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A common and dangerous error advanced these days is to label certain theological opinions as heretical propositions.

Theological opinions are free opinions concerning doctrines on Faith and morals. Their value depends on facts and reasons adduced in their favor. There are different degrees of opinions ranging from probable, more probable, well-founded, pious, and tolerated. According to Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis, a theological opinion ceases to be a free opinion once the Church pronounces a judgment on the matter.

At times, popes will advance a theological opinion. Theologian Fr. Joachim Salaverri gives us an example with jurisdiction, when he taught, “On the mediate or immediate origin from God of the jurisdiction of Bishops. This question was raised in the Councils of Trent and Vatican, but it was not decided. Several authors with Victoria and Vasquez held that the jurisdiction was given immediately by God to the individual Bishops; but generally Catholic authors with St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, St. Robert Bellarmine and Suarez hold that jurisdiction is given to the Bishops immediately not by God but mediated through the Roman Pontiff. Pius XII teaches this opinion positively in the Encyclical Mystici Corporis, when he says: ‘But Bishops so far as their own diocese is concerned…are not completely independent but are subject to the Roman Pontiff, although they enjoy ordinary power of jurisdiction received directly from the Sovereign Pontiff himself.’ We think that his opinion is to be preferred.” [1]

What’s most fascinating about this example is that not everything advanced in encyclicals are binding teachings of the faith. This doesn’t mean an encyclical may contain a potential error against the faith. Popes can’t err against the faith, but they may err on something not yet settled by the Church. The Fathers of the First Vatican Council discovered 40 papal errors of the past.

An opinion is an opinion. Twice this year, Feeneyites have accused me of heresy for spreading the following theological opinions on what type of faith is needed to be saved, which St. Alphonsus Liguori taught in his Moral Theology:

1. Which mysteries must be believed by a necessity of means?

Of those things which the faithful are bound to believe explicitly, some must be believed by a necessity of means, or end; without which, even if inculpably unknown, no one can obtain the ultimate end; others, by a necessity of precept, without which, if they be inculpably omitted, the ultimate end may be obtained. — Sanchez, Azor, Valentia.

Resp. I.  By a necessity of means these two things are necessary: (1) To believe explicitly that God is, and is a rewarder of the good; according to that of the Apostle to the Hebrews, xi. 6: One must believe.  Council of Trent.  (2) After the sufficient promulgation of the Gospel, to believe explicitly, as says Molina; or at least implicitly, as some teach as probable with Coninck and Laymann, in Christ and the Most Holy Trinity.  See Escobar, where from Vasquez he teaches that culpable ignorance of these mysteries, or negligence in learning them, is a grave sin, distinct from that which is its cause.  See Diana.

Faith is thus defined: It is a theological virtue, infused by God, inclining us to firmly assent, on account of the divine veracity, to all that God has revealed, and by the Church has proposed to our belief.  It is said (1) A theological virtue, that is, which has God for its object; for faith, as also hope and charity, is aimed directly at God, and thus differs from the moral virtues, which refer to Him indirectly. (2) Infused by God; because faith is a supernatural gift of God. (3) Inclining us to firmly believe; for the assent of faith cannot be joined with fear, as was wrongly said in proposition 21 proscribed by Innocent XI, but must be absolutely firm.  (4) On account of the divine veracity.   For the infallible truth (which is God Himself) is the formal object of faith. (5) To all that God has revealed; for everything revealed by God is the material object of faith.  (6) And by the Church has proposed to our belief; for the divine revelation would not be made known to us, except by the Church, which proposes the things revealed; as it is otherwise evident, on account of the signs of credibility (among which are prophecies, miracles, the constancy of the Martyrs, and such like), that the Church can neither deceive nor be deceived.  Apart from which St. Augustine famously uttered the saying: I would not believe the Gospel, unless the authority of the Catholic Church so moved me.

2. Whether the mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation must be believed explicitly?

It is asked: whether the Mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity and the Incarnation, after the promulgation of the Gospel, must be believed with an explicit faith by necessity of means or of precept?

The first opinion, which is more common and seems more probable, teaches that they are to be believed by a necessity of means.  Thus hold Sanchez, Valentia, Molin, Continuator Tournely, Juenin, Antoine, Wigandt, Concina with Ledesma, Serra, Prado, etc.; also Salmant., Cuniliati and Roncaglia.  But these last three say, that accidentally and in a rare case one may be justified with a faith that is only implicit. — This they prove from the Scriptures, from which they say is clearly proved the necessity of means.  They prove it also from reason: for, granting that before the promulgation of the Gospel an implicit faith in Christ was sufficient, yet after the promulgation, because the state of grace is more perfect, a more perfect knowledge is required, indeed an explicit faith in Christ and the Trinity.

The second opinion, which is also sufficiently probable, says, that by necessity of precept all are bound to believe these Mysteries explicitly; but by necessity of means, it suffices if they be believed implicitly. — Thus Dominicus Soto, where he says: Although the precept of explicit faith (that is, in the Trinity and the Incarnation) is absolutely obligatory upon the whole world, nevertheless many may be excused from this obligation on account of invincible ignorance.  Franciscus Sylvius writes: After the sufficient promulgation of the Gospel, explicit faith in the Incarnation is necessary for all for salvation by a necessity of precept, and indeed also (as is probable) by a necessity of means.  And in the conclusion that follows, he says the same about the mystery of the Trinity.  Cardinal Gotti says: I say (1) The opinion which denies that explicit faith in Christ and the Trinity is so necessary, that without it no one can be justified, or be able to be saved, is very probable.   And he asserts that Scotus holds this opinion.   Eusebius Amort, the recent and most learned writer, defends absolutely the same opinion.   Elbel writes, that today this opinion is held by the illustrious Doctors Castropalao, Viva, Sporer, Laymann, who says this (second opinion) is not less probable than the first, with Richardo, Medina, Vega, Sa, and Turriano. — Cardinal de Lugo calls the first opinion speculatively probable [footnote: Or more correctly: Lugo n. 90, calls the first opinion fairly common], but defends absolutely and in great detail this second one as more probable, with Javello, Zumel, and Suarez; and de Lugo writes, that this same opinion appears to be that of St. Thomas, where the Holy Doctor says: Before Baptism, Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues, through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit.   From which Lugo argues: as Cornelius obtained grace through implicit faith, because the Gospel was not yet perfectly promulgated in that region, likewise he can obtain it who is invincibly ignorant of these mysteries; for likewise to these the Gospel is not sufficiently promulgated.

But they say it is repugnant to the divine goodness and providence, to damn adults who are invincibly ignorant, who live honestly according to the light of nature, against which there is: In every nation, he who fears Him, and works justice, is acceptable to Him? (Acts x. 35) — Indeed they respond that all Scriptures, and testimonies of the Holy Fathers that are opposed to this view, can easily be explained as of necessity of precept: either because ordinarily almost no one can be saved without explicit faith in these Mysteries, because after the promulgation of the Gospel almost no one labors under invincible ignorance of them; or because, says Lugo, they may be explained as referring to implicit faith, or explicit in desire. — Furthermore, says Laymann, an adult, if mute and deaf from birth, though he be baptized, could not receive the other Sacraments, although he so desired; indeed he could not be saved, because it is unbelievable that such a man could rightly apprehend and explicitly believe the mystery of the Incarnation, and especially of the Trinity.

It is noted by Tannerus, Silvius, Azor and Valentia, with Gulielmo Parisiensi according to Sanchez, that if one were so very untaught, that he could not grasp these mysteries, then he would be excused on account of inability, and compared to infants, and dunces. — But Sanchez says, that it is one thing to believe, another to know the mysteries, and to give an explanation of them.   Thus he thinks that all adults are bound by a necessity of means, to eventually believe such mysteries, but by a necessity of precept to know them; from which precept to know the slow of mind are excused; and he says that the authors cited are to be understood in this way. And he concludes with Gabriele, who says: It is sufficient … for them (that is, the untaught), that … they explicitly believe individual [articles] when proposed to them.

However, propositions 64 and 65 condemned by Innocent XI, say: A man is capable of being absolved, however ignorant he may be of the mysteries of faith, and even if through negligence, even culpable, he does not know the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ — It suffices that he should have believed them once; but Viva says with Marchant, that it is probably not necessary to repeat Confessions made in ignorance of the aforesaid Mysteries; since by the aforementioned opinion it is quite probable that they were valid, if the ignorance was inculpable.   For it is certain, that such ignorance, if it be vincible, is a mortal sin.   But the aforesaid proposition was justly condemned, because it said that even he is capable of being absolved, who at the time of confession suffers from ignorance of the aforesaid mysteries. — But the opinion of Father Viva is not sufficiently probable in my view.   For although the penitent probably made a valid confession, so that afterwards he appears exempt from repeating his confession, because he confessed in good faith before; yet out of respect for him who certainly sinned gravely, it should always be urged that above all one is obliged to make a confession, not only probably, but certainly valid.   On which account, when one becomes aware that his confession was possibly valid, but also possibly null, because of ignorance of the mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity or the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, he is obliged, after he has been instructed in these Mysteries, to repeat his confession.

Moreover, he is said to believe implicitly, who believes something explicitly, in which another thing is implicit; for example, if you believe what the Church believes.   See the Scholastics and Laymann. [2]

St. Alphonsus’ work won the high praise of the very learned Pope Benedict XIV.

In 1831, Pope Gregory XVI decreed it safe to follow all of St. Alphonsus’ opinions. No other saint has been given this approbation.

One Feeneyite refused to call St. Alphonsus a heretic for his teaching, but he labeled me as a heretic for agreeing with St. Alphonsus. The other Feeneyite denied St. Alphonsus wrote this section of his study despite the fact that it’s in all the translations. 

Not only do Feeneyites make dogmas out of opinions, but we’ve seen how pseudo-Catholics general who make the universal acceptance opinion a dogma. See The Universal Acceptance Doctrine Not Universally Accepted – How We Can Know a True Pope Rules

They also like to make a dogma out of the rare and extreme minority opinion that a public heretical pope remains pope until warned, declared, or deposed by authorities. Even if they don’t force this opinion on others, they inevitably force it upon themselves. Besides, it appears this opinion has been shot down by the Church by implication. See The First Vatican Council and the Pope.

More and more, we see well-intended Catholics making dogmas out of opinions, whether it’s the Cassiciacum Thesis, home-aloneism, or what’s absolutely necessary to maintain apostolicity.

We want to be very careful not to make dogmas out of opinions. We must be level-headed in this great apostasy and stay focused. God tells us through our first Pope, “Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). Satan is trying to rip the last of us apart. Be on guard!

 

Footnotes

[1] Sacrae Theologiae Summa IB, [1955], pp. 144-145

[2] Theologia Moralis, Lib. II, tract. 1, cap. 1

https://archive.org/details/theologiamoralis01ligu_0/page/212/mode/2up

Feeneyism, named after the late excommunicated priest Leonard Feeney, has rapidly grown due to the aggressiveness and deceptive tactics of today’s Feeneyites. For the past several decades, groups such as Most Holy Family Monastery and Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have been arguing that the doctrine of Baptism of desire is a heresy because it contradicts Scripture and the teaching of the Council of Trent.

The doctrine of Baptism of desire is simply the doctrine that God can justify individuals apart from the Sacrament of Baptism in extraordinary circumstances. There may be no greater absurdity ever concocted by a group passing themselves off as Catholic as declaring heretical a doctrine that’s emphatically taught by the very council they claim it contradicts.  

In Session VI, Chapter IV, the Council of Trent declared:

A description is introduced of the Justification of the impious, and of the Manner thereof under the law of grace.

By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

In Session VII, Cannon IV, the Council of Trent added an anathema when it declared:

If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.

Literally every single theologian and canonist has understood these passages to mean that man can be justified either by the sacrament of baptism itself or the desire for it. Some examples of the greatest saints and theologians can be found in the footnote. [1]

Most importantly, all the Fathers of Trent have given us proof that they understood the decrees as meaning that desire for baptism will suffice in place of the sacrament. [2] All the acts of the Council of Trent have been meticulously recorded. In them we find precisely how the Fathers of Trent understood their own documents and how they approached them. They all undoubtedly believed man can be saved without the sacrament in extraordinary circumstances.

A few days after the Council adopted the decrees of the sixth session, they discussed all the possibilities on how man can be saved without the sacrament. One particular and striking example was Cardinal Cajetan’s theory that:

“Children who die in the womb of their mother can be saved, (as we have said above of those infants who die before it is possible to administer baptism to them)…They can be saved, I say, by the sacrament of baptism received not really, but ‘in voto’ [by the desire] of their parents [who would give] a blessing to the infants and invoke the Trinity.

Two reasons prompted me to come to this conclusion. First of all, it is proper that the divine mercy provide for the salvation of men in every natural condition, in such a way that in whatever state man may be found, he could not allege the impossibility of salvation. Now that impossibility would exist for an infant dying in the womb of his mother if the faith of his parents could not save him.

In [the womb] the infant is capable of receiving baptism of blood; if a child yet enclosed in the womb of his mother could receive death for Christ, he would be a martyr as the holy innocents. It is then reasonable to admit that the faith of his parents could produce the same result as suffering born of infants.

