A frequently asked question

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People ask me from time to time whether it is permissible to go to confession to a validly ordained Novus Ordo priest.

There are some traditionalist priests, although sedevacantists, who give an affirmative answer to this question. They allow it in case of necessity. They argue that since the Novus Ordo priest is not excommunicated, and does not belong to a declared non- Catholic sect, Canon Law admits that he could be approached for sacraments. Continue reading

A good question

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Recently in Church History class we were discussing the heretic Nestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople who, in 428, pronounced his heresy that Mary was not the Mother of God because the two natures in Christ, divine and human, were only connected in an accidental manner.

Already in 428, the clergy of Constantinople broke communion with him, that is, they did not recognize him as a Catholic archbishop. Similarly, as the people were seeking the traditional preaching of the Faith, they publicly cried out: “An Emperor we have, but no bishop.” It was not until 431, however, at the Council of Ephesus, that he was officially condemned. At that council, up until the moment of his condemnation, he was addressed as “Your Reverence” and given other formalities of honor. (Yet they did not permit him to sit among the bishops, but in a special place as an accused culprit).

So a seminarian asks the question: If Bergoglio is not yet officially condemned, then why do we not give him the title of “Your Holiness?” There are essentially three answers to this question: (1) people would vomit on calling him “Your Holiness;” (2) one must always distinguish between the world of reality and the world of legality; (3) the normal processes of accusation and condemnation are not available to us. I will not address the first reason, since it is obvious to all. I will proceed to the second.

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For those who think that they have heard it all

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The Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Argentinean Novus Ordo Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, declared that “at this moment, the Chinese are the ones implementing Catholic social teaching best.”

He said that the Chinese “look for the common good and subordinate other things to the general welfare.” He said, “the central Chinese value is work, work, work. There’s no other way, basically it’s what Saint Paul said: whoever does not work should not eat.” (Why Sorondo quotes St. Paul in this way I do not know. Saint Paul does not sound like a socialist or a promoter of the welfare state).

The next day, a Novus Ordo expert on China, a Father Cervellera, blasted Sorondo for his comments. He pointed out that people are arrested for practicing any religion. He said that since February 6th, all the unofficial churches have been closed. This would include the non-approved churches where Catholics have gone in order to avoid the government-controlled “Catholic Church” established by the Chinese communists since the time of the revolution. He said that local authorities now forbid minors under the age of 18 from entering churches, even official ones. He also pointed out that although China signed the Paris Climate Accord, nonetheless, according to Cervellera, China “has the most devastated and poisoned environment in the world.”

Cervellera concludes: “Idolizing China is an ideological affirmation that makes the Church a laughing-stock and hurts the world.”

To these comments we should add the following: (1) China is an officially atheistic country; (2) China is a communist country, communism having been condemned by Pope Pius XI as intrinsically evil; (3) China has had a one-child policy for decades, only recently permitting two; (4) China extols Mao Tse Tung as the founder of its present system, someone who murdered at least thirty million people. (5) China permits abortion on demand, as well as contraception on demand.

What Sorondo should have said was: “at this moment, the Chinese are the ones implementing Novus Ordo socialist teaching best.” In this he would be correct. The Novus Ordo is concerned only about this world, and the “betterment” of society through communism. Bergoglio’s speeches and writings are loaded with this sentiment.

Imperfect Catholicism?

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Not too long ago I was having a discussion, lively as usual, with a Novus Ordo conservative priest. In the discussions, I always press for an answer to the question: Is the Vatican II religion Roman Catholicism? Is it a homogeneous development of Catholicism, with nothing substantially different? Or is it a substantial rupture with the past? For everything we do and they do rests upon the answer to this question. For we would be wrong to oppose the reforms of Vatican II, if they are indeed a continuation of Catholicism. Conversely they would be wrong to accept them, if indeed they constitute rupture.

Well, I finally got an answer: “It is Catholicism, but imperfect Catholicism.” I never heard it put this way, but it di make me understand much better the position of the Novus Ordo conservative.

For I never understood how so many of them applaud — very discreetly — what we are saying and doing, but at the same time remain in the Novus Ordo.

