"Let no one deceive you in any way" (2 Thessalonians 2: 3)|
Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI
Do we believe in all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches because Christ hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived? Or do we believe in "evolving truth"? It has to be one or the other, it cannot be both! One is either Catholic or not. Since the Conciliar church does not possess all of the necessary four indelible Marks of the Church, it - along with its popes - cannot, in any way, be considered truly Catholic! If one thinks otherwise, then one would have to conclude that all that went before - from Peter through Pius XII - was in vain. That is, as we know, impossible for Christ's Mystical Body is indefectible.
"Have you ever wondered at the strong and emotional animosity that the modern hierarchy of the Church of Vatican II manifests toward traditional Catholicism? In this ecumenical age, when the modern hierarchy “bends over backwards” to seek a false unity amongst all religions (Christian and non-Christian alike), all are lovingly received and recognized. Isn’t it ironic that any and all religions are accepted by the Church of Vatican II as long as they are not traditional Roman Catholic? How out of line appears our Catholic belief that Jesus Christ, our Messias and Redeemer, founded a Church and that membership in that Church is a necessary condition for salvation. This is looked upon as simply an intolerable doctrine."
Sedevacantism is the theological position of those traditional Catholics who most certainly believe in the papacy, papal infallibility and the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, and yet did not recognize John Paul II or now Benedict XVI as legitimate successors of Peter in the primacy. In other words, they do not recognize John Paul II or Benedict XVI as true popes. The word sedevacantism is a compound of two Latin words which together mean “the Chair is vacant.” Despite the various arguments raised against this position — that it is based on a false expectation that the pope can do no wrong, or that it is an emotional reaction to the problems in the Church — the sedevacantist position is founded on the Catholic doctrines of the infallibility and the indefectibility of the Church and on the theological opinion of the great Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine.
As an introduction to this article, let the traditional Catholic first ask himself why he is a traditional Catholic. Why does he not attend the Novus Ordo Mass? Why does he reject the teachings of Vatican Council II on Religious Liberty and Ecumenism? Why does he reject the new code of Canon Law (1983) in which under certain circumstances schismatics and heretics may, without an abjuration of their errors and a profession of the Catholic Faith, be administered by a Catholic priest the Sacraments of Penance, Extreme Unction, and Holy Eucharist? If the traditional Catholic answers the first question correctly, he would state quite simply that the New Mass is without a doubt a danger to his faith and that due to the radical changes in the Offertory and Consecration, it is questionable whether transubstantiation even takes place. In answer to the second question, the traditional Catholic would properly state that the teachings found in Vatican II decrees of Religious Liberty and Ecumenism have been condemned by previous popes, in particular by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors. Lastly, to the third question, the traditional Catholic would surely answer that such a law in the new code can never be considered as true and binding legislation since the sacraments would be sacrilegiously administered to heretics and schismatics.
How appropriately did the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre on the occasion of his Suspension a divinis by Paul VI write the following reflection on June 29, 1976:
“That the Conciliar Church is a schismatic Church, because it breaks with the Catholic Church that has always been. It has its new dogmas, its new priesthood, its new institutions, its new worship, all already condemned by the Church in many a document, official and definitive.
“This Conciliar Church is schismatic, because it has taken as a basis for its updating, principles opposed to those of the Catholic Church, such as the new concept of the Mass expressed in numbers 5 of the Preface to (the decree) Missale Romanum and 7 of its first chapter, which gives the assembly a priestly role that it cannot exercise; such likewise as the natural — which is to say divine — right of every person and of every group of persons to religious freedom.
“This right to religious freedom is blasphemous, for it attributes to God purposes that destroy His Majesty, His Glory, His Kingship. This right implies freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, and all the Masonic freedoms.
“The Church that affirms such errors is at once schismatic and heretical. This Conciliar Church is, therefore, not Catholic. To whatever extent Pope, bishops, priests or faithful adhere to this new Church, they separate themselves from the Catholic Church.”
Let the traditional Catholic, especially the members of the Society of St. Pius X, ask themselves to what extent have the Pope, bishops, priest and laity adhered to this new Church which would, as Archbishop Lefebvre reflected, separate themselves from the Catholic Church. John Paul II and now Benedict XVI completely adhere to the Conciliar Church. They enforce the Novus Ordo Mass and false teachings of Vatican II. John Paul II promulgated the New Code of Canon Law (1983). He boldly practiced false ecumenism and heretical religious indifferentism in Assisi, Italy, on October 27, 1986, by the atrocious convocation of all the false religions of the world to pray to their false gods for world peace!
