A traditionalist colleague of mine has described the Church today as being like a rubber room. Now, mind you, this is not someone who would think of the Novus Ordo Vatican apparatus as being in any way the Church (that place really is quite the rubber room), but someone who knows that we traditional Catholics, the faithful remnant, are the Church. It is therefore we who have been so uncharitably described, and by one who walks among us as one of us.
Given the admittedly huge scale of the crisis that faces us, the smallness of our numbers, the fact that so many of us are still having to learn such basics as what is and is not the True Mass, the importance of the other True Sacraments, and even the Church's popeless condition, there is much to be found in diversity of opinion about our present situation. Such diversity can never be a good thing, especially when it is we who must act together in concert, in obedience to God, to do our part, each and every one of us, and regardless of whether that part be large or small, to restore the Church. The feeling one might sometimes have of being in a rubber room is, at least, somewhat understandable, though really here inside the Church is the one place that isn't a rubber room.
It is one thing to express such feelings when exasperated by our fellow Catholics who somehow fail to "get it" or even worse, behave reprehensibly, and with seemingly little sense of accountability. On the other hand, it is a very serious matter to describe the Church as being a "rubber room" in such a manner as to imply that such a statement could ever go beyond the subjective feelings of individuals who have problems getting along with other individuals or coping with what seems to many at this point to be an incalculably incomprehensible circumstance.
All of us commonly and widely note the arguments, the disputes, the acrimonies, and the genuinely asinine manner in which so many utterly sound clerics (in all other respects) can disrespect each other as if they were nothing. Some, focusing on the various disputes and times and places in which things seem to have gone wrong, have even fallen into a slight despair over the condition of the Church. So much nastiness (overall, Church-wide, not at all very much or often, but locally at times painfully acute) takes place, and nothing seems to get done. People just seem to part ways and the Church seems to continue to atomize into smaller and smaller (but more and more) groups. As Catholics we all must know this is not how things are meant to be, as our Faith alone can (and does) provide the only truly unifying factor that exists in this world.
We traditional Catholics ARE the Church; the Holy Ghost is with us, and only us, in that special manner promised to the Saints upon the ascension of our Lord: I will be with you always! Our prayers, and no one else's, have the power and authority to bring about wondrous Apostolic miracles, to drive out the demons, to break the satanic strongholds, to deliver whole nations from bondage to sin. So what goes wrong? What is our failure, or our sin, that God should punish those of us who alone comprise His Own true Church with such distressing troubles as ought to not ever take place among what saints we are?
Some have even been scandalized, as a result of which they refuse to enter through that narrow gate the Bible speaks of and that we traditional Catholics alone represent. Souls are pouring into Hell by the millions because of our antics. By refusing to become traditional Catholics they, in that, refuse to enter the one and only Church that God established by which souls can be saved. And it is WE that have scandalized them! Just because God can be merciful towards those who in good faith find His Own Church too repellant to join does not give any of us the excuse to presume upon that mercy. Others, even those who have walked with us and among us for quite some time, have even been noted to have departed from we who are the Church in disgust and anger and despair. Can we not see what a hideous crime before God our petty infighting and internecine struggles constitute? It is a crime that calls for vengeance from Heaven, and could easily merit and obtain it sometime soon.
One important thing to bear in mind however is that we all know that if only there were an actual and true living Pope, we all know what he would do, and what we would do in response. We know that he would direct all faithful bishops to recognize each other and he would compel them to work together as the one apostolic body they comprise. He would judge any and all erring bishops, not merely to condemn but with an eye towards rehabilitating them into their legitimate role in the Kingdom of God, putting out only those who have proven themselves pertinacious in error or in odious conduct. He would admonish all priests to be subject to their bishops, and religious and laity to their priests. He would declare against the heresies and errors of the Novus Ordo religion, and perhaps other contemporary errors as well, condemning them with the fullest weight of his authority.
