The Doctrinal and Dogmatic Problems with the Cassiciacum Thesis

by Griff Ruby

Griff Ruby

This is the brainchild of (then) Fr. Guerard des Lauriers from when he was serving in Econe, and he was attempting at the time (as far as I can tell; there may be more, he may have had ideas along this line before his time with the SSPX), but from what I gather what he came up with he felt – and I can see from his standpoint where he would reasonably have expected that it would be accepted by the SSPX, to explain their policies, basically, of still calling the Vatican leader (Paul VI, then John Paul II at the time) a Pope while at the same time not following anything he does because he was an evident heretic, which they also readily enough acknowledge. So it would have made sense that the SSPX should go for a position like this given how they function.

But that’s not how things went; they kicked him out of the seminary early in the 76-77 academic year, and he had to be on his own and later on became a Thuc bishop. So, it has some appeal which I will regard as something of an advance over the way many simple absolute sedevacantists have put it. I will borrow a little from an explanation of the thesis by des Laurier as authored by Donald Sanborn in 2002, when he is already a bishop when he came up with this. And here is this good summarizing statement: “The thesis, as I said, is a theological explanation of the situation of authority after Vatican II. It wants to present a system which does two things: (1) to show why the Vatican II ‘popes’ have no authority, and are therefore not true popes, and (2) to show how the uninterrupted line of popes from St. Peter continues. Both of these assertions, as we have said, are demanded by Catholic dogma,” which is true, so far as that goes.

And if all you had was that the recent and current Vatican leadership was nonpapal, that seems to be what many of the absolute sedevacantist category seem content to do, and in comparison to that the Cassiciacum thesis has to be regarded as something of an advance. It’s a step in which we are trying to bring in a little bit more theology. We’re bringing in basically two different doctrinal points and saying, “We not only have to discover that he is not a pope, but also that there has to be some say to say that the papal succession is continuing. That much can be said in its favor and as we go through there will be other things that can be said for it, and I will be extremely fair in going through these considerations, but first there are some more basic points to make.

First of all, it is based on some highly speculative, and I might add, unprecedented, or even novel, ideas. For example, it has come to mean what amounts to the Church’s “spirit” and “body” being so totally separated from each other. And after the death of des Lauriers himself, further “adjustments” have had to be made by others, theological amateurs, that include a bizarre and unheard of understanding of what it means to be a “material” succession. Being something of a novel idea, does that mean it’s broke? Does that mean it’s false? I think it means we are venturing into areas no theologian prior to des Lauriers himself has ever explored. This means that it is going to take a decision from a higher source than myself to resolve in a formal, definitive, and dogmatic way. So I ask:

A – Is such a hypothetical scenario as the Cassiciacum thesis even possible at all, theologically? Answer: I don’t know.

Let’s explore a bit of what I mean by saying that. There are good theological reasons to reject such a possibility. Mainly, and without drilling into specific detailed examples, of which I am sure there are many to be found all throughout Catholic history, nearly every heretic, schismatic, or dissident has in at least some implicit manner, and often explicitly, sought to limit or reduce the full domain of prerogatives of the Supreme Pontiff, whether with a basis of such prerogative never rightly belonging to a Pope, or at most belonging only “per accidens, ” or being something which can be denied to a particular Pope owing to some delinquency, abuse of authority, or reprobate status on the part of the Pope himself as a man. Heretics do this in order either to deprive the Pope of dogmatic doctrinal power needed to condemn the error or heresy, or else deprive the Pope of the power to compel one through disciplines or legislation or judicial sentence to abandon the erroneous or heretical or disobedient direction taken.

The key thing is any and every attempt to reduce or limit the prerogatives of the Pope in any particular of the Church’s definition of what it means to be Pope, has been categorically rejected at every turn throughout history. The Church has carefully laid out the prerogatives of a Pope and the conditions within which they operate. There is extremely little wiggle room to adjust or clarify any further this highly detailed understanding the Church has and teaches. A “Pope of limited prerogative” seems quite indefensible from this standpoint.

However, arguments could be legitimately made that not all truly bizarre and exceptional circumstances have been ventured, let alone explored to any length, by any theologians, one way or the other, that hypothetically there could exist a “Pope” in one sense but not in another. At least two scenarios present themselves rather obviously as being examples of possible applications:

1. A Pope is elected but does not give his “Yea” or “Nay” right away. This scenario is frequently presented by advocates of the Cassiciacum thesis as a way of illustrating their position, especially with the American Presidency, in which someone is elected in early November, but does not actually take office until late January. That illustration breaks down in which the period from election to inauguration takes a specific and known time (and also would be moot if the man so elected has actually been reelected to “another four years” meaning that he already is President and merely shall continue at the end of his first term as President on into his second term) All the American President-elect need do is survive until Inauguration Day in January and then show up and be inaugurated, no further ifs or ands or buts to that.

Ecclesiastically this illustration breaks down much further in that an electee would not be at liberty to hesitate forever, neither saying “Yea” or “Nay” indefinitely and thereby holding up the whole Church in some sort of “suspended animation” for however long he lives and makes no choice. It is an ordinary Canonical norm (Canon 175) that when a person is elected or appointed to any office within the Church, he has eight “useful” days (perhaps contemporary parlance might equivalently say “eight business days”) to either accept or reject the election or appointment, after which if he does not render either decision, that is taken as a rejection (a tacit “Nay”) and it becomes appropriate to make a new election or appointment of someone else. Now that particular period of time may not be the case with electing a Pope since Canon 160 states that the election of a Supreme Pontiff is to be guided solely by a constitution, such as for example, Vacante Sede Apostolica, by His Holiness Pope St. Pius X, the 1904 constitution for election of the Supreme Pontiff as was in effect upon the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, or whatever such constitution would have legitimately superseded it since.

Perhaps the current “constitution” specifies some different acceptance period, longer or shorter, for the electee to render his decision whether to accept or reject the office; or else it might contain some standard “boilerplate” statement to the effect that “except as specified within this document, regular canonical norms apply” in which case the eight “useful” days is also the limit here. But even if none of these things are said, it is unreasonable to suppose that an papal electee can be permitted all of his life to hesitate over the question (“Do I accept my election to the Supreme Pontificate or not?”). The electors want an answer and are not going to sit around forever waiting for one, even if some patience on their part might reasonably be called for in a particular case. But if they think they have their answer, and then conclude the conclave, sending their new Pope to the balcony over St. Peter’s Square, the claim is that they are somehow mistaken, that though the man said “Yea, I accept” to his election, he didn’t really mean it owing to some secret and invisible “obex” in his heart (or whatever criteria qualify for creating a “material but not formal pope”).