As unpleasant as this subject may be, traditional Catholics are confronted by the terrible and burning questions:
Is the Conciliar Church the Catholic Church?
Were John Paul II and now Benedict XVI as the head of the Conciliar Church, true popes?
The sedevacantist would unhesitatingly and unequivocally say no.
To believe otherwise, to answer yes to the above questions, would be to imply that the Catholic Church has failed in its purpose, that the Church of Christ is not infallible and indefectible, that the Pope is not the rock upon which Christ founded His Church, that the promise of Christ to be with His Church “all days even to the consummation of the world” and that the special assistance of the Holy Ghost, have failed the Church — conclusions which no traditional Catholic could ever maintain. Consider the following quote from Vatican Council I (1870):
“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” (Matt. 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).”
Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Satis Cognitum, taught that the Teaching Authority of the Church can never be in error:
“If (the living magisterium) could in any way be false, an evident contradiction follows; for then God Himself would be the author of error.”
How can a traditional Catholic on one hand reject the New Mass, the heretical teachings of Vatican Council II, and the New Code of Canon Law (1983), and on the other hand, continue to recognize as pope the very ones who officially promulgate and enforce these errors?
To consider yet another question, is the faith and government of the traditional Catholic the same as John Paul II and now Benedict and their Conciliar Church? Do traditional Catholics believe the same doctrines as these popes and their Conciliar Church on the New Mass, false ecumenism, and religious liberty?
Are traditional Catholics subject to the local hierarchy and ultimately to Rome?
Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical Mystical Body of Christ, taught:
“It follows that those who are divided in faith and government cannot be living in the one Body such as this, and cannot be living the life of its one Divine Spirit.”
Are traditional Catholics united or divided in faith and government with the Conciliar Church?
The sedevacantist honestly recognizes that his faith is actually not the same as John Paul II or Benedict XVI and their Conciliar Church. He recognizes that he was actually not subject and obedient to John Paul II nor now subject and obedient to Benedict XVI. As a traditional Catholic, the sedevacantist believes and professes all the teachings of the Catholic Church, and this profession of the true Faith includes a rejection of the false teachings of Vatican II (“all already condemned by the Church in many a document, official and definitive” — Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, June 29, 1976).
During the first prayer of the Canon of the traditional Mass which begins Te igitur, the priest in normal times would recite una cum papa nostro N. (one with our pope N.). What significance does this short phrase convey — una cum, one with? One in faith, one in government, one in the Mass and Sacraments — united — this is the significance! Can a traditional priest honestly recite in the Canon of the Mass that he was una cum John Paul II? Or now una cum Benedict XVI? In what is he una cum these popes? In the Conciliar teachings, in government, in the official New Mass and Sacraments — is he actually una cum?
One last consideration on this subject of sedevacantism is the manner in which all these things have come to pass. When did they take place? How did they take place? This is an area in which sedevacantists themselves differ. Some hold that the papal elections were invalid based on the Bull of Pope Paul IV in 1559, Cum ex apostolatus:
“If ever at any time it appears that... the Roman Pontiff has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy before assuming the papacy, the assumption, done even with the unanimous consent of all the Cardinals, stands null, invalid and void; nor can it be said to become valid, or be held in any way legitimate, or be thought to give to such ones any power of administering either spiritual or temporal matters; but everything said, done and administered by them lacks all force and confers absolutely no authority or right on anyone; and let such ones by that very fact (eo ipso) and without any declaration required to be deprived of all dignity, place, honor, title, authority, office, and power.”
Some sedevacantists quote the Code of Canon Law (1917) in Canon 188 No. 4:
“All offices shall be vacant ipso facto (without a declaration required) by tacit resignation... #4 by public defection from the Catholic Faith.”
Others hold the opinion of St. Robert Bellarmine in De Romano Pontifice (Chapter XXX):
“The fifth opinion (regarding a heretical pope) therefore is true; a pope who is a manifest heretic by that fact (per se) ceases to be pope and head (of the Church), just as he by that fact ceases to be a Christian (sic) and a member of the body of the Church. This is the judgment of all the early Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.”
Pope Innocent III as quoted by the theologian Billot in his Tract. de Ecclesia Christi, p. 610:
“The faith is necessary for me to such an extent that, having God as my only judge in other sins, I could however be judged by the Church for sins I might commit in matters of faith.”
Suffice it to say, the issue of the pope is a difficult one, an unpleasant one, and a frightful one; yet it is a necessary and important issue which cannot be avoided.
