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More falsehoods: Due to the fact that the Holy See is vacant, priests have no right to administer the Sacraments or to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Neither do they have right to preach, catechize nor write articles or books on theological and moral topics. If they attempt to do these things, they commit a mortal sin.

Such statements made by ‘zealots of the faith’ and ‘fighters’ for the strict observance of the letter of the law can be found on many Internet sites.

The authors of such claims are laymen who recently were active supporters of Vatican II (former catechists and other "vip") who fanatically introduced its destructive ‘reforms.’ They 'worked' hand in hand with the Novus Ordo 'clergy', and for this reason they considered themselves great authorities, "a chosen generation", "a kingly priesthood" with unlimited rights to control and command their ‘brother-priests’.

When the Vatican II brought forth its ‘fruits’, these aged ‘fighters’ became redundant in the system that they themselves zealously propagated. They were then replaced by more zealous and younger ‘reformers.’

As a result, the ‘veterans’ felt offended and decided to become ‘Traditional Catholics’. They mistakenly thought they could introduce the ‘reforms’ of Vatican II to Traditional Catholics. However, Traditional Catholic priests said to them: “Stop.”

These people were offended once more, and so have decided to start their own ‘apostolate’. They announced the ‘excommunication’ of all Traditional Catholic priests and bishops, and started to spread every kind of absurd idea as well as heresies via their websites.

Some of them have ‘elected’ either public or hidden ‘popes’. Some say that the last Pope was Pius IX, and there have been no more popes after his death. Some say that Pope Pius XII is still alive and that he is now a ‘hidden pope’, whom every priest and bishop must obey under penalty of the ‘great excommunication’. The propagators of the latter delusional idea say that Pope Pius XII granted them ‘exclusive approbation’ of their Internet ‘mission’, and are therefore not obliged to obey any priest or bishop.

The common behavior of all aforementioned and other similar groups of laymen is that they are falsely claiming they are free to spread their ideas, while Traditional Catholic priests and bishops are deprived of all canonical rights, as stated at the beginning of this foreword.

Of course these people are wrong. All their self-made projects are illicit. They do no have any right to circulate their articles, nor go about condemning and excommunicating those who refuse to accept their false ideas and heresies. None of their writings bear the Official Imprimatur required by Canon 1385, and thus have no significance to Traditional Catholics.

Fr. Valerii

Here follows Official Catholic Church Teaching:


CAN. 1328

Nemini ministerium praedicationis licet exercere, nisi a legitimo Superiore missionem receperit, facilitate peculiariter data, vel officio collate, cui ex sacris canonibus praedicandi munus inhaereat.

No one is allowed to preach the word of God unless he has received the missio canonica from his legitimate superior. This is a requirement of the divine (Rom. 10, 15; "Humani generis" (A. Ap. S., IX, 307). as well as of human law, for the latter clearly supposes that preaching is an attribute of jurisdiction which must be obtained from the lawful authority.

The missio canonica may be given either by means of a special faculty, or by virtue of an office to which the right of preaching is attached by ecclesiastical law. As to the special faculties required, consult Ch. II of this Title. Here we will only state that the offices to which the right and duty of preaching are attached by law, are those of the Sovereign Pontiff, bishops, and pastors. Thus a cathedral prior or collegiate provost, to whom the care of souls is entrusted, is obliged to preach. (S. C. C., July 30, 1591; May 26, 1639 (Richter, Trid., p. 22, nn. 3 f. et pluries).)



CAN. 1329

Proprium ac gravissimum officium, pastorum praesertim animarum, est catecheticam populi christiani institutionem curare.

It is the proper and a most weighty duty, especially of pastors of souls, to provide for the catechetical instruction of the people. The term "catechetical instruction," as is well known (Cath. Encycl., Vol. V, 75 ff., s. v., "Doctrine, Christian."), means oral instruction in the elements of religion, especially as a preparation for initiation into the Church. It is now usually, though not exclusively, conducted by means of questions and answers. We need not dwell upon the importance of this instruction, as Pius X has brought its necessity home to all concerned in his encyclical letter "Acerbo nimis," of April 15, 1905.


