Traditionalists, Infallibility & the Pope
Rev. Anthony Cekada
If you now assist regularly at the traditional Latin Mass, it is because you concluded at some point that the old Mass and doctrines were Catholic and good, while the new Mass and modern teachings, somehow, were not.
But (like me) you probably had some initial worries: What if the traditional Mass I go to is not approved be the diocese? Am I defying the legitimate authority in the Church? Am I disobeying the pope?
This is the 'authority issue', and it seems to present a real dilemma. The Church teaches that the pope is
infallible in faith and morals. Good Catholics, moreover, obey the laws of the pope and the hierarchy. Bad
Catholics pick and choose what laws they want to obey. Yet at the same time, the very men who would appear to
possess authority in the hierarchy command us to accept doctrines and a Mass which harm the faith or have other
disastrous effects. What is a Catholic to do?
Why Reject The Changes?
In order to solve the dilemma, we should begin by considering what drove us out of our Vatican II parishes in the first place. In most cases, it was either contradiction of established Catholic teaching or irreverence in worship. In other words, we instantly recognised some element of the new religion to either be a doctrinal error or an evil.
And we hardly thought that our objections concerned mere changes in minutiae. The new doctrines, rather, struck us as changes in substance - compromises, betrayals, or direct contradictions of immemorial Catholic teaching. Or we came to regard the new system of worship as evil - irreverent, a dishonour to the Blessed Sacrament, repugnant to Catholic doctrine, or utterly destructive to the faith of millions of Catholic souls. Weighty reasons like these - and not mere trifles - were that moved us to resist and reject the changes.
Once we have arrived at this point and recognised (as we do and must) that some official pronouncement or
law emanating from post Vatican II hierarchy contains error or evil, we are, in fact, well on the way to
resolving the seemingly thorny issue of authority. Let us examine why.
Some Errors and Evils
We begin by listing some of the errors and evils officially approved either by Vatican II or by Paul VI and his
- Vatican II's teaching (and that of the 1983 Code of Canon Law) that the true Church of Christ 'subsists in' (n.b. rather than 'is') the Catholic Church. This implies that the true Church can also "subsist" in other religious bodies.
- Abolition in Vatican II and the 1983 Code of Canon Law of the traditional distinction between the primary (procreative) and secondary (unitive) ends of marriage, the placing of those ends on the same level, and the reversal of their order. The change provides tacit support for contraception, since the prohibition against birth control was based on the teaching that procreation is marriage's primary end.
- The systematic suppression, in the original Latin version of Paul VI's new Missal, of the following concepts: hell, divine judgement, God's wrath, punishment for sin, the wickedness of sin as the greatest evil, detachment from the world, purgatory, the souls of the departed, Christ's Kingship on earth, the Church Militant, the triumph of the saints and miracles. To purge these doctrines from the liturgy is to signal that they are no longer true, or at least sufficiently important, to merit a mention in the Church's official prayer.
- Paul VI's official approval of communion in the hand. This practice was imposed by 16th-century
Protestants in order to deny transubstantiation and the sacramental nature of the priesthood. The official
doctrinal introduction to the New Order of Mass which taught that the Mass is an assembly-supper,
co-celebrated by the congregation and its president, during which Christ is present in the people, the
Scripture readings, and in the bread and wine. This is a Protestant or modernist understanding of the Mass,
and it provided the theoretical foundation upon which so many subsequent 'abuses' would rest.
John Paul II's Teachings
To the foregoing we should add some of the teachings of John Paul II, forever falsely portrayed as a doctrinal
'conservative'. An examination of his pronouncements reveals a pervasive theological problem which goes far
beyond the issue of traditional Mass vs. New Mass. Among John Paul II's teachings are the following:
- All men are united to Christ solely by virtue of the Incarnation. (Redemptor Hominis
- All men are saved. (Osservatore Romano, 6 May 1980)
- Christ's Mystical Body is not exclusively identified with the Catholic Church. (Osservatore
Romano, 8 July 1980)
- The one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church is present, in all its essential elements in
non-Catholic sects. (Letter to the Bishops on "Communion," 1992)
- The Catholic Church is in communion with non-Catholic sects. (Ibid.)
- The Catholic Church is incapable of giving credibility to the Gospel unless there is a
"reunion of Christians". (Osservatore Romano, 20 May 1980)
- The Catholic Church shares a common apostolic faith with non-Catholic sects.
