“Steeped in Romanity” — Fr. Victor-Alain Berto

Articles written, translated or selected by John S. Daly

The guiding star of this site is fidelity to Rome.

From torrid south to frozen north,
The wave harmonious stretches forth,
Yet strikes no chord more true to Rome’s,
Than rings within our hearts and homes.
Cardinal Wiseman

The Impossible Crisis

(This is the text of a talk delivered in the USA in 2002)

Reverend Fathers, ladies and gentlemen,

This conference is dedicated to setting out the arguments in favour of sedevacantism. Before starting, I should like to make sure that we all know what sedevacantism is, and what it is not. Sedevacantism is the belief that the Holy See is vacant. If you believe that the Catholic Church today has no pope – no true, valid and legitimate successor of St Peter – you are a sedevacantist; otherwise, you’re not.

I stress that sedevacantism is not a movement. There are sedevacantists who go only to the Mass of sedevacantist priests; there are others who go elsewhere, and others again who don’t go to Mass at all. Likewise, of course, there are persons who go to the Mass of sedevacantist priests without being themselves sedevacantists. So sedevacantism is not about who you associate with just as it is not about whether you think that women should wear pants or your view on “chemtrails” or Archbishop Thuc’s “dental state” – it is about whether or not you recognise John-Paul II as visible head of Christ’s Church.

And since it is a belief, not a movement, sedevacantism does not as such have any goals or exercise any proper activity. If you have come here today in the hope of hearing us talk about the most effective way of restoring Catholic order, or increasing the number of traditional Catholics, or getting more subscribers to traditional reviews, you’re going to be disappointed. The scope of the two talks you are going to hear is not about whether sedevacantism is useful. It is limited to whether sedevacantism is true. And if it is true that John-Paul II is not the Vicar of Christ, that truth is going to go on being obstinately true whether we like it or not and quite irrespective of what we do about it. A prominent Remnant writer recently wrote that sedevacantism is going to kill the traditionalist movement. That’s not true, but more importantly, it’s not relevant. Not if you love truth.

There are many facts that are little known and very inconvenient, but they don’t stop being facts. If you discover a tumorous lump in your armpit, or you notice that your monthly expenditure is exceeding your income, or there is a strange noise and odour coming from your car engine when you drive…you don’t normally consider whether cancer, bankruptcy or a cracked cylinder block are desirable or popular: you want to know the truth, however inconvenient. And the truth will be based on evidence. In the case of Catholic truth, it will be based on what the Church tells us through her teachings, her laws, her theologians, etc.

The word sedevacantist is of course a neologism – a word invented in the late 70s. It is a convenient label just like the word traditionalist – outsiders always make up convenient labels to identify groups, and these labels often stick. What matters is getting behind the label and understanding what it means. Here is a test: if you have correctly understood what the word sedevacantist means, you will realise that every time the pope dies, the entire Catholic world is sedevacantist. And if you’re not yet a sedevacantist, then you’re a sede-plenist. It’s one or the other.

And of course sedevacantism has nothing to do with rejecting the papacy. We accept all popes, but we don’t think Karol Wojtyła is one. And we base that conviction on the teaching and laws of the Catholic Church.

Today you are going to hear two talks about sedevacantism and each of them presents a different basic argument, because there are two fundamentally different ways of proving that John-Paul II is not pope. I want them to be clearly distinguished in your minds.

Suppose someone offers you a solid gold ring, but in fact it is a fake. There are two possible ways of showing that it is a fake. The first is to show that it does not possess some feature that gold must have – its specific gravity or its reaction with nitric acid. The second is to show that it is in fact something else, quite different from gold and incompatible with being gold. For instance, you pass a magnet over the item and it leaps up and sticks to the magnet. You know at once that you have iron, and therefore not solid gold.

In looking at John-Paul, Mr Lane will be arguing that he is a public heretic and that a public heretic cannot in any circumstances be pope. He will pass the magnet of heresy over Karol Wojtyła, and Karol Wojtyła will jump up and stick to it, showing himself to be base, ferrous and prone to rust. I have nothing more to say about that argument, which Mr Lane will present to you with great competence.

My task is not to show that Karol Wojtyła is a heretic. It is not even to enquire at all into the cause of why he isn’t pope. It is simply to show that a true pope is protected by the Holy Ghost from doing what Karol Wojtyła does, and that Karol Wojtyła therefore cannot be pope.

My doing so will also entail considerable discussion of the religious body that Karol Wojtyła heads: the body that has periodically called itself the Conciliar Church. I intend to show that this church also displays an essential incompatibility with Catholicism – that it has officially and formally adopted doctrines, morals, laws and ceremonies that the Catholic Church not only should not, but also could not adopt.

So let me put my argument in a nutshell.

I say that the Church herself teaches us that she is infallible and indefectible, not just in the teachings of her extraordinary Magisterium, but also in her ordinary and universal Magisterium; in her laws and in her liturgy and in the universal teaching that she conveys to the faithful on a daily basis through every means by which she manifests her faith. Nowhere in them can she teach errors opposed even indirectly to divine revelation, nowhere in them can she contradict what she has ever taught before, nowhere in them can she lead the faithful towards error and sin or away from truth and holiness.