One has to wonder how a basically phony “Yea, I accept (sotto voce: but actually, I am lying)” could qualify as anything but a “Nay,” or at least as challenging, a prolonged “Give me more time to make up my mind.” How is one to know whether such an internal “I am lying” is a “but not really; in fact I reject” or an “actually I still don’t know whether I accept.” Be all that how it may, it does remain an interesting hypothetical question, to my knowledge virtually unexplored by any of our classical theologians: What would happen if a Pope-elect, while not having rendered his decision (but still within whatever legitimate period is allotted to him to ponder that choice), he directly enters into various Pontifical acts, drafting and even promulgating encyclicals and apostolic exhortations, appointing bishops and cardinals, holding “Papal audiences” or even convening an Ecumenical Council, all while not yet having given his electors his “Yea, I accept”? Who knows; I sure don’t.

In some ways, this resembles the parallel but opposite case with the “Siri” hypothesis, an electee who says “Nay” but did this under some coercion, or else says “Yea, I accept” but then is immediately coerced into an “actually no, I quit, so make that a Nay” while in his heart, his last truly free and human act was to accept the office, but no one of the electors are aware, does he retain the office?

2. A serving Pope veers into heresy, and “the Romans” (the electors) are thereby forced to consider if their Pope they elected has departed from the Church and the Pontificate through heresy, and so must be so announced and a new Pope elected. But out of patience, compassion, a generous jurisprudence, they allow some several weeks or months for discernment in this heretofore unheard of situation, granting their Pope (?) time to rethink, restate, clarify in some orthodox manner, or otherwise show himself to be not really a heretic or at least willing to back down in the face of the real prospect of his being replaced. Think of the mercy shown to John XXII all the time he advocated his radical ideas about the afterlife. Again, what does it mean for him to enter into various Pontifical acts, drafting and even promulgating encyclicals and apostolic exhortations, appointing bishops and cardinals, holding “Papal audiences” or even convening an Ecumenical Council, all while the “Romans” contemplate his replacement with another who is not seriously suspect of heresy?

3. While those are the only two examples I can think of which would be worthy of serious examination by theologians as to whether they would exemplify a “diminished” or “limited” or “partial” papacy, that is not to rule out there being some yet further scenarios, none of which come to my imagination as I write this, as might be conceived by others, and might also therefor be worthy of serious consideration by theologians.

The bottom line to all of these considerations, as is relevant to the Cassiciacum thesis, is “Can a man be sufficiently a Pope so as to render it illicit for the electors to proceed to another election so long as he lives or fails to clarify himself (which, if attempted, would therefore result only in the creation of an antipope), while at the same time not sufficiently a Pope so as to be capable of serving in any essential papal role, in particular incapable of teaching or imposing upon the whole Church any dogmatic or doctrinal or moral decision in an infallible and irrevocable sense?” The whole Cassiciacum thesis, in all of its forms, from that originally conceived by Gerard des Lauriers himself clear to every variant of it as promoted by any of its followers today, stands or falls upon the answer to that question. And despite the exceptional scenarios considered, it seems difficult to see how the Church would allow the papal office to be blocked, especially for so lengthy a period of time, by the presence of one incapable of functioning at all as a Pope. The exceptional scenarios to be considered merely mean that, without a clear determination from the Church, such a fantastic situation cannot be dogmatically ruled out, but at least comes across to me as very unlikely.

Compounding that difficulty is the direction taken since the passing of its originator Guerard des Lauriers by his successors. Some have stated that Guerard himself, towards the end of his life, may have repudiated his theory, but others contest that claim. What is known is his having expressed concern over the fact that “episcopal consecrations” within the Novus Ordo are not valid (even their priestly ordinations are deeply questionable), meaning that after Wojtyla (who was consecrated a bishop in 1958) the likelihood of any further Vatican leaders being even real bishops at all (in a sacramental sense) is so remote (barring the election of someone consecrated in some other Rite or other highly exceptional “traditionalist” situation e. g. Bp. Rifan, who hadn’t come along yet) that he won’t even be a mere “material” succession, thus rendering his thesis inapplicable. The claim on the part of its present promotors of what is meant by “material succession” veers far from the usual understanding held by literally all theologians and catechists up to and including Guerard des Lauriers himself ever to weigh in on the subject. Material succession is about those who possess valid orders but no valid assignment to any Catholic office, regardless of whether any illegitimate pretense to any office exists or not.

To extend “material” to just anyone claiming a Catholic office illicitly, even without valid orders, is an extension quite unprecedented in all of Catholic theology, and developed by those not formally and academically trained and truly qualified in the ecclesiological sciences as des Lauriers himself was. In this they again veer into very much unexplored theological territory. Most of all, there is no known precedent of any Church office being “occupied” by some merely “material” pretender, whether possessing episcopal orders per the usual theological considerations, or even without valid orders per this extension of theirs, which would rule out the Church’s ability to fill said office with an actual and “formal” and valid (sacramentally speaking) occupant. Uniate clergy have long been assigned to the same or equivalent territorial regions as those claimed by schismatic East Orthodox clergy. Why should the papal office be different?

One additional consideration: supposing it possible for a man to be sufficiently a Pope so as to render it illicit for the electors to proceed to another election so long as he lives, but at the same time not sufficiently a Pope so as to be capable of serving in any essential papal role, what more limited or diminished prerogatives might he nevertheless have? Obviously, given the definition of this scenario, he cannot rule dogmatically on anything, but might he be capable of more limited papal-type actions? Could he, for example, appoint cardinals, or bishops, or impose some disciplinary legislation (lacking any dogmatic or doctrinal content, impact, or implications) upon some or all of the Church, or would all such prerogatives be out of his reach? Or could it vary, subject to yet further conditions and circumstances at this point unimaginable?

With all of this, the theological difficulties of the Cassiciacum thesis, even if they be not absolutely insurmountable, seem quite extremely difficult to overcome in a satisfactory way, and require much development of a whole area of theological expertise which has never existed in the history of the Church. If ever the Church (on the part of some future Pope pronouncing specifically on the question) were to officially rule out Cassiciacum as a possibility (which to me seems rather likely but by no means certain), then obviously all further considerations of it would be rendered moot, as the scenario itself would be positively ruled out. But in the absence of any such ruling from the Church, I must continue.

B – Granting, for the sake of argument, its possibility, what possible historical instances of it might have occurred, either in history or during our present situation?

(b.1) Historical example: Pope (?) Felix II (while Pope Liberius was imprisoned and held incommunicado due to his stand against the Arians, but Felix was tolerated). Felix “minded the Church,” performing lesser non-dogmatic functions of a Pope, until Liberius was released and able to resume his pontificate actively. While Church history and the list of Popes has a “Felix I” and a “Felix III,” there is no “Felix II” since (as was concluded centuries later) Felix II was technically an antipope, but he had been counted as a Pope for so long that it would have merely confused things to count Felix III as the “real” Felix II and so forth, so it was deemed best to leave the gap in the numbering. Anyway, Felix II would have been incapable of making any dogmatic teachings, even while able to perform more limited or diminished papal-type actions. Might that be a possible instance of a “merely material papacy”? I leave that to the readers and future theologians to solve as an exercise.

