Q. On a visit to one of the Franciscan churches, I observed that after the recitation of the Rosary, one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be are said "for the intention of the Papacy". Does this mean that you recognize the present occupant of the See of Peter as a valid and legitimate Pope? If so, then how can you be called "sede vacantists"?
M.F., Milwaukee, WI
There are several reasons for adding this intention at the end of the Franciscan Rosary.
The original intention was always a prayer for the reigning Holy Father. This was added to the Franciscan Crown (as the Rosary is called in Franciscan circles) as a constant reminder of our loyalty to the reigning successor of St. Peter.
Now, since the unfortunate condition of the Roman Catholic Church when there is no legitimate successor of St.Peter, that is, a Roman Pontiff, we Roman Catholics express our loyalty to the Apostolic See even though it is not occupied by a legitimate Pope in order to be reminded that every genuine Roman Catholic is bound to the See of Peter and all that it represents.
The "Apostolic See" is more than just one Pope; it is the entire succession of legitimate Popes since St. Peter and this even includes bishops who belong to the Apostolic See. We are bound in conscience to the doctrinal and disciplinary decrees of past Popes who taught infallibly whether in an ordinary way or with public solemnity.
The "papacy" is the highest office in the Roman Catholic Church. Obviously, it is a human person who occupies an office. From this point of view, we cannot really pray for an office. The intention of our prayer is first of all for the protection of the office and all it represents. We are aware of the Polish Jew, Karol Wojtyla, and his plans to destroy the sacred office established by Jesus Christ to maintain unity of faith and discipline in the Church.
So, our intention in praying for the papacy is a humble expression of our obedience to the teachings of legitimate Popes and a plea that God would protect this office from the machinations of such Modernist anti-Catholics as those occupying the buildings belonging to the Roman Catholic Church.
The Vatican is occupied by the enemies of Jesus Christ. Much like Palestine is occupied by foreign European elements intent on robbing that land from the Palestinians by brute force.
The vast machinery of public information and opinion formation is used by these unscrupulous people to create the illusion that they are the legitimate occupants of that land, which of course, they are not. But, they are perceived by the misinformed and often uninformed people to have some legitimate claim.
The true authorities of the Roman Catholic Church have never recognized the terrorist occupation of Palestine. It was the Polish Jew, Karol Wojtyla, who used the usurped position of the papal office to give recognition to that act of banditry which continues unabated for all these years.
That is the simple truth. Likewise, the cunning usurpation of the Chair of Peter by heretical Modernists is a simple truth. But, then, only honest people are content with the simple truth.
That is why we pray for the intention of the papacy. The "intention" is our intention _ our determination to remain faithful to the position of supreme visible authority established by Jesus Christ. This is the reason we hold to the teachings of Pope Pius XII and all the Popes before him who were genuine, legitimate successors of St. Peter.
We obey Pope Pius XII not as a person; we obey Pope Pius XII as an instrument of divine guidance whose infallible message remains with us even though his bodily presence is no longer with us. He spoke with the authority of Jesus Christ just as St.Peter did. St. Peter is no longer physically present, but his words carrying divine truth continue to guide us. The same is true of every legitimate Pope.
Another part of the "Apostolic See previously mentioned are those true and loyal Bishops who have not fallen into heresy or schism.
This point is particularly important to bear in mind today precisely because of the Great Apostasy that has deprived the Roman Catholic Church of a true Pope and the vast majority of true Bishops.
Apostolicity as the fourth mark of the true Church was taught by the Church in the Nicene Creed. Like the three other marks of the Church, it flows from the intimate nature of the Church itself.
Since the Church is humanity organized socially in Christ, that is, hierarchicallly in Peter and the "college" of the Twelve, apostolicity is the backbone of its constitution, the guarantee of its continuity, and the condition of its fruitfulness.
Sacred Scripture gives evidence that Christ established His Church on the rock of Peter and the foundation of the Apostles. The history of the early Church, narrated in the Acts of the Apostles shows us the Apostles at work, preaching a doctrine transmitted to them by the Master, applying the means of salvation instituted by Him, and exercising the authority derived from Him.
They then appoint successors for themselves with the same aims and purposes of teaching, sanctifying and governing.
Apostolicity implies, therefore, a legitimate continuity of succession to the chair occupied by Peter and the apostolic "college," with the keeping of the same doctrine, of the same sacraments and the same authority.
We may imagine it as the uninterrupted relay of the popes (successors of Peter) and of the bishops (successors of the Apostles), transmitting each to the next one, throughout the ages, the torch of the same faith, the chalice of the same blood of Christ, the pastoral rod of the same authority.
Cardinal Capecelatro wrote: "Like the first branches of a tree do not die, but renew themselves and extend themselves, spreading their vital force into the new part, so it is in the Church through the succession of the pastors (bishops). In it, the episcopacy renews itself from time to time, but only by diffusion and prolongation of the apostolic life.
