February 4, 2005
FIRST Friday
vol 16, no. 35

What is your picture?

Part One

    The Inferno that resulted from two little words: "subsists in"

    Though a blur to most, what subsisted in Lumen Gentium caused the spark of aggiornamento and ecumenism that has raged into a holocaust of souls, responsible for the scorched faith of billions.

      "It is here that all of what is wrong with Vatican-II-style ecumenism finds its basis. This "subsists in" business is no mere one-off typographical error, but a real change in how they believe and what they believe. This change has been reiterated again and again throughout the Vatican II documents and many times thereafter."

    There needs to be something of a "paradigm shift" among us Catholics, which would go far towards us all truly understanding our present position as Catholics in good standing. Let me draw the picture that I think most traditional Catholics have in their head to better envision the present situation.

    We see the Vatican institution as being, at least in some external, juridical, or "visible" sense, the Church, and obviously it has become gravely corrupted with numerous heretics in all the key positions. We view faithful Catholics as being just barely on the fringe of this Church, at least insofar as we are loyal to them, though they may fail to show any loyalty towards us. We see their disapproval of us as being unjustly imposed and therefore null and void, while we continue to accept their possession of the offices with the right to make such decisions. Having made these assumptions we:

  • Look to them as being essential to the future of the Church, to the point that the Church cannot truly continue until they repent.
  • Wonder why they have been permitted to deviate so far from the Faith and for so long, and with no end of the nonsense in sight.
  • Scramble for what slender slice of Grace they might on rare occasions throw our way.
  • See them and their organization as "the Church," no matter how blatantly heretical and schismatic they become.
  • Count on some "cardinal" of theirs to repent and begin reorganizing the true Church around himself and what few might be persuaded to join him, or else some successor of John Paul II to turn out to be (or repent into being) a real Catholic who will put things right.

    If this is your picture, and if you are irrevocably committed to this picture of things no matter what, then you'd best hightail it to your nearest Indult situation and pray like mad that they neither fold up and disappear nor get corrupted by Modernism. But if so bear in mind that you would then have a "Church" that only exists for certain times and places, but not all times and places (in other words not "Catholic"). Needless to say, what I propose is for us to consider that such a picture is false, and indeed one that puts all who hold to it at grave risk.

    The more one studies the doctrines of the visibility of the Church and how it functions as protected from error by the Holy Ghost (infallible, indefectable), the more one realizes the impossibility of our present situation. One ends up either having to believe that those promises of protection don't amount to very much (if indeed anything at all) or else that all the nonsense is somehow okay. Worse than that, one also finds oneself outside something they cannot afford to be outside. There is no real fringe; one is either inside or not. One must either lose salvation by being outside, or lose the Faith (and thereby also lose salvation) by being inside (unless one has the rare fortune of a good Indult, untainted by Modernism or by a questionably ordained priest). In other words, the gates of Heaven are entirely closed within all dioceses all around the world and only a lucky few whom Geography has placed well can be saved anymore and there is nothing anyone can do to save their soul.

    I have seen the despair this has brought upon some who succumb to such reasoning.

  • "No, I can't go to these guys because they are heretics and will mislead me into error."
  • "No, I can't go to those guys because they have no jurisdiction, no faculties, are even suspended or excommunicated and were not canonically erected."
  • "No, I can't just stay at home because I need the sacraments which God invented to cement us to His Church and remind us of our continual dependence upon Him."
What does that leave for the "almost everyone else" who either has no Indult, or else only one that is compromised in some serious Faith-eroding manner. The magic number needed to open the door is less than 5 and greater than 10. What number is that?

    As sedevacantists have shown, the Vatican leader (whatever he is) most certainly cannot be truly considered a pope, at least in the strictly Petrine sense of what it truly means to be a successor of Peter, fully, formally, and materially. What can we make of this observation? What does that mean with regards to God's promises to His Church, over which the gates of Hell would never prevail and so forth?

