The "Brussels Syllabus" Commented

What all Catholics Must Know about the Present State of the Church


The study "What All Catholics Must Know About the Present State of the Church" was drafted in Brussels in Holy Week 1992 by four authors. By far the greatest contribution came from the present writer. It has been humorously referred to as "The Brussels Syllabus". What follows is the original text annotated by its principal author, J S Daly, to show the numerous exaggerations and unwarranted conclusions it contains. All that is printed in black belongs to the original text (1992) while the blue was interspersed in 1999 (along with some deletions marked by strike-through lines).

1. A heretical proposition is one which conflicts with a dogma, that is, a truth proposed by the Church to be believed by all the faithful as Divinely revealed. The Church can propose these dogmas either by her Extraordinary or her Ordinary Magisterium; in either case a conflicting proposition will be heretical. (Fr. Sixtus Cartechini: De Valore Notarum et de Criteriis ad eas Dignoscendas, Rome 1951, pp.11-40 - a work composed for the auditors of Roman Congregations; Dom Paul Nau: The Ordinary Magisterium of the Church Theologically Considered and The Pontifical Ordinary Magisterium at the First Vatican Council.)

2. A heretic is one who pertinaciously doubts or denies a dogma. Pertinacity means adhering to heresy culpably, i.e. while conscious of the relevant facts. . (Common teaching of theologians and canonists, of whom several are cited in Under the Laws of the Catholic Church the Papal See is Vacant by N.M. Gwynne; see especially Suarez: Opera XII (ed. Vivès) p.474; Clergy Review, 1952 vol.XXXVII, pp.462 and 701; Noldin: Summa Theologiae Moralis, II, n.29.)

3. Formal heresy is conscious doubt or denial of a dogma by one who realises the obligation to believe the Church's dogmas. Purely material heresy is the conscious doubt or denial of a dogma by one who is ignorant of the Church's Divine authority. (Jus Pontificium, 1931, p.52; Billot: De Ecclesia, thesis XI; Clergy Review, 1939, vol.XVII, pp.268-270, and 1952, Vol.XXXVII, p.701; D'Annibale: In Constitutionem Apostolicae Sedis (1894) n.30; Collationes Brugenses, 1923, p.116.)

4. Heretics incur automatic excommunication immediately upon manifesting their heretical dispositions. (Canon 2314/1 n.1) Even those whose heresy is purely material - those whose rejection of Catholic teaching is made in good faith - must for all practical purposes be treated as having incurred this censure. Whoever factually, for whatever reason, fails to profess the Catholic Faith is not a member of the Church as a juridical society and may not be treated as such until he recants his errors and submits to the Church. (Same references as for number 3 above; Canon 731/2; Kenrick: de Baptismo, n.243; Pope Pius XII: Mystici Corporis Christi, Denzinger 2286; Ott: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 311)
The above is correct in the sense that those who consciously reject the Catholic Magisterium, but do so in good faith, never having been Catholics, are held to be heretics in the external forum, and therefore excommunicated. But this does not apply to one who errs, however egregiously, while still disposed to believe what the Church teaches.


 5.An innocent mistake on the part of one who blamelessly does not realise that his doctrine is opposed to Catholic dogma does not constitute heresy, even material, since recognition, at least in a confused manner, of conflict with the Church's teaching is one of the essential notes of heresy. But this recognition may and must in many cases be legitimately presumed on account of the blatancy of error, or of the culprit's knowledge and standing, or of other indications. (Father Michael Mueller: The Catholic Dogma, p.186; same authorities as previously; Silveira: Essay on Heresy; de Lugo: Disp.XXII, sects.v and vi; J.S. Daly: Recognition of Heresy and Schism)
This is true, but it is important not to abuse it. Pertinacity is not presumed where there is any other reasonable other explanation of the data, and it would be gravely contrary to charity to act as if it were.