Thus then one could be acting prudently and wisely in the case where children come to die in the womb of their mothers, whether because of the mother’s sickness or a difficulty in birth, in giving the children a blessing with the invocation of the Sovereign Judge. Who can say the divine mercy would not accept that baptism received by the desire of the parents. This embraces no contempt of the sacrament, since it is the impossibility of the sacrament which forces parents to have recourse to it.”

For thirteen days the Fathers of Trent cast their ballots for or against the proposition: “Children in the wombs of their mothers can be saved by blessing and invocation of the Trinity.”

Over 50 votes were cast. Twenty-six asked for a condemnation. Six asked for a condemnation but with reservations that were not exactly what Cajetan proposed. Three bishops suggested that condemnation should be placed on the certainty of the proposition. The remaining twenty-one bishops said nothing or defended Cajetan’s proposition.

After the vote, it was sent back to the theologians for revisions, which left out Cajetan’s theory. The council was too divided over the issue but it never condemned Cajetan or his proposition. Pope St. Pius V did not eliminate the proposition as often asserted. However, the pope did eliminate Cajetan’s commentary on St. Thomas. There’s no solid historical evidence that St. Pius V had any influence on the decision.

What’s interesting about the whole affair is that it demonstrates that all of the Fathers of Trent understood that desire of those of the age of reason would suffice, but not necessarily the desire of parents for their unbaptized infants. However, Cajetan’s opinion is permitted to be held by the Church.

This brings us to the Council of Florence, Session 11, Feb. 4, 1442 which declared:

“Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, when no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the Devil [original sin] and adopted among the sons of God, it advises that holy baptism ought not be deferred for forty or eighty days, or any time according to the observance of certain people…”

We know now based on the teaching of the Fathers of Trent that we are not bound by a strict interpretation of the Council of Florence’s teaching on this point. Florence was only advancing a general principle much like Our Lord does in John 3:5. There is no other remedy for infants than baptism generally, but that doesn’t leave out possible exceptions. Florence wasn’t dealing with exceptions.

Another fascinating point about the incident was how Cajetan speaks as a matter of fact that all the Fathers understood that infants in utero can receive baptism of blood if the mother is martyred. Baptism of blood is also denied by Feeneyites, even though all the Fathers of Trent believed it and the whole Church has recognized saints through Baptism of blood. [3]

We see clearly and understand how Trent is and was understood by the Church. However, the Feeneyites have to interpret Trent exactly contrary to the meaning that all the Fathers of Trent intended. According to Feeneyites, it’s heresy to believe in Baptism of desire.

Feeneyites claim that the definition of Trent was making the distinction on all that is necessary for the unbaptized. They say if Trent taught ‘and’ a desire for it, it would have invalidated all infant baptisms. Had Trent merely stated “laver of regeneration” [baptism] without mentioning a desire for, it would have been inadequate since desire is necessary for adults. It is simply telling us what cannot be missing in infants, and what cannot be missing in adults for justification.

Feeneyites further argue that Canon 4 should be interpreted in light of Canon 2 which states, “if anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ (John 3:5), are distorted into some sort of metaphor: Let him be anathema” and Canon 5 which states: “If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.”

When people are bent on believing something despite the obvious facts, they will evidently make fools of themselves with their explanations as Feeneyites do with Trent.

Desire for baptism is presumed with adults. It’s not the only thing needed for adults getting baptized. Faith is what is most needed. If Trent specified what must not be missing for adults, “faith” would be the optimal word, not “desire.” Baptism of desire is not accomplished by mere desire but great faith also.

Baptism of desire does not distort Canon 2 into some kind of metaphor. This Canon was simply condemning the Protestant heresies at that time. Some Protestants say the water, which Christ referred to, was a metaphorical expression being washed in the word of God and not actual water. Baptism is a work needed for salvation and Protestants reject works as necessary for salvation. This is what Trent was condemning in Canon 2.

As for Canon 5, Baptism of Water is not optional. One cannot opt out of it and be saved. Baptism of desire is for those who don’t have an option.

Feeneyites prefer their own erroneous interpretation of Trent over the interpretation of all the Fathers of Trent and all the theologians since. The very Fathers that taught the dogma on the absolute necessity of baptism that Feeneyites turn to, prove their case, would be heretics for not believing in the very thing they were defining. It just doesn’t get anymore ridiculous.

Of course, they won’t apply their own logic – by calling the popes, saints, and fathers heretics as they do with the average Catholic who follows their teaching on Baptism of desire. The Feeneyite goes from one absurdity to another. His reaction to articles such as this one is not to be humbled, but rather to get enraged, have a debate challenge, and condemning as cowardly if failure to engage.

They have proven to be like devils with their irrational thinking and debating them would be like arguing with devils deserving no recognition and only to be shunned. They have made themselves the final arbiters of truth as all antichrists do. They have a sickness of soul that can’t be fixed with facts, logic, and common sense, but only with prayer, fasting, and perhaps an exorcism or two.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] St. Charles Borreomeo superintended the redaction of the original Italian text of the Roman Catechism, which, thanks to his exertions, was finished in 1564. It was then published in Latin and Italian as “Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini ad parochos Pii V jussu editus, Romae, 1566” (in-folio). Translations into the vernacular of every nation were ordered by the Council (Sess. XXIV, “De Ref.“, c. vii).

The Roman Catechism taught that adults “are not baptized at once…The delay is not attended the same danger as in the case of infants, which we have already mentioned; should any foreseen accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters, their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail them to grace and righteousness.” (p 179)  http://www.catholicapologetics.info/thechurch/catechism/Holy7Sacraments-Baptism.shtml

In 1582, 27 years after Canisius’ catechism was written, the English College of Rheims published the Rheims New Testament. It was the official English translation approved by Rome. In the commentary of John 3:5, the Rheims Bible reads, “…this sacrament [Baptism] consisteth of an external element of water, and internal virtue of the Holy Spirit…Though in this case, God which hath not bound his grace, in respect of his own freedom, to any Sacrament, may and doth accept them as baptized, which either are martyred before they could be baptized, or else depart this life with vow and desire to have the Sacrament, but by some remediless necessity could not obtain it.” 

1582 Douai Rheims Douay Rheims First Edition 3 Of 3 1582 New Testament : Douay (Douai) Rheims College – scanned by www.fatimamovement.com : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Francisco Suarez, S.J. (1548-1617) cites St. Robert Bellarmine S.J. on Baptism of Desire in his 1602 work Opus de triplici virtute theologic, a Tractus de fide, Disp.XII, sect.4, n.22 : [As to] what is further added, that outside the Church there is no salvation, some say, as Cano, that this proposition is to be understood of the Church in general, as it always was, and not only of the Church, as it was specially instituted by Christ. But this response is unsatisfactory, both because the Church is always one, and also because the Councils really speak of this Church of Christ, and one must hold as true in some sense concerning it, that outside of it nobody is saved. Thus it is better to reply according to the distinction given between necessity in fact, or in desire [in re, vel in voto]; for thus nobody can be saved, unless he should enter this Church of Christ either in fact, or at least in will and desire. Bellarmine responds thus to a similar question. And it is manifest, that nobody is actually inside this Church, unless he is baptized, and yet one can be saved because the will to be baptized is sufficient, and likewise the will to enter the Church; thus we say the same of any faithful person who is truly penitent and is not baptized, whether he shall have come to explicit faith in Christ, or only to implicit faith : for by that faith he can have at least an implicit desire, which is sufficient with regard to baptism, as St. Thomas teaches in the aforesaid places.  Suarez, Francisco, S.J. Opus De Triplici Virtu, Te Theologica, Fide, Spe, Et Charitate. Cum superiorum permissu & Privilegio Caesareo. Sumptibus Hermanni Mylij Birckmanni, Excudebat Balthasar Lippius, 1922.

St. Robert Bellarmine  who taught in his De Controversiis: De Sacramento Baptismi. Lib. I, cap. 6., 1596 A.D.

First proposition: Martyrdom is rightly called, and is a kind of Baptism. 

Second proposition: Perfect Conversion, and Penance is rightly called Baptism of wind, and it supplies for Baptism of water at least in cases of necessity. Note that not just any conversion is called Baptism of wind, but perfect conversion, which includes true contrition, and charity, and also desire, or will to receive Baptism.

Secondly, note that this proposition was not as certain with the ancients, as was the above. For as regards Martyrdom none of the ancients, as far as I know, denied that it could supply for Baptism of water: but as regards conversion and penance there were some who denied it. Indeed the book written on the dogmas of the Church, which is falsely attributed to Augustine, chap. 74. openly teaches that a Catechumen is not saved, although he should have lived in good works, unless he be purified by the baptism of water or of blood. Also it is clear from epistle 77 of St. Bernard, that some in his time believed the same.

But without doubt it is to be believed, that true conversion supplies for Baptism of water, when not through contempt but through necessity someone dies without Baptism of water. For this is expressly held by Ezech. 18: If the impious shall do penance for his sins, I will no more remember his iniquity. Ambrose openly teaches the same in his oration on the death of Valentinian the younger: “He whom I was to regenerate, I lost; but that grace, for which he hoped, he did not lose.” Likewise Augustine book 4 on Baptism, chap. 22. and Bernard epist. 77. and after them Innocent III. chap. Apostolicam, of an unbaptized priest. Thus also the Council of Trent, sess. 6. chap. 4. says that Baptism is necessary in reality or in desire. Finally, true conversion is associated with Martyrdom, and with Baptism of water, in the name of Baptism and in two effects; therefore it is credible that it also be associated in another effect, which is to forgive guilt, and to justify man, and in this way to supply for Baptism of water.

Fr. Cornelius à Lapide, S.J. (1567- 1637) a Flemish Jesuit and renowned exegete wrote in his great biblical commentary on John 3:5 around 1615: “Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Lastly, born of water ought here to be understood either in actual fact, or by desire. For he who repents of his sins, and desires to be baptized, but either from want of water, or lack of a minister, is not able to receive it, is born again through (ex) the desire and wish for baptism. So the Council of Trent fully explains this passage (Sess. 7, Can. 4).

Some are of opinion that the sacrament of baptism was at this time instituted by Christ. But it is not probable that Christ secretly, in the presence of only Nicodemus, instituted the universal sacrament of baptism. Rather, He publicly instituted it at His own baptism in the river Jordan. Baptism, however, although it had been publicly instituted by Christ, was not binding upon the Jews and other men until after Christ’s death, at Pentecost. For then the promulgation of the Evangelical Law took place, whose beginning is baptism. Of this time Christ here speaks. As though He said, “The time for the obligation of the Law of the Gospel is close at hand. When that shall have come, the ancient Law, and circumcision, will cease, and in its place the new Law will succeed, and baptism, in which none save those who are born again of water and of the Holy Ghost will be able to enter into the kingdom of God.” Wherefore this precept of Christ has rather reference to the time after Pentecost, than the present.

Moreover, the expression, unless any one shall have been born again, intimates that baptism had been already a short time previously instituted by Christ. For Christ spake these words to Nicodemus shortly after His own baptism. And He would not have told him that baptism was necessary for salvation, unless He had already instituted it.

St. Alphonsus Liquori, (1696-1775 Doctor of the Church) who taught in his Moral Theology, Bk. 6, n. 95-7. Concerning Baptism:

Baptism, therefore, coming from a Greek word that means ablution or immersion in water, is distinguished into Baptism of water [“fluminis”], of desire [“flaminis” = wind] and of blood.

We shall speak below of Baptism of water, which was very probably instituted before the passion of Christ the Lord, when Christ was baptised by John. But Baptism of desire is perfect conversion to God by contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or implicit desire for true Baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the [baptismal] character or as to the removal of all debt of punishment. It is called “of wind” [“flaminis”] because it takes place by the impulse of the Holy Ghost who is called a wind [“flamen”]. Now it is de fide that men are also saved by Baptism of desire, by virtue of the Canon Apostolicam, “de presbytero non baptizato” and of the Council of Trent, session 6, Chapter 4 where it is said that no one can be saved “without the laver of regeneration or the desire for it”.

Baptism of blood is the shedding of one’s blood, i.e. death, suffered for the Faith or for some other Christian virtue. Now this Baptism is comparable to true Baptism because, like true Baptism, it remits both guilt and punishment as it were ex opere operato. I say as it were because martyrdom does not act by as strict a causality [“non ita stricte”] as the sacraments, but by a certain privilege on account of its resemblance to the passion of Christ. Hence martyrdom avails also for infants seeing that the Church venerates the Holy Innocents as true martyrs. That is why Suarez rightly teaches that the opposing view [i.e. the view that infants are not able to benefit from Baptism of blood – translator] is at least temerarious. In adults, however, acceptance of martyrdom is required, at least habitually from a supernatural motive.

It is clear that martyrdom is not a sacrament, because it is not an action instituted by Christ, and for the same reason neither was the Baptism of John.

