Last week, I was informed by Twitter that I can no longer tweet the link to my blog because it ostensibly "violates the rules" of the social media platform. What you are reading is a site that "promotes hate" against homosexuals and transgenders. First, disagreeing with someone's lifestyle is not "hate." Second, the truth is not always welcome. The teaching of the One True Church has always been that homosexuality is an offense against God and nature, and I reiterate that teaching. It seems that both freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion can be curtailed if the elites deem it contrary to their ideas and goals for society. Third, my use of the word "sodomite" to label homosexuals is accurate. The word sodomy comes from the city of Sodom, destroyed by Almighty God for the sin of homosexuality--one of the Four Sins That Scream To Heaven For Vengeance. Euphemisms like "gay" must be used. Reminds me of Communist regimes that refer to their concentration camps of torture and death as "relocation centers."
Nevertheless, I shall continue to publish posts that expound and defend the teachings of the Church. My tweet last Monday, explaining that my site link cannot be tweeted was responded to by a gentleman named Robert Robbins, owner of the website Catholic Eclipsed (catholiceclipsed.com). He replied to my tweet, "It sounds like you've made it! I mean, it is not like every website out there trying to get the truth out is censured. Catholiceclipsed.com isn't. I can't wait till it is!" Mr. Robbins is correct that I wear this censoring as a badge of honor. If my little blog is being tagged like this by the powers that be, I must be doing something right.
Mr. Robbins website is pleasing to the eye and well-written. He seems by all indications to be a man of good will. Unfortunately, he promotes the "Home Alone" position, i.e., the view that all Traditionalist clergy are illicit (or invalid) since the Great Apostasy and that your only option is to stay "Home Alone" on Sundays, worshipping in the room of your choice. The late Fr. Anthony Cekada coined the term after the hit 1990 movie Home Alone, stating that these misguided Traditionalists are in a perpetual re-run of that movie minus the joyful conclusion. These Home Aloners (hereinafter "HA") twist Canon Law to declare everyone except themselves as heretics, schismatics, etc., and always find a way to further twist the law when it suits their needs (the fallacy in logic of "special pleading"--the law applies to everyone except me).
In the overwhelming majority of cases, I find HA to be followers of (or inspired by) Mrs. Teresa Stanfill Benns, who de facto holds herself to be a "theologian" and "canonist." She runs a website entitled Betrayed Catholics (betrayedcatholics.com) in which she tries to convince Traditionalists to abandon their churches and chapels and remain under a self-imposed "spiritual quarantine." (Think: "The religious version of Dr. Fauci").
Mr. Robbins explains his religious journey from Vatican II sect, to Latin "masses" run by the sect, to sedevacantism, having been convinced by what he experienced and the writings of Fr. Cekada. Sadly, he decries what he claims were "the lack of clerical formation of the priest, the apparent moral degradation of the Holiday Inn congregation, and the quasi-cult character and conduct of the St. Gertrude bishops and priests." Finally, "we [he and his wife] came across the website BetrayedCatholics, run and authored by T. Stanfill Benns, a devout Catholic who chooses to stay at home instead of soliciting vagrant priests and bishops for sacraments. In her work, Benns cites ecclesiastic norms and laws which insist that papal mandates are required for the consecration of bishops, and that, without which, such consecrations are null and void. That was a powerful refutation to those who arrogate unto themselves episcopal privileges."
Mr. Robbins has a "sect spectrum" on his site, ranging from the Vatican II sect all the way down to the "true Catholics," the HAs. I knew if I just took a glance through his material, I would find glaring errors. On the very first post I chose to read, I found what I was looking for, as Mrs. Benns is either (a) extremely incompetent or (b) purposely deceptive. (I wrote a post about Mrs. Benns ludicrous idea that Traditionalist orders are invalid, and I will reference that post later). Mr. Robbins wrote a post entitled, In Defense of Catholic Eclipsed, wherein he cites an email from a reader:
A very well-informed and good-willed Catholic just trying to get to the grave with his soul intact no doubt, emailed me with some arguably well-founded criticisms regarding the things I have published here on CatholicEclipsed; the most important perhaps being an accusation of hypocrisy. I reproduce his remarks in pertinent part now:
“You and others publish material regarding religion. Such publications require jurisdiction and are also in violation of Church law (C. 1385). Nevertheless, you seem to hold yourselves dispensed from these requirements while at the same time you hold others strictly to them, e.g., the papal mandate. It comes across as being duplicitous and a classic case of “laws are for thee, not for me.” This strikes me as a contradiction, which if you could clarify, I would appreciate.”