- Non-Catholic sects have an apostolic mission. (Osservatore Romano, 10 June 1980)
- The Holy Ghost uses non-Catholic sects as means of salvation. (Catechesi Tradendae, 16
- It is divinely revealed that men have a right to religious freedom and freedom of conscience.
(Redemptor Hominis 12.2, Dives in Misericordia, and passim)
- The miracles of Christ do not prove his messianic dignity. (Speech to Lutherans, 11 December
- The article in the Apostles' Creed, 'He descended into hell', simply means that Christ's body was in the earth for three days. (Osservatore Romano, 16 January 1989)
Church Cannot Give Evil
Such lists could probably continue for pages. Our point is that each item can be categorised either as an error (a contradiction or change in substance of teachings of the pre-Vatican II magisterium) or as an evil (something offensive to God, harmful to the salvation of souls). But the same faith that tells us that changes are wrong also tells us that the Church cannot defect in her teaching or give evil.
One of the essential properties of the Catholic Church is her indefectibility. This means among other things, that her teaching is 'immutable and always remaining the same.' (St Ignatius of Antioch). It is impossible for her to contradict her own teaching.
Further, another essential property of Christ's Church is her infallibility. This does not apply (as some traditional Catholics seem to think) only to rare ex cathedra papal pronouncements like those defining the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. Infallibility also extends to the Church's universal disciplinary laws.
The principle, set forth in classic dogmatic theology texts such as Salaverri, Zubizarreta, Herrmann, Schultes
and Iragui (see Appendix 2), is explained as follows by Van Noort:
The Church's infallibility extends to....ecclesiastical laws passed for the universal Church for the direction of Christian worship and Christian living....But the Church is infallible in issuing a doctrinal decree as intimated above - and to such an extent that it can never sanction a universal law which would be at odds with faith or morality or would be by its very nature conducive to the injury of souls....It is impossible, then, for the Church to give something evil through her laws - including laws regulating worship.
If the Church should make a mistake in the manner alleged when it legislated for the general discipline, it would no longer either be a loyal guardian of revealed doctrine or a trustworthy teacher of the Christian way of life. It would not be a guardian of revealed doctrine, for the imposition of a vicious law would be, for all practical purposes, tantamount to an erroneous definition of doctrine; everyone would naturally conclude that what the Church commanded squared with sound doctrine. It would not be a teacher of the Christian way of life, for by its laws it would induce corruption into the practice of religious life. [Dogmatic Theology. 2:91. His emphasis.]
A recognition on one hand that the post Vatican II hierarchy has officially sanctioned errors and evils,
and a consideration on the other, of the Church's essential properties thus leads us to a conclusion about the
authority of the post Vatican II hierarchy: Given the Church's indefectibility in her teaching (her teaching
cannot change) and the Church's infallibility in her universal disciplinary laws (her liturgical laws
cannot compromise doctrine or harm souls), it is impossible that the errors and evils we have
catalogued could have proceeded from what is in fact the authority of the Church. There must be another
Loss of Office Through Heresy
The only explanation for these errors and evils that preserves the doctrines of the Church's indefectibility and infallibility is that the clerics who promulgated them somehow lost as individuals the authority of the offices in the Church they otherwise appeared to possess - or that they never possessed such authority before God in the first place. Their pronouncements became juridically void and could not bind Catholics - just as the decrees of the bishops in England who accepted the Protestant heresy in the 16th century became void and empty of authority for Catholics.
Such a loss of authority flows from a general principle in Church law: public defection from the Catholic faith automatically deprives a person of all ecclesiastical offices he may hold. If you think about it , it makes sense: It would be absurd for someone who did not truly profess the Catholic faith to have authority over Catholics who did.
The principle that someone who defects from the faith automatically loses his office applies to pastors, diocesan
bishops and other similar church officials. It also applies to a pope.
Loss of Papal Office
Theologians and canonists such as St Robert Bellarmine, Cajetan, Suarez, Torquemada, and Wernz and Vidal maintain, without compromising the doctrine of papal infallibility, that even a pope (as an individual, of course) may himself become a heretic and thus lose the pontificate. Some of these authors also maintain that pope can become a schismatic.
