John Daly destroys a foundational pillar of false traditionalism

Faith and Authority:
When is Disobedience Legitimate?

(Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo / Alamy Stock Photo)

One of the foundational pillars of the popular “recognize-and-resist” position of the Society of St. Pius X and their theological cousins is the idea that whenever a lawful ecclesiastical authority, such as the Pope, abuses his office by giving a command that ought not to be given, then his inferiors have the right, perhaps even the duty, to resist it, that is, they are permitted or required to disobey by refusing to carry it out. Conversely, the recognize-and-resist adherents maintain that if an action is laudable and profitable to the Church or to souls and yet it is being forbidden by a legitimate Catholic authority for an unjust or insufficiently good reason, then it is licit to carry it out anyway, despite the superior’s prohibition. The pseudo-traditionalist pioneer and SSPX apologist Michael Davies (1936-2004) was one of the greatest promoters of this idea.

There is only one problem with it: It is entirely false. While it is true that one is not permitted to obey a superior’s directive that would require the inferior to commit a sin, that is an entirely different matter altogether. The semi-trad resistance position, however, thrives on a confusion of these concepts, and thus it is necessary to set the record straight.

What follows below is an explanation of the true traditional Catholic teaching on the interplay between faith and authority, on licit commands and obedience, on resistance and disobedience. It is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of the book Michael Davies: An Evaluation by John S. Daly (2nd ed., 2015). The entire book is available for free download electronically here, and it can be purchased as a hardcopy in paperback here.


When is Disobedience Legitimate?

Now it is true that there can be occasions which justify a Catholic in disobeying instructions given by legitimately constituted ecclesiastical authority concerning even those matters which fall within its competence; it is true that such disobedience can be morally permissible and indeed of moral obligation. But these occasions fall into but a single category, namely when the authority in question gives an instruction which it is impossible to obey without committing definite sin. Then disobedience to the ecclesiastical superior is no more than an accidental effect of an act of obedience to a higher authority. To suggest that, outside that one exceptional category already envisaged and recognized by the Church, there are further categories in which, in order to retain the Faith, it is necessary for us to disobey legitimate authority, or, as is often claimed in traditionalist circles, that one is entitled to disobey any command coming from a legitimate authority which is, despite its legitimacy, engaged in actions harmful to the Church, is to postulate an impossibility. There is simply no Catholic answer to the question of whether one should choose the virtue of faith without obedience, or the virtue of obedience without faith; for the true Catholic knows that he must have both together and that any apparent need to sacrifice one to the other must result from a misreading of the situation. Faced with such a dilemma, he re-examines the circumstances which appear to present such a dilemma for as long as it takes him to ascertain what factor he is overlooking; knowing, by faith, that such a factor there must definitely be. And in the case we are considering, the solution he must eventually arrive at – a solution which is seen to be more than fully supported by independent evidence as soon as he starts looking in the right direction – is of course that the authorities of the Conciliar Church [=Novus Ordo Sect] are not lawfully constituted Catholic authorities at all, and are therefore entitled to no obedience whatsoever, even in respect of commands and laws which would have been binding had they been imposed by legitimate pastors.

In short, when we examine the position of Michael Davies on the subject of the obedience owed by Catholics to ecclesiastical authority, we encounter the tragic result of a refusal to re-examine the assumptions which had produced an impossible dilemma – a refusal which in turn leads to the abandonment of obedience in a vain attempt to preserve the Faith.

Before proceeding to analyse Davies’s position on the obligation of obedience to the laws and commands of Catholic authority, it must be made clear that, for the purposes of this examination, we shall once again have to assume as valid Davies’s false premise that the members of the Conciliar Church’s hierarchy hold legitimate authority in the Catholic Church. This is, obviously, because Davies himself believes they are legitimate and argues that Catholics may disobey them despite this presumed legitimacy. Normally it would be sufficient for a Catholic to reply to that they are not legitimate, and that they therefore have no entitlement to the obedience of anyone who wishes to be a Catholic. But for the purpose of analysing Davies’s doctrinal errors, it must be shown that even if the authorities of the Conciliar Church were, as he considers them, Catholic authorities, retaining their offices and jurisdiction but abusing them by issuing inexpedient commands and promulgating undesirable laws, his conclusion that one is entitled to disobey them at whim [5] and with impunity is certainly not a conclusion which is compatible with Catholic teaching.