Mr. Robbins receives help in answering by none other than Mrs. Benns. She wrote to him:
Rev. Matthew Ramstein, S.T. Mag, J.U.D., OFM (“A Manual of Canon Law,” 1947, above) states: “In the absence of an authentic declaration concerning the meaning of the law, ANYONE may interpret the law for himself, provided he observe the rules set down by the lawgiver in Canons 18-21.” This is confirmed by the following canonists. Speaking of Pope Benedict XV’s Motu Proprio promulgating Canon Law, Monsignor Amleto Cicognani writes: “There is no prohibition in the Motu-proprio of private interpretation, which may be doctrinal or usual…It is said to be doctrinal when it is given by those skilled in canon law; customary (also called usual) when it is derived from unwritten practice, that is custom…General rules for the right interpretation of the Code are given in Canons 17 ff, besides those of Canons 5 and 6, (“Canon Law,” 1935, pgs. 434, 598-9). As Rev. Nicholas Neuberger explains in his dissertation, “Canon 6,” (Catholic University of America, 1927), “Of old the jurists distinguished between a mere declaration of and the interpretation of the law. The declaration today is called comprehensive interpretation. Its scope is not to change the law but determines the sense of the law comprehended therein from the beginning. Therefore, it adds or subtracts nothing from the original meaning…The comprehensive interpretation adds nothing anew but explains more and more the significance attached to the words …Ordinarily, every private individual may interpret laws according to the rules of jurisprudence, unless a special prohibition has been made…The code, in Canon 6 §2 bids us have recourse to the doctrine of the approved authors. The authentic, however, always remains the guide for the doctrinal.”
Mr. Robbins then opines, Now we know that in the absence of an authoritative interpretation of the law, a private person—even a layman—may interpret the law himself, if the rules of interpretation are followed. He then interprets the law on his own authority as allowing him to publish on his website about religion.
So, is this true? Can young Bobby, the 18 year-old Traditionalist who lives next door and dropped out of high school, go online and correctly interpret Canon Law for himself in the Great Apostasy? Mr. Robbins appears to be a man open to hearing the truth. This post is geared towards him and all other HAs in good faith. It is not a personal attack on them, rather it is written in the spirit of charity. I hope they will see they have been---as the title of my prior post on the subject says---Betrayed By Benns.
The Background of Teresa Benns
Lest anyone accuse me of an ad hominem attack on Benns, let me make myself clear. It is not ad hominem to point out that someone who purports (de facto or de jure) to be an expert or highly knowledgeable on some subject, is not knowledgeable as they claim. As a lawyer, I have many times impeached expert witnesses on their alleged credentials. Also, a person's prior bad acts may sometimes be bought up in court to show a propensity to do something. In certain circumstances, a witness who had previously been convicted of perjuring themselves in a past court case, can have that fact introduced by the opposing lawyer to show a propensity to lie. Finally, the fact that Benns is a woman will never be used against her. I will not (and need not) use that to expose her as a pseudo-expert in research, theology, and canon law. Anyone who therefore claims that I used her gender against her is both dishonest and using a red herring. ---Introibo
1. A false "conclave" that produced a false pope. In 1990, Benns, using her phenomenal research ability, decided that she could "call a conclave" to elect a pope. All true Catholics from around the world were allegedly contacted in a world without computers, and there were only six "electors" that came to the Kansas farmhouse of one David Bawden, a former seminarian of the SSPX who had been expelled. The "electors" consisted of Bawden, his mommy and daddy, two nice neighbors, and Benns. Bawden was "elected pope" and took the name "Pope" Michael.
This scenario is just so outrageous it doesn't even merit the energy to write a refutation. It sounds more like a late-night comedy skit than something purporting to be serious theology. About 10 years ago, Bawden found "Bp." Bob Biarnessen to ordain/consecrate him. It is never explained why "Bp." Bob never submitted to the "Holy See of Kansas." Why didn't he become a "Cardinal" and "Pro-Prefect for the Supreme Sacred Congregation of Slopping Pigs"? Bob's lineage comes from dubious sources making Bawden equally dubious. His "mass," sacraments, and any clergy are dubious at best.
According to Bawden and other sources, he has currently around 30 to 100 followers worldwide.That's 30 to 100 people who have their eternal souls at risk following a false pope produced by Benns. She has since renounced Bawden, and was "excommunicated" by him, leaving those poor souls following him in peril for their salvation. Nice going, Teresa Benns.