6. To establish that a given individual is a heretic, no jurisdiction is needed and no canonical warning is necessary [when it is completely evident that the doctrine denied is a dogma and that it is denied pertinaciously]. Whenever it is evident that a given individual sets up his own mind in opposition to the mind of the Church, refusing assent to her teaching, any Catholic aware of these facts may, and must, recognise that the individual is not a Catholic and treat him as an outsider to the household of the Faith. [But in every case of doubt - even tenuous doubt - the private individual is not competent to anticipate the judgment of the Church's authorities] (Silveira: op. cit.; Dom Guéranger: The Liturgical Year, Feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria; J.S. Daly op. cit)

7. It is certainly possible [in some cases (though by no means all)] for any Catholic, even an uneducated layman, to recognise when an individual is a heretic (Pope Paul IV's Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio; Denzinger 1105); indeed it is obligatory for him to be on the alert for them (Galatians 1:8, 2 John 1:10, Matthew 7:15) especially among the clergy (Acts 20:28ff), and, having identified them, he must withdraw from their communion [when the heresy and pertinacity are completely clear] (most of the same references). The recognition of heresy and of heretics and schismatics is not [always] a matter of opinion or optional (Silveira: op. cit.) Where the facts are known and certain, it is obligatory to act on them, and silence or reticence in such cases is sinful wherever it implies consent or risks scandal (Canon 1325/1). [ On the other hand one should also be on guard against the common weakness of deeming certain what is in fact doubtful, and of supposing an idea to be a heresy, merely because it appears logically to lead to heresy, which is far from the same thing. Before acting in any case that is not utterly plain and simple, the unqualified person should make himself thoroughly aware of how the saints acted and the extent to which doubtful propositions have been traditionally tolerated until directly condemned, and that good faith has been presumed.]

8. Schism is refusal of subjection to the Sovereign Pontiff or of union with the other members of the Church (Canon 1325); hence, whoever is not united with the other members of the Church in sharing the same sacraments and spiritual goods and in subjection to legitimate pastors is a schismatic. This is so even if in good faith he believes that those he is subject to are legitimate pastors, provided it is objectively certain that they are not. [This last sentence is totally and demonstrably the opposite of the truth. Numerous canonists and theologians insist clearly that one is not a schismatic for rejecting a true pope if one has reasonable grounds for believing his election to have been irregular, for instance.] (Lamiroy in Clergy Review, 1939, Vol.XVII, pp.268, 269; O'Mahoney, ibid.; Daly: op. Cit.) Schism can be committed by or implied in various actions and religious positions, insofar as circumstances imply [pertinacious] separation from communion with the Church or union with those who are not numbered among her children. (Journet: L'Eglise du Verbe Incarné, ed.3, 1962, p.829 and Fr. Henry Garnet S.J. in his letter of 2nd June 1601 to Fr. Robert Parsons S.J.; see Fr. Philip Caraman: Henry Garnet 1555-1606, Farrar, Straus and Co., New York, 1964.)
The added word "pertinacious" is absolutely necessary to make this statement accurate, and it completely alters the practical effect.


9. Numerous clear heresies are to be found in the Acta of Vatican II and in the liturgy of the Novus Ordo, and also in subsequent actions of the Vatican II sect - actions which include the personal actions of John-Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) as well as those of other representatives of the sect of which he is the leader. (Britons Catholic Library Letter No.10, appendix 4 to Second Conference gives as good a list as any.)

10. It is therefore obligatory to conclude that the Vatican II sect is not the Catholic Church and does not belong to it, but is a heretical "sect of perdition" (2 Peter 2:1).

11. It is certain that John-Paul II is a pertinacious heretic, since he embraces publicly many doctrines that he plainly knows to be in conflict with dogma. (Professor Corbi: Jovinian '82; abbé Daniel le Roux: Peter, Lovest Thou Me?; and numerous other sources.) The same applies to the hierarchy of the Conciliar Sect and at least to many of its members, those who are not heretics being simply schismatics.

12. In consequence of this, it is certain that Karol Wojtyla does not hold the papal office. He is not pope. He is not head of the Catholic Church, of which, indeed, he is not even a member.

13. Extended proofs of the propositions put forward in number 12 above:

 (i) If a heretic were elected pope, the election would be invalid. (Pope Paul IV's Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio.)

 (ii) If, hypothetically, a pope were to fall into heresy, he would automatically forfeit his office without any warnings being needed and without any declaration. (St. Robert Bellarmine; St. Alphonsus Liguori; Ballerini; Naz; Wernz-Vidal; the common teaching of theologians and canonists; the unanimous agreement of the Fathers according to St. Robert Bellarmine; Canon 188/4; Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, at least by direct implication; Pope Leo XIII: Satis Cognitum, at least by direct implication; Holy Scripture as interpreted by St. Robert Bellarmine.) [But it is nonetheless not evident that the contrary opinion of Suarez, Cajetan and John of St Thomas is actually unorthodox. One cannot therefore deem someone to be excluded from the Church for holding that view and attempting to apply it to today's situation, though one can reasonably attempt to convince him that this is not tenable.]

