THE MAGISTERIUM OF THE CHURCH AND RELATED ISSUES
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
The Church, which is the ABody of Christ,@ is as it were the presence of Christ in the World. Now Christ combined in Himself and bestowed on His Apostles whom He Asent 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 AHe 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 Ajust as my Father sent me, so also I send you...,@ telling them: A 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 Athe 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, Atherefore 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:
AWherefore, 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.@
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:
AThe 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...@ 
Two different modes exist for the exercise of this living and infallible Magisterium.
This Magisterium or Ateaching authority of the Church@, exists in two different modes. It is termed ASOLEMN@ or AEXTRAORDINARY= 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.
Included under the category of solemn are Asymbols 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). Finally included in this category are Atheological censures@ or those statements that qualify and condemn propositions as heretical .
It is termed AORDINARY 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 Aunanimous 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.
It is termed APontifical@ if the source is the
Pope, and Auniversal@ if it derives from the
Bishops in union with him.
Such truths, as
because, being true, it exists and exerts its influence, not only in the past,
but in the present and future. As
AAll 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 Mgisterium,
proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed.@
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. Others claim on their own authority that Aonly those doctrines in the ordinary and universal Magisterium that have been taught everywhere and always are covered by the guarantee of infallibility. 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.
As noted in Chapter I, the Church, by God=s will, is a hierarchical institution. At its Ahead@ is the Pope, the vicar of Christ, the Arock@ on which the Church is founded. He is endowed with all the unique authority of Jesus Christ Awho 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, Athe 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, AJesus 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 Aa single hierarchical person@ with Christ.
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:
AI 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
The pope is also a private person (an ordinary human being) and a private theologian (doctor). It is however, only when he functions as Aa 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 Ahe who hears you, hears me@ applies. And it follows logically that his authority is extended through those bishops who Aare 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 ABishop of bishops@, and that he Aconfirms@ 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.
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 Afeed the faithful and the shepherds@ (John -17). Consequently, it is within the bounds of this function, the transmission of the deposit of the faith, that the Pope has Afull powers@. He has these precisely to enable him to transmit the deposit of the faith - in its entirety - Ain the same meaning and the same sense@ (Denzinger 1800). AFor@, as Vatican I clearly taught, Athe 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 Ain 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: Athe 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 Anew 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 Ateaching 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, Awhen 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)
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 Acathedra@ is synonymous with the authority of a Amaster@ or Ateacher@ (Ps. 1:1; Matt. 23:2; Luke ). Once again the teaching of the Church is manifest and clear. He teaches ex cathedra Awhen 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 Aobiter 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
The Church does not ordinarily define a doctrine Ain 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 Ahas 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
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:
AThe 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....@
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. ANo man@, say the Fathers of the great Council of Nice, Aever accused the Holy See of a mistake, unless he was himself maintaining an error.@
When the final vote came, the adversaries of this
dogma, foreseeing how things would go, left
Unable to any longer deny this principle, the liberals in the Church rapidly shifted tactics. AThe Pope is infallible@, they said, Aand 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 - Aonce or twice in a century@. Today we hear the same cry from those who would defend the post-Conciliar changes. ANothing de fide has been changed@, by which they mean no part of the extraordinary Magisterium. AThe children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light@ (Luke 16:8).
Because the infallible nature of the Ordinary Magisterium is currently so much in dispute, the following pertinent quotations are appended:
AEven 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: ANor 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 diminish 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 constantly 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 Spirit of God which governs her, in as much as it subjects to scrutiny the discipline established and approved by the Church, as if the Church could establish a useless discipline or one which would be too onorous for Christian liberty to bear.=@
Leo XIII Testem Benevolentiae
AThe 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
AThis 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
AIn a word, the whole Magisterium or
doctrinal authority of the Pontiff as the supreme Doctor of all Christians, is
included in this definition [at
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 Adivinely 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 Ain 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. AThe Pope [and by extension, the hierarchy] is only the interpreter of this truth already revealed. He explains, he defines, but he makes no innovation@. 11) AThe 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@ 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.
