31 May 2014

The History of the Faith Simplified

Sub Tuum.

The history of the Faith simplified: The mass and the priesthood were instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. This was also the start of Sacred Tradition in the Christian context. The Apostles were consecrated by the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost, initiating the line of succession of bishops. The diaconate was instituted during the Apostolic time (see Acts). The Minor orders were later formalized as the various functions developed. Early Scripture was diverse and traditions were continuing to develop. Different locations often held vastly divergent viewpoints. There was much conflict and debate. Finally Scripture was codified into the Canon as we know it in the 4th century at Nicea. This was done in context of the Sacred Tradition already existing. From this point theology, doctrine, dogma, and tradition developed in a manner also consistent with Scripture. As Canon Law became formalized, it likewise had to be developed in a manner consistent with Scripture and tradition. The liturgy (which, for the mass, goes back to the Last Supper, and for the Offices even extended back into the Jewish period) also developed in a manner consistent with Scripture, Tradition, and, in time, Canon Law. Thus, one could say that Scripture is at the center of the Mass, but the Mass is at the center of Scripture. Without the Mass and what it represents and truly is, Scripture is meaningless. Similarly, one can say that tradition is at the center of the Mass, but the Mass is also at the center of tradition. Scripture, Tradition, Liturgy, and Canon Law must all be consistent with each other. To know the hierarchy of determining this consistency, return to first principles. What is the first principle of the Christian Faith? Christ on the Cross. Derive everything else from there.

27 May 2014

Some sobering statistics

Sub Tuum.

Propaganda is everywhere. As a bishop who is trained in economics, mathematics, and statistics, I often find statistical analysis is a good way of getting at the truth. In this era of rampant modernism, we see Catholics divided into two camps. On the one hand is the numerically-superior Novus Ordo. On the other hand is the category broadly described as traditionalist, as it maintains the age-old traditions of the Catholic Church. The traditionalists may be within the Roman Communion, in which case they are often (but, to be fair, not always) chided and treated with hostility by their Novus Ordo counterparts, despite the statements of Benedict XVI that they should be left in peace. Other traditionalists are not in the Roman Communion. These include the SSPX (founded to preserve the traditional mass), the Duarte Costa line (traditional Catholics originating in Brazil), Old Roman Catholics (who never left the Catholic Church, but have administrative autonomy), and others. These are often called "non-Catholic" or "not Roman Catholic" by the modernist establishment. Yet, if a member of the Novus Ordo calls a traditionalist "non-Catholic," they are really saying that the traditionalist is not like them. That is, they are saying that the traditionalist is not in line with the new definition of Catholicism according to the Novus Ordo. In that sense, traditionalists ought to be proud to be called "non-Catholic" by the Novus Ordo, for indeed they are different. The traditionalists refuse to "get with the times" and refuse to abandon the mass of the ages for something contrived in the 20th century. After all, as the great playwright from Stratford wrote, what's in a name?  The meaning of words can indeed be perverted and changed, but the truth remains constant!

So how can we cut through the propaganda and see the truth more clearly? One need only look at the statistics of the Catholic Church in the United States to see the devastating impact of the abuses following the Second Vatican Council. (Note that I do not say the Council itself, for its provisions were greatly abuses by others to promote a specific agenda.)  Here are some statistical results calculated from data provided by Georgetown University. They pertain only to the USCCB parishes/dioceses except where stated.

From 1965 to 2013, the following occurred within the clergy: 

The total number of priests decreased by 32%. 
The number of diocesan/secular priests decreased  by 26%.
The number of religious priests decreased  by 46%.
The number of priestly ordinations decreased  by 48%. 
The number of major seminarians decreased  by 56%.

The permanent diaconate has been on the rise and is a way that the Novus Ordo has tried to compensate for this massive decline in clerical vocations. 

From 1965 to 2013, the following occurred within the religious communities:

The number of religious brothers decreased by 64%.
The number of religious sisters decreased by 74%.
In 1965, there were almost 180,000 religious sisters in America!

From 1965 to 2013, the following occurred within parishes: 

The percent of population that is Catholic decreased from 23% to 21% according to Catholic sources.
The percent of population that self-identifies as Catholic remained roughly 24%. 
      None of the above details participation in the mass or parish life. A Catholic poll suggests that mass attendance is approximately 24% of Catholics. However, another independent study suggests that this number is overstated. 
The number of parishes per capita decreased by 65%. 
The number of parishes without a full-time priest INCREASED by 547%!
     3554 parishes in the US did not have a full-time priest. 

