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THE MAGISTERIUM OF THE CHURCH AND RELATED ISSUES
Rama P. Coomaraswamy, M.D.

 

                   Before embarking on a study of the Magisterium we should pause for a moment lest the present confusion within the Catholic Church tempt us to an attitude of despair. The present confusions have their purpose, even though we with our limited outlook cannot always understand. As St. Paul explains: “To them that love God all things work together unto good” (Rom. 8.28) and St. Augustine adds “etiam peccata, even sins.” In the same sense, in the Exultet, on on Holy Saturday, the Church sings: Felix culpa,  quae talem ac tantum meruit Redemptorem: O happy fault (of our fist parents), that merited so great a Redeemer.” As Augustine says: “God in His wisdom has deemed it better that good should come out of evil than that evil should never have been.” God has the power and wisdom to turn to His own glory the evil which He permits on earth. Angels and saints can take only joy from the divine wisdom which rules the world so wonderfully.[1]

                                Holy Mother Church, like the loving mother she is, has provided us with the necessary guidelines on how to think and behave in the present circumstances. These are provided for us in what is called her teaching Magisterium. The present essay is dedicated to an understanding of the nature and purpose of the Authentic Magisterium of the Catholic Church.[2]

***

                                The Church, which is the “Body of Christ,” is as it were the presence of Christ in the World.[3] Now Christ combined in Himself and bestowed on His Apostles whom He “sent forth” the three qualities of Teacher (Prophet), Ruler and Priest - symbolized in his Vicar by the triple crown or papal tiara.

                                With regard to this Christ told us that “He who believed in Him would know the truth which gives true liberty (John VIII, 31-31) but he who did not would be condemned” (Matt. X.33; Mark XVI.16) He allowed Himself to be called the Master and even stressed that He was the true Master who not only taught the truth, but was the Truth.(Matt. VIII,19; John III, 17 and Matt. XXIII, 8-10). Now he communicated these truths to his Apostles and sent them forth to teach in His name, telling them that “just as my Father sent me, so also I send you...,” telling them: “ He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects your words, rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects the Father who sent me” (Matt. X, 40 and Luke X, 16). And so we see that the Apostles were given the charge of continuing Christ’s mission as infallible Master. Moreover Christ demanded an absolute obedience to this teaching function - for he who does not believe will be condemned. Of course, He also specified that it must be His teaching and not some other person’s teaching - not even the teaching of an angel from heaven if it departed from His teaching. He further promised that “the Spirit of Truth would always be with them,” provided they accepted this Spirit, and again, He left them free to reject this Spirit or accept some other spirit if they so willed - but then of course they would no longer be participating in His charisms and would loose their infallibility. As He said, “therefore go ye into all nation and teach them to safeguard all that I have taught you. And I will be with you till the end of the world” (Matt. XII, 18-20)

                                Perhaps the most important error abroad today relates to the teaching authority of the Church; specifically to the idea that the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church is not infallible. Lest there be doubt about this, let us listen to Pope Leo XIII:

“Wherefore, as appears from what has been said, Christ instituted in the Church a living authoritative and permanent Magisterium, which by His own power He strengthened, by the Spirit of truth He taught, and by miracles confirmed. He willed and ordered, under the gravest penalties, that its teachings should be received as if they were His own. As often therefore, as it is declared on the authority of this teaching that this or that is contained in the deposit of divine revelation, it must be believed by everyone as true. If it could in any way be false, an evident contradiction follows: for then God Himself would be the author of error in man. The Fathers of the Vatican Council (I) laid down nothing new, but followed divine revelation and the acknowledged and invariable teaching of the Church as to the very nature of faith, when they decreed as follows: ‘All those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written or unwritten word of God, and which are proposed by the Church as divinely revealed, either by a solemn definition or in the exercise of the ordinary and universal Magisterium.”

                                                                                          Satis Cognitum

                Because the Magisterium provides us with the only solid objective criteria by which we may judge what is true and false, it is important that we examine its nature in greater detail.

 

The Catholic Dictionary defines the Magisterium as:

 

“The Church’s divinely appointed authority to teach the truths of religion. ‘Going therefore teach ye all nations... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’ (Matt. 28: 19-20). This teaching, being Christ’s, is infallible...” [4]

Two different modes exist for the exercise of this living and infallible Magisterium.

               

                This Magisterium or “teaching authority of the Church”, exists in two different modes. It is termed “SOLEMN” or “EXTRAORDINARY’ when it derives from the formal and authentic definitions of a General council, or of the Pope himself: that is to say, dogmatic definitions of the Ecumenical councils, or of the Pope’s teaching ex cathedra (see below for an explanation of this term). Such truths are de fide divina et Catholica which means that every Catholic must believe them with divine and Catholic Faith.[5]

               

                Included under the category of solemn are “symbols or professions of the faith”, such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Tridentine or Pianine Profession and the Oath against Modernism required by Pius X since 1910 (and no longer required by the post-Conciliar Church)[6]. Finally included in this category are “theological censures” or those statements that qualify and condemn propositions as heretical [7].

 

                It is termed “ORDINARY AND UNIVERSAL” when it manifests itself as those truths which are expressed  through the daily continuous preaching of the Church and refers to the universal practices of the Church connected with faith and morals as manifested in the “unanimous consent of the Fathers, the decisions of the Roman Congregations concerning faith and morals, in the consensus of the faithful, in the universal custom or practice associated with dogma (which certainly includes the Roman liturgy or traditional Mass), and in the various historical documents in which the faith is declared.” Included in this category are Papal Encyclicals[8]. It is termed “Pontifical” if the source is the Pope, and “universal” if it derives from the Bishops in union with him[9]. Such truths, as Vatican I teaches, are also de fide divina et Catholica. [10]

 

                It is termed “living” because, being true, it exists and exerts its influence, not only in the past, but in the present and future. As Vatican I explains, it is infallible:

“All those things are to be believed with divine and Catholic faith, which are contained in the word of God, written or handed down, [i.e., Scripture or Tradition], and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment, or by her ordinary and universal magisterium, proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed.”                                                               Vatican I, Session III       

                This statement is important because there are many theologians who proclaim that the teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium are not binding. Some attempt to mitigate the authority of the ordinary magisterium by claiming that it can at times contain error[11]. Others claim on their own authority that “only those doctrines in the ordinary and universal Magisterium that have been taught everywhere and always are covered by the guarantee of infallibility.[12] Still others  attack this teaching by limiting the contents of the Ordinary Magisterium - removing from it anything not couched in absolutist or solemn terminology. Finally there are those who claim that the magisterium can change - that it can teach differently today than in the past because doctrine and truth evolve. Before dealing with these secondary errors, it is necessary to understand why the Magisterium is infallible.

 

 

THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE MAGISTERIUM

 

 

                As noted in Chapter I, the Church, by God’s will, is a hierarchical institution. At its “head” is the Pope, the vicar of Christ, the “rock” on which the Church is founded. He is endowed with all the unique authority of Jesus Christ “who is the shepherd and bishop of our souls” (1 Pet. 2:25), and depending upon Him, the pope is also - but vicariously - the shepherd and bishop of the whole flock, both of the other bishops and of the ordinary faithful (John 21:15-17) He is the evident and effectual sign of the presence of Christ in the world, and it is through him that Christ who is invisible in the bosom of the Father, visibly presides over all the activities of this enormous Body and brings it under His control. As Dom Grea has said, “the pope is with Jesus Christ - a single hierarchical person - above the episcopate, one and the same head of the episcopate, one and the same head, one and the same doctor, pontiff and legislator of the universal Church.” Or more precisely, “Jesus Christ Himself is the sole Head, rendered visible, speaking and acting in the Church through the instrument whom He provided for Himself. Christ proclaims Himself through His Vicar, He speaks through him, acts and governs through him.” When Christ speaks, acts, and governs through the pope, the pope is endowed with infallibility, a quality which derives, not from him as a private person, but from his being “a single hierarchical person” with Christ[13].

 

                This conception is made clear by Pope St. Leo’s third sermon on the anniversary of his own election where he paraphrases the words of Christ:

 

“I make known to thee thy excellence. for thou art Peter: that is, as I am the invulnerable rock, the cornerstone, who make both one, I the foundation beside which there can be laid no other; so thou too art a rock, in my strength made hard, and I share with thee the powers which are proper to me. And upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it...”                                                                  Office of St. Peter’s Chair                                                                            at Antioch, Feb. 22.

 

                The pope is also a private person (an ordinary human being) and a private theologian (doctor). It is however, only when he functions as “a single hierarchical person” with Christ that he is endowed with infallibility (or partakes of the Church’s, i.e., Christ’s infallibility.) It is only then that Christ’s Scriptural statement “he who hears you, hears me” applies. And it follows logically that his authority is extended through those bishops who “are in union with him” in governing the flock. The bishops have no independent authority apart from him for the simple reason that he has no independent authority apart from Christ. Thus it is that he is called the “Bishop of bishops”, and that he “confirms” them in their doctrine - not the other way around. Thus it is that no statement of an Ecumenical Council has any authority until it receives his approbation.

                The pope then has an almost limitless authority. He can however loose this authority in a variety of ways. He can lose it when he dies (physical death), if he loses his reason (madness), if he separates himself from the Church (schism), or when he loses his faith (heresy and therefore spiritual death). At such a point the pope is no longer pope because it is the very nature of this bishop’s function and ministry to be the Vicar of Christ and nothing else[14].

 

                The pope’s authority is almost unlimited - however, it is not absolute. He has full powers within his charge, but his powers are limited by his charge. In order fully to understand this doctrinal point, let us once again recall the nature of this charge.

 

                                The ecclesiastical hierarchy was instituted by God to teach, that is to say, to transmit the deposit of the faith. At the head of this teaching Church Christ appointed a Vicar to whom He gave full powers to “feed the faithful and the shepherds” (John 21:11-17). Consequently, it is within the bounds of this function, the transmission of the deposit of the faith, that the Pope has “full powers”. He has these precisely to enable him to transmit the deposit of the faith - in its entirety - “in the same meaning and the same sense” (Denzinger 1800). “For”, as Vatican I clearly taught, “the Holy Spirit has not been promised to Peter’s successors in order that they might reveal, under His inspiration, new doctrine, but in order that, with His help, they may carefully guard and faithfully expound the revelation as it was handed down by the Apostles, that is to say, the deposit of the faith” (Pastor Aeternus, Denzinger 1836).