Again, St. Alphonsus Liquori

Truly Baptism of Blood is the pouring forth of blood, or undergone for the sake of the faith, or for some other Christian virtue; as teaches St. Thomas, Viva; Croix along with Aversa and Gobet, etc. This is equivalent to real baptism because [it acts] as if it were ex operato and like Baptism remits both sin and punishment. It is said to be quasi – as if, because martyrdom is not strictly speaking like a sacrament, but because those privileged in this way imitate the Passion of Christ as says Bellarmin, Suarez, Sotus, Cajetane, etc., along with Croix; and in a firm manner, Petrocorensis.

Therefore martyrdom is efficacious, even in infants, as is shown by the Holy Innocents which are indeed considered true martyrs. This is clearly taught by Suarez along with Croix and to oppose such an opinion is indeed temerarious. In adults it is necessary that martyrdom be at least habitually accepted from supernatural motives as Coninck, Cajetan, Suarez, Bonacina and Croix etc. teach. ….

Not in passing that such was also the teaching of Coninck, Cajetan, Suarez Bonacina and Croix.

[2] Concilium Tridentinum: Actorum pars altera: Acta post sessionem tertiam usq… – Google Books

[3] The Breviary states:

“Emerantiana, a Roman virgin, step-sister of the blessed Agnes, while still a catechumen, burning with faith and charity, when she vehemently rebuked idol-worshippers who were stealing from Christians, was stoned and struck down by the crowd which she had angered. Praying in her agony at the tomb of holy Agnes, baptized by her own blood which she poured forth unflinchingly for Christ, she gave up her soul to God.”

This virgin and martyr died in Rome about the year 350. A church was built over her grave. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908), some days after the death of St. Agnes, Emerentiana who was still a catechumen, went to the grave to pray, and while praying she was suddenly attacked by the pagans and killed with stones. Her feast is kept on January 23 and she is again commemorated on Sept 16 under the phrase in caemeterio maiore (where she is buried). She is represented in the iconography of the church with stones in her lap and a palm of lily in her hands.

The liturgy has some more instances: 

In the Breviary in the office of Nov. 10, is that of St. Respicius.

“During the reign of the emperor Decius, as Tryphon was preaching the faith of Jesus Christ and striving to persuade all men to worship the Lord, he was arrested by the henchmen of Decius. First, he was tortured on the rack, his flesh torn with iron hooks, then hung head downward, his feet pierced with red hot nails. He was beaten by clubs, scorched by burning torches held against his body. As a result of seeing him endure all these tortures so courageously, the tribune Respicius was converted to the faith of Christ the Lord. Upon the spot he publicly declared himself to be a Christian. Respicius was then tortured in various ways, and together with Tryphon, dragged to a statue of Jupiter. As Tryphon prayed, the statue fell down. After this occurred both were mercilessly beaten with leaden tipped whips and thus attained to glorious martyrdom.”

St. Victor of Braga of Portugal is a saint who is commemorated in the Breviary on April 11. During the reign of Diocletian, he refused to adore an idol and with great courage confessed his belief in Jesus Christ. He was severely tortured and then decapitated being baptized in his own blood.

Crisis Magazine has recently posted an article that perfectly demonstrates how Vatican 2 Catholics misunderstand Catholicism and particularly the papacy and the nature of the Church. Two striking features that stand out to me is the lack of critical thinking and the enormous amount of ignorance with the sedevacantist position. It’s as if they’ve never read a single thing we’ve ever written on the subject. However, I’m very thankful for the article since it gives us great opportunity to set the record straight once again.

The author of the piece, Kennedy Hall begins by stating, “mainstream diocesan bishops and clergy are questioning whether Pope Francis has published material or formal heresy.”

This immediately struck me. Has theological training become so bad that there’s such questioning?

Material heresy is when someone inculpably advances a heretical proposition by inadvertent ignorance. Formal heresy happens the moment one sufficiently knows the existence of the rule of the faith in the Church and that, on any point whatsoever, for whatever motive and in whatever form, one refuses to submit to it.

Theologians know what the Church teaches. Therefore, when they put forth a heresy to be believed, obstinacy is presumed, and it’s considered formal heresy. There should be no question about the matter when the subject is the papal claimant, because there’s no such thing as a true pope advancing material heresy only.

Hall continues with “there has never been a definitive teaching on how a pope could lose his office, or what we should do if he did.”

Sedevacantists do not think the Vatican 2 popes have lost the papal office. We believe they never had the Office to lose. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if there’s never been an explicit and definitive answer about how a pope can lose office or what to do if it happens. I would like to offer four explicit and definitive teachings that actually do tell us something concerning the crisis in which we can make a judgment call.

The First Vatican Council defines how a pope must be. [1] In light of the Council’s definition, has Francis kept the Catholic religion unsullied and teaching holy and remained unimpaired by any error? Does Francis have unfailing faith from Christ’s prayer and does he strengthen his brethren with the Catholic Faith? Has Francis turned the poisonous food of error away from the flock of Christ and nourished the Catholic flock with heavenly doctrine? Has Francis removed all occasion of schism that the Church might be saved as one and does he stay firm against the gates of hell?

If Francis fulfills the Vatican Council’s description, there’s no need to question his orthodoxy, how do depose him, etc. He would be the pope and that would be the end of it.

In his Encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi, June 29, 1943, Pope Pius XII declared:

“Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed…For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”

Does Francis profess the true faith? If not, can a public heretic, schismatic, or apostate be the Head of the Catholic Church?

Pope Leo XIII declared in his Encyclical, Satis Cognitum, June 29, 1896:

“St. Augustine notes that other heresies may spring up, to a single one of which, should any one give his assent, he is by the very fact cut off from Catholic unity. “No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or may arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single one of these he is not a Catholic” (S. Augustinus, De Haeresibus, n. 88)…

In this wise, all cause for doubting being removed, can it be lawful for anyone to reject any one of those truths without by the very fact falling into heresy? without separating himself from the Church? – without repudiating in one sweeping act the whole of Christian teaching? For such is the nature of faith that nothing can be more absurd than to accept some things and reject others.”

Pope Leo is very clear about it. Yet, it’s as if Vatican 2 Catholics won’t listen at all to his teaching nor will they apply it.

Lastly, we have Canon 188.4 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law: “There are certain causes which effect the tacit (silent) resignation of an office, which resignation is accepted in advance by operation of the law, and hence is effective without any declaration. These causes are… (4) publicly defects from the Catholic faith.”

Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac taught in his “General Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law,” pp. 349-350: Loss of Ecclesiastical Offices. Canons 185-191, “applies to all offices, the lowest and the highest, not excepting the Supreme Pontificate.” [p. 346] (d) Public defection from the faith, by formal heresy or apostasy, with or without affiliation with another religious society. The offense must be public, that is, generally known or liable to become so before long. (Can. 2197.)

Kennedy Hall says he can’t follow the arguments of sedevacantists, because he believes “it is not fitting for there to be no pope.” My question for him is how is it fitting there can be a heretical pope in light of the four explicit and definitive teachings I just mentioned?

It’s clear from this article that Hall doesn’t know the sedevacantist arguments in order to follow them. He makes a “Sedevacantist Wager,” but what is there for us to wager based on the teaching and law of the Church?

Hall writes: Suppose there is a pope and we have to be in the Church where he reigns in order to be saved—normally speaking. Then we ought to do just that. If we submit to the pope—in a manner properly understood—then we lose nothing ultimately and stave off the risk of losing everything. If there is no pope but in our Catholic sense we act as if there is, what could we lose?

The problem here is that it’s much more than having a false pope, but an entire religion with doubtful sacraments, heretical papal teaching, and evil and harmful disciplines and laws. Graces are lost that could be gained from valid priests and sacraments. Vatican 2 is directly responsible for the abolition of the Catholic state where religious liberty is not a God-given civil right. You lose the truth by following false teaching such as believing the death penalty is contrary to the dignity of the human person. Belonging to a religion that has as its mission (in certain areas) the LGBTQ lifestyle blessed with the tacit approval of the so-called pope is formal cooperation with evil, not to mention all of its other heretical teachings.

Hall asks: Will we stand before God at the end of our lives and be chastised for praying too much for Francis or any other pope?

This has nothing to do with sedevacantism since we still pray for all our enemies. What we will be chastised for is vincible ignorance and/or cowardice for not doing the right thing. We have plenty of Catholic and Biblical teaching about false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Popes are not false teachers or wolves. 

Hall asks: It is Catholic to believe and act as if there is a pope, as this is how Catholics have always lived. In a word, it is fitting to live and think as such.

Not when the entire religion has become Protestant and practically atheistic (modernist). It’s one thing to be honestly wrong about a false pope while the rest of the Church is Catholic. We’ve seen this numerous times in Church history with antipopes. The Vatican 2 religion has dozens and dozens of erroneous beliefs and practices. It can’t possibly be the Catholic Church. How do you live and think correctly as a Catholic in a false and counterfeit religion by which you’re constantly resisting?

Hall states: Even if the sedevacantists were right—which I don’t believe is true—they run a great risk if they are wrong.

There’s absolutely no risk of being wrong or else the Church has been wrong in the past. For the sake of the argument, if sedes are honestly wrong, we would still be members of the soul of the Church. Mortal sin requires knowledge and full consent of the will to do what he thinks is evil. 

Hall makes an observation that’s not true for most sedevacantists. He writes: Of course, if someone is confused, that is one thing—God knows the heart; but if one lives a life of anathematizing other Catholics for an opinion they have no business to dogmatize, then this presents a grave problem.

Sedevacantists are not living a life of anathematizing others. We are simply following what Pope Leo XIII and Pius XII taught above and applying it. Recognizing what’s Catholic is our duty. We are reaching out to Novus Ordo Catholics to tell them what’s going on. We want them to realize they’ve been duped by imposter popes leading them astray from Catholicism. All of us were once there in ignorance. [2] 

Finally, Hall states: In the end, if we wager that there is a pope, then we live as Catholics have always lived and we hope to die as Catholics ought to hope to die. Ultimately, wagering that there is no pope offers us little if anything, other than a great risk if we aren’t careful.

Hall has got it all wrong. You don’t live as Catholics correctly if you follow a religion that has so many blatant errors with a pope who doesn’t profess the faith. In the end, there are only two options: The Vatican 2 popes are false popes or the gates of hell have truly prevailed. There is no middle ground.

I’ve said it many times, if you’re not going to consider sedevacantism, you’re not ever going there. We have enough Church teaching to know that the Vatican 2 religion is not Catholic. The very fact that a Catholic must resist it proves it. After all, the Catholic Church must be one in faith and holy in doctrine and practice.

 

Footnotes

[1] “‘For the fathers of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, following closely in the footsteps of their predecessors, made this solemn profession: ‘The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true Faith. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Who said, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ (Matt. 16:18), should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied, and its teaching kept holy.’ …for they fully realized that this See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Savior made to the prince of his disciples, ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou has turned again, strengthen thy brethren’ (Luke 22:32)

“‘So, this gift of truth and a never failing faith was divinely conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair, that they might administer their high duty for the salvation of all; that the entire flock of Christ, turned away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished on the sustenance of heavenly doctrine, that with the occasion of schism removed the whole Church might be saved as one, and relying on her foundation might stay firm against the gates of hell.”

[2] Unfortunately, non-Catholic sedevacantists such as the Feeneyites do condemn everyone but themselves. They have become their own authority against the Roman Catechism, canon law, and popes who’ve taught and supported baptism of desire. Ironically, they do what R&R trads do by following only what they believe is dogmatically pronounced and resist everything else they believe is contrary to those dogmas. They ultimately think the Church is heretical.  

I recently discussed the issue of Nestorius and his jurisdictional status after preaching heresy in a recent open email exchange with Robert Siscoe, who co-authored True or False Pope with John Salza.

Siscoe asked me [if preaching heresy qualifies for an ipso facto deposition] “why wasn’t John XXII ipso facto deposed?  And before you reply by saying the doctrine John XXIII denied had not yet been defined, keep in mind that the same is true for the doctrine that Nestorius denied.”

I replied and clarified: “It’s ipso facto loses jurisdiction…John XXII didn’t preach heresy. It was an open question in his day. Nestorius did preach heresy. Look it up. The Catholic Encyclopedia will tell you this on both accounts. Nestorius defected from the faith with his preaching so said the pope [Pope St. Celestine].” Siscoe apparently thinks John XXII preached heresy in his day. 

He replied:  The Pope didn’t say Nestorius defected from the faith with his preaching. That is a convenient Sedevacantist mistranslation.  What Pope Celestine actually said is that Nestorius “wavered (titubavit) in the faith” by his preaching.

I explained: He [Nestorius] was deposed 3 years after the preaching, but those 3 years in-between, he was an imposter so said another pope. The Church can grant supplied jurisdiction to such persons, but they don’t retain ordinary jurisdiction as Pope St. Celestine told us about Nestorius whose anathemas were all null and void during those 3 years.

He replied: St. Celestine didn’t say Nestorius lost his jurisdiction.  All he said is that the excommunications pronounced by Nestorius were null, since “he who has wavered in the faith by preaching such things was unable to expel or remove anyone.”

