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Not to worry, “we can reclaim it”!

Deadly Defection: New Book by Eric Sammons claims Catholic Church has “lost her Mission”

In a few weeks’ time, Sophia Institute Press will release another book under its Crisis Publications imprint.

The new book that is about to be published was written by Eric Sammons and bears the title Deadly Indifference: How the Church lost her Mission and how we can reclaim it. The book, which naturally includes the obligatory foreword by “Bishop” Athanasius Schneider, is an exposé about how the Vatican II Church has abandoned the Divine Commission to convert the entire world to Christ, His Gospel, and His Church (see Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15-16). It is 304 pages in length.

Sammons, who recently became editor-in-chief of Crisis magazine, announced the upcoming publication of his new book on Twitter this past Saturday. Sophia Institute Press is already taking pre-orders for it on its web site, the tentative release date being May 25, 2021.

Judging by its table of contents, which Sammons shared on Twitter as well, Deadly Indifference promises to deliver a substantial indictment against the Novus Ordo Sect for its Indifferentism — that is, for its ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, which have supplanted true evangelization and introduced a false gospel. To the extent that the book accomplishes that, it will no doubt be of a certain value.

A Flawed Thesis

However, there is a fatal flaw in Sammons’ thesis: As the book’s subtitle makes clear, the author believes and argues that the Catholic Church “has lost her mission”. That is heresy, or the closest thing to it. Sammons’ assurance that he has a plan for “how we can reclaim it” is very nice but irrelevant. The Lord Jesus Christ endowed His Church with indefectibility, and that means she cannot lose her mission.

Just as there is an essential difference between saying that a horse cannot escape the barn and saying that it can do so but will ultimately be caught and brought back in, so there is an infinite difference between saying that the Church cannot defect and saying that she can but eventually things will be put right again.

The whole idea is absurd on its face anyway. Like her Founder, the Catholic Church is divine because she is His Mystical Body. As such, she “draws her strength from God, not from man” (Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Meminisse Iuvat, n. 24). If a divine institution could fail, what makes anyone think that such failure could be repaired by human effort? Will man repair what God “failed” at? Will man now become God’s Savior? One shudders to verbalize such obvious blasphemies even to expose them!

The Witness of the Catholic Magisterium

Let us now review a selection of magisterial pronouncements by the Popes that positively exclude Sammons’ thesis as being compatible with the Roman Catholic Faith.

First, we look at what the Church’s mission is and whence it proceeds:

The most important duty of the Church, and the one most peculiarly her own, is to defend and to propagate throughout the world the Kingdom of the Son of God, and to bring all men to salvation by communicating to them the divine benefits, so much so that her power and authority are chiefly exercised in this one work.

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Tametsi Futura, n. 2)

This apostolic mission proceeds … primordially from the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and it is impossible to conceive of a more noble, a holier, a more universal mission, in its origin as in its object. What is in fact the object of this mission, if not to make known to men the true God, one in the Trinity of persons, the plan of the Redemption which He accomplished by his Son, and the Church founded by Christ to continue his work?

(Pope Pius XII, Radio Message to Contemplative Religious, Aug. 2, 1958. English taken from Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 1551.)

From this alone it should stand to reason that the Catholic Church cannot ever fail in her divine mission, but there is so much more evidence. Our Blessed Lord promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” the Pope and, thus, the Church (see Mt 16:18; Lk 22:31-32), which was established as “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).

Pope St. Leo IX elaborates on this, identifying the “gates of hell” with heresies:

The holy Church built upon a rock, that is Christ, and upon Peter or Cephas, the son of John who first was called Simon, because by the gates of Hell, that is, by the disputations of heretics which lead the vain to destruction, it would never be overcome; thus Truth itself promises, through whom are true, whatsoever things are true: “The gates of hell will not prevail against it” [Mt 16:18]. The same Son declares that He obtained the effect of this promise from the Father by prayers, by saying to Peter: “Simon, behold Satan etc.” [Lk 23:31].

(Pope Leo IX, Apostolic Letter In Terra PaxDenz. 351; underlining added.)

Since Christ the Lord founded His Church for the conversion and salvation of all people, even to the very end of time, it is clear that the Church’s mission must endure to the very end:

…[T]he Apostolic mission was not destined to die with the Apostles themselves, or to come to an end in the course of time, since it was intended for the people at large and instituted for the salvation of the human race.

…[T]he Church … continues the mission of the Saviour for ever.

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 8,9)

For Jesus Christ has confided to his Church a task and a mission to carry out to the end of time, and has put her also under a sign of perseuction.

