Cardinal Brandmuller errs gravely on Church law

Here’s the link to the claims by this “dubia Cardinal” Walter Brandmüller.

Brandmuller starts out well: “First of all, it should be noted that a law, in order to acquire binding force, does not require any special acceptance by the parties concerned.” Good. That’s of course true. When the Church makes a law, it is binding because the Church has authority from God to make laws for the Church.

Then the Cardinal errs gravely:

“But it does require reception by them. By reception is meant the affirmative acceptance of the law in the sense of “making it one’s own.” Just by this – and only with this – the law attains confirmation and permanence”

The laws of the Church, even those that are not immutable divine law, are nevertheless from the authority of Christ, the King of kings. The laws of the Church are binding when promulgated, not when the laws are made one’s own. In the case of moral culpability for violating a law, “making it one’s own” has a bearing. But the idea that a Church law needs “affirmative acceptance” by those under the law in order to attain “confirmation and permanence” undermines all Church laws, and puts the laws under the law-breakers.

And the error by the Cardinal continues:

This means, however, that for a law to be valid and binding, it requires the approval of those to whom it is addressed.

Essentially, this claim says that the law-breakers must approve of the law in order for it to be valid and binding. The assertion is patently absurd. Church laws are valid and binding by the very fact that those with authority (Popes, Councils) make and promulgate the laws.

The idea of a law falling out of force by longstanding custom of non-observance (and non-enforcement) applies in certain cases, such as adverse possession of property in real estate law. But in Church law, the Pope has the authority to make a law, and it is binding when promulgated. If a law is not observed for a long time, the Church can renew and enforce it.

By virtue of his office [the Roman Pontiff] he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely. {Canon 331}

More errors by the Cardinal:

In this context, reference may also be made to the possibility given by customary law, according to which a justified objection against a universal church law has at least initially a suspensive effect. This means, however, that the law is not to be obeyed as long as the objection has not been resolved.

False. The authority of the Pope is supreme, full, and immediate. A subject of the Pope cannot suspend a law by raising a supposedly “justified” objection. And this claim that the law is positively not to be obeyed is abject rebellion against Church authority and Church law.

It should also be remembered that in case of doubt as to whether a law is binding, it is not binding. Such doubts could be caused, for example, by inadequate wording of the text of the law.

False. The subjects of the law may not free themselves from legal obligations by proposing that they have doubts about whether it is binding, and the claim that such doubts are caused by “inadequate wording of the text” effectively allows anyone to claim a law does not bind them by a criticism of the wording of the law. Since the laws of the Church are worded by fallen sinners, and more importantly, since this proposed doubt that nullifies the law is a doubt from the minds and hearts of fallen sinners obscured by sin, this proposal would make a myriad of laws supposedly non-binding.

In plain language, however, this means that the validity of a law ultimately depends on the consent of those affected by it. The law has to serve the good of the community – and not vice versa the community the law.

False again. Those subject to the law must obey. We are speaking here of Church law, which has the authority of Christ, the Son of God. And while the Cardinal makes it clear that this does not apply to divine law, the Church is both human and divine — and Her authority is divine.

It is the sin of public formal schism for the Cardinal to tell the faithful that they are not bound by laws of the Church: laws to which they do not consent; laws whose binding character they doubt; laws they judge to have inadequate wording; or laws against which they raise objections said to be justified. It is also the sin of heresy as the Cardinal is rejecting the dogmas on the authority of the Church over matters of discipline and government of the people of God.

By these specious false claims about Church authority, Cardinal Brandmuller refuses subjection to the Roman Pontiff and teaches grave errors on Church authority.


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4 Responses to Cardinal Brandmuller errs gravely on Church law

  1. Alex says:

    With all my respect to cardinals Burke, Brandmuller, and Muller (the two of them German) their defiance to the pope’s recent moto proprio creates quite big problems for the pope. He either should let it go (as he did until now) and make his own words sounding without any power. Or, he will punish those cardinals so others do not follow them, especially in view of a soon to be expected next conclave. We remember cardinals were banned from voting in past conclave.

    I don’t know if it will be excommunications or a less severe reprimand. Frankly, I do not wish excommunications to take place, not so much for the sake of the cardinals who making such statements know what could follow for them, rather for the sake of those millions sincere traditionalist believers who will be ripped apart between obedience to the pope and their love to the traditional mass. Personally I do not want that choice to have to be ever made.

    Let notice however, that exactly the lack of humility of the above cardinals and of the priests and communities as a whole led to that disastrous development. They could slow down at the first signs last year that the pope takes measures to restrict the TLM. We remember the defiance of cardinal Muller as prefect of CDF, of cardinal Burke with the order of Malta. After those events they should have shown deepest possible humility as worthy for everyone vested in red and as example of their own followers. If they did so, we would never reach to that point.