Can Catholicism be imperfect? First we must define imperfect. There are three senses of imperfect: (1) to be incomplete; (2) to have a defect; (3) to be less perfect than something more perfect. A house under construction is imperfect in the first sense. A house with a leaky roof is imperfect in the second sense. A one thousand square foot home in good condition is less perfect, as a house, than a ten thousand square foot home. But these differ only accidentally, since both houses do the job of a house.

Catholicism cannot be imperfect in either of the first two senses. It cannot be incomplete, for this would mean that Our Lord failed to provide it with its necessary structure an elements.

Nor can it have any substantial defect. The substance of any religion consists in (1) its doctrines, both dogmatic and moral; (2) its laws and disciplines; (3) its worship and liturgical rites. Because the Catholic Church is assisted by the Holy Ghost, and is therefore indefectible, it cannot be defective in any of these areas.

It is to say that it cannot promulgate false doctrines. This means that anything which the Catholic Church universally promulgates as doctrine, contained in Revelation and to be believed as such, cannot be false. The Catholic Church is also infallible in condemning errors which are contrary to its teaching. Even when the Church is engaged in non-infallible teaching, called authentic magisterium, although these teachings could contain error, the error could never be pernicious. This is to say that the Church could never teach something in its authentic magisterium which would be sinful to accept, or a condemned doctrine, or anything contrary to faith or morals. This authentic magisterium is typically found in encyclicals and allocutions of popes, where, in most cases, they do not intend to use their full authority to bind the faithful in matters of faith, but nonetheless do teach authoritatively, and not merely as private theologians. Encyclicals and allocutions, however, can contain infallible teaching. The level of authority in all cases is determined by the language which the pope uses.

Indefectibility also ensures that the Church cannot promulgate sinful practices in its laws and disciplines. While laws and disciplines are always changeable, and while some laws may be more prudent than others, the Church could never make laws by which you would be required to accept or do something sinful.

Indefectibility also protects the Church’s worship, rites, and ceremonies. The Church could never change in the Mass or sacraments something which is of divine origin. What is completely under the Church’s control, however, are the liturgical ceremonies which surround the essential rites of the Mass and the sacraments. Here the Church is free to compose them and alter them as it will, but cannot prescribe a ceremony which does not conform to the doctrine of the Mass or the sacraments. In other words, the Church cannot compose a liturgy which would corrupt the faith or morals
of those who attend it.

More and less perfect. The only way in which the Church could be “imperfect” is in the third sense, that is, more or less perfect. A computer screen, for example, can be more o less perfect in regard to the definition of the image. One might be more defined than the other, but each serves its essential purpose of projecting images truthfully.

So the Church defines more and more clearly her never-changing dogmas by means of new dogmatic formulas. For example, the dogma of the Incarnation was far more defined after the many early general councils which declared this dogma against heresies. It does not mean, however, that the Church’s teaching before these definitions was faulty, but merely less defined.

Likewise the Church, as the centuries progressed, refined both her liturgical rites and her disciplines. It does not mean that her previous rites or disciplines were tainted or evil in any way, just less perfect than what came after them.

Is Vatican II merely imperfect Catholicism? I say no, because of the following reasons:

• Vatican II promulgated condemned and heretical doctrines: (1) Religious liberty, solemnly condemned by Pope Pius IX, (2) the new ecclesiology, which does not absolutely and exclusively identify the Church of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church; (3) that non-Catholic religions are means of salvation, which is a heresy; (4) that the college of bishops has supreme authority over the whole Church.

• The post-conciliar magisterium contains these errors in more explicit terms.

• The New Mass has been stripped of Catholic doctrines, and portrays a false notion of the Mass, the priesthood, and the Holy Eucharist.

• The 1983 Code of Canon Law sanctions sinful practices, such as giving Holy Communion to non-Catholics.

• The sinful practice of giving Holy Communion to adulterers, sanctioned officially by Bergoglio.

These are merely some of the reasons why the new religion must be termed a substantial alteration of the Catholic Faith. The severe decline in the faith of the clergy and people, the decline in religious vocations, the lack of unity of faith through the failure to impose Catholic doctrine, and the severe decline in the morals of the clergy are further signs of  substantial change.

