”And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” Matthew 16:18
“Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” Matthew 19:24
There are four marks of the Church; One, Holy, Catholic (universal), and Apostolic. The Church also has particular attributes. Two of its attributes are Infallibility and Indefectability. Here we consider some of the Church’s teaching regarding its Infallibility and Indefectability.
Extraordinary Magisterium (I.e. the teaching office)
- The Pope himself is infallible when speaking ex Cathedra according to the conditions laid down by the Vatican Council in 1870
- The Pope in union with an Ecumenical Council is infallible when defining points of Faith and Morals.
These are two ways that the Magisterium of the Church is infallible in teaching in an extraordinary way.
Question: Is the Church’s Magisterium infallible in any other way?
Answer: Yes the Church can also be infallible in its Ordinary Magisterium.
Question: When is the Church infallible in its Ordinary Magisterium?
Answer: When the pope and the bishops are in moral unanimity, which means most all of them, teaches a belief as the doctrine of Christ, as concerning faith and morals, to the whole church, then you have something called Universal Ordinary Magisterium. It has to be taught by the pope in union with all the bishops who are dispersed throughout the world. If those conditions are met, then there is present the Universal Ordinary Magisterium and according to that same Vatican Council of 1870, we owe the assent of faith to what is proposed as the doctrine of Christ by this Universal Ordinary Magisterium. This is of Divine Faith which means it is revealed by Christ Himself. So this act of the Magisterium has the same infallibility as a papal pronouncement ex Cathedra, which is solemn or extraordinary magisterium; and is very rare.
An example of Universal Ordinary Magisterium is the teaching of guardian angels. There is no solemn declaration concerning the existence of guardian angels, but it’s universally taught by the Catholic Church. So, it is impossible, therefor, that the pope and bishops together, teaching what is contained in revelation, teaching it universally to the whole church could err. It’s impossible because they are the teaching Church and as such they are assisted in that role by the Holy Ghost.
Question : Isn’t it the Universal Ordinary Magisterium only when it is a teaching in line with Tradition?
Answer :When the Ordinary Magisterium (pope in union with the majority of bishops), teaches Universally then we are witnessing Tradition actively happening before our eyes. It is not possible for it not to be line with Tradition since the Universal Ordinary Magisterium and Tradition is one and the same thing.
Question : But do not many priests and bishops today say that this is possible for the Ordinary Magisterium to teach contrary to Christ and that this is what has happened today with the Novus Ordo Church?
Answer : Yes, it is true that many do say that, but they have unwittingly fallen into a grave doctrinal error contrary to the teaching of both Christ Himself and His Church. If you ask them to substantiate their error they cannot.
Question : Bishop Williamson seems to present a new notion of the Church’s indefectability. Does he?
Answer : Yes, he does seem to present indefectability as merely the survival of the Church and he talks about defections as being the defections of Catholics to Islam in the 6th and 7th centuries and the defection of many Catholics to Protestantism in the 16th century. And this is not what the Church means by indefectability.
What the Catholic Church means by indefectability is that the Catholic Church in her universal teachings concerning faith and morals and in her Sacred Liturgy and in her disciplines, cannot propose anything that is contrary to faith and morals. That the Church is always holy in these regards/aspects. That is, dogma and of course morals with that liturgy and discipline. It can never teach a false religion. It can never defect from the truth in its official teaching and that includes Universal Ordinary Magisterium. It cannot propose to us to do something evil; give us an evil discipline or an evil law. It cannot promulgate to us a false liturgy; a liturgy that does not portray the truth concerning the Holy Eucharist and the other sacraments. It is prevented, by the assistance of Christ, from doing this. Thus is the promise of Christ. And the whole power of the Church, is that it has this assistance from Christ precisely not to do these things. It is preserved from error.
Pope Pius the IX said in 1868, in a letter addressed to Protestants, said – in this Church, meaning the Catholic Church – “the truth must always remain stable and inaccessible to every change. So as to keep, absolutely intact, the deposit confided to her and for whose safeguard the presence and assistance of the Holy Ghost has been promised to her forever.” In one sentence, that’s what the indefectability of the Catholic Church means.
That large numbers of people defecting/defected from the Catholic Church does not have anything to do with the indefectability of the Catholic Church. The indefectability is the absolute stability of the Church in proposing the truth and in proposing the true liturgy and true disciplines that are not sinful.
