Dr. Pro continues:
Let me devote some time and space to irregularities of papal elections. This is a favorite topic of sedevacantists and they put a great deal of clout into their various theories surrounding the elections of the post-conciliar popes. In the past we have had some very curious papal elections, and in some cases appointments that by today's standard would raise the eyebrows of some sedevacantists.
Pope Felix IV was consecrated Bishop of Rome on July 12, 526. The appointment was manipulated and achieved by the Emperor Theodoric. "Jealously Theodoric watched over the machinations of the next papal election and there can be no doubt his powerful influence carried weight in the choice of the gathering" (Pageant of the Popes
, Farrow, pg. 38). Pope Felix, fearing the royal meddling in papal elections, appointed his own successor, Archdeacon Boniface, and he also threatened excommunication to anyone who opposed his wishes. After the death of Felix, Boniface II took office in 530. "But the unprecedented method of his ascension to the papal rank found no favor with many of the Roman clergy who promptly met and pronounced one of their own number, Dioscorus, to be the real pope" (ibid. pg. 39). The question is, were the Roman clergy who ignored pope Felix's wishes excommunicated and not eligible to elect their pope? A deadlock ensued and we had two papal claimants, but as fate would have it, Dioscorus died and, after several synods discussing the matter, Boniface was allowed to retain the papacy. Boniface named his successor, but his candidate was rejected and the practice of a pope naming his successor fell into disfavor.
No treatise on papal trivia can be complete without the complex story of Pope Formosus. Embroiled in a variety of political intrigues regarding ecclesiastic appointments, Formosus, when he was bishop of Porto, earned disfavor from Pope John XIII and and was expelled from Rome. After John's death, the new pope, Marinus, allowed Formosus to return, only to have him ascend to the papacy himself in 885. After he became pope, Formosus continued his political manipulation and was involved in rival claimants to the temporal throne. Through this, he earned many enemies, and the animosity continued even after his death.
The reigning emperor, Lambert, was destined to seek revenge on Formosus, so he persuaded Pope Stephen VI to carry out his ignominious plan. "The decaying body of Formosus was disinterred and once again dressed in the gorgeous robes of a presiding Pontiff. Before the gloating eyes of Agriltrude (Lambert's mother), the corpse was propped upon a throne around which the conscienceless assemblage of clergy took their places and went through the motions of a trial" (Pageant of the Popes
, Farrow, p. 85). They declared this pontificate to have been invalid, and all his acts, including his ordinations, null and void. "The horror of the barbaric incident was concluded by a series of degrading insults to the corpse. Richly embroidered vestments were torn from the rotting flesh, and the fingers which had been used for consecration were chopped from the right hand" (ibid.). The remains were then thrown into the Tiber, only to be retrieved by a monk who placed him in a proper burial ground. Pope Stephen VI, who condoned such savagery, was himself a victim of foul play. "Before he had reigned a year, he was seized, chained to a couch and strangled to death" (ibid. pg. 86).
Pope Theodorus II exhumed the remains of Formosus for a proper burial and issued an edict that all his ordinations were valid. Incidentally, I don't think even a pope can retroactively proclaim a legitimate ordination null and void.
In the tenth century, it seems there were rival political parties that had a say in papal elections. Theodora, wife of Emperor Theophylact, belonged to the most powerful organized party in Rome. After her death, her daughter, Marozia, became heir to the organization and was able to choose who was to be pope. "The papal throne was now the uncontested property of Marozia, and in the three years following the murder of John X, two men of her choice, Leo VI and Stephen VII, make their dim entrances and exits upon the unpleasant scene. Then, once again, a selection was necessary, and this time the calculating gaze of the odious widow fell upon her own son. The machinery of controlled election moved agreeably, and in 931, John XI was consecrated to the See of Rome" (ibid. pg. 90). In this one quote I have demonstrated papal murder, simony and nepotism; can it get any worse? Yes, it can, and it did.
The story of John XII was included in my previous paper, but some important points have come to mind, so I want to elaborate and review. If you recall, the Emperor Alberic, with scheming intrigue, arranged to have his son, Octavian, elected pope in 955. Octavian became Pope John XII at sixteen [or eighteen] years of age. "A wild profligacy now became the tempo of the Papal Court, and sacrilege was the rule. The fervent prayers and agonized moans of horrified monks were drowned by the mad noises of obscene orgies as the duties of the altar were supplanted by the pleasures of the flesh. A stable was the background of an ordination. Bishoprics were sold to whomever would purchase them, and the pope was heard to drink a gay toast to the devil" (ibid. pg. 93).
