Controversy: Roman Or Papal Indefectibility?

Correspondence with a Resistance priest in the U.S. I wrote under my penname Luke Virgil Hannah. My text is in red, his in blue.
Dear Sir,- I would like any info on the subject of the putative Pope Pius 13, especially, Patrick Omlor's views on this subject... Pius 13's website is True Catholic

I am, by my own definition, an Ortho-Papist, which is one who while rejecting the anti-popes Roncalli, Montini, Luciani and Wojtyla, believes that it is necessary to take steps for the election of a true Pope and the restoration of the Magisterium, and believes that it is possible that such has already happened and/or achieved...
Dear Sir, - Thanks for the reply. The argument, as it went back and forth, confuses me... However, I think that I understand the position... Bateman did not have Episcopal orders, but was merely either a priest or an abbot, and was using a highly controversial and doubtful precedent, if so, to claim the right to ordain to the episcopacy... Correct me if I understood wrongly...

I proposed a very similar theory, which I call the "Sacerdotal Emancipation Theory," based on a work by Dr Rama Coomaraswamy. In this there is a quotation by Saint Heironymus (Jerome) that soon after his sacerdotal ordination, he underwent another ritual in which he was 'bound' so that he could not exercise episcopal powers but only those powers given him by a bishop... This could mean that when a man is ordained priest, he is infact ordained a bishop and then is restricted from exercising the fullness of his orders... since the episcopal and sacerdotal orders are in fact one... This restriction used to be signified by a seperate ritual within the ordination rite, but later came to be understood and not needed to be performed... Given this, it is to be understood that this restriction is Church Law and not Divine Law, and that given a collapse (absence) of the formal structure of the Church government for whatsoever reason, this restriction ceases to apply, so that all faithfully Catholic priests are emancipated and become full-fledged priests... THIS is my argument, which I call a theory... I refuse, of course, to accept its application until the better educated especially the theologians amongst the remnant investigate the theory and affirm it a fact... Otherwise it would only cause further schisms amongst the remnant...

Further, since I arrived at this theory, I found texts in the documents of the Council of the Vatican (1870) which implicitly say that the particular local church of the city (community) of Rome cannot cease to exist, and that its faith is the norm for salvation... It is obvious that a Pope can defect from the faith, also that the Church cannot in entirety fall away... But is any particular geographically local church guaranteed from falling? The Council of the Vatican says that the local church of Rome is...

If my understanding is corect, it opens new implications for the Remnant seeking to restore the normal order of the Church... It is possible that the Church of God was never disrupted, with the local Roman Church continuing the true Church despite the Great Schism of the antipope Roncalli and his modernist followers... But where is this locat Roman Church, that I have yet failed to locate and accede to?

There is another thing. Some years ago, a putative pope was elected in a putative conclave held in Assisi, a German priest who took the name of Linus...Do you know of him, what happened of him, etc?

I have already investigated the putative pope in Palmar de Troya, and have rejected him as being blatantly false...

Please see my responses below:

Gordon Bateman, at the beginning of all this, was a layman. He was "ordained" to the "priesthood" spuriously (and more than likely invalidly) by the priest, Fr. Lucian Pulvermacher. Father (having been "elected" as Pius XIII) dispensed himself from what he thought to be an impediment in this area, and using very faulty sacramental theology, also "consecrated" Mr. Bateman a bishop. It was this same Bateman who turned around and on July 4 "consecrated" Pulvermacher a bishop. There is NO precedence to such actions in Church History and even a cursory examination of the trusted authors of Sacramental Theology and the commentators on the Code of Canon Law (1917) reveal this.

(Your "Sacerdotal Emancipation Theory) No, such is not the case. While I am unaware of the work of Dr. Coomeraswamy which you make reference to, I'm sure that even he is well aware that your interpretation of St. Jerome's comments are not consistent with Church teaching nor with even the Saint's own writings. Are you aware of the differences between the nature of the Priesthood and that of the Episcopacy, and that a priest possesses only certain, limited powers as a priest, being bound to use only those under the permission of his bishop? We do no service to our times to look for theories wherewith to save ourselves if we depart from the common teaching of the Church, her Councils and her Doctors.

A man, when he is ordained a priest, DOES NOT recieve thereby latent powers as a bishop. He shares certain powers that bishops have, but he does not possess the fullness of the Priesthood. If the contrary were so, then why have the ceremony repeated at the elevation to the episcopacy? It is sacrilegeous to repeat unnecessarily an ordination ceremony. Therefore, each episcopal consecration, which implies the imposition of new powers and authority, would have been a sin, according to the understanding I have of your theory. It would have been a sin since such a consecration would have been unnecessary. Once again, such a concept is totally foreign to the consistent teachings of the Church. This is precisely part of my argument with Gordon Bateman.

