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Is It A Sin To Believe In A Hidden Pope?

Is It A Sin To Believe In A Hidden Pope?

Here I will answer two questions by a reader.

Question 1:

Is it a sin to believe in a hidden Pope, when in the Vatican there is no manifest Pope?

Answer 1:

If I understand correctly, your question is about Cardinal Giuseppe Siri.

All bishops, priests and faithful are obliged to believe that a certain Catholic man is the Pope provided he was validly elected and accepted the election. He remains Pope wherever he is, in the Vatican or in any other place where he for example was exiled.

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)

So, it is clear that every Catholic is obliged to obey a validly elected Pope.

Now let us look at the Canon promulgated on July 18, 1870 in the 4th Session of the Holy Ecumenical Vatican Council (1869-1870) On the Institution of the Apostolic Primacy in Blessed Peter.

“If anyone, therefore, shall say that Blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant, or that the same directly and immediately received from the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST a primacy of honour only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction; let him be anathema.”
(THE DECREES OF THE VATICAN COUNCIL, Edited WITH AN INTRODUCTION, by the REV. VINCENT McNABB, O.P., NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO, BENZIGER BROTHERS Printers to the Holy Apostolic See 1907, Imprimi potest FR LAURENTIUS SHAPCOTE, O.P., S.T.L. Prior Provincialis, Imprimi potest + GULIELMUS Episcopus Arindelensis Virarius Generalis, Westmonasteril die 19 Oct. 1906, First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ. pp. 36-39)

It is clear, therefore, that every Catholic is obliged under pain of excommunication to believe that the Pope is the visible - not hidden - head of the Church Militant.

However we know that some Popes were forced to go into exile.

For example, St. Clement (35 AD – 91(99) AD) was a true Vicar of Christ validly elected. Despite the fact that he was exiled to Crimea, the Church still knew that he was a true Vicar of Christ and the visible head of the Church, who was killed by pagans for Christian Faith. So it was not a sin to believe in so-called “hidden” Pope Clement.

Unlike St. Clement, Cardinal Giuseppe Siri publicly enjoyed official status as the high ranking clergyman of the Novus Ordo church. He publicly paid obedience to four pseudo-popes: “John XXIII”, “Paul VI”, “John Paul I”, and “John Paul II”. All evil reforms promulgated by the “Vatican II council” were publicly supported by Giuseppe Siri as Novus Ordo Archbishop of Genoa. Therefore it is absurd to say that Giuseppe Siri was simultaneously the bishop of the Novus Ordo church and a "hidden pope" of the Catholic Church. It is a sin to believe in such a “hidden pope”.

But if you mean someone else who could be a "hidden pope", then again, according to the Church Law, the Pope must be visible head of the Church Militant. The Pope can be exiled and hidden by persecutors, but he has no right to go into exile or to hide himself from the Church voluntarily by his own decision. The office of the Pope imposes certain heroic sacrifices on a person who has given his consent to his election; however the Pope can voluntarily abdicate.

A commentary on Canon 187:

"Resignation being a voluntary act, which must be accepted by a competent superior, requires that it be presented to that superior, who is the real grantor of the office. Note, however, that, although acceptance is said to be an essential part of resignation, there are cases in which it is not required. Thus the Roman Pontiff may abdicate without the consent of the College of Cardinals."
(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, B. HERDER BOOK CO. , 17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo., AND 68, GREAT RUSSELL ST., LONDON, W. C. , 1918, CUM PERMISSU SUPERIORUM, 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, p. 158)

Therefore, there are two options for the Pope: he is the Vicar of Christ till his death - wherever he is in Rome or in exile, or he voluntarily hides himself (abdicates) and thus loses the Papal office. His voluntarily hiding from the Church can be considered equal to abdication.