I stated: That means he already lost his jurisdiction.

Siscoe responded: No it doesn’t.  It only means he lost the authority (jurisdiction) to excommunicate, just as the ancient canon Audivimus, 24, q. 1 teaches: “if anyone shall have devised a new heresy in his heart, to the extent that he begins to preach such things, he can condemn no man.” (Audivimus, 24, q. 1).  Nestorius’ ordinary jurisdiction was restricted, it was not entirely lost and then partially supplied by the Church for certain act.

I partly quoted from Cardinal Billot, which ended it. However, I will show the full quote that demolishes Salza and Siscoe’s position:

“(4) Pope Celestine, epist. 11, n. 7 — See also epistle 12 of the same Celestine to John of Antioch, n. 2: ‘If anyone was excommunicated or cast out from episcopal or clerical dignity by the bishop Nestorius or those who follow him, from the time that they began to preach such things, it is clear that such a one has been and remains in our communion, etc.’ Thus you see, that a bishop who is an occult heretic, still has the power of binding and loosing, given that only from that time at which he begins to openly preach heresy, he loses episcopal jurisdiction and power of excommunicating. Thus the conclusion is clear. For if he who is not in the Church, cannot have authority in the Church, and an occult heretic can have it, in fact at times does indeed have it, clearly it follows that an occult heretic is not yet cut off from the body of the Church.” (Louis Cardinal Billot, S.J. De Ecclesia Christi. Q. 7, Thesis XI. pp. 291-304)

We see Cardinal Billot making the distinction between the jurisdictional status of an occult heretic and a public heretic. Billot uses Nestorius as a historical precedent of a public heretic. He tells us that when Nestorius preached heresy, he lost his jurisdiction and membership in the Body of the Church. This is precisely the application of Pope Pius XII’s teaching of Mystici Corporis Christi:“For not every sin, however grave and enormous it be, is such as to sever a man automatically from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy” 

The penalties leveled against Nestorius three years later are irrelevant insofar as Nestorius already lost ordinary jurisdiction since he lost membership in the Church. 

Lastly, Pope Pius VI declared Nestorius to be an imposter, which means he wasn’t the Patriarch after his heretical preaching.

Defenders of the Vatican 2 religion rely on sophistry to fool the masses in order to maintain their allegiance. It’s totally diabolical and they just keep it up. 

 

Trent Horn of Catholic Answers recently posted a video attempting to rebut sedevacantism. Horn critiques Peter Dimond in his debate with Jeff Cassman, but grossly misrepresents the issues. I will address only the main errors of the first half of Trent Horn’s lengthy video, most of which come from John Salza’s and Robert Siscoe’s heretical book, True or False Pope, which is loaded with error.

Horn’s First Error: It’s almost impossible to find a valid mass in light of the fact sedevacantists claim that Vatican 2 bishops and priests are invalid.

It’s actually very easy. Here is a website that shows where the valid masses are located: Lux Vera USA Directory

Horn’s Second Error: There will always be popes holding the office of Peter.

Horn quotes Pope Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum and Pope Pius IX’s Etsi Multi to support his claim. However, the issue of the popes he cites are only telling us about the perpetual principle of the papacy, which sedevacantism accepts. The popes aren’t saying that long interregnums won’t happen. I’ve dealt with Horn’s argument many times in the past. See How Long Can the Church Exist Without a Pope?

Horn’s Third Error: The temple in which antichrist sets himself up as god to be worshiped is probably the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.

Pope St. Pius X told us the temple of Antichrist is the universe. See The Distinguishing Mark of Antichrist

Trent Horn is a “Catholic” apologist by profession; he should know better.

Horn’s Fourth Error: The sin of heresy does not sever one from the Body of the Church.

Trent Horn makes the same argument as Salza and Siscoe concerning the sin of heresy.

The public sin of heresy is a crime. Pope Pius XII declared in Mystici Corporis Christi: “For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”

The “Body” denotes the external forum of the Catholic Church.

Theologian Van Noort explains: Public heretics (and a fortiori, apostates) are not members of the Church. They are not members because they separate themselves from the unity of Catholic faith and from the external profession of that faith. Obviously, therefore, they lack one of three factors—baptism, profession of the same faith, union with the hierarchy—pointed out by Pius XII as requisite for membership in the Church. The same pontiff has explicitly pointed out that, unlike other sins, heresy, schism, and apostasy automatically sever a man from the Church. “For not every sin, however grave and enormous it be, is such as to sever a man automatically from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy” (MCC 30; italics ours). By the term public heretics at this point we mean all who externally deny a truth (for example Mary’s Divine Maternity), or several truths of divine and Catholic faith, regardless of whether the one denying does so ignorantly and innocently (a merely material heretic), or willfully and guiltily (a formal heretic). It is certain that public, formal heretics are severed from the Church membership. It is the more common opinion that public, material heretics are likewise excluded from membership. Theological reasoning for this opinion is quite strong: if public material heretics remained members of the Church, the visibility and unity of Christ’s Church would perish. If these purely material heretics were considered members of the Catholic Church in the strict sense of the term, how would one ever locate the “Catholic Church”? How would the Church be one body? How would it profess one faith? Where would be its visibility? Where its unity? For these and other reasons we find it difficult to see any intrinsic probability to the opinion which would allow for public heretics, in good faith, remaining members of the Church.

I dealt with Horn’s fallacy here: A Note to John Salza: Heresy ‘Does’ Automatically Sever One from the Church

Horn’s Fifth Error: All theologians agree that a pope would not lose office without first being found guilty of the canonical crime of manifest heresy. This is done by competent authority that makes a declaration by the cardinals or a council of bishops.

Well, we’ve heard this argument a time or two. At 19:12 through 20:29, Trent Horn misrepresented Suarez and Bellarmine. Suarez gave several ideas about what would happen if a pope became a heretic but then acknowledged that none of the arguments work. Therefore, a pope can’t become a heretic. Suarez didn’t even believe a pope could be an occult heretic, unlike Bellarmine.

Bellarmine thought a pope could be an occult heretic but not a manifest heretic. 20th century canonists Wernz/Vidal explain Bellarmine’s position, “a Pope who fell into public heresy would cease by that very fact to be a member of the Church. Therefore he would also cease by that very fact to be the head of the Church.” Horn completely mangled Bellarmine on this point.

Horn cites the law that no one can judge the pope, then explains how authorities must judge the pope of a canonical crime before he loses office. He, like so many others, don’t see the absurdity of their arguments. A pope loses his office automatically precisely because he can’t be judged for a canonical crime. Dozens of theologians tell us this. A few of examples:

F.X. Wernz, P. Vidal (1943): “Through notorious and openly revealed heresy, the Roman Pontiff, should he fall into heresy, by that very fact is deemed to be deprived of the power of jurisdiction even before any declaratory judgment of the Church…” (Ius Canonicum. Rome: Gregorian 1943. 2:45.)

Udalricus Beste (1946): “Not a few canonists teach that, outside of death and abdication, the pontifical dignity can also be lost by falling into certain insanity, which is legally equivalent to death, as well as through manifest and notorious heresy. In the latter case, a pope would automatically fall from his power, and this indeed without the issuance of any sentence, for the first See [i.e., the See of Peter] is judged by no one.  (Introductio in Codicem. 3rd ed. Collegeville: St. John’s Abbey Press 1946. Canon 221)

My favorite is St. Antoninus, O.P. (1389-1459): “In the case in which the pope would become a heretic, he would find himself, by that fact alone and without any other sentence, separated from the Church. A head separated from a body cannot, as long as it remains separated, be head of the same body from which it was cut off. ‘A pope who would be separated from the Church by heresy, therefore, would by that very fact itself cease to be head of the Church.  He could not be a heretic and remain pope, because, since he is outside of the Church, he cannot possess the keys of the Church.’”  (Summa Theologica cited in Actes de Vatican I. V. Frond pub.)

Only a small number of theologians use the absurd argument that a declaration must be made beforehand. However, most of them see the absurdity and conclude that a pope can’t become a heretic to begin with. Cajetan and John of St. Thomas are exceptions.

Horn’s Sixth Error: Canon 10 of the Fourth Council of Constantinople condemns rash judgment of the pope.

The canon actually condemns rash judgment of any sitting Patriarch. However, Horn misapplies the canon to sedevacantism.

1. The Council and Canon 10 have nothing to do with sedevacantism.

2. The Council condemned usurpers to the throne AND their supporters, which would, in principle, condemn Francis I and Trent Horn who represent the new Photius and his support group.

3. The Council deposed Photius after declaring he never had office, which means being deposed doesn’t presuppose one actually had the office.

4. The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “By this act Photius committed three offences against canon law: he was ordained bishop without having kept the interstices, by an excommunicate consecrator, and to an already occupied see. To receive ordination from an excommunicate person made him too excommunicate ipso facto.”

5. Canon 10 condemns judging rashly a patriarch. It’s not about judging rightly about one who manifestly professes heresy whereby such individuals lose office ipso facto, because they ipso facto cease to members of the Body of the Church before trial, judgment, and excommunication.

Horn’s Seventh Error: Laymen are not qualified to recognize when a bishop is a manifest heretic.

This implies that we can’t follow Our Lord’s words when He said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matt. 7:15-16)”

St. Paul tells us in Acts 20:28-29 that wolves will enter the Church.

“Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock.”

There will be wolves acting as bishops but according to Horn, we aren’t qualified to recognize they are wolves.

Horn’s Eighth Error: No bishop declared John XXIII or Paul VI a manifest heretic because they were not manifest heretics.

Actually, there were a few bishops that thought so. One bishop for sure did declare it. However, failure to make a declaration has nothing to do with whether they were indeed manifest heretics. Bishops can fail in their duty as they did.

No priest in the Diocese of Lexington has declared Bishop John Stowe a manifest heretic despite the fact that Stowe manifestly endorses and promotes the LGBTQ objective, which is to be recognized and accepted as a legitimate way of life.

What bishop has condemned Francis for praising, supporting, and endorsing LGBTQ priest James Martin or his tacit approval of the blessing of same-sex couples by the numerous bishops around the world? If public approval of the LGBTQ objective is not manifest heresy, then there’s no such thing as manifest heresy. Imagine if Francis praised and endorsed Planned Parenthood or NAMBLA? Would that constitute manifest heresy and if not, may Catholics follow Francis in his endorsement of these different organizations?  

Horn’s Ninth Error: Popes can have lesser errors against the faith than heresy, such as John XXII teaching on the Beatific Vision.

Popes can err but not against the Faith, not even a little bit. John XXII did not err against the faith since it was an open question at the time. The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us so. 

Horn’s Tenth Error: Vatican 2 doesn’t teach any heresies.

Horn actually tells us one heresy, viz, baptized non-Catholics are members of Christ, but denies it is heresy. I cover it in Horn’s Eleventh Error.

Other Vatican 2 heresies include religious liberty covered in Horn’s Twelfth Error and the heresy that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. See UPDATE: Fathers of Mercy Priest Enters Vatican II’s “Subsists” Debate

OPEN EMAIL DISCUSSION OVER VATICAN II’S “SUBSISTS”

The Heresy on the Nature of the Church

Horn’s Eleventh Error: Non-Catholics are members of the Body of Christ in virtue of their baptism but have an imperfect communion and the Apostle Paul taught in Rom. 6 that everyone validly baptized is united to Christ.

This is blatant heresy. St. Paul said no such thing. I have written extensively on this subject, so I’ll refer to the articles I’ve already written on the subject.

A Perfect Example of Modernism in Vatican 2

Are Protestants Christians and Members of the Church of Christ?

A Right to the Christian Name

That They May Be One (Ut Unum Sint)

Horn’s Twelfth Error: Vatican 2’s teaching on religious liberty is only about coercion in civil society. In other words, men can’t be forced to be Catholic.

While it’s true that men can’t be forced to be Catholic, Vatican 2 goes much further. Again, I’ve dealt with this in the past as well. See

Religious Liberty and the Dignity of the Human Person

Rev. Brian Harrison Responds to My Article on Patrick Madrid and Religious Liberty

Trent Horn obviously hasn’t done his homework on the issues. It appears he’s made a cursory reading on the subject and repeats the same tired arguments we’ve refuted numerous times. It’s just sorry and dishonest!

Pope Pius IX and the First Vatican Council declared that “in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved untainted, and holy doctrine celebrated.”

 

Pseudo-Trads do not believe the Catholic religion has always been preserved untainted but has been tainted with errors. Check out the Remnant Newspaper website and Tradition in Action website on how the Catholic religion has been tainted with lies, errors, and heresies by the Vatican 2 popes. Vigano admits Vatican 2 is heretical. John Salza has argued against “Fr.” Brian Harrison on canonizations and the Vatican 2 doctrine on religious liberty. Harrison himself has criticized the new teaching on the death penalty and the approval of altar girls. Siscoe has argued that Pope Celestine III approved a law that “contradicts divine revelation” and is “contrary to Divine law.”