Thanks tremendously for the reply... You have cleared a major doubt. I see that if the "Sacerdotal Emancipation Theory" was true, it contradicts Church practise of Episcopal ordinations... for these would then be blasphemous and sinful. I can abandon this theory without a second thought.

However you have still not replied to the rest of my letter. Where is the episcopacy? Without it there can be no Church. I ask, Is it possible that God would allow His Church, or the episcopacy that is so crucial to it, to cease to exist? Again, we cannot "IMPORT" the episcopacy from Schismatics, Heretics or doubtful persons... (I allude to the Thuc-line bishops) Where is the solution to our problem?

The Vatican document I referred to was the one establishing Papal Infallibility. It says that the particular local church of Rome cannot defect from the faith. Please read this and tell me what you think is the implication(s) of this doctrine... I am confused about it, but I hugely suspect that it is crucial to the solution of our problem... The next time, I shall give you the exact quotes from the text of the Vatican Council's document...

I apologize for the lengthy delay in replying to your last message.

The Roman Catholic episcopacy still exists in a number of bishops ordained and consecrated according to the traditional rite pre- and post-Vatican II. Those who were consecrated pre-Council and who follow the modernist teachings can return to the Church if they disavow their error. While the older bishops are slowing departing from this earth, the others who were consecrated "extra-canonical" and after the Council will have to be the ones who take of the torch of Faith and carry it on until God's restores His Church.

There are always going to be people who doubt the validity of this person or that. The history of the Church should teach us this lesson. So often, the reasons for doubt come up because one person has "problem" with the other. Issues come up that have little to do with sacramental validity or the true facts of the case, and "decrees" of invalidity come forth based on this.
br> I mention this because you refer to the "Thuc- line" of bishops and seem to have accepted the notion that those men consecrated by Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc are invalid. Perhaps you believe this because you have read some documentation about his supposed "insanity".

While Thuc was no saint, and even did some very questionable actions, the fact of his medical insanity (which is what is required to question the validity of a minister) cannot be proven. Without this proof, those who say that he is insane are making a judgment on the man that even the Church would not make.

Likewise, there are people who question the validity of the Lefebvre line because the Archbishop was ordained and later consecrated by a Freemason (Lienart). Once again, there is no dogmatic basis for such a "decree" because the Church has already decreed that the validity of a sacrament does not depend on the faith of the minister and that even heretics can validly confer a sacrament.

Our choices for those who will maintain the episcopacy today are not great, but they are certainly valid. We seem to be in no better condition than the Church was during the Arian crisis where a great number of the clergy embraced that heretical belief.

The Church had to live on even through the lineage of those who were ordained and consecrated by the heretics and this because the sacrament of Holy Orders is something that exists separate from the minister and it cannot be tainted by bad and/or unworthy men.

There is no such thing as a "pure" lineage of Orders in the pharisaical concept no mater where we look. God will use the men we have today who work to maintain the traditions of the Church in their purity as the ones who help see us through this crisis.

(Your position of Roman Indefectibility) No, the Vatican document you refer to says that the Church of Rome (a.k.a. the Roman Catholic Church) will not defect and that it will always teach doctrines and provide the sacraments that are necessary to salvation. This has nothing to do with the geographical church in Rome.

Dear Father, - As promised I am sending you the document on which I based my position regarding the indefectibility of the particular geographically limited church of Rome. This is the Vatican Council (1870) document, Pastor Æternas, declaring Papal Infallibility. I have highlighted, etc., the relevant excerpts. These are 204.1, 213.3, 213.4, 216.3 & 216.7. The reference system I am using here is from the source book that I got this document from, "The Church Teaches", (Reprinted by TAN), in which the first paragraph of this document is numbered 201 and the last 219. The numbers after the paragraph numbers are of the sentences.

Now, however, also, I draw your attention to the excerpt: "The holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have the primacy over the whole world", particularly drawing your attention to the plural HAVE.

Obviously, while the document is talking primarily of the Pope, it is also talking of the local Church of Rome, which it distinguishes and not confuses.

Now to whom does the INDEFECTIBILITY of the Church of Rome belong, the pope or the local Church of Rome, in general? I believe to the latter, and not to the pope as an individual. This from common sense, and also following Doctor Rama Coomaraswami, who argues that the pope, even after becoming pope, still possesses free will and intelligence, and therefore can still defect from the faith, thereby losing his office.