 (iii) And a posteriori (i.e. reasoning from effects back to the cause) he cannot be pope either; for, if he were, he would be protected by papal infallibility from teaching error and heresy in a way which, if he were pope, would constitute an exercise of the Ordinary Magisterium and oblige the consent of all Catholics. (Dom Paul Nau, opp. citt.) Similarly, if he were pope and if his immediate predecessors had been popes, and if the organisation they led had been the Catholic Church, they could not have foisted on it a liturgy and laws, customs and counsels which are directly opposed to the Church's Divinely guaranteed holiness.

14. The conclusion that John-Paul II is not pope is thus objectively certain and obligatory for all Catholics and in no way resembles the case of the Great Western Schism, in which claimants to the papacy were all Catholics and disagreement centred on doubtful questions of historical fact. In the present case, the fact of heresy is publicly certain with notoriety of fact (Canon 2197) and the conclusion is inescapable. [The conclusion is "inescapable" and "obligatory" for those who are aware of all the relevant facts and competent to evaluate them. But there is no divine guarantee that all Catholics fit into this category, and every reason to suppose the contrary. In fact very few Catholics are learned enough to refute satisfactorily all of the arguments that have been mounted to defend Wojtyla's claim to the papacy, and it is contrary to charity and common sense to pretend the contrary.]

15. Having established that Karol Wojtyla is not pope and that the sect which he heads is not the Church of our Divine Saviour Jesus Christ, it is obviously necessary to establish where the Catholic Church is today and who its members are. And the most obvious fact on this topic is that none of those who acknowledge John-Paul II as pope can be a Catholic. Even if they strenuously condemn his heresies and admit the possibility of his not being pope, they are still plainly schismatic, since they are not united to the Church by the regimen of legitimate pastors but are in communion with heretics and usurpers. [Far from being obvious, this is utterly false. Recognition of JP2 is proof of schism only if it is clearly pertinacious. In the case of traditional Catholics, that is unlikely to be the case. No grounds exist for a generalised presumption of pertinacity.] (Cardinal Billot, cited in Clergy Review, 1939, vol.XVII, pp.268,9 [Billot does not speak of those who are in communion with heretical usurpers whom they have mistaken, without pertinacity, for legitimate Catholic hierarchs.]) Indeed, "it is certain that St. Cyprian held that one who was in communion with an antipope held not the root of the Catholic Church, was not nourished at her breast, drank not at her fountain." [This was in the schism of Novatian, who was condemned by the true pope - there was no question of private individuals anticipating the judgment of the Church as to the pertinacity of this or that individual. No word can be quoted from St Cyprian implying that all who err in such a matter, in advance of a direct pronouncement of the Church, are to be deemed non-Catholics, if there is room for innocent confusion, as today there surely is.] (Catholic Encyclopaedia. vol.IV, p.586) They are therefore no more Catholic than is a High Anglican who claims to be Catholic while maintaining communion with Protestant prelates. [The analogy is false. Anglicanism has been directly condemned by the Church. After Henry VIII had begun his schism and forced on the clergy and others an oath acknowledging him to be head of the Church in England, Ss John Fisher and Thomas More continued to consider those who had taken this oath as their fellow Catholics, as being not pertinacious, until such time as the church should have pronounced on the matter. They followed what they saw to be right, as we must do in rejecting JP2, but they considered as their fellow-Catholics those who had been deceived, but whose pertinacity was not yet manifest.] It must be emphasised that, if the schismatics are in good faith, not realising that their sect is not the Church, this does not alter their status or the duty of the faithful to have no communion with them. (Canon 731/2; Jus Pontificium, 1931, p.52 and Clergy Review, loc. cit.) [This claim is not true and the authorities quoted relate only to cases where the sect-members are well aware that the bodies they belong to are not the Roman Catholic Church. No single authority can be found who says that someone is deemed a non-Catholic for association with a religious body that he has mistakenly believed to be Roman Catholic. No authority can be found because it is not true. It is the opposite of the truth. In such a case pertinacity cannot be presumed and those involved are therefore Catholics until the contrary is strictly proved.]