In his great treatise on the Roman Pontiff, St. Robert Bellarmine, for example asks the question:
"Whether a heretical pope can be deposed." Note first, by the way, that his question assumes a pope
can in fact become a heretic. After a lengthy discussion, Bellarmine concludes:
A pope who is a manifest heretic automatically (per se) ceases to be pope and head, just as he ceases automatically to be a Christian and a member of the Church. Wherefore, he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the teaching of all the ancient Fathers who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction. [De Romano Pontifice. II.30. My emphasis.]
Bellarmine cites passages from Cyprian, Driedonus and Melchior Cano to support his position. The basis for this teaching, he says finally, is that a manifest heretic is in no way a member of the Church - neither of its soul nor its body, neither be an internal union nor an external one.
Other great canonists and theologians after Bellarmine have likewise supported this position.
Wernz-Vidal's Ius Canonicum, an eight-volume work published in 1943 which is perhaps the most
highly respected commentary on the 1917 Code of Canon Law, states:
Through notorious and openly divulged heresy, the Roman Pontiff, should he fall into heresy, by that very fact [ipso facto] is deemed to be deprived of the power of jurisdiction even before any declaratory judgement by the Church....A pope who falls into public heresy would cease ipso facto to be a member of the Church; therefore, he would also cease to be head of the Church. [2:453. His emphasis.]
Post-Vatican II Canonists
The possibility that a pope may become a heretic and lose his office is also recognised by an authoritative
commentary on the 1983 Code of Canon Law:
Classical canonists discussed the question of whether a pope, in his private or personal opinions, could go into heresy, apostasy, or schism. If he were to do so in a notoriously and widely publicised manner, he would break communion, and according to an accepted opinion, lose his office ipso facto. (c.194 §1,2°). Since no one can judge the pope (c.1404), no one could depose a pope for such crimes, and the authors are divided as to how his loss of office would be declared in such a way that a vacancy could then be filled by a new election. [Corridan et al. editors, The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, Canon Law Society of America, c.333.]
The principle that a heretical pope automatically loses his office, therefore, is widely admitted by a great variety of Catholic canonists and theologians.
Pope Innocent III & Paul IV
Even popes have raised the possibility that a heretic could somehow end up on the throne of St Peter. Pope
Innocent III (1198-1216), one of the most forceful champions of papal authority in the history of the papacy,
He [the Roman Pontiff] can be judged by men, or rather, can be shown to be already judged, if for example he should wither away into heresy; because he who does not believe is already judged. [Sermo 4.]
During the time of the Protestant revolt, Pope Paul IV (1555-1559), another vigorous defender of the rights of the papacy, suspected that one of the cardinals who stood a good chance of being elected pope in the next conclave, was a secret heretic.
On 16 February 1559, therefore, he issued the Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. The Pontiff decreed that if ever it should appear that someone who was elected Roman Pontiff had beforehand "deviated from the Catholic faith or fallen into any heresy", his election, even with the agreement and unanimous consent of all the cardinals would be "null, legally invalid and void".
All the subsequent acts, laws and appointments of such an invalidly elected pope, Paul IV further decreed, "would be lacking in force, and would grant no stability and legal power to any one whatsoever". He ordered, moreover, that all those who would be appointed to ecclesiastical offices by such a pope would, "by that very fact and without the need to make any further declaration, be deprived of any dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power".
The possibility of heresy, then, and a concomitant lack of authority on the part of an individual who appears to
be the pope is not in the least farfetched, and is in fact founded in the teaching of at least two popes.
Put simply, on one hand we know that the Church cannot defect. On the other, we know that theologians and even popes teach that a pope as an individual can defect from the faith, and thus lose his office and authority.
Once we recognise the errors and evils of the post-Vatican II religion, two alternatives thus present themselves: (1) The Church has defected. (2) Men have defected and lost their office and authority. Faced with such a choice, the logic of the faith dictates that we affirm the indefectibility of the Church, and acknowledge the defections of men.
Put another way, our recognition that the changes are false, bad and to be rejected is also an implicit recognition that the men who promulgated them did not really possess the authority of the Church. All traditionalists, one might therefore say, are in reality 'sedevacantists' - it's just that not all of them have realised it yet.
Thus the issue of authority is resolved. Catholics who are struggling to preserve their faith after the
post-Vatican II apostasy have no obligation whatsoever to obey those who have lost their authority by embracing
Summary of Points
A summary of all the foregoing, would perhaps be in order here:
- Officially sanctioned Vatican II and post-Vatican II teachings and laws embody errors and/or promote evil.