And I further maintain that the Conciliar Church does all of those things that the Catholic Church cannot in any circumstances do. The Conciliar liturgy, laws, ordinary unanimous daily teachings and practice are incompatible with Catholic doctrine and are seducing countless souls towards heresy or apostasy and eternal damnation.

And in strict logical consequence, the Conciliar Church is not the Catholic Church and its head is not the pope.

Now there are several objections that you might wish to make to an argument along these lines, but there is no doubt as to what the commonest objection is from those who hold a position broadly along the SSPX lines. It is the objection that my claim exaggerates the scope of the Church’s infallibility and indefectibility and describes as impossible things that are merely undesirable and unusual, but not clearly contrary to any divine promise.

That, I think, is the chief point at issue between sedevacantist traditionalists and sede-plenist traditionalists. That’s why I am going to quote a number of high authorities on this precise question.

But before I do so, let’s recall the historical background to the disagreement. Throughout the 1960s and through into the beginning of the 1970s occurred what came to be called “the changes in the Church”. The Mass evolved through a series of brief stages into a vernacular, Protestant-type ceremony. The catechism either disappeared altogether or was replaced by texts inculcating heresy. All the other sacraments changed too. So did vestments, the costume of priests and religious, the ceremonies and traditions. All condemnations also ceased – except of those who refused to adopt the changes. Joint worship with non-Catholics, previously a mortal sin, became permissible and even desirable. Nations whose constitutions gave privileged status to the Church founded by God, were constrained to alter their constitutions, removing those privileges. Certain doctrines disappeared, especially those concerning eternal damnation and the necessity of belonging to the true Church. Inconvenient moral doctrines, if mentioned at all, appeared always with a rider about the supposed higher rights of conscience. And so much more…

And nobody could possibly have understood the nature of the crisis from the start. One would be a fool to blame anyone for not having understood already in 1968 that we were literally up against a new and false religion. But already in 1968 the new Eucharistic prayers were in and the new rite of ordination, even before the so-called New Order of Mass.

The position in 1969 to 1970 was that many priests and laity found it impossible in conscience to accept the Novus Ordo, but the possibility that Paul VI might not be a true pope was not yet even ventilated. In order to explain and justify the rejection of apparently papal laws and teaching, the emerging traditional movement developed the habit of stressing the limits of infallibility. It became fashionable to claim that only ex cathedra teaching was infallible and that liturgies, encyclicals, etc., had no special protection or guarantee at all. Very understandable. But unfortunately…blatantly contrary to Catholic doctrine, as we shall shortly see.

And of course those who adopt that position find themselves rapidly in a position which is not even self-consistent. Hence we see sedeplenist traditionalists protesting at the refusal of Modernists to accept the doctrine of papal encyclicals, for instance condemning contraception. But they themselves cheerfully reject or ignore the teaching of the encyclicals of their post-Vatican II “popes”.

So, we have ample grounds for reopening the question. Let’s put aside habit and prejudice and turn with an open mind to what the Church herself has taught about her infallibility and indefectibility. How far does infallibility extend? Let’s start with the 1870 Vatican Council. We all know that this council defined the infallibility of ex cathedra doctrinal definitions. Did it say or suggest that infallibility was limited exclusively to them?

Far from it… It clearly taught that Catholics must believe with divine faith everything whatever the Church teaches as divinely revealed, “either by a solemn judgment [extraordinary Magisterium] or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium”. (Dz. 1792) The two are correlative. They command the same level of assent. They are equally infallible. So why did Vatican I concentrate on the infallibility of the papal extraordinary Magisterium? Simply because it was the doctrine at that time being called into question in some quarters – notably in France.

The infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium under certain conditions was a truth so well known to all Catholics that it needed no more than a brief mention. The infallibility of the solemn papal definition needed to be specially underlined.

Today in the traditional movement, the opposite seems to apply. You would think that by defining the infallibility of the pope’s extraordinary Magisterium, the Church had condemned to oblivion the dogma of the infallibility of her ordinary and universal Magisterium.

In fact this error was creeping in well before Vatican II. Cf. “Must I Believe It?” Canon Smith (The Clergy Review, April 1935): “It is by no means uncommon to find the opinion, if not expressed at least entertained, that no doctrine is to be regarded as a dogma of faith unless it has been solemnly defined by an Œcumenical Council or by the Sovereign Pontiff himself. This is by no means necessary. It is sufficient that the Church teaches it by her ordinary Magisterium, exercised through the Pastors of the faithful, the Bishops whose unanimous teaching throughout the Catholic world, whether conveyed expressly through pastoral letters, catechisms issued by episcopal authority, provincial synods, or implicitly through prayers and religious practices allowed or encouraged, or through the teaching of approved theologians, is no less infallible than a solemn definition issued by a Pope or a general Council.”

