Chapter I, Part 1 the problem: is it the same church? Vatican 2 can be described as a turning point in the history of the Catholic Church. Prior to this event the Church considered herself a 'perfect society' in no need of change

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(1) Lines taken from Georges Panneton's Heaven or Hell, Newman Press, Westminster Maryland, 1965. Consider the Jews in Egypt. They had saved the land from famine, but had subsequently been enslaved. How cruel and unjust the God of Abraham must have appeared to them. But would they have followed Moses into the wilderness in any other circumstance? One may be permitted to doubt it.

(2) In discussing the layman Eusebius' attack on the heretic Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Dom Gueranger wrote: 'When the shepherd turns into a wolf the first duty of the flock is to defend itself. As a general rule, doctrine comes from the bishops to the faithful, and it is not for the faithful, who are subjects in the order of Faith, to pass judgment on their superiors. But every Christian by virtue of this title to the name Christian, has not only the necessary knowledge of the essentials of the treasure of Revelation, but also the duty of safeguarding them. The principle is the same, whether it is a matter of belief or conduct, that is of dogma or morals.'

(3) 'God showed me the very great delight that He has in all men and women who accept, firmly and humbly and reverently, the preaching and teaching of Holy Church, for he is Holy Church. For He is the foundation, He is the substance, He is the teaching, He is the teacher, He is the end, He is the reward.' Julian of Norwich, Showings, Chapter xvi.

(4) Donald Attwater, Catholic Dictionary, Macmillan: N.Y.,1952

(5) 'Must', that is, if he wishes to call himself Catholic.

(6) The Church could never require its members to take an Oath which violated the infallible truth. These specifics are drawn from Tanquerey's Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Desclee: N.Y., 1959.

(7) According to Tanquerey, 'The Church is infallible when it condemns a certain proposition with some doctrinal censure. A doctrinal censure is 'a qualification or restriction which indicates that a proposition is opposed, in some way, to faith or morals'. It is de fide that the Church is infallible when she specifies that a doctrine is heretical; it is certain that the Church is infallible when she states that a doctrine approaches heresy or that a doctrine errs.

(8) Etienne Gilson, Introduction to The Church Speaks to the Modern World, Doubleday: N.Y. 'These letters are the highest expression of the ordinary teaching of the Church. To the extent that they restate the infallible teachings of the Church, the pronouncements of the Encyclical letters are themselves infallible. Moreover, while explaining and developing such infallible teachings, or while using them as a sure criterion in the condemnation of errors, or even while striving to solve the social, economic and political problems of the day in the light of these infallible teachings, the popes enjoy the special assistance of the Holy Spirit.' (...)

(9) Also from Tanquerey, op. cit. Other classifications can be found, but the essential principles remain the same. Melchior Cano (or Canus), one of the principal theologians of the Council of Trent, taught that there are ten theological 'loci' or places where the 'teaching imparted by Christ and the Apostles could be found.' They are the following: 1) The Scriptures; 2) The divine and Apostolic Traditions; 3) The universal Church; 4) The Councils, and above all the General (Ecumenical) Councils; 5) The Roman Church; 6) The Holy Fathers; 7) The Scholastic theologians; 8) Natural reason; 9) the philosophers and jurors [of Canon law]; and 10) human history. According to him the first seven belong to the realm of theology, while the last three relate to the other sciences. (Quoted in Rohrbacher, Histoire Universelle de L'Eglise Catholique, Letouzey et Ane, Editeurs, Paris, Vol. X, p. 118).

(10) The infallibility of Council teachings is dependent upon the Pope's approbation. The pseud-Council of Pistoia never received this and was never recognized as a Council.

(11) Michael Davies claims that the Declaration on Religious Liberty made by Vatican IIis 'only a document of the ordinary magisterium of the Church, and that the possibility of error occurs or can occur in such documents where it is a matter of some novel teaching The magisterium can eventually correct such an error without compromising itself... It will therefore be the eventual task of the magisterium to evaluate the objections made to the Declaration and then to explain how it is compatible with previous teaching, or to admit that it is not compatible and proceed to correct it' (Archbishop Lefebvre and Religious Liberty, TAN: III., 1980 and The Remnant, June 15, 1982.). Suffice it to say - the matter will be discussed in detail later - that not only this Declaration, but also Michael Davies's opinion are contrary to innumerable Magisterial statements of the traditional Church. For proof that the post-Conciliar Church considers Vatican II to be magisterial, see footnote 58 below.