Let us begin by establishing what Catholic doctrine on this subject is, an exercise which need not take us long. A good summary of the attitude of Catholics to the laws of the Church is presented by St. Robert Bellarmine in his De Romano Pontifice, lib. IV, cap. 15:

In the Catholic Church it has always been believed that bishops in their dioceses and the Roman Pontiff in the whole Church are the ecclesiastical rulers [‘principes’] who can, by their own authority and without the consent of the people or advice of the priests, pass laws which bind in conscience, give judgements in ecclesiastical trials after the manner of other judges, and, finally, impose punishment.

That is clear enough, and the principle should be almost instinctive to all Catholics. But of course, as has already been indicated, while this is what every Catholic should know from his Catechism-learning days, and is a truth which there can be no excuse for ignorance of, it is nevertheless true that the matter is more complicated than this. It is equally true that – as St. Robert himself makes clear in the same chapter – there are times when Catholics are entitled, and even obliged, to disobey the commands and conceivably even the laws of legitimate authority. In the case of laws only a brief summary is necessary, for the possibility of a law (i.e. a universal and permanent command) conflicting with a Catholic doctrine or requiring Catholics to perform some action which is not conducive to their spiritual welfare could only exist at local level. The Holy Ghost protects the supreme authority of the Church from promulgating such a law.

This is what one famous nineteenth century theologian, Fr. H. Hürter, has to say on this subject – and his teaching is confirmed by every Catholic theologian who addresses the same point. In his Compendium of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. I, p. 277, he informs us that “the Church cannot approve a general and universally obligatory discipline which is contrary to faith or morals or which causes grave harm to religion.”

Thus the only three occasions when it is permissible to disobey a universal law of the Church which has not been revoked are:

  • (i) When the law is physically or morally impossible to comply with. Moral impossibility, in this case, would mean that obedience to the ecclesiastical law would require disobedience to a higher law, as, for instance, if, to comply with the law requiring assistance at Mass on Sunday, one had to abandon a sick person in need of continual attention.
  • (ii) Automatic cessation of the law. This occurs whenever supervening circumstances make it impossible for a law to achieve any of the good ends for which the legislator instituted it. (It may also occur by virtue of a contrary custom where this custom is known and approved of by the legislator.)
  • (iii) Epikeia. This is the principle according to which a law which remains generally in force may cease to bind a particular individual in a particular case because wholly extraordinary circumstances render the law either harmful or excessively burdensome to that individual in that case. Since epikeia may never be invoked when recourse to the legislative authority is possible, it is evident that epikeia cannot be a sufficient pretext to justify traditionalists in withholding obedience from those whom they (erroneously) consider to be the legitimate authorities of the Catholic Church.

In the case of commands – that is, instructions given by ecclesiastical authority to particular groups or to individuals on particular occasions, as opposed to laws, which are general and permanent instructions – evidently epikeia and automatic cessation cannot apply, since the one giving the command will be aware of the circumstances at the time of giving it. Moral and physical impossibility, however, will continue to excuse, and there is in addition one other occasion when disobedience becomes permissible and indeed mandatory, an occasion which, it must be emphasized, does not affect ecclesiastical laws but only commands. This is when the authority gives a command compliance with which would involve a definite sin on the part of the person obeying.

Let us examine this exception in a little more depth. It is expressed succinctly in the Penny Catechism, question-and-answer number 197, where we read:

By the fourth Commandment we are commanded to love, reverence, and obey our parents in all that is not sin …. We are commanded to obey, not only our parents, but also our bishops and pastors, the civil authorities and our lawful superiors. (Emphasis added)

Similarly, Fr. Patrick Murray in his De Ecclesia, Disputatio XVII, Sectio IV, n. 90, teaches that “one is always bound to obey the (Roman) pontiff when he gives an absolute command, whether he does so infallibly or not, in everything which does not involve manifest sin.”

And of course what must be particularly noticed for our present purposes is that the duty of obeying our parents and lawful superiors, whether ecclesiastical or secular, is a binding obligation except where such obedience would be sinful for us. Thus it follows that if a case were to arise in which a lawful superior gave a command which it was sinful for him to command, but which involved no sin in obeying it, one would be bound to comply with it.[6] When, for instance, King David arranged for the command to be given to Urias the Hethite to stand in front of the battle line, mortal sin was undoubtedly committed by King David, since his purpose was to ensure that Urias would be killed in order that he, David, might continue his unlawful relationship with Urias’s wife. But on the part of Urias no sin whatever was involved in his complying with the sinfully given command, because it is the duty of a soldier – obliged like everyone else to obey, not only his parents, “but also his bishops and pastors, the civil authorities and,” as in this case, “his lawful superiors” – to take whatever position in battle his commanders assign to him. On the contrary, therefore, his obedience to the instruction was correct and virtuous and indeed it would have been sinful for him not to have obeyed.

