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The Holy Ghost, Pope, Bishops

Objection No 2: How can there be a priest without a bishop?

Response: A priest cannot be without a bishop.

Objection No 3: How can there be a bishop without a Pope? The ordinations would be invalid because the bishop is also invalid.

Response: The Catholic bishops can be without a Pope during the vacancy of the Holy See.

It is seems that the author of the objection does not understand the difference between the validity and the lawfulness. In the second part of the objection the author says: “The ordinations would be invalid because the bishop is also invalid.” In other words the author is saying that those bishops who are not in union with a Pope are invalid, and therefore all the ordinations administered by them are invalid as well. But this statement is COMPLETELY FALSE.

The validity of the Sacrament does not depend on the personal worthiness of the minister or on the orthodoxy of the minister. The Catholic Church acknowledges all the Sacraments administered by non-Catholic ministers, provided latter used valid Matter and Form.


Thesis I: The validity of a Sacrament does not depend on the personal worthiness of the minister.

This proposition embodies an article of faith.

Proof. The early Donatists asserted that a minister, in order to confer a Sacrament validly, must be in the state of sanctifying grace. This teaching was revived in the Middle Ages by the Waldenses, the Fraticelli, the Albigenses, the Wiclifites, and the Hussites. Innocent III demanded of the Waldenses a profession of faith in which this error was expressly repudiated.

The Council of Constance (A. D. 1418) condemned Wiclif's assertion that a bishop or priest who is in the state of mortal sin can neither baptize nor consecrate nor confer holy Orders.

Lastly, the Council of Trent defined: "If any one saith that a minister, being in mortal sin, if he observe all the essentials which belong to the effecting or conferring of a Sacrament, neither effects nor confers the Sacrament, let him be anathema."

Our thesis cannot be proved from Sacred Scripture, but rests wholly on Tradition and reason.

a) The Church has always regarded the administration of a Sacrament in the state of mortal sin as a sacrilege, and insists on the personal sanctity of her priesthood; but she has never conditioned the validity of a Sacrament on the moral worthiness of the minister. Her early teaching on the subject is clearly apparent from the writings of St. Optatus of Mileve and St. Augustine against the Donatists.

Aside from certain peculiar views of Tertullian and Origen, the question regarding the moral disposition of the minister arose later than that regarding his orthodoxy, which was hotly debated in the controversy that raged about the question of the rebaptizing of those who had been baptized by heretics. When bishops and priests began to apostatize in time of persecution, conscientious Catholics quite naturally asked themselves: "Can such unworthy men validly baptize or confer Holy Orders?" It was this question, in fact, which may be said to have given rise to the Donatist schism. In the year 311, Bishop Felix of Aptunga, who was (falsely) accused of having delivered the sacred books of the Christians to their enemies, consecrated a certain archdeacon named Caecilian to the episcopal see of Carthage. A party of zealots in the last-mentioned city denounced this act as invalid and set up another bishop in the person of one Majorinus, who was soon after succeeded by Donatus the Great.

Optatus, bishop of Mileve, in his work "De Schlsmate Donatistarum" (written about 370), triumphantly demonstrated that the validity of a Sacrament does not depend on the disposition of the minister. It remained, however, for St. Augustine to break the backbone of the new heresy.

Starting from the favorite Donatist distinction between "public" and "private" sinners, he argued as follows: The Sacrament of Baptism is administered either by a private or a public sinner. If by a private sinner, Baptism among the Donatists themselves is uncertain, since they, too, have private sinners among their number. If by a public sinner, the case stands no better, since all guilty of mortal sin, whether public or private, are on a par before God. Consequently, the validity of a Sacrament cannot depend on the worthiness of the minister. In matter of fact, there is no Baptism of Donatus or Rogatus, etc., but only the one Baptism of Jesus Christ, which confers grace by reason of its innate power, independently of human merit.

In the East, at about the same time, St. John Chrysostom taught: "It may happen that the rulers of a nation are bad and corrupt, and their subjects good and pious, that the laity live moral lives while the priests are guilty of iniquity. But if grace always required worthy [ministers], there would be no Baptism, no body of Christ [Eucharist], no sacrifice [of the Mass]. Now God is wont to operate through unworthy men, and the grace of Baptism is in no wise stained by the [sinful] life of the priest."