16. The Fraternity of St. Pius X founded by Lefebvre is thus a schismatic organisation, since it officially recognises the legitimacy of the current Roman pretender and hierarchy. [It is certainly arguable that as an organisation the SSPX is in a sense schismatic, because an organisation has merely a position, not a soul capable of being deceived in good faith. But it by no means follows that all who belong to it or are associated with it are schismatics. That will apply only if they are pertinacious.] And all those who hold a position similar to that of the Fraternity are schismatics too. [Only if pertinacious, which is not to be presumed.]

17. The Fraternity of St. Pius X is, [quâ organisation], in fact not only schismatic but also heretical, since it officially maintains, for instance, the following heretical propositions:

 (i) The Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church exercised repeatedly and emphatically by popes, bishops, a general council and the Church's practical policies, can teach the faithful error that has been repeatedly and infallibly condemned by the Church in the past. (That this is incompatible with Catholic doctrine clearly emerges from Dom Paul Nau: The Ordinary Magisterium of the Church Theologically Considered.)

 (ii) It can be lawful for the faithful habitually over a lengthy period to disobey and ignore the sternest injunctions of the legitimate pastors of the Church concerning the gravest matters. (Refuted by Pope Leo XIII: Diuturnum Illud; Pope Boniface VIII: Unam Sanctam, Denzinger 469; Fr. H. Hurter: Compendium of Dogmatic Theology, vol.1 p.271; Fr. Patrick Murray: De Ecclesia, disp.17, sect.4, n.90)

18. The late M.-L. Guérard des Lauriers contrived a thesis according to which the Holy See is not vacant but impeded. According to this view, Karol Wojtyla is materially pope, a proposition understood to mean that he possesses the powers of the pope virtually, so that no one else could simultaneously hold them, but he cannot actually exercise the papal authority. This thesis is argued, not on the basis of heresy on the part of Wojtyla, but on the basis of an alleged habitual disposition on his part not to realise the good of the Church.
        This thesis is:

 (i) False in philosophy, since it acknowledges an entity to exist where its determinant formal constituent is admitted to be absent. (Axiom, "Forma dat esse rei" (form gives a thing its being); St. Thomas: Summa Theologiae III, Q.75, A.3, "Matter cannot exist without form".) [Present proponents of this thesis certainly do not hold this error. They hold that John-Paul II is not pope, but that he would become one if he were to adopt Catholic dispositions.]

 (ii) Factually erroneous by omission, since it takes no account of the publicly heretical status of those to whom it relates.

 (iii) Theologically false, since it is opposed to the teaching of all the authorities listed in number 13 above, according to which a heretical pope loses his office automatically and in whole not in part, this last point being expressly taught in Pope Paul IV's Cum Ex Apostolatus. [Not all who hold this position reject the teaching of these authorities. They may simply doubt whether JPII's heresies are sufficiently clear and his pertinacity sufficiently manifest for the principle to apply in this concrete case. To that extent they merely arrive at the correct conclusion that Wojtyla is not pope by another route. Those who take this view hold a position that I suggest is best described as incomplete in its evaluation of the situation.]

 (iv) Contrary to Canon Law, which confirms that an illegitimately possessed office is de jure vacant and can be possessed by another. (Canon 151) [Canon 151 in fact refers to the need for due declaration of the vacancy before the office is conferred on another, so it could be argued to be more favourable to the Guerardian view than the sedevacantist view. It is not a peremptory argument for either side].
 (v) Heretical by direct implication, since, for instance, it holds that a man can hold the papal office without possessing universal jurisdiction over the faithful. (Denzinger 1824) [No it does not. Present "Guerardians", I believe, do not consider that Wojtyla possesses the papal office. They consider that he has a radical connection with it that would enable him to occupy it by conversion, and that prevents another's being elected to it meanwhile. They hold that at present he does not possess the papacy and therefore does not have the jurisdiction that goes with it, but that if he were converted and became pope he would acquire that jurisdiction. There are various objections to this opinion, but the text of Dz. 1824 does not seem to be one of them.]

        This thesis of Guérard des Lauriers has been ably refuted in the French language by abbé V.M. Zins (issue No.5 of Sub Tuum Praesidium, obtainable from Notre Dame de l'Epine, 53480 S. Léger en Charnie, France) and Mlle M. Davidoglou (in nos.21 and 22, Spring 1991 and Spring 1992, of La Voie, obtainable from 192/196 rue de Lourmel, 75015 Paris, France), among others.

