We all know the classic parable of the person who is in denial about something, refusing to see or talk about or acknowledge something which is plainly there. There is an elephant in the room and they don't see it. Or they don't talk about it. They carry on as if the room has no elephant in it because, after all, what would an elephant be doing in the room in the first place, anyway?
But if we look a little closer at the anatomy of this manner of self-deception (or even a kind of collective group self-deception, since there might be several persons in the room all mutually and tacitly agreeing not to discuss or even admit the presence of the elephant in the room), what does it actually consist of? What does it feel like, being the one who is in denial?
One might get an interesting glimpse into this by observing the person who is in denial, when confronted by circumstances that warrant their taking notice of the denied thing (where survival instinct or whatever kicks in). He gets up, walks across the room, and to avoid hitting his head on the belly of the elephant as he walks under it from one side of the room to the other. Now the fun begins. Ask him why did he duck down while crossing the room, if there is no elephant? The answer says it all:
"Well, I didn't want to hit my head on the, er, chandelier."
"Oh, so it's a chandelier, is it? A most unusual chandelier wouldn't you say, big, gray, wrinkled, kinda hairy, strange trumpeting noises coming from this corner of the room, an unspeakable mess accumulating on the carpet in that corner. Definitely NOT a chandelier I would choose to adorn MY house with!"
Despite the facetiousness of this example, the point is clear. When a person in denial claims not to see something, it is not that they really don't see it, as though it were invisible or transparent, or even phantasmal, like a holographic image, but rather that they fail to recognize it for what it is. Since they do see it (but simply fail to interpret it as an elephant), they do what is necessary, namely duck under it so as not to bump into it. So they DO know that it's there. They just won't admit to themselves (or each other) that it's an elephant.
One sees something similar to this in the realm of politics, when a conspicuously anti-Communist nation has quietly implemented each and every plank of Communism, all the while imagining itself to be intolerant of those "dirty Communist Pinkos." Said nation becomes fully Communist in everything but name, and for mere lack of the name, its true nature goes unrecognized.
This is exactly what has happened with the resignation of Paul VI from the papacy during Vatican II. All concerned at the time recognized the change in the nature of his "office," and acted accordingly. It is only that the word "resignation" was not floated around at that time. The elephant of a resignation was seen by all at that time, hence they ducked under it, but the elephant was just never named "resignation" and so not really seen for what it was, apart from that inarticulate intuitive sense by which a person senses the truth but cannot or will not express it.
The bishops all understood the loss of authority, as they began at once doing their own thing, knowing full well that they were in no way accountable to the Vatican leader. How else does one explain such phenomena as Mahony, Law, Hunthausen, Weakland, Bernardin, and suchlike all around the world? These guys all to a man have flagrantly ignored all Vatican directives, even such as they are. If any of these guys had actually thought that the guy in the Vatican were still pope, that fact alone would have restrained their absurd excesses to some significant degree, or else they would have been out on their ear.
The priests knew the same thing. Suddenly, the directives from the Vatican become "optional" to them, as they do as they please, knowing that they too do not answer to any pope. No one has any right to tell "Fr. Bozo" what to do, least of all any pope; he has made that abundantly clear, so squeak the balloons a little louder and get a laugh out of that, kiddies!
The whole Vatican II notion of Collegiality is nothing other than reducing the Vatican leader to some sort of Parliamentarian president, and furthermore one who can be legitimately outvoted and overruled or even outright ignored by those beneath him.
The ordinary Joe Sixpack in the pews also sensed the change. Before, when he did not live up to Sunday standards during the rest of the week, he would say of himself, "Well, I'm no saint." Now he says "Well, the pope is wrong." Even in that statement is the use of the word "pope" in a categorically different sense from what it means, by definition, to a Catholic.
The academic community even more vividly sensed the change, for they realized that Vatican II had redefined the Vatican leader as a mere partisan of some "particular church" instead of being he that had authority over all the Churches. On this they based their ideas that contraception, priestesses, homosexual "marriages," abortion, and similar such sins are morally acceptable since other churches, not answerable in any way to the Vatican leader, possess the Catholic Church's full salvific power, and do so without insisting upon these particular moral points.
So given all this (and much more like it), the fact of Paul VI's resignation during Vatican II would have to be one of those obvious and indisputable things. If it was not already named, that would only be because it was "on the tip of one's tongue," so to speak. "What do we call a situation like this?" Well, I think there was a name for it, but I can't quite recall what it was..."
