"The Cassiciacum Thesis"—The Apostolic See 'Occupied'

OR The Case Of A Schizophrenic Theology!

A Commentary By Dr. Eberhard Heller
On Rt. Rev. Guerard des Laurier's
"Papa materialiter, non formaliter" Theory

Translated by Fr. Courtney Edward Krier. ©Einsicht, December 2003.

It is not what you think!

It will not produce another papal election—Thank heaven they think this, because we already have too many "Holy Fathers": Bawden, Linus II, Gregory (Palmar), etc.

On the other hand, it follows that John Paul II does occupy the Apostolic See. Is this not what the Modernists claim? And the Reformers, and Lefebrvists, and members of the Peter Fraternity that the des Laurierists, who have established themselves in northern Italy and the United States would want to hold the same opinion—an opinion different than ours, sede vacantists? Simply put, this idea is the result of a brief confrontation with those of a group of ecclesiastics who may seem to piously and stubbornly hold a divergent thesis of their old theology mentor, the "Papa materialiter, non formaliter". And we may leave it as such, except it errs further.

This group is virulent in demanding ac­ceptance of this theory, a theory constructed as the foundation for its adherents just as, if not more, it were a part of the deposit of faith. It is the pillar of the group surrounding Reverend Ricossa. Not less, it includes Bishop McKenna, who required its adherence in the consecration on January 16 of Reverend Stuyver of Belgium and his profession of adherence. That is to say, we had a bishop of this thesis until recently, for now there was added a second, the Rev. Sanborn from the United States. To consecrate a bishop solely on the basis of what particular theory he holds is un-theological and unique in the history of the Church.


On the 17th of December, 2001, I wrote to the Rev. Ricossa:
"You are seeking the consecration of the Rev. Stuyver because he defends the "Papa materialiter, non formaliter" thesis of Des Laurier. This is in opposition to the judgement and declaration of His Excellency, Archbishop Ngo-dinh-Thuc, who made known in his public Declaratio of 1982 that the Roman See is vacant. Now you know that the author of this thesis, Bishop Guerard des Laurier, revised his thesis more or less at the end of his life (cf. Letter published in SAKA Information). Despite this revision, you and your community persevere in insisting on following this thesis without, I know, having a theological foundation.
In regards to the consecration of the Rev. Stuyver, which was done on the request of Rev. Ricossa, an former Lefebvrist and against the protests on many priests in France and Belgium, and against the desires of several laity, who began a novena of prayers to stop the consecration (because they new their priest was not fit for the office of bishop), shows with what absolute obstinacy the members the Community Mater boni concilii, Mother of Good Counsel (a name they unjustly lay claim), in Verrua de Savoy, Italy, bear this dead theological position.

It may seem at first that Rev. Ricossa was piously keeping to this idea, but since he daily collaborates with priests holding the Sede Vacan­tist position, such as Bishop Dolan, Rev. Barbara, and the Rev. Fr. Schoonbroodt, he distanced himself from this thesis after receiving a sufficient explanation of why it is not tenable and the sede vacantist position better explains the situation of the Church today. This was not the case. Unfor­tunately, that which was believed to be past, still continues—unfortunately!

Despite the many objections and refutations of the Thesis "Papa materialiter, non formaliter"—I'm thinking especially the critic written by Mira Davidoglou, living in France, in the magazine, La Voie, as also the arguments published in Einsicht—the followers of Monsignor Guerard des Laurier, espe­cially Rev. Ricossa, have not sought to participate in a confrontation. They continue accepting and insisting on a position that is paralyzing all our efforts for a restitution of the Church.

It follows that the Rev. Ricossa, in whom I view as the principle person responsible, has not res­ponded even now to my proposal to once more examine the validity of the thesis "Papa materialiter, non formaliter", or to arrive at a common position, or separate because of insurmountable theological differences. Because of this I find myself having to present once more the arguments against this thesis with the hope of cooperation for a definitive clarity that will provide a resolution to this impor­tant problem.

We will follow this systematic exposition with a description of the circumstances in which Guerard des Laurier was consecrated bishop in 1981.

What is meant by "Papa materialiter, non formaliter"?

What is meant by "Papa materialiter, non formaliter" which Bishop Guerard des Laurier tries to inter­pret the state of faith and church of John Paul II. As Guerard des Laurier sees it, and it seems legi­timate, John Paul II occupies the papal throne but fails to protect the faith committed to him.

According to the conception of des Laurier, as published in the Review, Cassiciacum, Monsignor Wojtyla was legitimately elected pope, pars minor y sanior, because about 10 cardinals created under Pius XII were present: He is papa materialiter. But because he is a heretic, which a pope can-not be, he is not a papa formaliter; that is to say, not actually pope. Yet, it follows being papa mate­rialiter, he is in a certain manner potentially pope (papa potencial). If, as pastor and supreme teacher he was to convert and proclaim orthodox doctrines in questions of faith and morals, then John Paul II would be Pope materialiter and also formaliter.

