Prologue for the Other Readers:
Unlike my essays, this is an open letter of sorts so there will be no bibliography or notes section. (Though I may add them later if I feel so inclined.) Nonetheless, as I do with my essays I try to use as many web sources as possible.
I sense that in much of my correspondence with my friend that I have been addressing symptoms and not the root of the problem. Much like the Hydra in Greek Mythology, which grew additional heads where one was cut off; this problem seems to have spawned more email than I could ever respond to. (Even if I had all the free time in the world - which unfortunately I do not.) Therefore, rather than cut heads off my friend's "Hydra-headed 'traditionalism'", I will aim for the root cause of the problem. I will seek to address explicitly with him what I had sought to avoid previously.
Be warned in advance that I will almost certainly tangent off into some kind of treatise format. This is inevitable when you address someone who seems to only want to think in syllogisms. I intend in this letter to formulate as systematically and concisely as possible - while striving for economy of expression - many points that have been brought up previously with Albert but to no avail. It seems he prefers to deal with Scholastic style systematic approaches so I will do my best to rein in my tendency for vast extrapolations and get down to the nitty gritty if you will.
I ask that the readers of this please pardon any sharpness of tone here for usually I am more irenic. But I consider Albert to be like a brother to me and that means I have a responsibility here that I cannot evade any longer.
I - Introduction and Response to Preliminary Misunderstandings:
I must confess to you something that really disturbs me my friend. Your writings in recent months have resulted in me struggling mightily with my initial governing presupposition about you. (That you are actually interested in Truth as you claim to be and that you desire to be submissive to the will of God.) In all the time that I have known you, in all of our discussions on boards, by email, and by phone I have retained this principle intact. For indeed St. Francis de Sales is clear that one should seek always to excuse any perceived faults in their neighbour without placing unfavourable interpretations upon their actions because "[t]he same action...may be looked upon under many different aspects; a charitable person will ever suppose the best, an uncharitable will just as certainly choose the worst". Struggle as I have at times with this principle, I try to incorporate it at all times - though admittedly I do not always succeed.
Often I have felt like a maverick in this because many people have questioned my reasons for engaging you so often over the years. Part of it was probably because I saw a formidable talent and enjoy a challenge; probably part of it was the reflection of myself and my own struggles that I saw in your arguments - many of which I used to use myself. How can we explain the myriad of elements that go into forming sufficient grounds for seeing an action or viewpoint as a credible one for examination??? Surely they are too numerous to count and each in and of themselves not constituting sufficient proof; however taken together they compel the person one way or another.
For whatever reasons, I always sensed in you the true thirst for Truth; the zeal for abstraction that often is the private reserve of the philosophers. It is certainly this zeal that brought you into the Catholic Church originally - of this I doubt for not an instant. But it is also this same zeal that untethered is drawing you out of the Church now. At one point it seemed to me that we were making progress in that you conceded a few points which were crucial to affirm to avoid making shipwreck of the faith. But in 2002 for whatever reason you have welched on them and are asserting many of the same points I refuted earlier by your own admission. To say that this has left me a bit jaded would be an understatement but it did cause me to look past the surface issues and more into the deeper recesses if you will; the root and matrix of your philosophical weltanschauung.
Maybe part of the reason others saw problems when I did not was because they were not friends with you as I am. They did not hold email correspondence as we do on matters both public as well as private. They did not converse with you by phone as I have where the oft-grating grating writing tone from the boards is counterbalanced by a cooler more tranquil vocal tonality; the overly scholastic reaching Albert of the message boards revealing a more mystical Albert by phone where the sense of mystery is more pronounced. So my picture is a more complete one than what others have of you much as your picture of me is different than what most people may have. Our shared tragedies in private life over the years has also forged a bond if you will, a kind of brotherly love which makes it easier to tolerate things which from someone else would not be tolerated. And it is in light of this bond that the picture I began seeing first faintly and then in greater detail becomes all the more disconcerting to me.
As I noted already, the exchanges of the new year have washed out some of the foundation upon which I based my previous presuppositions. And my gut intuition has been leading me towards a conclusion that I hope and pray is mistaken. But I will not know without your input on the matter because only one person can correct my misperceptions, if indeed they ARE misperceptions on my part: that person is you.
The purpose of this letter is to highlight why I have come to the position that I have with you; to outline the "motives of credibility" for my current state of doubt about your inner intentions. I ask that you not take this as a personal indictment but to reflect upon what I am going to address here. In essence I will be setting out a kind of informal treatise on the matter because such a format I believe meshes more with your preferred approach to discussion matter. As it is in many ways a departure from my usual methodology, I apologize in advance if the material lacks a polished synthesis. For coupled with the method is the fact that I am writing this as a friend; hence I am not as detached from the subject matter as I generally am when writing an essay like composition.
Letter to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal
Peggy Noonan's shallow understanding of ecumenism is reflected in her praise of our present pope: "His readiness to canonize is in service of an eagerness to evangelize. This is John Paul's desire: To raise up from as many nationalities, ethnic groups and indigenous peoples as possible".
[Note: It seems that you think manifesting the true understanding of catholicity is considered a *detriment*.]
The Church is not McDonald's. Canonizing saints (464 now served!) is not the way to market Catholicism to the world.
It is quite sad that you see Catholicism as a "commodity" to be "marketed" rather than a way of life that is to be lived!!! Who has lived the Catholic life better than the saints and blesseds - a small fraction of which I might add receive official recognition by the Church??? Indeed this was one of the "grounds of credibility" if you will that the First Vatican Council listed as proof of the Church's divine mission: the holiness of those who lived in accordance with her teachings. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith notes this same principle that you lambaste the pope for by stating:
"[T]he church herself by reason of her astonishing propagation, her outstanding holiness and her inexhaustible fertility in every kind of goodness, by her catholic unity and her unconquerable stability, is a kind of great and perpetual motive of credibility and an incontrovertible evidence of her own divine mission." [Vatican I: Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius §3,12 (c. 1870)]Pope John Paul II certainly sees this but apparently you do not. Or if you DO then you are simply looking for another cudgel to beat the pope with in your version of an ecclesial "hippie counter-culture rebellion". But out of charity (yet again) I will presume that it is simple ignorance without malicious intent on your part - a presumption that it is getting harder and harder for me to intellectually sustain in light of the evidences you continually present.
I will state it up front and in terse language: I do not believe you have any idea what Catholicism is actually about. You take a capitalist model whereby abundance is criticized as "waste" rather than the view that abundance of good is to be commended and not condemned. This is the faulty thinking that drives the population control advocates. This is the faulty thinking that drives certain nations to deliberately sterilize certain parts of farmland so that what is produced is not "excessive". Who cares that there are millions who are hungry, we cannot "lower food prices". We cannot give a man an increase in pay if he has an addition to his family because that would *encourage* him to add yet another to the family, etc. And it matters not that more people means more commerce and more products moved down the road: where will it get us NOW is the question???
This is typical of the short-sighted thinking common to economically myopic people; those who view scarcity as something to be strived for if an item's "value" is to be "increased". In this frame of mind we should never canonize saints in fact we should go a few hundred years to allow those we have canonized to "increase" in "value". So to a father with nine children each child is not of inestimable value but instead the "value" is proportionate to the number of children he has. If this is the case then people should not procreate so the "value" is infinite. If you reject this notion, which I believe you do, you should see that your assertion is a logical corollary to it: the underlying premise is that scarcity determines value rather than what determines value is whether or not something is good. And more saints and beatifieds to witness to the "astonishing propagation, outstanding holiness, and inexhaustible fertility in every kind of goodness" (cf. Vatican I) is not a bad thing. Instead it is a good thing. But those who do not think like Catholics and whose "wisdom" is worldly would see this picture as one of foolishness. After all, God's wisdom is often seen as foolishness by those who are carnal and not spiritual in their thinking. But enough on that point as there is more to address.
II - Errors in Light of Traditional Catholic Concepts:
Can anyone find a single American that converted to Catholicism as a result of the pope canonizing American saints? I don_t think so.
Considering that only a couple of Americans had been canonized prior to 1978, your request is ludicrous. Nevertheless, since you brought it up, there was a serious problem with the Church not manifesting her catholicity in those whom she has either raised to the altar (through canonization) or whom she has recognized as possessing holiness to be emulated by others (through beatification). In recent decades some of the imbalance has been corrected but there are still certain areas where the universal call to holiness that the Catholic Faith makes is not recognized in the diversity of vocational charisms represented by elevation to the altar.