So now we know that it is infallible, let’s take a closer look at what this ordinary Magisterium is. Some confusion has been caused among Catholics trying to grapple with these concepts by the fact that, as they know, every papal encyclical and every bishop’s pastoral letter and every approved catechism and every prayer of the Missal or breviary and every law in the Church’s Code of Canon Law reflects this ordinary teaching authority of the Church. Yet obviously they are not all infallible in themselves like ex cathedra pronouncements.

There is no mystery here. Take a comparison. Germs can cause disease, but it takes a lot of germs all acting in the same place at the same time for the disease to appear. The individual acts of the ordinary Magisterium are not positively infallible like a doctrinal definition. But by their weight and number they coalesce into infallibility. A one-off statement in a papal encyclical does not normally equal a doctrinal definition. A doctrine taught in the pastoral letters of a handful of bishops doesn’t equal a general council. But when the statements of popes and/or bishops and other sources that represent the Church are so numerous and concordant that the faithful inevitably consider this teaching as being the Church’s own – then we have a teaching which truly has the same authority and commands the same assent as if it had been taught by a solemn definition.

When I say that the faithful consider this teaching as being the Church’s own, I mean the great mass of the faithful around the world – that’s why the word “universal” is used. It is the Ordinary and universal Magisterium that is infallible. That’s not something different from the ordinary Magisterium, it is the ordinary Magisterium when its teaching on a given point has been conveyed to the universal Church.

Right, I’ve made a strong claim here – the time has come to see if I can justify what I’m saying by the voice of Catholic authority.

There are a great many books that cover the different ways in which the Church teaches the faithful and the different ways in which her teaching binds them, but the main guide I want to use in this topic is one that very few of you will have heard of – and yet it has the very highest authority. It’s called De Valore Notarum TheologicarumOn the Meaning of Theological Qualifications – by Fr Sixtus Cartechini. The special significance of this work is that it was written in Rome, under Pope Pius XII, by a prominent Roman theologian for the use of the highest level theology students of the Holy City – the future élite. And it’s goal was to train them in evaluating the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of different doctrines. It was published at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1951. It is based on the standard doctrines of the great theologians and of the popes themselves on these topics, and it immediately became a standard work and remained so until John XXIII decided that the era of condemning false doctrines was at an end.

I shall rely very heavily on Fr Cartechini, because what he says is standard teaching. Anyone who doubts what he says can check it in countless other sources.

The first three chapters of Fr Cartechini’s work are about defined dogmas – the extraordinary Magisterium. Chapter 4 is called What the Ordinary Magisterium is and how dogmas can be proved from it, or concerning divine and Catholic faith founded on the Ordinary Magisterium. The title is already eloquent – it tells us that dogmas, requiring the highest assent of faith, can be proved from the Ordinary Magisterium as well as the Extraordinary.

Fr Cartechini explains that there are three different ways in which the ordinary Magisterium can communicate to Catholics what they must believe as of faith.

First, he says, the ordinary Magisterium is exercised through its express doctrine communicated by the pope or by the bishops to the faithful throughout the whole world without the use of formal definitions. And he gives a list of doctrines concerning faith and morals infallibly taught by the ordinary Magisterium as divinely revealed. Several of them have never been taught in any individual document weightier than a papal encyclical.

Secondly, he says, the ordinary Magisterium is exercised by the implicit teaching contained in the Church’s life or practice. He points out that the Church here follows Christ Himself who also taught certain points by His acts, for instance the duty to honour His Mother Mary. And under this head he refers especially to the colossal doctrinal status of the liturgy. “The liturgy does not create dogmas, but it expresses dogmas because in her manner of praising God or praying to Him the Church expresses what and how and according to what concepts God wants to be publicly worshipped….[so] the Church cannot permit that things should be said in the liturgy in her name that are contrary to what she herself holds or believes.” (p. 37)

Fr. Cartechini also mentions the Church’s laws as a source of infallible teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium though the Church’s life and practice. “… neither general councils nor the pope can establish laws that include sin … and nothing could be included in the Code of Canon Law that is in any way opposed to the rules of faith or to evangelical holiness.

Finally, there is the third way in which the Church exercises her infallible ordinary Magisterium: through the tacit approval the Church grants to the teaching of the fathers, the doctors and the theologians. If a doctrine is diffused throughout the whole Church, without objection, this means that the Church tacitly approves that doctrine. Otherwise the whole Church could and would inevitably err in faith.

If you are used to the notion that the Church’s teaching is only fully certain and obligatory when it takes the shape of ex cathedra definitions, you will by now have realised that you’ve been cheated. I think I’ve said enough to show that we’re on to something. God has given His Church greater assurances than many Catholics have realised. But the extent of the theological fraud of which some of you may have been victims doesn’t stop there.

So far we have talked of the Church’s strictly infallible teaching communicated to us either by the extraordinary Magisterium or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. But there is also the Church’s teaching that falls short of strict infallibility, yet is strictly and gravely obligatory for every Catholic.

