Catholic world. But what is most disastrous is, that wherever it has set its foot it penetrates into all ranks and departments of the commonwealth, in the hope of obtaining at last supreme control. This is, indeed, a great calamity: for its depraved principles and iniquitous designs are well known. Under the pretence of vindicating the rights of man and of reconstituting society, it attacks Christianity; it rejects revealed Doctrine, denounces practices of Piety, the Divine Sacraments, and every Sacred thing as superstition; it strives to eliminate the Christian Character from Marriage and the family and the education of youth, and from every form of instruction, whether public or private, and to root out from the minds of men all respect for Authority, whether human or Divine. …

“Although We have spoken on this subject in the strongest terms before, yet We are led by Our Apostolic watchfulness to urge it once more, and We repeat Our warning again and again, that in face of such an eminent [sic] peril, no precaution, howsoever great, can be looked upon as sufficient. May God in His Mercy bring to naught their impious designs; nevertheless, let all Christians know and understand that the shameful yoke of Freemasonry must be shaken off once and for all; and let them be the first to shake it off who are most galled by its oppression–the men of Italy and of France. With what weapons and by what method this may best be done We Ourselves have already pointed out: the victory cannot be doubtful to those who trust in that Leader Whose Divine Words still remain in all their force: ‘I have overcome the world’.

“Were this twofold danger averted, and government and States restored to the Unity of Faith, it is wonderful what efficacious remedies for evils and abundant store of benefits would ensue.  … [The Church] would receive that Honor which is her due and she would go on her way, free from envy and strong in her liberty, as the Minister of Gospel Truth and Grace to the notable welfare of States. For as she has been given by God as a Teacher and Guide to the human race, she can contribute assistance which is peculiarly adapted to direct even  the most radical transformations of time to the common good, to solve the most complicated questions, and to promote uprightness and justice, which are the most solid foundations of the commonwealth.

(Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae, 1894)

I quoted as much as I did about the Freemasons, not only because it pertains to your article, but also to highlight how Leo XIII never suggests that Rome itself, as the God-given “Teacher and Guide to the human race,” is subject to Masonic compromise, but rather that “government and States” must be liberated from Masonic meddling. If, however, Freemasons are the new shepherds (our new ruling class), then Pope Leo XIII is not only a fool, but the faith is in shambles.

Conversely, if the shepherds are essentially Masons, heretics, apostates and con artists, then their directives and reforms all these many years are to be rejected as so many illegitimate tares sewn among the wheat. What cannot be countenanced, however, is that genuine bishops and popes can in nowise be seen as active promulgators of, nor even mere accomplices to, the “erosion” or demolition of the faith. “An enemy has done this,” indeed.

But back to Pope Leo XIII:

“[B]y the will and command of God the Church rests upon St. Peter, just as a building rests on its foundation. Now the proper nature of a foundation is to be a principle of cohesion for the various parts of the building. It must be the necessary condition of stability and strength. Remove it and the whole building falls. It is consequently the office of St. Peter to support the Church, and to guard it in all its strength and indestructible unity. How could he fulfil this office without the power of commanding, forbidding, and judging, which is properly called jurisdiction? It is only by this power of jurisdiction that nations and commonwealths are held together. A primacy of honour and the shadowy right of giving advice and admonition [viz. merely pastoral suggestions],which is called direction, could never secure to any society of men unity or strength.

“The words – and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it – proclaim and establish the authority of which we speak. … The meaning of this divine utterance is that, notwithstanding the wiles and intrigues which they bring to bear against the Church, it can never be that the church committed to the care of Peter shall succumb or in any wise fail. “For the Church, as the edifice of Christ who has wisely built ‘His house upon a rock,’ cannot be conquered by the gates of Hell, which may prevail over any man who shall be off the rock and outside the Church, but shall be powerless against it” (Ibid.). Therefore God confided His Church to Peter so that he might safely guard it with his unconquerable power. He invested him, therefore, with the needful authority; since the right to rule is absolutely required by him who has to guard human society really and effectively.

“… ‘The Son committed to Peter the office of spreading the knowledge of His Father and Himself over the whole world. He who increased the Church in all the earth, and proclaimed it to be stronger than the heavens, gave to a mortal man all power in Heaven when He handed him the Keys’ (S. Johannes Chrysostomus, Hom. Liv., in Matt. v., 2). In this same sense He says: ‘Whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth it shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth it shall be loosed also in Heaven.’ This metaphorical expression of binding and loosing indicates the power of making laws, of judging and of punishing; and the power is said to be of such amplitude and force that God will ratify whatever is decreed by it. Thus it is supreme and absolutely independent, so that, having no other power on earth as its superior, it embraces the whole Church and all things committed to the Church. …

“These, then, are the duties of a shepherd: to place himself as leader at the head of his flock, to provide proper food for it, to ward off dangers, to guard against insidious foes, to defend it against violence: in a word to rule and govern it. Since therefore Peter has been placed as shepherd of the Christian flock he has received the power of governing all men for whose salvation Jesus Christ shed His blood. … In the same way Maximus the Abbot teaches that  … ‘the Apostolic See has received and hath government, authority, and power of binding and loosing from the Incarnate Word Himself; and, according to all holy synods, sacred canons and decrees, in all things and through all things, in respect of all the holy churches of God throughout the whole world, since the Word in Heaven who rules the Heavenly powers binds and loosens there’ (Defloratio ex Epistola ad Petrum illustrem).

It is not sufficient for the due preservation of the unity of the faith that the head should merely have been charged with the office of superintendent, or should have been invested solely with a power of direction. But it is absolutely necessary that he should have received real and sovereign authority which the whole community is bound to obey.

(Satis Cognitum, 1896)

In the same vein, Pope Benedict XV, in his 1914 inaugural encyclical, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, emphasized how obedience of the faithful extends not only to matters dogmatic but also to the larger pastoral course being taken by the Church’s shepherds in union with the Holy See:

“The success of every society of men, for whatever purpose it is formed, is bound up with the harmony of the members in the interests of the common cause. Hence We must devote Our earnest endeavours to appease dissension and strife, of whatever character, amongst Catholics, and to prevent new dissensions arising, so that there may be unity of ideas and of action amongst all. The enemies of God and of the Church are perfectly well aware that any internal quarrel amongst Catholics is a real victory for them. Hence it is their usual practice when they see Catholics strongly united, to endeavour by cleverly sowing the seeds of discord, to break up that union. And would that the result had not frequently justified their hopes, to the great detriment of the interests of religion!

To recall the citation from Praeclara about Freemasons given above, this passage seems to afford the window by which we can imagine revolutionaries crept in, but to imagine the past few popes and the entire episcopacy to be an accomplice to it all, and for so long?

Hence, therefore, whenever legitimate authority has once given a clear command, let no one transgress that command, because it does not happen to commend itself to him; but let each one subject his own opinion to the authority of him who is his superior, and obey him as a matter of conscience. Again, let no private individual, whether in books or in the press, or in public speeches, take upon himself the position of an authoritative teacher in the Church. All know to whom the teaching authority of the Church has been given by God: he, then, possesses a perfect right to speak as he wishes and when he thinks it opportune. The duty of others is to hearken to him reverently when he speaks and to carry out what he says.

“As regards matters in which without harm to faith or discipline–in the absence of any authoritative intervention of the Apostolic See–there is room for divergent opinions, it is clearly the right of everyone to express and defend his own opinion. But in such discussions no expressions should be used which might constitute serious breaches of charity; let each one freely defend his own opinion, but let it be done with due moderation, so that no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith or to discipline.

“It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. … There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim ‘Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,’ only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.”

I’ll end with a remarkable admonition regarding filial obedience that Pope Pius X delivered in 1912:

“[W]hen we love the Pope, there are no discussions regarding what he orders or demands, or up to what point obedience must go, and in what things he is to be obeyed; when we love the Pope, we do not say that he has not spoken clearly enough, almost as if he were forced to repeat to the ear of each one the will clearly expressed so many times not only in person, but with letters and other public documents; we do not place his orders in doubt, adding the facile pretext of those unwilling to obey – that it is not the Pope who commands, but those who surround him; we do not limit the field in which he might and must exercise his authority; one does not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of others, however learned they may be, who differ from him. For however great their learning, they must be lacking in holiness, for there can be no holiness in dissension from the Pope.”

As such, folks like Forte, Baldisseri, Maradiaga, Kasper, Marx, Braz de Aviv, Daneels, et al., precisely because they are promoted as being more or less of one mind with the pope, are to be heeded as signals of how Christ is leading His Church under the care of His one true vicar.

So…

(1) If you accept the current pope, his immediate predecessors, all these bishops and their Conciliar successors as true successors to the Apostles, commissioned by the power of Christ Himself, then you really must swallow all the bitter liturgical feed they hand us, eat your ecumenical greens, and stay mostly mute as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

(2) If, however, you recognize that this scope and these kinds of “reform” amount to a deformation, and that the Conciliar developments are only so many heretical mutations, then you have no reason to recognize the agents of change as legitimate authorities in the first place.

Like I said: “Pick your poison.”

+ + +

P.S.

When I asked if the following is a fair summary of your argument–

Modernist infiltrators are boldly attempting to use the structure of the Catholic Church for their own false religion. The precise problem facing the Catholic Church is that heretics have, by canonically legal means, infiltrated positions of the hierarchy, and are promoting a false religion as if it were the Catholic Faith. If they had separated from the Catholic Church, as the Lutherans did, their position vis-à-vis the Catholic Church would be very clear, and there would be no crisis in the Church.

–you said “it’s a relatively fair summary.”

Interestingly enough, the summary I provided is an almost verbatim citation of a claim made by the sedevacantist Bp. Sanborn in 1991. Make of that what you will.

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About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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177 Responses to Between a Rock and a dark place…

  1. Branch says:

    “As such, folks like Forte, Baldisseri, Maradiaga, Kasper, Marx, Braz de Aviv, Daneels, et al., precisely because they are promoted as being more or less of one mind with the pope, are to be heeded as signals of how Christ is leading His Church under the care of His one true vicar.”

    So, pray, pay and obey, you’re saying?

  2. Branch says:

    An implication of what you’re saying, I think, is that what was once considered orthodoxy can now (or in the future) no longer considered to be so. And so Catholicism is always in flux? And that’s ok? But the Church has also condemned that idea in condemning Modernism. There has to be another way.

  3. Brian Miles says:

    Okay, thank you for the reply. Again, I appreciate the consideration. I’ll give it a careful read and respond when I can. From just a brief overview, however, it looks as if this is touching on something you’ve been thinking a lot about. Are you personally wrestling with the viability of sedevacantism? Also, while it would not have changed my response to you, I would be grateful if when you ask an honest question that you also be upfront when you’re doing so vis-a-vis a repackaged quote from a specious actor; revealing this after the fact feels like you’re playing “gotcha”.

  4. Murray says:

    Wow. So I guess I’m off to Confession again.

  5. st athanasius3 says:

    As you claim, the Church’s discipline cannot be in error; however, today, Girls are allowed to serve at the altar when, in the past, this practice has been called evil by two Popes. See below. Now if it is wrong for some to question the new teachings now, then it must have been wrong in the past for those who now call evil good. If one is severed from the Church due to not abiding by what the Conciliar Church has taught, then the Conciliar Church is severed due to what they teach today. Thus, the problem seems to be with them. The “rock and dark place” seems to be the position you find yourself in.

    Also, Popes have defined the gates of hell as the “tongues of heretics”. If anyone considers the Pope to be a manifest heretic, yet considers him still Pope, places the gates of hell as head of the Church. We are left with one of two positions in my opinion. Either the Church was in error in the past, or the Church today is not really the Church. There is no way in hell the Holy Spirit is behind the destruction of the Church and the heresy that abounds in it.

    And the media only reports; it does not write the documents for the Church.

    What are your thoughts?

    Pope Gelasius 494 AD:
    We have heard with sorrow of the great contempt with which the sacred mysteries have been treated. It has reached the point where women have been encouraged to serve at the altar, and to carry out roles that are not suited to their sex, having been assigned exclusively to those of masculine gender. (Vatican journal Notitiæ, Aimé‐Georges Martimort, vol. 16, 1980)

    Encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV promulgated on July 26, 1755 Allatae Sunt:
    Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chap. 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the bishop of Tusculum: “Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry.” We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft‐repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21.

    1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Woman Ministering at the altar, even in a subordinate capacity, is likewise forbidden. A decree says: “It is prohibited to any woman to presume to approach the altar or minister to the priest” (cap. Inhibendum, 1 de cohab.); for if a woman should keep silence in church, much more should she abstain from the ministry of the altar, conclude the canonists.

    1917 Code of Canon Law. Canon 813, §2:
    The minister serving at mass should not be a woman unless, in absence of a man, for just cause, it is so arranged that the woman respond from afar and by no means approach the altar.

  6. Brian, I apologize for seeming to be sneaky, it is just my experience that if an interlocutor knows up front that a citation belongs to a reflexively unsavory author, it colors one’s otherwise objective response to the claims, rather than to the bona fides of the source. I hope you can understand that, and I appreciate your efforts with this series.

    As for sedevacantism, all I will say for now is that my options as a Catholic these days seems equally absurd, or at least, equally stultifying.

  7. Murray says:

    Branch, it really doesn’t seem that there is another way. As Elliot lays it out, our options are 1) sedevacantism or 2) submission of will and intellect, which really means silence. And since it seems to me that sedevacantism, by its very definition, falls into the set of errors described in Pastor Aeternus or the several statements by Leo XIII, Benedict XV, and Pius X above, we’re left with silence.

    Obviously, this would impose upon many of us a near-unbearable load of cognitive dissonance, to the extent that we continue to follow the goings-on in the Church, but perhaps this is God’s way of telling us that we are succumbing to the vice of curiosity. After reading this article, I’m seriously considering deleting all my Catholic feeds (including this one and 1P5, alas!), my Disqus account, and cancel my Remnant subscription, stop worrying about the Synod, try to avoid all news about the Holy Father, and just focus on tending my own garden. Oh, and maybe begin a slow transition from my Novus Ordo cathedral parish to our tiny Anglican-use Catholic parish, where I can rest assured that the Mass will not provoke me into sin.

    I’m sure the sedes will love this article, which is neither here nor there, but I would like to see responses from the traditionalists at the Remnant, among others. I may get in touch with them to see if they’d like to take it on.

  8. Branch says:

    But Murray, what then is the substance of Catholicism? If it can constantly be in flux (the cognitive dissonance you mention), and we’re just meant to go along with the latest version, what is the truth of the matter? We still need to know what we’re to obey, right, and if it’s nothing more than the latest version of Catholicism as presented by the current Pope and Bishops (papal positivism), then that is utterly absurd, isn’t it?

  9. Dear Elliott. There are many reasons why you are worthy of love and admiration and this piercing piece evinces many of those qualities but, for me, Raider Fan, it is the way you follow your soul to conclusions that you do not wish to arrive at that is so worthy of my love and admiration.

    This is a truly heroic piece and you are leading many of us to confront what we have intellectually long known but have refused to face – that our modern Popes do not have the same Faith as did the Popes up until, oh, prolly the first half of the 20th century.

    It seems fairly certain that one Pope was a Freemason prior to his election and it is quite certain that other Popes had no intention of keeping the old church alive but were, rather, quite keen on giving birth to the new church.

    Hell, man, even the putatively Conservative/Traditionalist hero, Pope Pus XII, was more concerned with saving Jews from Nazis than he was concerned about saving Catholics from Commies and he is….ok, I will back away from focusing on him.

    The piece is just devastating and I can not thank you enough for it for I am now staring into the abyss ya bastid; no, I mean that completely seriously. Men have to stop lying to themselves that everything is jake.

    Mysterium Iniquitatis.

    As to what to do, who knows? I have flirted with sedevacantism in the past but I rejected it after some research and so iI am constrained to go down with the Barque even though I am not an officer.

    Jesus is the head of His Catholic Church and so I will not leave it even though it seems to have left me. I wonder if I can still cling to my idea of this being a shadow church? But no; the Church must be visible. Shit.

    There has to be some explanation of what has happened but damned if I know what it is (other than sin, obviously). So far, I have remained in communion with my Bishop and the Pope and I see no reason that will change even after the discipline concerning Adultery and Communion will be, gently, blown-up but I do have to improve on the whole “no breaches of charity” thing.

    As an accomplished amateur coward, I can say that I will have nothing to do with dispensing Communion to adulterers as I am not a EMHC and so in that sense, I will accept the discipline.

    Well done, my man; well done. Damn, this is strong and true.

    I don’t know how’n’the’hell you can do this with your duties as Husband and Father – and with a new young’un also – but you are a rare treasure in this Church: presuming we do still exist as a church:)

    At every Mass I assist at, part of my intention for the Mass is you and your family. Please never back away from where your soul leads you, brother. You are man of courage and you are richly blessed.

  10. Murray says:

    Branch, I agree, but here we’re contemplating what Elliot describes as the absurd…or stultifying horns of this dilemma. Since sedevacantism is absurd (arrogating to the faithful the right to judge those whom the Church teaches cannot be judged by the faithful), we’re stuck with stultification. To be sure, this is not exactly red martyrdom, but it would be a wrenching change for those of us who are compulsively drawn to the study of the world around us!

    I have no good answer to your comment, and am wondering the same myself. The road has always been narrow, but has it ever been this obscure? It has always been hard to keep Our Lord’s commandments, but Elliot implies that we can no longer even be sure what those commandments are, since the Church has so radically altered how she articulates and develops them.

    It certainly seems absurd, even a violation of the law of non-contradiction, blithely to pretend that all the current emanations from the Holy See are unproblematically in harmony with the traditional teaching of the Church. I can see how this would be less of a problem for Mohammedans or Mormons who are accustomed to accepting all manner of irrationalism within their religions, but I thought Catholics were meant to use their reason to apply Church teachings. And how to do that when today’s teaching seems to be diametrically opposed to that of yesterday’s? Elliot used to go to great lengths to highlight these apparent inconsistencies, but now seems to believe that doing so was sinful, perhaps mortally so. And I can’t say that he’d be wrong to think so, given the evidence above.

    What seems clear is that there is practically no scope for action by the laity apart from prayer, much as it pains me to say so. Over the weekend, I listened to Steve Skojec and Ann Barnhardt discussing the current crisis in the 1P5 podcast, and formulating plans to craft a manifesto to be signed by priests who commit to uphold the Church’s teaching on matrimony. And I was wholly in favor of this, but it just doesn’t seem permissible in light of this article.

    Sorry for rambling, but I’m trying to work through this myself.

  11. Mike Sirilla says:

    The object of papal infallibility, as defined by “Pastor Aeternus,” chap. 4 (which you did not quote) is faith and morals – not discipline and government. The arguments of the theologian-authors of the manuals you cite are their studied opinions but no assent is required to be given them.

  12. Branch says:

    Mike Sirilla, I was going to offer a similar point. What authority do the sources that Elliott used have?

  13. Branch says:

    Murray, I thought Elliot was implying rather that the “commandments” are whatever is current – so, pray, pay and obey. Be “silent.”

    Even if that course of action were reasonable practically (and ironically, isn’t that what Vatican II was supposed to overcome, in part – the clericalism, the degrading of the laity to mere second class sheeple and all that?), it still would not address the question of what Catholicism is in its substance. If we throw away the law of non-contradiction, we are left with truly nonsense, absurdity. If there is truth, there cannot be contradiction. And if there is contradiction, then there are times when truth is taught and times when it is not. I do not accept the conclusion that we are left in a dilemma with only two options, though I would share your pangs of conscience if we were.

    I think instead, at least for now, that we need to be more discerning and understanding in how we receive Church teaching, which includes discerning what is actually binding and unchangeable and what is not. I think that Mike Sirilla’s comment above may well be correct.

  14. Tony Jokin says:

    Branch, Murray (& Elliot),

    Maybe I am missing something in what Elliot has written, but I don’t think prayer is even an option in the sense we usually bring it up in such cases. Prayers would have to be said to help us accept the things that the Popes have put forward in the past 50 years, rather than praying for the Pope to change his mind and set things right.

    Anyway, I would like to propose that we can be sure Elliot has missed something important here in his piece (I hope you don’t mind me saying this Elliot) because the two possible conclusions it forces us to accept are both absurd. So one of the premises Elliot has used in this argument is false or missing some qualifiers. Elliot himself has demonstrated it Reductio ad absurdum.

    When the conclusions of an argument are absurd, we do not follow to accept the less absurd. We reject the argument itself because the starting premises are either false or incorrect in their scope.

  15. Murray says:

    Tony,

    I agree. I am taking this very seriously, but at the same time I’m engaging in a bit of devil’s advocacy, some heightening of the contradictions, in order to draw out fuller implications of what Elliot’s argument implies for us faithful on the ground.

  16. Max says:

    I came into the Church some 10 years ago because I realized it was the Church of Christ. It was during the horrible sex abuse scandal but I came anyway.. What I could not understand and still can’t is why the modernists and evil doers were not cut off from the Church just has a surgeon cuts out a cancer. Does it not say in scripture if your hand offends or eye you should cut it off or out. What has been the rationale of this lack of response?
    The silence is deafening!

  17. st athanasius3 says:

    The Church being persecuted and having to go underground, and also an imposter sitting in the House of the Lord is biblical. The Popes have approved prophesies that speak of a Church with no shepherd, a Church perceived to have been overcome. Why would these approved visions or prophesies be approved in the first place if you are saying they can’t happen? The Church will always be the only means of salvation; this the gates of hell can’t prevail against. There is nothing that says the Church can’t go a certain period of time without a pope. If we can go 5 days without a pope, then why can’t we go 50 years without one?

    Like others here, I am also trying to figure this all out. Any responses to my comment are more than welcome.

  18. Max:

    Perhaps it signals a LACK of authority. Why haven’t the Eastern Orthodox called an ecumenical council since the schism (aside from weirdly high-fiving the Lutherans in the 17th century and condemning their own Achilles heel (phyletism) in the 19th)? Because of a lack of proper authority. [Just noting a curious analogy, not declaiming.]

  19. athanasius3:

    I’m trying to be rational and composed and prayerful about all this, as are you. Thank you for your heartfelt comments. Thing is, I’ve got some adversaries who would just LOVE to know I went all sede. I’m equanimous about it. At this point it’s like telling a young boy that some pants don’t match a certain jacket. Some things are just incoherent on their very face. Pope Francis has a perfectly “Conciliar” mouth but he does not have a Catholic mouth. Follow the syllogism through the Matrix…..

  20. Dear Mr. Sirilla, But, the manuals were just reiterating that which was believed by all (morally speaking); that is, such beliefs were solidly part of the sensus fidelium and, thus, infallible on that level.

    We can no more throw out that orthodox belief as inapplicable now anymore than we ought to have thrown out Mortalium Animos as inapplicable now.

    If we do apply to the infallibility of discipline the sacramental of defenestration then we are constrained to say that the Church had already defected back then and we are worse off than we are now

  21. Branch says:

    If discipline is infallible, and if at time A discipline is X and at time B discipline is Y (assuming they relate to the same matter), then…?

    Isn’t the fact that discipline can change (due to its very nature) itself evidence of its not being infallible?

  22. Branch says:

    From yesterday’s Vortex, “Saint Francis spent three years, barefoot, sleeping outside, eating very little trying to re-convert the 60,000 former Catholics in a nearby region of Switzerland in the sixteenth century.

