Everything You wanted to know the Infallibility of the Catholic Church but were afraid to ask about - Part 2

This is part two of my analysis of Fr. Cekada's (here's part one) Remnant article.

As promised in part one:

Having addressed the more serious aspects of Fr. Cekada's  arguments, I will research and address issues surrounding  'resistance to the Pope' and adherence 'to the teachings of the universal ordinary magisterium'  in part 2.

In reading the remaining passages of Fr. Cekada's remnant article I found it confusing as he mixes a number of elements together so that it is difficult to extract the fundamentals.

One  premise is that it is unlawful of traditionalists who are " resisting his universal laws which are infallible".

The problem with this assertion is that there are limits of the infallibility as noted in part 1 of this series as well as Father is very non specific as to what laws are being resisted.

So the first question is what laws are being resisted? The second is were these laws promulgated in the manner that is consistent with the type of infallibility that is afforded to the Church in its discipline? The third is is it lawful to 'resist'? Who can 'resist'? Lastly, in what manner can resistance be effected?

What laws do the Traditionalists resist the Pope, and also the hierarchy? The reason I state hierarchy is because a large portion of Traditionalists do not attend Mass at their diocesan Church or TLM.

At the level of the laity this is, for the most part, the extent of their resistance.  First there is no longer an obligation to obtain the sacraments from your local parish.  Second we know that it is lawful to attend the SSPX mass centres as long as there is no desire to separate oneself from the Church by an act of schism (thank you pced). So at this level, the litigate not in resistance to Church law.

At the level of the priesthood there are two issues that I can think of:

1. Saying the Tridentine Mass instead of the Novus Ordo.

This is obviously not a problem since Pope Benedict declared that it has always been licit.

2. Ignoring the suspension a divinis.

First, we know that a suspension a divinis is not protected by infallibility.  So I think we can send that particular monster back in the closet.

Second, comes down to the issues faced by Archbishop Lefebvre when this trouble started back in 1974 (yes it has been that long). Does this constitute resistance to a 'law' of the Church. I think that it would, the reasons for this resistance (disobedience to be exact) on the part of Archbishop Lefebvre is that he saw the danger to souls and acted in accordance with that understanding.  Was it lawful - well if souls were in danger due to the turmoil that erupted in the 70's on the liturgical and doctrinal fronts, I believe that it is safe to make that claim. 

Now moving on to Fr. Cekada's arguments.  Just prior to launching into his justification for the sedevacantist thesis he makes the following claims:

  1. Since the authority of the Church cannot give evil or error,
  2. and since individual Catholics may not “resist” a true pope, R&R-ers face three possible conclusions:
  3. The New Mass and Vatican II teachings are Catholic. ...
  4. The authority of the Catholic Church has defected. ...
  5. The New Mass and the Vatican II teachings are not Catholic, and so could not have come from the authority of the Church.

