A response to Father Ludger Grün. In my last newsletter [blog post version here], I reviewed the motives and reasons why we must avoid the una cum Mass. In most cases this applies to the traditional Masses offered by the SSPX, both mainstream and “resistance.” A Father Grün of the SSPX made a response to my newsletter, and consequently here I would like to make more clear just what our position is.
Father Grün’s main argument against what I said is to go to Canon 188 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law regarding the tacit renunciation from ecclesiastical office of those who profess heresy. However, recourse to this canonical argument misses the entire point of what I said, and does not apply in any case.
So I again provide a review of all the principles, this time in a step-by-step approach, so that everyone can understand.
Point # 1. Our argument concerning the vacancy of the Roman See does not concern the personal sin or crime of heresy in Bergoglio. There is no rule book, not even Canon Law itself, which deals with the problem of the personal sin or crime of heresy in a reigning pope. There is absolute silence about it from the legal point of view. It clearly states in Canon Law that the pope is not subject to Canon Law, since he is the legislator. It is a general principle that the legislator is not subject to his own laws. (This does not mean that he can be a lawless person, since he is bound by divine law, natural law, and the virtues of prudence and justice, whereby he must give good example to all).
There is a document published by Pope Paul IV in the sixteenth century dealing with the problem of a heretical pope, but even concerning this there is controversy as to whether it still applies, and about its true meaning.
The point is that there is nothing clear and certain about how to deal with the problem. The early theologians said that a heretical pope would certainly lose office, but not until he was declared a heretic. Later theologians argued that he would lose the office ipso facto, that is, by the very fact of being a public heretic, without any need of declaration. Both sides of this argument were aired in the discussion between Messrs. Siscoe and Salza, on the one side, and Fr. Cekada on the other.
As I said, however, the personal heresy of Bergoglio is not the central problem.
Point # 2. Our argument concerning the vacancy of the Roman See centers on the indefectibility of the Church, which is a dogmatic argument and not a canonical argument. The doctrine of indefectibility is based on the words of Our Lord: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matth. XXVIII: 20) It is de fide that the Catholic Church must endure as an institution until the end of time, and must remain essentially the same until the end of time. This means that it must have perfect continuity of dogma and moral teaching, with no contradictions, perfect continuity of worship, and perfect continuity of all of its essential disciplines. If somehow this continuity were broken, it would not be the same religion, and it would be in defection from what Christ intended it to be.
Christ also said to the Apostles: “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.” (Luke X: 16) This means that we can confidently listen to the teaching of the hierarchy as the teaching of Christ. What if they are not teaching infallibly? The answer is that while the hierarchy, although not invoking its full power of teaching infallibly, is nonetheless protected by Christ as Head of the Church from teaching any pernicious doctrine. This means that it cannot teach anything which is contrary to Catholic doctrine or morals, and which would be a sin to embrace. Likewise the Catholic hierarchy cannot impose disciplines, whether liturgical or canonical, which would be pernicious, that is, prescribing something evil, and sinful to observe.
In a word, the assistance of Christ to His Church is an essential characteristic of the Catholic Church, since it is in this that the Catholic Church is distinguished from all false religions. The very reason why we submit to the teaching authority of the Church is that it is assisted by Christ. The same may be said for its disciplinary authority.
It means that every Catholic can, in perfect good conscience, assent to what is taught by the hierarchy, and obey all of the disciplines and liturgy which it imposes or even permits.
Consequently the Council of Trent condemns with anathema those who would say that the rites of the Catholic Church are impious.
Point # 3. The central problem of Bergoglio and the Vatican II popes in general is not that they are guilty of the personal sin or crime of heresy, but that they are imposing a new and false religion upon Catholics.
The reason why traditionalists exist is not because they perceive that the pope is a heretic, and must be resisted or denounced. They are traditionalists because they cannot find the Catholic Faith in their parishes.
Vatican II was a revolution concocted by Modernist heretics, such as Rahner, Ratzinger, Küng, Congar, and many others in which the Modernist dream of transforming Catholicism was realized. Their express goal and purpose — together with all of the enemies of the Catholic Church beginning with the eighteenth century — was not to tear down the edifice of the Catholic Church, but to transform it from within, to make it a dogma-less humanitarianism. For this reason, ecumenism was the principal doctrine of the Council, together with religious liberty and the new ecclesiology. The traditional teaching of the Church is that the Catholic Church, and it alone, is the one, true Church, and outside of it there is no salvation. This means that there is no other religious entity which has the means of salvation. It means that everything outside of the Catholic Church is a false religion.
