Disputatio: Credo in UNAM Ecclesiam
– By Father Eric Jacqmin –
The Church is absolutely necessary for humanity. She is the continuation of the work of Redemption of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is essentially one.
This is the great work to be done, the most urgent of all: to make the Church continue.
Table of contents:
- Status quæstionis
- Continuing with the ‘pars sana’:
- 1) Uniting all traditional clerics: Bishops who have guarded the Faith, followed by all faithful priests
- 2) A general Synod with the ‘pars sana’ of the teaching clergy, which will work until necessary solutions of all vital problems are reached with the grace of God in order to make the Church function properly
- 3) The first question to treat is in fact the Papal See. Everybody should come to an agreement. The solution must be clear for everybody: ‘quod ubique, quod ab omnibus’ (St. Vincent of Lérins, ‘Commonitorium’ and the common doctrine of the Fathers)
- 4) All the following depends on the solution to the previous question: if a thesis or a constatation is clearly the only true one, the necessary conclusions should be drawn by every faithful man of good will
The post-conciliar church is divided since John XIII decided to “no longer condemn” (opening allocution of the Second Vatican Council), so errors swarm. But the traditionalist world is also confronted with misery: both the sedevacantists and the Society of St. Pius X are divided. The unity of the faithful evaporates.
Where is the unity of the Church?
After years of reflection, prayers and studies, I will present some elements of solution. This is a small synthesis, starting from the principles of Tradition.
It is an imposing necessity to distance ourselves from the deviations of Vatican II on the one hand, and to protect the unity of the Church (which is one of Her essential properties) on the other hand.
How should we proceed practically?
The common doctrine of the Magisterium and medieval theologians is quite straightforward. An important source is a French article in the D.T.C. (‘Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique’) and its references on the ‘Deposition of Clerics’.
I will proceed with most certain intellectual elements (theological principles, dogma’s, citations of Holy Scripture, philosophical principles, common opinion of the ancient Fathers, etc.), precisely to avoid too much discussions; this way, a unity of thought will grow.
Maybe it is boring to work in this way, from principle to principle, but the advantages are more important: to build certitude on certitude, to eventually arrive at an evenly certain conclusion. In times of storms and hurricanes, we are in great need of certitudes.
- “Authority is a power given by God to persons who are capable of organizing the common good of a society over which they received the legal authority.” This is a philosophical definition.
- According to St. Thomas and Tradition: “Because the organization of the common good is the final cause, the aim, the ‘reason why’ of authority, the persons possessing authority who no longer exercise this authority for the common good, commit an abuse of authority, a tyranny”. “Those persons lose their authority ipso facto.”
- “Obedience to a sinful commandment is itself sinful,” according to the Catechism on the 4th commandment and according to the example of many martyrs. So it is for two reasons we should disobey commandments against the Faith, morals, liturgy or the common good. Otherwise a mortal sin is committed.
- “Every society is in need of authority to function.” Authority is a ‘causa efficiens’ of every society. It directs the wills of persons to the same goal using the same means.
- In the society which cannot disappear (the true Church), authority cannot disappear.
- Cardinal Louis Billot S.J. asserts the universal principle according to Aristotle and St. Thomas that a (grave) abuse of authority leads to the loss of authority (cf. principle 2): “In that case (of loss of authority by abuse), it is natural law itself that the attribution of a higher power extends, by way of devolution, to the power closest to it in succession, as far as it is absolutely required, so that a society can be preserved and escape the distress of direct necessity”. This is the principle of ‘suppliance’.
- In the case of today’s Rome, the application of these principles is simple: if the Pope does not function properly in grave matters in a manifest way, he loses his authority.
In the case of heresy he loses the papacy. This has been proved duly in another study, with certainty and without doubt.
In any case the authority “extends, by way of devolution” to the closest in authority: the college of validly consecrated Bishops loyal to the Faith and the common good. Following the Bishops, there are the priests.
- There will always be good Bishops (cf. principle 4), because they are the ‘teaching Church’. Together they are the teaching Church; this is an essential part of the Church, as Jesus commanded: “Go and teach all nations”.
Therefore in fact, there will always be Bishops functioning properly. Because “as Bride of Christ, the Church can lose nothing from her dowry”, i.e. nothing essential. For Our Lord Jesus Christ has said: “The gates of hell shall not prevail.” The Church cannot lose something essential, otherwise this promise of Our Lord would be vain, which is impossible.
- Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop De Castro Mayer for example, have always accepted this principle. This is the reason why they decided to consecrate Bishops withoutRoman mandate in 1988. His Excellency Mgr. Ngô-dinh-Thuc has equally considered the whole of faithful Bishops as the ‘suppliance’ for Rome. For example, he forbade his Bishops to consecrate without consensus of their fellow Bishops. He asked them to act together as a ‘corps’.