Here we are looking, for example, at the bulk of the doctrinal contents of encyclicals and the decrees of the Roman Congregations.

Concerning encyclicals, Pope Pius XII wrote what follows in Humani Generis:

“Neither must it be thought that what is set forth in encyclical letters does not of itself demand consent on the grounds that in writing such letters the pontiffs do not exercise the supreme authority of their Magisterium. For these things are taught by the ordinary Magisterium, concerning which the words ‘He that hears you hears me` are also applicable… The greater part of what is proposed and set forth in encyclicals already belongs to Catholic doctrine on other grounds. But if the sovereign pontiffs should pronounce an express judgment in their official documents upon a matter previously subject to dispute it is plain to all that according to the mind and intention of the same pontiffs this point cannot be any longer considered a matter of free dispute among theologians.” (Dz. 2313)

This is quite clear. The teaching of encyclicals is obligatory, even if it didn’t previously belong to the body of Church teaching. And the duty to believe it doesn’t derive from the duty of faith. It comes from the duty of obedience, like the child’s duty to believe his parents.

Here for instance is Canon George Smith again, writing in the 1940s in an article in the Clergy Review expressly addressing what Catholics have to believe.

“…that much of the authoritative teaching of the Church, whether in the form of Papal encyclicals, decisions, condemnations, replies from Roman Congregations – such as the Holy office – or from the Biblical Commission, is not an exercise of the infallible Magisterium. And here once again our cautious believer raises his voice: ‘Must I believe it?’ The answer is implicit in the principles already established. We have seen that the source of the obligation to believe is not the infallibility of the Church but her divine commission to teach. Therefore, whether her teaching is guaranteed by infallibility or not, the Church is always the divinely appointed teacher and guardian of revealed truth, and consequently the supreme authority of the Church, even when it does not intervene to make an infallible and definitive decision on matters of faith or morals, has the right, in virtue of the divine commission, to command the obedient assent of the faithful. In the absence of infallibility the assent thus demanded cannot be that of faith, whether Catholic or ecclesiastical; it will be an assent of a lower order, proportioned to its ground or motive. But whatever name be given to it – for the present we may call it belief – it is obligatory; obligatory not because the teaching is infallible – it is not – but because it is the teaching of the divinely appointed Church. It is the duty of the Church, as Franzelin has pointed out, not only to teach revealed doctrine but also to protect it, and therefore the Holy See ‘may prescribe as to be followed or proscribe as to be avoided theological opinions or opinions connected with theology, not only with the intention of infallibly deciding the truth by a definitive pronouncement, but also – without any such intention – merely for the purpose of safeguarding the security of Catholic doctrine.’ If it is the duty of the Church, even though non-infallibly, to ‘prescribe or proscribe’ doctrines to this end, then it is evidently also the duty of the faithful to accept them or reject them accordingly.

“Nor is this obligation of submission to the non-infallible utterances of authority satisfied by the so-called silentium obsequiosum. The security of Catholic doctrine, which is the purpose of these decisions, would not be safeguarded if the faithful were free to withhold their assent. It is not enough that they should listen in respectful silence, refraining from open opposition. They are bound in conscience to submit to them, and conscientious submission to a doctrinal decree does not mean only to abstain from publicly rejecting it; it means the submission of one’s own judgment to the more competent judgment of authority.”

I’ve quoted Smith for ease as he wrote in English. If you read Latin, I refer you especially on this topic to Cartechini and to Cardinal Franzelin’s De Divine Scriptura et Traditione which is considered the most detailed and respected theological analysis on the topic.

Indeed the obligation of assent to the decrees even of Roman Congregations has already been frequently insisted on by the popes. For instance, under Pope St Pius X it was ruled that failure to submit to the teaching of the Biblical Commission involved grave guilt of disobedience in respect of its authority and of temerity in respect of sound doctrine. (Dz. 2113) Cartechini tells us that the doctrinal decrees of the Roman Congregations, when promulgated on special papal authority constitute a binding doctrinal precept (p. 117); while even when they are not specifically promulgated on the authority of the Pope, but only by the general authority already delegated to the Congregations, they still call for obedience under pain of grave sin. (p. 118) And Pope Pius IX ruled in Tuas Libenter (1863 to the archbishop of Munich), that it was by no means enough for Catholic writers and scholars to accept the Church’s dogmas: “But they must also submit to the decisions,” – he said – “pertaining to doctrine that are set forth by the pontifical congregations, and to those points of doctrine that are held by the common and constant consent of Catholics to be theological truths so certain that even if opinions contrary to them cannot be called heretical, they yet merit some other theological censure.” (Dz. 1684)

So let’s recap a little. I have shown that true doctrinal infallibility extends far beyond the limits of solemn definitions. I hope I have outlined the ways in which the Ordinary Magisterium can teach infallibly, such as by laws, liturgy and the common teaching of theologians. I have also shown that our duty of submission to the teaching of the Church’s authorities extends further even than the infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium.

