Nearly 2000 years ago in ancient quarters of Caesarea Philippi, our Divine Savior chose St. Peter as the rock upon which He would found His Church. He promised to St. Peter and, in his person, to his successors, supreme power over the universal Church "to bind and to loose."
This issue of considering the papacy, the office of the Supreme Head of the Catholic Church and of the Vicar of Jesus Christ is especially critical in our own times, when we, who have remained faithful to tradition, have been labeled as disobedient to Rome for rejecting the Novus Ordo Mass and the false teachings on ecumenism and religious liberty which have emanated from the Second Vatican Council.
Furthermore, this issue is all the more critical inasmuch as it is the one point that divides traditional Catholics today. How many traditional Catholics long for unity, yet are divided on this fundamental point which concerns the modern post-Conciliar hierarchy.
Let us review the teachings of Jesus Christ and the infallible magisterium of the Catholic Church in order to better understand the nature and prerogatives of the divine-established office of the Pope.
In the Gospel of St. John, we read how our Divine Savior had chosen His twelve Apostles and to Simon Bar-Jona Jesus Christ had given the name Cephas:
"But Jesus, looking upon him said,
'Thou art Simon, the son of John; thou shalt be called Cephas (which interpreted is Peter)" (John 1:42).
Why did Christ change this man's name? What significance would this change have in the future? The answers to these questions are found in the Gospel of St. Matthew, where we read:
"Now Jesus having come into the district of Caesarea Philippi, began to ask His disciples saying, 'Who do men say the Son of Man is?' But they said, 'Some say, John the Baptist; and others, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Then Jesus answered and said, 'Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but My Father in Heaven. And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven'" (Matthew 16:13-19).
Jesus Christ gave to Simon Bar-Jona the name Cephas (rock) for upon would His Church be founded.
This is further supported by the words of Our Lord to St. Peter found in both the Gospel of St. Luke and that of St. John:
"And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren'" (Luke 22:31-32).
"Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these?' He said to Him, 'Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee.' He said to him, 'Feed My lambs... Feed My lambs... Feed My sheep'" (John 21:15-17).
In the holy Gospels, St. Peter is always named first in the lists of the Apostles (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14). In the Acts of the Apostles, it is St. Peter who speaks out that one must be chosen to take the place of the apostate Judas (Acts 1:15; Acts 2:14) and it is St. Peter who first addresses the crowds on the first Pentecost Sunday.
When we investigate the early centuries of the Christian era, we find how St. Peter's successors in Rome exercised the power of "the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" "to bind and to loose."
Pope St. Clement, writing to the Corinthians in 96 A.D., while St. John the Apostle and Evangelists were still alive, warned certain disturbers among the Corinthians not to disobey what Christ had commanded them through him, thus claiming clearly the authority of the Vicar of Christ, the right to command the whole Church as the successor of St. Peter.
In the second century, Pope St. Victor I (189-198) commanded the bishops of Asia to celebrate Easter on the same day as the Church of Rome, and he threatened them with excommunication if they refused obedience.
In the third century, Pope St. Callistus (217-222) declared against the Montanists that by virtue of the Primacy which he held as successor of St. Peter, he had the power to forgive even the greatest sins.
Pope St. Stephen I (254-257) commanded the Asiatic and African Churches under pain of excommunication not to re-baptize heretics.
In the fourth century, Pope St. Julius I (337-352) taught that difficulties arising among the Bishops were to be decided by himself as the Supreme Judge.
Pope Siricius (384-399) taught that the Universal Church had been committed to his care as to the one who had inherited the Primacy from St. Peter.
The claims of the successors of St. Peter in the See of Rome down through the centuries are so explicit and numerous that it would be superfluous to give more testimonies. In addition to this list of the successors of St. Peter who exercised the Primacy of Jurisdiction over the universal Church, the testimony of the early Fathers of the Church and of the ecumenical Councils also confirms this point as well. Again we have recourse to the testimony of history.
