Comments on the "Material Pope Thesis"
Briefly about the "Thesis of Cassiciacum":
According to Bp. Guerard des Lauriers’ thesis, a public heretic, a member of the Vatican II church - who incurred excommunication ipso facto, but a declaratory sentence was not pronounced by any ecclesiastical judge - is capable of receiving valid election to the Papacy. Bp. Guerard des Lauriers tried to convince Traditional Catholics that the Vatican II “popes” succeed as legitimate designees to the Papacy and continue the line of St. Peter materially, but not formally. They lack jurisdictional authority because of the obstacle that they posit to the reception of the authority. They are not true popes, but are legally in the position to become true popes if they can remove the obstacle to the reception of the authority of the office.
Here I will comment on five pro “Material Pope Thesis” arguments regarding the “matter of authority” and “material succession”. While these arguments are intended to convince Traditional Catholics that “the Novus Ordo hierarchy constitute the Catholic hierarchy materially”, my comments are intended to show that these arguments are erroneous. However, I want to emphasize that my comments are directed against the thesis itself, and not against its adherents.
"I. Natural things are composed of matter and form. The matter of something is that from which it is made. A statue, for example, is made from marble. Marble is the matter of a statue. Form is what makes a thing to be what it is. So the likeness of a statue to Our Lady is the form of a statue of Our Lady. This likeness must be carved into the marble by the sculptor. When matter and form come together, you have a statue of Our Lady. Clay is the matter of a pot. When the potter gives the clay its shape, he gives it form, and therefore makes the clay be a pot. Likewise the soul is the form of the body.
II. There is a matter and form in authority. The matter of authority is the person who is legally and legitimately selected to receive the authority. The form of authority is the power, the jurisdiction to rule.”"
First, we must distinguish between 1) inanimate things and man, 2) between natural and supernatural.
Marble is an inanimate thing; however, speaking of authority we must understand that it is the case of man created in the image of God.
Rev. Francis Spirago says:
"God does not act upon us as if we were inanimate objects without intellect or free will." (The Catechism Explained, From the original of Rev. Francis Spirago, Professor of Theology, Edited by Rev. Richard F. Clarke, S.J. New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: BENZIGER BROTHERS, Printers to the Holy Apostolic See, 1899. Nihil Obstat: Thos. L. Kinkead, Censor Librorum, Imprimatur: + MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York, New York, August 8, 1899, p. 208)
In the case of an inanimate thing, we are speaking about the matter of which the thing is composed, while speaking of man, we focus on the moral aspect.
During Papal election the moral character of the candidate must be taken into account. Electors cast their votes not for a thin or fat person, but for a person of high morals, a good Catholic. If “seven men of good reputation, full of faith and the Holy Ghost and wisdom” were appointed deacons by the Apostles (See THE ACTS 6:1-6), shouldn't a candidate for the Papacy be also a man of good reputation, full of faith and the Holy Ghost and wisdom? In other words, electors focus on the soul of a candidate, not his body.
Therefore, I think that it is not entirely appropriate to say that a person made in the image of God is "the matter of something". In the case of a person this term is quite allegorical and needs further clarification.
However, speaking of man in the context of creation we can use the term "matter", because God made the body of man out of dust of the earth (matter) and breathed into him a living soul (form), and we can say that our nature is partly material and partly spiritual.
The Catechism Explained:
"God made the body of man out of the dust of the earth, and breathed into him a living soul. The soul of man is a spiritual substance…The relations between the body and the soul of man are as follows: the body is the dwelling-place of the soul…The soul also is the life of the body; as soon as the two are parted, the body soon returns to the dust from which it was formed.
...Man is made in the image of God; his likeness to God is to be found in his soul, which possesses reason and free will, and thence has the power of knowing what is beautiful and good, and of loving it...The body of man is not made in the image of God, for God is a pure spirit, but yet the likeness to God stamps itself in some way on the body, as being the instrument of the soul, both in its upright bearing, and in the dominion it exerts over the irrational animals." (The Catechism Explained, From the original of Rev. Francis Spirago, Professor of Theology, Edited by Rev. Richard F. Clarke, S.J. New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: BENZIGER BROTHERS, Printers to the Holy Apostolic See, 1899. Nihil Obstat: Thos. L. Kinkead, Censor Librorum, Imprimatur: + MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York, New York, August 8, 1899, p. 152, 154)
Returning to marble we can say that a process of carving of marble is not identical to that of electing a Pope.
