Proofs for a Papal Election: Part I

©©Teresa Stanfill-Benns. |

For those who contest the ability of the Church to provide Herself with a canonically elected Head, these questions must be asked: Would you deny any country the right to elect or appoint itself a head? Any organization whatsoever the right to elect for itself a president? Would you deny the fact that a flock of geese or a pack of wolves is led by the dominant male? That remote native villages acknowledge their chiefs?

Then no one on earth can deny that the Catholic Church, divinely instituted by Christ, has the right to elect Her Vicar to fulfill the ends of the Church on earth and Christ's will for His Church. Unlike the groups mentioned above, the Church is Divinely instituted and is guaranteed indefectible by Christ; She cannot be defeated in Her earthly combat: the gates of Hell can never prevail against Her. If all the military leaders in a battle die on the battlefield, a leader must take charge of any remaining troops even if that leader is only a private. This is known as battlefield promotion. It was used as recently as the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York, where mere firefighters became officers overnight. Yet despite this principle's logical use in everyday life, traditional Catholics seem unable to apply this example of simple logic to the crisis in the Church in order to supply the Church with a true head.

Now Attwater, in his A Catholic Dictionary, describes logic as the science which assists the mind in attaining knowledge of the truth. St Thomas Aquinas tells us that logic is the art of reasoning; it is upon logic that this great saint based his system of scholastic philosophy, which is the only system of philosophy approved by the Church.

The Church must have a visible Head

Many insist there can be no resolution of the unity crisis in the present-day 'traditional' Church because true Catholics are no longer a perceptible, identifiable body. Yet to say this is to reject God's will, and make a mockery of His Sacrifice on the Cross.

"As He hung on the Cross, Christ Jesus not only appeased the justice of His Eternal Father, which had been violated, but...won for ineffable flow of graces. It was impossible for Him of Himself to impart these graces to mankind directly, but He willed to do so only through a visible Church made up of men. The Word of God willed to make use of our nature...(The Mystical Body) must be an unbroken unity...something definite and perceptible," (all Pius XII quotes following are taken from Mystici Corporis unless the contrary is stated).

Here Pius XII quotes Pope Leo XIII's Satis Cognitum, where his predecessor taught: "The Church is visible because She is a body." To this Pius XII adds:
"But a body requires a multiplicity of members," and in the Church, "members do not live for themselves alone, but also help their fellows. All work in mutual collaboration to perfect and build up this Body."
The Pope then goes to the heart of the errors being spread even in his day concerning the true nature of the Church, condemning those who sound very much like many of the Traditionalists in this era.
"(Those who believe the Church to be) "invisible, intangible, 'pneumatological', by which many Christian communities, though they differ from one another in faith are united by an invisible bond, ERR IN A MATTER OF DIVINE TRUTH."
Indeed, who among the traditionalists or ecumenists, for that matter, believe, as every Catholic must, each and every truth taught by the Apostolic and Roman Church without exception? Certainly not those who refuse to acknowledge the absolute necessity for a pope, for these contradict all that Pius XII expounds on the subject:
"We must not think He (Christ) rules in a hidden or extraordinary manner. On the contrary, Our Divine Redeemer also governs His Mystical Body in a visible and normal way through His Vicar on earth... He trusted to the Chief of the Apostles the visible government of the entire community He had founded... Christ and His Vicar constitute ONE HEAD ONLY... (This) is the solemn teaching of Pope Boniface VIII... in Unam Sanctam. And his successors have never failed to repeat the same."
Here Pius XII only reiterates the teaching of the Council of Trent, contained in the Catechism of the same name. In the section where this catechism treats of the four marks we read: "Should anyone object that the Church is content with one Head and one Spouse, Jesus Christ, and requires no other, the answer is obvious... Christ (is) not only the author of all the Sacraments, but their invisible minister. He placed over the Church a man to be His Vicar and the minister of His power. A VISIBLE CHURCH REQUIRES A VISIBLE HEAD..."

