Sons of the Church (part II)

Sons of the Church  (part II)

in a time of crisis

By the Reverend Fr. Roger-Thomas Calmel, O.P.


* * * * *

Too many ecclesiastical dignitaries have abandoned themselves to the modernist mental perversion; they have reached the point at which they no longer find monstrous the habit of affirming contradictories in the same statement because they deem the intellect incapable of knowing truth.  They rather suppose that it [that is, truth] exists somewhere, though where one knows not, a sort of religious noumena  [Editor:  (in Kantian philosophy) a thing as it is in itself, as distinct from a thing as it is knowable by the senses through phenomenal attributes.]  beyond reach about which the mind fabricates ingenious, infinitely variable systems over the course the evolution of our species, but always impotent to reach what is.  One thing counts: that these [supposed] systems, ideologies, theologies, be placed at the service of humanity’s development.  They will be appreciated for their power to stimulate a grand ascension toward freedom and progress. 

One who consents to such a warped mentality refrains himself from condemning heretics or heresies and does not deem himself bound by any dogma.   He contemplates with detachment and benevolence the most opposed theses, applying himself to bring out in each one the elements that can prepare a better future and that connect more or less with a so-called evangelical spirit, the Gospel being interpreted as a leaven of an ideal future, but not to be received as a definitive rule faithfully guarded by a divinely-assisted Tradition.   When prelates whose minds have been thus denatured occupy the commanding posts in the Church, it is a cause of unutterable distress for all the faithful.

“Unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved, but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:22).

* * * * *

Some young priests from their very first days in the clergy, pushed by apparently noble motives to aspire keenly to reach the highest ranks in the Church, have offered the devil an easy prey.  The devil has taken them in charge in order to make them succeed, but he has made them pay a heavy price.  In olden times, during the Middle Ages or the early Church, whoever ambitioned the cardinalate, or higher, often had to become an accomplice, at least by his silence, in the sins and prevarications of Christian princes.  Today Christian princes don’t exist anymore; in any case, they have become irrelevant.  Power has passed to the secret societies, Masonic or Communist.  That’s where for the most part the horrible masters of modern times are to be found.  Today, then, a priest who cherishes the ambition to advance in the Church to its highest posts must deal with these princes.  He must become their accomplice.  Could he achieve his goal if he did not consent to become involved, perhaps only by degrees yet genuinely, in a radical perversion of the mind?  For if he refused to allow himself to be gradually won over by the spiritual darkness, he would remain incapable, despite all his efforts, of becoming a useful ally of the occult forces.  Do what he might, he would remain an adversary.  But he has to be an auxiliary; it is for no other reason that the modern Caesar has raised him to a position of command.

It happens that a man or woman, in the throes of passion, opens with a terrifying determination the sacred door of their liberty to the spirit of lust.  The devil becomes their master.  He is as it were invested with the power to precipitate them into the pit; he has opportunities to almost totally paralyze the will of his victims.  Now, the demon of pride is more fearsome than the one of carnal desires.  How powerful, then, will be his hold over the priest who, avid for power in spiritualibus [in spiritual things], has entrusted himself, even only indirectly, in order to be more sure of gaining his ambition, to these formidable occult organizations of our time over which the devil rules as master.  Into what mental contortions will the devil not induce the ambitious priest?  If he does not succeed in getting a grip on himself in time, his reason will be invincibly falsified by the prince of this world.

* * * * *

Were the Church’s plight a hundred times worse, a hundred times more cruel, it is still the Lord who is forever Master and King.  It is to Him that all power has been given; it is before Him that every knee must bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, including those in this kind of hell, for the moment painless, which is the modernist sect.  Its harmfulness cannot extend beyond the strict limits set by the Lord, and the Lord only grants it a certain power to obscure, to falsify, and to scandalize in thousands of ways, only for the good of the elect and to augment the gracious splendor of His Church.  We ought not to be fearful, but rather persevere with confidence in the Church of always, the everlasting Church, the Church of all time.

(Prologue to Apologia for the Everlasting Church)

Father Calmel’s Apologia first appeared in the journal Itinéraires, No. 151, March 1971, pp. 104-111.

Sons of the Church (Part I)

Sons of the Church

in a time of crisis

By the Reverend Fr. Roger-Thomas Calmel, O.P.

(Prologue to Apologia for the Everlasting Church)

Prelates who occupy the most important posts in the Church, misled by the grand chimera of their own desire to find easy, infallible means to achieving once and for all the religious unity of mankind, are working to invent a church without borders in which all men, unconditionally dispensed from renouncing the world and Satan, will soon be united in the bonds of brotherly love.  Dogmas, rites, hierarchy, discipline, should one insist, would all be carried over from the first Church, but everything would be bereft of the safeguards willed by the Lord and specified by Tradition.  By that very fact, everything would be drained of Catholic vitality, namely grace and holiness.  The adepts of the most divers beliefs, and even those who refuse to have any, would enter as equals, but they would enter on equal footing into a dummy church.  Such is the present endeavor of the prestigious Master of lies and illusions.  Behold the masterwork, of Masonic inspiration, to which he commits his minions—faithless priests promoted as eminent theologians; oblivious or disloyal bishops, if not disguised apostates, rapidly elevated to the choicest honors and invested with the highest prelatures.  They spend their lives and lose their souls building a postconciliar Church under the star of Satan.