I hope above all that I have re-inspired you with an attitude that is in very short supply in our days. It’s called trust in the Church. I think I’ve said enough to show that our mother the Holy Catholic Church is truly “the pillar and ground of truth” and truly what the prophet Isaias foresaw: “And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it, and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein.” (35:8)

I have it very much at heart to spread trust in the Church. We mortals are so wanting in trust where it’s merited – and so keen to trust self – where our trust is seldom merited. We act as if Christ had never made His promises. Our spiritual life makes no progress, because we don’t trust God enough. And our Catholicity is weak and etiolated, leaving us vulnerable to confusion in crisis, to compromise and to the distortion of sound doctrine, because we won’t trust God’s Church as God wants her to be trusted.

Here is Dom Guéranger :

“What gives ever greater firmness and calm to the Christian historian’s perspective is the assurance given him by the Church, marching without cease before him like a luminous pillar shedding light upon all his appreciations. He knows how closely the Church is united with the God-man and how she is guaranteed by His promise against all error in her teaching and in her overall guidance of Christian society; he knows how the Holy Ghost inspires and guides her; so it is in her that he seeks the rule of his judgments. … he knows in what the Church’s direction and spirit and her divine instinct are manifested. He receives and accepts them; he confesses them with courage; he applies them ... And never does he betray, never does he flinch: what the Church judges good he calls good and evil what she judges evil. The sarcastic clamouring of short-sighted cowards matters not to him. He knows he is right because he is with the Church and the Church is with Christ.” (Guéranger: Le Sens Chrétien de l’Histoire, Paris, 1945, pp. 21-22)

But of course, you can’t take that attitude to the Conciliar Church, can you? If you know and believe the unchanging Catholic Faith, you cannot possibly believe all that the Conciliar religion teaches in the decrees of Vatican II, in its encyclicals, in the common teaching of its bishops, in its officially approved and used liturgical texts, in its laws and disciplinary norms. Much less can you have Dom Guéranger’s attitude towards the Church that has emerged from Vatican II, holding her hand like a child, hanging on her every word, loving her, admiring her, eager to learn from her at all times – trusting her.

I say you can’t. And the time has come to illustrate and prove that claim. I’ve spent a lot of time on the doctrinal background to be sure we have our criteria of judgment straight. I hope now to be briefer.

I have to show that the Church that has emerged from Vatican II clearly does not enjoy the divine guarantees respecting her ordinary Magisterium and associated acts that the Catholic Church necessarily and inalienably possesses. One could spend years on the examples available – I shall just choose a few, but enough.

As my first example, I choose the liturgy of the Conciliar Church. I choose the liturgy first because it’s crucial. In Quas Primas (1925), Pope Pius XI made a very remarkable statement. He said: “People are instructed in the truths of faith … far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church.” In other words, when it comes to communicating the faith to the faithful, on a practical level, the liturgy is more important and influential than any other way in which the Church communicates her mind. And we know that’s true by experience. You have only to think. It was not Vatican II itself that undermined the faith of the bulk of the laity, because they never read Vatican II. It was the New Mass that really ruined them – wasn’t it?

We’ve mentioned liturgy as guaranteed by the infallible ordinary Magisterium.

Cartechini said : “the Church cannot permit that things should be said in the liturgy in her name that are contrary to what she herself holds or believes.” (p. 37)

Pope Pius VI condemned the Jansenist synod of Pistoia for suggesting that the “existing liturgical order received and approved by the Church might be in any part due to forgetfulness of the principles that ought to guide her” – he taught that this idea was impossible because “the Church, guided by the Spirit of God, cannot establish a discipline …that is dangerous or harmful”. Dz. 1533 and 1578.

You see at once that these quotes – and there are many more available – rule out at once the common escape routes. You can’t escape by saying that the New Mass is not fully obligatory or doesn’t apply to the whole Church. If the Conciliar Church is the Catholic Church then the New Mass is undoubtedly the largest part of “the existing liturgical order received and approved by the Church” and therefore protected by the Holy Ghost from being unorthodox or harmful. Strictly speaking, you can’t even take the popular evasion of Michael Davies and the Indulterers by insisting that it is only the Latin that counts. Because the Conciliar Church authorities have consciously approved the vernacular mistranslations – most notably the mistranslation found in practically every language in the world whereby the words “shall be shed for you and for many” in the consecration of the chalice are rendered “for you and for all”. That heretical mistranslation is now part of the existing liturgical order received and approved by the Church – isn’t it? The only question is … by which Church?

But suppose we take the Latin texts anyway. I’ll take just one simple example. It occurs in the Good Friday prayer for the Jews when Novus Ordo ministers pray not for the conversion of the Jews, but rather that they may continue or progress in faithfulness to God’s covenant: “in sui fœderis fidelitate proficere”. That can only mean that the Jews are at present faithful to God’s covenant. But of course they utterly abandoned the old Covenant by refusing to accept the Messias, by crying, “We have no king but Caesar… (We will not have this man to reign over us.)” And thereupon the Old Covenant was abrogated and replaced by the new and perpetual one between God and His Church, with which the “perfidious Jews” have no connection whatever. There you have clear heresy taught in the Conciliar liturgy, and in fact an actual promotion of Judaism.

