All Traditionalists believe what has been defined and taught by the Church. One of the most basic and ancient expressions of the Faith is the Nicene Creed, composed in part and adopted at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) and revised with additions by the First Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.). Recited at the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Church proclaims, “Et unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.” (I believe) in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” Do the “recognize and resisters” (R&R) of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), or Bishop Richard Williamson’s St. Marcel Initiative, or their apologists (John Salza, Robert Siscoe, The Remnant, etc.) really believe it?
Of course they profess it, and would (correctly) state that the denial of such is heresy. However, upon closer inspection, their refusal to acknowledge sedevacantism has lead to a de facto ecclesiology (teaching on the nature of the Church) which denies the unity of the Church. They believe in a Schizophrenic “Church” whereby there are two distinct–and even contradictory– modes of belief and worship, yet they remain mysteriously unified. Don’t believe me? Let’s examine what the R&R camp says and see if it squares with authentic Church teaching.
The Church Teaching On Unity
According to theologian Van Noort, “[The Church] enjoys a three-fold unity…unity of doctrine and profession, unity of communion, and unity of government.” (See Dogmatic Theology  2:126; Emphasis in original).
1. Doctrine and Profession of Faith
“The unity of Faith which Christ decreed without qualification consists in this, that everyone accepts the doctrines presented for belief by the Church’s teaching office.” (Ibid:127; Emphasis in original). Furthermore, “Christ demanded faith not just in some doctrines, but in all those doctrines which authority set up by Him should teach. Consequently, any distinction between fundamental and non-fundamental articles of belief is contrary to the mind and will of Christ…Furthermore…it is impossible to determine a sure standard for distinguishing fundamental from non-fundamental articles” (Ibid:128).
“Christ willed that His Church enjoy unity of communion or of (social) charity which consists in this, that all members of the Church, whether as individuals or as particular groups, mutually cohere like the finely articulated parts of one moral body, one family, one single society. It follows from this that they all share the same common benefits: sacrifice [Mass], sacraments, intercession.” (Ibid:128)
“Christ willed that His Church enjoy unity of rule (hierarchical unity) which consists in this, that all members of the Church obey one and the same visible authority.” (Ibid:130)
Anticipating the objections of the R&R (as well as Vatican II apologists), who will claim that the Mark of Unity as expressed by the Church does not apply to the sedevacantists because (1) we have different groups (SSPV, CMRI, etc.) and (2) we don’t have a visible authority to follow, a couple of responses are in order.
In a prolonged state of sedevacante, you would expect that novel theological questions would cause rifts. Nevertheless, we profess the Integral Catholic Faith. As Van Noort teaches, “[During the Great Western Schism]…hierarchical unity was onlymaterially, not formally, interrupted. Although Catholics were split three ways in their allegiance because of the doubt as to which of the [papal] contenders had been legitimately elected, still all were agreed in believing that allegiance was owed to one legitimate successor of Peter, and they stood willing to give that allegiance.” (Ibid:131; First Emphasis in original, second emphasis mine)
According to canonist Wernz-Vidal, “… [the] visibility of the Church consists in the fact that She possesses such signs and identifying marks that, when moral diligence is used, she can be recognized and discerned…” (See Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, pg. 454; Emphasis mine). The Church does not, strictly speaking, need an actual living pope to be a visible society, the Mystical Body of Christ.
1. There exists “Eternal Rome” and “Modernist Rome,” of which the pope is the head of both. When he speaks for Eternal Rome, you obey. When he speaks for Modernist Rome, you resist.
The Society is fond of quoting from a statement of Archbishop Lefebvre, which seems the starting point for their schizophrenic “Church:”
“We adhere, with all our heart, with all our soul to Catholic Rome, guardian of the Catholic Faith and of the traditions necessary for the preservation of that faith, to Eternal Rome, teacher of wisdom and truth. On the other hand we refuse and have always refused to follow the Rome of the neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendency that clearly manifested itself in the Second Vatican Council and after the Council in all the reforms that resulted from it.”
