CHAPTER II, Part 5
THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH
'One Lord, one faith, one baptism'
St. Paul (Eph. 4:4-5)
Having determined the nature of the teaching authority of the Church we can now turn to yet another quality inherent in her nature: INERRANCY. In essence, she cannot wander from the original deposit and still claim to be the 'One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.'
It is amazing to what a degree these four qualities hang together - lose one and you lose them all. The Church is one in the doctrines she teaches. 'She is called holy and without spot or wrinkle in her faith; which admits of no sort of errors against the revealed word of God.' She is called Catholic not only because her teachings extend across time and space in this world, but because the term means 'universal' and the doctrines she teaches are true throughout the entire universe, in heaven, on earth and in hell. She is called Apostolic because she teaches the same doctrines which the Apostles taught, and because she retains intact the Apostolic Succession. Only the 'Catholic Church has these qualities, and it follows that other Churches which deny one or more of her teachings cannot be considered as the Church which Christ founded any more then they can claim 'union' with her.(1)
Oneness or 'unity' exists as a characteristic of this Church, not because the faithful agree with 'the bishops in union with the Pope', but because all its members, including the bishops and the pope 'agree in one faith' established by Christ, use 'the same Sacrifice' and are 'united under one Head'(2). It is not the agreement of the faithful with any faith the hierarchy may wish to teach, or to use any rite the hierarchy may wish to establish, but rather the agreement of both the laity and the hierarchy (who one hopes is also to be numbered among the faithful) with the doctrines and the rites that Christ and the Apostles established. Nor is the concept of unity restricted to the living, for by the very nature of things, we must be in agreement with all those Catholics who have gone before us back to the time of Christ, with those Catholics in the Church Suffering (Purgatory) and the Church Triumphant (Heaven).
It is repeatedly claimed by the present hierarchy that the Church has lost this 'unity' and that the various divisions among Christians constitute a scandal that must be repaired. The Latin title for the Vatican II document on Ecumenism is Unitatis redintegratio or 'The Restoring of Unity'. John XXIII established the 'Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity' and specified that Unity was the word, not Reunion. A new 'unity' is to be restored by claiming all Christian bodies that accept baptism are part of the true Church. In a similar manner the Documents of Vatican II state that the Church that Christ established subsists in the Catholic Church rather than is this Church. Recently the entire body of English post-Conciliar 'bishops' - some 42 individuals in all - publicly declared in an official communiqué on the nature of the Church that the Catholic Church embodies the Church of Christ in a special way, but that such a statement 'is not intended to exclude the fact that other Christian bodies also belong to the Church of Christ.' They further stated that the Church which Christ established also subsists in the Anglican Church. The response of an Anglican 'bishop' is pertinent: 'What has been swept aside from the ecumenical scene is the idea that the Church of Christ is identical with the Roman Catholic Church. Instead we have a picture of the Church of Christ embracing all the Christian churches, though not in the same way....'(3). If such is the position of the English hierarchy, it would seem clear that it has apostatized to a man from unity of the faith. And what of Rome which never reprimanded them?
As opposed to such a view, and based on what has been the constant teaching of the Church, unity exists and has always existed in the true Church. This unity exists even if the majority of the present hierarchy deviate from orthodoxy - indeed it is a matter of faith that such is the case(4). This is witnessed by the de fide statement of the Holy Office on November 8, 1865: 'That the Unity of the church is absolute and indivisible, and that the church had never lost its unity, nor for so much as a time, ever can.'(5)
If the new Church is telling us it lacks unity, it is also telling us that the pope and the bishops in union with him have deviated from orthodoxy and hence lost all magisterial authority. That the greater majority of modern-day 'Catholics' agree with such an errant hierarchy adds nothing to their authority. The personal views of the hierarchy do not make up the 'deposit of the faith', but rather, it is the 'deposit' that provides the hierarchy for their raison d'etre. 'It is the office of the Church... in fulfilling Christ's function as teacher, not to make new revelations, but to guard from error the deposit of faith, and authentically, authoritatively, to proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Jesus Christ'(6). As the Holy Office states, 'the Primacy of the Visible Head is of divine Institution, and was ordained to generate and to preserve the unity both of faith and of communion...'(7). Authority exists to protect the faith and not the other way around.