In conclusion, let it not be said that the sedevacantist rejects the papacy, the primacy, or the Catholic Church. On the contrary it is because of his belief in the papacy, the primacy, the infallibility and the indefectibility of the Catholic Church that he rejects John Paul II and Benedict XVI and their Conciliar Church.
For the sedevacantist, the Catholic Church cannot and has not failed. The great apostasy predicted by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Thessalonians has taken place:
“Let no one deceive you in any way, for 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 opposes and is exalted above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sits in the temple of God and gives himself out as if he were God.... And now you know what restrains him, that he may be revealed in his proper time. For the mystery of iniquity is already at work; provided only that he who is at present restraining it, does still restrain, until he is gotten out of the way. And then the wicked one will be revealed...” (2 Thess. 2:3-8).
Who is this one “who is at present restraining it... until he is gotten out of the way. And then the wicked one will be revealed”? Perhaps Pope Leo XIII has the answer in his Motu Proprio of September 25, 1888, when he wrote in his invocation to St. Michael:
“These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.”
The Roman Catholic priests of the Religious Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen profess and adhere to the Catholic Faith as it has been consistently taught throughout the centuries since the time of Christ. With the death of Pope Pius XII and with the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, an unprecedented situation has befallen the Church, which threatens her very doctrines and worship. In order to provide for the preservation of the Catholic Faith and the traditional Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Sacraments, the following statement has been drawn up for the purpose of clearly defining the actual position that these priests have taken.
I. VATICAN COUNCIL II: Convoked by John XXIII for the purpose of “updating” the Church, this council (held from 1962-65) decreed and implemented teachings which had been previously condemned by the Infallible Teaching Magisterium of the Church. The Second Vatican Council’s heretical teachings were primarily in the areas of religious liberty and false ecumenism. These were previously condemned by:
Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos (1832)
Pope Pius IX in Quanta Cura and Syllabus of Errors (1864)
Pope Leo XIII in Immortale Dei (1865) and Libertas
Pope Pius XI in Quas Primas (1925) and Mortalium Animos (1928)
Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis (1943)
THEREFORE, the Second Vatican Council is to be rejected as a false council because it has erred in its teachings on faith and morals.
II. NOVUS ORDO MISSAE: Following the Second Vatican Council, various commissions were established to modernize the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the traditional rites of the Sacraments. The particular commission established to modernize the Mass included well-known Protestant theologians. To use the words of a well-known Cardinal, Alfredo Ottaviani, in 1969: “(The Novus Ordo Missae) represents a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.” The results of this modernization were a new definition of the Mass (reflecting Luther’s concept of the Last Supper), the alteration of the Offertory prayers to delete the concept of propitiatory Sacrifice, and the substantial alteration of the very words of Consecration (this alteration occurs in the vernacular translations). This new mass, known as the Novus Ordo Missae, contradicts previous infallible teachings and decrees of the Catholic Church, such as:
Pope St. Pius V’s Quo Primum and De Defectibus,
the Council of Trent’s decree on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Session XXII),
Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolicae Curae (1896),
Pope Pius XII’s Mediator Dei (1947),
Pope Pius XII’s Sacramentum Ordinis (1948).
THEREFORE, the Novus Ordo Missae, when offered with the altered words of Consecration, is an invalid Mass and in all other cases it is of doubtful validity. It always is a clear danger to one’s faith. For all these reasons, active participation in it would be a grave sin.
III. NEW RITES OF THE SACRAMENTS: That which has been said of the Novus Ordo Missae can, in the same respect, be said of the new Vatican II rites for the seven sacraments. To the degree that the matter, form and intention of each of the sacraments has been substantially altered, to that degree their validity must be questioned. The Catholic Church has, most certainly, always taught what the proper matter, form and intention are in the confecting of the sacraments.
THEREFORE, where the new rites have been employed, traditional priests should administer the Sacraments sub conditione as the situation may demand.
IV. MODERN VATICAN II CHURCH: The Catholic Church is identified as the true Church of Christ by her four marks (Unity, Holiness, Catholicity, and Apostolicity). Since the heretical teachings of Vatican II, the Novus Ordo Missae, and the new rites of the sacraments have manifestly been a departure from the Catholic Church’s traditional teachings, it must be concluded that this modern so-called “Catholic” Church no longer possesses the first two marks of the true Church — namely, Unity and Holiness. Its obvious departure over the past twenty-five years from what the Catholic Church has always held can lead to only one conclusion: a new ecumenical Church has been established which stands in contradiction to the true Catholic Church.