From 1975 to 2013, the following occurred within Catholic education:

The number of Catholic elementary schools per capita decreased by 54%. 
The number of Catholic secondary schools per capita decreased by 49%.
The number of students in Catholic elementary schools decreased 44%.
The number of students in Catholic secondary schools decreased 33%.

So there it is. The numbers don't look good for the Church in America since the Second Vatican Council. The Church has become increasingly Protestant and influenced by freemasonry, not to mention modernism. There are some bright lights, though, such as the FSSP (which says the traditional Latin mass) and the newly-established Anglican Ordinariate, whose converts tend to be quite strongly on the traditional side. But, those are both in the vast minority. As America goes increasingly secular, I cannot help but believe that the widespread abandonment of that thing that Satan fears greatly, the mass of the ages, the Mass of Pius V, contributed greatly. I cannot help but believe that the great reduction in priestly vocations and a reduction of those in the clerical state overall contributed greatly. The solution is clear. More priests now! But, these priests must be trained in that liturgy that makes demons run and lifts the spirit of the faithful up, joining them with the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross - the Mass of Pius V.

24 May 2014

Freedom of religion and worship

Sub Tuum.

We all have free will. People have a right to choose their own religious beliefs and worship practices - but that does not make all such choices equal or equally valid. Freedom of personal choice in religion and worship must never be perverted into a proclamation of relativism, i.e., "Whatever you choose to believe is right for you and therefore valid and equally beneficial."  Christians must never do this. It is even more vital that the clergy be extremely clear on this point.

While I accept that a person, possessing free will, may choose to reject Christ and be a Buddhist, I do not accept or proclaim that Buddhism is equal in any way to Christianity. Neither will I ever proclaim that Islam or Judaism are correct, even though people may exercise their free will to choose those paths. Furthermore, while I may accept that people are free to choose any flavor of Protestantism, I will never accept that the one true Church of Christ is anything other than the eternal and traditional One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church through a spiritual union and bond that knows not time, space, or the political machinations of mankind. Additionally, while Catholics are free to choose the Novus Ordo liturgy, I will not consider it equal to that liturgy which is consistent with the Mass of Pius V, for Pope Saint Pius V granted a universal and perpetual indult for its use. While the Church Fathers at the time of the Novus Ordo's creation presented cause for grave doubts as the to benefits or even validity of the Novus Ordo, numerous Popes, Saints, and Church Fathers have proclaimed the benefits of the Mass of the Pius V. To do otherwise to what I have stated would be an abrogation of my responsibilities as a cleric, a pastor, and especially a successor to the Apostles.

Neither, it must be pointed out, is validity or correctness a matter of numbers or popularity. As the Venerable Fulton Sheen stated, right is right, even if no one is right, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is wrong. If numbers and popularity were more important than truth, Saint Athanasius ought to be branded a non-Catholic! This holy Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church spent a lot of his life as Patriarch in exile for daring to hold to the truths of the Catholic Faith despite opposition and persecution by the Emperor, the Arian heretics, and even many of the Bishops of the Catholic Church!

How much it seems today that we are in a time similar to that experienced by Athanasius. We must remember his words and proceed forward, knowing that those who keep the traditions of the Catholic Church are part of the true Catholic Church. Those who accept modernist and liberal innovations, no matter their numbers, are not practicing the Catholic Faith. Rather than condemn them, though, let us pray for them and set an example so that, through the grace of God, all may return to the traditions of the Catholic Church and fully embrace the Cross of Christ!

21 May 2014

Yes, Virginia, the Founding Fathers WERE mostly Christians.

Sub Tuum.

Much ongoing debate centers around the notion of America as a Christian nation. Some claim that it is, while others claim that the clear intent was to be purely secular. Let's look at a few simple facts and lay this to rest. First, the clear intent of the new government structure was that there would be no official state-mandated religion, and the State would not and could not interfere with religion. That never meant that religion was to be disenfranchised and have no place in the public sphere. Just look at the common inclusion of prayer at public events, the offices of Chaplain of the House and Senate, and so much more. 