In considering the subject of when it is permissible to disobey ecclesiastical authorities, it is of the highest importance to bear in mind this distinction: if one would sin by obeying a command, one may and must disobey it; but if the superior sinned by commanding something that the subject can nonetheless obey without sinning himself, obedience remains obligatory.

One other fine point needs to be considered before this summary of relevant Catholic doctrine will be complete, namely the question of how a Catholic should conduct himself if he is in doubt as to whether obedience to the instruction of a lawful superior is or is not sinful. The answer of the Church on this point is clear and definite – one is obliged to obey. The reason for this is that the presumption is in favour of the superior, so that any doubt as to whether compliance with his command is sinful or not should be resolved by presuming that it is not sinful. Moreover, this, it must be stressed, applies even when compliance with a command appears to be probably sinful. Only when definite sin is involved is one entitled, and obliged, to disobey, as is clearly stated by St. Ignatius Loyola when he writes:

When, in my opinion and judgement, the Superior bids me to do something which is against my conscience, or sinful, and the Superior thinks the contrary, I ought to believe him unless he is manifestly wrong. (Monumenta Ignatiana, series 1a, XII, 660)

And the same doctrine is taught by St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Benedict, and especially by St. Augustine, who makes it clear that it applies even in relation to the obedience due to temporal rulers – “to obey them [temporal rulers] with a good conscience, it is not necessary to have evidence that their commands are lawful, but it is sufficient that the contrary is not recognized with certainty.” (Contra Faustum Manichæum, book 22, chapter 75) This teaching of St. Augustine’s, St. Thomas Aquinas explains, is based on the fact that “it does not belong to the subject to decide whether a thing is possible or not, but to the Superior alone ….” (Summa Theologiæ, I, II, Q. 13, A. 5)

Finally, although there is no need to consider the case of immoral or unjust laws promulgated by the pope to be of general application in the Church, this does not necessarily apply to ecclesiastical laws of more restricted scope, such as diocesan laws. It is not impossible that a bishop might promulgate a law for his diocese which manifestly required a sinful act, such as would be the case if he demanded that priests take less than fifteen minutes in the celebration of Mass.[7] In such a case he should evidently be disobeyed. Nor is it impossible that he should promulgate a law which could be obeyed without sin but which was manifestly contrary to justice, for instance by forbidding priests of the Dominican order to write in public on theological matters, or by making clerics born in the month of April ineligible for certain ecclesiastical offices. In such a case, St. Robert Bellarmine teaches that the law would be invalid and not strictly binding in conscience, but he adds that it ought nevertheless to be obeyed if scandal would arise from disobedience to it. (De Romano Pontifice, lib. IV, cap. 15)[8] The proper course for the victim of such an injustice is, of course, if necessary, to appeal to the Holy See, but meanwhile to follow Our Lord’s counsel: “ … if a man will contend with thee in judgement and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him.” (Matthew 5:40) What must never be forgotten is that the permission to disobey an unjust but not sinful instruction does not apply to general laws of the Church, for they are protected from such abuses; does not apply to particular commands given to individuals by popes or bishops, for here the only question is whether the person commanding has authority over the person being commanded in the matter of the command (a law must, by its nature, be just and useful, which is not so, however, of a command, which looks to the individual rather than to the community); and does not apply to cases where the instruction seems unjust, but only where it is manifestly and undeniably so, for it is the business of the superior to assess the justice of his commands, not of the inferior.



[5] The words “at whim” are not a gratuitous rhetorical flourish. On p. 6 of this Evaluation a statement by Dietrich von Hildebrand, quoted and approved by Davies, was analysed, to the effect that prelates who are guilty of certain misdemeanours “lose the right to claim obedience in disciplinary matters.” If they have entirely lost the right to be obeyed, in Davies’s view, evidently it is no injustice to say that he holds that they may be disobeyed at whim, for there can be no reason for granting or refusing obedience to those who have no right to it except personal preference.

[6] Cf. the following extract from Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Diuturnum Illud: “The only reason which men have for not obeying is when anything is demanded of them which is openly repugnant to the natural or Divine law, for it is equally unlawful to command to do anything in which the law of nature or the will of God is violated.” (Acta Sanctæ Sedis, XIV, 3 et seq.)

