In 1896, Pope Leo XIII sent out an Encyclical Letter to all the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops and Bishops of the Catholic world in grace and communion with the Apostolic See. Almost a hundred years later, an anti-pope, "John Paul II" opened the way to religious indifference under the specious pretext of "ecumenism". This is a code word that means a one-world religion subservient to the one-world government of the Antichrist.
No genuine Pope of the Roman Catholic Church had ever taught that "ecumenism" is a legitimate means of uniting the separated sects with the original Mother Church. Always "suaviter in modo sed firmiter in re," the teaching authority of the Church clearly and plainly insisted on the only means of real unity, viz., unity in faith.
Pope Leo XIII begins this Encyclical letter by stating his desire "to bring back to the fold ...sheep that have gone astray."
One does not flatter nor dialogue with straying sheep. One shows them the way back to the flock. The rest is up to the sheep. If they refuse to return to the fold, then there is but one conclusion: They were never of the true fold to begin with! It is imperative to avoid confusion between two distinct aspects of Christ's mission: Redemption and salvation.
Redemption was universal because it did not exclude anyone. Salvation is not universal because it depends upon the cooperation of each individual. Theologians have a saying: "Christ redeemed us without our help; but he will not save us without our help".
The Church recognizes that there are many outside the true fold because of false ideas taught them. But, the Church also realizes that supernatural faith is a grace of God and that no one can give this grace to himself. Therefore, even though persons may be in error for a relatively long time without any fault of their own, it must also be urged that everyone has an obligation to enter the one, true fold of which Jesus Christ is the Supreme Pastor.
No one can dismiss this obligation to seek the true Church without being culpable. Thus, even the agnostic so-called is not without fault for not humbly seeking the source of salvation. Pride can never be an excuse to refuse the grace of God. And that is what these individuals do when they pit their ignorance against the wisdom of God.
What is required of those who are bound to return to the true Church, their loving Mother, which they have not yet fully known or culpably abandoned? In most cases, there is no question of shedding one's blood, but only shedding one's error. The only death that is essential to a sincere return to the true faith is death to one's disordered pride.
We know that God has the power to do all that is effected by created natures. But as Pope Leo XIII points out, " And, as in the natural order He does not usually give full perfection except by means of man's work and actions, so also He makes use of human aid for that which lies beyond the limits of nature; namely, for the sanctification and salvation of souls."
And because nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses, God proceeds in that manner to instruct us. This was the reason for Christ's incarnation. Mankind failed to respect the former signs of God's instruction through His first revelation, namely, creation; so, now God takes upon Himself the form of a slave and makes Himself like unto men.
It is no mystery that if His divine mission were to continue, it would be necessary to have qualified and competent representatives to carry on His mission of salvation. Man cannot redeem others; he can only help others to be saved.
For this purpose, our Lord chose twelve men from among His disciples. He trained them Himself. He told them things that others did not know and which they would later communicate to others. He empowered them with His own authority. He instructed them to await the Paraclete, the Advocate, to be sent from Heaven, the Spirit of Truth. He then commanded them to go throughout the whole world and faithfully preach to all nations.
What were they to preach? They were to preach what He had taught them and what He had commanded. It was by the profession of these doctrines and the faithful observance of His laws that all mankind could have been sanctified on earth and rewarded with eternal happiness in Heaven.
Pope Leo XIII points out the two distinct aspects of mankind's salvation: "If we consider the chief end of this Church and the proximate efficient causes of salvation, it is undoubtedly spiritual; but in regard to those who compose it (i.e., the Church) and to the things which lead to these spiritual gifts, it is external and necessarily visible."
How did the Apostles receive their authority and mission to carry out our Lord's will? Obviously, even the Apostles would not have known that they had received something if our Lord would not have used words and signs to communicate to their external senses. Jesus used words - which we term the `form' - and physical signs, such as imposing hands, etc. which we term the `matter' of a Sacrament. Certainly, if Jesus gave them a spiritual power, this power was communicated to them in some external manner perceivable by the senses.
Without a doubt, this would exclude any possibility of an "invisible" Church as preached by Protestants. The Apostles were the foundation upon which our Lord established the New Testament. Even St. Paul states that "Faith comes from hearing and hearing on the words of Christ" (Romans 10,17).
And Pope Leo XIII says: "And faith itself - though residing essentially in the intellect, must be manifested by outward profession - `For with the heart we believe unto justice, and with the mouth profession of faith is made unto salvation' (Romans 10, 10).
And the following statement made by this same Pope gives us an insight into the crux of the entire question: "In the same way, in man, nothing is more internal than heavenly grace which begets sanctity, but the ordinary and principal means of obtaining grace are external: that is to say, the Sacraments which are administered by men specially selected for that purpose, by means of certain ordinances."
In what follows, we immediately discover the fundamental error of both Modernist and Traditionalist heretics: "Jesus Christ," says the Holy Father (Pope Leo XIII), "commanded His apostles and their successors to the end of time to teach and rule the nations. He ordered the nations to accept their teaching and obey their authority." All heretics reject this command of Jesus Christ by rejecting all visible authority. What is left to them other than to live a constant contradiction: They say that no one has any authority; yet they refer to the apostate Karol Wojtyla as the "Holy Father," and dodge every external act of obedience to him. Perhaps they would claim an internal act of obedience which no one can see? If this absurdity is accepted, we would ask these heretics to explain away the words of Pope Leo XIII when speaking of the obligation of nations to obey Jesus and the successors of the Apostles in the legitimate episcopacy: "But this correlation of rights and duties in the Christian commonwealth not only could not have been made lasting, but could not even have been initiated except through the senses, which are of all things the messengers and interpreters."
Now, we encounter the true and traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the Church's very essence. We have often quoted Pope Pius XII and his doctrinal Encyclical letter on the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Here we have another Pope who preceded Pope Pius XII expounding the teachings of the Church, namely, that the Roman Catholic Church is the Body of Jesus Christ quoting from St. Paul: "Now you are the body of Christ." (I Cor.12,27). And "For this reason the Church is often called in Holy Scriptures a body, and even the body of Christ...and the Church is visible precisely because it is a body: and because it is the body of Christ it is living and energizing, because by the infusion of His power Christ guards and sustains it, just as the vine gives nourishment and renders fruitful the branches united to it.
No one can see the life principle of plants and animals; nor can they see the human soul. Yet, its presence is manifested by the activity of each in its way. This is also true of the supernatural life in the Church. By the visible actions of the Church we are able to conclude to the spiritual reality that is hidden from the senses.
When "John Paul II" addressed the heretic Anglican Mr.Runcy in England and said that "We are sister Churches; we are all searching for the truth," he betrayed his inner heresy by putting it into words audible by all the world to hear. There is only one Church which was established by the Father through Jesus Christ and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. To speak of "sister churches" is to speak an outrageous and blasphemous lie - as if God the Holy Ghost could be the supernatural life principle of an heretical sect and that of the true Church. It is because heretics and schismatics are not members of the one Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, that they are deprived of supernatural grace and they cannot be living a supernatural life which is vivified by the Holy Ghost. If one can imagine a petrified forest, that would be a fairly accurate description of the many false, graceless "churches" that plague the world.
A favorite heresy ceaselessly propounded by Modernist heretics is to say that "By His death and resurrection Jesus redeemed the world." Pope Pius XII, on the other hand, and the entire Catholic tradition states that "By His passion and death, Jesus redeemed the world". Pope Pius XII stated in his Encyclical letter "Mystici Corporis": That Christ is the Founder, the Head, the Conservator and the Redeemer of His Mystical Body.