Previously the majority of people elevated to the altar were either clergy or religious. Great thinkers, mystics, and average people - especially married people - were noticeably absent from those elevated to the altar from the eleventh century onward when canonization was reserved to Rome. This lacuna was particularly evident after the fourteenth century when the lawyers made the process into a trial rather than an inquiry and minor quibbles could drag out an investigation for decades and even centuries.
This comment is not intended to slam lawyers mind you. Instead it is intended to point to a truism about law that was summarized well by Catholic apologist and attorney Stephen P. Haws. To quote Stephen "[m]y experience as an attorney has taught me that no matter how brilliant and correct your legal brief, you can be sure that your opponent will ALWAYS file an opposing brief no matter how frivolous or incorrect." As the process in the twentieth century was shifted more to an academic model and less of a courtroom model, it is easier to beatify and canonize since the reforms promulgated in 1983: a direct result of over twenty years of research and consultation by canonists and theologians. The process is more flexible and (as a result) more "productive" if you will. To quote Kenneth Woodward from an overall very good book I plan to review on the process of making saints:
On the deepest level, the conflict within the congregation was not between two kinds of officials, or even two procedural systems. It was between two different mentalities, two different habits of craft and consciousness, two methods of getting at the sustaining spirit and truth of a person's life. [Kenneth Woodward: Making Saints, pg. 95 (c. 1989)]Basically Mr. Woodward points to the strengths and weaknesses of the formerly juridical mentality (the one that for about six centuries held sway as the template followed) as follows. The strength of the juridical method he outlined as one of "respect for the good order of the church community not wanting to lead them astray by false enthusiasm or bogus miracles" (Making Saints pg. 95). But the weakness of the method were numerous including (1) An ahistorical notion of the Church as a universal institution - always the same at all times, places, language, and rules followed (2) It sought similarities among the saints and worked off of established patterns - often trying to cram people into pre-existent models based on precedent (3) The method betrayed a certain presumption of candidates as being guilty of ordinary humanity in a court where only the extraordinary was accepted (cf. Making Saints, pg. 95).
It is undeniable that many saints of the first millennium would never have made it through the system as it had developed in the Middle Ages. (Including some of the Church's greatest Fathers and Doctors.) And though the system was reformed in an important manner in 1588 by the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Sixtus V (establishing the Congregation for Rites for handling causes and verifying the authenticity of relics), what resulted in subsequent centuries was even more formality being added to the system. (Particularly by expert jurists such as Urban VIII and especially Benedict XIV who systematized it; many of the regulations of these popes are still in effect on the modern process along with the prescriptions of Sixtus V and some earlier popes.) It is not that the system was detonated and rebuilt as much as the "engine" if you will was beefed up in a few areas and made sleeker in areas where it was kinda clunky previously.
In essence the approach was formulated around a new procedural method, which developed around the late eighteenth to nineteenth centuries: the historical method. It was more academic and less juridical. It first made a bit of impact on the older process in 1930 when Pope Pius XI added a history section to ancient causes to help solve problems that the juridical formularies either could not or which would have otherwise taken too long to put into effect. From there the beatifications and canonizations began increasing in number with each succeeding pontificate.
Pope Pius XI had one more beatification and three times as many canonizations as his two predecessors combined. Pope Pius XII had almost twice as many beatifications and was one shy of as many canonizations as his three predecessors combined. Pope John XXIII had more beatifications than Benedict XV, less than Pius X but more canonizations than the two combined. And Pope Paul VI had nearly as many beatifications as Pius XI and Pius XII combined and more canonizations than any pope in history except Pius XI and Pius XII. But despite greater recent output, the system inherited by Pope John Paul II (JP II) still had many problems - a few of which will be noted here.
To start with, it could be ridiculously expensive from initiation of a cause all the way to canonization. As a result it was practically impossible for those of meager means to either initiate proceedings or - once initiated - keep a cause going. (Of course either the religious orders or rich aristocratic families/church benefactors could keep their pet causes afloat but the rest were sunk.) As a result certain types of people generally fell through the cracks - basically if you were not a religious or martyr you were effectively persona non grata. This was not stated of course but it was implied by default.
Thus you quite often had the Church canonizing saints that the populace were rather indifferent towards. Specific groups such as thinkers, mystics, lawyers, doctors, business men, writers, married people, and lay women were almost never to be found. Again this was not as much that the Church was indifferent towards them per se as that the cost of the process and the time involved were far beyond the means of almost everyone. (Unless they were either rich or had ecclesiastical connections. But even in those the process often took a long time.) The reforms of JP II have made the process cheaper in many ways but how much so is hard to tell since none of those he has beatified or canonized to my knowledge have had their causes solely within the current epoch of the process. (Meaning from initiation to completion by canonization all within the post-1983 period.)
Also, the old protocol could at times drag into infinity on the most mundane of details. (The abuses of the Devil's Advocate function from a procedural as well as financial standpoint was one area that came under severe criticisms; criticisms that the reform of JP II took into account.) The call at Vatican II to review the saint making machinery was one taken seriously. Among the steps taken was appointing of a commission consisting of jurists and theologians that examined the issue of reforming the formal process in detail (over the course of about twenty years) and proposed alterations. So the gist of this can be summed up as follows: you griped about an issue that has a good deal of complexity to it and did so from a deficient, utilitarian, overly-suspicious, contemptuous, and anti-Catholic capitalist outlook. Maybe lighting a little candle rather than cursing the darkness is in order here.
The historical section of the process was added by Pope Pius XI - whom as Achille Ratti was a former librarian and a scholar in his own right. Nonetheless, this writer is of the opinion that one of those who helped influence the papal decision to add this section to the process in 1930 was Monsignor Montini (Paul VI). It is not often realized or appreciated the extent to which Monsignor Montini was influential behind the scenes of the pontificates of his three predecessors. Nonetheless the current historical mentality takes a different approach in many ways from the juridical one while still retaining some of the former functions. The difference is in the outlooks if you will.
The historical method focuses on documentable specifics. It is also sufficiently skeptical of exaggerated spiritual heroics in a manner that the previous method was not. While it retains a healthy criticism of these areas, at the same time it is not superficially so. (The role of the Devil's Advocate has been drastically reduced.) Assertions had to be demonstrated rather than each hagiographer trying to outdo his predecessor in outlandish fashion as was not uncommon previously. Nor is the current method as tedious as previously when the promoter and advocate dominated the proceedings with bickering on matters which were not infrequently rather trivial. And the historical method also tries to take people as they are and does not try to cram them into pre-arranged "cake pan" kind of molds; discarding those who were not a proper "fit" if you will.
It can be accurately said that historical approach looks at people as individuals; examining their lives for evidences of how they were able to successfully inculcate the theological and cardinal virtues in accordance with their particular vocations in life. The newer approach is not perfect and it is not without its problems too (of course). But I have *NO* patience with those who are critical of what they do not even remotely understand and/or express no interest in understanding a position that they are presumptuous enough to attack. And this issue is unquestionably one that you have a profound lacuna of knowledge in. (And not the only one as the balance of this letter will point out.)
Because it is cheaper and more efficient, more "volume" if you will can be moved though this is primarily in the area of beatifications. (JP II has only actually canonized fifty-nine saints thus far. This is as many as Pius XI and Pius XII combined; less than Pius XII, John XXIII, and Paul VI combined.) While not infallible as canonizations are, they still carry with them a moral certainty if you will. Nonetheless, I hope it is clear how ridiculously facile your comments on the matter actually were and why they contribute to my current viewpoint of your outlook. (Which as I noted earlier has changed in the new year.)
In light of what we have covered, one could see the glass as half full and see JP II correcting the imbalance from 1220-1334 where there were twenty-six canonizations: as many as Pius XI's entire pontificate. By that score he and Pope Pius XII (thirty-three in nineteen years) would be viewed as "excessive" as their totals were unprecedented. Not to mention Pius XII's twenty-three beatifications being more than John XXIII, Pius XI, Benedict XV, and Pius X combined. (And surpassed prior to JP II by only Pope Paul VI.) The reality is, the numbers of canonized and beatified have increased every century for quite some time. But let us reveal to the other readers why this is not a problem to you and to others who launch these kinds of criticisms on this issue and countless others.
You and I both know that Pius XII and Pius XI - their canonization and beatification boons contra precedent notwithstanding - get a free pass at all times. Only their successors are bludgeoned with inconsequential drivel by historically hubristic "traditionalists". This is the real reason and it is maintained by the same pathetic paradigmatic peccadillos that enable trads to "strain the gnat and swallow the camel" constantly. Meanwhile, these nattering nabobs of negativism emulate the antics and tactics of heretics and schismatics of the past and justify themselves by appealing to a mythical cloak of "tradition"; a cloak as thin as the one worn by Hans Christian Anderson's fabled Emperor. Only because of vincible (at best) or crass (at worst) ignorance of both Church history and the very Tradition they claim to be preserving could such a charade be maintained. Meanwhile those of us who know better are not fooled by it for an instant.