(12) According to this view, the ordinary and universal Magisterium consists in some manner, of the sum total of bishops in every place and throughout the course of history from the time the Church was founded down to the present day; while at the same time the community of bishops (with the Pope) at any given period during the course of history, is in no way infallible in its ordinary teaching. This is essentially the position of Archbishop Lefebvre



When does a Pope use his infallibility, or to use the technical phrase, speak ex cathedra? In Holy Scripture 'cathedra' is synonymous with the authority of a 'master' or 'teacher' (Ps. 1:1; Matt. 23:2; Luke 20:46). Once again the teaching of the Church is manifest and clear. He teaches ex cathedra 'when serving in the capacity of pastor and Doctor (shepherd and teacher) of all the faithful, in virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine with regard to faith and morals that must be held by the whole Church.'

Four conditions are required:

1) The Pope must be functioning as Pastor and supreme Doctor. It is not his teaching as a private or particular Doctor that is in question.

2) He must be dealing with matters of faith or morals, and it is only the proposed doctrine - not the adjoining considerations - the 'obiter dicta' that is guaranteed by infallibility.

3) He must intend to define; his teaching must be given with authority and with the intent that it be believed by the entire Church.

4) He must manifest his intention to bind all Catholics.

The Pope is not required to use any specific formulas to accomplish this. All that is required is that he clearly manifest his intention to compel the entire Church to accept his teaching as belonging to the deposit of the faith.

Papal infallibility

It is obvious that by the very nature of his function as the Vicar of Christ, this authority has always been with Peter and his valid successors. Why was it then necessary that this doctrine be defined in an extraordinary manner at the time of Vatican I? The answer to this question is highly instructive. The Church does not ordinarily define a doctrine 'in an extraordinary manner' unless it comes under dispute or is denied by a significant number of the faithful (as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin). Nor does a doctrine so defined become more true than it was before. The Church 'has the duty to proceed opportunely in defining points of faith with solemn rites and decrees, when there is a need to declare them to resist more effectively the errors and the assaults of heretics or to impress upon the minds of the faithful clearer and more profound explanations of points of sacred doctrine... Not because the Church has defined and sanctioned truths by solemn decree of the Church at different times, and even in times near to us, are they [truths not so defined] therefore not equally certain and not equally to be believed. For has not God revealed them all?' (Pope Pius XI, Mortalium animos).

In the decades prior to Vatican I, the popes repeatedly condemned liberal Catholicism and parallel efforts aimed at bringing the Church's thinking into line with the modern world - Pope Pius IX summarized these censures in his Syllabus of Errors. Those who came under such strictures attempted to defend themselves by claiming that their attitudes had never been formerly condemned by the teaching magisterium and that such documents only represented the private opinion of the Pontiffs. Such a claim placed the infallibility of the Pope in doubt. During Vatican I furious debates were waged on the subject. The liberals were perfectly aware of the fact that if they voted for the definition of infallibility they would condemn themselves, but that if they voted against it, they would be denying a doctrine of the Church. Every conceivable objection capable of preventing, or of at least postponing the definition, was put forth and strongly supported by those who labeled themselves as 'inopportunists'(1). One orthodox bishop, Anthony Claret - later canonized - was so distressed by these attempts that he died of a heart attack during the Conciliar debate. The cases of Popes Liberius, Honorius I, Paschal II, Sixtus V and others were brought forth in an attempt to influence the Fathers against defining something the liberals claimed was both unnecessary and insane. Needless to say, they were supported in this by the secular press, by world leaders, and even by governments. It is of interest to note that the Freemasons held a simultaneous 'anti-Council' in Naples which proclaimed several principles as essential to the dignity of man - principles which later were incorporated into the documents of Vatican II(2).