(b.2) Suppose a Cassiciacum scenario had been the case during John XXIII (this I believe could be consistent with it): There exist both Italian and Latin editions of his opening remarks given at Vatican II. Strangely, Amerio Romano, the author of Iota Unam, who gives this account, is unable to determine whether John XXIII had given his remarks in the Italian or the Latin. In comparing the Italian and Latin versions of his opening remarks at Vatican II, “The divergence is so great as to admit of only two hypothesis: either the Italian translator was attempting a paraphrase [if that were the case this would be irrelevant to Cassiciacum scenario – GR], or the translation [i. e. the Italian – GR] is in fact the original text [i. e. John XXIII actually spoke the Italian text as given, and the Latin text was prepared based on it by some translator – we will suppose this latter being the case going forward – GR]. If the Italian is the original, it must have appeared convoluted and imprecise … so that the Latin translator tried to gather its general sense and, being dominated by traditional ideas, failed to notice how great a novelty the original version contained.” (Iota Unum, page 80)

In that case, what we would see here would be a non-pope (“material”-only?) spewing error or even heresy, but the real Church (acting in this instance, in the person of the Latin translator preparing the text for official entry into the Acts of the Apostolic See) is still the Church, still infallible, still indefectible – we have a false pope in charge of the true Church, which also continues to enjoy a passive infallibility as evidenced in this particular event. So, the Cassiciacum scenario, if possible, might very well have applied to the reign of John XXIII or at least this part of it, though again as with the basic question of whether the Cassiciacum scenario is theologically even possible at all, I do not know whether it would apply here, only that IF possible then it COULD or MAY have applied here. On similar principles, though I am not equipped to prove this here and now, something similar might equally have been possible in the case of Paul VI, in the beginning anyway. But such a scenario is far from adequate to account for our present circumstance. We now move to that subject in the third level:

C – Granting both the theological possibility of it at all, and even its application to any part of our present crisis, at least as exampled in the case of John XXIII above, could it apply to our situation today, with Francis I leading? Here is a shortened review of the relevant doctrines and how Cassiciacum fits with some doctrines (and even a few its proponents have not even thought of), seriously challenges a few others, and flat-out contradicts yet others:

Bp. Sanborn writes, “It [the Cassiciacum thesis] wants to present a system which does two things: (1) to show why the Vatican II “popes” have no authority, and are therefore not true popes, and (2) to show how the uninterrupted line of popes from St. Peter continues. ”

That’s two, but those two things are just not enough. If you are familiar with my Sede Vacante! book (Part One), there are in fact 16 basic doctrinal categories covered therein, of which many have several applicable doctrines given within its category. The Appendix in Part Two condenses the yet many more doctrinal findings to a mere 48, of which a mere 30 are listed here, omitting some 18 doctrinal tests pertaining to the particulars of each of the Four Marks of the Church, and which could give yet further agony to the Cassiciacum thesis if examined individually. A real theory which truly addresses the situation after Vatican II must do many things, and this is only a selection of these 30:

(1) Show how the real Church has uninterruptedly remained fully fit for the carrying out of Christ’s will – Cassiciacum postulates a Church split into two parts, body and soul, separated from each other, and neither one fully fit for the carrying out of Christ’s will. This is a complete and absolute failure which cannot be reconciled with Catholic theology.

Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, page 25:

«The present question has to do with the perpetuity of that Church which alone was founded by Christ, the visible Church. Any society can fail in either of two ways: it can simply cease to be, or it can become unfit for the carrying out of its avowed aim through a substantial corruption. The Church cannot fail in either way. Since its aim, namely, the supernatural sanctification of mankind, cannot be achieved except through the proper administration and practice of the religion of Christ, the Church would corrupt and fall apart if it either abandoned or adulterated Christ’s religion in its dogmatic or moral content. Hence indestructibility comprises two elements: (a) that the visible Church will endure until the end of the world, and (b) that, right up to the end of time, it will keep Christ’s religion incorrupt. “Right up to the end of time,” for as long as there are men wandering about on earth, they will depend for their sanctification on Christ working through His Church. After that, the kingdom of glory will take the place of the Church Militant.»

So, is the Conciliar “church” The Church or not, from a legal or canonical or visible standpoint. If it is not, then why do we look to THEM to provide US with a real Pope? And if it is, which is what Cassiciacum seems to preach as I understand it, then “the Church” truly HAS defected, HAS become unfit for the carrying out of its avowed aim, HAS abandoned or adulterated Christ’s religion in its dogmatic or moral content. And if you want to say that we traditionalists are also part of the Church, in some mystical, invisible, noncanonical sense, then what you have is a “Church,” split between body and soul, a dead body already rotting and stinking over there with its heresies, and a mere disembodied spirit over here. When body and spirit are so separated, this is what we call “death, ” as in the Church is dead, per such a scenario as applied today. Plus, though Christ’s dead body did not rot while in the grave for those three days that He was dead, the “dead body” of His Church, per this scenario, truly HAS rotted into heresy and perdition. Recall Acts 13:35: “Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

(2) Show that the real Church has continually existed throughout this time, which for this criteria does not mind that it is defective or defected, but merely present in at least some bodily form, so Cassiciacum gets a pass on this point.

(3) Show that the real Church is sufficiently equipped to exist clear to the end of time, no matter how far away that is. As originally conceived by des Lauriers, they wanted to use real cardinals selected by a real Pope. Obviously, all of those have long since died off, so the advancement was made that maybe these material Vatican leaders, perhaps by supplied jurisdiction due to common error, might have been able to make real cardinals, at least material ones (unless any not be heretical), but at least this keeps a material “cardinalate” going on, ever capable of generating material “popes” who will in turn appoint more new “material cardinals,” potentially capable of keeping the “succession” going, presumably however long it takes. So on this point Cassiciacum also gets a pass.

(4) Show that no real Pope has actually taught heresy (which would also show “why the Vatican II ‘popes’ have no authority, and are … not true popes”). This was one of their merely two goals, and one has to admit that they succeeded here in that no formal (“real,” in any dogmatic or doctrinal sense) Pope ever taught error or heresy, since they were only material claimants. So it gets a pass here on this point.

(5) Show that no real Pope’s disciplines have been opposed to the Catholic Faith. Again, the disciplines are where it is most evident that the Vatican leadership is non-papal (not formally papal, anyway), and so as such no formal Pope has ever promulgated any disciplines truly destructive to Faith and Morals, so again it gets a pass on this point as well.