Claim 1: Bears on the extents of the infallibility of the Church in her disciplinary laws.  As noted the liturgy can be ambiguous and still be a danger due to the ambiguity. 
Claim 2: Which I only touched on briefly states that a Catholic cannot resist - which I would clarify as obey - the Pope.  Here it is simply a matter of resorting to St. Thomas Aquinas concerning the principle of obedience (Aquinas, 1920).  Does attendance at the Novus Ordo constitute a danger to the faith?  Given the ambiguities alone, I would say yes.  There are a number of articles/studies on this matter which I won't repeat at this time.
Claim 3: This is where Fr. Cekada digs in deeper by making a generalization of the word 'Catholic'.  Since we know that the Church's infallibility has limits, it is conceivable that the Church could construct a liturgy that is ambiguous - stripping out the barriers to heresy - quoting Fr. Cekada's translation of Cardinal Ottaviani.  So the statement is flawed.
Claim 4: This claim is not substantiated because his thesis rests on an incorrect notion of the extents of the infallibility of the Church in her discipinary laws.
Claim 5: Likewise in applying the generalized label of 'Catholic or not' Fr. Cekada does himself no favours.  He makes a leap across a number of faulty assumptions from 'The New Mass and Vatican II teachings are not Catholic' to the authorities have defected from the faith - so sedevacantism is the only logical solution.
Well, with all due respect to Fr. Cekada, his entire thesis rests on the extents of the infallibilty of the discipline of the Church.  I've already described the extents of this infallibility and demonstrated that at a minimum Fr. Cekada has not provided evidence that the Church has crossed the boundaries of infallibility.
In the next section Fr. Cekada provides more 'evidence' and justification for the sedevacantist thesis.
First he deals with heresy. I've already covered heresy in a number of articles/posts, please use the search feature for 'heresy plain and not so simple'.
After reviewing 'heresy' he dives into the 'Frankenchurch' assertions of his thesis. 
This heresy posits a “People of God” and a “Church of Christ” not identical with the Roman Catholic Church and broader than it — a Frankenchurch created from “elements” of the true Church that are possessed either “fully” (by Catholics) or “partially” (by heretics and schismatics).(Cekada 2006)

This is interesting because as with many documents after the Second Vatican Council we are faced with ambiguities.  Having gone through some of the references made by Fr. Cekada, I have concluded that he is making judgements of ambiguous texts.
For example regarding the schismatic orthodox. 
Their sacraments are valid and they have maintained apostolic succession.  Since their sacraments are valid and we know that the sacraments provide grace ex opere operato and the Catholic Church is the sole channel of this grace - so it is not heretical to say that the Catholic Church is operative within these 'communities'. 
Historically, this was called vestiges. 
Fr. Schmidtberger gave a talk on this and its is discussed in 'Timebombs of the Second Vatican Council'. He concluded that the above is the Catholic interpretation - there is of course a heretical interpretation and he goes into it as well.  I recommend you find a copy as it is well worth the effort to understand the ambiguities.
Much of the remainder of the Fr. Cekada's assertions are of the same vein.
He either takes the quotes out of context or in the face of ambiguity makes a judgement and interprets them in a manner contrary to the teaching of the Church (eg Catechism of the Catholic Church 819, 832,834).


At this point, I am going to forego the remainder of the analysis because I have already demonstrated that the foundation of his arguments is flawed. This foundation is the infallibilty of the disciplinary laws of the Church. 

Secondly, his concept of heresy lacks precision.  In each case that I reviewed, I could either have recourse to the above faulty premise or that he is making a judgement of ambiguous statements and assuming the heterodox interpretation. 
In short, he appears to be working under a significant confirmation bias.
Frankly, given his books on the liturgy, I had expected a better set of arguments from Fr. Cekada. 

Ludwig Van Ott (1954). Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Fort Colling, CO: Roman Catholic Books. Retrieved 2012 from Internet Archive: http://archive.org/details/FundamentalsOfCatholicDogma

Toner, P. (1910). Infallibility. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved May 20, 2013 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07790a.htm

Sylvester J. Hunter, S.J. (1894). Outlines of Dogmatic Theology. New York and Bombay: Longmans, Green & Co.

Ottaviani, Cardinal Alfreo, (1969). Letter on the Novus Ordo Missae. Retrieve May 20, 2013 from EWTN: http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/reformof.htm

Cekada, Anthony, (2006). Resisting the Pope, Sedevacantism and Frankenchurch. Retrieved May, 2013 from a Sedevacantist website (address withheld)

Aquinas, St. Thomas (1920). The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas 2,2,Q104,Art 5, Reply 3

The Church
Tradition and Living Magisterium
Theological Definition
Dogmatic Facts
Dogmatic Theology
Papal Infallibility and its limitations
The Infallibility of the Pope and the Magisterium
How Infallible is the Teaching Church?
Church Tradition Magisterium
Does the Church's Infallibility Extend to Disciplinary Laws?
Ecclesiastical Discipline


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