Decision-time approaches for those who adhere to the utter falsehood that is the “resist while recognize” position which contends that one can sift through the words and actions of a true and legitimate Successor of Saint Peter in order to decide what to accept or to reject. This makes individual Catholics the final judges of the First See, which can be judged by no one.
Although it took me several years to work my way out of this false position at the beginning of the last decade, the truth of the matter is that I was using such a position staring in April of 1994 after Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II gave permission for their to be what one true priest in the conciliar structures smartly termed “boy altar girls.”
As has been noted several times in the past, a reader of my articles that were being published in The Wanderer from Saint Louis, Missouri, wrote to me in December of 1996 to ask why I quoted from Pope Leo XIII’s and Pope Pius XI’s social encyclical letters and not from Angelo Roncalli/John XXIII’s Pacem in Terris, April 11, 1963, or Giovanni Montini/Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio, March 25, 1967, or Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II’s Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, December 30, 1987. I had no answer to give to my correspondent as my position was untenable, which is why I did not answer his letter. I was stumped for rational response. I was a “practical sedevacantist” even though I did not realize it at the time.
Well, although many in the “resist while recognize” movement have already, I am sure, written their articles in defense of either rejecting or casting as “doubtful” the “canonizations” of Angelo Roncalli/John XXIII and Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II that will take place in five days on Low Sunday, April 27, 2014 (see A Guide to the Roncalli and Wojtyla “Canonizations”), the truth is that a Catholic must accept a canonization of a beatus by a true and legitimate Successor of Saint Peter as an infallible act of the Catholic Church that is beyond question.
None other than Wojtyla/John Paul II’s prefect of the conciliar Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith made this clear in 1989:
In 1989, in fact, when the motu proprio “Ad tuendam fidem” of John Paul II was promulgated, in a subsequent “doctrinal note” connected to it and signed by then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger “the canonizations of saints” were explicitly cited among “the doctrines infallibly proposed” by the Church “in a definitive way,” together with other doctrines like the reservation of priestly ordination for men only, the illicit nature of euthanasia, the illicit nature of prostitution and fornication, the legitimacy of the election of a pope or of the celebration of an ecumenical council, the declaration of Leo XIII on the invalidity of Anglican orders. (Vatican Diary: In a few months, six new saints canonized outside the rules.)
This is one instance in which the retired antipope, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, actually agreed with the plain teaching of the Catholic Church, which was summarized on the Novus Ordo Watch site in July of last year as the late theologian, Monsignor Gerardus von Noort was quoted:
PROPOSITION: When the teaching office of the Church hands down decisions on matters of faith and morals in such a way as to require of everyone full and absolute assent, it is infallible.
This is a dogma of faith.
In the definition given above the object of infallibility was expressed in these words borrowed from the Vatican Council: “when it defines a doctrine of faith or morals.” It remains now to fix more accurately the meaning and the scope of this formula. This will be done on the basis of the words of Christ and of the apostles cited in the course of the proof; and on the basis, too, of the purpose for which the privilege of infallibility was granted.
It is important to pay attention above all to the word doctrine; for infallibility concerns the teaching office and so has as its special object doctrines, or at least doctrinal decisions by which some truth is presented to be believed or maintained by everyone.
The formula, “a doctrine of faith or morals,” comprises all doctrines the knowledge of which is of vital concern to people if they are to believe aright and to live uprightly in accordance with the religion of Christ. Now doctrines of this sort have either been revealed themselves or are so closely allied with revelation that they cannot be neglected without doing harm to the latter. Consequently the object of infallibility is twofold: there is a primary and a secondary object.
PROPOSITION 2: The secondary object of infallibility comprises all those matters which are so closely connected with the revealed deposit that revelation itself would be imperilled unless an absolutely certain decision could he made about them.
The charism of infallibility was bestowed upon the Church so that the latter could piously safeguard and confidently explain the deposit of Christian revelation, and thus could be in all ages the teacher of Christian truth and of the Christian way of life. But if the Church is to fulfill this purpose, it must be infallible in its judgment of doctrines and facts which, even though not revealed, are so intimately connected with revelation that any error or doubt about them would constitute a peril to the faith. Furthermore, the Church must be infallible not only when it issues a formal decree, but also when it performs some action which, for all practical purposes, is the equivalent of a doctrinal definition.
One can easily see why matters connected with revelation are called the secondary object of infallibility. Doctrinal authority and infallibility were given to the Church’s rulers that they might safeguard and confidently explain the deposit of Christian revelation. That is why the chief object of infallibility, that, namely, which by its very nature falls within the scope of infallibility, includes only the truths contained in the actual deposit of revelation. Allied matters, on the other hand, which are not in the actual deposit, but contribute to its safeguarding and security, come within the purview of infallibility not bytheir very nature, but rather by reason of the revealed truth to which they are annexed. As a result, infallibility embraces them only secondarily. It follows that when the Church passes judgment on matters of this sort, it is infallible only insofar as they are connected with revelation.