St. Ignatius the Martyr (died 110), writing to the Romans, said that the Church of Rome is the head of the other churches.
St. Irenaeus said that it would be a lengthy matter to enumerate the successors of all the churches; but that by showing the traditional teaching of the Church of Rome, we refute the heretics, for it is necessary that every church agree with the Church of Rome because of its higher authority.
St. Cyprian called the Church of Rome the "principal Church and the source of unity."
At the Council of Ephesus in the year 431, Philip, the Legate of the Pope, made the following statement to which the Fathers of the Council unanimously agreed: "No one doubts, indeed it was known to all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, Prince and Head of the Apostles, the pillar of faith and the foundation stone of the Church, received from Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, the Keys of the Kingdom, and to him was given the power of binding and loosing. He [Peter] lives and exercises judgment even to this day and forever in his successors... His successor and representative in that office, Pope Celestine, has sent us to this synod."
The Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon (451), writing to Pope St. Leo, stated that in the Council he presided through his legate as the head over the members; they speak to him as sons to their father; as to the successor of Peter and the interpreter of the Faith; as to the one to whom the care of the whole Church has been entrusted; and they beg him to honor and affirm their decrees by his decision.
The Third Council of Constantinople (680) addressed the Pope as The Archbishop of the Universal Church.
The Second Council of Nice (787) addressed the Pope as the one whose See is preeminent because it possesses the Primacy of the whole world.
There are many other references that could be quoted; however, the best reference to the Papacy, to its Primacy of Jurisdiction and to Papal Infallibility, is found in the First Vatican Council which was held under Pope Pius IX between 1869 and 1870.
In this Council we find a summary of all the past teachings of the Church on this subject:
"For the fathers of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, following closely in the footsteps of their predecessors, made this solemn profession: 'The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith. For it is impossible that the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ Who said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church" (Matthew 16:18), should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied, and its teaching kept holy.'"
"For they fully realized that this See of St. Peter always remains untainted by any error, according to the divine promise of Our Lord and Savior made to the prince of His disciples, 'I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou has turned again, strengthen thy brethren' (Luke 22:32)."
"Now this charism of truth of never-failing faith was conferred upon St. Peter and his successors in this Chair, in order that they might perform their supreme office for the salvation of all."
These passages from the First Vatican Council remind us that the Pope is the one essential person in the Catholic Church's exercise of her property of Infallibility.
As Ludwig Ott, STD, explains in his comprehensive dogmatic theology book, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:
"The possessors of infallibility are:
A) The Pope: The Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra.
B) The whole episcopate: The totality of the bishops is infallible, when they, either assembled in general council or scattered over the earth, propose a teaching of faith or morals as one to be held by all the faithful. The bishops exercise their infallible teaching power in an ordinary manner when they, in their dioceses, in moral unity with the Pope, unanimously promulgate the same teachings on faith and morals. The Vatican Council expressly declared that also the truths of Revelation proposed as such by the ordinary and general teaching office of the Church are to be firmly held with 'divine and catholic faith.'"
Without the Pope, the Church cannot exercise her infallibility. For this reason Canon Law legislates that an Ecumenical Council is suspended (ipso jure) in the event of the death of the Pope. It is reconvened only after the election of the new Pope.
Now all these considerations bring us to the primary issue of our pastoral letter. What happened at the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965?
The answer is most shocking. After two years of work by a Preparatory Commission made up of bishops and theologians from around the world, 75 schemata (topics for discussion) had been gathered to be presented to the Council; nevertheless, by the intervention of John XXIII, all these documents were discarded and replaced by new schemata.
As Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (who was a member of the Preparatory Commission) lamented:
"Now you know what happened at the Council. A fortnight after its opening not one of the prepared schemata remained, not one! All had been turned down, all had been condemned to the wastepaper basket. Nothing remained, not a single sentence. All had been thrown out.... After a fortnight, we were left without any preparation. It was really inconceivable."
At this point, it became possible to present other agenda — that of ecumenism and religious liberty.