In the face of the post-Conciliar attitude, it is of interest to recall the statement of the Anglican convert Henry Manning: 'We believe union to be a very precious gift, and only less precious than truth... We are ready to purchase the reunion of our separated brethren at any cost less than the sacrifice of one jot of a little of the supernatural order to unity and faith... We can offer unity only on the condition on which we hold it - unconditional submission to the living and perpetual voice of the Church of god... it is contrary to charity to put a straw across the path of those who profess to desire union. But there is something more divine than union, that is the Faith'
'There is no unity possible except by the way of truth. Truth first, unity afterwards; truth the cause, unity the effect. To invert this order is to overthrow the Divine procedure. The unity of Babel ended in confusion... To unite the Anglican, the Greek and the Catholic Church in any conceivable way could only end in a Babel of tongues, intellects, and wills. Union is not unity... Truth alone generates unity. The unity of truth generated its universality. The faith is Catholic, not only because it is spread through the world, but because throughout the world it is one and the same. The unity of the faith signifies that it is the same in every place [and time]'(8). As the English Bishop John Milner said of the Anglo-Catholic Ecumenical movement in the 19th Century: 'if we should unite ourselves with it, the Universal Church would disunite itself from us'.
If we are then to speak of believing in the 'One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church' we must understand the phrase in the 'same sense and mind' that the Church has always understood it(9). 'There is only one true Church which remounts to Apostolic time by means of its traditions... For us, we recognize only one ancient and Catholic Church, which is one by its nature, by its principles, by its origin, by its excellence, which reunites all its children in the unity of one same faith...' (St. Clement of Alexandria). 'Such is the faith, which the Church received; and although she is spread throughout the universe, she guards with care this precious treasure, as if she inhabited but one house; she professes each of these articles of faith with a perfect conformity, as if she had only one soul and one heart. Behold what it is she teaches, what it is she preaches, what it is she transmits by tradition, as if she had only one mouth and only one tongue...' (St. Irenaeus). 'What they [the Church Fathers] believe, I believe; what they held, I hold; what they taught, I teach; what they preached, I preach...' (St. Augustine). It is with these principles in mind that we shall, in the next chapter, investigate the sources of the Church's teachings and practices.(10)
1. This paragraph is not intended to exhaust the meaning of this term in the Creed. The Church is holy, not only because she admits no errors against the revealed word of God, but also because she is holy in her Sacraments and morals; because her children, as long as they are preserved in their baptismal innocence or restored to it, are holy, and because of the communion of saints. The Apostolic Succession is the 'iniatiatic chain' which conveys the power of confecting the Sacraments from one generation to the next. This 'succession' pertains to the order of bishops who in this manner preserve the 'Apostolic function' down through the ages.
2. That 'Head' is Jesus Christ whose representative or 'vicar' on earth is the Pope. Hence it follows that to refuse to obey a pope who commands us to do what is against the laws of God is never to 'attack' the papacy, but rather to defend it.
3. The Remnant, Feb. 15, 1984. As the Documents of Vatican II state, 'all those justified by faith through baptism are incorporated with Christ. They therefore have a right to be honored with the title of Christian, and are properly regarded as brothers in the Lord by the sons of the Catholic Church... From her very beginnings there arose in this one and only Church of God certain rifts which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries more widespread disagreements appeared and quite large Communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic church - developments for which, at times, men of both sides were to blame. However, none cannot impute the sin of separation to those who at present are born into these communities and are instilled therein with Christ's faith. The Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers. For men who believe in Christ and who have been properly baptized are brought into a certain though imperfect communion with the Catholic Church.' Elsewhere the Document states 'the brethren divided from us also carry out many of the sacred actions of the Christian religion. Undoubtedly, in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community, these actions can truly engender a life of grace and can be rightly described as capable of providing access to the community of salvation' (Decree on Ecumenism). The Anglican minister James Atkinson makes the following comment on such passages: 'The council Fathers made a valuable concession, the significance of which has not been sufficiently grasped, when they conceded a unity in baptism, an insight of Luther himself and a frequent emphasis of the late Cardinal Bea when he headed the ecumenical commissariat.' (Rome and Reformation Today, Latimer Studies No. 12, Oxford). He quotes Luther as saying 'A Christian or baptized man cannot loose his salvation, even if he would, by sins, however numerous; unless he refuses to believe' (The Babylonian Captivity).
