Thursday, June 10, 2010

Concerning Theological Misconceptions and Traditionalists

I frequently visit and comment on the blogosphere, both Traditionalist and non-Traditionalist alike (political blogs too!). I write this post to address some theological misconceptions and errors regarding Catholic theology I came across at a blog called "Aretheos." The post entitled "Concerning Traditionalists"(1) was written by the blog's owner, one Mr. Peter Gaffney. From what I could surmise from the post, Mr. Gaffney is a former seminarian in the Vatican II sect from the 1970's.

Mr. Gaffney is to be commended for a very charitable and heartfelt post. I would like to address his errors in an equally charitable manner and hope this engenders a fruitful dialogue between us and possibly some who will read our posts. I will outline the major points Mr. Gaffney makes and respond.

1. The pre-Vatican II Church allowed the vernacular under certain conditions.
This is true. No Traditionalist maintains that vernacular is the reason for the rejection of the Novus Ordo, nor do we contend that rubrical and calandar changes can not be made. What we object to are the changes in doctrine. There are very good reasons to keep Latin, e.g. to prevent corruption of meaning in a living language (think when the word gay meant happy, and mistress meant a woman in charge), to give a sense of the sacred, and to have a universal tongue for a universal Church (Catholic means universal). True, Eastern rites were allowed to keep their tongues, but this was to prevent the inroads by "Orthodox" schismatics.

Changing the Mass into a vernacular bread and wine service indistinguishable from an Episcopalian service is another matter!! Indeed, John Paul II allows the use of a "mass" that contains no words of consecration! "Context" will produce the miracle of Transubstantiation!!
It is de fide that Christ instituted the sacraments. We must believe it by supernatural faith. This means that He gave to the sacraments their nature, their substance. He did this by assigning the use of a certain physical element in conjunction with certain words. In some cases, He specified both the element and the words, as in Baptism and Holy Eucharist. In other cases, He explained to the Apostles the nature of the Sacrament, determined in general the element and words, and left to the Church the determination of the specific elements and words.

It is the teaching of the Church that the Church does not have the power to change anything which pertains to the substance of the sacraments. (See The Council of Trent, Sess. XXI, chapter 2. Denz. 931).On July 20th, 2001, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Novus Ordo replacement for the Holy Office, issued a document which devastates all Catholic sacramental doctrine. The document was not made public until October, 2001.
The document is entitled, "Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East". The original Vatican text is in English.

The document, which has the explicit approval of Wojtyla (aka John Paul II), permits Chaldean Catholics to attend the Masses of the Nestorians, and to receive Communion at their liturgies.
This is nothing new, however. Vatican II permitted such heretical and sacrilegious behavior for Catholics, and the 1983 Code of Canon Law specifically allows the practice in certain cases.
There is, nonetheless, an astounding detail about this act of ecumenism. By the admission even of the Vatican itself, the Nestorians do not have a consecration formula in their anaphora (canon) of the Mass. Their priest never recites the words of consecration, “This is My Body,” nor “This is the chalice of My Blood...” with the subsequent words. Nor does he recite anything even similar to them.

The Modernist Vatican text states:

"The principal issue for the Catholic Church agreeing to this request, is related to the question of the validity of the Eucharist celebrated with the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, one of the three anaphoras traditionally used by the Assyrian Church of the East. The Anaphora of Addai and Mari is notable because, from time immemorial, it has been used without a recitation of the Institution Narrative." (I invite the reader to reference my citation of this document on the Modernist Vatican's own web site).

By “Institution Narrative” they mean what Catholics commonly call the consecration formula, that is, the essential words which are the form of the sacrament. In the Catholic Church, by the institution of Christ Himself, they are “For this is My Body,” for the consecration of the bread, and “This is the chalice of My Blood, of the new and everlasting testament, the mystery of faith, which for you and for many shall be shed unto the remission of sins,” for the consecration of the wine.

These words, or anything similar to them, cannot be found in the Nestorian liturgy. In their liturgies, one of the canons or “anaphoras” which they use is a very old one called the Anaphora of Addai and Mari. In this anaphora, the words of consecration which Our Lord used at the Last Supper cannot be found. There is nothing even equivalent. Rather these words take the place of the consecration:

"O Lord, may thy holy Spirit come and rest upon this the offering of thy servants, and bless and sanctify it: in order that it be for us, O Lord, unto the propitiation of trespasses and the remission of sins and unto the great hope of resurrection from the dead and unto a new life in the kingdom of heaven with all who are pleasing in Thy sight."

Beautiful words, indeed, but unfortunately they do not produce the sacrament. These words are a formula found in all Eastern Rite liturgies known as the epiclesis, which is an invocation to the Holy Ghost to bless and sanctify the bread and wine. The Greek Orthodox hold that without the epiclesis there is no valid sacrament.

Let us assume for a moment, for the sake of argument, that John Paul II is a true Pope. Given the fact that he has dispensed with the words of consecration, the form of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we would have to conclude one of two things:

• The words of Christ at the Last Supper do not pertain to the substance of the Holy Eucharist, or
• The words of Christ at the Last Supper do pertain to the substance of the Holy Eucharist, but the Church has the right to alter the substance of the sacraments.

There is no third possibility. But each of these two conclusions is contrary to the teaching and immemorial practice of the Catholic Church, and against the unanimous consent of the Doctors and theologians of the Church, as well as against all of the liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church.

The first conclusion, that the words of Christ do not pertain to the substance of the sacrament, is contrary to the Council of Florence, which declared:

"The words of the Savior, by which He instituted this sacrament, are the form of this sacrament; for the priest speaking in the person of Christ effects this sacrament. For by the power of the very words the substance of the bread is changed into the body of Christ, and the substance of the wine into the blood; yet in such a way that Christ is contained entire under the species of bread, and entire under the species of wine."(Council of Florence, Decree for the Armenians. Denz. 698).

It is furthermore contrary to the teaching of Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei:

"The unbloody immolation at the words of consecration, when Christ is made present upon the altar in the state of a victim, is performed by the priest and by him alone, as the representative of Christ and not as representative of the faithful."

The second conclusion, that the Church can change the substance of a sacrament, is contrary to the Council of Trent:

"It [the Council] declares furthermore that this power has always been in the Church, that in the administration of the sacraments, with the exception of their substance, she may determine or change whatever she may judge to be more expedient for the benefit of those who receive them or for the veneration of the sacraments, according to the variety of circumstances, times, and places. [emphasis added](Denz. 931)

It is also contrary to the teaching of Pope Pius XII contained in Sacramentum Ordinis:

"And for these sacraments instituted by Christ the Lord in the course of the ages the Church has not, and could not substitute other sacraments, since, as the Council of Trent teaches, the seven sacraments of the New Law have been all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord, and the Church has no power over the “substance of the sacraments,” that is, over those things which, with the sources of divine revelation as witnesses, Christ the Lord Himself decreed to be preserved in a sacramental sign..."

Concerning the form of the Holy Eucharist, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, promulgated by Saint Pius V, states:

"We are then taught by the holy Evangelists, Matthew and Luke, and also by the Apostle, that the form consists of these words: This is my body; for it is written: Whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to his disciples, and said: Take and eat, THIS IS MY BODY.
This form of consecration having been observed by Christ the Lord has always been used by the Catholic Church. The testimonies of the Fathers, the enumeration of which would be endless, and also the decree of the Council of Florence, which is well known as accessible to all, must be here omitted, especially as the knowledge which they convey may be obtained from these words of the Savior: Do this for a commemoration of me."

Now I ask, how could anyone say that the words of Christ do not pertain to the substance of the form of the Holy Eucharist?
Concerning sacramental form, Pope Leo XIII declared in Apostolicae Curae, on the subject of the invalidity of Anglican orders:

"Moreover it is well known that the sacraments of the New Law, being sensible signs which cause invisible grace, must both signify the grace which they cause and cause the grace which they signify. Now this signification, though it must be found in the essential rite as a whole, that is, in both matter and form together, belongs chiefly to form; for that matter is by itself the indeterminate part, which becomes determinate through form."

Where in the “form” used in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari is the Body and Blood of Christ signified? It does not even mention the Body and Blood of Christ!

It is these types of changes in doctrine as to this anaphora and the Novus Ordo itself, that we object.

2. Archbishop Lefebvre and Fr. DePauw (as well as Padre Pio, Mother Teresa and Sr. Lucia) all accepted John XXIII and their successors as popes therefore "proving" they must be so.

This is certainly a novel argument, and also historically and theologically inaccurate. Fr. DePauw was the first--along with Bishop Blaise Kurz, to reject the poison of Vatican II in 1964 when the Council was still going on! Apb. Lefebvre came out of retirement in 1970 to join the fight. Both men were open to the opinion of sedevacantism. Fr. DePauw omitted the names of these men in the Canon of the Mass, as he doubted their legitimacy. By the end of his life, he was a sedevacantist (I knew him personally as well as Bp. Williamson who was consecrated in 1988 by Lefebvre).

In the autumn of 1979, Archbishop Lefebvre issued a declaration in which he stated that he would not tolerate in the Society of Saint Pius X those who refused to place the name of John Paul II in the canon of the Mass. He dismissed a number of priests in Europe for refusal to observe the dictum. In the spring of 1980, he came to America with the same agenda: to dismiss those who would not say the name of John Paul II in the canon.

In the course of the negotiations with the American priests, however, Archbishop Lefebvre came to a compromise, of sorts. He would not throw out the priests from the Society of Saint Pius X, if they would agree to keep their sedevacantism to themselves. They could leave out John Paul's name from the canon, as long as they did not make a public issue out of it. "Opinionism" was born. The Archbishop himself would formulate the fundamental tenet of opinionism: "I do not say that the pope is not the pope, but I do not say either that one cannot say that the pope is not the pope."(See Bp. Sanborn's article on "Opinionism" at www. By the time he consecrated the four bishops on June 30, 1988, he had pretty much come to the same inescaable conclusion--JP II is a heretic, not a pope! Unfortunately, two of his bishops are eager to sell out his Society of St Pius X to Ratzinger and try to "reconcile" how you can be a heretic and yet remain pope! Fr. De Pauw, Bp. Kurz, and Abp. Lefebvre were in new teritorry; a situation they were aware could happen, but desperately hoping that it just wasn't so!

Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, and Sister Lucia prove nothing. Catholics are not bound to believe in private revelations (even ones solemnly approved by the Church). Some Traditionalists buy into all the kinds of wacky conspiracy theories and visions galore (and Mr. Gaffney rightly scoffs at such). We must be led by the Teaching of the Magisterium as expounded by Her approved theologians, remembering as Scripture tells us that "even if an angel of God should preach to you another Gospel, let him be ANATHEMA"(Galatians 1:18).

3. The problem is not from Vatican II, but from those who are "mentally immature"

Here Mr. Gaffney quotes from theologian Tanquerey to somehow hope to prove that Vatican II made good spiritual direction that was not properly followed. How can he explain the errors of ecclesiology which reduce "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla salus" ("Outside the Church No Salvation") to a meaningless formula? The Vatican II sect promotes the notion of universal salvation, so morality doesn't matter all that much. I think Mr. Gaffney's position could be called a form of "Mentavacantism" (i.e. the mind is vacant), so immature people don't realize they are heretics! Not true--the errors of Vatican II are directly the cause of the problems not any alleged "misreadings" or "immaturity."

4. The Hierarchy can not defect.

That is not the universal teaching of the pre-Vatican II theologians!! As the great theologian Dorsch pointed out:

“The Church therefore is a society that is essentially monarchical. But this does not prevent the Church, for a short time after the death of a pope, or even for many years, from remaining deprived of her head. [vel etiam per plures annos capite suo destituta manet]. Her monarchical form also remains intact in this state.…

“Thus the Church is then indeed a headless body.… Her monarchical form of government remains, though then in a different way — that is, it remains incomplete and to be completed. The ordering of the whole to submission to her Primate is present, even though actual submission is not…

“For this reason, the See of Rome is rightly said to remain after the person sitting in it has died — for the See of Rome consists essentially in the rights of the Primate.

“These rights are an essential and necessary element of the Church. With them, moreover, the Primacy then continues, at least morally. The perennial physical presence of the person of the head, however, [perennitas autem physica personis principis] is not so strictly necessary.” (de Ecclesia Vol.2: pgs.196–7)

Mr. Gaffney contradicts the theology propounded by the Magisterium!! The Church resides with the Traditionalists and her hierarchy until such time as the papacy can be restored. I also ask Mr. Gaffney and any person reading this to check out my previous post regarding the false charge of "private interpretation." The problem with good people like Mr. Gaffney is that they are not well versed in the actual teachings of the Church and end up in a form of "papolatry."

I boldly challenge Mr. Gaffney to seriously consider the arguments presented and the weakness--indeed fallacies-- contained in his own. I will continue this exchange if he wants to in order that all may be enlightened. God Bless you Mr. Gaffney, and I hope to hear from you again in fraternal charity!

(1) Please go to
N.B. I want to thank the scholarly works of Fr. Cekada and Bp. Dolan in the preparation of this post.


  1. You have no authority to interpret Sacred Tradition. Martin Luther could not prefer his interpretation of the "black and white" of Scripture and you cannot pile up citation after citation to provide the clothing of office which you lack? Vatican II sect - how convenient. How many Neo-protestant sects of Traditionalists aret there?

  2. Mr. Gaffney, please see my response in my post entitled "The False Charge of Private Interpretation--Again!"

  3. Peter -

    You can enter the Catholic Church ... which you have been automatically excommunicated from ... by making a Formal Abjuration of heresy.

    I list many Sources of Dogma ... on automatic excommunication for physical participation in heretic cults ... such as "vatican-2", "sspx", "sspv", "cmri", "v-2 byzantine", etc. - - on Section 13.2.2 of my site >

    The Sources of Dogma that specify the requirement to Abjure are listed on Section 19.1.

    The top Abjuration on 19.1 applies to the state you are in.