Where are the four marks of the Church to be found in the new religion?

“Alien to the Catholic Faith”

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These are the words of Novus Ordo Archbishop Tomash Peta of Astana, Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga of Karaganda, and Bishop Schneider, an auxiliary of Astana, all of Kazakhstan, who issued a document on December 31st entitled Profession of the Immutable Truths about Sacramental Marriage. Two other bishops added their names to this document: Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, and Archbishop Luigi Negri, both retired. I cite here some of the salient passages:

The admission of so-called “divorced and re-married” faithful to Holy Communion, which is the highest expression of the unity of Christ the Spouse with His Church, means in practice a way of approving or legitimizing divorce, and in this meaning a kind of introduction of divorce in the life of the Church.

An approval or legitimization of the violation of the sacredness of the marriage bond, even indirectly through the mentioned new sacra-mental discipline, seriously contradicts God’s express will and His commandment. This practice therefore represents a substantial alteration of the two thousand-year- old sacramental discipline of the Church. Furthermore, a substantially altered discipline will eventually lead to an alteration in the corresponding doctrine.

In view of the vital importance that the doctrine and discipline of marriage and the Eucharist constitute, the Church is obliged to speak with the same voice. The pastoral norms regarding the indissolubility of marriage must not, therefore, be contradicted between one diocese and another, between one country and another. Since the time of the Apostles, the Church has observed this principle as St. Irenæus of Lyons testifies: “The Church, though spread through-out the world to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the Apostles and their disciples, preserves this preaching and this faith with care and, as if she inhabits a single house, believes in the same identical way, as if she had only one soul and only one heart, and preaches the truth of the faith, teaches it and transmits it in a unanimous voice, as if she had only one mouth” (Adversus hæreses, 1, 10, 2). Saint Thomas Aquinas transmits to us the same perennial principle of the life of the Church: “There is one and the same faith of the ancients and the moderns, otherwise there would not be one and the same Church” (Quæstiones Disputatæ de Veritate, q. 14, a. 12c).

It is not licit (non licet) to justify, approve, or legitimize either directly or indirectly divorce and a non-conjugal stable sexual relationship through the sacramental discipline of the admission of so-called “divorced and remarried” to Holy Communion, in this case a discipline alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.

A positive development, but with a long way to go. At long last, there are at least some Novus Ordo bishops who understand the problem of continuity. They correctly cite St. Irenæus, from the second century A.D., and Saint Thomas Aquinas in support of this absolutely essential quality of Catholic doctrine and discipline: that it must be always substantially the same. St. Thomas underscores the importance of it by saying that if there should be a rupture in faith, it would not be the same Church. The reason for this continuity is that the Church is guided by the Holy Ghost in all of her universal doctrines and disciplines. The Holy Ghost, however, is forever constant and always the same.

What is to be lamented is that it did not drop the “H-bomb,” that is, it did not accuse Bergoglio of heresy. They might respond that they were only addressing a discipline, i.e., to give Holy Communion to those who are publicly living in mortal sin. They themselves, however, point out that this discipline is effectively an approval of divorce and remarriage. But this is heresy.

It is furthermore appalling that it took more than fifty years for some bishops to recognize that there is doctrinal and disciplinary discontinuity. This break did not take place with Amoris Lætitia, the document approving of fornication and adultery, but with Vatican II, starting in 1962, containing in itself all of the logical underpinning of Amoris Lætitia. (I pointed this out in my newsletter of December 2017). The Novus Ordo conservatives, however, conscious that there was something wrong with Vatican II, have for these past 50+ years hidden behind the “false interpretation of Vatican II” argument in order to avoid the obvious problem of discontinuity. This document of these bishops is a sign that the Novus Ordo conservative bubble of “misinterpretation” has burst. Even Bishop Schneider, one of the signatories of this document, has said that Vatican II was a “rupture” with the past.

Is a schism in the making? Very possibly. Indeed these Novus Ordo bishops have laid down all of the ground work, theologically, for separating from Bergoglio. Now that they have said these things, they cannot just return to business as usual. They have accused Bergoglio of making a substantial disciplinary change. Either Bergoglio has to back down, or they have to act. If they do not act, then they accuse themselves of being complicit in the destruction of the Catholic Church.