 

                Hence it follows that the Pope can and must make all his determinations entirely within the bounds of orthodoxy, and this is true whether they concern the reformation of the Liturgy, of Canon Law, or to use the phraseology of earlier Councils, the reformation of the clergy “in its head or in its members.” The Pope may indeed abrogate all the decisions of his predecessors, even those deserving of special mention, but always and only within the limits of orthodoxy. As The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) states: “the scope of this infallibility is to preserve the deposit of faith revealed to man by Christ and His Apostles.” It goes without saying that under such circumstances, any changes introduced would affect only matters that are mutable and never the faith itself. A Pope who presumed to abrogate the smallest iota of dogma, or even attempted to change the meaning of the Church’s constant teaching, would step outside the bounds of orthodoxy and outside the limits of his function of preserving the deposit of the faith. He would in doing so, teach a new doctrine and a “new gospel”, and as such would be subject to the anathema pronounced by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians (1:8-9).

 

                It is then clear that the infallibility of the Magisterium or “teaching authority of the Church” derives from the Pope functioning as one hierarchical person with Christ. Thus the source of this infallibility is Christ, and indeed, it could be not be otherwise. For the Church to claim infallibility on any other grounds would be absurd. And just as there is only one source, so also there is only one Magisterium. When the Pope uses his infallibility - be it by solemn proclamation or within the bounds of the ordinary magisterium, he partakes, not of some personal, but of Christ’s infallibility. As the official text puts it, “when he speaks ex cathedra... he has the same infallibility as that with which the divine Redeemer invested His Church when it is defining a doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, irreformable”. (Ds. 1839[15])

 

 

THE MEANING OF EX CATHEDRA AND THE REASON FOR THE DEFINITION OF PAPAL INFALLIBILITY.

 

 

                When does a Pope use his infallibility, or to use the technical phrase, speak ex cathedra? In Holy Scripture “cathedra” is synonymous with the authority of a “master” or “teacher” (Ps. 1:1; Matt. 23:2; Luke 20:46). Once again the teaching of the Church is manifest and clear. He teaches ex cathedra “when serving in the capacity of pastor and Doctor (shepherd and teacher) of all the faithful, in virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine with regard to faith and morals that must be held by the whole Church.” Four conditions are required:

 

1)     The Pope must be functioning as Pastor and supreme Doctor. It is not his teaching as a private or particular Doctor that is in question.

2)     He must be dealing with matters of faith or morals, and it is only the proposed doctrine - not the adjoining considerations - the “obiter dicta” that is guaranteed by infallibility.

3)     He must intend to define; his teaching must be given with authority and with the intent that it be believed by the entire Church.

4)     He must manifest his intention to bind all Catholics.

 

 

                The Pope is not required to use any specific formulas to accomplish this. All that is required is that he clearly manifest his intention to compel the entire Church to accept his teaching as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

 

                It is obvious that by the very nature of his function as the Vicar of Christ, this authority has always been with Peter and his valid successors. Why was it then necessary that this doctrine be defined in an extraordinary manner at the time of Vatican I? The answer to this question is highly instructive.

 

                The Church does not ordinarily define a doctrine “in an extraordinary manner” unless it comes under dispute or is denied by a significant number of the faithful (as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin). Nor does a doctrine so defined become more true than it was before.

 

                The Church “has the duty to proceed opportunely in defining points of faith with solemn rites and decrees, when there is a need to declare them to resist more effectively the errors and the assaults of heretics or to impress upon the minds of the faithful clearer and more  profound explanations of points of sacred doctrine... Not because the Church has defined and sanctioned truths by solemn decree of the Church at different times, and even in times near to us, are they [truths not so defined] therefore not equally certain and not equally to be believed. For has not God revealed them all?”                                                         Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos

 

                In the decades prior to Vatican I, the popes repeatedly condemned liberal Catholicism and parallel efforts aimed at bringing the Church’s thinking into line with the modern world - Pope Pius IX summarized these censures in his Syllabus of Errors. Those who came under such strictures attempted to defend themselves by claiming that their attitudes had never been formerly condemned by the teaching magisterium and that such documents only represented the private opinion of the Pontiffs. Such a claim placed the infallibility of the Pope in doubt. During Vatican I furious debates were waged on the subject. The liberals were perfectly aware of the fact that if they voted for the definition of infallibility they would condemn themselves, but that if they voted against it, they would be denying a doctrine of the Church. Every conceivable objection capable of preventing, or of at least postponing the definition, was put forth and strongly supported by those who labeled themselves as “inopportunists”[16]. One orthodox bishop, Anthony Claret - later canonized - was so distressed by these attempts that he died of a heart attack during the Conciliar debate. The cases of Popes Liberius, Honorius I, Paschal II, Sixtus V and others were brought forth in an attempt to influence the Fathers against defining something the liberals claimed was both unnecessary and insane. Needless to say, they were supported in this by the secular press, by world leaders, and even by governments. It is of interest to note that the Freemasons held a simultaneous “anti-Council” in Naples which proclaimed several principles as essential to the dignity of man - principles which later were incorporated into the documents of Vatican II[17]

 

                Unlike John XXIII, whose machinations in favor of the liberals at Vatican II will be detailed later, Pope Pius IX, aware of his responsibilities, did everything in his power to fulfill his obligations towards our divine Master. Listen to the comments of Cardinal Manning:

 

“The campaign against the Council failed, of course. It failed because the Pope did not weaken. He met error with condemnation and replied to the demands to modify or adapt Catholic truth to the spirit of the age by resisting it with the firmness and clarity of Trent - and despite the prophecies of her enemies that the declaration of Papal Infallibility would mark the death blow to the Church, she emerged stronger and more vigorous than ever. This of course evoked the full fury of the City of Man. The hatred of the world for the Church was made manifest, and at the same time manifested the divine nature of the Catholic Church; for the hatred of the world was designated by Christ Himself as one of the marks of His Mystical body which must not only teach Christ crucified, but will live out the mystery of His crucifixion and resurrection until He comes again in Glory... Had Christ been prepared to enter into dialogue with his enemies, had he been prepared to adapt, to make concessions, then He would have escaped crucifixion - but of what value would  the Incarnation have been? Pope Pius IX followed the example of Christ whose Vicar he was and, as the highest point attracted the storm, so the chief violence fell upon the head of the Vicar of Christ....”[18]

                One does not have to be an expert in theological matters to know that, if the Conciliar fathers had found themselves incapable of unequivocally refuting every one of the objections of the inopportunists, and of showing in a peremptory manner that, throughout the preceding nineteen centuries not one Pope - even among those whose lives had been scandalous in the extreme - had ever erred in his function as Pope, in his teaching function as the universal Pastor and Doctor, the Church could never have solemnly promulgated this dogma. Indeed, if the issues and facts had not been made absolutely clear, the adversaries of infallibility and the enemies of the Church would certainly have published abroad all the supposedly false teachings of the previous popes and used this as a means of making the Church appear ridiculous. “No man”, say the Fathers of the great Council of Nice, “ever accused the Holy See of a mistake, unless he was himself maintaining an error.[19]

 

                When the final vote came, the adversaries of this dogma, foreseeing how things would go, left Rome in order to avoid personally participating in this decision. They however, not wishing to be ejected from the Church, declared in advance that they accepted the decision - a decision that ultimately depended, not on the Council, but on the Pope promulgating the Council’s teaching.[20]

 

                Unable to any longer deny this principle, the liberals in the Church rapidly shifted tactics. “The Pope is infallible”, they said, “and such is certain for the church has proclaimed it as a dogma. But be careful! the Pope is not infallible every time he opens his mouth.” and under the pretense of defending this dogma by sharply defining its limits, they cleverly stressed the concept that the Pope only uses this privilege on rare occasions - “once or twice in a century”. Today we hear the same cry from those who would defend the post-Conciliar changes. “Nothing de fide has been changed”, by which they mean no part of the extraordinary Magisterium. “The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light” (Luke 16:8).[21]

 

                Because the infallible nature of the Ordinary Magisterium is currently so much in dispute, the following pertinent quotations are appended:

 

“Even if he makes this submission efficaciously which is in accord with an act of divine faith... he should extend it to those truths which are transmitted as divinely revealed by the ordinary magisterium of the entire Church dispersed throughout the world.

                                                                              Pius IX,  Tuas libenter,

Leo XIII reiterated the teaching of Vatican I to the effect that ‘the sense of the sacred dogmas is to be faithfully kept which Holy Mother Church has onece declared, and is not to be departed from under the speciaous pretext of a more profound understanding.’ He adds: “Nor is the suppression to be considered altogether free from blame, which designedly omits certain principles of Cathlic doctrine and buries them, as it were in oblivion. For there is the one and the same Author and Master of all the truths that Christian teaching comprises: the only-begotten son who is in the bosom of the Fath er. That they are adapted to all ages and nations is plainly deduced from the wordw shich Christ addressed to His Apostles: Go therefore teach ye all nations: 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. Wherefore the same Vatican  Council says: ‘By the divine and Catholic faith those these are to be believed which are contained in the word of God either written or handed down, and are proposed by the Church whether in solemn decision or by the ordinary universal magisterium, to be believed as having been divinely revealed.’ Far be then, for any one to diminsh or for any reason whatever to pass over anything of this divinely delivered doctrine; whosoever would do so, would rather wish to alienate Catholics from the Church than to bring over to the Church those who dissent from it. Let them return; indeed nothing is nearer to Our heart; let all those who are wandering far from the sheepfold of Christ return; but let it not be any other road than that which Christ has pointed out... The history of all past ages is witness that the Apostolic See, to which not only the office of teaching but also the supreme government of the whole Church was committed, has constatly adhered to the same doctrine in the same sense and in the same mind.... In this all must acquiesce who wish to avoid the censure of our predecessor Pius VI, who proclaimed the 18th proposition of the Synod of Pistoia ‘to be injurious to the Church and to the Spiurit of God which governs her, in as much as it subjects to scrutiny the disipline established and approved by the Church, as if the Church could establish a useless discipline or one which would be too onoerous for Christian liberty to bear.’”

                                                               Leo XIII Testem Benevolentiae

“The Pope is infallible in all matters of Faith and Morals. By matters of faith and morals is meant the whole revelation of the truths of faith; or the whole way of salvation through faith; or the whole supernatural order, with all that is essential to the sanctification and salvation of man through Jesus Christ. The Pope is infallible, not only in the whole matter of revealed truths; he is also indirectly infallible in all truths which, though not revealed, are so intimately connected with revealed truths, that the deposit of faith and morals cannot be guarded, explained, and defended without an infallible discernment of such unrevealed truths. The Pope could not discharge his office as Teacher of all nations, unless he were able with infallible certainty to proscribe and condemn doctrines, logical, scientific, physical, metaphysical, or political, of any kind which are at variance with the Word of God and imperil the integrity and purity of the faith, or the salvation of souls. Whenever the Holy Father, as Chief Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, proceeds, in briefs, encyclical letters, consistorial allocutions, and other Apostolic letters, to declare certain truths, or anything that is conducive to the preservation of faith and morals, or to reprobate perverse doctrines, and condemn certain errors, such declarations of truth and condemnations of errors are infallible, or ex Cathedra acts of the Pope (emphasis mine). All acts ex Cathedra are binding in conscience and call for our firm interior assent, both of the intellect and the will, even though they do not express an anathema on those who disagree. to refuse such interior assent would be, for a Catholic, a mortal sin, since such a refusal would be a virtual denial of the dogma of infallibility, and we should be heretics were we conscious of such a denial (Alphonse Liguori, Theol. Moral. lib. I, 104). It would even be heresy to say that any such  definition of truths or condemnations of perverse doctrines are inopportune.”