(6) Show that the real Church has not followed anyone into error or heresy. This is rather problematical (unclear as to whether it can be counted as a pass or a fail) because a lot of Catholics followed the Novus Ordo into the new religion, but there still remain we traditionalists who did not. Now, if you want to say that we (traditionalists) are the real Church, then we certainly have not followed them into heresy, but given that, in what sense are we the “real” Church when the heretics seem to have all of Canon Law and external and official visibility and everything else that conventionally defines and demarks the Church as a given society, where does that place we faithful non-heresy-following traditionalists, but in some vague canonical limbo? And unfortunately, this whole “canonical limbo” theme comes up in several more places. So how can it be that the only “Church” which has not followed anyone into error or heresy would consist exclusively of those in a canonical limbo, and furthermore with not even any ability to accept anyone who prays or says the Mass “in union with” the Vatican heretics? I am not listing this as a categorical failure, but the Cassiciacumists have a great deal of explaining to do on this point, which I rather doubt they can do successfully.

(7) Show that the living and visible authority of the Church is uninterrupted, including:

(7a) its authority to teach and oblige internal and external obedience,

(7b) its authority and power to sanctify, and

(7c) its exclusive power to govern through legislative, judicial, and coercive powers.

Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, pages 32 and 33:

«Catholic teaching holds that Christ Himself established a sacred authority in His Church, and that this authority, invested first in the apostolic college, was uninterruptedly perpetuated, and in fact perdures today in the college [or “body” – GR] of bishops.

PROPOSITION 1: Christ established a sacred authority in His Church when He directly bestowed on the college of the apostles the power to teach, to function as priests, and to rule.

The power to teach is the right and the duty to set forth Christian truth with an authority to which all are held to give internal and external obedience.

The power to function as priests or ministers is the power to offer sacrifice and to sanctify people through the instrumentality of outward rites.

The power to rule or govern is the power to regulate the moral conduct of one’s subjects.

Since this power is exercised chiefly through legislation and then through judicial sentences and penalties, it comprises legislative, judicial, and coercive powers. The power to pass judgment and to punish is a necessary complement of the power to make laws, for all by themselves, laws usually have little effect. They must be bolstered by courts and by penalties.»

So, this apostolic authority and these specific powers must always exist and therefore must also exist today. While the power to offer sacrifice and to sanctify people through the instrumentality of outward rites evidently seems to exist among the traditional clergy, WHERE are the powers to teach authoritatively and to rule or govern, exercising real power and jurisdiction (of a habitual form) to regulate the moral conduct of one’s subjects? They can’t be with the Novus Ordo, they’re heretics, and indeed it is seen as being at least objectively as much a sin to be a member of the Conciliar “church, ” or even to say a Mass “una cum” their leader, as it is to be a member of the Freemasons (whatever allowances we may make for subjective innocence or inculpability there may be through ignorance).

But if that heretical association is the only canonical, legal, visible, and juridical “church,” then in what limbo to all visibly Catholic clergy belong to? Are you ready to admit that THEY have the right and power and jurisdiction to teach authoritatively and to rule or govern so as well? By the way, Msgr. G. Van Noort goes on to state on page 33 that “The proposition is a dogma of faith.” So, while Cassiciacum gets a pass on the “authority and power to sanctify” point (7b), it totally fails on the points of living (not dead) authority of the Church (7), that authority’s ability “to teach and oblige internal and external obedience” (7a), and that authority’s ability “to govern through legislative, judicial, and coercive powers” (7c). On these latter three out of four points Cassiciacum absolutely fails as it cannot be reconciled with Catholic theology. It passes only on point 7b.

(8) Prove its living and “follow-able” authority to be beyond any legitimate doubt. Now let’s quote from Fr. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ, page 32:

«Christ instituted the Church for the salvation of all men, and endowed it with certain powers and characteristics necessary for this work. If the Church should lose any one of these necessary qualifications, it would not be capable of doing what Christ intended it to do; in fact, it would cease to be the Church instituted by Him. Moreover, if the Church could fail in any of its essentials, even for a time, it would lose all authority to teach and to govern, because the faithful could never be certain at any time that it had not failed,— that it had not ceased to be the Church of Christ, thereby losing all authority. But an authority that may be justly doubted at all times is no authority; it commands neither obedience nor respect as is evident in churches that reject the claim to indefectibility.»

So again, where does any such authority which may not be justly doubted exist today. Fr. X says such-and-such, but he belongs to the Novus Ordo, so how can we trust him? We already know we can’t. But Fr. Y is a traditionalist priest, truly faithful and valid, but with no place on the Novus Ordo organizational chart; he says such-and-such, but since (per the Cassiciacumist way of looking at things) he is nothing but a layman with holy orders, what he says is merely his opinion; I have a different opinion. That authority to teach and rule and govern must, and therefore does, exist at all times, including now. I describe that fact as a “dogmatic imperative, ” by which I mean something that Catholic dogma tells us is absolutely and positively true and that we are obliged to believe, even if we do not know how to verify it in ordinary and sensible reality. On this point, again, Cassiciacum is an absolute failure, irreconcilable with Catholic theology. 1:11:34

(9) Show how it is a real society founded by Christ. Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, page 7:

«PROPOSITION 1: Christ personally founded a Church which is a true society.

This proposition contains a twofold assertion, a. Christ Himself directly founded a Church. This rules out any indirect founding through the agency of others to whom Christ would have entrusted or left the whole affair, b. This Church is, as Christ Himself founded it, a society in the strict sense, not merely a religious academy.

What does it take to be a society in the strict sense, rather than merely a religious academy? If legal/visible/canonical continuity is to be held by the Conciliar “church” then what place has anything known which is clearly and visibly Catholic, that is to say, traditional and is not any part of that Conciliar “church”? Does Bp. Sanborn, for example claim his “group” was founded by Christ? If not then what was founded by Christ, such that it also shows any visible Catholicism? So once again, here is another doctrine which utterly fails to be reconcilable with the Cassiciacum scenario.»

(10a) Show that it is knowable as to who belongs to it and who does not, and

(10b) Show that it is knowable as to who its leaders are.

Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol 2., pages 12-13:

«Its being formally recognizable presupposes its being visible, but the two are not identical. Furthermore, the present discussion centers on the visible character of the Church insofar as it is a society. No one denies that the Church’s members are visible, for they are flesh- and-blood people; but some do question whether, by the institution of Christ Himself, these members are bound together by external bonds so as to form a society that can be perceived by the senses, a society of such a nature that one can readily discern who belongs to it and who does not. Mark well the words “the institution of Christ Himself,” for the question is precisely this: Did Christ personally found a visible Church, one which by its very nature would have to be an external (public) society, so that an invisible Church could not possibly be the true Church of Christ? For once one proves that the one and only Church which Christ founded is visible from its very nature, then it necessarily follows: (a) that an invisible Church such as that to which Protestants appeal is a pure fiction, and (b) that all the promises which Christ made to His Church refer to a visible Church.»

In order to be a visible society, it must be clear who its members are, as to who belongs to it and who does not. Now that much is sufficiently clear within the Cassiciacum thesis, regarding both the membership of the conciliar “church” and also the traditional Catholics, so that much (10a) passes. But it also means that they would be bound together by external bonds (namely authority) so as to form a society that can be perceived by the senses, namely the identity of its authority figures as well. But in Cassiciacum no real and Catholic and identifiable authority figures are identified on any side. So, in this point, Cassiciacum again no authority figures can be identified on either side, and thus this part (10b) utterly fails as compared against Catholic doctrine.

