What Was The Question?

Bro. Juniper

Q. I find web sites on the Internet that present themselves as `Catholic.' Then, as I read what they have to say, I begin to wonder who they are. What is an "independent" priest? I thought all priests were under a bishop. If this is true, how can a priest be "independent"? What is he "independent" from?

P.O., Kansas City, KA

A. An "independent" is someone who does not depend upon another. In the case of a priest, there is no such thing in the Roman Catholic Church. At least, there is no such thing according to the Laws of the Roman Catholic Church.

The same is true of the laity. There are no "independent" laymen in the Catholic Church because by virtue of the Sacrament of Baptism, a person is incorporated into the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, which is the Church. A person becomes a part of the whole and as no part can function without being united to the whole, logically, no individual can exist "independently" of that whole.

Pope Pius XII explains this very well in his masterful Encyclical Letter "Mystici Corporis". The Pope uses the Scriptural analogy of the human body as applied by St. Paul.

Those who say they are "independent" and, consequently, not submissive to a legitimate authority in the Roman Catholic Church are simply not members of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Pius XII quotes from St. Augustine to illustrate the difference between someone who is in the Church and someone who is out of the Church: "As long as a member still forms part of the body there is no reason to despair of its cure; once it has been cut off, it can be neither cured nor healed." (Augustine, Epistle, 157, 3, 22, 1: Migne, P.L. 33, 686).

Why and how such persons call themselves `Roman Catholic' while not being united to the body of the Church is impossible to explain intelligently.

Perhaps this impossibility lies in the fact that it is not a question of intelligence so much as a classic example of obstinacy of the will?

The Seraph has been repeating over and over the essential need for every Roman Catholic, priest or layman, to be united with the legitimate authority of the Church. The reason for this is not any kind of personal gain or ambition. It is nothing more than the right order established by Jesus Christ, the Invisible Head of the Church.

It is all very bizarre. Whatever the apparent justification for such an attitude may be, it is not a valid one. What this all does is prove that the craziest things are done in the name of religion.

Take for example those who publicly profess to be under John-Paul II as the legitimate Pope. Yet, it does not take much to see that these people are not submissive to the local bishop placed in the diocese where they reside. They act independently of their local bishop; they even disrespectfully criticize their bishop in the local newspapers. How such people can be considered as `loyal,' `obedient' `Catholics' defies comprehension.

Whether priest of layman, these people will have nothing to do with their local bishop nor with the local clergy nor with the local people who attend the services of the local clergy; who obey their local bishop and are in communion with all the others who do likewise. These "independents" have nothing to do with either the clergy or the people whom they still must consider as `Roman Catholics.' They must do this if only because the clergy and people with whom they will not associate are in close union with John-Paul II as their legitimate Pope.

Imagine this, if you can: these "independent" clergy and laity are "independent" of the bishops, priests and laity whom they consider `Roman Catholic.' They call them `Novus Ordo Catholics' and will have nothing to do with them.

But, John-Paul II has everything to do with them! And, they say that John-Paul II is their Pope as well as the Pope of those others.

Never in the entire history of the Roman Catholic Church has anyone ever seen such a mass of contradiction.

What is even more upsetting to anyone who thinks rightly, is that these half-Catholics and half-Protestants throw themselves into what they think is "Catholic Action." They publish newsletters; they create web sites; they promote devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; they excoriate the clergy whom their Pope esteems for their on-going demolition of the Church. They do all this _ and more; yet, they do not have the foggiest idea of how unlike true Catholics they really are.

They unite among themselves (always "independent" of any legitimate Church authority, of course) to "defend" the Latin Tridentine Mass. They "defend" whatever part of Catholicism suits their immediate need and marketing ability. They think they are `Roman Catholics' because they hold to the Latin Tridentine Mass.

Unfortunately, they are a greater obstacle to conversion to the Roman Catholic Church than the most crass heretic in the Church of John-Paul II.

Even hell has some kind of order. But these "independents" _ whoever they may be must have a special place in hell where anarchy is tolerated. Although, frankly speaking, it is highly doubtful that even Satan would allow the kind of anarchy these "independent" Catholics enjoy and mutually promote.

The only thing a Catholic can do is pray for these souls and stay away from them before their arrogance spreads like the flu.

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