Dienstag, 21. September 2010

those inner demons

Having talked to a couple persons with faiths and worldviews incompatible with my own – namely the Catholic faith – , I have come to a rather sad realization. Now, before I continue, I would like to clarify that I am not speaking with any claim to dogmatic certainty. Everyone may read and disagree, but what I have experienced, I have experienced.

So what is this sad realization I speak of? It is the idea that many people seem to leave their traditional – i.e. that with which they were raised – faith not primarily for intellectual reasons, but for emotional ones: and in most cases, it seems that passions (/desires) are the primary motivation.

It is the same for the ex-Catholic who has become “spiritual but not religious” as it is for the ex-Catholic who has become an atheist. There is some problem with traditional doctrine that they have and are thus faced with a rather simple question: to follow the faith or to follow one's own will?

Once the decision is made that one will prefer his own will over one's traditional faith, the quest for arguments take place in order to bolster one's new position: to justify oneself against the traditional faith now being at odds with oneself, to justify oneself against others and thereby justify oneself to oneself: to silence the voice of conscience raising the question whether it is right to model the truth after one's desires instead of doing the exact opposite. But then again, what is even “truth”???

Before the fall through heresy or apostasy, one would consider those passions leading oneself to a course standing in contradiction to traditional doctrine as being one's “inner demons” that one has to fight – for the sake of truth. After the fall, it is one's conscience that becomes one's “inner demon”: the voice pushing for an honest investigation regarding one's motivations.

People seem to look for the answers everywhere. They want to examine the galaxy, the universe, theories about multiverses, etc.. They want to know everything, but not themselves. I would not be surprised if some or many people go to distant places in a futile attempt to actually run away from themselves.

It is my firm conviction that for any real “quest for truth” to take place, one has to be honest: first and foremost to oneself. This is why I think that self-reflection is vital for anyone who claims to be searching for “truth”. And this is true not only for those who are atheists, but also for those who are theists – of whatever theistic religion. Of what use is all knowledge about one's surrounding if one does not know oneself? It would not answer man's most basic questions like “who am I?”.

I also think that most people who change belief systems and ideologies do so primarily because they want to be happy in their lives. Why do many people leave Christianity? Not primarily because of intellectual reasons, but because they feel “tyrannized” or held back by the moral code and religious rules of the Christian faith. Why are so many Christians lukewarm heretics? Because they want to enjoy their lives: and Christianity demands that one ought to carry a cross, that one be ready for sacrifice for a greater good that one cannot even see on earth! Why should one even waste one's life away by following “bronze-age” rules? Just think! This life could be the only life we have! We therefore must “live life to the fullest”!

But what do such people mean when they speak of “living life to the fullest”? They simply mean they want to be happy. Is that bad? Absolutely not! It is natural for man to seek happiness.

But what is happiness? There lies the greatest problem: most people do not seek true happiness which can be demanding – as most things of value in life. Most people mistake fast pleasures with happiness. And if they do reflect upon themselves honestly, they will realize that they run from one temporary pleasure to the other: this is necessary for them to not allow the voice of conscience to be heard and to uphold the illusion that one is “happy”. It is common for man to choose the easiest way: that with the least effort necessary. So many prefer the easily attainable temporary pleasures (which fade away and do not give lasting happiness) over the strenuous life headed towards lasting happiness.

So what is happiness? Where does one find it? Why should one even seek it? Does man even have to be happy?

It seems to be a matter of honesty to oneself. Am I really happy when I realize that ever since I changed my views I have perhaps become more aggressive and easily angered? Do I feel a basic level of inner peace and satisfaction despite sufferings in life? Or am I bound to seek those temporary pleasures every now and then or else I would feel depressed?

In short:

Am I able to bear the silence in which I am confronted with my inner demons?

Donnerstag, 10. Juni 2010

de Christiano

on the Christian

Before we can go into depth about the Christian faith, we must first ask ourselves the question who or what a Christian even is. “A Christian is someone who strives to be Christ-like” is one of the most common answers to such a question. In light of the purpose of this essay, it is a pretty good answer. “Someone who strives to be Christ-like”! “Christ-like” in what sense though? I believe that Christ Jesus lived as the perfect example according to two norms that to my understanding sum up the Christian faith: humility and obedience. Why exactly these two? I chose to concentrate on these two qualities because they are the perfect expression of the greatest commandment (Matthew 22: 36-40): the latter being the only appropriate response to God the Father, the former realized perfectly in the Incarnation out of love for mankind. This way of seeing Christ's life is best clarified by the Holy Bible itself saying:
“But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2: 7-8)
These two qualities therefore must be seen at the very center of the Christian faith. In a way, one could say that the two beams of the Cross upon which Christ Jesus was crucified are the beams of humility and of obedience. Thus, without such divine humility and obedience, we would all be lost!
It is important to note that humility and obedience are the direct opposites of pride and disobedience; these two leading to the fall of Satan and also to the fall of Adam and Eve. One could say that pride is the beginning of one's fall, disobedience its actualization. Thus sin is born through which death has come into the world (Romans 5: 12). By Christ's perfect humility and obedience far surpassing the pride and disobedience of both Satan and Adam and Eve, death is overcome and mankind lead to life everlasting.

Now, what does this mean for “the Christian”? The Christian sees in Christ Jesus the “way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14: 6). Therefore, he who wishes to call himself a Christian must of necessity emulate Christ. He is then bound to seeking - to the best of his abilities and with the grace of God – to live a life of humility and obedience. It is also a matter of humility and obedience that one realizes that one is unable to live such a life by one's own power. Once again, we look to Christ for the answer: He being the second person of the Holy Trinity is God and thereby cannot fail. We are certainly not God, and thus fail: we are imperfect, our nature is wounded. So how can we manage to emulate Christ in such a situation? It seems impossible! Indeed, it would be impossible without Christ. But through the first three sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion), we are “made partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1: 4). Thus, St. Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth: “Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own?”(I Corinthians 6: 19). And we know that we have been sent the Holy Ghost, “another Paraclete”, by Christ Jesus (John 14: 16). Through Christ then, God dwells within us so that it is He who worketh in us, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will (Philippians 2: 13). Were Christ not God, such a partaking of the divine nature on our part would be unimaginable and we would forever be lost.

The Christian therefore does not only look at what Christ taught by words, but also at those things He taught by action. Further, he looks at Christ Himself: His very nature. In Jesus, the divine person, the Christian sees the very ideal for his own life: he sees in Him the cause of his life, its purpose and the means by which he is enabled to fulfill this purpose (John 1: 3-4; Colossians 1: 19-20.)

A Christian is one whose life is Christ. And since it is unimaginable and even absurd to view Christ without His Cross, the Christian is thereby also necessarily tied to the Cross.
For this reason, Jesus said: “If any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8: 34). Here we find yet another aspect crucial to the Christian faith which is also inherently linked to humility: self-denial. One may ask how denying oneself is connected to humility. To understand this, one must – again – look to Jesus for the solution to this mystery. Christ did not boast about being God, the Lord of lords and the King of kings (Revelation 17: 14), nay, He “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man” (Philippians 2: 7). Assuming man's nature, He did not insist upon the glory that is naturally and eternally His, but instead denied Himself in the world to live in the best possible exemplary manner for us. He denied Himself out of love for us, that we may be shown how one ought to live His life as a servant of the Almighty God.
Self-denial is most meaningful in times of tribulation. Christ facing death said the following:
“My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26: 39). These are the words of self-denial. One seeks not to fulfill one's own wishes, but the will of God. As Christ, the Christian too must say to God: “thy will be done” (Matthew 26: 42). With these very words, we realize that self-denial is not only linked to humility, but also to obedience. Is not self-denial then nothing other than the expression of humility and obedience? It is.

Ultimately, the Christian then is someone who puts his personal desires aside and focuses first and foremost on Christ. He takes up his cross and follows Christ. In Christ, he learns to be humble and obedient to God. In Christ, he finds the answer to the mystery of salvation. In Christ, he finds the way, and the truth, and the life.

