Rorate Caeli

Words of Doctrine: 
Primacy at the service of Church unity
Fr. Nicola Bux and Fr. Salvatore Vitiello

Seventy years ago, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, a Roman, was elected Pope with the name Pius XII. In those days, no one could imagine that the college of cardinals or the college of bishops would ever fail to be “in agreement in what you profess – according to the words of the Apostle – so that you are perfectly united in your beliefs and judgements” (1 Cor 1,10). Also John XXIII, in his opening discourse to the Council, could speak of “renewed, serene and tranquil adhesion to all the teachings of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council”. Could we ever imagine that the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, could speak not in unison? Could we ever conceive ecclesiology of communion, overlooking what the Council said about the primacy (cfr Lumen gentium 13, 22 e 23) ?

Therefore, the whole Church, bishops, priests and lay faithful, would do well to reflect on the meek and argued words of the Holy Father Benedict XVI at the Major Roman Seminary and at the Angelus on Sunday 22 February and put an end to “polemics that are born where faith degenerates into intellectualism and humility is substituted by the arrogance of being better than the other … a caricature of the Church that should be one in mind and heart ”. These words express a patient exercise of Primacy and should be accepted by all Catholics with humble docility.

The Holy Father knows that Primacy has its own 'martyrological structure' because “God's message cannot be chained up. ”(2 Tm 2,9) and this is true for every Pope. The Primacy of Peter exists and operates because ecclesial communion cannot be destructive, indeed the Creed calls it ‘Catholic’. On this matter it is better to turn to what he wrote as a theologian, in Introduction to Christianity: “one fundamental idea is documented, since the beginning, as determinant: the words refer to unity of place: the ‘Catholic church', is only a community united with the bishop, not partial groups, which, for some reason or another, have separated themselves from it. Secondly, what is referred to here is the unity of local Churches among themselves, since they are not to close in on themselves they are the Church only if they remain open to one another, forming the one Church […] the adjective ‘Catholic’ expresses the Church's episcopal structure and the necessity for unity of all the bishops among themselves […]” (It. edition, ed. Queriniana-Vaticana, 2005, p 335).

After observing that this idea does not constitute the primary element, he states: “Fundamental elements of the Church are rather forgiveness, conversion, penance, Eucharistic communion and then, on this basis, plurality and unity: plurality of the local Churches, which are Church only through insertion into the body of the one Church […]Episcopal constitution appears in the background as a means of this unity[…]. An ulterior stage, again in the order of means, will be constituted by the service of the Bishop of Rome. One thing is clear: the Church is not to be seen starting from her organisation, instead her organisation must be understood starting from the Church. However at the same time it is clear that, for the visible Church, visible unity is something more than simple ‘organisation’.[…] Only by being ‘Catholic’, that is visibly one but with multiplicity, can she respond to what is demanded by the Symbol. In a torn and divided world the Church must be a sign and a means of unity, she must cross barriers and unite nations, races, classes. To what point, also in this task, has she failed, we know all too well […]despite everything…instead of simply denigrating the past, we should above all demonstrate that we are ready to answer the call of the present, striving not simply to confess the Catholicity of the Creed, but to achieve it in the life of our torn world ” (It. edition, p 336-337). [FIDES]


  1. Gratias tibi Catholicae Novae et vobis omnia ago! Spritura tua optima est! Benedicas et benedicatis adestis legens hic Deus sit semper!

    As a former atheist – nearing 3 yrs removed from my total blindness – the Lord has led me [back] into communion with the Body of Christ as part of the elect… which surely I DO NOT deserve. How and why this happened will be a mystery until my death, I am quite sure.

    What a time to call me back, indeed… What I have witnessed within the Church has astounded me and has strengthen my faith in God and His Church – …unam sanctum catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam!

    You have all contributed in edifying my faith – especially you, New Catholic, and others who post here regularly such as P.K.T.P, Schoolman, Jordanes, Ottaviani, Paul Haley, Hebdomadary, Athanasius, and even the ever-present Dan Hunter – may God especially reserve some extra blessings for you, my friend.

    ALL of your contributions, great and small are greatly appreciated by this one small soul! I will continue to pray for you all…

    P.K.T.P.: I live in the Seattle area. Any chance we could have coffee in the not too distant future? I would drive hours and hours to have one hour of your time!

