As I have done through the first six installments, I have systematically refuted any and all arguments the blogger has launched in his attempt to convince his readers (whoever they may be) that the traditional clergy are "acephalous [leaderless] and vagrant." Au contraire! In fact, the only answer is that the true hierarchical Church can only be found in the traditional bishops and priests, who have proven by their actions and authority that they are the Church as I will further elaborate in this seventh part.
Numbers one through five have been done by individual apologists (whether clerical or lay), or groups thereof, but not in a systematic manner, much less according to the strict scholastic methods of inquiry as seen in how theologians such as Franzelin, Van Noort, Scheeben, Garrigou-Lagrange, Tanquerey, Fenton, &c., present sacred doctrine in their manuals and commentaries. As one sedevacantist has written:
There is no "complete" published sedevacantist theory except the Guerardian one (and even that has not been published in any language than French, and even in French it was not put into a systematic form and published in a volume, but rather it appeared scattered throughout issues of a journal). Yet non-sedevacantists are attacked for failing to adopt "sedevacantism". This only needs to be stated for its absurdity to be immediately apparent. Can any reasonable and just man condemn another for refusing to accept a theory which, as far as he can see, involves the denial that the Church has a hierarchy? Can anybody really be condemned for not adopting a theory which nobody has even bothered to present in a professional and complete form?
I fail to see where even "numbers one through five" have ever been done, systematically or otherwise, but there really is no room to doubt that they have all been attended to here in this series to a degree which would have to command the respect of "Franzelin, Van Noort, Scheeben, Garrigou-Lagrange, Tanquerey, Fenton, &c." However, the quote given here is an interesting one. Except for two small details, I could almost believe it to be something I wrote myself, one being that its author is obviously much more familiar with the French Guerardian literature than I am, and the other that I would have said "seems to involve a denial that the Church has a hierarchy" instead of "involves a denial that the Church has a hierarchy."
All right, fair point. All too many sedevacantists really have been quite inadequate about putting together any sort of comprehensive theory about how the Sede Vacante situation arose or how it exists in the context of known Catholic teachings, and therefore it is unfair of them to criticize others for not following them. I fault them too, but their inadequacy in explaining the current situation, or even their mentally problematic inability to notice what they have failed to explain, really has no relevance to the question, Do we have a Pope, and if not, then why not and how not? For myself, that question was not to be resolved until there was a full theory such as I have presented thus far in this series.
Number six essentially constitutes the controversy in question, and it has become a public controversy now because of the contumacy of certain polemicists who have made novel theories in prejudice to sound theology.
It is a good thing for this to become a public controversy, for the truth has been assailed from under rocks and in dark corners, quietly undermined, and seemingly without resistance, for quite some years. People would just say in passing remarks such things as "as there is no authority in the Catholic Church" which is an outright denial of what ALL the Doctors and great Theologians have taught, and these remarks would just be taken at face value, repeated, and passed along unexamined until a great many Catholics appear to have come to believe that.
The real innovators are those who really do claim that authority either does not exist at all, or else does not exist in any place that anyone can find or identify, along with those who would insist upon finding Catholic authority among blatant non-Catholics, regardless of whether they think we should follow them into all their errors and heresies, or else posit an "authority" which must continually be resisted and opposed at practically every turn. Let those who condemn me for claiming that Catholic authority exists in the truly Catholic traditional bishops and priests first take on the far more greatly outrageous claims of those who relegate Catholic authority to nonexistence, undiscoverability, or to self-professed non-Catholics that have either to be resisted and opposed, or else followed into their errors and heresies.
I have to admit, I do derive a certain satisfaction from a quote (attributed to Dresden James and reprinted in the March 2013 issue of The Four Marks) that "A truth's initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn't the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn't flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic."
In this case, the lie that "has been sold gradually to the masses" is the claim that there is, at least in practice, no real authority in the Church today. And I for one am not afraid to be seen as a raving lunatic for puncturing that lie, for time and time again, the facts have always vindicated my findings in this matter. So, in time, must and will the Church. For otherwise, what existence can the Church come to have, in any future ages?
In order for either the aforementioned polemicists or for such sedevacantists as the author of the cited article to evade the censure of theological error or of being "rash," they have to methodically and systematically present the predicament of the Church in the present day according to the teachings and methods of Thomistic philosophy and theology. They cannot just pretend the Johannine-Pauline structures do not exist or have relevance, because millions of Catholics adhere to them in good faith, and immune from danger of formal heresy according to the promise of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima in the third portion of the great "Secret."