The Christian is he who finds the purpose and meaning of life not in any theory or ideology, but rather in a person, Christ Jesus.

Freitag, 28. Mai 2010

St. Francis of Assisi was not a false ecumenist

Let us consider the following words of St. Francis of Assisi in light of the false ecumenism that is overshadowing the Church in these our days:

"Also those are doomed who see the
Sacrament of the Body of Christ, which is consecrated with the words of
the Lord on the altar and by the hand of the priest in the form of
bread and wine, but do not see in it the Spirit and Divinity and have
not believed that it really is Our Lord Jesus Christ’s most holy Body
and Blood” (Admonitio prima de Corpore Christi (Quaracchi edition, p. 4))

Freitag, 21. Mai 2010

Samstag, 1. Mai 2010

bezüglich der heiligen Kommunion

Redemptionis sacramentum
über einige Dinge bezüglich der heiligsten Eucharistie

83.Es ist sicherlich am besten, wenn alle, die an der Feier der heiligen Messe teilnehmen und die notwendigen Bedingungen erfüllen, die heilige Kommunion empfangen. Es kommt aber bisweilen vor, daß die Christgläubigen massenweise und ohne Unterscheidung zum heiligen Tisch hinzutreten. Es ist Aufgabe der Hirten, diesen Mißbrauch mit Klugheit und Festigkeit zu korrigieren.

87.Der Erstkommunion der Kinder muß immer eine sakramentale Beichte und Lossprechung vorausgehen.[169] Außerdem soll die Erstkommunion immer von einem Priester gereicht werden, und zwar nie außerhalb der Meßfeier. Von Ausnahmefällen abgesehen, ist es wenig passend, die Erstkommunion bei der Messe vom Letzten Abendmahl am Gründonnerstag zu spenden. Man soll vielmehr einen anderen Tag wählen, wie etwa den 2. - 6. Sonntag in der Osterzeit oder das Hochfest des Leibes und Blutes Christi oder einen Sonntag im Jahreskreis, denn der Sonntag wird mit Recht als Tag der Eucharistie betrachtet.[170] Zum Empfang der heiligen Eucharistie sollen keine Kinder hinzutreten, «die den Vernunftgebrauch noch nicht erlangt haben» oder nach dem Urteil des Pfarrers «nicht ausreichend darauf vorbereitet sind».[171] Wenn es aber vorkommt, daß ein Kind in einer Ausnahmesituation bezüglich seines Alters für den Empfang des Sakramentes als reif erachtet wird, soll ihm die Erstkommunion nicht verwehrt werden, wenn es nur hinreichend vorbereitet ist.

92.Obwohl jeder Gläubige immer das Recht hat, nach seiner Wahl die heilige Kommunion mit dem Mund zu empfangen,[178] soll in den Gebieten, wo es die Bischofskonferenz erlaubt und der Apostolische Stuhl rekognosziert hat, auch demjenigen die heilige Hostie ausgeteilt werden, der das Sakrament mit der Hand empfangen möchte. Man soll aber sorgfältig darauf achten, daß der Kommunikant die Hostie sofort vor dem Spender konsumiert, damit niemand mit den eucharistischen Gestalten in der Hand weggeht. Wenn eine Gefahr der Profanierung besteht, darf die heilige Kommunion den Gläubigen nicht auf die Hand gegeben werden.[179]

93.Es ist notwendig, die kleine Patene für die Kommunion der Gläubigen beizuhalten, um die Gefahr zu vermeiden, daß die heilige Hostie oder einzelne Fragmente auf den Boden fallen.[180]

94.Es ist den Gläubigen nicht gestattet, die heilige Hostie oder den heiligen Kelch «selbst zu nehmen und noch weniger von Hand zu Hand unter sich weiterzugeben».[181] Außerdem ist in diesem Zusammenhang der Mißbrauch zu beseitigen, daß die Brautleute bei der Trauungsmesse sich gegenseitig die heilige Kommunion spenden.

101. Damit den christgläubigen Laien die heilige Kommunion unter beiden Gestalten gespendet werden kann, sind die Umstände entsprechend zu berücksichtigen, über die in erster Linie die Diözesanbischöfe zu urteilen haben. Diese Art der Kommunionspendung ist gänzlich auszuschließen, wenn auch nur die geringste Gefahr der Profanierung der heiligen Gestalten besteht.[187] Für eine eingehendere Regelung haben die Bischofskonferenzen Normen zu erlassen, die vom Apostolischen Stuhl durch die Kongregation für den Gottesdienst und die Sakramentenordnung rekognosziert werden müssen, vor allem im Hinblick auf «die Art, den Gläubigen die heilige Kommunion unter beiden Gestalten auszuteilen, sowie die Ausweitung dieser Befugnis».[188]

103. Die Normen des Römischen Meßbuches kennen die Regelung, daß in den Fällen, in denen die Kommunion unter beiden Gestalten ausgeteilt wird, «das Blut Christi direkt aus dem Kelch oder durch Eintauchen der Hostie oder mit einem Röhrchen oder mit einem Löffel getrunken werden kann».[191] Was die Kommunionspendung für die christgläubigen Laien betrifft, können die Bischöfe die Kommunion mit einem Röhrchen oder einem Löffel ausschließen, wo dies nicht örtlicher Brauch ist, wobei aber immer die Möglichkeit der Kommunionspendung durch Eintauchen der Hostie bestehen bleibt. Wenn diese Form zur Anwendung kommt, sollen allerdings Hostien verwendet werden, die nicht zu dünn und nicht zu klein sind, und der Kommunikant darf das Sakrament vom Priester nur mit dem Mund empfangen.[192]

104. Es ist dem Kommunikanten nicht erlaubt, selbst die Hostie in den Kelch einzutauchen oder die eingetauchte Hostie mit der Hand zu empfangen. Die Hostie, die eingetaucht wird, muß aus gültiger Materie bereitet und konsekriert sein; streng verboten ist die Verwendung von nicht konsekriertem Brot oder anderer Materie.

183. Alle haben entsprechend den Möglichkeiten in ganz besonderer Weise dafür zu sorgen, daß das heiligste Sakrament der Eucharistie vor jeder Art von Ehrfurchtslosigkeit und Mißachtung bewahrt wird und alle Mißbräuche vollständig korrigiert werden. Dies ist für alle und für jeden einzelnen eine sehr wichtige Aufgabe, und alle sind ungeachtet der Person zur Verwirklichung dieser Aufgabe gehalten.

Diese Instruktion, die im Auftrag von Papst Johannes Paul II. von der Kongregation für den Gottesdienst und die Sakramentenordnung nach gemeinsamer Beratung mit der Kongregation für die Glaubenslehre ausgearbeitet worden ist, wurde am 19. März 2004, dem Hochfest des heiligen Josef, vom Papst approbiert, der ihre Veröffentlichung und sofortige Befolgung durch alle, die es betrifft, angeordnet hat.
Rom, am Sitz der Kongregation für den Gottesdienst und die Sakramentenordnung, am 25. März 2004, dem Hochfest der Verkündigung des Herrn.

Francis Kard. Arinze


Freitag, 12. März 2010

Lenten Reflections: Suffering

Suffering – key to salvation

What is Justification? How is one saved? Eastern Christians speak of theosis, Westerners speak of deification. Both words describe the doctrine as laid out by St. Athanasius when he said the famous words: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God”.

What are me to make of this? What is obvious here is that the orthodox doctrine of justification involves identification with Christ. Now, it is not my intention to elaborate on the traditional understanding of justification, but rather to highlight an aspect often ignored by Christians: suffering. It is evident that suffering takes a central role in the plan of salvation. We are therefore not to avoid it, but rather to embrace it. Essentially, one can say that there is no salvation without suffering. This might sound strange to fundamentally protestant ears that are accustomed to the false belief of “justification by faith alone”. But what is the deeper mystery of faith if it is not “being Christ-like” in its fullest sense? Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14: 6). Thus, we look to Him for the answers to the mystery of the plan of salvation. Christ came to die. He gave us life by His death. Therefore, we can say that justification is mortification. Mortification comes from the Latin: “mors” means death, thus mortification is the process or act of dying.