[7] Moral theologians agree that to say Mass in less than fifteen minutes is impossible without gravely sinful irreverence.

[8] “For if the Pope were to order the Lenten fast to be observed alike by children and adults, by weak and strong, by the sick and the healthy, the law would be unjust [and therefore, as has been pointed out two paragraphs earlier, no law at all]. The same would apply if he ordered that only rich men and nobles might be admitted to the episcopate, excluding the poor and commoners even if they were more learned and virtuous. This would be unjust absolutely speaking, even though it might be just in some particular place and time on account of some special circumstance. And although an unjust law is no law at all and hence does not of itself bind in conscience, yet a distinction must be made according to the kind of law involved. For when a law is unjust by its subject matter, i.e. it is contrary to divine law (whether natural or positive), not only does it not oblige but it must on no account be observed, in accordance with the words of Acts V ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’ (…) But when a law is unjust by virtue of its end, its author, or its form, it ought to be obeyed whenever scandal would follow if it were not.”


This was an excerpt of pp. 293-300 of John Daly’s book Michael Davies: An Evaluation (2nd ed., 2015). Italics in original.

The entire book is available for free electronically or for purchase in hardcopy:

We express our gratitude to Mr. Daly for kindly permitting us to provide these excerpts and for making the electronic version of his book available to the public for free.

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36 Responses to “Faith and Authority: When is Disobedience Legitimate?”

  1. Pedro

    Ah, yes. The clear teaching of the True Church being drawn into question by those who are confused by the obvious. The obvious being that the Holy See has been vacant for almost 60 years. But, no matter the facts regarding heresy and manifestly heretical teachings given by these anti-popes, these people blunder on with their own heretical concepts regarding resisting a supposedly legitimate hierarchy.

    The takeover of Christendom is complete. Just awaiting the day when the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, returns to set matters aright.

  2. Dick Turpin

    Then wouldn’t you have to condemn Cekada -and those like him- who manifestly disobey the Holy Week reforms of Pope Pius XII? Yet you appear to hold that one can reject these -so it would seem- perfectly legitimate and binding revisions at will, since you yourself don’t reject them. This is the one thing Siscoe and Salza correctly call them out on. According to what the Church teaches these reforms could not possibly be harmful or wrong in any way, and hence nobody need “resist” them, and yet many like Cekada reject them on account of being modernist revisions. So if Pius XII really was the last true Pope up until 1958, rejecting these revisions would be inadmissible.

    • corvinus

      We have to use our own judgment on this, the same way we have to use our own judgment as to the invalidity of the whole Novus Ordo. The Holy Week reforms of Pius XII were concocted by Annibale Bugnini, and it’s most likely that Pius, who was very ill for several years and unable to properly oversee Bugnini — let alone see into the future that he would be the Cranmer of the Vatican II Sect — it’s most likely that Pius XII would have never approved Bugnini’s reforms.

      • Dick Turpin

        Ah but according to this NOW latest post, you CANT simply “use your own judgment” and resist a perfectly valid law like the Holy Week reforms. That’s the point of the whole post and what they criticize the sspx and others of doing, and yet they tolerate the very same thing when it’s done by sedevacantists they approve of.

        “and it’s most likely that Pius, who was very ill for several years and unable to properly oversee Bugnini — let alone see into the future that he would be the Cranmer of the Vatican II Sect — it’s most likely that Pius XII would have never approved Bugnini’s reforms.”

        The fact is he DID duly approve of them, by a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, Maxima Redemptionis, published in the AAS.

        The last sentence of the decree says “All things to the contrary notwithstanding.”

        So either Pius XII actually lost the pontificate by promulgating and approving such a thing, or the one’s NOW criticizes are right in that you can legitimately refuse submission to such things, or you just stick your head in the sand and say the reforms were perfectly good and holy.

        But you can’t have your cake and eat it too like NOW does.

        • Novus Ordo Watch

          Wait a minute, you keep accusing NOW here, and yet you won’t find anything on our web site saying that one can resist the Holy Week reforms of Pope Pius XII. We do not hold the position that you can. We also do not condemn those who do, based on what I explained above. Please also see my response to corvinus.

        • corvinus

          Sure. In 1955, if you were a Catholic, you would have to obey the reforms. But 60 years later, after it has become obvious that Pius had unwittingly assigned Thomas Cranmer to write his liturgical reforms, it is arguable that the motive behind the reforms was purely evil, even if they didn’t technically violate Catholicism.