Karol Wojtyla must be totally ignorant of what previous Popes, truly guided by the Holy Spirit, have taught. In the Bull "Unam Sanctam" (1302 A.D.) Pope Boniface VIII declared: "The Church represents one single Mystical Body whose Head is Christ." To receive the adulation and applause of the Anglican heretics, Wojtyla did not shrink from boldly denying the constant teaching of the Church: "Sister churches" would have to have the same Father. Thus, the Blessed Trinity would have to be responsible for the heretical sect of the State Church of England and, by extension, for every heretical sect regardless of the absurd manipulation of the word of God. God would be in contradiction with Himself! This is, apparently, the god that Wojtyla worships. It would be more theologically correct to say that Wojtyla's god is Satan, the teacher of all heresies.
Jesus Christ in His humanity is head of the Church because in virtue of the Hypostatic Union he possesses the fullness of all supernatural gifts. He is, as St.John observes: "Full of grace and truth." "In Him the Holy Ghost dwells with such a fullness of grace that it cannot be conceived greater" (John 3,34). Jesus is the "Author and Finisher of Faith, " so says St. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews (12,2). This being so, how is it possible that this same Jesus could be the author and finisher of Faith in those who deny the teachings of His Mystical Body of which HE is the Head?
St. Augustine expresses this truth beautifully: "Christ (- the Church) preaches Christ, the body preaches the Head the Head protects His Body. (Sermon 354). According to St. Augustine, the baptized person not only becomes a Christian, but becomes Christ."Let us congratulate ourselves, and give thanks, that we are not only become Christians but Christ....be astonished, rejoice, we are become Christ; for when He is the Head, we the members, then the whole Man is He and we." We do not become Christ in the ontological sense, but we become Christ in that we become the adopted children of God through grace. This is called the mystical union which is effected through the Sacrament of Baptism primarily. This is why our Lord says: "If you love me....." And what is `love' if not the bond of unity between two wills? To love and not to obey is a contradiction in terms.
For the reasons briefly explained above, we can follow the conclusions of Pope Leo XIII regarding the Church and the essential grace that makes a person a Catholic: "From this it follows that those who arbitrarily conjure up and picture themselves a hidden and invisible Church are in serious and pernicious error, as also are those who regard the Church as a human institution which claims a certain obedience in discipline and external duties, but which is without the never-ending communication of the gifts of divine grace, and without all that which testifies by continual and unquestioned signs to the existence of that life which is drawn from God.
It is undoubtedly as impossible that the Church of Jesus Christ can be the one or the other as that man should be a body alone or a soul alone. The connection and union of both elements is as absolutely essential to the true Church as the intimate union of the soul and body is to the human nature."
The importance of the above statement should not be lost on those who style themselves "Traditional" Catholics. These "Traditionalist" heretics explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, deny by their words or actions "the never-ending communication of the gifts of divine grace, and without all that which testifies by continual and unquestioned signs to the existence of that life which is drawn from God."
The life of the Church is a life which is given to Her by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, this life, which is a supernatural life, must not be confused with institutions of a purely natural foundation. It may be asked: How do we tell the difference?
The answer is less complex than it may appear. All that is legitimate in the Roman Catholic Church is done under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. This is the first rule. And the reason is because the Holy Ghost is the soul of the Roman Catholic Church. Second rule: Only that is inspired by the Holy Ghost which is approved by legitimate authority. The reason for this is that the unity of faith is the work of the Holy Ghost and unity of faith leads to unity of action.
Pope Leo XIII said: "As Christ, the head and exemplar, is not wholly in His visible human nature, ..nor wholly in the invisible divine nature, but is one, from and in both natures, visible and invisible; so the mystical body of Christ is the true Church only because its visible parts draw life and power from the supernatural gifts and other things whence spring their very nature and essence."
That the true Church of Jesus Christ is one can be proven by frequent testimony in the Holy Scriptures. No reasonable person can deny it. Now, in judging and determining the nature of this unity many errors have arisen in the past and in the present. It is not only the foundation of the Church, but also its whole constitution belongs to that class of things effected by Christ's choice which was a free choice.