— Dogmas, affected by relativism because of the new pastoral praxis that refuses to condemn heresy, no longer propose any precise supernatural object.  Consequently, in order to accept them, even supposing that the notion still means anything in this case, neither intellectual assent nor purity of heart is required.

— The sacraments are placed within reach of those who do not believe; almost nothing keeps even unbelievers and the unworthy from approaching them, so far have the new ecclesiastical rites, by their instability and fluidity, become alienated from the sacramental sign efficacious in and of itself, divinely fixed by the Saviour once and for all “until He comes again.”

— As for the hierarchy, it is dissolving insensibly into the people of God, of which it is tending to become a democratic emanation, elected by universal suffrage for a provisional function.

Thanks to these unprecedented innovations, their instigators are congratulating themselves for having torn down the barriers that kept out of the Church those who even yesterday, in the recent ante-conciliar period, rejected the Church’s dogmas, spurned the sacraments, and defied the hierarchy.  Undoubtedly, as they were understood before the Council, dogmas, sacraments, government, a needful inward conversion, gave the Church the aspect of a fortified city—Jerusalem quae aedificatur ut civitas (Ps. 121:3)—with well-guarded doors and impregnable ramparts.  No-one was permitted across the sacred threshold who had not converted.

Henceforth, however, things have been changing before our eyes:  doctrines, liturgy, interior life have been subjected to a treatment of dissolution so violent, universal, and perfected that they no longer admit the distinction between Catholics and non-Catholics.  Since yes and no, the definite and the definitive, are held to have been surpassed, one wonders what would prevent the non-Christian religions themselves from being a part of the new universal Church, continually updated by ecumenical interpretations.

One wonders about it, at least if one accepts the point of view so many former Council Fathers, circumvented by Vatican II, allowed to be imposed upon them: to forge a heretofore unknown system and a new apparatus in order to win over the world without being exposed to failure, nor suffering, nor persecution, beginning with relativizing the supernatural.  But that means nothing, for:

  • On one hand Jesus Christ has said: The servant is not greater than his master; if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my word, they will keep yours also (John 15:20).
  • On the other hand the supernatural is not formless or modifiable; it is firm and precise; it presents a determined aspect; it has an achieved, definitive configuration; since the Incarnation of the Word, since Redemption by the Cross and the sending of the Holy Ghost, the only supernatural that exists is Christian and Catholic. It has no reality except in Christo Jesu, et Virgine Maria et Ecclesia Christi. That is why if one keeps in one’s soul the viewpoint of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the first twenty Councils, one sees quite well what routs the chimera of ecumenical unity: the duty to bend the knee before the Son of man, author and sovereign dispenser of salvation, but only in the one Church He established.

(To be continued)

Little Catechism on Sedevacantism – PART 2

Little Catechism on Sedevacantism – PART 2


By Dominicus

Le Sel de la Terre No 79, Winter 2011-2012

The Cassiciacum Thesis

Can you explain what is meant by being pope “materialiter”?

The main difficulty of sedevacantism is to explain how the Church can continue to exist in a visible manner (for she has received from Our Lord the promise that she will endure until the end of the world) while being deprived of her head.

The partisans of the so-called “Cassiciacum Thesis” have come up with a subtle solution: the current pope was validly designated as pope, but he did not receive the papal authority because there was an obstacle in him (heresy).  He is pope materialiter, but not formaliter.

Can you detail the arguments of this “thesis”?

Here are the arguments as summarized by a priest who professes them:

  • The starting point is an induction: the acts of Paul VI (because it was he at that time who was reigning in Rome) contribute to the destruction of the Catholic religion and its replacement by the religion of man in the form of concealed Protestantism. From this comes the certitude that Paul VI does not have the usual intention of obtaining the good / end of the Church, which is Jesus Christ plenum gratiæ et veritatis.
  • The usual intention of obtaining the good of the Church is a necessary condition (the ultimate disposition) for a subject elected pope to receive the communication of pontifical authority which makes him to be with Jesus Christ and hold the role of His Vicar on earth.
  • Consequently, Paul VI is devoid of all pontifical authority: he is not pope formaliter; he is not Vicar of Christ. In a word, he is not pope 1.
  • This necessitates the affirmation that if Paul VI is not pope formaliter, he yet remains pope materialiter, as a simple elected subject, seated on the Pontifical Seat, neither pope nor anti-pope.

Does this solution resolve the difficulties of “pure” sedevacantism?