When theologians go on to break up the general statement of this thesis into its component parts, they teach that the following individual matters belong to the secondary object of infallibility: 1. theological conclusions; 2. dogmatic facts; 3. the general discipline of the Church; 4. approval of religious orders; 5. canonization of saints.
Assertion 5: The Church’s infallibility extends to the canonization of saints. This is the common opinion today.
Canonization (formal) is the final and definitive decree by which the sovereign pontiff declares that someone has been admitted to heaven and is to be venerated by everyone, at least in the sense that all the faithful are held to consider the person a saint worthy of public veneration. It differs from beatification, which is a provisional rather than a definitive decree, by which veneration is only permitted, or at least is not universally prescribed. Infallibility is claimed for canonization only; a decree of beatification, which in the eyes of the Church is not definitive but may still be rescinded, is to be considered morally certain indeed, but not infallible. Still, there are some theologians who take a different view of the matter.
1. From the solid conviction of the Church. When the popes canonize, they use terminology which makes it quite evident that they consider decrees of canonization infallible. Here is, in sum, the formula they use: “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the apostles Peter and Paul and by our own authority, we declare that N. has been admitted to heaven, and we decree and define that he is to be venerated in public and in private as a saint.”
2. From the purpose of infallibility. The Church is infallible so that it may be a trustworthy teacher of the Christian religion and of the Christian way of life. But it would not be such if it could err in the canonization of saints. Would not religion be sullied if a person in hell were, by a definitive decree, offered to everyone as an object of religious veneration? Would not the moral law be at least weakened to some extent, if a protégé of the devil could be irrevocably set up as a model of virtue for all to imitate and for all to invoke? But it cannot be inferred: therefore the Church must also be infallible in authenticating the relics of the saints; for (a) the Church never issues so solemn a decree about relics; and (b) the cases are not parallel, for in the case of relics, it is a question of relative cult, while in that of the saints it is one of absolute cult. (Mgr. G. Van Noort, Dogmatic Theology 2: Christ’s Church [Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1957], pp. 104, 108-110, 117-118.) (As found at Roncalli/Wojtyla “Canonization”.)
Catholic truth does not kind of just “go away” if it is ignored or rationalized away. Truth must lead us where it will regardless of what we might be forced to suffer in terms of human respect, financial well-being or having some kind of “prominent” forum in which to publish articles on a variety of subjects. To persist in the belief that one is free to place into question the beatifications or canonizations approved by the authority of a man one accepts as a true and legitimate Successor of Saint Peter is to reject the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Moreover, as has been noted in the past, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has exercised the power of equivalent canonization several times in the past four months. A true pope is bound to follow no “procedure,” and the effort on the part of priests in the Society of Saint Pius X to place into question the upcoming “canonizations” on the grounds of a lack of proper “procedure” is, like the “resist while recognize” position itself, without any foundation in Catholic teaching. Indeed, perhaps more to the point is that such positions are directly contrary to Catholic teaching, something that seems not to faze those who want to wish away the logical consequences of “canonizations” of unworthy candidates, namely, that the man who approves and undertakes them is not a true and legitimate Successor of Saint Peter.
Here is a review of why the “resist while recognize” position is contrary to Catholic teaching and represents nothing other than an ecclesiology that is as false as conciliarism’s own “new ecclesiology,” which was largely the handiwork of none other than Father Joseph Ratzinger fifty years ago this year:
6. The doctrine of the synod by which it professes that “it is convinced that a bishop has received from Christ all necessary rights for the good government of his diocese,” just as if for the good government of each diocese higher ordinances dealing either with faith and morals, or with general discipline, are not necessary, the right of which belongs to the supreme Pontiffs and the General Councils for the universal Church,—schismatic, at least erroneous.
7. Likewise, in this, that it encourages a bishop “to pursue zealously a more perfect constitution of ecclesiastical discipline,” and this “against all contrary customs, exemptions, reservations which are opposed to the good order of the diocese, for the greater glory of God and for the greater edification of the faithful”; in that it supposes that a bishop has the right by his own judgment and will to decree and decide contrary to customs, exemptions, reservations, whether they prevail in the universal Church or even in each province, without the consent or the intervention of a higher hierarchic power, by which these customs, etc., have been introduced or approved and have the force of law,—leading to schism and subversion of hierarchic rule, erroneous.