V. MODERN HIERARCHY OF THE VATICAN II CHURCH: In the light of the above, it must be concluded that the modern hierarchy who have approved and implemented the errors of Vatican II no longer represent the Catholic Church and her lawful authority. This most certainly includes the ones who have confirmed, approved, decreed, and implemented these heretical teachings, namely Paul VI (Montini) and John Paul II (Wojtyla). Furthermore, John Paul II, by his own repeated convocations of and participation in ecumenical religious services with non-Catholic and non-Christian religions, and of late Benedict XVI (Ratzinger) have become suspect of heresy. Despite the lack of canonical warning and formal declaration of loss of office, their repeated acts of ecumenism, enforcement of the heresies of Vatican II, and John Paul II's promulgation of a new code of Canon Law injurious to faith and morals are manifestations of their pertinacity in heresy.
THEREFORE, as the First Vatican Council infallibly teaches: “‘Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church,’ these words are proven true by actual results, since in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved untainted...the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of Our Lord.” Further, since John Paul II has manifestly taught heresy, promoted ecumenism and fostered interfaith worship, he clearly could not be recognized as a successor of St. Peter in the primacy. The same holds true for Benedict XVI.
VI. THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW: In order to implement the teachings of Vatican II, it was necessary that the modernists change the Code of Canon Law (1917), as it contradicted their designs by reflecting the mind of the Church in her past doctrine and discipline. The new code contains a matter which should be most disturbing to the informed Catholic. According to the new law of the Modern Church, non-Catholics can, under certain circumstances, petition the “sacraments” from a Catholic priest (without the non-Catholic abjuring his heretical beliefs), and the priests must administer them. The Council of Florence, as well as the 1917 Code of Canon Law (Canon 731), strictly forbids this.
THEREFORE, as the universal laws of the Church are protected by her infallibility and cannot impose obligations opposed to faith and morals, the New Code must be considered as lacking all force of law. Moreover, it has been promulgated by those who no longer represent Catholic authority.
VII. COURSE FOR TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC PRIESTS: Due to the unprecedented situation in the Catholic Church and the moral responsibility of the faithful to receive certainly valid sacraments, traditional priests most certainly can and must continue the mission of the Catholic Church by sanctifying the faithful through the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the administration of the Sacraments, and other pastoral works. The mind of the Church is that “the salvation of the people is the supreme law.” The 1917 Code of Canon Law will continue to be the priests’ guideline.
The Betrayal of Christ's Mystical Body
In these difficult times for the Catholic Church, when the Mystical Body of Christ itself undergoes a spiritual crucifixion, we can find a tremendous source of supernatural comfort and support in meditation on the remarkable resemblance between the solemn events in the Life, Passion and Death of Jesus Christ and the present crisis within the Church. May these considerations help us to draw many graces from the Sacred Liturgy of Holy Week.
The first consideration to be made is that our Savior Jesus Christ was rejected by the very ones who should have been the first to recognize Him as the promised Messias and the Son of God. As we well know from the four Evangelists, the scribes and Pharisees were the most bitter enemies of Christ.
Throughout His public life, Our Lord preached in a manner so wonderful that it was said, “Never has man spoken as this man” (John 7:41). His language was clear and concise; His style was so simple that even the common people comprehended the most profound truths that He taught. The four Gospels record in great detail the wonderful miracles of Our Lord. These public, supernatural works proved beyond the shadow of a doubt the divine mission of Jesus Christ. Yet, despite Our Lord’s marvelous teachings and miracles, the scribes and Pharisees, the leaders of the temple, were the very ones who rejected Him and condemned Him to death. They in turn incited the majority of the Chosen People to turn against Him and to clamor for His death.How remarkably similar is the present rejection and condemnation of the one true Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, by those who were once the leaders of the Church, but who now have betrayed the Catholic Church and the true Faith by the desire to form, in a spirit of false ecumenism, a brotherhood of all religions.
In the Vatican II Declaration Nostra Aetate, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islamism, and Judaism are given explicit recognition, despite the fact that the Hindus and Buddhists worship false gods, that the Moslems deny the divinity of Christ, and that the Jews reject Jesus Christ as the Messias. In fact, this Conciliar Declaration goes so far as to state:
“The Catholic Church rejects nothing which is good and holy in these religions.”