Despite the likeness of a statue to Our Lady it still has a material status, and is not a sacred thing formally; a statue can be used for a civil purpose, for example, for a museum exposition or a private collection of artworks. But once a statue is blessed by a priest, it formally becomes the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary - a sacred thing - which can only be used for religious veneration.
Unlike the carving marble, the Papal election is a sacred process from the very beginning. As soon as an elected person gives his consent to his election, he obtains authority over the whole Church on earth without any extra blessing.
Also, I hope I am not mistaken when I say that the Papacy is of supernatural order, not natural.
"Nor is designation rendered null because of the heresy either of the electors or of the person elected. The reason is that designation in itself does not regard the disposition or lack of disposition of the subject. The requirements of authority, that is, of the right to make law, regard the disposition or lack of disposition of the subject. In other words, the matter becomes incapable of receiving authority because of the requirements of the form, that is, of authority, not however of the requirements of designation. For example, a lay person, who is elected to the papacy, must, in order that he validly receive the authority, have the intention of receiving episcopal consecration, and if this should be absent, he would remain validly designated, but incapable of accepting authority because of his indisposition with regard to the form, but not with regard to the designation. Such a person would be a pope materially until he would intend to receive episcopal consecration. The designation is valid; the requirement of authority renders the subject invalid until he becomes matter in the ultimate disposition to receive authority."
This argument is flawed on two grounds; first, the cardinal dean does not ask a person elected to the papacy, whether he has intention of receiving Episcopal Consecration or not; he asks him whether he will accept the election and by what name he wishes to be known; secondly, the Church teaches that even a layman becomes immediately, upon consenting to the election, the Vicar of Christ on earth. The Episcopal Consecration confers power of Orders only, not of Jurisdiction.
Ecclesiastical Dictionary by Rev. John Thein:
"As soon as the Pope is canonically elected, that is according to the established rules, and as soon as he has given his consent to his election, he has, without any other confirmation, obtained authority over the universal Church, even if he had previously been neither bishop, priest, deacon, nor sub-deacon, but only a simple layman. From the time of his election he is empowered with all the prerogatives of jurisdiction, as, for instance, to grant dispensations, canonize, promulgate censures, grant indulgences, institute bishops, create cardinals, and decide controversies in regard to faith and morals." p. 400
"The person thus elected, even though not yet in sacred orders, becomes immediately, upon the consenting to the election, the Vicar of Christ on earth." p. 566-567
(Ecclesiastical Dictionary, by RE V. JOHN THEIN, Priest of the Diocese of Cleveland, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, BENZIGER BROTHERS, Printers to the Holy Apostolic See, 1900, Imprimatur: +MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York, New York, March 21, 1900, Nihil Obstat: +IGN. F. HORSTMANN, Bishop of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio, March 9, 1900, p. 400, p. 566-567)
ELEMENTS OF ECCLESIASTICAL LAW BY REV. S. B. SMITH D.D.:
"The person thus elected, even though not yet in sacred orders, becomes immediately, upon consenting to the election, the Vicar of Christ on earth." (ELEMENTS OF ECCLESIASTICAL LAW, COMPILED WITH REFERENCE TO THE SYLLABUS, THE "CONST. APOSTOLICAE SEDIS" OF POPE PIUS IX, THE COUNCIL OF THE VATICAN AND THE LATEST DECISIONS OF THE ROMAN CONGREGATIONS, BY REV. S. B. SMITH. D.D., FORMERLY PROFESSOR OF CANON LAW, AUTHOR OF "NOTES," etc., etc., FOURTH EDITION, REVISED ACCORDING TO THE ANIMADVERSIONS OF THE ROMAN CONSULTORS APPOINTED BY THE CARDINAL PREFECT OF THE PROPAGANDA, BOOK I, NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, ST. LOUIS, AND EINSIEDELN: BENZIGER BROTHERS, PRINTERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE, 1881, Nihil Obstat: Rev. S. G. MESSMER, S.T.P., Censor Deputatus, Imprimatur: JOANNES CARD. McCLOSKEY, Archiepiscopus Neo-Eboracensis, Datum Neo-Eboraci, Die 25 Martii, 1877, p. 141)
CANONICAL ELECTIONS by DANIEL M. GALLIHER:
“If a candidate received the two-thirds vote, the cardinal dean approaches the newly elected pontiff and asks him whether he will accept the election and by what name he wishes to be known. If he accepts, all the cardinals arise, and the canopies of all the chairs are lowered, except that of the pope, who is conducted behind the altar where he is clothed in the papal garments. Returning to the pontifical chair, the cardinals pay him the first homage by kissing his foot and then his hand; they in turn receive the kiss of peace. The cardinal dean places upon his finger the fisherman's ring. These ceremonies over, the senior cardinal deacon proceeds to the loggia of St. Peter's facing the great piazza, and then announces to the assembled multitude the glad tidings of the election. The populace then enters the great basilica, where from the elevated loggia the new pontiff gives his first Apostolic Blessing Urbi et Orbi - to the city and the world.
