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 The Ministry of Condemnation 
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New post The Ministry of Condemnation
The following is excerpted from The First Stone written by Fr. Cekada in 1991. Father was defending the CMRI from charges of schism etc. This is all vintage stuff, well written, deeply Catholic in its promotion of the spirit of clarity of doctrine, charity, humility, and forbearance.

For example, this is one of the footnotes in which Fr. Cekada explains that the sedevacantist opinion and theory, as he calls it, cannot be grounds for the accusation that a person refuses subjection to the Roman Pontiff.

I suppose that most members of the group hold the opinion that the Apostolic See is vacant. (So do the Society of St. Pius V, Traditional Catholics of America and other traditional organizations.) But since this theory is merely an application of the teachings of the great Counter-Reformation theologians (St. Robert Bellarmine, Cajetan, Suarez, etc.) and since mere doubt about an individual pope's personal claim to the office does not fall under the censure anyway (See F.X. Wernz SJ and P. Vidal SJ, Jus Canonicum, [Rome: Gregorian University 1937], 8:398), it hardly constitutes "refusal to be subject to the Roman Pontiff."


IN A PREVIOUS pamphlet, (7) I [Fr. Cekada] pointed out that one of the major causes of divisions among traditional Catholics is the tendency certain traditional clergy have to accuse fellow traditional Catholics of "crimes" and proceed to read them out of the Church. I also noted that the only fruit this has produced is endless conflict in traditional organizations, chapels and families.

At the root of this tendency is an incredible arrogance. The clergy who indulge in this "ministry of condemnation" lack any jurisdiction from church law to bind the consciences of others. Yet they merrily go their way playing prosecutor, judge, jury and hangman for the targets of their choice.

Such priests are able to get away with this only because the average traditional Catholic is unaware that church law intentionally makes it very difficult to accuse any Catholic of having willfully and through his own actions departed from the one, true Church.

If a decree from lawful authority (a papal bull, say) declares that a named individual is outside the Church, it is obvious, of course, that the person is then a "non-Catholic." But other than that, to whom may the term "non-Catholic" be applied? To four classes of persons: says the canonist Rev. Cornelius Damen CSSR: (1) the non-baptized, (2) heretics, (3) schismatics, and (4) apostates. (8)

Traditional dergy occupied with the ministry of condemnation freely and frequently hurl the charge "heretic" and "schismatic" at other targets in the traditional movement. A layman, hearing these frightening terms, takes the condemnations at face value, and figures there must be something to them.

He shouldn't. Almost without exception, priest-accusers are merely slinging inflammatory invectives. When you compare what these men allege against a target with what church law really defines as "heresy" or "schism," you discover very quickly, as Southerners say, that "the ol' boys are just woofin'."

The woofing would be bad enough. But the ministers of condemnation never content themselves merely with that. They go on to say that their target of choice has incurred an ecclesiastical penalty (excommunication is a favorite) and that he's put himself outside the Church. Denial of the sacraments then follows.

The whole process is a fraud from beginning to end.

First, church law defines very precisely what a heretic is and what a schismatic is. No clergyman, unless he's gloriously reigning as Christ's Vicar, has the right to go beyond the precise meanings of those definitions. If any of the conditions church law lays down for being a heretic or a schismatic are not met, you are simply not a heretic or a schismatic.

Second, to incur the penalty for a grave crime like heresy or schism, a number of other conditions must all be present (an external act, a completed offense, mortal sin and obstinacy -- the latter not as it is commonly understood, but as the law defines it). (9) In matters where punishments are involved, more-over, a more benign interpretation (i.e., in your favor) must be followed. If there's a doubt of fact -- whether you've committed a given crime, say -- the penalty cannot be imposed, since, as one canonist notes, "it would be inhuman to do so." (10)


AWARE THEREFORE that church law delineates very specifically the nature of particular crimes, and that penalties aren't incurred if there is a doubt that the specified crime was committed, we turn to the case at hand.

Commenting on the third paragraph of the Society of St. Pius V's January 1991 condemnation of Mount St. Michael, (11) Father Collins rightly observes: "To be noted here is the repeated use of the terms 'sect' and 'schismatic.' ... By this point the simple-minded reader has seen these terms eleven times, and is able to repeat them in his sleep. The technique is a common one among the great demagogues of history." (12)

The reader of the January Bulletin, Father Collins might also have added, will search in vain through the entire text of the denunciation for a definition of the terms "schism" and "schismatic."

A similar reluctance to define terms is apparent in a Society priest's recent public letter to parents at his school in Cincinnati. Before going on to announce that he will refuse the sacraments to parents and children who disagree with the Society's position, the author of the letter simply characterizes Mount St. Michael as "schismatic." (13) He, too, neglects to define the term.

Now all this is quite interesting. Here you have two priests. One plowed through mountains of canon law commentaries to write the Constitutions of the Daughters of Mary. The other taught theology and canon law at a traditional Catholic seminary. Both repeatedly condemn Mount St. Michael and the several thousand people associated with it as "schismatics." Neither priest defines the term. Why? The answer is obvious: Both priests know very well that the Code of Canon Law gives a precise and extremely restricted definition for the term "schismatic." And they also know that if they try to stretch that definition in any way and apply it to Mount St. Michael, someone will blow the whistle. The charge on which they base all their bitter diatribes will then collapse.

You don't become a schismatic, you see, by belonging to a group that has skeletons in its closet, used hierarchical titles for its officials, thought it was the Church's only hope, approached former Old Catholics for episcopal consecration, had a corrupt leader, or was guilty of any one of the thousand-and-one other stale accusations one may care to dredge up from Mount St. Michael's past. None of it is "schism."

You become a schismatic if and only if you obstinately rebel against a pope's lawful authority, or refuse ecclesiastical communion with Catholics subject to him.

In Christ our King.

Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:51 pm
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Location: Moscow, Idaho, U.S.A.
New post Re: The Ministry of Condemnation
So, why is Fr. Cekada, apparently, now preaching the same things he condemned in the past?

Kenneth G. Gordon CinC
Moscow, Idaho

Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:29 am
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:54 am
Posts: 68
New post Re: The Ministry of Condemnation
Has someone linked Prummer's Handbook of Moral Theology here, or am I imagining things? I wish to examine my theory of this type of question "Why" asked by Ken and see if I am on the right track.

Sat Jul 19, 2008 11:37 pm
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