Furthermore, I believe that if it is established that there does indeed exist a papal vacancy, it is the duty of every faithful to work for the restoration of the papacy - the election of a pope. It is obvious that God will not let such a vacancy continue for too long, the papacy being so vital to the plan of salvation of men. Therefore, it is obvious that he has already found the one to do this job for him, from the beginning of time. Nevertheless, it remains the duty of each and every faithful to strive to this end, and the failure thereof is culpable.

In support of this I provide these excerpts: "Therefore, if anyone says that it is not according to the institution of Christ our Lord himself, that is, by divine law, that St. Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church: let him be anathema" and "so also he wished shepherds and teachers to be in his Church until the consummation of the world (see Matt. 28:20)".

Thank you for your note. Below are my comments:

Now, however, also, I draw your attention to the excerpt: "The holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have the primacy over the whole world", particularly drawing your attention to the plural HAVE.

Obviously, while the document is talking primarily of the Pope, it is also talking of the local Church of Rome, which it distinguishes and not confuses.
The terms "Holy See" and "Roman Pontiff" basically mean the same, and this could be where your confusion lies. There is no promise to the geographic place since that locality can change, and has done so many, many, times since the time of the foundation of the Church.

From the terrors to the papacy caused by the Holy Roman Emperors to the Avignon Captivity, the See of Peter - the place where the pope sits in rule - has been located wherever the Pope - the Roman Pontiff - is.

Primacy - the power to rule over all the Church with no other as his superior, save God Almighty - is granted to the Holy See by virtue of the fact that the Roman Pontiff is there.

However, one cannot distinguish separate favors granted between the two, simply because one does not exist without the other.

During an interregnum there is no Roman Pontiff, hence no Holy See.

Indefectibility is a quality and favor granted to the Church alone. It is the Church alone which possesses this unique gift, not a geographic location nor even the pope himself as a private doctor and teacher. Now to whom does the INDEFECTIBILITY of the Church of Rome belong, the pope or the local Church of Rome, in general? I believe to the latter, and not to the pope as an individual. This from common sense, and also following Doctor Rama Coomaraswami, who argues that the pope, even after becoming pope, still possesses free will and intelligence, and therefore can still defect from the faith, thereby losing his office. Be sure you distinguish between the Roman Catholic Church, the Mother and Head of all the churches of the world, and the church in Rome.

When any Catholic author makes reference to the "Church of Rome" or the "Roman Catholic Church", he does so meaning the Church which Jesus Christ founded on St. Peter and which is centered geogrpahically in Rome (usually).

Roman Catholics are not those who live in Rome, but who live the Faith as it is taught and practiced in Rome. There truly is a difference when understanding these terms correctly.

The Successors of St. Peter are the only ones who possess the gift - charism - of infallibility. Such true and valid successors possess the ability to teach and command with the authority of God Himself. All other hierarchical members possess an authority to teach and to rule, but it is not the same as the charism of infallibility that the pope possesses.

Such members of the hierarchy possess a limited authority in their own area and in so far as they are united in Faith and practice under the Roman Pontiff.

Now, if there is no pope in office (as has happened over 200 times since the Church's foundation), the hierarchy may still rule and teach, but the extent of their authority is limited and may even cease until such time as another pope is elected.

Thus, in our time, there is a sense of urgency to work and pray for a restoration of true authority in the Church since She has been without this having been without a pope for a long period of time.

Furthermore, I believe that if it is established that there does indeed exist a papal vacancy, it is the duty of every faithful to work for the restoration of the papacy - the election of a pope. It is obvious that God will not let such a vacancy continue for too long, the papacy bing so vital to the plan of salvation of men. Therefore, it is obvious that he has already found the one to do this job for him, from the beginning of time. Nevertheless, it remains the duty of each and every faithful to strive to this end, and the failure thereof is culpable. In support of this I provide these excerpts: "Therefore, if anyone says that it is not according to the institution of Christ our Lord himself, that is, by divine law, that St. Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church: let him be anathema" and "so also he wished shepherds and teachers to be in his Church until the consummation of the world (see Matt. 28:20)". I agree wholeheartedly with this.

Dear Father, - I have received your reply to my email regarding the status of the Roman Church in the Church-at-large.

I am glad that you agree with me about the need to urgently work for the restoration of the Papacy, once it is established that there is no lawful claimant to the office. [We both disregard the Modernist heretical anti-pope ‘John-Paul II’ who at present has usurped the Vatican.]

