Click the above link for color coding to distinguish the quotes.
Fr. James Wathen was a pioneer of the Traditionalist Movement. Ordained in 1958, the good Father wrote a book entitled The Great Sacrilege in 1970, denouncing the "Novus Bogus" Vatican II service that poses as a "Mass." Father had done much good, but unfortunately, he failed to embrace sedevacantism, and did succumb to the error of the Feenyites (denying Baptism of Blood --BOB, and Baptism of Desire--BOD).
I have every hope that the good Father is in Heaven despite his mistakes (he died in 2006). He wanted to be Catholic, and one can hope God would enlighten such a man before his final passage out of this life. I bring this point up, because we Traditionalists must be vigilant against the errors that can plague even the people with best intentions. Recently, a two-volume, hard-bound collection of his later writings has been published under the title I Know Mine and Mine Know Me. (available at Amazon.com).
While there is much laudable material contained therein, his recognition of the false Vatican II sect "popes" and Feeneyite heresy must be shown false. The serious problem with his final writings is that they contain no citations to any relevant theologians or authoritative pre-Vatican II Papal decrees; and when they do, it is seriously misunderstood.
1. On Sedevacantism. Fr. Wathen writes, "Canon 1556....which means that none of the pope's subjects are allowed to judge the status of him who sits on the Throne of St. Peter.
Wrong. Here is an explanation from a standard canon law manual:
“Immunity of the Roman Pontiff. ‘The First See is judged by no one.’ (Canon 1556). This concerns the Apostolic See or the Roman Pontiff who by the divine law itself enjoys full and absolute immunity.” (Cappello, Summa Juris Canonici 3:19.)
The judicial immunity of the pope was disputed in church history by partisans of Gallicanism and Conciliarism, who also maintained that a pope’s decisions could be appealed to a general council.
The maxim “the First See is judged by no one” is a procedural norm, then.
Sources: One of canonical sources for the maxim, the Decree of Gratian (ca. 1150), reads as follows: “Whose sins [the pope’s] no mortal man presumes to rebuke, for he shall judge all and is to be judged by no one, unless he is suddenly caught deviating from the faith [nisi deprehendatur a fide devius].” (Decree, I, dist. 60, ch. 6.)
If anything, one can conclude from this the very opposite of what Fr. Wathen maintains: defection from the faith is the one sin of a pope we are permitted to judge.
Papal Teaching: In two of his coronation sermons, Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) — considered one of the greatest canonists of his time — explained how a pope who falls into the sin of heresy is “judged.”
“’Without faith it is impossible to please God.’… And so the faith of the Apostolic See never failed, even in the most trying circumstances [turbatione], but always continued intact and undiminished, so that the privilege of Peter remained constant and unshaken.
“To this end faith is so necessary for me that, though I have for other sins God alone as my judge, it is alone for a sin committed against faith that I may be judged by the Church. [propter solum peccatum quod in fide commititur possem ab Ecclesia judicari.] For ‘he who does not believe is already judged’.”(Sermo 2: In Consecratione, PL 218:656)
“You are the salt of the earth… Still less can the Roman Pontiff boast, for he can be judged by men — or rather he can be shown to be judged, if he manifestly ‘loses his savor’ in heresy. [quia potest ab hominibus judicari, vel potius judicatus ostendi, si videlicet evanescit in haeresim.] For he who does not believe is already judged.” (Sermo 4: In Consecratione, PL 218:670)
A pope who commits the sin of heresy, then, can indeed be “shown to be judged.”
Fr. Wathen, " The main argument of the sedevacantists is that the pope is excommunicated....As a non-Catholic, it is impossible for him to be be the Head of the Catholic Church....excommunication does not mean expulsion...it is impossible for anyone for any reason to be expelled from the Church."
Very wrong. Pope Pius XII taught, "Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. "For in one spirit" says the Apostle, "were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican.  It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit." Mystici Corporis Christi June 29, 1943. (Emphasis mine)
It is clearly taught that to be a member of Christ's Mystical Body, the One True Church, you must (a) be validly baptized, (b) profess the True Faith (not a heretic), (c) Not separated from the unity of the Body (not a schismatic), and (d) not been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults (not excommunicated).
The phrase, "Once Catholic, Always Catholic" means the indelible mark of Baptism remains, and if you happily return, no repetition of baptism is necessary as you have been so marked. Fr. Wathen's interpretation turns into Wotyla's heresy that all the baptized are united in the Church (See Ut Unam Sint #42)
2. On Baptism of Desire
Fr. Wathen: While he explicitly acknowledges that BOD has been taught in catechisms for centuries, many saints taught/held it, and it was the universal consensus of the theologians, he rejects BOD for six (6) reasons:
"1. Several de fide definitions of the Church condemn it"
False. The theologians approved by the Church pre-Vatican II, knew the definitions (such as Unam Sanctum--he supplies no citations) AND accepted BOD. These theologians had their manuals approved for the use in seminaries by the highest Magisterial authority for orthodoxy. Father also fails to mention the teachings of Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius XII affirming BOD. If what Father THINKS those definitions say is true, then Pius IX and XII were heretics!
"2. Two Canons of the Council of Trent contradict and censure it"
An old canard. St. Alphonsus Ligori after specifically naming those two canons, goes on to teach BOD!