    Sincerely in Christ,


  2. Not 'spritura' but 'scriptura' above... I am so human - I error all too frequently.

  3. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Welcome Home to Rome Mark!!!!!

  4. Anonymous7:46 PM

    Mark i would suggest you go to the FSSP Latin Mass community in Seattle run by a great orthodox priest Father Gerard Saguto, go their tommorrow or early next week Father John Berg Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter will be visiting there ,hes a great guy ,very friendly!!!!

  5. Anonymous7:46 PM


    God bless you, sir.

    I think I can speak for everyone here when I thank God Almighty that you have entered His Mystical Body.
    And I thank you for answering His call of Grace, for, not a man jack among us would be anywhere, but groveling in sin, if it wasn't for His Mercy.

    Yes, I may be ever present, like a nasty mosquito, but I havn't been swatted yet.
    Thanks to you-Know Who.

    God bless you kind sir.

  6. Mark,

    God bless you and keep you in His care. The one thing we have that no one, absolutely no one, can take away is our Faith. When I think of all the attempts in the last 40 years to wean us away from the Faith and the fact that they have all failed, I thank God for He has provided for us and will never fail us.

  7. Anonymous11:20 PM

    Dear Mark:

    I don't think that I will be going far from Victoria until after September, owing to various responsibilities. We have our T.L.M. back now, thanks be to God. We have it every Sunday at Queen of Peace Church in Esquimalt, celebrated by a fine priest who was ordained before the Council. For many years, we had to repair to the Ukrainian Byzantine Church to escape the insanity of the Church of the New World Order under Remi De Rogue, who is, in my view, the worst bishop ever to breathe on this continent. He missed his calling to be a Sandanista terrorist in the jungle. The S.S.P.X had a Mass here for a few years but only once per month. They have a chapel up Island at Nanaimo, too far for most people to travel on an every-Sunday basis. We've had our Mass restored at the same church where it was before, after a break of fourteen years. Never give up!


    P.S. We did have a couple here from Port Angeles recently. They go to the F.S.S.P. Mass in Seattle. I'll ask Father for their names. I have spoken to them directly in our hall.

  8. Anonymous11:22 PM

    These comments by Bux and company, who are close to Benedict XVI, are a smoke signal. The Pope is telling the Society to get regularised. Since Fellay has already declined, I get the feeling that something more is coming. Pray, brethren.


  9. Anonymous2:09 AM

    The ball is now in the Pope's court because our Saviour has put it there. Bishop Fellay wants to proceed to resolve doctrinal problems prior to achieving visible unity with Peter.

    The Society's members are all Catholic, since they profess the Church which is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. They fear to accept a structure because they fear its consequences, that it might hinder their mission to defend Catholic Truth.

    I have suggested one solution: the erection of an international particular church (probably an apostolic administration) which could incardinate them temporarily and also embrace all the regularised traditionalist societies and orders. This would solve many problems at once and is the preferred way to go. Under this scheme, the Society would remain de facto independent but Rome would recognise its faculties.

    But there is also the other way. The law of the Pope is not limited to the Code of Canons; and all Canon law is merely an extension of the Pope's authority. Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary solutions. The Pope enjoys the power and the authority simply to grant all Society and affiliated clerics full faculties everywhere. He can do this because his authority is plenary, supreme, universal and immediate. To say that it is plenary means not absolute but completely adequate to fulfil his divine mission, one part of which is to unify the faithful (cf. Bux's article). It is universal, meaning that it exists everywhere. It is supreme, superior to that of all prelates, even of all prelates combined. And it is immediate, meaning that it exists in each particular church together with that of the local or proper bishop. Canon 331 says it all. If a diocesan bishop can incardinate clerics and grant them faculties, then the Bishop of Rome can incardinate Society priests into the See of Rome and grant them faculties universally.

    A Decree would do the trick. Let's pray for this. Date to watch for:

    19th March: Feast of St. Joseph, and patronal day of Benedict XVI. The Vatican shuts down for the day but something could be announced next Friday, the 20th. St. Joseph was a loving foster father who vigilantly protected the unity of the Holy Family. This Pope can surely be a foster father to safeguard the unity of the S.S.P.X in the Church, for separation tendeth to schism by nature (we shan't say for which party!). We all have one Father in the Blessed Trinity. It is the Vicar of Christ who has the responsibility to keep us together when he can.