- Because the Church is indefectible, her teaching cannot change, and because she is infallible, her laws cannot give evil.
- It is therefore impossible that the errors and evil officially sanctioned in Vatican II and post Vatican II teachings and laws could have proceeded from the authority of the Church.
- Those who promulgate such errors and evils must somehow lack real authority in the Church.
- Canonists and theologians teach that defection from the faith, once it becomes manifest, brings with it automatic loss of ecclesiastical office (authority). They apply this principle even to a pope who, in his personal capacity, somehow becomes a heretic.
- Even popes have acknowledged the possibility that a heretic could one day end up on the throne of Peter. Paul IV decreed that the election of such a pope would be invalid, and that he would lack all authority.
- Since the Church cannot defect but a pope as an individual can defect (as, a fortiori, can diocesan bishops), the best explanation for the post-Vatican II errors and evils we have catalogued is that they have proceeded (proceed) from individuals who, despite their occupation of the Vatican and of various diocesan cathedrals, did (do) not objectively possess canonical authority.
• • • • •
WE HAVE AMPLY demonstrated here that it is against the Catholic Faith to assert that the Church can teach error or promulgate evil laws. We have also shown that Vatican II and its reforms have given us errors against Catholic doctrine and evil laws inimical to the salvation of souls.
The Faith itself therefore constrains us to assert that those who have taught these errors or promulgated these evil laws, no matter what appearance of authority they may have, do not in fact possess the authority of the Catholic Church. Only in this way is the indefectibility of the Catholic Church preserved. We must therefore, as Catholics who affirm that the Church is both indefectible and infallible, reject and repudiate the claims that Paul VI and his successors have been true popes.
On the other hand we leave it to the authority of the Church, when it once again will function in a normal manner, to declare authoritatively that supposed popes were non-popes. We as simple priests cannot, after all, make authoritative judgements, whether legal or doctrinal, which bind the consciences of the faithful.
We traditional Catholics, finally, have not founded a new religion, but are merely engaged in a 'holding action'
to preserve the Faith and Catholic worship until better days. In the meantime, that goal will be best served if
we address difficult issues with attentiveness not only to theological principles, but also to the theological
virtue of charity.
- 2 January 1995
Heresy and Loss of Papal Office
It may seem surprising to Catholics who have been taught the doctrine of papal infallibility that a pope, as a private teacher, can nevertheless fall into heresy and automatically lose his office. Lest it be thought that this principle is a fantasy invented by traditionalist 'fanatics', or, at best, just a minority opinion expressed by an obscure Catholic writer or two, we reproduce some texts from popes, saints, canonists and theologians.
Lay readers may not be familiar with the names of Coronata, Iragui, Badii, Prümmer, Wernz, Vidal, Beste,
Vermeersch, Creusen and Regatillo. These priests were internationally recognised authorities in their fields
before Vatican II. Our citations are taken from the massive treatises they wrote on canon law and dogmatic
Matthaeus Conte a Coronata (1950)
"III. Appointment to the office of the Primacy [i.e. papacy]. 1° What is required by divine law for this appointment: (a) The person appointed must be a man who possesses the use of reason, due to the ordination the Primate must receive to possess the power of Holy Orders. This is required for the validity of the appointment.
Also required for validity is that the man appointed be a member of the Church. Heretics and apostates (at least
public ones) are therefore excluded."...
2° Loss of office of the Roman Pontiff. This can occur in various ways:....
c) Notorious heresy. Certain authors deny the supposition that the Roman Pontiff can become a heretic.
It cannot be proven however that the Roman Pontiff, as a private teacher, cannot become a heretic - if, for example, he would contumaciously deny a previously defined dogma. Such impeccability was never promised by God. Indeed, Pope Innocent III expressly admits such a case is possible.
If indeed such a situation would happen, he [the Roman Pontiff] would, by divine law, fall from office without any sentence, indeed without a declaratory one. He who openly professes heresy places himself outside the Church, and it is not likely that Christ would preserve the Primacy of His Church in one so unworthy. Wherefore, if the Roman Pontiff were to profess heresy, before any condemnatory sentence (which would be impossible anyway) he would lose his authority."
Institutiones Iuris Canonici. Rome: Marietti 1:312,316. My emphasis.