Have you ever wondered at the strong and emotional animosity that the modern hierarchy of the Church of Vatican II manifests toward traditional Catholicism? In this ecumenical age, when the modern hierarchy “bends over backwards” to seek a false unity amongst all religions (Christian and non-Christian alike), all are lovingly received and recognized. Isn’t it ironic that any and all religions are accepted by the Church of Vatican II as long as they are not traditional Roman Catholic? How out of line appears our Catholic belief that Jesus Christ, our Messias and Redeemer, founded a Church and that membership in that Church is a necessary condition for salvation. This is looked upon as simply an intolerable doctrine.
Consider the numerous, blasphemous ecumenical meetings of John Paul II:
November 17, 1980: During a visit to Germany, John Paul II went to a Lutheran church and declared: “I come to you as to the spiritual heritage of Martin Luther.” He expressed admiration for Luther’s “profound religious spirit.”
May 25, 1982: In England, John Paul II took part in a religious service in Canterbury Cathedral, side by side with the Anglican archbishop.
January 25, 1983: John Paul II promulgated the New Code of Canon Law in which noticeably omitted is the sanction of excommunication against Freemasons, and in which permission is given in certain cases to allow “Holy Communion” to be administered to schismatics and heretics without their return to the Catholic Church.
December 11, 1983: John Paul II, accompanied by several cardinals, preached from the pulpit of a Lutheran church in Rome, took part there in a heretical service, and recited a prayer composed by Luther. Earlier, he had stated his opinion that Luther’s case should be re-opened so that it could be “considered in a more objective light.”
April 17, 1984: John Paul II received a delegation from B’nai B’rith, and called the audience a “meeting of brothers.”
May 10, 1984: In Thailand, John Paul II visited the supreme Buddhist patriarch Vasna Tara, who received him seated on his throne, and before whom John Paul II bowed profoundly.December 11, 1984: John Paul II sent a representative to the laying of the foundation stone for the biggest mosque in Europe at Rome.
December 11, 1984: John Paul II sent a representative to the laying of the foundation for the biggest mosque in Europe at Rome.
August 8, 1985: In Togo, Africa, John Paul II went to the “sacred forest” where he attended animist rites. He further participated in pagan rites at Kara and Togoville.
August 9, 1985: At Casablanca, Morocco, next to King Hassan II, “Commander of the Believers,” and before a crowd of 80,000 young Muslims, John Paul II preached “dialogue with Islam” and claimed “we all have the same God.”
February 2, 1986: During his visit to India, as one could see in the media and on television, John Paul II received from the hands of a Hindu priestess the sign of the Tilak. Less publicized was another act which was positively more serious; on February 5, at Madras, John Paul II received the imposition of the “sacred ashes” from the hands of a woman.
April 13, 1986: John Paul II went into a Jewish synagogue in Rome where he was received by Rabbi Elio Toaff in order to join in an ecumenical prayer service. There he called the Jews “our elder brothers, our dearest brothers.”
October 27, 1986: John Paul II convened the ecumenical “prayer meeting” at Assisi in which 150 religions of the world were invited by him to pray to their false gods for world peace.
These acts of false ecumenism remind us of the words of Pope Pius XI:
“...to favor this opinion and to encourage such undertakings is tantamount to abandoning the religion revealed by God” (Mortalium Animos, 1929).
And the reason he gave in this same encyclical is quite simple:
“They presuppose the erroneous view that all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy, inasmuch as all give expression, under various forms, to that innate sense which leads to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule.”
In other words, the doctrine of false ecumenism holds that any one of the various man-made religions of the world is fine and good, and fulfill man’s obligation to worship and adore God, and that acceptance of Jesus Christ, His teachings and His Church, are not really necessary for salvation! Catholics have always believed that God the Father sent His Only-begotten Son into this world to divinely reveal to mankind for all time the way of salvation. Jesus Christ worked the most stupendous miracles to prove His divine mission, founded one true Church with the authority to infallibly teach the truths necessary for salvation and gave that Church the means to sanctify its members by means of the seven sacraments and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In spite of all this, false ecumenism holds that all these things Jesus Christ accomplished are not really that essential and that all religions must also be considered to have the means of salvation.
It was for this reason that the Catholic Church, prior to the Second Vatican Council, had forbidden Catholics to take active part in non-Catholic worship. Canon 1258 of the Code of Canon Law (1917) legislated:
“It is forbidden to actively participate in the worship of non-Catholics.” (communicatio in sacris)
And also Canon 2316:
“One who cooperates communicatio in sacris contrary to the provision of Canon 1258 is suspected of heresy.”
In the conclusion of his teaching on false ecumenism, Pope Pius XI stated:
“Thus, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics.”