The Magisterium is also called Aliving@, not because it Aevolves@ 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 Avisible@ Church. It is Aliving@ because it is vivified by the Holy Ghost. As Cardinal Manning explains: Athis 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.@
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 Adry@ 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
The Catholic Church is not a congregation of people
agreeing together, it is not a
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 Aperfect 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. AThe 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@
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:
In the last analysis, man must in religious matters, rely upon some authority. Either this derives from some objective Ateaching authority@ that is independent of himself, or else it derives from an Ainner feeling@ that can be characterized as Aprivate judgment@. Clearly, the prevailing basis for religious beliefs in the modern world - be they Protestant or Amodernist-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. According to Vatican II, man=s dignity is such that in religious matters, he is to be guided by his own judgment. 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, Athe 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 Apicking 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 Asocial contract@, can alter in accord with prevailing social needs. Man, not God, becomes the center of the universe and the criteria for truth; doing good to others becomes his highest aspiration, and Aprogress@ his social goal. The idea of Asin@ is limited to what Ahurts@ our neighbor or the Astate@. What need is there for God, for truth, for doctrines, for authority, for the Church and for all the Aclaptrap@ of the ages that has held man back from his worldly Adestiny@? All that is asked of modern man is that he be Asincere@, 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 Aprivate matter@. Man=s Adignity@, which traditionally was due to the fact that he was Amade 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 - AYe shall be as Gods@ - that he has proclaimed himself his own God. (As Paul VI said on the occasion of the moon landing, Ahonor 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 Aevery 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.
Of course, all this occurs in stages. What is remarkable is the similarity of pattern seen in all Areformation 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. Similar also are the various subterfuges by which this is achieved. Almost all reformers declare that they are Ainspired 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 Aprimitive 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. 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 lex credendi (what is believed); once the latter is changed, the former becomes an embarrassment to them. 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 Afullness@ of the established Catholic faith, for error is Alegion@ and truth is one. As one mediaeval writer put it, Athey are vultures that never meet together except to feast upon a corpse@.
The traditional Church has of course always eschewed the use of Aprivate judgment@ in religious matters. From a traditional point of view, man should seek to Athink correctly@ rather than to Athink for himself@. (What kind of mathematician would a person be who computed for himself and considered the correct answer to be a matter of Afeeling@ 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 Aliberty@ 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. 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 Awhims@ of our emotions. As Socrates said, ABeing 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 Awe 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. 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, Athe intellect is >per se= infallible, although >per accidens= it can err.@ As Dr. Orestes Brownson states, Aprivate 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.@ (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 Atheological 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
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 Ahandmaid@ 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 Acognitive@ 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. Modern man lives on AOpinions divorced from knowledge@, which in Plato=s words A are ugly things.@ 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 Ajustification by faith@, but the denial of Agood works@, those acts we Awillfully@ perform. Surely grace builds on nature and will abandon us in proportion to our refusal to cooperate with it.)
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 Achurches@ for a
solution. Of all the various Aecclesiastical communities@ that hold out the possibility of finding objective
truth, only one has consistently rejected Aprivate
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 Adeposit@ intact from Apostolic times down to the present. This
is of course, the AOne, Holy Catholic and
ATo 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.@
AOne Lord, one faith, one baptism@
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 AOne, Holy, Catholic and
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. AShe 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 Auniversal@ 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 ACatholic 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 Aunion@ with her.
Oneness or Aunity@ exists as a characteristic of this Church, not because the faithful agree with Athe bishops in union with the Pope@, but because all its members, including the bishops and the pope Aagree in one faith@ established by Christ, use Athe same Sacrifice@ and are Aunited under one Head@. 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 Aunity@ 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 AThe Restoring of Unity@. John XXIII established the
ASecretariat for Promoting
Christian Unity@ and specified that Unity was the word, not
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.
This is witnessed by the de fide statement of the Holy Office on
AThat 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.@ 
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 ACatholics@ agree with such an errant hierarchy adds nothing to their authority. The personal views of the hierarchy do not make up the Adeposit of the faith@, but rather, it is the Adeposit@ that provides the hierarchy for their raison d=etre. AIt 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@. As the Holy Office states, Athe 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...@. 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:
AWe 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@
AThere 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
As the English Bishop John Milner said of the
Anglo-Catholic Ecumenical movement in the 19th Century: Aif we should unite ourselves with it, the
If we are then to speak of
believing in the AOne, Holy Catholic and
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
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. 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. 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 - which all must do who accept the authority of the post-Conciliar Apopes,@ one is forced to deny previously taught truths which is to apostatize from the faith. 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:
AHence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be recession from that meaning under the species name of a deeper understanding [Can.3]. Therefore... let the understanding, the knowledge, and wisdom of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progress strongly 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.@
We have then the Magisterium as it existed up to the death of Pope Pius XII which can be called Aauthentic,@ 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 Aperfidious 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.