“For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.” (Romans 8: 13)

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols.” (Colossians 3: 5)

It should be clear from these passages that one has to “die”, in order to live. The central message is summarized by Christ's life and words. His whole life lead to the passion, the bearing of the cross, and finally to the crucifixion. One who prays the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary is only all too familiar with this central aspect of Christ's life here on earth. When we contemplate on these mysteries, we actually are contemplating the very mystery of salvation.

Can we establish that we must suffer? Are we really expected to suffer? I would say yes, of course!

“For this is thankworthy, if for conscience towards God, a man endure sorrows, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if committing sin, and being buffeted for it, you endure? But if doing well you suffer patiently; this is thankworthy before God. For unto this are you called:
because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps.” (I Peter 2: 19-21)

It is explicitly said that we are to follow in His footsteps: especially those steps He took during His passion and walk to Mount Calvary.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” (Matthew 16: 24-25)

These words are often read, but not without the proper understanding. At first Christ demands self-denial, then the taking up of one's cross, and finally that man shall lose his life for His sake. Why?
Self-denial is an expression of humility and obedience: without these two qualities, the sacrifice of the cross would have been impossible. Self-denial is then necessary for anyone to even think about carrying his own cross. Then one must carry his own cross – otherwise one cannot be deemed a follower of Christ. What does it mean to “take up his cross”? It means to do as Christ did. Christ Jesus took up His Cross and He had a destination: Mount Calvary. Thus, a Christian is expected to do the same thing: to suffer patiently carrying his own cross while approaching his own death on the cross.
His death on the cross then is the real goal of the painful journey: that one might gain life through death.

Some may argue that this is a very Catholic view of justification and thus does not necessarily apply to Non-Catholic Christians. But St. Paul teaches that those who are baptized are baptized unto death:

“Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death? ” (Romans 6: 3)

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. For he that is dead is justified from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ: Knowing that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall no more have dominion over him.“ (Romans 6: 6-9)

Still others may argue that this does not necessarily lead to a life of passion. But what life is that which is not one of passion? Passion is a very interesting word: it shows the deep connection between love and suffering. Did Christ not suffer and die out of love for us? Is not His Cross the symbol of the greatest love (John 15: 13) imaginable? Can we expect to be saved if we do not live in love (charity) too (I Corinthians 13)?

But why is suffering such an intrinsic part of the Christian life? Can we not have an “easy” life and still get saved “by faith alone”? This is not possible because of the discrepancy between the desires of the flesh and of the spirit.

“That the justification of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.” (Romans 8: 4)

So the fulfillment of justification is found in those who – though in the world – walk not according to the flesh. Though in the world, Christians are not of the world. This necessarily leads to tension: especially when we consider that the god of this world is the enemy who blinds the infidels (II Corinthians 4: 4). The world must be seen as fallen: it is a world ruled by sin. The way to be freed from the bondage of sin is death unto sin:

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer.” (Romans 6: 6)

Suffering is also an expression of discipline. Discipline is the art of self-denial. And as we have noted earlier, self-denial is a sine non qua of mortification. Mortification is also discipline. Thus, all things are connected to the Cross of Christ, to His passion and death.

A parent often has to discipline disobedient children for their own good. We know that we suffer from a wounded nature: concupiscence is not blotted out by baptism: it is something that we are subject to for as long as we live, and only by discipline under the grace of God can our wounded nature be healed, restored, made “at one” (the verb “atone” originally meant to “make at one”) again with the Creator. Does God chastise His children? Out of love, He surely does!

“And you have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh to you, as unto children, saying: My son, neglect not the discipline of the Lord; neither be thou wearied whilst thou art rebuked by him. For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons; for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct? But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are made partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12: 5-7)

“For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8: 16-18)

Those who are His, He disciplines. He purifies. And we should not be disheartened by the suffering we have to endure. We must suffer before we can enter into the Kingdom of God: there is no other way to life eternal than that of the cross, i.e. that of suffering and death.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith: and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14: 21)

“That no man should be moved in these tribulations: for yourselves know, that we are appointed thereunto. For even when we were with you, we foretold you that we should suffer tribulations, as also it is come to pass, and you know.” (I Thessalonians 3: 3-4)

Let us never forget that the tribulations we are subjected to are there not to destroy us, but for our great gain:

“And not only so; but we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” (Romans 5: 3)

“And now, brethren, as you are the ancients among the people of God, and their very soul resteth upon you: comfort their hearts by your speech, that they may be mindful how our fathers were tempted that they might be proved, whether they worshipped their God truly. They must
remember how our father Abraham was tempted, and being proved by many tribulations, was made the friend of God. So Isaac, so Jacob, so Moses, and all that have pleased God, passed through many tribulations, remaining faithful. But they that did not receive the trials with the fear of the Lord, but uttered their impatience and the reproach of their murmuring against the Lord, were destroyed by the destroyer, and perished by serpents. As for us therefore let us not revenge ourselves for these things which we suffer. But esteeming these very punishments to be less than our sins deserve, let us believe that these scourges of the Lord, with which like servants we are chastised, have happened for our amendment, and not for our destruction.” (Judith 8: 21-27)

“In all things we suffer tribulation, but are not distressed; we are straitened, but are not destitute; We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not: Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake; that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken; we also believe, for which cause we speak also: Knowing that he who raised up Jesus, will raise us up also with Jesus, and place us with you. For all things are for your sakes; that the grace abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.“ (II Corinthians 4: 8-15)

Let us therefore deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and lose our lives for Christ's sake!

Freitag, 26. Februar 2010

Sedevacantism and the 1917 Pio-Benedictine CIC

Sedevacantism and the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law

Sedevecantatists use the following to back up their position:

Canon 188:

Any office becomes vacant upon the fact and without any declaration by tacit resignation recognized by the law itself if a cleric:

1.° Makes religious professionwith due regard for the prescription of Canon 584 concerning benefices;

2.° Within the useful time established by law or, legal provision lacking, as determined by the Ordinary, fails to take possession of the office;

3.° Accepts another ecclesiastical office incompatible with the prior, and has obtained peaceful possession of that of [the other office];

4.° Publicly defects from the Catholic faith

5.° Contracts marriage even, as they say, merely civilly;

6.° Against the prescription of Canon 141, § 1, freely gives his name to a secular army;

7.° Disposes of ecclesiastical habit on his own authority and without just cause, unless, having been warned by the Ordinary, he resumes [wearing it] within a month of having received the warning;

8.° Deserts illegitimately the residence to which he is bound and, having received a warning from the Ordinary and not being detained by a legitimate impediment, neither appears nor answers within an appropriate time as determined by the Ordinary.

Sedevacantists interpret this to mean that their claims to “manifest heresy” on behalf of the Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI are sufficient to establish that these “Conciliar popes” are heretics, schismatics and also apostates, and thus cannot be considered to be legitimate popes.

There are two issues that the proponents of anti-Vatican II sedevacantism do not address according to the 1917 CIC (Codex Iuris Canonici):

  1. the question regarding the authentic interpretation of ecclesiastical laws

  2. the question as to who can authoritatively and infallibly establish a “public defect” from the Catholic faith (this is tied to point 1)

  3. the canonical procedure regarding the vacancy of any office (especially the Papal Office)

A matter of interpretation? It seems that sedevacantists claim for themselves the right to properly interpret Canon 188, n. 4. Is this permissible though? According to the 1917 CIC, the legislator of the law or his successor or all those given by the aforementioned the authority to authentically interpret the laws are the ones to consult regarding the authentic interpretation of ecclesiastical laws:

Canon 17:

§ 1. Laws are authentically interpreted by the legislator or his successor and by those whom the power of interpretation has been committed by [the legislator or his successors].

§ 2. An authentic interpretation, given our in the manner of law, has the same force as does the law itself; and if it merely declares what is certain from the words of the law, it does not require promulgation and is effective retroactively; but if it narrows or extends the law or resolves a doubt, it is not retroactive and must be promulgated.