                                              Father Michael Muller, CSSR[22]

“This Magisterium [the ordinary and universal] of the Church in regard to faith and morals, must be for every theologian the proximate and universal rule of truth, for the Lord has entrusted the Church with the entire deposit of the faith - Holy Scripture and Tradition - to be kept, to be upheld and to be explained. In the same manner, we must not think that what is proposed in the encyclicals does not require in itself our assent because the Popes did not exercise their supreme magisterial powers in them. Our Lord’s words ‘he who listens to you listens to Me’ also applies to whatever is taught by the ordinary Magisterium of the Church”                                                                 Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis

 

“In a word, the whole magisterium or doctrinal authority of the Pontiff as the supreme Doctor of all Christians, is included in this definition [at Vatican I] of his infallibility. And also all legislative or judicial acts, so far as they are inseparably connected with his doctrinal authority; as for instance, all judgments, sentences, and decisions, which contain the motives of such acts as derived from faith and morals. Under this will come the laws of discipline, canonization of the saints, approbation of Religious Orders, of devotions, and the like; all of which intrinsically contain the truths and principles of faith, morals and piety. The definition, then, does not limit the infallibility of the Pontiff to his supreme acts ex cathedra in faith and morals, but extends his infallibility to all acts in the fullest exercise of his supreme magisterium or doctrinal authority.”

         Cardinal Manning, The Vatican Council and its Definitions [1]

 

 

At this point we can come to certain conclusions:

 

1)     Christ instituted a hierarchical Church  which was His own Mystical body, and as such the prolongation of His presence in the world. 2) He revealed to this Church certain truths and entrusted these to it as a precious pearl - the deposit of the faith. 3) He established a Magisterium in order to keep intact the deposit of revealed truths for all time and to assure their availability to all mankind. 4) He instructed the Church to teach these truths. The Magisterium is a “divinely appointed authority to teach... all nations... all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” 5) This single Magisterium of the Church is entirely in the Pope, the vicar of Christ, and through him in all the bishops that are in union with him. 6) In so far as these truths are revealed to us by Christ, they are infallibly true. 7) The pope when he functions in his capacity as the Vicar of Christ, as one hierarchical person with our Lord, is to be obeyed as if he was Our Lord. 8) When the pope teaches in this capacity - ex cathedra - he teaches infallibly. 9) The Pope and the bishops in union with him are in no way empowered to teach anything other than what pertains to this original deposit “in the same sense and mind” that they have always been understood. 10) Obviously doubts may arise as to the exact nature or meaning of some point of doctrine contained in this deposit. When such occurs, the hierarchy functions to explain and define, but not to innovate. “The Pope [and by extension, the hierarchy] is only the interpreter of this truth already revealed. He explains, he defines, but he makes no innovation”[24]. 11) “The revelation made to the Apostles by Christ and by the Holy Spirit whom He sent to teach them all truth was final, definitive. To that body of revealed truth nothing has been, or ever will be added”[25] 12) There is no need for the Pope to use special formulas or attach anathemas to his ex cathedra teachings. 13) The Ordinary Magisterium is to be believed with the same divine and Catholic faith as is the Extraordinary Magisterium.

 

 

SUPPLEMENTARY COMMENTS ON THE MAGISTERIUM

 

 

                The Magisterium is also called “living”, not because it “evolves” in the manner that modern man erroneously ascribes to all things, but because it exists today as a viable entity within what the theologians call the “visible” Church. It is “living” because it is vivified by the Holy Ghost. As Cardinal Manning explains: “this office of the Holy Ghost consists in the following operations: first, in the original illumination and revelation...; secondly, in the preservation of that which was revealed, or, in the other words, in the prolongation of the light of truth by which the Church in the beginning was illuminated; thirdly, in assisting the Church to conceive, with greater fullness, explicitness, and clearness, the original truth in all its relations; fourthly, in defining that truth in words, and in the creation of a sacred terminology, which becomes a permanent tradition and a perpetual expression of the original revelation; and lastly, in the perpetual enunciation and proposition of the same immutable truth in every age.”[26]

 

                In giving assent to the teaching authority of the Church we should recognize the fact that we are giving assent, not to a series of “dry” doctrines decided upon by mere men, but rather to Christ Himself. Moreover, in so far as the Church and Christ are one, this obligation of giving assent also extends to certain matters intimately related to the faith such as the Sacraments instituted by Christ and the ecclesiastical laws by which she governs herself. As St. Catherine of Sienna says, “the Church is no other than Christ Himself, and it is she who gives us the Sacraments, and the Sacraments give us life.”[27]

                The Catholic Church is not a congregation of people agreeing together, it is not a School of Philosophy or a Mutual Improvement Society. It is rather the Living Voice of God and Christ’s revelation to all people, through all time. It teaches only what its divine Master taught. It is in God’s name that the Church makes the awesome demand she does on the faith of men - a demand that cannot be merely waived aside as being incompatible with the so-called rights of private judgment.

 

                It will be argued that the Church has been far from pure in her worldly actions. This is to misunderstand her nature. She is by definition a “perfect society”, the divinely instituted Mystical Body of Christ. The human failings of individual Catholics - or groups of Catholics - in no way alters the Church’s essentially divine character. She certainly contains sinners within her bosom, for she, like Christ, is in the world for the sake of sinners. Those who would reject the teachings of her divine Master because of her human failings, are similar to the Pharisees who rejected Christ because he ate with publicans. Despite such defects, the fundamental nature and purpose of the Church cannot change. She has never asked the world to follow other than the doctrine of Christ. “The Proximate end (purpose) of the Church is to teach all men the truths of Revelation, to enforce the divine precepts, to dispense the means of grace, and thus to maintain the practice of the Christian religion. The ultimate end is to lead all men to eternal life”[28]

 

                Man is free to examine the reasonableness and validity of the Church’s claims; he is also free to accept or reject them. If he chooses the latter, which is in essence to refuse the authority of God’s Revelation, he is forced, if he is rational, to seek some other basis and authority for his actions and beliefs. And this brings us to the topic of:

 

               

 

PRIVATE JUDGMENT

 

 

                In the last analysis, man must in religious matters, rely upon some authority. Either this derives from some objective “teaching authority” that is independent of himself, or else it derives from an “inner feeling” that can be characterized as “private judgment”[29]. Clearly, the prevailing basis for religious beliefs in the modern world - be they Protestant or “modernist-Catholic” - is private judgment, which is to say that paramount authority resides in that which at any moment commends itself to the individual or group most strongly[30]. According to Vatican II, man’s dignity is such that in religious matters, he is to be guided by his own judgment[31]. Such a principle by its very nature represents a revolt against the Church (and Christ), for it proclaims that what the Church teaches is not morally obligatory. Vatican II seems to have forgotten that man’s freedom resides, not in his being at liberty to believe anything he wants, but in his ability to accept or refuse what God teaches; that his dignity resides, not in acting like gods, but in his conforming himself to divine principles.

 

                Private Judgment always starts out by accepting some of the teachings of the established faith and rejecting others - it is only a matter of time before the ‘new’ suffers in turn from the same principle. Within Luther’s own lifetime dozens of other Protestant sects were formed, and one might add that within the post-Conciliar church the same thing has happened. That this is less obvious is because this Church blandly accepts the most divergent views - other than traditional orthodoxy - as legitimate. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “the way of a heretic is to restrict belief in certain aspects of Christ’s doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure” (Summa II-II, 1.a.1). Obviously, this “picking and choosing” is nothing other than the free reign of private judgment. And as sects give rise to other sects, it soon happens that all truth and falsehood in religion becomes a matter of private opinion and one doctrine becomes as good as another. Again, it is only a matter of time before all doctrinal issues become irrelevant (who can ever agree about them anyway?). What follows is that morality loses its objective character, and being based on “social contract”, can alter in accord with prevailing social needs[32]. Man, not God, becomes the center of the universe and the criteria for truth; doing good to others becomes his highest aspiration, and “progress” his social goal. The idea of “sin” is limited to what “hurts” our neighbor or the “state”. What need is there for God, for truth, for doctrines, for authority, for the Church and for all the “claptrap” of the ages that has held man back from his worldly “destiny”? All that is asked of modern man is that he be “sincere”, and that he not disturb his neighbor excessively. If in this milieu he manages to retain any religious sense at all, it is considered a “private matter”. Man’s “dignity”, which traditionally was due to the fact that he was “made in the image of God”, is now said to derive from his independence of God. In reality, man has been so seduced by the serpent - “Ye shall be as Gods” - that he has proclaimed himself his own God. (As Paul VI said on the occasion of the moon landing, “honor to man... king of earth,... and today, prince of heaven!”). He lives by his own morality and only accepts the truths that he himself has established. (It used to be said of the Protestants that “every man was his own Pope”.) A satanic inversion has occurred and man cries out, as did once the Angel of Light - Non Serviam - I will not serve any master other than myself[33].

 

                Of course, all this occurs in stages. What is remarkable is the similarity of pattern seen in all “reformation movements”. What starts out as the denial of one or two revealed truths (or of truths derived from revelation), progressively ends up in the denial of them all[34]. Similar also are the various subterfuges by which this is achieved. Almost all reformers declare that they are “inspired by the Holy Spirit” (and who can argue with the Holy Spirit?) and end up by ignoring or denying His existence. All claim to be returning to “primitive Christianity”, which is nothing other than Christianity as they think it should have been all along. All, or almost all, claim that the are adapting the Faith to the needs of modern man, which is nothing else than an appeal to the pride and arrogance of their followers and an attempt to make Christianity conform to their personal needs[35]. All quote Scripture, but selectively and out of context, and never those parts that disagree with their innovative ideas - thus it follows that they reject the traditional interpretation given to the sacred writings by the Church Fathers and the Saints. All mix truth with error, for error has no attractive power on its own. All attack the established rites, for they know that the lex orandi (the manner of prayer) reflects the lex credendi (the manner of believing); once the latter is changed, the former becomes an embarrassment to them[36]. All use the traditional terms of religion: love, truth, justice and faith, but attach to them a different meaning. And what are all these subterfuges but means of introducing their own private and personal judgments on religious matters into the public domain? Finally, none of the reformers fully agree with each other except in their rejection of the “fullness” of the established Catholic faith, for error is “legion” and truth is one. As one mediaeval writer put it, “they are vultures that never meet together except to feast upon a corpse”[37].