8. Likewise, in that it says it is convinced that “the rights of a bishop received from Jesus Christ for the government of the Church cannot be altered nor hindered, and, when it has happened that the exercise of these rights has been interrupted for any reason whatsoever, a bishop can always and should return to his original rights, as often as the greater good of his church demands it”; in the fact that it intimates that the exercise of episcopal rights can be hindered and coerced by no higher power, whenever a bishop shall judge that it does not further the greater good of his church,—leading to schism, and to subversion of hierarchic government, erroneous. (Pope Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei, August 28, 1794.)
The violent attacks of Protestantism against the Papacy, its calumnies and so manifest, the odious caricatures it scattered abroad, had undoubtedly inspired France with horror; nevertheless the sad impressions remained. In such accusations all, perhaps, was not false. Mistrust was excited., and instead of drawing closer to the insulted and outraged Papacy, France stood on her guard against it. In vain did Fenelon, who felt the danger, write in his treatise on the “Power of the Pope,” and, to remind France of her sublime mission and true role in the world, compose his “History of Charlemagne.” In vain did Bossuet majestically rise in the midst of that agitated assembly of 1682, convened to dictate laws to the Holy See, and there, in most touching accents, give vent to professions of fidelity and devotedness toward the Chair of St. Peter. We already notice in his discourse mention no longer made of the “Sovereign Pontiff.” The “Holy See,” the “Chair of St. Peter,” the “Roman Church,” were alone alluded to. First and alas! too manifest signs of coldness in the eyes of him who knew the nature and character of France! Others might obey through duty, might allow themselves to be governed by principle–France, never! She must be ruled by an individual, she must love him that governs her, else she can never obey.
These weaknesses should at least have been hidden in the shadow of the sanctuary, to await the time in which some sincere and honest solution of the misunderstanding could be given. But no! parliaments took hold of it, national vanity was identified with it. A strange spectacle was now seen. A people the most Catholic in the world; kings who called themselves the Eldest Sons of the Church and who were really such at heart; grave and profoundly Christian magistrates, bishops, and priests, though in the depths of their heart attached to Catholic unity,–all barricading themselves against the head of the Church; all digging trenches and building ramparts, that his words might not reach the Faithful before being handled and examined, and the laics convinced that they contained nothing false, hostile or dangerous. (Right Reverend Emile Bougaud, The Life of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. Published in 1890 by Benziger Brothers. Re-printed by TAN Books and Publishers, 1990, pp. 24-29.)
22. The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church. — Letter to the Archbishop of Munich, “Tuas libenter,” Dec. 21, 1863. (Proposition condemned by Pope Pius IX, The Syllabus of Errors, December 8, 1864; see also two appendices below, reprised from five days ago to drive home the point that no one can sift through the words of a true pope to “determine” their orthodoxy as popes cannot err on matters of Faith and Morals.)
To contend that one can “recognize” a true pope while opposing him and/or “sifting” his words and actions for their orthodoxy is, as demonstrated above, false on its face. None other than Pope Saint Pius X, after whom the Society of Saint Pius X takes its very name and who knew Catholic doctrine very well, explained that this is the case:
Distracted with so many occupations, it is easy to forget the things that lead to perfection in priestly life; it is easy [for the priest] to delude himself and to believe that, by busying himself with the salvation of the souls of others, he consequently works for his own sanctification. Alas, let not this delusion lead you to error, because nemo dat quod nemo habet [no one gives what he does not have]; and, in order to sanctify others, it is necessary not to neglect any of the ways proposed for the sanctification of our own selves….
The Pope is the guardian of dogma and of morals; he is the custodian of the principles that make families sound, nations great, souls holy; he is the counsellor of princes and of peoples; he is the head under whom no one feels tyrannized because he represents God Himself; he is the supreme father who unites in himself all that may exist that is loving, tender, divine.
It seems incredible, and is even painful, that there be priests to whom this recommendation must be made, but we are regrettably in our age in this hard, unhappy, situation of having to tell priests: love the Pope!
And how must the Pope be loved? Non verbo neque lingua, sed opere et veritate. [Not in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth – 1 Jn iii, 18] When one loves a person, one tries to adhere in everything to his thoughts, to fulfill his will, to perform his wishes. And if Our Lord Jesus Christ said of Himself, “si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit,” [if any one love me, he will keep my word - Jn xiv, 23] therefore, in order to demonstrate our love for the Pope, it is necessary to obey him.
Therefore, when we love the Pope, there are no discussions regarding what he orders or demands, or up to what point obedience must go, and in what things he is to be obeyed; when we love the Pope, we do not say that he has not spoken clearly enough, almost as if he were forced to repeat to the ear of each one the will clearly expressed so many times not only in person, but with letters and other public documents; we do not place his orders in doubt, adding the facile pretext of those unwilling to obey – that it is not the Pope who commands, but those who surround him; we do not limit the field in which he might and must exercise his authority; we do not set above the authority of the Pope that of other persons, however learned, who dissent from the Pope, who, even though learned, are not holy, because whoever is holy cannot dissent from the Pope.