St. Alphonsus Liguori defines baptism of desire (flaminis) as: “Perfect conversion to God through contrition or love of God above all things, with the explicit or implicit desire [voto] for true Baptism of water, in whose place it may supply, according to the Council of Trent.” He cites Session 14, on Penance, ch. 4.
St. Alphonsus further states: “It is de fide that men may be also be saved through baptism of desire — from the chapter Apostolicam, de presb. non bapt. and from the Council of Trent, where it is said that no one can be saved ‘without the washing of regeneration or the desire for it’.” (Theologia Moralis, ed. nova. [Rome: Vatican 1909] 3:96-7.)
The first citation is to an Epistle of Pope Innocent II (1130–43), who stated that a priest who “had died without the water of baptism, because he had persevered in the faith of Holy Mother the Church and in the confession of the name of Christ, was freed from original sin and attained the joy of the heavenly fatherland.” (Dz 388)
Other theologians also cite Trent and Innocent II for these definitions. They also cite Pope Innocent III’s decree in 1206 concerning a Jew who desired baptism but was not able to be validly baptized: “If, however, such a man had died immediately, he would have flown to his heavenly home at once, because of the faith of the sacrament, although not because of the sacrament of faith.” (Dz 413)
Some add Pope St. Pius V’s condemnation of the following proposition of Baius: “Perfect and sincere charity… can exist both in catechumens and in penitents without the remission of sins.” This is cited because: “The contradictory of this proposition is true. Therefore, charity cannot exist in unbaptized catechumens without the remission of their sins.” (McAuliffe, Sacramental Theology, 84.)
"3. There is no foundation in Scripture for the idea of "baptism of desire"
On Fr. Wathen's private interpretation perhaps. Revelation comes from Sacred Tradition as well as Scripture. And let us not forget the Good Thief who was promised Heaven by Christ on his desire and belief to follow Him.(St. Luke 23:43).
"4. "None of those that promote the idea (of BOD)....can explain how it can have the same effect in the soul as the sacrament has; that is, how it can dispose one for Heaven."
Answered easily enough:
Here is an explanation of baptism of desire from the pre-Vatican II theologian, Father Felix Cappello:
“The term baptism of the spirit or of desire [flaminis seu desiderii] means an act of perfect charity or contrition, with at least an implicit wish for the sacrament. ‘For the heart of a man,’ says St. Thomas, ‘is moved by the Holy Ghost to believe and love God, and repent of its sins.’
“Thus, baptism of desire serves to justify a man in place of baptism properly speaking, for (as our treatise On Penance says) outside of the sacrament actually received, perfect contrition is in itself [per se] an immediate disposition for justification…
“… baptism of desire [in voto] takes place when at least the implicit intention to receive it [the sacrament of baptism] is present; this intention is contained in the act of charity or contrition, insofar as it is a general will to fulfill all divine commandments and to employ all means divinely instituted as necessary for salvation.” (Tractatus Canonico-Moralis de Sacramentis, 4th ed. [Rome: 1945] 1:110, 112.)
"5.There is no solid evidence that anyone has been saved by "baptism of desire."
See Dz 388, quoted above under his point # 2
"6. If one can baptize oneself with water, why can not one baptize oneself with water?"
Answer: Baptism by water is a sacrament, BOD is not. One can not be both the recipient and administer of any of the sacraments except the Holy Eucharist which the priest confects and then self-Communicates. Likewise, does Fr. Wathen wish to deny he can have his sins remitted by an Act of Perfect Contrition with the desire for confession, even if he can't pronounce himself absolved sacramentally?
Fr. Wathen laments that those who oppose him are not properly trained. Tell that to Fr. Cekada, from whose works I often cite and refer to often --including this post! (Thanks for much info Fr. C!) Fr. Wathen also claims that Quo Primum allows him to offer the True Mass because no pope has the authority to rescind it.
As Quo Primum was a disciplinary constitution, another pope can change it. If it was infallible, some theologian would have said so, yet not one pre-Vatican II canonist or theologian does so. The language was simply a standard formula in church legislation that referred to one of the qualities a law is supposed to have: stability.
Frequent changes in laws harm the common good because people do not know how to act — hence, laws are supposed to be relatively stable. But a human legislator (unlike God) cannot foresee all future circumstances, so his successor has the power to change existing laws if he decides the circumstances warrant it.
This reflects a general principle in law: An equal does not have power over another equal. No pope who used “perpetuity” in his disciplinary decrees understood the term to mean that no future pope could ever amend or replace his legislation.
And popes did in fact change some of the provisions of Quo Primum, even before Vatican II. In 1604, for instance, Pope Clement VIII issued new regulations for the Blessing at Mass, and in 1634 Pope Urban VIII changed the wording of the Missal’s rubrics and hymn texts.Traditionalists should stop using the Quo primum argument to reject the Novus Bogus.
It's my hope that the very desire to be Catholic, saved Fr. Wathen--which desire he claimed had no power to save! Traditionalists must truly KNOW their Faith. Fr. Wathen recognized the Novus Bogus as the "great sacrilege," but ironically failed to perceive the greatest sacrilege which foisted it upon us---Vatican II and its false "popes."