19. Those who hold the thesis of Guérard des Lauriers after being put on inquiry as to its heretical nature are therefore heretics. [This does not follow. Even if the thesis were implicitly heretical, as is claimed above, on the grounds that it leads logically to heretical consequences, it would not follow that those who hold it are heretics unless they pertinaciously hold the heretical conclusions themselves. The Church does not consider a proposition to be heretical because it logically leads to heresy, unless it has itself been directly condemned, as the history of theological controversy repeatedly shows. Nor is pertinacity established when someone is "put on enquiry" that his position is accused of being heretical. In the present situation of the Church, every solution has been accused at some stage of being heretical or schismatic. Pertinacity consists in the conscious rejection of a doctrine the Church infallibly teaches to be divinely revealed. Nothing short of a clear case of that suffices to allow a private individual to say that someone not directly condemned by the Church is a heretic.] Even before they have been put on inquiry they are at least in schism by virtue of acknowledging John-Paul II as occupant of the papal office [This is quite untrue as they do not normally hold this. They hold that he is not the pope, just as sedevacantists do, but they base this on partially different evidence and explain it in a different manner] and by acknowledging the Conciliar Sect as being the Catholic Church [but is also doubtful whether they believe this and anyway would not lead to their being considered schismatics unless they were clearly pertinacious.]

20. During the 1980s, a retired Vietnamese bishop, the late Pierre-Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc, consecrated a number of "traditionalist" bishops - Guérard des Lauriers (7th May 1981), Moises Carmona and Adolfo Zamora (both 17th October 1981) were the most prominent - many of whom in turn consecrated others. These consecrations are all illicit [Yes] and schismatic [questionable in many cases], and those who recognise [recognise as what?] any of the bishops of this lineage are not Catholics [non sequitur]. The factors leading to this conclusion include the following, some of which relate only to some of these consecrations and some to all of them:
  1. Ngo-dinh-Thuc was an arch-liberal at Vatican II, arguing in favour of women priests and the participation of non-Christian groups in the Council. (Acta Synodalia Vaticani II, vol.2 pt.3 p.573, and vol.2 pt.1 pp.358, 359 respectively; English translation available from Britons Catholic Library)

    But very few people know this and they therefore cannot be expected to take it into account or be blamed for not having acted in the light of what they didn't know. Nor does it constitute proof of what Thuc's position was nearly twenty years later at the time of the consecrations.

  2. Even as late as 15th April 1981 (less than a month before he consecrated Guérard des Lauriers), he concelebrated a Novus Ordo "Mass" of Holy Thursday with the Conciliar Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon.*

    Again, very few know this, but it does show, in my view, that he was not a Catholic at the time.

  3. In a tape-recorded conversation in January 1982 (the month before his February 1982 declaration of the vacancy of the Holy See, and after the consecrations from which today's traditionalist bishops derive their episcopal Orders) he told an enquirer that he was (a) hearing confessions on the basis of faculties given to him by the bishop (the same bishop of Fréjus-Toulon), and (b) attending the Novus Ordo in Toulon Cathedral because he liked it.

    Ditto.

  4. He never retracted those beliefs and actions and was thus not a Catholic at the time of the consecrations. And by his declaration of the vacancy of the Holy See which he made on 25th February 1982, long after the consecrations mentioned above, he appeared clearly to confirm his schism, in that he affirmed that "the Catholic Church appears flourishing... The number of Catholics is immense": statements that evidently imply his recognition of the Conciliar Church as Catholic.

    The declaration was ambiguous. There is no evidence that those consecrated by him were aware that his beliefs were not Catholic at the time. In any event, this does not prove that the bishops consecrated by him were not Catholics, however misguided - much less that those consecrated by them or ordained in their descent all approved of Thuc's errors, which is manifestly not the case.

  5. He imposed on those whom he consecrated an oath of personal fidelity acknowledging him as leader of the world's faithful Catholics - an act of schism not only on his part but also on the part of those who took the oath, since he had no such authority. (Spanish text and English translation available from Britons Catholic Library)

    Perhaps the oath might be defended as not an act of schism - however inappropriate - in that it was a voluntary act of submission. But in any event, it was always a dead letter and the present Thuc-line clergy know nothing about it and therefore cannot be blamed for consenting to it. As far as I know Vezelis is the only survivor who actually took this oath.