Beyond that, I rapidly note the following points about the Conciliar Liturgy, all of them offensive to Catholic doctrine and harmful to souls:

  1. The consecration formula as translated substantially changes Christ’s words and is invalid according to St Thomas, the rubrics of the Missale Romanum, the Council of Florence (Dz. 715) and the Fathers (see de la Taille: Mysterium Fidei).

  2. The absence of a true offertory of the eucharistic sacrifice – which is essential – and its replacement by a Jewish grace before meals.

  3. The “Consecration” is to be read as narrative not in persona Christi.

  4. The approbation at the very least given to “Mass” facing the people, to communion in the hand, to extraordinary ministers, to the suppression of all that inspires reverence – changes calculated to destroy faith in the real presence, in the sacrificial nature of the Mass, in the necessity of an ordained sacrificing priesthood.

  5. The total absence from the new rite and the New Catechism of the word or doctrine that the Mass is propitiatory.

  6. I also draw attention to Fr Cekada’s very valuable and lucid booklet called The Problems with the Prayers of the Modern Mass. It’s an analysis of the propers of the New Mass and how they were created from the traditional propers. It proves beyond cavil that the new propers were established on the strict principle of suppressing or replacing every mention of miracles, divine wrath, the danger of losing one’s soul, temptations, concupiscence, guilt, detachment from the world, the existence of enemies of Holy Church or of our souls and much more. All wiped out.

I remind you that the Church cannot lead souls into error or danger through approved liturgy. Here’s how St Augustine puts it: “The Church of God, surrounded by so much chaff and darnel, tolerates many things, but she neither approves nor does what is contrary to faith or virtue and she does not remain silent in the face of these things.”

The indefensible new so-called Mass, so derogatory to the divine honour, so harmful to souls and so corrosive of sound doctrine, is therefore my first clear instance that the Conciliar Church cannot be the Catholic Church.

Secondly, there are the Church’s laws. Remember Cartechini summarising the unanimous teaching of the theologians? “Neither general councils nor the pope can pass laws which include sin … Nothing can be found in the Code of Canon Law that is in any way opposed to the rules of faith or of evangelical holiness.”

Now if we consult the laws of the Conciliar Church we find a number which do include sin, are opposed in many ways to the rules of faith and which frankly trample underfoot the very concept of evangelical holiness.

Here are a few examples that occur to me:

1. The authorisation to administer the sacraments to non-Catholics.

Old Code – Canon 731 [“It is forbidden to administer the sacraments of the Church to heretics and schismatics, even if they err in good faith and ask for them, unless they have first recanted their errors and been reconciled with the Church.”] New Code, Canon 844§3, 4 says that it is now permitted for all the eastern heretics and schismatics and many other non-Catholics too.]

2. The authorisation of active public worship in common with non-Catholics and participation in their rites. Old Code Canon 1258 – I won’t bother reading it – it’s in the catechism. Now we have Vatican II with its decree Unitatis Redintegratio saying that it can now be a good idea to break the first commandment in this way. (New Code Canon 844§2 etc.)

For 2000 years the Church has taught emphatically that both of these two acts are mortally sinful. And in both cases her doctrine is as evangelically holy as you may wish for: Give not that which is holy unto dogs, cast not your pearls before swine, if they will not hear the Church, let them be to you as the heathen and the publican.

3. The definition of matrimony in Canon 1055 which follows the Vatican II constitution on the Church in the Modern World by equating the various ends of marriage, in conflict with the traditional teaching of the Church summarised in the 1917 Code which said succinctly that “the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children.” (Canon 1013) In fact the new Code actually lists the good of the spouses before the primary end and only mentions the procreation of children afterwards. This is the error that was vehemently opposed during the Council by Cardinal Ottaviani and by Cardinal Browne the superior-general of the Dominicans.

4. The suppression from the new Code of the divine law promulgated by St Paul according to which women must have their heads covered and men their heads uncovered in church. Or did St Paul need lessons in evangelical holiness from those who drafted the 1983 Code of Canon Law?

So we see that the Conciliar Church by its laws authorises and encourages deadly sin and the heresy that the true Church is something other than, bigger than, the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church cannot do this.

Now look at Vatican II itself. Traditionalists have emphasised that it did not purport to be exercising the extraordinary Magisterium, and have concluded that it is therefore acceptable to suppose that it erred. Hold on. When the decrees of a general council are not making solemn dogmatic definitions, they remain one of the very highest exercises of the ordinary and universal Magisterium. To say that we don’t automatically have to accept by divine faith all that they say is not the same as to suggest that they can teach errors against Catholic doctrine that have previously been infallibly condemned. At the very least such a council’s teaching is infallibly safe and obligatory in conscience.

Yet in the texts of Vatican II we find numerous heresies and other false doctrines.