It does not resolve the main difficulty of sedevacantism: how can the Church continue to be visible?  For some proponents of “the thesis”, there is no longer any hierarchy at all (“the nominations of cardinals and bishops are acts of pontifical jurisdiction, which is precisely absent and which nothing can replace”).  For others, the pope materialiter has power (how?) to constitute a hierarchy materialiter.  But such a hierarchy, devoid of its “form,” is not the visible hierarchy of the Church (no more than the Orthodox hierarchy is the hierarchy of the Church).  Moreover, this theory sets off new difficulties – at least for those who say that the pope materialiter has the power to constitute a hierarchy materialiter – because it implies that the pope materialiter, devoid of authority, still has enough authority to change the laws on papal election.

What do you think of the arguments upon which this solution is based?

This solution is not founded on Tradition. Theologians (Cajetan, St. Robert Bellarmine, John of St. Thomas, etc.) examined the possibility of a heretical pope, but no one, prior to the Council, ever imagined this theory of “the absence of the usual intention to obtain the good of the Church” that would form an “obex” (obstacle) to receiving the “being-with-Christ,” the form of the papacy.

It plays on the ambiguity of the word “intention”.  Proponents of the thesis recognize that the intention must be in the person of the pope (“this intention is the ultimate disposition of the subject to receive communication of the pontifical authority”), but at the same time they affirm that it has nothing to do with the personal intention of the pope.  We can agree with them when they say that recent popes harm the common good of the Church – and that is precisely what created the state of necessity – but it remains to be proven that such is truly the personal intention of the popes, and then that such an intention deprives them of authority.

The “Una Cum” Question

Aren’t the sedevacantists right to refuse to name the pope at Mass in order to show that they are not in communion with (“una cum”) a heretic (at least materially) and his heresies?

The expression “una cum” in the Canon of the Mass does not mean that one affirms that he is “in communion” with the person of the pope and his erroneous ideas, but rather that one wants to pray for the Church “and for” the pope.

In order to be sure of this interpretation, in addition to reading the erudite studies that have been made on this point, it is enough to read the rubric of the missal for the case of a bishop celebrating Mass. In this case, the bishop must pray for the Church “una cum […] me indigno servo tuo,” which does not mean that he prays “in communion with myself, your unworthy servant” (which does not make sense!), but that he prays “and for myself, your unworthy servant.”

What does St. Thomas Aquinas think of this?

St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, when he comments on the prayers of the Mass (III, Q. 83, A. 4, corpus) equates “una cum” with the expression “et pro”: then the priest commemorates in silence [it is the beginning of the Canon] first those for whom the sacrifice is offered, that is [it is offered] for the Universal Church, and for “those who constitute it in dignity” [the pope, the bishop, the king]; then particular some who offer or for whom this sacrifice is offered [the memento of the living].

But doesn’t St. Thomas Aquinas say that in the Canon one should not pray for heretics?

St. Thomas Aquinas does not prohibit praying for heretics, but merely observes that, in the prayers of the Canon of the Mass, one prays for those whose faith and devotion are known to and tested by the Lord (quorum tibi fides cognita est et nota devotio) (III, Q. 79, A. 7, ad 2). For, he says, in order for this sacrifice to obtain its effect (effectum habet), those for whom one prays must be “united to the passion of Christ by faith and charity.”  But he does not forbid praying for a non-Catholic.  He only means that this prayer will not have the same efficacy as one for a Catholic, and is not provided for in the Canon.

All that can be concluded from this affirmation of St. Thomas is that, if the pope is a heretic (which remains to be proven), then the prayer for him will not have the foreseen effect, “non habet effectum”.


What final reflection can be taken from these discussions?

It is not suitable to declare that “the Pope is not pope” (materially or formally) in the name of a “theological opinion”.  On this subject, we refer to an interesting article by Fr. Hurtaud that appeared in the Revue Thomiste.  The author shows that Savonarole thought that Alexander VI had been elected with simony and, for this reason, he was not pope. However, as the invalidity of a “simonous” election was only an opinion, Savonarole asked for the convocation of a council where he brought proof that Alexander VI no longer had the Catholic Faith, and it is in this way that it was certified that Alexander VI had lost supreme jurisdiction.

In conclusion, what should we think of sedevacantism?

It is a position that has not been proven speculatively, and it is imprudent to hold it practically (imprudence that can have very serious consequences – think, notably, of people who deprive themselves of the sacraments on the pretext that they cannot find a priest who has the same “opinion” as they do). That is why Archbishop Lefebvre never entered onto this path, and he even forbade the priests of his Society to profess sedevacantism.  We should trust in his prudence and theological sense.

Translated from the original French article (online: by

Little Catechism on Sedevacantism – PART I

Little Catechism on Sedevacantism  –  PART I

By Dominicus

Le Sel de la Terre No 79, Winter 2011-2012

A first edition of this little catechism appeared in Le Sel de la terre 36.  This second edition, revised and noticeably enhanced, takes into account the debates and objections raised by the first edition.