Now the idea that unity of any kind rests on baptism alone, or that we are 'justified through faith in Baptism' is false. These teachings violate a whole host of traditional Catholic doctrines such as 'there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church'. There is no such thing as being a partial Catholic; nor can the Church admit that the rites of non Catholics are a source of grace. How different is the statement of Pius XII: 'only those are to be included as real members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith and have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the body or been excluded from it by legitimate authority for serious faults.' St. Fulgentius teaches: 'for neither baptism, nor liberal alms, nor death itself for the profession of Christ, can avail a man anything in order to salvation if he does not hold the unity of the Catholic Church' (ad Petrum Diaconum. C. 39).
4. If not, the 'gates of hell' would have prevailed. Actually, if only one true Catholic were to be left alive on earth, unity would reside in him.
5. Quoted in The Reunion of Christendom, A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy, Archbishop Henry Manning, Appleton: N.Y., 1866.
6. Canon George Smith, The Teaching of the Catholic Church, Macmillan, N.Y., 1949.
7. op. cit. No. 39.
8. op. cit. No. 39.
9. Lutherans and Anglicans also use the Nicene Creed in which this phrase is found. They of course hold that Catholics teach a false religion, and that as such they have no right to use the phrase. John Paul II did not hesitate to repeat the Nicene Creed with the Lutherans when he joined them in their service in Rome in 1983. One wonders whether he understood the phrase in the Lutheran or the Catholic sense.
10. Quotations in this paragraph are respectively from Strom. lib. vii; Advers haeres. lib. 1. 10 and Lib. 1. Cont. Jul. cap. 3 The Quote from Augustine is given in Cardinal Joannes Franzelin's Tractatus de Divina Traditione et Scriptura, De Prop. Fide: Rome, 1870.
CHAPTER II, Part 6
THE PRESENT SITUATION
Few would deny but that the present situation in the Church is one of massive confusion. No two priests or bishops teach the same doctrine and every possible aberration is allowed in liturgical functions. How is a Catholic seeking to live the faith able to sort out the issues. The answer is the Magisterium. It is amazing to what degree this organ provides us with answers as to how to react and function, the limits of obedience to a false hierarchy, and even with regard to the authority of a pope who officially promulgates heresy under the cover of magisterial authority.
We can of course debate as to what is part of the ordinary magisterium and what is not. The criteria provided by Vatican I are all we really need to determine this. What we cannot do is deny the de fide teaching that the ordinary magisterium is just as infallible as the extraordinary magisterium.(1)
The greatest error possible is to deny the total authority of the Magisterium (remembering that there is only one magisterium that expresses itself in a variety of ways). To do so is to cut oneself off from truth and to turn one into a Protestant.(2) We have spoken of the possibility of holding theological opinions, but when one examines the magisterium, there is almost nothing significant left about which to have theological opinions.(3) Those who would tell us that the ordinary magisterium can contain error are wolves in sheep's clothing. If such is the case we must all become super theologians so as to pick and choose what is true and false among some 95% of the Church's teaching. Such an attitude allows one to reject anything one doesn't personally approve of while at the same time allowing for the introduction of every possible error. It is a satanic proposition.
And all this highlights the present situation in the Church with clarity. It is clear that Vatican II teaches a host of doctrines under the cover of magisterial infallibility that directly contradict what the Church has taught through the ages as true. If one accepts the teaching of Vatican II and the definition of the Mass that is promulgated in the General Instruction on the Novus Ordo Missae(4) - which all must do who accept the authority of the post-Conciliar 'popes,' one is forced to deny previously taught truths which is to apostatize from the faith.(5) Putting this in different terms, the Catholic today is forced to choose between two different magisteriums. That such is the case is glossed over by claiming that the living character of the Magisterium allows for development, progress or evolution of doctrine, another concept embraced by Vatican II. Now certain principles are clear. We can develop or deepen our understanding of the Magisterium, but the Magisterium itself cannot change under the euphemism of development. The reason for this is that Truth cannot change. Another principle involved is that once something is declared to be magisterial teaching, it takes priority over any change. Two contraries cannot be simultaneously true. It follows that one cannot remove what is magisterial from the Magisterium.