Pope Innocent III (1198)
"The Roman Pontiff has no superior but God. Who, therefore (should a pope 'lose his savor') could cast him out or trample him under foot - since of the pope it is said 'gather thy flock into thy fold'. Truly, he should not flatter himself about his power, nor should he rashly glory in his honour and high estate, because the less he is judged by man, the more he is judged by God.
Still less can the Roman Pontiff glory [Minus dico] because he can be judged by men, or rather, can be shown to be already judged, if for example he should wither away into heresy; because he who does not believe is already judged.
In such a case it should be said of him: 'If salt should lose its savor, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trampled under foot by men'."
St Antoninus (†1459)
"In the case in which the pope would become a heretic, he would find himself, by that fact alone and without any other sentence, separated from the Church. A head separated from a body cannot, as long as it remains separated, be head of the same body from which it was cut off.
A pope who would be separated from the Church by heresy, therefore, would by that very fact cease to be head of the Church. He could not be a heretic and remain pope, because since he is outside of the Church, he cannot possess the keys of the Church."
Summa Theologica, cited in Actes de Vatican I. V. Frond, publisher.
Pope Paul IV (1559)
"Further, if ever that it should appear that any bishop (even one acting as an archbishop, patriarch or primate), or a cardinal of the Roman Church, or a legate (as mentioned above), or even the Roman Pontiff (whether prior to his promotion to cardinal, or prior to his election as Roman Pontiff), has beforehand deviated from the Catholic faith or fallen into any heresy, We enact, decree, determine and define:
- Such promotion or election in and of itself, even with the agreement and unanimous consent of all the cardinals, shall be null, legally invalid and void.
- It shall not be possible for such a promotion or election to be deemed valid or to be valid, neither through reception of office, consecration, subsequent administration, or possession, nor even through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff himself, together with the veneration and obedience accorded to him by all.
- Such promotion or election, shall not through any lapse of time in the foregoing situation, be considered even partially legitimate in any way....
- Each and all of the words, as acts, laws, appointments of those so promoted or elected - and indeed, whatsoever flows therefrom - shall be lacking in force, and shall grant no stability and legal power to anyone whatsoever.
- Those so promoted or elected, by that very fact and without the need to make any further declaration, shall be deprived of any dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power."
Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio. 16 February 1559.
St Robert Bellarmine (1610)
"A pope who is a manifest heretic (per se) ceases to be pope and head, just as he ceases
automatically to be a Christian and a member of the Church. Wherefore, he can be judged and punished by the
Church. This is the teaching of all the ancient Fathers who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all
De Romano Pontifice. II.30.
St Alphonsus Liguori (†1787)
"If ever a pope, as a private person, should fall into heresy, he would at once fall from the pontificate."
Oeuvres Complètes. 9:232.
Vatican I (1869), Serapius Iragui (1959)
"What would be said if the Roman Pontiff were to become a heretic? In the First Vatican Council, the following question was proposed: Whether or not the Roman Pontiff as a private person could fall into manifest heresy?
The response was thus: 'Firmly trusting in supernatural providence, we think that such things quite probably will never occur. But God does not fail in times of need. Wherefore, if He Himself would permit such an evil, the means to deal with it would not be lacking.' [Mansi 52:1109]
Theologians respond the same way. We cannot prove the absolute impossibility of such an event [absolutam repugnatiam facti]. For this reason, theologians commonly concede that the Roman Pontiff, if he should fall into manifest heresy, would no longer be a member of the Church, and therefore could neither be called its visible head."
Manuale Theologiae Dogmaticae. Madrid: Ediciones Studium 1959. 371.
J. Wilhelm (1913)
"The pope himself, if notoriously guilty of heresy, would cease to be pope because he would cease to be a member of the Church."
Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Encyclopedia Press 1913. 7:261.
Caesar Badii (1921)
"c) The law now in force for the election of the Roman Pontiff is reduced to these points:....
Barred as incapable of being validly elected are the following: women, children who have not reached the age of reason, those suffering from habitual insanity, the unbaptised, heretics and schismatics....
Cessation of pontifical power. This power ceases:....
(d) Through notorious and openly divulged heresy. A publicly heretical pope would no longer be a member of the Church; for this reason, he could no longer be its head."
Institutiones Iuris Canonici. Florence: Fiorentina 1921. 160, 165. His emphasis.
