THE APOSTOLIC CHAIR VACANT
Rev. Father Otto Katzer †
(trans. by Gladys Resch)
The Apostolic Chair can be vacant due:
1. to the corporal death of the Pope;
2. to the moral death of the Pope.
The Pope is dead morally when he has sinned manifestly in matters ot the teaching of faith or morals. But by this the Apostolic Chair is not left vacant, as Pius VI confirms it in the "Apostolic Constitution" 'Auctorem Fidei', which is so very important for us in our time. He mentions St. Peter Chrysologus: "Peter, being on the Apostolic Chair and being president at the same time, offers to all those, who want to be informed, the truth of the Faith." This takes place due to the infallible and irrevocable judgements of the Apostolic Chair. It is also necessary to refer to them for the explanations and decisions of the so-called Vatican II. This was specially noted by the Secretary General of the Council, Cardinal Pericles Felici, the 16th of November, 1964. (Constitutio dogmatica ecclesia.) The first council of the Vatican told us that there were thousands of decisions taken, so they are not rare happenings in the Church's life, as it is so often pretended to be nowadays. Mainly in the first years of the existence of the Church the teaching was not completely established and the disputed questions were put to the Apostolic Chair, to be settled. If they had only been about 10 per year, we would have now, after nearly 2000 years of ecclestical life, about 20.000 questions. And, of course, it is not easy to have the knowledge of all the answers. That is why the one or the other cause is presented again to the teaching of the Church as if they had not yet been brought forward. Please forgive me, if I mention here the declaration (modernised) of the important president of the Council of Trent, the Polish Cardinal Hosius: "There is a hit-parade, which is repeated continously, at every possible occasion as well as at separate and universal councils: 'wifes for priests, the chalice for lay people, the vernacular for the Liturgy'; of those so-called modern necessities, we can only say that they are rotten. It is, of course, important to go the trouble and look up the papal bulls and the decisions of councils. Then we shall also understand the great theologian Gabriel Biel, of the time of the Reformation, where he says: "It is understandeble that the Church is not without a Head, when the Pope has died or that she is deprived of her living spouse. Christ does not leave the Church, as He has promised her His perpetual presence."
Everybody should know what is meant by: "to believe as a Christian." "To believe as a Christian" means to believe everything that God has revealed and that He has asked us to believe through the Church. This must be accepted by the simplest servant as well as by the Pope. With a divine, and catholic faith we must believe everything the written Word of God or the Tradition contains and what is taught by the Church in an extraordinary or solemn way, or by the continous and ordinary predication of the Gospel. In this case we are met with irrevocable and unchangeable truth. St. Paschasius Radbertus writes in the 9th Century: "The one, who looks for something outside the truth, finds only the false, and if he does not accept what has been told of Christ, holds himself outside the truth." This concerns the Pope as well. "Shame on me" writes the holy Pope Agatho, "if I did hide the truth by keeping silent ... it is our task to guard very conscienciously the wording of the catholic and apostolic Faith, that the Apostolic Chair has possessed and proclaims to us, so far. "A Pope can separate himself from the Head, e.g. from Christ, by desobedience concerning the affairs of the cult, which he is supposed to protect. All Christians must oppose themselves to a Pope, who is destroying the Church." The well known theologian, the Jesuit Suarez declares the following, in union with all the old theologians: "A Pope, who defends heresies, is no Pope anymore and if he errs, he ceases to err as Pope, because the Church cannot err; in this case she can elect another one." "A Pope is outside th Church by the fact, that he is committing a heresy and is suspended of his functions by God Himself."
The words of Consecration too are a part of the ordinary and extraordinary teaching of the Church. It should be absolutely clear to everyone, that nobody, not even the Pope, has the right to change the words, ordained by Jesus Christ. Every priest can and must inform himself about it, by reading the instructions concerning the mistakes which may happen by celebrating Holy Mass and these are found in the true "Missale Romanum". The words of Consecration are written in red lettering and there is also noted: "If someone would shorten them or change them in such a way, that, by this alteration, individual words would not have the same meaning anymore, the Sacrament would not take place (e g. the bread and the wine remains wine). If someone would add words, which would not change the meaning, he can consecrate, but would sin grieviously". Every priest had to know this, as it could have been an examination question, and some have actually been questioned about it.
In the Apostolic Constitution of Paul VI "Missale Romanum" and in the socalled Missale "the words of the Master" (the "words of Consecration" are not mentioned anymore) are presented in an absolute incorrect way concerning the punctation, e.g. the signs of punctation, in such a menner, that the whole of the sentence becomes an affirmative proposition, which recalls a past event, and the whole of the ast means nothing else than a commemoration. In the official German translation the words "pro multis" are translated falsely by "for all". However, this simple way of recounting, even correctly translated, remains without effect in this narrative form. (Remark of the Editor: The Reforms mention only "the recounting of the Institution" and not the Consecration.)
If the Consecration would even be correctly presented by the true intention of the priest, this form of celebrating the Mass is forbidden under mortal sin. Suarez says: "The administrators of the Sacraments are obliged, due to divine law, to use the matters and forms instituted by Jesus Christ. This is a basic possession of Faith, deriving interiorly from the ments and not similiar or false ones. They do not administer valid Sacraments if they do not use the matter and form ordained by Jesus Christ. (...) It is a great injustice when a new rite is being introduced of the words of the Institution by Jesus Christ. This way the faithful are deprived of the true Sacraments and the helps of sanctification (...) If the administrator of the Sacrament has not got the appropriate and necessary intention, (worse even if his intention is opposed to the expected one) he commits a mortal sin and even a very serious mortal sin. (...) The particular law, concerning the matter and the form of the Sacraments is not known to many people, but those, who are in charge of administering the Sacraments may not ignore it without being very guilty. They should not hurry wanting to exercise this ministry. But if someone is called to this vocatio he is bound in conscience to correct his ignorance. (...) It follows that the administrator of the Sacraments must use the reliable matter and form and that he sins seriously, if he uses a doubtful or uncertain form and omits the realiable form, as e.g. if he should omit at the Consecration of the chalice: "qui pro vobis et pro multis" (which is for you and for many.) If an administrator of the Sacrament does change the words, he might not consecrate anything, because he omits the ordained words, to use uncertain words. (...) Thus there results an evident and moral danger." The Pope Innocent XI has rejected the declaration that a doubtful form could be used where there is a reliable form.
On the whole it is even useless to discuss the validity of the "NOM", it is in any case forbidden under serious sin, and the one, who has commanded it, may he even be a Pope, it is only he, who takes the final decisions in the matters of the Liturgy, sins very seriously, because he exposes the Sacrament to the invalidity. "This sinful act is declared non sinful and even to be preferred in comparison to the preceding. The one, who has commanded this, sins against the moral and separates himself from the Church. A manifest heretic can not be a Pope." This is the judgement of the doctor of the Church St. Robert Bellamin.
We do not know for how long the Apstolic Chair will be vacant, but in the meantime do not let us forget the promise of Jesus Christ: "See, I am with you all days until the end of times." (Matth. 28,20)
(December 1978, pag.168-170)