And we can thank God for that. For I couldn't think of a worse reason for anyone to convert to Catholicism than out of national, ethnic, or indigenous pride in having one of one's own being canonized a saint.
I agree if what we are referring to is a primary motive. But there may well be some people on the periphery who may well convert as a result of such things. For after all, conversion to a particular point of view is generally the result of a cumulation of subjective "grounds" as I noted to you earlier that give someone a foundation of credibility for assenting to the Catholic claims. (Traditionally these are referred to as the "motives/grounds of credibility".) Different people assent to a proposal utilizing differing criterion of course but how can someone of good will not be moved by another who has lived a life of charity???
Setting Noonan's sycophantic pimping of this pope's ecumenical methodology aside, it is simply false for her to assert that this pope has any _eagerness to evangelize._
And you are there for the pope's every conversation??? For some reason I *highly* doubt it.
Before continuing this, a traditional definition or two is necessary to put your presuppositions into proper context. For you have what my friend Stephen Hand would refer to as a "hermeneutic of suspicion". Meaning: you take it as an a priori position to question anything and everything that this pope or his predecessors going back to Pius XII have done. You act in similar fashion with the resolutions of the last ecumenical council. Two terms need to be addressed here in brief, the concepts of pride and suspicion. I quote from my Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary original copyright from 1931. (Donald Attwater, General Editor.) On page 510 "suspicion" is defined as follows (all emphasis is mine):
Suspicion - St. Thomas distinguishes three degrees of suspicion: when one begins to question anothers goodness on slight grounds, usually a venial fault; when one thinks on slight ground that another is certainly wicked, and this is a mortal sin in the case of grave matter; and when one condemns another outright merely on suspicion, and this is a sin against justice. "If we cannot avoid suspicion, because we are men, we should at least avoid judgments, that is, definite and positive opinions" (St. Augustine)".[Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Donald Attwater General Editor, tenth edition, pg. 510 (c. 1941)]I believe on not slight grounds that you are guilty of at least two of these degrees of suspicion - both of which are objectively mortal because the matters you are guilty in are acts consisting of grave matter. On page 422 the dictionary defines "pride" as follows:
Pride, a capital vice opposed to humility (q.v.) consisting in excessive love of one's own excellence, exhibited in three ways: (a) Contempt for lawful authority - a mortal sin; (b) Contempt for equals or inferiors - mortal or venial according to the depth of contempt; (c) Desire to surpass one's equals - a venial sin. St. Thomas and many other spiritual writers put pride in a class by itself as the most deadly and devastating of all vices, which has its part in every sin, of whatever sort that is committed; for every sin is in its degree a contempt of God and often our superior and our neighbour as well. Pride feeds and thrives itself, continually stirring up the mind and will of man to rebellion against the moral law and against his lawful and qualified teachers, whether religious or civil. Ambition, presumption, and vainglory (qqv) are among the most immediate handmaids of pride".[Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Donald Attwater General Editor, tenth edition, pg. 422 (c. 1941)]I submit to you my friend that every area emphasized above seems to apply to you. Heck your entire WSJ article could be posted as a "witness" for this assertion of mine - to say nothing of the series where you presume without warrant that Lumen Gentium is contra Tradition when any reasonably informed Catholic knows this is impossible. Not to mention numerous other examples down through the years but I want to avoid digression and stick to the subject at hand. I exhort you to meditate long and hard upon these glaring parallels you have with untraditional and unCatholic thinking and presuppositions. For the others reading this piece, I ask them to offer masses and prayers for you to receive the grace to overcome this infection. This is a sickness my friend, and of the most serious kind there is. It is a common malady certainly but some people it infects worse than others. And in such serious cases as this it will lead to perdition if it is not rooted out and destroyed.
Part III - Errors in Light of Vatican I's Decrees and Definitions, and Dr. Ludwig Ott's Explanation of Certain Logical Extensions of Said Teachings Thereof:
What is incontrovertable (if we take your writings at face value) is that you have a genuine contempt for your superiors. And if we add to this equation your actions which manifest your inner weltanschauung, this even more crystallizes to your discredit. For indeed you openly defy your diocesan bishop, you continually insult the Holy Father by seemingly seeking to put him in the worst light you possibly can as often as possible. Further still, you constantly seek to either distort the Second Vatican Council or you continually use as sources those who have a track record of this behaviour over the years - most notably Remnant magazine and Angelus: which you have claimed before are two of your favourites. These are examples of "spiritual pornography" if you will. And this metaphor is quote apropo because "traditionalism" gives an appearance of true Catholicism which immediately vanishes once the mirror of Catholic teaching is held up to examine it; like the vampire it is, there is no reflection of truth to be had.
The appearance of adherence to the faith handed once for all to the saints is a veneer and the soul is blinded, the mind is darkened. The seeds that will destroy your soul are sown by these kinds of publications because they are bereft of charity; it cannot thrive in such an environment. Instead there is the blind leading the blind. The result is that both will fall into the pit (cf. Matt. xv,14; Luke vi,39). Do I have to reiterate to you the implications of the dogmas of papal primacy and what you are required to not only profess by mouth but to hold in reality as well (which I might add you fail to do the latter)??? How about we start with the definition of papal primacy and jurisdiction in the First Vatican Council. Here are teachings that must be definitively held by all Catholics:
Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, BOTH SINGULARLY AND COLLECTIVELY, ARE BOUND TO SUBMIT TO THIS POWER BY THE DUTY OF HIERARCHICAL SUBORDINATION AND TRUE OBEDIENCE, and this *not* only in matters concerning faith and morals, BUT ALSO IN THOSE WHICH REGARD THE DISCIPLINE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH THROUGHOUT THE WORLD...[Vatican I: Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus §3,2 (c. 1870)]Not merely content with teaching a doctrine to be definitively held by virtue of faith in the Church to expound inerrantly on matters pertaining to Divine Revelation (sententia definitive tenenda fides ecclesiastica), Vatican I takes it a step further to dogma credenda:
So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this NOT ONLY IN MATTERS OF FAITH AND MORALS, BUT ALSO IN THOSE WHICH CONCERN THE DISCIPLINE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH DISPERSED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE WORLD; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: LET HIM BE ANATHEMA.[Vatican I: Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus §3,9 (c. 1870)]You have been warned again my friend. I am calling you to profess and practice precisely what you are denying in practice. Otherwise you are a heretic according to the First Vatican Ecumenical Council. And as St. Thomas noted, "the universal church cannot err, since she is governed by the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of truth: for such was Our Lord's promise to His disciples (Jn. 16:13)". There is no greater and more incontrovertable example of the universal church than an ecumenical council the resolutions of which have been accepted by the Roman pontiff. This applies by the way to both Vatican councils as infallibility extends to all teachings or practices that either explicitly or tacitly affect the universal church in its transmission of the faith.
Now if you open your book "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma", Book IV, Part II, Chapter II, Section VII, you will see how the doctrine above is properly understood according to Tradition. I quote from pages 285-286:
In consonance with this declaration, the Primatial power is: a) A true power of jurisdiction that is, a true governing power, not merely a warrant of supervision or direction, such as, for example, belongs to the president of a political party, or a society, or of a conference. As a governmental power, it embraces the full power of legislation, administration of justice (disputed and voluntary jurisdiction) and of its execution. Corresponding to it on the part of the subjects IS THE DUTY OF SUBORDINATION AND OF OBEDIENCE.I highlighted the "ordinary power" clause because that is an episcopal element that will come into play when discussing the authority of the diocesan bishop later on as well. Basically the pope is for the universal church what the bishop is of his own dioceses. That is the subject that we will treat on next after we deal with some definitions of words. But in brief: you do not profess and adhere to the dogmas credenda and doctrines tenenda referred to above by your own admission. Please reflect upon this while we move on to discuss traditional terms and concepts as well as the ramifications of episcopal power and authority as they are understood by true Traditionalists (properly so-called).
b) A universal power, that is, it extends personally to the pastors (bishops) and to the faithful, totally and individually, of the whole Church. Materially it refers, not merely to matters of faith and morals (teaching office), but also to Church discipline and government (pastoral office).
c) Supreme power in the Church, that is, there is no jurisdiction possessing a greater or equally great power. The power of the Pope transcends both the power of each individual bishop and also of all the other bishops together. The bishops collectively (apart from the Pope), therefore, are not equal to or superior to the Pope.
d) A full power, that is, the Pope possesses of himself alone, the whole fullness of the Church power of jurisdiction and not merely a greater share than the other bishops taken individually or conjointly. Thus the Pope can rule independently on any matter which comes under the sphere of the Church's jurisdiction without the concurrence of the other bishops or of the rest of the Church.
e) An ordinary power, that is, it is connected with the office, by virtue of divine ordinance, and is not delegated from a higher possessor of jurisdiction. Thus it can be exercised at any time, i.e., not merely in exceptional cases, e.g., where the bishops neglect their pastoral duties in their territories (Febronius, Eybel).
f) A truly episcopal power, that is, the Pope is just as much a "universal bishop" of the whole Church, as he is bishop of his diocese of Rome ("Episcopus Urbis et Orbis"; Jacob of Viterbo). Thus, the Papal power, LIKE ANY OTHER EPISCOPAL POWER, embraces the legislative, the juridical and the punitive power.
g) An immediate power, that is, the Pope can exercise his power, without the intervention of an intermediary, over the bishops and the faithful of the whole Church. [Dr. Ludwig Ott: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Book IV, Part II, Chapter II, Section VII pgs. 285-286 (c. 1952)]
IV - More Errors in Light of Traditional Catholic Concepts:
Now that we have treated on the subject of the pope and how you deny defacto certain dogmas of faith promulgated by the First Vatican Council, we will touch on some key definitions which you misuse often as a kind of segue into the discussion on the authority of bishops.