Others claim that the Founding Fathers were not actually Christians. This even on the surface makes no sense, considering that many came to the Colonies, especially to New England, to seek religious freedom. Lambert (2003) found that, of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, two were Roman Catholic, 28 were Church of England/Episcopalian, 8 were Presbyterian, 7 were Congregationalist, 2 were Lutheran, 2 were Dutch Reformed, and 2 were Methodist. That gives 51 Christians out of 55 delegates. Yes, 93% of the delegates who wrote the Constitution of the United States were indeed Christian. That's what we call a clear, overwhelming majority. Furthermore, half of the total delegates (or 55% of the Christians) were Church of England, which was actually the established Church during the Colonial era. 

The bottom line? The Founders created a culture in which the State could not interfere in religion, not not one in which the Church could not influence or participate in the government. 

Validity of Marriage

Sub Tuum. 

Recent comments attributed to Pope Francis, relayed by a member of the Sacred College, appear to suggest that around 50% of all marriages today are not valid. Whatever was or was not said, it is a simple fact of doctrine and Canon Law that all Catholic marriages enjoy the favor of Canon Law and are presumed valid until proven otherwise. (CJC 1983, Can. 1060, et al.)  In fact, the marriages of Protestants who convert that were contracted prior to their conversion are considered valid until proven otherwise. A Protestant convert who is divorced and re-married, for example, must still have that first Protestant marriage annulled for the current marriage to be able to be recognized and to be eligible to receive the Sacraments. Thus, as Christians we ought to presume all marriages as valid until proven otherwise, excepting, of course, those marriages contracted after a civil divorce without ecclesiastical annulment. It is not our individual place to judge the validity of a marriage. 

So who decides the validity of a marriage? First, the validity must be brought into question. Most often this is the result of a married couple receiving a civil divorce and then approaching the Church to petition for an annulment. This is done typically by a Diocesan or Metropolitan Tribunal, acting under the Apostolic authority of the Bishop Ordinary or Metropolitan Archbishop respectively. In brief, the judges weigh the evidence. Witnesses may be called, and the party who did not petition for the annulment may certainly speak in favor/defense of the bond of matrimony. The tribunal investigates the conditions at the time the marriage was contracted. Thus if both parties gave valid consent, "falling out of love" later in the marriage or even marital infidelity is not sufficient grounds for an annulment. (The legal scenarios pertaining to marriage can get quite complex, so this is not intended to be an exhaustive discourse of the tribunal process).  If the tribunal finds that the marriage was indeed invalid, then a Decree of Nullity is issued, rendering the sacrament null and void. If, however, the tribunal upholds the bond, the two persons are still married in the eyes of God and His Holy Church. 

Does this all apply for Old Roman Catholics? Absolutely. Some jurisdictions have sadly abandoned this essential part of Catholic doctrine, but then this is not much different than the broad heresies plaguing the Catholic Church as a whole. True Old Roman Catholicism, which is and has always been a part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, maintains and must maintain the sanctity of marriage. One cannot grant a dispensation that negates the needs for an annulment. To do so would be to give direct material cooperation to grave sin; and even worse is that it is done by a cleric charged with the safeguarding of souls! 

A few other common misconceptions:  

1. An annulment is NOT "Catholic divorce."  No earthly power may dissolve a valid marriage; not even a Pope.

2. It is FALSE to say that divorced persons, even those who re-marry without an annulment, may not participate in the life of the Church. However, they may not receive the Sacraments, excepting the Viaticum.

3. Persons who divorce, receive an annulment, and then re-marry are NOT "divorced and remarried." The first Sacrament was null and void.

So, it is not fair to state prima fascie that 50% of marriages are invalid. For the faithful, for example, even to suspect that would be to go against Canon Law and the moral theology behind that Canon Law. All marriages (again, excepting those where it is clear that there was a divorce and re-marriage without annulment) must be presumed by the clergy and faithful until they are properly challenged and found sacramentally and legally null and void by a competent ecclesiastical tribunal. 

19 May 2014

The Influence of Freemasonry and Related Theological Issues of Concern with the Novus Ordo Mass

Sub Tuum. 

Nota bene: This article first appeared in Telicom: The Journal of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry. 

Pope Saint Pius V, who codified
the Catholic mass.