This is the cry of a heart filled with pain, that with deep sadness I express, not for your sake, dear brothers, but to deplore, with you, the conduct of so many priests, who not only allow themselves to debate and criticize the wishes of the Pope, but are not embarrassed to reach shameless and blatant disobedience, with so much scandal for the good and with so great damage to souls. (Pope Saint Pius X, Allocution Vi ringrazio to priests on the 50th anniversary of the Apostolic Union, November 18, 1912, as found at: RORATE CÆLI: “Love the Pope!” – no ifs, and no buts: For Bishops, priests, and faithful, Saint Pius X explains what loving the Pope really entails.)
The false ecclesiology of the Society of Saint Pius X stands busted by none other than Pope Saint Pius X himself.
Pope Saint Pius X was, of course, only reiterating what Pope Leo XIII had taught in two apostolic letters, Epistola Tua, June 17, 1885, and Est Sane Molestum, December 17, 1888:
To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor. In this subordination and dependence lie the order and life of the Church; in it is to be found the indispensable condition of well-being and good government. On the contrary, if it should happen that those who have no right to do so should attribute authority to themselves, if they presume to become judges and teachers, if inferiors in the government of the universal Church attempt or try to exert an influence different from that of the supreme authority, there follows a reversal of the true order, many minds are thrown into confusion, and souls leave the right path.
And to fail in this most holy duty it is not necessary to perform an action in open opposition whether to the Bishops or to the Head of the Church; it is enough for this opposition to be operating indirectly, all the more dangerous because it is the more hidden. Thus, a soul fails in this sacred duty when, at the same time that a jealous zeal for the power and the prerogatives of the Sovereign Pontiff is displayed, the Bishops united to him are not given their due respect, or sufficient account is not taken of their authority, or their actions and intentions are interpreted in a captious manner, without waiting for the judgment of the Apostolic See.
Similarly, it is to give proof of a submission which is far from sincere to set up some kind of opposition between one Pontiff and another. Those who, faced with two differing directives, reject the present one to hold to the past, are not giving proof of obedience to the authority which has the right and duty to guide them; and in some ways they resemble those who, on receiving a condemnation, would wish to appeal to a future council, or to a Pope who is better informed.
On this point what must be remembered is that in the government of the Church, except for the essential duties imposed on all Pontiffs by their apostolic office, each of them can adopt the attitude which he judges best according to times and circumstances. Of this he alone is the judge. It is true that for this he has not only special lights, but still more the knowledge of the needs and conditions of the whole of Christendom, for which, it is fitting, his apostolic care must provide. He has the charge of the universal welfare of the Church, to which is subordinate any particular need, and all others who are subject to this order must second the action of the supreme director and serve the end which he has in view. Since the Church is one and her head is one, so, too, her government is one, and all must conform to this.
When these principles are forgotten there is noticed among Catholics a diminution of respect, of veneration, and of confidence in the one given them for a guide; then there is a loosening of that bond of love and submission which ought to bind all the faithful to their pastors, the faithful and the pastors to the Supreme Pastor, the bond in which is principally to be found security and common salvation.
In the same way, by forgetting or neglecting these principles, the door is opened wide to divisions and dissensions among Catholics, to the grave detriment of union which is the distinctive mark of the faithful of Christ, and which, in every age, but particularly today by reason of the combined forces of the enemy, should be of supreme and universal interest, in favor of which every feeling of personal preference or individual advantage ought to be laid aside.
That obligation, if it is generally incumbent on all, is, you may indeed say, especially pressing upon journalists. If they have not been imbued with the docile and submissive spirit so necessary to each Catholic, they would assist in spreading more widely those deplorable matters and in making them more burdensome. The task pertaining to them in all the things that concern religion and that are closely connected to the action of the Church in human society is this: to be subject completely in mind and will, just as all the other faithful are, to their own bishops and to the Roman Pontiff; to follow and make known their teachings; to be fully and willingly subservient to their influence; and to reverence their precepts and assure that they are respected. He who would act otherwise in such a way that he would serve the aims and interests of those whose spirit and intentions We have reproved in this letter would fail the noble mission he has undertaken. So doing, in vain would he boast of attending to the good of the Church and helping her cause, no less than someone who would strive to weaken or diminish Catholic truth, or indeed someone who would show himself to be her overly fearful friend. (Pope Leo XIII, Epistola Tua, June 17, 1885.)
No, it cannot be permitted that laymen who profess to be Catholic should go so far as openly to arrogate to themselves in the columns of a newspaper, the right to denounce, and to find fault, with the greatest license and according to their own good pleasure, with every sort of person, not excepting bishops, and think that with the single exception of matters of faith they are allowed to entertain any opinion which may please them and exercise the right to judge everyone after their own fashion.