    He had initially set out with just one other person, a cousin, because everyone else thought he was a nut job. His father offered him no financial support at all and even disowned him.”

    I mention this because if the Church can accept its own Protestantation or becoming indifferent, say, through various disciplinary or prudential decisions (like ecumenism), then what was St. Francis de Sales doing? He obviously had the sense that being Catholic mattered and so much so that he was willing to suffer what he did. So was he mistaken? Or did being Catholic matter then, but now it doesn’t because the Spirit is blowing a different way? But then, is our God like the God of the Muslims, pure will with no rationality and no substance other than willing? No truth? Pope Benedict said our God is not like that. But that was a few years ago and this is now? But what if we have another Pope in a few years or decades who thinks like Benedict? The Spirit has shifted again?

  23. st athanasius3 says:

    Discipline can change but it cannot be in error when administered by the Catholic Church. Our Mother Church cannot give Her Children poison.

  24. Branch says:

    I beg to differ: “To claim that disciplinary infallibility consists in regulating, without possibility of error, the adaptation of a general law to its end, is equivalent to the assertion of a (quite unnecessary) positive infallibility, which the incessant abrogation of laws would belie and which would be to the Church a burden and a hindrance rather than an advantage, since it would suppose each law to be the best. Moreover, it would make the application of laws to their end the object of a positive judgment of the Church; this would not only be useless but would become a perpetual obstacle to disciplinary reform.”
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05030a.htm

  25. Branch says:

    Instead, “From the disciplinary infallibility of the Church, correctly understood as an indirect consequence of her doctrinal infallibility, it follows that she cannot be rightly accused of introducing into her discipline anything opposed to the Divine law; the most remarkable instance of this being the suppression of the chalice in the Communion of the laity. This has often been violently attacked as contrary to the Gospel. Concerning it the Council of Constance (1415) declared (Sess. XIII): “The claim that it is sacrilegious or illicit to observe this custom or law [Communion under one kind] must be regarded as erroneous, and those who obstinately affirm it must be cast aside as heretics.” ”

    So then, regarding the upcoming/ongoing Synod, whatever happens, what will not happen, what CANNOT happen, is that the Church will permit – formally, officially – the distribution of Holy Communion to the divorced and ‘remarried’. But I think most people also fear that that is really no consolation. Perhaps other disciplines could be put into practice that do not formally, officially contradict the infallible doctrine but, practically speaking, at least undermine it.

    Would such discipline be “poison”? I know this: we don’t have to hold that whatever discipline is decided is de facto the best discipline possible.

  26. Tantumblogo says:

    I’d be very wary to follow this path much further. I strongly suggest you get in direct touch with Fr. Phil Wolfe, FSSP on this admittedly momentous subject you have been addressing for months, because, as he has warned so many times to others, you run a grave risk of literally studying yourself right out of the Church. I don’t think the analysis above is entirely balanced. There is a tension built into the Faith over adherence to what God has revealed and what men propose as that belief at various times. We have numerous quotes from Saints and Fathers attesting to that fact. The Church has, of course, experienced great periods of doctrinal upheaval, perhaps greater even than our own. There were great tensions in those times, as well, over adhering to the constant Truth Christ has revealed and errors proposed by those in authority. Reconciling that tension has been one of the most difficult quandaries that great Saints and Fathers have struggled with. I am not completely certain that tension has ever been fully resolved. It remains, even today, even in 1900, before, we may think, all this craziness started (it started well before that). You are trying to force an intellectual resolution to a matter that has frustrated many great minds. I am not the expert to help you understand how to reconcile obedience to authority along with rejection of error that may be advanced by some authority. But Fr. Wolfe is the best I can recommend, at present, to do so.

    I would say more but I would only make a greater fool of myself.

    Call 972-438-7600 or assistantpastor@materdeiparish.com. You may have to try more than once to get him to respond.

  27. Murray says:

    Branch,

    These are excellent counterpoints. Thanks. It seems to me the key sentence is the following:

    From the disciplinary infallibility of the Church … it follows that she cannot be rightly accused of introducing into her discipline anything opposed to the Divine law.

    So we can be sure that, for instance, the Novus Ordo Mass cannot be opposed to the Divine law, nor can any of the declarations of Vatican II or other, post-Conciliar disciplines. The New Mass, along with altar girls and communion in the hand (etc.) may be sub-optimal, even severely deficient, but they are not opposed to the Divine law. Do I have this right?

    Tantumblogo,

    Excellent advice. There is evidently an enormous tension to be reconciled here since, as Tony Jokin points out, Elliot’s dilemma would force us to accept absurd conclusions.

  28. Branch says:

    Murray, I think that’s right. Some have claimed that the Novus Ordo Mass is “heretical.” That is impossible and absurd. Because of the link between discipline and doctrine, discipline cannot oppose doctrine, Divine law. And liturgical discipline includes the rites of the Mass and the administration of all of the sacraments.

    In like manner, for example, it would be impossible ipso facto for the Church to bless gay ‘marriages’. Simply impossible. It is invalid and incomprehensible from the word go as discipline would contradict doctrine and Divine law.

  29. Dear Branch. I used that same encyclopedia entry early this AM in an email exchange with another about Elliott’s post hours before you posted it and so there is no disagreement twixt us for my argument was not that discipline never changed or could never change but the manner in which discipline is developed and applied can be seen as adding poison to the pellucid truth of our Doctrinal life; for instance, compare the first encyclical of Pope Leo XIIi with the first encyclical of Pope Paul VI and one can easily see, hell FEEL, the complete and total change in the Catholic weltanschauung.

    The Church of Poe Leo simply does not exist anymore. Period.

    Go ahead, read them

    http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_21041878_inscrutabili-dei-consilio.html

    https://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_06081964_ecclesiam.html

    Pope Leo XIII thinks the world is a joke and is slipping back into superstition and barbarism and must be reformed to conform to the Teaching Church whereas, less than 100 years later, we have a Pope who thinks the Church must be reformed but that the world is a cuddly tabby, not a roaring lion seeking to destroy us, and so we can chat with the non-catholics and learn from and “respect” their false religions.

    The same goes for Mortalium Animos and Gaudium et Spes and the new ecumenism etc etc etc

    One simply can not tell me that the Church that i was born into in 1948 is the same Church existing today because everything has changed; everything, Mass, Sacraments, Religious Orders, Religious Liberty, appreciation of false religions, refuse to seek conversions etc etc

  30. st athanasius3 says:

    I don’t think we can say girl altar servers are not against divine law. If something is evil, so says the Church, then it can’t be aligned with divine law. If a woman can’t be a priest since he represents Christ, and an altar server is an extension of the priest in the Mass, then girls can’t serve at the altar. This is as simple as 2+2=4.

    How can something be evil and not be against divine law at the same time?

    From New Advent that Branch referenced.
    The authors of these treatises decide unanimously in favour of a negative and indirect rather than a positive and direct infallibility, inasmuch as in her general discipline, i.e. the common laws imposed on all the faithful, the Church can prescribe nothing that would be contrary to the natural or the Divine law, nor prohibit anything that the natural or the Divine law would exact. If well understood this thesis is undeniable; it amounts to saying that the Church does not and cannot impose practical directions contradictory of her own teaching.

  31. Dear Tantumblogo. With all due deference to the FSSP (I am a Confraternity member of long time standing) I know first hand that they must hold their tongues in public and even after so many years of faithful silence in an age of outrage, they have not gained the ability to ordain their own bishops

  32. Branch says:

    st athanasius3, the text I linked to (and which you quote) is making the case that discipline cannot contradict doctrine, so that point can’t be used to back up your claim here that there IS a contradiction between liturgical discipline (allowance of altar girls) and Divine law. It would fall on the one who sees a contradiction to prove the case that there is positively and undeniably a contradiction.

    At the very least, I’d question the assumption that because altar boys are in service to the priest, and because only men can be priests, and thus women cannot be priests, so therefore altar girls cannot serve the priest at Mass; because while I understand the logic, there is a fundamental distinction between altar boys and priests. The equivocation, then, of altar girls with women priests would not hold.

    Though I would say that the inclusion of altar girls in the service of the priest at Mass has likely been damaging to the faithful’s understanding of the all male priesthood and to attracting vocations. But it is still incorrect to say that altar girls are evil and absolutely opposed to Divine law (whereas it is correct that women ‘priests’ are absolutely opposed to Divine law). They may be a horrific accommodation and an imprudent novelty that has done harm, but still, that matter is on another level.

  33. In these days, which mark the beginning of this Second Vatican Council, it is more obvious than ever before that the Lord’s truth is indeed eternal. Human ideologies change. Successive generations give rise to varying errors, and these often vanish as quickly as they came, like mist before the sun.

    The Church has always opposed these errors, and often condemned them with the utmost severity. Today, however, Christ’s Bride prefers the balm of mercy to the arm of severity. She believes that, present needs are best served by explaining more fully the purport of her doctrines, rather than by publishing condemnations.

    This change in discipline is poison and it is completely contrary (as its author, Montini of Milano admits) to Tradition AND (what he does not admit) Holy Scripture where demands are made that the Church identify, isolate, repudiate, and shun heretics.

    Once Pope, Paul addressed the Roman Clergy and told them that he could exercise discipline (frankly, it is mandatory) but that he preferred to be loved.

    Good Lord, he was deadly serious, wasn’t he? And so the moral necks of our children were laid bare to the ravening heretical wolves.

    Now this was not just a change in discipline it was a repudiation of sacred duty and how this can not be seen as evil is beyond me.

    I am not competent to explain away this obvious evil because I am not a lawyer.

  34. Branch says:

    But the Second Vatican Council, as we know, did not issue any new dogmas, declare any anathemas, or condemn heresies. Instead, its intention was entirely pastoral. And even in that, were any disciplines actually imposed from the Council? Poetic addresses are not disciplines. We would need to evaluate actual disciplines concretely.

  35. st athanasius3 says:

    I post this again since Branch seems to think, contrary to the Church, which he seems to prefer to turn back on me, that girl altar servers can’t be evil.

    “But it is still incorrect to say that altar girls are evil…”- Branch

    Encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV promulgated on July 26, 1755 Allatae Sunt:
    Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chap. 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the bishop of Tusculum: “Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry.” We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft‐repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21.

    Branch, are you denying the teachings of a Pope in an encyclical who teaches that the practice of women serving at the Mass is evil?

  36. Dear Branch. Paul did it in his first encyclical that I posted above and which included his relentless appeals to dialogue which excluded condemnation of errors and condemnations of false religions as promised at the opening V2 kickoff and all of which was a novel discipline completely opposed to Church, Bible, and Tradition and which is THE program of Pope Francis; Dialogue, Dialogue, Dialogue.

    Besides, one can not look at praxis and declaim a connection twixt action and discipline/doctrine for men act on what they believe and the different actions of our modern Popes from the actions of, say, Leo XII and Pius X, spell out that rupture in Faith in spades; that is, it seems apparent that these modern Popes have, at least, a different quality of faith.

    For Heaven’s sake, when the place-holding Pope John 23rd read the speech drafted by Montini of Milano, he told the entire world – which population included a majority who were material heretics – that we WERE changing discipline but you gainsay that as poetry?

    Hell, man, it was a promise welcomed by the itchy ears of irrational imbeciles from whom we were going to now learn from;
    Animists, Mahometans, Witch Doctors, Pagans, Atheists, Polytheists, Messias-Deniers, all of them were no longer the enemies of Christ and His Church but our dignified friends who were going to teach us about the many splendors of their false faiths in service to the very Gods condemned in the First Commandment.

    Lord have mercy.

    Sorry, I know this response is suffused with churlishness but it is owing to me standing at the ecclesiastical edge and staring into the abyss.

    I confess that, at times, it is difficult for me to know to whether I am more fearful than flummoxed but it is beyond all doubt that this clear rupture has drawn me into a more passionate love of Jesus and a substantial increase in my Belief, hope, and Trust of Him.

    I trust Him beyond all telling while I am skeptical, at best, about the Hierarchy of the Church.

  37. Besides, one can not look at praxis and declaim a connection twixt action and discipline/doctrine (does not exist) for men act on what they believe and the different actions of our….

    (does not exist ) was excised by me in a redraft

  38. Branch says:

    st athanasius3, so Pope Benedict XIV teaches that women serving at Mass is evil. Pope John Paul II allows the practice of women serving at Mass in 1994. As I see it, we have the following options as possible conclusions:

    1) The Church’s practice has contradicted her doctrine due to the conflict between BXIV and JPII, thus suggesting that the infallibility of discipline is fractured from the infallibility of doctrine.
    2) BXIV’s teaching is not a matter of infallibility and so there is no fracture as least on the level of infallibility of doctrine and discipline.
    3) JPII’s allowance somehow does not signal a change of discipline. There is a nuance there somehow that we’re overlooking.
    4) Altar girls are evil, but an evil that does not breach of doctrine, and so there is no fracture at least on the level of infallibility of doctrine and discipline.

    What do you make of that? Can you think of any others?

    What I “think” is that it is a matter of necessity that infallible doctrine cannot conflict with infallible discipline, per the definitions I linked to prior. I have no set opinion on altar girls, but rather am trying to make sense of the predicament we’ve been discussing in light of the fundamental premise that discipline cannot contradict doctrine.

  39. Hi, y’all, thanks for all your comments, and feel free to keep ’em comin’.

    Just wanted to let you know that I’m going to take some time tonight to sit and respond to challenges, misconceptions, and new doctrinal data that’s been proposed.

    Above all, keep in mind that I am NOT being dogmatic about a fixed position here. As I hope is clear, I am in a radically aporetic state of mind, and am following the path of ‘fides quaerens intellectum’ in a very pressing but cautious manner. In the spirit of Pope Francis, you might, say I am following the truth even unto the peripheries of ‘absurdity’ and sheer faith.

    Stay tuned.

  40. Tantumblogo says:

    MJY Catholic, I appreciate the response. I’m not certain what any limitations widely purported to apply to the FSSP has on my comment. I wasn’t calling for EB to engage in a public discourse with Fr. Wolfe. My comment may have seemed smug, I did not intend it to, I just know I’ve seen folks spin around on these matters and generate enough centripetal force to fly out of the Church without ever intending to do so.

    As for the commentary on the FSSP, in my experience it varies on a priest-by-priest basis. There really isn’t a blanket ban on controversial topics. They are brought up all the time. I was at a wedding when the entire groom’s family was protestant and Fr. Wolfe spent 20 minutes explaining to them how their protestantism resulted in exactly the situation we are in today. And FSSP priests have called the Synod “a work of darkness” and “satanic.” I know there are also Fraternity priests who do shy away from criticizing VII or the crisis in the Church but that does not apply to all of them. It’s about 50-50, with the younger ones generally being more willing to speak out.

  41. Brian Miles says:

    Elliot, yes, given the nature of internet discourse (especially when anonymous) I completely understand that interlocutors will take whatever advantage they may both to bolster their case and to mitigate damage. I have certainly been guilty of this, but that is not my intent here. I hope we can be honest and forthright and trust each other to have the best intentions in seeking the Truth who is Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    To this end, I think I am starting to make some headway re: the question of infallibility as it pertains to discipline and pastoral governance. But life is busy, and you’ve thrown down quite the gauntlet based on considerable study which has clearly taken many of us unawares. The idea that disciplines may be imprudent and pastoral initiatives harmful is something of first principle in traditionalist thought. Clearly, you have brought that assumption under intense scrutiny, forcing us to question what has been long taken for granted; but while critical examination can be a beneficial endeavor, bear in mind that guiding assumptions do not rise to the level given principles without good reason. Thus, as others have suggested, the proposition that the Church is necessarily infallible in her every discipline and helpful in each proscription may well be more tenuous than has been presented her.

    Joining you in prayer in hopes of a fruitful discussion. God bless, Brian

  42. Pingback: Reply to comments on Rock and dark place… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam" fidescogitactio @ gmail . com

  43. “[O]nly a miracle of that divine power could preserve the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, from blemish in the holiness of Her doctrine, law, and end in the midst of the flood of corruption and lapses of her members.”

    — Pope St. Pius X, Editae Saepe, n. 8

    “The Church and the Virgin Mary are mothers, both of them; what is said of the Church can be said also of Our Lady and what is said of Our Lady can also be said of the Church…. Do we love the Church as we love our mothers, also taking into account her defects? All mothers have defects, we all have defects, but when we speak of our mother’s defects we gloss over them, we love her as she is. And the Church also has her defects: but we love her just as a mother. Do we help her to be more beautiful, more authentic, [more traditional (?) and] more in harmony with the Lord? … The Church is all of us: from the baby just baptized to the Bishop, [to] the Pope; we are all the Church and we are all equal in the eyes of God!”

    Pope Francis, General Audience, 11 September 2013

    “It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant. Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ!”

    Pope Francis,  Address To Ethiopian Tewahedo Patriarch of Egypt, 20 April 2015

    “The wisdom of Christ in establishing … [the perpetual Petrine] authority is readily seen by comparing the unity of faith in the Church with the Babel of confusion that reigns outside.”

    — Fr. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ (1955), p. 197

    “Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.

    “The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the ‘intrinsically perverse’ political form of a secular [and ecological?] messianism.

    “The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.”

    Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 675-677

    + + +

    PART I — “Credo quia absurdum” – Murray/Tony raised the issue of absurdity.

    Well, which is more absurd–mystery or contradiction? Far from being dogmatic, I am being openly aporetic. To wit: that the indefectible, completely holy (i.e. healthy) Church has contradicted itself–in liturgy, ecclesiology, Church-State relations, justification, canon law, ecumenical relations, etc.–or that, to recall an earlier passage–

    Modernist infiltrators are boldly attempting to use the structure of the Catholic Church for their own false religion. The precise problem facing the Catholic Church is that heretics have, by canonically legal means, infiltrated positions of the hierarchy, and are promoting a false religion as if it were the Catholic Faith. If they had separated from the Catholic Church, as the Lutherans did, their position vis-à-vis the Catholic Church would be very clear, and there would be no crisis in the Church. 

    –I ask you, which is more “absurd”?

    I honestly no longer know.

    A recusant wandering in the desert, a dark night of the Church, an ecclesial darkening of the sun as at the Son’s Passion, the King’s Odinsleep, etc. may indeed be absurd, but I fail to see how obedience to contradiction, mutation, pluralization of unity, etc. is any less absurd.

    Lest my poetical side get the better of me, let me address one point of absurdity I think Murray had in mind, namely, how could we possibly say the Church could persist without a living successor of St. Peter? As athanasius3 indicated above, it’s a very tricky litotes riddle. At what point does a papal conclave become a bout of sedevacantism and when does sedevacantism stop being a bizarre papal impasse? Keep in mind that the same vision so much hay of which Brian Miles made in part 1 of his essay series, according to which the Devil would be given extraordinary leeway in interfering with the Church, may just as easily be seen by sedevacantists as the reason why they are still waiting for a true papal successor.

    In any case, it’s patent that the monarchial nature of the Church–which is what Vatican I really defined–persists, even in the absence of a human successor.  To cite Dorsch:

    “The Church … 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.…

    “Thus the Church is then indeed a headless body.… Her monarchical form of government remains, though then in a different way — that is, it remains incomplete and to be completed. The ordering of the whole to submission to her Primate is present, even though actual submission is not….

    “For this reason, the See of Rome is rightly said to remain after the person sitting in it has died — for the See of Rome consists essentially in the rights of the Primate.

    “These rights are an essential and necessary element of the Church. With them, moreover, the Primacy then continues, at least morally. The perennial physical presence of the person of the head, however, is not so strictly necessary.”

    Institutiones Theologiae Fundamentalis: de Ecclesia Christi (Innsbrück: Rauch, 1928) II:196–7.

    In chapters IX and X of his The Church of Christ, Fr. Berry provides an interesting reminder about the perpetuity of the Petrine office compared to the transience of the personal occupant of said office:

    “[A]t the time [when St. Peter denied Christ during the Passion], he was neither the rock of the Church nor the confirmer of his brethren. As yet these powers and dignities had only been promised to him. It was not until after the Resurrection of Christ that he was actually constituted head of the Church….” (p. 187)

    So, if we imagine the Conciliar chaos as a sort of mystical participation by the Church in the Passion and burial of the Lord, we must grant that the cleft between the authority promised unto the Petrine See and the clarity of the personal occupant thereof might be very distressing indeed.

    But back to Fr. Berry:

    “The Church must ever have a custodian, a supreme law-giver and judge, if she is to continue as Christ founded her. [Nonetheless, the] primacy [which Christ established] was not a personal privilege granted to St. Peter as a reward for his outspoken professions of faith and love, as some would have it. To institute [as well as to perpetuate] an office is one thing; to confer that office upon one person rather than another is quite a different thing. St. Peter’s faith and love, no doubt, merited for him the honor of being chosen supreme pastor of the Church, but they contributed nothing to the institution of the office itself. (p. 197) 

    This is to say, just as the Eucharistic oblation existed prior to Calvary, and the perpetuity of the Mass is connected to the historical action of the Passion at Calvary, so the Petrine office existed prior to St. Peter’s commission in it, and, therefore, ‘subsists’ independently of any successor who might occupy it. Indeed, I have often pondered how the Lord is still present in the Eucharistic species as long as the accidents abide, as an analogy of how the papacy persists during a conclave or anti-papacy in the ‘accidents’ of a predecessor’s reign. As Fr. Faber wrote in 1860,

    “Peter lives always, because the Three-and-Thirty Years are always going on. The two truths belong to each other. The Pope is to us in all our conduct what the Blessed Sacrament is to us in all our adoration. The mystery of His Vicariate is akin to the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament. The two mysteries are intertwined.

    Once more from Fr. Berry:

    “The permanent character of the primacy is also deduced from the teaching authority committed to St. Peter with the injunction to ‘confirm’ his brethren. In conferring this power, Christ was undoubtedly looking to the future, when the successors of the Apostles, lacking the gift of personal infallibility, would stand in need of such a guiding power in the Church….” (p. 197)

    If St. Peter still speaks in his biblical epistles, and still speaks by the mouth of Popes Leo, Agatho, Pius IX, and still reigns in papal laws ‘on the books’, etc. then how is the Church qua monarchial society truly bereft of the Petrine patrimony during a hypothetical papal Odinsleep? If we are quite possibly passing through our ECCLESIAL share of the Lord’s Passion, then why should we find it so odd that ‘Peter’ would be found denying his Lord, in expectation of a greater blessing?

    Consider also the following:

    Canonists hold that one is not schismatic if he recognizes the papacy, does not intend to reject a true pope, and acts with good reason. To wit:

    “Finally they cannot be numbered among the schismatics, who refuse to obey the Roman Pontiff because they consider his person to be suspect or doubtfully elected on account of rumours in circulation.” (F.X. Wernz, P. Vidal. Ius Canonicum, VI:398, 1943)

    “Nor is there any schism if one merely transgress a papal law for the reason that one considers it too difficult, or if one refuses obedience inasmuch as one suspects the person of the pope or the validity of his election, or if one resists him as the civil head of a state.” (Rev. Ignatius Szal. Communication of Catholics with Schismatics, 1948)

    “Neither is someone a schismatic for denying his subjection to the Pontiff on the grounds that he has solidly founded [‘probabiliter’] doubts concerning the legitimacy of his election or his power.” (De Lugo. Disp. de Virt. Fid. Div., disp xxv, sect iii, nos. 35-8)

    Odd as it may sound, some saints have been ‘sedevacantists’, namely, Sts. Hippolytus and Felix, to whose ranks may be added Savonarola, to whom numerous popes and saints have been devoted.