Introduction: between Scylla and Charybdis

In the strait of Messina, between Sicily and Italy, there are two formidable reefs: Scylla and Charybdis. It is important, when crossing, to avoid both reefs. Many imprudent or unskilled navigators, wanting to avoid one, were shipwrecked on the other: they fell from Scylla to Charybdis.

Currently, facing the crisis in the Church, there are two errors to avoid: modernism (which, little by little, makes us lose the faith) and sedevacantism (which leans toward schism). If we want to remain Catholic, we must pass between heresy and schism, between Scylla and Charybdis.

In this “Short Catechism”, we study one of the two reefs. But the other must not be forgotten. Under pretext of avoiding the dangers of sedevacantism, the dangers of modernism disseminated by the conciliar Church must not be minimized.

The Position of Archbishop Lefebvre

The position that we are going to put forward is that of Archbishop Lefebvre and that which, at Avrillé, we have always defended.  Here is a short summary:

1)  Abp. Lefebvre publicly asked himself the question:

      • “We find ourselves truly before an excessively grave dilemma that, I think, has never arisen in the Church. That he who is seated on the Throne of Peter participates in religions of false gods, I do not think that this has ever occurred in the entire history of the Church (Easter 1986).  If someone says that the pope is an apostate, a heretic, a schismatic, according to the probable opinion of the theologians (if it were true), the pope would no longer be pope and, consequently, we would be in the “Sede Vacante” situation. It is an opinion; I do not say that it cannot have some arguments in its favor” (18-3-1977).
      • “It is not impossible that this hypothesis will one day be confirmed by the Church, for it has some serious arguments. Many indeed are the acts of Paul VI that, accomplished by a bishop or a theologian twenty years ago, would have been condemned as suspect of heresy, favoring heresy” (24-2-1977).

2) However, after reflection, he preferred the opposite solution:

      • “But I do not think that it is the solution that we should take, that we should follow. For the moment, I personally think that it would be a mistake to follow this hypothesis” (18-3-1977).
      • “But this does not mean, for all that, that I am absolutely sure to be correct in the position that I take; I am placing myself there in a prudential manner. It is rather under this area that I place myself, more than under the theological domain, purely theoretical. I think that God asks us to have clear ideas not only from a purely theoretical and theological viewpoint, but also in practice, when things are very difficult and delicate, and to act with a certain wisdom, a certain prudence that can seem a bit in contradiction with certain principles, not to be of pure logic” (5-10-1978).
      • “As long as I do not have the proof that the pope is not the pope, well, I presume that he is, that he is pope. I do not say that there cannot be arguments that can put one in doubt in certain cases. But one must have the proof that it is not only a doubt, a valid doubt. If the argument is doubtful, we do not have the right to take enormous consequences away from it!” (16-1-1979).
      • “The Priestly Society does not accept [this] solution, but, based on the history of the Church and the doctrine of the theologians, thinks that the pope can promote the ruin of the Church by choosing bad collaborators and letting them act, signing decrees that do not use his infallibility, sometimes even by his own admission, and that cause considerable damage to the Church. Nothing is more dangerous for the Church than liberal popes, who are in continual contradiction” (13-9-1982).
      • “In practice, this does not have influence on our practical conduct, because we firmly and courageously reject all that is against the faith, without knowing from whence it comes, without knowing who is guilty” (5-10-1978).

Questions and Answers

What are we talking about?

What is sedevacantism?

Sedevacantism is the opinion of those who think that the most recent popes, since Second Vatican Council, are not true popes. Consequently, the See of Peter is not occupied, which is expressed in Latin by the formula sede vacante.

Where does this opinion come from?

This opinion was caused by the very grave crisis which has been occurring in the Church since the last Council, a crisis that Archbishop Lefebvre justly called “the third world war.”

The main cause of the crisis has been the dereliction of the Roman Pontiffs, who teach or allow to be propagated very serious errors on the subjects of ecumenism, religious liberty, collegiality, etc.

The sedevacantists think that real popes could not be responsible for such a crisis, and consequently they consider them not to be “real popes”.

Could you briefly explain what the crisis in the Church consists of?

I will do this by quoting Fr. Gleize:

    • “That which speaks the most is all the speeches published in the Osservatore Romano that constantly reaffirm the principle of religious liberty, state secularism and ecumenism, a principle that is in formal contradiction with the constant and unanimous teaching of the pontifical magisterium from before Vatican II. […]
    • “In the past, it was possible that some popes were not equal to their mission. They could fail to keep, at one time or another, their pastoral role, putting in more or less serious, more or less direct danger the unity of the faith in the Holy Church. But this attitude explains itself for essentially moral reasons. None of these popes were attached to error by intellectual conviction. They all fell short without a fundamentally intellectual adherence to error, and this came sometimes from a lack of courage in the middle of persecution, such as with Liberius, sometimes from a certain naiveté and an excess of mediation, as with Honorius and Vigilius, sometimes even from a sort of theological intemperance as with John XXII. The most serious attitude of all, that of Pope Honorius, warranted the favens hæresim  [editor:  “favoring heresy”]  censure. It did not cause this pope to be condemned as a formal heretic […]
    • “But in view of these isolated cases, the consistent attitude of all the popes since the Second Vatican Council has an entirely different appearance. The daily preaching of these sovereign pontiffs is constantly spotted with false principles of religious liberty, ecumenism and collegiality. These are grave errors, and they are the consequence of this “heresy of the 20th century,” to use the expression of Madiran, the heresy of neo-modernism. Constant and repeated errors, from John XXIII and Paul VI to Benedict XVI, errors that are not the consequence of passing weakness or naiveté, but, on the contrary, are the expression of a fundamental adherence of the intelligence, the affirmation of an informed conviction. This is why such a situation is really and truly without precedent.” – cf. Fr. Gleize, Vu de Haut 14 (2008), p.95-96.

Do the sedevacantists agree amongst themselves?

No, far from it. To use the terms of a sedevacantist: the “sedevacantists” are scattered along at least six dividing lines.


1 Total vacancy

as opposed to

formal vacancy and material permanence (“Cassiciacum Thesis”)
2 Acceptance of consecrations without apostolic mandate

as opposed to

refusal of these consecrations
3 Rejection out of the Church of all those who are not sedevacantists

as opposed to

refusal of such a rejection
4 Ecclesiastical laws keep their imperative force

as opposed to

the laws are stripped of executory force
5 Acceptance of the principle of a conclave outside of the Roman line

as opposed to

refusal of such a possibility


And one more cause of division among them is the question of just how long has the vacancy of authority lasted  (i.e. when did it begin)?

6 since the death of Pius XII since Pacem in Terris   [ Editor:  an encyclical by John XXIII (April 11, 1963) ] since the death of John XXIII since the proclamation of religious liberty (December 7, 1965) [and our sedevacantist forgot yet one more theory: since the replacement of Paul VI by a double]

This gives us, unless I am mistaken, 160 possibilities.

But that which is common among all sedevacantists is that they think that one must not pray for the pope in public.

Sedevacantist Arguments

On what arguments do sedevacantists base their theories?

They have a priori arguments and a posteriori arguments.   [Editor:  An a priori argument is (roughly speaking) an argument from the causes.   An a posteriori argument is (roughly) an argument by examining effects, and looking backwards.]

A priori, they say, the pope being a heretic, he cannot be a true pope, which can be proven in a theological manner (a heretic cannot be the head of the Church, but John Paul II is a heretic, therefore…) or in a legal manner (Church laws invalidate the election of a heretic, but Cardinal Wojtyla – or Ratzinger – was a heretic at the time of his election, therefore…).

A priori, they say again, the current “pope” was consecrated bishop with the new episcopal consecration rite invented by Paul VI, so he is not a bishop. But to be Pope, one must be Bishop of Rome. Therefore…

A posteriori, they say finally, we note that the actions taken by the popes are bad or erroneous, while they should be covered by infallibility.  Therefore, these popes are not really popes.

* The Theological Argument of the heresy of the Pope :

But isn’t it true that a pope who becomes a heretic loses the pontificate?

St. Robert Bellarmine says that a pope who formally and manifestly became a heretic would lose the pontificate. For that to apply to John Paul II, he would have to be a formal heretic, deliberately refusing the Church’s magisterium; and this formal heresy would have to be manifest in the eyes of all. But though the popes since Paul VI, and especially John Paul II, make heretical affirmations or statements that lead to heresy rather often, it cannot easily be shown that they are aware of rejecting a dogma of the Church. And as long as there is no sure proof, then it is more prudent to refrain from judging. This was Archbishop Lefebvre’s line of conduct.

If a Catholic were convinced that John Paul II (or another Pope after Vatican II) is a formal, manifest heretic, should he then conclude that he is no longer pope?

No, he should not, because according to the “common” opinion (Suarez), or even the “more common” opinion (Billuart), theologians think that even a heretical pope can continue to exercise the papacy. For him to lose his jurisdiction, the Catholic bishops (the only judges in matters of faith besides the pope, by Divine will) would have to make a declaration denouncing the pope’s heresy.

“According to the more common opinion, Christ, by a particular providence, for the common good and the tranquility of the Church, continues to give jurisdiction to an even manifestly heretical pontiff until such time as he should be declared a manifest heretic by the Church” (Billuart, De Fide, diss. V, a. III, § 3, obj. 2).

Now, in so serious a matter, it is not prudent to go against the common opinion.

But how can a heretic, who is no longer a member of the Church, be its leader or head?

Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, basing his reasoning on Billuart, explains in his treatise De Verbo Incarnato (p. 232) that a heretical pope, while no longer a member of the Church, can still be her head. Indeed, what is impossible in the case of a physical head is possible (albeit abnormal) for a secondary moral head. “The reason is that – whereas a physical head cannot influence the members without receiving the vital influx of the soul – a moral head, as is the [Roman] Pontiff, can exercise jurisdiction over the Church even if he does not receive from the soul of the Church any influx of interior faith or charity.”

