Recently a booklet entitled Ab Initio arrived in the mail from some place in England in an envelope bearing no name or return address. The author's purpose is clearly to sway others towards true, traditional Catholicism, and his sincerity must not be doubted. However his erroneous interpretation of the papal bull Execrabilis does not help the traditionalist cause. The author of Ab Initio writes under the pen name "A.D.O Datus." Now this is pure speculation on my part, but if A.D.O Datus is pronounced it comes out sounding "Adeodatus," meaning "the gift of God".

A.D.O Datus claims that the papal bull Execrabilis proves that "Vatican II was an invalid, illegal council called to found an anti-Church" (p. 22). Of course Vatican II was just that, but Execrabilis has no bearing on that fact. On p. 27 he argues that the bull itself "is prima facie evidence of a conspiracy deliberately to 'elect' an antipope who would use his visible (but invalid and illicit) authority to defy the prohibitions which protect the integrity of the infallible magisterium of the Catholic Church."

Twice the author of Ab Initio refers to the bull Execrabilis as an encyclical (pages 36 and 39). Later (p. 63) he also calls the bull Cum Ex Apostolatus an encyclical. This is a major downgrading since a bull is the most solemn and weighty document a pope can issue.

On p. 36: "The Encyclical [sic] Exsecrabilis forever protects all of the irreformable doctrines and dogmas of the Church." From pp. 39-40: "Exsecrabilis is like an enormous fishing net. ... Thus all who plotted and called the illegal Council Vatican II, sitting upon its Commissions, and drafting anti-Catholic schemas, taking part in its proceedings, implementing or promoting such judgements as broke with infallible Church teaching - all have violated the intention and spirit of Exsecrabilis ..."

On pp. 23-24 the bull Execrabilis "complete and unabridged" is presented below this heading: "The Bull Exsecrabilis of Pope Paul II, Jan. 18th, 1459." Pope Pius II issued the bull, not Paul II. As an aside, a clarification is in order here. In the foregoing paragraphs the words "Execrabilis" and "Exsecrabilis" both appear as the title of the bull. "Execrabilis" is the spelling found in the Index of The Catholic Encyclopedia (1914 edition) and also on p. 127 of Vol. XII. Furthermore "Execrabilis" is the first word of the complete text of the bull that appears both in Cocquelines' Magnum Bullarium Romanum and in Mansi's Sac. Conc. Nova et Amplissima Coll. On the other hand, "Exsecrabilis" is the spelling the author of Ab Initio prefers and in fact insists upon.

The bull begins as follows: "Execrable and unheard of in the earliest times, an abuse has grown in our age whereby some men imbued with the spirit of rebellion, and not with the desire of sounder judgment, but with the escaping of the sin they have committed, presume to appeal to a future Council from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Jesus Christ (to whom it was said in the person of Blessed Peter: Feed my lambs, and Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven). ... who would not regard as ridiculous the appealing to that which does not exist anywhere and the future date of whose existence is unknown?"

The bull Execrabilis condemns appeals to a future council only. The author of Ab Initio seems to recognize that key fact, as is evidenced by his mention of "future Councils" on pages 27 and 28. Furthermore, what Execrabilis condemns are appeals against the reigning Roman Pontiff and his successors (nostris ac successorum nostrorum). Canon 2332, which reinforces Execrabilis as well as a similar teaching of Vatican I, imposes ipso facto excommunication on "all persons ... who appeal from the laws, decrees or commands of the reigning Roman Pontiff (Romani Pontificis pro tempore existentis) to a General Council of the Church."

Now, Vatican II opened on October 11, 1962, and then it was no longer a future event. Can the author of Ab Initio name anyone at all who prior to that date made any appeal whatsoever to the future Vatican II against " the laws, decrees or commands of the reigning Roman Pontiff"? And by the way, was there in fact a true reigning Roman Pontiff in 1962?

Execrabilis therefore cannot possibly be applied to Vatican II nor to any of the author's absurd claims quoted above. How on earth is the bull "prima facie evidence of a conspiracy deliberately to 'elect' an anti-pope"? Although it's true that "Vatican II was an invalid, illegal council called to found an anti-Church," it is ludicrous to use Execrabilis to prove that. Finally, it is highly doubtful that Pope Pius II himself regarded Execrabilis as an enormous fishing net that "forever protects all of the irreformable doctrines and dogmas of the Church."

Patrick Henry Omlor
July 28, 1999