    In the same vein, Fr. Berry notes (ibid., p. 229):

    [I]f a pope, in his private capacity as an individual, should fall into manifest heresy he would cease to be a member of the Church, and consequen[tly] would also cease to be her supreme pastor. But this is … [a] purely theoretical hypothesis, since no Pope is known to have fallen into heresy [but, but, but what about Honorius I, John XXII, Adrian VI, et al.???], and it is most probable that the vicar of Christ is divinely protected from such a misfortune…. 

    “In case a Pope becomes a scandal to the Church on account of a sinful life, he can and ought to be admonished by the bishops, … but they have no authority to depose him.”

    Not so incidentally, the above mention of the pope becoming a scandal to the Church, neutralizes one of Mr. Heschmeyer’s arguments against sedevacantism, namely, that, according to Dz. 646, if the pope were wicked, he would still remain pope. Alas, a pope’s moral fiber is not the issue, but his adherence to the Catholic faith, no matter how bizarre it may be to imagine such a defection from it. Point being, a manifest heretic CANNOT become or remain the pope, while a morally scandalous pope can and should be deposed by the bishops.

    Lastly, in his widely read post on sedevacantism, while he rejects their account of the current ecclesial crisis, The Rad Trad considers sedevacantists to be fellow Catholics. “These men,” he says of sedevacantists, “like St. Vincent Ferrer, adhere in principle to the Apostolic See but make an error in judgment concerning the man who [is] upon it. They do not deny the authority. They mistakenly deny the person who exercises it. This is not a minor error, yet it has precedent even among the saints.

    PART II – “Discipline Is the Vanguard of Faith” – Branch and others on the non-infallibility of Church discipline:

    The unity and indefectibility of the Church’s discipline serves as a kind of ‘incarnation’ of its doctrine. Consider the following and answer how one might even possibly separate “mere discipline” from “official doctrine”.

      Communicatio in sacris (i.e. casting Eucharistic pearls to non-Catholic swine)– faith, morals, or discipline (FMD)?

    Answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE!

      The essential form and matter of the sacraments: FMD?

    ATB!

      Liturgical rubrics–FMD?

    ATB!

      Allowing communion under one species–FMD?

    ATB!

    There is no more chance of separating the divine power of Christ from his incarnated actions than there is of separating the faith-and-morals infallibility of the Church from her disciplinary authority.

    To wit:

    “[We dare not say that] the Church which is ruled by the Spirit of God could have established discipline which is not only useless and burdensome for Christian liberty to endure, but which is even dangerous and harmful and leading to superstition and materialism.”

    — Pope Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei (1794), n. 78; Dz. 1578

    “[T]he discipline sanctioned by the Church must never be rejected or be branded as contrary to certain principles of natural law. It must never be called crippled, or imperfect or subject to civil authority. In this discipline the administration of sacred rites, standards of morality, and the reckoning of the rights of the Church and her ministers are embraced.”

    — Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, n. 9

    “[We cannot] pass over in silence the audacity of those who … contend that ‘without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.’ But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.”

    — Pope Pius IX, Quanta Cura (1864), nos. 5-6

    “[T]he Catholic Church has always regarded as schismatic those who obstinately oppose the lawful prelates of the Church and in particular, the chief shepherd of all. … [D]iscipline is often closely related to doctrine and has a great influence in preserving its purity. In fact, in many instances, the holy Councils have unhesitatingly cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed [or adulterated] its discipline. …

    [T]he neo-schismatics declare that they do not oppose the Catholic Church’s principles [nor “faith and morals”] in the least. … [T]hey fearlessly make us responsible for the present disorder. Exactly in this way did the Acacian schismatics act towards Our predecessor St. Gelasius. … [D]iscipline is the rampart of faith…. [Therefore,] let no one try to trick you by saying that ‘the controversy is not about religion [viz. faith and morals] but about customs [viz. discipline and pastoral policies],” as the ancient schismatics did“.

    — Pope Pius IX, Quartus Supra (1873), nos. 12, 16, 50

    “[W]whosoever succeeds Peter in this Chair, obtains, by the institution of Christ Himself, the Primacy of Peter over the whole Church. Therefore, the disposition of truth remains, and Blessed Peter … has not relinquished the governance of the Church that he received.

    “Therefore, it has always been necessary that each Church — that is, those who are the faithful everywhere — should agree with the Roman Church…. [F]ull power was given to him, in Blessed Peter, by Jesus Christ our Lord, to pasture, to rule, and to govern the Universal Church [i.e., not merely to avoid decreeing outright heresy by the providential skin of his teeth]….

    “Hence we teach and declare that, by the appointment of our Lord, the Roman Church possesses a superiority of ordinary power over all other Churches, … to which all, of whatever rite and dignity, both pastors and faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound, by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters which belong to faith and morals, but also in those that appertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world, so that the Church of Christ may be one flock under one Supreme Pastor”.

    — Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, 1870

    “And as in animals the vital principle is unseen and invisible, and is evidenced and manifested by the movements and action of the members, so the principle of supernatural life in the Church is clearly shown in that which is done by it.

    “From this it follows that those who arbitrarily conjure up and picture to themselves a hidden and invisible Church are in grievous and pernicious error: as are also those who regard the Church as a human institution which claims a certain obedience in discipline and external duties, but which is without the perennial communication of the gift of divine grace [or vice versa], and without all that which testifies by constant and undoubted signs to the existence of that life which is drawn from God. It is assuredly as impossible that the Church of Jesus Christ could be the one or the other as that a man should be a body alone or a soul alone. The connection and union of both elements is as absolutely necessary to the true Church as the intimate union of soul and body is to human nature.

    “[I]n judging and determining the nature of this unity many have erred in various ways. Not the foundation of the Church alone, but its whole constitution, belongs to the class of things effected by Christ’s free choice. …

    “It is then undoubtedly the office of the church to guard Christian doctrine and to propagate it in its integrity and purity. But this is not all: the object for which the Church has been instituted is not wholly attained by the performance of this duty. … But faith alone cannot compass so great, excellent, and important an end. There must needs be also the fitting and devout worship of God, which is to be found chiefly in the divine Sacrifice and in the dispensation of the Sacraments, as well as salutary laws and discipline. All these must be found in the Church, since it continues the mission of the Saviour for ever. The Church alone offers to the human race that religion — that state of absolute perfection — which He wished, as it were, to be incorporated in it. And it alone supplies those means of salvation which accord with the ordinary counsels of Providence. …

    “Wherefore Jesus Christ bade all men, present and future, follow Him as their leader and Saviour; and this, not merely as individuals, but as forming a society, organized and united in mind. In this way a duly constituted society should exist, formed out of the divided multitude of peoples, one in faith, one in end, one in the participation of the means adapted to the attainment of the end, and one as subject to one and the same authority. To this end He established in the Church all principles which necessarily tend to make organized human societies, and through which they attain the perfection proper to each. … The Church, therefore, as we have said, is man’s guide to whatever pertains to Heaven.”

    — Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (1896), nos. 3, 9, 10

    There can … be no real opposition or conflict between the invisible mission of the Holy Spirit and the juridical commission of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ, since they mutually complement and perfect each other — as do the body and soul in man – and proceed from our one Redeemer who … [said:] ‘He that heareth you, heareth me.’

    “And if at times there appears in the Church something that indicates the weakness of our human nature, it should not be attributed to her juridical [or ‘merely disciplinary’] constitution, but rather to that regrettable inclination to evil found in each individual, which its Divine Founder permits even at times in the most exalted members of His Mystical Body, for the purpose of testing the virtue of the Shepherds no less than of the flocks, and that all may increase the merit of their Christian faith. … Certainly the loving Mother is spotless in the Sacraments by which she gives birth to and nourishes her children; in the faith which she has always preserved inviolate; [and] in her sacred laws imposed on all….

    “[The Church’s liturgical discipline] may, indeed it must, undergo many accidental changes, especially in its laws, in order to prudently react to differing circumstances in diverse ages, but these accidental changes must never touch the substance of Christ’s foundation. This [legal/canonical] indefectibility is a certain sign of the Church’s supernatural origin and character, for no human organization could traverse two thousand years [of accidental liturgical and canonical alterations] and remain essentially the same. [The Church’s] indefectibility is ever more a sign of its divine origin and assistance when one considers how many times and with what force the enemies of the Church have tried to make her change essentially.”

    — Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis (1943), nos. 65-66

    To recall my original beef with Brian’s essays at One Peter Five, to say that the enemies have seized the helm, really is to say that the gates of hell (or, ‘the tongues of heretics’) have won.

    In any case, let us return to the counsel of Pope Pius XII:

    “The Church has further used her right of control over liturgical observance to protect the purity of divine worship against abuse from dangerous and imprudent innovations introduced by private individuals and particular churches. … “It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification.”

    This is a crucial point: If we recognize John XXIII and Paul VI as true Popes, then our only options, as far as their liturgical reforms go, is to say our confessional please, eat our Eucharistic peas, and say our thank you’s with filial ease.

    “For the same reason no private person has any authority to regulate external practices of this kind, which are intimately bound up with Church discipline and with the order, unity and concord of the Mystical Body and frequently even with the integrity of Catholic faith itself.

    “The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism, in respect of the sacred liturgy also, she grows, matures, develops, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded. This notwithstanding, the temerity and daring of those who introduce novel liturgical practices, or call for the revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics, deserve severe reproof.

    — Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei (1947), nos. 57-59

    In other words, the disciplinary and liturgical insurrection of some impinged directly on the Church’s cogency and credibility as a teacher of faith and morals.

    In light of the above, a couple citations from the OCE notwithstanding, we actually AGREE that the Church is NECESSARILY INDEFECTIBLE in her pastoral decrees (i.e. incapable of erring against the Divine Will even in matters of ‘mere discipline’). Even though a number of her laws and disciplines may pertain to matters quite removed from the core matters (viz. defined matters of faith and morals), yet NO LAW from the Church can be OPPOSED to the Divine Will. Ergo, all of the passages with which I began my post are correct, even if “some [other] manualists disagree.” Indeed, the interlocutor who objected to my numerous manualist citations about the Church’s disciplinary infallibility, never bothered to engage the reasoning behind my citations–preferring instead simply to flick them out of view on account of there being a minority objection on the books.

    Need I remind the reader that there is a name for Catholics who trump all ordinary universal magisterial teachings on account of the fact that there is no matching, extraordinary, papal defeinition of dai doctrine? The name we give such Catholics is “Cafeteria Catholics” or “CINO’s”.

    Meanwhile, a string of popes have made it abundantly clear that the Bride of Christ is not semi-maculate, not just a widdle whorish, not just “barely pregnant” with Masonry-Modernism, but in fact utterly holy in all her positive doctrines, decrees, disciplines, and devotions.

    But there’s more.

    1) If discipline is radically distinct from faith-and-morals, and therefore not a dimension of papal and magisterial infallibility, then how could liturgical errors ever compromise faith and morals? That is, if the Church’s infallibility and indefectibility is strictly confined to “matters pertaining to faith and morals,” then why should we be concerned about how rubrical reforms and liturgical abuses undermine faith and morals? For, if rubrics and canons lie outside the impregnable castle of the Church’s faith and morals, then errors in their domain could never compromise the castle. Yet, precisely because we know that blasphemous rubrics and evil canons do threaten the integrity of the Church’s faith and morals, we must admit that rubrics and canons fall under the ambit of the Church’s infallibility (i.e. the domain in which it is guaranteed never to mislead the faithful in the Way of Christ). Now, while I’m sure you’ll think the following point is me just trying to be bombastic, I mean it quite sincerely: if the “sheer validity” of a sacrament is “all that matters,” what would prevent us from receiving the Blessed Sacrament at a Satanic black mass where the proper matter had been properly confected by a validly ordained but apostate Catholic priest?

    2) If discipline is allegedly so ancillary to the faith, why is perhaps the most basic word for a Catholic “disciple”? I’m not being cheeky. I mean it. To be a disciple of Christ is to submit to His discipline; and insofar as Christ’s will is known only by way of His Church, submitting to His discipleship necessarily means submitting to the Church’s discipline. Therefore, asserting blithely that the Church’s discipline can err in any number of ways (i.e. is fallible), is tantamount to saying that Christ’s discipleship is equally fallible.

    3) As even the formative materials of Vatican II note, “[The infallibility of the Church extends to all those things … which either directly pertain to the revealed deposit itself, or are required in order that the same deposit may be religiously safeguarded and faithfully expounded” (Acta Synodalia Conc. Vat. II, III/8, p. 89; as cited in Fracnis A. Sullivan, Magisterium (Wipf & Stock: Portland, OR, 1983, p. 132]). As the threat of the Kasper Proposal makes quite evident, disciplinary policies are closely, even inextricably bound up with, faith-and-morals judgments. Fortunately, BOTH domains fall under the gift of infallibility given by Christ, albeit in different ways (cf. my discussion of unalterable vs. infallible, immediately below).

    4) Those who object to my citations about the Church’s disciplinary infallibility are suffering from a confusion about the INALTERABLE versus INFALLIBLE character of ecclesial discipline. I am not claiming that every single canon is infallible like a formal dogmatic definition (that is why Pastor Aeternus, chapter 4, does not mention canons!), but I am saying that alterations in canonical or liturgical discipline can never possibly entail a defection from how the prior canon(s) conformed with the Divine Will. While the formal definition of, say, the Immaculate Conception is both infallible and unalterable (since altering any parts of a formal definition would compromise its formal perfection, just as altering a sacrament’s form negates its validity), it is possible to affirm the same substantial truth by using other words in a practical context. Otherwise no one could discuss the IC without uttering the formal definition in every instance. Likewise, if infallibility totally excluded concrete but merely accidental alterations, then no one could affirm the IC in his own tongue, since “only the official Latin” would be regarded as truly infallible. Obviously, the infallible Latin definition admits of accidental vernacular changes, just as the infallible character of the Church’s discipline admits of regional and temporal alterations, which, however, do not amount to a substantial/formal change. So, while various canonical principles can be altered for various contexts and needs, the substance of what the law protects or promotes can never be compromised (i.e. its function or demands can never contravene the Divine Will). By analogy, securing a tent may necessarily require tying it to eight pegs in the ground, but one can alter the particular knot used to secure the ropes (depending on weather conditions, type of cordage, if children might need to be able to work the knots later, etc.). So, while the particular knots are ‘knot’ infallible, the function that they serve is free of all error. In contrast, omitting one peg would entail a defection from the intended integrity of the tent (and, by hypothesis, throwing in an extra peg would compromise the intended balance).

    In that light, recall Leo XIII’s words in Epistola Tua (1885):

    “[I]n the government of the Church, except for the essential duties imposed on all Pontiffs by their apostolic office, each of them can adopt the attitude which he judges best according to times and circumstances. Of this he alone is the judge. It is true that for this he has not only special lights, but still more the knowledge of the needs and conditions of the whole of Christendom, for which, it is fitting, his apostolic care must provide. He has the charge of the universal welfare of the Church, to which is subordinate any particular need, and all others who are subject to this order must second the action of the supreme director and serve the end which he has in view. Since the Church is one and her head is one, so, too, her government is one, and all must conform to this.

    With the above, Leo XIII was merely echoing something taught by the Council of Trent:

    “It [the Council] declares furthermore that this power has always been in the Church, that in the administration of the sacraments, preserving their substance, she may determine or change whatever she may judge to be more expedient for the benefit of those who receive them or for the veneration of the sacraments, according to the variety of circumstances, times, and places.” 

    — Session 21, Chapter 2; Dz. 931

    In terms of canon law, as long as a new canon “binds” or “loosens” the same substantial aim of the Divine Will, it permits of accidental changes in light of contingent historical and pastoral factors. Conceivably, in fact, a newer formulation of a canonical PRINCIPLE may help “bind” the faithful more closely to the Divine Will than a previous articulation of it. Likewise, a newer formulation of a standing canon/discipline might entail a looser conformity with the aims of the Divine Will on the pertinent issue, in order to accentuate (or ‘tighten’) conformity with It on a different front which the Chief Shepherd deems more important at that juncture in the Church’s life. Whatever the ‘canonical vector’ may be at the time, while a pope cannot “define” any canon as the one and only possible and unalterable formulation of a disciplinary aim (which, again, is why Pastor Aeternus refers to the infallibility of solemn papal definitions being confined to faith and morals), yet he can, and, by virtue of his duty as the Vicar of Christ, MUST say that in ratifying any law binding upon the faithful, it does not contravene the Divine Will (and is therefore infallible without being irreformable in the way that faith-and-morals definitions are). Canon law is immensely complex and interrelated. The general arc of the Church’s penitential discipline, from the sub-apostolic days to the present, has been one of progressive loosening. Old-school penances were HARSH. This is a fact which delights situationists and liberals, like Kasper, Braz de Aviv, Marx, O’Malley, The Pope Who Shall Not Be Mentioned In Such Curious(ly Abundant) Company, et al., but previous popes have lamented the ongoing penitential laxity in the churches, and have taken steps to tighten things up quite a lot (e.g. Benedict XIV, Non Ambigimus, 1741).

    The point is that, amidst all these highly complex concrete disciplinary modifications, the Church is constitutionally INCAPABLE of imposing one which contravenes the Divine Will and incites the faithful to impiety. Ergo, if it is manifest that a torrent of canonical reforms do indeed contravene past canons (which, of course, were submitted to precisely because they confirmed with the Divine Will!) and do incite impiety, then we can only conclude that such reforms did not and do not in fact issue from the authority of Christ’s Church. Ironically, liberals are latitudinarian (or “the loyal opposition”) about faith and morals, while traditionalists are latitudinarian (or “loyally defiant”) about discipline and governance. Yet there is in the Church as truly as in Our Lord a true dyotheletism, a mysterious hypostatic-union-expanded-through-time-and-space, whereby the ‘human’ aspects of the Body (viz. discipline and governance—the human will) immaculately harmonize with the ‘divine’ aspects of the Body (viz. faith and morals—quite literally, THE DIVINE WILL). Again, in Christological terms, hermeneutic-of-suspicion, Foucauldean liberals are ecclesial Ebionites, surrendering the glory and authority of the Divine Logos to the concreteness and charismatic fleshiness of the man Jesus (cf. the rabid personalism, zealous chumminess with all things Jewish, crude earthiness, charismatic-if-not-Montanist Biblicism, etc. of this papacy, and, frankly, of the whole Conciliar project), while paranoid, Gallican traditionalists are Nestorian, sacrificing the integral soundness of the fleshly Jesus to the Platonic perfection of faith-and-morals-as-Logos. Yet, we must lovingly embrace BOTH dimensions of the Church AS the Body of the very same hypostatically-unified, THEO-ANDRIC LORD. As Pope Leo XIII said, “The connection and union of both elements [viz. the dogmatic and disciplinary in the Church] is as absolutely necessary to the true Church as the intimate union of soul and body is to human nature.”. And as Pius XII teaches, “There can … be no real opposition or conflict between the invisible mission of the Holy Spirit [‘faith-and-morals’] and the juridical commission of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ [discipline-and-governance], since they mutually complement and perfect each other”.

    In either case The Catholic tradition unambiguously maintains that the Church is a PERFECT SOCIETY. It is telling that it is only in our Conciliar age that we’ve reached the point where we live in constant, almost daily fear of what might issue from Rome. We’ve been told over and over and over again to “RELAX,” because, hey, “they/he can’t change official DOGMA, they’re/he’s just fiddling with DISCIPLINE!” But every Catholic soul knows its birthright is to be able to have unflinching, filial abandonment to “the hierarchy”. Paradoxically, it is by smarmily papering over the radical duality of the Christian society that the Conciliar reforms have heightened the opposition between “the faithful in the pew” and the ugly, political, factious “Vatican regime.” We know by Catholic instinct that the liberty of unfeigned ultramontanism is our natural birth right, yet why do we who take the larger tradition seriously find it so threatening and maddening to TRUST that the popes are, by the providential skin of their teeth, end up doing the right thing? What kind of shepherding is that? What kind of Father leaves his children in constant suspense whether out of the oven of an ecumenical prayer gathering, an innovative new encyclical, a creative new pastoral initiative, and so on, there shall emerge a loaf of bread or a barren stone? If you want to talk about absurdity, think of this: the stoical traditionalist argument amounts to saying that we can still trust the shepherds because, when we asked for an egg, they didn’t give us a lethal viper—they just gave us rotten eggs! Waka waka!

    Please take a moment to consider the divine promises about the Church as the perfection of Israel, as the perpetually blessed sheepfold:

    2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the crippled you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6 My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. 7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd; and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep; 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. 11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice.”

    [14] Return, O faithless children, says the LORD; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. [15] “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. [16] And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says the LORD, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD.” It shall not come to mind, or be remembered, or missed; it shall not be made again. [17] At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. [18] In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage. [19] “I thought how I would set you among my sons, and give you a pleasant land, a heritage most beauteous of all nations. And I thought you would call me, My Father. [20] Surely, as a faithless wife leaves her husband, so have you been faithless to me, O house of Israel, says the Lord. 

    — Ezekiel 34

    “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the Lord.

    — Jeremiah 23

    [10] The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. [11] I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. [12] He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. [13] He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. [14] I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
    [15] as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. [16] And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

    — John 10

    If you don’t HEAR Christ in the Conciliar reforms and ways and means, then what are you supposed to do? Submit your reason to The Papacy as you recognize it. Or cling to Christ amidst your ecclesial blindness. But, hey, what do I know?

    PART III: Don’t shit where you eat; IOW, don’t rant where you pray.

    I ask you, Murray/Branch, what is “defective” about the NOM? Does the NOM of its very nature TEND TO obscure liturgical truth and, thus, Catholic doctrine. Murray, you mentioned your desire to make “a slow transition from my Novus Ordo cathedral parish to our tiny Anglican-use Catholic parish, where I can rest assured that the Mass will not provoke me into sin.” Yet somehow you think that normalizing and tolerating such a state of worship, for perhaps your whole life so far, indicates either a failure of authority or a complete lack of it?

    As I mentioned in my original post, if the Church has been, at the very least, imprudent (i.e. sinful to some extent) in the Conciliar reforms, then how does she remain, to recall Pius XII’s teaching, “spotless … in her sacred laws imposed on all”? Moreover, by what standard are we entitled to judge that the NOM is inferior, misleading, etc.? Well, here’s one passage that might help:

    “[T]he sin of superstition may be committed by worshipping the true God in the wrong way or by worshipping false gods….

    “1. God may be wrongly worshipped either by false worship or by superfluous worship being paid him. Worship of God is false when its meaning is not in accordance with fact, or when the falsehood is in the person who performs the act of worship, as when a layman performs the duties of a priest, or when someone tries to gain credence for false miracles or false relics….

    “2. Anything in the worship of God which does not tend to his honour and glory, or which is against the ordinances and practice of the Church, to whom the regulation of religious worship exclusively belongs, is superfluous worship and superstition. This sin is committed by attributing an infallible effect to a fixed number of prayers or acts of piety, or to the mere material wearing of the scapulars or medals, or by unwarrantably acting against the rubrics while saying Mass or administering the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church.”