Catholics are often confused about the term Faith.
Faith has, as
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, Athe gift of prophecy can be recognized as true only by the light of the faith.@
This brings us to the issue of orthodoxy which is
defined as Atrue 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. APope@ John Paul I publicly stated that in the
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 Athe world, the flesh and the
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 Acults@ and not Catholic.
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 Aintellectual 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.
An excellent example illustrating many of these isssues is provided by E.
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 Astill 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 Aallows@ one to do so. Nor can one use one=s conscience to choose the Alesser 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. 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 Aproximate 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 Apopes@ 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 Afatted lamb@ who Ais 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
In the last analysis, we must all choose between Barabbas and Christ!
Ó Rama Coomaraswamy 2002
 Lines taken from Georges Panneton=s Heven or Hell,
 In discussing the layman Eusebius= attack on the heretic Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Dom Gueranger wrote: AWhen 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 faithful, 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 the same, whether it is a matter of belief or conduct, that is of dogma or morals.@
 AGod 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 foundation, 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.
 "Must", that is, if he wishes to call himself Catholic.
 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.
 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.
 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. AIf 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.
 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)..
infallibility of Council teachings is dependent upon the Pope's approbation.
The pseud-Council of
 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
 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".
 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".
 Ds stands for Denzinger, op. cit.
 It is never inopportune to declare the truth, Cqardinal Newman was one of the leaders of this faction.
 Approaches, (
 Cardinal Henry Manning (an Anglican Convert), Three Pastoral Letters to the Clergy of the Diocese, several editions.
 Rev. M. Muller, C.SS.. Familiar Explanation of Catholic Doctrine, Benzinger: N.Y., 1888
 The infallibility of Council teachings is dependent
upon the Pope's approbation. The pseud-Council of
 An important consequence of the declaration on
 op. cit. No 16.
of Christian Doctrine - Course of
Instruction written by a seminary professor of the Institute of the Brothers of
 op. cit. No. 14.
 Cardinal Henry Manning, The Temporal
 Quoted by Jorgensen in his Life of St. Catherine of Sienna.
 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..."
 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).
 "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).
 Religious Freedom, Paragraph ll.
 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. -32.) It will be argued that
 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).
 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).
 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.
 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)
 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,
 It has also been said that a man who is his own spiritual guide has Satan for his spiritual director.
 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).
 "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.
 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.
 Plato, Republic, IV, 506C.
 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
 Appendix to his work on the
 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.
 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.
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).
 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.
 Quoted in The
 Canon George Smith, The
Teaching of the Catholic Church,
 op. cit. No. 39.
op. cit. No. 39.
 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
 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:
 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
 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)
 There can be no doubt but that the post-Conciliar Apopes@ 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 Atheological opinion.@ However, when it comes to describing or designateing what these Apopes@ 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.
 There are those that argue that this document is not part of the magisterium. Once again we are being encouraged to become Protestants.
 Despite disclaimers that Vatican II is a Apastoral council@ it should be clear that John XXIII claimed it was guided by the Holy Spirit. Paul VI in closing the Council stated that Athe 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 Aavoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility,@ and added that it conferred on its teachings Athe value of the supreme ordinary magisterium@ (Speech of Jan 12, 1966), and that AIt had as much authority and far greater importance than the Council of Nicaea.@ Elsewhere he has called iit Athe greatest of Councils@ and AEven 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:
AYou 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 Aspiritual father@ and has further stated that the Council was Ainspired by the Holy Spirit@ and that Aobedience to the Councilis obedience to the Holy Spirit.@ Still elsewhere he has stated that the Council is Athe authentic teaching of the Church@ (Sources given in my Destruction of the Christian Tradition.
 Documented in the Canon Law Digest, Vol V, p. 20 by T. Lincoln Bouscaren,
S.J., and James I O=Connor, S.J.,
 What characterizes modern Afaith,@ 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 AI believe,@ while rejecting significant aspects of the Church=s teaching.
 Available from James
Wetmore, 343 Route 21C,
 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.
 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).
 Many attempts to disguise this fact behind such names as Aabrogated@ are used. Groups petitioning for the return of this Mass are asked not to refer to the Bull Quo Primum, which is absurd.
 Cf. Rama P. Coomaraswamy,
M.D., The Problems with the New Mass, TAN:
 ABy 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.