Once again this is affirmed by the Magisterium: 'Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be recession from that meaning under the species name of a deeper understanding [Can.3]. Therefore... let the understanding, the knowledge, and wisdom of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progress strongly with the passage of the ages and the centuries; but let it be solely in its own genus, namely in the same dogma, with the same sense and the same understanding.' (Denzinger 1800)
We have then the Magisterium as it existed up to the death of Pope Pius XII which can be called 'authentic,' and that which, having it's roots in an attempt to bring the Church into line with the modern world, established during the reign of John XXIII. Apart from Roncalli's prior freemasonic connections, we have his first act on assuming the papal role was to delete the phrases referring to and praying for the conversion of the 'perfidious Jews' from the Good Friday services. (Obviously, there were perfidious and non-perfidious Jews, just as there are perfidious and nonperfidious Catholics. Who would say Nicoddemus or Simeon were perfidious? Who would not say Simon Magnus was not perfidious?) This seemingly simple act, disguised under the cover of a false charity, was a declaration on his part of the principle of non serviam. It was like a first step in establishing the new post-Conciliar Church. It was followed with a host of other doctrinal changes.(6)
Catholics are often confused about the term Faith. Faith has, as St. Thomas explains, two aspects. There is the objective side of The Faith - which is incorporated or expressed by the Magisterium (and this is a 'gift'), and there is the subjective side of Faith which is the assent we give to the Revelation as taught by the Magisterium. Thus to claim to have the Catholic Faith requires that we give our whole-hearted assent to the Magisterium including those parts that we may not be fully aware of. The same is true of those who follow the post-Conciliar pseudo-Magisterium. Those of us who believe in a Revelation that is true and who strive to be able to able to say with St. Paul 'I live, not I, but Christ within me,' must be sure to adhere to the authentic magisterium given us by Him who is 'the Way, the Light and the Truth.' People who hide behind the present confusions, the shibboleths of doctrine development, obedience to the popes, etc., are in essence refusing to make the choice and run the risk of being included among the 'lukewarm.' (The degree of responsibility varies greatly with circumstance but clearly falls more on the hierarchy responsible for preserving and teaching the 'deposit of the Faith.') The reason why Catholics who adhere to the authentic Magisterium call themselves 'traditional,' is because tradition is what is 'handed down.' Those adhering to the post-Conciliar pseudo-magisterium have no right to use this term.
One can in fact label the objective side of faith as being equivalent to the authentic magisterium. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that faith (i.e., the authentic magisterium) holds the first rank in the spiritual life because it is by faith alone that the soul is bound to God and that which gives life to the soul is that which binds it to God, namely faith. God has opened to us no other way to eternal happiness than that of faith... he who has been raised to contemplation look not on faith as inferior to this extraordinary gift. The clearer and more comprehensive his vision, the stronger does one's faith become. As St. Catherine of Sienna said, 'the gift of prophecy can be recognized as true only by the light of the faith.'
This brings us to the issue of orthodoxy which is defined as 'true doctrine and sound faith.' It is only in light of the above need to be one with Christ and His Magisterium that heresy has meaning and also clearly risk. This is why the Magisterial condemnation of error always demands our assent. It is pertinent that the post-Conciliar Church has dropped the use of the Index and declares itself unwilling to condemn the grossest of errors. 'Pope' John Paul I publicly stated that in the Old Church 'only the Truth had rights, but now we know that even error has rights.' Once again however we must be careful. The True Church distinguishes between the possibility that we may be mistaken about some Magisterial point and therefore speaks of 'material' heresy (some 'matter' about which we are mistaken) as opposed to 'formal' heresy. She requests that 'competent authority' point out a material error to the individual involved and allow him six months to study the issue and correct him or herself. If after six months this correction is not made, the Church considers the individual to have added an attitude of 'obstinacy' to the error and normally deprives the individual of at least his teaching function. This is not 'thought control,' but the insisting on responsible people thinking correctly. 'Brethren, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Jesus Christ' (Phil.2,5)
All this highlights the dilemma of the Catholic in the post-Conciliar era and there is no rational way around this. Catholics who do not wish to drift are forced to choose. In order to get a perspective on the need to take a stand, one has only to ask how many Catholics would run their stock port-folio without investigations and choices. Despite all the supposed confusions fostered by 'the world, the flesh and the devil,' Holy Mother Church has provided us with all the criteria needed to make the right choices. The grounds for such choices are further delineated in other parts of 'The Destruction of the Christian Tradition' which is a text based on magisterial teachings.(7)