    It is not enough to merely state that wherever faithful Catholics are to be found, there is the Church. I am a faithful Catholic. Does that make ME the Church? One has to ask what sense that question is meant. I can indeed be a member of the Church in the same sense that every faithful Catholic is a member of the Church, so in that sense one could say yes. But in the hierarchical sense, it would have to be "no." As a Catholic in good standing, my ecclesiastical rank is merely that of "layman," practically the lowest on the totem pole. Strictly and hierarchically speaking therefore (the Communion of Saints aside in reference to my role in the Church Militant), I am not part of "the Church" itself, but "the Faithful." My jurisdiction is limited to my immediate family, my employees (should I have any), and that purely political variety that secular law may bestow upon me should I be elected or appointed to some governmental office.

    Where is the Church hierarchical? For that too must exist. You can't (as some would seem to have it) put "the Church" over here (in scattered lay believers), the hierarchy over there (in the Vatican), the Faith in yet another place (in history only), and the valid sacramental episcopal succession in yet another place (excommunicated and "excommunicated" bishops of all sorts). If that were the case - which the above described "picture" of things would amount to - the Marks of One and Catholic would have to have been scattered to the four winds and no one thing identifiable as the Church with all Her Marks could possibly exist anywhere. Therefore, something obviously is gravely wrong with the picture I have presented here.

    So, let's retrace the steps. On October 8 1958, His Holiness Pope Pius XII's last whole day alive, where was the Church? In union with him, believing, practicing and teaching what he believed practiced and taught, ruled from his station in the Vatican, alike all the world over in their belief, practice, worship, and membership. So far so good. No one disputes that. All Four Marks of the Church were intact.

    Was it perfect? In the doctrinal sense that the Church is the Perfect Society, obviously yes. In the lives and private opinions of all Her lawful prelates? Of course not. We know there were modernists secretly eating away at the whole structure, like termites eating up the wooden frame of a house. Though the Pope did all he could to exterminate the pests, there were always still a few he missed somehow, despite his best efforts.

    Now, let us move forward to October 10. His Holiness has died the day before. The Cardinals (all appointed by him and his undisputed predecessors) are all on their way to Rome for a conclave to select his successor. The Cardinal Camerlengo has the authority to organize the needed conclave but obviously cannot perform the role of the Pope in selecting and appointing Bishops and Cardinals and of making universal statements to teach, guide, or rule the Church. There is no pope. The Vatican Mint and Post Office issue Sede Vacante coins and stamps. Where was the Church? In Her Bishops and Cardinals and all who were attached to them, loyally willing to submit to the man elected to take the place of Pius XII.

    Move again to November 5. It is the day after John XXIII has been crowned Pope, donning the triple tiara, and was led through all the streets of Rome to the tune of "Tu Es Petrus." Where was the Church then? Obviously still visibly with him, even if some legitimate questions have since arisen as to whether he truly accepted the responsibility of Pope or merely pretended to, and whether election had been free and valid. During Roncalli's natural lifetime, not so much as a single soul ever once raised the slightest question or doubt as to his being the Pope, and as it is taught, if someone is universally accepted as a Pope, then he is a Pope, regardless of any questions regarding his election or qualifications. Materially, he was Pope. Whether he was Pope formally as well is something the Church will have to settle some day in the future. Therefore the visibility of the Church still resided with him, and to be organizationally apart from him and his organization was to be separated from the Church and therefore outside it. There things remain through June 2, 1963. On the third, he died.

    The same things apply for Paul VI. Materially he was Pope upon his election, with considerably more room to doubt that he was formally Pope, but again, the Church must resolve that question when better times return. At first there were again no questions raised as to his papal claims. The first documented instance of any such doubts on the part of anyone occurred in 1965 when Paul VI called upon the world to look to the United Nations as the last hope for peace. Upon Paul VI's election, the Church still visibly and exteriorly centered on him. To say otherwise would pose severe problems as to where the visibility of the Church could have possibly resided by that point, with no answer.

    Later that year, the Second Vatican Council issues its first two documents. Both of them merely set up committees to study the liturgy and the "social communications," and to issue reports and recommendations. Paul VI remained materially Pope, whatever he may or may not have been formally. The next year, the Council issued three documents, voted upon and accepted by all bishops, cardinals, and other prelates of the Church, including Pope Paul himself, all on the same day, November 21 1964. The first of these three documents, "Lumen Gentium," represents the most major departure from historic tradition.