Unlike John XXIII, whose machinations in favor of the liberals at Vatican II will be detailed later, Pope Pius IX, aware of his responsibilities, did everything in his power to fulfill his obligations towards our divine Master. Listen to the comments of Cardinal Manning: 'The campaign against the Council failed, of course. It failed because the Pope did not weaken. He met error with condemnation and replied to the demands to modify or adapt Catholic truth to the spirit of the age by resisting it with the firmness and clarity of Trent - and despite the prophecies of her enemies that the declaration of Papal Infallibility would mark the death blow to the Church, she emerged stronger and more vigorous than ever. This of course evoked the full fury of the City of Man. The hatred of the world for the Church was made manifest, and at the same time manifested the divine nature of the Catholic Church; for the hatred of the world was designated by Christ Himself as one of the marks of His Mystical body which must not only teach Christ crucified, but will live out the mystery of His crucifixion and resurrection until He comes again in Glory... Had Christ been prepared to enter into dialogue with his enemies, had he been prepared to adapt, to make concessions, then He would have escaped crucifixion - but of what value would the Incarnation have been? Pope Pius IX followed the example of Christ whose Vicar he was and, as the highest point attracted the storm, so the chief violence fell upon the head of the Vicar of Christ....'(3)

One does not have to be an expert in theological matters to know that, if the Conciliar fathers had found themselves incapable of unequivocally refuting every one of the objections of the inopportunists, and of showing in a peremptory manner that, throughout the preceding nineteen centuries not one Pope - even among those whose lives had been scandalous in the extreme - had ever erred in his function as Pope, in his teaching function as the universal Pastor and Doctor, the Church could never have solemnly promulgated this dogma. Indeed, if the issues and facts had not been made absolutely clear, the adversaries of infallibility and the enemies of the Church would certainly have published abroad all the supposedly false teachings of the previous popes and used this as a means of making the Church appear ridiculous. 'No man', say the Fathers of the great Council of Nice, 'ever accused the Holy See of a mistake, unless he was himself maintaining an error.'(4)

When the final vote came, the adversaries of this dogma, foreseeing how things would go, left Rome in order to avoid personally participating in this decision. They however, not wishing to be ejected from the Church, declared in advance that they accepted the decision - a decision that ultimately depended, not on the Council, but on the Pope promulgating the Council's teaching(5).

Unable to any longer deny this principle, the liberals in the Church rapidly shifted tactics. 'The Pope is infallible', they said, 'and such is certain for the church has proclaimed it as a dogma. But be careful! the Pope is not infallible every time he opens his mouth.' and under the pretense of defending this dogma by sharply defining its limits, they cleverly stressed the concept that the Pope only uses this privilege on rare occasions - 'once or twice in a century'. Today we hear the same cry from those who would defend the post-Conciliar changes. 'Nothing de fide has been changed', by which they mean no part of the extraOrdinary Magisterium. 'The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light' (Luke 16:8).(6)

Because the infallible nature of the Ordinary Magisterium is currently so much in dispute, the following pertinent quotations are appended:

1. 'Even if he makes this submission efficaciously which is in accord with an act of divine faith... he should extend it to those truths which are transmitted as divinely revealed by the Ordinary Magisterium of the entire Church dispersed throughout the world. (Pius IX, Tuas libenter)

2. Leo XIII reiterated the teaching of Vatican I to the effect that 'the sense of the sacred dogmas is to be faithfully kept which Holy Mother Church has once declared, and is not to be departed from under the specious pretext of a more profound understanding.' He adds: 'Nor is the suppression to be considered altogether free from blame, which designedly omits certain principles of Catholic doctrine and buries them, as it were in oblivion. For there is the one and the same Author and Master of all the truths that Christian teaching comprises: the only begotten son who is in the bosom of the Father. That they are adapted to all ages and nations is plainly deduced from the words which Christ addressed to His Apostles: 'Go therefore teach ye all nations: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world'. Wherefore the same Vatican Council says: 'By the divine and Catholic faith those are to be believed which are contained in the word of God either written or handed down, and are proposed by the Church whether in solemn decision or by the ordinary universal magisterium, to be believed as having been divinely revealed.' Far be then, for any one to diminish or for any reason whatever to pass over anything of this divinely delivered doctrine; whosoever would do so, would rather wish to alienate Catholics from the Church than to bring over to the Church those who dissent from it. Let them return; indeed nothing is nearer to Our heart; let all those who are wandering far from the sheepfold of Christ return; but let it not be any other road than that which Christ has pointed out... The history of all past ages is witness that the Apostolic See, to which not only the office of teaching but also the supreme government of the whole Church was committed, has constantly adhered to the same doctrine in the same sense and in the same mind.... In this all must acquiesce who wish to avoid the censure of our predecessor Pius VI, who proclaimed the 18th proposition of the Synod of Pistoia 'to be injurious to the Church and to the Spirit of God which governs her, in as much as it subjects to scrutiny the discipline established and approved by the Church, as if the Church could establish a useless discipline or one which would be too honerous for Christian liberty to bear.' (Leo XIII Testem Benevolentiae)