The person thus elected, even though not yet in sacred orders, acquires full jurisdiction over the universal Church immediately on consenting, and becomes the Vicar of Christ on earth. If not already a bishop, he is consecrated at once by the cardinal bishop of Ostia, but this consecration confers power of orders only, not of jurisdiction." (CANONICAL ELECTIONS, Dissertation, SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF THEOLOGY OF THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE DOCTOR OF CANON LAW, By DANIEL M. GALLIHER, O. P., J. C. L., Catholic University of America, 1917, Nihil Obstat: +THOMAS J. SHAHAN, S. T. D., Censor Deputatus., Imprimatur: +M. CARD. GIBBONS, Archiepiscopus Baltimorensis., Approbatio Ordinis. Nihil Obstat: FR. JOSEPHUS KENNEDY, O. P., S. T. M., FR. AUGUSTINUS WALDRON, O. P., S. T. M, Imprimatur: FR. RAYMUNDUS MEAGHER, O. P., S. T. L., Prior Provincialis., The Rosary Press, Somerset, Ohio, 1917, p. 106)
A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, By THE REV. P. CHAS AUGUSTINE, VOLUME II:
Romanus Pontifex, legitime electus, statim ab acceptata electione, obtinet, iure divino, plenam supremae iurisdictionis potestatem." p. 207
"The Roman Pontiff, lawfully elected, obtains by divine right full power of supreme jurisdiction at the moment when he accepts office." p. 208
"Neither for the validity of the election nor for a resignation is acceptance, confirmation, or anything else required." p. 210
(A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, By THE REV. P. CHAS AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., D.D., Professor of Canon Law, VOLUME II, Clergy and Hierarchy B. HERDER BOOK CO. 17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo. AND 68 GREAT RUSSELL ST. LONDON, W. C., 1918, NIHIL OBSTAT: Sti. Ludovici, die Sept. 7, 1918, F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum, IMPRIMATUR: Sti. Ludovici, die Sept. 8, 1918, +Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus Sti. Ludovici, Printed in U. S. A. p. 207, 208, 210)
Also this opinion is erroneous: "Nor is designation rendered null because of the heresy either of the electors or of the person elected". Actually designation is rendered null because of the heresy both of the electors and of the person elected, because they are not members of the Catholic Church.
“There is a matter and form in authority. The matter of authority is the person who is legally and legitimately selected to receive the authority. The form of authority is the power, the jurisdiction to rule.”
My primary focus is on this part: "the matter of authority is the person".
A person made in the image of God cannot be matter, except in a figurative sense or in the context of creation.
Since authority is a moral (not material) faculty of promulgating and executing laws, a person therefore can be a subject, an elect, a candidate for authority; as soon as an elected person gives his consent to his election he becomes a possessor or bearer of authority.
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches on the UNION OF BODY AND SOUL (Question 76, Article 1):
"It is well to remark that if anyone holds that the soul is composed of matter and form, it would follow that in no way could the soul be the form of the body. For since the form is an act, and matter is only in potentiality, that which is composed of matter and form cannot be the form of another by virtue of itself as a whole." (THE "SUMMA THEOLOGICA" OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, PART I. QQ. LXXV. - CII., LITERALLY TRANSLATED BY FATHERS OF THE ENGLISH DOMINICAN PROVINCE, SECOND AND REVISED EDITION, LONDON, BURNS OATES & WASHBOURNE LTD. 28 ORCHARD STREET. W. I 8-10 PATERNOSTER ROW. E.C. 4 BENZIGER BROTHERS: NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO, 1922, Nihil Obstat: F. INNOCENTIUS APAP, O.P., S.T.M. Censor. Theol., Imprimatur: EDUS. CANONICUS SURMONT, VICARIUS GENERALIS, Westmonasterii, APPROBATIO ORDINIS. Nihil Obstat: F. RAPHAEL MOSS, O.P., S.T.L., F. LEO MOORE, O.P.. S.T.L., Imprimatur: F. BEDA JARRETT, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliae, LONDINI, Die 7 Martii, 1922, p. 27)
So, 1) If we know that man is made in the image of God (his likeness to God can be found in his immaterial soul, which possesses immaterial reason and free will); 2) If we know that the human soul is not composed of matter and form; 3) but in spite of our knowledge, we say that a person is “the matter of something”, it sounds as if the person were like an inanimate piece of marble formed with a hammer and chisel.