Thesis II: The validity of a Sacrament does not depend on the orthodox belief of the minister.

This thesis is de fide in respect of Baptism.

Proof. It is the formal and solemn teaching of the Tridentine Council that heretics baptize validly if they observe the prescribed form and have the intention of doing what the Church does. "If anyone saith that the Baptism which is given by heretics in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, with the in tention of doing what the Church doth, is not true Baptism, let him be anathema." A pari, and because of the established practice of the Church, theologians regard it as fidei proximum that heretics can validly administer all the other Sacraments, with the sole exception of Penance, which cannot, barring cases of urgent necessity, be validly conferred by heretical and schismatic priests; - not on account of their lack of orthodoxy, but because they have no ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

b) The theological reason for the validity of Baptism when conferred by a heretical minister, is to be sought in the maxim so constantly urged by St. Augustine: "It is Christ who baptizes" Let it not be objected that no one can give what he does not himself possess (nemo dat quod non habet); for he who confers Baptism, whether he be himself baptized or unbaptized, orthodox or heretical, pure or unclean, does not confer his own Baptism but the Baptism of Christ.

What we have said of Baptism applies also to the re maining Sacraments, especially to Confirmation and Holy Orders. The practice of the Church with regard to them is the same and based on the same reasons. Only the Sacrament of Penance, is, as a rule, considered in valid if administered in heretical sects, even such as have validly ordained bishops and priests; not, however, as we have already remarked, because these ministers have not the power to absolve, but because, except in cases of urgent necessity, they lack ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Even the most orthodox Catholic confessor cannot give absolution if he lacks jurisdiction and is generally known to lack it. Where good faith and a titulus coloratus may be presumed, the Church supplies the defect. For this reason confession among the schismatic Greeks or Russians cannot be rejected as invalid. Sacramenta propter homines, - the Sacraments have been instituted for the sake of men, and we may safely assume that the Church, desiring to aid those who are blamelessly in error, supplies the lack of jurisdiction in schismatical ministers. (1)


The Church does not judge about the mind and intention in so far as it is something by its nature internal, but in so far as it is manifested externally she is bound to judge concerning it. When any one has rightly and seriously made use of due form and the matter requisite for effecting or conferring the Sacrament, he is considered by the very fact to do what the Church does. On this principle rests the doctrine that a Sacrament is truly conferred by the ministry of one who is a heretic or unbaptized provided the Catholic rite be employed. On the other hand, if the rite be changed, with the manifest intention of introducing another rite not approved by the Church and of rejecting what the Church does, and what by the institution of Christ belongs to the nature of the sacrament, then it is clear that not only is the necessary intention wanting to the sacrament, but that the intention is adverse to and destructive of the sacrament. (Apostolic Letter Apostolicae Curae, September 13, 1896) (2)

Moral Theology on Association with Non-Catholics and Absolution in danger of death:

In danger of death it is lawful to ask a non-Catholic to administer a Sacrament, provided there is no Catholic present who can do so, and there is no scandal.

Jurisdiction Delegated a Iure.

In danger of death any priest may validly and lawfully absolve any penitent from any sin or censure including those that are reserved or notorious although he is otherwise not possessed of any jurisdiction; and even in the presence of an approved confessor (C. 882)

The danger of death may arise from illness or from some external cause, e.g., fire, battle, shipwreck, etc.

Every priest has this power, even the irregular, censured, apostate, schismatic or heretical priest, provided he has been validly ordained. To avoid scandal one may be forbidden to call such a priest if an approved priest is available. Absolution may also be given by one of the above-mentioned in the presence of a priest who has special faculties for the respective reservations. (3)

Therefore, the validity of a Sacrament does not depend on the personal worthiness of the minister or on the orthodox belief of the minister, and that is the reason why the Catholic Church acknowledges the validity of the Sacraments administered outside of the Catholic Church by schismatic or heretical ministers provided they applied the valid Matter and Form, having Intention to do what the Church does.