He would call together the greatest Catholic minds to sort out and discuss all the questions that have perplexed us during this crisis, and after great and careful prayer, research, and meditation, give definitive rulings to settle each question with that final and irrevocable infallible authority that he alone can truly muster. And we, for our parts, would one and all gladly submit to his authority and rejoice to hear the Voice of Peter among us again. We would set aside with humble submission whatever positions and personal opinions we had which turn out to be judged erroneous by the Pope. Who of us would dare to claim the title of Catholic if this were not so? Who from among us could be so blatantly stupid as to deny the authority of whatever true pope should ever come along, or seek to delay that coming and prolong our present agony as long as God can permit? God has not willed our weakness or smallness or lack of unity; we did that to ourselves in knowing and deliberate defiance and malice against the most evident and loving will of God. Who of us would want to be found working against the evident will of God on Judgment day?
Of course, we know that the coming of a true Pope is nowhere near, at this time. While it is guaranteed (in the will of God) that steps will one day have to be taken towards a papal conclave, obviously the Church today is not in the least position to begin that essential process. Not for any lack of the necessary ability or authority, but for the lack of any serious will on our parts to accomplish it. God wills it; too many of us rebel, pure and simple. All of us will have some role, however small in most cases, towards this end. But now as I write these words, this can only be a dream, though sharing this dream is obviously a morally obligatory requirement of anyone and everyone with any of the least right to be called a Catholic.
Taking for granted a lengthy time before the Church can expect to have a pope again, I perceive a relationship between some of the causes of that delay and our present ills, most especially all the infighting and problems we have among ourselves. While we know the absence of a pope is certainly part of our problem, there is also another part of the problem which is related and the real problem that lies at the heart of our present inability to organize as we all know we truly must and ought.
The whole problem boils down to one of authority. What was it that kept the Church one single monolithic whole while the various rivals (schismatic eastern, protestants, and others) split and fragmented, and can never be reconciled, despite centuries or even millennia of existence? Oftentimes we say it is the Pope. However, this ability to avoid fragmentation also applies to those times that the Church went without a pope, even for periods of time into the multiple years. The Church can survive for quite some period without a pope, as every time of Sede Vacante (including the current one, lengthy and disastrous as it has been) has amply demonstrated. But the Church cannot survive for even one second without authority.
It is most clearly established that authority always exists in the Church, regardless of whether there is a pope at a given moment or not. The Pope, after all, is not the sole repository of authority in the Church, but rather only the supreme repository. When the Church is without a pope, the bishops still possess authority, and do their part to continue the unity of the Church while waiting for the arrival of another pope.
But many, or even most, of today's bishops seem to imagine that they have no authority. There is no known valid theological reason for any of our traditionalist bishops to have even the slightest doubt as to their formal and public canonical duty and authority and habitual jurisdiction. One must therefore look elsewhere for the cause of this, namely to cognitive and psychological failures of many who have merely drifted along in an unexamined life. Only then can one discover anything of the source and history and background for what is, both on the face of it, as well as only all the more evident upon the closest and most thorough examination, a most wildly absurd behavior pattern. And only in facing those sources and history can those who formerly, and in all mistaken sincerity, fallen into such error finally come to see what mistake was made and how to overcome it. I find three such reasons.
THE BURNING HOUSE AND THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK
Let me start with a couple interspersed illustrations. In the middle of the night, a man's house caught fire. By the time he awoke to the disaster, it was too late to do anything but get himself out of the house to save his own life, and hope that everyone else in the household also managed to do the same. Standing outside the burning house and watching it burn down, he gazes in shock, unable to think practical thoughts, mourning his memories, wondering how much coverage his insurance provides, wondering if everyone else made it out alive, and conscious of the fact, from the lack of very many others standing around it like he, that many in the household did not make it out alive. The whole thing went up in smoke and no one still inside can be alive (and as it turns out, no one trapped inside was alive).