§ 3. That [interpretation] given by means of a judicial sentence or by a rescript in a specific matter does not have the force of law and binds only those persons and affects only those matters for which it was given.

Canon 18:

Ecclesiastical laws are to be understood according to the meaning of their own words considered in their text and context; as for those things that remain unclear or in doubt, reference should be made to parallel provisions in the Code, if there are any, to the purposes and circumstances of the law and to the mind of the legislator.

Canons 2314, 2379 and 2388 are referenced in Canon 188. These must therefore be understood as explaining the proper context of Canon 188.

Thus to better understand Canon 188, n. 4 and to address the aforementioned issues, we must look further into the 1917 CIC:

Canon 2379:

Clerics who, against the prescription of Canon 136, do not wear ecclesiastical habit and clerical tonsure are to be gravely warned; but if a month passes from the warning without result, [then] as to minor clerics the prescription of the same Canon 136, § 3, is observed; but major clerics, with due regard for the prescription of Canon 188, n. 7, are suspended from the orders received, and if they notoriously go to a sort of life alien to the clerical state, [then] unless, once again being warned they recover their senses, after three months from the final warning they are deposed.

While this specific canon speaks of Canon 188, n. 7, it can be used to understand Canon 188, n. 4. This is because the preceding explanation saying “upon the fact” and “without any declaration” applies to all numbers of Canon 188., and because this Canon is referenced in Canon 188. In this case, we see that the canonical procedure intends for warnings to be pronounced by proper authorities and only if such warnings are ignored obstinately are the persons in question to be rendered as deposed.

Another example:

Canon 2388

§ 1. Clerics constituted in sacred [orders] or regulars, or nuns after a solemn vow of chastity, and likewise all those who presume to contract even a civil marriage with any of the aforesaid persons incur automatic excommunication simply reserved to the Apostolic See; clerics, moreover, having been warned, if they do not come back to their senses within a time defined by the Ordinary according to the diversity of circumstances, will be degraded, with due regard for the prescription of Canon 188, n. 5.

§ 2. But for those professed of simple perpetual vows, whether to an Ordinary or to a religious Congregation, all of them, as above, receive excommunication reserved to the Ordinary.

In this case also, the degradation which sedevacantists portray to be “automatic” according to their understanding of the situation, is tied to warnings: the canonical penalty of degradation only takes place after warnings are obstinately not heeded to. That is to say that after the deadline of the warning has lapsed, the person warned is to be considered automatically deposed/degraded without any need of a public declaration. Such automatic penalty is incurred after the failure to take heed to the warning.

A sedevacantist may still argue (though fallaciously) against such understanding of Canon 188. For this purpose, I will cite a canon “On delicts against the faith and unity of the Church”:

Canon 2314

§ 1. All apostates from the Christian faith and each and every heretic or schismatic:

1.° Incur by that fact excommunication

2.° Unless they respect warnings, they are deprived of benefice, dignity, pension, office, or other duty that they have in the Church, they are declared infamous, and [if] clerics, with the warning being repeated, [they are] are deposed;

3.° If they give their names to non-Catholic sects or publicly adhere [to them], they are by that fact infamous, and with due regard for the prescription of Canon 188, n. 4, clerics, the previous warnings having been useless, are degraded.

This canon explicitly elaborates on the canonical application of Canon 188, n. 4. It does not give any lay person the right to declare that “person X is not a pope by virtue of heresy”, instead recalls that warnings have to be given and only the obstinate refusal to heed to such warnings will result in the privation of “benefice, dignity, pension, office, or other duty that they have in the Church”, and deposition/degradation.

All these examples show that only the competent ecclesiastical authorities may authoritatively and infallibly determine whether a certain person has actually “defected publicly from the Catholic faith”. The private judgement of any lay person is to be considered without any effect and irrelevant – considering such a lay person has no authority to give warnings to the persons suspected of any delict.

The third issue anti-Vatican II sedevacantism fails to address correctly would be the canonical procedures that follow the vacancy of any office. They claim that the Chair of Peter has been vacant for over 40 years. When asked when, by whom and how the next – according to their opinions – “valid pope” is going to be elected, they normally respond with the following answers:

  • The election of a real pope is unlikely to take place since the world is soon to end.

  • There exists no ecclesiastical law which limits the temporal duration of an interregnum.

  • God could set up a legitimate pope in a way unknown to humans.

  • “We don't know”.

The 1917 CIC does address the election of the Roman Pontiff:

Canon 160:

The election of the Roman Pontiff is guided solely by the constitution of [Pope] Pius X vacante Sede Apostolica of 25 Dec. 1904; in other ecclesiastical elections, the prescriptions of the canons that follow are to be observed [as well as] those special ones, if there are any that are established for individual office.

Before going to the Pope Pius X's constitution regarding papal elections, let me demonstrate that the election to other ecclesiastical offices is bound by time-limits:

Canon 161:

If a college has the right of electing to a vacant office, the election, unless established otherwise by law, is not to be deferred beyond three available months from having notice of the (vacant) office; if this time runs without action, the ecclesiastical Superior who has the right of confirming the election or of providing successively [for it] can provide for the vacant office freely.

From vacante Sede Apostolica:

  1. Item statuimus, ut cum Pontificem de hac vita migrare contigerit, praesentes Cardinales expectare debeant absentes per decem tantummodo dies, quibus exsequiae defuncti Pontificis celebrantur; quibus elapsis, statim Conclave ingredi et ad electionis negotium procedere tenentur (30).

  2. Si tamen Cardinales absentes supervenerint, re integra, id est antequam eidem Ecclesiae sit de Pastore provisum, in eodem negotio, in illo statu, in quo ipsum invenerint, admittantur

“per decem tantummodo dies” = for only ten days

Cardinals may wait for ten days upon the celebration of the Pontiff's death and then ought to proceed to the election.

40+ years surely are a far stretch from ten days. At this point, I should note that sedevacantists pointing to the 1917 CIC to bolster their point seems rather strange considering they themselves do not follow the said Code of Canon Law.

On the temporal duration of an interregnum according to the decrees of the Council of Basel-Florence:

"The holy general synod of Basel, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, representing the universal church, for an everlasting record. Since a good shepherd is the salvation of his flock, it is the duty of this sacred synod to strive, with all the diligence that human law can contrive, that the Roman pontiff, who is first in the Lord's flock and the supreme shepherd, should be and continue to be such as to provide for the salvation of all souls and the benefit of the whole christian world and to fulfill worthily so great an office. Therefore it renews the constitutions about the election of Roman pontiffs which sacred councils and supreme pontiffs have issued and it adds to them some further salutary norms. It decrees that whenever the apostolic see falls vacant, all the cardinals of the holy Roman church who are present in the place where the election of the supreme pontiff is to be held, shall meet together on the tenth day after the see becomes vacant in some chapel or place near the conclave." Council of Basel - Florence, Session XXIII [on the election of the supreme Pontiff]

further points:

Canon 211:

§ 1. Although sacred ordination, once validly received, can never be invalidated, nevertheless, a major cleric can be returned to the lay state by a rescript of the Holy See, by a decree or sentence according to the norm of Canon 214, or finally as a penalty of degradation.

Canon 1556:

The First See is judged by no one.

Canon 2401:

Whoever persists in detaining an office, benefice, or dignity, notwithstanding legitimate privation and removal, or lest he lose it engages in illegitimate delays, having been warned, can be coerced to leave it by suspension from divine things and other penalties, not excluding deposition, if the case warrants.

Canon 2345:

Those usurping or detaining, themselves or through others, goods or rights pertaining to the Roman Church are subject to automatic excommunication specially reserved to the Apostolic See; and if they are clerics, they shall be deprived moreover of dignities, benefices, offices, and pensions and declared incapable of them.

A canonical problem: The CIC mentions a couple of situations which lead to “excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See”. This means that only the Apostolic See can lift such an excommunication. Given the argument presented by the sedevacantists (who still claim to be in “visible communion with the Apostolic See”), who from the Apostolic See the sedevacantists claim to be in communion with shall examine and perhaps lift such excommunication? Would this not imply that there be competent authorities within the Apostolic See with whom the sedevacantists are in communion? But there exist none: the entire apparatus of the Apostolic See is in communion with those Pontiffs sedevecantists unashamedly claim to have lost their office.