In short, the pope is constituted a member of the Church by his personal faith, which he can lose, but he is head of the visible Church by jurisdiction and authority that can co-exist with heresy.

* The canonical Argument of the Heresy of the Pope

The sedevacantists base their position on the apostolic constitution Cum ex Apostolatus of Pope Paul IV (1555-1559). But some good studies have shown that this constitution lost its legal force (even sedevacantist priests recognize it: “We cannot use the bull of Paul IV to prove that the Holy See is currently vacant, but only to prove the possibility that it can happen…” (Fr. F. Ricossa, Solalitium 36, May-June 1994, p. 57-58, note 1). That which remains valid in this constitution is its dogmatic aspect. And, consequently, it cannot be made to say more than the theological argument already examined.

Yet the Code in the Gasparri edition refers in a note to the Cum ex apostolatus constitution.

[Editor:   The “Gasparri edition” refers to a special edition of Canon Law compiled and annotated with footnotes by the Italian cardinal, Pietro Gasparri.  In those notes to the 1917 Code, he provides many links to the sources of that very code.]

Counter-Argument 1:  These notes of the code in the Gasparri edition mention the sources of the Code. But this does not mean that all of its sources are still in force!

Counter-Argument 2:  The 1917 Code says in Canon 6 (5°) that the punishments that are not mentioned in the code are abrogated. Now, the Cum ex apostolatus constitution was a penal law, because it inflicted the revocation of an ecclesiastical office, and the punishments that it prescribed were not picked up again in the code.

Counter-Argument 3:  There is more: even before the new Code, St. Pius X had already abrogated Paul IV’s constitution by his consitition Vacante sede apostolica of December 25, 1904 (§ 29), which declares null any censure able to remove the active or passive voice from the cardinals of the conclave. And Canon 160 of the Code declares that the election of the pope is regulated only by this constitution of St. Pius X.

Counter-Argument 4:  The constitution of Pius XII of December 8, 1945, Vacantis Apostolicæ Sedis, which replaced that of St. Pius X, takes the same position on this subject: “No cardinal may be excluded in any way from the active and passive election of the sovereign pontiff, under no pretext nor for cause of excommunication, suspension, interdiction or other ecclesiastical impediment. We lift the effect of these censures for this type of election only, keeping them in force for everything else” (n. 34).

* The Argument of the nullity of the Pope’s Episcopal Consecration

Some sedevacantists argue that the current pope was consecrated bishop with the new rite invented by Paul VI, a rite that they deem invalid; thus, Benedict XVI (or all the popes consecrated bishops with the new rite) is not a bishop or pope.

The new ritual of episcopal consecration comes from a prayer found in Apostolic Tradition, a work apparently from St. Hippolytus and dating from the beginning of the third century. Even if this attribution is probably, it is not agreed upon by all; some think that it is an “anonymous compilation containing elements of different ages”. As for St. Hippolytus, he is thought to have been an antipope for some time before reconciling with Pope St. Pontian at the moment of their common martyrdom (in 235). It is from that same work that Canon number 2 of the new mass issues.

Yet, this prayer of the consecration is taken up again with a few variations in two oriental rites, the Coptic rite used in Egypt and the Eastern Syrian rite, used notably by the Maronites. It was therefore adopted by post-conciliar reformers to manifest the unity between the traditions of the three great patriarchates: Rome, Alexandria, Antioch.

By reason of this closeness to two Catholic rites, it cannot be affirmed that Paul VI’s prayer is invalid.

Isn’t it true that the new rite of Paul VI is close to the Anglican rite that was declared invalid by Leo XIII?

It is true that the rite of Paul VI is close to the Anglican rite, but not to the rite condemned by Leo XIII. The Anglican and Episcopalian churches also introduced a new consecratory prayer, taken from St. Hippolytus, with the aim to have a rite acceptable to Catholics, after the condemnation of the Anglican ordinations by Leo XIII.

* A Posteriori Arguments

Don’t the sedevacantists claim to find a confirmation of their opinion in the errors of the Council and the harmful liturgical and canonical laws of the Conciliar Church?

Indeed, the sedevacantists think, in general, that the teaching of the Council should have been covered by the infallibility of the ordinary universal magisterium (OUM), and consequently should not contain any errors. But, since there are errors, for example, on religious liberty, they conclude that Paul VI had ceased to be pope at that moment.1

In reality, if one accepted this reasoning, then it would be necessary to say that the whole Catholic Church disappeared at that moment and that “the gates of hell had prevailed against her”.   For the teaching of the ordinary, universal magisterium is that of all the bishops, of the whole teaching Church.