But then, with a whole body spasm, his blood turns to liquid ice and all flows down into his feet, as it hits him. All of his crucial papers, all the contracts, the deeds, the titles, the documented debts, his identification papers, and all of which that he had were the sole copies of, were in that house. He is now standing there with only his pajamas on his back, realizing that he has no way of proving to anyone who he is, what he owned, what others owed him, and so much more. He cannot help but feel utterly stripped of everything important to him other than his bare life. The house had been insured, so certainly the funds to rebuild it must exist, and new clothes and furniture can be bought, however even the insurance papers were in that house. Though he still lives, truly all is lost; he is ruined. In his despondency he vacillates between gibbering sobs of despair and making vain and angry declarations rebuilding it all from scratch or of finding out who caused it and getting revenge or what not.
When what very few bishops as there were willing to take the necessary action to flee the burning house of the Novus Ordo left it, it was all they could do to think of bare survival for themselves and their ability to make priests. But as they fled for their spiritual lives, it doesn't seem that they ever thought specifically to pack their authority. Surely it must have all gotten lost, left behind and now burned to useless bits in the fire. What can they do now?
However, at this dark and miserable spot, the scene temporarily shifts. The next scene is in Admiral Kirk's apartment, and the Admiral is conferring with Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, the father of Mr. Spock who had just given his life to save the Enterprise and all aboard. The following dialog transpires:
Sarek: Spock trusted you, and you denied him his future.
A brief Vulcan mind-meld follows. Sarek and Kirk relive together Kirk's last moments with Spock. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. I always have been, and always shall be, your friend." Kirk's grief is refreshed, "Spock!" Sarek withdraws; the mind-meld is over. The dialog then continues:
Kirk: I saw no future.
Sarek: Only his body was in death, Kirk, and you were the last one to be with him.
Kirk: Yes I was.
Sarek: Then you must know that you should have come with him to Vulcan.
Kirk: But why?
Sarek: Because he asked you to; he entrusted you, with his very essence, with everything that is not of the body. He asked you to bring him to us and to bring that which he gave you - his Katra - his living spirit.
Kirk: Sir, your son meant more to me that you can know. I'd have given my life if it would have saved his. Believe me when I tell you he made no request of me.
Sarek: He would not have spoken of it openly.
Kirk: Then how...
Sarek: Kirk, I must have your thoughts. May I join your mind?
Sarek: Forgive me. It is not here. I had assumed he mind-melded with you. It is the Vulcan way when the body's end is near.
Kirk: We were separate. He couldn't touch me.
Sarek: I see. Then everything that he was, everything he knew, is lost.
Sarek starts to leave, but Kirk interrupts his departure:
Kirk: Please wait. He would have found a way. If there was that much at stake, Spock would have found a way.
Sarek: Yes, but how?
It turns out that Spock did find a way, and his Katra was not lost. Now shifting back to our previous illustration, in the earliest days of our having to flee that burning house of the Novus Ordo, we Catholics (in the person of our living bishops' Episcopal predecessors) might not have thought about rescuing the Church's authority. But can any of us really claim that our departure was not clearly intended and foreseen in the Providence of God? Were all of us, and especially the clerics, who fled the Novus Ordo merely fleeing to preserve our own selfish individual lives? We know there was more to it all than that. God was in that flight, even and exactly as God was in the flight to Egypt taken by the Holy Family when Herod sought the life of the Christ child. And who would dare to assert that the Holy Child lost His status as the Christ merely by leaving His holy house in Bethlehem, and even leaving Judea, the Promised Land of His people?
Back at the fire, another escaped member of the household was busy tapping at the man's shoulder. He kept saying "excuse me," but the man shrugged him off. He didn't want to talk to anyone, and he certainly wasn't ready for any more bad news, whatever that could be, or even for any good news in view of how comically insignificant it would have to be, comparatively, in the face of that most complete and utter tragic loss. Having shrugged the other man off, he continued to weep and wallow in his despondency.