 

                The traditional Church has of course always eschewed the use of “private judgment” in religious matters. From a traditional point of view, man should seek to “think correctly” rather than to “think for himself”. (What kind of mathematician would a person be who computed for himself and considered the correct answer to be a matter of “feeling” arising from his subconscious?) The Jewish fathers considered private judgment the greatest form of idolatry because it made oneself rather than God the source of truth. As has been pointed out above, man’s “liberty” lies, not in his freedom to decide for himself just what is true and false, but in his freedom to accept or reject the truth that Christ and the Church teach and offer. It is a saying of common wisdom that no man should be his own advocate or physician, lest his emotions interfere with his judgment[38]. If we are careful to obtain authoritative advise and direction in the management of our physical and economic well-being, it becomes absurd for us to relegate the health of our soul to the “whims” of our emotions. As Socrates said, “Being deceived by ourselves is the most dreadful of all things, for when he who deceives us never departs from us even for a moment, but is always present, is it not a most fearful thing?” (Cratylus, 428, D). As soon as we make ourselves rather than God speaking through the Church, the criterion of truth, we end up by making man qua man the center of the universe and all truth becomes both subjective and relative. This is why Pope Saint Pius X said “we must use every means and bend every effort to bring about the total disappearance of that enormous and detestable wickedness so characteristic of our time - the substitution of man for God” (E Supremo Apostolatu).

 

                There is of course an area in which legitimate use can, and indeed must, be made of what is sometimes - though erroneously - called Private Judgment. In that case what are being made are not judgments in the Protestant sense, which are mere opinions, but rather objectively certain judgments which are nevertheless reasonable.[39] It must never be forgotten that the intellect of a private individual is capable in certain far from infrequent circumstances, of making judgments which are not liable to error, because within due limits the human intellect is infallible. As Father Hickey states in his Summa Philosophiae Scholasticae, “the intellect is ‘per se’ infallible, although ‘per accidens’ it can err.” As Dr. Orestes Brownson states, “private judgment (in the Protestant sense) is only when the matters judged lie out of the range of reason, and when its principle is not the common reason of mankind, nor a Catholic or public authority, but the fancy, the caprice, the prejudice or the idiosyncrasy of the individual forming it.”[40] (Brownson’s Quarterly Review, October 185).

 

                Such for example is the judgment a man makes use of in seeking the truth, and which makes him aware that in matters where he lacks full understanding, it is appropriate to use a guide. Again, there is the use of judgment in the application of principles to a given situation (conscience as the Catholic understands it), or in areas where the Church has never specifically spoken and where it allows for differences of legitimate “theological opinion”. In all these situations there is a criterion of certainty beyond the individual and evidence is adducible which ought to convince the reason of every man, and which when adduced, does convince every man of ordinary understanding. Having stated the distinction between mere opinion and the proper individual use of judgment we can further add that such judgment can never rationally be used to abrogate principles or deny revealed truths. These same distinctions make it clear how false it is to accuse Traditional Catholics who adhere to the teachings and practices of the Church of All Times, and who reject innovations that go against the deposit of the faith, of using private judgment in a Protestant sense. To label them as “Rebels” or “Protestants” because they refuse to change their beliefs is either an abuse of language or pure hypocrisy.

 

                Private judgment in the Protestant sense is inimical to the spiritual life not only because it denies the authority of Revelation, but because it also denies intellection. God gave us an intellect by means of which we can know truth from falsehood and right from wrong. Reason is normally the “handmaid” of the intellect, which means its function is that of ratiocination or discoursing from premises to conclusions. Truth does not depend on reason, but rather truth becomes explicit with the help of Reason. We do not say something is true because it is logical, but rather that it is logical because it is true. Reason must then feed on some sustenance, and this it gets from above or from below; above from intellection and Revelation; below from feelings and sense perceptions. Modern man, while occasionally using his higher “cognitive” faculties, in the practical order refuses to grant their existence. More precisely, being Nominalist, he refuses to accept any premises from above and limits the function of reason to dealing with what comes from below, from his feelings or sense perceptions. In this schema Reason is placed at the apex of man’s faculties (Rationalism). Given these truncated principles, it follows that all truth is based on feelings and sense perceptions and hence is relative[41]. Modern man lives on “Opinions divorced from knowledge”, which in Plato’s words “ are ugly things.”[42] At the same time there was a parallel attack on the will. While mechanists and evolutionists deny free-will altogether, pseudo-theologians obliterated it in the name of a false concept of grace. (What else is “justification by faith”, but the denial of “good works”, those acts we “willfully” perform. Surely grace builds on nature and will abandon us in proportion to our refusal to cooperate with it.)[43]

 

                Those who see the futility of resolving religious issues on the basis of their (or someone else’s) personal and subjective opinions, and who seek objective and external sources for the Truth, must inevitably turn to the various “churches” for a solution. Of all the various “ecclesiastical communities” that hold out the possibility of finding objective truth, only one has consistently rejected “private judgment” as a source. Only one proclaims that God Himself (through Christ and the Apostles) has revealed the truth, and only one claims and can demonstrate that it has retained this “deposit” intact from Apostolic times down to the present. This is of course, the “One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”. To quote St. Alphonsus Liguori:

 

“To reject the divine teaching of the Catholic Church is to reject the very basis of reason and revelation, for neither the principles of the one nor those of the other have any longer any solid support to rest on; they can be interpreted by everyone as he pleases; every one can deny all truths whatsoever he chooses to deny. I therefore repeat: If the divine teaching authority of the Church, and the obedience to it are rejected, every error will be endorsed and must be tolerated.”[44]

THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH

 

                                                                 “One Lord, one faith, one baptism”                                                                                       St. Paul (Eph. 4:4-5)

 

 

Having determined the nature of the teaching authority of the Church we can now turn to yet another quality inherent in her nature: INERRANCY. In essence, she cannot wander from the original deposit and still claim to be the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

 

It is amazing to what a degree these four qualities hang together - lose one and you lose them all. The Church is one in the doctrines she teaches. “She is called holy and without spot or wrinkle in her faith; which admits of no sort of errors against the revealed word of God.” She is called Catholic not only because her teachings extend across time and space in this world, but because the term means “universal” and the doctrines she teaches are true throughout the entire universe, in heaven, on earth and in hell. She is called Apostolic because she teaches the same doctrines which the Apostles taught, and because she retains intact the Apostolic Succession. Only the “Catholic Church has these qualities, and it follows that other Churches which deny one or more of her teachings cannot be considered as the Church which Christ founded any more then they can claim “union” with her.[45]

 

Oneness or “unity” exists as a characteristic of this Church, not because the faithful agree with “the bishops in union with the Pope”, but because all its members, including the bishops and the pope “agree in one faith” established by Christ, use “the same Sacrifice” and are “united under one Head”[46]. It is not the agreement of the faithful with any faith the hierarchy may wish to teach, or to use any rite the hierarchy may wish to establish, but rather the agreement of both the laity and the hierarchy (who one hopes is also to be numbered among the faithful) with the doctrines and the rites that Christ and the Apostles established. Nor is the concept of unity restricted to the living, for by the very nature of things, we must be in agreement with all those Catholics who have gone before us back to the time of Christ, with those Catholics in the Church Suffering (Purgatory) and the Church Triumphant (Heaven)..

It is repeatedly claimed by the present hierarchy that the Church has lost this “unity” and that the various divisions among Christians constitute a scandal that must be repaired. The Latin title for the Vatican II document on Ecumenism is Unitatis redintegratio or “The Restoring of Unity”. John XXIII established the “Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity” and specified that Unity was the word, not Reunion. A new “unity” is to be restored by claiming all Christian bodies that accept baptism are part of the true Church. In a similar manner the Documents of Vatican II state that the Church that Christ established subsists in the Catholic Church rather than is this Church. Recently the entire body of English post-Conciliar “bishops” - some 42 individuals in all - publicly declared in an official communiqué on the nature of the Church that the Catholic Church embodies the Church of Christ in a special way, but that such a statement “is not intended to exclude the fact that other Christian bodies also belong to the Church of Christ.” They further stated that the Church which Christ established also subsists in the Anglican Church. The response of an Anglican “bishop” is pertinent: “What has been swept aside from the ecumenical scene is the idea that the Church of Christ is identical with the Roman Catholic Church. Instead we have a picture of the Church of Christ embracing all the Christian churches, though not in the same way....”[47] If such is the position of the English hierarchy, it would seem clear that it has apostatized to a man from unity of the faith. And what of Rome which never reprimanded them?

 

As opposed to such a view, and based on what has been the constant teaching of the Church, unity exists and has always existed in the true Church. This unity exists even if the majority of the present hierarchy deviate from orthodoxy - indeed it is a matter of faith that such is the case[48]. This is witnessed by the de fide statement of the Holy Office on November 8, 1865:

 

“That the Unity of the church is absolute and indivisible, and that the church had never lost its unity, nor for so much as a time, ever can.” [49]

If the new Church is telling us it lacks unity, it is also telling us that the pope and the bishops in union with him have deviated from orthodoxy and hence lost all magisterial authority. That the greater majority of modern-day “Catholics” agree with such an errant hierarchy adds nothing to their authority. The personal views of the hierarchy do not make up the “deposit of the faith”, but rather, it is the “deposit” that provides the hierarchy for their raison d’etre. “It is the office of the Church... in fulfilling Christ’s function as teacher, not to make new revelations, but to guard from error the deposit of faith, and authentically, authoritatively, to proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Jesus Christ”[50]. As the Holy Office states, “the Primacy of the Visible Head is of divine Institution, and was ordained to generate and to preserve the unity both of faith and of communion...”[51]. Authority exists to protect the faith and not the other way around. In the face of the post-Conciliar attitude, it is of interest to recall the statement of the Anglican convert Henry Manning:

 

“We believe union to be a very precious gift, and only less precious than truth... We are ready to purchase the reunion of our separated brethren at any cost less than the sacrifice of one jot of a little of the supernatural order to unity and faith... We can offer unity only on the condition on which we hold it - unconditional submission to the living and perpetual voice of the Church of god... it is contrary to charity to put a straw across the path of those who profess to desire union. But there is something more divine than union, that is the Faith”

“There is no unity possible except by the way of truth. Truth first, unity afterwards; truth the cause, unity the effect. To invert this order is to overthrow the Divine procedure. The unity of Babel ended in confusion... To unite the Anglican, the Greek and the Catholic Church in any conceivable way could only  end in a Babel of tongues, intellects, and wills. Union is not unity... Truth alone generates unity. The unity of truth generated its universality. The faith is Catholic, not only because it is spread through the world, but because throughout the world it is one and the same. The unity of the faith signifies that it is the same in every place [and time]”[52]

As the English Bishop John Milner said of the Anglo-Catholic Ecumenical movement in the 19th Century: “if we should unite ourselves with it, the Universal Church would disunite itself from us”.