2. Are Traditionalist clergy invalid? This is another example of pure theological ignorance on the part of Benns and many HAs. She attacks the orders of Abp. Lefebvre and Abp. Thuc.
Please read my post here:
introiboadaltaredei2.blogspot.com/2020/05/betrayed-by-benns.html. I have not seen any of her writings attack the validity of Bp. Mendez, but she can probably fabricate something given enough time.
Why bring up these points? Anyone can make a mistake, unless guided by God Himself as in the case of the pope. If St. Francis of Assisi had said "2 + 2= 5" he would be wrong despite his sanctity. If Joseph Stalin had said, "2 + 2= 4" he would be correct even though he was thoroughly wicked. However, some mistakes are just so egregious, a person should not be trusted again. For example, if a surgeon operated on a person with a diseased lung, and removed the normal lung, leaving the diseased lung inside and causing the death of the patient afterwards, would you want him operating on you (if he kept his license by some miracle)? He could point to successful operations he did, but mistaking a healthy lung for a seriously diseased lung is so outrageously incompetent, you wouldn't trust him with your life (I would hope).
If you would not entrust the life of your body to such a person, how much more important is your immortal soul? Do you really want to follow the "research" of a person who "elects a pope" on a Kansas farmhouse with the only "six true Catholics," and when she admits it's totally wrong, says "Whoops, I made a mistake"? Her contention regarding Traditionalist orders has been refuted by me on independent grounds--her facts are demonstrably wrong. Do you really want to stay under self-imposed spiritual house arrest, deprived of sacramental graces, by following her slipshod writings? Think about it.
Now, on to the issue of can ANYONE (Emphasis Benns) interpret Canon Law?
Misinterpreting Who Interprets
I was once talking with a friend from Church, a fine gentleman of great piety. The discussion turned to Fatima. I explained to him that no one is required to believe in private revelations, even those approved by the Church. He protested, "But Fatima wasn't private! Thousands of people witnessed the Miracle of the Sun." I explained to him that the word "private" in relation to revelation has a special theological meaning. It does not refer to how many people saw something, but rather it is used to indicate revelation that is not part of the public Deposit of Revelation which must be believed, and ended with the death of St. John the Apostle in 100 A.D.
Benns makes a similar mistake (I'm being charitable in assuming it's a mistake and not purposeful lying). Once more her citation to canonist Ramstein:
“In the absence of an authentic declaration concerning the meaning of the law, ANYONE [Emphasis hers] may interpret the law for himself, provided he observe the rules set down by the lawgiver in Canons 18-21.”
As we shall see, "ANYONE" does not refer to any layman such as young Bobby, the aforementioned 18 year old high school dropout.
According to canonist Della Rocca: The study of canon law, precisely because it is a sacred science, is therefore recommended to clerics... (See A Manual of Canon Law, , pg. 5)
As regards its [canon law] sources and origins, interpretation is doctrinal when given by private doctors or juriconsultants; (Ibid, pg. 65; Emphasis mine)
The true meaning is made even more clear by canonists Abbo and Hannon commenting on Canon 17:
Doctrinal Interpretation. Every theologian and canonist may interpret the law privately (i.e. with the authority warranted by their own private learning). Their interpretations, however, have only that weight which attaches to the reasons on which they are based. They possess special value when they are almost unanimous and consistent over an extended period of time, since in the latter case they would be practically obligatory. (See The Sacred Canons, , 1:35; Emphasis mine).
So private interpretations are not made by "anyone" as in young Bobby, but rather by theologians and canonists due to their advanced ecclesiastical education and training. A theologian is a cleric who has a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD), and a canonist is a cleric who has a Doctorate in Canon Law (JCD). Both theologians and canonists must get their training/education from an approved Pontifical University and defend a thesis before the Board that meets with Magisterial approval. This is also confirmed by canonist Della Rocca's use of "private doctor"--i.e., a Doctor of Sacred Theology (theologian) and/or a Doctor of Canon Law (canonist). Neither Benns nor Mr. Robbins (not to mention young Bobby) are qualified to interpret Canon Law.
Again, from canonist Bouscaren: The whole of canon 17 refers to authoritative interpretation; that is interpretation given with official authority as opposed to doctrinal interpretation, which is given privately by anyone who knows the law. (See Canon Law, , pg. 31; Emphasis mine).
You can see that "anyone" is modified by "who knows the law" (i.e., canonists and theologians).
Finally, from the eminent canonist Augustine: Private interpretation, viz., one given by juriconsultants not commissioned by the lawgiver, or by expert canonists (doctors), must be made in conformity with certain rules which are necessary for the right understanding of ecclesiastical---in fact of all---law. (See A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law, , pg. 96).