    — Rev. Thomas Slater, A Manual of Moral Theology, Vol. 1, 5th ed. [1925], p. 140.

    The management of divine worship belongs to the Church alone, and yet worship as we’ve known it for decades of itself tends to “superstition and materialism” (Auctorem Fidei, n. 78)? The official rubrics of the Church clearly lead to “worshiping the true God in the wrong way” or even to “worshiping false gods”. Surely this cannot be. The Church is constitutionally incapable of prescribing incentives to piety or imposing worship which detracts from the glory of God, yet that is precisely what traditionalists say the NOM amounts to: a pandemic of officially legislated liturgical laxity and anthropocentrism. Since, however, no such worship could ever issue from the authority of Christ, we must conclude that the NOM, and the attendant Conciliar revolution, likewise do  not issue from such authority, but from somewhere else.

    “The Church, founded on these principles and mindful of her office, has done nothing with greater zeal and endeavour than she has displayed in guarding the integrity of the faith. … ‘There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition’ (Tract. de Fide Orthodoxa contra Arianos).”

    — Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (1896), no. 9

    My bottom line is that I am mortified by–almost literally sick and tired from–claims that THE SPOTLESS BRIDE OF CHRIST has not only been promulgating Masonic barely-Catholicism but has also been feeding her children a MAIN MEAL of either a grossly defective or downright poisonous or schismatic form of worship. It is an outrage to say that about the Bride of Christ–reminiscent of the claim that, perhaps, Mary said in her heart, “Lies! I have been betrayed!”  Our Lady is the icon of our Church! The same revulsion we feel at hearing that, perhaps, the Blessed Virgin harbored secret resentments against God–and at Calvary, no less!–is what we should feel when told that

    Funny how handy V2 comes in when the idea of lay empowerment, common priesthood, etc. stalks among angry trads. Otherwise, no thanks, Ole Man Magisterium.

    Now, keep in mind, despite all I’ve written of late, I’m still a TRAD, without a doubt–but I am DONE shitting where I still deign to eat, and I am DONEpretending that I have ANY competence or right to RESIST THE VICAR OF CHRIST on ecclesial matters.

    Even so, it may come to pass that I am no longer able to affirm that I see in him and the past fifty years what I think is plainly the Catholic tradition, at which point, as an empirical matter, I will simply not recognize him as a true pope. If such should occur, it’s still miles apart from RECOGNIZING him, or other Conciliar Popes, as the true Vicar of Christ and yet still working at cross purposes with their express wills.

    So, to be frank, the image I now have of most Rad Trads is that of a hungry teenager, who demands to be fed, only to rant about how poor the cooking is. Instead, we might simply say: “Um, thank you for your offer, but, I’m sorry, I’m Modernism/Masonry/gluten-intolerant. I’m going to have to pass on this and stick with what I and my ancestors were raised on. What? Yes. Even if it means I starve, yes.”

    Thus:

    Rad Trads as fairweather sedes.

    Sedes are saying that the Arian crisis has been trumped by the Conciliar crisis, wherein a true majority and even popes have failed to hold the line (that “absurdity” thing again!); while trads… well, strangely enough, they say pretty much the same thing–only they like to act pious by submitting to “good bishops” and “solid papal writings”… but only when it suits them.

    Meanwhile, sedes claim to “see beyond” false claimants to the Apostolic Chair, and submit with total assent to the Faith and the perpetual papal primacy, while trads choose to “see beyond” a heretical claimant to this or that episcopal see, insisting that they still honor the Church’s authority and tradition, yet reject the heretical person claiming to be a true shepherd of Christ. As an empirical matter, they insist that no one who does/says X, Y, and Z can be a true Catholic bishop. Sedes just take it up one notch (or up one level of consistency, if you will).

    As the teachings cited in the OP and my reply here make devastatingly clear, we cannot don the hat of a faithful DISCIPLE one day and then don the hat a cunning judge of ecclesial DISCIPLINE the next. We can, by all means, submit our suggestions to the Holy See, but, until we see a great trad revival, ours is but to do and die–not pout and decry.

  44. Dear Tantumblogo. I think I created the confusion, not you. I guess I was sort of establishing my bona fides with the FSSP name-dropping but no criticism of you or your work was intended. I have listed your excellent blog man many times and I agree totally with you re individuals priests of the FSSP.

    I do like how some of them poke fun at ICK but such is done with a nudge, nudge, wink, wink appreciation and love for what they do.

  45. Branch says:

    I’m trying to understand this part and really your entire conclusion: “The management of divine worship belongs to the Church alone, and yet worship as we’ve known it for decades of itself tends to “superstition and materialism” (Auctorem Fidei, n. 78)? The official rubrics of the Church clearly lead to “worshiping the true God in the wrong way” or even to “worshiping false gods”. Surely this cannot be. The Church is constitutionally incapable of prescribing incentives to piety or imposing worship which detracts from the glory of God, yet that is precisely what traditionalists say the NOM amounts to: a pandemic of officially legislated liturgical laxity and anthropocentrism. Since, however, no such worship could ever issue from the authority of Christ, we must conclude that the NOM, and the attendant Conciliar revolution, likewise do not issue from such authority, but from somewhere else.”

    This sounds like sedevacantism but as I read some of your other points, that option is out.

  46. Branch:

    “…that option is out.”

    Is it?

  47. Dear Elliot. This impressive argument of yours is difficult (prolly impossible actually) to refute but it has been – in a way I am sure you did not intend- invaluable to me in coming to understand my own explanationto myself to account for what has happened to the Church I was born into in 1948; that Church is invisibilium but, just because a thing is invisible does not mean it has no existence and so I have thought of new church as the shadow church and your diligent digging into the sources in preparation prior to presenting your argument has provided intellectual scaffolding for my airy inclinations.

    So, I not only live in the light of a shadow church, I am constrained to obey its novel disciplines and that is the way I walk the narrow walk that Jesus walked; that is, by maintaining the Bonds of Unity with my Bishop and Pope, I am walking my Way of the Cross.

    Jesus is the head of His Church and I have no cause not to suffer for His cause and my way of the Cross is, literally, nothing compared to what He suffered for me.

    A Mystery it is but I am 100% convinced that there is no other way. I am going nowhere. I am going down with the Barque 🙂

  48. Branch says:

    That’s what I’m trying to understand. If we assume sedevacantism is a possibility, how will they/we know when we have a real pope again?

  49. Branch:

    Presumably, we could recognize a true pope when he repudiated the things which established that some of his predecessors were false popes.

  50. Believe it or not, but I left out something from my mega screed-reply.

    If some disciplinary measure (M) accords with the Divine Will (DW), then the contradictory of M (-M), cannot possibly accord with DW. For example, if in the 1917 CIC it were forbidden, in accord with DW, to ordain a man who faked his identity, it could not possibly accord with DW that in the 1983 CIC one could ordain a man under a false identity. Therefore, if accord with DW is what grounds the infallibility of the Church’s laws, then legislating the opposite of such laws would equate to legislating the opposite of what accords with DW. Which would be bad.

    I am not yet totally convinced that the same binary exclusion holds for girl altar servers, but not only is the Church’s opposition to it is as old as, if not older than, her first grasp of the official biblical canon, but it also gives me great pause that the practice is lauded by advocates of female priests as the essential camel nose into the tent of doctrinal “progress”. See how Fr. Burns adverts to the very tiny arena of explicitly defined ex cathedra faith-and-morals orthodoxy in order to subvert the infallibility of the universal ordinary magisterium (about a “discipline” like male-only priests)? Sounds like a familiar move….

  51. Branch says:

    I offer this, not as a counter-argument, but as merely a point to consider in the ongoing conversation:

    Since the unity of the Church is safeguarded and guaranteed in the person of the pope, as Vatican I taught, a denial that there is any legitimate pope is a denial of Vatican I and also destroys the Church’s unity, which is one of her Four Marks.

    That point is articulated at USC blog here:

    The article that is here: http://unamsanctamcatholicam.com/apologetics/94-contra-sedevacantism/188-false-principels-of-sedevecantism-part-1.html

  52. Kevin says:

    “To recall my original beef with Brian’s essays at One Peter Five, to say that the enemies have seized the helm, really is to say that the gates of hell (or, ‘the tongues of heretics’) have won.”

    Not necessarily. It could simply mean that the Church has shrunk to a very small size:

    “Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ.”
    – St. Athanasius

  53. Kevin says:

    “My bottom line is that I am mortified by–almost literally sick and tired from–claims that THE SPOTLESS BRIDE OF CHRIST has not only been promulgating Masonic barely-Catholicism but has also been feeding her children a MAIN MEAL of either a grossly defective or downright poisonous or schismatic form of worship.”

    This is some interesting commentary on the prophecies by Bl. Anne Emmerick by Yves Dupont:

    “53.1 May 13, 1820, [Anne Catherine Emmerich] “I saw also the relationship between the two popes. . . I saw how baleful would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome). The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness. . . Then, the vision seemed to extend on every side. Whole Catholic communities were being oppressed, harassed, confined, and deprived of their freedom. I saw many churches close down, great miseries everywhere, wars and bloodshed. A wild and ignorant mob took to violent action. But it did not last long.

    53.2 [Anne Catherine Emmerich] “Once more I saw that the Church of Peter was undermined by a plan evolved by the secret sect, while storms were damaging it. But I saw also that help was coming when distress had reached its peak. I saw again the Blessed Virgin ascend on the Church and spread her mantle [over it]. I saw a Pope who was at once gentle, and very firm… I saw a great renewal, and the Church rose high in the sky.”

    Comment [by Dupont] Many prophecies predict an anti-pope and a schism. Many predict war, bloodshed, and persecutions right in the Vatican. But also many say that ‘”it will not last long” and that “help will come when everything seems hopeless.”

    53.3 Sept. 12, 1820 [Anne Catherine Emmerich] “I saw a strange church being built against every rule, .. No angels were supervising the building operations. In that church, nothing came from high above… There was only division and chaos. It is probably a church of human creation, following the latest fashion, as well as the new heterodox church of Rome, which seems of the same kind…

    53.4 [Anne Catherine Emmerich] “I saw again the strange big church that was being built there (in Rome). There was nothing holy in it. I saw this just as I saw a movement led by Ecclesiastics to which contributed angels, saints, and other Christians. But there (in the strange big church) all the work was being done mechanically (i.e. according to set rules and formulae). Everything was being done according to human reason…

    53.5 [Anne Catherine Emmerich] “I saw all sorts of people, things, doctrines, and opinions. There was something proud, presumptuous, and violent about it, and they seemed to be very successful. I did not see a single Angel nor a single saint helping in the work. But far away in the background, I saw the seat of a cruel people armed with spears, and 1 saw a laughing figure which said: ‘Do build it as solid as you can; we will pull it to the ground.’ ”

    Comment [by Dupont] Two different churches seem to be indicated in this passage. First, a puppet church set up by the Communists, and a “strange church” comprising “all sorts of people and doctrines” (perhaps in the name of Ecumenism), which will follow modern trends. This church is “unholy and humanistic,” but it is not Communist inspired, otherwise the Communists would not want to pull it to the ground. This church is either the true Catholic Church after it has been completely subverted from within, or it is a new church claiming to be the true Catholic Church, if two popes are elected at the same time. Some prophecies seem to warrant the inference that the true Catholic Church will disappear completely for a while as an organization, but, although disorganized, it will survive in the persons of the faithful members of the clergy and laity who will go underground.”

  54. Kevin says:

    In other words, if you’re willing to consider the prophecies of Bl. Anne Emmerick and others about this current crisis, it seems that it is not the Spotless Bride of Christ that is contradicting herself, but this false “church” being constructed before our eyes. By the way, I’m just someone trying to figure things out as well. I’m not a sede or SSPX. I do have serious doubts about whether or not Benedict validly renounced his papacy. I’m looking forward to Antonio Socci’s book “He is not Francis” being translated into English.

  55. Anticipating the argument of those who succor the SSPX – we don’t have to obey the Pope because he stinks like the bottom of a monkey’s cage – yeah ya do.

    It is Catholic Tradition that the Pope not only has universal jurisdiction and has the Keys (discipline as one charistic charm on that ring) but you must obey him even if he is worse than the SSPX thinks he is:

    If a pope is foreknown as damned and is evil, and is therefore a limb of the devil, he does not have authority over the faithful given to him by anyone, except perhaps by the emperor
    was a proposition of Wyclif which was condemned at the Council of Constance

  56. Denzinger:

    Errors of John Wycliffe *

    [Condemned in Council and by the Bulls “Inter Cunctas”

    and “In eminentis” Feb. 22, 1418]

    581 1. In the sacrament of the altar the material substance of bread and likewise the material substance of wine remain.

    582 2. In the same sacrament the accidents of the bread do not remain without a subject. The sacrament Christ is not identically and really with His

    583 3. In the same sacrament Christ is not identically and really with His own bodily presence.

    584 4. If a bishop or priest is living in mortal sin, he does not ordain, nor consecrate, nor perform, nor baptize.

    585 5. it is not established in the Gospel that Christ arranged the Mass.

    586 6. God ought to obey the devil.

    587 7. If man is duly contrite, every exterior confession on his part is superfluous and useless.

    588 8. If the pope is foreknown and evil, and consequently a member of the devil, he does not have power over the faithful given to him by anyone, unless perchance by Caesar.

    589 9. After Urban VI no one should be received as pope, unless he live according to the customs of the Greeks under their laws.

    590 10. It is contrary to Sacred Scripture that ecclesiastical men have possessions.

    591 11. No prelate should excommunicate anyone, unless first he knows that he has been excommunicated by God; and he who so excommunicates becomes, as a result of this, a heretic or excommunicated.

    592 12. A prelate excommunicating a cleric who has appealed to the king, or to a council of the kingdom, by that very act is a traitor of the king and the kingdom.

    593 13. Those who cease to preach or to hear the word of God because of the excommunication of men, are themselves excommunicated, and in the judgment of God they will be considered traitors of Christ.

    594 14. It is permissible for any deacon or priest to preach the word of God without the authority of the Apostolic See or a Catholic bishop.

    595 15. No one is a civil master, no one a prelate, no one a bishop, as long as he is in mortal sin.

    596 16. Temporal rulers can at their will take away temporal goods from the Church, when those who have possessions habitually offend, that is, offend by habit, not only by an act.

    597 17. People can at their will correct masters who offend.

    598 18. The tithes are pure alms and parishioners can take these away at will because of the sins of their prelates.

    599 19. Special prayers applied to one person by prelates or religious are not of more benefit to that person than general (prayers), all other things being equal.

  57. Elliot,

    Presumably, we could recognize a true pope when he repudiated the things which established that some of his predecessors were false popes.

    This sounds Protestant to me. The crux of the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is submission to authority; if we take it upon ourselves to decide which Pope is real and which is false we are taking the authority upon ourselves.

    Even in the age of the antipopes things were only resolved after ecumenical councils. It is not our place decide which Pope is “true” or “false”, but to submit to the Church’s judgment. And her judgment right now is that Francis is the true Pope.

    The only reason we should jump ship is if an ecumenical council is called that declares that Francis never held the papacy.

  58. st athanasius3 says:

    A council cannot depose a pope because their conclusions have to be signed by him. No earthly power, apart from the pope has authority over him. However, a council can formally declare the pope a heretic for formality sake but the pope seizes to be the pope when his heresy is manifested. When this happens, the council can judge the “pope” because he is no longer the pope. The manifest heresy affects the loss of office since one is then outside the Church, not the formal decree from the council.

  59. Kevin says:

    “This sounds Protestant to me. The crux of the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is submission to authority; if we take it upon ourselves to decide which Pope is real and which is false we are taking the authority upon ourselves.

    Even in the age of the antipopes things were only resolved after ecumenical councils. It is not our place decide which Pope is “true” or “false”, but to submit to the Church’s judgment. And her judgment right now is that Francis is the true Pope.

    The only reason we should jump ship is if an ecumenical council is called that declares that Francis never held the papacy.”

    This is a very good point. In fact, I take back my comments above. I don’t want to have any part in potentially leading anyone astray. It seems more prudent at this time that we should simply pray and repent and wait this out, leaving everything to the future judgement of the Church authorities. Meanwhile, it seems that we should be obedient in everything that doesn’t contradict the dogmas of the faith. That would actually give everyone a lot more peace than to try and discern all of this ourselves.

  60. st athanasius3 says:

    Elliot, the follow-up to the OP is very much how I feel (confused, pissed, abandoned, and bastardized). I am glad to know there is someone out there who can articulate the issues and also voice the struggle I think many more will eventually find themselves in.

    In light of the extensive follow-up, I offer the below analogy to maybe help answer your question, “what is more absurd”. I have asked myself this same question for some time now and, though I lean one way, I am not quite ready or comfortable with the direction it points to.
    What is more absurd?- by way of analogy.

    A woman, blind from birth, is married to a man she has known all her adult life. She knows his smell, his touch, his mannerisms, his habits, his rhetoric, his body temperature, his shape and his heart. All this she knows not by sight, at least not by that which comes via the natural eyes.

    This man goes away for work and returns a few days later.

    She senses something wrong after his return. All that she knew about him before has changed, some in different degrees than others, but surely a change has occurred. Her husband never verbally abused her in the past, always spoke highly of her, never sullied her “queenship”, and always accepted her wisdom and guidance in front of the children. Now, not so much. However, he sometimes smells and feels the same due to the clothes he dons from the closet, but for the most part, he speaks and moves in ways that show a new direction, a new motive, and a new man.
    She begins to question his authenticity. She starts to make notes concerning his external attributes before and after his return. She eventually concludes, after much deliberation that this man, whom she lives with and gives her unbridled fidelity to, is not her husband. She asks him. He says he is. She asks him questions about his change, yet his answers only hark back so far, never to the time in which he acted differently. He simply says he has taken a new approach, a new beginning, but in harmony with the old man. A new advent has come upon him. A novus order is here to stay and she should not be so rigid or triumphant in her older and merciless rigid ways.

    Everything, barring those things common to all men, about this new man seems different. She then questions the neighbors. At a minimum, all say the man has changed significantly, his looks, his behavior, and his disposition, even those neighbors who disliked him in the past but now like the new. Some say he is a total imposter and not her husband, and some say, despite the admitted differences, he is her husband simply because he says he is.

    She deliberates more after speaking with others. She goes back and listens to recorded conversations with her husband. She is now “between a rock and a dark place”. The man she married, the man she loved for so long, the man she professed her fidelity to seems to be elsewhere and she knows not where. All she knows is that her safety and that of her children is in question. The fact that this confusion and distress exists in a place where consolation and stability should, is the primary reason she concludes what she does.

    The End

    Is it more absurd:
    a) To stay with a man all external evidence points to be an imposter just because he will never say he is someone different, even though he likes to describe himself in terms of “new” as opposed to the “old”?
    b) To leave under the pretense that her husband is elsewhere and her fidelity to him demands that she must not lie anymore with the imposter she finds herself in the presence of? Thus, she may be without a man at her side, her heart is never set asunder from her true husband.
    c) ???

    This leads me to a potential wager in the making, on the likes of Pascal’s.

    1) Accept the Conciliar Church as the same as the old even with the differences and what we have spoken of already. This will lead me to practice my faith differently from those before me. If I am wrong, then my willful lack of fidelity to the real deposit of faith condemns me.

    2) Reject the Conciliar Church due to the differences spoken of, along with many others, and simply abide by the faith taught by the Church before Vatican II. If I am wrong, then nothing negative will happen to me after death since Vatican II and teachings afterwards pretty much make it impossible for one to go to hell. If only I follow my conscience… Jews can be Jews. Muslims can read and follow their Korans. Atheists can do good and follow their conscience. Protestants and other heretics are still members of the Body of Christ regardless of them rejecting at least one article of faith that was supernaturally given to them by God at baptism. Also, the Holy Spirit uses non-Catholic and heretical communities as means for salvation.
    Any critique is welcomed. I am seeking, hoping to find.

    With Kevin, I admit this is awkward because no one wants to lead others astray. However, this conversation must be had. We are intellectual beings and there is a reason why our hearts and minds are in turmoil. Hell, St. Thomas wrote an entire volume of books presenting the opposing views and then responding to them. The Modernists want us to just smile, play nice and go with the flow. I remember Fr. Corapi say “dead bodies float down river”. We know all too well that moms and dads tell their children at times that things are well when they aren’t. This is appropriate at times but can also be purposely deceptive.

    The Truth is worth knowing regardless of the suffering we experience along the way.

    Lord, have mercy!

  61. Brother Codg. This is only obliquely connected to the topic but I did want to post this link for Tantumblogo and others who are interested in the FSSP for it does deal with the question of them not getting a Bishop although that was promised to them a VERY long time ago.

    O, and if one goes to Catholic Answers, they will be told that the FSSP never needed a Bishop in the first place…

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2014278/The%20Wanderer%20Interviews%20Society%20of%20St%20Peter%20Priest.pdf

  62. Branch says:

    I was reading over at Theological Flint and found this post helpful: http://theologicalflint.com/?p=490

    “As with all Magisterial teachings, one must read the latest pronouncements in the light of the foundation of the past. This is because the latest pope is bound by Tradition and Scripture and these have already authoritatively been interpreted and he and all the baptized are bound to adhere to these interpretations and to these Fonts of Revelation. (Contrary to the rumors of academics, Vatican II did not dispense with this expression ‘fonts of revelation’ even though it did not employ the expression. These are indeed the fonts of revelation when we speak of the articulated expression of the Person and Teachings of Jesus Christ. Where do we find these articulated expressions? In Tradition and Scripture. Thus, they are fonts. The rumors alluded to are red herrings rather unhelpful for the theological enterprise. What Vatican II left explicitly undecided – though it does implicitly teach in this matter – is whether or not Scripture contains everything found in Tradition. No explicit teaching in this regard. However, the implication is clear: No. Where? For instance, the Church gains her knowledge of what books belong in Scripture not from Scripture but from … Tradition! Thus spake Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 8).

    Pius XII lucidly stated that the living Magisterium is the proximate source of theology. What he means is that the living Magisterium, insofar as it voices authoritatively on a subject, provides the theologian with the living insight into past teachings. This statement should not be understood in a “dialectical” sense: I.e. it should not be read as meaning that later teachings can mitigate or water down earlier teachings. Rather, it should be understood in the sense that later teachings can help the current person focus on the key matters at stake today and on the meanings of ancient expressions. It is part and parcel of Pius XII’s message, also, that he understood the papal Magisterium to be bearer of a “perennial” mode of expression. Thus, the Magisterium in his time undertook the self-discipline to express itself in a language and thought long tried and true, very precise. So that one could clearly see the line of development leading up to the latest promulgation.

    We really cannot say that this mode of expression has been preserved. And since it has not been preserved, many Catholics have thought that previous teachings have themselves been abandoned. That is an error. They have not. And since confusion reigns, I think it very salutary for people to go back and get good solid grounding in Magisterial texts from Pius IX through Pius XII and in the councils of Trent and Vatican I. These are foundational. They presuppose and clearly carry through the achievements of the early councils, which are also crucial: Nicaea through Constantinople III.”

  63. Fr Hunwicke today has an excellent post up reiterating what has long been known; that Euch Prayer 2 was drafted in a bistro one evening.