None of this would have taken place if Vatican II had not happened. This council un-leashed a new mentality of relativism of truth, of a spirit of accommodation to the world, of a mania for change, and with these a rigid hatred for dogma, for absolute truths, for the un-changeable natural law, and for anything of the Church’s past, indeed a hatred for continuity with the past. This spirit of Vatican II is what produced a Bergoglio. But the makers of Vatican II were Roncalli, Montini, Wojtyla, and Ratzinger. They were all there, and were the true destroyers.

As imperfect as this document is, it is yet another step in the right direction. It takes time for ideas to develop in people’s minds. Perhaps these Novus Ordo bishops and others will be given the grace to realize that Vatican II is a disaster which must be undone.

“Correctio Filialis”

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At long last, the world of Novus Ordo conservatives has come to grips with reality, at least to a certain extent. I am referring to the Filial Correction concerning Propagated Heresies which was sent to Bergoglio this past summer, and publicized a few weeks ago.

It accuses Bergoglio, in a rather long-winded document, of having promulgated heresies in Amoris Lætitia, the notorious encyclical which authorizes both fornication and adultery. The Latin title of this encyclical means “The Joy of Love,” but many sarcastically refer to it as “The Joy of Adultery.”

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“Formal Correction”

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Cardinal Burke, the well-known conservative, gave an interview recently in which he made statements which are themselves in need of correction. Already in November of 2016, he said: “There is, in the Tradition of the Church, the practice of correction of the Roman Pontiff. It is something that is clearly quite rare. But if there is no response to these questions, then I would say that it would be a question of taking a form al act of correction of a serious error.”

By “questions” he is referring to the Dubia which he and three other cardinals presented to Bergoglio in 2016. He had no response from Bergoglio, so since late last year he has been saying that there ought to be a “formal correction” of the “pope.” He claims that there is a tradition of doing so. This is not true. There was never a case of any cardinal or bishop correcting the pope’s magisterium. There are cases of public corrections of their behavior. Saint Paul corrected St. Peter for his having conceded to the Jews  a separation from the Gentiles when they were eating. There was, however, no question of doctrine here. The theologians of the University of Paris publicly corrected John XXII on a matter of doctrine, but which he taught only as a private doctor, and not as the magisterium of the Church.

I challenge the Cardinal to tell us (1) where the magisterium of the Church was ever wrong about anything; and (2) when and where prelates of the Church corrected the magisterium of the pope.

The very notion of correcting a pope in a matter of magisterium ruins the teaching authority of  the Church. To which doctrine do we give assent? To the pope’s doctrine or to the correctors’ doctrine? Bergoglio has already characterized Amoris Lætitia as ordinary magisterium, which, if he were a real pope, would require our assent under pain of mortal sin. The only thing that a group of cardinals could do, which would be in conformity with  the constitution of the Church, would be to accuse him of heresy, and move to remove his election  from him, and elect another. But they would not do their duty by merely “correcting” the “pope.”

It just adds to the confusion. It is like trying to fix a deep stab wound with a  band-aid. A pope teaching false doctrine is a dagger in the heart of the Catholic Church.  He must be removed.

Secondly, Cardinal Burke said in a recent interview in The Wanderer that Pope Honorius was deposed from the papacy. This is plainly not  true. Pope Saint Leo II did not uphold the deposition from the papacy of Pope Honorius contained  in the acts of the Third council of Constantinople, but instead mitigated the sentence by saying that he fanned the flames of heresy by his negligence in  condemning it. There has never been a case of a pope’s having been deposed owing to the teaching of heresy. But Cardinal Burke is right inasmuch as teaching heresy, or even publicly holding heresy, merits a deposition from office. For in fact, the teaching of heresy as magisterium is a sign that he was never pope in the first place.

But the Cardinal and those prelates who agree with him are in a position to do a great deal of good. Even a “formal correction,” although making no sense for the reasons I set forth, would at least be a step in the right direction. It would alert people who still claim to be faithful Catholics, as well as the Novus Ordo hierarchy, to the fact that there is a doctrinal problem in Bergoglio. By the grace of God, maybe other steps could be taken in the right direction from there.