But the other man wasn't quite ready to give up just yet. His message was very urgent and he was not willing let it not be conveyed. Having spent a few moments steeling himself for what he had to do next he grabbed the man firmly and roughly by the shoulders and began shaking him back and forth with jaw-clattering force until for a brief moment he captures the wearied gaze of the man. "I am trying to tell you something VERY important here, and you have GOT to listen!"
With the greatest of weariness and impatience and annoyance, the man finally asked the other man to have his say. "All right, I will listen." Just so I can get you out of my face. "What is it? What do you want?"
"Remember how you had all of those important documents in your briefcase, on top of the dresser by the window upstairs? Well, the fire was caused by an explosion in that room which blasted the briefcase, hey," he shook him again, "pay attention! ...which blasted the briefcase right through the window and it landed on the ground just outside, fully intact. While I was running out of the house, I happened to see it and I grabbed it, and here it is. Everything is inside it."
"What?" Slowly, but then with very gradually dawning excitement and hyperventilation, the man began to wonder if it really was here, that all he had worried about and despaired of had in fact survived, and was now here before him. "This is no time to be putting me on!" but it is not a put on. This is for real, and here is the briefcase, obviously intact. "Everything is inside it." Could it be?
Frantically, he tore it from the other man's hands and opened it and began checking for each individual item he had thought lost. "This? Is this here? Yes! And that? Yes! And what about, uh oh! Where's the, oh, oh wait, wait, here it is! Yes!" Everything he needed really is there. Even though he himself forgot to try to rescue this briefcase full of such vital papers, Providence remembered what he, in his moment of dire emergency and confusion, had forgotten.
God is not a mere man, so as to be so foolish and silly and fallible as to forget to pack something so very important and vital to the very continuance of His Church as its authority. Men might forget, even the very men whose heroism will one day prove to have been the very basis for any real future for the Church as a legal, visible, identifiable, canonical, and ontologically identical organized body, in fact exactly still the Mystical Body of Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. "If there was that much at stake," God would have found a way. Even if we weren't aware of it at first, God was.
Does anyone really think that God was surprised by Vatican II? He Who knows the beginning to the end knows and always knew that this disaster was coming. And He knew that whatever small remnant of believers as would soon have to comprise His Church would have to come out and reorganize separate from that fallen and ex-ecclesial organization. We all know He saw to it that we would have valid Holy Orders among us, valid and in depth theological teaching, a heroic Faith fit to stand up against a whole world gone mad and every other credible reason possible to lose one's faith. Can anyone seriously maintain that God would forget also to pack a certain little thing known as His Church's authority as well?
Perhaps when the initial traditional bishops first departed, whether from being themselves unable to abide the filthiness that had come to surround them, or from being actually expulsed from the Novus Ordo organization on account of their refusal to compromise with error, did they really think they left their rightful office in the Church behind? Could any of them really believe that the Novus Ordo heretics could authoritatively retain control of any Catholic office? Back in England, if a priest were to be put out for refusing to sign the declaration of royal supremacy, lose access to his church and rectory due to having the locks changed and another more willing priest "installed" in his place, would he really be expected to believe that the schismatic Anglican clergy would have the authority to deprive him of the faculties which the Catholic Church gave him?
Maybe at the time, uncertain of what the problem is at its root, and uncertain of whether there might have been some "better" way for him to have handled it, he may not comprehend his bishop's loss of authority, such that he might even imagine at the time that he really was stepping out of his office and resigning by allowing the schismatic bishop to expulse him. But once he did work all that out, what else can he conclude but that the only office "resigned" from was a fake new office in the fake new schismatic "church." Allow some mere schismatic outsider to take away his Catholic faculties as a priest? Of course that would be completely nuts. It is the Catholic Church that gave him his faculties, and it is only they who could ever validly and lawfully take them away from him. And obviously there was absolutely no occasion here for the Church to have done that. (Granted he also had the benefit of a pope in Rome to affirm the above, in case he still felt uncertain about it.)