    In the 1960s ago there was a song Look what they’ve done to my song

    So, we trads can lament in identifying with her dispirited malaise Look what they’d done to our Mass, mom; that too was destroyed in the spirt of the 1960s

    These clerics were about destruction. Period. And it will take FOREVER to rebuild what they destroyed

    http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2015/04/how-to-enjoy-eucharistic-prayer-ii.html

    But remember, it was all done for the besets of reasons, of that we can be sure

  64. A council cannot depose a pope because their conclusions have to be signed by him.
    I wasn’t talking about deposing the Pope, though.

  65. The Church of Christ An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise, E. Sylvester Berry, STD. 1955:

    As Christ was hated, despised, calumniated, and persecuted in His natural body, so also shall He be in His Mystical body, the Church. Therefore a Church that is not thus hated and despised and persecuted, can scarcely be the one which Christ had in mind when He uttered the words quoted above. It is always consoling to realize that those who calumniate the Church and stir-up persecution against her, are fulfilling the prophecies of Christ and thus they unwittingly prove her divine character. Thus does “He that dwelt in Heaven laugh at them, and the Lord deride them. Footnote. Ps ii, 4

    Ok, so that was the Catholic Tradition when it was universally thought that false faiths like Mahometanism was a joke that caused God in Heaven to laugh and caused Jesus to deride them but get a load of what happened in just ten years – JUST TEN YEARS

    DECLARATION ON
    THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS
    NOSTRA AETATE
    PROCLAIMED BY HIS HOLINESS
    POPE PAUL VI
    ON OCTOBER 28, 1965

    <I.The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

    ++++++++++++ end of quote ++++++++++++

    After just one decade of doctrinal delusionalism, we went so far off the path of right reason that we lost our way and we stopped following Our Triune God who laughed at this false and malign faith and we, instead, began to praise it.

    Lord have mercy.

    Put that in your continuity pipe and smoke it conservative ultramontanes

  66. Elliot, keep the faith, brother. I’m headed to see my MIL in Franklin, Tenn for about a week but I will be with you in spirit

  67. Hi, Malcolm:

    M: This sounds Protestant to me. The crux of the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is submission to authority; if we take it upon ourselves to decide which Pope is real and which is false we are taking the authority upon ourselves.

    Actually, we are obliged to submit to legitimate authority. As Fr. Berry explains in The Church of Christ (pp. 85, 87):

    “Unity as a mark of the Church must be a unity of … true faith, true worship and legitimate government. … [I]f we take unity of faith, worship and government, regardless of truth or legitimacy, we have only a negative mark. Any Church lacking unity in these things cannot be the true Church of Christ, but a church is not necessarily true because it has such unity, since unity of false faith, false worship, and illegitimate government is possible, at least for a time. … [T]here seems to be no reason why a false Church might not become universal, even more universal than the true one, at least for a time.

    So, to be clear, when I said “we” I had in mind the larger action of the Church at some point in the future. I’m not going to “solve” any of these problems. But I find it extremely hard to deal with the cognitive dissonance. The deeper I go into pre-Conciliar customs, assumptions, teachings, etc., I confess the more ALIEN the current Vita Ecclesiae seems to me. Laying a metaphorical transparency of the New Church on top of one of the pre-Conciliar Church reveals startling contrasts, reversals, and discontinuities.

    Nor is this just my grumpy opinion. No less than Cardinal Ratzinger had this to say about the “continuity” of V2 with prior teaching:

    If one is looking for a global diagnosis of the text [of Gaudium et spes], one could say that it (along with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of counter-Syllabus…. Let us content ourselves here with stating that the text [of Gaudium et spes] plays the role of a counter-Syllabus to the measure that it represents an attempt to officially reconcile the Church with the world as it had become after 1789. On one hand, this visualization alone clarifies the ghetto complex that we mentioned before. On the other hand, it permits us to understand the meaning of this new relationship between the Church and the Modern World. “World” is understood here, at depth, as the spirit of modern times. The consciousness of being a detached group that existed in the Church viewed this spirit as something separate from herself and, after the hot as well as cold wars were over, she sought dialogue and cooperation with it.

    Les Principes de la Theologie Catholique – Esquisse et Materiaux (Paris: Tequi, 1982, pp. 426-427).

    In other words, “If you want your Tradition…”

    “Does this [i.e. the post-Conciliar upheaval and decline] mean that the Council should be revoked? Certainly not. It means only that the real reception of the Council has not yet even begun. What devastated the Church in the decade after the Council was not the Council but the refusal to accept it. This becomes clear precisely in the history of the influence of Gaudium et spes. What was identified with the Council was, for the most part, the expression of an attitude that did not coincide with the statements to be found in the text itself, although it is recognizable as a tendency in its development and in some of its individual formulations. The task is not, therefore, to suppress the Council but to discover the real Council [Huh?] and to deepen its true intention in the light of the present experience. That means that there can be no return to the Syllabus, which may have marked the first stage in the confrontation with liberalism and a newly conceived Marxism but cannot be the last stage. In the long run, neither embrace nor ghetto can solve for Christians the problem of the modern world. The fact is, as Hans Urs von Balthasar pointed out as early as 1952, that the “demolition of the bastions” is a long-overdue task.”

    Principles of Catholic Theology (1982, p. 391)

    “…you can keep your Tradition.”

    Another major Conciliar theologian, Francis Sullivan, S.J., in his book Magisterium (1983), admits much the same and more (p. 157):

    “[I]t is more fruitful to consider what the Second Vatican Council did than what it said. While in its treatment of the ordinary papal magisterium it spoke only of its obligatory force and said nothing about the possibility of its needing to be corrected, on several important issues the council clearly departed from previous papal teaching. One has only to compare the Decree on Ecumenism with such an encyclical as Mortalium animos of Pope Pius IX, or the Declaration on Religious Freedom with the teaching of Leo XIII and other popes on the obligation binding on the Catholic rulers and Catholic nations to suppress Protestant evangelism, to see with what freedom the Second Vatican Council reformed papal teaching. I think it would be true to say that the deepest divisions at Vatican II were between those bishops who saw the council as bound to affirm what had already been taught, and those who recognised the need for the Council to improve upon, and in some cases, to correct such teaching.”

    On May 24, 1990, Ratzinger published an “Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian” (H/T to James Larson). He also explained to the press the structure and purpose of this document, wherein he said:

    “The text [of the “Instruction”] also presents the various forms of binding authority which correspond to the grades of the Magisterium. It states – perhaps for the first time – that there are magisterial decisions which cannot be the final word on a given matter as such but, despite the permanent value of their principles, are chiefly also a signal for pastoral prudence, a sort of provisional policy. Their kernel remains valid, but the particulars determined by circumstances can stand in need of correction. In this connection, one will probably call to mind both the pontifical statements of the last century regarding freedom of religion and the anti-Modernist decisions of the beginning of this century, especially the decisions of the then Biblical Commission.”

    Whereby, “perhaps for the first time,” even perennial Catholic teaching is amenable to historical revision. God is, after all, a God of surprises, right? But hey, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

    In any case, let me try to explain the point by way of analogy.

    Imagine next Sunday at Mass your priest omits the words “of my blood” during the consecration. What would you do? Would you regard it as a valid Mass? Of course not–but how would you be able to make that judgment? Because what the priest omitted is required according to Catholic dogma. Insofar as faith pertains to divine law, we do not (and cannot) wait upon some canonical judgment about doctrinal errors. The same goes for grave moral offenses: they incur excommunication latae sententiae (or, automatically).

    Or again, imagine your priest told everyone to omit the word “consubstantial” in the Creed (or, perhaps, to replace it with “one”). What would you do? Would you follow his directive? Would you recite such a creed? Would you affirm it as the Catholic faith handed down to us from all ages? No, but again, that’s because certain kinds of error in and of themselves not only permit but REQUIRE us to condemn them as baptized bearers of the Tradition in our own right.

    I suspect that you think Pope John XXII was a “heretic,” right? Well, he wasn’t, but his case will suffice to make my point. Were the cardinals who opposed him thereby rejecting papal authority (as proto-Protestants)? Not at all. They were simply comparing what the man John XXII was asserting to what the Church had always taught about the topic. Likewise, a sedevacantist compares what Conciliar theologians and bishops say and do with what the Church has always taught and done, and sadly finds them in conflict. With whom should he side? Should layfolk during the Arian crisis have obeyed their Arian bishops, or did their Catholic faith enable them to judge rightly? There can no more be a legitimate Arian bishop (or pope) than there can be a Modernist (or Masonic) bishop (or pope). The two things are mutually exclusive.

    Now, obviously, you may not agree with their diagnosis or their decision, but sedevacantists are not “heretics” like Protestants are, since they do not reject a single Catholic teaching. In any case, “If someone is [sedevacantist] and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”

    M: Even in the age of the antipopes things were only resolved after ecumenical councils. It is not our place decide which Pope is “true” or “false”, but to submit to the Church’s judgment. And her judgment right now is that Francis is the true Pope.

    There’s an important distinction here between judging the validity of a man’s election and his status as a believer or a heretic. While I am very sympathetic to them, I do not find myself able to throw in with sedevacantists. Yet I have read enough of their arguments to know that they are not claiming that the Conciliar popes are canonically “anti-popes,” but rather that they are not popes at all, on account of the fact that, in light of their manifest actions and words, they do not hold the Catholic faith. As a heretic is not a member of the Church, no heretic could be the head (i.e. chief member) of the Church (cf. the Fr. Berry passage above about the pope “in his private” capacity becoming a heretic).

    (P.S. Though he was later condemned for giving succor to heresy, Pope Honorius I was not a MANIFEST heretic, and therefore was not deprived of membership in the Church until his writings were discovered and judged forty years after his death.)

    M: The only reason we should jump ship is if an ecumenical council is called that declares that Francis never held the papacy.

    Why would that lead me to jump ship, though? I adhere to the Catholic faith, even if it turns out that one or more occupants of the Chair of Peter, in their personal capacity as fellow Catholics, defected from the faith.

    Lastly, here’s some food for thought:

    “There are those who ask what authority, what theological qualification, the Council intended to give to its teachings, knowing that it avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions backed by the Church’s infallible teaching authority. The answer is known by those who remember the conciliar declaration of March 6, 1964, repeated on November 16, 1964. In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner any dogmas carrying the mark of infallibility.”

    — Pope Paul VI, General Audience, December 1, 1966 (published in the L’Osservatore Romano 1/21/1966)

  68. I suspect that you think Pope John XXII was a “heretic,” right?

    I have no idea. I was wrong on Honorius, although the truth actually perhaps makes him an even better analogue than I originally realized.

    Your Mass analogy is a helpful one.

    So, let me try and shorten it a bit – would you agree that even if you don’t think the Pope is necessarily valid, you still wouldn’t leave the Church?

  69. Branch says:

    If the Pope (let’s stick with Francis for the moment) is invalid, what do we make of the canonizations that have occurred during his reign (I’m thinking specifically of JPII and John XXIII)? Others have argued that canonizations are infallible, but in this case, if there is actually not a valid Pope, then I suppose we could hold that canonizations are infallible, but that since certain ‘canonizations’ were held during the time in which there was no valid Pope, said ‘canonizations’ would not hold?

    Also, Elliot, “While I am very sympathetic to them, I do not find myself able to throw in with sedevacantists.”

    Who then is the Pope (right now)?

  70. athanasius3:

    I agree, it is comforting to find persons “out there” who share the same struggle and who are willing to thrash out the issues. Prayer is, of course, essential, so I am well aware that the devil delights in confusing sheep like myself from the true fold. Yet the truth of the fold in which I find myself is exactly the question. “The smell of the sheep” and “the voice of the Shepherd”–somehow they must agree, and somehow I must be able to agree with them.

    Your analogy is also apt. I’m sure you are familiar with the strategy of the Masonic Alta Vendita to subvert the Church from the seminary and parish level up (it was the core of Brian’s essay which triggered me to write this lengthy post). Consider also this quip from Lenin (though I would like to confirm a citation before putting too much stock in it): “We shall march shoulder to shoulder with the priest to further the revolution.” Oddly enough, by this time the Church has basically flipped the scriptand how!–in order to mingle with the socialists to further the “Gospel”.

    “I have observed that the devil of rebellion does not [?] commonly turn into an angel of reformation, and the old serpent can pretend new lights…. You may hear from them Jacob’s voice, but you shall feel they have Esau’s hands.”
    — Jane Lane, The Severed Crown (1972)

  71. Malcolm:

    “…would you agree that even if you don’t think the Pope is necessarily valid, you still wouldn’t leave the Church?”

    If I came to a firm conclusion–which is to say an overwhelming, prudent doubt–about this pope’s validity, I would be obliged not to heed or submit to any of his acts, decrees, injunctions, etc. As St. Robert Bellarmine put it, “A doubtful pope is no pope at all.” Lex dubia non obligat. Refer to my citations above from Wernz-Vidal, Szal, and De Lugo, keeping in mind this point from Fr. MacKenzie (The Delict of Heresy, 1932, p. 35):

    “The very commission of any act which signifies heresy, e.g., the statement of some doctrine contrary or contradictory to a revealed and defined dogma, gives sufficient ground for juridical presumption of heretical depravity…. [E]xcusing circumstances have to be proved in the external forum, and the burden of proof is on the person whose action has given rise to the imputation of heresy. In the absence of such proof, all such excuses are presumed not to exist.”

    Insofar as the larger Church submitted to such things, I would feel obliged to reject such conformity as well. As for what I would “do” at that point, I don’t know. The magic word is probably “recusant”.

    In any case, let me ask you a variant of your own question: If Pope Francis were to impose the Kasper proposal, or some discipline equally contrary to the tradition and divine law, would you remain within the Church under his guidance?

  72. tantumblogo:

    I really appreciate your comment and suggestions! I am aware of the danger of “centrifugal” anxiety, but I am merely trying to make sense of things that have been gnawing at me at least 18 months. I will make every effort to communicate with Fr. Wolfe!

  73. Branch:

    I take Pope Francis to be the actual pope. It strains my sense of orthodoxy to do so, but there are still too many “variables” for me to “jump ship”.

    My basic point with all this is to resolve a dilemma. If V2+NOM is as bad as rad trads say it is, then they need to reject not merely its ill effects but also its malicious authors. If, however, V2+NOM is not as bad as sedevacantists say, and does not indicate a defection of the popes and bishops, then rad trads need to treat those popes and bishops with the same ultramontanist loyalty as they would have liked to have shown the pre-V2 hierarchy.

    Now, recognizing the current hierarchy as true shepherds does not preclude them from “working to restore Catholic Tradition” in their own ways, but it absolutely precludes publicly denouncing the entire V2 agenda as contrary to God’s will. How can you back the SSPX if “lack of jurisdiction ” is your objection to sedevacantism? The SSPX has no jurisdiction but, like sedes, it uses the old sacraments and rejects the same things about V2 as do sedes.

  74. Branch says:

    But that, it seems, leads to absurdity, which is where this all began: if the current hierarchy is endorsing what pre-V2 hierarchy would have condemned, then…

    The only possible (I don’t really see it as possible, but for the sake of the argument) resolution is to alter our very conception of truth. Truth is somehow dynamic, multi-faceted. The hierarchy can affirm something at one time in keeping with the ‘truth’, but later can essentialize prior teaching (pertaining to what is ‘true’), rendering that prior teaching as merely provisional or ‘true’ then, but not so now.

  75. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Who was it played the rhetorical game of asking “What is truth?” when dealing with Him Who is Truth?

    “Everyone should avoid familiarity or friendship with anyone suspected of belonging to masonry or to affiliated groups. Know them by their fruits and avoid them. Every familiarity should be avoided, not only with those impious libertines who openly promote the character of the sect, but also with those who hide under the mask of universal tolerance, respect for all religions, and the craving to reconcile the maxims of the Gospel with those of the revolution. These men seek to reconcile Christ and Belial, the Church of God and the state without God.” –Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Custodi di Quella Fede, par. 15, Dec. 8, 1892

  76. Branch, keeping in mind Ratzinger’s penchant for “essentializing” dogma in the name of aggiornamento and ressourcement–as well as the dichotomy between Catholic teaching and “the way it is presented” at various times which John XXIII posited to justify calling Vatican II–here is another highly pertinent, if not prophetic, passage from Pius XII’s Humani Generis:

    “In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.

    “Moreover they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.

    “It is evident from what We have already said, that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism, but that they actually contain it. The contempt of doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it is expressed strongly favor it. Everyone is aware that the terminology employed in the schools and even that used by the Teaching Authority of the Church itself is capable of being perfected and polished; and we know also that the Church itself has not always used the same terms in the same way. It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deducing, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been used by the Oecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them.

    “Hence to neglect, or to reject, or to devalue so many and such great resources which have been conceived, expressed and perfected so often by the age-old work of men endowed with no common talent and holiness, working under the vigilant supervision of the holy magisterium and with the light and leadership of the Holy Ghost in order to state the truths of the faith ever more accurately, to do this so that these things may be replaced by conjectural notions and by some formless and unstable tenets of a new philosophy, tenets which, like the flowers of the field, are in existence today and die tomorrow; this is supreme imprudence and something that would make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind. The contempt for terms and notions habitually used by scholastic theologians leads of itself to the weakening of what they call speculative theology, a discipline which these men consider devoid of true certitude because it is based on theological reasoning.

    “Unfortunately these advocates of novelty easily pass from despising scholastic theology to the neglect of and even contempt for the Teaching Authority of the Church itself, which gives such authoritative approval to scholastic theology. This Teaching Authority is represented by them as a hindrance to progress and an obstacle in the way of science. Some non Catholics consider it as an unjust restraint preventing some more qualified theologians from reforming their subject. And although this sacred Office of Teacher in matters of faith and morals must be the proximate and universal criterion of truth for all theologians, since to it has been entrusted by Christ Our Lord the whole deposit of faith — Sacred Scripture and divine Tradition — to be preserved, guarded and interpreted, still the duty that is incumbent on the faithful to flee also those errors which more or less approach heresy, and accordingly “to keep also the constitutions and decrees by which such evil opinions are proscribed and forbidden by the Holy See,” is sometimes as little known as if it did not exist. What is expounded in the Encyclical Letters of the Roman Pontiffs concerning the nature and constitution of the Church, is deliberately and habitually neglected by some with the idea of giving force to a certain vague notion which they profess to have found in the ancient Fathers, especially the Greeks. The Popes, they assert, do not wish to pass judgment on what is a matter of dispute among theologians, so recourse must be had to the early sources, and the recent constitutions and decrees of the Teaching Church must be explained from the writings of the ancients.”

  77. In any case, let me ask you a variant of your own question: If Pope Francis were to impose the Kasper proposal, or some discipline equally contrary to the tradition and divine law, would you remain within the Church under his guidance?

    “Under his GUIDANCE” is the key there. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Kasper proposal is the proposal to allow communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, while still maintaining that they are technically still sinning, correct?

    If so, I would submit to his authority and accept his decision, but I would also point out that it is contrary to past popes, to Church history, and to general prudence.

    So while I wouldn’t doubt his validity as Pope, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make my disagreement public.

  78. Actually, we are obliged to submit to legitimate authority.

    If I came to a firm conclusion–which is to say an overwhelming, prudent doubt–about this pope’s validity, I would be obliged not to heed or submit to any of his acts, decrees, injunctions, etc. As St. Robert Bellarmine put it, “A doubtful pope is no pope at all.” Lex dubia non obligat.

    It is a secondary or even tertiary issue in this discussion, but things are more complicated than this. It is certainly true that lex dubia non obligat, but natural law concerning scandal is not doubtful; which means we are in fact obligated to submit to illegitimate as well as legitimate authority unless we can reasonably expect to refuse to heed or submit to the illegitimate authority without putting a stumblingblock in the way of the moral life or salvation of others, or unless the actual acts of submission would themselves require that we engage in acts of heresy or immorality. One of the problems that plagues almost all sedevacantism, in fact, is a complete failure to deal properly with considerations of scandal.

    Doubt about the pope would also seem still to leave intact the duty of submission to one’s own bishop, which may at times requiring heeding or submitting to the (alleged) pope in any case, out of deference to one’s own bishop. To doubt whether someone is exercising the office of the Pope would, of course, not imply that all bishops regarding him as actually doing so are thus illegitimate authorities. And this would bring in a complicated raft of indirect obligations. No doubt other complications exist.

  79. zartch@hot-mail.com says:

    Miniver Cheevy
    By Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
    Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
    He wept that he was ever born,
    And he had reasons.

    Miniver loved the days of old
    When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
    The vision of a warrior bold
    Would set him dancing.

    Miniver sighed for what was not,
    And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
    He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
    And Priam’s neighbors.

    Miniver mourned the ripe renown
    That made so many a name so fragrant;
    He mourned Romance, now on the town,
    And Art, a vagrant.

    Miniver loved the Medici,
    Albeit he had never seen one;
    He would have sinned incessantly
    Could he have been one.

    Miniver cursed the commonplace
    And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
    He missed the mediæval grace
    Of iron clothing.

    Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
    But sore annoyed was he without it;
    Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
    And thought about it.

    Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
    Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
    Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
    And kept on drinking.

  80. Tony Jokin says:

    (Woah, I was away for a couple of days and the comments sections has grown quiet a lot! :O)

    This is what I am thinking.

    We all can see, including the liberals, that the Popes today are deviating from traditionally held beliefs or at times even ignoring them completely by using alleged doctrinal developments (on human dignity, for an example). We know this by comparing their speech and actions to the pre-Vatican II Popes and the faith held by Catholics in those times.

    Hence, it seems very reasonable that we be cautious in accepting what the Popes today put forward as laws or disciplines. We may at times have to reject their laws and disciplines because they seem to stem from a different set of beliefs than from what the Church has acknowledged in the past. It is not our judgement that the laws and disciplines stem from a different belief. NO, it is the judgement already made by previous Popes in addressing those who advocated such laws and disciplines that they come from a different set of beliefs irreconcilable with the Catholic faith.

    Our choice to act this way does not require that we consider the Pope as a non-Pope or anti-Pope. We are still obligated to submit to his pronouncements that do not contradict any previously held beliefs and attitudes that stemmed from it.

    In other words, it would be wrong to be Sedevecantists. It would also be wrong to just go with the flow on everything the Pope says and does. There is a reasonable middle-ground.

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  82. st athanasius3 says:

    If a manifest heretic can’t simultaneously be the Pope, then no one is obliged to listen to him since he holds no position of authority. No one can judge the Pope except God and God’s divine truths judge one to be for or against Him. Thus it is not me that may say the Pope is in error, but the truths and teachings of the Church revealed to us.

    I don’t think scandal is something lacking when discerning a Church with no visible head. I personally think the scandal “card” can go both ways. It goes back to the “what is more absurd” question.

    Things I believe are clear in this debate:
    1) The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church. This is a divine assurance, and both sides of this argument holds fast to Christ’s words.
    2) The gates of hell has been defined to some degree as the “tongues of heretics”.
    3) The Pope cannot be a manifest heretic since his loss of faith is an immediate loss of office. No human power affects this loss of office.
    4) The person who professes a heresy is determined to be guilty until proven innocent since only externals can be judged by humans. This judgment can only be made by proving the heresy using previously defined Church teachings. This makes any argument about “intent” irrelevant unless the intent is expressed or manifested by the person convicted in his defense. We do not have the ability to project good intensions on someone else’s behalf.
    5) Discipline that touches divine or natural law cannot be in error since the Church cannot administer poison.
    6) We can go through a handful of teachings we have today that are contrary to those of the past.