Therefore, speaking about a person as the image of God, it would be more appropriate to use the terms “subject”, “elect”, or “candidate” employed by Catholic authors as clear and easily understandable.
In the “Ecclesiastical Dictionary” by Rev. John Thein one can read that man is the subject (not the "matter") presented by the Church to God to receive the Primacy of Peter (my emphasis):
"…we must be careful not to confound the succession of the Roman Pontiffs in the episcopacy of Peter with the succession in the Primacy of Peter. The first is of ecclesiastical law, the second of divine law. Hence it follows, the choice of this or that person as bishop of Rome, depends on the Church, but the Church in placing this or that person in the See of Rome, does not communicate to him the Primacy; she cannot make this proceed from her bosom. She presents only to God a subject upon whom He bestows the Primacy of Peter, according to His promise." (Ecclesiastical Dictionary, by RE V. JOHN THEIN, p. 399-400)
Also, one can read in the “Catholic Dictionary” by Fr. William E. Addis and Thomas Arnold that a person (in the text - anyone) has authority:
"JURISDICTION. (Jus dicere, to administer justice, was one of the "tria verba" which denoted the functions of a Roman praetor.) Jurisdiction is defined as "the power of anyone who has public authority and pre-eminence over others for their rule and government"." (A CATHOLIC DICTIONARY, BY WILLIAM E. ADDIS, SECULAR PRIEST: SOMETIME FELLOW OF THE ROYAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, AND THOMAS ARNOLD, M.A., FELLOW OF THE SAME UNIVERSITY, SIXTH EDITION, WITH ADDITIONS., NEW YORK, THE CATHOLIC PUBLICATION SOCIETY CO., 9 BARCLAY STREET, 1887, NIHIL OBSTAT: EDUARDUS S. KEOGH, CONG. ORAT., CENSOR DEPUTATUS, IMPRIMATUR: HENRICUS EDUARDUS, CARD. ARCHIEP. WESTMONAST. Die 18 Dec., 1883., IMPRIMATUR: JOHN CARD. McCLOSKEY, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK, Feb. 14, 1884., p. 492)
Thus, we can say that during the election a person is the subject of authority and after the election a person becomes a possessor or a bearer of authority, he has authority.
I don’t say that there is no human factor in authority; I only say that this term "the matter of authority is the person" might create confusion in terms and leads to misunderstandings on the very important issue.
Catholic authors are clear in their expressions so that readers can clearly understand and not be confused. An excellent example of the clarity of expression can be found in the person of Rev. P. Chas Augustine who explained in one sentence what the matter of the supreme authority actually is.
Rev. P. Chas Augustine wrote that election is remote matter and the consent of the elect is materia proxima, to which is added the divine form of the Primacy embodied in the bishop of Rome.
A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, By THE REV. P. CHAS AUGUSTINE:
"The pontificate, being supreme and immediate, requires merely an appropriate human factor or instrument in order to exist. (Election is, we might say, the remote material element, whilst the consent of the elect is materia proxima, to which is added the divine form of the primacy embodied in the Roman bishop.)" (A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, By THE REV. P. CHAS AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., D.D., Professor of Canon Law, VOLUME II, Clergy and Hierarchy B. HERDER BOOK CO. 17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo. AND 68 GREAT RUSSELL ST. LONDON, W. C., 1918, NIHIL OBSTAT: Sti. Ludovici, die Sept. 7, 1918, F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum, IMPRIMATUR: Sti. Ludovici, die Sept. 8, 1918, +Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus Sti. Ludovici, Printed in U. S. A. p. 210)
There is such a thing as material succession. Material succession is to succeed to a position of power, without receiving the power. This term is universally used by Catholic theologians to describe the claim of apostolic succession made by the Greek schismatics… The Novus Ordo “popes” have material succession. I do not think that anyone would deny that the Novus Ordo “Popes” are at least in the same condition as Greek Schismatic bishops in Apostolic sees.