In the present case, Venerable Brother, there is nothing which could cause you to doubt Our assent and Our approbation. It is Our first duty to take care, uniting Our efforts to yours, that the divine authority of the bishops remain sacred and inviolable. It belongs to Us also to command and to effect that everywhere this authority may remain strong and respected, and that in all things it may receive from Catholics the submission and reverence which are its just due. In fact, the divine edifice which is the Church is supported, as on a foundation visible to all men, first by Peter, then by the Apostles and their successors the Bishops. To hear them or to despise them is to hear or to despise Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself [cf. Luke 10:16]. The Bishops form the most sacred part of the Church, that which instructs and governs men by divine right; and so he who resists them and stubbornly refuses to obey their word places himself outside the Church [cf. Matt. 18:18]. But obedience must not limit itself to matters which touch the faith: its sphere is much more vast: it extends to all matters which the episcopal power embraces. For the Christian people, the bishops are not only the teachers of the faith, they are placed at their head to rule and govern them; they are responsible for the salvation of the souls whom God has entrusted to them, and of which they will one day have to render an account. It is for this reason that the Apostle St. Paul addresses this exhortation to Christians: “Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch as having to render an account of your souls” [Heb. 13:17].
In fact, it is always true and manifest to all that there are in the Church two grades, very distinct by their nature: the shepherds and the flock, that is to say, the rulers and the people. It is the function of the first order to teach, to govern, to guide men through life, to impose rules; the second has the duty to be submissive to the first, to obey, to carry out orders, to render honor. And if subordinates usurp the place of superiors, this is, on their part, not only to commit an act of harmful boldness, but even to reverse, as far as in them lies, the order so wisely established by the Providence of the Divine Founder of the Church. If by chance there should be in the ranks of the episcopate a bishop not sufficiently mindful of his dignity and apparently unfaithful to one of his sacred obligations, in spite of this he would lose nothing of his power, and, so long as he remained in communion with the Roman Pontiff, it would certainly not be permitted to anyone to relax in any detail the respect and obedience which are due his authority. On the other hand, to scrutinize the actions of a bishop, to criticize them, does not belong to individual Catholics, but concerns only those who, in the sacred hierarchy, have a superior power; above all, it concerns the Supreme Pontiff, for it is to him that Christ confided the care of feeding not only all the lambs, but even the sheep [cf. John 21:17]. At the same time, when the faithful have grave cause for complaint, they are allowed to put the whole matter before the Roman Pontiff, provided always that, safeguarding prudence and the moderation counseled by concern for the common good, they do not give vent to outcries and recriminations which contribute rather to the rise of divisions and ill-feeling, or certainly increase them.
These fundamental principles, which cannot be gainsaid without bringing in their wake confusion and ruin in the government of the Church, We have many, many times been careful to recall and to inculcate. Our letters to Our Nuncio in France [In Mezzo of 1884], which you have cited in this matter, speak clearly; so do those addressed to the Archbishop of Paris [Epistola Tua of 1885], to the Belgian Bishops, to some Italian Bishops, and the two encyclicals to the Bishops of France [Nobilissima Gallorum of 1884], and of Spain [Cum Multa of 1882].
Once again today We recall these documents; once again We inculcate this teaching, with the very great hope that Our admonitions and Our authority will calm the present agitation of minds in your diocese, that all will be strengthened and find rest in faith, in obedience, in the just and legitimate respect towards those invested with a sacred power in the Church.
Not only must those be held to fail in their duty who openly and brazenly repudiate the authority of their leaders, but those, too, who give evidence of a hostile and contrary disposition by their clever tergiversations and their oblique and devious dealings. The true and sincere virtue of obedience is not satisfied with words; it consists above all in submission of mind and heart.
But since We are here dealing with the lapse of a newspaper, it is absolutely necessary for Us once more to enjoin upon the editors of Catholic journals to respect as sacred laws the teaching and the ordinances mentioned above and never to deviate from them. Moreover, let them be well persuaded and let this be engraved in their minds, that if they dare to violate these prescriptions and abandon themselves to their personal appreciations, whether in prejudging questions which the Holy See has not yet pronounced on, or in wounding the authority of the Bishops by arrogating to themselves an authority which can never be theirs, let them be convinced that it is all in vain for them to pretend to keep the honor of the name of Catholic and to serve the interests of the very holy and very noble cause which they have undertaken to defend and to render glorious.
Now, We, exceedingly desirous that any who have strayed return to soundness of mind and that deference to the sacred Bishops inhere deeply in the hearts of all men, in the Lord We bestow an Apostolic Blessing upon you, Venerable Brother, and to all your clergy and people, as a token of Our fatherly good will and charity. (Pope Leo XIII, Est Sane Molestum, December 17, 1888. The complete text may be found at: Est Sane Molestum , December 17, 1888. See also Pope Leo XIII Quashes Popular “Resist-And-Recognize Position.)