 

If we are then to speak of believing in the “One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” we must understand the phrase in the “same sense and mind” that the Church has always understood it[53]. “There is only one true Church which remounts to Apostolic time by means of its traditions... For us, we recognize only one ancient and Catholic Church, which is one by its nature, by its principles, by its origin, by its excellence, which reunites all its children in the unity of one same faith...” (St. Clement of Alexandria). “Such is the faith, which the Church received; and although she is spread throughout the universe, she guards with care this precious treasure, as if she inhabited but one house; she professes each of these articles of faith with a perfect conformity, as if she had only one soul and one heart. Behold  what it is she teaches, what it is she preaches, what it is she transmits by tradition, as if she had only one mouth and only one tongue...” (St. Irenaeus). “What they [the Church Fathers] believe, I believe; what they held, I hold; what they taught, I teach; what they preached, I preach...” (St. Augustine). It is with these principles in mind that we shall, in the next chapter, investigate the sources of the Church’s teachings and practices.[54]

 

THE PRESENT SITUATION

 

 

                Few would deny but that the present situation in the Church is one of massive confusion. No two priests or bishops teach the same doctrine and every possible aberration is allowed in liturgical functions. How is a Catholic seeking to live the faith able to sort out the issues. The answer is the Magisterium. It is amazing to what degree this organ provides us with answers as to how to react and function, the limits of obedience to a false hierarchy, and even with regard to the authority of a pope who officially promulgates heresy under the cover of magisterial authority.

 

                We can of course debate as to what is part of the ordinary magisterium and what is not. The criteria provided by Vatican I are all we really need to determine this. What we cannot do is deny the de fide teaching that the ordinary magisterium is just as infallible as the extra-ordinary magisterium.[55] 

 

                The greatest error possible is to deny the total authority of the Magisterium (remembering that there is only one magisterium that expresses itself in a variety of ways). To do so is to cut oneself off from truth and to turn one into a Protestant.[56] We have spoken of the possibility of holding theological opinions, but when one examines the magisterium, there is almost nothing significant left about which to have theological opinions.[57] Those who would tell us that the ordinary magisterium can contain error are wolves in sheep’s clothing. If such is the case we must all become super theologians so as to pick and choose what is true and false among some 95% of the Church’s teaching. Such an attitude allows one to reject anything one doesn’t personally approve of while at the same time allowing for the introduction of every possible error. It is a satanic proposition.

 

                And all this highlights the present situation in the Church with clarity. It is clear that Vatican II teaches a host of doctrines under the cover of magisterial infallibility that directly contradict what the Church has taught through the ages as true. If one accepts the teaching of Vatican II and the definition of the Mass that is promulgated in the General Instruction on the Novus Ordo Missae[58]  - which all must do who accept the authority of the post-Conciliar “popes,” one is forced to deny previously taught truths which is to apostatize from the faith.[59] Putting this in different terms, the Catholic today is forced to choose between two different magisteriums. That such is the case is glossed over by claiming that the living character of the Magisterium allows for development, progress or evolution  of doctrine, another concept embraced by Vatican II. Now certain principles are clear. We can develop or deepen our understanding of the Magisterium, but the Magisterium itself cannot change under the euphemism of development. The reason for this is that Truth cannot change. Another principle involved is that once something is declared to be magisterial teaching, it takes priority over any change. Two contraries cannot be simultaneously true. It follows that one cannot remove what is magisterial from the Magisterium.

 

                Once again this is affirmed by the Magisterium:

 

“Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declarred; and thre must never be recesdsion from that meaning under the species name of a deeper understanding [Can.3]. Therefore... let the understanding, the knowledge, and widsdome of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progres stronglyu with the passage of the ages and the centuries; but let it be solely in its own genus, namely in the same dogma, with the sane sense and the same understanding.”

                                                                                         Denzinger 1800

 

                 We have then the Magisterium as it existed up to the death of Pope Pius XII which can be called “authentic,” and that which, having it’s roots in an attempt to bring the Church into line with the modern world, established during the reign of John XXIII. Apart from Roncalli’s prior Freemasonic connections, we have his first act on assuming the papal role was to delete the phrases referring to and praying for the conversion of  the “perfidious jews” from the Good Friday services. (Obviously, there were perfidious and non-perfidious Jews, just as there are perfidious and  non-perfidious Catholics. Who would say Nicoddemus or Simeon were perfidious? Who would not say Simon Magnus was not perfidious?) This seemingly simple act, disguised under the cover of a false charity, was a declaration on his part of the principle of non serviam. It  was like a first step in establishing the new post-Conciliar Church. It was followed with a host of other doctrinal changes.[60]

 

                Catholics are often confused about the term Faith. Faith has, as St. Thomas explains, two aspects. There is the objective side of The Faith - which is incorporated or expressed by the Magisterium (and this is a “gift”), and there is the subjective side of Faith which is the assent we give to the Revelation as taught by the Magisterium. Thus to claim to have the Catholic Faith requires that we give our whole-hearted assent to the Magisterium including those parts that we may not be fully aware of. The same is true of those who follow the post-Conciliar pseudo-Magisterium. Those of us who believe in a Revelation that is true and who strive to be able to able to say with St. Paul “I live, not I, but Christ within me,” must be sure to adhere to the authentic Magisterium given us by Him who is “the Way, the Light and the Truth.” People who hide behind the present confusions, the shibboleths of doctrine development, obedience to the popes, etc, are in essence refusing to make the choice and run the risk of being included among the “lukewarm.” (The degree of responsibility varies greatly with circumstance but clearly falls more on the hierarchy responsible for preserving and teaching the “deposit of the Faith.”) The reason why Catholics who adhere to the authentic Magisterium call themselves “traditional,” is because tradition is what is “handed down.” Those adhering to the post-Conciliar pseudo-magisterium have no right to use this term.

 

                One can in fact label the objective side of faith as being equivalent to the authentic Magisterium. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that faith (i.e., the authentic Magisterium) holds the first rank in the spiritual life because it is by faith alone that the soul is bound to God and that which gives life to the soul is that which binds it to God, namely faith. God has opened to us no other way to eternal happiness than that of faith... he who has been raised to contemplation look not upon faith as inferior to this extraordinary gift. The clearer and more comprehensive his vision, the stronger does one’s faith become. As St. Catherine of Sienna said, “the gift of prophecy can be recognized as true only by the light of the faith.”[61]

 

                This brings us to the issue of orthodoxy which is defined as “true doctrine and sound faith.” It is only in light of the above need to be one with Christ and His Magisterium that heresy has meaning and also clearly risk. This is why the Magisterial condemnation of error always demands our assent. It is pertinent that the post-Conciliar Church has dropped the use of the Index and declares itself unwilling to condemn the grossest of errors. “Pope” John Paul I publicly stated that in the Old Church “only the Truth had rights, but now we know that even error has rights.” Once again however we must be careful. The True Church distinguishes between the possibility that we may be mistaken about some Magisterial point and therefore speaks of “material” heresy (some “matter” about which we are mistaken) as opposed to “formal” heresy. She requests that “competent authority” point out a material error to the individual involved and allow him six months to study the issue and correct him or herself. If after six months this correction is not made, the Church considers the individual to have added an attitude of “obstinacy” to the error and normally deprives the individual of at least his teaching function. This is not “thought control,” but the insisting on responsible people thinking correctly. “Brethren, Let this mind be  in you, which was also in Jesus Christ” (Phil.2,5)

 

                All this highlights the dilemma of the Catholic in the post-Conciliar era and there is no rational way around this. Catholics who do not wish to drift are forced to choose. In order to get a perspective on the need to take a stand, one has only to ask how many Catholics would run their stock port-folio without investigations and choices. Despite all the supposed confusions fostered by “the world, the flesh and the devil,” Holy Mother Church has provided us with all the criteria needed to make the right choices. The grounds for such choices are further delineated in other parts of The Destruction of the Christian Tradition which is a text based on magisterial teachings.[62]

 

                One further point. Those that assert their own opinions between the Magisterium and the faithful in essence create  a cult in the pejorative sense of the word. Thus it is that both the post-Conciliar Church and such organizations as the Society of Pius X (advocating disobeying a Pope whose authority they recognize) are from this point of view “cults” and not Catholic.[63]

 

                All this raises the issue of obedience. Now obedience is a moral virtue. Faith Hope and Charity are theological virtues. Obedience without the theological virtues is an absurdity because it is always possible to give obedience to a wrong authority, even to Satan himself. Faith Hope and Charity are the proper objects of obedience - normally they are mediated through the Church hierarchy, but they reside ultimately in Him who is the Truth, The Way and the Light. Now this Truth, Way and Light resides above all in what He taught and teaches, which is incorporated in the Magisterium - once again, both the Ordinary and Extra-ordinary. Hence it follows that we must give our obedience (or what the Church calls our “intellectual assent”) to the entire Magisterium. Only by so doing can we think with Christ. And if we are to be Baptized with Christ, Buried with Christ and Resurrected with Christ, we must then also think with Christ.[64]

 

SACRAMENTAL CONSEQUENCES

 

                One of the most important functions of the Authentic Magisterium is to protect Sacramental integrity.  The Faithful have an absolute right to the Sacraments as they were given to us by God as a “vehicle” for the transmission of Grace. Now the post-Conciliar establishment has violated the Magisterial structures aimed at protecting these Sacraments in every possible way. Consider the traditional Mass. This rite was protected by the Papal Bull Quo Primum which states that no priest can be forbidden to say this Mass, and that the faithful shall always have access to it. This Papal Bull was moreover re-affirmed by every Pope from Saint Pius V (who promulgated it) to the time of John XXIII. This is now a forbidden Mass.[1] Attempts to disguise this fact such as allowing for the so-called “indult” Mass, or the Novus Ordo in Latin with Chant prevail. Similarly organizations of seemingly traditional priests such as the Society of St. Peter are organized but provided but ordained with post-Conciliar “bishops” who almost certainly do not have the power to pass on Holy Orders. But the fact remains that the Mass of All Times is forbidden and if one doubts this statement, simply go and ask a post-Conciliar “bishop” for permission to attend it. Now this rite is not only forbidden, it has been replaced by a false Mass in which the “Words of Consecration” (no longer led such) given us by Christ Himself have been changed. Remembering that we are dealing, as Scripture says, with “powers and principalities,” this action of the post-Conciliar establishment must be labeled diabolical.[1] In a similar manner all the Sacraments that depend upon the priesthood, and particularly that of Episcopal consecration have been rendered at least doubtful if not totally destroyed.