Gentlemen, its name is resignation. "No! Wait, yes! No! It couldn't be! Could it?" Go ahead, think it through, take your time, gentlemen. Try it on for size. A person in an office of extraordinary authority takes on a different and lesser office, wholly abandons the former, exercises no authority of the first office's nature from that point on, and is no longer accepted as an authority in that former sense by anyone. This has fully all the features of a resignation from the former office, except for the use of the word itself.
The correctness of using the word "resignation" was perfectly obvious to me from the outset, as it would be (I believe) to any outside and neutral observer. One would think that should be enough, but unfortunately for some, it is not. There is a major psychological transition in going from that "It's on the tip of my tongue" sensation to "No, I would not use the word 'elephant' to describe that big, grey, wrinkled, slightly hairy, noisy, and messy thing which is cluttering up my living room." Where the former could be innocent, the latter is merely pertinacious, and of course nothing more than the psychological process of denial, that famous "river in Egypt," so to speak.
"Hmmm, let's see. No heartbeat. No response to any stimuli, no brainwave pattern discernable, gradually getting colder, rigor mortis setting in. What is happening to this person?" "Maybe he is dead?" "No, that cannot be. This has to be something else. What's the name of that other condition that looks exactly like death but isn't?" As Shakespeare once wrote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
A recent correspondent of mine actually wrote to me: "Now I would have thought that it is obvious that all of the conciliar popes were elected, and none of them have resigned. Neither you nor I have much if any reason to think that the election procedures were not followed, nor that there are written resignations kicking around somewhere." No sir! I flatly disagree with that. It most certainly is obvious that they resigned, it is no secret. They understood what they were doing, and so did everyone else.
You want to see Paul VI's official resignation letter from the Papacy? Here it is, posted on the official Vatican website itself: vatican.va
So let's not have any more of this "He didn't resign" nonsense! He did, and that fact categorically CANNOT be denied! Funny thing is, everyone saw that elephant right away. And yet even in seeing it, in ducking under it whenever passing across the room, trying to clean up the accumulating mess in the corner (or add to it, depending on one's disposition), it somehow never occurred to anyone to use the word "elephant" to describe the thing they all saw.
In an even more interesting vein, observations of this elephant continue to this day.
The same correspondent I quoted above had once nicknamed me the "two church guy," and yet he himself later provided a prominent SSPX source which states the very same thing, a recent edition of Le sel de la terre, the quarterly of the Avrille Dominicans. In this document, the author also (like me) points out the obvious fact that there really are two "churches" germane to this discussion, the historic and authentic Catholic Church (Mystical Body of Christ, as defined dogmatically by many popes, including Pius XII in Mystici Corporis), and the "conciliar church," the doppelganger "church," the community of Modernists, who have squatted in Vatican City ever since they stole the Church's physical assets from the real Church. Archbishop Lefebvre indicated the same distinction, when he spoke of the contrast between Eternal Rome and Modernist "Rome" (for example in his famous 1974/5 "declaration").
My correspondent comments, "But if he didn't resign ["if," Mr.? Sounds to me like even you had at least some suspicion that he might indeed have resigned, especially perhaps by having taken on the new office as ruler of a second "church"], and if [that "if" your own lights firmly attest] his efforts and those of his collaborators created a second church, then he ended up the head of two churches." Yes, if somehow, Paul VI's taking of a new and lesser office at Vatican II might have still enabled him to also continue to retain the papacy as well, then indeed he most certainly would be "the head of two churches." That is to say, he would have two different leadership positions, over two different and separate visible organizations, two separate and distinct offices.
My correspondent quotes this edition of Le sel de la terre because it argues that just because Paul VI now held a new and different office, that does not of, in, and itself, mean that he lost his former office of the papacy. Not that the sources quoted in any way defend his supposed "continued papacy" despite being also the head of a new and second "church," the persons quoted (Archbishop Lefebvre, Father Calmel, OP, Gustave Corcao, Jean Madiran and Julio Meinveille) merely seem to be primarily addressing the fact that Paul VI now has a new and different office, but any hold he might still retain on the first is only taken as an assumption and not defended by any of these above listed writers.