Because of this, the entire question must be judged by what Christ actually did and not by what He might have done. And how do we know what Christ did if the Scriptures are "misinterpreted" _ as some heretics of the Apostate Church claim? And since the Scriptures were written well after the establishment of the Church, we appeal to tradition along with the written tradition.
St. Clemens of Alexandria says: "The Church in respect to its unity belongs to that category of things indivisible by nature, though heretics try to divide it into many parts We say, therefore, that the Catholic Church is unique in its essence, in its doctrine, in its origin, and in its excellence.. Moreover, the eminence of the Church arises from its unity, as the principle of its constitution _ a unity excelling all else, and having nothing similar to it or equal to it." (St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromatum 1.8,c.17).
When speaking of this mystical edifice, Christ speaks only of one Church which He calls His own: "I will build My Church." Obviously, Christ established only one Church and any other Church apart from this one Church cannot be the true Church. How the leaders of these false Churches can pretend that Christ founded their Church is beyond sound logic
If we look at the purpose for which Christ founded His Church, we can easily understand why there can be but one true Church. The whole purpose of the Church is to carry on the same mission which Jesus started, namely, the salvation of mankind through the preaching of the Gospel. This same mandate must be perpetuated until the end of time. Furthermore, it was the Father who mandated this. And this is what Jesus did: "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. As thou hast sent Me into the world, so I also have sent them into the world." (John 20, 21; 17,18).
These are times when the mystery of the Church becomes so crucial because it is necessary to be in the true Church in order to benefit from the redemptive graces of Christ's passion and death on the cross. "The son of man came that the world might be saved through Him," says St. John (John 3,17). And this application of His redemptive graces is called `salvation.' We read in the Acts of the Apostles: "For there is no other Name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4,12). This statement affirms the universality of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Since the Church is under an obligation to transmit this salvation through all the ages, it follows that it must remain always the same as its mission. It was the will of Jesus that His Church remain the same and one in all lands and at all times because the manner of salvation is the same everywhere and in every age. As Pope Leo XIII would say: "To justify the existence of more than one Church it would be necessary to go outside of this world and to create a new and unheard of race of men." Which, of course, is an absurdity that might possibly exist in a fertile imagination. And what if there were other intelligent beings on some other planets? Would that affect the economy of salvation on planet earth? In no way.
The Roman Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. This has been decreed by Jesus Christ. This union is similar to the identity of the human body and all its members. Jesus is the Head of His Mystical Body. Pope Leo XIII affirms the constant teaching of the Church: "As He took to Himself a mortal body which He gave to suffering and death in order to pay the price of man's redemption, so also He has one mystical Body in which and through which He renders men partakers of holiness and of eternal salvation." And St.Paul says that God "has made Him head over all the Church, which is His body."(Eph.1, 22,23). If there is but one body, it necessarily follows that scattered and separated members cannot possibly cohere with the head so as to make one body. St.Paul confirms this when he says: "All the members of the body, many as they are, form one body, so also is it with Christ." (! Cor.12,12). Can the various parts of the human body each go its own way? The organism would be destroyed. So, too, with the Mystical Body of Christ: St.Paul insists on the need for unity when he says: "The head, Christ: From Whom the whole body, being closely joined and knit together, through every joint of the system, according to the functioning in due measure of each single part."(Eph.4, 15,16). Again, those members that are scattered and separated from one another cannot be united with one and the same head.
St.Cyprian writes: "There is one God, and one Christ; and His Church is one and the faith is one; and one the people joined together in the solid unity of the body in the bond of concord. This unity cannot be broken, nor the one body divided by the separation of its constituent parts." (St.Cyprian, de Cath.Eccl.Un.23). Furthermore, St.Cyprian also uses the phenomenon of the living body, pointing out that the members cannot possibly survive unless united to the head and drawing from it their vital force. If any member is separated from the head, it must necessarily die. He then comes to the sole conclusion: "The Church cannot be divided into parts by the separation and cutting asunder of its members. What is cut away from the mother cannot live or breathe apart." (Ibid.).