 

Pope Pius IX, Quanta Cura “And, we cannot pass over in silence the boldness of those who “not enduring sound doctrine” [II Tim. 4:3], contend that “without sin and with no loss of Catholic profession, one can withhold assent and obedience to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to relate to the general good of the Church and its right and discipline, provided it does not touch dogmas of faith or morals.” There is no one who does not see and understand clearly and openly how opposed this is to the Catholic dogma of the plenary power divinely bestowed on the Roman Pontiff by Christ the Lord Himself of feeding, ruling, and governing the universal Church…Therefore, by our Apostolic authority, we reprobate, proscribe, and condemn all the singular and evil opinions and doctrines severally mentioned in this letter, and will and command that they be thoroughly held by all children of the Catholic Church as reprobated, proscribed and condemned.”

Pseudo-Trads do not believe that withholding assent and obedience to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to relate to the general good of the Church and its right and discipline, provided it does not touch dogmas of faith or morals, IS A SIN AND THE LOSS OF CATHOLIC PROFESSION. All pseudo-trads withhold assent and obedience to judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See.

 

Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos: “11. Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors.”

 

Pseudo-Trads recognize and resist. They don’t obey.

 

 

 

Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi: “For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”

 

Pseudo-Trads do not believe the sin of heresy severs from the Body of the Church by its own nature, but rather believe that it is by a judgment from the Church.

 

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum: “The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium…. St. Augustine notes that other heresies may spring up, to a single one of which, should any one give his assent, he is by the very fact cut off from Catholic unity. “No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or may arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single one of these he is not a Catholic”

Pseudo-Trads do not believe that one is cut-off by the very fact of giving assent to heresy, but rather believe it happens by a declaration from the Church or actually joining another religion. Salza and Siscoe have written extensively on how it takes a declared excommunication to rid heretics from the Church. I have emails from Siscoe saying that Biden and Pelosi are members of the Catholic Church. 

 

Pope Eugene IV, Cantate Domino “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also…heretics and schismatics…” Pope Innocent III, Eius exemplo: “By the heart we believe and by the mouth we confess the one Church, not of heretics, but the Holy Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.”

Pseudo-Trads do not believe all heretics are outside the Church, but rather believe heretics hold offices in the Church such as the papacy. They hold that when the pope is heretical, he remains the true pope until the Church judges and pronounces that he’s not the pope anymore. Vigano believes Catholics can recognize the pope as a heretic. Harrison wrote how heretics can be elected pope. Siscoe has told me over the phone that he privately believes his pope is an apostate.

 

Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas: “Not least among the blessings which have resulted from the public and legitimate honor paid to the Blessed Virgin and the saints is the perfect and perpetual immunity of the Church from error and heresy.”

 

Pseudo-Trads do not believe in the perpetual immunity of the Church from error and heresy or else they wouldn’t have to resist, reject, criticize, and complain about the teachings of Vatican 2, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or any encyclical, apostolic exhortation, etc. by the Vatican 2 popes.

 

Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas: “From what We have so far explained, venerable brethren, it is clear that the faithful must seek from Scripture, tradition and the sacred liturgy as from a deep untainted source, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus if they desire to penetrate its inner nature and by piously meditating on it, receive the nourishment for the fostering and development of their religious fervor.”

Pseudo-Trads do not believe the liturgy is untainted as Scripture and tradition, but rather believe the novus ordo mass is tainted with some error unlike Scripture and Tradition.  

 

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum: “9 For, since Jesus Christ delivered Himself up for the salvation of the human race, and to this end directed all His teaching and commands, so He ordered the Church to strive, by the truth of its doctrine, to sanctify and to save mankind. But faith alone cannot compass so great, excellent, and important an end. There must need 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.”

Pseudo-Trads do not believe the Church offers to the human race that religion – that state of absolute perfection since they have to resist, reject, criticize, and/or complain about it as they tell the human race what they believe is the right and Catholic way. 

 

Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos: “Furthermore, the discipline sanctioned by the Church must never be rejected or branded as contrary to certain principles of the 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 Church and her ministers are embraced.”

Pseudo-Trads do not believe the disciplines sanctioned by the Church must never be rejected. They reject altar girls, women lectors, and the wide-spread abolition of the Latin Mass by their pope.

 

Pope St. Pius X, Letter to Priests: “When one loves the pope, one does not stop to debate about what he advises or demands, to ask how far the rigorous duty of obedience extends and to mark the limit to this obligation. When one loves the pope, one does not object that he has not spoken clearly enough, as if he were obliged to repeat into the ear of each individual his will, so often clearly expressed, not only viva voce, but also by letters and other public documents; one does not call his orders into doubt on the pretext- easily advanced by whoever does not wish to obey-that they emanate not directly from him, but from his entourage; one does not limit the field in which he can and should exercise his will; one does not oppose to the authority of the pope that of other persons, however learned, who differ in opinion from the pope. Besides however great their knowledge, their holiness is wanting, FOR THERE CAN BE NO HOLINESS WHERE THERE IS DISAGREEMENT WITH THE POPE.” Address to the priest of the Apostolic Union, Nov. 18, 1912 In Acta Apostolicae Sedis 4 [1912] p. 695)

Pseudo-Trads do not believe they must love the pope and obey Church discipline without question, nor do they believe there can be no holiness where there is disagreement with the pope. They disagree with the pope on many things concerning faith and morals.

 

Pope Pius IX and the First Vatican Council:

“‘For the fathers of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, following closely in the footsteps of their predecessors, made this solemn profession: ‘The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true Faith. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Who said, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ (Matt. 16:18), should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied, and its teaching kept holy.’ …for they fully realized that this See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Savior made to the prince of his disciples, ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou has turned again, strengthen thy brethren’ (Luke 22:32)

“‘So, this gift of truth and a never failing faith was divinely conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair, that they might administer their high duty for the salvation of all; that the entire flock of Christ, turned away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished on the sustenance of heavenly doctrine, that with the occasion of schism removed the whole Church might be saved as one, and relying on her foundation might stay firm against the gates of hell.”

Pseudo-Trads do not believe the pope keeps the Catholic religion unsullied and teaching holy, nor remains unimpaired by any error, nor strengthens his brethren with the Catholic Faith, nor turns the poisonous food of error away from the flock of Christ, nor nourishes the Catholic flock with heavenly doctrine, nor removes all occasion of schism that the Church might be saved as one.

Rather, they believe the pope is the cause of the Church’s passion by attacking tradition with heresy and error. They believe he’s ushering in the gates of hell by not standing firm against it. They write books and articles about how the Catholic Church is supposed to be since their pope is teaching the opposite. The bottom line is that no pseudo-trad believes the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in faith. They only say they believe in these papal teachings and four marks of the Church, but it’s an obvious lie by the mere fact they work against the mission of their pope.

My brother called me on the phone and asked if I’ve seen Robert Robbins’ latest article against me? He said it was so terrible and funny and how I’m going to laugh when I see it. Sure enough, my brother was right. [1]

Probably against my better judgment, I’m going to reply to it even though it’s so bad. However, it gives me an opportunity to demonstrate how the home-alone position attracts real know-nothings. Not every home-aloner is a know-nothing, but it seems most are. 

Robbins’ begins by making comparisons with a J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy book with our situation. When he’s not dressed up like Mr. Spock from Star Trek, Robbins thinks of himself as a little hobbit from Lord of the Rings. It’s apparent that he likes to play pretend and live in an imaginary dream world.

In defending the home-alone dream world where the Catholic Church is lost and has absolutely no shepherds and teachers, no Eucharist, no Confession, and no Holy Mass throughout the world, Robbins has to make up total nonsense. He quotes Vatican I and writes what he thinks it means:

[Vatican I] “‘So then, just as he sent apostles, whom he chose out of the world [39], even as he had been sent by the Father [40], in like manner it was his will that in his Church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time.’”

[Robbins] “This quote does not teach that there must be (necessary mode) pastors until the end of time. Rather, it teaches that God willed (volitive mode) that there should be pastors until the end of time. Steve argues from the volitive mode to a necessary mode, which is fallacious. The argument fails, because it assumes a quality in the conclusion (necessity) that is not in the premises.”

Robbins believes an ecumenical council actually taught that Christ would really like for His Church to have shepherds and teachers till the end of time, but it may not work out that way so don’t expect it. Robbins has to believe this nonsense because he knows that his home-alone position is crushed if Vatican I is interpreted correctly. Robbins’ explanation is not just wrong, it’s blasphemous and heretical.

Christ’s will in the quote is not a mere wish or desire. Vatican I tells us that “in like manner” there should be shepherds and teachers as Christ Himself was sent, who then also sent the Apostles. It’s going to happen because He WILLS it. 

Vatican I’s own Cardinal Manning wrote on his 1871 letter “The Vatican council and its definitions”:

He prayed unto the Father, not for the apostles only, but for those also who through their preaching should come to believe in Him, that all might be one even as He the Son and the Father are one. (St. John XVII. 21.) As then He sent the Apostles whom He had chosen to Himself from the world, as he Himself had been sent by the Father: so He willed that there should ever be pastors and teachers in His Church to the end of the world. And in order that the Episcopate also might be one and undivided, and that by means of a closely united priesthood the multitude of the faithful might be kept secure in the oneness of faith and communion, He set Blessed Peter over the rest of the Apostles, and fixed in him the abiding principle of this two-fold unity, and its visible foundation, in the strength of which the everlasting temple should arise and the Church in the firmness of that faith should lift her majestic front to Heaven. [2]

Robbins continues…

The arguments on the absolute necessity of the sacraments has already been disproved elsewhere on this website. But suffice it to say that the sacraments are not in themselves absolutely necessary for salvation, and to insist otherwise is actually a form of Feeneyism, which insists that at least one sacrament, baptism, is absolutely necessary as such for salvation, which the Church has taught time and again to be false and ridiculous.

Robbins missed the point completely. Of course, it’s not absolutely necessary for individuals to have the sacraments to be saved, but it IS absolutely necessary for the Church as a whole to have all the sacraments. 

Robbins quotes Trent’s Canon as if I said something different:

CANON VI.–If any one saith…that those who have neither been rightly ordained, nor sent, by ecclesiastical and canonical power, but come from elsewhere, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments; let him be anathema. 

I demonstrated clearly how our clergy are rightly ordained and sent using Bishop Carmona’s explanation. Apparently, Robbins doesn’t understand what he reads. He misses point after point. He cites St. Francis de Sales, but I already explained how our clergy are not doing what St. Francis de Sales is condemning.

He missed the point about how staying at home is the antithesis of Catholicism. Perhaps, Robbins prefers having just two Sacraments and no one to confess to, like the Protestants.

He missed my point on the perpetual principle of the papacy. He writes, “Steve thinks that because the Church teaches that the papacy will be perpetual, this means that there will always be popes. But this is utterly false even on the facts. There hasn’t been a pope in over a half a century! The principle of perpetual succession of the papacy simply means that there will always be the potential for there to be a pope…”

I’ve made it clear in numerous articles and books that I don’t believe there will always be popes, but only the potential of having them. In fact, I don’t think there will ever be a pope again. The point is that if the principle is present, there’s no need for a miracle. Robbins doesn’t believe the principle is there, but only the potential which now requires a miracle. 

Robbins missed the point about the Great Apostasy. The point is that we aren’t to stay at home hoping someone else will fix the problem of not having sacraments for the whole Church before Our Lord returns. Again, Christ wills that the Church at large has the Sacraments. Robbins just doesn’t believe he needs the sacraments at all, nor does the whole Church.

Home-aloners are on the opposite side of the pendulum with Feeneyites who say you absolutely can’t get to heaven without the Sacraments. Home-aloners say who needs the Sacraments anyway? Both positions are stupid!

On my survival mode point, Robbins states, “Steve makes the argument that one is able to break the law when required to do so for survival.” This is an outrageous lie. I’ve made it clear that our clergy are not breaking the law but are following the spirit of the law and not sinning against it.

Robbins actually cites the Baltimore Catechism about the indefectibility of the Church and then argues how it has defected by not having, nor needing to have shepherds, teachers, the Mass, and the Sacraments.

Lastly, Robbins completely ignores how Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII tell us that we shall have shepherds and teachers for the Church at large till the end of time. Of course, he ignores it and/or denies it, because he has to. He has to twist everything from Vatican I and canon law to papal teachings and the Baltimore Catechism.

I expect Robbins to reply again with more buffoonery, more lies, and more hypocrisy. After all, he believes he can ignore, twist, or break ecclesiastical laws and publish without permission since he has made himself the final authority in his churchless world. This is to be expected from home-aloners because they’ve lost the Church. It only exists in their imaginary dream world where they pretend to be hobbits cuddled together in their little cottages.

 

Footnotes

[1] Home Alone Hobbits: A Refutation of Steve Speray’s Problems with being a Catholic during the Apocalypse | Catholic Eclipsed

[2] The Vatican council and its definitions: a pastoral letter to the clergy : Manning, Henry Edward, 1808-1892 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Home-aloners say that sedevacantist bishops and priests are not good for the Church, because they don’t believe they are sent by the Church. It is their private opinion that it’s not absolutely necessary to have bishops and priests for the Universal Church at large and if it were absolutely necessary, this necessity alone would not qualify for the lawfulness of administering the Sacraments beginning with Holy Orders. Home-aloners believe it is better not to receive the sacraments and attend Holy Mass and receive Christ from Catholic clergy without ordinary jurisdiction in hope that someone (even though no one knows who and where) can rectify this terrible crisis.