 

                                An excellent example illustrating many of these isssues is provided by E.  Sylvester Berry. “According to Protestant teaching, all men are free to worship ‘God according to the dictates of their own conscience.’ the doctrine is widely proclaimed today as ‘freedom of conscience’ or ‘freedom of worship.’ It simply means that every man is free, not only to believe according to his own interpretation of the Scriptures, but also to worship God in his own way. This either denies that Our Lord established any definite form of worship in the New Law, or maintains that we cannot know with certainty what it is, for surely no Christian could believe that he is free to worship as he pleases, if he admits that Christ has established a definite form of worship to be used by His followers.”[67]

 

A WORD ON THE USE OF ONE’S CONSCIENCE

 

 

                Many hold that their decision as to how to behave in the present circumstances is one of following their conscience. Catholics should be understand just what this means and again the Magisterium makes it quite clear. One’s Catholic conscience is not a “still small voice” such as Newman and the Protestants believe in. There is a theological and metaphysical teaching that Synderesis (the divine spark within us) cannot err, but conscience can. Our consciences are far too easily influenced by our emotions and passions, by the milieu in which we live, and this is to say nothing of the effects of Original Sin. For a Catholic the conscience is a faculty used to apply God’s laws (knowable from the Magisterium) to a given circumstance where the Church has not provided clear guidance. One cannot perform an abortion because one’s conscience “allows” one to do so. Nor can one use one’s conscience to choose the “lesser of two evils,” when both are against God’s laws. One of course is responsible for a well formed conscience, which is to say, for knowing the laws of God (as they pertain to one’s station in life), as promulgated by the Church and how they apply. But it would be impossible for the Church to formulate specifics for every possible situation nuanced or otherwise. Hence it is that Our Lord provides us with a conscience that allows us to apply the laws we know to some specific circumstance.[68] Where there is doubt as to such application, the Church recommends consulting a competent (and orthodox) confessor.

               

                It should be abundantly clear on the basis of what has been said that a Catholic cannot reject the authentic Magisterium of the Church on the grounds of conscience. The Magisterium, the “proximate rule of faith,” is in fact God’s law for man. It is the Truth, and one obviously cannot deny the truth on the grounds of conscience.

 

                The idea that God’s love will protect us from the consequences of our rebellion is fraught with danger. Love is a reciprocal affair and as St. Francis de Sales instructs us in his Treatise on the Love of God, it has three aspects: love of delight in the divine perfections; love of benevolence, by which we will to praise the Lord, to serve him and work for His glory; and love of conformity, by which we accept all that God wills or expects of us, a love which has its consummation in the total donation of ourselves to God.

 

                In the final analysis the Church has not left us orphans. She has provided all that we need to be Catholic in the present circumstances. Those that would argue that rejecting the heterodox teachings of the post-Conciliar “popes” leads to denying the indefectability of the Church are simply not rational. It is precisely the opposite. If one accepts them one proclaims that the post-Conciliar Church has in fact defected, for it has changed its teachings and practices which is the essence of defection. The same can be said about rebellion. It is those who have changed Christ’s teaching (and those who knowingly accept the changes) who are in rebellion. As opposed to such, it is those who have loyally adhered to the traditions, and who have refused to change their beliefs who have proven that the Church, like the Truth she represents, has never and never can defect. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the truth.

 

                There is a way back. The paradigm is found in the parallel of the Prodigal Son. Having demanded our inheritance and left our home, many of us have he ended up eating the swill of modernism fit only for pigs. When we came to our senses we must return home and the embracing bosom of Our Father. Then it is that the “fatted lamb” who “is slain and is yet alive” can be returned to us - the lamb which is none other than Christ Himself. Those of us who, for whatever reason have left our traditional home in Holy Mother Church must make the choice.

 

                In the last analysis, we must all choose between Barabbas and Christ!

 

Rama P. Coomaraswamy, M.D.
ã R Coomaraswamy, 2001



[1]                                              Lines taken from Georges Panneton’s Heven or Hell, Newman Press, Westminster Maryland, 1965. Consider the Jews in Egypt. They had saved the land from famine, but had subsequently been enslaved. How cruel and unjust the God of Abraham must have appeared to them. But would they have followed Moses into the wilderness in any other circumstance? One may be permitted to doubt it.

[2]                                              In discussing the layman Eusebius’ attack on the heretic Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Dom Gueranger wrote: “When the shepherd turns into a wolf the first duty of the flock is to defend itself. As a general rule, doctrine comes from the bishops to the faithful, and it is not for te fauthful, who are subjects in the order of Faith, to pass judgment on their superiors. But every Christian by virtue of this title to the name Christian, has not only the necessary knowledge of the essentials of the treasure of Revelation, but also the duty of safeguarding them. The principle is tthe same, whether it is a matter of belief or conduct, that is of dogma or morals.”

[3]                                              “God showed me the very great delight that He has in all men and women who accept, firmly and humbly and reverently, the preaching and teaching of Holy Church, for he is Holy Church. For He is the foundatin, He is the substance, He is the teaching, He is the teacher, he is the end, He is the reward.” Julian of Norwich, Showings, Chapter xvi.

[4]                      Donald Attwater, Catholic Dictionary, Macmillan: N.Y.,1952

[5]    "Must", that is, if he wishes to call himself Catholic.

[6]    The Church could never require its members to take an Oath which violated the infallible truth. These specifics are drawn from Tanquerey's Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Desclee: N.Y., 1959.

[7]                      According to Tanquerey, "The Church is infallible when it condemns a certain proposition with some doctrinal censure. A doctrinal censure is 'a qualification or restriction which indicates that a proposition is opposed, in some way, to faith or morals'. It is de fide that the Church is infallible when she specifies that a doctrine is heretical; it is certain that the Church is infallible when she states that a doctrine approaches heresy or that a doctrine errs in a matter of faith, or that it is false. All this is apparent from the consensus of theologians, and from the practice of the Church from the earliest days. The Church has always made judgments against false propositions and also imposed upon the faithful the obligation of adhering to these judgments. Many assert that in all doctrinal censures the Church is infallible." Tanqueray, op. cit.

[8]    Etienne Gilson, Introduction to The Church Speaks to the Modern World, Doubleday: N.Y. "These letters are the highest expression of the ordinary teaching of the Church. To the extent that they restate the infallible teachings of the Church, the pronouncements of the Encyclical letters are themselves infallible. Moreover, while explaining and developing such infallible teachings, or while using them as a sure criterion in the condemnation of errors, or even while striving to solve the social, economic and political problems of the day in the light of these infallible teachings, the popes enjoy the special assistance of the Holy Spirit." Another way to look at Encyclicals is to ask if in issuing them the Pope uses his Apostolic authority; if he is dealing with matters of faith and morals, and if he intends to define and to bind the consciences of all Catholics. “If he does, he is speaking from the Chair of Peter and exercising his ex cathedra authority. and that the possibility of error occurs or can occur in such documents where it is a matter of some novel teaching The magisterium can eventually correct such an error without compromising itself... It will therefore be the eventual task of the magisterium to evaluate the objections made to the Declaration and then to explain how it is compatible with previous teaching, or to admit that it is not compatible and proceed to correct it" (Archbishop Lefebvre and Religious Liberty, TAN: Ill., 1980 and The Remnant, June 15, 1982.). Suffice it to say - the matter will be discussed in detail later - that not only this Declaration, but also Michael Davies's opinion are contrary to innumerable Magisterial statements of the traditional Church.

[9]                      Also from Tanquerey, op. cit. Other classifications can be found, but the essential principles remain the same. Melchior Cano (or Canus), one of the principal theologians of the Council of Trent, taught that there are ten theological "loci" or places where the "teaching imparted by Christ and the Apostles could be found." They are the following: 1) The Scriptures; 2) The divine and Apostolic Traditions; 3) The universal Church; 4) The Councils, and above all the General (Ecumenical) Councils; 5) The Roman Church; 6) The holy fathers; 7) The Scholastic theologians; 8) Natural reason; 9) the philosophers and jurors [of Canon law]; and 10) human history. According to him the first seven belong to the realm of theology, while the last three relate to the other sciences. (Quoted in Rohrbacher, Histoire Universelle de L'Eglise Catholique, Letouzey et Ane, Editeurs, Paris, Vol. X, p. 118)..

[10]                     The infallibility of Council teachings is dependent upon the Pope's approbation. The pseud-Council of Pistoia never received this and was never recognized as a Council.

[11]                    Michael Davies claims that the Declaration on Religious Liberty made by Vatican II  is "only a document of the ordinary magisterium of the Church, and that the possibility of error occurs or can occur in such documents where it is a matter of some novel teaching The magisterium can eventually correct such an error without compromising itself... It will therefore be the eventual task of the magisterium to evaluate the objections made to the Declaration and then to explain how it is compatible with previous teaching, or to admit that it is not compatible and proceed to correct it" (Archbishop Lefebvre and Religious Liberty, TAN: Ill., 1980 and The Remnant, June 15, 1982.). Suffice it to say - the matter will be discussed in detail later - that not only this Declaration, but also Michael Davies's opinion are contrary to innumerable Magisterial statements of the traditional Church. For proof that the post-Conciliar Church considers Vatican II to be magisterial, see footnote 58 below.

[12]                    According to this view, the ordinary and universal Magisterium consists in some manner, of the sum total of bishops in every place and throughout the course of history from the time the Church was founded down to the present day; while at the same time the community of bishops (with the Pope) at any given period during the course of history, is in no way infallible in its ordinary teaching. This is essentially the position of Archbishop Lefebvre

[13]  Dom Grea, The Church and its Divine Constitution, quoted from Forts dans La Foi, edited by Father Noel Barbara. The term "episcopate" refers to the body of bishops. Strictly speaking one cannot speak of a "bad pope". Being the instrument of Christ, a pope as such is necessarily "good". Such adjectives as applied to popes relate to the state of their soul and not to their function. A sinner, just like anyone else, the pope, even when he functions as Christ's minister, can be, as a human being, in a state of grace or one of mortal sin. It is a teaching of elementary theology that the state of a minister's soul has no influence or effect on his ministry, because this effect comes totally and exclusively from Christ who is its source. Thus it is that whenever a pope is functioning in his office of pope, it is Christ who speaks, who acts, and who governs through him. There is never any justification for a member of the believing Church to disobey a valid pope when it is Christ who speaks, acts and governs through him. And just as one cannot speak of a "bad pope", so also one cannot speak of a "heretical Pope", of one who is only "materially" pope, or of one who is only "juridically" a pope. Assuming a valid election, assuming that the individual is a member of the "believing Church", either a man is, or he is not, a pope. He can never be "half a pope".

