Monday, May 26, 2014

Papal Infallibility

Many have ask me what is the difference between The Old Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Rome. As far as the expression of the Catholic faith and traditional Tridentine liturgy go absolutely nothing. They both express the same tenants of faith and contain the same indisputable valid apostolic orders from the time of Pentecost forward.

 Then what is the deciding factor?

The Dogma of Papal Infallibility!

 As Old Roman Catholics we do not accept the imposed Dogma of Papal Infallibility as being essential for one’s salvation. As devout Catholics we continue to honor the Pope as being the Bishop of Rome, the undisputed successor of the Blessed Apostle Peter, the first among equals in the Christian world and pray daily for his continued good health and well being.

In the proceedings of the First Vatican Council in 1870 the decision was made to declare the Pope as infallible in all things and in order for a person to be considered saved they must accept this dogma without question. It must be pointed out that this was not a popular decision among many of the Roman Church Magisterium and the vote was pushed through with a goodly number refusing to take part in this questionable action. 

Soon after the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility in 1870, several large groups of mostly German-speaking Catholics along with a great number of other disenchanted Catholics throughout Europe split from the Church.  An extract of the history of the proceedings by Dr. Fredrik Nielsen is provided below for a better understanding of the historical background of this most controversial decision.

             Nielsen, The History of the Papacy in the XIXth Century

“The public meeting on 18th July was, according to the testimony of all, characterized by “a majestic and earnest solemnity”, which made a great impression upon those who were present....  Only a small portion of the episcopate took part in the last vote.  Germany and Austria-Hungary were very thinly represented; the episcopate of France, England, Ireland, and the United States was divided, and even amongst the bishops of Northern Italy the opposition had adherents.  There was also division in the narrowest circle of the Vatican itself....  Not even all the Orientals could be compelled by the Propaganda to appear in the aula on 18th July.  There were then about 917 dioceses in the whole of Roman Catholic Christendom, but only 535 bishops were present at the decisive moment.  These did not in fact represent half of the Roman Catholic Church. Two hundred and thirty-four actual bishops were absent, and the Italian bishops, the cardinals, the officials of the Church, and the apostolic vicars made up about four-fifths of the majority.

The public session was opened as usual with a Mass, with the placing of the Holy Scriptures on the altar in the middle of the Council, and with the Veni Creator Spiritus.  When the hymn had been sung, the secretary of the Council delivered to Pius IX the text of the new dogmatic constitution Pastor Eternus [sic].  The Pope gave the document to Bishop Valenciani of Fabriano and Matelica, who then mounted the ambo and read the whole constitution, consisting of four chapters.  As soon as the reading was ended, Valenciani addressed the following question to the assembled fathers: “Reverend fathers, do you assent to the decrees and canons which are contained in this constitution?”  He then descended from the ambo, and the voting began by roll-call.  During the roll-call the storm broke out with violence to the joy of the ultramontane members, who in the thunder of heaven saw a divine confirmation of the condemnation of Gallicanism and Liberal Catholicism....

Five hundred and thirty-three of those present voted Placet, and only two, the Bishops Riccio of Cajazzo in Naples, and Fitzgerald of Littlerock in the United States, said Non placet.  The “scrutator” who collected the votes was so accustomed to everybody saying Placet, that he repeated Placet also on behalf of the Bishop of Cajazzo, but Riccio with a stentorian voice shouted out his Non placet over the assembly.  Evil tongues asserted, however, that this brand new bishop had only said Non placet in order to give a proof of the freedom of the Council, which Jesuitism might afterwards make use of.  Bishop Fitzgerald is said to have originally intended not to take part in the voting, but when it was pointed out to him that all the bishops present were to vote, he also said Non placet.  Mgr. Pie claims, however, to know that one of the two bishops who voted Non Placet submitted himself to the Pope on the evening of the same day, and confessed his faith in the decisions of the Council, and that the other did so the next morning....

After the voting was over, Pius IX rose to give the decisions of the Council the confirmation of his apostolic authority.  And then he delivered a speech, in which he expressed his hope that those who had voted against the constitution would come to a better understanding....

The interest in the important vote at Rome was not great.  Some houses from early morning, as was customary, were decorated with carpets hung out, but in the evening only the public buildings, the religious houses, and a very few private ones were illuminated.  Only the diplomatic representatives of Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Monaco, and a few South American States showed themselves in the hall; the great powers were conspicuous by their absence.  But the large space was filled with monks and nuns.  The monks clapped their hands and shouted Bravo at the Pope’s words; the nuns were touched and sighed: Papa mio.”

And thus goes the story of Papal infallibility and the split by all Catholics of conscience from that time forward.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Another memorial day stands just around the corner and as I continue to march toward my destiny, having achieved the sage age of 82 my thoughts turn to those days of my youth. Having survived by divine intervention both Korea and Vietnam old tapes slowly begin to play.

In my mind’s eye I can again see smiling faces, in the distance of time hear the cheerful batter of those I served with, who continue to live in my heart. The grueling demands of training seem so small now. The forced marches, the never ending sessions on the rifle range, the five mile runs each morning as we prepared our bodies and minds to engage other men, in another place in the demands of combat. Then that exposure to combat becomes another memory that continues to replay almost daily.

Do we stop to remember now those who we left behind in some foreign land or shipped home in their aluminum containers to grieving families? The precious freedom we arise to each morning is a costly privilege that has been purchased over the years by the sacrifices of our youth. And yet there are those in our nation today, many in very high places, who would cast this precious freedom aside in order to mold the peoples of this land into a dependent society. We must never allow this to become a reality. It is time for all Americans to arise and take back the precious freedoms they have exchanged for a small pot of porridge from big brother.

When this nation was formed the states each had explicit rights that were indelibly unalterable and yet we have allowed our national government to infringe on those precious rights. Chipping away much like a stone mason, taking one away small chip at a time until there very little of the original left.

I pray that our next Memorial Day finds this nation in the process of turning around and recovering those values we all once held so dear.

Yes, we were created as one nation under God and may we return once again to our founding roots.

To be or not to be?

Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the man or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives. They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other poet, some other saint...They wear out their minds and bodies in a hopeless endeavor to have somebody else's experiences or write somebody else's poems.”
― Thomas Merton