      • Novus Ordo Watch

        I don’t think such an argument will get you anywhere. At the end of the day, the reforms are the reforms of Pope Pius XII, not of Fr. Bugnini, even though he was responsible for putting them together for the most part. If each time the Pope decrees something, the faithful first had to figure out who advised him, who wrote the document, whether he was ill, etc., you would have chaos in the Church, and any papal decision would be open to question.

        It is certainly safe to assume that had Pius XII known what would follow, he would have never done what he did, but the fact is that he did do what he did, and that’s why at least back in 1955, the revised Holy Week rites were mandatory. Whether they still are today, is a question that is disputed among sedevacantists, and both sides have good arguments in their favor.

        • John Logan

          So then if their can be reasonable debate and disagreement regarding the continuing validity of decisions made late under the reign of Pope Pius XII that could have been influenced by or pave the way for Neo-Modernism, than can`t this also be applied to the address to the midwives or Suprema Haec Sacra? Both of these were essential to Vatican II Modernism.

          • Novus Ordo Watch

            No. The former contains liturgical discipline, the latter contains doctrine. That Vatican II Modernists would hijack true Catholic teaching is not the fault of the Catholic teaching.

          • Eric H

            Comments by James Larrabee on the Holy Office letter (link):

            The letter is doctrinal, because it is about doctrine. But Msgr. Fenton does not say that it settled anything (even though he may have wished to give that impression), only that it presented a synthesis of elements of the doctrine already found in magisterial documents. He also says that it is clear; but I would challenge anyone, on the basis of the letter, to say exactly who is or is not saved, or who is or is not in the Church. And I seriously object to his claim that it can be considered the “authentic teaching of the Holy See.” This letter, as such, may state the authentic teaching of the Holy See (and I do not think it does), but by itself it cannot make a doctrine authentic. It would take a papal definition to accomplish that.

            … One wonders how anyone could take such a document seriously as a teaching act, when it was not even published until years after the world had been given the idea that the Church had revised her teaching in favor of the liberals. One does not teach by clandestine letters.

    • Novus Ordo Watch

      Let me clarify a few things, because this comes up every so often. Novus Ordo Watch does generally not comment on intra-sedevacantist disputes because the primary purpose of this web site is not the settling of differences between sedevacantists but the exposing of the Novus Ordo Sect as a false church. But this issue obviously goes to the heart of the very resistance vs. sedevacantism discussion, so I will comment on it briefly here.

      First, the scenario is this: It is absolutely beyond question that when Pope Pius XII mandated the revised Holy Week rites in 1955, they were mandatory. I don’t think even Fr. Cekada or Bp. Sanborn would question that. In other words, if you were a Roman rite priest back then, you had no choice but to use the revised liturgy. Resistance was not permissible.

      Second, we know from history that the revised Holy Week rites turned out to be the first steps towards the creation of the Novus Ordo liturgical chaos. Not that the Pian revisions were wrong or harmful in themselves (they couldn’t be, as you point out), but as a matter of history they were the first of a slew of changes that would later turn into the Novus Ordo Missae. Because of this, some sedevacantists invoke the principle of epikeia to say that if the legislator, Pope Pius XII or any other true Pope, were alive today, given what has happened since and given the situation we are in now, he would not want his own revised liturgy to be used. It is on this principle — not the principle of “resisting a true Pope when we think we need to” — that the rejection of the Pian reforms TODAY is based, to my knowledge.

      This is where the disagreement comes in: Is it reasonable to invoke epikeia in this instance? Some will say yes, and some will say so. I personally would urge that the issue is not as serious as it is sometimes made out to be: After all, Holy Mother Church has used BOTH rites, and both of them were approved at one point or another.

      Finally, keep in mind too that the Catholic teaching is the Catholic teaching, and it is what needs to be adhered to. Even if it turned out that some sedevacantists go against it, this does not prove anything other than that some sedevacantists do not practice what they preach. (The point is not conceded, but I’m just saying “even if”.)

      • CT

        The CMRI has a great article in “The Reign of Mary” that details why the Holy Week revisions made sense. The article is great reading and details why they made sense.
        I’ll see if I can detail the issue number and all that if it will help.

        • Siobhan

          Fr. Cekada also addresses this in his definitive treatise: “Work of Human Hands.” If I recall correctly, Father also addresses this in his youtube free series on his book-which is a very brief overview of each chapter.

          • poapratensis

            Work of Human Hands a definitive treatise? Pistrina Liturgica seems to have dismantled it.