I haven’t the time to list many, but we must mention religious liberty to which an entire declaration was devoted and which contradicts all but word for word the teaching of Pope Pius IX’s Quanta Cura which is commonly held to have been a classic example of a solemn definition by the infallible extraordinary Magisterium.

I can’t mention this topic without some allusion to the ingenious efforts of Dr Brian Harrison to show that the Vatican II doctrine is in fact compatible with the infallible teaching that it appears to contradict. I would point out that to the best of my knowledge Fr Harrison is the first man in the history of Christianity to have found it necessary to write a very long and scholarly book claiming to demonstrate that despite admitted appearances, the teaching of a given general council can in fact – by mighty effort – be interpreted in a way that may be just about compatible with Catholic doctrine!

It would be churlish not to admire Dr Harrison’s endeavours. They smack to me of true heroism. And they start from the sound principle that Harrison knows as well as I do that without such a reconciliation the Conciliar Church collapses to the ground in rubble and ruin.

But it was a hopeless task from the start. That such a work should have been considered necessary was already proof that Vatican II was not really a general council of the Catholic Church. Harrison stretches the old pre-Vatican II teachings as far as he can in a liberal direction and he stretches the Vatican II doctrine as far as he can in the direction of Catholicism and he convinces himself that he has made the two ends meet. He hasn’t.

He hasn’t because in both cases his interpretation is unique to himself. And in both cases, everyone else has understood and supposed the opposite. Up to Vatican II, for instance, the popes insisted emphatically on the duty of nations to profess and defend the true faith and they sharply rebuked any once Catholic nation that failed to do so. Since Vatican II, however, the new “popes” have throughout the world insisted that every formerly Catholic nation should remove from its constitution every sign of privileged status for the true Faith. And they have stripped the Church’s liturgy of every allusion (and there were many) to the dogma that Christ must reign not only over the souls of individuals but also over states and institutions. Are we really to believe that all this only concerned a matter of political expediency ? Or that political circumstances in every nation altered so radically between 1958 and 1963 that what was once a grave duty became overnight a grave sin ?

Are we really to believe that Pius IX had mistaken the true meaning and application of Quanta Cura and needed Dr Harrison to explain it to him? And that John Paul II has mistaken the true meaning of Vatican II and needed Harrison to explain it to him? And if John-Paul does accept the Harrison version of religious liberty rather than the John Courtney Murray heresies, when is he going to show some sign of it?

Another plain error in the law of the Conciliar Church is found in its marriage annulment régime. The US is the annulment capital of the world, of course. Over a half of Catholic marriages end up being decreed by the Conciliar Church never to have existed, to have been null and void from the start. In other words, the couple weren’t married. They were living in fornication. Their children are bastards. Now either the Conciliar Church is concurring wholesale in adultery by annulling marriages without sufficient reason, putting asunder what God has joined together, or else the Conciliar Church doesn’t know how to marry people validly in the first place and is concurring in wholesale fornication by telling people that they are married when they’re not. Either way, the message is loud and clear. Those who learn from the laws and practice of the Conciliar Church are concluding that sacramental marriage is not a permanent state lasting until death. That’s a heresy.

A final example. We have learnt that the Church teaches though her ordinary infallible Magisterium, not only by what she says, but by what she does not say. Silence gives consent – certainly when the Church over 40 years fails to protest at a notorious and widespread, even universal error or evil. Now among many others, just look at the rather important truth of eternal damnation. By a single mortal sin we lose the divine life and are necessarily destined to Hell unless we repent. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught this truth some forty times in the Gospels. There is almost nothing more central in Catholicism. After the praise of God, the Church’s chief task is to save souls. Save them from what ? Without the danger of Hellfire the Redemption has no meaning – Christianity become pointless.

Now look at the deafening silence of the Conciliar Church on Hell. Look at its silence on mortal sin. Ask a Conciliar priest when he last preached on Hell. Ask John-Paul II why he crams his encyclicals with countless passages clearly intended to create the notion that the Incarnation creates a permanent and unbreakable bond between Christ and every man, inviting the notion of universal salvation, while he so signally fails to warn his flock of the danger of damnation. The fact is clear. By its silence the Conciliar Church denies Hell, at least as a real danger threatening its members.

Reverend Fathers, Ladies and Gentlemen, if you’ve followed me so far, you’ll have seen that the Conciliar Church teaches false doctrine to its faithful in ways that the Catholic Church is divinely guaranteed from doing. The Conciliar Church is therefore not the Catholic Church. Please recall that this argument in no way depends on the question of pertinacity – the question of whether those who teach the errors individually realise or not that their errors are contrary to Catholic doctrine. Christ has promised to protect His Church from leading the faithful into error or into danger to their souls, whether deliberately or by accident. Likewise, my case in no way depends on the fine distinctions that sometimes apply between the exact theological qualification of a given doctrine. Some of what the Church teaches infallibly is to be believed with ecclesiastical faith, not divine faith. To deny it is a grave sin entailing excommunication, but it is probably not strictly heresy. That sort of distinction has no place here. The Church herself cannot teach souls any error, opposed in any way to the teaching that she has already given them – quite irrespective of the exact theological qualification that belongs to the doctrine involved. The Church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” as Saint Paul teaches in I Timothy 3;15 – a passage on which the Douay-Rheims footnote comments: “…the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth … Therefore the Church of the living God can never uphold error, nor bring in corruptions, superstition, or idolatry.)