In SAKA-Information of January 1984, Bishop Guerard des Laurier wrote:
"For the present, the Church is "occupied" and in a state of privation (mice en etat de privation). W. [Monsignor Wojty­la] was properly elected (I hold it valid unless it can be proved otherwise) by a conclave that con­sisted of ten true cardinals (at least they did not protest against the election), then he occupied the possession of the papal See. In this manner he is Pope materialiter (according to external juridical circumstances). Yet there are other infringements to obtaining the office, W. has continuously held heresy. It is evident that W. inflicts a wound to the "common good" on the Church that now holds these same errors. As such, based on natural law, metaphysical and juridical, W. is incapable of exercising authority. Granted to natural law, which ultimately comes directly from God Himself, W. has no factual authority. He is not capable of being Papa formaliter (in the true sense of interior). He can't be obeyed because his pseudo-decrees are null."
A note that this thesis, burdened with presuppositions regarding the election of Wojtyla, can only be presented as an hypothesis [as opposed to thesis].

This presentation is the same followed at the Instituto Mater Boni Concilii, to which Ricossa belongs:
"Unfortunately everyone can testify that the Church is passing through those tempests predicted by our Lord, times worst than its 2000 year history. For the Institute [Mater Boni Con­cilii], the origin of this crisis has its roots in Vatican II. The teachings of Vatican II concerning collegiality of bishops, religious liberty, ecumenism, and the membership of non-Catholics to the Mystical Body of Christ—not just of Christian Religions, but Judaism,—the relation of the Church with the modern world, etc., are in contradiction to the magisterium of the Church, its Popes and Ecumenical Councils.

"The Liturgical Reform, especially that of Holy Mass and canonical law, which is injurious to souls, favors protestant heresies and declares at times licit what, by divine law, is illicit (e.g., Communion with heretics in sacred matters).

"All this has not been able to enter the Catholic Church, guided as she is by the Holy Ghost and a legitimate successor of Peter, gifted with the charisma of infallibility.

"Faced with this crisis, a crisis without precedent, which necessarily implies the approval of these documents and its subsequent reforms by the conciliar hierarchy, the Institute states that it will not accept these new doctrines that are contrary to faith and morals, but rather incite the faithful to disobedience to the legitimate authority of the Church.

"Because of this, the Instituto follows the so-called Cassiacum thesis (named after the Theological Review in which it first publicly appeared) that developed the theological position of the Dominican, M.L. Guerard des Lauriers, a member of the Lateran Pontifical University and from Saulchoir, France.

"According to this thesis, Paul VI and his successors, although they were canonically elected as Pontiffs, still do not possess pontifical authority.

"In scholastic terms, accord with the distinction taught by Cardinal Cajetan, distinguished commentator on St. Thomas in the 15-16th centuries, and commended by Saint Robert Bellarmine, these are "popes" only materially, but not formally, since they cannot realize the good of the Church by teaching heresy, nor are they able to receive from Christ the autho­rity to govern, to teach, and to sanctify the Church, unless they retract their own errors."
[You can communicate with the Instituto Mater Boni Concilii, Locality Carbignano 36, I - 10020 Verrua Savoia, Italy. Tel.: 0161-839335; Fax: 0161-839334. E-mail: [email protected]. Web-site: http://www.plion.it/sodali.]

Despite the affirmation just furnished that Monsignor Wojtyla "could propagate errors and doctrines", Rev. Ricossa, who is the theological head of the Institute, rejects the reproach that John Paul II is a "formal" heretic, it could be undoubtedly said that Ricossa probably thinks that Monsignor Wojtyla doesn't understand what he says—he who is presumed to be supreme teacher! This posture is too much to except, especially when Ricossa left Econe after having made a declaration (with three other priests—Munari, Nitoglia, and Murro)—that condemned the errors of Econe concerning papal authority and the teaching magisterium1.

If then it be that Wojtyla is Papa materialiter—despite the plain heresy (an american author lists 101 heresies by John Paul II), and I add: his apostasy—it cannot be said that the Chair of Peter is vacant (for which the Institute Mater boni concilii places the shield of John Paul II on its front web page); it is simply not active in as much as fulfilling the role which one would expect. Because of this, Ricossa and his followers—to repeat this phrase—"they are not able to stir up the faithful by being called disobedient in the face of legitimate authority of the church" (referring to Wojtyla).

The thesis Papa materialiter, non formaliter can be simply reduced to the following:
John Paul II was legitimately elected pope. He habitually defends and holds to heresy. As such there is no need to obey his heretical decrees. But if John Paul II begins to defend and hold the doctrine of the Church, he would become Pope in its full extension. It is just a matter of waiting for his conversion.
With this position we come upon these different questions:
  1. Does it explain how the Church has developed up to now?
  2. Was John Paul II really legitimately elected?
  3. Can a heretic be or become a pope?
  4. What are the consequences if they are separated from those trying to restore the Church.

1. A New Theological Creation.

In the first case, the thesis, Papa materialiter, non formaliter, is at best a plausible dream: A Pope, as supreme teacher of the Church, is not able at the same time to be the proclaimer of heresies. Even if, despite all he does, no one needs to obey until he returns to orthodoxy.

In the course of many years I have experienced that the majority of people have a problem of an heretical pope (papa haereticus). In the eyes of most, the Pope is an unwavering bastion of faith, and it would hard to successfully change their mind. I am not trying to be moved by public opinion; opinion is what the modernists Catholics depend on—you need only observe the favorable, yes enthusiastic, adoration of Wojtyla, whose admirers include the liberal press 2—as also many tradi­tional clerics and laity. Yet, is it not true that Christ promised Peter: "Thou art Peter, the rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church?" (Mat. 16, 18). Besides, the Vatican Council (1870) proclaimed the infallibility of the Pope as a binding dogma (Denziger 1839):
"The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, acting in the office of shep­herd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are therefore irreformable because of their nature, but not because of the agreement of the Church.
Simply stated, it cannot be said that a pope can be, or known to be, a heretic. Therefore, when one does speak of Paul VI as a heretic and schismatic, such as the Abbe de Nantes subtlely does in his Liber accusationis or in the periodical CRC—they are speaking legally of how a pope as pope can possibly be a heretic, or at least to support theology by saying he is a heretic, but not formally. More often they are seeking for reasons to prove Montini really never was a pope.