            I happen to think that for consistency, if Sedevacantists are in agreement that Pius XII was the last pope, then they should agree to use the rites he approved and were in place at his death. To do otherwise, for however good a reason, I think smacks of R&Rism.

          • Siobhan

            They are not in agreement. Many sedevacantists think the vacancy of the See existed long,long before Pius XII, etc. To be a sedevacantist means only that one holds the See to be vacant. Many sedevacantists are opinionists, who think whether or not the See is vacant is a matter of opinion (CMRI, SSPV,) etc. The divergence is far & wide.

          • Lynn

            How can it smack of R&Rism? It’s not a picking and choosing. Up until that point, he never violated his office. From the point when he sadly erred by “reforming” holy week he lost all jurisdiction IMMEDIATELY as defined by the church from that point on the seat was vacant. The sole responsibility of a pope is to protect and defend what has been handed down to him. Not to change anything, especially the missal where an anathema is cast. Our faith is reasonable as St. Thomas teaches. Our Lord knew what would happen and laid it all out for us so we would know what to do in these times. This is the faith, these are the consistent teachings from the council’s and popes and church fathers originating with Christ’s Words in Scripture which no teaching can or does contradict. The Council of Trent is the beacon of light for us in these times. Everything was defined and declared clearly for us regarding the Mass and Sacraments . Quo Primum set the missal in stone . Simple. It was done. Nothing more to be added or taken away. Not one jot or tittle as Scripture says. The Holy Ghost spoke. Plain and clear for the humble. Why Pope Pius XII went against what was handed down to him? All I know is he shouldn’ t have and it caused great division and became the opening to the chaos that exists now.

          • Novus Ordo Watch

            I’m sorry but this is not correct on a number of points. Please read Pope Pius XII’s encyclical “Mediator Dei” (1947), and note especially this portion: “It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification” (n. 58).

            Please see also: “Quo Primum: Could a Pope change it?”

          • Lynn

            Thank you. I will certainly look into what you have recommended.

      • James Christopher Silverberg

        According to the blog Rorate Caeli “review” of the 1955-56 Easter Reforms, Pope John XXIII himself disregarded these reforms and celebrated Good Friday according to the old rubrics as pope.

        “Pope John XXIII adoring the cross according to the rubrics in effect prior to the reforms [picture]”

        How does that fint in the picture? If pope John XXIII disregarded these reforms as pope, does that not legitimize posterity to do the same?

  3. Geremia16

    Abp. Lefebvre thought he would commit a sin of omission in servilely obeying John Paul II and not consecrating the bishops. Daly makes it seem, if I understand him correctly, that Abp. Lefebvre was disobeying because he disagreed with John Paul II’s prudential judgment, but this is not the case.

  4. teri

    A heretic has no office. Given to the laity to decide when the hierarchy will not judge- even if it be a Pope! Very easy, you must know the perennial faith. In the past the laity would have picked him up and thrown him out. But to day the faith is not known and the majority occupy the buildings and will not let the real Catholics in. How long does it take for the whole world to loose the faith? About 500 years. Starting with the Prots. and ending with the true church. They started with the Holy day of Christ the king and end in denying the real presents. They threw the baby out with the bath water, so Elvis has left the building. To many who do know are attached to the buildings and the socializing. They were never really there for Christ and can not stand alone with Christ. Because in the end that is exactly what we will be required to do when the mass is completely out of reach. And other big help- if there is one error, the whole thing is to be thrown out! Makes fixing Vat II real simple- trash! A freemason has no office, a new law can not change the perennial law. So ipso facto Lefebvre is no Bishop nor a Priest. Same with his consecrations. Same with these Popes. Catholic PTSD is no excuse to sit back and think you are where it is safe. There is a handful of valid Bishops in the world today and the bible tells us they are surrounded by scandals. Just where most Cath’s are not willing to go. The simple, the small, the foolish- ha, is where you find Gods miracles. Think he would not do it to preserve the faith. Cecada stood to beat down the scandal. So many with real callings but no valid orders do not choose to continue the search for truth and to correct them selves. Obedience in trial really takes a beating in even the best educated in the faith. How much of “do as thy wilt” have you taken in in your choices? You are missing to many titles. The power of the key’s is easily lost. If there is any doubt! what do you do? what must you do! Thuk in the mind and Gno common sense. Our Lady of good success did direct us to a small group of faithful Franciscans. Do you think that just might also mean VALID? The bible directs us to look into the heart of scandals for the truth. It’s not easy to bend your knee to a lesser unless it’s Gods choise. But it’s the duty of great minds to surround and protect Gods choise for all our good. The mass can only be destroyed by destroying the handing down of the keys! We are almost there-a hand full. The rules of debate were applied but the next question was dropped not even considered. To what fait? Possibly a return to obedience beyond our selves? The applying of the state of emergency to continue the Priesthood must begin with validity. No doubt is allowed to hang blowing in the wind. .