Well, could he hold two such different offices at once? This is the real canonical question that concerns us here. And one thing I must admit is that it is not as easy as one would think to resolve this canonically. Hence, I can afford to be so soft on the non-sedevacantists in my book and in all my writings, as this is not an easy question. Let us explore some of the difficulties.
Canon 188 (1917 Code, then in force, all would have to agree, during Paul VI's entire clerical life) speaks of the loss of office by "tacit resignation" by any of quite a list of means. It's first part reads as
follows: "Any office becomes vacant upon the fact and without any declaration by tacit resignation recognized by the law itself if a cleric [does any of the following things.]"
The usual sedevacantist tack is to attempt to utilize subcanon 4, which reads "publicly defects from the Catholic Faith." Certainly, their marked heresies would have to come squarely under this category, would they not?
Unfortunately, canonical jurisprudence is a far more subtle science than that. This particular subcanon was directly intended to refer to a cleric who, for example, has himself baptized as a Mormon, or married by a minister of some other church (picture Bp. Milengo here, who had himself "married" by the Moonie church), or publicly declares himself to be a member of some other sect or religion, or some such obvious departure from the Church. As to the case of a cleric being subtly influenced by heretical thinking, allowing his Catholic ministry to become tainted little by little, and especially when we are talking about the Pope here, who is supposed to be protected from that very thing by his charism of infallibility, this becomes a far more murky and grey area. Few canonical precedents for this situation exist, and none at all for the papacy (not counting today's situation, of course).
Too many people have already died on that battlefield without any substantial ground gained by either side. That is why it is clear to me that another tack ought to be taken, and as it is, there is such a tack (indeed, several, but I focus mostly on the one which is most definitive), and I hereby move this discussion to another more profitable battlefield.
Subcanon 3 says "accepts another ecclesiastical office incompatible with the prior, and has obtained peaceful possession of it." Clearly, Paul VI has indeed created such an office (at Vatican II), and taken "peaceful possession" of it. Not even the most extreme sedevacantist has ever contested his claim to rulership over the new conciliar church. It is only over the Catholic Church that his claims of authority are justly challenged. It comes down to this: is this new additional office he took at Vatican II (as leader of the fake and Modernist "conciliar church") incompatible with the office of the Papacy? Can he really, canonically speaking, be both Roman Catholic Pope, charged with the duty of teaching, governing, and sanctifying the entire Church of God, of preserving the Faith, and expressly of NOT (per Vatican I) promulgating any new doctrine, and yet also hold at the same time this different office by which he is charged with refusing to exercise authority over legitimate means of salvation (ecclesial communities not answerable to him de jure), of promulgating error, false and invalid "sacraments," and dissipating all that the Church has built up over all Her history? Can he be "master of all"
with universal jurisdiction and "not master of all" by lacking universal jurisdiction, in that his own declarations bestow salvific power to ecclesial communities not answerable to him de jure? I think not.
Most importantly, does he have jurisdiction, de jure, over all Catholics and all ecclesial means of salvation or only some of them or merely one among many? Can the same man serve simultaneously as coach and captain for one team at an athletic event and also as referee to that event? Can one man be simultaneously President of the nation and also Governor of one particular state therein? Can the same man be simultaneously the first and fifth richest person alive? I believe the two offices are incompatible, by the very nature of their definitions. If anyone thinks they are not, let them make their case.
For interest and circumstantial evidences, I point out that that's not the only canon which could apply. How about Subcanon 7 which reads "disposes of ecclesiastical habit on his own authority and without just cause, unless, having been warned by the Ordinary, he resumes wearing it within a month of having received the warning"? Think of the Papal tiara which he disposed of, and which none of his successors (in his new office) have ever worn. And then there is another, Subcanon 8, which reads:
"Deserts illegitimately the residence to which he is bound and, having received a warning from the Ordinary and not being detained by a legitimate impediment, neither appears nor answers within an appropriate time as determined by the Ordinary." Now this might of itself sound a little unrelated since he has no Ordinary, and Paul VI did after all continue to reside physically in the buildings he stole from the Church. But it also points up another detail of canonical jurisprudence, and that is one of complete abandonment of office.
Let us suppose that, somehow, the two distinct offices he supposedly holds can be reconciled to each other. A person takes a new office, but that new office is not considered fully "incompatible" with his former office. Would there not be, somewhere within the knowledge of canonical jurisprudence and some number of legal precedents, some period of time after which, if he has wholly and entirely neglected the duties of the former office in favor of the new, would that not also constitute a tacit resignation?
