PastorAeternus, greetings in Christ! As it pertains to the issue of the conservative maintenance of Sacred Tradition, I shall reiterate that which was already stated as well as clarify a simple oversight of logic. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
“According to the Axiom: lex dubia non obligat, a doubtful law does not bind. But a law is doubtful when there is a solidly probable opinion against it. Hence it is lawful to follow a solidly probable opinion in favor of liberty. (cf. Tanquerey, Theologia Fundamentalis, n. 409)”
“In estimating the degree which is required and which suffices for solid probability, moralists lay down the general principle that an opinion is solidly probable which by reason of intrinsic or extrinsic arguments is able to gain the assent of many prudent men.
"All admit that extrinsic authority can have sufficient weight to make an opinion solidly probable; but there is divergence of view in estimating what number of experts is able to give an opinion this solid probability. The prevailing theory amongst Probabilists holds that if five or six theologians, notable for prudence and learning, independently adhere to an opinion their view is solidly probable, if it has not been set aside by authoritative decisions or by intrinsic arguments which they have failed to solve. Even one theologian of very exceptional authority, such as St. Alphonsus Liguori, is able to make an opinion solidly probable, as we know from the official declarations of the Holy See. All moralists agree that mere flimsy reasons are insufficient to give an opinion solid probability, and also that the support of many theologians who are mere collectors of the opinions of others is unable to give solid probability to the view which they maintain.
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“If the less safe opinion is speculatively uncertain it is unlawful to follow it in practice, until all reasonable effort has been made to remove the uncertainty, by considering the arguments on both sides and by consulting available authorities. It is unlawful, also, to act on the less safe view unless the speculative uncertainty has been changed into practical certainty that the action to be performed is lawful. The whole question at issue between different moral systems concerns the way in which the speculative uncertainty is changed into practical certainty; each system has what is called a reflex principle of its own, by which practical certainty can be obtained that the action to be performed is lawful."
The Papal Coronation Oath (John Paul II's was the only Pope in hundreds of years to not take this oath - breaking with tradition even before his reign):
"This sacred oath was taken, as recorded in Church annals, by every Sovereign Pontiff of the Catholic Church since Pope Saint Agatho in June 27, 678. Many believe it was even taken by several predecessors of St. Agatho. Who composed it is not known. What is known is that at least 185 Supreme Pontiffs took this solemn oath over the past 1300 years. In this oath, the Vicar of Christ vows to never contradict the Deposit of Faith, or change/innovate anything that has been handed down to him..."
Papal Coronation Oath:
"I vow to change nothing of the received Tradition, and nothing thereof I have found before guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach, to alter (change), or to permit any innovation therein.
"To the contrary, with glowing affection as Her truly faithful steward and successor, (I vow) to reverently safeguard the passed-on good, with my whole strength and utmost effort.
"To cleanse all that is in contradiction with canonical order that may surface.
"To guard the holy canons and decrees of our Popes likewise as Divine Ordinance of Heaven, because I am conscious of Thee, Whose place I take through the grace of God, Whose Vicarship I possess with Thy support, being subject to severest accounting before Thy Divine tribunal over all that I confess.
"If I should undertake to act in anything of contrary sense, or should permit that it will be executed, Thou willst not be merciful to me on the dreadful day of Divine Justice.
"Accordingly, without exclusion, we subject to the severest excommunication anyone----be it our self or be it another----who would dare to undertake anything new in contradiction to this constituted evangelic tradition and the purity of the orthodox Faith and the Christian Religion, or [who] would seek to change anything by his opposing efforts, or [who] would concur with those who undertake such blasphemous venture."
[Liber Diurnus Romanorum Pontificum, P. L 105, S. 54]
"...This sacred oath was taken religiously for 1300 years up until October 1978. The question must be asked: Why then, did John Paul II not follow his predecessors and take this sacred papal coronation oath? He is the first since the 7th century and before to not do so. Why?"
In a sermon on the subject of Papal infallibility, the 19th Cardinal John Henry Newman quoted a Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of Switzerland that received the approval of Pope Pius IX. The letter was on the subject of Papal Infallibility, and what a Pope may or not teach. The Swiss Bishops stated:
"It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the Divine revelation and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the Divine law, and by the constitution of the Church . . ."