Objection No 4: How does Christ speak to His Church without a Pope? The Holy Ghost speaks thru Pope,"We". If there is no Pope, the Holy Ghost has withdrawn from the Church. The communication between the God and His Church would be cut off.

Response: Yes, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost speak thru Pope if there is a Pope. But the objection is false in this part “If there is no Pope, the Holy Ghost has withdrawn from the Church. The communication between the God and His Church would be cut off.” We can never find such a statement neither in the Holy Scripture nor in the Holy Tradition of the Catholic Church.

The Holy Ghost speaks to the Church and to all men in diverse manners. The Holy Ghost spoken through Peter and the Apostles. (The Acts 10:44-47; 15:8, 28) The Holy Ghost spoke through General Councils and through the Pope, and often He spoke directly to all men, even to non-baptized and unbelievers.

"The Spirit breatheth where he will; and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he cometh and whither he goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (St. John 3:8)

"GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke, in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, In these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world." (To the Hebrews 1:1-2)

The Catechism Explained of Rev. Francis Spirago:

1. The Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, and is therefore God Himself. ...

2. The Holy Ghost dispenses the graces which Christ merited by the sacrifice of the cross.

The Holy Ghost produces nothing in addition to what Christ gained for us. He only increases and perfects that work of Christ; just as the sun when shining on a field does not sow new seed, but develops that which is already sown. A grace is a favor granted to a person who has no claim to the favor. If a sovereign grants a reprieve to a criminal under sentence of death, that reprieve is a grace. So, too, God acts with regard to man, granting Him numberless favors without any merit on the part of man (Rom. iii.24). These favors or graces may be temporal, such as health, riches, station; or spiritual, such as forgiveness of our sins. It is with the latter class of favors that we are dealing now, and it was to secure these for us that Christ consented to die on the cross.

3. Hence the assistance of the Holy Ghost is absolutely necessary for salvation. ...

Without the help of the Holy Ghost we cannot do the least work deserving of salvation. ...

A man cannot work without light; thus too he cannot do any good work without the light of the Holy Ghost. ...

As ink is required for the pen, so the grace of the Holy Ghost is necessary to inscribe the virtues in our souls (St. Thomas Aquinas). Every good work is the effect of two co-ordinate principles: the Holy Ghost and our own free will (1 Cor. xv. 10); we may compare the action of the schoolmaster who guides a boy's hand while he writes. ...

With the help of the Holy Ghost we can carry out the most difficult works. ...


The graces conferred by the Holy Ghost are as follows:

1. He gives to all men actual graces.
2. He gives to some men sanctifying grace.
3. He usually gives the seven special gifts, and occasionally quite extraordinary graces.
4. He sustains and guides the Catholic Church.

Actual Grace.

1. The Holy Ghost influences our lives by enlightening the mind and strengthening the will. Such passing influence of the Holy Spirit is called "actual grace." ...

There are many and various channels through which the Holy Ghost makes His influence act; for instance, sermons, the reading of good books, illness and death, the good example of others, religious pictures, the advice of superiors and friends, etc. ...

Often God sends us suffering, before the Holy Ghost speaks to us. Just as wax must be subjected to the flame and the stamp before receiving an impression, so the heart of man must be softened by suffering in order to receive the impress of the Holy Spirit. ...

3. The Holy Ghost does not force us, but leaves us in perfect possession of our free will.

The Holy Ghost is, as it were, a guide Whom men may follow or not as they list. He is the light proceeding from God, to which man can, if he will, close his eyes; as St. Augustine says: " To obey the voice of God or not is left to a man's free will." ... Man can co-operate with actual grace or reject it (Ps. xciv. 8).

Saul of Tarsus co-operated with grace, the rich young man (Luke xviii. 18-25) rejected it. …

Whoever co-operates with actual grace acquires greater graces; but he who resists loses other graces and must answer at the judgment for his obstinacy. …

4. The Holy Ghost acts on every man, on the sinner as well as on the just; and more on Catholics than on non-Catholics and unbelievers. …

The Holy Ghost was even from the beginning of the world active in promoting the salvation of mankind, but on Pentecost He came into the world in a much more efficacious manner. …

The Holy Ghost does not distribute His gifts equally to all men; the members of the Catholic Church receive the richest share.