Reject sedevacantism in spite of the evidence produced in its favor, including Bishop Sanborn’s response to Bp. Williamson on Sedevacantism?
Upon what grounds, however, can one claim to have any “right” to reject the actions of a man one accepts to be a true and legitimate Successor of Saint Peter, no less to criticize him publicly without running afoul of the teaching set forth by Pope Leo XIII and Pope Saint Pius X?
Let’s face facts: Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was not infallible in his words and actions. Pope Leo XIII and Pope Saint Pius X did write and speak infallibly, and those who would want to denigrate the authority of an apostolic letter have to reckon with the late Monsignor Joseph Clifford Fenton’s firm defense of such authority (see the appendix below):
Perhaps it is wise for those in the “resist while recognize” movement to consider once again the following words of Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., that he wrote concerning the reign of Pope Saint Clement I and an epistle he had written:
Its tone is dignified but paternal, according to St. Peter’s advice to pastors. There is nothing in it of a domineering spirit; but the grave and solemn language bespeaks the universal pastor, whom none can disobey without disobeying God Himself. These words so solemn and so firm wrought the desired effect: peace was re-established in the church of Corinth, and the messengers of the Roman Pontiff soon brought back the happy news. A century later, St. Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, expressed to Pope St. Soter the gratitude still felt by his flock towards Clement for the service he had rendered. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
Dom Prosper reminds us that the authority of the Vicar of Christ is absolute, that the pope is one “whom none can disobey without disobeying God Himself.” Indeed. Although I am late to have my own eyes opened to the ramifications of this truth, suffice it to say that a legitimate pontiff commands our obedience in all things that do not pertain to sin, in all things that pertain to faith and morals. No one can oppose a legitimate pontiff without opposing Our Lord Himself. And no legitimate pontiff can give us bad doctrine or defective worship. He cannot express in his capacity as a private theologian, no less publicly or in exhortations or encyclical letters that are published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, things contrary to the defined, irreformable teaching of the Catholic Church.
No one can be forced to “see” the truth of our situation (or of any situation involving conflict with others) for what it is, that the conciliar revolutionaries are not Catholic and that they belong to a counterfeit church bereft of Holy Orders and of the graces that flow therefrom. That any of our true bishops and priests, among so many others, who have seen things clearly in the past forty years, right in the midst of a most diabolically clever use of the media to convey images of Catholicism and Catholicity, is the working of the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of the Most Precious Blood of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and that flowed into their hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces. We must remember that it is very easy to go “back,” to refuse to “kick against the goad,” to “conform” to what the “mainstream” believes is “respectable” and “prudent.”
The circus of the upcoming “canonizations” will play out as the usual suspects in the “resist while recognize” movement continue to circle the wagons around a position that stands condemned by the authority of true popes.
Those of us who see the true state of the Church Militant on earth in this time of apostasy and betrayal must simply try to concentrate on saving our own immortal souls as we make reparation for our sins and those of the whole world by offering up the sufferings of the moment as the consecrated slaves of Christ the King through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, praying as many Rosaries each day as our state-in-life permits.
God will not be mocked. He will made this clear when the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is made manifest in His good time, not ours.
Vivat Christus Rex! Viva Cristo Rey!
Alleluia! He is Risen!
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Monsignor Joseph Clinton Fenton on the Binding Nature of Papal Declarations
(As Extracted From a Previous Article)
The late Monsignor Joseph Clifford Fenton, who had taught my own late seminary professor, Father John Joseph “Jackie Boy” at Saint Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, New York, in the late-1930s, wrote a superb explication of the teaching authority of encyclical letters a year before Humani Generis, which was sent to be by the late Mr. Jerry Meng, the author of Joseph Ratzinger Is Not the Pope, for providing me with information about Father Fenton’s material, which appeared in the American Ecclesiastical Review, that I had read several years ago but had faded into the deeper recesses of my memory in the meantime. Please pray for Mr. Meng, who died on February 29, 2012, from stomach cancer.
To Monsignor Fenton:
It would manifestly be a very serious fault on the part of a Catholic writer or teacher in this field, acting on his own authority, to set aside or to ignore any of the outstanding doctrinal pronouncements of the Rerum novarum or the Quadragesimo anno, regardless of how unfashionable these documents be in a particular locality or at a particular time. It would, however, be a much graver sin on the part of such a teacher to pass over or to discountenance a considerable section of the teachings contained in these labor encyclicals. In exactly the same way and for precisely the same reason it would be seriously wrong to contravene any outstanding individual pronouncement in the encyclicals dealing with the relations between Church and State, and much worse to ignore or disregard all of the teachings or a great portion of the teachings on this topic contained in the letters of Pius IX and Leo XIII.