[Taken from a sermon by Cardinal Newman published in Lead Kindly Light, The Life of John Henry Newman, Michael Davies (Neumann Press, Long Prairie, 2001) p. 184.]
"What shall a Catholic do if some portion of the Church detaches itself from communion of the universal Faith? What other choice can he make if some new contagion attempts to poison, no longer a small part of the Church, but the whole Church at once, then his great concern will be to attach himself to antiquity [Tradition] which can no longer be led astray by any lying novelty." [Saint Vincent of Lerins (c. 445 A.D.) cited from A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism, Fr. Kramer, (1st edition), pp. 28-29.]
St. Athanasius, who, almost exclusively opposed the Arian heresy:
"Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ." [Quoted from Latin Mass News, Sacred Heart Church, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Vol. 4, Issue 17.] ß
"Indeed, the true friends of the people are neither the revolutionaries nor innovators, they are the traditionalists." [Pope St. Pius X, Our Apostolic Mandate, Aug. 25, 1910, para. 44.] ß
Father Joseph de Sainte Marie was a loyal son of Pope John Paul II. Yet even he warned about those who now occupy the highest levels of the Church:
"In our day, and it is one of the most obvious signs of the extraordinarily abnormal character of the current state of the Church, it is very often the case that the acts of the Holy See demand of us prudence and discernment." [Cited from Apropos, Isle of Skye, Scotland, Issue No. 16, 1994, p. 5.]
St. Robert Bellarmine, the great champion of the Counter-Reformation, taught the following regarding lawful Catholic resistance:
"Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff that aggresses the body, it is also licit to resist the one who aggresses the souls or who disturbs civil order, or, above all, who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and preventing his will from being executed; it is not licit, however, to judge, punish or depose him, since these are acts proper to a superior." [We Resist You to The Face, (Tradition in Action, 2000); "Resisting Wayward Prelates, According to the Saints", Catholic Family News, January, 1998.]
Saint Thomas Aquinas:
"There being an imminent danger for the faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, Saint Paul, who was a subject of Saint Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Gloss of Saint Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2,14), 'Saint Peter himself gave the example to those who govern so that if sometime they stray from the right way, they will not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from their subjects'." (Summa theologia, Taurini/Romae: Marietti, 1948, 11.11, q.33, a.4).
"Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See- they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations." Melchior Cano, theologian of the Council of Trent
Pope Saint Pius X wrote in his Encyclical Against Modernism:
"But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicaea, where it condemns those 'who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind . . . or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow anyone of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church' . . . Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: 'I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church'." [Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi, Encyclical against Modernism, 1908, para. #42.]
And the Second Council of Nicaea teaches infallibly,
"If anyone rejects any written or unwritten Tradition of the Church, let him be anathema."
[Cited from The Great Facade, p. 28.]
On the subject of maintaining Tradition, Saint Peter Canisius, Doctor of the Church, noted in his Summa Doctrinae Christanae (Not sure of the specific article), "It behooves us unanimously to observe the ecclesiastical traditions, whether defined or simply-retained by customary practice of the Church."
Saint Peter Damian, another Doctor of the Church, teaches, "It is unlawful to alter the established customs of the Church . . . Remove not the ancient landmarks which the fathers have set."
Likewise, in the early 20th Century, Pope Benedict XV repeated almost verbatim the words of Pope Saint Stephen, when he declared "Do not innovate anything. Rest content with Tradition."
[Pope Saint Stephen said, "Let them innovate in nothing, but keep the traditions."]
Cardinal Torquemada [1388-1468], a medieval theologian and “papist” responsible for the formulation of the doctrines that were defined at Florence:
"Were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scriptures, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the Sacraments, or the commands of the natural or Divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands he is to be disregarded." [Summa de ecclesia (Venice: M. Tranmezium, 1561). Lib. II, c. 49, p. 163B. Translation from J.H. Newman, A Letter Addressed to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone's Recent Expostulation (New York: The Catholic Publication Society, 1875), p. 86. The original statement of Juan de Torquemada is found on page 171 of The Papacy in Transition by Patrick Granfield (New York: Doubleday, 1980)]
Citing the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, Torquemada continues:
"Thus it is that Pope Innocent III states [De Consuetudine] that, it is necessary to obey the Pope in all things as long as he, himself, does not go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, 'he need not be followed' . . . " [Cited from A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism, Father Paul Kramer, B.Ph., S.T.D., M. Div. (2nd edition, St. Francis Press, India) p. 29.
