Her only legitimacy is her consistency in her continuity?

Cardinal Sarah stated the following in an article on 31 August 2021:

“Beyond the quarrel over rites, the credibility of the Church is at stake. If she affirms the continuity between what is commonly called the Mass of St. Pius V and the Mass of Paul VI, then the Church must be able to organize their peaceful cohabitation and their mutual enrichment. If one were to radically exclude one in favor of the other, if one were to declare them irreconcilable, one would implicitly recognize a rupture and a change of orientation. But then the Church could no longer offer the world that sacred continuity, which alone can give her peace. By keeping alive a liturgical war within herself, the Church loses her credibility and becomes deaf to the call of men. Liturgical peace is the sign of the peace that the Church can bring to the world.

“What is at stake is therefore much more serious than a simple question of discipline. If she were to claim a reversal of her faith or of her liturgy, in what name would the Church dare address the world? Her only legitimacy is her consistency in her continuity.” [Rorate Caeli, Cardinal Sarah: A Church that Claims a Reversal of Her Liturgy is a Church with no Credibility]

This text has been recently cited by OnePeterFive and Timothy Flanders to oppose Traditionis Custodes and Pope Francis, and to support the separation of the traditional Latin Mass (TLM) from the authority of the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops. It is claimed that the Church cannot choose only one liturgical form for the Roman Rite, or She loses Her “legitimacy” and Her “credibility” and “becomes deaf to the call of men”. They ask, with Cardinal Sarah, “in what name would the Church dare address the world? — if She keeps alive a liturgical war, one form against another (TLM against the Novus Ordo Mass), or if She does not offer the “sacred continuity” of the Latin Mass.

The answer is that the Church dares to address the whole world in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But these papal accusers have made such an idol of the Latin Mass — which in itself is not an idol — that they wish the Church to address the world in the name of that exterior form of the liturgy, rather than in the name of Christ. They dare to say that the Church loses credibility and legitimacy — as if the gates of Hell had prevailed against Her — merely because the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops, the successors to the Apostles in the indefectible apostolic Church, choose a form of the Mass that appeals to a much larger group of persons.

The claims above by Cardinal Sarah and by Flanders, Rorate Caeli, and others is heretical and schismatic.

First, to refuse the authority of the Roman Pontiff over the form of the Mass is a refusal of submission to his authority. And this is not merely a question of one Pope, but of all the Popes since Vatican II, since Pope Saint Paul VI approved the new form of the Mass, with the intention of limiting the TLM only to certain few persons. All these Popes intend to use the Novus Ordo Mass as either the main form of the Mass in the Roman Rite, and/or eventually as the only form in that Rite. Here is what Pope Saint Paul VI wrote to Lefebvre:

Pope Saint Paul VI: “On the one hand, there are those who, under the pretext of greater fidelity to the Church and the Magisterium, systematically reject the teachings of the Council itself, its application and the resulting reforms, its gradual application by the Apostolic See and the Episcopal Conferences, under our authority, willed by Christ. Discredit is discredited on the authority of the Church in the name of a Tradition, to which respect is attested only materially and verbally; the faithful distance themselves from the bonds of obedience to the See of Peter as well as to their legitimate Bishops; the authority of today is rejected in the name of that of yesterday. And the fact is all the more serious, since the opposition we are talking about is not only encouraged by some priests, but headed by a Bishop, however always venerated by us, Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre.”

“It is so painful to notice it: but how can we not see, in this attitude — whatever the intentions of these people may be — that they place themselves outside of obedience to, and communion with the Successor of Peter and therefore the Church?” [Consistory for the creation of twenty new Cardinals, May 24, 1976:]

Lefebvre was suspended a divinis, and later excommunicated (ferendae sententiae) by Pope Saint John Paul II. Yet today his name is used to oppose Pope Francis, the Novus Ordo Mass, Vatican II, and anything the papal accusers dislike, which has been taught by any Popes since Vatican II. They follow a schismatic excommunicated deceased archbishop (Lefebvre), who died outside formal communion with the Catholic Church. And Pope Saint Paul VI says that these persons have placed themselves outside of obedience and outside of communion with the Pope “and therefore the Church”. They are schismatics who follow a schismatic. They are schismatics who substitute their own judgment in place of, and in opposition to, the Roman Pontiff.

Pope Saint Paul VI: “Since this, unfortunately, is the logical consequence, that is, when it is argued that it is preferable to disobey on the pretext of keeping one’s faith intact, of working in one’s own way for the preservation of the Catholic Church, while denying it effective obedience. And it is said openly! Indeed, they do not hesitate to assert that the Second Vatican Council lacks binding force; that faith would also be in danger because of the post-conciliar reforms and orientations, which one has the duty to disobey in order to preserve certain traditions.”