It is, of course, possible that the Church might come to modify its stand on some detail of teaching presented as non-infallible matter in a papal encyclical. The nature of the auctoritas providentiae doctrinalis within the Church is such, however, that this fallibility extends to questions of relatively minute detail or of particular application. The body of doctrine on the rights and duties of labor, on the Church and State, or on any other subject treated extensively in a series of papal letters directed to and normative for the entire Church militant could not be radically or completely erroneous. The infallible security Christ wills that His disciples should enjoy within His Church is utterly incompatible with such a possibility. (Doctrinal authority of Papal Encyclicals.)
To wit, Pope Saint Pius X wrote the following about the falsehood represented by the separation of Church and State:
That the State must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error. . . . Hence the Roman Pontiffs have never ceased, as circumstances required, to refute and condemn the doctrine of the separation of Church and State. (Pope Saint Pius X, Vehementer Nos, February 11, 1906.)
Gee, I wonder who has spent a great deal of the past seventy-three months endorsing this false thesis: Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, that’s who. This cannot be. It is impossible for a true Roman Pontiff to contradict another on a matter that is part of the Deposit of Faith that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ entrusted to His Catholic Church for Its eternal safekeeping and infallible explication.
Some glib commentators might protest that not every papal statement demands our assent, that we can “sift” through what a true pope says. This is false, which is one of the reasons why true popes never spoke in interviews as they knew that their words, which were carefully chosen and vetted by theological advisers (yes, the rendering of this word as “advisors” is also accepted usage), carried the weight of their papal office, that the faithful weren’t and could not be expected to make unnecessary distinctions between “official” and “unofficial” words and deeds, which was the whole point of Words and Actions Without Consequences.
Monsignor Fenton elaborated on this point when applying the teaching stated by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis to the authority of papal allocutions:
Despite the fact that there is nothing like an adequate treatment of the papal allocutions in existing theological literature, every priest, and particularly every professor of sacred theology, should know whether and under what circumstances these allocutions addressed by the Sovereign Pontiffs to private groups are to be regarded as authoritative, as actual expressions of the Roman Pontiff’s ordinary magisterium. And, especially because of the tendency towards an unhealthy minimism current in this country and elsewhere in the world today, they should also know how doctrine is to be set forth in the allocutions and the other vehicles of the Holy Father’s ordinary magisterium if it is to be accepted as authoritative. The present brief paper will attempt to consider and to answer these questions.
The first question to be considered is this: Can a speech addressed by the Roman Pontiff to a private group, a group which cannot in any sense be taken as representing either the Roman Church or the universal Church, contain doctrinal teaching authoritative for the universal Church?
The clear and unequivocal answer to this question is contained in the Holy Father’s encyclical letter Humani generis, issued Aug. 12, 1950. According to this document: “if, in their ‘Acta‘ the Supreme Pontiffs take care to render a decision on a point that has hitherto been controverted, it is obvious to all that this point, according to the mind and will of these same Pontiffs, can no longer be regarded as a question theologians may freely debate among themselves.”
Thus, in the teaching of the Humani generis, any doctrinal decision made by the Pope and included in his “Acta” are authoritative. Now many of the allocutions made by the Sovereign Pontiff to private groups are included in the “Acta” of the Sovereign Pontiff himself, as a section of the Acta apostolicae sedis. Hence, any doctrinal decision made in one of these allocutions that is published in the Holy Father’s “Acta” is authoritative and binding on all the members of the universal Church.
There is, according to the words of the Humani generis, an authoritative doctrinal decision whenever the Roman Pontiffs, in their “Acta,” “de re hactenus controversa data opera sententiam ferunt.” When this condition is fulfilled, even in an allocution originally delivered to a private group, but subsequently published as part of the Holy Father’s “Acta,” an authoritative doctrinal judgment has been proposed to the universal Church. All of those within the Church are obliged, under penalty of serious sin, to accept this decision. . . .
Now the questions may arise: is there any particular form which the Roman Pontiff is obliged to follow in setting forth a doctrinal decision in either the positive or the negative manner? Does the Pope have to state specifically and explicitly that he intends to issue a doctrinal decision on this particular point? Is it at all necessary that he should refer explicitly to the fact that there has hitherto been a debate among theologians on the question he is going to decide?
There is certainly nothing in the divinely established constitutional law of the Catholic Church which would in any way justify an affirmative response to any of these inquiries. The Holy Father’s doctrinal authority stems from the tremendous responsibility Our Lord laid upon him in St. Peter, whose successor he is. Our Lord charged the Prince of the Apostles, and through him, all of his successors until the end of time, with the commission of feeding, of acting as a shepherd for, of taking care of, His lambs and His sheep. Included in that responsibility was the obligation, and, of course, the power, to confirm the faith of his fellow Christians.