But Pius is not finished crushing this odious error. The next chilling doctrinal pronouncement he utters speaks sternly and directly — even prophetically — to all those who flout their (doctrinal) independence and scorn unity.
"They therefore walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the head of the Church while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity, and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it."
For Catholics there is no choice. They either accept Christ's Vicar on earth, defending and faithfully transmitting the deposit of faith entrusted him by Our Lord, or they follow and obey neither Jesus nor His Vicar. It is for this reason that St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Catherine of Siena and Pope Pius XII himself called the popes and their successors "Christ on earth". And the excuses listed for not acknowledging the pope today cannot be given credence. Certainly moral theology teaches that when one is in doubt, judgment may be suspended. But moral theologians also teach that the faithful must diligently strive to resolve such doubts and arrive at certitude. Certainly neither St. Bernard nor St. Catherine could easily distinguish, during the reign of the anti-pope Anacletus or during the Western Schism respectively, who was the true pope. Yet they did pledge their allegiance regardless, because they knew, as Pope Boniface VIII declared, that in order to save their souls they must die in obedience to the pope. One might be mistaken as to his physical identity, but could never doubt his necessity for the Church's existence.

Rev. Thomas Kinkead, in the Baltimore Catechism #3, prepared at the request of America's bishops during the Baltimore Council for the purpose of teaching Christian doctrine (an infallible act), states in Q&A #s 520-522 that the three attributes of the Church are authority, infallibility and indefectibility, and without these three attributes the four marks (that is, the Church itself) cannot exist. Thus the teaching of Pope Pius XII only reiterates that of the Vatican Council itself. The hallmark of unity and faith is the papacy, not the Tridentine Mass as traditionalists falsely maintain. Christ established His Church on St. Peter the Rock before the Last Supper and His Sacrifice on the Cross. Unless the Holy Sacrifice is celebrated by priests with the requisite jurisdiction from bishops in communion with the Roman Pontiff, Catholics commit sacrilege by attending such Masses, even though the priest may be validly ordained.

Neither Canon 209 nor the much-touted principle of epikeia can release true Catholics from the observance of DIVINE LAW. Canon 196 clearly states: "The Catholic Church possesses, by Divine institution, the power of jurisdiction or government..." That the Church has no power over Divine law is too well known to be contested. It is reflected, however in Canon 6#6. Epikeia could scarcely be said to apply to Divine law.

"The Church exercises the fullness of Her infallible teaching authority to demand an irrevocable assent to matters which are not explicitly, and apparently not even implicitly revealed. These definitions and decisions embrace what are usually called matters of Ecclesiastical Faith. They are so intimately connected with Faith that one could not deny them without implicitly denying some article of Faith... They are to be believed... on the word of the Church, God's infallible teacher," (Rev. Patrick Madgett: Christian Origins). He notes that some theologians refer to these as "implicitly revealed truths". These truths are disciplinary decrees, canonization and religious rules.

"From the mind of the Church as expressed in solemn documents, and from the common teaching of theologians, we know that the Church is likewise infallible in Her disciplinary decrees... The reason here is the Church's infallibility as the custodian of morals, rather than of doctrine. When we say that the Church is infallible in laying down these decrees, SUCH AS CANON LAW, all that we mean is that they must be accepted as a good means to achieve the purpose intended — well-regulated Church discipline," (Rev. Madgett).

Card. Cicognani writes in his Canon Law: "The disciplinary laws issued by the Roman Pontiffs enjoy in a strict sense the note of infallibility... no disciplinary law at variance with orthodox faith or good morals has been or ever will be issued by the Roman Pontiff for the universal Church." Only the Roman Pontiff can make new laws; interpret existing laws, both ecclesiastical and Divine; safeguard and enforce laws, or abrogate, derogate or change human ecclesiastical laws or the laws of Ecumenical or particular Councils.

Therefore it must be emphasized here that to deny the power of the Roman Pontiff to bind in disciplinary matters actually involves the denial of Revelation itself, since Christ granted to Peter the power to "bind and loose," in entrusting to him the keys of the Kingdom. The following was condemned by Pope Nicholas I at a Council in Rome: If anyone condemns dogmas mandates interdicts sanctions or decrees promulgated by the one presiding in the Apostolic See, for the Catholic Faith, for ecclesiastical discipline, for the correction of the faithful, for the emendation of criminals, either by an interdict or threatening of future ills, let him be anathema," (DZ 326). Henry Cardinal Manning tells us this pronouncement is infallible, and this should be obvious from all that is mentioned above.