The terms that will be defined here (and I will expect them to be used correctly in the future) are heresy, schism, and apostasy - along with some of their derivatives. I quote from the Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary tenth edition again for these terms from pages 239-240 - all emphasis is mine:
Heresy (Gk...choice, sect). As a sin heresy consists in the formal denial or doubt by a baptized person of any revealed truth of the Catholic Faith; AS A CRIME IT CONSISTS IN THE OUTWARD AND PERTINACIOUS MANIFESTATION OF THE SIN. Heresy differs from apostasy and schism(qq.v). Anyone guilty of the CRIME of heresy incurs excommunication ipso facto specially reserved to the pope in the internal forum (q.v.); in the external forum the local ordinary can absolve under conditions specified in law and then any approved confessor can absolve the sin. The sin of heresy is not reserved by common law apart from the crime, but the commission of the crime involves the reservation of the sin because of the censure. Heresy which is not formal, that is material heresy (q.v.) is neither a sin nor a crime, but material heretics are subject to certain disabilities in canon law E.G. EXCLUSION FROM THE SACRAMENTS, from ecclesiastical burial, church patronage, sponsorship, benefices, etc.There is also the term "schism" and its derivative. From the same dictionary pg. 476 (for schism) and pg. 477 (for schismatic) respectively:
Heresy, Material. Heresy which is the outcome of ignorance and accompanied by no obstinacy of the will, e.g. a Protestant who has never suspected that his own is not the true religion (q.v.). It is without guilt so long as there is no doubt in the heretics' mind regarding his false position. It is opposed to formal heresy which is the deliberate denial or doubt of a revealed truth.[Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Donald Attwater General Editor, tenth edition, pgs. 239-240 (c. 1941)]
Schism (Gr. ...split). The refusal to submit to the authority of the pope OR to hold communion with members of the Church subject to him. It differs from Apostasy and Heresy (qq.v.) but to which schism very often leads. Anyone guilty of an external act of schism is ipso facto excommunicated; the conditions for absolution are the same as for heresy. The sacraments may not be administered to schismatics, even those who in good faith.Finally, there is the theological term of "apostasy" which you continually misapply. From the dictionary pgs. 30 and 31:
Schismatic. In its strict sense, one who voluntarily, knowingly, and deliberately separates himself from the unity of the Church. Ordinarily one who is so separated is called a schismatic regardless of the circumstances, but "anyone born and brought up in a schismatic church and turned away in good faith from the Roman Church, not knowing her to be the one true church...is called by the epithet 'schismatic' only in an improper sense; he is not in fact party to the sin of schism" (Jugie, Theol. Dogm. I. pg. 17). Such is apparently the state for the overwhelming majority of non-Catholic Christians today, but the fact of their good faith in their inherited errors does not relieve them of the obligation to examine the claims of the Catholc Church when brought to their notice. (cf. Apostasy, Heresy, Schism).[Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Donald Attwater General Editor, tenth edition, pgs. 476-477 (c. 1941)]
Apostasy (Gr., desertion). i. Apostasy from the Faith (a fide) is the act whereby a baptized person, after possessing the true Christian faith, totally rejects it. It differs from heresy and schism (qq.v). The abandonment of Christianity by one who though baptized in the Catholic Church, has been brought up from infancy in a non-Catholic sect is not apostasy in the proper sense. The complete abandonment of the practice of the faith is not apostasy nor even a presumption of apostasy. A PERSON IS AN APOSTATE WHETHER HE JOINS A NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGION such as Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, OR FALLS INTO UNBELIEF, ATHEISM, MATERIALISM, AGNOSTICISM, RATIONALISM, INDIFFERENTISM, OR "FREE-THOUGHT"... Penalties are incurred only for the crime of apostasy not for the sin; there must be some external act. Apostates remain subject to the laws of the Church..Now my friend, I want to make this perfectly clear to you: Any future discussions we have on matters of the faith will be contingent upon your proper use of these terms. If they cannot be used properly then I have no interest in discussions; as you would in essence be engaging in a form of Nominalism whereby words do not actually have certain fixed meanings and can mean whatever the individual wants. This principle was condemned by St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas and Mother Church has resolutely upheld that position herself in her definitions and declarations. I trust therefore that you and I can stand with these intellectual titans - and with the Church - on the principle that words mean things. If so then you must use the terms correctly.
Apostate. One who after possessing the Catholic Faith totally rejects it...[Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Donald Attwater General Editor, tenth edition, pgs. 30-31 (c. 1941)]
I can remain silent about your abuse of these terms no longer as they cause grave harm to you and also to other people. Often have you lamented that most people today do not think. I therefore find it ironic that by your virtual Nominalism you would prevent a common foundation of terms and concepts to be established which would AID people in being able to reason. Fruitful discourse between us can only come with a greater difficulty than it needs to when adherence to this principle is lacking. And as I have reinvented the wheel on this issue for the last time, the request is made by me that you kindly use these words correctly and in accordance with their traditional meaning.
V - More Errors in Light of Vatican I's Decrees and Definitions, Dr. Ludwig Ott's Explanation of Certain Logical Extensions of Said Teachings Thereof, and the Admonitions of Sacred Scripture:
With regards to the terms noted above, we will touch on whether any of them apply to you after the section on the authority of the bishops; which is what will be dealt with now starting with what Vatican I taught on the matter:
[The] power of the Supreme Pontiff by no means detracts from that ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which bishops, who have succeeded to the place of the apostles by appointment of the Holy Spirit, tend and govern individually the particular flocks which have been assigned to them. On the contrary, this power of theirs is asserted, supported and defended by the Supreme and Universal Pastor; for St. Gregory the Great says: "My honor is the honor of the whole Church. My honor is the steadfast strength of my brethren. Then do I receive true honour, when it is denied to none of those to whom honour is due".[Vatican I: Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus §3,5 (c. 1870)]And yes a bishop is deserving of honour even if sometimes it is only by virtue of his office. Our Lord's words "He who hears you hears me" (Matt. x,40; Luke x,16; John xiii,20) were not spoken in a vacuum or without meaning. Nor were His words to the Apostles in the Upper Room "as the Father hath sent me do I likewise send you" (John xx,21) superfluous. This is why St. Paul noted that it was imperative that "everyone be subject to the higher authorities, for there exists no authority except from God and those who exist have been appointed by God" (Romans xiii,1). And he continued this thought with "Therefore, he who resists the authority resists the ordinance of God; and they that resist bring on themselves condemnation" (Romans xiii,2).
St. Peter was very terse in noting that "the Lord knows how to deliver the God-fearing from temptation and to reserve the wicked for torment on the day of judgment, but especially those who follow the flesh in unclean lust and despise authority"(2 Pet. ii,9-10). And again "[r]ash and self-willed such men in their deriding do not regard majesty; whereas angels, though greater in strength and power do not bring against themselves an abusive charge. But these men like irrational animals created by nature for capture and destruction, deride what they do not understand, and will perish in their own corruption, receiving thereby the recompense of their wrongdoing" (2 Pet. ii,10-13).