(11) Shows a visible continuity from the time of Christ to today. This essentially shown from the same quote as given for (9) above, namely how can we show that our society is a continuation from that established by Christ? If the Cassiciacum model holds, the Vatican organization, the conciliar “church,” is all there was, and we traditionalists are in some canonical limbo and unable to count ourselves as anything more than a religious academy, as Van Noort called it, and not the society in the strict sense founded by Christ, and which can be perceived by the senses, because one of the things a society needs is an authority figure

(12) Show that it bears the Marks and necessary attributes of the Church. Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, pages 165-166:

«A merely human mark can always be counterfeited. Precisely because those marks of the Church are miraculous qualities, or moral miracles, they are not only suitable for identifying the church which possesses them as the genuine Church founded by Christ, but, even apart from the necessary presuppositions discussed above (see no. 124) [elsewhere in Van Noort – GR], they directly prove that a church possessing those marks— and the religion preached by that church—is a work of God. That is why a little deeper consideration of those same marks is sufficient to demonstrate the divine origin of the Catholic religion over all the religions in the world including the non-Christian religions.»

That said, where can these marks be said to be visible, more visible than the Church itself, by the Cassiciacumists? If with the Novus Ordo then that is the Church and we must belong to it; if with the traditional Catholics, how come we never hear of this? Indeed, are the Marks even said to occur anywhere at all by them? Not that I have ever seen. I have never seen these marks addressed in any way by the Cassiciacumists at all, and do not believe they can be meaningfully addressed, at least as to where they CAN be found (regardless of whether their existence in the conciliar “church” can be denied by them). The failure of Cassiciacum to be able to explain where these marks can be found constitutes an absolute dogmatic failure on the part of the Cassiciacumists, which is actually comprised of many individual failures pertaining to each of the respective marks of the Church and also their associated attributes.

(13) Show that all four marks occur together and exclusively. Msgr. Charles Journet writes, The Church of the Word Incarnate, pages 530-531:

«The essential properties [the marks as we otherwise know them – GR] of course, cannot be separated from the essence; they are distinguished from it conceptually, but identified with it in reality. Where apostolicity exists, there also are unity, catholicity, sanctity: and conversely [namely that where apostolicity is absent so also are unity, sanctity, etc. – GR].

This also applies to the notes, which are simply the properties “in so far as these are externally apparent and known”. One note is enough to indicate the true Church, but where this one note is, there are all the others. It is possible to consider them separately however, since though identical in reality, they differ conceptually. They are manifold aspects of one and the same reality too rich to be seized in a single concept.»

So again, I ask, where do they assign the various Marks, if anywhere? Perhaps some might be thinking, “Well, let’s attribute Unity and Holiness to ourselves, the traditional Catholics, but Catholicity and Apostolicity to the dead body of the Novus Ordo. ” But no, the marks are necessarily together. They are either all present or all absent from a given society (and as I maintain, all are absent from the Novus Ordo conciliar “church” but present among traditional Catholics). But the Cassiciacumists do not know this, do not speak of the marks, cannot explain where they can be found, and so cannot even verify that they are together present or absent in any one place versus being separated from each other, yet another doctrinal failure of the Cassiciacum thesis.

(14) Show that the Church still “is the society of persons who, by profession of the same faith and by their partaking of the same sacraments, make up, under the rule of apostolic shepherds united to the Chair of Peter, the Kingdom of Christ on earth.” Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, page xxvi:

«Definition. The Church, according to the above acceptation, may be defined as follows: The society of men who, by their profession of the same faith and by their partaking of the same sacraments, make up, under the rule of apostolic pastors and their head, the kingdom of Christ on earth.»

Who has the same faith and partakes of the same sacraments? We traditional Catholics alone, of course. Who are the apostolic shepherds under whose rule those of the same faith and sacraments are professed? At the risk of sounding a bit sarcastic or cynical (yet all too real!) it seems as if they define the Church (or their spiritually “real” and “faithful” part of it, though canonically and practically invisible) as “The society of men who, by their profession of the same faith and by their partaking of the same sacraments, make up, under the haphazard guidance of episcopal and priestly sacrament vending machines possessing no real authority, the kingdom of Christ on earth.” What kind of vision or definition of the Church is that? Cassiciacum fails again to be reconcilable to Catholic dogma.

(15) Show that the Church still evidences empirically the divine protections as promised. Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 1, pages 213-214:

«Conclusion. Just as the first expansion of the Catholic religion, so is its perennial conservation an effect which can be in no way explained as due to visible and merely natural causes. Consequently, unless one is ready to admit an effect without a proportionate cause, the conclusion follows that the inviolate stability of the Church is due for the most part to the special help of God, who constantly and efficaciously moves men throughout the world to embrace the faith. The whole history of the Catholic religion shows how true were the words spoken by Gamaliel when Christianity was but a few years old:

So now I say to you, Keep away from these men and let them alone. For if this plan or work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it. Else perhaps you may find yourselves fighting against God (Acts 5:38-39).»

So again, the Cassiciacum scenario fails to demonstrate any miraculous survival of the Church, indeed it specifies a dead Church, with body and spirit separated, the gates of hell having prevailed, certainly over the body if not necessarily the spirit. What can they point to as empirical proof of the Church’s miraculous life in our times? Cassiciacum yet again fails to be reconcilable to Catholic dogma.

(16) Show how the functioning Roman See might not have perished. This is rather problematical (unclear as to whether it can be counted as a pass or a fail) because Cassiciacum depends upon a sufficiently legal (though material-only) “pope” and “cardinals” who, despite such canonical legality, are somehow unable to elect an actual Catholic to lead them, and repeatedly so. The Roman See as spoken of here refers to all of what “Rome” consists of in addition to the Pope, all the cardinals, curial officers, and so forth who together with the Pope serve to lead the Church, and from among whom the electors of the next Pope are to be drawn. All of the legal machinery in place, yet no infallibility, no indefectibility; by the Cassiciacum thesis the Roman See itself has defected; not only have its elected “material popes” failed to be Catholic, it lacks the power to elect a real Catholic to lead. I am not listing this as a categorical failure, but the Cassiciacumists have a great deal of explaining to do on this point, which I rather doubt they can do successfully.

(17) Show that we can identify “lawful Romans” to elect a Catholic Pope (which would also show “how the uninterrupted line of popes from St. Peter continues”). This is the other one of the Cassiciacumists two main goals, by which it does check off this one box as a doctrine successfully reconciled, so this gets a pass.

(18) Show that visible elections or appointments or depositions, at least as applies to material “popes” and “cardinals” (this may also allow for material “bishops,” especially should one or another who is really a Catholic be somehow able to slip through). Since it focuses on the Vatican organization for all of these things, which seems to do these things visibly enough, this gets a pass.