3. 'The Pope is infallible in all matters of Faith and Morals. By matters of faith and morals is meant the whole revelation of the truths of faith; or the whole way of salvation through faith; or the whole supernatural order, with all that is essential to the sanctification and salvation of man through Jesus Christ. The Pope is infallible, not only in the whole matter of revealed truths; he is also indirectly infallible in all truths which, though not revealed, are so intimately connected with revealed truths, that the deposit of faith and morals cannot be guarded, explained, and defended without an infallible discernment of such not revealed truths. The Pope could not discharge his office as Teacher of all nations, unless he were able with infallible certainty to proscribe and condemn doctrines, logical, scientific, physical, metaphysical, or political, of any kind which are at variance with the Word of God and imperil the integrity and purity of the faith, or the salvation of souls. Whenever the Holy Father, as Chief Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, proceeds, in briefs, encyclical letters, consistorial allocutions, and other Apostolic letters, to declare certain truths, or anything that is conducive to the preservation of faith and morals, or to reprobate perverse doctrines, and condemn certain errors, such declarations of truth and condemnations of errors are infallible, or ex Cathedra acts of the Pope (emphasis mine). All acts ex Cathedra are binding in conscience and call for our firm interior assent, both of the intellect and the will, even though they do not express an anathema on those who disagree. to refuse such interior assent would be, for a Catholic, a mortal sin, since such a refusal would be a virtual denial of the dogma of infallibility, and we should be heretics were we conscious of such a denial (Alphonse Liguori, Theol. Moral. lib. I, 104). It would even be heresy to say that any such definition of truths or condemnations of perverse doctrines are inopportune.' (Father Michael Muller, CSSR(7))

4. 'This Magisterium [the ordinary and universal] of the Church in regard to faith and morals, must be for every theologian the proximate and universal rule of truth, for the Lord has entrusted the Church with the entire deposit of the faith - Holy Scripture and Tradition - to be kept, to be upheld and to be explained. In the same manner, we must not think that what is proposed in the encyclicals does not require in itself our assent because the Popes did not exercise their supreme magisterial powers in them. Our Lord's words 'he who listens to you listens to Me' also applies to whatever is taught by the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church'. (Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis)

5. 'In a word, the whole magisterium or doctrinal authority of the Pontiff as the supreme Doctor of all Christians, is included in this definition [at Vatican I] of his infallibility. And also all legislative or judicial acts, so far as they are inseparably connected with his doctrinal authority; as for instance, all judgments, sentences, and decisions, which contain the motives of such acts as derived from faith and morals. Under this will come the laws of discipline, canonization of the saints, approbation of Religious Orders, of devotions, and the like; all of which intrinsically contain the truths and principles of faith, morals and piety. The definition, then, does not limit the infallibility of the Pontiff to his supreme acts ex cathedra in faith and morals, but extends his infallibility to all acts in the fullest exercise of his supreme magisterium or doctrinal authority.' (Cardinal Manning, The Vatican Council and its Definitions (8))