    Let's pray that the Pope would overcome the problem of faculties and jurisdiction. Imagine, Your Holiness, if these talks bog down for forty years more. Will we have to wait all that time before Rome extends faculties to these priests? We need these priests. The whole Church needs them. And they need visible unity with Peter.


  10. Anonymous2:25 AM

    This is beautiful, and arresting in the breadth of its intimation of things to come. Our Holy Father is proving just that, a holiness that illumines a darkness we seem only able to navigate through the prism of his knowing light; light which, like truth itself, flashes both sudden and serene. It seems a thing redolent of the antiquity of the martyrs, yet, something still not consummated, but ready to meet the world. Catholic people must read with their hearts the words of this Pope!

    mfranks, His Majesty be praised for your conversion! Bask in His embrace, may It favor you with strength and patience. God bless you, brother.

  11. Anonymous2:29 AM


    The Pope is required by Moral Law either to extend faculties ex cathedra to the Society clerics, or to grant them a structure which they will accept, or to refuse discussions over doctrine.

    The reason is that the members of the Society are fully and completely Catholic, as Rome has publicly admitted. The law presumes that they are not schismatics, not heretics, not apostates, not infidels.

    If they are Catholic, then they are subjects of their respective bishops and, above all, they are subjects of the Pope. They are morally bound to accept visibile unity with the Pope and he is bound to inform them that this is a requirement before doctrinal issues can be discussed.

    So, in the eyes of Rome, Society clerics are also law-breakers. Since they are not incardinated into any particular church or canonically-erected society (&c.: cf. Canon 265), they break the Pope's law every time they administer the Sacraments. If they exercise ministry by supplied jurisdiction and Rome admits this, it proves that Rome is wrong in its dispute with the Society. Rome is obviously not about to admit this possibility. Should she do so, the consequences could be very far-reaching.

    Well, law-breakers cannot have any standing in the King's court until they desist from breaking his laws, or until the King makes their activities entirely lawful. If the King were to grant standing to law-breakers to answer their forty-four questions WHILE THEY CONTINUE TO VIOLATE HIS LAWS, this brings the law into disrepute and IT IS FUNDAMENTALLY IMMORAL FOR THE LEGISLATOR to allow that to happen. I go further: it is sinful.

    If follows logically that the Pope must grant faculties to the Society before he can grant them standing to answer their forty-four theological questions.

    The Pope stands as the fount of authority in the Canon Law. But Canon Law is entirely subject to Moral Law, as is the Pope himself. He is bound by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to obey the Moral Law, which is propounded by God Almighty.

    St. Joseph Day would be a good day for His Holiness to do his duty or to announce that he will not answer any questions until the Society stops administering all Sacraments. That is the choice which is before him.


  12. Remi De Rogue, who is, in my view, the worst bishop ever to breathe on this continent.

    Hard to argue that point - and no mean feat, given the stiff competition.

    My welcome and congratulations to Mark as well.

  13. Anonymous3:40 AM

  14. To anyone who thinks the provision of faculties to the SSPX can wait I refer the following link:

    As PKTP says, the time is now and, if the Holy Father is serious about confronting Evil, he must act NOW! Not only that he must state unequivocally that the SSPX was not borne out of a desire for schism but out of a desire to protect Holy Mother Church. If he does not act, Evil will triumph. I hope with all my heart that he is informed of this message before it is too late.

  15. Anonymous5:18 PM

    Prayer of Gratitude for Our Holy Catholic Faith

    O Lord God, we are living in special times, out of the ordinary, not normal; and in this time of apostasy the most precious thing we have is our Holy Catholic Faith which Thou has revealed and without which it is impossible to please Thee. I thank Thee for having infused this Holy Faith into my soul and I beseech Thee the grace to perserver in It till my last dying breath. Amen.

  16. Anonymous 19:46:

    I’ve been going to the EF/UA Mass since my re-conversion, save until Fr. Saguto moved the Mass to St. Alphonsus Church in Ballard from the Josephinum. The difficultly for me to continue to assist at Mass there was not the increased distance from my home, per se, but the time of Mass – 11:30am. I was in the schola, which I miss immensely – nothing like joining voices in Chant with fellow men in offering up our prayers to God in the Mass. I would have to leave my home by 9:30am and I would not return until after 2:30pm. Being away from my family for all of the morning and into a greater part of the afternoon is not an option. My wife is still an atheist which presents its own challenges as you might imagine. Therefore, in an effort to keep peace in the home, I go to 8am Novus Ordo Mass at 8am locally and I’m back home before my family rises at 9:15am and spend the day with them. I am praying for Fr. Saguto to find a more centrally located location in the coming months where early Masses will be possible so I will again be able to assist and rejoin the schola.