Even in the case of Canon Law, those Canons that deal directly with Divine Law must be accepted as such. "The New Law, contained in Scripture and a constituent source of Canon Law in the strict sense," (Card. Cicognani). Canon Law as a whole "is based on doctrines that are immutable and eternal," he continues, while some Canon Laws are "merely doctrinal or even dogmatic in character." Cicognani defines Canon Law as "the body of laws made by the lawful ecclesiastical authority for the government of the Church."

Cicognani goes into great detail in his work concerning the age-old sources of Canon Law, which include, Divine Law, Apostolic Law, the bulls, constitutions, encyclicals and decrees of the Supreme Pontiffs, the Sacred Congregations defining under the direction of the Pope, Ecumenical and Provincial Councils and Apostolic Letters. This is not an inclusive list, but it covers all these documents existing since the

Concerning those Canons based on Divine Law, Pope Pius XII, in an address to the faculty and students at the University of Vienna Law School in 1956, told his audience: "There are Canons which are built into the very structure of the Church by Her Divine Founder... These include laws regulating the constitution of the Church and those defining the powers of the Pope and of the bishops... (and) the indissolubility of a legally contracted and consummated Christian marriage."

Canon Law is the body of legislation used by the hierarchy to govern the Church and the laity are bound to know those laws which demand their obedience. As Card. Cicognani explained in his work, "Law does not oblige in grave inconvenience," (as many traditionalists are so quick to point out). But this excuses from the law only if, "no contmept of religion, harm to the community or extreme spiritual harm to a third person" is involved.

The Laity Forms Part of the Hierarchy

This statement is true from two different angles. First, we find from Addis and Arnold's A Catholic Dictionary: "In a wide and loose sense, when the whole Catholic Church is considered as existing in the midst of heretics, schismatics and the heathen, even the laity may be considered as forming a portion of the hierarchy. With this agrees the expression of St. Peter, calling the general body of Christians in the country to which he is sending his epistle 'a kingly priesthood' and a 'holy nation.'"

Secondly, the Catholic Action movement was founded precisely because the ranks of the clergy already were being taxed numbers-wise in the early 20th century. Pope Pius XI specifically lists a shortage of priests as a reason for instituting Catholic Action. Agreeing with Addis and Arnold's definition, Pope Pius XII wrote: "The initiative of the lay apostolate is perfectly justified even without a prior explicit 'mission' from the hierarchy... Personal initiative plays a great part in protecting the faith and Catholic life, especially in countries where contacts with the hierarchy are difficult or practically impossible. In such circumstances, the Christian upon whom this task falls must, with God's grace, ASSUME ALL THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES. Even so, nothing can be undertaken against the explicit and implicit will of the Church, or contrary in any way to the rules of faith and morals, or ecclesiastical discipline," (from the address, "The Mission of Catholic Women," Sept. 29, 1957).

And in another address, this same Pope taught: "The faithful, more precisely the laity are stationed in the front ranks of the life of the Church, and through them the Church is the living principle of human society. Consequently, they must have an ever clearer consciousness, not only of belonging to the Church, BUT OF BEING THE CHURH, that is of being the community of faithful on earth under the guidance of their common leader the Pope and the bishops in communion with him. THEY are the Church...," (address to the newly made Cardinals, Feb. 20, 1946).

Catholic Action is justified even without an explicit mission. Catholics in countries where communication with the hierarchy is impossible not only MAY but MUST assume all their responsibilities, and there has been no true pope, no true bishops or cardinals now for several decades. When Christ willed that His Church have a visible head and Peter have perpetual successors, He granted the mandate to fulfill that will implicitly, for whenever God wills the end, He also provides the means to accomplish that end. Whatever Catholics do however, must fall in line with ecclesiastical discipline; in other words it must not be opposed in any way to Canon Law. For this reason, a method to elect a true Pope for these times was devised from Canon Law, for a Pope cannot be considered valid unless elected according to these Canons.