Dr. Gliwitzky formed this position with enough certitude by writing:
The resignation to the times that we are in fails to bring the faith to mind and is the profound cause why we are in the crisis we are in. It is why we must make every effort to orient ourselves, see the signs, make our mind know when it is thinking and wishing, when it is hoping and believing, and when it is understanding the truth."
(Dr. Hans Gliwitzky, former president of the Freudeskreis, in EINSICHT, Year 1, Nr. 12, p. 37, article Garabandal)

It is in this manner that Father Guerard des Laurier took his position, psychologically understandable, of forming a thesis. But does it correspond to the teachings of the Church?

Saint Pashasius writes in the 9th century:
He who seeks anything outside the church finds only error; and he who does not accept Christ places himself outside the truth3."
Naturally this is valid for the Pope:
"In this way, a pope who is able to separate himself from the head, that is, Christ, by means of disobeying things of religion, which he ought to protect. A pope as such, who desires to destroy the church, must be opposed by all Christendom4."
And Suarez advises us,
"A pope who holds erroneous doctrines is no Pope; and if he errors, he does not error as pope, since the Church cannot error: she can elect another (pope)5."
In Romani Pontificis in definiendo infallibilitas we read:
"A Pope could only error if he were outside the Church and God deprived him of his office6."
"For a pope cannot be a manifest heretic as such"
—such writes the judge of the Teacher of the Church, Saint Robert Bellarmine7. And it is in this manner that Ricossa references Saint Robert Bellarmine as support of the thesis of des Laurier incomprehensible, because at no time is a distinc­tion made between a Papa formaliter and a Pope materialiter. What is does include is that it excludes the possibility that a pope can be a heretic (St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice).

If we were to compare the thesis of Des Laurier with these positions, we are able to state quite frankly that they do not produce a division between a Pope actual and a Pope potential. The heretic takes as a consequence the immediate lost of his office. As demonstrated by the theologian Myra Davidoglou, the thesis of Papa materialiter, non formaliter is new:
"Tous les papes que 1'Eglise catholique a connus depuis sa fondation sont papes formels; l'idee d'un pape potentiel ayant droit a titres de Pontife romain et au Siege apostolique est une noveaute, en deuire de 1'Escriture sainte ou de la Tradition apostolique, les deux seules sources de la Revelation divine, ni meme de 1'historie de 1'Eglise, la possibilite de 1'existence d'un tel pape. Sous ce rapport, nous avons donc affaire a une doctrine purement humaine don't nous bornerons." (La Voie, 1991, Nr. 21, p. 2: Analyse logique et theo-logique de la these dite de Cassiacum).
["Every pope that the Church has ever known since the foundation of the papacy has been a formal pope. The thought of a potential pope with rights to the apostolic See is a novelty in the sense that it can not be proved by either Sacred Scripture or by apostolic Tradition, the two sole sources of Divine Revelation, nor is it in the history of the Church. With this knowledge it can be raised that the teaching is a purely human one (that is to say, a personal opinion)."]
Myra Davidoglou continues:
Diraton que celui a perdu la papaute n'en est pas pour autant dechu? [...] Et pourtant, c'est sur "1'apparaitre", comme it dit, que 1'auteur va s'appuyer pour tenter d'etablir l'occupation non de fait (1'aquelle est evidente), mais de droit du siege de Pierre par des hommes comme Montini...ou fait hors de 1'Eglise, parce qu'excommunies et anathemises par le Concile de Vaticark (1870). (La Voie, 1991, Nr. 21, p. 3).
[If the papacy has been lost, is it not that it has been left? [...] And undoubtedly the author [des Laurier] supports this by showing there is no real possession of the papal throne (which is evident), and even the right to occupy the Chair of Peter, as in the case of Montini and Wojtyla, since as he indicates that they are heretics, and in reality are outside the Church not only de jure, but also de facto, because they were excommuni­cated and anathematized by the Vatican Council (1870).]
Although des Laurier does not deny the possibility of a sede vacante, in his opinion this could only be if the papal election of Montini and Wojtyla were invalid. This shall be shown.

The elderly professor of the Gregoriana, des Laurier, and his followers did not understand that the accusation of heresy was not directed as such to a pope, that is to say, that one could judge the pope as being above the pope, since this is not permitted according to the maxim, "the pope is unable to be judged by anyone" (because the pope is himself the supreme judge)8. This deals with confirma­tion of a judgment in that it declares a person a heretic, and not why he left being pope.