The rejection and condemnation of Christ by the chief priests nearly 2,000 years ago closely resembles the present rejection and condemnation of His Mystical Body, the Catholic Church, by the modern hierarchy. To the leaders of the temple, Jesus Christ was a false Messias; to the modern hierarchy, traditional Catholics are schismatic and excommunicated.
The second consideration which shows the parallel between Our Divine Lord’s Passion and Death and the Mystical Body of Christ today is found in the words of Christ, “I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” (Mark 14:27). What must have been the tremendous confusion and disunity of the Apostles when their Master was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the chief priests and was condemned by Caiphas the High Priest for blasphemy! The Apostles were indeed bewildered and scandalized: Jesus, their Beloved Master, in Whom they had placed all their trust and confidence, was cruelly scourged, crowned with thorns, and finally crucified amid the jeering and mockery of the scribes and Pharisees. How stunned must the Apostles have been!
In our times, Roman Catholics who have remained faithful to Christ and the traditional Catholic Faith are likewise confused and scandalized. Jesus Christ, in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, has been dethroned in the churches that were once Catholic. During the changes which followed the Second Vatican Council, many of the tabernacles were first relocated to the side and then eventually removed altogether. In many churches, the altars were stripped and replaced by a table with the presider’s chair behind it. No longer would Catholics-priests and laity-face the altar and Crucifix to offer the august Sacrifice of Calvary; no longer would the tabernacle be the center of worship with the Divine Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
How great has been the confusion of traditional Catholics to see their churches turned into Protestant halls and their Holy Sacrifice of the Mass stripped of all reference to a propitiatory sacrifice and reduced to a Lutheran “Memorial of the Last Supper.” How great is the confusion to see “extraordinary ministers” (lay men and women) distribute “communion” into the hands of the laity in a manner so lacking in proper reverence for what is supposed to be the Holy Eucharist.
And as if this were not enough, the modern Church of Vatican II, in its ecumenical bent, has legislated that under certain circumstances, schismatics and heretics can receive the “Sacrament of the Eucharist”!
Although many modern Catholics find this so incredible, this new sacrilegious law is contained in their 1983 Code of Canon Law promulgated by John Paul II:
Canon 844, Sec. 3: “Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick to members of the eastern Churches not in full communion with the Catholic Church, if they spontaneously ask for them and are properly disposed.”
Sec. 4: “If there is danger of death or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or of the Episcopal Conference, there is some other grave and pressing need, Catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the Catholic Faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.”
Later on, in the “Directory for the Application and Norms of Ecumenism” approved by John Paul II on June 8, 1993, this law was extended to allow the “eucharist” to be given to non-Catholics during the ceremonies for mixed marriages.
“At mixed marriages, between a Catholic and a baptized Christian who is not in full communion with the Catholic Church, a eucharistic sharing is possible.”
Compare this new law of 1983 to the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 731:
“It is forbidden to administer the Sacraments of the Church to heretics and schismatics, even though they may be in good faith and ask for them. It is necessary that they first renounce their errors and become reconciled to the Church.”
Furthermore, the Council of Trent taught:
“If anyone saith that faith alone is a sufficient preparation for receiving the Sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist; let him be anathema. But if anyone shall presume to teach, preach, or obstinately to assert, or even in public disputation to defend the contrary, he shall be thereupon excommunicated.”
As our Divine Savior was crucified, so will His Mystical Body the Catholic Church undergo a spiritual crucifixion. Let us not be surprised by the small number of traditional Catholics in contrast to the many modern Catholics. When our Divine Savior hung upon the Cross, there were but a handful of followers faithful to Him: His Sorrowful Mother Mary, His beloved Apostle St. John, St. Mary Magdalene, and a few holy women.
The enemies of Christ, the chief priests and Pharisees, thought with satisfaction that they had finally discredited and destroyed Him. What was their astonishment on the morning of the Third Day to receive word that He had risen from the dead, even as He said! The enemies of the Catholic Church today believe they also have discredited and destroyed the Catholic Church. Little do they know that the Son of God has promised to be with His Church all days even to the consummation of the world and that the gates of Hell will not prevail.
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.”
The issue of 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’” (Matt. 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 (Matt. 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 was 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” (Matt. 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.”
For the past thirty-six years 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 practices false ecumenism, not only with Protestants, but also with non-Christians. Benedict XVI continues the same.
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 Thess. 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” (Matt. 24:13).
In Christo Jesu et Maria Immaculata,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI