As you read this post, I'm enjoying myself with my family on the first extended vacation I've had in over two years. As always, I enjoy and invite comments, but please remember that I cannot respond as quickly as I usually do when I'm not on vacation. Speaking of comments and vacations, "Where do I go to Mass when I'm away from home?" is a commonly asked question. So is the issue of "Can I attend a Mass offered una cum?" (i.e. with the name of false pope Francis in the Canon). A reader of my blog sent me an article written by Mr. Patrick Henry Omlor, one of the first Traditionalists, for whom I have the greatest respect. This reader was a personal acquaintance of Mr. Omlor and wanted my opinion on the issue of attendance at an Una Cum Mass (Mr. Omlor was decidedly against attendance at such a Mass and was the subject of the article he wrote).
This is bound to be controversial, but understand: (a) I'm not a theologian, nor do I claim to be one. I'm just trying to find my own Catholic way through the Great Apostasy. There are issues that are not (and cannot be) settled without a pope. This is one of them. (b) Feel free to disagree with me. I'm just expressing my opinion based on the principles taught by the Church, and I'm comfortable with the conclusions I have reached before God. It is possible that someday I may change my mind on this issue as I'm always open to fraternal correction because I try to follow the evidence where it leads.
What Does Una Cum Mean in The Canon of the Mass?
Relevant to this discussion is the March 2007 article by Mr. Omlor entitled, The SSPX and the Una Cum Problem, and the article of Fr Anthony Cekada, The Grain of Incense: Sedevacantists and Una Cum Masses. Mr Omlor states that Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) is not a true pope but a heretic and cannot possibly be the Vicar of Christ. I agree wholeheartedly. The same holds true for Bergoglio (Francis). Mr. Omlor passed less than two months after Bergoglio's "election" in March 2013, at the age of 81.
Fr. Cekada, like Mr. Omlor, writes about the problem of "...a traditional Latin Mass offered by a validly ordained priest who utters a phrase in the Canon referring to Benedict, our Pope. This practice is followed by all priests who offer the recently instituted Motu Masses, as well as by priests of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), its affiliated organizations and the majority of 'independent' traditionalist priests." These Masses are referred to as Una Cum Masses after that phrase in the Canon which translates as "together with." What does it mean to offer Mass "together with Francis, Our Pope"? Is it permissible to attend?
Mr. Omlor quotes from theologian Father Maurice de la Taille, in his book Mystery of Faith, 2: 316-318:
"This [i.e. certain ancient customs] was all the more reasonable, because priests gradually became more accustomed to commend no living person in these public suffrages of the Church, except those as could be reckoned among those with whom he was considered to be offering the sacrifice."
He continues, "This brings out the fact that the celebrating priest offers the Mass with those whose names are mentioned, who in a sense become co-offerers. Hence Benedict XVI[now Francis] is a co-offerer in Masses of priests who recite his name in the Te Igitur."
Quoting theologian de la Taille, Mr. Omlor continues, "The same is clear also from the actual formula found in our own Roman Missal at the end of the prayer Te Igitur, the first prayer of the Canon, where the celebrant says:' WE OFFER . . . together with our Pope N. and our Bishop N. (and our King N.) and with all orthodox worshippers of the Catholic and apostolic faith.' " Note: The ellipsis (. . .) and also the capitalized words "WE OFFER" appear as such in the original text. Again this underlines the fact that the Mass is being offered in union with those named (Benedict XVI). It has been claimed that we merely "pray for" those whose names are mentioned in the Te igitur prayer of the Canon of the Mass. This is proven to be completely false in light of the words of Fr. de la Taille : "WE OFFER . . . together with our Pope N. and our Bishop N.(and our King N.) and with all orthodox worshippers of the Catholic and apostolic faith."
Fr. Cekada correctly lists four ways the Latin grammar could be construed:
(1) Adjective modifying Church = one with, or united with: "The heretic/false pope Bergoglio is united to the Catholic Church and vice versa."
(2) Adverb modifying we offer = we offer together with: "The heretic/false pope Bergoglio jointly offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass along with the priest and he Church."
(3) Appositional link with Church = for thy Church, which includes:
"The heretic/false pope Bergoglio is among the members of the Church for whom the priest and the Church intercede through the offering of the Mass."
(4) Coordinating conjunction with Church, bishop, all true believers = and for Thy servant, the pope: "The
priest and the Church offer the Mass for the servant of God and heretic/false pope Bergoglio.
Hopefully, all now see why this issue is important. We cannot pray "together with" a heretic. That would be the mortal sin of communicatio in sacris, described in Canon 1258 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. According to canonists Abbo and Hannon, "The reasons for this prohibition are founded in the natural and divine positive law. Among them are the following: the Catholic Church is the only Church in which, by divine ordinance, worship may be rendered to God; such communication with non-Catholics in their services involves a threat of perversion to Catholics or at least the danger that they will gradually become indifferent in religious belief; Catholics who observe it may take scandal from it; and non-Catholics may see in it a quasi-approbation of their services or of their erroneous belief...Though not mentioned by the Code, the active and public participation by non-Catholics in Catholic worship is always forbidden, since it would promote indifferentism through the impression given that there is no essential difference between the Catholic Faith and the errors of the sects. " (See The Sacred Canons 2: 512-513).
Before I continue with my analysis, let me remind my readers precisely what type of Una Cum Mass to which I am referring. It must be offered by a validly ordained priest who professes the Integral Catholic Faith whole and entire, who is not in actual union with Modernist Rome and specifically rejects all the errors of both Vatican II and the post-conciliar "popes." The SSPX would currently fall into that category, but not if they "reconcile" with Bergoglio.
Una Cum is NOT Preferred Yet NOT Forbidden
I agree that Masses that mention Bergoglio should be avoided whenever possible and the Mass of a sedevacantist should be the ideal. However, there are reasons I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Omlor and Fr. Cekada that they cannot be attended under pain of sin.
1. In the early nineteenth century, the king was mentioned by name in England within the Canon.
This would show that interpretation # 4 above is correct. The Mass is offered for the heretic, not in union as co-offerers. It is offensive to pious ears to believe that Pope Pius VII would allow Mass to be offered with the Anglican heretics King George III and IV. (See https://archive.org/details/a550137400unknuoft). Mr. Omlor cites theologian de la Taille: "Hence were anyone to mention by name an infidel, heretic, a schismatic or an excommunicated person (whether a king, or a bishop, or any other [e.g. Ratzinger] ), either in the prayer Te Igitur or in our commemoratio pro vivis [i.e. the commemoration of the living in the second prayer of the Canon], he would certainly violate the law of the Church." Obviously, this is mere ecclesiastical precept, not one of divine positive law or natural law. Therefore, we cannot be talking about the sin of communicatio in sacris. There was an allowance for the King of England under Pope Pius VII. If a priest is mistaken about the identity of the pope, he may objectively violate a precept of the Church, but be subjectively guiltless. Furthermore, a breach of a precept in good faith is not "contagious." You do not thereby sin, especially in the current Great Apostasy, where there is a grave necessity for the reception of the sacraments. But isn't the priest speaking a lie by calling Francis "our pope"? Not necessarily, as I shall set forth the reason why below.
2. Would mentioning Bergoglio in the Canon effectuate the sin of communicatio in sacris by being schismatic?
Going back to Canon 1258 and its proper interpretation by canonists Abbo and Hannon, how does the name of Bergoglio turn the Mass into a non-Catholic service? Fr. Cekada cites theologian Merkelbach: "The Sacrifice of the Mass," says the theologian Merkelbach, is directly offered only for members of the Church."For this reason, the Church does not offer intercessory prayers for heretics and schismatics during the course of the Mass, nor can a heretic or a schismatic be mentioned by name in a liturgical prayer." (Internal citation omitted). Again, how does this square with mentioning the King of England? The prohibition is purely ecclesiastical. Furthernore, according to theologian Szal, "...a schismatic professes belief in the sovereign power and primacy of the Pope, but out of malice refuses to be subject to him and obey him as the Head of the Church and the Vicar of Christ on earth." (See The Communication of Catholics with Schismatics, , pg. 2) It is precisely because the priest does not want to risk being schismatic that he recites the name of Bergoglio. He is not acting out of malice to refuse obedience to a real pope, nor is he in actual union with Bergoglio. Una Cum Masses cannot be considered schismatic.
3. Does Una Cum involve scandal?
Does the Mass of an SSPX priest "...involve a threat of perversion to Catholics or at least the danger that they will gradually become indifferent in religious belief; Catholics who observe it may take scandal from it; and non-Catholics may see in it a quasi-approbation of their [non-Catholics] services or of their erroneous belief..."? (See Abbo and Hannon, above).
As I wrote in a previous post, "Do not let the position of the SSPX on the 'pope' make you soft. Rather, use it as an opportunity to forge friendships and influence others in that chapel (including the priest) to re-think their position on Francis with some well placed questions. In so doing you might get others to reject Antipope Francis and further expose his sect of darkness. Deo gratias."
4. Traditionalist Priests who offer the Una Cum and become sedevacantists, do not have to abjure their errors.
As Bp. Pivarunas of the CMRI noted, this means it can't seriously be maintained as heretical or schismatic to do so. If offering the Mass with the name of Bergoglio ipso facto makes them actually "in union with him," then we must shun them as non-Catholics. Interestingly, I've never heard Fr. Cekada or Mr. Omlor profess that Traditionalists can't go to SSPX priests for Penance outside the danger of death. Yet this would be the case if they somehow were in union with Bergoglio simply by the use of Una Cum. In August of 2002, Bp. Pivarunas declared,
"Although C.M.R.I. does not accept John Paul II as a legitimate successor of St. Peter, it does not consider such traditional priests (who offer "una cum" Masses) as schismatic. For, if such priests were schismatic in the canonical sense of the word, then they would be required, upon their recognition of the vacancy of the Apostolic See, to abjure their error and be received back into the Church.
"Nevertheless, it has never been the practice of any traditional bishop or priest to require this abjuration of error of any priest who at one time mistakenly recognized John Paul II as a true pope.
"This does not mean that C.M.R.I. in any way endorses the theological contradiction of those traditional priests who maintain that John Paul II is a true pope.
"Lastly, we exhort the faithful to use great discretion when they approach such priests for the Sacraments. This is especially true in regard to their children, who may be confused by their erroneous opinions on the Papacy and on the infallibility of the Church."
Bp. Mark Pivarunas, C.M.R.I., Superior General
The Priests of C.M.R.I.
To be fair, Fr. Cekada does not claim Traditionalist priests who offer Una Cum Masses to be excommunicated heretics or schimatics (nor did Mr. Omlor in his article). Both claim that you participate in a lie, profess union with a false pope, etc. Such is not necessarily true, because see #4 below.
4. Another possibility is that we offer the Mass with the OFFICE of the pope and king, not the actual person as such.
Fr. Cekada thinks that you cannot pray for a "material" pope (placeholder), without invoking the formal part of the office (his authority), as in the case of sedeprivationists who claim Bergoglio a "material" but not "formal" pope. However, I find his objection to be without merit. He claims that," The various linguistic and theological meanings for the una cum in the Canon, however, can only be applied to a true pope who possesses papal authority —e.g., head of the Church, Vicar of Christ, Successor of Peter, principle of unity, visible pastor, etc." This is unpersuasive. Fr.Cekada does not cite why someone who possess potentially the office of pope cannot be prayed for as the holder of the office and why. You would look to him as the potential principle of unity and pray that he renounces his errors. It's probably why the name of the King of England can be inserted; we pray for the office he holds, not the heresy that comes with the person holding the office. In this case we would NOT be participating in a lie! Since no theologian of which I'm aware has ever tackled this question head on, I'm not going to tell people to stay away from an Una Cum Mass based on what some people indirectly construe in the writings of theologians; in the case of Mr. Omlor, a single theologian. Fr. Cekada cites several sources, it is true, however we are left with his interpretation, not a black and white reading of the material. We have Church practice that goes directly against what he wrote in the case of mentioning the King of England. Without a hierarchy such opinions (pro and con Una Cum) can certainly be maintained, but not enforced.
I will conclude with my summary from a previous post about attendance at SSPX chapels. To read it in its entirety go to http://introiboadaltaredei2.blogspot.com/2013/11/can-traditionalist-attend-mass-at-sspx.html.
Here is the summary of deciding where to go for Mass, on vacation or otherwise:
- Judge the priest(s) theological positions, not the organization.
- Always attend the Mass of a Traditionalist sedevacantist priest whenever feasible. (Some SSPX priests are "crypto-sedevacantists" who can't say what they believe or face expulsion).
- Ask the priest the name of his ordaining Bishop, and if the Traditional Rite of ordination was used to make sure he is a valid priest.
- NEVER attend the Mass of a "priest" who is in union with the Modernist Vatican (even if validly ordained) such as the Fraternal Society of St. Peter (FFSP) and certain "Motu" priests.
- Ask if he rejects the errors of Vatican II (he must or he is a heretic)
- Ask if he accepts BOD [Baptism of Desire] and BOB [Baptism of Blood]; (he must or he is a heretic)
- Ask what Missal he uses. 1954 is best, then 1958, then 1962.
- Any priest who refuses to answer such questions has something to hide and must be avoided at all costs.
Using these principles, if there is no option for you except an SSPX chapel, you may attend provided he rejects Vatican II's errors in principle and was validly ordained in the Traditional Rite. All SSPX priests are taught to reject the Feenyite heresy and they use the 1962 Missal with some pre-1962 rubrics. I know there are those who will disagree with my positions on the validity of Thuc Bishops [I believe them to be valid] and attending the so-called "una cum" Mass (using the name of Francis in the Canon). However, I am comfortable before God with the positions I have taken and conclusion I have drawn. I hope this helps Traditionalists in deciding where to attend Mass and receive the sacraments. [I also hope the day will come when we fight less among ourselves as Traditionalists and realize Francis as the enemy. We can all be sedevacantists on that glorious day, and hasten an imperfect general council for the election of a true pope with whom we can ALL be UNA CUM.---Introibo]