St. Jude in a similar mode of thought referred to certain ungodly men who "defile the flesh, disregard authority, deride majesty" who "deride what they do not know; and the things they know by instinct like the dumb beasts becomes for them a source of destruction" (Jude i,8,10). The Apostle was quick to declare of such men "woe to them, for they have gone the way of Cain, and have rushed on thoughtlessly into the error of Balaam for the sake of gain, and have perished in the rebellion of Korah" (Jude i,11). You can open your Bible to the Old Testament to read more about Balaam as I am sure you know about Cain. As for Korah, I noted in my treatise that "traditionalists" who reject the authority of the Church are in the same camp as Korah. Read Numbers 16 to see what God thought of people who challenged His established order. But before losing track let us go back to doctrinal exposition of what Ludwig Ott says of that in Book IV, Part II, Chapter II, Section IX (pgs. 289-290):
By virtue of divine right the bishops possess an ordinary power of government over their dioceses. (De fide.) According to this declaration the episcopal power is:The power within the dioceses is supreme and without appeal except of course to the pope. But barring a papal response the directives of the bishop which are not directly contrary to a papal edict are to be obeyed with religious submission. And the Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei was not such an edict as it was a call to the bishops not in the form of command but of request.
a) An ordinary power, that is, it is associated with the episcopal office.
b) An immediate power, that is, it is not practiced at the order of a superior, but in the Bishop's own name. Thus bishops are not delegates (agents) and not vicars (representatives) of the Pope, but independent pastors of the flocks entrusted to them, even though they are subordinate to the Pope.
c) A power appointed by God; for the Apostles, on the ground of Divine ordinance, whether in the immediate commission of Christ, or on the direction of the Holy Ghost (Acts 20, 28) have passed on their pastoral office to the bishops. The bishops are the successors of the Apostles, not in such a manner that an individual bishop is a successor of an individual Apostle, but that the bishops in their totality are successors of the College of Apostles.
d) A true pastoral power, as it embraces all the ecclesiastical powers appertaining to the exercise of the pastoral office, the power to legislate, to judge and to punish. [Dr. Ludwig Ott: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Book IV, Part II, Chapter II, Section IX pgs. 289-290 (c. 1952)]
So the bishops are not disobedient to ED if they do not allow the Indult however displeasing it is that some do not do this. (As one who was in correspondence with his bishop for two years on this issue - and with regards to obtaining an Indult that I have yet to use btw - I am not unaware of the many factors involved here including some reasons for not allowing it even if personally these reasons are not convincing to me.)
In light of the admonitions above from Scripture to obey lawful authority, hopefully you will start taking the episcopal power seriously for once because God is not mocked. I will quote from the aforementioned Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary on the jurisdiction of bishops pg. 62. (All emphasis again is mine.)
Bishops, Jurisdiction of. Bishops are the successors of the Apostles and by divine institution rule their dioceses with ordinary power under the authority of the pope. They have legislative, juridical, and executive power...[A] bishop can enact those laws which he considers for the good of his dioceses and he is a judge in the first instance in all ecclesiastical trials; he can punish lay people with censures and clerics by deprivation of offices or censures (qv). He has supreme direction of the clergy, the conduct of divine worship, administration of ecclesiastical property, building of churches, etc.[Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Donald Attwater General Editor, tenth edition, pg. 62 (c. 1941)]Supreme direction means precisely that: supreme and without appeal in the dioceses. (Ordinary power means the bishop governs by his own authority and not a delegated authority ala priests and deacons, etc.) Only the pope can overrule a diocesan bishop and until JP II does this, you are to obey your diocesan bishop with regards to the conduct of divine worship. Otherwise you have removed yourself from the ecclesiastical body as a formal schismatic and are a cousin to Korah. And such formal schismatics cannot be saved. PERIOD.
VI - Errors in Light of the Doctrine of Church Indefectibility, and the "Trad" Confusion of Substance and Accidents as Explained by Dr. Ludwig Ott:
We will be moving on now from the subject of your rebellion against God's established order to the doctrine of indefectibility. In discussing the latter, Dr. Ott noted that it is theologically certain and hence infallible. On page 296 he explains "indefectible" in the following manner:
In saying that the Church is indefectible we assert both her imperishableness, that is, her constant duration to the end of the world, and the essential immutability of her teaching, her constitution, and her liturgy. THIS DOES NOT EXCLUDE the decay of individual "churches" (i.e. parts of the Church) AND ACCIDENTAL CHANGES.[Dr. Ludwig Ott: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Book IV, Part II, Chapter IV, Section XII pg. 296 (c. 1952)]All gripes of self-styled "traditionalists" about the liturgy and the sacraments are to accidental changes made. You see, they confuse substance with accidents continually - much as they confuse doxis (doctrine) and praxis (practice). Briefly on substance and accidents as per the sacraments (and the same principle applies to the liturgy) Ott on page 338 notes the following:
To be distinguished from the essential rites of the Sacraments based on Divine ordinance are the accidental rites, ceremonies, and prayers, which, in the course of time became current by custom or the positive prescription of the Church...[Dr. Ludwig Ott: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Book IV, Part III, Chapter III, Section VI pg. 338 (c. 1952)]Hopefully you will heed what I have written above and not make me bring the Council of Trent Session XXI to the stand to oppose your position. (You are already waaay in over your head as it is and we are not finished yet.)
VII - Errors in Light St. Pius X's Catechism and its Teachings on the Obedience Owed to the Pope and One's Diocesan Bishop:
One reason I ran a series on Traditional Catholic Obedience earlier in the year at Steve Ray's Message Board is precisely because self-styled "traditionalists" are so far from the real deal that it is sad. I am not perfect myself (and my track record as a "trad" was not commendable either) but people can always change. It used to be par for the course that the Holy Father was treated with respect by faithful Catholics. It used to be par for the course that even if they did not like what he said that they accepted his authoritative pronouncements with religious submission. Those who did not do this litter the historical landscape and NONE of them have to my knowledge ever been canonized. Nor will they ever be either.
Would you ever speak to your own father as disrespectfully as you do about the pope??? Would you ever interpret your father's every statement or action in the worst possible light you could and parade his failings (real or imagined) in public in a manner that would do him dishonour??? If so then you are being consistent in doing this with the pope. If not then become consistent in how you treat the Holy Father if you want to give credibility to the claim that you are a Catholic.
Here are some passages from a catechism written by Pope St. Pius X himself which can be instructive on this subject:
45 Q: Who, then, are they who possess the teaching power in the Church? A: The teaching power in the Church is possessed by the Pope and the Bishops, and, dependent on them, by the other sacred ministers.Your lacuna in profession of the faith is quite striking my friend. But as I can sense the jaw hitting the floor on reading the above, I will temper it a bit by pointing out some presuppositions that must be taken into account when speaking on the matter of obedience.
46 Q: Are we obliged to hear the Teaching Church? A: Yes, without doubt we are obliged under pain of eternal damnation to hear the Teaching Church; for Jesus Christ has said to the Pastors of His Church, in the persons of the Apostles: "He who hears you, hears Me, and he who despises you, despises Me."
47 Q: Besides her teaching power has the Church any other power? A: Yes, besides her teaching power the Church has in particular the power of administering sacred things, of making laws and of exacting the observance of them.
62 Q: How should every Catholic act towards the Pope? A: Every Catholic must acknowledge the Pope as Father, Pastor, and Universal Teacher, and be united with him in mind and heart.
63 Q: After the Pope, who are they who by Divine appointment are to be most venerated in the Church? A: After the Pope, those who by Divine appointment are to be most venerated in the Church are the Bishops.
64 Q: Who are the Bishops? A: The Bishops are the pastors of the faithful; placed by the Holy Ghost to rule the Church of God in the Sees entrusted to them, in dependence on the Roman Pontiff.
65 Q: What is a Bishop in his own diocese? A: A Bishop in his own diocese is the lawful Pastor, the Father, the Teacher, the Superior of all the faithful, ecclesiastic and lay belonging to his diocese.
67 Q: To whom do the Pope and the Bishops succeed? A: The Pope is the successor of St. Peter. the Prince of the Apostles; and the Bishops are the Successors of the Apostles, in all that regards the ordinary government of the Church.
68 Q: Must the faithful be in union with their Bishop? A: Yes, all the faithful, ecclesiastic and lay, should be united heart and soul with their Bishop, who is in favor and communion with the Apostolic See.
69 Q: How should the faithful act towards their own Bishop? A: Each one of the faithful, both ecclesiastic and lay, should revere, love, and honor his own Bishop and render him obedience in all that regards the care of souls and the spiritual government of the diocese.[Pope St. Pius X Catechism: The Apostles Creed, Article IX, Questions 45-47; 62-65; 67-69 (c. 1907)]
The value of unity and the importance of obedience is integral and not merely surface. Such union implies that the bishop is similarly united with the pope so any deviations thereof which do not fall into areas where the bishop has authority to act can of course be passed over. Pope Pius X had in mind bishops whose minds are united to the pope. And that is the sense in which the above passages are to be understood.