Mittwoch, 17. Februar 2010

Sedevacantism revisited

Due to the current - and highly unfortunate - fall of two formerly Catholic apologists on youtube to the cult of sedevacantism, the youtube Catholic community sees it as a moral obligation to respond to this situation in defense of the Catholic faith. This entry will be my humble contribution against the threat of heresy and schism - and consequently damnation - posed by sedevacantism.

In this, my objective is to show that the claim of sedevacantists that they are the "real Catholics" cannot be taken seriously at all. My argument will be based on Catholic ecclesiology (which demands visible unity), and the doctrine of Papal Supremacy as outlined by Tradition and dogmatically formulated by the First Vatican Council.

To achieve this goal, I intend to demonstrate the following points (it must be said that this exposition is not for those who reject the Catholic faith altogether):

communion with the Holy See, i.e. Rome, is a sine non qua for the Catholic faith

the communion we speak of is visible (due to the visible unity of the Catholic faith)

such visible communion with the Holy See necessitates the existence of a Roman Pontiff

visible communion with the Roman Pontiff is essential to Christian unity

an interregnum is necessarily temporary

problems with sedevacantism

on I:

St. Irenaeus:
But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul - that church which has the traditionand the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition." [Ad Haereses 3:3:2]

St. Cyprian of Carthage:
"And He says to him again after the resurrection, 'Feed My sheep.' It is on him that He builds the Church, and to him that He entrusts the sheep feed. And although He assigns a like power to all apostles, yet He founded a single Chair, thus establishing by His own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church's) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is (thus) made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly we should hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcpate itself to be one and undivided." (The Unity of the Church, 4-5 [a.D. 251-256])

Pope Boniface I:
"The institution of the universal nascent Church began from the honor bestowed on Blessed Peter, in whom its government and headship reside. For from him as its fountainhead did ecclesiastical discipline flow throughout all the churches, when now the culture of religion had begun to make progress. Nor the canons of Nicaea testify otherwise, inasmuch as they do not venture to make any regulations in his regard, seeing that nothing could be conferred that was superior to his own dignity, and knowing that all things had been given him by the words of Christ. It is certain, then, that this See stands, in relation to the churches spread over the whole world, as the Head is to its own members; from which Church whoso has cut himself off becomes an outcast from the Christian religion, since he has ceased to be in the same bonds of fellowship." (Ep. 14 to the Bishops of Thessaly)

The Hormisdan Formula:
"The first condition of salvation is to keep the rule of the orthodox faith and to deviate in nothing from the laws of the Fathers. And one cannot pass in silence the affirmation of Our Lord Jesus Christ who says 'Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I will build My Church,' etc. may not be ignored is proved by the result: for it is in the Apostolic See that the Catholic religion has always been preserved immaculate. Not wishing therefore to separate ourselves from this hope and from this faith, following in everything the laws of the Fathers, we anathematize all heresies [such heretics as Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, Timothy the Cat, Peter Mongos, Acacius, and Peter of Antioch receive specific condemnation]...We receive and approve all the Letters written by Pope Leo I on the Christian religion, desiring to follow in everything, as we said, the Apostolic See; and proclaiming all its constitutions. I hope therefore to enter into communion with you representatives of the Apostolic See; it is there that the Christian religion finds its perfect solidity. I promise, then, that in future I will not recite in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries the names of those who have been separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is to say, those who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See."

Certainly far more examples may be provided, but since we are dealing with those claiming to be "Catholics", it seems rather unnecessary to expound more on this issue that is evidently part of Catholic tradition.

on II:
Now it is clear that according to Catholic ecclesiology, the unity of the Church is visible. This is the necessary conclusion to be drawn from the fact that we are called to be one by means of communicating with each other and being in communion with St. Peter through communion with his successors.

Session IV of the First Vatican Council:

4 In order, then, that
  • the episcopal office should be one and undivided and that,
  • by the union of the clergy,
  • the whole multitude of believers should be held together in the unity of
    • faith and
    • communion,
  • he set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and
  • instituted in him the permanent principle of both unities and
  • their visible foundation.

St. Cyprian of Carthage:
"After such things as these, moreover, they still dare - a false bishop having been apointed for them, by heretics - to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access." (To Cornelius, Epistle 54/59:14 [a.D. 252])

Since the Church is visible, the unity of the Church must also be visible by means of being in communion with the Holy See.

St. Ambrose:
"But he was not so eager as to lay aside caution. He called the bishop to him, and esteeming that there can be no true thankfulness except it spring from true faith, he enquired whether he agreed with the Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church?" (The death of Satyrus, 1:47 [a.D. 378])

"Your grace must be besought not to permit any disturbance of the Roman Church the head of the whole Roman world and of the most holy faith of the Apostles, for from thence flow out to all (churches) the bonds of sacred communion. " (To Emperor Gratian, Epistle 11:4 [a.D. 381])

What is schism?

from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The union of the faithful, he says elsewhere, should manifest itself in mutual understanding and convergent action similar to the harmonious co-operation of our members which God hath tempered "that there might be no schism in the body" (1 Corinthians 12:25). Thus understood, schism is a genus which embraces two distinct species: heretical or mixed schism and schism pure and simple. The first has its source in heresy or joined with it, the second, which most theologians designate absolutely as schism, is the rupture of the bond of subordination without an accompanying persistent error, directly opposed to a definite dogma. This distinction was drawn by St. Jerome and St. Augustine. "Between heresy and schism", explains St. Jerome, "there is this difference, that heresy perverts dogma, while schism, by rebellion against the bishop, separates from the Church. Nevertheless there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church (In Ep. ad Tit., iii, 10). And St. Augustine: "By false doctrines concerning God heretics wound faith, by iniquitous dissensions schismatics deviate from fraternal charity, although they believe what we believe" (On Faith and the Creed 9). But as St. Jerome remarks, practically and historically, heresy and schism nearly always go hand in hand; schism leads almost invariably to denial of the papal primacy.

St. Cyprian had said: "It must be understood that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop and he is not in the Church who is not with the bishop" (Epist., lxvi, 8). Long before, St. Ignatius of Antioch laid down this principle: "Where the bishop is there is the community, even as where Christ is there is the Catholic Church" (Smyrnæans 8.2).

In this sense, we must understand that thoe who refuse to submit to the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, the bishop of Rome, cannot be considered to be part of the Catholic Church. He who thus rebels against the bishop, is outside the Church.

on III:
This is a rather tricky issue, since sedevacantists claim that they are indeed "in communion with the Holy See" and thus are "real Catholics" without however pointing to any pope, since they claim to live in a state of interregnum.

Now to this I respond:
  • he set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and
  • instituted in him the permanent principle of both unities and
  • their visible foundation.
This shows that in Peter, the person, is to be found the permanent princinple of the unity of the Catholic Church. Wherefore, according to Catholic ecclesiology, we may not divorce the spiritual unity of the Church from her visible unity: we cannot claim to be in communion with any episcopate without being in communion with its bishop.

Session IV of the First Vatican Council:

6 And since the gates of hell trying, if they can, to overthrow the church, make their assault with a hatred that increases day by day against its divinely laid foundation,
  • we judge it necessary,
    • with the approbation of the sacred council, and
    • for the protection, defence and growth of the catholic flock,
  • to propound the doctrine concerning the
    1. institution,
    2. permanence and
    3. nature
  • of the sacred and apostolic primacy,
  • upon which the strength and coherence of the whole church depends.
Now, the sedevacantist may argue that he holds to this "permanence" of the "sacred and apostolic primacy", but this does not mean that there must be a successor to the papacy in all ages.

