Qui autem docti fuerint, fulgebunt quasi splendor firmamenti: et qui ad justitiam erudiunt multos, quasi stellae in perpetuas aeternitates.Daniel 12:3
A Journal for the Inquiring Catholic
QUASI STELLAE is a philosophical and theological journal for those of the faith who want to understand what they believe about God and the world. As a counterpart and complement to the CE Log, which is more of a commonsensical and polemical approach to the crisis in the Church, the articles featured here will tend to be more intellectually demanding, drawing from the vast philosophical and theological tradition of the Catholic Church’s two millennia history of thought and faith. The mind and heart of man is made for the infinite, and is never really satisfied with a practical understanding of the faith or the world. The articles which follow are not so much about answering as asking questions. “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom,” as Socrates says, and as Solomon says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Whereas an obedient and submissive will to the the law of the Lord is indeed the beginning of prudentia or practical wisdom, wonder, or the sense of admiration at the created world which the Lord has made, is the beginning of sapientia or speculative wisdom. The CE Log takes its beginning from the will as it relates to the law of God, but QUASI STELLAE is best understood as beginning in wonder and ending in wisdom of the intellectual order, that is the speculative as opposed to the practical. It is important to note, however, that sapientia presupposes and is indeed dependent upon prudentia, just as understanding presupposes faith. As Saint Augustine teaches, “Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand; since, ‘except ye believe, ye shall not understand,'” (Tractate 29, John 7:14-18).
Table of Contents
Absence of Mission
Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos.John 20:21
Whether anyone may licitly receive holy orders without canonical mission?
Objection 1: It would seem that those who do not have a mission in the Church are able to act as ministers of the sacraments. For, as Pope Gregory IX declares in the fourth rule of his decretal, “What is not lawful by law, necessity makes lawful.” But holy orders are necessary for salvation, insofar as the sacraments are necessary for salvation, and holy orders are necessary for the sacraments. Thus, holy orders are licitly received in a time of necessity without canonical mission.
Objection 2: Further, according to Rule eighty-eight of Boniface VIII, “It is certain that one sins against the rule who adheres to the letter and leaves aside the spirit,” hence, it is unjust to impute to the legislator a desire to greatly harm the Church during a vacancy of the Holy See by forbidding the ordination of bishops and priests. Therefore, it is not only lawful to receive holy orders but a sin not to receive holy orders without canonical mission through a strict adherence to the letter of the law.
Objection 3: Further, the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. But the necessity of canonical mission seems to be a matter of ecclesial law, which is itself directed by a higher law, namely the Divine law, of which the salvation of souls is a precept, indeed the highest precept. Therefore, holy orders are not illicitly received without canonical mission when the Divine precept would be violated if the ecclesiastical precept were followed.
On the contrary, the Ecumenical Council of Trent teaches, “If any one shall say…that those who have neither been rightly ordained, nor sent, by ecclesiastical and canonical power, but come from elsewhere, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments; let him be anathema, (Session XXIII. Canon vii.).
Further, the necessity of canonical mission for holy orders is a rule of faith and not discipline. But a rule of faith must be believed and followed. Therefore canonical mission for holy orders must be believed and followed as a rule of faith.
Further, canonical mission is a matter of divine law and not human law. But divine law is not subject to change as human law is, because the Divine lawgiver being infinite and perfect in understanding foresees all contingencies, whereas human law being finite and imperfect cannot. Neither therefore is canonical mission subject to change.
I answer that, ecclesiastical canons are of two kinds, those of discipline and those of faith:
“As to the authority of ecclesiastical canons, it is evident a distinction must be made when speaking of canons of faith and canons of discipline, for the former are irreversible, the latter are not. Similarly, it is plain that canons containing a precept already binding by reason of Divine or natural law, cannot be on the same footing as those that are of mere ecclesiastical origin,” (Catholic Encyclopedia, “Ecclesiastical Canons”).
Now it is evident the necessity of canonical mission cannot be set aside because it pertains to the rules or canons of the faith, none which may be set aside without becoming by that very act a heretic, as the Theologian teaches:
“Accordingly there are two ways in which a man may deviate from the rectitude of the Christian faith. First, because he is unwilling to assent to Christ: and such a man has an evil will, so to say, in respect of the very end. This belongs to the species of unbelief in pagans and Jews. Secondly, because, though he intends to assent to Christ, yet he fails in his choice of those things wherein he assents to Christ, because he chooses not what Christ really taught, but the suggestions of his own mind,” (ST. II.II:11.1).