For just as we are expected to obey the bishop, he is expected in some respects to obey the pope. Unless there is explicit or tacit evidence to presume otherwise, diocesan bishops have the communion of the Supreme Pontiff. Thus since they also have supreme authority in their dioceses, to the extent that they exercise their authority lawfully, refusal to obey the bishop is to be severed from communion with the Holy Father from whom all communion with the Mystical Body flows.
Now this does not mean that there cannot be disagreements with the bishop on matters of pastoral government. Indeed there can be but disagreements are expected to be handled in the proper channels and with proper deference to the bishop by virtue of his office (again if nothing else). Ultimately the bishop's judgment is binding. Only the pope can overrule and one would have to be obedient to the bishop's judgment in the interim - though they could of course respectfully petition their bishop to reconsider his decision. Failing there they could also respectfully petition the Holy Father to judge on the matter. But public scandal and dissent over the bishop's licit decisions by word or action would be forbidden. To the extent that you engage in the latter two (and refusing to hold communion with your local ordinary is an example of public scandal), you are severed from the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church outside of which there is no salvation.
VIII - Additional Biblical Parallels to "Traditionalist" Errors:
I want to make this very clear so that there is no misunderstandings. I did not use the Catechism of Trent or the Baltimore Catechism because this response is long enough. (And they reaffirm everything I have gone over here btw.) There is no supporting evidence you can bring forward from Church history or the Tradition to support your positions. Please bear that in mind when you think over the position to which you have established for yourself.
I also want to make it very clear my friend that I did not want to send this kind of response to you. I resisted doing it for a long time. I thought I could discuss these issues in dialogue format but I also presumed that you approached issues as a Catholic approaches them. It started becoming apparent to me that you did not (after you were backsliding into errors you had previously abjured - this started happening in early 2002) that the time was right for such an approach but I still resisted. It is my fault for doing this but I cannot remain in arrears any longer on this.
As Cardinal Newman noted with far more eloquence than I can in his sermon "Faith and Doubt":
Arguments lead to a conclusion, and when the arguments are stronger, the conclusion is clearer; but conviction may be felt as strongly in consequence of a clear conclusion, as of one which is clearer. A man may be so sure upon six reasons, that he does not need a seventh, nor would feel surer if he had it. And so as regards the Catholic Church: men are convinced in very various ways, what convinces one, does not convince another; but this is an accident; the time comes anyhow, sooner or later, when a man ought to be convinced, and is convinced, and then he is bound not to wait for any more arguments, though more arguments be producible. He will find himself in a condition when he may even refuse to hear more arguments in behalf of the Church; he does not wish to read or think more on the subject; his mind is quite made up. IN SUCH A CASE IT IS HIS DUTY TO JOIN THE CHURCH AT ONCE; HE MUST NOT DELAY; LET HIM BE CAUTIOUS IN COUNSEL, BUT PROMPT IN EXECUTION. This it is that makes Catholics so anxious about him: it is not that they wish him to be precipitate; but, knowing the temptations which the evil one ever throws in our way, they are lovingly anxious for his soul, lest he has come to the point of conviction, and is passing it, and is losing his chance of conversion. If so, it may never return. [Fr. John H. Newman: Discourses to Mixed Congregations Sermon "On Faith and Doubt" (c. 1849)]I was going to try to put Newman in my words but he does it so well that I use his words instead. I assure you that they express my innermost feelings about this situation.
It is now time to summarize the series up to this point. I have established using the doctrinal decrees from the last ecumenical council that you appear to accept (leaving aside momentarily the fact that rejection of Vatican II is not only an example of mixed schism but also proximate to heresy) coupled with a well known theology manual which you have which outlines not only dogmas and doctrines but also their logical conclusions; also definitions from a very reliable dictionary that as of 1941 had gone through ten editions. (All of these works have Imprimaturs so they can be taken as norms of moral certainty.)
Further still, it has been established that the dogma that the pope has supreme authority means that in matters of discipline and government that the logical extension of this teaching on the part of the faithful is submission and obedience. We also both know that you do not obey the pope in this matter. You not only refuse submission to the pope (in your rejection of the last ecumenical council which was solemnly ratified by the popes and referenced constantly by the current pope) but you fail to hold communion with your diocesan bishop because you attend a mass which is celebrated without ecclesiastical sanction. Either one by itself meets the criterion for being in schism from the Church - you have both situations currently charged to your account; this must be rectified or else you will not be saved.
IX - Papal Teaching on the Necessity of Obedience to the Pope and to the Bishops, etc:
The root and matrix of our faith centers on the belief that Our Lord Jesus Christ was God Incarnate, that He died for our sins and rose again, and that He founded a Church to preach the Gospel throughout the world in His name and with His authority. Our Lord in Matthew vii, 27-28 (and Luke vi, 47-49) spoke of anyone who heard the Lord's words and obeyed them being akin to the man who built his house upon a rock; that it would withstand all storms because of its strong foundation. By contrast one who heard and did not obey was akin to the man who built his house on sand. The house built upon sand washed out in the storms because the foundation was non-existent. It is interesting that Peter means "rock" and Simon means "sand". For the pope as a man is nothing but as pope he is supreme in his power and authority. And whosoever does not cleave to this foundation through communion with their local ordinary has no share of the Passion; they have no part in the Resurrection. For you cannot have Christ as Lord if you do not both recognize and obey His vice-regent the pope through obedience to your diocesan bishop. As Pope Pius VI noted in his encyclical letter Inscrutabile:
The proclamation of the divine word has been entrusted to your faith by divine, not human, authority. So assemble your people and preach to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. From that divine source and heavenly teaching draw draughts of true philosophy for your flock. Persuade them that subjects ought to keep faith and show obedience to those who by God's ordering lead and rule them. [Pope Pius VI: encyclical letter Inscrutabile §8 (c. 1775)]Pope Pius VII noted the evil of receiving illicit sacraments (something you should pay special note to) in his encyclical letter Diu Satis:
I cannot conceal from you at the end of this letter, venerable brothers, "Since my sorrow is great and the pain of my heart unceasing," my feelings for my children, the peoples of France, and other peoples still seething with the same madness. Nothing would be more desirable to me than to give my life for them if their safety could be achieved by my death. We do not deny -- rather, We proclaim -- that the bitterness of Our grief is much diminished by the invincible purpose which several of you have displayed. We remember this daily. Men of all kinds, age, and rank have followed this example. They do so, preferring to suffer any insults, dangers, losses, and penalties, and to face death itself. They consider this nobler than to be defiled by the stain of an illicit and wicked sacrament thereby committing sin and disobeying the decrees of the Apostolic See. [Pope Pius VII: encyclical letter Diu Satis §20 (c. 1800)]Bl. Pope Pius IX noted this in his encyclical letter Quanta Cura:
[We cannot] pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that "without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church's general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals." But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church. [Pope Pius IX: encyclical letter Quanta Cura §4 (c. 1864)]We already covered the Catechism of Pius X written by the hand of that saintly Pope of venerable memory. Pope Leo XIII concurred with his predecessors in his encyclical letter Satis Cognitum when he noted that:
[H]eavenly doctrine was never left to the arbitrary judgment of private individuals, but, in the beginning delivered by Jesus Christ, was afterwards committed by Him exclusively to the Magisterium already named, so the power of performing and administering the divine mysteries, together with the authority of ruling and governing, was not bestowed by God on all Christians indiscriminately, but on certain chosen persons. For to the Apostles and their legitimate successors alone these words have reference: "Going into the whole world preach the Gospel". "Baptizing them". "Do this in commemoration of Me". "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them". And in like manner He ordered the Apostles only and those who should lawfully succeed them to feed-that is to govern with authority-all Christian souls. Whence it also follows that it is necessarily the duty of Christians to be subject and to obey. [Pope Leo XIII: encyclical letter Satis Cognitum §10 (c. 1896)]And Pope Pius XI from his encyclical letter Mortalium Animos noted that "in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors" (encyclical letter Mortalium Animos §11 circa. 1928). Pope Pius XII joined in the chorus of his predecessors and stated quite forcefully that:
They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it. [Pope Pius XII: encyclical letter Mystici Corporis Christi §41 (c. 1943)]And finally, Bl. Pope John XXIII noted the same principle in his encyclical letter Pacem et Terris:
When in fact, men obey their rulers it is not at all as men that they obey them, but through their obedience it is God, the provident Creator of all things, Whom they reverence, since He has decreed that men's dealings with one another should be regulated by an order which He Himself has established. Moreover, in showing this due reverence to God, men not only do not debase themselves but rather perfect and ennoble themselves. "For to serve God is to rule."(Cf. Encycl. Diuturnum illud of Leo XIIl, Acta Leonis XIII, II 1881, p. 278 and Encycl. Immortale Dei of Leo XIII, Acta Leonis XIII, V, 1885, p.130) [Pope John XXIII: encyclical letter Pacem et Terris §50 (c. 1963)]I could go on and list the same kinds of references from Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II but this is already far more than adequate to make my point. This is the order to which you blatantly disregard my friend. Yet in rebelling against the constant teaching of the popes you have the temerity to claim to be a "traditionalist"; you disobey the authority of your diocesan bishop in a matter whereby he has supreme authority in the dioceses and DARE to call yourself a "traditionalist". This is utter madness my friend. It is a denial of the Catholic doctrine set down by the Council of Trent, reaffirmed by Vatican I, and especially reaffirmed by Vatican II where the role of the Bishop was emphasized to complete the work of Vatican I on the episcopate.