Vatican II changed this doctrine through the three errors which I mentioned: (1) ecumenism; (2) religious liberty; (3) the new ecclesiology.
In summary, Vatican II required Catholics to abandon the notion of the Church’s being the single source of salvation in the world, the single true Church. Other religions were seen as having a “value in the order of salvation.” This was done in order to amalgamate all religions one day into a dogma-less christianity, which would concern itself not with doctrines, but with the betterment of humanity on a purely naturalistic level.
The teachings of Bergoglio fit into this pattern like hand in glove. He is a communist who does not believe a speck of Catholic doctrine.
As a result of this new teaching, Catholic liturgy was changed, Catholic doctrines were changed, and Catholic disciplines were changed, particularly in what regards ecumenism.
Space does not permit me to elaborate on these points, but I think that our readers sufficiently understand what I am saying, namely: Vatican II and its reforms constitute a new and false religion, consisting of doctrines and practices which have already been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.
Point # 4. Proof of the foregoing is that all traditionalists (SSPX included) have undertaken a systematic rejection of the doctrines, liturgical rites, and disciplines of Vatican II and its subsequent reforms. In addition, they have acted toward the Vatican II hierarchy (claiming to be Catholic) with defiance, as if it did not exist.
Any Catholic knows that such a rejection would not be justified in the eyes of God unless it were a mortal sin against the Faith to accept the changes of Vatican II. For such a conviction is our only justification before God our Judge when we die, namely why we rejected the teachings, liturgy and disciplines of the apparent pope and Catholic hierarchy. For it is to the pope that He says: “Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” (Matth. XVI: 18-19) It is to all the Apostles that He says: “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.” (Luke X: 16) “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matth. XXVIII: 20)
Our only argument in defense of our defiance of this apparently Catholic hierarchy, apparently empowered by God with full authority, is to assert that they were commanding that we accept a defection from the Catholic Faith in the form of universally promulgated doctrines, liturgy, and disciplines. If this is not true, then all traditionalists will go to hell for grave disobedience to the Catholic hierarchy, indeed schism, for having despised Him who sent them.
Point # 5. It is impossible, however, by the promises of Christ to His Church, that the true Catholic hierarchy could lead the faithful into a defection from the Faith.
This conclusion flows from the doctrine of indefectibility and from the Scriptural quotations from the very mouth of Our Lord Himself.
Point # 6. Therefore there are two logical possibilities: (1) the Novus Ordo hierarchy is the true Catholic hierarchy, and consequently all of the doctrines and reforms of Vatican II are in accordance with the Catholic Faith, and must be obeyed; or (2) Vatican II and its reforms do in fact constitute a defection from the Catholic Faith, and as a result it is impossible that what purports to be the true Catholic hierarchy be in fact the true Catholic hierarchy.
There is no gray area between these two possibilities. For the promises of Christ are so strong and so clear, that it is impossible to assert that a true Catholic hierarchy could universally promulgate doctrines, liturgy, and disciplines which constitute a defection from the Catholic Faith. To assert that this is a real possibility would be to deny implicitly the de fide doctrine of indefectibility.
Point # 7. Consequently the traditionalist, who by his very actions declares that Vatican II and its reforms are a defection from the Catholic Faith, is bound logically to assert that the Novus Ordo hierarchy is not the true Catholic hierarchy. If he does not assert this, he is implicitly declaring that the Catholic Church has defected.
This is why we say it is impossible that Bergoglio be pope, and that it is not merely a matter of opinion. It is a conclusion which is bound up with the Catholic Faith itself, and is demanded by it. For if there is defection, it cannot be assigned to the divinely assisted hierarchy. The defection must be found in the human beings, who, despite all appearances and despite whatever appointments and elections they may have, have proven themselves to be in some way defective and incapable of assuming the power to teach, rule, and sanctify the Catholic Church. In other words, the Church cannot defect, but the people in it can defect, and it is in these people that we must assign the cause of defection.
Point # 8. Consequently every traditionalist is duty-bound, by a conclusion which flows necessarily from the Catholic doctrine of indefectibility, to reject the Novus Ordo hierarchy as being a false Catholic hierarchy, not endowed with the power to teach, rule, and sanctify the Catholic Church.
Here I will not enter into the theories of how they are a false hierarchy. Some (as I do) say that despite their absence of authority, they are nonetheless elected and appointed to positions to which authority naturally pertains. Others say that they have neither the authority nor the elections or appointments to be anything at all.