    Dan Hunter:

    I like to think of you as part of the Church Militant –hardly a nasty mosquito! In any spiritual battle, I would love to have you in my ‘fox-hole’.


    I may be visiting Victory in May for a bicycle race in which I am thinking about competing. Although, they are not having the road race this year – just a hill climb and two criteriums. I prefer road racing over ‘crits’ so I am not sure I’ll make the trip out this year. If I decide to race in Victoria, I would love to share some conversation and coffee or perhaps a meal.

    Thank you all for your well wishes! Benedicite omnes!


  17. Anonymous6:53 PM

    As Rome treats SSPX, so Rome treats trads. Don't you see even after 20 years of clear evidence, that SSPX did what was necessary to barely keep alive the practice of the faith as it was handed down to us? FSSP has barely continued to exist, and would have long since been squashed without a 'safe haven' for trads to keep pressure on Rome. Even now most bishops won't allow the TLM. Do you still not see the link between tradition and SSPX?

    If you are going to insult SSPX with yet another name (this time it's law-breakers), you condemn your own law. Why? Because Catholicism IS tradition, especially the Mass of all time. Catholic tradition cannot be outlawed.

  18. Anonymous9:39 PM

    P.K.T.P. comment: breakers cannot have any standing until they desist from breaking the King's law or until the King makes their activities entirely lawful.

    The post Vatican II Kings have all made exceptions to their own laws and to the pre Vatican II Kings laws when transgressed by post Vatican II Princes. In reality the law only applies to the SSPX and Traditionalsts. The law has been unjustly used for over 40 years now by church authorities either by commission or omission against the Faith. There is also a law against this practice that goes unheeded.

    The law did not get the SSPX to the table. Their Faith did. Don't worry about numbers. Sooner or later the issues of Faith will be
    innescapable by all the Princes. It will be put up or shut up time. Then the numbers change (as I see it).

    A.M. LaPietra

  19. Anonymous11:13 PM

    Joe B., referring to my words, said:

    "If you are going to insult SSPX with yet another name (this time it's law-breakers), you condemn your own law. Why? Because Catholicism IS tradition, especially the Mass of all time. Catholic tradition cannot be outlawed."

    Dear Joe B, I was misunderstood. I am not saying (at least not here) that the S.S.P.X is a law-breaker); I am saying that IN THE EYES OF ROME, it is a law-breaker. Everyone must act in accordance with his honest beliefs as grounded in the Faith. That is why someone cannot incur guilt for sin if he does what he thinks to be right. If the Pope *believes* them to be law-breakers (and he apparently does), then he must rectify their status so that may have standing as his subject, standing needed before he considers their forty-four questions.


  20. Anonymous5:59 AM

    I think Catholics in Albany and Rochester NY have competitor's for worst Bishops ever in N. America.

  21. Anonymous9:05 AM

    Joe B, I think the same.We find Saint Athanasius saying what is the Church: " Even if Catholic faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ" and other: "They have churches,but we have the faith"

  22. Anonymous9:38 PM

    On Mr. LaPietra's comments:

    I don't disagree with your main contention. However, I would like to add that this Pope tends to be scupulous in matters of priniple. Whether or not he always get the principles themselves right is debatable, perhaps, but he does seem to like to respect Moral Law. That is why this consideration might make sense to him.

    I agree that faith, not law, got the S.S.P.X to the table.


  23. Anonymous9:41 PM

    I insist that Bishop Remi De Rogue, um, I mean, De Roo, was the worst bishop ever. Worse than Hubbard, for example. And he is very famous for how bad he was, both on doctrine and on finances. I don't care so much that he as the 18 million dollar man. What bothers me more includes the Winnipeg Statement but goes way beyond it. His love of South American Marxist rebels seems to have paid off though. After yesterday's election results in El Salvador, he can now go to the jungle there and try to spread the Revolution to neighbouring countries--during a recession. Good luck.



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