2. Was Wojtyla Validly Elected Pope?

Let us suppose, adopting the position of Monsignor Guerard des Laurier, that Monsignor Wojtyla had been elected by a "pars minor et sanior": then the election would have been valid if they had elected an orthodox bishop. But the orthodoxy of Wojtyla was questioned before the election with reason. I will not waste my time on enumerating the many heresies known to all before he took of­fice. I will only indicate one which especially gave rise to the Reforms of the Council (different than Cardinal Wischinky, who although did not openly resist, yet had the merit to have reinforced through his intervention the anti-communist attitude of the Poles). After the Bull of Paul IV, Cum ex apostolatus officio (February 15, 1559), the prelates and bishops who before being promoted deviated in the faith automatically lost their authority and office. They no longer had the power to exercise their office. Next, Paul IV confirmed all the sanctions that were applicable to heretics and schismatics9, speaking decidedly upon the incapacity of heretics to hold office:
"Let Us add that if at any time whatsoever, a bishop, even acting as an Archbishop or Patriarch or Primate, or a Roman Church Cardinal, even acting as a Legate, and also a Roman Pontiff prior to his promotion or elevation to the cardinalate or pontificate had deviated from the Catholic faith or fallen into some heresy or schism, or had caused or originated it, his promotion or elevation, even if re­sulting from the unanimous resolution by all the Cardinals, should be null, invalid and with no effects; and in no wise could such an elevation become valid through his acceptance of office and his consecration nor through the attendant possession or quasi-possession of government and administration, nor even through the very Roman Pontiff's enthronement or his veneration, nor through everybody's obedience given to him, independently of the elapsed time, if under the above hypotheses. Such elevation should not be deemed a legitimate one even in regard to any of its por­tions...and every pronouncement, fact, action and decision and their attending consequences have no power whatever and do not give any validity or right to anybody.

In addition, by this Our Constitution which is to remain valid in perpetuity, We also enact, determine, decree and define: that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his ele­vation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:
  1. the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless;

  2. it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired vali­dity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through pos­session of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation;

  3. it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way;

  4. to any so promoted to be Bishops, or Archbishops, or Patriarchs, or Primates or elevated as Cardinals, or as Roman Pontiff, no authority shall have been granted, nor shall it be considered to have been granted either in the spiritual or the temporal domain;

  5. each and all their words, deeds, actions and enactments, howsoever made, and anything whats­oever to which these may give rise, shall be without force and shall grant no stability whatsoever nor any right to anyone;

  6. those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any fur­ther declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power, without any ex­ception in respect of those to which they may have been promoted or elevated before they deviated from the Faith, became heretics, incurred schism, or provoked or committed any or all of these." (Bull, Cum ex apostolatus officio, Par. 6)
Thus, according to this Bull, it can not be admitted to suppose a "pars minor et sanior", that is to say, legitimate electors of a pope, since they have equally lost their charge due to the fact of heresy.

(Regarding the heresy of the Italian bishops and cardinals, Monsignor Guerard des Laurier maintained a very peculiar position, based on his experience with these persons: On one occasion told Dr. Hiller and me (Heller) that the Italian prelates, the greater part of which had been his students when they were seminarians, were such fools they were incapable of upholding heresy, because they didn't know what it is).

We do not find the application of these juridical infringements of sanctions excluding of Cardinals from elections in the Code of Canon Law, because these are not derelictions of rights, but derelictions of faith.

One may argue anyway that John Paul II is a material heretic, but not a formal heretic. That is, he believes a heresy but does not know it is a heresy. But what does this clearly mean? The supreme teacher and pillar of Catholic doctrine doesn't know what he has to teach or preserve! These are the theological back doors which people, such as Ricossa, leave open by not drawing decisive conclu­sions. Such a concept is excluded according to Canon 16, par. 2a of the CIC, according to which the possessor of an office, especially one that involves the teaching magisterium of the Church, is not worthy who does not know his faith. Since Wojtyla was consecrated bishop under Pius XII, he had to have given previous accreditation to his orthodoxy in a process of information and definition (cf. CIC, Can. 330 and 331).

3. Can A Heretic Be Pope, As Succesor Of St. Peter?

The question as to whether a heretic can be pope, the teachers of the Church and theologians that have addressed this problem have responded without doubt that it cannot happen, as we said before (Bellarmine, Cayetano, Suarez).

Dr. Katzer, who is known in German circles to hold a position similar to that of Father Saenz y Arriaga in Mexico, has precisely addressed this theme in the article, The Apostolic See Is Vacant (Einsicht VIII, Dec., 5, 1978, p. 168 ff. and reprinted in Einsicht XXXVI, p. 13 f).

According to him, "the apostolic chair [...] is vacant:
  1. at the physical death of the Pope,

  2. at the moral death of the Pope.
The Pope is morally dead when having manifestly sinned against the doctrines of faith and morals. But the Apostolic See does not remain an orphan, as Pope Pius VI emphasized in his well-known apostolic constitution, Auctorem fidei. Just as important in our times is the reference to Saint Peter Chrysologus10: "Peter, living on his throne and occupying the first place, offers the truths of faith to those who ask." Those who come merit an infallible and indefectible judge on the Apostolic See.

The decree of Bellarmine according to which Papa haereticus depositus est—an heretic pope is deposed—a judgment of confirmation, is fulfilled with the formula of Cayetan: deponendus est—he is to be deposed—in the sense that this judgment confirms what they already know, that is to say, that the respective person hold that to be declared by the Church as deposed, because the Church is a visible and juridcal community, that needs to be informed about the state of its superior head. His Excellency, Monsignor Ngo-dinh-Thuc did exactly this with his Declaratio of February 25, 1982.

