In times of confusion, getting back to basics and re-establishing one’s footing in fundamental objective truth is always a good idea. In this post, we will do just that, reintroducing ourselves to the Catholic Church as if we have yet to formally met her.
So, you believe that this particular exercise is just a little too basic? Hardly.
Based on my experience, it seems that most so-called “traditional” Catholics in our day desperately need to be reminded about the nature of this society to which all of us desire to belong. In fact, I have little doubt that by the conclusion of this article many an honest reader will feel compelled to admit to having been among them. I say this as one who traveled that same path not very long ago.
The Holy Catholic Church is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth, founded by Our Lord as both “a human society” (Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis 40) and “a divine institution” (Pope Leo XIII, Divinum Illud Munus 6). It is a visible, hierarchically ordered, society with Christ as its Head and the faithful as its members.
Pope Pius XII elaborates:
As Bellarmine notes with acumen and accuracy, this appellation of the Body of Christ is not to be explained solely by the fact that Christ must be called the Head of His Mystical Body, but also by the fact that He so sustains the Church, and so in a certain sense lives in the Church, that she is, as it were, another Christ. (ibid., no. 53)
Being, as it were, another Christ, the Catholic Church possesses “divinely-given unity” (Pope Pius XII, ibid., no. 5), its members united to the Head in this one Body in a manner analogous to the hyperstatic union.
As for the purpose and activity of this Mystical Body of Christ, the Holy Father teaches [with emphasis added]:
As He hung upon the Cross, Christ Jesus not only appeased the justice of the Eternal Father which had been violated, but He also won for us, His brethren, an ineffable flow of graces. It was possible for Him of Himself to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do so only through a visible Church made up of men… (ibid., no. 12)
Moreover as our Savior does not rule the Church directly in a visible manner, He wills to be helped by the members of His Body in carrying out the work of redemption … But when those graces come to be distributed, not only does He share this work of sanctification with His Church, but He wills that in some way it be due to her action. (ibid., no. 44)
NB: By the will of Christ, it is only through men that the work of Redemption is carried out in the world through the Church. The Holy Father adds:
That those who exercise sacred power in this Body are its chief members must be maintained uncompromisingly. It is through them, by commission of the Divine Redeemer Himself, that Christ’s apostolate as Teacher, King and Priest is to endure. (ibid., no. 17) [Emphasis added]
Do not gloss over this important point: In His Church, Jesus Christ wills to teach, govern and sanctify mankind, not directly, but through men. Chief among those men are the popes whom Christ “enriches above all others with the supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, so that they may loyally preserve the treasury of faith, defend it vigorously, and explain it and confirm it with reverence and devotion” (cf Pius XII, ibid., no. 50).
Do these men retain the weakness and sinfulness that plagues all of humankind on earth? Indeed they do, and yet when exercising the threefold office of Christ in the name of the Church, Our Lord sustains His Mystical Body in such a way that the Holy Fathers can assure us without hesitation:
The Church is endowed with perfect and perpetual immunity from error and heresy (cf Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas, 22). Certainly the loving Mother [the Church] is spotless in the faith which she has always preserved inviolate (cf Pius XII, ibid., no. 66).
NB: This inerrancy of the Church is such that when she teaches or otherwise guides the faithful along the way of salvation, even when she does so in a manner that does not fit a strict definition of infallibility, she never dispenses the poisonous food of error to her children, whether in her faith, her morals or her liturgies. In other words, Holy Mother Church never endangers her children.
The distinction between “infallibility” and “inerrancy” is a point of confusion for many, one clarified very succinctly by Fr. E. Sylvester Berry as follows:
Infallibility differs from inerrancy. A person is inerrant when free from error, he is infallible when free from the possibility of error. (The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise)
Despite the unambiguous description of the Church outlined above, a grave error is being spread with impunity in our day by tradservative theologians, writers and speakers who insist that a distinction must be made between Holy Mother Church – she who is “prevented from ever teaching false doctrine” (cf Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 31) – and a so-called “institutional Church” that is all-too-prone to leading the faithful astray.
This “institutional Church,” according to those who embrace this error, has even officially promulgated, in the name of the one true Church, dangerous errors of various kinds, defective liturgies, and corrupted morals that are nonetheless “validly Catholic.”
In other words, they openly muse that such poisonous offerings as Vatican Council II and the Novus Ordo Missae, which they readily acknowledge as minefields of error, really do come from, and belong to, the Catholic Church!