They put this into practice with disastrous results.
From “Frequently Asked Questions About The SSPX” (“FAQ”)
(available online at http://archives.sspx.org/sspxfaqs.htm):
“We are not to co-operate blindly in the destruction of the Church by tolerating the implementation of a new religion or by not doing what we can to defend the Catholic faith. Archbishop Lefebvre was surely our model here: No authority, not even the highest in the hierarchy, can compel us to abandon or to diminish our Catholic Faith, so clearly expressed and professed by the Church’s Magisterium for 19 centuries.”
How can a true pope “implement a new religion”? It’s one thing to say that a pope is not without sin and can do morally evil acts. This is true and in this he is to be resisted (e.g., the pope asks someone to “murder one of my enemies for me”). However, it is a dogma that the Church is Indefectible, i.e., She cannot give that which is false or evil to Her members, such as imposing a “new religion.”
Therefore, the pope cannot give that which is evil or erroneous to the whole Church. According to theologian Herrmann:
“The Church is infallible in her general discipline. By the term general discipline is understood the laws and practices which belong to the external ordering of the whole Church. Such things would be those which concern either external worship, such as liturgy and rubrics, or the administration of the sacraments… If She [the Church] were able to prescribe or command or tolerate in Her discipline something against faith and morals, or something which tended to the detriment of the Church or to the harm of the faithful, She would turn away from her divine mission, which would be impossible.”
(Institutiones Theologiae Dogmaticae, Vol. 1, p. 258)
Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, Para. #9:
“[T]he discipline sanctioned by the Church must never be rejected or be branded as contrary to certain principles of natural law. It must never be called crippled, or imperfect or subject to civil authority. In this discipline the administration of sacred rites, standards of morality, and the reckoning of the rights of the Church and her ministers are embraced.”
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, Para. #66
“Certainly the loving Mother [the Church] is spotless in the Sacraments, by which she gives birth to and nourishes her children; in the faith which she has always preserved inviolate; in her sacred laws imposed on all; in the evangelical counsels which she recommends; in those heavenly gifts and extraordinary graces through which, with inexhaustible fecundity, she generates hosts of martyrs, virgins and confessors.”
Yet the SSPX and the other R&R recognize Bergoglio, a man they claim is “implementing a new religion” (along with the other post-Vatican II “popes” before him), can be pope over both Modernist Rome (new religion) and Eternal Rome (true religion) simultaneously. Moreover, the true and the false religion seem to “subsist” together in the same overarching “Church” (sound familiar?).
2. The Eternal Rome Can Refuse to Have Communion with Modernist Rome
The SSPX: “Now, the Novus Ordo Missae [New “mass”] assumes these heterodox elements alongside the Catholic ones to form a liturgy for a modernist religion which would marry the Church and the world, Catholicism and Protestantism, light and darkness…If the Novus Ordo Missae is not truly Catholic, then it cannot oblige for one’s Sunday obligation. Many Catholics who do assist at it are unaware of its all pervasive degree of serious innovation and are exempt from guilt. However, any Catholic who is aware of its harm, does not have the right to participate. He could only then assist at it by a mere physical presence without positively taking part in it, and then and for major family reasons (weddings, funerals, etc).” (See FAQ cited above).
According to theologian Szal, to be schismatic, one must meet four requirements:
- one must withdraw directly (expressly) or indirectly (by means of one’s actions) from obediance to the Roman Pontiff and separate oneself from ecclesiastical communion with the rest of the faithful, even though one does not join a separate schismatic sect
- one’s withdrawal must be made with obstinacy and rebellion
- the withdrawal must be made in relation to such things by which the unity of the Church is constituted
- despite this formal disobedience the schismatic must recognize the Roman Pontiff as the true pastor of the Church, and he must profess as an article of faith that obedience is due the Roman Pontiff
(See The Communication of Catholics with Schismatics, , pg. 2)
The Church is thereby in schism with itself. The SSPX is part of Eternal Rome with Bergoglio as “pope” and yet they cannot participate in public worship with Modernist Rome which also has Bergoglio as “pope” because their “mass” is Modernist and evil. The idea of an evil “mass” given by a real pope would contradict the dogma of Indefectibility as stated above, and in this case, they are refusing communion in worship with members alleged to be Catholic, just as they are. Eternal Rome and Modernist Rome form the same Church, but somehow have different religions and can’t have unity in communion with each other.