It is simpler to think that the teaching of the Council and of the Conciliar Church is not covered by the infallibility of the ordinary, universal magisterium for the reasons explained in the article on “The authority of the Council” that appeared in Le Sel de la terre 35 (winter 2000-2001).

Can you summarize the essential parts of this argument [Editor:  that is, the argument given in that article from Le Sel de la Terre]?

The main reason for which conciliar teaching on religious liberty (for example) is not covered by the OUM is that the conciliar magisterium does not present itself as teaching truths to be believed or held in a firm and definitive manner. Conciliar teaching no longer presents itself as “necessary for salvation” (this is logical, since those who profess it think that it is possible to be saved even without the Catholic Faith).

Since it is not imposed with authority, this teaching is not covered by infallibility. The same thing can be said of liturgical laws (the new mass; new canonizations…) and canonical laws (the new Canon Law…) set forth by these latest popes: they are not covered by infallibility, although normally they should have been.

To be continued…

Translated from the original French article by     (online:  ).

Friends and Benefactors Letter #20, September 2015

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

No. 20: September 2015


Corpus Christi

The Importance of Principles

Dear friends, family, and benefactors,

Bishop Charles-Émile Freppel (1827-1891), of the diocese of Angers 1870-1891, highlights the importance of principles in the following passage:

The worst kind of disaster than can afflict an era, or a country, begins when men abandon the truth, or minimize it.  It is possible to recover from any other loss, but one never recuperates from the sacrificing of principles. Men may wander from the straight path from time to time, and public morals may receive some damage from the vice and bad example of such men; but as long as the doctrines of truth are left intact, and in their integrity, nothing is lost.  For, if these doctrines are not abandoned, men and institutions will recover sooner or later; and goodness will return.  However, if society chooses to abandon these principles of truth, all hope of recovery is useless, because it is impossible to construct anything solid and durable without true principles.  Hence the greatest service that one can render to his fellow men – even when weakness and darkness rule the age, and even when no one cares to listen – is to affirm the truth without fear, like a ray of light opening a path through the minds of men.  If the voice of truth does not manage to dominate the noise of the moment, at least it will be received sometime in the future as a messenger of salvation [Bishop Charles-Émile Freppel. Panégyrique de Saint Hilaire à Poitiers. January 19, 1873. Œuvres de Mgr Charles-Émile Freppel. Paris, Roger et Chernoviz, 1881. p. 234].

Are Principles Unchangeable?

That certain principles are practical – as opposed to speculative principles, which are at the origin of the speculative sciences – does not imply that these principles are only relative.  Principles, even those which are practical, remain unchangeable.  Thus, the truths of the Decalogue are not relative; and the Syllabus (1864) of Pope Pius IX cannot be reformed.  What is changeable, however, is the application of the principles to different circumstances.

For example, the 5th Commandment requires that we “do not kill” (the innocent).  This principle applies in the case of abortion, forbidding the killing of the unborn child.  However, the principle does not apply in the case of the death penalty.  The convict can be judged and executed legitimately because he is not innocent.

Maintaining the Purity of Principles

When circumstances prevent the full application of Catholic principles, these principles cannot be replaced by false ones.  It is characteristic of liberal Catholicism to mix truth and error together.  Such is what took place at Vatican II, which affirms, in Dignitatis Humanae, that “all men are obliged to seek the truth, especially regarding God and His Church” (§1), and yet claims, in the next paragraph, that man has a right to religious liberty, which is a false principle.

The following is a citation of Pius IX’s speech in Rome to pilgrims from Nevers, France in June 1871:

Mixing principles together is the affliction of your country which prevents it from meriting God’s blessings.  I will now express my thoughts and will not hold my peace.  I do not fear these miserable men of the Commune of Paris…  Rather, what I fear is this wretched political code – Catholic liberalism – which is the true scourge of France.  This teeter-tottering between truth and error is destroying the Catholic religion.  Although one must be charitable, doing all that is possible to bring our erring brethren back to the fold, it is not necessary to adopt their opinions.

…to be continued in the next newsletter

Community Chronicle:

April-May-June: Fathers Marie Dominique, Angelico, Marie Laurent and Hyacinthe Marie are busy with regular tertiary meetings in Paris, Brittany, Avrillé, Alsatia, Lyons…

May 23rd: Confirmations for 42 faithful by newly consecrated Bishop Faure. Despite the inconvenience for a large number obliged to watch the ceremony on a projector screen in the vestibule (because of the crowd), all were happy to get together and meet with their fellow “combatants for the Faith” in a joyous and relaxed atmosphere after a beautiful ceremony.

May 24th:  Father Angelico accompanies Bishop Faure for the Pentecost pilgrimage in Rocamadour.

June 3rd: Funeral services for one of our most edifying faithful, Mr. Jean Kerhoas.  Always willing to help out, he was no less diligent in his desire for religious instruction, even taking notes during the Sunday sermon. R.I.P.