"Everywhere the northern eyes turned, they were affronted with scandalous evidences of the pope's crimes. A council was convened, and after deliberation, fifty bishops, both German and Italian, called upon the pope to come and defend himself against accusations of sacrilege, simony, purjury, murder, adultery and incest" (ibid. Pg. 94). They threatened to depose John, "Unfortunately, their decision was uncanonical and created fresh complications" (ibid.). Amidst the controversy of emperors usurping the privilege of electing popes, Otho I illegally deposed Pope John XII and put into his place a layman, Leo. He was consecrated Bishop of Rome, and given all the lesser orders, in violation of canon law, by Sico, bishop of Ostia. The Roman populace was incensed by this intrusion and quickly expelled the emperor's choice. John XII returned, summoned a council, condemned Leo, and "degraded" the clerics ordained by him. "The anti-pope was driven from the Lateran and the disreputable John was welcomed back as a hero ... revenge was wreaked upon those of his antagonist who were unlucky enough not to have escaped. One prelate had his right arm struck off, another was publicly scourged, and a third high official lost his ears and nose ... once again debauchery stained the Lateran, but only for three months was the pollution to endure. John XII breathed his last in the month of May, 964 ... it was a popular belief that he died at the hands of a wronged husband" (ibid. pg. 95).
The Roman populace then "unwisely" elected Cardinal-Deacon Benedict. The emperor, in league with Leo, brought Benedict to trial; Benedict eventually acquiesced and stepped down. No further protest was made against Leo's position, so he may well be regarded as a true pope from July, 964 to this death in 965" (Catholic Encyclopedia
, 1913, Leo VIII) (Liber Pontificalis
ed. Duchenne, Paris, 1892).
These events demonstrate several points. First, we see an evil and corrupt pope, in league with Satan, who obviously, with his life of sacrilege, was bent on the destruction of the Church. Secondly, we see the elevation of a layman to an anti-pope who eventually became the real pope; furthermore, those that he ordained while anti-pope were merely "degraded," as history testifies. Does "degraded" imply that the ordinations were valid and only jurisdiction was lost? With all these irregularities, these prelates were considered legitimate by the Church and the apostolic succession was preserved. Thirdly, even a council of bishops cannot depose a lecherous heretical (guilty of crimes such as simony) pope who was recognized by the Church, despite his questionable election.
This brings up the topic of prelates, being Freemasons who allegedly are there to destroy the Church. Are their sacraments valid?? We have just read of a pope in this unfortunate situation. It seems his sacraments were considered valid but most assuredly sacrilegious. On this topic, I would recommend a piece by Rama Coomaraswamy, M.D. entitled Cracks in the Masonry
, available at www.traditionalmass.org
. The Masons, themselves, love to tout their accomplishments in procuring celebrated figures to join their ranks. Brother Joseph McCabe claimed that Pope Pius IX was a member (History of Freemasonry). I also obtained a photo on the Internet alleged to be Pius IX in full Masonic regalia. What about the sacraments of these alleged Masonic prelates? Again, we turn to "proof by precedent."
Most Traditional Catholics are familiar with the countless claims that the Church has been infiltrated by Freemasons and/or Communists, who enter the Church to destroy it. These stories go back to the nineteenth century, even prior to the French Revolution. Are their sacraments valid? What has this done to the apostolic succession? Can we be sure that any priest ordained in our lifetime is not heir to one of these infiltrators? We have already learned that Pope John XII, in league with Satan, was considered a valid pope. What about the Masonic influence today? Some allege that it goes all the way to the highest positions in the Church.
Again, with "proof by precedent," let us examine the story of the French Cardinal Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, who was born in 1754, ordained a priest, and consecrated a bishop in 1789. Dr. Coomaraswamy, in the paper cited, quotes Talleyrand's biographer, Louis Madelin of the academy Francoise, "He belonged to all the great Masonic lodges, from the Philalatheans, whence sprang the Jacobin Club, to the Reunited Friends, where the great ringleaders of the future were already preparing the Revolution." Without belaboring the complex history of the French Revolution, in which Talleyrand was intimately involved, suffice to say that his role was a disaster for the Catholic Church. Talleyrand was excommunicated in 1791 after having ordained many priests and consecrated several bishops, when all was said and done. "Rome allowed the bishops of the Constitutional Church (a schismatic body set up by the Masons to serve the ends of the state) of who derived their orders from the Mason Talleyrand, to remain in their positions, as diocesan ordinaries. The fact that Talleyrand was a Mason and a revolutionary made no difference" (Cracks in the Masonry
A more modern version of Episcopal Masonry is the story of Cardinal Rampolla Del Tindaro. He was the Vatican Secretary of State and a Freemason who almost became pope. Malachi Martin, distinguished Jesuit author, describes the death of Pope :eo XIII on July 20, 1903, the papal conclave narrowly avoided fulfilling the dream of the permanent instruction and electing Mariano Cardinal Rampolla Del Tindaro - the Vatican Secretary of State and an inducted member of the Masonic Lodge - as pope and Vicar of Christ. In fact Rampolla did
actually receive the required number of votes, but Jan Cardinal Puzyna of Krakow, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, exercised the veto power enjoyed at that moment by his Imperial Master, Franz Josef of Austria. Franz Josef knew of Rampolla's Masonic identity" (pp. 535, 536). So Rampolla was denied the papacy, and in his place was elected Cardinal Sarto of Venice, who became Pope Pius X and, eventually, St. Pius X.