I submit this home-alone position is wrong in every respect.

The Necessity of Having Shepherds and Teachers

Vatican I declared: “So then, just as he sent apostles, whom he chose out of the world [39], even as he had been sent by the Father [40], in like manner it was his will that in his Church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time.”

Why would it be the will of Christ that in His Church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time?

Holy Scripture gives us the answer in Ephesians 4:12:

“11. And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors, 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ…”

We see clearly the necessity of having shepherds and teachers until the end of time. Men need to be shepherded and taught. Men also need to be nourished. The Holy Eucharist, for instance, most especially perfects us and is the summit of the ministry. “Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you (John 6:54).”

Rev. Cornelius À Lapide writes in his Biblical Commentary on John 6:54:

So here, Unless ye shall eat, &c., i.e., unless there are some, viz. priests, who take the Sacrament of the Eucharist under both species, ye shall not have life in you. For if there be none such, then there will be none to consecrate the Eucharist, none to administer it, and so the whole fruit of the most Blessed Sacrament would be lost, as Bellarmine observes. For it is the office of priests to consecrate and receive in both kinds, that there may be not only a perfect Sacrament, but also that they may offer the sacrifice. This requires both kinds, both to signify perfect nourishment (for the sacrifice is, as it were, the food of God): and this nourishment consists of food and drink: as also that there may be a perfect representation of the passion and death of Christ. 

Shepherds and teachers provide us with the Eucharist and the other Sacraments. They are for the good of the Church and it is Christ’s will that they exist until the end of time. Therefore, they exist, because it’s necessary that they exist for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,and for the edifying of the body of Christ. To deny these two facts is heresy.

Where the Shepherds and Teachers must be Found

Since no shepherds and teachers holding offices with ordinary jurisdiction can be located nor is there a good explanation as to how they can exist without making the Vatican I teaching essentially meaningless, the only logical meaning of Vatican I is in the general sense for all Catholic clergy who are pastors of souls.

Sedevacantist clergy actually do claim to be the shepherds and teachers, which Vatican I is referring to even though they don’t possess particular offices in the Church. They shepherd and teach through the Holy Mass and Sacraments, making them real shepherds and teachers to the faithful.    

Home-aloners believe that only those holding offices are shepherds and teachers, because ordinarily bishops and priests are holding offices. The theological manuals all point to those who have ordinary jurisdiction as the pastors. Therefore, they conclude that ordinary or delegated jurisdiction is necessarily required absolutely under all conditions to be true pastors. However, home-aloners can’t identify the possible existence of any of these shepherds and teachers with ordinary jurisdiction for the Church.

It’s one thing to be in one particular area and not know what’s going on elsewhere, like the Japanese who had no pastors for hundreds of years, because of the persecution by the Japanese authorities. It’s quite another when we have access to the whole world. We know who’s consecrated who. The best argument a home-aloner could make is that a real pastor exists in some Communist prison somewhere that only his parishioners know about. The problem, however, is the Council was referring to shepherds and teachers, which is the plural of them. That rules out the “bishop in the woods” argument. It would have to be more than one.

The whole point of the Church having shepherds and teachers till the end of time is so they can actually shepherd and teach. If all of them are incapacitated, then what’s the point of having them at all? It’s not good enough to say that some bishops must exist in prison camps or somewhere to keep the Vatican I teaching from failing.

The home-aloner has to appeal to a theory with no evidence to maintain the existence of the Church. The problem is that if the Church exists only in the hope that some bishops exist somewhere even though no one knows where or how, the devil has ultimately won anyway. The gates of hell have prevailed, because the will of Christ and His purpose in having shepherds and teachers are ultimately thwarted. Christ left us shepherds and teachers for the benefit of the whole Church only to be incapacitated and our benefit effectively lost. The Church is effectively incapacitated throughout the whole world, which is exactly opposite to the will of Christ and His promise.

Imagine if Christ sent out the Apostles only to be immediately imprisoned so the Church could never take off. What would be the point of sending them out? How would it benefit the Church? Vatican I is saying that shepherds and teachers will exist till the end of time precisely for the same reason Christ sent out the Apostles, to actually be effective and benefit the Church. Again, the gates of hell have prevailed if the Church is totally incapacitated.

The Lawfulness of Sedevacantist Clergy

The sedevacantist clergy are the answer to Vatican I’s teaching.

In ordinary times, the clergy are sent out by being placed in offices. This is how bishops attain full apostolic succession. The sedevacantist clergy are sent, but not in ordinary fashion, because of the extraordinary circumstances of the Church’s existence. All the normal rules and teachings from the theological manuals only address the Church within the framework of pre-apostasy times. The one thing that we must cling to is the teaching of the Church. It is ultimately the one thing that really matters in matters of faith. All Church teachings must be understood in the correct nuance and applied in the circumstance in which it is addressing. Universal opinions have been wrong before.  

Because Christ wills that there shall be shepherds and teachers till the end of time, they must exist by divine right. No human ecclesiastical law can prevent this right. It is absolutely necessary that shepherds and teachers exist for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ, which is why Jesus wills their existence.

All bishops have the power to consecrate and ordain validly. This power is not hindered by heresy, schism, or vitandus excommunication. However, authorization is needed to consecrate lawfully, whether it be by law or permission from the pope. Sedevacantist Bishop Carmona cites two rules as the foundation for the lawfulness of his consecration as bishop.

He cites Pope Gregory IX who declared in the 4th Rule of his decretal “On the Rules of Law” “What is not lawful by law, necessity makes lawful.” Pope Gregory IX gave two examples: Working on the Sabbath and breaking a required fast when sick.

Bishop Carmona also cites Rule 88 of Boniface VIII, which expressly states “It is certain that one sins against the rule who adheres to the letter and leaves aside the spirit.” Carmona writes, “Therefore, it is unjust to impute to the legislator a desire to greatly harm the Church during a vacancy of the Holy See by forbidding the ordination of bishops and priests and the administering of the sacraments to the faithful who ask for them. Therefore, in accepting episcopal consecration from Archbishop Thuc, we have relied on these rules, conscious and certain that, given the circumstances in which we live, the consecrations are both valid and licit. We are also conscious and certain that we would have sinned, if by relying on the letter [of the law] we had rejected the consecrations, there being only one Catholic bishop who can now be found to transmit the episcopal succession.”

Bishops Thuc, Carmona, and Zamora did what works for the Church. Divine law and Pope Gregory IX’s decretal give authorization in this time of great tribulation. No theological manual addresses this particular situation. Therefore, to use theological manuals that addresses totally different situations and applying it against sedevacantism is pointless, not to mention, the manuals are offering general opinions anyway.

Before the great apostasy of Vatican 2, the Church was organized perfectly to function and to spread Catholicism. The theological manuals address the framework of the Church in pre-apostasy times ONLY. The Church is in an imperfect form each time a pope dies and in these post-apostasy times, it’s in dire need of a pope and Episcopal offices filled.

What we have today is a Church with no ordinary jurisdiction. However, insofar as individual souls are concerned who attend sedevacantist missions, there’s no substantial difference in having canonical pastors at parishes before the apostasy and our sedevacantist priests in missions and chapels. What we have works and is greatly needed. If fulfills the basic needs of the Church during this crisis and accomplishes the bare minimum that’s required for the Church to exist and function for the good of the Faithful.

Our sedevacantist bishops and priests are not working in an extraordinary mission that works outside the framework of the Church where there exists a pope, his ordinary succession, and bishops with ordinary jurisdiction who are ready and willing to transmit valid orders. Rather, our clergy work in an extraordinary mission that continues the ordinary mission of the Church insofar as possible precisely because these things are wanting. The books don’t cover the extraordinary mission of sedevacantism, but only condemn, and rightly so, those who assume authority apart from the authority of the pope and the ordinary transmission of the faith. 

The home-alone position focuses on the letter of the law and sins against the spirit of the law. It places a private opinion against the only logical answer to Vatican I, and as we will see, the teachings of Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII.

It also implicitly denies that the sacrament of Holy Orders is absolutely necessary for the good of the whole Church, that the Church as a whole needs to be shepherded and taught, and without bishops and priests, there is no Church.

Other Problems with the Home-Alone Position

Staying at home is the antithesis of Catholicism. The Church is sent out. We are sent out after Mass, Ite Missa Est. We don’t stay at home, we go out. If every Catholic stays home, there are no Sacraments except baptism and marriage FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. That’s the foundation of Protestantism.

The home-alone position implies that the principle of perpetual succession of the papacy is over, because relying on God to intervene miraculously means the principle is lost, since it takes God to intervene to fulfil what lacks, viz. the principle. Therefore, it’s heretical on this point alone. The principle of perpetual succession must exist until the end of time, which means there is no need for God to miraculously give us a pope. Vatican I is telling us that Christ placed a built-in means to protect the papacy from such measures.

Also, home-aloners admit that we are in the great apostasy. However, Holy Writ tells us that the great apostasy is part of the reign of Antichrist. The reign of Antichrist is short-lived due to Christ’s return. If we are indeed in the great apostasy, then we are not coming out of it. There’s not going to be anyone to fix the Church save Christ at His Return. Therefore, we can’t stay at home hoping that someone somewhere on earth can rectify this terrible crisis. We must do the best we can and the sedevacantist clergy did just that. They fulfilled having shepherds and teachers for the faithful for the whole Church as Christ willed.

Survival Mode

A dire situation requires dire measures. When a man goes into survival mode, he may have to do things that would be forbidden ordinarily. He may have to eat his dead friends as those Uruguayan rugby players did when they crashed in the Andes Mountains in 1972. He may have to drink his urine as many sailors have done in lifeboats at sea. The body itself will do things to stay alive that it wouldn’t or couldn’t do otherwise.

The point is the Catholic Church is in survival mode, because it’s going through its passion in following Christ. All the powers of hell are assaulting the Church right now. If ever Catholics most needed bishops, priests, the Holy Mass, and the 7 Sacraments, now is the time. “And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Matt. 28: 18-20).”

Rev. Cornelius À Lapide explains in his Biblical Commentary that “Christ has willed to abide continually in the Church in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.”

Home-aloners must say that Christ has not willed to abide continually in the Church in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, at least not for the vast, vast majority of Catholics. Practically speaking, Christ has abandoned the Church leaving no clergy for teaching, governing, and sanctifying the Faithful through the Holy Mass and the 7 Sacraments. I will say it a third time, the gates of hell have effectively prevailed if the home-alone position is correct. The Catholic Church simply doesn’t exist except in the hopes and dreams of Catholics. That’s not how the Church exists.

The Principle of the Home-Alone Position is Condemned

Pope Pius IX declared in Etsi Multa: [1] 

Further Heresies

They obstinately reject and oppose the infallible magisterium both of the Roman Pontiff and of the whole Church in teaching matters.  Incredibly, they boldly affirm that the Roman Pontiff and all the bishops, the priests and the people conjoined with him in the unity of faith and communion fell into heresy when they approved and professed the definitions of the Ecumenical Vatican Council. Therefore they deny also the indefectibility of the Church and blasphemously declare that it has perished throughout the world and that its visible Head and the bishops have erred. They assert the necessity of restoring a legitimate episcopacy in the person of their pseudo-bishop, who has entered not by the gate but from elsewhere like a thief or robber and calls the damnation of Christ upon his head.

Yet they do not blush to call themselves Catholics and Old Catholics, while in their doctrine, novelty, and number they show themselves in no way to be either old or Catholic. Certainly the Church rises up with greater right against them than it once did through Augustine against the Donatists. Diffused among all people, the Church was built by Christ the Son of the living God upon the rock, against which the gates of Hell will not prevail, and with which He Himself, to Whom all power in heaven and on earth is given, said He would be with until the consummation of the world. “The Church cries to her Spouse: Why do certain men withdrawing from me murmur against me? Why do these lost men claim that I have perished? Announce to me the length of my days, how long I will be in this world? Tell me on account of those who say: it was and is no longer; on account of those who say: the scriptures have been fulfilled, all nations have believed, but the Church has apostatized and perished from all nations. And He announced and the voice was not vain. What did He announce? ‘Behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.’ Moved by your voices and your false opinions, it asked of God that He announce to it the length of its days and it found that God said ‘Behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.’ Here you will say: He spoke about us; we are as we will be until the end of the world. Christ Himself is asked; He says ‘and this gospel will be preached in the whole world, in testimony to all nations, and then will come the end.’ Therefore the Church will be among all nations until the end of the world. Let heretics perish as they are, and let them find that they become what they are not.”

Old Catholics claimed the Roman Pontiff, all bishops, priests, and the people in union with the pope apostatized. They asserted that there were no shepherds and teachers throughout the world. Pope Pius IX condemned the idea that there are no shepherds and teachers throughout the world as heresy, because it’s contrary to Christ’s promise and meaning in Matt. 28:18-20.