Once more, Benns gets it wrong. If I ever did "research" like this, my law firm would have fired me long ago. Did she not look at these explanations, or did she purposefully omit them? If epikeia and common sense are applied (like Traditionalist clergy do) HAs may finally be "home free."
Some Objections Considered
1. Traditionalist clergy are not properly trained and have cult-like behaviors.
Ans. Traditionalist clergy receive enough training to validly administer the Sacraments. If someone does not exhibit the minimum training, simply stay away. Do you think all was perfect with pre-Vatican II clergymen? As Fr. DePauw told me, "They didn't become bums overnight." (Benns calumniates Fr. DePauw as "Masonic"-- once more not knowing all the facts and getting it all wrong. I'll leave that for another post.) What constitutes "cult-like behaviors?" A cult should be used to describe an organization that uses coercion to get people in and/or prevent people from leaving. Fr. DePauw would always say, "If you don't like it here (Ave Maria Chapel), the doors are never locked; feel free to leave and I wish you well." The SSPV have holy and well formed priests (except Fr. Greenwell whom I always avoided). Don't let a bad apple spoil it all. Go somewhere you feel comfortable. Unfortunately, this is what we deal with when we have no pope for unity.
2. Traditionalist priests and bishops have no jurisdiction. All their absolutions are invalid outside of the danger of death.
Ans. Jurisdiction, HAs will admit, is supplied to ALL priests when the penitent is in danger of death. The death knell of the HA position is provided by St. Alphonsus Liguori, whom the Holy See has pronounced all his opinions safe to follow in practice. He writes: "Is any priest able to absolve from any sins and censures, not only at the point of death, but also in danger of death? This is denied by [various names] but more truly and more commonly affirmed by...The reason for this is that in this matter, the danger in taken for the point, as is clear from...For in such a case, anyone in mortal sin is bound to confess in the same way as if he were at the point of death. This is accepted by...provided that such a danger be so grave that it can scarcely be distinguished with certainty from the point: but, more immediately, it seems to be sufficient that there be prudent fear that death will arise in the danger. Now such a danger is considered to be present in a battle, in a long sea voyage, in a difficult delivery, in a dangerous disease, and similar cases...The same is true of one who is in probable danger of falling into insanity (amentia)...and the same of those who are captives among infidels with small hope of liberty. For it is believed that they will have no other priests in the future."(See Theologia Moralis, Bk.6, no. 561, Q.2)
As Traditionalist John Daly notes, we are in "the same position as those who are captives among infidels with small hope of liberty and with excellent reason to believe [we] will never have access to any priest possessing jurisdiction in the future. Thus we can be sure that any truly Catholic priest to whom we do have access, even if he be bereft of jurisdiction and laboring under excommunication, can lawfully and validly absolve us."
3. In the End Times the Holy Sacrifice will cease. This is why we stay home. It is the Great Apostasy now.
Ans. You're staying home unnecessarily. Almost all theologians teach it will occur during the reign of the Antichrist. According to theologian Huchede, "Religious Persecution of Antichrist...The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass shall no longer be offered up publicly on the altars." (See History of Antichrist,, pgs. 25-26). Notice the modifier "publicly." It has never been defined by the Church that the Mass shall completely cease. Some theologians, such as Huchede, leave open the possibility of the Mass offered in private to small groups of the faithful. In either case, the reign of the Antichrist is not here yet.
4. Being home is the "safe way" to Heaven. We have the Act of Perfect Contrition, Spiritual Communion, and the Rosary.
Ans. All these things are beautiful and Catholic. If this is all you have (like the Japanese Catholics during the Great Persecution) that's the way to go. To forego the True Mass and Sacraments (when available) for substitutes at home, is to deprive yourself of countless graces. After all, Christ instituted the Mass and the seven sacraments for the salvation of the human race. He did not teach the Apostles to make acts of perfect contrition, spiritual communion, and recite the Rosary. Our Lord Himself instituted the Mass and sacraments as the most excellent means of grace and sanctification. HAs unnecessarily make extraordinary means ordinary means, all to their spiritual detriment.
I hope Mr. Robbins will realize he's been Betrayed By Benns, and not stay home, but come home to the One True Church with the Mass and sacraments for his family and himself. Teresa Benns has proven herself an ultracrepidarian sciolist. She has created a false pope in a Kansas farmhouse, calls into question Traditionalist orders on false grounds, and thinks anyone can interpret canon law. Young Bobby is looking more competent by the second.