     The 1970s saw much change in Catholic liturgy and culture. The new ways were called the Novus Ordo (New Order), which followed in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Neither doctrinal changes nor the changes to tradition that would occur, however, were intended by the council. It was intended to be a pastoral council that would, in the words of the Pope who called the Council, “throw open the windows of the Church and let in the fresh air of renewal.” It was dialogue with the modern world that the Holy Father wanted, not a rebuilding of the Church in the image of the modern world. Yet many ecclesiastical liberals and modernists took the former to imply or even outright demand the latter. What the modern Roman Communion has been left with is not a renewed Church, but indeed a new Church completely unrecognizable to its former self as predicted by the very Cardinals in Rome who were appointed to study the impact of this new liturgy and structure. Yet these changes have become the new status quo, and the so-called “old ways” were largely banned. For many devout Catholics, though, this has become a crisis of faith. Unity within the Church has been severely tested. 

     In the fourth apparition of Our Lady on 21 January 1610 to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, the Blessed Virgin warned that Satan would reign through Masonic sects and destroy unity within the Holy Church.[1] The revelation made plain the infiltration by Satan through Freemasonry into all levels of society, destroying the Sacrament of Matrimony, which represents the bond between Christ and His Church, and entering “the beautiful, flourishing vineyard of the Church, leaving it destroyed and in complete ruin.”[2] Moving forward to the early twentieth-century, a direct persecution of the Church by the Masonic forces leading Mexico was seen. In 1927, Fr. Francisco Vera was executed by firing squad, still wearing his mass vestments, for celebrating the Holy Mass.[3] This was most definitely not the first instance of direct persecution of the Catholic Faith, and it has certainly not been the last. The increased secularization of American and world society follows the revelation of Our Lady. It is the revelation of infiltration that is the most troublesome.

     As many conspiracy theories abound about the Freemasons as exist about the Church herself, spawning books and movies of often highly questionable veracity. It is all too easy to dismiss the notion of infiltration of the Church by diabolical sects as just another nonsensical conspiracy theory. Yet, we recall the revealed words of the Blessed Virgin. We see the truth behind what was revealed to Mother Mariana almost four hundred years ago in history and in society today. The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony has been attacked at least for the last fifty years. Today we are witnessing strong efforts in society to redefine marriage, with the goal being to force all people to accept this new definition, which includes same-sex unions. As Our Lady proclaimed, if the Sacrament of Matrimony is destroyed, then the people have destroyed the very symbol of the bond between Christ and His Church.

     Now, Christ promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. There shall, then, always remain a true Church. It is useful to recall the words of Saint Athanasius, who admonished his flock that those who keep the traditions of the Catholic Church, even if reduced to a handful, are the true Catholic Church. Thus, an infiltration by diabolical sects will not destroy the Church, but can nevertheless create harmful factions. There may be those who follow the true Church and those who follow Satan. This is a destruction of unity of which Our Lady spoke in the apparition to Mother Mariana, for if some in the Church worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, while others worship Satan, even unknowingly, there cannot be complete unity. The wolves in sheep’s clothing enter into the vineyard that has for so long been flourishing and destroy it and, in the process, take the souls of many with them. What was beautiful becomes laid to waste.

     Can it be said that this the work of the Freemasons? The trouble with uncovering the truth lies in the secrecy of the Freemason organization. It is well-known that there are Freemasons within the hierarchy of the Church, for the Masonic organization itself has proclaimed it. There are many further suspicions. There are those who have been discovered, but there are many more who have not been discovered. As one example, Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, one of the creators of the Novus Ordo mass, was strongly believed to be a Mason. These allegations prompted him to be removed from the Roman Curia and sent to a remote diplomatic outpost.

     There are sound reasons that Catholics may not be Freemasons! A Catholic who becomes a Freemason is automatically excommunicated. Indeed, truly secret societies are forbidden by the Church. In the case of Freemasonry, the prohibition also exists because it is a sect that so resembles a religion that it cannot be taken to be anything other than a religion. As our Lord said, no man may serve two masters. Therefore one can be a Freemason or a Catholic, but not both. The allegation of involvement of Freemasons in the creation of the Novus Ordo mass following the Second Vatican Council, and the commission led by Cardinal Gagnon in the 1970s to investigate infiltration of the Roman Curia by enemies of the Church, including Freemasons, is enough to cause grave concern as to the benefit of the Novus Ordo sacraments, or even its very validity and the harm it may be doing to the souls of the clergy and faithful. This has prompted debate, disunity, and crisis for decades.

     The Second Vatican Council was called by Pope John XXIII to breathe new life into the Church. It was intended to be a pastoral council, not a doctrinal council. Yet during the pontificate of Paul VI, sweeping changes were made. Modernist Bishops took advantage of the freedom given by the Council and rode roughshod over the traditions of the Holy Church. What was to come out of their efforts was, to many, something that barely resembled Catholicism, if at all.