One servant five talents, another two, and another one talent (Matt. xxv. 15). The Jews received more than the heathen; the blessed Mother of God more than all other men. The towns of Corozain and Bethsaida received more graces than Tyre and Sidon, Capharnaum more than Sodom (Matt. xi. 21, 23). There are ordinary graces which are given to all men without distinction, and there are special graces which God grants only to a few souls, and that with a view to some special work. Many graces may be obtained, especially by the prayers of others and by co-operation with the first grace.

Sanctifying Grace.

1. When the sinner co-operates with actual grace, the Holy Ghost enters his soul and confers on it a brightness and beauty which claim the friendship of God. This indwelling beauty of the soul is due to the presence of the Holy Spirit and is called "sanctifying grace." …

We know, too, that the Holy Spirit resides in some men even before Baptism, as in the case of the centurion Cornelius, and the people assembled in his house (Acts x. 44).

2. Usually, however, the Holy Spirit makes His entry on the reception of the Sacraments of Baptism or Penance.

The sinner under the action of the Holy Ghost begins to believe in God, to fear Him, to hope in Him, and love Him; then to bewail his sins, and finally decides to seek the means of grace in the Sacraments of Baptism or Penance. Then only is his conversion perfect. And actual experience goes to prove that Baptism or a general confession is in most sinners the beginning of a new life. Even in children their baptism is the beginning of a new spiritual life. (4)


"Canon IV. If anyone saith that the Baptism which is given by heretics in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, with the in tention of doing what the Church doth, is not true Baptism, let him be anathema." (1)

From above mentioned quotes we see that the Holy Ghost speaks to the Church and to all men too.

Therefore, the objection: “If there is no Pope, the Holy Ghost has withdrawn from the Church. The communication between the God and His Church would be cut off”, is completely FALSE.

Fr. Valerii


The quotes from the Holy Scripture taken from: THE HOLY BIBLE PUBLISHED WITH THE APPROBATION OF THE CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS OF IRELAND. The Douay Version of the Old Testament of 1609, and with the Rhemish Version of the New Testament of 1582, Given at Dublin, May 4th, 1857.


The Sacraments in General. Baptism. Confirmation.
Second Revised Edition
NIHIL OBSTAT: F. G. HOLWECK, Censor Librorum.
Sti. Ludovici, die 21. Dec. 1916.
IMPRIMATUR: +JOANNES J, GLENNON, Archiepiscopus Sti. Ludovici.
Sti. Ludovici, die 26. Dec. 1916.
Copyright 1915
by Joseph Gummersbach.
All Rights Reserved
Printed in U. S. A.
pp.166, 167, 168, 169, 171, 174, 175

New York, Cincinnati, Chicago:
Printed in the United States of America.
Nihil Obstat. REMIGIUS LAFORT, S.T.L., Censor Librorum.
Imprimatur. +JNO. M. FARLEY, Archbishop of New York
New York, August 4, 1903.
Copyright, 1903, by Benziger Brothers
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See
pp. 403, 404

(3) Moral Theology
by Rev. Heribert Jone, O.F.M. CAP., J.C.D.,
by Rev. Urban Adelman, O.F.M. CAP., J.C.D.
The Mercier Press Limited, Cork, Ireland
Nihil Obstat: PIUS KAELIN, O.F.M. CAP., Censor Deputatus
Imprimi Potest: VICTOR GREEN, O.F.V. CAP., Provincial
July 2, 1955
Nihil Obstat: RICHARD GINDER, S.T.I., Censor Librorum
Imprimatur: JOHN FRANCIS DEARDEN, D.D., Bishop of Pittsburg
August 15, 1955
Association with Non-Catholics, Article IV, pp. 69, 70, 71.
The Minister of the Sacrament of Penance, pp.. 408. 409
Printed in the United States of America

(4) 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
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See
Nihil Obstat: Thos. L. Kinkead, Censor Librorum,
Imprimatur: + MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York.
New York, August 8, 1899.
Copyright 1899, by Benzinger Brothers,
pp. 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212

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