Dr. Ludwig Ott called this teaching de fide in 1952 and based his thesis on long standing tradition, Vatican I's teaching on the matter, Pope Leo XIII's reiteration of it again in the encyclical letter Satis cognitum, and its enshrining in the 1917 Code. (See pages 289-290 of his manual.) I happen to think on these evidences he overstates its theological qualification. However, de fide or not the teaching is *still* a teaching that is part of the ordinary and universal magisterium and thus definitive assent is required or else the person is in schism from the Church. Please remember that and submit to the proper authorities accordingly if you want to remain within the Church outside of which there is no salvation.
X - Summation of Errors Already Refuted Thus Far from the Ecumenical Councils and Popes Prior to Vatican II:
It should be glaringly apparent that you fail in your Catholic profession even by pre-1958 standards. I therefore do not have to bring up Vatican II and the full obedience that is owed to its teachings at all. I will however briefly summarize the teachings I have covered thus far on obedience to the pope and ecclesiastical hierarchy as taught by the popes and councils.
For other than the last three ecumenical councils - any one of which should be enough to compel your submission - I have reiterated this assertion of mine seven times in the papal magisterium spanning from 1775-1963. A true Traditionalist would listen the first time and not challenge the authority of the popes. They would accept the declaration of the Holy Father as adequate enough and submit to its teachings, not appeal to statements of the Fathers or magisterial statements over and against the living magisterium as the Jansenists did. (The latter pitted St. Augustine's authority against the Roman pontiffs and this principle was condemned as heretical by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690.) It is not even debatable that at least in spirit this condemnation is applicable to self-styled "traditionalists" who act in similar fashion with magisterial documents as the Jansenists did with St. Augustine and as the Protestants do with Sacred Scripture.
XI - Reiteration of Errors Condemned and the Unavoidable Consequences Thereof:
The same principle applies with magisterial statements or any document whereby the individual sets themselves up to judge the Supreme Authority. It is never allowed, it is always schismatical and savouring of heresy; in short it is not Traditional in the slightest. Now I know most self-styled "traditionalists" do this because of matters of discipline and government but this is a repudiation of Tradition in and of itself. The bishops have the authority to regulate divine worship within certain parameters. You do not have to like it, you can criticize some of the things allowed all you want. (Especially actual liturgical abuse provided that you can distinguish properly between abuses and simply things you do not actually care for.) But in the end, until things change you have three viable options:
1) Attend an Indult mass if they are sanctioned by your local ordinary. If they are not then you have no right whatsoever to attend the Tridentine liturgy and without question sin in an objectively grave manner by doing so. (At the very least you cannot receive any of the sacraments there without committing sacrilege.) I already pointed out to you that there was one in your dioceses but you told me it was a hundred mile round trip. I can understand you not wanting to make such a commute but other than that your option for the TM are non-existent. (For the end does not justify the means; ergo adhering to a schismatic priest and attending masses without ecclesiastical cannot justify your desire to attend the older liturgy according to traditional Catholic moral principles.)
2) You can attend a Byzantine Catholic rite. (There is surely one in your dioceses somewhere.)
3) You can attend the Pauline liturgy at a number of churches - finding the one you prefer and going there.
I happen to have fought for an Indult in my dioceses that I have yet in nearly fourteen months to use. Why??? In part because of my understanding of what is and is not allowed has increased. In part because I have found some celebrations of the Pauline liturgy at a couple of churches that are reasonably well done and I have greater freedom of mass times with which to attend. (Which does not mean they do things exactly as I would like them to of course.) And in part because the bits that do bother me - and there are still at least a few small ones in every celebration of the PM admittedly - they give me the opportunity to subject my pride to diminishment if you will; to learn to accept the chastening hand of the Lord in this matter. But rather than leave you in limbo with that statement, let us in the next section develop it a bit more using the Passion as our root and matrix. Upon doing this we can then summarize and conclude this letter appropriately where all focus should be for the Catholic: On Christ Himself.
XII - Scriptural Pictures Painted of the True Betrayal of the Cross by False Traditionalism:
By subjecting myself to discomforts, I can better comprehend the very meaning of the divine liturgy itself: Christ as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (cf Revelation xiii,8). Before you think this approach is odd or even foolish, consider what is really involved in the liturgy.
The Lord's excruciating agony on the Cross is what is represented and *I* used to whine because they use guitars on occasion. (An instrument I happen to both love and also play but still do not particularly care for at mass.) He sweats His Blood for me and *I* whined because someone wants to hold hands for the Pater Noster (which is not possible with me because I cup a missal in my hands at that point; that way I can avoid it and also avoid being rude to those around me). Our Lord's cries of "Eli Eli lema sabacthani" (Matt. xvii,46-48; cf. Psalm 22) shouted in excruciating pain from the Cross and *I* whined because they use too many extraordinary ministers at communion at some of the churches I attended. Need I go on???
I see your open rebellion against the diocesan bishop as akin to the Apostles denying Our Lord at the Garden of Gethsemene; akin to fleeing from Him as the Roman cohort arrested Him and brought Him to Pontius Pilate: an excuse to get around the suffering that real Catholics endure.
I see your abandonment of Christ in His Church akin to the lashes He received at the pillar from the soldiers - He received them because of the kind of ingratitude which spews from the tongues of ungrateful so-called "traditionalists". I see your abandonment manifested in the Crown of Thorns with each thorn representing a rupture of the Mystical Body over time by either heresy, schism, or apostasy. The falls on the way to Golgotha again so that His Fathers will could be done - is this akin to those who egregiously violate His will???
If everytime we commit a mortal sin we are said to "recrucify Him anew", what do the mortal sins of heresy, schism, and apostasy do to Him??? Might they not be the most painful of all the wounds inflicted because they tear at the very heart of what He came to do, at the very root and matrix of His manifested desire as outlined by the Evangelist (John 17)??? In light of how often the Lord emphasized the importance of unity, is it unreasonable to make such a connection as I have done here??? I think not. And deep within yourself you know of what I speak.
XIII - Additional Summary of Errors Addressed and Further Biblical Reflections:
Contrary to Protestant and self-styled "traditionalist" notions, the Church is not a jolly little tea party. It is instead the very Mystical Body of Christ - outlined masterfully by the Apostle in his epistle to the Ephesians - an epistle that I would suggest you meditate upon along with the contents of this series of instructions.
One who is not in submission to the pope and their diocesan bishop cannot benefit from the sacraments, almsgiving, or any other good work but instead will go into the eternal fire. For they reject the Cross that Our Lord spoke of when He said "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For he who would save his life will lose it; but he who would loses his life for my sake shall save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the entire world but suffer the loss of his eternal soul? For whosoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, OF HIM ALSO WILL THE SON OF MAN BE ASHAMED WHEN HE COMES WITH THE HOLY ANGELS IN THE GLORY OF THE FATHER" (Mark. viii, 34-38). Remember that the next time you hear people making light of the sacred liturgy in any of its approved rites. "He came unto his own and his own received Him not" much as you do not receive Him when you are contumacious of His Vicar, show contempt for your superiors, blatantly disobey your local ordinary who has authority over you, and flee from the cross like a coward because it is uncomfortable for you.
"Traditionalism" is nothing more than one giant betrayal of Christ and it is especially noxious because of what it offers as bait for its victims: the illusion of liturgical sanity. Oh it is a tempting bait I know, and no doubt even in private celebration in small makeshift quarters your priest seeks to handle things as reverently as he can. Chants are probably used such as Gregorian and if for a moment you are transported in time from the rigours of everyday life and elevated above them. You attend there to save your life of this I do not doubt. But as Our Lord noted, this is why you will lose your life. And this is why many of us endure the scorn and insults of those who flee from the Cross because our Lord and Master did so endure them; and we are not in any sense better than Him.