Yes, there is such a thing as material succession, but it must be emphasized that material succession is legitimate only when it is united with formal succession.
Fr. Sylvester Berry wrote that material succession of a Schismatic is illegitimate. He wrote that in some cases Orthodox churches of the East may also have a material succession of bishops from Apostolic times, but this avails them nothing, and that one who intrudes himself into the ministry against the laws of the Church receives no authority and consequently can transmit none to his successors.
The CHURCH OF CHRIST by E. SYLVESTER BERRY, D.D.:
“Most of the Orthodox churches of the East have valid Orders, and to that extent may be called Apostolic; they have Apostolic succession of the powers of Orders. In some cases they may also have a material succession of bishops from Apostolic times, but this avails them nothing, since they lack both unity and Catholicity, - two essential marks of the true Church. In no case do they have legitimate succession; there is no transmission of jurisdiction because they have withdrawn from communion with Rome, the centre and source of all jurisdiction.” (pp. 184-185)
“Apostolicity of origin and of doctrine are easily understood without further explanation, but some knowledge of succession is necessary for a proper conception of apostolicity of ministry. Succession, as used in this connection, is the following of one person after another in an official position, and may be either legitimate or illegitimate. Theologians call the one formal succession; the other, material. A material successor is one who assumes the official position of another contrary to the laws or constitution of the society in question. He may be called a successor in as much as he actually holds the position, but he has no authority, and his acts have no official value, even though he be ignorant of the illegal tenure of his office. A formal, or legitimate, successor not only succeeds to the place of his predecessor, but also receives due authority to exercise the functions of his office with binding force in the society. It is evident that authority can be transmitted only by legitimate succession; therefore, the Church must have a legitimate, or formal, succession of pastors to transmit apostolic authority from age to age. One who intrudes himself into the ministry against the laws of the Church receives no authority and consequently can transmit none to his successors.” (pp. 139-140) (The CHURCH OF CHRIST, AN APOLOGETIC AND DOGMATIC TREATISE, BY E. SYLVESTER BERRY, D.D., PROFESSOR OF APOLOGETICS IN MT. ST. MARY'S SEMINARY, EMMITSBURG, MD., B. HERDER BOOK CO., 15 & 17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. LOUIS, MO., AND 33 QUEEN SQUARE, LONDON, W. C., 1927, NIHIL OBSTAT: Sti. Ludovici, die 19. Jan. 1927, Joannes Rothensteiner, Censor Librorum, IMPRIMATUR: Sti. Ludovici, die 20. Jan. 1927, +Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus, pp. 139-140, 184-185)
From what Fr. Berry said follows that “a legitimate successor not only succeeds to the place of his predecessor, but also receives due authority to exercise the functions of his office with binding force in the society”; “In some cases they” [Orthodox churches of the East] “may also have a material succession of bishops from Apostolic times”, but this avails them nothing”.
Adherents of the thesis of Guerard des Lauriers say that the Vatican II "popes" are legitimate successors of St. Peter, because they succeed the place of the Pope materially according to the laws of the Church. But their argument is erroneous.
Fr. Berry says that "a material successor is one who assumes the official position of another contrary to the laws or constitution of the society in question".
Therefore it is clear that the Vatican II false popes are illegitimate successors.
Moreover, when we compare the material succession of schismatic bishops [Orthodox churches of the East] with the material succession of the Vatican II “popes”, we can conclude that they succeed each other materially in their churches; in both cases, their material succession takes place outside the Catholic Church.
Catholic theologians teach that Apostolic Succession consists of 1) material succession of series of pastors (bishops) and 2) formal succession, i.e. due authority (jurisdiction) to exercise the functions of Episcopal office. In order to exercise the authority of Episcopal office a Catholic bishop must possess both successions: material and formal.
It also must be noted that Apostolic Succession of Bishops and Apostolic Succession of the Popes are two types of Apostolic Succession.
The Popes are the successors of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, and they are the successors of St. Peter the chief of the Apostles. Other bishops are the successors of other Apostles.