See, he in his own mind subjectively might be excused for feeling uncertain of whether his (now Anglican) bishop has lost the Catholic authority to make that kind of decision. After all, the same bishop, when he was still with the Pope and no schism as yet had been created, had appointed him to this parish, and now is the one personally suspending him, declaring his faculties revoked, and forbidding him any ministry in his parish. But in the cold light of reason (to say nothing of the warm reassurances of Faith), such feelings are plainly and indisputably utterly without merit. His departure has no moral force of Law behind it. A schismatic bishop can only deprive a priest of a schismatic office, not a Catholic office.
But, feeling uncertain of what relation he has to his former office and faculties as a priest, and until those feelings can be put to rest through a sound application of Faith and reason, it is only in this context he looks to what resources he must still possess, even were his office truly lost. Certainly, he would have to know that at the very least he would have to as yet retain the right to function "upon request," very much along the lines of a mere "sacrament machine." But as the situation becomes clearer over time, does it not behoove him to realize that his (now former) bishop was no longer authorized to so deprive him of any authority in his parish as its priest? And if this applies to the individual clerics themselves (not only individual priests, but bishops as well), is it not obvious that it must also (theologically speaking) apply to their succession as well? Were Bishop Saint John Fisher able to have consecrated some successor bishops for England before being confined in the tower, and even if no communication with Rome were possible with which to coordinate his selections, certainly the British King and his Anglican church would have been quite incapable of depriving those successor bishops of whatever offices he consecrated them for.
Our clerics were all so careful to preserve licitly valid Holy Orders. But why bother when valid Holy Orders can be obtained from any valid schismatic? Can anyone seriously believe that our bright and idealistic young men who approach our traditional seminaries to become priests, and who go through years and years of training and formation before they can be finally ordained, do all this merely for the purpose of becoming canonically nothing better than what you get if some ignorant country bumpkin pays an Old Catholic bishop $25.00 to make a priest out of him one afternoon? Obviously, there is much more value to being a traditional priest from any of our seminaries, and that goes well beyond mere obvious value of their careful and fully orthodox training and formation. They have priestly authority and regular faculties.
To bring in yet another illustration, picture some police, exiled from the police station by the gangsters and mobsters that have taken it over, but they are no less true cops for all that. They wear the uniform. They carry the badge. They use the gun. They have the beat. And they are the only ones out there heroically fighting the bad guys, the gangsters, and mobsters, and all other criminal elements. But then, in and amongst all of this heroic activity, one or another of them suddenly declares out of the blue for no apparent reason, "I have no authority to enforce the law." Now, what's up with that? Of course they do. There is no valid reason for that even to have been a question.
And yet another illustration, the bank explodes, and a person with their account at that bank feels doubts about whether any record of his substantial bank balance remains. So for fear of writing bad checks, he proceeds as if he now had only the change in his pocket. But even human-run banks are usually smarter than that, and certainly all the more so is God. Whenever our clerics have brought up such topics as ecclesia supplet and epikeia and Canon 209, those things can most properly be regarded as them stating that at least they can be certain of the change in their pocket, whatever doubts they may feel regarding their bank's account balance and information. But that fallback mentality has become misdirection for anyone who has ever supposed from such remarks that the change in their pockets was really all that they had left.
Back again to the man with the burning house, like the other man shaking that man's shoulders and showing him that his documents were all preserved and safe, I beg, plead, and implore our bishops to reexamine the regular and habitual authority they indeed must possess, one and all of those who uphold the whole and entire teaching of the Church. They simply MUST have it, for if they do not, then authority itself can no longer ever exist on this earth. No one else has it. And one more thing: This is a hill I am prepared to die on, if needs be.