CAN. 1333

I. Parochus in religiosa puerorum institutione potest, imo, si legitime sit impeditus, debet operam adhibere clericorum, in paroeciae territorio degentium, aut etiam, si necesse sit, piorum laicorum, potissimum illorum qui in pium sodalitium doctrinae christianae aliudve simile in paroecia erectum adscripti sint.

I. If the pastor is lawfully prevented, he may, nay should employ the help of clerics living in his district, for the religious instruction of the children. He may also, if need be, call upon pious laymen, especially such as belong to the Sodality of Christian Doctrine or a similar organization represented in the parish.


CAN. 1342

1. Concionandi facultas solis sacerdotibus vel diaconis fiat, non vero ceteris clericis, nisi rationabili de causa, iudicio Ordinarii et in casibus singularibus.

2. Concionari in ecclesia vetantur laici omnes, etsi religiosi.

Only priests and deacons should be given the faculty of preaching, and no other clerics should be allowed to preach, except in particular cases and for a cause which the Ordinary deems reasonable.

Laymen, even though they may be religious, are forbidden to preach in church.

It is well known that some Oriental lay monks played a rather conspicuous part in the religious controversies of the fifth century. We need not wonder, therefore, that they were forbidden to preach, because this office demands a canonical mission. (See c. 19, C. 16, q. 1 (Leo I).) There is a remarkable decretal of Innocent III, which shows the ingenuity of some abbesses who, besides hearing confession, also delivered public homilies. (C. 10, X, III, 38.) This appeared as a novelty to the pope, who stopped the practice. Laymen, too, at times went so far as to hold secret conventicles and to despise the word of God when preached by priests. (C. 12, 14, X, V, 7.) Wiclif and Huss were not the first to demand permission to preach to men and women alike. (Art. 37 (Denz., 581).) This prohibitive law is based on the requisite of jurisdiction, of which the faculty of preaching is a part.


Previous censorship consists in the submission of a book to the proper authority for inspection, examination, and approval (or rejection). The law binds the author as well as the publisher, placing both under the obligation of submitting an intended publication to the proper authority. If the imprimatur, or permission to have the book published, is given, this means not an approval of its contents, but only the judgment of the respective authority that the book may, under present circumstances, be read without detriment to faith or morals. (Noldin, l. c,, n. 708, p. 734.)

CAN. 1385

Par. 1. Nisi censura ecclesiastica praecesserit, ne edantur etiam a laicis:

1. Libri sacrarum Scripturarum vel eorundem adnotationes et commentaria;

2. Libri qui divinas Scripturas, sacram theologiam, historiam ecclesiasticam, ius canonicum, theologiam naturalem, ethicen aliasve huiusmodi religiosas ac morales disciplinas spectant; libri ac libelli precum, devotionis vel doctrinae institutionisque religiosae, moralis, asceticae, mysticae aliique huiusmodi, quamvis ad fovendam pietatem conducere videantur; ac generaliter scripta in quibus aliquid sit quod religionis ac morum honestatis peculiariter intersit;

3. Imagines sacrae quovis modo imprimendae, sive preces adiunctas habeant, sive sine illis edantur.

Par. 2. Licentiam edendi libros et imagines de quibus in Par. 1, dare potest vel loci Ordinarius proprius auctoris, vel Ordinarius loci in quo libri vel imagines publici iuris fiant, vel Ordinarius loci in quo imprimantur, ita tamen ut, si quis ex iis Ordinariis licentiam denegaverit, eam ab alio Ordinario petere auctor nequeat, nisi eundem certiorem fecerit de denegata ab alio licentia.

Par. 3. Religiosi vero licentiam quoque sui Superioris maioris antea consequi debent.

Par. 1. The following books, even though published by laymen, must be submitted to ecclesiastical censure:

1. The Books of Holy Writ and annotations to and commentaries on the same.

Hence the original text of each and every one of the forty-five books of the Old Testament and the twenty-eight books of the New Testament must be submitted to ecclesiastical censorship. Also parts of the same (pericopes) and translations or versions, whether old or new. Old versions are the Latin Vulgate as well as the Itala, the Oriental versions of the Septuagint, the Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian. New versions are those made into modern languages. These translations must be submitted, even if only parts or pericopes are to be published, for instance, the Epistles and Gospels for Sundays and holy days. For the text simply says "libri sacrarum Scripturarum," and can. 1384, Par. 2 finds its application here.