  5. Lynn

    I have to say in regards to the liturgical reforms of Holy Week by Pius XII that they violate Quo Primum which nothing can be added or taken away. Pius XII was the crack and although the last legitimate pope, I believe he lost his office before his death because of the Holy Week violation. Sadly this has been the cause of much disunity.

  6. jay

    The concept is simple enough. If a Catholic is commanded by secular authorities to sin , i.e. preform a abortion or assist in a murder etc. then he must not obey. If the Church hierarchy becomes heretical i.e. Arianism then you are compelled to disobey. We are not interpreting scripture here as Protestants do, we are following what the Church always held as dogma and doctrine .” If it is tradition then say no more”. If a Pope , saint or sinner preachers something against scripture , dogma or tradition then they are doing so outside of Christ’s Church, no one should follow them no matter how much they seem to be an “angel of light”.

  7. EIA

    But, in the case of the soldier Uriah, what if he had had knowledge of the evil King David was up to, and of what his superior’s intentions were? Surely he had a right to preserve his own life. Furthermore, he would have an obligation to denounce and stop the evil, if he could.

  8. Nestorian

    Though a Nestorian, I have long admired Sedevacantists for being doctrinally principled among Catholics as no other faction along the spectrum of Catholic theological opinion can claim to be.

    But now it appears there is a serious chink in the armor of Sedevacantist consistency. It appears evident that many Sedevacantists are blatantly violating the very duty of obedience here being argued for by John Daly, and by Novus Ordo Watch, when it comes to certain changes in the Catholic mass promulgated by Pope Pius XII late in his reign.

    It is profoundly ironic that this particular “R&R” disobedience is defended with such vigor by resident Sedevacantists in the context of such a strong polemic against the legitimacy of any form of “R&R” disobedience.

    I must say that I am quite disappointed – but perhaps I should not be surprised. It seems to me to be illustrative of the fact that it is, in the end, impossible to be a doctrinally principled Catholic without involving oneself in contradictory faith commitments of one form or another.

    • Novus Ordo Watch

      Let me clarify once more what I have said elsewhere: The issue is not a recognize-and-resist issue at all. Back in 1956, the revised Holy Week rites were *mandatory*, and even Fr. Cekada, one of the biggest defenders of rejecting the Holy Week revisions TODAY, will tell you as much. No resistance was permitted back then. You had to use the new rites.

      The controversy among sedevacantists is whether these revisions are to be used TODAY, considering all that has happened since then, and considering the fact that, just historically, they were the first of a slew of changes that ultimately ended up becoming the Novus Ordo Missae. Is it prudent to use these changes today? Would the legislator, Pope Pius XII, want us to use his revisions today if he had known that these changes got the ball rolling for a complete dismantling of Catholic worship? This is where sedevacantists (almost necessarily) disagree, and this is not surprising because both sides — the one that says we ought to stick to the revisions and the one that says we ought to ignore the revisions — can make a really good case for their respective position.

      Some people lose real sleep over this. I, for one, do not at all. The fact is: Both rites were approved by the Sovereign Pontiff and were used at one point or another by the entire Latin Church. Both rites are intrinsically good, pleasing to God, and proper worship.

      For those who are interested in the arguments set forth for both positions, may want to consult the following literature:

      PRO revised Holy Week:
      Fr. Kevin Vaillancourt, booklet “Which Rite is Right?” – available from Catholic Research Institute,

      CONTRA revised Holy Week:
      Fr. Anthony Cekada, various articles found here:

      • Nestorian

        I don’t see any basis for disagreement at all. The issue seems clear enough: Pope Pius XII promulgated these changes, they therefore have the force of universal church law, and all Catholics subsequently have no way of entering the mind of the pope to determine one way or another whether he would still have promulgated these changes, had he known what came afterwards.

        You may think that he would not have, but the truth is there is no way for you to know, and to put yourself into a position of making this judgment is thus very obviously an example of the very kind of thing that this blog post is polemically inveighing against.

        Thus, if Sedevacantists were consistent, they would all be obedient in following these changes in the way that they celebrate their liturgical rites now. And what would be so bad about that, really?