However, as for the rest, I think that we are further away from each other than we were.

Allow me to make a re-statement of my positions that you impugned.

First of all, before you react to my claims, read them carefully, and especially, Pastor Æternas, the INFALLIBLE document of the last Ecumenical Council, the Vatican, held in 1870, and especially the parts that I have quoted.

I affirm that this document differentiates between the Roman Pontiff and the Holy See, and that by the Holy See it means the Church of Rome - the Roman Church.

The holy Council says, repeating Florence, "that the holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have the primacy over the whole world." (see 206.2)

Obviously, then, the Holy See and the Roman Pontiff cannot be thought of as a single entity, or you end up with an absurdism.

Again the Councils of the Vatican (207) and Lyons II (152) teach that the Roman Church has this primacy, so that there can be no doubt that the Holy See (as distinct from the Pope) is the same as the Church of Rome.

I especially draw your attention to Lyons II, "The holy Roman Church has supreme and full primacy and jurisdiction over the whole Catholic Church." Other Church documents which support this doctrine are the Formula of Pope St. Hormisdas (Denz. 171) and the Epistle of Pope St. Leo IX to Michael Caerularius (Denz. 351).

I affirm that there exists a distinction between the community of the faithful belonging to the geographically limited place called Rome - the Roman Church or the Church of Rome - and the entire community of the faithful - called the Roman Catholic Church, or the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, sometimes even the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church, when by Roman is meant governed normally by and from Rome.

When this, the Universal or General Church teaches that the Roman Church is the mother, teacher and head of all other Churches, I affirm that it means the particularly geographically limited local church of Rome. It means that this Roman Church has primacy over all other geographically limited churches, localized congregations of the faithful, and that its faith is the norm for all other churches. (204.5)

It DOES NOT mean that the Roman Catholic Church is (in any manner of speaking) the mother, teacher and/or head of any of the various schismatic and heretical ‘churches’ or sects, bodies which have no connexion whatsoever with the House of God.

To affirm otherwise is to affirm the Branch Heresy.

I affirm that the Holy See does not cease to exist during a vacancy.

Vacancy is not inexistence. I affirm that the Church is truly and really the Body of Christ.

That means that the Church, and therefore also all its essential principles, have their being in Christ Jesus.

Now since Christ Jesus, once dead, then resurrected, now Immortal as man and Omnipotent as God cannot cease to be, in like manner, the Church and its essential principles, which is his body cannot die or cease to be. That is, the essential principle - the Papacy, cannot cease to be, atleast until the Parousia. After that, we do not know.

I affirm that the Holy Apostolic See is, by the constant teaching of Apostolic Tradition, which is part of Divine Revelation, irremovably fixed at Rome. That is, the see of any other diocese can be moved, even extinguished, but the Holy Apostolic See can neither be moved nor extinguished.

The exile of a pope does not - cannot change this fact. For this reason the Church has always desired the restoration of the pope to Rome, by violence if necessary, such as, for example, during the ‘Babylonian Captivity’ in the papal estate of Avignon, or the exile of Pope Pius IX during the ‘Roman Republic’ of 1848.

If the Papal See is located anywhere that the pope is, there was no reason for the Church to be so violently moved for the popes’ return to Rome.
Then again, granting that you are right, and the pope is now in Washington, D.C. He would then be the Washingtonian Pontiff, not the Roman Pontiff. And there would still be a Roman Pontiff, the bishop of Rome. Who then would be your pope, the Washingtonian Pontiff or the Roman Pontiff?

The pope is pope because he is the Roman Pontiff. That is, the relationship of Roman Pontiff and pope is of cause and effect.

It is agreed that no particular individual in the Church Militant, not even the pope, certainly not even the pope, is possessed of indefectibility. Nevertheless, as the Church has always taught, not only does the Universal Church possess Indefectibility, but also the Roman Church. We are to understand either that
  • this Roman Indefectibility as vested in its chief - the Roman Pontiff, which interpretation is violative of the Faith, or that
  • it is vested in the entire Roman Church in general.
This also stands to reason - while any particular local Church can be extinguished by heresy and/or schism, it is not possible that the Roman Church, whose head is also the head of the entire Church, be so extinguished.

I affirm, following the constant teaching of the Church-at-large, that the Roman Church, as distinct from the Roman Catholic Church (the Church-at-large) is guaranteed from defection. I am aware that the Church-at-large possesses this INDEFECTIBILITY, but I affirm that this document, while teaching the INFALLIBILITY of popes under the proper conditions, also teaches that the Roman Church / the Church of Rome ALSO POSSESSES THIS INDEFECTIBILITY.