     Until the Novus Ordo mass, the liturgical standard for the Roman Rite was the Tridentine mass, often called the Mass of Saint Pius V or the Mass of the Ages. Today it is also often called the “traditional mass” or the “Latin mass,” though in the latter case care should be taken to differentiate the Tridentine mass, which is in the Latin language, from the Novus Ordo mass celebrated in Latin. The Tridentine mass was the natural evolution of liturgy beginning in the very earliest days of the Christian Church. It was compiled and codified by Pope Pius V, a Saint and an Incorruptible.[4] The Novus Ordo mass, on the other hand, represents a massive change in both form and theology invented under Protestant influence and likely Masonic influence. Even Msgr. Bugnini, who was a co-author of the new mass, admitted that it was no mere cosmetic change, but a new creation. What could possibly have justified this transformation of the liturgy into something less than a total profession of the Catholic Faith?

     Let us turn to the words of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci in A Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Mass, which was a report given to Pope Paul VI on the impact of the new mass.[5] First, it is clear that the new mass (the Novus Ordo) leads us to think "that truths ... can be changed or ignored without infidelity to that sacred deposit of doctrine to which the Catholic Faith is bound forever."[6] So here it is seen that the new mass opens the door to the notion of relativism in all things, including the most sacred of beliefs. The theological principle of lex orandi, lex credendi makes it clear that as we pray, so we believe. Thus as we pray the mass, so we believe. The Holy Mass, then, is of the utmost importance in safeguarding, upholding, and perpetuating the sacred doctrine and dogma of the Catholic Faith. In the new mass, "all that is of perennial value finds only a minor place, if it subsists at all."[7] While so-called pastoral reasons were cited as justification, in fact “the pastoral reasons adduced to support such a grave break with tradition ... do not seem to us sufficient."[8] One must bear in mind that the Tridentine mass has been the sustenance of many saints. Even Pope Paul VI admitted that "innumerable saints have been fed abundantly with the proper piety towards God by it..."[9]

     The new mass is essentially protestant in form and nature. Not only were a number of protestant ministers involved in the authoring of the new mass, protestant principles were directly injected into this new liturgy. In the new mass, the real presence and mystical presence of Christ are confused. Further confusion is added when the new mass entertains the heretical and Protestant notion that it is the faith of the people present rather than the actions and words of the priest that make Christ present in the Eucharist. Indeed, the notion of a hierarchical priesthood is replaced with a sense of a common priesthood of the people, i.e., there is confusion created between the sacramental and ministerial priesthood and the separate and distinct priesthood of all believers. These two Lutheran concepts are thus embraced by the addition of the Lutheran “Prayer of the Faithful” and the removal of the separate priest’s Confiteor. The Offertory, a sacred and intricate rite within the traditional liturgy, has been done away with in the new mass, which instead has a highly simplified “preparation of the gifts.” These are but a few of the drastic changes that are not mere stylistic changes, but directly assert a change in fundamental theology. The result has been a removal of the belief in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass held so strongly and so dear, replacing it with a far more protestant notion of worship. Even protestants recognized this, proclaiming that the new Eucharistic prayers removed the idea of sacrifice.

     The non-Catholic nature of this new liturgy led to a crisis of conscience for many of the clergy and faithful. One Franciscan priest stated that it was his greatest test of obedience to abandon the Tridentine mass for the Novus Ordo. This underscores the terrible dilemma facing many priests both then and now. Should they obey and celebrate the new mass, or should they remain faithful and obedient to the universal Church of the ages? This discord caused great disunity that persists to this day. Heresy or that which supports heresy does not warrant obedience. In fact, what promotes heresy must be opposed out of obedience to God and the universal Church. Some Catholics ended up separate from the administrative structure of the Roman Communion over these very issues, such as the Society of Saint Pius X and the Society of Saint Pius V.