Just believing that someone, somewhere, is a "hidden pope" is not a Catholic faith. The Catholic Church has never issued a law that Catholics are obliged to believe in a “hidden unknown pope". On the contrary we have the Law which obliges Catholics under pain of excommunication to believe in the visible Pope. All bishops, priests and faithful should know for sure that a certain man is the Pope, and the circumstances of his election must be clear to the whole Church, not to a couple of "chosen laymen".

Question 2:

When the true Catholic Church, as it was founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, does NOT have a hidden Pope at this moment, then at least I have to be able to found the one person that represents the highest authority, for example the Cardinal-Camerlengo, or the deacon of the college of Cardinals or another person, or group of persons responsible for the administration of the church, for as long as there is no Pope elected. Because the Catholic Church is never without an administration. Who might that be?

Answer 2:

I don’t know whether at least one Cardinal appointed by the last Pope, Pius XII, is yet alive. If such a Cardinal is alive, he may elect a new Pope, provided such Cardinal did not fall away by heresy or apostasy.

Nevertheless, even if we no longer have the Hierarchy of Jurisdiction who possesses the power of making laws and of ruling the faithful, we have the Hierarchy of Order. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders the Hierarchy receives its power of offering public worship, of administering most of the Sacraments, and of instructing the faithful; and therefore it is known as the Hierarchy of Order.

THE VISIBLE CHURCH
by Rt. Rev. JOHN F. SULLIVAN, D.D.:

The Hierarchy. The Catholic Church is a society instituted by Jesus Christ to teach God's truth to men. Like other societies, it has a government. This is known as the hierarchy, from the Greek, meaning priestly rule.
All the grades of the hierarchy form the clergy, meaning "the chosen ones."
Through the sacrament of Holy Orders the hierarchy receives its power of offering public worship, of administering most of the sacraments, and of instructing the faithful; and it is therefore known as the Hierarchy of Order.
It possesses also the power of making laws and of ruling the faithful; and it is therefore known as the Hierarchy of Jurisdiction.”
(THE VISIBLE CHURCH, BY Rt. Rev. JOHN F. SULLIVAN, D.D., A TEXT-BOOK FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, Fifth Edition, Revised, NEW YORK, P. J. KENEDY & SONS, PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE, NIHIL OBSTAT: ARTHURUS J. SCANLAN, S.T.D. Censor Librorum, IMPRIMATUR: PATRITIUS J. HAYES, D.D. Archiepiscopus Neo-Eboracensis, Neo-Eboraci die 5, Aprilis 1921., Printed in U. S. A., p. 1)

The Hierarchy of Order has the unquestionable power to celebrate Holy Masses and administer the Sacraments during the vacancy of the Holy See, since Canon Law does not say that there is no the Hierarchy of Order during the vacancy of the Holy See.

According to Canon Law all priests are obliged to say Mass several times a year, at least on all Sundays and holy days of obligation (Can. 805).

If the Holy See is vacant, the priest omits these words “una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N.” That is why we have this rubric in the Roman Missal “Ubi dicit: una cum fámulo tuo Papa nostro N., exprimit nomen Papæ: Sede autem vacante verba prædicta omittuntur.”

THE CEREMONIES of the ROMAN RITE DESCRIBED:

At the words una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. he adds the name of the reigning Pope in the ablative case,3 and bows towards the book. If the Holy See is vacant at the time, he omits this clause altogether. At the words et antistite nostro N. he adds the name of the Ordinary of the place where he says Mass. If the see is vacant he omits this clause.
3 Without the number of the Pope: "Papa nostro Benedicto," not "Papa nostro Benedicto decimo quinto."
(THE CEREMONIES of the ROMAN RITE DESCRIBED, BY ADRIAN FORTESCUE, WITH A PREFACE BY HIS EMINENCE CARDINAL BOURNE ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINSTER, BURNS OATES AND WASHBOURNE LTD LONDON, MCMXX, NIHIL OBSTAT: F. Thomas Bergh, O.S.B., Censor Depvtatvs, IMPRIMATVR: Edm. Canon. Svrmont, Vicarivs Generalis, Westmonasterii, die 6 Septembris, 1917, p. 52.)