At this point we can come to certain conclusions:
1) Christ instituted a hierarchical Church which was His own Mystical body, and as such the prolongation of His presence in the world.
2) He revealed to this Church certain truths and entrusted these to it as a precious pearl - the deposit of the faith.
3) He established a Magisterium in order to keep intact the deposit of revealed truths for all time and to assure their availability to all mankind.
4) He instructed the Church to teach these truths. The Magisterium is a 'divinely appointed authority to teach... all nations... all things whatsoever I have commanded you.'
5) This single Magisterium of the Church is entirely in the Pope, the vicar of Christ, and through him in all the bishops that are in union with him.
6) In so far as these truths are revealed to us by Christ, they are infallibly true.
7) The pope when he functions in his capacity as the Vicar of Christ, as one hierarchical person with our Lord, is to be obeyed as if he was Our Lord.
8) When the pope teaches in this capacity - ex cathedra - he teaches infallibly.
9) The Pope and the bishops in union with him are in no way empowered to teach anything other than what pertains to this original deposit 'in the same sense and mind' that they have always been understood.
10) Obviously doubts may arise as to the exact nature or meaning of some point of doctrine contained in this deposit. When such occurs, the hierarchy functions to explain and define, but not to innovate. 'The Pope [and by extension, the hierarchy] is only the interpreter of this truth already revealed. He explains, he defines, but he makes no innovation'(9).
11) 'The revelation made to the Apostles by Christ and by the Holy Spirit whom He sent to teach them all truth was final, definitive. To that body of revealed truth nothing has been, or ever will be added'(10)
12) There is no need for the Pope to use special formulas or attach anathema to his ex cathedra teachings.
13) The Ordinary Magisterium is to be believed with the same divine and Catholic faith as is the ExtraOrdinary Magisterium.


The Magisterium is also called 'living', not because it 'evolves' in the manner that modern man erroneously ascribes to all things, but because it exists today as a viable entity within what the theologians call the 'visible' Church. It is 'living' because it is vivified by the Holy Ghost. As Cardinal Manning explains: 'this office of the Holy Ghost consists in the following operations: first, in the original illumination and revelation...; secondly, in the preservation of that which was revealed, or, in the other words, in the prolongation of the light of truth by which the Church in the beginning was illuminated; thirdly, in assisting the Church to conceive, with greater fullness, explicitness, and clearness, the original truth in all its relations; fourthly, in defining that truth in words, and in the creation of a sacred terminology, which becomes a permanent tradition and a perpetual expression of the original revelation; and lastly, in the perpetual enunciation and proposition of the same immutable truth in every age.'(11)

In giving assent to the teaching authority of the Church we should recognize the fact that we are giving assent, not to a series of 'dry' doctrines decided upon by mere men, but rather to Christ Himself. Moreover, in so far as the Church and Christ are one, this obligation of giving assent also extends to certain matters intimately related to the faith such as the Sacraments instituted by Christ and the ecclesiastical laws by which she governs herself. As St. Catherine of Sienna says, 'the Church is no other than Christ Himself, and it is she who gives us the Sacraments, and the Sacraments give us life.'(12)

The Catholic Church is not a congregation of people agreeing together, it is not a School of Philosophy or a Mutual Improvement Society. It is rather the Living Voice of God and Christ's revelation to all people, through all time. It teaches only what its divine Master taught. It is in God's name that the Church makes the awesome demand she does on the faith of men - a demand that cannot be merely waived aside as being incompatible with the so-called rights of private judgment.

It will be argued that the Church has been far from pure in her worldly actions. This is to misunderstand her nature. She is by definition a 'perfect society', the divinely instituted Mystical Body of Christ. The human failings of individual Catholics - or groups of Catholics - in no way alters the Church's essentially divine character. She certainly contains sinners within her bosom, for she, like Christ, is in the world for the sake of sinners. Those who would reject the teachings of her divine Master because of her human failings, are similar to the Pharisees who rejected Christ because he ate with publicans. Despite such defects, the fundamental nature and purpose of the Church cannot change. She has never asked the world to follow other than the doctrine of Christ. 'The Proximate end (purpose) of the Church is to teach all men the truths of Revelation, to enforce the divine precepts, to dispense the means of grace, and thus to maintain the practice of the Christian religion. The ultimate end is to lead all men to eternal life'(13)

Man is free to examine the reasonableness and validity of the Church's claims; he is also free to accept or reject them. If he chooses the latter, which is in essence to refuse the authority of God's Revelation, he is forced, if he is rational, to seek some other basis and authority for his actions and beliefs. And this brings us to the below explained topic.

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