    I think the discipline of only male altar servers is a powerful argument, especially since the Church has called the practice of females assisting the priest at the altar evil. I cannot find a good argument that would white wash this 180 of evil to good. The Church does not merely tolerate females serving at the altar, it encourages it and allows it.

    So if the Church can’t teach or promulgate errors in faith and morals, including discipline that touches these things, and the “tongues of heretics” cannot prevail over the Church, then how can a manifest heretic be the Pope? This would clearly place the “tongue” of the heretic over the Church. How can the Church of the past be the Church of today if each says something in direct opposition to the other, yet neither can teach error in the way mentioned above? Unfortunately, the both/and position common to Biblical interpretation in Catholicism cannot apply here.

    I honestly don’t think the question to answer is “can the Church be without a visible head”. We know this answer is “yes”, at least for some period of time. Neither should it be, “can the visible head be without the Church”? Again, this is a “yes” if we understand the visible head to be a manifest heretic. Concerning this topic, I can’t think of any questions we don’t already know the answers to. If one can prove the Pope to be a manifest heretic based on previous Church teachings, then he is not the Pope. If one cannot prove this using previous Church teachings, then he is Pope and must not be resisted. If one can prove the Church now teaches error and contradicts previous teachings, then the perceived Church is not the Church. Since we believe that divine truths can’t be abrogated, then the former teachings can never be the ones in error.

    I must be missing something.

  83. Tony:

    I didn’t mean to publish my (already posted) reply in this thread as a separate post, but, since you commented upon it, I will reproduce your comment there in this thread instead. Feel free to post it again under your own name.


    So is your position something like that put forward by the author James Larson
    http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/50

    Also, I think it is not as easy as you suggest to do what you say we should do. If we simply take part in ecumenical gatherings, view them positively, talk about dialogue, dialogue and some more dialogue, what happens to those we are in charge of i.e. Children?

    There are certain known “truths” about child rearing and even adult behavior. What we say and do matters to how children grow up. If we cannot say anything negative about Protestants (in the name of carrying out the ecumenical view of the Pope), how are the children going to know it is a dangerous heresy that they should avoid?

    If we were to really submit to the will of the Pope, then we will have to refrain from condemning ecumenism or kumbayah Catholicism, YES, but there is more. We will have to teach our kids the kumbayah version of Catholicism too.

    Also, one could argue quiet rightly that to grant the TLM was never an intention of the Holy Church since VII and the FSSP only came into existence because of the disobedience of the SSPX. The Pope had to make the concession for the “kids” who just kept insisting on wanting a TLM and the traditional “things”. So in reality, if we follow what you say to the conclusion, we should try to shed our selves of those attachments to better conform our selves with what the Pope wants. I mean, at least now with Pope Francis it is very clear that he sees the tradition loving Catholics as a sick group within the Church.

  84. Tony:

    Against my better judgment, despite the late hour here, I’m going to reply to you now, since I probably won’t be able to get to these things again in the next couple days.

    T: “… [A] the Popes today are deviating from traditionally held beliefs…. Hence, it seems very reasonable that we be [B] cautious in accepting what the Popes today put forward as laws or disciplines. We may [C] at times have to reject their laws and disciplines because they seem to stem from a different set of beliefs than from what the Church has acknowledged in the past. It is not our judgement that the laws and disciplines stem from a different belief. NO, [D] it is the judgement already made by previous Popes in addressing those who advocated such laws and disciplines…. We are still obligated to [E] submit to his pronouncements that do not contradict any previously held beliefs and attitudes that stemmed from it.”

    A. If they are deviating from the traditional Catholic faith, then they are heretics, and do not enjoy communion with the Catholic Church.

    B. As my citations of past popes in the OP makes very clear, we have no reason, nor any basis, to be ‘suspicious’ towards true Vicars of Christ. The true Church is INFALLIBLE in her disciplinary guidance, otherwise she would impose laws that would contradict the Divine Law. Insofar as recent popes have (ex hypothesi) done just that, then it follows that they cannot possibly represent the true Church.

    C. Again, as past popes have clearly taught, if we recognize the authority of our bishops and popes, then we cannot possibly “pick and choose” how we render obedience to them, which is to say, to Christ.

    D. This is the crux of the matter. Precisely because St. Peter still reigns in the papacy (cf. Pastor Aeternus, Fr. Faber, the reception of the Tome of St. Leo, St. Agatho, etc.), we must heed past popes with as much respect as we heed any current living pope. And insofar as “past Peters” clearly condemn what more recent “Peters” are promoting, we must subject those recent, up-start popes to the judgment of the Catholic faith as it was always taught, prior to a council which explicitly aimed to ‘renovate’ the Catholic tradition. Unfortunately, given the gravity of heresy, the most coherent judgment which past popes render upon recent ones, is that of heretical depravity. Enter sedevacantism. For, alas, between truth and error, Christ and Belial, there is not “reasonable middle ground”.

    E. So it is up to individual Catholics to parse the entire tradition and decide, on a daily or weekly basis, when the current pope is worthy of obedience? That’s called Protestantism. Sedevacantists reject the ENTIRE Conciliar project as manifestly heretical, instead of trying to “have their Pope and eat him too,” as the SSPX and online rad trads do.

  85. athanasius3:

    “I personally think the scandal “card” can go both ways. It goes back to the “what is more absurd” question.”

    I once again find myself agreeing with you. If it comes to scandal, is there a greater scandal than blithely confirming our brethren to remain in their doctrinal errors superstitious worship?

    I’ll show my hand, in fact, by saying I think there is a coherent basis for saying that sedevacantists are practicing, at least in their own minds, a profound work of spiritual mercy, namely, correcting the sinner, etc. I was really struck by this idea today while reading about the surprisingly ample PROPHETIC background underlying sedevacantism.

    And let us not forget this passage:

    “[T]he Roman clergy, stripping Liberius of his pontifical dignity, went over to Felix, whom they knew [then] to be a Catholic. From that time, Felix began to be the true Pontiff. For although Liberius was not a heretic, nevertheless he was considered one, on account of the peace he made with the Arians, and by that presumption the pontificate could rightly [merito] be taken from him: for men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.”

    — St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. 30

    Having said all that, I sketched an argument tonight against sedevacantism which I think is very cogent, perhaps indefeasible. The sedevacantists have a staggering array of arguments and citations but, dammit, the Novusordoists have Rome, which gives me great pause, even if it’s just a misplaced vestigial reflex from real Catholicism inherited by Baptism.

    But, hey, what do I know?

  86. I’ll show my hand, in fact, by saying I think there is a coherent basis for saying that sedevacantists are practicing, at least in their own minds, a profound work of spiritual mercy, namely, correcting the sinner, etc.

    I was going to disagree, but then I noticed that you wrote “at least in their own minds”. Of course, practically, that’s not really helpful. Luther was trying to help people as well, and Mormons go door to door to try and convert people

  87. Let’s remember too, the Francis pontificate is not over. It’s quite possible (and I do believe this) that when the Council on the Family reconvenes they’ll reiterate traditional teaching.

  88. Let’s try something different. Say we all look at these past Pope and agree that since…Pope John XXII (this is a semi-random pick, based around his calling of Vatican II) there has been no valid Pope in the Church.

    At what point do we agree that a valid Pope HAS been elected? Simply the first one who is not a heretic? Must a Council be called? But if a Council is called, mustn’t a Pope be present for it to be binding?

  89. “I personally think the scandal “card” can go both ways. It goes back to the “what is more absurd” question.”

    While it is a common liberal Catholic tactic to dismiss scandal in this way, it is simply not an option for someone taking the Catholic moral tradition seriously. (1) Scandal is not a “card” or rhetorical maneuver; it is a moral evil so great that Catholic moral theologians through the centuries have insisted that people must endure great injustices rather than actively engage in it. (2) It is irrelevant what anyone personally thinks; we will all answer to God for every negligence or obstinacy that actually causes our brothers and sisters to stumble on the way to salvation, and we must all, in any matter affecting others, take what reasonable steps we can to avoid it. (3) It is also blatant consequentialism to treat it is a matter of balancing two sides. It simply does not matter how much the other side sins in this regard; no listing of failures on one side could ever possibly justify active scandal on the other side. People’s souls are not counters in a game of gotcha.

    The point I started with remains: we are obligated to act in ways that avoid putting stumblingblocks to salvation or moral life in the path of others, and we are obligated to such an extent that we should sometimes even defer to illegitimate authority. Merely establishing that an authority is illegitimate, assuming that it is illegitimate, does not eliminate the question of whether one should submit to it.

  90. Branch says:

    Macolm, the concerns go well beyond the Francis pontificate, though. Francis is really a symptom, not a cause, many have argued. His ways, though perhaps the most audacious, are not new. He is the logical conclusion of where the spirit of Vatican II can conceivably blow. The problem, as I see it, truly goes back to John XXIII. How could a pontiff decide one day to entirely reverse the way which the Church approaches ‘the world’? And how could so much confusion, so many 180 degree turns from Tradition (like, for one instance, ecumenism) ever be included as part of that same Tradition?

    To your second point, assuming for the argument hat a Council must be called and a Pope present for it to be binding, said Pope would actually have the authority to speak on past invalid Popes, no? Conceivably, the Pope present at the future Council judging the past non-Popes would be the one who can authoritatively assert as well that we actually have a valid Pope ‘now’/then.

  91. Branch says:

    Elliot, “the duty that is incumbent on the faithful to flee also those errors which more or less approach heresy, and accordingly “to keep also the constitutions and decrees by which such evil opinions are proscribed and forbidden by the Holy See,” is sometimes as little known as if it did not exist.”

    That really does sound prophetic.

    “Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.”

    Yes, it leads to absurdity. Absolutely. Everything is up in the air, and the only ‘authority’ left is papal positivism which is probably only as strong as its weakest agreeable assertion (to the “predominate Catholics”).

    “Unfortunately these advocates of novelty easily pass from despising scholastic theology to the neglect of and even contempt for the Teaching Authority of the Church itself, which gives such authoritative approval to scholastic theology. This Teaching Authority is represented by them as a hindrance to progress.”

    Here is another theoretical point I keep coming back to in my mind: if today’s Catholics (including the hierarchy) can cast aside St. Thomas and past authoritative teachings from the Church in the name of progress, that means that today’s Catholicism, replete with its ecumenical concerns and doctrines on ‘the ecology’, is also only provisional, right? So, some years down the road, we could conceivably throw away Pope Francis’s encyclical on ‘the ecology’ and the in vogue theologians like Kasper because, well, because of “progress”? And this will be seen as development of doctrine except that it is nothing close to what that term is actually supposed to mean in an orthodox sense.

    This kind of lived Catholicism strikes me as precisely one such instance of “diabolical disorientation” that Sr. Lucia feared.

  92. He is the logical conclusion of where the spirit of Vatican II can conceivably blow. The problem, as I see it, truly goes back to John XXIII. How could a pontiff decide one day to entirely reverse the way which the Church approaches ‘the world’? And how could so much confusion, so many 180 degree turns from Tradition (like, for one instance, ecumenism) ever be included as part of that same Tradition?

    You’re using capital T tradition, when as far as I know all we’re talking about is lowercase t.

    “Heretic” is a very powerful term. It’s not something to be thrown around lightly. To say the Council was invalid is to say something monumental. I agree with Brandon insofar as we should be giving it the benefit of the doubt as much as possible, which to be fair Elliott seems to be doing. He just suggests, quite rightly, that we shouldn’t be playing ostrich and sticking our heads in the sand, as we might be tempted to do.

    And I am procrastinating about work that must be done. Away I go, for now.

  93. So, some years down the road, we could conceivably throw away Pope Francis’s encyclical on ‘the ecology’ and the in vogue theologians like Kasper because, well, because of “progress”?

    Of course we can, so long as they’re not declaring DOCTRINE.

  94. Branch says:

    Malcom, traditions (lower t) are hardly irrelevant to Tradition. That reductive thinking is dangerous. The new Catechism states that “the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time,…are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed.” If you embrace ecumenism, which was is not only contrary to the declarations of past pontiffs, but also seems to lead to all sorts of distortions of a teaching from Tradition like outside of the Church there is no salvation, then something is off.

    I am not saying John XXIII is a heretic nor that the Council was invalid. I’m saying: I don’t know much of anything because it all doesn’t add up (at least to me). I’m asking questions and in search of the truth.

  95. Malcom, traditions (lower t) are hardly irrelevant to Tradition.

    I never said they were, or that it’s good or even all right to disregard it, but they are not the same thing. There’s a difference there.

    I’m not trying to guilt you into accepting the Council, I think these are all valid questions. I’m just saying that technicalities matter right now.

    It’s not good that this is the case, it shouldn’t be the case, but it is. Saying a Pope is technically not a heretic, or Tradition is technically not being altered sounds facile but it really is an important distinction.

    You can talk all you want about how we shouldn’t be at this point, and I will agree with you, but we’re there and distinctions must be made.

  96. (I notice my comment is thumbed down with no response to it, which is annoying. I’ll only say that, as I said, I needed to run and wrote it quick. In any case, yeah, Popes do have the right to overturn the encyclicals of previous Popes if they’re not declaring doctrine.

    This should be done with great prudence and respect and only after much prayer and thoughtful consideration, but if a Pope wants to overturn the Kasper proposal in the future (pretending for the moment it is accepted) they absolutely could.)

  97. A brief point of order:

    Malcolm, about the thumbs up/down feature. Even as owner of the blog I can’t tell who clicked on them so it could just be some lurker, not those who are engaging your arguments. Also, I’ve learned by mistake that you can’t unselect either one once you’ve clicked it. Just wanted to clarify that.

    Carry on.

  98. Oh, I’m not blaming you in the slightest. Just a general comment.

  99. st athanasius3 says:

    Brandon,

    I share your understanding of scandal. My choice of using “card” in my response was not to minimize it to something irrelevant, but just to say that the offering of that argument can cut both ways. I was actually trying to say that because of the ENORMOUS amounts of scandal in the Church today, or what appears to be the Church, one can consider that it would be safer apart from it. I have personally switched N.O. parishes due to the scandal I did not want my children to be exposed to. The place I have found safe refuge happens to be in a TLM indult parish. However, the TLM society can be told to take a hike at any moment.

    I suggest you direct the last paragraph you wrote in your latest comment to the bishops of the Church and the Pope, since they are bound to Tradition and the authority of the Chair of Peter. They are supposed to safeguard and teach the faith that was handed down to them, not disregard it and make stuff up as they go due to the historic circumstances they find themselves in. They should be the first to present their necks to the steel blade of the executioner.

    I am sure you are aware that we are not bound to submit to known error or unjust laws. Hypothetically, if the Pope told you to kill your mother because she refused to admit that the Virgin Mary felt deceived or lied to at the cross; would you? If your answer is “no” then we agree more than you would like to admit.

    If the Pope gave you permission or allowed you to commit sacrilege by receiving the Eucharist when pretending to be a woman and dressed as one, would you?

    At what point do you begin to question whether the man asking or permitting you to do such hideous things has any concern for the faith or even cares about your eternal end, or the end of others due to the scandal?

    When does it become more absurd to continue to think of the Pope as the martyr or protector of souls, rather than the one wielding the sword.

    I will admit to be standing at the edge of the cliff. All signs point to an apostatized hierarchy in the Church (generally speaking), yet my heart is still not at peace with it, so I have not taken that leap. I am hoping someone can talk me away from the edge.

    A divine utterance I do not what to fall victim to is, “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.”

    The key is to do the will of God. Personally, I don’t know how anyone can conclude that the post-VII Popes have done the will of God when it comes to the Great Commission and defending the faith against false religions. And let’s not forget there deafening silence when it comes to sins of the flesh and crimes against nature that cry out to heaven for vengeance.

  100. Branch says:

    I am not sure what you mean by “technically.” Do you mean formally? There is formal heresy and material heresy. That is a distinction that would matter, it seems to me, at least regarding the question of the validity of popes, though beyond that, from our perspective, injecting only material heresy into the Catholic drinking water is still going to upset the Catholic stomach. And the world is filled with sick, confused, MIA Catholics. (Unless, it’s only this current generation that really understood Catholicism (finally !) and so has the duty to essentialize and re-present the ‘truth’ to the modern world and explain away the inconvenient Catholic past, which is basically the mission of the Progressives as I understand it, the very mission of that cabal of revolutionaries Brian Miles discusses today at 1P5.)

    Regarding Tradition, I do think the distinction between it being “technically” altered or not is practically unhelpful and maybe even irrelevant in this case of Vatican II and its aftermath. For if, as has been discussed throughout this post, the Church’s infallibility of discipline is tied to her infallibility of doctrine (and it be must or else what would infallibility of discipline mean?), then if discipline contradicts doctrine, well… Where are we? Changing traditions can never alone change Tradition “on the books”. But what kind of consolation is that when the lived life of the Church is chaos?

  101. Kevin says:

    I’m not convinced that a Pope automatically loses his office through manifest heresy. That idea seems to have a lot of similarities to the Donatist heresy of the early centuries. The Donatists refused to receive the sacraments of heretical or apostate priests because they believed they would have automatically lost their authority and office. The Church eventually condemned this idea. So if a heretical or apostate priest retains the validity of their priesthood and sacraments until they are deposed, shouldn’t it be the same for the Papal office, despite St. R. Bellarmine’s opinion?

  102. Kevin:

    No, the Donatists denied the validity of SACRAMENTS administered by morally unworthy priests and bishops. An office is not a sacrament. The 1917 and 1983 codes of canon law both state that a person automatically loses his office by, among other things, defecting from the faith.* This is because a clerical office is an extension of one’s membership in the Church, and since heretical depravity removes one from the Church, it eo ipso removes one from the office (or, so to speak, removes the office from one). This is especially the case with a pope, since, unlike the sacrament of orders, there is no sacramental ‘papal’ character which is imprinted upon his soul.

    * Curiously enough, the 1983 CIC amended that to say that the penalty could only be enforced by an official canonical judgment, which is nonsense, since heresy is a violation of DIVINE law, not a mere ecclesiastical infraction. The SIN of heresy precedes (and, so to speak, trumps) the CRIME of heresy.

  103. Kevin says:

    Ok, thanks for clearing that up for me. Back to the drawing board!

  104. Regarding Tradition, I do think the distinction between it being “technically” altered or not is practically unhelpful and maybe even irrelevant in this case of Vatican II and its aftermath. For if, as has been discussed throughout this post, the Church’s infallibility of discipline is tied to her infallibility of doctrine (and it be must or else what would infallibility of discipline mean?), then if discipline contradicts doctrine, well… Where are we? Changing traditions can never alone change Tradition “on the books”. But what kind of consolation is that when the lived life of the Church is chaos?

    A very, very great consolation from my perspective, since we should know that whatever it looks like the gates of Hell cannot – cannot– prevail against the Church.

    I’m curious what you mean by “infallibility of discipline”. Discipline can be changed; it is entirely different from infallibility of doctrine. The whole “unmarried Priests” semi-debate (I don’t think we;r currently in any serious danger of that at the moment) is a good example of that. We already make exceptions and have entire rites that allow married Priests, in fact. Discipline is not doctrine.

    I am not sure what you mean by “technically.”

    I mean, is what he is saying actually heretical? Or just confusing? Or is what he’s saying not actually contrary to doctrine, but only out of place with past non-doctrinal teaching (for example, Pope John Paul II’s opposition to the death penalty in almost all circumstances, but not all).

    Hypothetically, if the Pope told you to kill your mother because she refused to admit that the Virgin Mary felt deceived or lied to at the cross; would you? If your answer is “no” then we agree more than you would like to admit.

    If the Pope gave you permission or allowed you to commit sacrilege by receiving the Eucharist when pretending to be a woman and dressed as one, would you?

    At what point do you begin to question whether the man asking or permitting you to do such hideous things has any concern for the faith or even cares about your eternal end, or the end of others due to the scandal?

    Yeah, it’s a matter of figuring out what the limit is for sure.

  105. Branch says:

    Malcom, the infallibility of discipline is defined here http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05030a.htm and also was discussed within this post early on.

  106. Here is, I think, the money section of that article:

    That ecclesiastical discipline should be subject to change is natural since it was made for men and by men. To claim that it is immutable would render the attainment of its end utterly impossible, since, in order to form and direct Christians, it must adapt itself to the variable circumstances of time and place, conditions of life, customs of peoples and races, being, in a certain sense, like St. Paul, all things to all men. Nevertheless, neither the actual changes nor the possibility of further alteration must be exaggerated. There is no change in those disciplinary measures through which the Church sets before the faithful and confirms the natural and the Divine law, nor in those strictly disciplinary regulations that are closely related to the natural or Divine law.

    So it depends on the discipline, basically.

  107. Branch says:

    “A very, very great consolation from my perspective, since we should know that whatever it looks like the gates of Hell cannot – cannot– prevail against the Church.”

    I believe the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church, but also, the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God. More than looking bad, it is bad. It’s not “Christ was wrong, Hell has prevailed,” but surely, Hell has found away in through a fissure and is causing much harm. Question I have is: given that Hell cannot prevail, but the smoke has entered, what does the promise of Hell not prevailing mean now?

  108. Question I have is: given that Hell cannot prevail, but the smoke has entered, what does the promise of Hell not prevailing mean now?

    I’m not sure what this means. Can you elaborate?

    I mean, it’s been bad – very bad – very, very bad – in the past as well.

  109. Branch:

    Well, to play sede advocate once again, as we all learned in school, if a building is full of noxious smoke, you should GET OUT and find a place where you know clean air and supportive persons are. 😉

  110. Branch says:

    “There is no change in those disciplinary measures through which the Church sets before the faithful and confirms the natural and the Divine law, nor in those strictly disciplinary regulations that are closely related to the natural or Divine law.”

    Right, except that one such change (the Kasper proposal), considered unthinkable (hence the “infallibility” of discipline) is seriously being entertained by the hierarchy at present. To me, that the Synod is even entertaining the idea is itself a scandal and absurd. Still, if that question is really being considered and, so it seems, has the Pope’s support at least now, I think that is what is bringing up all sorts of other questions we’ve been discussing here.

  111. Branch says:

    “I’m not sure what this means. Can you elaborate?”

    I mean, we both grant, because we must and do wish to, that Hell cannot prevail. But is perhaps the ‘content’ of that promise in need of reevaluation in light of the fact that the smoke has entered? IOW, not should we go back and reconsider if Hell will prevail, but what precisely does Hell not prevailing mean if even the pope is pronouncing that Satan has found a way in?

    Your argument seems to be that this is new, but yet not new – “We’ve always had problems in the Church.” – but then was the pope speaking in vain? Has a pope ever declared that Satan’s smoke had entered the Church? It would suggest to me that these times are different and perhaps especially grave.

  112. Right, except that one such change (the Kasper proposal), considered unthinkable (hence the “infallibility” of discipline) is seriously being entertained by the hierarchy at present.

    The Arian heresy was taken quite seriously at one time as well.

    Still, if that question is really being considered and, so it seems, has the Pope’s support at least now…

    I’m not really sure it has the Pope’s support. From what I remember he hasn’t actually come out and said that, at least.