SOME UNFORTUNATE EXCESSES
On the other hand, there were, fairly early on, some who realized that they as the few remaining Catholic bishops did indeed possess such authority, but in this valid and important realization, failed to handle that authority responsibly. Looking back on it now, it is clear that certain ones (I won't name them, one of whom is still alive, but those concerned know of whom I speak) felt that they could just "stake a claim" over some territory as if they were some sort of frontiersmen attempting to homestead somewhere out in the untamed wilderness.
Having done this, without any coordination with any other faithful Catholic bishops (of which there were several known and operative even as they attempted to "stake" such claims), they dared to presume to have the unique and exclusive authority over the vast territory they staked a claim over, and all that without anywhere near the vast staffing (at least dozens of assistant bishops and hundreds of priests) it would have taken to cover their claimed territory to even a bare token minimum. From this absurd and selfish claim, they arrogated to themselves the right to exclude all episcopal peers and their attached priests and faithful from their vast new "dioceses."
There are other things they did which were also quite odious, for example preventing Bishop Thục from consecrating any more bishops by confining him to their compound and preventing any further prospective clerics from having any access to him. Thục could have done so much more good for the Church, if only small-minded men hadn't prevented him. They were afraid he would (and he would have, if only given the chance) ordain and consecrate far worthier men than themselves.
In reaction, in fact overreaction, to these odious actions of a very few vicious bishops, there seems to have formed some sort of "gentleman's agreement" among the remainder of all Catholic bishops not to claim jurisdiction or authority, no matter what they might inwardly know they do and must have. But what good does it do to avoid falling off one side of the horse if one instead merely falls off the other side? Some sort of balance is needed, some means to resolve the questions of how jurisdiction exists among them today. And this leads us to the third point.
AN UNCERTAINTY ABOUT A SPECIFIC MATTER
In today's prolonged popeless condition, there is not so much as a single bishop living who functions at all as a truly Catholic bishop and who was chosen by name by a pope. As I can easily go on to show (based on standard handbooks of Theology), this in no way deprives any of them of the lawful and jurisdiction-holding office of Bishop in the Church. But two additional complications do exist.
For one, the bishops are now so pitifully few that it is meaningless to attempt to assign our few existing bishops to any of our former diocesan Sees, of which there are literally thousands all around the world, way too many for our dozen or two or so bishops to fill. Someday in the future, once there should come to be anywhere near so many bishops again, it will behoove our bishops at that time to begin occupying former diocesan Sees, provided that all is done in decency and good order and concurrence among them all, ideally in submission to a pope, as to who gets which diocesan See. But at this time, such an attempt would be meaningless and even counterproductive, even were there a pope to so assign them.
The other stems directly from the absence of a pope. Ideally, a pope should be the one to arbitrate among the bishops, to demark (by whatever method he chooses) exactly where one bishop's authority leaves off and the next bishop's authority takes up. This would be all part and parcel of requiring and ordering the bishops to cooperate with each other and to recognize each other. And certainly, once there is a pope again, this would most certainly be among his very first jobs to do as pope. Let us hope and pray that the next true pope does not shake things up too much in his way of handling this, but does his best to try to "grandfather in" whatever he can, but all in the context of such direction the Church should nevertheless take in the years during and after his pontificate.
But it is a true pope's decision, and once made, whether wise or foolish, we must submit (pray that it will be wise). Whatever advice and recommendations we can give to help him in making a good and wise choice remains nevertheless exactly that, namely advice, and he retains the right to disregard it all entirely should he so choose. In fact the only thing he wouldn't have a right to do would be to annihilate the whole Church by ruling out all of them (which would also rule out the episcopal lines of his own consecrators). Such a thing would be almost on the level of contradicting the Deposit of Faith, or changing or innovating upon what has been handed to him by Sacred Tradition and his predecessors (making him heretical), and fully on the level of excommunicating the entire Church or overturning all the sacred rites of the Church which, as Francisco Suarez writes, would truly be a schismatic action (and as such to be disregarded as anything more than the man's own resignation from the papacy).