  6. He consecrated men destined to become "episcopi vagantes" (wandering bishops) without any form of see, something unknown in the Church's history and tradition except as a sacrilege - in the rare cases, in the first centuries, where Catholic bishops were consecrated without papal mandate in urgent circumstances, this was always done for the needs of a particular diocese where the person elected by the clergy was only waiting for the power of Orders in order to fulfil his office. (Dom Adrien Gréa: L'Eglise et sa Divine Constitution, Casterman, 1965)

    True, but this does not prove that all those who have imagined such consecrations to be permitted by epikeia in today's circumstances are heretics or schismatics. One might reasonably profess uncertainty or even disapprove of such consecrations and yet consider it lawful to approach those involved for the sacraments. One might consider the culprits bad and sinful Catholics, but nonetheless a useful source of the sacraments in the absence of anyone more suitable. Most who understand the problem would suppose – surely correctly – that those involved were simply confused, ignorant and rash.

  7. All those consecrated by him or by others of his line lack the canonical mission which the Council of Trent dogmatically teaches to be necessary for a bishop to be a legitimate minister of the word and the sacraments. (Denzinger 967) Plainly no necessity, no claim of epikeia, can override, even in an extreme need, an obligation derived, not from human law, but from Divine law infallibly proposed as such by the Church.

    But (i) there is a widely-known claim that Thuc possessed special faculties from Pius XI and Pius XII authorising him to consecrate without papal mandate. Though false, this claim has been made in circumstances that make it possible for a Catholic to believe in good faith that it is true. And (ii) it is perhaps not clear that a validly consecrated bishop, however "illegitimate", is forbidden to confer the sacraments in extreme need. Clearly if an unbaptised person were stranded with a Thuc-line bishop on a desert island, he could request the bishop to baptise him despite the fact that he is not "a legitimate minister…of the sacraments". Could he also request other sacraments on a similar basis? If the bishop is not a heretic or schismatic, the answer for Penance and Holy Communion would seem to be affirmative. I should think so for Confirmation also.

  8. The bishops in question have never separated themselves from the above crimes and errors.

    Some of them they know nothing of. Some of them they believe justified for reasons that may entail errors of fact or theology, or may in some cases be defensible. To show that this or that cleric of Thuc descent is a heretic or schismatic it must be shown that he pertinaciously holds this or that error which is such of its nature as to exclude those who hold it from the Church's communion.

  9. Nearly all of the Thuc bishops have been religiously involved, as was Thuc himself, with Old Catholics, the Petite Eglise de Toulouse and other schismatical and heretical sects.

True. In a few cases (such as that of Fidelis McKenna's offer to ordain for a schismatic group) the collusions were doubtless due to ignorance of the true background of those they were colluding with. In many others they were not, but not all Thuc clergy were involved or aware of what took place. Much less does the guilt pass on to all those layfolk who later frequented the clerics in question while believing them to be orthodox Catholics.

21. In summary, to be a faithful Catholic today, it is necessary openly to reject the papal claims of John-Paul II, and also to reject his Conciliar Sect, with all its works and pomps, the Fraternity of St. Pius X, the heretical Guérardian thesis, and the Thuc-line bishops and other clergy, no matter how lonely and persecuted one may be as a result.
[It is necessary to reject all such errors as soon as one sees them to be such, but it is not necessary to consider those who have not yet seen this to be heretics or schismatics - indeed it would be quite wrong and uncharitable to do so. Hence the need to avoid contact with clergy or laity who err concerning this or that aspect of the present state of the Church has not been demonstrated. I certainly do not approve of going to Masses celebrated in communion with John-Paul II, or to the Masses of certain other traditional clerics, but I have no right to consider guilty of sin or schism or heresy one who disagrees with me about this.]


22. The main practical consequences of this are:

  1. It is not lawful for the faithful to approach clergy who fit into the categories mentioned in number 21 above for the sacraments except in the same circumstances in which it is lawful to approach Eastern Orthodox dissident clergy; that is, in extremis. (Canon 1258) [The arguments on which this conclusion is based have been shown to be inadequate and the conclusion is therefore unsound.]