And the Lord said: “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.”
St. Peter had, and has in his successor, the duty and the power to confirm his brethren in their faith, to take care of their doctrinal needs. Included in his responsibility is an obvious obligation to select and to employ the means he judges most effective and apt for the accomplishment of the end God has commissioned him to attain. And in this era, when the printed word possesses a manifest primacy in the field of the dissemination of ideas, the Sovereign Pontiffs have chosen to bring their authoritative teaching, the doctrine in which they accomplish the work of instruction God has commanded them to do, to the people of Christ through the medium of the printed word in the published “Acta.”
The Humani generis reminds us that the doctrinal decisions set forth in the Holy Father’s “Acta” manifestly are authoritative “according to the mind and will” of the Pontiffs who have issued these decisions. Thus, wherever there is a doctrinal judgment expressed in the “Acta” of a Sovereign Pontiff, it is clear that the Pontiff understands that decision to be authoritative and wills that it be so.
Now when the Pope, in his “Acta,” sets forth as a part of Catholic doctrine or as a genuine teaching of the Catholic Church some thesis which has hitherto been opposed, even legitimately, in the schools of sacred theology, he is manifestly making a doctrinal decision. This certainly holds true even when, in making his statement, the Pope does not explicitly assert that he is issuing a doctrinal judgment and, of course, even when he does not refer to the existence of a controversy or debate on the subject among theologians up until the time of his own pronouncement. All that is necessary is that this teaching, hitherto opposed in the theological schools, be now set forth as the teaching of the Sovereign Pontiff, or as “doctrina catholica.”
Private theologians have no right whatsoever to establish what they believe to be the conditions under which the teaching presented in the “Acta” of the Roman Pontiff may be accepted as authoritative. This is, on the contrary, the duty and the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff himself. The present Holy Father has exercised that right and has done his duty in stating clearly that any doctrinal decision which the Bishop of Rome has taken the trouble to make and insert into his “Acta” is to be received as genuinely authoritative.
In line with the teaching of the Humani generis, then, it seems unquestionably clear that any doctrinal decision expressed by the Sovereign Pontiff in the course of an allocution delivered to a private group is to be accepted as authoritative when and if that allocution is published by the Sovereign Pontiff as a part of his own “Acta.” Now we must consider this final question: What obligation is incumbent upon a Catholic by reason of an authoritative doctrinal decision made by the Sovereign Pontiff and communicated to the universal Church in this manner?
The text of the Humani generis itself supplies us with a minimum answer. This is found in the sentence we have already quoted: “And if, in their ‘Acta,’ the Supreme Pontiffs take care to render a decision on a point that has hitherto been controverted, it is obvious to all that this point, according to the mind and will of these same Pontiffs, can no longer be regarded as a question theologians may freely debate among themselves.”
Theologians legitimately discuss and dispute among themselves doctrinal questions which the authoritative magisterium of the Catholic Church has not as yet resolved. Once that magisterium has expressed a decision and communicated that decision to the Church universal, the first and the most obvious result of its declaration must be the cessation of debate on the point it has decided. A man definitely is not acting and could not act as a theologian, as a teacher of Catholic truth, by disputing against a decision made by the competent doctrinal authority of the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.
In line with the teaching of the Humani generis, then, it seems unquestionably clear that any doctrinal decision expressed by the Sovereign Pontiff in the course of an allocution delivered to a private group is to be accepted as authoritative when and if that allocution is published by the Sovereign Pontiff as a part of his own “Acta.” Now we must consider this final question: What obligation is incumbent upon a Catholic by reason of an authoritative doctrinal decision made by the Sovereign Pontiff and communicated to the universal Church in this manner? (The doctrinal Authority of Papal allocutions.)
The crashing sound you hear in the background is the whole facade of the false ecclesiology of the “resist but recognize” movement that has been propagated in the past forty years as the “answer” to “resisting” the decrees of the “Second” Vatican Council and the “encyclical” letters and statements and allocutions of the conciliar “popes” crumbling right to the ground.
The rejections, for example, of the clear and consistent Catholic condemnation of religious liberty and separation of Church and State while endorsing the sort of false ecumenism condemned by Pope Pius XI in Mortalium Animos, January 6, 1928, and while propagating the “new ecclesiology” of the “new theology” that is a public and manifest rejection of the very nature of the Church as summarized by Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis, June 29, 1943, are no mere acts of “modification” of past papal statements as they are applied in the world today. They are a wholesale rejection of Catholic truth, which is why they have been shrouded in a cloud of ambiguity and paradox as to deceive many of the elect.