The apostolicity of the Church, therefore, is not for us a remote or passing fact, but something ever present, because today too the life of the Church comes from Christ into the Apostles, from the Apostles into the legitimate successors, and from them into us."
The terms `material' and `formal' are often used in philosophy and theology to distinguish very fine yet necessary differences. Admittedly, these terms have limited usage and are at times difficult for untrained people to understand.
The misuse of these terms has often led to error in some cases, and has served some individuals in calculated deception.
The distinction is made between formal apostolicity and material apostolicity. What does this mean?
Perhaps an understanding of these terms will also help to understand why we pray for the intentions of the papacy. Perhaps it would even be more correct to speak of praying for the protection of the papacy against the many innovators and heretics who seek to destroy this sacred office either directly or indirectly.
Material apostolicity means apostolic origin but with a lack of legitimate continuity in that such bishops are separated from Peter living in the Roman Pontiff to whom the bishops are subject as the Apostles were subject in their time to Peter. For example: The schismatic Oriental Church styles itself the "orthodox" Church, but has only material apostolicity. It lacks formal apostolicity which would be that unity in obedience to a legitimate Pope and union with those bishops who are in union with the Pope.
If there is no legitimate Pope, how can bishops then be in union with a Pope? They can and must be in union with the Apostolic See which, we have seen, is not only an individual Pope, but the entire Apostolic College.
Comparing `material' and `formal' to the constitution of the human being into body and soul, we could say that the body is the material part of the person and the formal part is the soul.
Without the body, we would have an angel; and without the soul, we would have a brute, or, a corpse. We can see the body; but we cannot see the soul. Nevertheless, it is the soul that gives life to the body. In the human being, the body is the `material,' and the soul is the `form.' Both must be present and united in order to make a human being.
There are those who have been made bishops carelessly; there are some who have become bishops by means of cunning deception; and there are some who have become bishops through the action of God's grace and inspiration.
Since it is the Holy Ghost Who is the soul of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, and since heretics, schismatics and the excommunicated who have no part in the Holy Ghost, it follows that those who have rejected the true doctrines and discipline of the Church are like dead branches from a tree in which there is no life. Furthermore, just as the separated branch retains its outward appearance, so also does the `material' bishop have the outward appearance of a true bishop but lacks the supernatural power which is given by the Holy Ghost at consecration.
This is why we may use the term `material' in speaking of such bishops (provided, of course, that all other conditions are met) who have been consecrated. They are not `formal' bishops because they lack the supernatural powers which are given by the Holy Ghost.
You cannot ordain a dead man because a corpse cannot form the intention to receive the sacrament.
When a person who is in the state of mortal sin receives Holy Communion, that person has materially, or, physically, received the Body and Blood of Our Lord. But, because there is the obstacle placed by the person in mortal sin, the grace of the Sacrament cannot be transmitted.
If a mouse climbed up on the altar when the priest opened the ciborium just before Communion and bit a consecrated Host, that mouse would have received Holy Communion _ materially, physically. It would be in that mouse just as It would be in the tabernacle. But, because neither the mouse nor the tabernacle are apt subjects to receive grace, they could not formally receive the Sacrament. We call this `formal' reception `fruitful' reception.
What is said of the Sacraments cannot apply to the election of a Pope. Election to the office of pope is not a Sacrament. It is a natural process of electing someone to a particular position. Infallibility and all the other prerogatives of a Pope are attached to the office. If a heretic is erroneously elected to the office of pope, the election cannot even be considered as `materially' valid because an essential element of the candidate is absent: faith.
A heretic cannot become even a `material' pope because he cannot be a valid candidate. One might use the example of the office of the President of the United States. Only a citizen of the United States can be elected as a valid and legitimate President of the United States. The candidate's citizenship is an essential material constitutive element in being a valid candidate for that office. The same is true of a candidate for the papacy.
We pray that God will protect us from false popes _ as He has done by guiding those of genuine faith in discerning and having the courage to denounce imposters. We pray that if it be God's will, that we may one day have a legitimate Pope. Meanwhile, we know that we have divine guidance because we cling with minds, hearts and wills to such a genuine successor of the Apostles.
It would be a fair question to ask "How can I know who is genuine and who is not?" When a policeman stops a speeding car, the first thing he asks the driver is to verify his credentials: "May I see your license, please." A true bishop of the Roman Catholic Church will have the proper credentials: He will not only have the proper theological and spiritual training according to the practice and laws of the Church, but he will also be a man of experience in spiritual matters. If he is a Religious, he will have had the proper and canonical training in a Religious Order or Congregation that has been approved by the legitimate authority of the Roman Catholic Church. He will teach what the Roman Catholic Church teaches; he will abide by the laws of the Church and will see to it that others abide by these same laws.
There are some who have only a part of the right credentials; while still others have no valid credentials at all. All pretend to be bishops or priests. How will you know? Inquire of the legitimate authority. That authority resides in Bishop Louis Vezelis, OFM.
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