    And now, instead of obeying the pope to the letter and find the way to PRESERVE the beautiful and holy TLM, the above cardinals and others show open defiance. Let pray it will somehow not reach to the point of a schism when we will see dioceses ripped apart, souls who strive for sanctification wandering which side to take. That is NOT FROM GOD! Let hope the worst will be averted. But for that to be possible, great humility and sacrifice of those who are now under pope’s scrutiny is needed, and NOW. Days are counting! The pope has his own reasons for his decisions, and they are not his judges. It is a pity that so many years after Fatima and Akita we see literal fulfilment of the words “cardinal against cardinal”. It is easy to pick up a side of a crusade and end up in schism. This is NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE! Especially when we know that the Chastisement is not done yet. If God decides to judge He doesn’t need the help of traditionalists, or liberals, or anyone. So many prophecies speak in that regard.
    Be at peace and have humility, dear pastors!

    • Ron Conte says:

      Alex, your comments on this blog have improved much over the years. Thanks for your contributions, so many times.

      The TLM is of course not the problem. It is the lack of humility in conservative and traditionalist leaders, that they do not submit to the Popes, Councils, and body of Bishops. They submit only to their subculture and their own ideas.

  2. Robert L Fastiggi says:

    Dear Ron,
    Thank you for this important article. Last year, I was pleased when Cardinal Brandmüller corrected Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s false claim about errors in the Councils of Constance and Florence: Unfortunately, Cardinal Brandmüller now erroneously states that Church laws and teachings only have force when they are received and accepted. As you note, this undermines magisterial authority. Cardinal Brandmüller should also know that there is a difference between disciplinary documents such as St. John XXIII’s 1962 apostolic constitution, Veterum Sapientia, and an encyclical dealing with faith and morals such as St. Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Moreover, Veterum Sapientia did not lose its authority because it was not accepted but because all of its directives were not upheld in subsequent magisterial documents. Paul VI, in his November 4, 1963 apostolic letter, Summi Dei Verbum, upholds the need for seminarians to learn Latin, but he does not require that the major sacred sciences be taught in Latin. Vatican II’s 1965 Decree on Priestly Training, Optatam Totius, no.13, follows the same approach as Paul VI. We can be grateful to Cardinal Brandmüller for correcting Bishop Schneider’s false claim that there are errors in ecumenical councils, but it’s sad that the Cardinal now makes the erroneous claim that Church disciplines and teachings must be accepted in order to have binding authority.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Thanks, Robert. Here’s the comment by Cardinal Brandmuller correcting the errors of Bishop Schneider:

      “The Council of Constance (1415-1418) put an end to the schism that had divided the Church for forty years. In that context, it has often been stated – and recently repeated – that this council, with the decrees ‘Haec sancta’ and ‘Frequens’, defined conciliarism, the superiority of the council over the pope.

      “But this is not true at all. The assembly that issued those decrees was by no means an ecumenical council authorized to define the doctrine of the faith. It was instead an assembly of none but the followers of John XXIII (Baldassarre Cossa), one of the three ‘popes’ who were contending at that time over the leadership of the Church. That assembly had no authority.
      “The schism lasted until the assembly of Constance was joined by the other two parties as well, meaning the followers of Gregory XII (Angelo Correr) and the ‘natio hispanica’ of Benedict XIII (Pedro Martinez de Luna), which happened in the autumn of 1417. Only from that moment on did the ‘council’ of Constance become a true ecumenical council, albeit still without the pope who was eventually elected.

      “So all the proceedings of that first ‘incomplete’ phase of the council and its documents did not have the slightest canonical value, although they were effective at the political level in those circumstances. After the end of the council the new and only legitimate pope, Martin V, confirmed the documents issued by the ‘incomplete’ pre-conciliar assembly, except for ‘Haec sancta’, ‘Frequens’, and ‘Quilibet tyrannus’.

      “’Frequens’, valid because it had been issued by the three former factions in concert, did not require confirmation. But it does not teach conciliarism at all, nor is it a doctrinal document, but simply regulates the frequency of the convening of councils.

      “As for the Council of Florence (1439-1445), it is true that in the decree ‘Pro Armenis’ it affirmed that in order for priestly ordination to be valid this required the ‘porrectio instrumentorum’, meaning the conferral of the instruments of his office upon the one ordained. And it is true that Pius XII in the apostolic constitution ‘Sacramentum Ordinis’ established that for the future this would no longer be necessary, and declared as the matter of the sacrament the ‘manus impositio’ and as its form the ‘verba applicationem huius materiae determinantia’.

      “But the Council of Florence, regarding priestly ordination, did not deal with doctrine at all. It only regulated the liturgical rite. And it must be remembered that it is always the Church that orders the ritual form of the sacraments.”

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