  113. Branch says:

    “Well, to play sede advocate once again, as we all learned in school, if a building is full of noxious smoke, you should GET OUT and find a place where you know clean air and supportive persons are. ;)”

    That’s why I come here!

    I hear you. I just don’t know, you know? I really don’t. I can totally see the logic in the sede view, and it would answer a lot of other questions for me, like bizarre canonizations and elevations to the title of Doctor of the Universal Church.

  114. Your argument seems to be that this is new, but yet not new – “We’ve always had problems in the Church.” – but then was the pope speaking in vain? Has a pope ever declared that Satan’s smoke had entered the Church? It would suggest to me that these times are different and perhaps especially grave.

    Yes, that is pretty much my argument. That a Pope has never said Satan has never entered the Church in the past doesn’t strike me as particularly relevant. If anything it is a positive; at least we know he’s paying attention.

  115. Branch says:

    The Arian heresy was about doctrine, not discipline. Kasper has stated that the doctrine won’t change, so the threat is actually more subtle.

    “I’m not really sure it has the Pope’s support. From what I remember he hasn’t actually come out and said that, at least.”

    He’s just given numerous indications that he does indeed support, without actually saying “Listen up, I support this!”

    Death by a thousand cuts.

  116. IOW, not should we go back and reconsider if Hell will prevail, but what precisely does Hell not prevailing mean if even the pope is pronouncing that Satan has found a way in?

    I’m skeptical of re-evaluating one of the foundational doctrines of the Church after nearly 2,000 years.

  117. The Arian heresy was about doctrine, not discipline. Kasper has stated that the doctrine won’t change, so the threat is actually more subtle.

    It nearly tore the Church apart regardless.

    He’s just given numerous indications that he does indeed support, without actually saying “Listen up, I support this!”

    I think it’s more that he actually hasn’t said “No, I do not support it” yet.

    I don’t know. I just find it very difficult to imagine that in 2,000 years it has never been this bad, through the antipope era, the Arian heresy, the Borgia Popes, the Great Schism…

    The Church, it’s had problems.

  118. I mean, consider: At one point, half of the Church left. Just split off. I mean, that’s bad. Really bad.

    Actually, come to think of it, I don’t even know if the proposal DOES violate infallibility of doctrine. Divorce is not a matter of natural law. It was allowed at one time.

  119. Branch says:

    “I just find it very difficult to imagine that in 2,000 years it has never been this bad, through the antipope era, the Arian heresy, the Borgia Popes, the Great Schism…”

    Pius X in Pascendi seems to have seen something unique in these times: “Still it must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the cross of Christ has in these last days increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ’s kingdom itself. ”

    “I’m skeptical of re-evaluating one of the foundational doctrines of the Church after nearly 2,000 years.”

    I don’t believe my suggestion would consistent re-evaluating a doctrine of the Church. Can you explain how it would?

  120. Pius X in Pascendi seems to have seen something unique in these times…

    He just said the enemies have “increased”. But we knew that already. I’m not saying we’re in a good era right now, just that there have been bad eras before.

    I don’t believe my suggestion would consistent re-evaluating a doctrine of the Church. Can you explain how it would?

    “The gates of Hell not prevailing” has been understood essentially the same way for almost 2,000 years. You are suggesting that we reconsider what it means. I am skeptical of that.

  121. Branch says:

    “I don’t even know if the proposal DOES violate infallibility of doctrine.”

    It’s actually even more than that: the indissolubility of marriage is a dogma of the Church.

  122. Branch says:

    “He just said the enemies have “increased”.

    He actually said: “increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy.”

    But he was just telling us something as plain as today’s Friday. And Paul VI was just a little on edge from all of that post-Conciliar enthusiasm. I appreciate the discussion today, but I think it’s come up against the wall of normalcy bias.

  123. Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend it. I unequivocally and totally oppose the Kasper proposal.

  124. But he was just telling us something as plain as today’s Friday. And Paul VI was just a little on edge from all of that post-Conciliar enthusiasm. I appreciate the discussion today, but I think it’s come up against the wall of normalcy bias.

    …Which all has nothing to do with what I said about the Arian heresy, the Borgia Popes, the Great Schism, the era of the antipopes…

    Nothing I wrote contradicts a word he said.

  125. Branch says:

    If it was all the same, then he would be speaking in vain in saying that the heresy now comes by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety.

  126. Look: You brought up how Paul VI said it’s getting really bad. Okay. But he also said nothing about any of the previous eras, and now you are putting words in my mouth.

    I did not say he was saying something as plain as today’s Friday, I was saying we already knew that. Which we do, since that’s what the conversation is about. And I said nothing about any Popes being “on edge” or otherwise. Nor did I even say things aren’t very bad right now.

    Normalcy bias my hat. Don’t put words in my mouth.

  127. If it was all the same, then he would be speaking in vain in saying that the heresy now comes by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety.

    And if I said it was all the same, that would be relevant. But I didn’t.

  128. Branch says:

    It’s an implication. If Paul VI said the smoke has entered, that implies it was not there before.

    Just as your statements are riddled with implications. You keep saying, I’m not saying this, I’m not saying that. But you are, by way of implication.

  129. In other words, I didn’t say it, and you are reading me through a biased lens.

    I am saying that I don’t think we have cause to be more worried now than we would have had cause to be worried during the Arian heresy, the Great Schism, the Borgia Popes, or the antipope era. That doesn’t mean that the dangers are now are the same as in the previous eras. That doesn’t mean we’re not in a very bad place right now. That doesn’t mean we should stick out heads in the sand. Which are all things I actually said as opposed to you thinking I implied things I didn’t.

    Paul VI thought that the Church was facing a new, grave danger. That doesn’t mean we never dealt with grave dangers before.

  130. Malcolm:

    I’m curious. You say we are in a very bad situation nowadays. Could you tell exactly what you mean? To put it in other words, where do you think “rad trads” are right and what do you think is most compelling reason(s) for sedes to act/believe as they do?

  131. Tony Jokin says:

    Hey Codg,

    Was there another post yesterday? I have this memory of replying to a new post of yours last night right before sleep…. lol… it would be pretty funny if all of that was a dream. I admit it was pretty late at the time and I was tired too.

    Anyway, I have the following question I wanted to ask.

    In what precise sense do we say that a Church law or discipline is infallible? Which of the following is the right understanding?

    1) Following the laws will lead to the salvation of a majority of individuals, but it will not contribute to anyone’s fall
    2) Following the laws will lead to the salvation of a majority of individuals, but it will contribute to someone’s fall
    3) There exists at least some individuals who would be lead to their salvation due to following the laws while the same laws will contribute to leading others to their fall
    4) There exists at least some individuals who would be lead to their salvation due to the laws while same laws will not contribute in anyway to lead others to their fall
    5) The laws will always reflect the Divine will, even though the laws are inadequate or even dangerous to the salvation of many.

    Perhaps the precise sense of the meaning that laws are infallible is something entirely different from the ones I have listed above. But I think we must lay down what it really means.

    Because, for an example, if (5) above is the precise meaning, then Pope Francis allowing communion for the divorce and remarried will still be an infallible one.

  132. Tony:

    “In what precise sense do we say that a Church law or discipline is infallible?”

    I tried to address that point in my first very long reply to initial objections by contrasting infallibility with irreformability. To wit:

    “…while a pope cannot ‘define’ any canon as the one and only possible and unalterable formulation of a disciplinary aim (which, again, is why Pastor Aeternus refers to the infallibility of solemn papal definitions being confined to faith and morals), yet he can, and, by virtue of his duty as the Vicar of Christ, MUST say that in ratifying any law binding upon the faithful, it does not contravene the Divine Will (and is therefore infallible without being irreformable in the way that faith-and-morals definitions are).”

    Therefore, of the options you listed, I think (4) is the proper understanding of the Church’s disciplinary infallibility. At the same time, (1) seems even more appropriate, but it raises issues of the number of the elect that (4) handles with the kind of logical precision that I prefer.

    A point I forgot to mention in my long reply is that, according to the 1983 CIC (cn. 1752), “the salvation of souls … [is and] must always be the supreme law in the Church”. Quite so. It is precisely because the Church is “the pillar and ground of truth” (I Timothy 3:15), uniquely equipped with all the necessary graces to lead souls into Heaven, that She is infallible even in her disciplinary shepherding. It’s part of her ordinary universal Magisterium. Just as a fresh spring cannot produce salt water, nor a fig tree grapes (James 3:11), and just as a perfectly good father will never provide stones instead of bread, or a scorpion instead of an egg (Luke 11:11-12), so the Church qua spotless, indefectible Bride of Christ, CANNOT GIVE EVIL–CANNOT be untrue to Her divine Groom in the smallest possible way (cf. Mystici Corporis ##44, 66). The Church is “full of grace” in the same way as Our Lady is.

    In any case, I think you’ll find it helpful to review the quotations I provided at the very beginning of my OP.

  133. Tony Jokin says:

    Codg,

    Thanks, I got a chance to read both replies 🙂 Phew, at least I know now that I didn’t dream/imagine the whole thing last night 😀

    So on the definitions, if we pick (4), then couldn’t one argue that a good case can be made that the Church has adopted policies which do in-fact contribute to loss of souls [and hence, we cannot hold (4) as the correct sense]?

    Because taking ecumenism as an example, the fact that ecumenical endeavors present a danger to the faith is established by Papal judgements (and common sense, I might add). Logically speaking, nothing seems to have changed from day before Vatican II to day after Vatican II to suddenly make the reasoning behind those prior Papal judgements void. So one can presume that if what was condemned day before Vatican II was adopted day after Vatican II, then the consequences (loss of souls) is present.

    So it would seem that defining infallibility in respect to laws and disciplines cannot be understood in the manner defined in (4)?

  134. Tony Jokin says:

    I would also add that to hold (4), given what is known by reason regarding dangers of ecumenism for an example, is only possible if we suspend our reason (informed and acting upon the axioms given by faith) and hope for a supernatural miracle that will somehow make all things right in the end such that even those seemingly lost will be saved.

    If we indeed do suspend our reason informed by faith, aren’t we heading in the direction of Fideism?

  135. Tony: “…couldn’t one argue that … the Church has adopted policies which do in-fact contribute to [the] loss of souls…?”

    No. No. No.

    That is PRECISELY why Vatican II is such a monstrosity, as well as why Conciliar Francis’s slurs against the Holy Mother of God and against the Spotless Bride of Christ stem from the same heretical delusion.

    Here’s a quick rule of thumb: if you think the Church is, in her essence, just as messy, immoral, and destructive as any other ‘merely human’ organization, then you are either a Modernist, or a sheep deeply poisoned by our Modernist hireling-taskmasters. The Church is a PERFECT SOCIETY, and it’s a handy shibboleth, since no Modernist can affirm that old teaching.

    Consider….

    “[We dare not say that] the Church which is ruled by the Spirit of God could have established discipline which is not only useless and burdensome for Christian liberty to endure, but which is even dangerous and harmful and leading to superstition and materialism.”

    — Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei (1794), n. 78; Dz. 1578

    [T]he discipline sanctioned by the Church must never be rejected or be branded as contrary to certain principles of natural law. It must never be called crippled, or imperfect or subject to civil authority. In this discipline the administration of sacred rites, standards of morality, and the reckoning of the rights of the Church and her ministers are embraced.”

    — Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (1832), n. 9

    “[We cannot] pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that ‘without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.’ But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.

    — Pius IX, Quanta Cura (1864)

    [D]iscipline is often closely related to doctrine and has a great influence in preserving its purity. In fact, in many instances, the holy Councils have unhesitatingly cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed [or adulterated] its discipline. … [Indeed,] discipline is the rampart of faith….”

    — Pius IX, Quartus Supra (1873)

    “It is then undoubtedly the [indefectible] office of the church to guard Christian doctrine and to propagate it in its integrity and purity. … But faith alone cannot compass so great, excellent, and important an end. There must needs be also the fitting and devout worship of God, which is to be found chiefly in the divine Sacrifice and in the dispensation of the Sacraments, as well as salutary laws and discipline. All these must be found in the [one true] Church, since it continues the mission of the Saviour for ever. The Church alone offers to the human race that religion — that state of absolute perfection — which He wished, as it were, to be incorporated in it. And it alone supplies those means of salvation which [perfectly] accord with the ordinary counsels of Providence.”

    — Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (1896)

    “The Church in her general discipline … is said to be infallible in this sense: that nothing can be found in her disciplinary laws which is against the faith or good morals, or which can tend either to the detriment of the Church or to the harm of the faithful. That the Church is infallible in her discipline follows from her very mission. The Church’s mission is to preserve the integral faith and to lead people to salvation by teaching them to preserve whatever Christ commanded. But if she were able to prescribe or command or tolerate in her discipline something against faith or morals, or something which tended to the detriment of the Church or to the harm of the faithful, the Church would turn away from her divine mission, which would be impossible.”

    — R. J. P. Hermann, Institutiones Theologiae Dogmaticae (1908)

    “There can … be no real opposition or conflict between the invisible mission of the Holy Spirit and the juridical commission of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ, since they mutually complement and perfect each other — as do the body and soul in man – and proceed from our one Redeemer….”

    — Pius XII, Mystici Corporis (1943)

    “[The Church’s liturgical norms] are intimately bound up with Church discipline and with the order, unity and concord of the Mystical Body and frequently even with the integrity of Catholic faith itself.”

    — Pius XII, Mediator Dei (1947)

    “The object of the infallibility of the Church … extends to all those things which either directly pertain to the revealed deposit itself, or are required in order that the same deposit may be religiously safeguarded and faithfully expounded.”

    Acta Synodalia Conc. Vat. II, III/8, p. 89*

    “The infallibility of the magisterium of the Church extends not only to the deposit of faith, but also to those things, without which this deposit cannot be properly safeguarded and explained.”

    — CDF, Mysterium Ecclesiae, 24 June 1973 (AAS 65 [1973], p. 401)*

    *As cited in Francis A. Sullivan, Magisterium, Wipf & Stock: Portland, OR (1983), pp. 132, 134.

  136. st athanasius3:

    I am sure you are aware that we are not bound to submit to known error or unjust laws.

    But that this is not right is my point. Unjust laws do not intrinsically bind; but we may be bound to submit to them for extrinsic reasons — to avoid scandal, for instance, or because we have no way of not submitting them that would not be worse for common good, or because we have other obligations that indirectly come into play. This is standard natural law theory, recognized by everyone from Thomas Aquinas to Martin Luther King, Jr. in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. If a law is unjust, we may possibly still be bound to submit to it if there is a way to do so without ourselves committing injustice. That is precisely my point: establishing that an authority is illegitimate or that a law is unjust does not always relieve one of the responsibility of submission, obedience, or deference. In some cases it will have no significant effect; in others it will simply limit the kinds of submission one should give; in others one may be required not to submit; but this must be established as a further matter beyond any conclusion about the illegitimacy of the authority.

  137. To put it in other words, where do you think “rad trads” are right and what do you think is most compelling reason(s) for sedes to act/believe as they do?

    Fair questions (and I suppose I’ve put myself on the spot here; admittedly I sound as if I’m hemming and hawing, which I assure you I don’t intend).

    I don’t like that we’re even debating the Kasper proposal (this is the easiest doctrinal example off of the top of my head). This shouldn’t be up for grabs at all.
    After Vatican II, vocations declined catastrophically. This is indicative of a very big problem, namely…

    Having heard arguments from both sides I’m on the fence whether or not it is the Novus Ordo per se that is the issue here, but I cannot deny that the NO is horribly abused. And the effects, from where I’m sitting, are very clearly visible. Mass attendance has dropped like a rock.

    Francis is theologically sloppy at best. He may or may not say things that are heretical, but they are often vague and can often be interpreted in ways that tend to heresy (you mention his comments about Mary, and they’re good examples). What’s interesting is that he’s a very intelligent man. I honestly think we’re looking at a much more muted Pope Francis as opposed to a Cardinal Bergoglio who was probably much more liberal.
    And of course, the big elephant in the room: The ecumenism issue. Once again, I don’t know for sure if it was VatII itself or sloppy implementation that did it, but there’s no denying that post-Vat II attempts to reach out to the world lead to the world at least partially corrupting the western Church. Our Bishops, in general (not all of them) are against abortion in name only and not really against gay marriage at all, but you can bet they’re very much in favor of Obamacare. And while they might not be interested in making a strong statement in defense of marriage they’re very interested in presenting a practically brand new Church teaching on the death penalty as if it’s infallible Catholic doctrine.

    If my reasons sound less severe than you, it’s probably just because I’m less educated. As I said, with all of your quotes, I have little to say in response that’s actually a direct argument. It’s just that, in my view…you know, it’s been REALLY, really bad in the past, and we made it. I find it hard to believe that in Church history nobody else felt like this.

    I’m also, yeah, skeptical of re-evaluating what it means for the gates of Hell not to prevail against the Church. For almost 2,000 years we’ve had a pretty good idea, and you’re going to need to bring down Jericho if you’re going to convince me that for that entire time we’ve been looking at the whole thing incorrectly.

    In which case, I would become one of three things: A member of the Orthodox Church, a sedevacantist, or a Protestant.

  138. Brandon:

    Just so you can lay it out clearly for our readers, what exactly is the overwhelming (and therefore impermissible) scandal in which sedevacantists engage?

  139. Malcolm:

    Your response gives me, as they say, hope for the future. 😉

  140. Just so you can lay it out clearly four our readers, what exactly is the overwhelming (and therefore impermissible) scandal in which sedevacantists engage?

    (1) All scandal is impermissible.
    (2) I have not at any point said sedevacantists engage in scandal; I said that it is a flaw in almost every sedevacantism that it fails to account properly for scandal.

  141. Brandon:

    If all scandal is impermissible, then why does the latest Catechism say that “Jesus gave scandal”? CCC 588-589 + 2284 ff.

  142. Because words can be used with more than one meaning.

  143. Oh.

    Right.

    Because Vatican II. Ambiguity is the new orthodoxy, I guess.

  144. There’s no ambiguity whatsoever; the divergence in meanings arises from the original Greek, skandalon, stumblingblock, which gets used a specific way in natural law theory — the explicit context here — but also has other meanings in other contexts.

  145. Tony Jokin says:

    Codg,

    You said: “No. No. No.

    That is PRECISELY why Vatican II is such a monstrosity, as well as why Conciliar Francis’s slurs against the Holy Mother of God and against the Spotless Bride of Christ stem from the same heretical delusion.

    Here’s a quick rule of thumb: if you think the Church is, in her essence, just as messy, immoral, and destructive as any other ‘merely human’ organization, then you are either a Modernist, or a sheep deeply poisoned by our Modernist hireling-taskmasters. The Church is a PERFECT SOCIETY, and it’s a handy shibboleth, since no Modernist can affirm that old teaching.

    But you are not exactly explaining (or defending) what it means for the Church to be a “perfect society” though.

    At the moment, you are operating on the principle that the meaning of “PERFECT SOCIETY” as it pertains to the Church, is that she will not enforce laws and disciplines that impede the salvation of some. I think this position isn’t trivially true.

    So what I am pointing out though is that your conclusions hinges on how you interpret the phrases such as “Church is a PERFECT SOCIETY”, “Church laws and disciplines are infallible” etc.

    For an example, at the moment, I see the laws and disciplines as reflecting the best possible way in which many can be saved (while it may impede the salvation of some). These “some” who the law will impede, their salvation is handled through dispensation or exceptions while maintaining what works for the majority as the norm.

    I would also argue that it seems unreasonable to think that there is a single form of discipline or law that will fit every individual’s needs. So the Church can never legislate a perfect discipline or law in the sense that it will accommodate the needs for salvation of all Catholics. Therefore it seems unlikely that the meaning you give to what it means for the Church to be a “PERFECT SOCIETY” or infallible in her disciplines and laws is tenable.

  146. Tony:

    Please show me where the Church has ever legislated immorality or sacrilege.

    Also, can you name which papal or magisterial writings you’ve read which speak of the Church as a perfect society, or, by contrast, which such documents suggest the Church ERRS in her discipline (i.e. discipleship)?

    For every hedge you bet against the Church’s unerring discipline/shepherding, there is a “liberal” who hedges against her authority in doctrine. The Church, like Jesus, teaches by word AND DEED.

  147. Kevin says:

    So if someone is having serious doubts about the validity of the man sitting in Peter’s Chair, should they continue to receive Communion at their ordinary parish where the potential false pope is prayed for by name in the Liturgy? And if in reality the Pope is validly holding his office, is the person having these same serious doubts about his validity actually cutting themselves off from communion with the Church? I’ve omitted Communion many times due to these kind of questions running through my mind.

  148. Tony Jokin says:

    Codg,

    You said: “Please show me where the Church has ever legislated immorality or sacrilege.”

    The point I am making is that there exists certain set of laws and disciplines that the Church can enforce which do not sanction immorality or sacrilege, BUT maybe reasonably considered as lending itself to such immorality and sacrilege due to some laxity.

    So for an example, things like

    1a) A Church law requiring child sacrifices to God
    1b) A Church law requiring an annual utterance of a blasphemy toward God

    would be laws that are impossible to be legislated due to the infallibility granted to the Church in regards to discipline and laws.

    But, in contrast,

    2a) Removing any legal obligation on the faithful to attend the Sacred Liturgy
    2b) Removing or passing any legal obligation on the faithful encouraging them to be in situations proximate to sin, leaving it to the individual to decide on when it is prudent

    are theoretically possible. The key reason being that none of these laws promote immorality. The key reason being that none of these laws directly demand immorality. They just put more responsibility on the individual to a reckless degree.

    So I would actually argue that all of the options I listed before as ways to understand the meaning of infallibility or Church is a perfect society were perhaps wrong/deficient. Perhaps the correct way to understand it is that “The Church will never legislate immorality, but she may still facilitate indirectly by lax laws”.

    As for a particular Church document, I am not as well read as you so I am unaware of anything. I am merely working backward from the data we see and postulating a possible interpretation of the infallibility in regards to discipline and laws.

    I just do not see how your interpretation is logically possible i.e. (4) There exists at least some individuals who would be lead to their salvation due to the laws while same laws will not contribute in anyway to lead others to their fall. A law is merely an attempt to establish a norm within the Church. The norm is facilitated, I would think, because it is understood that it will work for many, but not for all.

    So if one were to understand infallibility in regards to laws and disciplines as “The Church will never legislate immorality, but she may still facilitate indirectly by lax laws”, the post-Vatican II era is merely one of gross incompetence on the part of the Church hierarchy. If in this coming synod, God forbid, they were to remove any laws preventing communion for public sinners (which implicitly put the ball in the courts of the public sinners themselves), then it would just be another additional instance in the very long list of acts that reek of gross incompetence.

    Is there a reason you would think that the way I am interpreting infallibility in regards to laws and disciplines is untenable or contradicts Church teaching?

  149. Kevin:

    As to the first, yes, you should continue to receive communion from churches under the defunct pope. The manifestness of his heresy, and thus of his incapacity as pope, would not affect the orthodoxy and catholicity of the churches in question (unless, of course, they openly sided with his heresy).