Dominic Prümmer (1927)
"The power of the Roman Pontiff is lost:....(c) By his perpetual insanity or by formal heresy. And this at least probably....
The authors indeed commonly teach that a pope loses his power through certain and notorious heresy, but whether this case is really possible is rightly doubted.
Based on the supposition, however, that a pope could fall into heresy, as a private person (for as pope he could not err in faith, because he would be infallible), various authors have worked out different answers as to how he could then be deprived of his power. None of the answers, nevertheless, exceed the limits of probability."
Manuale Iuris Canonici. Freiburg im Briesgau: Herder 1927. 95. His emphasis.
F.X. Wernz, P. Vidal (1943)
"Through notorious and openly divulged heresy, the Roman Pontiff, should he fall into heresy, by that very fact [ipso facto] is deemed to be deprived of the power of jurisdiction even before any declaratory judgement by the Church....A pope who falls into public heresy would cease ipso facto to be a member of the Church; therefore, he would also cease to be head of the Church."
Ius Canonicum. Rome: Gregorian 1943. 2:453.
Udalricus Beste (1946)
"Not a few canonists teach that, outside of death and abdication, the pontifical dignity can also be lost by falling into certain insanity, which is legally equivalent to death, as well as through manifest and notorious heresy. In the latter case, a pope would automatically fall from his power, and this indeed without the issuance of any sentence, for the first See [i.e. the See of Peter] is judged by no one.
The reason is that, by falling into heresy, the pope ceases to be a member of the Church. He who is not a member of a society, obviously cannot be its head. We can find no example of this in history."
Introductio in Codicem. 3rd ed. Collegeville: St John's Abbey Press 1946. Canon 221.
A. Vermeersch, I. Creusen (1949)
" The power of the Roman Pontiff ceases by death, free resignation (which is valid without need for any acceptance, c.221), certain and unquestionably perpetual insanity and notorious heresy.
At least according to the more common teaching, the Roman Pontiff as a private teacher can fall into manifest heresy. Then, without any declaratory sentence (for the supreme See is judged by no one), he would automatically [ipso facto] fall from a power which he who is no longer a member of the Church is unable to possess."
Epitome Iuris Canonici. Rome: Dessain 1949. 340.
Eduardus F. Regatillo (1956)
"The Roman Pontiff ceases in office:....(4) Through notorious public heresy? Five answers have been
"1. 'The pope cannot be a heretic even as a private teacher.' A pious thought, but essentially unfounded.
"2. 'The pope loses office even through secret heresy.' False, because a secret heretic can be a member of the Church.
"3. 'The pope does not lose office because of public heresy.' Objectionable.
"4. 'The pope loses office by a judicial sentence because of public heresy.' But who would issue the sentence? The See of Peter is judged by no one (Canon 1556).
"5. 'The pope loses office ipso facto because of public heresy.' This is the more common teaching, because a pope would not be a member of the Church, and hence far less could be its head." Institutiones Iuris Canonici. 5th ed. Santander: Sal Terrae, 1956. 1:396. His emphasis.
Did the New Mass Come from the Church?
We noted above that, if the New Mass is Protestant, irreverent, sacrilegious, or otherwise harmful to the Catholic Faith or the salvation of souls, it cannot come from the authority of the Church, because her infallibility extends to universal disciplinary laws, including liturgical laws. Below are some quotes from theologians which explain this teaching.
Most theologians cite the anathema of Trent (also quoted here) against those who say that the ceremonies of the Catholic Church are 'incentives to impiety'.
'Incentives to impiety', most traditional Catholics would probably agree, is probably the best three word
description one can find for the rites and prayers of Paul VI's Novus Ordo. It has done nothing but erode
faith, promote error, and progressively empty our churches. The man who promulgated such a rite could
not, therefore, have possessed the authority of Peter.
Council of Trent (1562)
"If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments and outward signs, which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses, are incentives to impiety rather than the service of piety: let him be anathema."
Canons on the Mass. 17 September 1562. Denziger 954.
P. Hermann (1908)
"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, such as Communion under one species....
The Church in her general discipline, however, is said to be infallible in this sense: that nothing can be found in her disciplinary laws which is against the faith or good morals, or which can tend [vergere] either to the detriment of the Church or to the harm of the faithful.