Adnotationes are short explanations or glosses, either continuous or partial, such as were made on single words between the lines or in the margin, and are now generally placed at the foot of the page (foot-notes). It does not matter whether these notes are printed separately from, or together with, the text, whether they are original or translated, as our canon simply says, vel. Nor are foot-notes on the pericopes exempt from this law.

Commentaries are treatises in the form of annotations or explanations of the books of the Old and New Testament, altogether or severally. What was said concerning annotations also holds with regard to commentaries.

2. The second paragraph of par. 1 mentions three classes of books as subject to ecclesiastical censorship, namely, scientific, devotional, and general, especially,

(a) Books treating of Holy Scripture, sacred theology, Church history, Canon Law, theodicy, ethics, and other religious and moral disciplines.

"Books on Holy Scripture" here means the treatises called introductions, not works of exegesis proper, for the latter, being in the nature of a commentary, falls under no. 1. Introduction includes hermeneutics and "higher criticism," so-called. (2 Pius X, "Lamentabili," July 4, 1904, prop. 1).

"Sacred theology" embraces treatises on dogmatic as well as moral theology, either single tracts, or the whole, written in any language, and published in any form.

"Church history," which is the scientific knowledge of the internal and external development of the Society founded by Jesus Christ, may be written as chronicles or in the form of general accounts, biographies, monographs, etc. It is true that the Church is distinct from the individuals that compose it, (3 Hurley, l. c., p. 209.) but if any individual, for instance, St. Augustine, (See Von Hertling’s Augustinus "Weltgeschichte in Karakterbildern" Mainz, 1902, without episcopal imprimatur.) is treated as the representative of a period or school of thought, the biography becomes part and parcel of ecclesiastical history. Therefore such a book must be submitted to censorship. The law does not, however, apply to purely secular or political history. The scope, then, or purpose of a book marks the dividing line.

As to Canon Law, we all know that this is a distinctly ecclesiastical discipline.

Natural Theology, or Theodicy is that part of philosophy which treats of God and His relations to His creatures from the standpoint of reason unaided by Revelation.

Ethics or moral philosophy, has for its object the moral rectitude of human acts in accordance with the ultimate principles of reason. To this discipline belong books on sociology, unless they are written from the merely economical or political viewpoint.

It would be difficult to explain the phrase, "other such religious or moral disciplines," since the sciences expressly mentioned seem to exhaust the subject. Treatises on Spiritism, hypnotism, astrology (formerly also alchemy) must find a place here because they usually touch religion and morals.

(b) Liable to censorship are furthermore: large and small prayer-books and devotional, catechetical, moral, ascetical, mystical, and the like books and pamplets, even though they seem to foster piety. To this class belong Bible histories, missals with vernacular translation, catechisms, lives of Saints, the Imitation of Christ, and similar books. (S. C. P. F., Jan. 3, 1777 (Coll. n. 519); S. Rit. C., Aug. 4, 1877 (Dec. Auth., n. 3427); also the translations of the Officium Parvum B. M. V.; S. Rit. C, April 24, 1896, ad i (n. 3827).) Of a mystic character are "The City of God" by Mary of Agreda, the writings of Anne Catherine Emmerich, St. Catharine of Genoa, and others. Devotion is not always piety and devotional writings require particular vigilance. We may also place in this class all prophesies, private revelations, visions, etc., as well as new devotions of every kind.

(c) The law finally subjects to ecclesiastical censorship "all writings which contain anything that particularly concerns religion and morals." No distinction is made between books, but all are comprised that deal in any way with religion or morality. The phrase "peculiariter intersit" must be referred to the manner in which the subject is treated. "Peculiariter" is opposed to "obiter" or "perfunctorie". The manner of treatment must be measured by the length of the article or treatise. A long treatise would not savor peculiarly of religion or morality, if it contained only one or the other sentence bearing on those subjects.