Canon Law and the Popes on Lay Election

A layman can become pope. (It is a dogmatic fact that over the centuries, several laymen were elected pope.) In his address to the Second World Congress for the Lay Apostolate, Pope Pius XII stated that: "Even if a laymen were elected pope, he could accept the election only if he were fit for ordination and willing to be ordained. But the power to teach and govern as well as the charism of infallibility would be granted to him from the very moment of his acceptance, even before his ordination" (Canon 219).

All that is required to guarantee the validity of a papal election is that he be a baptized adult male, willing and able to be ordained. Other theologians state such a male must have the use of reason. However, in issuing the "New Code of Canon Law" in 1983, Wojtyla changed this law to read that only bishops can be elected to the papacy. One author has subsequently removed from the papal lists all those Popes who were not bishops at the time of election. This is a malicious repudiation of dogmatic facts, (that Peter will have perpetual successors and the popes cannot teach anything contrary to faith or morals).

While only the Pope can change or interpret human-ecclesiastical law, Wojtyla is no pope. As Card. Cicognani stated, " disciplinary law at variance with orthodox faith or good morals has been or ever will be issued by the Roman Pontiff," a statement which only reflects the official teaching of the Church on this topic.

Lay people can elect a lay pope. (Until the laws passed by Nicholas II in 1059, limiting the election to cardinals, the clergy and laity together elected the popes. This provides a custom equally as venerable as election by the cardinals, and Nicholas' law states this custom can be returned to without prejudice if necessary. This is an historical and dogmatic fact, because it involves the validity of papal elections.) Participation in a lay election is in accordance with the laws of the Church whenever the clergy cannot or will not posit such an election.

Canon law provides a way to operate when there either is no law or the law no longer applies to the existing situation. Here the "higher law" in Canon Law takes precedence, since Christ, the Supreme Lawmaker, has amply demonstrated that He wills His Church to last until the end of the world.

The man elected in such a canonical lay election, possessing the required, qualifications, is a valid pope and immediately possesses jurisdiction over the whole world, even prior to his ordination and consecration. (These are the dictates of papal teaching and Canon Law. To deny that they apply is to accuse the Church of not providing laws that guarantee the faith and morals of Her subjects.) The Church on several occasions has condemned the proposition that a pope canonically elected is not a true pope.
  1. (The following propositions were presented to the Wycliffites and Hussites at the Council of Constance for belief) "Likewise, whether he believes that the pope, canonically elected, who lived for a time after having expressed his own name, is the successor of blessed Peter, having supreme authority in the Church of God" (DZ 674).
  2. "Likewise whether he believes that the authority of jurisdiction of the pope, archbishop and bishop in loosing and binding is greater than that of the SIMPLE PRIEST, even if he has the care of souls (DZ 675).
  3. (Condemned error of John Hus): "The apostles and faithful priests of the Lord strenuously in necessities ruled the Church unto salvation before the office of the pope was introduced; thus they would be doing even to the day of judgment were the pope utterly lacking" (DZ 655)

Sede Impedita and the Bishop of Rome

Nor can it be said, without denying historical and dogmatic facts that are infallible, that a pope ruling outside Rome is not a true pope. For as long as he can prove he is the canonical successor of St. Peter, and is prevented only by usurpation from reigning in Rome, he yet validly claims the See.

Basis for the premise

Pope Pius IX condemned the following error:
There is nothing to forbid that by the vote of a General Council or by the action of all peoples the Supreme Pontificate be transferred from the Roman Bishop and THE CITY (i.e. of Rome) to another bishopric and another city. (DZ 1735 from the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX)
The Bishop of Rome is the Pope and the Pope is Bishop of Rome, even if he is not living there.

In fact we have seen the case of Pope Innocent II, who was away from Rome, as opposed to antipope Anacletus II, who occupied the See in Rome, (IPIA page 173). And for a long period of time, called the Babylonian Captivity, the Bishop of Rome lived at Avignon in France, but remained both Bishop of Rome and Pope.