That the Church is infallible in her discipline follows from her very mission. The Church's mission is to preserve the integral faith and to lead people to salvation by teaching them to preserve whatever Christ commanded. But if she were able to prescribe or command or tolerate in her discipline something against faith or morals, or something which tended to the detriment of the Church or to the harm of the faithful, the Church would turn away from her divine mission, which would be impossible."
Institutiones Theologiae Dogmaticae. 4th ed. Rome: Della Pace 1908. 1:258.
A Dorsch (1928)
"The Church is also rightfully held to be infallible in her disciplinary decrees....
By disciplinary decrees are understood all those things which pertain to the ruling of the Church,, insofar as it is distinguished from the magisterium. Referred to here, then, are ecclesiastical laws which the Church laid down for the Universal Church in order to regulate divine worship or to direct the Christian life."
Institutiones Theologiae Fundamentalis. Innsbruck: Rauch 1928. 2:409.
R.M. Schultes (1931)
"The infallibility of the Church in Enacting Disciplinary Laws. Disciplinary laws are defined as 'ecclesiastical laws laid down to direct Christian life and worship'.....
The question of whether the Church is infallible in establishing a disciplinary law concerns the substance of universal disciplinary laws - that is, whether such laws can be contrary to a teaching of faith or morals, and so work to the spiritual harm of the faithful....
Thesis. The Church, in establishing universal laws, is infallible as regards their substance.
The Church is infallible in matters of faith and morals. Through disciplinary laws, the Church teaches about matters of faith and morals, not doctrinally or theoretically, put practically and effectively. A disciplinary law therefore involves a doctrinal judgement....
The reason, therefore, and foundation for the Church's infallibility in her general discipline is the intimate connection between truths of faith or morals and disciplinary laws.
The principal matter of disciplinary laws is as follows: a) worship...."
De Ecclesia Catholica. Paris: Lethielleux 1931. 314-7.
Valentino Zubizarreta (1948)
" Corollary II. In establishing disciplinary laws for the universal Church, the Church is likewise infallible, in such a way that she would never legislate something which would contradict true faith or good morals.
Church discipline is defined as 'that legislation or collection of laws which direct men how to worship God rightly and how to live a good Christian life.'....
Proof of the Corollary. It has been shown above that the Church enjoys infallibility in those things which concern faith and morals, or which are necessarily required for their preservation. Disciplinary laws, prescribed for the universal Church in order to worship God and rightly promote a good Christian life, are implicitly revealed in matters of morals, and are necessary to preserve faith and good morals. Therefore, the Corollary is proved."
Theologia Dogmatico-Scholastica. 4th ed. Vitoria: El Carmen 1948. 1:486.
Serapius Iragui (1959)
"Outside those truths revealed in themselves, the object of the magisterium's infallibility includes other truths which, while not revealed, are nevertheless necessary to integrally preserve the deposit of the faith, correctly explain it, and effectively define it....
D) Disciplinary Decrees. These decrees are universal ecclesiastical laws which govern man's Christian life and divine worship. Even though the faculty of establishing laws pertains to the power of jurisdiction, nevertheless the power of the magisterium is considered in these laws under another special aspect, insofar as there must be nothing in these laws opposed to the natural or positive law. In this respect, we say that the judgement of the Church is infallible....
1°) This is required by the nature and purpose of infallibility, for the infallible Church must lead her subjects to sanctification through a correct exposition of doctrine. Indeed, if the Church in her universally binding decrees would impose false doctrine, by that very fact men would be turned away from salvation, and the very nature of the true Church would be placed in peril.
All this, however, is repugnant to the prerogative of infallibility with which Christ endowed His Church. Therefore, when the Church establishes disciplinary laws, she must be infallible."
Manuale Theologiae Dogmaticae. Madrid: Ediciones Stadium 1959. 1:436, 447.
Joachim Salaverri (1962)
"3) Regarding disciplinary decrees in general which are by their purpose [finaliter] connected with things which God has revealed.
A. The purpose of the infallible Magisterium requires infallibility for decrees of this kind....
Specifically, that the Church claims infallibility for herself in liturgical decrees is established by the law of the Councils of Constance and Trent solemnly enacted regarding Eucharistic Communion under one species.
This can also be abundantly proved from other decrees, by which the Council of Trent solemnly confirmed the rites and ceremonies used in the administration of the sacraments and the celebration of the Mass."
Sacrae Theologiae Summa. 5th ed. Madrid: BAC 1962. 1:722,723.
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