(Pope Pius XII, Radio Message to 77th “Katholikentag” at Cologne, Sep. 2, 1956. English taken from Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 1437.)

The Popes teach, furthermore, that it is by loyally following and submitting to everything taught and decreed by the Holy See (Chair of St. Peter) that the Church’s fidelity to the her mission is assured, and is assured in every age:

We congratulate you, therefore, on the fact that although you suffer, doubtless, at the defection of your brothers, separated from you by the breath of perfidious teaching, you are not troubled for all that, and are even being stimulated by their error to receive with greater willingness and to follow with more zeal not only the orders, but even all the directives of the Apostolic See; and by so doing you are certain that you cannot be deceived or betrayed.

(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Didicimus Non Sine. English taken from Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 439.)

Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion. Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices, n. 7)

All the strength and the beauty of this mystical body [the Church] results from the firm and constant union of all the members of the Church in the same faith, in the same sacraments, in the same bonds of mutual charity, in submission and obedience to the Head of the Church. The Redeemer of mankind, after purchasing the Church at the price of his blood [cf. Apoc 21:2], willed this jewel of unity to be for her a splendid and particular attribute to be kept to the end of time.

(Pope Pius VII, Apostolic Constitution Ecclesia Christi, n. 1. English taken from Papal Teachings: The Church, nn. 134-135.)

Mother Church, Catholic, Roman, which has remained faithful to the constitution received from her Divine Founder, which still stands firm today on the solidity of the rock on which his will erected her, possesses in the primacy of Peter and of his legitimate successors the assurance, guaranteed by the divine promises, of keeping and transmitting inviolate and in all its integrity through centuries and millennia to the very end of time, the entire sum of truth and grace contained in the redemptive mission of Christ.

(Pope Pius XII, Allocution to the Consistory, June 2, 1944. English taken from Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 1124.)

The cause of the Catholic Church’s perpetual fidelity to Christ and His Gospel is, of course, the divine assistance:

History, the light of truth, and the witness of the ages, if only it be rightly discerned and diligently examined, teaches us that the divine promise of Jesus Christ: “I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world”, has never failed the Church His Bride, and therefore that it will never fail her in time to come.

(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Lux Veritatis, n. 1)

In the Catholic Church Christianity is incarnate. It identifies itself with that perfect, spiritual, and, in its own order, sovereign society, which is the mystical body of Jesus Christ and which has for its visible head the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Prince of the Apostles. It is the continuation of the mission of the Saviour, the daughter and the heiress of His redemption. It has preached the Gospel, and has defended it at the price of its blood, and strong in the Divine assistance, and of that immortality which have been promised it, it makes no terms with error, but remains faithful to the commands which it has received to carry the doctrine of Jesus Christ to the uttermost limits of the world and to the end of time and to protect it in its inviolable integrity.

(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Annum Ingressi)

In fact, only a miracle of that divine power could preserve the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, from blemish in the holiness of Her doctrine, law, and end in the midst of the flood of corruption and lapses of her members. Her doctrine, law and end have produced an abundant harvest. The faith and holiness of her children have brought forth the most salutary fruits. Here is another proof of her divine life: in spite of a great number of pernicious opinions and great variety of errors (as well as the vast army of rebels) the Church remains immutable and constant, “as the pillar and foundation of truth,” in professing one identical doctrine, in receiving the same Sacraments, in her divine constitution, government, and morality.

(Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical Editae Saepe, n. 8)

Just as at the first moment of the Incarnation the Son of the Eternal Father adorned with the fullness of the Holy Spirit the human nature which was substantially united to Him, that it might be a fitting instrument of the Divinity in the sanguinary work of the Redemption, so at the hour of His precious death He willed that His Church should be enriched with the abundant gifts of the Paraclete in order that in dispensing the divine fruits of the Redemption she migt be, for the Incarnate Word, a powerful instrument that would never fail. For both the juridical mission of the Church, and the power to teach, govern and administer the Sacraments, derive their supernatural efficacy and force of the building up of the body of Christ from the fact that Jesus Christ, hanging on the Cross, opened up to His Church the fountain of those divine gifts, which prevent her from ever teaching false doctrine and enable her to rule them for the salvation of their souls through divinely enlightened pastors and to bestow on them an abundance of heavenly graces.

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 31)

The result of God’s commissioning His Church as the infallible guide in matters of Faith and morals for the salvation of souls is precisely the impossibility of her ever abandoning the integrity of her mission:

To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness: “The Bride of Christ cannot be made false to her Spouse: she is incorrupt and modest. She knows but one dwelling, she guards the sanctity of the nuptial chamber chastely and modestly.”