The reason why the Conciliar Church is not the Catholic Church is quite simple. If you publicly profess heresy, departing from the Catholic rule of faith, you cease by that very fact to be a Catholic. John-Paul II and his bishops have done so. You cannot be the head of a Church you do not belong to. You’ll be hearing more about that from Mr Lane.

I’d like to close by returning to the dispositions good Catholics are supposed to have towards the Church. I want to quote a few words from the immortal Fr Faber’s The Precious Blood:

“We must be loyal to the Church in our least thoughts of it.

“We must like its ways, as well as obey its precepts and believe its doctrines.

“We must esteem all that the Church blesses, all that the Church affects.

“Our attitude must be always one of submission, not of criticism. He who is disappointed with the Church must be losing his faith, even though he does not know it.

“A man’s love of the Church is the surest test of his love of God. He knows that the whole Church is informed with the Holy Ghost. The divine life of the Paraclete, His counsels, His inspirations, His workings, His sympathies, His attractions, are in it everywhere.

“The gift of infallibility is but a concentration, the culminating point, the solemn official out-speaking, of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the Church. While it calls, like revelation, for absolute submission of heart and soul, all the minor arrangements and ways and dispositions of the Church call for general submission, docility, and reverence, because of the whole Church being a shrine fulfilled with the life of the Holy Ghost.”

(Fr. F. W. Faber Cong. Orat. D.D., Burns and Oates, 4th ed. pp. 187-9)

Note to the words of Saint Pius X to the priests of the Apostolic Union:

“When one loves the pope one does not stop to debate about what he advises or demands, to ask how far the rigorous duty of obedience extends and to mark the limit of this obligation. When one loves the pope, one does not object that he has not spoken clearly enough, as if he were obliged to repeat into the ear of each individual his will, so often clearly expressed, not only viva voce, but also by letters and other public documents; one does not call his orders into doubt on the pretext – easily advanced by whoever does not wish to obey – that they emanate not directly from him, but from his entourage; one does not limit the field in which he can and should exercise his will; one does not oppose to the authority of the pope that of other persons, however learned, who differ in opinion from the pope. Besides, however great their knowledge, their holiness is wanting, for there can be no holiness where there is disagreement with the pope.”

St Pius X, 18th November 1912, AAS 1912, p. 695.


I suggest that no traditional Catholic can apply to John Paul II and the religion he heads the dispositions inculcated by Fr. Faber and by Saint Pius X. In fact not only are the two religions, Catholic and Conciliar, not identical; they are in fact opposites. Catholics are faced with a choice between the religion of Christ and the religion of Antichrist.

I rest my case.


(1) Letter of Pius IX to the Archbishop of Munich, 1861; cf. Denzinger, 1684.

(2) The quotation from Canon Smith’s study continues as follows:

“But, as we have already remarked, ad impossibile nemo tenetur, and without an intellectual motive of some sort no intellectual assent, however obligatory, is possible. On what intellectual ground, therefore, do the faithful base the assent which they are obliged to render to these non-infallible decisions of authority? On what Cardinal Franzelin somewhat cumbrously but accurately describes as auctoritas universalis providentiae ecclesiasticae. The faithful rightly consider that, even where there is no exercise of the infallible Magisterium, divine Providence has a special care for the Church of Christ; that therefore the Sovereign Pontiff in view of his sacred office is endowed by God with the graces necessary for the proper fulfilment of it; that therefore his doctrinal utterances, even when not guaranteed by infallibility, enjoy the highest competence; that in a proportionate degree this is true also of the Roman Congregations and of the Biblical Commission, composed of men of great learning and experience, who are fully alive to the needs and doctrinal tendencies of the day, and who, in view of the care and the (proverbial) caution with which they carry out the duties committed to them by the Sovereign Pontiff, inspire full confidence in the wisdom and prudence of their decisions. Based as it is upon these consideration of a religious order, the assent in question is called a ‘religious assent’.”

It is quite true that some few theologians have been prepared to admit the hypothesis that an encyclical of a true pope might exceptionally contain an inaccurate theological statement. But no approved theologian has ever suggested that an encyclical might teach previously condemned doctrine, might lead souls into unorthodoxy or heresy or threaten their salvation. No approved theologian has ever suggested that inaccuracies in encyclicals might become so grave and habitual that far from submitting what encyclicals teach, Catholics would have to read them with their theology manuals open on their laps to see whether by some lucky stroke their teaching might be orthodox.

(3) The omission of the word “propitiatory” from the post-conciliar “Catechism of the Catholic Church” has been rectified in editions subsequent to the 2002 delivery of this talk.

© John S. Daly 2002 (slightly revised 2015)