- Because the teaching Magisterium is essential and because it is composed of the Bishops and the higher hierarchy, the certain conclusion is:
“The Church will always have at least some good Bishops, even if their number is tiny.”
- So the suppliance by priests is very limited and depends on the good Bishops. A priest alone is obliged to submit himself to a good Bishop as far as possible, otherwise he is quasi-‘vagus’. A priest is in need of a Bishop for at least the holy Oils, Confirmations and Ordinations of vocations in his flock. According to Tradition (cf. the Council of Trent), he must be guided and controlled by a Bishop.
Conclusion: “Pars sana supplet”. The sane part of the (teaching) Church supplies for everything the church needs to function properly.
In fact, as long the crisis in Rome continues and worsens, there is no regular jurisdiction, but there is a temporary suppliance of jurisdiction and responsibility on the faithful clergy (‘pars sana’) in the meantime, until the normal authority functions anew. Because otherwise the Church functions no longer properly and this is against the promise of Our Lord, “Portae inferi non praevalebunt”.
Continuing with the ‘pars sana’
1) All traditional clerics – Bishops who have guarded the Faith, followed by all faithful priests – should be united. Perhaps also lay people who are good theologians are useful to be consulted.
Principle: A Body (the Mystical Body) has but one head, otherwise it would be a monster. Those who call themselves ‘popes’ (conclavists) should abdicate by the love of unity. They must understand that the Church cannot have multiple popes.
Obligation: Those who refuse to come to a meeting of all Bishops, a kind of general Synod, commit a grave sin against the Church, against Her unity.
Principle : Evidently, those who are manifestly not serious should be disregarded, for example those who are simonid or invalidly ordained or consecrated. Yet there must be certitude on these matters, according to the traditional principle : “In matter of sacraments, doubt is not allowed”.
Principle: The conversion of priests or Bishops who are not in order is evidently possible but should always be verified as certain.
Principle: The guiding traditional criterion is attributed to St. Augustine:
— “in fide unitas”
Therefore: Disregard heretics (for example, the feeneyists). There can be no possible discussion on the deposit of the Faith.
— “in dubiis libertas”
Therefore: One may not present an opinion as dogma or put those of another opinion anathema just because they have another opinion.
— “in omnibus caritas”
Therefore: One considers those who hold another reasonable opinion as Catholic. Those who hold the true Faith but have another idea on the crisis of the occupied Church, should be considered as completely Catholic, even if only one of two contradictory opinions can be true. But once an opinion is proclaimed as dogma by the legitimate authority, all discussion stops: everyone must accept truth. This has always been the attitude of the Popes through the ages.
In fact, there are too many ruptures, twists, different groups: the Society of St. Pius X & co (internally divided on the question of an agreement with modernist Rome), the ‘Resistance’ of Bp. Williamson, scattered (ex-)members of Ecclesia Dei-communities, sedevacantists, sedeprivationists, conclavists, “lone wolfs”, etc. The Devil is very satisfied with all these many divisions (“divide et impera”). But where is the unity of the true Church?
Principle: “The Church cannot disappear”. This was guaranteed by the promises of Our Lord. So there is an actual grace to make the Church continue functioning properly. This is theologically certain.
Observation & principle: The crisis is an evil, even a great evil. But as is the case with every evil, this is an occasion for the Holy Spirit to organize or create a greater good.
Another duty imposes itself: We must search for this greater good which God has in mind to stop the great evil of the crisis in today’s Church, appearing to hinder the proper functioning of the Redemption for all souls of good will. Yet Our Lord came in the flesh for these souls: at His birth, His angels sang “Peace on Earth to all men of good will.”
We act to the best of our abilities as instruments of this greater good, insofar as Divine Providence has destined us thereto. Otherwise we destroy rather than construct, and God will put us at His left side. Quod absit!
Principle: “You will know them by their fruits.” Division is a bad fruit. The tree bearing twist and conflict is therefore a bad tree. May we convert from anything causing unreasonable division.
Together with the Apostles, we confess: “Credo in unam Ecclesiam!” Therefore, everyone must unite to search for and/or declare together the complete unique Truth on the crisis in the Church, to which all must submit. This is the great principle: “the Truth accepted by everyone causes unity”.
2) A general Synod with the ‘pars sana’ of the teaching clergy, which will work until necessary solutions of all vital problems are reached with the grace of God in order to make the Church function properly.
Principle: “Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.”