    However, if the heretical depravity of the hypothetical pope in question were based on claims shared by the Church at large, then, yes, one would have to suspend communion with churches affirming those tenets. Not surprisingly, that is the position held by sedevacantists. Simply by virtue of accepting what traditionalists already see as the heresies of V2, a new claimant to the papacy “in the Vatican II sect” (as they sometimes put it) is ipso facto already a manifest heretic, and thus already ab initio an invalid candidate for holding ecclesiastical office. So for them, joining churches which honored the pope in question would be to communicate ‘in sacris’ with a heretical group.

    Lastly, having doubts about a pope does not cut you off from communion. Doubts are just that: confusion generated by the doctrinal and liturgical chaos and which seems to bespeak a heretical deviation from the Catholic faith.

    But what do I know?

  150. Tony:

    Before I read in full, reflect upon, and reply to your comment just now, let me mention one my “life laws” which I learned years ago working abroad:

    “Over time, the difference between incompetence and malfeasance becomes undetectable.”

    (Or, “Over time, incompetence and malfeasance become indistinguishable.”)

    Ain’t it great that our two options these days in the Church seem to boil down to those two things? hahaha #gallowsHumor

  151. Tony Jokin says:

    It is rather bleak indeed that it has come to that 😀

    I am thinking of analogous cases where a parent can have good intentions when they offload all responsibility to the kid and say “they are mature, I will let them decide well” etc. The parents aren’t evil in those cases. They just brought into the mantra that giving maximum freedom to kids will shape them better, which is more of a lesser error (though with grave consequences) in comparison.

    But yea… given the grave consequences…. it is not that much of a solace haha.

  152. My annoyance at one point aside, I do want to say that this has been a superb discussion.

  153. Malcolm, that’s a very nice endorsement, thank you. Don’t be a stranger.

    (And I thank all contributors to my blog discussions for their unusually high levels of erudition and politeness.)

  154. Murray says:

    Elliot,

    This is very impressive, and it deserves a more widespread discussion within traditionalist Catholic circles. I urge you to convert your Aporetic Manifesto into an e-pamphlet or e-book, that it might be circulated in a more digestible form. (Hey, you’ve only got a newborn at home–how hard could it be?) I look forward to Brian’s reply, and I’d love to see someone at (e.g.) The Remnant or Unam Sanctam Catholicam or (less likely) Rorate Caeli take a pass at addressing your argument, so that we might make further progress in understanding what’s at stake here, and what isn’t.

    For my part, I’ve been completely thrown for a loop, and I’ve spent a few sleepless hours at 3am going over the implications of your argument. (Hence the radio silence.) I’ve been attending Mass for less than seven years, and was only baptized in 2010, along with my wife and two sons. (I was a convert from atheism with a weak liberal protestant background.) When I was accepted into the Church, I found myself standing on solid rock for the first time in my life. Now I wonder if it was all an illusion.

    It seems to me you make a pretty good argument that we may have had false popes all the way back to Paul VI, and possibly John XXIII, in which case we’re either stuck with sedeprivationism at best, and sedevacantism at worst. I could just about accept sedeprivationism, in which the vast institutional mechanism of the Catholic Church lumbers on under the impaired guidance of quasi-popes, but sedevacantism? It seems to make a mockery of Christ’s promise to be with the Church “even to the end of the age”.

    If sedevacantism is true, then the vast majority of our priests and bishops are laymen, with the exceptions of those ordained in the Old Rite and possibly SSPX and/or sede clergy–which would be too bad for those of us who live outside their areas of operation. That means that more than a billion Catholics over the past 45-50 years–through no fault of their own— have not been receiving valid sacraments, except for maybe baptism. Our marriages are not valid, we have never been confirmed, our sins are not forgiven, and we are not in communion with the Body and Blood of Our Lord. We are the most unfortunate of men, and a great many of us have died in our sins. In effect, we are all Anglicans. If extra ecclesiam nulla salus holds, the best we could hope for might be one of the less unpleasant tiers of the Inferno.

    What’s more, the entire post-conciliar enterprise would be a sham. The encyclicals aren’t, the Catechism isn’t, our only valid canon law dates from 1917, no-one has received an annulment (and thus a vast number of people are unwitting adulterers, including myself), Anglicanorum Coetibus is null and void (so much for my last-ditch refuge in an Ordinariate parish), and we have had no new saints since sometime in the 1960s.

    On the bright side! We could happily ignore the Assisi gatherings and like ecumenical embarrassments. Cardinal Kasper and his masonic confreres in the gay mafia would be no threat to the Church, since no-one would have the authority to ratify their heresies. The SSPX bishops were never excommunicated, and there would be no question of schism.

    But all of this, as I said above, seems to make a mockery of Christ’s promises. The notion that hundreds of millions of Catholics risk damnation simply for attempting to do what Catholics have always done is abhorrent.

    All of which is to say that I’m not quite sure of the contours of the via media that you’re attempting to walk. You don’t wish to endorse sedevacantism, but given your argument, what other option do you have? By your own argument (as I understand it), if the disciplines and teaching formulations of the post-conciliar Church cannot be reconciled with the pre-conciliar Magisterium, doesn’t that necessarily imply one of the sedes?

    Sorry about the rambling. I’m still a bit at sea.

  155. st athanasius3 says:

    Tony Jokin,

    What is your argument concerning the issue with the Church calling female alter servers evil and forbidden to what we have today? I would like you hear your opinion on this and will monitor the comments for your response.

    For now, I think I will take a degree of the advice offered by one of the commenters above when he recommended going off radar for a time. I am in need for a little retreat from all this.

    God bless!

  156. Tony Jokin says:

    Hi st athanasius3,

    So as I indicated in my discussion with Elliot (Codg), I am thinking that we are to understand “infallibility of the Church in regards to discipline” as “The Church will never legislate immorality, but she may still facilitate (immorality) indirectly by lax laws” (at least for the context of our discussion).

    From this understanding, I see the phenomenon of female altar servers as a result of lax laws. The Church does not demand female altar servers but has made the laws so lax (in regards to serving at mass, in this context) that there is nothing legally to stop female altar servers. So the fact remains that any woman, Bishop or priest can inform themselves about the issue and the views of the Church in the past and refrain from engaging in such activity and forbid it under their authority.

    I should also mention that I am originally from Sri Lanka where female altar servers were (I left 12 years ago) non-existent (and I think it still is the case). It was in-fact frowned upon to see a lay woman enter beyond the altar rails (which were never removed). My parish never had Extraordinary ministers for communion. It was always the priest. At times a nun would join in but the idea of a lay person handling the Eucharist is frowned upon. These are not TLM parishes by the way but a complete Novus Ordo celebrating parish where many do not even know that the TLM is still celebrated. Ecumenism was rarely practiced (all I heard growing up in the late 90’s were warnings by the parish priest during sermons whenever a Protestant group set-up-shop in the area), But in recent times, I have heard that it seems to have become more acceptable with the Papal push for it becoming more well known. Still, most do not approve of it. There are other factors that seem to be contributing toward a favorable view toward “dialogue” with non-Catholics. But I digress.

    The point I wanted to make was that the above situation was possible because the local hierarchy preserved the stronger laws within society. As far as I am aware, no Pope to this day has ever condemned anyone in that local hierarchy for doing so. All I experienced growing up was the Novus Ordo. But everything else was pretty much the same as that of a Catholic from pre-VII.

    So I see the Church leaders in Rome today as practicing some real bad parenting. They have relaxed the laws and are often setting a bad example or giving scandal by the way they themselves act. Too much is left at the hands of the local clergy and the individual believer. The bad kid is allowed to become worse and corrupt the good kid. The good kid is not given any clear guidance to grow in goodness as well. So if this continues, it is only a matter of time when even the local Catholic Churches in the countries like the one I grew up in, start to decline.

  157. Tony:

    Quick thought: Even Christ “facilitate[d] (immorality) indirectly by lax laws” by virtue of giving humans free will with respect to His own revelation. I think you’re looking for a deductive argument where it doesn’t belong.

  158. Pingback: And he’s not a sedevacantist because…? | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam" fidescogitactio @ gmail . com

  159. Tony Jokin says:

    Codg,

    I think it would be more accurate to say that Christ didn’t facilitate anything by lax laws since he never really legislated laws for the Church (maybe I forgot something from the gospels here). He won salvation for us, always demanded the the faithful to repent and believe the good news, and handed down the supernatural truths. The Church legislates laws so that, ideally, the laws will help the faithful to actually remain in the truth and adhere to the demands made by Christ.

    I am only pointing out that we need not say that infallibility in this regards means that the Church hierarchy will always legislate the best possible laws to accomplish salvation. The infallibility may merely mean that the Church will never demand something outright immoral through the laws she legislates.

    I think this distinction is important (not because I favor a deductive argument). If we choose your position, for an example, we are left with two weird looking views. But if we choose something like the one I propose, then we are left with more choices.

  160. Tony:

    I’m going to have to review your options to see if I fudged on the logical nuances in them when I made my earlier reply to them.

    For ow, one thing I’ll mention is: WHAT CHRIST DOES IS WHAT THE CHURCH DOES, AND VICE VERSA.

    Christ gave all kinds of laws…namely, those which He has sown among men by His Bride and Other Body, the Church.

  161. Tony Jokin says:

    What I mean by choices is that, according to your understanding of “infallibility of the Church in legislating laws”, we are left with

    1) Sedevecantism, or
    2) Complete submission to the conciliar project and embracing it as “good Catholics”.

    But if we understand “infallibility of the Church in legislating laws” as ““The Church will never legislate immorality, but she may still facilitate indirectly by lax laws” (not saying this is the only other interpretation, but I think it works reasonably enough), then we can adopt something like the following position:-

    3) The Church has incompetently relaxed all laws to facilitate immorality. Keep asking and praying for the Church to fix those holes while personally holding onto the demands of the older “laws” and “disciplines”.

  162. Tony Jokin says:

    Codg,

    You said: “WHAT CHRIST DOES IS WHAT THE CHURCH DOES, AND VICE VERSA.” Christ gave all kinds of laws…namely, those which He has sown among men by His Bride and Other Body, the Church.

    What I wanted to point out before was that Christ was not personally guilty of making lax laws while he walked the earth.

    On the matter of Christ making legal demands through the laws of the Church, I think this is incorrect if understood in the sense in which I think you asserted it. Christ makes certain demands of all of us through what he has revealed as taught infallibly by his Church. The Church merely tries to help us meet those demands through her laws and disciplines.

    For an example, Christ demands fidelity in marriage between the husband and wife till death (Church teaching). The Church law may legislate prohibitions against divorce or engaging in activities that threaten this demand on fidelity. The Church leaders could go a little “out there” and decide to not have any legislation in that regard too. But that doesn’t change the fact that Christ still demands fidelity.

    So I do not think it is accurate to say that Christ makes demands of us through the laws of the Church. His demands are made through the teachings of the Church. But maybe I am wrong on this one.

  163. Tony Jokin says:

    I guess what I am trying to say is that in regards to loosening and binding, the Church cannot loosen what Christ has demanded by his teaching. The Church can choose not to legislate or repeal an older legislation that communicated the demand of Christ. But that does not amount to the repealing of the actual demand.

    As to whether the Church can bind on something that Christ does not demand through teaching, I think it is also possible and has been done. But that binding is done to indirectly facilitate the keeping of the demand that Christ has made and not for some arbitrary reason. What the Church is doing today is relaxing all those laws that indirectly contributed to helping the faithful keep the faith.

    By loosening those laws that contributed indirectly to keep the faith, the Church indirectly facilitates immorality or distortion of Church teaching that was prevented by those laws. Someone who was aware of the original purpose of the laws that were loosened, should then rightly have issue with the actions of the Church.

  164. I want to go back to this in relation to the Kasper Proposal:

    There is no change in those disciplinary measures through which the Church sets before the faithful and confirms the natural and the Divine law, nor in those strictly disciplinary regulations that are closely related to the natural or Divine law.

    My natural thought is to wonder what this means, and if the Kasper proposal really applies to it.

    A disciplinary regulation closely related to the divine law is actually pretty vague. From the article: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05030a.htm

    The ancient catechumenate exists only in a few rites; the Latin Church no longer gives Communion to the laity under two kinds; the discipline relating to penance and indulgences has undergone a profound evolution; matrimonial law is still subject to modifications; fasting is not what it formerly was; the use of censures in penal law is but the shadow of what it was in the Middle Ages. Many other examples will easily occur to the mind of the well-informed reader.

    The one that sticks out to me is the one about Communion being given to the laity under only one kind. Surely the Eucharist is more “related to natural and divine law” than even Confession, or at least as much so. And yet a major discipline regarding it has been changed.

    It seems that the sticking point would be about what the Church deems is “closely related”, which is a relative term as opposed to “confirms”. The argument behind the Kasper Proposal is, after all, that it ultimately is in MORE conformity with the divine law (mumble mumble mercy). So given that, it seems like the Church has more official leeway.

    This, by the way, is exactly what I mean when I say that technicalities matter. No doubt you (meaning a general “you” here) will point out that it’s a tragedy we are at this point, that this sort of hair-splitting is a travesty and a spiritual burden on many, that it’s a crime we are even in this position. And I would agree with you. We shouldn’t have to do this at all.

    But it matters. The answers to these questions, whatever they may be, and no matter how terrible it is that we even need to ask them, matter.

    And it’s also why we should all be comforted by Christ’s promise that the gates of Hell would never prevail against the Church. If we aren’t comforted by a promise that no matter what happens, ultimately the devil will lose, than I submit that we are looking at things from the wrong perspective.

  165. st athanasius3 says:

    Tony, I could not stay away. For the record I want to post what PJPII said about female altar servers and the canon that allows it.

    [3] The 1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 230 §2: Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.

    On March 15, 1994, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments to presidents of episcopal conferences announced a June 30, 1992 authentic interpretation (confirmed by John Paul II on July 11, 1992) from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. This authentic interpretation said that canon 230 §2 permits service at the altar by women, but the local bishop may decide whether to allow them in his diocese.

    I think your idea that the bishops choose to do it but the Church does not allow it is incorrect since Canon Law, which is universal for Catholics has been determined to allow for the practice and local bishops can determine to NOT use females to serve at the altar.

  166. Kevin says:

    “If sedevacantism is true, then the vast majority of our priests and bishops are laymen, with the exceptions of those ordained in the Old Rite and possibly SSPX and/or sede clergy–which would be too bad for those of us who live outside their areas of operation. That means that more than a billion Catholics over the past 45-50 years–through no fault of their own— have not been receiving valid sacraments, except for maybe baptism. Our marriages are not valid, we have never been confirmed, our sins are not forgiven, and we are not in communion with the Body and Blood of Our Lord.”

    I still think this sounds like Donatism to me. I found this on the SSPX website:

    “Pope Leo XIII answers clearly and with solemn authority:

    Concerning the mind or intention, inasmuch as it is in itself something internal, the Church does not pass judgment; but in so far as it is externally manifested, she is bound to judge of it. Now, if in order to effect and confer a Sacrament a person has seriously and correctly used the due matter and form, he is for that very reason presumed to have intended to do what the Church does. It is on this principle that the doctrine is solidly founded which holds as a true Sacrament that which is conferred by the ministry of a heretic or of a non-baptized person, as long as it is conferred in the Catholic rite.

    St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says the same thing (III, Q. 64, A. 8 ad 2):

    In the words uttered by (the minister), the intention of the Church is expressed; and this suffices for the validity of the sacrament, EXCEPT THE CONTRARY BE EXPRESSED EXTERIORLY on the part of the minister [emphasis given by author].

    Therefore, in the conferral of the sacrament of holy orders (or of any other) as long as the ordaining bishop, be he Catholic or apostate, observes externally the rite prescribed for the sacrament, he MUST be presumed to have the right intention, and the sacrament MUST be accepted as valid.

    Let us recall one more time that there is not the least question of the possibility of receiving valid ordinations from a bishop who has abandoned the faith. In fact, such ordinations received from heretics or others are normally valid.”

    http://archives.sspx.org/archbishop_lefebvre/validity_of_holy_orders.htm

  167. Tony Jokin says:

    Hi again st athanasius3

    You said: I think your idea that the bishops choose to do it but the Church does not allow it is incorrect since Canon Law, which is universal for Catholics has been determined to allow for the practice and local bishops can determine to NOT use females to serve at the altar.

    I believe you may have misunderstood me or I may have communicated my point with less clarity.

    What I am asserting is that the Church since Vatican II has adopted lax laws, and offloaded most of the responsibility of “figuring out the right thing to do” to the individual (Bishop, Priest and right down to the lay person).

    So I am in no way saying that Bishops and priests today in the Western part of the world are engaged in some massive act of disobedience. However, what I am asserting is that most clergy and lay persons in the Western part of the world had taken advantage of the lax laws to such a degree that it has lead to a degradation of the Catholic faith. Those prelates or lay persons who see the issue and want to call them to act more responsibly are missing a place to appeal. There is nothing legally present anymore and the sense within the Church is one of permissiveness.

    Did this clarify my position better?

  168. st athanasius3 says:

    Tony, thanks for the clarification. I understand what you are saying but I just don’t see how this resolves the issue of something evil and forbidden becoming good and acceptable. Nothing evil can be allowed or tolerated by the Church though it may be tolerated by the secular world for a certain period of time if one has no power to eliminate it. Again, the Church cannot tolerate sin.

    If the Church said today that capital punishment was evil or bad, and that human dignity is preserved by keeping the life of the murderer, would you be bound to it? The answer is no. Thus, the Church does not have the authority to overturn that which God has made good and acceptable. The Church, in the past, has said that human dignity is preserved by taking the life of the one who forfeited his own when he took the life of an innocent. Both use the same argument but for a different end.

    I think your argument would be a good one for the secular world. Fortunately, the Church is bound to always teach and preserve the truth regardless of the enemy razing Her bastions. If what you suggest can happen, then that would leave no visible authority of Christ on Earth, and we would have no sure way to come to know the Truth during that period of time.

  169. Tony Jokin says:

    st athanasius3,

    So as I was explaining to Elliot, the reason I favor this interpretation is that I also favor a different understanding of the phrase“infallible in regards to discipline and laws”.

    It appears that Elliot and others hold the phrase above to mean

    A) There exists at least some individuals who would be lead to their salvation due to the laws while same laws will not contribute in anyway to lead others to their fall.

    If the above sense was the accurate one, then it appears at least as far as I have thought about it, that we are only left with Sedevecantism or complete submission to the novelties (as Elliot concludes).

    However, as I was explaining in one of my replies to Elliot, such a sense seems logically impossible.

    So I suggested that we understand in the following sense (it is just something I put together for now, but I am sure there are much better refined positions like the one below)

    B) “The Church will never legislate immorality, but she may still facilitate immorality indirectly by lax laws”.

    If understood this way, we are only looking at incompetence of our Church leaders since Vatican II, in doing their duty. There is no need to move to the Sedevecantist camp or blindly submit that all is well. One may choose to hold fast to the advise in the repealed laws and disciplines i.e. tradition. I would also like to point out that even in the case of infallibility of the Church and Pope in regards to doctrine, the thrust is that they are prevented from error when teaching. It is not a guarantee that they will exercise this power if the faithful need it! So in the same way, it seems logically possible that the Church at some point in history could end up having zero pieces of legislation, or a whole lot of legislation that pronounce everything as legally permitted, because the leaders are that much incompetent.

    So I do put forth that God has only given the Church leaders so much freedom that they will be stopped short of legislating a direct demand for something immoral. This prevention is what I consider infallibility in regards to discipline and laws.

    Now I admit that I am not that well read as Elliot in Church matters and I am just a lay person trying to piece together a “view” of the situation. So there may well be some doctrinal reason why the sense in which I understand the infallibility of the Church in regards to discipline and laws is unacceptable. But in the same way, there may exist much better defined positions that one can put forth that create enough distinction to prevent one from arriving at Elliot’s dilemma in regards to the conclusions.

  170. Tony,

    You might find the article “Does the Church’s Infallibility Extend to Disciplinary Laws?” by Fr. Peter R. Scott useful in your deliberations – in particular his discussion (referencing the discussion of the same topic in the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia) of the distinction between positive and negative infallibility in regards to ecclesiastical discipline. It’s worth taking the time to go through carefully, in my opinion.

    http://bit.ly/1J1ZZAz

  171. Tony Jokin says:

    Radical Catholic,

    Thank you for that article. I just finished reading it. I think what the article indicates is what I want to communicate as well (though with my elementary Catholic knowledge, I have been making a mockery of it).

    I think the argument laid out in this post is missing the distinction made in that article as negative infallibility and positive infallibility in regards to disciplinary laws.

    I shall have to reread it multiple times though to get the full grasp of it. But I thank you again! I very much appreciate it!

    Elliot,

    What are your thoughts on the way infallibility is described in that article by Radical Catholic.?

  172. Greetings All:

    The free time I had over the past few days has dried up lately, so I just want you all to know that I shall, God willing, get back to your comments, am planning to post a few of my longstanding in-the-works posts, am not a sedevacantist, etc. etc.

  173. Dear Elliot. I was traveling in Georgia and Tennessee the last week and not a day went by without me thinking of how you have brought us to the abyss.

    Thank you.

    I suspect your great post will eventually make it into the mainstream of traditionalism where one will be constrained to confront it and contend with it.

  174. Mighty Joe, if you haven’t already, you MUST see the lengthy reply I wrote in this thread about 120 comments ago, mainly for the bang-zoom-straight-to-da-moon quotation from Sullivan.

  175. Kevin says:

    I know everyone has moved on from this conversation, but I just felt the need to say once again that I renounce any potential error I may have hinted at in this thread and submit myself to the judgement of the Church in all things. I’ve simply been reading too many online articles written by people who have no authority to interpret Councils, Canons, or any other aspect of Church Tradition whatsoever. This leads into the dangerous error of using private judgement to try to interpret the Tradition of the Church. “Sola Traditio” Catholicism is not an option.

    I hope anyone else here who might be going down a similar path will consider getting off this train while you still can. God bless.

  176. James M says:

    After a few sentences, I’m afraid my eyes glazed over, & I gave up reading. Sorry. I really don’t care a bean what these people think – they can glorify, magnify, exalt & even pro-theosize the Papacy (as one paper described Blessed Pius IX in July 1870) until they are black in the face, but the fact is, that none of their mountains of aprioristic hot air means anything, in face of what actually happened since the Judas Council.

    They are like men who prove that powered flight by man is impossible – and, much less excusably, those who quote their disproofs of powered flight by man, once this has been achieved (as it was in 1903) to prove that Apollo 11 cannot possibly leave the ground, are using their words to apply to a context to which those words are inapplicable, and which their authors could not possibly have envisaged. So it is here – those people did not live during the mayhem unleashed & furthered & licensed & sanctified by the Popes since 1958, & no good is done by pretending that they were able to take account of the Papal vandalisation of the Church since that time. To pretend such a thing is no different in kind from the intellectual gymnastics so typical of Evangelical Fundamentalism.

    If the sole function of Catholics is to obey the Pope, regardless of what impiety, indifferentism, semi-heresy, or other treason against the Faith he may commit – just say so. But that means that the Pope is to be obeyed even when he denies Christ. Such an obedience is devil’s obedience, a Godless & anti-theological positivism that has nothing Christian or Catholic about it. The Pope is nothing, and less than nothing, when he abuses Christ’s authority vested in St Peter by Christ to disobey & defy & deny Christ. To imply that obedience is due to the Pope in such circumstances in intellectual, moral, theological & spiritual suicide.

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