The essential point is this: That due to their lack of authority, they are not the true Catholic hierarchy. Bergoglio is not a true pope, and the local bishop is not a true diocesan bishop.
Point # 9. It is therefore necessary that the names of this false hierarchy not appear in the Catholic Mass. For the mentioning of the names of a false hierarchy objectively places the Mass outside of the Catholic Church.
The name of the pope and local bishop in the Canon of the Mass is a declaration by the priest that these men constitute the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, namely the pope as Vicar of Christ and Visible Head of the Catholic Church, and the local bishop as the head of the diocese, appointed as such by the Roman Pontiff, and as having the power from Christ to teach, rule, and sanctify the diocese over which he has been placed.
That these names should appear in a traditionalist Mass is, from what has been pointed out, a declaration of allegiance to a false hierarchy. It is to assert implicitly that the Catholic Church is capable of defection, and that the Catholic hierarchy can lead us to hell by its universally promulgated doctrines, liturgy, and discipline. It also declares that the una cum Mass is a schismatic Mass, since, if he is the pope, then the resistance to him is schismatic and a mortal sin, and if he is not the pope, it is to offer the Mass in union with a false hierarchy, which is objectively a mortal sin for the priest and all who actively participate in it. (It would be very advisable to re-read Fr. Cekada’s The Grain of Incense article, which gives ample evidence from Catholic theologians concerning the una cum question).
Point # 10. To mention the name of Bergoglio and the local bishop in the Canon of the traditional Mass requires the priest and those actively participating to embrace the recognize and resist position, which denies the indefectibility of the Catholic Church, and which is also schismatic.
If a traditional Mass is offered in union with “Francis, our pope, and so-and-so our bishop,” but is at the same time a Mass unauthorized by Francis and the local bishop, the priest and active participants are logically forced into saying that the universal teachings and practices of the Catholic Church are false, evil, and pernicious. For why would the priest be offering a non-authorized Mass, unless the teachings and practices, universally promulgated by the Vatican II hierarchy and found in local parishes everywhere, were false, evil, and pernicious? Why on earth would the faithful attend an unauthorized Mass, unless their parish Mass were false, evil, and pernicious?
So the unauthorized una cum Mass — the SSPX Mass — logically demands that the active participants adhere to recognize and resist, which is to say: “Bergoglio is our pope, but his universally promulgated doctrines, liturgy, and disciplines are false evil and pernicious.” To think such a thing is objectively heretical, because it denies the indefectibility of the Church. And if Bergoglio is indeed the pope, recognize and resist is clearly schismatic, as is evident from the statements of Pius IX and Pius XI.
Summary and conclusion. Our Lord established the hierarchy of the Catholic Church as His personal representatives in leading His sheep to heaven. He assists this hierarchy in such a way that they cannot give the sheep any doctrine, liturgy, or discipline which would be sinful to accept or observe.
If, therefore, what purports to be the Catholic hierarchy is giving the sheep doctrines, liturgy, and disciplines which are sinful to accept or observe (the very reason why we do not go to our local parishes), then it is absolutely certain and necessary that, despite all appearances, and despite any elections or appointments which the Novus Ordo hierarchy may have, they lack the power to teach, rule, and sanctify the Catholic Church. They are false popes and false diocesan bishops, and it is the duty of every Catholic to denounce them as such and to openly reject them.
Furthermore, to recognize the Novus Ordo hierarchy as true popes and bishops, but at the same time to repudiate as false and evil the doctrines and practices which they have universally promulgated, is to deny the indefectibility of the Catholic Church, which is a dogma of faith. It is to deny that the Catholic Church is the unique means of salvation; instead it would be a means of damnation. But this is blasphemy against the promises of Our Lord.
To name Bergoglio in the Mass is to hoist the flag of Modernism. It is to hoist the flag of the worst enemies of the Catholic Church, as Saint Pius X called them. Indeed, the SSPX sees as the solution to the Church’s problems the achievement of an accord with the Modernists, whereby they can function side-by-side with the Modernist hierarchy.
The name of Bergoglio in the traditional Mass is a rope that ties our battle for the preservation of the Faith to the precursors of the Antichrist.
The pope has a tremendous gravitational pull on all Catholics, for submission to the Roman Pontiff is necessary for salvation. If you recognize Bergoglio as pope, eventually you will be with him, and he with you, as sure as a rock will fall to the ground if thrown into the air.