     Yet, despite the problems, the Novus Ordo remains the most widely-celebrated liturgy within the Roman Rite today. The Tridentine mass has been banned in some locations, even in defiance of the universal indult (permission) to celebrate the Tridentine mass granted by Benedict XVI. Even Paul VI, the Pope under whose pontificate the Novus Ordo mass was developed, stated that it was not his intention that the Tridentine mass be banned. Yet that is precisely what happens, either explicitly or through pressure, in so many locations. Those who keep to the venerable traditions of the Church are often treated as “second-class citizens” within their dioceses. Some converts are left wondering why they converted when they see the protestant-style worship. Gone in the new mass is the horizontal worship between man and God. It has been replaced with horizontal worship between men. Truly the new mass is the mass of the people. The Tridentine mass is the mass of our Lord Jesus Christ, given universal indult for all time by Pope Saint Pius V.[10]

     Consider the many young people in the Church today who proudly profess that the new mass is far superior and have no interest in the Tridentine mass, which they consider irrelevant and outdated. There are still many youth and young adults who are drawn through the grace of God and the gift of faith to the beauty and truth of the Tridentine mass, but they are small in comparison to the rest. Also observe the vast decline in morality among the youth of the world. Even at Catholic schools, age-inappropriate and even outright vulgar attire is now often permitted or at least tolerated. Now consider the words of Our Lady in the apparition to Mother Mariana in which she said that Satan through Freemasonry would corrupt the minds of the youth. Now consider further the credible involvement of Freemasons in the authoring of the Novus Ordo liturgy. Not only were Protestant ministers involved, but Freemasons. How many were involved we will likely never know due to the secret nature of the organization.

     The end result is that the Church is left with a new rite conveying a new theology. This stems from abuses following in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which John XXIII clearly never intended as anything more than a pastoral council. While claiming to be in accordance with the Second Vatican Council, the new mass really opposes the Council and its clear desire to preserve the traditional rite. Furthermore, the changes to the liturgy cannot simply be justified by the excuse of “pastoral reasons.” Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci specifically stated that it is reasonable to doubt that priests who use the Novus Ordo mass actually consecrate the Sacrament validly. That is a very poignant statement indeed; one can hardly be dismissed as being a matter of personality or politics.

     The lasting effects of the new mass, invented in part by Protestants and Freemasons, is a revolution to create a new church. The Archbishop of Birmingham, Msgr. Dwyer, openly proclaimed that liturgical form is where revolution begins. The beauty of the ages has been replaced with novelties to entertain the people, all in the name of keeping with the times. Remember the words of Our Lady: “the beautiful, flourishing vineyard of the Church, [left] destroyed and in complete ruin.”

[1] Fr. Manuel Sousa Pereira. The Admirable Life of Mother Mariana. 1790.
[2] Ibid. In an apparition regarding the Feast of Corpus Christi.
[3] Rutherford Card. Johnson. Daring to be Christian. 2012.
[4] Incorruptibles are Saints whose bodies, without embalming, were preserved, in whole or in part from the effects of decomposition. It is considered a particular sign of spiritual grace. The incorrupt remains of Pope Saint Pius V lie in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome.
[5] 62 Theses Demonstrating Why The Preservation and Practice of the Traditional Latin Mass is Superior in Every Way to the Novus Ordo Missae. Edited by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Keith Patrick Steinhurst v.u.z. Westphalia.
[6] Idem.
[7] Idem.
[8] Idem.
[9] Pope Paul VI. Const. Apost. Missale Romanum.
[10] In the Papal bull Quo Primum, Pope Saint Pius V granted universal permission everywhere and for all time to celebrate the traditional rite of the Church, i.e., the Tridentine mass.

14 May 2014

Cor Sedis Nostrae

Sub Tuum.

On the Nature, Purpose, and Duty of the See of Saint Stephen

The heart of Our See is the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Faith, united in the Sacred Traditions of the Faith for the sake of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the eternal See of Saint Peter in Rome. The heritage of Our See is through the English Church, which has her roots in the Church of Rome; we continue the historic Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church in England prior to the Protestant Reformation and Revolution. Our See was restored to the fullness of the Catholic Faith, with a mandate of mission, service, and charity, following the example of our glorious Patron, Saint Stephen the Deacon and Protomartyr. Through this mandate, we help to maintain the patrimony and heritage of the Holy Roman Empire. In so doing, we promote and proclaim the notion that the people of God should be united and governed according to the laws of God. Through our Anglican heritage and our temporal patrimony, we both help to preserve the unique English heritage of central Italy and the Catholic heritage and patrimony of portions of the Americas under the Holy Roman Empire. All this flows from the altar of God, without which all would be for nothing. We proceed forward to carry out our mandate as faithful traditional Roman Catholics, bearing the Blessed Sacrament before us with joy, humility, and thanksgiving.