When Pope Pius IX said “all nations” that would not mean literally all nations, but in general all nations. The bible says all men have sinned, but all doesn’t mean literally all, but generally all, since Our Lord and our Lady have not sinned.

“We are as we will be” doesn’t mean exactly with a pope and offices filled, but generally with shepherds and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ, because Christ wills it.

Pope Leo XIII declared in Satis Cognitum: “8…But, as we have already said, the Apostolic mission was not destined to die with the Apostles themselves, or to come to an end in the course of time, since it was intended for the people at large and instituted for the salvation of the human race. For Christ commanded His Apostles to preach the “Gospel to every creature, to carry His name to nations and kings, and to be witnesses to him to the ends of the earth.” He further promised to assist them in the fulfilment of their high mission, and that, not for a few years or centuries only, but for all time – “even to the consummation of the world.” [2]

The Apostolic mission is explained by Pope Leo in the same encyclical.

3…The Apostles received a mission to teach by visible and audible signs, and they discharged their mission only by words and acts which certainly appealed to the senses.

4…What did He wish in regard to the Church founded, or about to be founded? This: to transmit to it the same mission and the same mandate which He had received from the Father, that they should be perpetuated. This He clearly resolved to do: this He actually did. “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you” (John xx., 21). “As thou hast sent Me into the world I also have sent them into the world” (John xvii., 18).

But the mission of Christ is to save that which had perished: that is to say, not some nations or peoples, but the whole human race, without distinction of time or place. “The Son of Man came that the world might be saved by Him” (John iii., 17). “For there is no other name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved” (Acts iv., 12). The Church, therefore, is bound to communicate without stint to all men, and to transmit through all ages, the salvation effected by Jesus Christ, and the blessings flowing there from. Wherefore, by the will of its Founder, it is necessary that this Church should be one in all lands and at all times. To justify the existence of more than one Church it would be necessary to go outside this world, and to create a new and unheard – of race of men.

8…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 Savior for ever. 

The Apostolic mission is to save souls, and this comes by correct teaching, the Holy Mass, and the Sacraments, which necessarily means there must be shepherds and teachers for the people at large as Christ willed.

The home-alone position doesn’t fit even remotely with the teachings of Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII, or even Vatican I. 

Our position of sedevacantist clergy fits and works if interpreted properly. If home-aloners insist that Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII meant bishops with ordinary jurisdiction ONLY, then they must admit that it’s over for Christianity altogether. Either we are right or they must stop being Catholic. There’s no middle ground.

The pseudo-traditionalists that recognize the Vatican 2 popes insist that sedevacantism is wrong, but in doing so they have condemned Christianity, since there’s no possible way the Church is heretical with heretics holding the papacy. Home-aloners are in that same boat. In claiming there are no shepherds and teachers throughout the world, they have condemned Christianity, since there’s no possible way the Church is without them throughout the world. The home-alone position is heretical, plain and simple.

There’s only one solution and that’s the position of the sedevacantist clergy. Bishops Thuc, Carmona, and Zamora saw it plainly. They did what they had to do and by the grace of God, the Church is making it through till the end.

Footnotes

[1] http://www.papalencyclicals.net/pius09/p9etsimu.htm

[2] Satis Cognitum – Papal Encyclicals

Robert Robbins Gravatar Image

Robert Robbins has published a short article in attempt to refute a comment I made to him on my website. [1] 

Robbins stated, “The law does not say that, in the case of necessity, one may ignore the law (because it is no longer binding), and go and get oneself some holy orders and exercise the sacerdotal ministry without being sent by any lawful superior. The law does say that, in the time of necessity when it is impossible to receive the sacraments, one’s desire for them satisfies as a substitute for the sacraments themselves…”

Three points:

1. There is a thing known as cessation of law and epieikeia. Robbins has not made a case that the law of consecrating bishops by papal mandate is absolute where cessation of the law or epieikeia is impossible.

2. If consecrating bishops is lawful under the circumstances, then receiving the sacraments would not be impossible for those who have priests.

The desire clause for Baptism and Confession is there to answer the question whether God can save apart from the sacraments, but that doesn’t mean that the two sacraments aren’t necessary. The books tell us that they are a relative necessity based on a positive precept. 

3. Robbins accuses our bishops and priests of “ignoring the law.” However, there’s also the law on publishing Catholic material. Can. 1384 § 1 tells us we don’t have a right to publish books without approval. § 2: “extends the meaning of the term books so as to include newspapers and other periodical publications as well as all other published writings, unless the contrary is manifest.”

Using Robbins’ argument, the law does not say, in case of necessity, one may ignore the law (because it is no longer binding) and go publish whatever Catholic material without lawful authority. Perhaps Robbins was unaware of this law, but to be consistent with his argument, he must now shut down his website and stop publishing. 

Robbins continues making bad arguments by comparing the Japanese situation where they had no priests for hundreds of years and our situation today.

Two more points:

1. Outside of prayer and fasting, there was nothing whatsoever they could do about not having priests. They had no choice in the matter. Because they didn’t have priests and the sacraments, their way to salvation depended solely on faith, desire, and perfect contrition for salvation. They didn’t receive the graces that come via the sacraments.

2. The Japanese didn’t appoint themselves priests, because they understood that they didn’t have the power to do so. Sedevacantist laymen aren’t appointing themselves priests either. However, every bishop has the power to make priests lawful or unlawful, which means licit or illicit. Gregory IX expressly states: “Necessity makes licit what is illicit.”

The necessity of having Catholic bishops and priests and the lack of true sacraments can easily be seen; therefore, our bishops were validly and licitly consecrated. Pope Gregory IX gave us the decretal of necessity, when it’s for the good of the whole Church.

Robbins continues, “I mean, isn’t it that the Sedevacantists think they know better than the Church? They are not guided by the Church by their own admission, for if they have determined that the law has ceased to bind them, then their only authority becomes, not the law, since it has ceased, but their own human prudence, what they have determined to be expedient in this time of necessity.”

Bishop Carmona appealed to the teaching of the Church when he was consecrated bishop. In fact, all of our bishops appeal to Divine law and the teaching of the Church. Robbins should have researched the topic before writing about it. He has admitted that he’s already made up his mind. Therefore, he makes up lies about our bishops. He writes, “have not all the Sedevacantist bishops sought out their own episcopal consecration? How un-Catholic does it get?”

I know no sedevacantist bishop that sought out his consecration. I know for a fact that Carmona, Zamora, McKenna, and Pivarunas did not seek out their consecrations. What proof does Robbins have to make such slanderous remarks?

Lastly, Robbins makes a serious blunder when he says, “There are no known priests in the world, because God has preordained it to be so, and no matter how much we might want there to be sacraments to help us, these, with the priests, have been taken away as a punishment for our sins.”

The power of a bishop to consecrate and ordain is an indelible mark of the priesthood that cannot be deprived. Even the Eastern Orthodox have valid priests and bishops this very day. The Code of Canon Law permits Catholics in danger of death to receive absolution from non-Catholic priests and bishops. Therefore, we have sacraments to help us no matter how much Robert Robbins denies Catholic theology and says no priests exist to administer the sacraments. There are literally tens of thousands of valid priests and bishops around the world.

Robert Robbins prides himself as being one who exposes false teachers and teachings. Yet, he does what he accuses us. He fails to make proper distinctions and creates fairytales, such as saying there are no known priests in the world and telling us and his children his fairytale is true.

I admire Robbins trying to fight for what he believes in, but he’s fighting the wrong battle with the wrong weapons. Like I said in my podcast interview, if you will not consider the possibility that we are right, nothing will convince you. It’s like this with everything.

Robbins must consider that he might be wrong, that there is such a thing as cessation of law, the Church’s necessity to exist makes licit what is normally illicit, the bishop’s power to consecrate can’t be deprived and valid priests exist everywhere even if unlawfully, canon law permits Catholics to receive the sacraments from any priest (heretic, schismatic, vitandus excommunicate) when in danger of death, receiving the sacraments is better than not receiving them, the safer course is to follow the authorities, and not to allow your own opinion to become a dogma and condemn all others for not following your opinion.   

 

 

Footnote:

https://catholiceclipsed.com/2022/08/11/the-fairytale-of-independent-catholicism/

This second installment is a defense of the post-Vatican 2 sedevacantist clergy having authority to administer the sacraments, which sedevacantist home-aloners deny. Also included will be two arguments why the home-alone position is problematic.

Before the great apostasy, the Church had customary channels of power and authority, which we now refer to as ordinary times. Formerly, the Church enjoyed normal papal succession, world-wide hierarchy, and ecclesiastical laws, so that everything worked within the framework of the Church’s existence in those times.

The predicament of the great apostasy, however, is an extraordinary phenomenon unprecedented in history. It has affected the Church to such an extent that many laws of the Church can’t apply, can’t be applied, nor can be enforced; an example being the law on papal elections requiring cardinals. See THE CASE THAT PROVES CHURCH LAWS CAN’T ALWAYS APPLY – Revised

Some theologians and canonists have argued this nightmare can’t happen, but obviously that opinion is proven wrong by the very fact it has.

The Catholic Church has gone into what I call survival mode. Some things that would be illicit now become licit as the 4th rule of Pope Gregory IX lays out:

Propter necessitatem, illicitum efficitur licitum (Necessity makes licit was illicit)

In ordinary times, bishops and priests had ordinary and delegated jurisdiction, which is the power to rule and the authority to administer. In these extraordinary times, the power and authority has taken on a new form due to the circumstances. Therefore, the Church must supply the jurisdiction to stay alive and carry on its mission of saving souls. Exactly how supplied jurisdiction is granted to sedevacantist clergy is the question.

Supplied jurisdiction is when ordinary or delegated jurisdiction is absent and the Church confers it extraordinarily, when it was not bestowed regularly for the purpose of a grave cause and common good of souls.

Since no pope exists, no bishops with ordinary or delegated jurisdiction exist (insofar as we can tell), the Church must carry on lest the gates of hell effectively prevails.

According to the First Vatican Council, just as Peter has by Divine right successors in the primacy, so too, as is natural, the Church has by Divine right to live and carry on its mission of saving souls through the sacraments. What Catholic could deny this fact?

Rev. Ludwig Ott taught in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, “The Sacraments are the means appointed by God for the attainment of eternal salvation. Three of them are in the ordinary way of salvation so necessary, that without their use salvation cannot be attained. Thus, for the individual person, Baptism is necessary in this way and after the commission of a grievous sin, Penance is equally necessary, while for the Church in general, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is necessary. The other Sacraments are necessary in so far as salvation cannot be so easily gained without them.” [1] Ott tells us on p. 332, “All the Sacraments of the New Covenant confer sanctifying grace on the receivers. (De fide.)”

No ecclesiastical law could be used to prevent the Church as a whole from carrying on its mission of saving souls through these life-giving sacraments.

Just as doctrine develops over time, so too, ecclesiastical law develops. It is in this development that we discover how our clergy have jurisdiction supplied to them by the Church.

For example, canon law tells us that Confession can only be granted by a priest lacks ordinary or delegated jurisdiction in the case of danger of death.

Can. 882 states: When there is danger of death, any priest, even though not otherwise approved for hearing confessions, may validly and licitly absolve any penitent from whatever sins and censures, including those which are reserved and notorious, even though an approved priest may be present.  But the rules laid down in can. 884 and 2252 must be observed. [2]

Therefore, based on this canon, any priest (including valid non-Catholic priests) can absolve when there is danger of death. Over the years, the application of this canon has developed.

Several canonists such as Rev. Guiseppe d’Annibale and Rev. Matthaeus a Coronata taught that a long-term lack of a confessor may be regarded as equivalent to danger of death for purposes of supplied jurisdiction. It’s an opinion not agreed upon by others. However, I find that d’Annibale and Coronata are applying a fundamental rule of jurisprudence by applying as broad as possible an interpretation on the words of a favorable law. [3]

The novel interpretation by d’Annibale and Coronata demonstrates that the canon does not have to be interpreted absolutely in the strictest sense. If d’Annibale and Coronata are correct, then by this particular canon, the Church supplies jurisdiction to our sedevacantist clergy. Therefore, we have a law that’s lacking an expressed prescription that canonists think is possible and considered within that law.

Where did they get the opinion that a long-term lack of a confessor is equivalent to danger of death? d’Annibale cites two earlier authorities that taught the “in danger of death” law to mean possibly dying without a priest or confessor over a long period of time. A particular auspicious authority we’ll examine is the Doctor of the Church and Patron Saint of Confessors, St. Alphonsus Liquori who taught:

“Is any priest able to absolve from any sins and censures, not only at the point of death, but also in danger of death? This is denied by [various names] but more truly and more commonly affirmed by…The reason for this is that in this matter, the danger is taken for the point, as is clear from…For in such a case, anyone in mortal sin is bound to confess in the same way as if he were at the point of death. This is accepted by…provided that such a danger be so grave that it can scarcely be distinguished with certainty from the point: but, more immediately, it seems to be sufficient that there be prudent fear that death will arise in the danger. Now such a danger is considered to be present in a battle, in a long sea voyage, in a difficult delivery, in a dangerous disease, and similar cases…The same is true of one who is in probable danger of falling into insanity (amentia)…and the same of those who are captives among infidels with small hope of liberty. For it is believed that they will have no other priests in the future.” [4]

It would seem that in battles, long sea voyages, etc. the same priest without ordinary jurisdiction will be present throughout the situation. In such a case, that same priest can absolve a man repeatedly over the duration of war, long sea voyages, etc.