  2. The Catholic clergy may not admit to the sacraments those who fit into the categories mentioned in number 21 above, "even if they are in good faith and request them." (Canon 731/2)


Ditto. The text of Canon 731 relates to "heretics and schismatics even if they err in good faith". That does not mean "even if they are not pertinacious". If they were not pertinacious they would not be heretics or schismatics at all, in good faith or in bad faith. A heretic or schismatic who errs in good faith is one who is consciously separated from the faith or communion of the Catholic and Roman Church, but is not culpable because he was brought up outside the Church. That is a million miles from the position of one who is doing his best to be faithful to the beliefs and communion of the Catholic Church during an unprecedentedly confusing crisis but is accidentally led astray on this or that point. Those who fall into this group are in no way affected by Canon 731 and should most certainly be admitted to the sacraments.


23. This, however, is not enough on its own, for it is also necessary to withdraw from communion with anyone who even indirectly supports these errors, and with anyone who is in communion with their perpetrators. It has never been possible to identify someone as a Catholic purely because his doctrine is orthodox. No less important is the question: with whom is he in communion? In other words, whom does he recognise as his fellow-Catholic? - with whom is he prepared to kneel together at the altar-rail? Here the rule is that anyone who treats as his fellow-Catholics persons who are objectively outside the Church's communion must himself be treated as a non-Catholic and genuine Catholics must withdraw from communion with him. [This applies only to the extent that they are aware that those they are in communion with are outside the Catholic communion. Even then, strictly speaking, our present Code of Canon Law (1917) does not consider communicatio in sacris with heretics or schismatics to be a proof of heresy or schism on the part of the perpetrator even if he is fully conscious of what he is doing.] (Cf. St. Cyprian: Epistle 51 to Antonianus; Theodoret: History of the Latin Church, bk.2 ch.17) Thus it is unlawful to seek the sacraments from priests who reject John-Paul II, even if they have disowned the Society of St. Pius X and the Ngo-dinh-Thuc schism, should they continue to make the sacraments available to devotees of these sects; since, by doing so, they attest their continued communion with dissidents and thereby share the guilt of their sins. [On the contrary, it is the strict duty of every Catholic priest to make the sacraments available to all Catholics who are not heretics, schismatics, notoriously excommunicated or public sinners, and it is quite unjustified to suppose that all those who have gone astray in evaluating the present extraordinary situation fall into any of those categories.] (2 John 1:10,11) This applies to the vast majority of "sedevacantist" priests, including those who constituted the substantial American breakaway group from the Society of St. Pius X in 1983. And by the same token, Catholic priests must refuse the sacraments to layfolk who remain in communion with dissident clergy or laity, since by doing so they commit schism or at least brand themselves as publicly unworthy (Canon 855). [For reasons already given, these conclusions are unjustified.]

24. It is the duty of the faithful to avoid all communicatio in sacris with those mentioned and indeed all unnecessary secular communication, with its attendant risk of perversion and scandal (Father Bourdaloue's sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, "The intercourse between the righteous and the wicked"; and similarly it is the duty of the clergy to warn the laity against them and their malign influence.
It is indeed the duty of the clergy to warn the faithful against prevalent errors, including the particularly dangerous one of considering as non-Catholics those who have failed to apprehend the truth about the present state of the Church but who are of orthodox dispositions. Acceptance of the Novus Ordo and the blatant heresies of the Conciliar Sect creates a reasonable presumption of pertinacity as being blatantly opposed to well-known, fundamental Catholic doctrines. Failure to evaluate correctly the status of the Holy See or of the various species of traditionalist clergy and bishops certainly does not create such a presumption.


     * * *
(This study was compiled at Brussels in 1992 by a group of Catholic scholars chaired by Fr François Egregyi.)

The Catholic scholars in question were John Daly, the present writer, who now utterly disowns the original document, for the reasons added in blue, Martin Gwynne
(whose exaggerated opposition to supposed heresies and schisms has now led him to obstinate adhesion to various unorthodox doctrines himself, as well as to the creation of a mini-schism of his own), M Valéry Brecq and Fr Egregyi himself whose contribution was purely factual, not theological or canonical. The theological and canonical content was almost entirely the responsibility of the present writer, while the original ideas he thus expressed he had learned from Mr Gwynne, as had Fr Egregyi. Prior to 1992 Fr Egregyi believed and practised the position I now believe to be correct and have set out here in blue. He was persuaded by Mr Gwynne, somewhat helped by myself, to adopt the new position presented in black.


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