The Declaratio is certainly not stating Sede Vacante for the first time and providing the necessary consequences, but it is unique in the sense that an elder bearer of an office, one of high rank and respect had asserted it with affirmatively and had publicly proclaimed it. Even when it had not been emphasized from the point of view "solo" "ex caritate", that is to say, out of concern for the well-being of the Church, nonetheless Monsignor Ngo-dinh-Thuc as a bishop of the Roman Ca­tholic Church expressed this confirmation with a juridical binding for the faithful.

The Declaratio is a document by which we can assure in a juridical sense our resistance to the other activities—and beyond the justification of a personal point of view that the hierarchy has apostatized11.

The thesis of des Lauriers that a Pope fallen into heresy (an American author has made a list of the 101 heresies alone of John Paul II) warns that a Pope legitimately elected—is a "material pope", that is to say, that he is still able to be so in potency, unequivocally remains refuted. The papal ministry has exactly ended when the possessor of that ministry falls into heresy. As it has already been de­monstrated, the deception that he is not conscious of his heresy, that is to say, that he is not a 'for­mal heretic' can not be applied. Why is this? Because it can not be that he who in quality of succes­sor as the representative of Christ here on earth, having been installed as teacher and supreme guar­dian of the integrity of the faith proclaim simultaneously truth and error.

The identity of the person of the Pope can not be divided schizophrenically into "material" and on the other hand "formal," if this were the case he would not be in any condition to preserve his identity as a person. This schi­zophrenic division of the person would be, at least in content, not only a contradiction but an ab­surdity.

Someone who, as the Pope, claims infallibility in matters of faith and morals, in the above mention­ed boundaries personifies the truth qua ministry; cannot at the same time be the representative of error and falsehood. In reference to this person respectively, would signify not only that he validates contradiction, but that he introduces that schizophrenia as a principle in theology. At the moment when John Paul II shows that he is promoting error—as accentuated by Bishop Guerard des Lau­riers, and who holds habitually to heresy—, is no longer the representative of infallible truth.

The thesis: "John Paul II is Pope when he proclaims something orthodox and is not the Pope when he says something heretical", signifies that each believer must then judge for himself each time con­cerning the orthodoxy or heresy of the pope. Given this situation, the doctrinal authority of Rome would be transferred to each individual believer, and no longer would the phrase be true that "Roma locuta, causa finite" (Rome has spoken, the case is settled), but rather: Rome has spoken, so let the debate begin amongst the faithful.

4. Waiting On Conversion
Or, Looking To Samuel Becket

Under this supposition what aspect would the thesis of "Papa materialiter, non formaliter" signify for the restoration of the Church? Since, as the "Papa materialiter" he continues being Pope—even when promoting error and including apostasy—all he has to do is become Pope "formaliter", that is to say, that he is both "material Pope" and "formal Pope", when he holds anew the orthodox positions. The supporters like Fr. Ricossa hope that John Paul II will convert.

Concerning the restoration of authority, the problem would have at least been solved in the person of John Paul II. The other here­tical and apostate bishops must analogously be treated as "episcopus materialiter, non formaliter" and even this would not solve the problem. (But maybe the return of the "material pope" to ortho­doxy would implicitly include the "material bishops" as well.)

Neither des Lauriers nor Ricossa mention anything concerning the security of jurisdiction or of the recuperation of jurisdiction of these mentioned above.

But what happens when John Paul II strongly mixes in his decrees, orthodoxy with heresy—Wojtyla is a master of dialectics! Is he pope materially and at the same time formaliter / non formaliter? This absurd game can be taken to the extremes.

This wait for the conversion of Bishop Wojtyla is compared to the 'wait of Godot' which Samuel Becket describes in his work. In this play Godot is waited for but never arrives, that is to say, a 'wait' that is completely absurd. With these absurdities many theatrical works could be produced (in order to represent the absurd), but none of these could bring about the restoration of the Church. Didn't Guerard des Lauriers realize that the sin of apostasy is irreversible, that is to say, the rejection of truth, of the living truth? Have his disciples forgotten this—amongst whom is found Bishop Sanborn in the United States?

In the meantime the faithful must continue to live their religious–ecclesiastical life: criticizing what is able to be criticized , to appeal to the "bishops" and to the "Holy Father", not 'obeying' when the decrees contradict the faith. But if because of an "excess of zeal" or lack of "patience" bishops are consecrated and priests are ordained, then those are schismatic signs... maybe because there is a lack of trust in divine providence?

To clarify with an example taken from the military, the consequences which result from this position which for Ricossa and his community Mater Boni Consilii seems more important than the Catholic Faith: A general commits high treason and turns over his country to the enemy along with the troops under his command. Instead of having this general condemned by a tribunal of war and have a new general appointed, the des-Laurierists recommend waiting until he changes his ways in order for his troops to serve him once again with complete fidelity. In the meantime, filled with hope of their general changing at some point, (in theological terms: filled with hope in God), the soldiers permit that the enemy rule unrestricted.


To conclude here are some indications about our current situation. If one observes the attitude of the faithful, but especially of some priests and bishops who pretend to work for the preservation of the faith and for the restoration of the church, then unfortunately we must verify everywhere sectaria­nism and apathy. The time following the proclamation of the Declaratio was a trying one, especially with the death of Bishop Carmona in the early nineties who had started this work for the re-unifi­cation of the faithful, and which Bishop Davila would like to continue, since nothing is being done to restitute the Church as an institution of salvation.