(19) Show that visibly made directions are to be followed. Francisco Suarez writes, De Legibus, Chapter VII, number 7, page 360:

«given that the Church is visible, it is necessary that her governing power be in its way visible, dependent therefore on external actions, and not on mere mental cogitations. This is a reason “a priori”, for in such a case the Church does not take away the power through her human law, since it does not judge what is internal, as we shall say further on. And the power is not taken away either by virtue or mere divine law for this either is natural, that is to say, co-natural to the supernatural gifts themselves, or it is established by a positive determination. The first member of the dilemma cannot be accepted, for by the very nature of things it is impossible to demonstrate a necessary connection between the faith and the power of jurisdiction.»

So a person could hold jurisdiction even if he did not interiorly hold the Faith. That which the Cassiciacum scenario describes as the visible/legal/canonical Church issues laws and commands, but we are all supposed to reject even though the laws and commands are the only “visible” ones that seem to exist that we know of, and faith apparently need not be present – clearly it is not present there in the Novus Ordo – to somehow nevertheless exercise the power of jurisdiction, at least enough to appoint material “cardinals” anyway. The absence of any visible commands from anyone which Catholics must obey constitutes yet

(20) Show visibly at what point ecclesiastical faith cannot apply to the Vatican leader. This is rather problematical (unclear as to whether it can be counted as a pass or a fail) because they do have something of an attempt of a solution to this. Apparently, there is this “obex” which comes in between the elected pontiff-to-be and his acceptance and actual beginning of his running the Church as a real Pope. This “obex” could be a rather interesting project to document – we just assume it must be in there somewhere because he just does not act like a Pope – but it is not easy to detect or find. The one easy case I can think of where the obex can be positively identified is that of John Paul I. As he stepped to the balcony over St. Peter’s square, practically the first thing to come out of his mouth was to say that he takes the names of John and Paul his two most immediate predecessors as a symbol of my intention to continue moving things in the direction they have initiated. Now there is an official and declared obex, pure and simple. But what equivalent visible declarations do we have in the other cases, the other Vatican leaders before and since? None are known, and that could take some serious tracking down, assuming such things exist at all. I am not listing this as a categorical failure, but the Cassiciacumists have a great deal of explaining to do on this point, which I rather doubt they can do successfully.

(21) Show what it would take for that faith to be resumed. This is rather problematical (unclear as to whether it can be counted as a pass or a fail) because it means that we need to find some way to discover and verify that the obex has been removed, such that the man can at last formally assume the Papal office and begin functioning as a true Pope. Obviously, if he starts acting like a real Pope, that may be a good indication, but is that reliable? Even heretics and heresiarchs have been known to say and do things worthy of a real Pope – think of Paul VI and his Humanae Vitae document that, despite a considerable liberal current in and around the man, he nevertheless managed to sustain something of a Catholic morality, or again the time in 1994 when John Paul II ruled definitively (and with exceptional brevity on his part) against priestesses. Some Catholics, seeing these actions, supposed that things were finally reversing against the liberalizing trend and moving at last in the right direction, and then went spiritually asleep as they failed to notice that these reversals were mere upward blips in a significant and continuing overall downward trend. So the question remains, how can we be sure the obex has been removed, and the man formerly prevented from accepting the Papacy formally has now done so? I am not listing this as a categorical failure, but the Cassiciacumists have a great deal of explaining to do on this point, which I rather doubt they can do successfully.

(22) Show that surety of actions taken by the Church can be provided, even prior to any resolution of the present crisis. Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 3, pages 213-214:

«All theologians admit that the following universal propositions are formally revealed: Peter and all his successors possess the primacy”; “Peter and all his successors are infallible”; and: “the Church’s magisterium (i.e., an ecumenical council) is infallible.” But the particular propositions in question which are included under those universal ones dependently upon the fulfillment of some condition are: “Cardinal Pacelli was legitimately elected to take Peter’s place”; “the Council of Trent, or the [First – GR] Vatican Council, was truly an ecumenical council.” That these conditions have been fulfilled are absolutely guaranteed by ecclesiastical faith as founded on the conviction and practice of the universal Church.

It is quite commonly taught, particularly by the more recent theologians, that the particular propositions we have been discussing should be considered to be formally revealed and consequently able to be believed by divine faith. The real explanation for this teaching seems to come down to this: God’s purpose in revealing propositions of the type under discussion [So-and-so is Pope; this is a Council of the Church; it has promulgated whatever – GR] was not that they should be simply acknowledged in a general way, but rather that they might be believed by each generation of men in all their particular determination; in other words, so that the men of every generation [including ours – GR] might know with divine certitude which individual [if any at a given time – GR] they should cling to as the supreme shepherd of souls, and above all from which man they should receive the norm of their faith.»

Explain how we cannot trust the election of a Pope other than our own opinion that he may have an obex of heresy preventing him from assuming the office. Certainty simply disappears, such that no one can take any official action at all and surety can never be restored, per the Cassiciacum scenario, which again is a total failure on its part to be reconcilable with Catholic theology.

(23) Show that we can and do avoid judging someone assumed to be Pope. Pope Paul IV writes, Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, paragraph 1:

«the Roman Pontiff, who is the representative upon earth of God and our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fulness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world.»

Judging someone we believe to be a Pope, at least a lawful pope-elect, there is no place for this to be done by anyone other than the “Romans” as might “abrogate his pontificate.” So long as we assume the man to be a Pope, even were he not, we sin if we try to judge him in any official or serious capacity as that would constitute, at least subjectively, a rebellion against the First See. It is necessary that we first ascertain that the First See is empty, that any pretender to it indeed is not Pope, before any just judgment becomes possible. I use the illustration of eating meat on a Friday. A person who deliberately eats meat on a Friday sins quite seriously, even if, unknown to him through some confusion of the days, the day is actually Thursday and so no real sin, materially, has been committed. He is just as guilty as if it really were a Friday. Likewise, to “put on trial” (even if only in our own minds) someone we believe to be Pope, even were he not, we would be guilty. Also, note what Ballerini gives as the standard view:

«A peril for the faith so imminent and among all the most grave, as this of a Pontiff who, even only privately, defended heresy, would not be able to be supported for long. Why, then, expect the remedy to come from a General Council, whose convocation is not easy? Is it not true that, confronted with such a danger for the faith, any subjects can by fraternal correction warn their superior, resist him to his face, refute him and, if necessary, summon him and press him to repent? The Cardinals, who are his counselors, can do this; or the Roman Clergy, or the Roman Synod, if, being met, they judge this opportune. For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold: ‘Avoid the heretic, after a first and second correction, knowing that such a man is perverted and sins, since he is condemned by his own judgment’ (Tit. 3, 10-11).»