Saint Thomas Aquinas (III, Q35 A7 Ad 3) is of the opinion that it was the Will of God that the papacy be established with the Roman Episcopacy, since the center of the secular world at that time was in Rome. However, he also is of the opinion that it was not suitable for our Lord Jesus Christ to suffer and die in Rome, but that His Church be established there to supplant paganism.

Pope Nicholas II changed the mode of papal election from election by the people and clergy to election by the cardinals. Nicolas II's predecessor Pope Leo the Great promulgated the method of election by people and clergy. Rev. Anscar Parsons recorded in his Canonical Elections: An Historical Synopsis and Commentary that Pope Leo's decrees were "regarded as the best formulation of the law regulating this election by clergy and people." In deference to Pope Leo the Great, Nicholas II wrote into his law changing the mode of election to cardinals: "However, it certainly would be correct and even lawful, if the order of selection carefully weighed in the opinions of Pope Leo the Great was resumed... If the perversity of depraved and wicked men shall so prevail that a pure, sincere and free election cannot be held in Rome, the cardinal bishops, with the clergy of the Church and the Catholic laity may have the right and power, even though few in numbers, of electing a pontiff for the Apostolic See wherever it may seem most suitable," (April 12, 1059). It is interesting to note that Pope Nicholas II was elected outside of Rome in 1058 while the antipope John Mincius ruled in Rome. Pope Nicholas "At once advanced with an army and seized the city, where he was enthroned in 1059" (The New Catholic Dictionary).

Hence the saying 'Where the Pope is, there is Rome.' It matters not where the Pope is located, or whether he lives in Rome, or has ever seen Rome, his title to the Papacy is his Bishopric of Rome. He may be exiled to Avignon or St. Petersburg, to London or New York, but he remains always Bishop of Rome, and apart from that episcopate he would not be Pontiff. It is not because he is Pope that he is Bishop of Rome, but it is because he is Bishop of Rome that he is Supreme Pontiff and Vicar of Jesus Christ. The function of the electors, whoever they may be — the Cardinals, as at present, or others, as in times past — is to designate the person who is to occupy the vacant See of Rome. The mode of designation has not been determined by God by any divine law, and so it remains free to be determined by ecclesiastical law. But given lawful election, that is to say, election in accordance with laws laid down by preceding Pontiffs, the Bishop-Elect of Rome is by divine law Vicar of Christ, from Whom immediately he derives the primacy. Hence the Roman Curia is not tied to the material city of Rome. As in attendance on the Pope, and at the immediate service of the Pope, it remains, wherever it may be, the Roman Curia, (Urbis et Orbis, William Humphrey S.J., 1899, pages 271-2).

The authority of a bishop does not depend on his residence in his see. Those Pontiffs who resided at Avignon were truly bishops of Rome, having been elected under this title by the College of Cardinals to fill the place of Peter. They governed that see by means of a Cardinal Vicar, whilst they personally applied themselves to the government of the universal Church. (The Primacy of the Apostolic See Vindicated by Abp. Francis Patrick Kenrick, Baltimore) At the time of Pope Innocent II, I don't believe there was even a Cardinal Vicar, an antipope having taken physical possession of Rome.

Ubi papa, ibi Roma — the Pope, wherever he may be, is and remains bishop of Rome... The city of Rome may be totally destroyed; for Rome as a city, may perhaps perish, but Rome as a See is imperishable. (Rev. S.B. Smith, Elements of Ecclesiastical Law) Now ecclesiastical law sets the mode of election, but if the one elected is papabile (i.e. capable of being elected Pope), it does not matter if the balance of the law has been violated. Saint Alphonsus states: It doesn't matter that in past centuries some pontiff has been elected by fraud: it suffices that he has been accepted after as Pope by all the Church; for this fact he has become true pontiff. We have seen questionable elections, which are accepted by history and subsequent Roman Pontiffs as unquestionably valid.

Towards the end of World War II, when it appeared that Rome might be bombed into non-existence, Pope Pius XII summoned all the cardinals then in Rome to the Vatican on Feb. 9, 1944. He announced to the cardinals assembled in the Sistine Chapel that he would remain in Rome regardless of what happened — the Captain would remain with St. Peter's Barque — but told them: "We release you from any obligation to follow our fate. Each one of you is free to do what you think best." He then instructed them that "If anything happened to him, if he were imprisoned or killed, they must gather together wherever they could and elect a new Pope" (Crown of Glory: The Life of Pope Pius XII by Alden Hatch and Seamus Walshe, pg. 174). At that point in time it seemed quite possible that Rome might become uninhabitable for an undetermined length of time, and the war might go on indefinitely.