In his visit last year Bishop Davila has expressed the situation elegantly:
"During the last twenty years, we priests have only concerned ourselves with pastoral problems."
But the pastoral work can only be fruitful if it is found within the structure of the church, since the administration of the sacraments is only legitimate if done with the intention of carrying them out as an act of the church. It is to Her alone, the Church that Christ has conferred the power of adminis­tering the sacraments. Everything else would be pure sectarianism. That is why our main goal in all of this should be to carry out this restoration. Christ founded the Church as an institution of salva­tion—and not merely as a community of faith—in order to guarantee the untainted teachings of the doctrines and the means of grace. That is why the reconstruction of the church as an institution of salvation is demanded of its Divine Founder. But here results a dilemma. One the one hand there is the need for jurisdiction from the church which is necessary for the accomplishment of these things, but since the hierarchy has apostatized and the reconstruction is necessary for the establishment of ecclesiastical authority, then a solution must be found for this problem.

The mere insistence of this situation of urgency which is on a world level does not justify certain ac­tions taken by some clergy members, nor does it define theologically the situation, but such an atti­tude may lead to sectarianism, each and every time that one obtains what he wants. No one would think of dressing in a soldier's uniform and presenting himself as a soldier of the German or Mexi­can army. What kind of a solution would this be? Following this example, he would only be a sol­dier if the army called him. Applying this to the Church, a priest would only be a true priest if he is accredited by the authentic Church.

Some object by saying there is no need of a strategy in order to resolve these current problems. That it is sufficient to call this a state of emergency. This idea is not only false but also very dangerous. With this state of emergency it is sufficient to impede certain consequences which may be produced in a set fashion: 'I wish for this not to be.' But with this intention I do not express what I intend to happen. For example, when I construct a dam in order to impede the river which is close to over-flowing onto the land, I have not indicated what to do with the land. That is to say, I need a positive plan on how to use the land and how I wish to cultivate it.

Let us return to our own ecclesiastical past: it was necessary to consecrate bishops without papal mandate in order to save apostolic succession just as Archbishop Ngo-dinh-Thuc did. But it would be a grave error to suppose that in the future papal mandates should be ignored, because the church is in danger. The call upon a state of emergency must be attributed for the consequences for all sec­tarian acts, including the inadmissible ordination of married priests. If you look around, nothing has been accomplished justly by this state of emergency which it was supposed to accomplish: the sal­vation of the succession of the Church. We find ourselves in sectarianism which we ourselves have caused and are responsible. I remind all of you the motive for this paper: the scandalous Epis­copal consecrations which McKenna established based on the Cassiacum thesis, a thesis which is untenable as I have tried to demonstrate. What an abyss has been opened here! We need proper con­cepts for the reconstruction of the Church, for Her restoration as an institution of salvation:
  1. that they be theologically founded;

  2. that they be connected to reality;

  3. that they be proportionate in order to reconfigure them to these realities, so that the Church may once more be the guardian of God's revelation and that the community be under a legitimately elected Pope.


  1. Statement of 1985: The below signed, Rev. Franco Munari, Rev. Francesco Ricossa, Rev. Curzio Nitoglia and Rev. Giuseppi Murro, obedient to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, according to which it is obligatory by necessity of a pub­lic retraction as consequence of publishing of false doctrines concerning faith and morals, do declare they publi­cly retract what they had taught or at least gave implicit assent that was not in accord with truth during the time between 1982-1985, that is when they belonged to the Society of Pius X, believing the following errors:
    1. The Roman Pope is only to be attributed infallibility in ex cathedra decisions (that is to say, when he teaches dogmas).

    2. The teaching magisterium of the Church is not habitually and universally infallible.

    3. Vatican Council II could not be infallible as a pastoral council, only as dogmatic council.

    4. It is permitted, and it happens habitually, to deny obedience to teachings, whether doctrinal, moral, or liturgical, from legitimate authority (pope and bishops), even if it is recognized that this same authority attributes all authority by virtue of the divine institution of the Church.

    5. It is possible that legitimate universal authority of the Church (the Roman Pontiff) may promulgate and ordain laws (rites of Mass, sacraments, ecclesiastical canon law) that contains errors, heresies, and other elements that are detrimental to the salvation of souls.

    6. It is possible for a true pope, a true representative of Christ, to be at the same time a schismatic, apos­tate, and in contradiction with tradition, and that their acts may be judged as invalid.
    The DECLARATION OF ERRORS which we have cited mortally blaspheme the Catholic dogma of the divinely instituted Church, her teaching Magisterium, the Infallibility of the Church and of the Roman Pontiff. All those whom we have offended in these matters, the said priests seek with this public retraction pardon and prayers, and assure you with the help of God never to return into these same errors. (Cited in KE Nr. 3/1996)

  2. So for example, in the Sud-Deutsche Zritung of 26th July 2002:
    "Der 82-Jihrige kann den Kopf nicht mehr gerade hal­ten, er nuschelt mut noch, Speichel runt aus seinem Mund. Trotzdem ist. (...) Gegen den Rat seiner Arzte hat er die strapaziose Reise (nach Toronto) angetreten, verlangt sich eine ruinOse Energieleostung ab. Das steht nur durch, wer tief uberzeugt ist, in hoherem Auftrag zu handeln, and kaum jemand diirfte fester als Johannes Paul II. glauben, das Werkzeug Gottes zu sein: Gott hat ihn ausersehen, die katholische Kirche ins 21. Jahrhundert zu fuhren, Maria hat ihn die Kugel des Attentliters uberleben lassen, nun muss er die ihm auferlegte Krankheit tragen. 'Ein Mann der Schmerzen mit Krankheit vertraut', heiBt es im Buch Jesaia uber den leidenden Gottes­knecht, and der leidgezeichnete Karol Wojtyla sieht sich offenbar als Spiegelbild: Er muss seinen Weg gehen, bis zuletzt."