A question has been raised regarding so-called temperance leaflets (Cfr. Hurley, l. c., p. 214 f.) We will state our opinion fairly and squarely. If these leaflets advocate absolute prohibition, they should be forbidden, for prohibition is opposed to the natural law and clearly touches ethics. If they are merely intended to promote temperance, such leaflets come under the category of moral writings, because temperance is one of the four cardinal virtues which in the natural order belong to ethics, and in the supernatural order, to moral theology. From every viewpoint, therefore, these leaflets are subject to the censorship of the Church.

3. Sacred images, no matter how printed, and whether with or without prayers, fall under ecclesiastical censorship. It is evident that only stamped or printed images are intended here, because the text refers only to books or things published in the form of printed matter. But of these all kinds, new and old, are included, - engravings, photographs, chromos, lithographs, etc., etc. Not included are oil or water-colors and statues. If an image belong to the class of printed matter, it is immaterial how customary or unusual it be; for here not the insolita imago of can. 1279 is intended, but the image as such, provided, of course, it be sacred. Sacred images are all representations of the Blessed Trinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Virgin, of the Angels, Saints, and Blessed. Also images which represent a religious mystery, or a sacred scene, or groups of biblical events, or emblems representative of mysteries. The text says it matters not whether such images are printed with or without prayers. If a prayer is added, either at the bottom or on the back, the picture also falls under no. 2 of our canon.

Paragraph 2 and Paragraph 3. The permission to publish books and images mentioned in Paragraph 1 may be granted by the local Ordinary of the author, or by the local Ordinary of the place of publication, or, finally, by the local Ordinary of the place where the books, etc., are printed. However, if any one of these Ordinaries refuses the imprimatur, the author is not allowed to ask it of another, unless the latter has been informed of the refusal.

Religious must obtain the permission of their superiors before applying for the episcopal imprimatur.

Our text is wider than that of the Leonine constitution ("Officiorum ac munerum," nn. 7, 35.) in admitting three Ordinaries as competent to give the imprimatur. It is also more liberal in regard to Bible editions, as will be seen under can. 1391. The local Ordinary of course is the bishop or the vicar-general, or whoever goes by that name. Since superiors of exempt religious are not local Ordinaries in the meaning of the Code, it would be evident, even if it were not mentioned in paragraph 3, that such religious are not exempt from the obligation of asking the imprimatur of the diocesan bishop; but they may do so through their publisher or printer.

If the local Ordinary himself wishes to publish a book, he needs no imprimatur, even though the book were printed and published outside of his diocese. (Formerly, as Noldin states (1. c., n. 710), an Ordinary needed the imprimatur of another Ordinary if his book was published outside his own diocese.) The reason is that the author's Ordinary may give the imprimatur, who, in our case, is the author himself.

Which of the three Ordinaries mentioned should be asked to give the imprimatur is left to the judgment of the author. But in order to prevent deception and to uphold ecclesiastical authority, it is required that in case one of the three Ordinaries has refused the imprimatur, this fact must be stated to the other who is asked for the imprimatur. The latter will probably demand the reasons for the refusal either from the refusing Ordinary or from the author.

Religious, exempt as well as non-exempt, also need the permission of their superiors, who ought to subject every book that is to be published to an examination by competent scholars. (Trid., Sess. 4, De Editione et Usu SS. Librorum; the superiors may abide by the verdict of the cenors.)

Whether rule 37 of the "Officiorum ac munerum" still holds, may well be doubted. This rule prescribed that if an author residing in Rome wished to have a book printed elsewhere than in the City, he needed only the approval of the Cardinal Vicar and the Master of the Sacred Palace. This rule rather restricts liberty and is not in accord with paragraph 2 of can. 1385. Therefore we hardly believe that one would be obliged to abide by it, unless a local custom or written particular law would be superadded to said paragraph 2. (1)


Professor of Canon Law
Administrative Law (Can. 1154-1551)
Cum Permissu Superiorum
NIHIL OBSTAT. F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum
Sti. Ludovici, die 18. Nov. 1920.
IMPRIMATUR. + Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus Sti. Ludovici
Sti. Ludovici, die 22. Nov. 1920.
Printed in U.S.A.
pp.341-343, 362-363, 433-440

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