"If thou art the King of the Jews, save thyself" screamed the crowd and the soldiers around Him as He hung on the Cross (cf. Luke xxiv, 35-36). Likewise the robbers - and that is what we all are Albert: robbers. They both reviled him too according to the Gospel (Mark xv, 32). I can hear the reviling now - in fact I see it a lot on message boards where the self-anointed "real Catholics" taunt those who do not join them in their sacrilege of the Lord of Hosts.
"You are not a *real* Catholic you are a "Neo-Catholic" because you do not forsake the occasional splinters from the cross present at the Pauline liturgy for the sweetness of the unauthorized Tridentine. "Forsake the approved liturgy for one not approved and we will consider you a *real* Catholic". I can hear in that inference (which is what the very notion "neo-Catholic" is) the words of the Tempter "all these things will I give to thee if thou wilt kneel down and adore me" (Matt. iii, 9). Do the unmistakable parallels come across to you yet my friend???
However, as I noted we are both robbers you and I. (As is everyone reading this note and all people who have ever lived who Original sin affected.) And life in many ways crucifies - indeed that is why we carry the cross anyway: carrying the cross means that you will be crucified. You will suffer for your beliefs. The Apostles undoubtedly suffered to see Our Lord taken into arrest but they fled Him. Thus they dropped their crosses if you will since one cannot flee while carrying a cross. (And later on they would all suffer glorious martyrdoms except the Apostle John who died of old age. And he was the *only* Apostle who did not abandon Our Lord but indeed stood underneath the Cross with Our Blessed Mother.)
Back briefly to the two thieves. After reviling Him there was a period where one of them said to Our Lord "if thou art the Christ then save yourself and us". I see you as that thief because the Tridentine liturgy in your dioceses is either not permitted or it is too far away for you to reasonably commute. So you go with one in your backyard of sorts that is not allowed. You in essence are asking the Lord "save yourself *and us*" with this action of an objectively schismatic nature.
The other thief reproached the first and noted that the sufferings they bore were deserved while the Lord was unjustly suffering. His plea to the Lord was to "remember me when you enter into your Kingdom" (Luke xxiv,40-42). Not "get me down from here", not "can you somehow ease my pain". No, a simple plea for remembrance and Our Lord gave him a solemn oath that they would be together that day in paradise (cf. Luke xxiv, 43).
There are some of things I do not like about what goes on in the Church today. I do my part to highlight them and to get them addressed within proper channels. But until they are addressed, I have to put up with them because I frankly do not deserve to be a Catholic. It is solely God's grace that I am and that somehow I maintain that grace when I do not deserve it and very easily could lose it. Because I in light of my many sins, failings, and negligences do not deserve the many graces and blessing He has given me, I would never presume to challenge His divinely established order as you do. I would never presume to place my shepherds in the worst possible light and to interpret their every action as disgracefully as I could to justify my stones of stumbling; my fleeings from the Cross.
For that is what you do my friend: you flee from the Cross and you seek to justify your betrayal with vitriolic rants that demonstrate the degree to which there is a lacuna of authentic charity in your soul. God in essence as he allowed Pharoah's heart to harden has allowed yours to. And as Sodom was abandoned to its lusts, so too have you been except your lust is philosophy untethered from theology, reason untethered from faith; in short: the natural untethered from the supernatural.
XIV - Summary of Letter:
I have written this to try to crack through that obstinate pride of yours to provide material for reflection and also for prayer. Ours is not an easy time to live in, indeed it is among the hardest of times; but that is when the material for sainthood is most plentiful. But without cleaving to the Cross it is all for nought much as the Council of Florence noted that no good works would avail anyone who either was separated from the ecclesiastical body or refused to remain within it; no matter now much one sacrificed for Christ even shedding their blood!!!
By your actions of refusing to recognize the Pope's supreme authority in matters pertaining to discipline and government you are guilty of the crime of heresy. By refusing to submit to the pope's authority as well as hold communion with your local ordinary who is subject to the Holy Father, you are guilty of the crime of schism. Plenty of ailing in short but only one remedy: picking up that cross and being willing to lose your life for His sake that you will save it. And this can NEVER be done by a formal heretic or a formal schismatic. And if these elements were ever material before with you, I have obliterated your remaining ignorance in this email series and done so deliberately. So if you refuse to comply you will be severed from the vine by an act of your own will. I have done all I can and I honestly did not want to send this email series to you. But it got to the point where there was no choice and I needed to make sure my conscience on this matter was clean as it now is.
I have outlined what a Catholic must believe or else they are not Catholic. We can continue to discuss these threads IF doing so helps you in giving your assent to these teachings. But I reiterate: this is not to debate. This is not to explain away with philosophical frittering and evasions. This is not to presume under *any* pretext that these areas are negotiable with me as they are not. Nor will I accept any mutilation of the terms defined in this series or their improper use elsewhere by you.
Words mean things and it is impossible to have a coherent and Scholastic discourse (as you are so fond of) if the use of terms is not agreed to in advance. I have given you the Catholic meaning of these terms as the Church has ever understood them to mean on many occasions. I do so again here and for the last time. This is how I use them and that is how all my Catholic friends use them. (And they are corrected when they do not.) I therefore will expect in the future that you will use them correctly too - particularly the terms "heresy/heretic", "schism/schismatic", and "apostasy/apostate".
And further, not only will I *NOT* debate their veracity with you but I will accept no appeal to your conscience apart from them. For appeals to a conscience that is not properly formed are as meaningless as the Protestant appeal to a Bible where they use the source to put their own interpretation upon it; no that will not do. Consciences need to be formed properly; that is at the very root and matrix of Traditional Catholic understanding (properly so-called).
Your conscience is not properly formed and it needs to be properly formed. This series of notes aims primarily at doing just that. This is the teaching of the Catholic Faith, outside of which no one is saved, and we expect you to hold, profess, and adhere to it in external as well as the internal forum; by actions as well as in words. Otherwise Holy Mother Church has already judged you and her judgment is "anathema sit!!!" I pray that you see the gravity of your predicament and make moves to rectify it in accordance with true tradition; tradition which knows nothing about communion with the Church apart from the Sovereign Pontiff and the diocesan bishop. As it is the feast of St. Jerome today, it would be instructive to consider his thoughts on the matter of communion with the Apostolic see:
Since the East, shattered as it is by the long-standing feuds, subsisting between its peoples, is bit by bit tearing into shreds the seamless vest of the Lord, woven from the top throughout,' since the foxes are destroying the vineyard of Christ, and since among the broken cisterns that hold no water it is hard to discover the sealed fountain' and the garden enclosed,' I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul....Evil children have squandered their patrimony; you alone keep your heritage intact...My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built! This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails...He that gathers not with you scatters; he that is not of Christ is of Antichrist. [St. Jerome, To Pope Damasus, Epistle 15:1-2 (A.D. 375), in NPNF2, VI:18]Like St. Jerome noted, he who gathers not with the successor of the fisherman scatters and is not of Christ. Consequently, such people are of Antichrist. As I have noted in this letter numerous places where you fail to "gather with the fisherman", I hope I do not have to sketch out via St. Jerome's logic whom you are under since it is clearly NOT Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Please pray on these matters and study them in depth for these issues are beyond debate and I will not debate them with you. I will however strive to help you reconcile with the Church. In that sense these issues can be discussed but I reiterate: the matters of doctrine noted above are not matters of negotiation. They cannot be called into question by Catholics who are faithful to Our Lord. I inquire as to whether you still have a desire to seek the Truth and adhere to it when it is found however difficult it will be. That can only be answered by you my friend; it is a decision you must make. Are you with the Church or against her??? And if the former, then why are you not in communion with the Supreme Pontiff in word and deed??? It is not possible to be disobedient to your local ordinary and be in communion with the Supreme Pontiff. And he that is not with the Pope has no part in the Passion of Christ. You have a decision to make here and I remind you: God is watching and He will not be mocked. Please keep that in mind at all times and be assured of my prayers and - if you desire it - my help in coming to grips with these truths which must be held and professed if they are to have any true meaning at all.
Your concerned brother in the faith,
I. Shawn McElhinney
30 September 2002
The Feast of St. Jerome
If those about to come back to their most loving Mother (not yet fully known, or culpably abandoned) should perceive that their return involves, not indeed the shedding of their blood (at which price nevertheless the Church was bought by Jesus Christ), but some lesser trouble and labor, let them clearly understand that this burden has been laid on them not by the will of man but by the will and command of God. They may thus, by the help of heavenly grace, realize and feel the truth of the divine saying, "My yoke is sweet and my burden light" (Matt. xi.,30). [Pope Leo XIII: encyclical letter Satis Cognitum §1 (c. 1896)]