That said, St. Alphonsus then offers another situation that’s related, but not precisely the same as in danger of war, long sea voyage, pandemic, etc. He refers to those who are captives among infidels (not those who are in danger of falling captives). He’s not very clear what this means precisely. However, we can conclude that this particular situation is not exactly a danger of death. It’s a case outside of some immediate danger of death.

It may be that St. Alphonsus intended to mean those who expect to never have a priest again, which is manifestly not the situation where Catholics today have access to a priest regularly.

If we were able to ask St. Alphonsus, what if there was a priest without ordinary jurisdiction made captive himself with small hope of liberty, can he absolve the other captives as long as they are captives, since there’s small hope of liberty?

It’s reasonable to presume that St. Alphonsus would say yes, since it’s the obvious conclusion. That conclusion is precisely the situation Catholics find themselves today. The problem with our situation is that it’s not addressed anywhere, probably because it wasn’t considered possible.

When Rev. Guiseppe d’Annibale explains the law of absolving in danger of death, he lists the different situations in the same order as St. Alphonsus. He even cites St. Alphonsus, because he’s using him as the source. However, when d’Annibale comes to the section of “probable danger of falling into insanity and captives among infidels with small hope of liberty,” he lists it as “Besides, if one is in danger of falling into perpetual insanity, or is in such circumstances that henceforth he is likely not to have a confessor available any more, he is likewise to be regarded as if he were in danger of death.” [5] Interestingly, he doesn’t cite St. Alphonsus, perhaps because he’s already cited him twice, even though Liguori speaks about insanity, but d’Annibale does cite Rev. Leonardo Duardo.

Rev. Leonardo Duardo wrote in Commentaria in Bullam Coenae Domini (1638):

“But that is also to be noted, that if one bound by some censure of our Bull is found in that state, in which if he is not absolved now, it is to be feared as likely, that before death he will not have a Confessor available, as can happen in India, or in some captivity; then I say that he can be absolved by someone other than the Roman Pontiff; because although he is said to be outside the imminent danger of death, still in this matter, and morally speaking, this case is not different from danger of death: all the more, because in such a case, if he were to have access to a confessor he would be bound by divine law to make his confession: as Suarez says in the place cited: as taken from Suarez.” (probably Suarez de pentitentia, disp. 35, sec. 2 & 3) [6]

Duardo and Liguori make the “in danger of death” clause to include in danger of dying without another priest or confessor. It’s technically not “in danger of death” at all. Yet, they include it in the law. These authorities have developed the application of the law to mean something the law doesn’t specifically mention.

Rev. Matthaeus Conte a Coronata, O.F.M. Cap., Institutiones Iuris Canonici, IV. n. 1760 4th edition, published in 1955, writes:

“Danger of death is present for him who is in such circumstances that death is truly and gravely probable, but who also may survive. This situation can arise from various causes, e.g. from illness, injury, difficult childbirth, extreme old age, dangerous journey, imminent battle, surgical operation to be undergone, extreme torture etc.”

“He may be regarded as equal to those in danger of death who is in grave danger of falling into perpetual insanity or who is in such a condition that henceforth he will not have a confessor available anymore.”

Coronata cites d’Annibale as the source demonstrating that he agrees with d’Annibale’s analysis of Duardo and St. Alphonsus. They don’t spend much time on the topic, probably because it’s such a rare situation. Perhaps, they didn’t think an in-depth examination was needed. However, their explanations using confessor rather than priest have connotations that resembles our great apostasy age. As long as Catholics are in a situation where they could die without a confessor, any priest can absolve as many times as needed. It’s the logical extension of Duardo and Liguori’s application.

Duardo and St. Alphonsus are laying out a principle that cases exist outside of immediate danger of death that are equivalent to being in danger of death. They don’t list every possibility, but they came up with something that’s novel and not found elsewhere.

There’s no reason why our scenario can’t be figured into the law and put into practice by our theologians and canonists. d’Annibale and Coronata already point that way.

In his Moral Theology, book 6, n. 560, p. 443, St. Alphonsus Liguori lays out a practical teaching:

“The question is: whether heretics, schismatics, and vitandus excommunicates can absolve a dying man, if no other priest is present.”

“The first opinion says that they can, based on the Council of Trent’s statement that it is ecclesiastical tradition that there’s no reservation [of jurisdiction to absolve] when a man is dying.”

“The second opinion, (which St. Alphonsus agrees), says that such priests can’t validly absolve a dying man because the council wasn’t speaking of priests with no jurisdiction, but of those who lack jurisdiction over reserved cases (that is, reserved to the bishop or the Holy See on account of censure); also because the Council of Trent didn’t make a new law, but only approved the ancient law, which was that priests cut off from the unity of the Church cannot validly absolve under any circumstances.”

“Nevertheless, the Continuator of Tournely says rightly that in such a case, a priest who is a heretic or a vitandus excommunicate, when no other priest is present, may well give conditional absolution to a dying man, because in extreme or urgent necessity according to the common opinion of doctors, as we said n. 482 [citation omitted] … it is licit to follow an opinion that is only slightly probable.” [7]

The Holy Office settled the issue on July 39, 1891, which affirmed the first opinion. However, the relevant part of Liguori’s answer is the last sentence. To follow the opinion of d’Annibale and Coronata is licit.

To follow the opinion of d’Annibale and Coronata is licit. Also, the Church is in urgent necessity of bishops and priests. The fact that we have all of our theologians and canonists presenting the same argument (I would think) makes it at least slightly probable.

I can think of other possible scenarios not addressed by saints or any theologian (that I’ve found). What if a priest shipwrecks on an island where no civilized persons have ever witnessed? Therefore, the likelihood of being rescued is slim to none. The priest converts the natives and baptizes them. However, we are to understand that he can’t administer the other sacraments because of some particular Church law that’s not referring to this particular situation? Is this the will of Christ and His Church? The priest wasn’t technically sent by the ordinary laws of Church, therefore, the poor Catholics are just out of luck until there is imminent danger of death?

Again, the logical conclusion is that “in danger of death” could include dying without a confessor, but if a priest is present, he can absolve as long as necessary. It isn’t specifically mentioned, but it doesn’t need to be. It wasn’t in the books about possibly dying without a priest or confessor years in the future until a theologian and a canonist thought of it years later. St. Alphonsus and Duardo’s scenarios don’t become true for the law, because they thought of it. It was always true. The same thing applies to our situation. The “in danger of death” law provides the means for our sedevacantist clergy.

If home-aloners reject my explanation out of novelty or because it’s not a real danger of death scenario, then they would have to apply that same rule to St. Alphonsus Liguori for the same reasons. Then the argument turns against the Patron Saint of Confessors.

The Council of Trent declared, “For those who after baptism have fallen into sin, the Sacrament of Penance is as necessary unto salvation as is baptism itself for those who have not yet been regenerated” (Sess. XIV, c. 2).

We don’t wait until we’re in imminent danger of death for the Sacrament of Penance. We are not living in ordinary times with ordinary circumstances. We have no recourse to ordinary channels of priests with ordinary and delegated jurisdiction. Yet, we have priests and bishops all around us. There’s a law that lacks an express prescription, which is considered by our theologians and canonists to work for the current situation.

Getting back to the problem with home-aloners, I have a question to ponder:

Is it possible for the Church to unintentionally prohibit the administration of all the sacraments to the whole Church except Baptism and Marriage for a day, a year, 50 years, or indefinitely?

The home-alone position must submit that the Church is withholding and prohibiting the sacraments to the whole Church unintentionally, which is contrary to Christ’s mission of the Church. The Church’s mission can’t become counter-missionary to itself. Would Christ place a time-bomb in the establishment of His Church?

It doesn’t say much for a loving Mother that hinders ALL HER children from living and dying as holy a life as possible to be saved.

Home-aloners necessarily hold that the entire Church is incapacitated and paralyzed from administering the sacraments. It would mean that Christ does not and has not provided the means for the administration of the sacraments to His whole Church. The mission of the Church has come to a screeching halt and the devil has thwarted God’s positive Will for His Church of accomplishing what it was sent out to do.

I submit the gates of hell have prevailed if our clergy are wrong for administering the sacraments. What good is a Church that has been totally incapacitated? It would mean the Church’s mission is effectively over and the devil has won. In my estimation, the home alone position is not just impossible, it’s anti-Catholic.

This all leads to my two final arguments.

Before the great apostasy, there were opinions permitted to be held, which post-apostasy circumstances prove to be false opinions. One such false opinion held by the majority of theologians and canonists is the universal acceptance of the Church guarantees a true pope. At least 5 theologians and canonists disagreed with this opinion and were proven right by the circumstances of the great apostasy. This is one reason why listing a collection of theological opinions proves nothing.

So too, the circumstances of the great apostasy prove that the home-alone opinion of supplied jurisdiction to be false by the mere fact that the Church can’t be counter-missionary to itself and be completely incapacitated to administer the sacraments as a whole. The Church has by Divine right to exist and carry on its mission of saving souls through the sacraments. That Divine right must exist somehow even if it can’t be shown explicitly.

Lastly is the argument of reason: If we consider both the home-alone position and the sedevacantist clergy position as sincere opinions, what are the pros and cons of each position from the viewpoint of being right or wrong?

If the home-aloners are correct and avoided sedevacantist clergy, they have gained nothing, but the fact they followed their conscience, which both sides do anyway. However, if they are wrong:

     1. They lose numerous graces from the sacraments they could have received.

     2. Their chance of losing their souls becomes greater.

     3. Their chance of gaining heaven becomes less.

     4. The probability of having a tougher purgatory becomes greater.

     5. They will not have lived and died in the greatest possible manner.

     6. They will not be as close to Jesus and Mary in life and in death.

     7. Their place in heaven may not reach the heights it could have been.

If our sedevacantist clergy are wrong, we have lost nothing. We died in good faith, but were mistaken. However, if we are right:

     1. We gained numerous graces from the sacraments.

     2. The chance of losing our souls decreases.

     3. The chance of gaining heaven increases.

     4. The probability of having a tough purgatory decreases.

     5. We will have lived and died as holy as possible with the sacraments.

     6. We will be closer to Jesus and Mary in life and in death.

     7. Our place in heaven becomes the highest it could possibly be, because of the sacraments.

The argument from reason demonstrates that the home-alone position gains nothing and stands to lose so much. Our position stands to lose nothing and gains everything. While this argument doesn’t prove which side is right, it does prove which opinion is better.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Rev. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pp. 340-341:

The Sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for the salvation of mankind. (De fide.)

As Christ instituted the Sacraments and bound them up with the communication of grace they are necessary to us for the achievement of salvation (necessitate medii), even if not all are necessary for each individual. The efficacious reception of a Sacrament can, in case of necessity, be replaced by the desire for the Sacrament (votum sacramenti) (hypothetical necessity).

The Council of Trent declared against the Reformers who, on the ground of their “sola fides” doctrine, contested the necessity of the Sacraments for salvation: Si quis dixerit sacramenta novae Legis non esse ad salutem necessaria, sed superflua, ct sine eis aut eorum voto per solam fidem homines a Deo gratiam iustificationis adipisci, licet omnia singulis necessaria non sint. A.S. D. 847. In the Middle Ages the necessity of the Sacraments was controverted by the Cathari.

The Sacraments are the means appointed by God for the attainment of eternal salvation. Three of them are in the ordinary way of salvation so necessary, that without their use salvation cannot be attained. Thus, for the individual person, Baptism is necessary in this way and after the commission of a grievous sin, Penance is equally necessary, while for the Church in general, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is necessary. The other Sacraments are necessary in so far as salvation cannot be so easily gained without them. Thus Confirmation is the completion of Baptism, and Extreme Unction is the completion of Penance, while Matrimony is the basis for the preservation of the Church Commonwealth, and the Eucharist is the end (finis) of all the Sacraments. C£ S. the III 6S, 3 and 4.

[2] Rev. Charles Augustine, A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law, vol. IV, p. 286

[3] “A fundamental rule of jurisprudence is to put as broad as possible an interpretation on the words of a favorable law and to interpret unfavorable laws strictly (e.g., penal laws). (C. 19.)” Moral Theology, Fr. Heribert Jone, p. 23.

[4] Theologia Moralis, Liguori, Bk.6, no. 561, Q.2

[5] Summula theologiae moralis : Giuseppe d’ Annibale : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

[6] Commentaria in bullam S.D.N.D. Pauli Papae V lectam in die Coenae Domini … – Leonardo Duardo (C.R.) – Google Books

[7] https://archive.org/details/theologiamoralis02ligu_0/page/442/mode/2up