Traditionalists promoting the Cardinal-Siri-as-pope theory have not been forthright in explaining and defining the term sede impedita and the material/formal position on which it is based from a legal and logical standpoint, as they are really obliged to do instead of presenting the lesser, ambiguous arguments. The main source of the information used by the proponents of this theory to support their position represents a marked departure from Church teaching and practice regarding certainty and the value of evidence presented. According to Canon Law... Certainty cannot be obtained wherever the sources of evidence itself are questionable and secular sources of evidence scarcely can be ranked alongside those verified by the Church through the proper ecclesiastic channels. Since this issue is unresolved and it is key to clearing up the confusion surrounding the primacy, it is necessary to get to the bottom of these unsubstantiated allegations concerning sede impedita and sede vacante.

Rules of evidence: Canon 429

These Latin terms are used in Canon Law mainly to refer to an impediment to possessing episcopal sees and their vacancy, whether by death of the bishop, resignation, transfer or privation. Rev. Charles Augustine, in his A Commentary on Canon Law defines sede impedita in Canon 429 as a "quasi-vacancy," leading into, in the minds of the material/formal crowd, a perpetually impeded see when applied to the See of Rome. This quasi-vacancy, however has its limitations and conditions. It occurs in cases of exile officially declared, captivity, and mental or physical inhabilitas or incapability. This, according to Woywod-Smith's commentary, can and does encompass a wide range of possibilities. Some of these include physical and mental debility (listed by Augustine), physical impossibility, inability to travel, owing to war or natural disaster etc.... It is interesting that this canon treats only of an existing bishop unable to administer his diocese for whatever reason, NOT a see lacking a bishop. As both Canons 429 and 430 stress, the vacancy is to be filled within set time limits and the bishop is expected to actually occupy his see within four months, according to Augustine. Until this is possible, a vicar capitular is appointed to administer the diocese.

Canon 430

This Canon is enlightening because it goes into detail concerning the "privation" of the see owing to excommunication. This Augustine defines as the "canonical" death of a bishop. Although it is mentioned elsewhere in the Code, excommunication for heresy is not mentioned under this Canon specifically. But were it so mentioned it would be considered a "tacit resignation," incurred by the fact itself, or ipso facto, as Canon 188#4 states. Such resignation would be effective immediately and would require no acceptance, only evidence of the facts in the case.

This brings us to the matter of the actual declaration of the vacancy. Augustine states that such declaration, wherever excommunication is involved, requires "juridical certainty obtained by means described in law." These means are pre-emptory admonition, official summons, or a juridical document. Now if the Guerardists or material/formal crowd would remember back to the early 1970s and 1980s, such a pre-emptory admonition was issued not once, but twice, first by Rev. Saenz in the 1970s against Montini and later by Bp. Ngo Dinh Thuc in the 1980s against Wojtyla. It was not necessary, however, to issue an official summons, because the (manifest) heresy of the imposters had already robbed them of the See. When this heresy was better understood, it then was demonstrated in Will the Catholic Church Survive the 20th Century. This book outlined the necessity of certainty and presented juridical proofs that these antipopes were guilty of heresy prior to their elections, making them incapable of assuming office. Once this proof was presented it became necessary to proceed to an election within the time period specified by ecclesiastical law in order that grave disorders concerning papal authority and function would not arise.

The Siri hypothesis

It is difficult to see where Guerardists are headed with these Canons since all they do is support the case for a speedy election and shore up the necessity for providing juridical proofs, as presented in Will the Catholic Church Survive... And even sede impedita does not treat of a quasi-vacant see in the sense they intend, but rather treats only of a validly elected bishop unable to administer his see. This applies to a pope already elected, but cannot apply to an illegal occupant who is impeding. In other words, the Guerardists pretend that an anti-pope can impede the see and prevent an election when this canon only deals with a see that is impeded preventing its physical occupation. The occupation of the See by an anti-pope has never prevented the election of a true pope in the past, even though popes such as Innocent II had to rule from outside Rome for several years.