    The key paragraph in that document comes in paragraph 8, which reads:

    This [the real, visible, and authentic Catholic Church, as clearly and accurately described in the preceding paragraphs of Lumen Gentium] is the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Savior, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it, and which he raised up for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth." This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church [which is to say, NOT the real and authentic Catholic Church described in the preceding paragraphs, but rather their new Vatican-run organization], which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.

    In Latin, the latter half of this is given as:

    Haec Ecclesia, in hoc mundo ut societas constituta et ordinata, subsistit in Ecclesia catholica, a sucessore Petri et Episcopis in eius compaginem gubernata, licet extra eius compaginem elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis inveniatur, quae ut dona Ecclesiae Christi propria ad unitatem catholicam impellunt.

    It is those two little words, "subsists in," in the eighth paragraph that changed everything. What do they mean? In Mystici Corporis (1943) and again in Humani Generis (1950), His Holiness Pope Pius XII once and again upheld and reiterated the consistent dogma held by the Church from Her very beginning, namely that the Mystical Body of Christ IS one and the same as that visible institution that he himself ruled as Christ's Vicar.

    That teaching is contained in those encyclicals, not as a mere passing remark, but as a teaching carefully and explicitly expounded upon. He makes it abundantly and explicitly clear that they are to be totally, absolutely, and exclusively identified with each other, necessarily and intrinsically equal and identical in scope and boundaries. He also makes it clear that this Mystical Body of Christ and visible institutional Catholic Church he rules is itself alone the means or conduit of God's salvation to humankind. No salvation can be obtained from anywhere outside it. Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. Thus is the eternal teaching of the Church. It is dogma and to teach otherwise would be heresy.

    But here we find for the very first time, a clear and indisputable change. What does "subsist" mean? Consult a dictionary and it merely means that one lives or exists or survives. Consult a Catholic Encyclopedia and one finds that an additional technical theological meaning is implied, namely the ability to exist without being dependent upon anything else. Without a doubt, the Real Church that is the Mystical Body of Christ possesses this characteristic. That Church is complete as itself and requires nothing from the world, even as God Himself is complete and requires nothing of His Creation. There is also the word "in." For anything to "be" or "exist" or "live" or "survive" or "subsist" IN a thing means that the first thing IS NOT the same thing as the second. And indeed it is not claimed in the above quoted document that this separate and distinct "Catholic Church" (actually their newly created Vatican institution) itself does any of this "subsisting," but merely that some portion of the Mystical Body of Christ happens to be doing its "subsisting" therein, while other portions "subsist" elsewhere, as indicated. When applied to organizations it effectively takes away any exclusive sense of identity between the two referenced entities.

    Has the Church or Her doctors and theologians ever used such a word before? Rarely. But let us look at a legitimate instance where no less than St. Thomas Aquinas uses it in reference to his teaching on the Trinity. He describes each Person of the Sacred Trinity as "subsisting in" the Divine Nature. It is obvious why this must be so. If he were to state, for example, that "the Father IS the Divine Nature," then that would exclude the Son and the Holy Spirit from having anything to do with the Divine Nature, and in that case only the Father could be Deity, since the Son IS NOT the Father, and the Holy Spirit IS NOT either the Father or the Son.

    By instead stating that the Father SUBSISTS IN the Divine Nature therefore allows that the Son may (and in fact does) also subsist in the Divine Nature, and likewise the Holy Spirit. The use of the phrase "subsists in" therefore, in addition to reminding us of the Eternal and self-existent nature of each Person of the Divine Trinity, sets up a nonexclusive relationship between a Person of the Sacred Trinity and the Divine Nature. That is what the phrase does there. And the setting up of a similarly nonexclusive relationship between the Mystical Body and the visible institution is what is being attempted here in Lumen Gentium. Can one doubt it?

    In case it's not clear enough, the rest of the paragraph in Lumen Gentium (as given above) explains it in excruciating detail:

    "Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its [the new Vatican institution's] visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity."