        • Novus Ordo Watch

          Sir, may I please remind you that as a public non-Catholic, you really ought not to be advising anyone on what would be the reasonable thing for a Catholic to do. The canonical principle of “epikeia” permits one to interpret the mind of the legislator, insofar as he cannot be consulted, with regard to a scenario that the legislator did not envision when he made the law.

          So, please refraing from giving your input on Catholic principles when you yourself admit to not being a Roman Catholic but a Nestorian. Thank you.

          • Nestorian

            Dismissing my input as coming from a Nestorian is a simple ad hominem retort, and you know it. Let’s concentrate on the issue itself.

            To begin with, do you not maintain, and does it not say in the blog post, that the Church is infallible in its canonical discipline and promulgation of universal laws? If so, then how do Pius XII’s liturgical changes fail to come under this form of infallibility?

            And, as regards epikeia, John Daly defines it as “the principle according to which a law which remains generally in force may cease to bind a particular individual in a particular case because wholly extraordinary circumstances render the law either harmful or excessively burdensome to that individual in that case.”

            The disregard of Pius XII’s liturgical changes that you advocate as legitimate goes beyond the limits of epikeia in the following respects:

            1) You are claiming to disregard the mandated changes as a general matter and in all instances, and not merely as applicable to a particular individual in an individual case. That is, you maintain that no Catholic is today mandated to follows these liturgical norms, even though they are in fact applicable to all Catholics. But epikeia merely governs particular instances. That is, it generates exceptions to the universal rule, but without abrogating the universal rule itself. you, by contrast, are illegitimately employing epikeia to abrogate the rule itself in its entirety.

            2) Even if point 1 were not the case, and you were claiming this right, say, exclusively for yourself in view of your own personal circumstances, I fail to see what is either harmful or excessively burdensome about celebrating liturgical rites exactly in accordance with the changes mandated by Pius XII. On these grounds, too, the epikeia exception is inapplicable to the matter at hand.

          • Novus Ordo Watch

            Ad hominem isn’t necessarily wrong, though. Commenting on NOW is a privilege, not a right, and since I have to moderate many comments, and am busy enough already doing that. Then, considering that this isn’t a discussion board per se but a combox, and considering that NOW isn’t interested in discussing things that are disputed among sedevacantists anyway, please understand that I am really not interested in hearing input from someone who isn’t even a Catholic at all and has no desire to be one.

            Pope Pius XII’s liturgical changes, insofar as they pertain to the universal church, are just as infallible as any other Pope’s. This means they are infallible PER SE, not that circumstances couldn’t arise which would make them harmful PER ACCIDENS.

            *I* do not claim at all what you are accusing me of, namely, that “you maintain that no Catholic is today mandated to follows these liturgical norms”. I merely said that some sedevacantists make a good case for why it is reasonable to suppose that Pope Pius XII would not want us to use his liturgical revisions today. Please read what you comment on. It is very frustrating and time-consuming to have to respond to straw-man arguments. Novus Ordo Watch will not get involved in the dispute over the Pius XII Holy Week revisions. I’ve pointed people who are interested in the discussion, to further reading from both sides. And just to pre-empt any suspicions: I personally attend the REVISED Holy Week ceremonies, in full obedience to Pope Pius XII’s reforms.

            I am not well read on the whole epikeia issue, and I won’t bother to comment further, because, as I said: (1) NOW is not the place to discuss this issue; (2) I have already pointed those interested in the discussion to whether they can read the arguments made by each side.

            And that is the end of it.

          • Nestorian

            Your comments about the relevance of your ad hominem remark to our discussion are well-taken, and I do appreciate the privilege of being permitted to comment on this website from time to time.

            I also want to extend my approbation and admiration to you personally for being obedient to church teaching in a manner that is in full principled accord with your own professed beliefs concerning authority and obedience.

            However, I do also have to say that the issue I am raising is not merely a personal nitpick that would be of concern only to a non-Catholic. Other, Catholic commenters on this very thread have raised the issue of Pius XII’s liturgical reforms also, and with good reason, for it cuts right to the very heart of the issue discussed in this particular blog post – raising, as it does, the question: “Is sedevacantism logically consistent, and thus intellectually tenable?”

            So, though I do not intend to press the point further, I will close by saying that I do not think it is illegitimate for Catholics who have doubts about the tenability of Sedevacantism to press this point as fully as is required for them either to embrace Sedevacantism, or to establish intellectually principled grounds for rejecting it – whatever the truth of things may require.

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