Since Canon 430 specifically mentions excommunication, this canon also complies with other sections of the Code. The Code specifically states in Canon 160 that the papal documents of Pope Pius X and additions by Pope Pius XI and XII are to be the exclusive basis for papal election. For this reason the electors of Pope Michael I used these documents as the template for arriving at a method of election in the absence of cardinals rather than those cited for an episcopal election. However, the devolution principle is mentioned in Canon 430 in reference to episcopal but not in a papal election, although it also is a natural conclusion that can be drawn out from Canon Law itself. The confusion seems to arise in the distinction between an actual sede vacante and a sede impedita. No impediment exists when the tacit resignation occasioned by heresy arises, only a vacancy, and all the indications given by Augustine in his commentary support the swift and canonical election of an episcopal successor. In the case of sede impedita, an actual claimant to the see must be in place to occasion the impediment, or such an impediment cannot even exist.

If sede impedita applies to Wojtyla, it is misapplied since the See is actually vacant by way of heresy, committed prior to election. This circumstance is provided for in Pope Paul IV's Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio. If another claimant is indicated, the Guerardists are mum on this point, unless they believe Siri was actually elected pope, was "impeded" from occupying the See, and appointed a cardinal to reign secretly in his stead. Gary Giuffre, chronicler of the Siri theory, is one of the prominent supporters of sede impedita. Giuffre maintains that Siri appointed secret cardinals that are capable of electing a pope or have so elected. What he does not admit and will not address is the need for Siri to have established juridical documentation of his election prior to his death. Such documentation cannot of its nature be kept a secret. This is the official notice mentioned in documents governing papal election that occur on the opening of the conclave and the presentation of the Pope to the people of Rome. Woywod-Smith write: "The acceptance of the office and the choice of a name are then certified by document," although the pope-elect receives universal jurisdiction upon his acceptance. The Church must always establish the personal identity of the new Pontiff and his chosen name, as these constitute infallible facts. To date, no pope ever has reigned in secret, unknown to the majority of his subjects, and the history of the papacy is one of persecutions, invasion, captivity, imprisonment and martyrdom. According to his erstwhile promoters, Siri willingly accepted election and having accepted, he was bound to fulfill every obligation to feed the lambs and sheep of the fold and uphold the doctrines of the Church.

In his Mystici Corporis Pope Pius XII teaches that unless there is a VISIBLE earthly head, the Church cannot exist. The law, of course is written for the usual circumstances, not the infrequent exception. For years many labored in common error, believing the Vatican II "popes" were legitimate, even if seriously flawed. But once the revelations of Rev. Saenz and the declaration of Bp. Thuc disturbed their certainty, the doubt had to be resolved. So judging by the existence of this common error, the See was not vacant all that long before further proofs of the antipopes' heresies were documented and an election was called in 1990. For the sake of argument only, let us say that Siri's secret successor has reigned since 1989. Yet the whole world has been deprived of his teaching, grave disorders in the Church have multiplied and only a privileged few have been aware of his existence. Is this really a picture of the Catholic Church Christ came to die for on the Cross? Had a sainted Pontiff laid down his life for the Church, does anyone really believe we would be where we are today? If the Passion of the Mystical Body is to be perfectly re-enacted, does it not require that the earthly shepherd also lay down his life for his sheep? According to Canon 1325, was it possible for Siri to maintain his silence, whether as a pope-elect or a cardinal, when "the faithful are bound to profess their faith publicly, whenever silence, subterfuge or their manner of acting would otherwise entail an implicit denial of the faith, a contempt of religion, an insult to God or scandal to their neighbor"? Certainly Siri's silence and manner of acting (appearing to accept the antipopes) scandalized the faithful and constituted an implicit denial of faith. If he was truly elected pope, even if only for a brief time, then the fact that he could demonstrate such heresy, according to Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, means only that he never truly became pope, anymore than Roncalli or Montini. But this papal bull and its implications are never mentioned by the Guerardists.