  3. P.L. 120, Paschasius Radbertus, Liber de Corpore et Sanguine Domini, col. 1317.

  4. Ad sacrosancta Concilia a Philippo Labbe et Gabriele Cossartio edits Apparatus alter, Venetiis 1728.

  5. Defensio Fidei,/a>, lib. V.: De Antichristo, Tom. XX., Cap. XXI, 7.

  6. Romani Pontificis in definiendo infallibilitas breviter demonstrata. Thyrsi Gonzales S.J. Parisli 1698.

  7. Controversio de Romano Pontifice, lib. II. cap. XXX.

  8. Cf. Paul IV, Cum ex apostol. officio, par. 1:
    We have been weighed upon by the thought that a matter of this kind is so grave and so dangerous that the Roman Pontiff, who is the representative upon earth of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fullness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith.

  9. Cum ex apostolatus officio par. 2:
    Anyone who, before this date, shall have been detected or have confess­ed to have, or have been convicted of having, deviated from the Catholic Faith, or fallen into any heresy, or incurred schism, or provoked or committed either of both of these; anyone who (which may God in His clemen­cy and goodness to all deign to avert) shall in the future so deviate, or fall into heresy, or incur schism, or shall provoke or commit either or both of these; Anyone who shall be detected or shall confess to have, or shall be convicted of having, so deviated, fallen, incurred, provoked or committed. These sanctions [mentioned], more-over, shall be incurred by all members of these categories, of whatever status, grade, order, condition and pre-eminence they may be, even if they be endowed with the Episcopal, Archepiscopal, Patriarchal, Primatial or some other greater Ecclesiastical dignity, or with the honour of the Cardinalate and of the Universal Apostolic see by the office of Legate, whether temporary or permanent.

  10. P.L. 54, 743ff.

  11. In order to compare this position to that of the Lefebvrists: they also have the problem of no papal authority, since they also reject many of the conclusions of Vatican II along with the reforms that it introduced. But they do it for other reasons. They do not dispute that a heretical pope ceases to be pope; but they do dispute whether John Paul II has decidedly spread heresy, calling him only a liberal or a modernist, and thus damaging the entire Church and going against it's decrees. With this "traditionalist" position, that is to say, theologically inade­quate, they move over a cap of ice which argumentatively is very fine, the evidence being their negotiations with Rome.

The Episcopal Consecration
Of Fr. Guerard des Lauriers

By Eberhard Heller. Translated by Emilia Vaiciulis

When theological research on post-conciliar ordination rites revealed that they were invalid because they were dogmatically defective or extremely doubtful at the least, our greatest concern was to maintain the apostolic succession. In fact, this can only be maintained if there is an uninterrupted succession of valid ordinations and of episcopal consecrations. Now, when several members of our group expressed this anxiety to Mgr. Lefebvre, he sent them away, saying sarcastically that at Lima he knew of a married bishop... maybe he could do something for us.

Subsequently we contacted Mgr. Ngo-dinh-Thuc. We referred to his Declaration made at the time of the episcopal consecrations at Palmar de Troya, Spain, in which he brought up the subject of the emergency situation in the Church resulting from its general breakdown.

Rev. Otto Katzer, doctor of theology, very much appreciated in Europe as a theologian and a spiritual guide by conservative Catholics and sedevacan­tists, had engaged in a discussion with Mgr. Thuc, M. Hiller and myself about the problem of the vacancy of the apostolic See and the danger of the apostolic succession disappearing. We concluded by asking Mgr. Thuc if he eventually agreed to consecrate a bishop.

Unfortunately because Fr. Katzer, who was a candidate for episcopal consecration died suddenly, we had to find another suitable can­didate who enjoyed a good reputation amongst the faithful. It was Fr. Guerard des Lauriers, for­merly a professor at the Gregorian in Rome, then a professor in Econe for a certain time. He made a name for himself as co-author of Critical examination of the Novus Ordo issued by the cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci. We wrote and asked him if he accepted to become a bishop.

Fr. des Lauriers sent an extraordinarily concerned and frank personal letter back: in which he too commented on the present condition of the hierarchy. For example, he knew the Italian bishops because he had pre­viously had them as students at the papal University. There was a discussion about the general situation and the necessity of an eventual episcopal consecration at Etiolles, near Paris, at the house of Fr. des Lauriers. Also present were prof. Lauth and M. Hiller. They agreed on most of the points discussed. But there was one controversial point: the problem of the vacant Holy See. Fr. des Lau­riers had decided to overcome this problem by his "Papa materialiter, non formaliter" thesis.

To discuss the theological value of an abstract thesis is one thing, but its practical application in the present combat of the Church for those who take a firm stance on sedevacantism like us, and later Mgr. Thuc is another. So, if we were to work together these divergencies would have to be resolved. We were convinced that Fr. des Lauriers' thesis was erroneous.