See how the cardinals or various other “Romans” “who are his counselors” seem the ones most positioned to do this; others, all the rest of us, can merely “avoid the heretic, after a first and second correction.” When we first compare the recent and current leadership of the Vatican against the doctrinal and dogmatic parameters which define the prerogatives and characteristics of a real successor of Peter, and discover they woefully come up lacking, we are at most acting on the level “avoiding the heretic” on a personal and subjective level, which doesn’t mean very much. But once we can truly ascertain that the man is not a Pope, then putting him on trial, judging him, sentencing him, and punishing him one and all become perfectly moral and correct for the bishops of the Church to do, taking things out of the realm of mere private avoidance to that of canonical judgment.

When a layman disagrees with the Pope on any matter of Faith or Morals, it is never the Pope who is wrong. But if it can be ascertained that the man is not a Pope, never on the basis of any such mere disagreement itself, but on some other criteria as do not depend upon any such disagreement, then and only then does the layman have any chance to be in the right. There are only two ways to ascertain this, one being his rejection by “the Romans” such that they “abrogate his pontificate” and proceed to the election of another, and the other being any other means to verify the man’s own failure to adhere to the office, for example by his having resigned, whether explicitly or tacitly, or by showing the election to be of itself, as carried out, incapable of electing a successor of Peter. For the sake of clarity and certainty, the Church deserves and requires such an action to be taken in order that certitude (as the Church always provides) will continue.

With the Cassiciacum thesis, there is no attempt made to ascertain that a putative “pope” is indeed not really a Pope by any independent means, the disagreement is of itself the only basis claimed for the formal (but not material) vacancy of the Holy See. One would merely judge “the Pope” to be not a Pope, and presumably also similarly judge anybody else who disagrees with him on anything, rash judgment all around. This constitutes a doctrinal and moral failure owing what truly is an attempt to judge the First See. Then one posits the presence of an “obex” even though (in most cases) no actual “obex” is ever identified. How do we know the man has an “obex”? He was elected Pope, yet he teaches heresy. If the “obex” were real then there would be a way to find it, even without knowing of any heretical teachings or actions of the would-be “pope.”

(24) Show that we can and do identify real Catholic bishops. This is rather problematical (unclear as to whether it can be counted as a pass or a fail) because it cannot describe anything that truly qualifies as a Catholic bishop in the full sense of the word. Granted, Novus Ordo “bishops” – most of whom by now are not validly consecrated, sacramentally speaking – basically cannot count as “real Catholic bishops” owing to their heresy, either personal or approved by them on the part of others including their supposed “Pope, ” though at least they can be easily identified in a merely material sense. But of the traditional bishops, who among them qualify as “real Catholic bishops”? Are any of them so, given their universal lack of any place on the Vatican’s organizational chart, their lack of appointment by any Pope, or their failure to lay claim to any territorial region or historical diocese? Could a mere “layman with Holy Orders, even of the supreme degree (bishop)” truly count as a “real Catholic bishop,” as the Cassiciacum scenario at least seems to imply? I am not listing this as a categorical failure, but the Cassiciacumists have a great deal of explaining to do on this point, which I rather doubt they can do successfully.

(25) Show that we can account for the defection of thousands of bishops, practically the entire body of them which went into Vatican II, a significant majority, all vanished into errors and heresies, and furthermore, all pretty much into all the same errors and heresies, which makes it even more problematical. Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, pages 330-332:

«What suffices is a morally universal unanimity which in most instances will not be difficult to determine, even though it is impossible to fix mathematically the minimum requirements for such unanimity. On the other hand, no matter how unanimous the agreement of bishops might conceivably be, such unanimity would never suffice for infallibility if the Roman pontiff were to be in opposition to it. We deliberately use the phrase, “might conceivably be,” because the more probable opinion of theologians maintains that factually it could never happen that a majority of the bishops would depart from the doctrine of the pope.

If the teaching Church in an ecumenical council could fall into error, the universal Church would also err in believing. But the universal Church cannot err in believing, otherwise (contrary to the promise of Christ), “the gates of hell would prevail against her.”»

And again, since the Cassiciacum thesis posits that the conciliar “church” has somehow inherited all the visible, legal, and canonical material of the Church, it has to be this which has failed. If they didn’t leave the Church physically or materially, then they as all the bishops of the Church have nevertheless all (or virtually all – a vast majority, enough to constitute a “moral unanimity” – have defected. Again, Fr. Sylvester Berry writes, The Church of Christ, page 267:

«MAJORITY INFALLIBLE. Since the bishops are infallible in their corporate capacity only, individual bishops may err at any time in regard to faith and morals, but all cannot fall into the same error at the same time. The further question now arises: Can a majority of the bishops fall into error at one and the same time regarding a matter of faith or morals?

Or, to state the opposite side of the question: Is the agreement of a majority of the bishops of the world sufficient to establish the infallible truth of a doctrine, or must there be a practically unanimous agreement? It seems most probable that the agreement of a majority is sufficient to insure the truth of any doctrine, for it would certainly be a great evil for the Church if the greater part of her teaching body could fall into error at any time. It is true that in such a crisis the infallible authority of the Roman Pontiff would be sufficient to preserve the faith, but the Catholicity of the Church would be seriously affected, if not destroyed.»

Once again, you have all of these bishops, supposedly of the Church and still visibly in it, all defecting from the Faith. Since, per the Cassiciacum scenario, the bishops never left the Conciliar “church, ” that means that all of them, or at least a vast majority of them, enough to form an apparent “moral unanimity” have nevertheless defected, precisely the scenario Van Noort deems extremely unlikely and Berry positively rules out as destructive to the Catholicity of the Church. It cannot explain this. Furthermore, it does not fit with the fact that God is with us always, as discussed by each of Van Noort and Berry:

Msgr. G. Van Noort writes, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, pages 332

«Second, the Roman Catholic episcopate exercises its infallibility when dispersed throughout the world. For Christ’s promise of divine assistance to the magisterium of the Church was given in unqualified fashion. Consequently there are no grounds whatsoever to support the restriction of Christ’s promise exclusively to the extraordinary case of an ecumenical council. Indeed, in saying: “And mark: I am with you at all times,” Christ declared in very plain terms that His help would primarily pertain to that daily and ordinary exercise of teaching power carried on by the episcopacy dispersed throughout the world.

[from a footnote on the same page:] Finally, in all reverence, one might say Christ’s promise to assist His Church perpetually would not be very helpful if it were restricted to the extraordinary case of ecumenical councils. There have been only 20 ecumenical councils in the 2,000 year period since the founding of the Church. Are we to suppose that Christ left His Church to fumble with purely human aids during the several hundred year intervals between ecumenical councils?»

Fr. Sylvester Berry writes, The Church of Christ, pages 266-267:

«He promised that He himself would be with them all days even to the consummation of the world, and that the Holy Spirit abiding with them forever would lead them into all truth. Neither of these promises was limited to rare occasions of ecumenical councils; such limitation would nullify the words of Christ, “I am with you all days.”»