Or how about Subcanon 1 which states "Makes a religious profession with due regard for the prescriptions of Canon 584 concerning benefices"? If we are to construe this new conciliar "church" as a religious organization, albeit of limited jurisdiction (comparable to any other religious organization created by the Church, e. g. the Dominicans or the Franciscans or Jesuits, etc.), would not his professed membership in this new "religious order" he just created also serve as a resignation?
Or if you alternatively take the tack that the conciliar "church" is technically not really a church at all but actually a mere secular order, on par with a political and secular national power (and one could take that tack, as I favor doing), then Subcanon 6 could be of relevance. It states "Against the prescription of Canon 141, 1, freely gives his name to a secular army." Why would one join a secular army except to become a partisan of some particular secular national power? Would not the canonical principles behind this particular subcanon apply only all the more strictly to one who somehow took secular rulership of a particular nation? If a Catholic pope were to be elected President of the United States of America, and actually sworn in that following January 20 and thenceforth ruling this nation as its president from the oval office of the white house, would that not also constitute a resignation? After all, those who join the army can rise quickly through military valor, perhaps even putting rulership of the nation in reach. Look how many US presidents began their government career in the military, and how a sterling military record can add dramatically to a candidate's success (or lack thereof detract from his chances).
And yet there is still one more subcanon to deal with. The formaliter/materialiter sedevacantists speak of the famous "obex," that impediment against accepting the papal office. However, if that is the case, without removing that obex and taking the papal office within due time, Subcanon 2 would then apply. It reads, "Within the useful time established by law or, legal provision lacking, as determined by the Ordinary, fails to take possession of the office." Obviously, without any Ordinary to set a specific time limit, this might be a protracted wait. However, if the man dies before ever taking the office, certainly God Himself has set the time limit for taking office by depriving him of any further chance of ever doing so.
That literally leaves only Subcanon 5 which Paul VI has not, to my knowledge, ever even flirted with. And that is the one which states "Contracts marriage even, as they say, merely civilly." No one claims that Paul VI ever took a wife.
So, out of a total of 8 different ways to resign tacitly, he has managed to flirt with fully five of them (1, 2, 4, 6, and 7), and utterly crashed and burned on the one-two rabbit punch of 3 and 8. He took a new and incompatible office, and thenceforward wholly neglected the duties of his former office. He even went one further on that and actively opposed the duties of his former office. Witness his attacks on the utterly faithful Archbishop Lefebvre. Paul VI's former office as pope required him to bless and support the holy Archbishop's work, but instead of doing that, or at least remaining neutral, he openly attacked him, and indirectly thereby actively and maliciously attacked his former office, together with all that it stands for.
In summary, with Lumen Gentium on November 21, 1964, Paul VI created a new office and installed himself in it, and from that point on has devoted absolutely no time whatsoever to the duties of his prior office, and furthermore, this new office is by its nature incompatible with the previous. How can that be anything but a resignation in fully everything but name?
But what about this new office? Now that it existed (and continues to exist until Lumen Gentium is revoked), what could the subsequent Vatican leaders be elected to but this new office? With Lumen Gentium on the books, the Vatican leader intrinsically lacks universal jurisdiction. And that impediment applies to all that have followed him. They were, in effect, elected to the wrong office. That is the fundamental flaw with the elections of John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. It was not the office of the Roman Catholic papacy itself they were elected to, but a different office as leader of a limited and flawed "conciliar church."
This disqualifies each of them, a priori, such that there is no need to review the grisly details of their careers, either before or after their election to such an inferior post, in order to ascertain their lack of any juridical hold on the Roman Catholic papacy. I do not need to prove George W. Bush to be a heretic in order to prove that he is not the Roman Catholic pope, despite his indisputably valid election, for the simple cut and dry reason that he was elected to a different office. Even if George W. Bush were not a heretic, of if having been a heretic, he were to repent of his heresy, he still would not be pope, obviously. He is still a leader of course, just not a leader of the Church.
As for those still in denial that Paul VI resigned by taking a different office created by Lumen Gentium, and that those coming after him all showed their similar lack of election to the Catholic papacy by continuing to uphold Lumen Gentiumwhich deprives them of it, you've booked a one-way passage on the infamous river in Egypt where it can be pretty hot and dry. You just might have a problem of not only recognizing elephants, but dodging crocodiles.