As a conditio sine qua non of an eventual consecration of Fr. des Lauriers it was important for M. Hiller, M. Lauth and myself that he understand that his thesis was wrong, and that he would only be proposed as an epsicopal candidate on condition that he renounced the thesis. So Prof. Lauth return­ed to Etiolles to thoroughly re-interview the candidate to see whether this last obstacle could be lifted. When Lauth returned to Munich he assured M. Hiller and me that Fr. Guerard des Lauriers had abandoned his bizarre thesis and that he had adopted our position: that the apostolic See was vacant.

Thereupon we informed Mgr Ngo-dinh-Thuc who trusted in us because we had collaborated together in different matters in past years, and so a meeting with him and the episcopal candidate G. des Lauriers was arranged.

But immediately after the consecration on the 7th of May 1981, it seems that Prof. Lauth had falsely informed us: the new bishop made it clear to us that he was not embarrassed to be found in schism from now on.

When he was asked, why he considered himself in schism, we learnt that he not abandoned his Papa materialiter non formaliter thesis, and that he therefore still rejected the sedevacantist position.

It must be clearly stated: Had we known of this beforehand, M Hiller and I would never have recommended Fr. des Lauriers as an episcopal candidate.

And where we remarked that in the beginning Mgr. Guerard des Lauriers did not want to exercise his episcopal powers, we contacted Fr. Carmona and Mlle Gloria Riestra de Wolff who published the periodical Trento, through the mediation of M. Moser to verify whether Fr. Carmona would eventually agree to become a bishop in order to assure the apostolic succession. He accepted, and it is known, that he and Fr. Zamora were consecrated on the 17th October 1981.

The consecration of Fr. des Lauriers did not work out from several points of view, like some other consecrations he did too.

Firstly Mgr. des Lauriers boldly challenged Mgr. Thuc (who had fled Toulon and had come to live with us because he feared persecution) and tried to impose his "Papa materialiter non formaliter the­sis on him. Furious, the archbishop tore up the thesis and threw the scraps of paper out the window.

Secondly, Mgr. Guerard participated in a public forum some time after with the bishops Carmona and Zamora on the subject of what was considered 'right and just' in this crisis of the Church, and he was rude enough to make offensive personal insults to them.

In the bulletin Sous la Banniere he referred to us—Gloria, M. Hiller and me—as schismatics. It is not that I reproach Guerard des Lau­riers for having written the thesis "Papa materialiter non formaliter", for anyone can be mistaken, but I think it is really appalling to attack the very ones who had helped him become a bishop, in such an offensive way. It is absolutely incomprehensible how he attacked the Declaratio of Mgr. Ngo-­dinh-Thuc, which he disowned by overtly making propaganda for his own thesis.

The campaign against his consecrator reached such a point that, as I recall, he spread the rumour that it was not Mgr. Thuc who was the author of this Declaratio, but MM. Hiller and Heller! Even now I feel that this provocation justifies my threatening certain people with lawsuits if they continue to maintain that Mgr. Thuc allowed himself to be thus "corrupted" in drawing up the Declaratio...

After that, Mgr. des Lauriers conducted a shameless campaign to promote his thesis of which I had sarcastically said at the time that it upheld the existence of a "Half-Holy Father". He then denigrated his consecrator in front of those of his confraters who, instead of following his thesis, followed the Declaratio about the vacancy of the apostolic See... This had the effect of considerably weakening our combat for the Church. And even today, his former students follow him with the same insen­sitivity of feeling.

Apart from such unscrupulous behaviour and such lack of consideration, Mgr. G. des Lauriers dealt a grave blow to our combat by consecrating episcopal candidates of his own choice without consult­ing his fellow-bishops and deciding together—nay, without even having previously examined the sui­tability and identity of the priests concerned, and without even taking into account any reservations expressed about candidates for the episcopate... Because of this, he bears the blame for what I term the "Internal Schism" (cf. Einsicht XXXII, p. 32 ff.)

In this spirit of independence he consecrated Fr. Storck, very gifted, a graduate in philosophy and a doctor in theology, who as a priest had been involved with Econe and with some itinerant (vagantes) clergy despite objections raised by Mgr. Vezelis.

And what comment can be made about his consecration of Fr. McKenna o.p., simply on the recommendation of an elderly lady in Switzerland? This explains why several weeks before his im­pending consecration, this priest switched his theological stand, adopting Mgr. Guerard's thesis, which he continued to adhere to. He consecrated Fr. McKenna despite the protestations of certain faithful, and again, without acting in concert with the bishops Musey and Vezelis who were active in the U.S.A.

In the same way, he also decided to consecrate Munari, formerly of Econe, indepen­dently and without duly consulting the other bishops. (Note: Munari has since defrocked and has returned to the lay state.)

Perhaps what could be said in favour of Mgr. Guerard des Lauriers, who was almost 90 when he died on 27th February 1988, was that he, contrary to other bishops, tried to find a clear-cut solution to the problem of jurisdiction in which we find ourselves. Also, that at the end of his life, he chal­lenged the justice of his thesis after it had been the cause of so much disenchantment and was close to assuming the sedevacantist position expressed in the Declaratio of Mgr. Ngo-dinh-Thuc. (SAKA-­Informationen, May 1988).

©Einsicht, December 2003.
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