AN EXPLANATION OF THE Baltimore Catechism:
"The “Bishop of Rome” is always pope. If the Bishop of New York, or of Baltimore, or of Boston, became pope, he would become the Bishop of Rome and cease to be the Bishop of New York, Baltimore, or Boston, because St. Peter, the first pope, was Bishop of Rome; and therefore only the bishops of Rome are his lawful successors - the true popes – the true visible heads of the Church. The bishops of the other dioceses of the world are the lawful successors of the other apostles who taught and established churches throughout the world. The bishops of the world are subject to the Pope, just as the other apostles were subject to St. Peter, who was appointed their chief by Our Lord Himself." p. 130
"118 Q. Why is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the visible head of the Church?
A. The Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the visible head of the Church because he is the successor of St. Peter, whom Christ made the chief of the apostles and the visible head of the Church." p. 131
"119 Q. Who are the successors of the other apostles?
A. The successors of the other apostles are the bishops of the holy Catholic Church." p. 131
(AN EXPLANATION OF THE Baltimore Catechism, of Christian Doctrine FOR THE USE OF Sunday-School Teachers and Advanced Classes, BY Rev. THOMAS L. KINKEAD, NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO: BENZIGER BROTHERS, Printers to the Holy Apostolic See, Nihil Obstat: D. J. McMAHON, Censor Librorum, Imprimatur: +MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York, New York, September 5, 1891, Nihil Obstat: ARTHUR J. SCANLAN, S. T. D., Censor Librorum, Imprimatur: +PATRICK J. HAYES, D. D., Archbishop of New York, New York, May 7, 1927, pp. 130, 131)
Apostolic Succession of bishops is “the uninterrupted succession of lawfully-ordained bishops extending from the Apostles down to the present bishops of the Church”. The bishops are the successors of the Apostles.
THE NEW CATHOLIC DICTIONARY:
“Apostolic Succession, the uninterrupted succession of lawfully-ordained bishops extending from the Apostles down to the present bishops of the Church, who thus have received the powers of ordaining, ruling, and teaching bestowed on the Apostles by Christ.” (THE NEW CATHOLIC DICTIONARY, COMPILED AND EDITED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF CONDE B. PALLEN, PH. D., LL .D. JOHN J. WYNNE, S. J., S. T. D., ASSISTED BY CHARLES F. WEMYSS BROWN, BLANCHE M. KELLY, LITT. D. ANDREW A. MAcERLEAN, LL. B., UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE EDITORS OF THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, NEW YORK, THE UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION, NIHIL OBSTAT: JOHN J. WYNNE, S. J., S. T. D., Censor deputatus, IMPRIMATUR: +PATRICK CARDINAL HAYES, Archbishop of New York, October 1, 1929, p. 58)
Apostolic Succession of the Popes is the uninterrupted line of the successors of St. Peter. The Popes are the successors of St. Peter.
THE SOURCES OF CATHOLIC DOGMA:
"Surely "no one has doubt, rather all ages have known that the holy and most blessed Peter, chief and head of the apostles and pillar of faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race; and he up to this time and always lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors, the bishops of the holy See of Rome, which was founded by him and consecrated by his blood, [cf. Council of Ephesus, see n. 112]. Therefore, whoever succeeds Peter in this chair, he according to the institution of Christ himself, holds the primacy of Peter over the whole Church.” (THE SOURCES OF CATHOLIC DOGMA, Translated by Roy J. Deferrari from the Thirtieth Edition of Henry Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum, This translation was made from the thirtieth edition of Enchiridion Symbolorum, by Henry Denzinger, revised by Karl Rahner, S.J., published in 1954 by Herder & Co., Freiburg., Nihil Obstat: Dominic Hughes, O.P. Censor Deputatus, Imprimatur: +Patrick A. O'Boyle, Archbishop of Washington, April 25, 1955, p. 453)
A layman, a deacon, a priest can become a bishop by the Sacrament of Orders. Even a non-Catholic can become a valid bishop materially, but not formally.
A layman, a deacon, a priest, a bishop can be elected Pope. However, only a Catholic can be elected Pope. A public heretic is prevented by Divine Law from being validly elected.
We can agree that four “popes” of the Vatican II: “John XXIII”, “Paul VI”, “John Paul I” and “John Paul II” have taken part in Apostolic Succession by valid Consecrations, and we can only have a discussion about what delict entailed the loss of formal succession by each of them and what canon can be applied.
However - sixty years after, when we see their evil fruits - we can say that they have never taken part in Apostolic Succession of St. Peter neither materially nor formally. “By their fruits you shall know them.”
Also, it is important to note that there is no such thing as succession of laymen, deacons and priests. Therefore, talking about “Benedict XVI” and “Francis”, we cannot debate about succession in principle.