There has been no question of the sacraments conferred by these prelates, especially Holy Orders. It might be a good idea to delve into some sacramental theology and examine what the Church has taught on the subject. Sedevacantists say that heretics cannot confer valid sacraments and most of the world's bishops are heretics; therefore, they cannot maintain or pass on the apostolic succession. Firstly, we know that heretics not only can baptize, but they can perform all the other sacraments validly, including Holy Orders. The priesthood of the Eastern Orthodox schismatics has always been accepted by the Church as validly ordained but illicit.
A Catholic can, in fact, confess to an Orthodox priest in an emergency.
After having reviewed the evidence, with proof by precedent, it seems redundant to attempt an explanation of Church teaching on heretics administering sacraments. However, to be thorough, a few comments are in order.
As most of us are aware, proper matter, form and intention are necessary for validity. While matter and form are fairly easy to understand, the concept of intention is more complex. In his Principles of Sacramental Theology,
Bernard Lemming, S. J. discusses what the Council of Trent has to say about explanations of the intention, but merely affirmed the need of an intention of doing what the Church does
" (pg. 464).
It is generally accepted that the minister need not believe or have faith to confer a valid sacrament (such as Baptism). The instruction of the Holy Office on January 30, 1833 said, "That for the validity of a sacrament there is not required that intention which is called 'express' or 'determinate,' but a generic intention is sufficient, namely, an intention of doing what the Church does
, or of doing what Christ instituted, or what Christians do
" (ibid. pg. 472).
Many pages are dedicated to this concept of intention, but for our purposes, we have to assume that if an alleged heretic goes through the ritual of asacrament, then we must presume he is doing what the Church does, and the sacrament is valid. If not, then we would lose what Christ promised us, meaning we would lose the tools necessary to save our souls. "St. Thomas [Aquinas] shows that in principle, evil ministers can confer the sacraments, and that faith is not needed in the minister; a wicked priest can consecrate the Eucharist, as can a heretic
, a schismatic
and an excommunicate
. His reason is fundamental: the priest consecrates this sacrament, not by his own power, but as the minister of Christ
, in whose person he consecrates the sacrament" (ibid. pg. 541, Summa Th.
q. 64, aa. 5 and 9).
To sum up, I have given documented examples of prelates and popes who disgraced their offices. We had debauchery, simony, heresy, nepotism, murder, adultery, incest, sacrilege, revenge, perjury, and devil worship. Despite thes indiscretions, the prelates retained their jurisdiction and their sacraments were considered valid. Can you compare these crimes to anything we have today?
It is apparent that things will have to get a lot worse, in order for us to claim that the church has "never been this bad before." With my examples of shepherds who led ignominious lives and humiliated the church, we must accept the fact that out of 264 popes, the vast majority not only led stellar lives but over half of them were saints. I have only dwelled on the negative to prove a point. Keep in mind what St. Augustine said in his sermon about wicked pastors, "...across all the earth there are sheep astray. They are everywhere, but one thing, pride, is the mother of them all ... those in love with earthly things are like sterile shoots pruned qway by the grower's knife because of their sterility, cut away so that the vine shold not have to be cut down ... God has the power to graft them back ... God is equally able to call back the lost sheep ... the shepherds are dead bu the sheep are safe ... of course there will be such shepherds, of course they will be found: there is no lack of them and there never will be" (The Church as the Shepherd of the Straying Sheep, Sermon 46).
And then St. Cyprian tells us, "There is one God, and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded by the voice of the Lord on the rock; another altar cannot be set up, nor a new priesthood made, besides the one altar and the one priesthood. Whoever gathers elsewhere scatters" (Epistle 43:5).
Whoever gathers elsewhere scatters.
Despite the many Episcopal scandals, scandals that would have doomed any other corporate body, the Church has survived, and will survive, even the trials in our own time. We must constantly remind ourselves of Christ's promise: the Church will never die and the papacy will endure.