A big mistake of many laymen is that they think that the Cardinals posses the fullness of the jurisdiction during Sede Vacante as if they were a "Collective Pope". However, neither the Sacred College nor the Cardinal Camerlengo, nor the Cardinal Dean nor the Cardinal Vicar nor any other Cardinal has power to be replace the Pope. The key right, authority and duty of Cardinals during the Sede Vacante is to elect a new Pope.

Dignity and Rights of Cardinals in brief are the following:

ELEMENTS OF ECCLESIASTICAL LAW:

Dignity and Rights of Cardinals. - The cardinalate is, after the Papal, the highest dignity in the Church. Being the electors of the Sovereign Pontiff sede vacante, and his counsellors sede plena.”
(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., BENZIGER BROTHERS, 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. 233, 234, 236-237)

The jurisdiction of the Sacred College during Sede Vacante is quite limited. While the Apostolic See is vacant, the universal Roman Pontiff’s civil power with respect to the rule and governance of the Vatican City State pertains to the Sacred College of Cardinals, which, nevertheless, will not be able to make laws, except in the case of urgent necessity and for the period of the vacancy of the See; any such laws will be valid for the future only if the new Pontiff decides to confirm them.

CONSTITUTIO APOSTOLICA
DE SEDE APOSTOLICA VACANTE ET DE ROMANI PONTIFICIS ELECTIONE
POPE PIUS XII:


“23. Sede Apostolica vacante, universa civilis potestas Romani Pontificis circa regimen et gubernium Status Civitatis Vaticanae spectat ad S. Cardinalium Collegium, quod tamen leges condere non poterit, nisi urgente necessitate et pro tempore vacationis Sedis, in posterum tantum valituras si novus Pontifex eas confirmare statuerit.[3]
[22] Legge fondamentale dello Stato della Città del Vaticano, 7 giugno 1929, n. 1.”
(An. et vol. XXXVm é Februarii 1946 (Ser.H,v.XHI)-Num.3 ACTA APOSTOLICAE SEDIS, COMMENTARIUM OFFICIALE, ACTA PII PP. XII, CONSTITUTIO APOSTOLICA DE SEDE APOSTOLICA VACANTE ET DE ROMANI PONTIFICIS ELECTIONE, n. 23, p. 73)

However the Sacred College has absolutely no power regarding those things that pertain exclusively to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff while he is alive, for example, to enact general laws, to appoint, confirm, or depose bishops.

ELEMENTS OF ECCLESIASTICAL LAW:

II. Sede vacante - i.e., during the vacancy of the Pontifical chair - 1, the defense, and, in a measure, the administration, ad interim, of the Church, devolve upon them.[54] However, the jurisdiction strictly or properly belonging to the Pontiff, being attached to his person [55] does not pass to the Sacred College.[56] Hence, the cardinals cannot, sede vacante, enact general laws [57] appoint, confirm, or depose bishops.[58]
54 Ferraris, l. c, art. v., n. 23.
55 lb., n. 30.
56 Soglia, l. c , p. 261.
57 lb.
58 Ferraris, l. c, n. 24-27.
(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., BENZIGER BROTHERS, 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. 233, 234, 236-237)

The Sacred College also has no power prohibiting priests and bishops offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and administering the Sacraments. The Sacred College also has no power prohibiting the faithful from receiving the Sacraments. If the Cardinals had dared to prohibit the celebration of the Holy Mass, the administration or reception of the Sacraments during the Sede Vacante, then they would act contrary to the Holy Scripture and the two thousand year Holy Tradition of the Catholic Church.

Therefore, an opinion - held by some laymen - that during Sede Vacante Cardinals have power forbidding priests and bishops to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and administer the Sacraments and faithful to receive the Sacraments, has neither theological nor canonical nor moral basis.

Fr. Valerii

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