Just as Christ is with His Church during ecumenical councils (meaning that He provides divine assistance in keeping the bishops of the Church at least by and large, and collectively, infallible), but also when not in any ecumenical council, likewise He must also be with His Church even when lacking a Pope, and even when a false council, such as Rimini or Pistoria or Vatican II is in progress, or else He would not be with us for ALL of the days. So, He therefore has to be still with us, at least in whatever sense He is with the Church when not gathered in an Ecumenical Council. But by the Cassiciacum scenario, the bishops of the Church have virtually all, collectively, and with a moral unanimity, all defected into the same errors and heresies, AS bishops of the Church (material presence), as though Christ and the Holy Spirit are not with the Church, leading them into all truth, which is doctrinally impossible, and therefore constitutes a failure.

(26) show the Church to be a perfect society. Fr. Sylvester Berry writes, The Church of Christ, pages 23-24:

«THE CHURCH A PERFECT SOCIETY. A perfect society, in this connection, is not one free from defects and imperfections, but one having everything necessary to make it a complete society. In this sense a sovereign state is a perfect society, although there may be many and serious imperfections in its government. Certain conditions are necessary to constitute a perfect, or complete society:

(1) It must be independent of all other societies, both in its existence and in its actions. A corporation is not a perfect society, since it depends upon the State for its existence and is regulated by the State in its actions.

(2) It must not be part of another society, for a part is necessarily incomplete.

(3) Its end must not be subordinate to that of any other society in the same order, otherwise it will also be subordinate to that other society, and therefore not independent in its actions.

(4) It must have at its command the means necessary for its own conservation and for the attainment of its own proper end, otherwise it will be dependent upon some other society for these means and therefore not perfect in itself.»

And yet with the Cassiciacum scenario that which alone is genuinely Catholic, the Church proper (that is to say, we traditionalists), as distinct from the Conciliar “church,” must, per this model of events, nevertheless depend upon the Conciliar “church,” an organized society of heretics, for a Pope, and for that matter for all manner of legal canonicity Now that is a perfect example of what Fr. Berry here describes as an imperfect society. Either we need something from some outside society which we cannot generate ourselves, or else we are part of a larger society that somehow it and we comprise, and which furthermore we can have no communion or fraternal association with, no Masses said “una cum” their heretical leader, while we are the living spirit and it the dead and rotting body. No matter how you divvy it up the Cassiciacum thesis has it that the Church is now an imperfect society, dependent upon an organized society of heretics, and is therefore yet another failure to be reconcilable to Catholic theology.

In summary of all of this, the attempt to apply the Cassiciacum thesis to the present state of the Church, falls seriously flat on quite a number of doctrinal and dogmatic grounds. In balance (and in fairness, which all must accept and maintain I have sustained throughout), the Cassiciacum thesis fulfills not merely the “two” doctrinal points intended, but in fact fully 8 of the 30 doctrinal points and sub-points examined here. Another 5, though gravely doubtful, might also, at least possibly, admit of some solution, and be sufficiently explained away.

But the fact remains that there remain fully 17 (more than half) doctrinal points and sub-points for which there can be no reconciliation between that thesis and Catholic theology and ecclesiology. Even one such failure on one single point would be sufficient to prove that a given scenario is not the case and therefore to be rejected as any possible scenario or explanation as to “where the Church is” and “how all of this Vatican II crisis occurred, doctrinally speaking.” On that basis, Cassiciacum fails, not merely on some one single point, but on quite a number of them. In short, it can be dogmatically and apodictically and categorically rejected.

After all this I also have a few thoughts on the Cassiciacum thesis. That last “perfect society” doctrine as described here by Fr. Berry, also leads us to one last problem: How could anyone seriously believe that God would be so fantastically stupid as to allow His Church to be held hostage to heretics? Not any idolatry or even the ruins of the Synagogue were ever reduced to such degradation. It is totally up to an organized group of heretics to provide the Catholic Church with a Pope, since the Catholic Church itself has no such ability within itself. “Oh, please Mr. Heretic, will you give us a Pope so that we can condemn the hell out of you?” “Oh yea, sure! No problem: I’d be glad to do that.” Not going to happen! Not going to happen!

And it gets even worse than that: Such a need for them makes us parasitically dependent upon the conciliar “church” much as a tapeworm is dependent upon its host for its sustenance. Even when we cannot be any part of them, cannot be associated with them in any way, cannot even assist at a Mass said “una cum” their leader, and yet we have to depend upon them to do what we cannot do for ourselves because we are not a perfect society This makes us parasitical upon the heretics; what are we, the “Tapeworm” of God?

Furthermore, the changes made to the Cassiciacum thesis since the days of its original development by Guerard des Lauriers show distinct signs of having been made by amateur “theologians” obviously untrained in the theological sciences. His theory, as originally developed, was quite brilliant, even if inapplicable to any post-Vatican II circumstance, and as such deserves real respect as a serious theological postulation. Therefore my respect for him personally does not flag. But the amateurish attempts to update it to circumstances unanticipated by him (no valid bishops to hold “pope” or “cardinal” positions, “material pope” after “material pope,” all made so by “material cardinals” chosen by the “material popes” ad infinitum and indefinitely), to say nothing of its inability to deal with at least some 17 doctrinal and dogmatic points brought out in the above, render it unworthy of any further consideration.

There remains one other loose end to address, namely how these various doctrines are not a problem in the above-exampled case of John XXIII in his opening remarks at Vatican II. I did say that the Cassiciacum scenario could work (assuming its basic possibility, theologically speaking, and its application to any part of our present crisis as well) in the case of John XXIII. With John XXIII you don’t have two separate societies. You don’t have a plainly fallible “church” going off in all directions full of plainly heretical bishops. You just had a Pope, or putative Pope, acting like a material pope, or bad pope (that’s not the only explanation possible), and in fact one could run down each of these issues and there is no doctrinal or dogmatic conflict with any of these teachings and the scenario of John XXIII having been a material but not formal “pope” in saying those opening remarks at Vatican II, because the society that he was leading still had to be the Church, still exhibited all the marks and characteristics of the Church. NOBODY then spoke of a “conciliar church” then, or a “Novus Ordo” then, or a “Vatican organization” that is not the Church, or a “Modernist Rome” as distinct from Eternal Rome then, not even the prototypical sedevacantist Tom Costello who seems to have been the first to believe that John XXIII might not be a real Pope, and so published his thoughts on the subject while John XXIII was still alive.

There was still simply this one society which was the Church; it had all of these faithful bishops and priests and so forth, and maintained all the normal signs of the Church, except that the leader was somebody that might have been being treated with mercy, as if perhaps he had merely made a mistake, or misspoke, saying not exactly what he intended to say, and such that one would justly give him the benefit of the doubt. This could be much like Noah being drunk and sleeping naked, and while his youngest son Ham laughed at him his older sons Shem and Japheth discreetly covered their father’s nakedness (Genesis 9:21-23) and so was a perfectly legitimate course of action for the Latin translator to have taken.