I respond by quoting from the acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council contaning the letters of Pope Hadrian I:

For the Blessed Apostle Peter, himself the chief of the Apostles, who first sat in the Apostolic See, left the chieftship of his Apostolate, and pastoral care to his successors who are to sit in his most holy Chair forever. And that power of authority, which he received from the Lord God our Saviour, he too bestowed and delivered by divine command to the Pontiffs, his successors... In the whole world the chief rank and power was given to the Blessed Apostle Peter by the Redeemer of the world Himself; and through the same Apostle, whose place we unworthily hold, the holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church holds the first rank, and the authority of power, now and forever..."

Since we ought to interpret all things in light of the faith handed down to us, this means that the permanence of Papal Primacy means a permanence of successions. Thus an "interregnum" is by necessity a temporary matter. Further, this citation shows that the power and authority of St. Peter is transmitted to his successors. The Church cannot be visibly united when one rejects the visible principle and guarant of the visible unity of the Church. Such an idea would be an unholy mixture of protestant ecclesiology with the Catholic name.

Further, we must realize that - with regard to schism above - the only way to avoid being in schism is by being in communion with the bishops of the Church, first and foremost by being in communion with the Roman Pontiff, the Pope. We communicate though with the successor of St. Peter and not with an abstract idea; we owe the Pope obedience (in matters of faith, morals, and discipline), and not some abstract "invisible theory". Surely, this is not meant to point to ultra-montanism and to reject doctrinal unity (since doctrine is invisible), but rather to stress the theandric nature of the Church which necessitates unity on visible terms as much as on matters not seen by the eyes of man. There is no "unity" when one breaks the visible communion of the Church: such a notion is protestant, not Catholic. For this very reason, it is necessary that a Roman Pontiff permanently sits on the chair of Peter - without disregarding the temporary gaps caused by an interregnum.

This understanding can easily be bolstered by pointing to the First Vatican Council again:

Chapter 2 On the Permanence of the Primacy of Blessed Peter in the Roman Pontiffs

  1. That which our lord Jesus Christ, the prince of shepherds and great shepherd of the sheep, established in the blessed apostle Peter, for the continual salvation and permanent benefit of the church, must of necessity remain for ever, by Christ's authority, in the church which, founded as it is upon a rock, will stand firm until the end of time [45] .

  2. For no one can be in doubt, indeed it was known in every age that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, the pillar of faith and the foundation of the catholic church, received the keys of the kingdom from our lord Jesus Christ, the saviour and redeemer of the human race, and that to this day and for ever he lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors the bishops of the holy Roman see, which he founded and consecrated with his blood [46] .

  3. Therefore whoever succeeds to the chair of Peter obtains by the institution of Christ himself, the primacy of Peter over the whole church. So what the truth has ordained stands firm, and blessed Peter perseveres in the rock-like strength he was granted, and does not abandon that guidance of the church which he once received [47] .

  4. For this reason it has always been necessary for every church--that is to say the faithful throughout the world--to be in agreement with the Roman church because of its more effective leadership. In consequence of being joined, as members to head, with that see, from which the rights of sacred communion flow to all, they will grow together into the structure of a single body [48] .

  5. Therefore,
    • if anyone says that
      • it is not by the institution of Christ the lord himself (that is to say, by divine law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole church; or that
      • the Roman pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy:
      let him be anathema.

What are we to make of this? Vatican I commands us to be in agreement with the Roman Church, that Church to whom the Saints and Fathers rightly attribute indefectibility.
Our conclusion is that we must condemn any theory which suggests that the Church is left without a Successor to St. Peter.

on IV:
This is easily demonstrated again by pointing to Vatican I:

Chapter 3 On the Power and Primacy of the Roman Pontiff

3 In this way, by unity with the Roman pontiff in communion and in profession of the same faith , the church of Christ becomes one flock under one supreme shepherd [50]

It does not say "by some odd claim to unity with the Holy See without its bishop", but rather "by unity with the Roman Pontiff": this necessitates the existence of the Roman Pontiff.

Vatican I continues by saying:

4 This is the teaching of the catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.

on V:
Because of all things shown above, we must therefore conclude that the Catholic faith teaches that an interregnum is but a temporary matter. The word itself already reveals this truth: "inter-regnum" which means "between the reign". This is to express the short period of the chair of Peter being vacant between the end of the reign of the deceased Pontiff and the beginning of the reign of the newly elected Pope.
This state factually made permanent would mean that the Catholic faith is false. Wherefore, this position must be condemned. Certainly sedevacantists will claim that there are no official documents showing that an interregnum can be limited to a certain time. This is false. Granted, the rules have changed over the course of history, and the longest inter-regnum the Church had was about 3 years. Such interregnum differ substantially from the sedevacantist "interregnum" though. One may ask how this is true? It is true because the interregna of the past always preserved a system by which a new pope could be elected. The sedevacantists of today are faced with the decrees of Venerable Pope Pius XII who ruled that Cardinals are the ones to elect the Roman Pontiff. Though, this is better discussed later.

Nevertheless, I will quote from the 23rd Session of the Ecumenical Council of Basel-Florence to show that the claim there are no decrees regarding papal elections is simply false:

"The holy general synod of Basel, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, representing the universal church, for an everlasting record. Since a good shepherd is the salvation of his flock, it is the duty of this sacred synod to strive, with all the diligence that human law can contrive, that the Roman pontiff, who is first in the Lord's flock and the supreme shepherd, should be and continue to be such as to provide for the salvation of all souls and the benefit of the whole christian world and to fulfil worthily so great an office. Therefore it renews the constitutions about the election of Roman pontiffs which sacred councils and supreme pontiffs have issued and it adds to them some further salutary norms. It decrees that whenever the apostolic see falls vacant, all the cardinals of the holy Roman church who are present in the place where the election of the supreme pontiff is to be held, shall meet together on the tenth day after the see becomes vacant in some chapel or place near the conclave." [on the election of the supreme Pontiff]

The holy synod decrees that the person elected as pope is obliged to express his consent to the election in the manner stated below. It is fitting that this consent should be made to the cardinals, if the person elected is present in the curia, or to one of the cardinals or someone mandated by them if he is not present there, in the presence of a notary and at least ten persons. After he has been informed of the election, he is bound to act within a day of the demand. If he does not do so, his election is annulled and the cardinals must proceed in the Lord's name to another election. But if he expresses his consent, as stated above, the cardinals shall straightaway make due obeisance to him as supreme pontiff. Once the obeisance has been made by the cardinals, nobody has any right to challenge his pontificate. [On the profession of the supreme pontiff]

from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
layman may also be elected pope, as was Celestine V (1294). Even the election of a marriedman would not be invalid (c. "Qui uxorem", 19, caus. 33, Q. 5). Of course, the election of a heretic, schismatic, or female would be null and void. Immediately on the canonical election of a candidate and his acceptance, he is true pope and can exercise full and absolute jurisdiction over the whole Church. A papal election, therefore, needs no confirmation, as the pontiff has no superior on earth."

on V:

Now comes the part where I will enumerate the difficulties of the sedevacantist position:

1) Sedevacantism cannot demonstrate to be in communion with the Roman Church. The Holy See is in communion with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and all Cardinals of the Catholic Church are in communion with him. Sedevacantism has no claimant to the chair of Peter with whom they can profess visibly their communion. If sedevacantism cannot even demonstrate that it is in communion with the primatial See, the source of presbyterial unity , then how can sedevacantists even claim to be "Catholic"?

2) The "Conciliar Popes" have been validly elected and accepted by the Cardinals and thus no person may challenge their pontificate by private judgement.

3) The claim that the Holy See has "defected from the faith" is condemned by the Catholic faith.

4) Sedevacantists lack unity amongst themselves. E.g.: the sedevacantist Dimond brothers have already condemned as heretics and schismatics the sedevacantist movements known as the SSPV and the CMRI. This obvious lack of unity is the consequence of their "departure from the unity of the chair of Peter".

5) They have no Pope. Vatican I understood in light of tradition shows that the permanence of the Papal Office necessitates a permanent succession of Roman Pontiffs. Sedevacantists, however, are without any "pope". Some who are better called "sede-impedists" claim that "the Holy See is occupied by an antipope and thus no real pope can be elected". This is not to be taken seriously since, Rome had already been temporarily occupied by antipopes without impeding the possibility of havign a legitimate Pope. The legitimate Pope - though not spatially in Rome - remains the Bishop of Rome despite an antipope being in the eternal city.