“What traditions? It is this group of men — but not the Roman Pontiff, not the Episcopal College, not the Ecumenical Council — who wish to become those who establish a binding decision on which of the innumerable traditions are to be held as norms of faith! As you see, our venerable Brothers, this attitude speaks as if it were judge over that Divine will which placed Peter and his successors at the Head of the Church, so as to confirm his brethren in the faith and so pasture the universal flock (Lk 22:32; Jn 21:15 ff.) and thus establish him as guarantor and custodian of the deposit of the Faith.”
It is in the name of Tradition that we ask all our children, all Catholic communities, to celebrate the renewed Liturgy in dignity and fervor. The adoption of the new “Ordo Missae” is certainly not left to the discretion of the priests or the faithful: and the Instruction of June 14, 1971 provided for the celebration of Mass in the old form, with the authorization of the ordinary, only for elderly or infirm priests, who offer the Divine Sacrifice sine populo [without the people]. The new Ordo was promulgated to replace the old one, after mature deliberation, following the requests of the Second Vatican Council. Likewise, our holy Predecessor Pius V had made the reformed Missal compulsory under his authority, following the Council of Trent.”

“We demand the same availability, with the same supreme authority that comes from Christ Jesus, to all the other liturgical, disciplinary and pastoral reforms that have matured in recent years in application of the conciliar decrees. Any initiative that aims to hinder them cannot assume the prerogative of rendering a service to the Church: in fact it causes serious damage to it.”[Ibid.]

As Pope Saint Paul VI states, the Pope and the Apostolic College and the Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) have the authority to decide what is tradition, what is doctrine, and what is proper discipline. Their decisions are binding. Those who usurp that authority given to the Pope and Bishops by Christ oppose the Divine will and substitute the reasonings of fallen sinners for the plan of Christ and for the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

The post-Vatican II Popes have the same supreme authority from Christ over liturgy, discipline, and doctrine as all other successors of Peter. They exercise the same authority as Pope Pius V did in making the reformed Missal (the early Latin Mass) “compulsory under his authority”. And, hypocritically, Cardinal Sarah, Timothy Flanders, Rorate Caeli and others do not apply the same alleged principle to Pius V, namely, the alleged principle that the Church must continue in the same form of the Mass or, by lack of liturgical consistency, She loses credibility and legitimacy. And since the TLM does not date to the time of the Twelve Apostles, nor to the time of the first Mass, which was the Last Supper, it cannot be the case that liturgical consistency is the basis for the legitimacy of the Church.

Rather, the basis for the credibility and legitimacy of the Church is Christ and Peter and his successors and the other Apostles and their successors. Attempting to base the indefectibility of the Church on one form of the Mass is Pharisaical in the extreme. When did Christ ever teach such a thing? Never! It is not found in the Gospels, nor in the teachings of the Magisterium. To the contrary, the Magisterium has always taught the supreme authority of Peter and his successors over the entire Church: doctrine, discipline, and liturgy. Pius V exercised that authority at the beginning of the TLM, and the post Vatican II popes exercise the same authority to impose the Novus Ordo Mass, even to impose it as the sole form in the Roman Rite, if they wish to do so.

It cannot be claimed that abrogating the TLM in favor of the Novus Ordo Mass causes the Church to lose her credibility or legitimacy. Such a claim rejects the authority of the Popes, the body of Bishops, and the Ecumenical Councils. It also is an heretical claim.

For the Church is indefectible. This indefectibility is stated by Christ to be based upon Peter and his successors, who are the Rock on which the Church is founded and also the head of the Church. Then each Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Christ, not so that the Church would have two heads, like a monster, but only one Head, for “Christ and His Vicar constitute one only head” of the one Church [Pius XII Mystical Body of Christ 40; cf. Unam Sanctam].

“Her only legitimacy is her consistency in her continuity.”

Attempting to base the indefectibility of the Church on consistency in liturgical form is a rejection of what Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium teach on the four characters of the Church — one, holy, catholic, apostolic — which are the basis instead for that legitimacy and credibility. Moreover, the teaching and sacrifice of Christ is what establishes the Church with Her essential characteristics. Replacing all this with liturgical form is a severe heresy which rejects the dogmas of the Faith on the nature of the Church. Then claiming that the Church can lose Her indefectibility merely by the same exercise of papal authority which established the TLM under Pius V, an authority which has recently proposed the Novus Ordo Mass as the one form of the Latin Rite, such a claim opposes the authority of one pope against another, rejecting the authority of the recent Popes in favor of a distorted interpretation of a decision from past Popes. And Pope Saint Paul VI rejects such a position, above.

Another Hypocrisy

While Cardinal Sarah proposes that both forms of the Mass continue together in harmony, a faithful proposal only if the Pope agrees, the authors at OnePeterFive and Rorate Caele have rejected the Novus Ordo Mass and proposed that only the TLM is legitimate. They claim that the Novus Ordo Mass harms the faith and is one of the main causes of all manner of problems in the Church. If so, then they are the ones doing what Sarah says is contrary to the legitimacy of the Church: “to radically exclude one in favor of the other, if one were to declare them irreconcilable.” But the papal accusers will cite anything they can use to attack the Pope, and ignore anything to the contrary.