Rectitude of the Christian faith is determined by the rule of faith. Hence, the denial of a rule of faith is a deviation of the rectitude of the Christian faith, which is heresy. That canonical mission is a rule of faith, the Council Fathers of Trent made clear:
“…yea rather it doth decree, that all those who, being only called and instituted by the people, or by the secular power and magistrate, ascend to the exercise of these ministrations, and those who of their own rashness assume them to themselves, are not ministers of the Church, but are to be accounted as thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door.These are the things which it hath seemed good to the sacred synod to teach the faithful of Christ, in funereal terms, touching the sacrament of Orders. But it hath resolved to condemn things contrary thereunto, in express and specific canons, in the manner which follows; to the end that all men, with the assistance of Christ, using the rule of faith, may, amidst the darkness of so many errors, more easily be able to recognize and to hold Catholic truth,” (Trent, XXIII, Sacramental Orders, emphasis added).
Hence, the denial of the rule of faith of the necessity of canonical mission is heresy. But an act cannot be both heretical and licit. Therefore neither can holy orders be received without canonical mission, because to do so is an act of heresy, not in word but deed, insofar as the act implies the denial of the divine precept which should bind the conscience, as all rules of faith so bind.
Reply to Objection 1: There are different kinds of necessity: “…the sacraments are necessary, not absolutely but only hypothetically, i.e., in the supposition that if we wish to obtain a certain supernatural end we must use the supernatural means appointed for obtaining that end…It is the teaching of the Catholic Church and of Christians in general that, whilst God was nowise bound to make use of external ceremonies as symbols of things spiritual and sacred, it has pleased Him to do so, and this is the ordinary and most suitable manner of dealing with men. Writers on the sacraments refer to this as the necessitas convenientiae, the necessity of suitableness. It is not really a necessity, but the most appropriate manner of dealing with creatures that are at the same time spiritual and corporeal.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, “Sacraments”).
The objection rests on the assertion that holy orders are necessary for the sacraments, which are necessary for salvation, which is true, if necessity is understood in the right sense, which the above shows to be hypothetical necessity or necessity of suitableness, and not absolute necessity. But believing and following a rule of faith is absolutely necessary, as was demonstrated in the body of the article. Therefore, we should follow what is absolutely necessary and not what is only hypothetically so.
And, since what is not lawful by law, necessity makes lawful, and since it is absolutely necessary to follow a rule of faith, though it be ordinarily unlawful not to receive sacraments, the necessity of impossibility of receiving sacraments from those who have not received their holy orders from canonical mission would make it lawful not to receive the sacraments. Thus, the decretal of Gregory IX applies to the hypothetical necessity of the reception of the sacraments more fittingly than to the absolute necessity of the rule of faith, which cannot be dispensed with without committing the act of heresy.
Reply to Objection 2: Since canonical mission is a matter of Divine law, as is evident by the words, “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you,” (John 20:21), and as the Theologian teaches, “Our Lord said (Matthew 7:24): ‘Every one . . . that heareth these My words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock.’ But a wise builder leaves out nothing that is necessary to the building. Therefore Christ’s words contain all things necessary for man’s salvation,” (ST. II.II.11.2), it is evident that one who adheres to the strict meaning and interpretation of Christ’s words does not sin but, on the contrary, is a wise and holy man, and acts in accordance with the necessary means of securing his personal salvation.
Reply to Objection 3: Canonical mission is a matter of Divine and not human law, as was proven above. Further, as a rule of faith, the necessity of canonical mission for holy orders is a part of the supreme law of the Church, insofar as the belief of all articles of faith are required for salvation. Hence, because the denial of a rule of faith amounts to a violation of the precept of the supreme law of the Church, the reception of holy orders without canonical mission is not only illicit but a violation of the Divine law, which is itself an act of sacrilege, as the Theologian teaches: “Isidore says (Etym. x) that ‘a man is said to be sacrilegious because he selects,’ i.e. steals, ‘sacred things,’” (ST. II.II.99.1). Now the reception of holy orders without canonical mission is an act of stealing, which is evident by the words above, “…thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door.” Therefore, the reception of holy orders without canonical mission is both illicit and sacrilegious.
On the Form and Matter of the Papacy
Cor nostrum inquietum est donec requiescat in Te.Saint Augustine
On the Form and Matter of the Papacy
(In Three Articles)
As all things which are exist either on account of themselves, or through another, and, insofar as things do exist in the concrete of our experience, these must exist as a composition of two principles, namely, form and matter, and, since the subject matter under investigation in the present is of the papacy as it is understood in the concrete, that is, as to its formal principles found in matter, in order to know under what conditions a man is said to be in possession of the papacy, and indeed, to be the pope, the following points of inquiry are here undertaken:—
(1) Whether the form of the papacy is the conjunction of the accidental forms of designation and jurisdiction? (2) Whether the material part of the papacy consists of a man of faith? (3) Whether a pope is a designated man of faith with authority to govern the Church?
Whether the form of the papacy is the conjunction of the accidental forms of designation and jurisdiction?