Ironically, full-blown conservative commentators make an irrefutable point when they declare: If Vatican II is a valid ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, and the Novus Ordo is a valid Catholic liturgy, you have no right to denigrate, much less reject, either one.
The flaw in the “institutional Church” / valid Council / valid Novus Ordo argument should be obvious to all, but evidently it is not given the number of sincere persons who appear to have been hoodwinked by it and will likewise labor to defend it. To set the matter straight as concisely as possible:
The “institutional Church” that allegedly operates in the name of the one true Church of Christ, producing dangers to the faithful that are nonetheless validly Catholic, DOES. NOT. EXIST.
There is no such thing as a “valid” Catholic ecumenical council, doctrine, liturgy or moral principle that in any way endangers souls. Conversely, any council, doctrine, liturgy or moral principle that does so simply did not come from, nor belong to, the Church, “institutional” or otherwise.
The “institutional Church” hoax as described is a relatively recent twist on a much older error, one condemned by Pope Pius XII:
We deplore and condemn the pernicious error of those who dream of an imaginary Church, a kind of society that finds its origin and growth in charity, to which, somewhat contemptuously, they oppose another, which they call juridical. (ibid., no. 65)
The Holy Father went on to provide the true doctrine:
There can be no real opposition or conflict between the invisible mission of the Holy spirit and the juridical commission of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ, since they mutually complement and perfect each other. (ibid.)
In our day, this “juridical Church” that some imagine to be distinct from the Church ever endowed with divine attributes, is now more often referred to as the “institutional Church.” The pernicious error, however, is essentially the same; it effectively renders null the Church’s “divinely-given unity,” ostensibly creating division between the “human society” and the “divine institution.”
Just as the Catholic Church is juridical, so too is it institutional. There can be no real opposition or conflict between the so-called “institutional Church” and the one true Church of Christ which, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, is prevented from ever leading the faithful astray.
To be perfectly clear about the nature of the “institutional Church” hoax, its purveyors are not simply accusing individual churchmen of endangering the faithful, they are accusing the Church of doing so, with the appellation “institutional” providing exactly no cover whatsoever.
As suggested, most often this is done when addressing Vatican Council II and the Novus Ordo, each of which the hucksters insist are “validly” Catholic.
For instance, in one of my recent exchanges on social media with a popular tradservative theologian, writer and speaker, he insisted that the Novus Ordo is both a valid Catholic rite, and a “defective and cancer-riddled” liturgy that “distorts the presentation of the faith in a number of critical ways.” The poor man seems to sincerely believe this!
This mindset is by no means atypical among such men, nor is it anything new; in fact, it is the Protestant revolution all over again.
It accused the Church of Christ of error, of teaching what was false and immoral, of having been conquered by the ‘gates of hell.’ The fomenters of revolt might very properly have accused individuals in God’s Church of wrong-doing. That would be quite different from giving the lie to the God of Truth. (ibid., Fr. E. Sylvester Berry)
So, one wonders, why do so many professional Catholic commentators promote the erroneous “institutional church” narrative as if it were gospel? Are they genuinely ignorant of the basic ecclesiology set forth above? Are they helplessly confused?
On an individual, subjective level, God alone can judge. Objectively speaking, however, the reality of the situation is perfectly plain:
To acknowledge that Vatican Council II and the bastard rite that it inspired neither came from, nor belong to, the Catholic Church, “institutional” or otherwise, is to acknowledge that the society in occupation of the Vatican today is not what it claims to be. Rather, it is an imposter church merely posing as the Catholic Church, and this, my friends, is a can of worms that precious few have the backbone to open.
You see, once a “professional tradservative” personality draws, embraces, and publicly acknowledges this unavoidable conclusion, his gravy train will slow to a virtual halt.
Why? Because he will be confronted with such obvious questions as:
– If the Novus Ordo isn’t Catholic, are we not forbidden to assist there?
– If the Council isn’t Catholic, what about the popes who insist upon it?
Even if the pro-trad dances around these questions, he will be labeled “one of them” simply for inviting them, his popularity and income will dwindle, and he will quickly find himself unwelcome in venues that once received him warmly.
As for the consumers of tradservative media, even they will pay a price for acknowledging the true identity of the counterfeit church in Rome, e.g., dissension within their family, the loss of friends, the risk of despair at the sheer enormity of the crisis.
Though the price be great, the reward is even greater.
If this article has given you pause, urging you to re-examine your own ideas about what is truly Catholic and what is not, embrace it. Ask Our Lady for assistance, that you may not only see the truth, but have the fortitude to proclaim it.