6) Sedevecantists only see problems everywhere without offering a solution: they oppose the Popes, nay, they even dare declare them as "manifest heretics" and thus "cannot be popes". At the same time, they have no idea whence the "new and real pope" is supposed to come from. What of the canonical procedures to the election of the Roman Pontiff?

7) Rival bishoprics. Here is presented a problem which turns out bad for the sedevacantist position regardless of which position of two is true. On the one hand, sedevacantists may have set up their own episcopates - thus rivalling the Catholic episcopate in communion with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. This would be a manifest proof of the schism that they are in. Such a step would only be consistent in their claims that the new order of ordination is invalid and that Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI are not only heretics, but also apostates and thus have no clerical office whatsoever, nay they are supposedly not even Catholics! Now, if this position were true, then the sedevacantist cult would have the obligatory burden of appointing Cardinals and then electing a new - supposedly real - "pope". But the persons who have recently fallen from the Catholic faith are sedevacantists, not conclavists (those sedevecantists who realized that they must elect a "pope" and have done so: there are various groups with their respective "popes"), wherefore they are "popeless" (this gives a new meaning to John Salza's term "capitavacantists"!). But for some unknown reason, the sedevacantists seem to refuse to actually consequently follow through their ideas, hence another possibility is raised: that they - though not formally - factually recognize the jurisdiction of the Catholic episcopate in communion with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. But this cannot be an option at all, since this would go against their claims regarding the supposedly "invalid ordination formula" and the "apostasy" of the "Conciliar Church". Either way, the sedevacantist position seems likewise absurd.

8) Finally, the question is raised as to who is now in charge of the Holy See?
The Camerlengo, the College of Cardinals, and the Roman Curia are all in communion with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Has the entire apparatus of the Catholic Church become "apostate"?


I hope that I have been able to demonstrate that not only is the position presented by sedevacantism highly absurd due to its lack of communion with the Holy See, but that it also is a "troublemaking" cult which leads to nothing other than division without being able to offer any real solution to the problem they claim to be confronting.

It should be noted that I am not claiming that the Catholic Church is not undergoing a certain crisis, no I would not deny that, however I would reject any time any cult arrogant enough to think it can judge the Papacy instituded by none other than Christ Himself to make us all subject to Him in charitable unity and concord. I reject any such idea especially when it is apparent the the cult promoting such heresy cannot even be considered to be part of the Catholic Church. Our unity is visible and forever tied to the Roman Pontiff. To claim otherwise is to follow in the footsteps of all schismatics of the past, present and the future.

I put up this treatise with the intention of saving Catholics from falling for the lies of this heretical and schismatic community. Let us recall the words of the Catholic Church:

Pope St. Agatho wrote the following in a letter to Emperor Constantinus Pogonatus (the first part is incorporated in the Acts of the 6th Ecumenical Council):

"Sancti quidem Doctores venerati atque secuti (Apostolicam Sedem); haeretici autem falsis criminationibus ac derogationum odiis insecuti."

"The holy Doctors have always held it (the Apostolic See) in reverence and clung to it; while heretics have ever persecuted it with their slanderous falsehoods and hateful calumnies." (Mansi, tom. xi. Col. 239)

Beware of the danger of schism!

St. Augustine of Hippo:
"There is nothing more grievous than the sacrilege of schism...There can be no just necessity for destroying the unity of the Church...To start a schism from the unity of Christ, or to be in schism, is an immense evil." (contra Epistulam Parmeniani, II, 2; Contra Cresconium, II, 1, 5)

St. Irenaeus:
"The spiritual disciple will judge also those that work schisms; who are devoid of the love of God, considering their own advantage than the unity of the Church; and who for slight and trivial causes, rend and divide the great glorious Body of the Christ, and as far as in them lies, bring it to nothing. They speak peace, but work war; a straining indeed at a gnat, and swallowing a camel. No correction they can effect will compensate for the injury which arises from schism." (Ad Haereses 4, 33:7)

As St. Augustine of Hippo said:
"Salvation no one can have but in the Catholic Church. Out of the Catholic Church, he may have anything but salvation. He may have honor, he may have Baptism, he may have the Gospel, he may both believe and preach in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; but he can find salvation nowhere but in the Catholic Church." (Sermo ad Caesariens. De Emerit.)

And St. Iraenaeus:
The Church "is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account we are bound to avoid them...we hear it declared of the unbelieving and the blinded of this world that they shall not inherit the world of life which is to come...Resist them in defense of the only true and life giving faith, which the Church has received from the Apostles and imparted to her sons." (Ad Haereses III [a.D. 202])

Thus we believe firmly:

"...It is a perfectly well-known Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. and that those who are contumacious against its authority and the definitions of that same Church, and those who are pertinaciously divided from that unity of the same Church and from Peter's Successor, the Roman Pontiff, to whom the custody of the Vineyard has been committed by the Saviour, cannot obtain salvation." (Blessed Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidam)

The answer often is very simple. To those scandalized by the fall of two formerly Catholic apologists, I would like to recall in their minds the words of St. Ambrose:


"Where Peter is, there is the Church."

May the Lord preserve you Catholics in the one true faith and in communion with His Vicar, Pope Benedict XVI; may He lead back to the Catholic Church those who have gone astray for the praise and glory of His Name, for their own salvation and the salvation of those who listen to them.

Mittwoch, 20. Januar 2010

the Church is one

This entry is meant for all those who are seeking the Church of Christ, His Bride, and are becoming frustrated over the large number of different Christian Churches and communities. I can understand how appealing it may be to simply suspend the search for the "one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" thinking that the division caused by the various groups is one that is against God's Will. I agree that division in Christianity goes against the very Will of God, and every Christian ought to be seeking to do that which is willed by God. So what is one supposed to do?

Let us begin with the very words of Christ Jesus:

"And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou has given me; that they may be one, as we also are." (John 17:11)

Jesus here declares that He will return to His Father in heaven, and then prays for the unity of Christians, for the unity of His Church. This prayer actually deserves a great deal of attention since Jesus also elaborates on the meaning of the unity He spoke of. He wants Christians to be one as He and the Father are one. This concept of unity stands at the very heart of ecclesiology. The Son is united to the Father in a real sense: these two persons are but one God along with the Holy Spirit. Wherefore, the unity proposed here is a real one that connects the one necessarily to the other. This unity is so perfect that Jesus said that "the Father is in me, and I in the Father" (John 10:38). Though distinct persons, one is in the other and vice-versa.

We can say that anyone seeking the Church of Christ is confronted with two main ideas:

a) that the Church of Christ is visible and that her unity is also visible
b) that the Church of Christ is invisible and that her unity also is invisible

The former idea is what is taught by Apostolic Churches (the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches), while the latter is the theory that developped following the protestant "reformation" (this idea is held by protestants including Anglicans).

Now, if we understand the Church to be the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:24; Colossians 1:18), then we must understand the unity to be visible, not invisible. The reason for this is that Christ had only one Body and His Body was visibly one. In a way we can say that the answer to the question about the correct ecclesiology is not given "by Jesus", but is Jesus Himself. In this sense, we must understand His claim of being the truth (John 14:6). He does not only speak truth, but He Himself is the truth.

St. Paul asked those who had caused troubles to the visible unity of the Church the following question:

"Is Christ divided?" (1 Corinthians 1:13)

And later declared:

"For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ." (1 Corinthians 12:12)

So the Incarnation is the model for the Church. The Church must be understood as an extension of the Incarnation. Each individual Christian is part of one body - the Church - with each part being united to every other. There is not a single member that is not united to another. For this would mean that the body lost its organic unity. "So we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5).