We proceed thus to the First Article:—
Objection 1. It seems that the formal principle of the papacy does not consist in both designation and jurisdiction, since the proper object of designation is to select a lawmaker, whereas the proper object of jurisdiction is to make laws. Hence, designation is not fittingly ascribed as the formal principle of an authority, but rather should be considered as the material principle, that is, as that which receives power or act, just as matter receives form which is its proper act.
Objection 2. Further, designation, being a potency principle in relation to jurisdiction, seems to be unfittingly described as a formal principle in relation to a subject, insofar as potency does not perfect potency, since a subject is in potency as it relates to the act of a formal accident which perfects it. Therefore, designation is a potency principle, not a principle of act, and so not a form of the papacy.
On the contrary, It is written, (Matt. 16: 18-19): And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. Now designation and jurisdiction are formal principles of the papacy, as is evident by the fact that God both designates and gives jurisdiction, as is clear from the above. That thou art Peter, is an act of designation, or a naming, which comes from the Incarnate Word of God, and that jurisdiction presupposes and depends upon a designation, which jurisdiction is granted by the words, And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, etc. Therefore, both designation and jurisdiction are formal principles of the papacy, both by virtue of their cause, which is God, and with respect to their necessary composition and order to each other in a subsistent subject.
I answer that, the form of the papacy is the conjunction of the accidental forms of designation and jurisdiction in the subject of the power of the papacy. With respect to the subject of the papacy, these accidental forms are both formal principles and material principles, the formal principle being jurisdiction, the material designation. But, just as these accidental forms are ordered to the subject, they are ordered also to each other, as designation is prior to jurisdiction and without which jurisdiction cannot be. The papacy as far as its formal cause is concerned is the conjunction of the act of designation with the accompanying perfection of jurisdiction. Yet, even in a sense, the act of designation presupposes the act of jurisdiction. For example, the power of designation belongs to a cardinal to elect a pope by virtue of his membership to the Body of Christ and by virtue of his designation as a cardinal-elector, yet which designation required a prior act of jurisdiction by one who could so designate, which alone is the pope. Hence, it is clear that the accidental form of the papacy, or any authority, such as a cardinal-elector, presupposes both designation and jurisdiction, just as St. Peter and the rest of the Apostles were designated and given the power of jurisdiction symbolized by the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Reply Obj 1. The proper end of the act of designation is not the making of a lawmaker, which is but the intermediate end of his action, but rather the making of law which is the final end of his action. Consider an example: a voter in the United States has the power of designation by virtue of his citizenship. He casts his vote for a representative, one which will serve his community well by drafting and voting on laws which will increase the common good of his community. The voter does not only act to elect a lawmaker, which is proven by the fact that he would not vote if there were no one in whom he had confidence to work for the common good of his community. Rather, he votes for a lawmaker for the potentially good laws that lawmaker will make. Thus, the voter, as an agent of designation, acts according to the end of making law, which is properly called authority or jurisdiction. Therefore, the formal power of designation is not separable from the act of jurisdiction with respect to its final cause, that is, the purpose for which it exists.
Reply to Obj. 2. Designation as an accidental form with relation to the subject of the papacy is not a potency principle but the first act whereby a man of sound mind and faith becomes a pope, and as such should be considered as a formal principle. With respect to the accidental form of jurisdiction in the subject of the papacy, designation is a potency, or material principle in relation to jurisdiction, whereby the man designated pope so acts.
Whether the material part of the papacy consists of a man of faith?
We proceed thus to the Second Article:—
Object 1. It seems that the material part of the papacy does not consist of a man of faith, for even St. Ambrose while he was yet a catechumen and so not counted among the faithful was designated to the episcopacy of Milan. But the papacy is nothing else but the episcopacy of Rome. Hence, since a man need not have faith to be designated a bishop of Milan, neither then does a man need faith to be designated a bishop of Rome.
On the contrary, the Theologian teaches, “One should say that Christ is the foundation through himself, but Peter insofar as he holds the confession of Christ, insofar as he is his vicar,” (Commentary on Matthew, 1384).
I answer that, faith is that upon which Christ builds His church, as is evident by the words, And I say to you that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, (Matthew 16:18). Now, a foundation is a kind of matter, and, since not the man himself, Peter, but his confession or faith in Christ is that upon which Christ builds His Church, that is, the foundation or matter, so then does the matter of the papacy essentially consist in the faith of Peter and his successors with the same, and not merely a man.