These claims by Sarah, Flanders and others cannot be true, as the Novus Ordo Mass is approved by successive Roman Pontiffs, and each Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and never-failing faith. Thus, no Pope can ever gravely harm the Church, nor gravely lead the faithful astray by any exercise of the Keys of Peter over doctrine or discipline. And discipline includes liturgical form.

Flanders uses the terms heresy, heretical, and heretic a dozen times in his recent article, in which he compares Pope Francis to Pontius Pilate and suggests that Pope Francis is not in the state of grace. Flanders also spreads the false rumor that the Pope has cancer. Recall, also, that Flanders claims that since Vatican II the Church is and has been in a state of doctrinal and disciplinary corruption, which he calls a “pornocracy”. Flanders is the heretic, not the Pope, not the body of Bishops working with the Pope — for he rejects the indefectibility of the Church and the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff and the Pope’s charism of truth and never-failing faith. Flanders is a schismatic, who rejects the authority of the Popes over the Mass. Implying that the Pope is a heretic by repeatedly using that term in reference to the decisions of the Pope and the Bishops working with him is a cowardly way to accuse Pope Francis of heresy.

At least Taylor Marshall had the backbone to say what he really thinks (that Pope Francis is a heretic). Flanders’ position is clearly the same; he necessarily implies that Pope Francis is a heretic. But he doesn’t have the backbone to state what he thinks openly. Rather, he points to that position by numerous malicious attacks on the doctrine, discipline, and authority of the Pope.

The many implied accusations that Flanders makes against Pope Francis, in his article comparing the Pope to Pontius Pilate, are contrary to the charism of truth and never-failing faith. The Pope can never fail in faith by apostasy, heresy, schism or idolatry. The Pope can never fail in the truths of the faith by grave errors in doctrine or discipline. And the Pope can never be a cruel or abusive father in his role as Roman Pontiff, nor in his exercise of the Keys of Peter. For Peter still lives, presides, and exercises judgment in the Apostolic See he established with his blood. A Pope can sin gravely in his personal life. But in his life as the Father and Teacher of All Christians, he cannot be a cruel abusive father, for such a desire, intention, or behavior is contrary to the charism of never-failing faith. The Pope would have failed in faith if, as Shepherd or Teacher of the Faithful, he would be cruel and abusive. His personal sins aside, his exercise of the Keys and even his interior disposition cannot be gravely contrary to that never-failing faith.

The Pope can never be a heretic, apostate, or idolater. And so those who accuse the Popes of these grave failings of faith have themselves failed in faith by not accepting the words of Christ:
{22:32} But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.”

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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9 Responses to Her only legitimacy is her consistency in her continuity?

  1. Vít Lacman says:

    Dear mr. Conte
    Would you mind responding to my question regarding mortal sins. Is it a mortal sin to be willing to commit a grave sin under certain or even purely hypothetical conditions? For example if one believes that he would be probably willing to miss a Mass and work on Sunday if by doing this he could sign a million-dollar contract, is he already in a state of mortal sin or only when he actually does so or intends to do so.

    Hopefully my comment is intelligible.

    • Ron Conte says:

      A mere hypothetical is not a mortal sin. When Jesus said that we should pray not to be put to the test, He could not have meant that it would be a mortal sin anyway, put to the test or not, by mere hypothetical willingness. Being put to the test means that God permits a situation where we are tempted.

      Also, missing Mass due to a work requirement is not a mortal sin. If you think something might be a mortal sin, ask yourself if God will no longer be your friend and would send you to Hell forever for committing that sin. In believing and practicing Catholics, mortal sins are not rare, but also not common.

    • Vít Lacman says:

      Thank you, Ron. God bless you.

  2. Barbara King says:

    I am correct in thinking that a Catholic should not attend the SSPX Masses .

    • Ron Conte says:

      In general, Catholics should not attend SSPX Masses, as the SSPX is a schismatic and heretical group. The Mass and consecration of the Eucharist is valid, so if you had no other option, you could attend, just as you could attend an Orthodox Christian Mass (“divine service” I think they call it).

  3. Jeff Obrien says:

    This is an unrelated question, but bears asking right now. Based on Our Ladies apparitions about Russia “spreading her errors,” do you think we are looking at WW3 with Russia and the start of the tribulation? Do you think God is going to use Russia as a tool for punishment?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Russia will not be involved in World War 3 in any substantial way. Russia is not a combatant in WW3. Russia was consecrated correctly to Mary, and so Russia will not spread her errors in this generation. But Russia should be consecrated in every generation, as a nation is its people, not only or mainly its land. And when it is not, in the 2200’s Russia will spread errors and become the dominant world power. After WW3 and WW4, the United States will never again be a superpower.

  4. Adrian says:

    Ron, have you looked at the prophecies alleged of our lady to sister aiello? Just wondered because she is not listed on your list.

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