It took some digging to identify the "cited article" since it is not anything from the discussion on the liturgy where I first found this blog, but in fact much of this was transplanted from another different blog by the same blogger. The article referred to here is one of mine, contained in the September 2012 issue of The Four Marks. In it I discuss the basic four alternatives as to where the Church is, namely
- Vatican organization retains hierarchical claim,
- Hierarchy has utterly vanished,
- Phantom (or totally concealed) hierarchy, and
- Traditional clergy retain hierarchical claim.
The first is doctrinally impossible owing to the blatantly non-Catholic and heretical direction and avowed and public purposes of the present day Vatican organization, or "Johannine-Pauline structures" as our blogger puts it. The second is doctrinally impossible since it is a dogma that the Church, in its full form, or at least always sufficiently capable of restoring to itself its full form, must exist clear to the end of time. The third also amounts to the same thing as the second, except that in deference to that dogma a theoretical existence is permitted, but which can never be identified or located. This third type takes on either of two forms, one being that of some "Siri"-like succession secretly proceeding on, and the other being the existence of some so-called "Bishop in the woods." The problem with the "Bishop in the woods" idea is that this would limit the Church to some single (and furthermore unknown and remote) location, which the Fathers do teach is impossible, even in the end times. A papal succession would make more sense, but the vastness of such a project would render such perfect concealment as it would have to have consistently attained this whole time quite impossible.
In the article, I basically conclude with, "So, let's take another good hard look at the fourth, for unless someone can actually track down any such phantom hierarchy as the third position posits, or else come up with some fifth alternative, it really is the only credible standing." For this I am called rash? Let anyone, who says that, posit some other additional theory to any of the four listed in that article that I itemized, and with more credibility than any of the four, if they can. They want everything "methodically and systematically" presented? I have done so in the first six installments. Can they do the same for whatever position they would advocate? Can any of them show where, precisely and with suitable names and addresses, where the authority of the Church resides and is being exercised as Catholic authority necessarily must?
But then comes the strangest part. The blogger describes all of those Novus Ordo believers (does he care that some might indeed be "Catholic-at-heart" while others are not?) as being "immune from danger of formal heresy according to the promise of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima in the third portion of the great 'Secret.'" Oh really? Since the Third Secret has never been released, it seems a rather odd thing for anyone to be citing as a source! Why do they not quote the standard Roman theologians and Doctors of the Church, or better still Popes and Councils, in defense of this? Is that what our blogger must turn to in order to justify his attacks on real Catholic clerics? Some claim about what he thinks some unreleased private revelation might have to say? By all evidences, there is no such "immunity," any more than there ever existed any such "immunity" for those in England who stayed in their (now Anglican) churches, subject to King rather than Pope.
For to posit that the conglomerate of acephalous and vagrant clergy in the anti-modernist resistance is to be identified as the Ecclesia docens is equivalent to stating categorically and unequivocally that the "traditionalist movement" is the Church (not just a portion thereof), and that the Johannine-Pauline structures necessarily impute the guilt of formal heresy unto those who adhere to them, without due consideration of the great obfuscation of the present age whereby millions of Catholics yet remain deluded and led astray without guilt of their own.
I have utterly proven that our traditional bishops and priests are neither acephalous nor vagrant, and to refer to them as such is truly libelous, in the legally prosecutable sense of that word. The truly duly authorized clerics of the Church in the "anti-modernist" resistance really and truly ARE to be identified as the Ecclesia docens, pure and simple. And yes, I really do claim that "the 'traditionalist movement' is the Church (not just a portion thereof)." As far back as Chapter one of my book, The Resurrection of the Roman Catholic Church, drafted in September of 1996, that is exactly what is said and meant. For how can anyone who opposes Sacred Tradition be any part of the Church? What I state there is no great thing, but instead practically a tautology.
As to the claim, however, "that the Johannine-Pauline structures necessarily impute the guilt of formal heresy unto those who adhere to them," that is patently false. One might as well say that all validly baptized Protestants are guilty of formal heresy. Such persons as are Protestants or else Novus Ordo may be sincere. They may even be recipients of God's mercy in their personal judgments and permitted to join in death the Church they never actually (in re) joined in life. In view of "the great obfuscation of the present age whereby millions of Catholics yet remain deluded and led astray without guilt of their own," one may even be able to expect such Divine mercy to be a fairly common thing, exactly as it would have to have been for those millions of Englanders who failed to notice the transition of their own churches from Catholic to Anglican.