 

[14]                    Strictly speaking one cannot speak of a "bad pope". Being the instrument of Christ, a pope as such is necessarily "good". Such adjectives as applied to popes relate to the state of their soul and not to their function. A sinner, just like anyone else, the pope, even when he functions as Christ's minister, can be, as a human being, in a state of grace or one of mortal sin. It is a teaching of elementary theology that the state of a minister's soul has no influence or effect on his ministry, because this effect comes totally and exclusively from Christ who is its source. Thus it is that whenever a pope is functioning in his office of pope, it is Christ who speaks, who acts, and who governs through him. There is never any justification for a member of the believing Church to disobey a valid pope when it is Christ who speaks, acts and governs through him. And just as one cannot speak of a "bad pope", so also one cannot speak of a "heretical Pope", of one who is only "materially" pope, or of one who is only "juridically" a pope. Assuming a valid election, assuming that the individual is a member of the "believing Church", either a man is, or he is not, a pope. He can never be "half a pope".

[15]  Ds stands for Denzinger, op. cit.

[16]                    It is never inopportune to declare the truth. Cardinal Newman - was one of the leaders of this faction.

[17]                    Approaches, (Ayrshire, Scotland), No. 89, 1985

[18]                    Cardinal Henry Manning (an Anglican Convert), Three Pastoral Letters to the Clergy of the Diocese, several editions.

[19]                    Rev. M. Muller, C.SS.. Familiar Explanation of Catholic Doctrine, Benzinger: N.Y., 1888

[20]                    The infallibility of Council teachings is dependent upon the Pope's approbation. The pseud-Council of Pistoia never received this and was never recognized as a Council. The post-Conciliar “popes” have declared Vatican II (all of it) to be the “highest form of the ordinary magisterium.”

[21]  An important consequence of the declaration on infallibility at Vatican I was that the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX was clearly declared to fall within the realm of the Ordinary Magisterium. Prior to this many attempts were made to examine the sources of the condemned errors in order to show that they were not “worded” in such a way as to make them binding. It also protected the list of errors - Lamentabili - associated with Pope St. Pius X’s Pascendi. Here again the modernists tried the same tactics, forcing Pius X to declare them to be binding in his Moto ProprioPraestantia Scripturae “(18, Nov. 1907). (“anyone having the temerity to defend any proposition, opinion or reproved doctrine will ipso fact incur ... excommunication latae sententiae simply reserved to the Roman Pontiff.”) Again, the Oath against Modernism has been dropped. Despite this, anyone who cannot give his assent to this Oath, once required of every prelate at every step in his journey towards the priesthood or episcopacy, places himself outside the true Church.

[22]                    op. cit. No 16.

[23]                    New York: D,J. Sadlier, 1887, pgs. 95-96.

[24]                      Exposition of Christian Doctrine - Course of Instruction written by a seminary professor of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, McVey: Phil., 1898.

[25]                    op. cit. No. 14.

[26]  Cardinal Henry Manning, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost, Burns, Oates: London, 1909.

[27]  Quoted by Jorgensen in his Life of St. Catherine of Sienna.

[28]  W. Wilmers, S.J., Handbook of the Christian Religion, Benzinger: N.Y., 1891. This manner in which the Church sees itself is a far cry from the teaching of Vatican II and the post-Conciliar "popes". The Document The Church Today teaches "Christians are joined with the rest of men in search for truth" and Paul VI tells us that today "the Church is seeking itself. With a great and moving effort, it is seeking to define itself, to understand what it truly is..."

[29]  Atheists and those that deny the existence of any "religious issue" also exercise private judgment - either their own or by submitting to the private judgment of others. Ultimately the only authority for private judgment is what an individual or group "feels" is true. Some claim their beliefs are based on reason, but if reason were a sufficient guide to religious truth, and if all men reasoned alike, all would believe the same "truths". The Church teaches that we are not allowed to believe anything against reason, but at the same time offers to us many mysteries or truths which, even though they cannot be proved by reason, are in themselves reasonable. Such truths are said to be "beyond reason" in the sense that they derive from Revelation. If neither Revelation nor reason is the source of our beliefs, then they must arise from our sub-conscious. Thus William James defines religion as the "feelings, acts and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine." (quoted in Fulton Sheen, God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy, Longmans: N.Y., 1925).  The idea that religion is a feeling arising in the subconscious is a condemned proposition of Modernism (Immanentism).

[30]                    "Groups" or "ecclesiastical communities" may agree on broad issues, but never on detailed doctrine. The Protestant denominations early found it necessary to distinguish between "fundamental" and "non-fundamental" beliefs - the latter of which their followers were free to "pick and choose". Catholics are forbidden to make such distinctions. They must believe all that the Church teaches - even those things of which they may not be specifically aware. Yet this is the basic concept that underlies the modern ecumenical movements: as long as we are "baptized in  Christ", we are free to believe anything we want. In order to get around the difficulty Vatican II teaches that "when comparing doctrines, they should remember that in Catholic teaching there exists an order or 'hierarchy' of truths, since they vary in their relationship to the foundation of the Christian faith" (De Oecumenismo). Dr. Oscar Cullman (one of the Protestant "observers") considers this passage the "most revolutionary" to be found in the entire Council, and Dr. McAfee Brown concurs while adding that the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption which are "stumbling blocks in the ecumenical discussion" should clearly be well down on the scale of the "hierarchy of truths". (Michael Davies, Pope John's Council, Augustine: Devon, 1977).

[31]                    Religious Freedom, Paragraph ll.

[32]  Consider the following statement given out in June 1978 by the Catholic Theological Society of America: "Any form of sexual intercourse, including both homosexuality and adultery, could be considered acceptable, so long as it is 'self-liberating, other-enriching, honest, faithful, socially responsible, life-serving and joyous.'" (The traditional Church considers Homosexuality a sin "crying unto heaven for vengeance on earth" - Gen. 18:20-21; Rom. 1:26-32.) It will be argued that Rome protested against this statement - however all the individuals responsible are still functioning as Catholic priests with full faculties to hear confession and some of them teach in seminaries. No recantation was ever required. Much closer to the Catholic position is the statement of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a black activist leader. "One has to have an ethical base for a society. Where the prime force is impulse, there is the death of ethics. America used to have ethical laws based on Jerusalem. Now they are based on Sodom and Gomorrah, and civilizations rooted in Sodom and Gomorrah are destined to collapse."

[33]                    To quote Michael Davies (Pope Paul's New Mass, p. 140): "It was the Council as an event which gave the green light to the process of the formal deification of man." He quotes Father Gregory Baum, one of the periti (experts) at the Council, and currently head of the Congregation in charge of seminaries, as stating "I prefer to think that man may not submit to an authority outside of himself." Or again, John Paul II's statement: "To create culture, we must consider, down to the last consequences and entirely, Man as a particular and independent value, as the subject bearing the person's transcendence. We must affirm Man for his own sake, and not for some other motive or reason; solely for himself! Even further, we must love man because he is man, by reason of the special dignity he possesses" (Address to UNESCO, June 2, 1980).

[34]  A Catholic cannot deny any truth the Church teaches. He must accept them all. As Pope Leo XIII said, "To refuse to believe in any one of them is equivalent to rejecting them all" (Sapientiae Christianae).

[35]                    Few recognize the internal contradiction between returning to primitive practice and adapting the faith to the needs of modern man. The combination attacks the faith at both ends and leaves very little in the middle.

[36]                    Pertinent is Paul VI's statement quoted in La Documentation Catholique of 3 May, 1970 to the effect that his Novus ordo Missae (the new mass) "has imparted greater theological value to the liturgical texts so that the lex orandi conformed better with the lex credendi". This is a frank declaration that either the liturgical texts in use for hundreds of years by the Catholic Church did not possess the degree of theological value which was desirable, or that his new "mass" reflects a change in the lex credendi. Jean Madiran commented on this to the effect that "the new Eucharistic prayers must conform better than the Roman Canon [did] with the true faith; this is also the opinion of the Taize community, the Anglicans, the Lutherans, and the World Council of Churches..." (Itineraires, Dec. 1973)

[37]                    It is of interest to listen to Luther's own words on the nature of heresy, words he used prior to his open rupture with the Church, but at a time when he had already embraced and expressed certain opinions inconsistent with Apostolic teaching:

"the principal sin of heretics is their pride... In their pride they insist on their own opinions... frequently they serve God with great fervor and they do not intend any evil; but they serve God according to their own wills... Even when refuted, they are ashamed to retract their errors and to change their words... They think they are guided directly by God... The things which have been established for centuries and for which so many martyrs have suffered death, they begin to treat as doubtful questions... They interpret the Bible according to their own heads and their own particular views and carry their own opinions into it..." (Theological lectures on the Psalms, Dresden 1876; quoted by J. Verres,. Luther, Burns Oates: London, 1884). Ex ore tuo te judico!

[38]  It has also been said that a man who is his own spiritual guide has Satan for his spiritual director.

[39]  Cf. Dr. Orestes Brownson: "Private judgement is only when the matters judged be out of the range of reason, and when its principle is not the common reason of mankind, nor a Catholic or public authority, but the fancy, the caprice, the prejudice or the idiosyncrasy of the individual forming it." (Brownson's Quarterly Review, Oct. 1851). "Here is the error of our Protestant friends. they recognize no distinction between reason and private judgment. Reason is common to all men; private judgment is the special act of an individual... In all matters of this sort there is a criterion of certainty beyond the individual, and evidence is adducible which ought to convince the reason of every man, and which, when adduced, does convince every man of ordinary understanding, unless through his own fault. Private judgment is not so called...because it is a judgment of an individual, but because it is a judgment rendered by virtue of a private rule of principle of judgment... The distinction here is sufficiently obvious, and from it we may conclude that nothing is to be termed 'private judgment' which is demonstrable from reason or provable from testimony." (ibid, Oct. 1852).