On Ultrajectine Catholicism 

Our Holy Orders stem from the See of Utrecht, which was, during the time of the Holy Roman Empire, given special autonomy by Rome. This autonomy was continuously re-affirmed by Rome and Church Councils. Then, as the subsequent “Old Catholic” movement began, largely in Utrecht, in opposition to the First Vatican Council and Papal Infallibility, it became necessary for the English Archbishop Arnold Harold Mathew to separate fromhis parent See of Utrecht and preserve that traditional Roman Catholicism so long practiced by the Ultrajectine See.
With Mathew was not found the first usage of the term “Old Roman Catholic.” When previous disputes between Utrecht and Rome arose over illegitimate, unfounded, and never-proven charges of heresy made against the Archbishop of Utrecht, and a new diocese was erected there by the Roman Communion, those of the old Ultrajectine See referred to themselves as “Roman Catholics of the Old Episcopal Order.” 
It cannot be stressed enough that Old Roman Catholicism never left the Catholic Church. The political disputes that occurred over the years are most unfortunate and a mere product of the fallen state of all mankind. Furthermore, true Old Roman Catholicism has nothing to do with the schismatic nature of the aforementioned “Old Catholic” movement that gained a foothold in Utrecht and continues to reign there to this day.
The numerous schisms among Old Roman Catholics and Old Catholics over numerous issues are lamentable. It is clear in some cases that newly-erected jurisdictions were created for reasons contrary to the Holy Gospel. This situation has resulted in great actual disunity in addition to an outward appearance of disunity, disharmony, and lack of purpose and legitimacy. Such has been exploited by modernist and liberal Catholics, secularists, and others to harm this authentic expression of Roman Catholicism. 

The See of Saint Stephen descends from the Ultrajectine See, via the line of Mathew. It is for this reason that we refer to our Patriarchate as an Old Roman Catholic Patriarchate. Indeed, We enjoy the privilege of autonomy through both Leonine Privilege and other privileges granted in the name of the Holy See. Furthermore, in addition to various Eastern and Orthodox lines, We possess the lines of Bishop Duarte-Costa in Brazil. We, therefore seek to preserve true and authentic Roman Catholicism with the Anglican patrimony that fell in part to us to preserve. 

This true Roman Catholicism is indeed “old” in that it was founded approximately two thousand years ago by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As much of the world turns from the unquestionably-authentic Catholic Faith, true Roman Catholicism is in fact becoming increasingly “old” by the day. Yet, true Roman Catholicism is not old in the sense of something that has seen its prime long ago and has faded into irrelevance. The Church of Christ knows neither time nor space. The Eternal Church and Eternal Rome, her primary See on earth, are a single continuum. The authentic liturgy is alive. It is not something fit only for a museum of Church history. It is here and there, all around us, ready to be experienced. Just as Our Lord lives, so too does the authentic liturgy of His Holy Church!

On the Novus Ordo 

It is beyond the scope of Our authority and the authority of the collective body of prelates and clergy within Our Particular Church to determine absolutely the issue of the validity of the Novus Ordo of the Roman Rite. Because of the reasonable grave doubt that We have pertaining to its authenticity as Catholic liturgy and indeed of its very validity, We do not permit its celebration within the See of Saint Stephen or any subordinate jurisdiction thereof. This grave doubt was shared by those Cardinals in Rome tasked with investigating the effects of the Novus Ordo mass and who gave their report to Pope Paul VI. 

We further discourage all within said Patriarchal See and subordinate jurisdictions from participating in Novus Ordo sacraments presented and provided by other Particular Churches. 

Notwithstanding the other aforementioned issues overall, the patrimony of Our Particular Church is such that the Novus Ordo further bears no relevance. Appearing to be an innovation of the late twentieth century with heavy influence of Protestantism and Freemasonry, there is little if anything about it that has any relation whatsoever to that which We have been entrusted to maintain. The traditional liturgy of the Roman Catholic Faith and the Anglican patrimony is that which we are bound to maintain. 

We are most sympathetic to those who must face the choice of attending a Novus Ordo mass or the traditional Mass of the Ages. Such is not an easy choice, but it is ultimately a simple choice. While we cannot be sure about the Novus Ordo mass, we have no doubts about those masses that follow the timeless principles of the Tridentine liturgical tradition. 