It would be a good idea for traditional priests and Bishops to insert orations in their daily Masses for the promotion of the unity of the Church. Meanwhile, traditional faithful should pray to the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Until all traditionalists find certainty on today’s great questions about the crisis. We shouldn’t stop praying before having reached this goal. This may last years: slowly but surely. So be it.
Practically, life continues: awaiting the solution, it remains the duty of all clerics to come to the needs of their faithful and to conduct a worthy apostolate.
It is especially the obligation of the teaching Church, so the Bishops, to find solutions in a Synod. The priests should continue their necessary pastoral care for the souls.
Practical solutions must be sought. For example certain participants of the assembled Synod can work partially through the Internet if necessary. Perhaps this technological method, working very well among professional laity, may be of great service. Reflection on this matter is needed.
Principle: “Anything which is genuinely Catholic, is ours,” said St. Augustine. We trust on the divine promises of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Mt. 28:20), “Where there are two or three gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20), “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18), “I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16), “I will not leave you orphans” (John 14:18), etc. So it is sure God will bless this initiative for the unity of the Church. It is Our Lord in the first place who wants unity in the true Faith.
All of this requires a spirit of Faith and… of humility: to put one’s opinion aside for a moment to restore the common good of the Church, of souls and the glory of God. One should even be willing to abdicate for the love of a greater good.
3) The first question to treat is in fact the Papal See. Everybody must come to agreement. The solution must be clear for everybody: ‘quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus’.
Principle: The question of the Pope is the most important, so it comes first.
Principle: “Prima sedes a nemini judicetur…”, but doubtless there are facts to observe and direct & evident conclusions to be drawn.
Principle: Sacred Tradition is the simple criterion; it is Divine Revelation: what God “is thinking”: Truth.
4) All the following depends on the solution to the previous question: if a thesis or a constatation is clearly the only true one, the necessary conclusions should be drawn by every faithful man of good will. This will establish unity de facto. And so, if God grants it, He will one day give us a good Pope once again, as the Pope is the supreme guarantor of the unity of the Church: “You are the Rock, Peter.”
As the Jews are not yet converted (as predicted by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans), we shouldn’t expect the end of times tomorrow, so to speak. The proposed way is the most normal way to revitalize and continue the Church. Otherwise one should hope for miracles. But (principle:) God prefers the normal course of events over miracles. Of course Gods does what He wants. But meanwhile we should search for the most normal solutions possible. This is my profound conviction, based on sure principles. I have tried to distinguish matters of opinion and matters of certitude.
However, there are many graces in sight. The unification of all will be a first great grace. We will obtain it eventually because God Himself is the guarantor of His Church, which must continue according to His own proper decision and promise. A second grace will be the acceptance of the Truth and the setting aside of divergent opinions by all, if not the great majority of Catholics. The third grace will be the God-given gift of a holy, prudent and strong Pope.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST:
5) Infallibility is still possible
- Because of external and public heresy, there is currently no Pope.
- But the teaching Church is infallible in two ways.
- First, ex cathedra through the Pope with or without an ecumenical Council, under the conditions laid down by the First Vatican Council. This is the Extraordinary Universal Magisterium (E.U.M.).
- Second, the teaching of Pope and Bishops together or spread across the globe, if they are teaching from Sacred Tradition. This is the Ordinary Universal Magisterium (O.U.M.).
- The E.U.M. is not in force while the Church is lacking a true Pope.
- The O.U.M. is in force, but without a Pope as during an interregnum. If this O.U.M. wouldn’t be in force, the Church’s infallibility and its “living and permanent Magisterium” would be lost during an interregnum, which is impossible as infallibility is essential to the Church.
- Practically : ALL non-heretical validly consecrated Bishops should come together to discuss serious subjects. If they make a unanimous statement, this would be infallible by virtue of the O.U.M. That way, the whole crisis in the Church can be solved. Let these Bishops deliberate on the issue of the Papal See. Let them for example discuss whether they have the power to hold a conclave. Since the Holy Spirit won’t leave the Church, they have all the graces to make the Church properly continue as She has functioned the last 2000 years. The Apostles learned : “Credo in unam”! The Church cannot lose something essential, e.g. infallibility. Since there is currently no Pope, this infallibility must necessarily be situated elsewhere: with the body of all true Bishops. Where else? With the O.U.M.! So let’s activate this O.U.M.!
All good Bishops must unite, whatever it takes. God’s grace will eventually make this happen, because God explicitly wants His Church to be a perfect unit. Together, all Bishops have the power to make the Church perfectly continue; if not, the gates of Hell have prevailed against Her. This is impossible as it would be against Jesus’ promise. It is as clear as day.
All of this is my humble opinion. I am not infallible, but so far I haven’t heard any serious counter arguments.
May God bless you!