But without a pope, how is any such demarcation to be made? As it stands now, all bishops are canonical equals. As such, none can judge another, and none can command another. So what is to be done when one's jurisdiction overlaps with another's, such that they become rivals? This has been one real source of much of the friction thus far. No matter how much they pretend to having no authority, they do have it, and when one's authority interferes with another's authority, there is often a clash. Denial of that authority is nothing but a psychological self-subterfuge. It is like getting back at someone who stepped on your foot, all the while denying you ever had any feet.
This requires their mutual cooperation for the good of the Church, of the Faithful, and of the Cause of Christ. By mutual consent and by the "good fences that make for good neighbors" there most certainly does need to be such clear demarcations between their areas of authority, and each permitted proper ruling authority within their "area," whether that be a geographical region or in a more metaphorical sense, for example, in an "area of expertise." The manuals expressly state that "with the exception of the Roman Pontiff, no bishop possesses authority over other bishops by Divine right." (Msgr. G. Van Noort, Dogmatic Theology: Christ's Church, page 322). Ergo, until such time as a pope comes along and chooses to award some supra-episcopal authority (e.g. that possessed by Patriarchs, Archbishops, etc.), our traditional bishops are necessarily all canonical equals, and as such none of them can judge another. Until such time as a pope comes along to rule, it is required of our bishops to come to some mutually agreed-upon demarcation between their respective spheres of authority, and to respect such boundaries, provisional as they admittedly are.
But taken together collectively, when acting together in unison as a body, and indeed as a college, I do believe that present popeless circumstances would warrant the ability and right for such a quorum to form the necessary tribunal, and, after due process where necessary, pass judgment on a single erring bishop. Indeed, there are any number of principles which clearly define the duties of each bishop with respect to their flocks, the flocks of others, and each other, which I will get to in a later part.
CATHOLIC DOGMA SETTLES THE ISSUE DEFINITIVELY
One thing I have found running thick throughout the whole warp and woof of the theological handbooks, especially on the topic of ecclesiology, is that the bishops of Christ's Church most certainly do always and everywhere possess the authority to teach, sanctify, and rule their respective flocks, and this authority is given to them by God, and not by the consent of the "governed" nor at their will or discretion which is in fact roundly and rightly condemned as heresy.
Are we traditional Catholics Christ's Church? If not, then what is? And in such a case, then what are you doing here with us? But if so (and it IS so), then as Catholic teaching itself holds, "Christ Himself established a sacred authority in His Church, and that this authority, invested first in the apostolic college, was uninterruptedly perpetuated, and in fact perdures today in the college of bishops" (Msgr. G. Van Noort, Dogmatic Theology: Christ's Church, page 32). This is meant to go clear until the actual return of Christ. No matter how close His return may be, this authority necessarily must and does perdure to this day in the college of bishops.
All of this is doctrinally established. To quote Msgr. G. Van Noort, "The Church ...may be defined as follows: The society of men who, by their profession of the same faith and by their partaking of the same sacraments, make up, under the rule of apostolic pastors and their head, the kingdom of Christ on earth." Can that be anybody but us traditional Catholics? Who else has the same faith as we, except for all Catholics of recorded history? Who else has the same sacraments as we, except for all Catholics of recorded history? Who else lives under the rule of apostolic pastors and their head [Christ always, and His Vicars on earth at all times that His Church has an earthly Vicar of Christ], as the kingdom of Christ on the earth that we do, except for all Catholics of recorded history?
The theological evidences for authority are so profound and stunning and thorough that one has to wonder how it is they have not received any attention. Obviously of course, when one does not look one does not find. And one might not bother to look if one does not expect standard ecclesiology to have anything useful to say about the Church's conspicuously nonstandard circumstance. But other forces have also been at work. There is an enemy in the camp, one that has been allowed to run untrammeled for way too long.