Q. If you hold that there has been no valid and legitimate Pope since the death of Pope Pius XII, will the Roman Catholic Church ever have another true Pope and how? Also, if there is no Pope, where does your bishop receive his authority or does he have none?
A. Taking into consideration the vast amount of contradictions in this area of ecclesiastical authority, it is not surprising that a simple answer would appear naïve and disappointing.
Setting aside for a moment the fact that the Church has experienced a large number of anti-popes and has still survived, the question remains of whether or not the Roman Catholic Church will ever have another valid and legitimate Pope.
In the first place, there is sufficient evidence for any reasonable person to conclude that there has not been a valid and legitimate Vicar of Jesus Christ occupying the Chair of Peter since the death of Pope Pius XII. This situation is termed "sede vacante" which means the Seat of Peter is vacant.
For the moment, we accept as a postulate that the See of Peter is vacant. That is, there is no true Pope, but only an imposter -_an anti-pope presently occupying the place of Peter.
The laws, or rules for the valid and legitimate election of a successor to St. Peter have been changed at various times. Logically, we who maintain that the last true Pope was Pope Pius XII likewise maintain that the rules for the election of a Pope stand as he determined.
Here also must be applied the rule of law both moral and canonical. Laws that cannot be physically or morally observed cease to bind in that particular instance. The reason for this is that God does not and cannot require the impossible.
This does not mean, however, that those clergymen and laity who have placed themselves in a position of schism with legitimate authority are excused for their actions by appealing to the "sede vacante" argument.
The usual procedure for electing a Pope is for the Cardinals of the Church to gather in a conclave and there to cast secret ballots for their chosen candidates. A Pope is now elected from among the Cardinals.
Election of a Pope in the past when there were no Cardinals devolved mostly upon the Bishops. The reason for this is because the Pope is the Bishop of Rome and the election and consecration of a Bishop, ultimately, resides with the other Bishops who are successors of the Apostles.
We are here dealing with practice and not with doctrine. It is a doctrine that the Bishop of Rome is the successor of St. Peter and therefore enjoys the charisma of infallibility. The papacy is a matter of divine institution and its rejection constitutes heresy.
The election of a Pope is not a matter of doctrine but of existing procedure. If, for example, there were no Cardinals, who would then elect a Pope? According to the rules, it would be impossible to elect a Pope because by the law a Pope is elected by and from the Cardinals.
This is the present situation. The last true and valid living Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church was Emile Cardinal Leger, former Archbishop of Montreal. He has since died. Consequently, there is not a single valid and legitimate Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church.
If we follow this logically, the conclusion necessarily must be that according to the law there can never be another valid and legitimate Pope.
There are those who would try to escape this conclusion by appealing to the absurd notion concocted by the late Msgr. Guerard des Lauriers, OP, namely, that there is a "material" Pope but not a "formal" Pope.
Our bishop, His Excellency Louis Vezelis, OFM, tried to tactfully point out to Msgr. Guerard des Lauriers, OP that such a position leads to absurdity and that absurdity cannot lead to the truth. A "material" Pope is nothing more than the figment of a perplexed imagination. It's nothing more than a "security blanket" or Teddy bear for the spiritually infantile. This is a self-contradicting theory invented to console the timid of heart who fear the truth.
For these, there seems to be no problem in heretics electing another heretic to the Chair of Peter from whence, most likely, nothing can come. Nothing can come because those who hold this absurd position must always maintain the logic of their error: There can only be a "material" Pope and never a "formal" Pope ad infinitum.
The Church either must have a real Pope or no Pope. Obviously, the only Pope must be a real one, otherwise, the absurdity is perpetuated, souls are deceived, and scoundrels play havoc with those who follow them.
As things stand and if our position is the correct one, then the true Church will not have another Pope, that the end times are here and that the Antichrist will soon be revealed and that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is very near _ yes, even at the door.
The Roman Catholic Church has progressed through the centuries to the present amid ceaseless persecution. She had been guided by the Holy Ghost and will continue to be guided by the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost is the soul of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and this same Holy Ghost works in each of the members of this Body.
Divine Providence has provided the Church with all the elements required for the salvation of those who accept Her guidance and stands firm in the face of the current storm.
The Church has no need nor can She be saved by heretics; nor, can schismatics constitute a part of this Mystical Body as Pope Pius XII made clear in his doctrinal Encyclical on the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.
For those who are overly concerned about the election of a valid and legitimate Pope, the best answer and advice is this:
Do not worry yourselves needlessly. First, live as a genuine and loyal Roman Catholic according to what you already know to be right and true. Among these truths is the promise that Christ will not leave you orphans. That is, He will always provide a shepherd in His anointed ones ,that is, those bishops who are with and in the Church.