Then there is the great doctor of grace, St. Augustine of Hippo who says: "See what you must beware of _ see what you must avoid _ see what you must dread. It happened that, as in the human body, some member may be cut off _ a hand, a finger, a foot. Does the soul follow the amputated member? As long as it was in the body it lived: separated, it loses its life. So the Christian is a Catholic as long as he lives in the body: cut off from it he becomes a heretic _ the life of the spirit follows not the amputated member." (St.Augustine, Sermo 267,n.4).
Again, St.Cyprian writes: "Whoever is separated from the Church is united to an adulteress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church, and he who leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ He who observes not this unity observes not the law of God, holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, clings not to life and salvation." (Ibid.).
How can any right-minded person ignore the fact that Jesus gave the Church the principle of unity? It was He who founded the Church _ which was actually the fulfillment of the Old Law _and made it so that all who are to belong to it must be united by the closest bonds in such a way as to form a single society, a single kingdom, a single body _ as St.Paul says: "..one body and one spirit, even as you were called in one hope of your calling." (Eph.4,4).
And when our Lord was close to death, He manifested His will with the solemn prayer: "Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who through their word are to believe in Me that they also may be one in Us that they may be perfected in unity." (John 17, 20 _23). There can be no more intimate a union among His followers than the one that exists between the Father and Christ: "I pray that they all may be one, even as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee." (Ibid.21).
The first bond that unites people is agreement and unity of minds from whence unity of will follows and of which the natural result is unity of action. Where there is no unity of faith, there cannot be unity of action. We speak of those who hold fast to the one, true faith as the "faithful."
The devil's attacks upon the faith bear witness to the fact that unity of faith is the very first step to any kind of unity. The Holy Scriptures ceaselessly appeal to the faithful to maintain this unity. St.Paul entreats and implores Christians to be all of the same mind, and to avoid differences of opinions: "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of Our Lord Jesus, that you all say the same thing, and that there be no dissentions among you, but that you be perfectly united in one mind and in one judgment."(I Cor.1,10).
If the Scriptures are one, how is it that there are so many interpretations of the same text? It is an absurdity to believe that the one Holy Ghost, intimately united with the Father and Son could be the inspired Author of so many, often ridiculous, interpretations. This is the result of the disagreements of the human mind and of the unsettling element of conflicting passions. There can be no doubt that from a variety of interpretations there come about a variety of beliefs. And, from all this rise up controversies and wranglings which even plagued the Church from the beginning. St.Iraneus says of heretics: "Admitting the Holy Scriptures, they distort the interpretations." (Lib. 3, cap.12, n.12).
St. Augustine but continues the same theme: "Heresies have arisen, and certain perverse views ensnaring souls and precipitating them into the abyss only when the Scriptures, good in themselves, are not properly understood." (In Evang.Joa.18, c.5.n1).
It is the fad of the day to fancy oneself capable to make one's own decision in matters of faith. Such a superficial attitude lowers the seriousness of religion to the level of bargain basement shopping. People should be made to understand that our Lord has commanded them to believe. Pope Leo XIII points this out very clearly: "Christ proves His own divinity and the divine origin of His mission by miracles; He teaches heavenly doctrines to the multitudes by word of mouth; and He absolutely commands that the assent of faith should be given to His teaching, promising eternal rewards to those who believe and eternal punishment to those who do not." Our Lord said: "If I do not perform the works of my Father, do not believe Me. If I had not done among them works such as no one else has done, they would have no sin. But if I do perform them, and you are not willing to believe Me, believe the works."(John 10, 37-38; 15,24).