[40]                    "Catholics establish with certainty, by objective criteria, the fact that the Church is infallible and then listen in docility to her teachings and at no point does mere opinion play any part in the procedure; whereas Protestants opine that Holy Scripture is Divinely revealed (this cannot be proved without the Church); they opine that it is to be interpreted by each individual for himself; they opine that their opinion as to its meaning will be sufficient for their salvation; and each and every interpretation they make of its meaning (except where no conceivable doubt exists from the text) is no more than an opinion." John Daly, Michael Davies - An Evaluation, Britons Catholic Library, 1989. I am grateful to this author for his suggestions and corrections in this part of the text.

[41]  Father Smarius, S.J., puts it thus: "The chief cause of this moral degeneracy may be traced to the principle of private judgment introduced by Luther and Calvin, as the highest and only authority in religion and morality. Since the time of these Reformers, religion ceased to be the mistress, and became the slave of man. He was no longer bound to obey her, but she was bound to obey him. His reason was no longer subject to her divine authority, but she became the subject of his prejudices and passions. The Scriptures although cried up as the supreme authority, lost their objective value, and men no longer listened to the words 'Thus saith the Lord', but gave ear to the freaks and fancies of every upstart prophet and doctor, whose best reason for the faith was, 'I believe so', 'it is my impression', 'it is my opinion'. Reason itself was dethroned, and feeling became the exponent of truth. Men judged of religion as they did of their breakfasts and dinner... new fashions of belief became as numerous as new fashions of dress..." Points of Controversy, O'Shea: N.Y., 1873.

[42]                    Plato, Republic, IV, 506C.

[43]                    The current expression of this error is the Protestant claim to be "saved". Those who are certain of their salvation would do well to consider the words of St. Paul: "I fight, not as one beating the air: but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway" (1 Cor. 10:1-5). The Church has always taught that as long as man has the use of his faculties, he is capable of denying God and falling from grace.

[44]                    Appendix to his work on the Council of Trent.

[45]  This paragraph is not intended to exhaust the meaning of this term in the Creed. The Church is holy, not only because she admits no errors against the revealed word of God, but also because she is holy in her Sacraments and morals; because her children, as long as they are preserved in their baptismal innocence or restored to it, are holy, and because of the communion of saints. The Apostolic Succession is the "iniatiatic chain" which conveys the power of confecting the Sacraments from one generation to the next. This "succession" pertains to the order of bishops who in this manner preserve the "Apostolic function" down through the ages.

[46]  That "Head" is Jesus Christ whose representative or "vicar" on earth is the Pope. Hence it follows that to refuse to obey a pope who commands us to do what is against the laws of God is never to "attack" the papacy, but rather to defend it.

[47]  The Remnant, Feb. 15, 1984. As the Documents of Vatican II state, "all those justified by faith through baptism are incorporated with Christ. They therefore have a right to be honored with the title of Christian, and are properly regarded as brothers in the Lord by the sons of the Catholic Church... From her very beginnings there arose in this one and only Church of God certain rifts which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries more widespread disagreements appeared and quite large Communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic church - developments for which, at times, men of both sides were to blame. However, none cannot impute the sin of separation to those who at present are born into these communities and are instilled therein with Christ's faith. The Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers. For men who believe in Christ and who have been properly baptized are brought into a certain though imperfect communion with the Catholic Church." Elsewhere the Document states "the brethren divided from us also carry out many of the sacred actions of the Christian religion. Undoubtedly, in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community, these actions can truly engender a life of grace and can be rightly described as capable of providing access to the community of salvation" (Decree on Ecumenism). The Anglican minister James Atkinson makes the following comment on such passages: "The council Fathers made a valuable concession, the significance of which has not been sufficiently grasped, when they conceded a unity in baptism, an insight of Luther himself, and a frequent emphasis of the late Cardinal Bea when he headed the ecumenical commissariat." (Rome and Reformation Today, Latimer Studies No. 12, Oxford). He quotes Luther as saying "A Christian or baptized man cannot loose his salvation, even if he would, by sins, however numerous; unless he refuses to believe" (The Babylonian Captivity).

Now the idea that unity of any kind rests on baptism alone, or that we are "justified through faith in Baptism" is false. These teachings violate a whole host of traditional Catholic doctrines such as "there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church". There is no such thing as being a partial Catholic; nor can the Church admit that the rites of non Catholics are a source of grace. How different is the statement of Pius XII: "only those are to be included as real members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith and have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the body or been excluded from it by legitimate authority for serious faults." St. Fulgentius teaches: "for neither baptism, nor liberal alms, nor death itself for the profession of Christ, can avail a man anything in order to salvation if he does not hold the unity of the Catholic Church" (ad Petrum Diaconum. C. 39).

[48]  If not, the "gates of hell" would have prevailed. Actually, if only one true Catholic were to be left alive on earth, unity would reside in him.

[49]                    Quoted in The Reunion of Christendom, A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy, Archbishop Henry Manning, Appleton: N.Y., 1866.

[50]                    Canon George Smith, The Teaching of the Catholic Church, Macmillan, N.Y., 1949.

[51]                    op. cit. No. 39.

[52]  op. cit. No. 39.

[53]  Lutherans and Anglicans also use the Nicene Creed in which this phrase is found. They of course hold that Catholics teach a false religion, and that as such they have no right to use the phrase. John Paul II did not hesitate to repeat the Nicene Creed with the Lutherans when he joined them in their service in Rome in 1983. One wonders whether he understood the phrase in the Lutheran or the Catholic sense.

[54]                    Quotations in this paragraph are respectively from Strom. lib. vii; Advers haeres. lib. 1. 10 and Lib. 1. Cont. Jul. cap. 3 The Quote from Augustine is given in Cardinal Joannes Franzelin's Tractatus de Divina Traditione et Scriptura, De Prop. Fide: Rome, 1870.

[55]  An excellent summary with documentation from over 50 recognized theologians dealing with "The Infallibility of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Church by Father Bernard Lucien (in English) is available from the author for $15.00

[56]  Father Noel Barbara has stated”As soon as e accept the magisterium as the proximate rule of faith, we should make a firm determination to never in any way depart from her official teaching, and this not only with regard to matters of faith, but also with regard to matters of discipline. With regard to thee authentic teachings we should forbid ourselves to make any distinctions between those things which we like while rejecting those  we find difficult to accept. When I speak of the magisterium it shoujld be clear that I am thinking of the authentic magisterium of the Church and not that of the popes of Vatican II. The teaching of the infallible magisterium and her disciplinary decisions are to be found in the authentic documents which are available for us to consult.” (Letter)

[57]                    There can be no doubt but that the post-Conciliar “popes” have rejected the authority of the Magisterium and would lead us to do the same. They thus have lost their authority because it cannot be said of them that he who hears them is hearing Christ. This is not a matter of “theological opinion.” However, when it comes to describing or designateing what these “popes” should be called, or to explaining how this is happened, (materialiter/formaliter, sede vacante, etc., ) we are forced by circumstance into the realm of theological opinion.

[58]  There are those that argue that this document is not part of the magisterium. Once again we are being encouraged to become Protestants.

[59]                    Despite disclaimers that Vatican II is a “pastoral council” it should be clear that John XXIII claimed it was guided by the Holy Spirit. Paul VI in closing the Council stated that “the teaching authority of the Church, even though not wising to issue extraordinary dogmatic pronouncements, has made thoroughly known its authoritative teaching.” Still later he stated that the Council “avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility,” and added that it conferred on its teachings “the value of the supreme ordinary magisterium” (Speech of Jan 12, 1966), and that “It had as much authority and far greater importance than the Council of Nicaea.” Elsewhere he has called iit “the greatest of Councils” and “Even greater than the Council of Trent.” Perhaps the most clear cut statement is to be found in a letter to Archbishop Lefebvre demanding his submission to the post-Conciliar Church:

            “You have no right any more to bring ut the distinction between the doctrinal and pastoral that you uyse to support your acceptance of certain texts of Vatican Council II and your rejection of others. It is true that the matters decided in any Council do not all call for an assent of the same quality; only what the Council affirms in its ‘definitions’ as a truth of faith or as bound up with faith requires the assent of faith. Nevertheless, the rest also form a part of the solemn magisterium of the Church to be trustingly accepted and sincerely put into practice by every Catholic.”

John Paul II has expressed his full agreement with Paul VI who he considers as his “spiritual father” and has further stated that the Council was “inspired by the Holy Spirit” and that “obedience to the Councilis obedience to the Holy Spirit.” Still elsewhere he has stated that the Council is “the authentic teaching of the Church”  (Sources given in my Destruction of the Christian Tradition.

[60]  Documented in the Canon Law Digest, Vol V, p. 20 by T. Lincoln Bouscaren, S.J., and James I O’Connor, S.J., Milwaukee: Bruce.1963. As to his Freemasonic connections, these are documented by the Surite of Police in Paris when he was papal nuncio there. (Cf. L’Abomination de la Desolation by Professeur Gabriel Chabot and Commandant Rouchette, available from the latter at B.P. 151, 16105 Cognac, Cedex, France)

[61] What characterizes modern “faith,” be it Catholic or Protestant-fundamentalist, is it’s lack of objectivity. As one professor put it, before the 60's Catholics would respond that they believe in what the Church teaches. After the 60's they said “I believe,” while rejecting significant aspects of the Church’s teaching.

[62]  Available from James Wetmore, 343 Route 21C, Ghent N.Y., 12075

[63]  This issue is complex. One must remember that the grace of God floweth where it will. Cults have to be looked at objectively in terms of the degree to which they limit the flow of grace - do they for instance retain sacramental validity and to what extent do they inforce deviation? They must also be evaluated subjectively in the sense that the person participating may be able to ignore the deviation or by-pass it. But once again it is the authentic Magisterium which makes possible to proper use of judgement.

[64]  St. Catherine of Sienna once told the pope that if he acted in a certain way he would go to hell, and those that obeyed him would go to hell with him (Letters).

[65]                    Many attempts to disguise this fact behind such names as “abrogated” are used. Groups petitioning for the return of this Mass are asked not to refer to the Bull Quo Primum, which is absurd.

[66]                    Cf. Rama P. Coomaraswamy, M.D., The Problems with the New Mass, TAN: Rockford Ill. See also A History of the Traditional or Tridentine Mass, Sophia, Vol, No.2 &3, 1995-6 (Foundation for Traditional Studies, POB 370, Oakton, VA 22124.

[67]                    The Church of Christ, E. Sylvester Berry, D.D., London : Herder Book Co, , 1927.

[68]  “By following a right conwscience you not only do I not incur sin, but am also immune from sin, whatever superiors may say to the contrary. For conscience obliges in virtue of divine command whether written down or in a code or instilled by natural law. Toweigh conscience in the wscales against obedience to legal authority is to compare the weight of divine and human decrees. The first obliges more than the second and sometimes against the second.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Disputations Concerning Truth, 17, 5.