Now, if we compare that to what has happened since Vatican 2, why are we reacting so much to Vatican 2 and its reforms – what Bp Williamson calls Conciliarism. Why are we reacting to all that? Why have we set up an Apostolate against those who have imposed the doctrines of Vatican 2? Who have imposed the new code of cannon law? Who have imposed the new liturgy and all of the other things that have come out of Vatican 2? Ecumenism, and many other disciplines that are contrary to Faith. Why are we opposing them if those things do not constitute a new and false religion, which is not the Catholic religion? Our very actions attest to the fact that we know, by faith, that what has come out of the Vatican 2 is a new and false religion. Otherwise, we would not oppose it. Indeed, we have gone to so much trouble to oppose it. It would be much easier to go to our local parish churches and accept everything. But we have made our lives – lives of opposition to this new religion and we are staking our eternal salvation on this opposition to this new religion. Therefore, we cannot associate this new religion and with the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, with the authority to teach, rule, and sanctify the Church, which is given by Christ – this Church, which is assisted by the Holy Ghost. Otherwise, we must say that the Church has defected. This Catholic Church, which has been promised the assistance of Christ and the Holy Ghost, that it has defected by giving the whole world this false religion. So the only conclusion is, that those who are promoting this false religion, do not represent the Catholic Church. They are phony prelates, who do not represent the Catholic Church and they are manifesting their phoniness by the fact that they are promulgating this new religion.
Question : You mention Conciliarism as the term used by Bishop Williamson. Can you speak about this notion of Conciliar Church and Catholic Church and the distinctions?
Answer : Yes, the SSPX in general, distinguishes between the Conciliar Church and the Catholic Church. They go so far as to say that the Novus Ordo pope is the pope of two different churches – the Conciliar Church and the Catholic Church and sometimes he speaks as head of the Conciliar Church and sometimes he speaks as head of the Catholic Church and the way that you can tell how he is speaking is that the Society of Saint Pius X will put what he says into a sifter, essentially, and will sift out to you the Catholic stuff and the other things will remain in the sifter. But there is a problem with that whole theory. The precise problem that we are facing is that the modernists did not break away from the Catholic Church. That they, through subterfuge, managed to rise to powers – to places of power and they then used that to impose this new religion. Now, in fact they did not have the power, but they seemed to have the power. And they use that to promote this new religion. It’s like rats at the bottom of the ship that have gotten up to the top deck and are now steering the ship ; both at the rudder and at the wheel but they have not declared themselves outside of the ship and no one else has declared them outside of the ship. That is the precise problem that we have, but that does not mean that they cease to be rats. These are modernists (better off if they were just rats), who are not Catholics. Who are attempting to thrust upon the Church this new religion and our reaction to them must be precisely that they are not in fact, true prelates of the Catholic Church, they have no authority at all to teach, rule, and sanctify the Church. They are phony prelates from which we must avoid and accuse them. They should be identified as non-Catholic, more protesters, and thrown out of the Church of Christ.
When the sheep realize that there is a wolf in sheep’s clothing in the fold, they run as fast as they can to get away from him. This is the only proper response Catholics should have. Our Lord has stated the sheep hear His voice and know Him, we are armed with the Faith this is how we know when Christ is speaking. St. Paul even tells us, even if he or an angel of Heaven should come to us preaching a different word from what has already been taught, let him be anathema. Not, let us consider him the pope in certain circumstances or that he’s in charge of multiple churches.
Question : What is the response to Bp. Williamson who says this is thinking humanly, all too humanly?
Answer : How does humanity get into any of this? This is simply a defending of the Indefectability and Infallibility of the Catholic Church; the assistance of the Holy Ghost to the government of the Catholic Church: to the true pope and true bishops of the Catholic Church. That – where is humanity in that? Those are supernatural, invisible things that come from God. How is it thinking humanly? He would like to accuse it as being an emotional response. Thinking, well, Novus Ordo is so horrible that these people could not be popes. This is untrue, as there is no emotion involved in this at all.
This is plain and simply a recognition of the true nature of the Catholic Church, of the assistance of the Holy Ghost to the Catholic Church, and the fact that this false religion cannot come down from God. It cannot come down from the authority of Christ, nor from the authority of the pope.
Pope Pius XII stated that the authority of Christ and the authority of the pope are one and the same authority. So, if we hand to them the papacy, we have to hand to them at the same time the Catholicity of the Novus Ordo, and the Catholicity of Vatican 2, and we have to hand to them the legitimacy of everything that has been done for the past 50+ years and then we have to turn around and condemn ourselves.
Question : Is this understanding of the Church’s teaching regarding Infallibility and Indefectability becoming more and more popular because of Francis?
Answer : Francis very well could be a big factor in it. There’s really no longer any reason to make any arguments when Francis is saying all the horrendous things that he has been saying for the past 3 years. Bergoglio’s statements are so damning, that anyone with a brain could figure out that he is not a Roman Catholic. How can anyone say that man is a Roman Catholic? He is a very clear and open heretic.
We have one duty: Be faithful to the teaching of the Church.
God Bless BJS!!