(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 10)

Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth, and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For, as the [First] Vatican Council teaches, “the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith.”

(Pope Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, n. 12)

All of the above thoroughly debunks Eric Sammons’s thesis that the Church can fail in her mission; for that reason, there can also never be a need for Catholics to “reclaim it”.

In his landmark encyclical against Liberalism, Pope Gregory XVI condemned the idea underlying Sammons’ thesis:

To use the words of the fathers of Trent, it is certain that the Church “was instructed by Jesus Christ and His Apostles and that all truth was daily taught it by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, it is obviously absurd and injurious to propose a certain “restoration and regeneration” for her as though necessary for her safety and growth, as if she could be considered subject to defect or obscuration or other misfortune. Indeed these authors of novelties consider that a “foundation may be laid of a new human institution,” and what Cyprian detested may come to pass, that what was a divine thing “may become a human church.”

(Pope Gregory XVI, Encyclical Mirari Vos, n. 10)

A “human church” is exactly what the Vatican II Sect is, as its official teachings, laws, and liturgy demonstrate ever more clearly each and every day. Hence the semi-trads are quick to blame what they call the Church’s “human element”, but in reality that is merely a rhetorical fig leaf meant to euphemize the defection of the Vatican II Church. For when one considers all the things these “traditionalists” ascribe to the Church’s “human element” (think: doctrines, laws, saints, sacramental rites, annulments, etc.), there is virtually nothing left to constitute the divine element.

In any case, Pope Pius XII made clear that what is taught and decreed by the Vicar of Christ and the lawful shepherds in communion with him, can never be in conflict with the mission of the Holy Ghost but constitutes its visible exercise. In other words, one cannot make the “human element” argument with regard to the Church teaching and ruling:

There can, then, be no real opposition or conflict between the invisible mission of the Holy Spirit and the juridical commission of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ, since they mutually complement and perfect each other — as do the body and soul in man — and proceed from our one Redeemer who not only said as He breathed on the Apostles “Receive ye the Holy Spirit,” but also clearly commanded: “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you”; and again: “He that heareth you heareth me.”

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 65)

Thus, the idea so popular among semi-trads these days, namely, that the (supposed) Pope and his hierarchy must “return to Tradition”, is an impossible scenario ruled out by the very Tradition the semi-trads believe they are defending.

Final Thoughts

Now, for the sake of being candid and fair, it must be granted that, considering the historical facts of the last six decades, some of the many magisterial teachings quoted above present a difficulty also for the sedevacantist position. A difficulty, however, is not a contradiction.

In these bizarre and unprecedented times, there is much we will have to leave to mystery until we can see more clearly, but at all times must we firmly believe and profess what the Catholic Faith demands: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed” (Jn 20:29); “Fear not, only believe” (Mk 5:36). This Eric Sammons and those of his persuasion are not doing. They are diametrically contradicting Catholic doctrine and dogma by outrageously asserting that the Catholic Church has failed in her essential mission.

In terms of its anticipated theological competence, then, or lack thereof, it appears that Sammons’ new book Deadly Indifference will very much follow in the footsteps of another significant book published by Crisis Publications in recent times. We are talking about Taylor Marshall’s blockbuster Infiltration, which we have exposed in detail for its shockingly poor scholarship and numerous errors:

Some time ago we took Eric Sammons’ atrocious theology on the Papacy to task when he claimed that no matter how openly heretical Francis is or becomes, he cannot possibly cease to be Pope:

In their stubborn refusal to countenance Sedevacantism, the recognize-and-resisters like Sammons are tragically blind to the outrageous ideas they are promoting — in this case, the idea that the Church can lose her God-given mission, and has in fact done so.

Long-time readers of this web site may recall that in early 2016, there was a debate between semi-trad apologist Christopher Ferrara and Novus Ordo apologist Mark Shea on whether the Catholic Church had abandoned her Divine Commission. Ferrara was foolish enough to take the affirmative position in that debate, though not without some “tweaking” of the resolution just before and even during the exchange:

By maintaining that the Catholic Church has lost her mission and thus defected, Sammons is unwittingly contributing to the very deadly idea he is trying to fight: Indifferentism.

For if the Catholic Church had defected, then she would be just as much a false religion as all the others, in which case it really wouldn’t matter which of them you belong to.

Would it?

Image source: composite with elements from twitter.com and youtube.com (screenshot)
License: fair use

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