Giuffre also ignores Canon 233, which states that any secret cardinals whose names are not made public before the death of the Roman Pontiff, according to the terms laid down in Canon Law, die with the Pontiff. Augustine does not consider the possible case of a secret cardinal chosen by his predecessor as Pope. But again, this canon enforces the necessity of declaration and establishes a basis for investigating any departure from the norm. Moreover, the failure to publicly establish juridical certainty and proceed to an election or acclamation, even on some remote claim to validity, labors against the Guerardists and their claims. The Pope is, by necessity, a public person. It is necessary in order to safeguard the certainty of his existence that he be known to his subjects, for otherwise no certainty is had concerning his very existence, far less the manner, valid or not, of his appointment to the office.


Secrecy and exclusivity have no place in the pursuit of unity and the election/confirmation of a Roman Pontiff. Giuffre and the Guerardists appeal to canons that cannot and do not support their claims. That they appeal to them at all is quite astonishing, considering that they blithely ignore the fact they transgress other Canons. For in operating chapels that invite in floating "priests," they violate those Canons based on Divine law, demanding such priests possess jurisdiction. However they cannot overcome the perpetuity and necessary visibility of the primacy, that clear indication of God's will for His Church.

The following quote from Amleto Cardinal Cicognani's "Canon Law" explains the Gerardists' true position, their insistence on any election being held in Rome and the pope being the bishop of Rome: "Many Gallicans, also the Pistoans, and in our day, the Anglicans who call themselves 'Catholics' [contend] that the pope's power is merely the power of supervision or direction and not the true power of ordinary jurisdiction; hence they cede him episcopal jurisdiction only over the diocese of Rome and regard him as a Metropolitan or Patriarch with respect to the whole Church."

The material/formal crowd, by their stated dedication to inaction, constituted the very impediment preventing a pope from occupying his See in Rome. Those opposing sede impedita have been castigated for asserting this, but Rev. Augustine seems to have the same idea. He qualifies the last condition for a sede impedita — inhabilitas, or inability for whatever reason to take possession of the see - as follows. This particular impediment must exist "without anyone's fault or cooperation." That it does so exist is obvious, and the cooperators had better look to the penal section of the code that deals with such infractions to discover their true juridic status.

The papal bull that forever squashes the Guerardist idea of material/formal and sede impedita was roundly ignored by Guiffre and his confreres, and the true story surrounding this incidence of such cafeteria-style Catholicism is only now emerging. This eveidence will appear in installment two proofs of a papal election.

In light of the above, Traditionalists challenging the canonically based election of a lay pope can rightfully inquire only into the following:
  1. Prior to any election effort, was it first determined that the See was indeed vacant?
  2. As a papal candidate, was such a pope qualified for election? Such qualifications include: Proof of Baptism; proof of departure from the N.O church and/or severing of any ties with a traditionalist sect; proof that one's errors have been retracted and the opposite of these errors has been distinguished; Profession of Faith before witnesses; proofs of independent study, confounding of heretics and efforts made to defend the Faith.
  3. Was the proper canonical procedure followed, according to the canons themselves, in providing the necessary proofs required by law?
  4. Did electors abide by other applicable laws regarding the election?
  5. Was every effort made to contact potential electors?
  6. Did potential electors, on their part, do all in their power to inquire into the proposed election and investigate the proofs provided?
Traditionalists, however, have a further problem that few appreciate. They must, according to the laws of the Church first determine if they are free of heresy and schism before even considering the above, and this is more difficult than it seems. For if they are not truly Catholic, and nearly all of them are so only presumably, then they have no right to inquire at all. It is not necessary for baptized non-Catholics to acknowledge a papal election; the Pope remains pope with or without such acknowledgement. Only true Catholics are bound to acknowledge the Pope. Traditionalists today, then, need not pretend that their refusal to acknowledge a canonically elected pope does any damage whatsoever to legitimacy or credibility, any more than the failure of the Jews to recognize Christ as the Messiah made Him any less the Son of God. The canonical election of a qualified candidate is the sole measure of legitimacy according to the teaching and practice of the Church Herself.
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