Ratzinger is a valid priest ordained in 1951, but he is not a bishop, since he was installed in 1977 according to the new Protestant rite of “Paul VI”.
Bergoglio is a layman, since he was installed presbyter in 1969 according to the new Protestant rite of “Paul VI”, and installed bishop in 1992 according to the new rite as well.
Both of them are public heretics, totally separated from the Catholic Church by open rejection of her doctrine by heresy (Latae Sententiae – Excommunication is incurred as soon as the offence is committed and by reason of the offence itself (eo ipso) without intervention of any ecclesiastical judge); they have nothing to do with Apostolic Succession neither by consecrations nor by elections.
God created the world out of nothing, simply because He wanted to make it, but unlike God even if we wanted to, we cannot make them Popes out of nothing.
“Therefore there is not an external violation of the law where there is not external pertinacity. Even if one wishes to apply Canon 2200 § 2, the presumption of imputability in violation of the law against heresy matters nothing without the declaration of the Church, because presumption must cede to facts. De facto, however, it is not certain that these heretical “popes” are pertinacious, nor is there a competent authority or tribunal which is able to declare the fact of pertinacity. The whole argument labors under the difficulty of proving or even presuming pertinacity.”
Vatican II “popes” – by their own choice - have been preaching all kinds of heresies sixty years in a row openly (externally). Should we wait another sixty years to realize that these "popes" are pertinacious in heresy?
REV. CHARLES COPPENS explains in a simple way that total separation from the Church can be incurred by one of the following reasons:
1. an open and guilty (by one’s own choice) rejection of the Church’s doctrines by heresy;
2. OR by rejection of her government by schism;
3. OR as the result of a sentence of excommunication.
A SYSTEMATIC STUDY OF THE CATHOLIC RELIGION, BY REV. CHARLES COPPENS:
"97. Total separation from the Church cannot be incurred except by an open and guilty rejection of her doctrines by heresy, or of her government by schism, or as the result of a sentence of excommunication. "Heresy" (αἵρεσις, choice) is the sin of choosing one's tenets for oneself, so as pertinaciously to reject the teaching of the Church." p. 89 (A SYSTEMATIC STUDY OF THE CATHOLIC RELIGION, BY REV. CHARLES COPPENS, S. J., NINETEENTH, TWENTIETH AND TWENTY-FIRST EDITIONS, B. HERDER BOOK COMPANY 17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo. AND 68 GREAT RUSSELL ST , LONDON, W. C., 1917, NIHIL OBSTAT: S. Ludovici, die 13. Aug. 1903, F. G. HOLWECK, Censor Theol., IMPRIMATUR: S. Ludovici, die 19. Aug. 1903, +JOANNES J. GLENNON, Coadj. Adm. Dioceseos S. Ludovici, p. 89)
Is it not clear that total separation from the Church can be incurred by an open and guilty rejection of the Church’s doctrines by heresy without a sentence of excommunication?
Is it not certain that these heretical “popes” (who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves) are externally pertinacious in heresy?
We don't need to wait for an authority or tribunal to declare the fact of pertinacity.
Even if one wishes to say that it is not certain that these heretical “popes” are pertinacious, nor is there a competent authority or tribunal which is able to declare the fact of pertinacity, Divine Law gives us the right to conclude that these heretical “popes” are pertinacious in heresy; they were never Popes neither before God nor before Divine Law.
The Supreme Lawgiver gave us this law:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire." ST. MATTHEW 7:15-19 (HOLY BIBLE Douay Version of the Old Testament of 1609, and with the Rhemish Version of the New Testament of 1582)
Summarizing I would say the following:
- According to Moral Theology, “Divine laws oblige more strictly than human laws”, “all human laws cease to oblige when it is morally impossible to observe them”, “In a conflict of obligations the highest one takes precedence” and “Divine positive law takes precedence over human legislation”;
- Since all cardinals and bishops were paralyzed either by heresy or by indifferentism, or by fear, Bp. Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc had the right to denounce publicly "John Paul II" as a false pope (pertinacious in heresy) and to judge that the Holy See is vacant;
- Today’s Traditional Catholic bishops have the right to act in the same way;
- The Novus Ordo “hierarchy” has nothing to do with the Catholic Hierarchy;
- The material succession of the Vatican II “popes” takes place outside the Catholic Church;
- Divine Law prevents a public heretic from being validly elected.