The authority in the Church is of supernatural origin. Both the authority of a legitimate Pope and legitimate Bishops has the same source: the Holy Ghost. This is what Pope Pius XII wished to convey to dissidents who sought to restrict the authority and power of bishops.
After pointing out that Jesus Christ is the invisible Supreme Pontiff of the Church and that the Roman Pontiff is the visible Vicar of the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XII then goes on to speak of the Bishops who are the successors of the Apostles. He says:
"What We have thus far said of the Universal Church must be understood also of the individual Christian communities, whether Oriental or Latin, which go to make up the one Catholic Church. For they, too, are ruled by Jesus Christ through the voice of their respective Bishops.
Consequently, Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church, for they are united by a very special bond to the divine Head of the whole Body and so are rightly called `principal parts of the members of the Lord'; moreover, as far as his own diocese is concerned, each one as a true Shepherd feeds the flock entrusted to him and rules it in the name of Christ.
Yet, in exercising this office they are not altogether independent, but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying the ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff.
Therefore, Bishops should be revered by the faithful as divinely appointed successors of the Apostles, and to them, even more than to the highest civil authorities should be applied the words: `Touch not my anointed one.' For Bishops have been anointed with the chrism of the Holy Spirit."
To those of supernatural faith, these words expressing the true doctrine of the Church regarding authority are clear as is the duty incumbent upon them. And, to those who contumaciously challenge this divine authority at every turn, no amount of reasoning will convince them because it is not a matter of intellectual conviction but of an obstinate will turned toward the destructive independence first expressed by Lucifer: "I will not serve! I will not obey!"
Jesus did not promise that there would be a line of uninterrupted successors of St. Peter; but He did promise that His flock _ those true and loyal Catholics _ would never be without a divinely appointed Shepherd in the person of a Bishop.
A loyal Bishop holds to the promises made before his consecration and reception of his divine authority from the Holy Spirit. His duty and the authority accompanying that duty is to see that the faith is not corrupted by insolent heretics and proud schismatics; that the laws of the Church are obeyed and that the true flock of Jesus Christ is provided with the supernatural grace so necessary for the keeping of God's commandments and salvation.
It is true, neither Pope nor Bishop have a police force or army wherewith to restrain the imprudent and the heretics. The authority of the Pope and Bishops is a moral authority which cannot be ignored without serious consequences. It is a moral authority because it is a supernatural authority which does not depend upon physical force as that of earthly governments.
Today, we see three distinct phenomena towards divinely instituted authority: First, we see the vast majority of people who have blindly followed usurpers into heresy in the Modernist Church. Then, secondly, we observe those who have broken with the Apostate Church and have formed various types of "independent" mini-churches, or, sects. These foster disobedience to legitimate authority only because their vanity and pride prevents them from obeying. Disobedient themselves, they must re-enforce their disobedience by leading others to imitate their vice.
Then, finally, there is the small number of genuine, loyal Roman Catholics who, inspired by the same supernatural faith and grace that guides their spiritual leader, the Bishop, cling to the Bishop with all their heart.
The redemption and salvation of each individual's will depends on the readiness with which divine authority is respected and obeyed. For, authority is given not to oppress, but to guide, protect and lead souls to their ultimate goal which is union with Jesus Christ for all eternity.
St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote to the faithful of Philadelphia (Not Philadelphia, PA!): "Being born, then, of the light of truth, shun division and bad doctrines. Where the shepherd is, there you, being sheep, must follow. For, many wolves there are, apparently worthy of confidence, who with the bait of baneful pleasure seek to capture the runners in God's race; but if you stand united, they will have no success.
Avoid the noxious weeds. Their gardener is not Jesus Christ, because they are not the planting of the Father. Not that I found any division in your midst; but I did find that there had been a purge. Surely, all those that belong to God and Jesus Christ are the very ones that side with the bishop; and all those that may yet change their mind and return to the unity of the Church, will likewise belong to God, and thus lead a life acceptable to Jesus Christ. Do not be deceived, my brethren: if a man runs after a schismatic, he will not inherit the kingdom of God; if a man chooses to be a dissenter, he severs all connection with the Passion.
Take care, then, to partake of one Eucharist; for, one is the Flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with His Blood, and one altar, just as there is one bishop assisted by the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow servants. Thus you will conform in all your actions to the will of God."
Our duty as loyal Roman Catholics should be clear: It is not for us to worry about who and how a legitimate Pope may or may not be elected. Our duty is to remain united to that Bishop which divine authority has appointed to be our shepherd. It is his voice that we should hear and not that of heretics and schismatics.
If it be the will of God that the Roman Catholic Church should have a legitimate successor of St. Peter, it will happen in a way that respects truth and justice. Meanwhile, we ought not neglect the divine leadership God has given us in our Bishop. For, those who ignore or despise the Bishop, will surely despise any Pope.
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