That said, despite God's mercy upon them, the fact that they are outside the Church will have its deleterious effects on their spiritual lives. Without the true sacraments, provided with infallibly true teachings delivered by authoritative representatives of Jesus Christ's interests on this earth, various besetting sins, religious indifference, and a rote mechanical prayer life will tend to set in. These signs are meant to serve as warnings to them that something has gone wrong. They may do well for a season, or maybe even for the rest of their natural lives, all on the strength of the grace given to them back while they were still in the Church. But they cannot pass it on to the next generation.
Such Divine mercy, however broad it may turn out to be, does not make Novus Ordo believers into Catholics any more than it would make sincere and baptized Protestants into Catholics. The only members of the "Johannine-Pauline structures" that can be counted as Catholics are those who attend, exclusively, the traditional Mass, in their case under the auspices of (formerly) the various "Indults," and now under the terms of the Motu Proprio, or (perhaps), some little-known alternate Rite, as yet uncorrupted, should any such remain after all these years of continuous erosion and pressure.
Furthermore, positing that the conglomerate of acephalous and vagrant clergy in the anti-modernist resistance is to be identified as the Ecclesia docens would indeed invest them with "executive responsibility" for what has been happening with the Church for the past decades: including everything from the Johannine-Pauline council, to the sex abuse scandals and the conspiracy to conceal these crimes, to the immorality rampant and encouraged at such events as the "Youth Days" or whatever they are called, &c.
This really begins to descend into the absurd. Could anyone really blame the Pope or any other authorized Catholic clergy for any of the abuses that developed in the Anglican church after its separation from the Catholic Church? Can the liturgical and doctrinal monstrosities and smashing of altars inflicted upon the Englanders at the direction of King and Thomas Cranmer really be laid at the feet of Bishop Saint John Fisher? What pitifully few clerics as could qualify as Catholic, but who are as yet still members of the "Johannine-Pauline structures" have no real influence in that group, but are sequestered off into some carefully contained "dhimmitude" designed to keep their Novus ordo dupes from finding the true Faith, even as occasionally practiced in some few of their buildings.
And another thing about any such cleric as both a real Catholic cleric while also being a member of the "Johannine-Pauline structures," let us take the example of Bishop Fernando Rifan, the only known Catholic bishop known to have cut a deal with the modernists. Let us hope and assume that his questionable affiliation and the open and public sins and scandals his involvement with them has brought him into from time to time has not managed to deprive him of his canonical mission. However, what canonical mission he has is only that which he obtained from Bishop Licinio Rangel, who in turn obtained it from Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, who in turn obtained it from Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. No matter what the man may think, if he still has a valid canonical mission in the Church, then he owes that and his valid Sacrament of Orders to this lawful succession. His membership in the "Johannine-Pauline structures" of itself is of no more consequence one way or the other than his citizenship in the nation of Brazil. And the same would go for any real Catholic bishop of some alternate Rite, or for that matter, of any "Bishop in the woods."
But regardless of what scandals he has unhappily been drawn into, or even if they have managed to divest him of his canonical mission, it is once again sheer nonsense to lay at his feet all of the vastly numerous heinous Novus Ordo abuses (apart from what truly minuscule handful he was personally involved with), as though there were something HE could have done to stop them from happening. They don't listen to him, who is one of their members; all the more will they not listen to the other Catholic bishops who are not even members of their Œconomia nova. And so the nonsense continues.
If indeed any blame could be laid at the feet of our traditional clergy, it would only be on account of their unwillingness to assert their authority and canonical mission, which sadly has been allowed to languish, dormant, unused, and even atrophied over the years. By their unwillingness to act upon and respect their own true place in the Church, and the places held by each other, it is this which has scandalized the Faithful and curtailed the growth of the Church. But who is to blame for this oversight of theirs? Once upon a time they one and all knew better, and all understood that they possessed by Divine Right the canonical mission and jurisdiction and authority in the Church appropriate to their rank in the Sacrament of Orders, and so began to function, setting up seminaries and founding religious houses and orders of both men and women. But then came the myth, concocted by miscreant home-aloners and Novus Ordo plants, that the authority, which they had heretofore wielded with all the due evidences of Divine approbation and support following, somehow did not really exist. With that, a kind of passivity set in, and the Church, rather than continuing Her expansion, now languishes.
God will have to be the judge of whatever subjective guilt on their part, if any, might have had any role in allowing themselves to be so duped. But that has nothing to do with whether they have the authority or not. A person might think they don't have a certain thing, merely because they don't know where it is, but that isn't proof that they don't have it. But if I can find the certain thing concealed among their possessions (which I have in this case), have I not thereby proven that they do have it? From there, they have but to exercise it, justly and rightly, to see great blessing and growth result, and of course, also some persecution.
Griff L. Ruby
Griff's book is available from iUniverse.com Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at www.the-pope.com We at the DailyCatholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.