3. The Magisterium of Modernist Rome Needs to be Corrected by Eternal Rome
The teaching authority of BOTH Eternal Rome and Modernist Rome resides in Bergoglio. However, if Bergoglio (or his “bishops”) make a decision regarding, e.g. annulments and canonizations, the members of Eternal Rome (SSPX) must “correct” his teaching authority.
A Fr. Gleize, professor of ecclesiology at the SSPX seminary in Econe, has written an article “Santo Subito: Is There a Problem?” in which he attempts to prove that we can decide which canonizations to accept and which to reject. Fr. Gleize readily admits that canonizations are held to be infallible:
“Canonization is the act by which the Vicar of Christ, judging in ultimate instance and emitting a definitive sentence, inscribes in the catalogue of the saints a servant of God previously beatified. Canonization has a triple finality and does not refer only to the worship. In first instance, the pope declares that the faithful deceased is in the celestial glory; secondly, he expresses that the faithful deceased deserved to reach this glory for having practiced heroic virtues, which set an example for the whole Church; thirdly, so as to offer more easily these virtues as an example and to thank God for having cause it, he prescribes that the faithful deceased should receive a public cult. On these three scores the canonization is a precept and obliges the entire Church, and it constitutes a definitive and irreformable act.”
Father claims…”it is clear that, by itself, the procedure does not have the rigor of the older one. It is much less exigent in matters of guarantees from Churchmen, so that the divine assistance may insure the infallibility of the canonization, and, with greater reason, the absence of error of fact in the beatification. Besides, Pope John Paul II decided not to follow the present procedure (which disposes that the beginning of the beatification process not take place before five years after the death of the candidate), by authorizing the introduction of the cause of Mother Teresa of Calcutta three years after her passing away. Benedict XVI did the same regarding the beatification of his predecessor. The doubt becomes much more legitimate when one considers the reasons the Church has to act cautiously in these matters.”
He asserts that we are justified to doubt canonizations if a certain procedure is not carried out. However, the Divine assistance of infallibility has never been held by the Church to be dependent upon following a certain preliminary set of actions. He gives no citation for this novel idea. The process of canonization has taken different forms through the centuries, but all that is needed for the declaration to be infallible (according to the First Vatican Council and the teaching of the theologians) is that the pope intends to define a matter of Faith and/or morals as Supreme Teacher of the Church, and he intends to bind the faithful. Decrees of canonization meet this requirement. To assert that canonizations may not be infallible due to some procedural misstep is to admit the possibility that the “saint” might actually be a damned soul held up to be emulated and venerated. That would mean the Church can give evil to its members, which is impossible.
R&R ecclesiology results in a schizophrenic “church,” with two separate faiths lead by the same “pope” in which you must decide for yourself what is good and bad, true and false. Bergoglio’s Vatican II ecclesiology just adds to the confusion by “giving jurisdiction” for SSPX priests to hear confessions and perform marriages for members of his sect. They’re in “partial communion,” after all. The SSPX bishops are also in some strange state with Bergoglio; neither excommunicated, yet without Sees or ordinary jurisdiction.
All of this cannot be reconciled with authentic Church teaching. How much longer before the SSPX seeks to go into “full communion” with Bergoglio, and end the self-created “church within a church”? How much longer can we assume good faith on the part of R&R clerics and their apologists before we can no longer look upon them as Catholics? The only way out is sedevacantism. Being a true Traditionalist means being in the ONE True Church, not some divided concoction that gives both good and evil with clerics speaking out of both sides of their mouths.