    What does it mean to be an "element of sanctification and of truth"? I know there are some who would claim that it refers to certain "tools" of the Church such as Sacred Scripture or Liturgies or even Sacraments (what a dismissive view to take of these Divine assets!). But apart from the Church how can any of these things be Truth? As schism invariably leads to heresy, use of the Bible outside the direction and interests of the Church invariably leads to false interpretations and translations that only mislead. Truth is not Truth if it is mixed with error. Mere occasional (or even frequent) passing factual correctness is not Truth. What good is it to learn that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary if, in the same package, one also "learns" that Mary then abandoned her Holy Virginity to have various "half-brothers" and "half-sisters" of our Lord? In the "unlearning" of the second part of that package, could one avoid also "unlearning" the first part, and thus end up no closer to our Lord and His Mother than he was to begin with? And what good could a Liturgy be if it celebrates a false religion?

    In the case of Sacraments, while some can be validly administered by heretics and schismatics, what "sanctification" is there when a state of sanctifying grace is neither present nor conferred, but only the other effects of the particular Sacrament? Finally, some might then claim or suggest that "elements of sanctification and of truth" might merely be some individual souls "outside the Church" nevertheless somehow miraculously "in a state of Grace before Almighty God."

    One must indeed acknowledge the possibility of such individual souls. For though Mercy finds them only indirectly through the Church (in some cases very indirectly) it remains that their salvation still came alone through the Church. But that is not what is referenced here in this document. An "element of sanctification and of truth" cannot merely be a passive recipient of sanctification and truth, but in fact a means or channel thereof. Just as, for example, an "object of light" would not be merely a "lighted object" but a source of light, i. e. a lamp. That "these are GIFTS..." further implies that they are not mere passive recipients of Grace (as could be such few individual souls who are outside the Church yet inside God's Mercy), but active producers or sources or channels of Grace.

    Though the grammar here may be subtle, the Vatican II fathers in their bizarre determination to be "ecumenically correct," made it abundantly clear in another document just what, precisely, these "elements of sanctification and truth" are, which happen to be "outside its [the Vatican institution's] confines." This other document, namely Unitatis Redintegratio which was published later that very same day, invokes again the above referenced paragraph by using the phrase "outside the visible boundaries":

    Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

    The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

    It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

    So there it is in black and white, these non-Catholics (the immediate context seems to be discussing various Schismatic East Orthodox and Protestant communities, but obviously it would be a reasonable extension that all other religions and non-religions are to be included as well) are (in their liturgical actions and communities) themselves the "MEANS OF SALVATION." This is in fact impossible, and in fact an outright and irreconcilable denial of what the doctrine "No Salvation Outside the Church" has always meant.

    It is here that all of what is wrong with Vatican-II-style ecumenism finds its basis. This "subsists in" business is no mere one-off typographical error, but a real change in how they believe and what they believe. This change has been reiterated again and again throughout the Vatican II documents and many times thereafter.

    That non-Catholic ministers are sources or channels of God's Grace, sanctification, and truth is what provides the basis for the 1983 Code of Canon Law's Canons 844 and 845 that permit Catholics to approach non-Catholic ministers for the Sacraments, not merely "ad extremis" (in extreme and immediate danger of death, and even then they may only approach those who are validly ordained), but practically at will, and any they so choose. This is why John Paul II never considered it the crime of "Communicatio in Sacris" to receive blessing, sacraments, prayers, and so forth from all manner of heretics, schismatics, pagans, and demon-worshippers and their liturgical actions.

    What Vatican II really did was attempt to grant a full sharing in the jurisdiction of the Church to any and all religious ministers of any sort. It threw jurisdiction to the four winds, and is itself what reaps the whirlwind. An "element of sanctification and of truth" must be some Church or hierarchical Church representative with the capacity and authority and jurisdiction to rule, teach, govern, and convey Grace unto sanctification, and they are therefore an integral component of the Church, such that the Church is incomplete without them. And it makes these lawful ecclesiastical authorities out there to be not in any way answerable to the Vatican leader, since they still convey Grace while remaining "outside" the confines or boundaries of their new so-called "Catholic Church."

Griff L. Ruby

    Next Week: Part Two

Griff's book is available from Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.

    Griff Ruby's STRAIGHT STUFF
    February 4, 2005
    Volume 16, no. 35