[The full quotation from Cardinal Torquemada reads, "By disobedience, the Pope can separate himself from Christ despite the fact that he is head of the Church, for above all, the unity of the Church is dependent on its relationship with Christ. The Pope can separate himself from Christ either by disobeying the law of Christ, or by commanding something that is against the Divine or natural law." It follows, then, that if it is possible for a Pope to command something against Divine law, then it is likewise possible for a Pope to permit something that is against Divine or natural law, or go against the traditional teaching of the Church. Cardinal Torquemada continues: "By doing so, the Pope separates himself from the body of the Church because the body is itself linked to Christ by obedience. In this way the Pope could, without doubt, fall into schism . . . Especially is this true with regard to the Divine liturgy as for example, if he did not wish personally to follow the universal customs and rites of the Church. . . Thus it is that Pope Innocent III states (De Consuetudine) that, it is necessary to obey the Pope in all things as long as he, himself does not go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, 'he need not be followed . . . '"]
“It is permissible to resist the Pope when he invades souls and troubles the commonwealth; and moreover, if he appears to be causing harm to the Church, it is permissible, I say, to resist him by not doing what he enjoins and by preventing his will to triumph.” --St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice
I would say that the totality of opinions (which I have included) from many of the Holy Fathers is in defense of respectful disobedience. While you contested that almost every theologian has been guilty of teaching heresy at some point, I believe it is an erroneous employment of logic and a presumption at best to reason, therefore, that this fact renders all of their opinions moot and all of their teachings lacking in credibility. While I am aware that this is not what you specifically stated, it is implied by your prompt dismissal of my assertion on the premise that they are fallible teachers. These are reputable authors and, according to the text above, their unanimous testimony constitutes a prudent disobedience to the Supreme Pontiff and a conservative adherence to tradition. Additionally, the Church has formerly condemned the specific heretical teachings of the Roman Catholic Theologians, and I have not found the Church’s abrogation of any of the theological opinions that I presented to you in this post. To dismiss their sound theological concurrence on the basis that they each stand guilty of teaching against dogma that hadn’t yet been established is an erroneous allegation and it would be wrong to assert this. If you have information that would prove the contrary, please specify. However, the pivotal question thus becomes whether or not these theologians were divided by “…intrinsic arguments which they have failed to solve.” While sedevacantism is an anathematized theology, the SSPX never embraced this position. It doesn’t appear that the doctors of the Church failed to agree on the necessity of disobeying the Supreme Pontiff for the purpose of maintaining tradition; rather, if there was contention between them, I think they may have disagreed as to how best it is to be done. I don’t know that any significant Church Doctors have condemned the MO employed by Abp. Lefebvre for disobedience. He did what was necessary to feed the sheep. It is the security of tradition until the Church reconciles.
Thus we have:
- Lex dubia non obligat
- The law is most certainly doubtful.
- Solidly probable opinion – extrinsic and intrinsic.
- Extrinsic – The prevailing theory amongst Probabilists holds that if five or six theologians, notable for prudence and learning, independently adhere to an opinion their view is solidly probable, if it has not been set aside by authoritative decisions or by intrinsic arguments which they have failed to solve. Even one theologian of very exceptional authority, such as St. Alphonsus Liguori, is able to make an opinion solidly probable, as we know from the official declarations of the Holy See.
- In concordance we have:
- Pope Innocent III / Cardinal Torquemada
- St. Peter Damian
- Pope St. Stephen
- Pope Benedict XV
- St. Peter Canisius
- Authors of the Council of Trent
- Melchior Cano
- Pope St. Pius X
- St. Robert Bellarmine
- St. Thomas Aquinas
- Saint Vincent of Lerins
- St. Athanasius
- (Pope Pius IX)
These are but a few who supported this position of disobedience.