The statement of every one member of the Church being member of another should be understood in relation to the statement that Jesus is in the Father and the Father in Him. Which ecclesiological teaching makes more sense? The one which postulates a real, visible unity in which every member of the Church is in communion with every other. Or is it the "invisible Church theory" whose members are not in communion with each other and wherein Christians may freely disagree on doctrinal matters, not being of "one mind"?

We already have the next keyword: communion. This is very important because the Church is a Eucharistic communion. The very unity of the Church as being the body of Christ Jesus is effected through the participation in the Mystery of Holy Communion. Hence St. Paul writes:

"The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are, one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread." (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

So by participating in the communion of the blood of Christ and the partaking of the one bread which is the body of the Lord, we Christians become one body, the body of Christ. If however a person denies that the consecrated bread and wine he partakes of are not the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, then he - by his own error - condemns himself. And those who do not think that bread and wine need be validly consecrated to become the actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ will then have to accept that they are uniting themselves to nothing other than bread and wine - not to Christ Jesus.
At this point let us remember that those who have broken the line of Apostolic Succession are left without valid sacraments and thus are unable to participate in the Mystery of Holy Communion: this would exclude all protestants including Anglicans from this Divine Mystery.
And if then all protestants are excluded from this, is it still then reasonable to take into account their theory about the "invisibly united Church"?

It is because of this that the members of the Church must be in communion with each other, otherwise we would be left with a schism-riddled "invisible Church". That such a notion is wrong, one can demonstrate easily. Most Anglicans will admit that prior to 1054 a.D. the Catholic Church was visibly one (for some reason, they do not include Arians, Nestorians, Donatists, Montanists, Monophysites, etc. to their theory of the invisibly united Church). Then, after the schism between East and West and after the protestant "reformation", all of the sudden, the Church of Christ consists of members that are all part of the one Church, but who need not be in communion with each other, i.e. the one Church is made up of mutually exclusive members.

Is this possible? Such a theory can be examined well by using an analogy. Let us for instance take the state of Czechoslovakia. In the past there existed a state named Czechoslovakia. However, this state was then destroyed. Out of it became the two states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Does the state of Czechoslovakia still exist? No. Likewise, the case with the Empire of Austria-Hungary. After World War I, it no longer existed. What does this mean with regards to the Church? This means that if we claim that the Church was once visibly united and this unity ended, then we are left with a Church no longer existing. And this conclusion would certainly contradict the words of Him who cannot lie, since He promised to His Church that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

One could raise an objection though, that Christianity is no longer united. This is true, but this is true also before the schism of 1054 which was not the first schism to divide Christianity. What then is the explanation? The explanation is simple: that the division does not affect the Church: schisms do not divide the Catholic Church, but schisms separate Christians (in the wider sense of the term) from the Church. If the Church herself is divided, then the gates of hell have overpowered her. Instead we must affirm that those who are not in communion with us, are not in communion with the Church of Christ either; they have left the communion of the Church. This is true of the Arian and the Nestorian, as it is true of the Albigensian and the Anglican, and it is also true of the Monophysite and the Eastern Orthodox and any other schismatic.

If one can agree with this, then one has already reduced the list of possible ways to only three groups: the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Since the Oriental Orthodox broke communion with the Patriarchal Sees of the Church, we can safely say that theirs is not the Church of Christ. Furthermore, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians remained in communion with each other and faithful to the Ecumenical Councils of the Church after the Orientals had broken away from the union of the Church.

This now leaves us with two possibilities: the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy. Both Churches claim to have preserved the true faith and to be the "one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" of Christ. So which is it? It may perhaps help to take a look at the tradition of the ancients when problems arose. What was the test to show that one was in communion with the Catholic Church? That either of these two is not in communion with the other is apparent: there is a schism. Thus, one of the two must be in grave error.

Let us recall the words of St. Cyprian:

"Do they think that Christ will be with them when they are gathered up, who are gathered outside the Church of Christ?...He is no martyr who is not in the Church....They cannot remain with God who will not be of one mind in the Church of God." (De catholicae ecclesiae unitate, 13-14 [C.S.E.L. III, 222])

So what was the test of communion? How could one know if one was actually in the Church of Christ? Ancient testimony points to the the Petrine See, that See of the Bishop of Rome. If one was in communion with this See, one was considered a Catholic; if not, one was considered to be a foreign body.

Thus St. Cyprian stated:

"And He says to him again after the resurrection, 'Feed My sheep.' It is on him that He builds the Church, and to him that He entrusts the sheep feed. And although He assigns a like power to all apostles, yet He founded a single Chair, thus establishing by His own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church's) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is (thus) made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly we should hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcpate itself to be one and undivided." (The Unity of the Church, 4-5 [a.D. 251-256])

"After such things as these, moreover, they still dare - a false bishop having been apointed for them, by heretics - to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access." (To Cornelius, Epistle 54/59:14 [a.D. 252])
In like manner St. Optatus of Milevis wrote:

"You cannot deny that you know that the episcopal throne was set up by Peter in the city of Rome ... in which one throne the unity is kept by all, that the other apostles might not each set up his own, that he would be a schismatic and a sinner who should set up another against the one throne." (Opt. Mil. II, 2 [C.S.E.L.XXVI, p. 36])

It is because of this that the Catholic Church teaches in Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium the following:

"In order that the episcopate itself, however, might be one and undivided, He put Peter at the head of the other Apostles, and in him set up a lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion." (Lumen Gentium #18)

Pope Boniface I (481-422) taught:

"It is therefore certain that this Church [the Roman see] is to the Churches throughout the world as the head to its members. If anyone cut himself off from this Church, not being in union with her, he is outside the Christian religion." (Ep. XIV, episcopis per Thessaliam [PL XX, 777 B])

Because of this St. Ambrose wrote:

"He sent for the bishop, nor did he think any grace true save that of the true faith, so he asked whether he was in communion with the Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church." (De excessu fratris sui Satyri, I, 47 [PL XVI, 1306])

That communion with the Holy See is the test for one's Catholicity is also expressed by St. Jerome who wrote a letter to Pope St. Damasus during the Meletian troubles at Antioch:

"I speak with the successor of the fisherman and the disciple of the cross. I, who follow none but Christ as first, am joined in communion with Your Holiness, that is with the See of Peter. On this rock I know that the Church was built. Whoever eats the lamb outside this house is profane. Whoever is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the deluge comes. I know nothing of Vitalis, I defy Meletius, I care nothing for Paulinus. Whoever does not gather with you scatters; for whoever does not belong to Christ is of Antichrist." (Ep XV, ad Damasum, 2 [PL XXII, 355-356])

When we consider that the Holy See was the fountain of unity and of all ecclesiastical authority, the words of St. Ambrose become easily understandable:

"Where Peter is, there is the Church; were the Church is, there is no death, but eternal life." (Enarr. in Ps. XL, no.30 [PL XIV, 1082])

All examples I have used come from the time before the schism between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Christians. There are indeed many more examples, but the ones I cited should be enough to demonstrate what special role Rome has played in the life of the Church of Christ. Of the two remaining possibilities - the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy - only one is still in communion with the Petrine See of which St. Theodore of Studium declared:

"I witness now before God and men, they have torn themselves away from the Body of Christ, from the Supreme See (Rome), in which Christ placed the keys of the Faith, against which the gates of hell (I mean the mouth of heretics) have not prevailed, and never will until the Consummation, according to the promise of Him Who cannot lie. Let the blessed and Apostolic Paschal (Pope St. Paschal I) rejoice therefore, for he has fulfilled the work of Peter." (Theodore Bk. II. Ep. 63).

And I end this entry with a simple reminder:

Pope St. Agatho wrote the following in a letter to Emperor Constantinus Pogonatus (the first part is incorporated in the Acts of the 6th Ecumenical Council):

"Sancti quidem Doctores venerati atque secuti (Apostolicam Sedem); haeretici autem falsis criminationibus ac derogationum odiis insecuti."

"The holy Doctors have always held it (the Apostolic See) in reverence and clung to it; while heretics have ever persecuted it with their slanderous falsehoods and hateful calumnies." (Mansi, tom. xi. Col. 239)

May God enlighten the reader to find his way to His Church, the Catholic Church.