This learned and loyal Vicar of Jesus Christ, Pope Leo XIII continues: "Whatsoever He commands, He commands by the same authority. He demands the assent of the mind to all truths without exception. It was therefore the duty of all who hear Jesus Christ, if they wished for eternal salvation, not only to accept His doctrine as a whole, but to assent with their entire mind to all and every part of it, since it is unlawful to withhold faith from God even in regard to one single point."
And to whom has Jesus given His power? Just prior to ascending into heaven, Jesus said to the Apostles: "All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matt.28, 18-20). Are all nations free to accept or reject the message and preaching of the Apostles? Absolutely not! "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned." (Mark 16,16). Not only do the Apostles receive help in their mission from the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Ghost, but they are encouraged by our Lord and armed against human respect: "He who hears you, hears Me; and he who rejects you rejects Me."(Luke 10,16).
It is Jesus Who sends the true ambassadors to represent Him. The Apostles proclaimed themselves the ambassadors of Christ Himself: "Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about obedience to faith among all nations for His name's sake." (Rom.1,5).
But the apostolic mission was not destined to die with the apostles themselves, or to come to an end in the course of time, since it was meant for the people at large and instituted for the salvation of the human race until the end of time. They were to preach to the very ends of the earth and to everyone without exception. Our Lord promised to be with His disciples until the end of time. On this subject, St. Jerome says: "He who promises to remain with His disciples to the end of the world declares that they will be always victorious and that He will never depart from those who believe in Him."(In Matt. 1,4, c.28, v.20). To be sure, this could not be realized in the apostles themselves. For, they too were subject to the consequences of original sin and would have to suffer death.
Pope Leo XIII explains how the mission of the apostles was to be continued: "It was consequently provided by God that the Magisterium instituted by Jesus Christ should not end with the life of the apostles, but that it should be perpetuated. We see it in truth transmitted, and, as it were, passed from hand to hand. Because the apostles consecrated bishops, and each one appointed those who were to succeed them immediately `in the ministry of the Word.'"
"The apostles were appointed by Christ to preach the Gospel to us. Jesus Christ was sent by God. Christ is therefore from God, and the apostles from Christ, and both according to the will of God . Preaching therefore the Word through the countries and cities, when they had proved in the Spirit the first-fruits of their teaching they appointed bishops and deacons for the faithful They appointed them and then ordained them, so that when they themselves had passed away other trustworthy men should carry on their ministry." (St. Clement of Rome, Epist. 1 ad Corinth. Cap.42, 46).
The doctrine had to remain perpetual and unchangeable and the duty of accepting and professing all their doctrine should likewise be perpetual and unchangeable. St.Cyprian says: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, when in His Gospel He testifies that those who are not with Him are His enemies, does not specify any special form of heresy, but declares that all heretics who are not with Him and do not gather with Him, scatter His flock and are His adversaries. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who gathers not with Me scatters." (St.Cyprian, Ep.69 ad Magnum, n.1).
What is said of a Pope is equally applicable to bishops: As a legitimate Pope is the principle of unity for the entire Church, individual Bishops in union with a legitimate Pope are the principle of unity in that territory where they have a flock entrusted to them. If, therefore, it is essential that the successor of St. Peter have the power to uphold the Church and to guard it in all its strength and indestructible unity, it follows that the Vicar of Christ must have the power of commanding, forbidding and judging which is properly called jurisdiction. As Pope Leo XIII himself rightly says: "It is only by this power of jurisdiction that nations and commonwealths are held together. A primacy of honor and the obscure right of giving advice and admonition, which is called direction could never obtain for any society of men unity or strength."
Pope Leo XIII emphatically teaches the right order and distribution of authority (jurisdiction) in the Mystical Body of Christ: "But if the authority of Peter and his successors is plenary and supreme, it is not to be regarded as the only authority. For He Who made Peter the foundation of the Church also chose twelve, whom He called apostles; and just as it is essential that the authority of Peter should be perpetuated in the Roman Pontiff, so, by the fact that the bishops succeed the apostles, they inherit their ordinary power, and they inherit their ordinary power, and thus the episcopal order necessarily belongs to the essential constitution of the Church. Although they do not receive plenary, or universal or supreme authority, they are not to be regarded as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs; because they exercise a power really their own, and are most truly called the ordinary pastors of the peoples over whom they rule."