Father Eric Jacqmin+
 Tractatus De Ecclesia Christi, 5th Edition, pp. 623-636, Rome, Gregorian Pontifical University, thesis XXIX. Latin original: “Porro, supposita semel talium occurentia circumstantiarum, sine difficultate admittendum quod potestas electionis devolveretur ad concilium generale. Ex ipso enim iure naturali est, quod in eiusmodi casibus attributio potestatis superioris deveniat per devolutionis viam ad potestatem proxime sequentem, quantum praecise requiritur ut possit societas conservari et extremae necessitatis angustias evadere.”
 Even the different opinions come to an agreement on this specific point:
– he loses his authority and maybe the papacy (Mgr Lefebvre et alii)
– he loses his authority and the papacy formaliter, but not materialiter (Mgr Guerard des Lauriers)
– he loses the papacy (Mgr Ngô-dinh-Thuc et alii) etc.
In any case the opinions come to an agreement on the loss of authority according to Aristotelian-thomistic philosophy.
St. Vincent of LERINS, Commonitorium and the common doctrine of the Fathers.
 The full saying of “Prima sedes…” is “Prima sedes a nemini judicetur, nisi deprehendatur a fide devius”: “the First See is judged by no one, unless there is a deviation from the Faith.” Furthermore, one should keep in mind that one may not “take for granted, in order to reach a conclusion, what has yet to be proved – namely, that the leader of the (post-)conciliar church is the Roman Pontiff” (John S. DALY, Michael Davies: an Evaluation, Tradibooks, 1989/2015). This would be a great fallacy. See also the last paragraph of the article in the D.T.C. (cf. supra for hyperlink).
 Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, #9.
Objection. Against the position taken in the article “Disputation: I believe in ONE Church” by the Reverend Father Eric Jacqmin, it could be objected that a general Synod or infallibility is currently not possible with the pars sana of the Church – i.e. the traditional clergy, more specifically all validly consecrated Catholic Bishops who are faithful to the inviolate and entire Deposit of the Faith without any spot or blemish (Eph. 5, 27) of heresy – because these Bishops are not residential Bishops with ordinary jurisdiction, the regular authority which is normally needed.
On the contrary, Ludovico Billot S.J., Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, asserts in his Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi (Editio tertia, 1909, pp. 610-611).
|“Porro, supposita semel talium occurentia circumstantiarum, sine difficultate admittendum quod potestas electionis devolveretur ad concilium generale. Ex ipso enim iure naturali est, quod in eiusmodi casibus attributio potestatis superioris deveniat per devolutionis viam ad potestatem proxime sequentem, quantum praecise requiritur ut possit societas conservari et extremae necessitatis angustias evadere.”||(…)
“It is the Natural Law itself that the attribution of a higher power extends, by way of devolution, to the power closest to it in succession, as far as it is absolutely required, so that a society can be preserved and escape the distress of direct necessity”
Reply to the objection. All the so-called ‘bishops’ of the post-conciliar ‘church’ have no membership of the teaching Church because of the public and manifest heresy of modernism, condemned by Pope Saint Pius X as “the synthesis of all heresies” (Pascendi Dominici Gregis, #39). But the teaching Church cannot disappear because of the divine promises of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Docete omnes gentes—Teach all nations” (Mt. 28, 19) and “Portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam—The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16, 18). Therefore, we should then place our hope in the “handful” of “Catholics faithful to Tradition”, because “they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ”, as the great Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria wrote (Coll. Selecta SS.Eccl.Patrum, Caillau and Guillou Vol. 32, pp. 411-412). Now the teaching Church, which is apostolic, always consists of Bishops, because they are the Successors of the Apostles. We must then conclude the charge of teaching has “extended, by way of devolution to” the validly consecrated faithful Catholic Bishops. Even though they lack the power of ordinary jurisdiction, they possess supplied jurisdiction to teach the faithful because otherwise the teaching Church could not have “preserved and escaped the distress of direct necessity”. This is certain because it is not some invented principle but “the Natural Law itself”. Indeed, the teaching Church is “absolutely required” since it is part of the threefold essential mission given by Our Lord Jesus Christ: to teach, to rule, to sanctify. Leo XIII even notes the Church’s magisterium is “living and permanent” (Satis Cognitum, #9). It is “living”, so it cannot be dead. It is “permanent”, so it is always living, ergo also at this time. This “extension by way of devolution” is in any case hierarchically ordered: the jurisdictional hierarchy is not followed by the laity, but is immediately followed by the hierarchy of the ordained and consecrated (R.F. Schmidt, “Er sah ihn und ging vorüber. Priester ohne kirchliche Sendung: das Legitimitätsproblem”). This is a sufficient answer to the objections.