Finally, to return to where this exchange had originally begun, I affirm that this Document teaches these things:

  1. The distinction between the Church of Rome and the Roman Pontiff.


  2. The Roman Church "has always kept the true Religion unsullied." (213.4)


  3. The faith can suffer no Diminution in this Roman Church. (216.3)


  4. In its faith, the whole, true and perfect security of the Christian religion resides. (213.5)


  5. "Because of its greater sovereignty, it was always necessary for every church to be in agreement with the Roman Church." (204.5)

What is the relationship of the Pope with the Roman Church? The Pope is first of all a member. Secondly, he is its head - its bishop. As bishop of this Church, he is also the Head of all Christians in the Church Militant. The Pope is the most important member of the Roman Church.

The papacy, which belongs only to the Roman Church, is the most important thing in it. It, as it were, defines the Roman Church.

Nevertheless, there is no confusion between these two identities: the Pope and the Roman Church.

The Pope is, principally, but not solely, entirely or exclusively, the Roman Church.

And as a unit of the larger Church, the Roman Church does have its own life. This does not cease to be in a situation where the Papacy is vacant.

The Holy Council of the Vatican, echoing also the previous councils, teaches that this Roman Church possess Primacy over the entire Church-at-large, and also INDEFECTIBILITY, as distinct from the INDEFECTIBILITY of the Church-at-large.

By INDEFECTIBILITY is not meant that the members of the Church Universal (or in this case, of the Roman Church) cannot fall away, but rather what is meant is that there will be at least a remnant faithful to God and his religion.

After my last letter to Fr. Kevin Vailancourt, as reproduced in the previous document, I received no further messages from him, and came to understand that he had cut off communications. However, I still sent him a last final letter.
Dear Father,

This is to inform you that since you have not replied to my last post, I assume that you have no contradiction or corrections to make to it. However, since I need to have this my position thoroughly discussed so as to thrash out any flaws in it, I am making our exchange (so far) public, on the Usenet, etc. I will also seek the opinions of Dr. Coomaraswamy and Mr. P. H. Omlor. In all this, following the rules, I shall keep your name confidential, except from these latter two, unless you wish otherwise.

In your last post, you took the following positions :
  1. The Roman Church, as distinct from the Roman Catholic Church, of which it is a part, DOES NOT possess Indefectibility, as I profess.


  2. The See of St. Peter is located where the Pope is.


  3. During an interregnum, there is no Roman Pontiff, hence no Holy See.


  4. The Roman Catholic Church, AND NOT the Roman Church, as I profess, is the Mother and Head of all the churches of the world.
In my reply, I reaffirmed the following points:
  1. The distinction between the Roman Church and the Universal Church, of which the former is the latter's local Roman branch.


  2. Indefectibility belongs not only to this Universal Church, but, also to this Roman Church, as continuously taught by the Church on various occasions.


  3. I also denied and deny the last three of your positions, which I see as un-Catholic. The second teaches the mobility of the Papal See, which, as I believe the Faith to teach, is irremoveable, while the fourth apparently teaches the Branch Heresy, an accusation you have not seen fit to refute. The third is patently ridiculous and incomprehensible.
I understand the possibility that, you consider me a busy fool seeking to trap you into mistakes and then triumphantly show it around as a token of my genius. Let me assure you that this is indeed not so.

I am only trying to secure my salvation, which I know is by finding the True Church in the present confusion as I know that it is the only vehicle appointed by God unto this purpose. This is, I assume, also the end that you and the various factions, parties, sects and individuals in the Resistance seek.

Now in this my pilgrimage, I have discovered that the Infallible Magisterium teaches that the Roman Church possess Indefectibility in addition to the Universal Church. However, since I do not profess to have Divinely Inspired Certainty, I seek to prove this my understanding by putting it to the test of debate, seeking the arguments of many that I may have this proved either one way or another. In this, my intentions are purely honest and not contentious.

In summary, I consider these two ideas as defining of my position:
  1. I go beyond the merely negative assertion of the Sede-Vacantists in relation to John-Paul 2, that he is not truly pope, and affirm the possibility, but not the certainty, since I do not know, that there is nevertheless a true pope already legitimately elected. For want of another name, I call this position 'Orthopapism'.


  2. I believe that the particular Roman Church is Indefectible and that it is the Definer, Guardian and Arbiter of the Holy Faith, and therefore it is the only secure way to find the true Church and the pope.

End of Correspondence. See additional statement on this subject.
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