Despite the fact that the Catholic Church had previously condemned false ecumenism (inter-religious dialogue and worship with non-Catholics), especially condemned by Pope Pius XI in Mortalium Animos, and despite the fact that the 1917 Code of Canon Law had forbidden communicatio in sacris (Canon 1258) and held under suspicion of heresy those who would be involved in it (Canon 2315), the Second Vatican Council now encouraged ecumenism in its decree Unitatis Redintegratio and its declaration Nostra Aetate. Whereas before the Council, the Catholic Church always taught that the Catholic Faith was the one, true religion revealed by God, now the Council opened the doors of salvation to other religions — Protestant and non-Christian (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islamism, Judaism, etc.) alike. Now the new mission of the Church according to Vatican II is to promote the good which is found in these false religions. No longer is there any reference to conversion to the true Faith.
Following the Council, it became necessary for the liberal innovators to do away with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because it posed a barrier to the Protestants. In the name of ecumenism, six Protestant theologians representing the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran Church, the Anglican Church and the Presbyterian Church actively participated in the special commission established by Paul VI to re-write the Mass. The end result of this commission, as we know, was the Novus Ordo Missae — the New Order of the Mass — which by no means represented the propitiatory Sacrifice of Calvary, but rather, as they defined it in Luther's own words, "The Lord's Supper."
Since then the modern hierarchy has daily promulgated in their "ordinary and universal teachings" these blatant errors. On a regular basis John Paul II reiterated over and over the false and freemasonic principles of religious liberty and practiced false ecumenism, not only with Protestants, but also with non-Christians.
How can the modern hierarchy represent the infallible magisterium of the Catholic Church? How can "popes" of Vatican II represent the rock upon which Christ founded His Church? Can the words of Vatican Council I "in the teachings of the Apostolic See, the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied" and "this See of St. Peter always remains untainted by any error," be applied to the modern hierarchy?
What then has happened in the Catholic Church? The answer is found in St. Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians:
"The day of the Lord will not come unless the Apostasy comes first and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition... who sits in the temple of God and gives himself out as if he were God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
In the instructions of the Grand Orient Freemasonry, the Alta Vendita, their plan was clearly delineated to infiltrate the Catholic Church to the highest levels, even to the Chair of Peter. Excerpts from the Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked, by Monsignor George F. Dillon, D.D.:
"Now then, in order to secure to us a Pope in the manner required, it is necessary to fashion for that Pope a generation worthy of the reign of which we dream. Leave on one side old age and middle life, go to the youth, and, if possible, even to infancy."
"In a few years the young clergy will have, by the force of events, invaded all the functions. They will govern, administer and judge. They will form the council of the Sovereign. They will be called upon to choose the Pontiff who will reign; and that Pontiff, like the greater part of his contemporaries, will be necessarily imbued with the Italian and humanitarian principles which we are about to put in circulation.
"Seek out the Pope of whom we give the portrait. You wish to establish the reign of the elect upon the throne of the prostitute of Babylon? Let the clergy march under your banner in the belief always that they march under the banner of the Apostolic Keys. You wish to cause the last vestige of tyranny and of oppression to disappear? Lay your nets like Simon Bar-Jona. Lay them in the depths of sacristies, seminaries and convents, rather than in the depths of the sea, and if you will precipitate nothing you will give yourself a draught of fishes more miraculous than his. The fisher of fishes will become a fisher of men. You will bring yourselves as friends around the Apostolic Chair. You will have fished up a Revolution in Tiara and Cope, marching with Cross and banner — a Revolution which needs only to be spurred on a little to put the four quarters of the world on fire."
We witness today the rapid formation of a New World Order under the auspices of the United Nations, but there can be no doubt that the U.N. has its counterpart in the modern Conciliar Church of Vatican II.
May we remain steadfast in the true Faith, for "whoever perseveres to the end, he shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13).
In Christo Jesu et Maria Immaculata,