We in the Stephenian Patriarchate continue, firm in Faith, to preserve the traditional liturgy and Sacraments of the Church. We do this without regard to numbers, for we recall the words of Saint Athanasius, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church, that those Catholics, even if reduced to a handful, who maintain the traditions of the Catholic Church are the true Catholic Church. We do not presume to state that we and only we are the true Catholic Church, but firmly maintain that we are indeed a part of it. We must and will maintain that sacred liturgy and deposit of the Faith that is our solemn duty to maintain. It is not Our mere opinion or Our mere desire, but rather the words of Saints that have proclaimed the traditional liturgy. Rather, it is Our steadfast desire to subordinate Our will to that of God and humbly follow what has been codified and promulgated by Saints. 

We commend those other jurisdictions, communities, and Particular Churches that maintain the traditional liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. Our prayers are extended to those who carry out this liturgy even amidst hostility from the liberals and modernists of the Church.

On the See of Saint Peter 

There are certainly many who, in the wake of the abuses following the Second Vatican Council, maintain that the See of Saint Peter is vacant since Pius XII. While We are sympathetic to those who hold this position, it is Our official position, which we are bound by the laws of Our office to maintain, that the See of Saint Peter is not vacant. We acknowledge that the Supreme Pontiff is, as a man, capable of committing heresy. We further acknowledge that there are mechanisms that exist to remove a Pope from office and do not presume take this decision upon Ourselves. We also acknowledge that a Pope, as a man, may sin and be forgiven of those sins through the same sacraments by which we may all obtain absolution from Almighty God. 

We reaffirm our belief in the Dogma of Papal Infallibility and acknowledge that it has been used only twice, both instances being used to define specific dogmae of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. (And it is further noted that, while the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was defined by Pius IX prior to the formal definition of the dogma of Papal Infallibility, it was, nevertheless, defined in a manner consistent with the prevailing beliefs of Infallibility that would eventually be formally defined by Pius IX himself.) 

We acknowledge the Bishop of Rome by his common reference title of Pope, and as the Supreme Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ, and all his other titles. Our privilege of administrative independence does not deny or diminish our loyalty to the Eternal See of Peter, which is above and more than any one individual who may currently occupy the Chair. We, therefore, display the portrait of the reigning Supreme Pontiff within Our See and remember the reigning Pontiff at mass as a reminder of Eternal Rome. 

With regard to the recent canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II, we note that the Church does not “make” Saints, but merely recognizes those whom she reasonably believes indeed to meet the requirements for Sainthood. It is further beyond the scope of Our authority to rule on matters of Sainthood within the universal Church. Therefore, within Our See, We permit the veneration of both John XXIII and John Paul II. However, as neither is included within the liturgical calendar, said veneration is clearly an option, and therefore the issue of their canonization is entirely moot. 

We as Patriarch and all our successors take an oath of loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff. This we do in the sense of Eternal Rome. This very same oath charges us to carry out the duties we have been given. These duties are well outlined for Our office. These duties include vigilance against modernism, liberalism, and other heresy, and thus we cannot succumb to modernism, liberalism, and other heresy without violating that same oath that We took on Our knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, the very living Body of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

On the Roman Communion 

The Roman Communion is that body of Particular Churches under the direct administrative authority and control of the Bishop of Rome. This is regularly known as the Roman Catholic Church, and while we are content in general to assent to this vernacular terminology, with Our See being known as Old Roman Catholic or Anglican Rite Roman Catholic, We nevertheless remind all that We never left the Roman Catholic Church and remain faithful Roman Catholics. We simply are not administratively affiliated with the Roman Communion. 

We ever seek to maintain positive relations with the jurisdictions of the Roman Communion, including those that maintain the Novus Ordo. Any such disputes should not result in a loss of desire for eventual unity when such unity becomes legitimately possible, i.e., when all may once again be united under the banner of Christ and in the Blessed Sacrament through liturgy consistent with the traditions of the Church. In all cases We seek and promote charity and brotherhood with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

On the Doctrine of the Faith
It is not for Our Patriarchate or any jurisdiction that enjoys legitimate autonomy of government to determine the Doctrine of the Faith. Rather, we are bound to follow the traditional Doctrine of the Faith and not impart our own ideas or innovations. Autonomy of government is never an excuse or license for modification of doctrine. As it is Our solemn duty to maintain the traditional liturgy of the Church, so too it is Our solemn duty to maintain the traditional Doctrine of the Faith upon which the liturgy is founded.