Reply to objection 1. Though St. Ambrose was designated to the episcopacy of Milan without baptism, and so not counted among the faithful, this in no way implies that the saintly man was without faith. On the contrary, that the people of Milan desired Ambrose to be their bishop even while he was a catechumen demonstrates his faith. For, inasmuch as Ambrose loved God, and desired baptism, he was sanctified without baptism by his faith. For no one can love what one does not believe in. As the Theologian teaches, “Secondly, the sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to anyone in reality but not in desire: for instance, when a man wishes to be baptized, but by some ill-chance he is forestalled by death before receiving Baptism. And such a man can obtain salvation without being actually baptized, on account of his desire for Baptism, which desire is the outcome of “faith that worketh by charity,” whereby God, Whose power is not tied to visible sacraments, sanctifies man inwardly. Hence Ambrose says of Valentinian, who died while yet a catechumen: “I lost him whom I was to regenerate: but he did not lose the grace he prayed for,” (Summa Theologiae, III.68.2).
Whether a pope is a designated man of faith with authority to govern the Church?
We proceed thus to the Third Article:—
Objection 1. It seems that a pope is not a man of faith designated with authority to govern the Church, for a man without faith only posits an impediment to the reception of the form of authority as such, and not to the form of designation, which is the right to exercise authority but not the power to exercise authority. Authority as such comes directly from God, whereas the right of the use of authority, which is designation, comes from the Church. Hence, it is possible that a man who does not have faith may be designated pope by the Church, for designation does not require faith, even while a man so designated does posit an impediment to receiving the power of authority from God. Therefore, a man without faith may be designated pope without authority, which man would be called pope materially but not formally.
Objection 2. Further, insofar as designation, or the right of electing, is not jurisdiction as such, on account of the different objects, viz., the object of designation is the continuation of the hierarchy, whereas the object of jurisdiction is the making of laws, it follows that he who has only a designation to elect electors, but not the power to make laws, nevertheless is able to designate electors to elect a pope, even if these same electors have not the faith, just as a man without faith may receive the right of designation, for he who has is able to give, according to the contrapositive of the axiom, nemo dat quod non habet. Therefore, he is designated pope by those who have a right of designation.
On the contrary, It is written (Luke 21:31-32), “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.”
I answer that, it is altogether impossible for a man without faith to be designated pope without the form of authority, for designation stands in potency to the act of authority, which perfects it, as was shown in the preceding article (Article 1. Reply to Object. 2.). The pope, designated and with jurisdiction, is in act in relation to men he decides to designate as cardinals. There must be a proportion between this act of designation by the pope, which act is exercised through the power of jurisdiction—thus proving the dependency of designational acts on jurisdictional acts—by the pope on the men just as God acts on a man to be pope, both with respect to the act of designation, and jurisdiction, as was proved by the words, thou art Peter, etc. The difference being however that the act of designation is mediated by a long succession of popes acting on men in designating them cardinals who in turn designate popes, whereas the power of jurisdiction is given to the man designated to be pope immediately by God but dependent upon a designation which is dependent on God also, but through the succession of designated designators. Thus the source of both jurisdictional power, which is not mediated by men, and designation, which is mediated by men, is the same, namely, God. A man who is disposed to receive the designation of the papacy is by that very act able to receive the perfection of that designation, which is the power of jurisdiction. The distinction between the two powers is as form is to matter, not a distinction of essence. To be designated to an office is to be in the possession of the right to exercise the power of that office. The right of designation is the matter from which but not by which a man exercises authority of jurisdiction. But the power itself of ruling is given concomitantly with the power of designation, yet the right precedes the use of the power as matter precedes form and potency precedes act—yet act precedes potency, as all matter is in act, without which act matter cannot be. The authority, exercised as a power, gives form to the right of the power, whereby it comes into act in a subject. Therefore, he who has an impediment to the reception of the use of authority necessarily also has an impediment to the right of authority, for right is prior to use, and use is dependent upon right. But the right to the power of the authority depends upon faith, as was shown above (Article 2), as form depends upon matter, since faith is the necessary matter which the form of designation perfects. Therefore, a pope is a designated man of faith with authority to govern the Church.
Reply to objection 1. As was shown in the body of the article, designation, or the right to use the power of authority, indeed comes from the Church as through a succession of designated designators, yet not ultimately, as to the first cause of the right of designation, which is God. Hence, the right of designation depends upon authority which grants the right, for nemo dat quod non habet. But this right of the use of authority is granted on the grounds of faith. It follows, then, that he who is without faith does not receive the right of designation. Therefore, a pope cannot exist materially only, if he lack faith, which is the the matter of the papacy, for then he would be and not be at the same time in the same respect, that is, in respect to the matter of the papacy, which is the faith—which is absurd.
Reply to objection 2. Though designation is not in the proper sense jurisdiction, as there exists a distinction between right and use, nevertheless, right depends upon use, as matter depends upon form, as designation depends upon authority to be designated, for all acts of designation are acts of jurisdiction, just as all acts of jurisdiction are acts of designation, insofar as use presupposes right also, as form presupposes matter. Therefore, he is not designated pope by those who do not have authority to designate.