Confirmations by Bishop Faure

June 25th-30th: Fathers Marie Dominique and Angelico make a brief trip to the U.S.  After two days visiting with Fr. Ringrose and the faithful at St. Athanasius Church (Vienna VA), they participated in a Confirmation ceremony with Bishop Williamson, organized by Fr. Zendejas in the Connecticut area.

June 27th:  End of the year ceremonies for St. Philomena Elementary School, and St. Thomas Aquinas Boys’ School.  With the Solemn High Mass, buffet lunch with the families, a student play recounting the life of Garcia Moreno, and the graduation award ceremony – complete with musical interludes by the students – it was a very full day for Fathers François Marie, Innocent Marie, Louis Marie, Reginald and Terence, who had the consolation of seeing all their hard work throughout the year come to a wonderful conclusion.

July 11th– 13th:  “True and False Counter-Revolutions” was the theme of our yearly doctrinal seminar dedicated to studying the enemies of the Church and their tactics.  The Friary was honored with the presence of ecclesiastics from many different communities (and continents!), as well as a good crowd of heads of family with a serious desire to study the problems affecting Church and society.


Boys’ summer camp in Brittany

July 14th-29th:  Fathers Reginald and Terence find themselves once again with the high school students for the summer camp in the countryside near Tours.  The summer camps for the middle school boys (in Brittany) and the Our Lady of Fatima Patronage (in Anjou) were also in July.

July 13th –August 1st:  Three retreats were preached at the Friary for men, women, and couples. Fathers de Mérode and Salenave, as well as Fr. Bruno O.S.B. were also there to help out for confessions and retreat instructions.

August 4th-13thAs every year, all the Fathers and Brothers are back at the Friary for our annual spiritual retreat, placed between the feast of Our Holy Father St. Dominic and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Fr. Pinaud of the Priestly Union Marcel Lefebvre nourished us for ten days with the profound doctrine of Cardinal Pie (1815-1880), the Bishop of Poitiers whose writings had a great influence on St. Pius X.

August 14th-18th: “The Dominican Friendship Days” brought once again to the Friary a large group of tertiairies from all over France (and beyond), for several days of Catholic camaraderie and instruction.

September: The Friary gets back into its normal rhythm of studies, as the school year starts up again for our three clerical brothers (14th September), as well as the Boys’ School and Primary School (7th September).  On October 5th, it will be the turn of our three postulants, who will be joined by several seminarians from Bishop Faure’s seminary located nearby in Avrillé.

News from our work sites:

Mr. Maertens, father of Br. Jan Maria, built us 2 magnificent chests of drawers for the storage of priestly vestments.  Until now, these vestments had to be folded when put away, which was damaging the fragile fabric.


Delivery of the new tractor

For a bit over a year now, the Friary has a tractor, generously donated by a retired farmer, and refurbished by a mechanic friend.  With another donation of equipment for cutting hay and splitting logs, this has allowed us to save much on property maintenance expenses, and fill up our reserve of wood for heating in winter.

The classification and moving of books into the new library is continuing at a regular pace.  We succeeded in acquiring a few metal carts and rails necessary for the installation of moving book shelves (which allow for a more economic use of space).  A blacksmith, friend of the Friary, adapted them to the required dimensions, which enabled us to install a dozen shelves.  We now only need about 20 more to finish the installation.

A picture says a thousand words


During a papal visit to Bolivia in early July, the President Evo Morales offered a blasphemous “hammer and sickle” crucifix to Pope Francis, who accepted it joyfully (contrary to certain rumors).  Morales is a socialist internationally known for his campaign to legalize the trade of coca [used in the production of cocaine].  One of his slogans is “long live coca – death to the Yankees!”  While in Bolivia, Pope Francis publically praised Morales for his “reforms”.   We need to pray now more than ever!   Not only do these recent Popes refuse to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but they actively participate in the spreading of “Russia’s errors” against which Our Lady of Fatima warned us so emphatically.

“November Dead Lists”

Several of you have asked if we accept “November dead lists”.   This pious custom consists in giving a list of deceased loved ones to a priest, who will then keep the list on the altar each time he celebrates Mass throughout the month of November.   If you send us such a list (on paper in a neat, small format), we will be happy to perform this duty to the Poor Souls.   Prayer for the souls in Purgatory is a devotion that has always been in honor in the Dominican Order.   (Please send them directly to Avrillé, France.   However, any donations should still be sent to the Newman Lake address.)

For timely articles and spiritual reading, please go to our website:

To send a donation:

— In the U.S.:

Dominicans of Avrillé, Inc.

P.O. Box 23

Newman Lake, WA. 99025-9998

In Canada:

The Association of St. Dominic

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

201-21 Street East Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

S7K OB8 Canada

Please specify: CAN$: acc. #40-91531

— In the U.K.:

The Association of St. Dominic

The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, Edinburgh Comiston Branch, 17 Comiston Road

Edinburgh EH10 6AA

Please specify: Acc # 00105564

For more information:

Couvent de la Haye-aux-Bonshommes

49240 Avrillé, France