Now despite the fact that several Roman Pontiffs have clearly stated the same truth as quoted above from Pope Leo XIII, there are still those who refuse to accept the authority of the bishops, and by their scandalous and rebellious attitude dare to encourage the faithful to join them in rejecting this divine authority. One wonders in astonishment at these renegade clergymen _ some of whom have even gone so far as to steal the sacred consecration of a bishop _ how far their willful blindness can lead them. For, while denying the authority of the legitimate bishop to govern the Christian community, these false teachers defy the clear legislation of Church law and dare to preach without a bishop's authorization; they dare to administer Sacraments to the uninformed who perhaps do not realize that such Sacraments are either invalid or even when valid, they are always sacrilegious and without the fruit of supernatural grace.
It is argued that those who have been consecrated by Bishop Ngo Dinh Thuc have no authority. Yet, there is no outburst against the bogus consecrations performed by the French "Bishop" Marcel Lefebvre whose own priestly ordination and episcopal consecration are under a heavy cloud of doubt.
Following the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, we ought to ponder the evident consequences of this truth. This great Pope stated: "But since the successor of Peter is one, and those of the apostles are many, it is necessary to examine into the relations which exist between him and them according to the divine constitution of the Church. Above all things the need of union between the bishops and the successors of Peter is evident and undeniable. This tie once broken, Christians would be separated and scattered, and would in no wise form one body and one flock."
St. Jerome says: "The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms to be expected in the Church as there are priests." (Dialogue against the Luciferians)
There is no doubt that Pope Leo XIII's warning is indeed valid when he states that "From this it must be clearly understood that bishops are deprived of the right and power of ruling, if they deliberately withdraw from Peter and his successors; because, by this secession, they are separated from the foundation on which the whole edifice must rest. They are consequently outside the edifice itself; and for this very reason they are separated from the fold, whose leader is the Chief Pastor; they are exiled from the Kingdom, the keys of which were given by Christ to Peter alone."
The papacy is the center of unity. For this reason, no one can deny the office of the Pope without being a heretic and schismatic. However, while keeping the office intact, it must be said that the faithful _ and especially true bishops _ have the right to question the validity and legitimacy of one who sits on the chair of Peter and uses that high position to undermine the very unity of faith which this Chair was instituted by Christ to protect. Neither the faithful nor the bishops are bound to obey public heretics.
What was said by Pope Leo XIII regarding heretical or schismatic bishops, viz., that they are deprived of the right and power of ruling, must also apply and in an eminently greater degree to the Bishop of Rome if he should fall into heresy. Now, this is the case with those who occupy the Chair of Peter since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958.This includes the present usurper, "John Paul II".
It should be carefully noted that all the faithful _ including bishops _ are bound in conscience to obey all the legitimate Popes. Doctrine does not die with each Pope. Nor is there sound basis for the slippery slogan of those who say that "What one Pope did, another can undo."
Genuine Roman Catholics will always be united to a legitimate Bishop who, in turn, is united with all the Popes and their accepted teachings since St. Peter. When the See of Peter is vacant _ as in this Great Apostasy _ the jurisdiction in the Church continues in the bishops howsoever few their number may be.
Even if the Church were reduced to the smallest number, it will always exist as long as there is at least one bishop and a few of the laity.
Now, if the Bishops have jurisdiction in their own right during the reign of a legitimate Pope, how much more so must they have it in the case of an anti-pope sitting on the Chair of Peter!
Among the flagrant heresies of the Traditionalists is their spirit of anarchy and sectarianism fostered by either the unauthorized laymen who manipulate the clergy, or the priests who refuse legitimate obedience to the true bishop(s) of the Church.
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