One further point. Those that assert their own opinions between the Magisterium and the faithful in essence create a cult in the pejorative sense of the word. Thus it is that both the post-Conciliar Church and such organizations as the Society of Pius X (advocating disobeying a Pope whose authority they recognize) are from this point of view 'cults' and not Catholic.(8)
All this raises the issue of obedience. Now obedience is a moral virtue. Faith Hope and Charity are theological virtues. Obedience without the theological virtues is an absurdity because it is always possible to give obedience to a wrong authority, even to Satan himself. Faith Hope and Charity are the proper objects of obedience - normally they are mediated through the Church hierarchy, but they reside ultimately in Him who is the Truth, The Way and the Light. Now this Truth, Way and Light resides above all in what He taught and teaches, which is incorporated in the Magisterium - once again, both the Ordinary and Extra-ordinary. Hence it follows that we must give our obedience (or what the Church calls our 'intellectual assent') to the entire Magisterium. Only by so doing can we think with Christ. And if we are to be Baptized with Christ, Buried with Christ and Resurrected with Christ, we must then also think with Christ.(9)
1. An excellent summary with documentation from over 50 recognized theologians dealing with 'The Infallibility of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Church' by Father Bernard Lucien (in English) is available from the author for $15.00
2. Father Noel Barbara has stated: 'As soon as we accept the magisterium as the proximate rule of faith, we should make a firm determination to never in any way depart from her official teaching, and this not only with regard to matters of faith, but also with regard to matters of discipline. With regard to the authentic teachings we should forbid ourselves to make any distinctions between those things which we like while rejecting those we find difficult to accept. When I speak of the magisterium it should be clear that I am thinking of the authentic magisterium of the Church and not that of the popes of Vatican II. The teaching of the infallible magisterium and her disciplinary decisions are to be found in the authentic documents which are available for us to consult.' (Letter)
3. There can be no doubt but that the post-Conciliar 'popes' have rejected the authority of the Magisterium and would lead us to do the same. They thus have lost their authority because it cannot be said of them that he who hears them is hearing Christ. This is not a matter of 'theological opinion.' However, when it comes to describing or designating what these 'popes' should be called, or to explaining how this is happened, (materialiter/formaliter, sede vacante, etc., ) we are forced by circumstance into the realm of theological opinion.
4. There are those that argue that this document is not part of the magisterium. Once again we are being encouraged to become Protestants.
5. Despite disclaimers that Vatican II is a 'pastoral council' it should be clear that John XXIII claimed it was guided by the Holy Spirit. Paul VI in closing the Council stated that 'the teaching authority of the Church, even though not wising to issue extraordinary dogmatic pronouncements, has made thoroughly known its authoritative teaching.' Still later he stated that the Council 'avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility,' and added that it conferred on its teachings 'the value of the supreme ordinary magisterium' (Speech of Jan 12, 1966), and that 'It had as much authority and far greater importance than the Council of Nicaea.' Elsewhere he has called it 'the greatest of Councils' and 'Even greater than the Council of Trent.' Perhaps the most clear cut statement is to be found in a letter to Archbishop Lefebvre demanding his submission to the post-Conciliar Church: 'You have no right any more to bring ut the distinction between the doctrinal and pastoral that you use to support your acceptance of certain texts of Vatican Council II and your rejection of others. It is true that the matters decided in any Council do not all call for an assent of the same quality; only what the Council affirms in its �definitions' as a truth of faith or as bound up with faith requires the assent of faith. Nevertheless, the rest also form a part of the solemn magisterium of the Church to be trustingly accepted and sincerely put into practice by every Catholic.'
6. Documented in the Canon Law Digest, Vol V, p. 20 by T. Lincoln Bouscaren, S.J., and James I O'Connor, S.J., Milwaukee: Bruce.1963. As to his Freemasonic connections, these are documented by the Surite of Police in Paris when he was papal nuncio there. (Cf. L'Abomination de la Desolation by Professeur Gabriel Chabot and Commandant Rouchette, available from the latter at B.P. 151, 16105 Cognac, Cedex, France)
7. Available from James Wetmore, 343 Route 21C, Ghent N.Y., 12075
8. This issue is complex. One must remember that the grace of God floweth where it will. Cults have to be looked at objectively in terms of the degree to which they limit the flow of grace - do they for instance retain sacramental validity and to what extent do they enforce deviation? They must also be evaluated subjectively in the sense that the person participating may be able to ignore the deviation or by-pass it. But once again it is the authentic Magisterium which makes possible to proper use of judgement.
9. St. Catherine of Sienna once told the pope that if he acted in a certain way he would go to hell, and those that obeyed him would go to hell with him (Letters).