by Rev. Nicolás E. Despósito

1. What is “THE THESIS”?

THE THESIS[1] is the name commonly given to a theological conclusion held by traditional Roman Catholics who, in order to adequately explain the current crisis of authority in the Catholic Church, assert that the See of Peter is formally vacant.

A Theological conclusion (Latin: sententia theologica) is a firm and certain theological doctrine which flows from principles which are derived from revelation and right reason.

Traditional Roman Catholics, in opposition to Novus Ordo Catholics. Traditionalism is the generic name given to the Catholic movement which rejects the doctrinal, disciplinary, and liturgical changes of Vatican II. Traditional Catholics attend the Traditional Latin Mass. Novus Ordo Catholics are baptized Catholics who either agree with Vatican II doctrines, or are unaware either of the Council itself or of the nature of the changes. Novus Ordo Catholics attend the Novus Ordo Missae, the new rite of the Mass approved by Paul VI, which is the liturgical expression of Vatican II. Hence the name. Some Novus Ordites attend the Traditional Latin Mass in places approved by the local Novus Ordo bishop.

The current crisis of authority, i.e., the present-day Catholic hierarchy being deprived of the power to rule the Church. Authority, or ecclesiastical  jurisdiction, is the public power of governing and leading the faithful towards the goal of eternal life. THE THESIS claims that the current occupant of the See of Peter, although validly elected, has not received papal authority by reason of an obstacle.

Formal vacancy, as opposed to 1) those who recognize (and resist) authority in “Vatican II popes” (lefebvrists),  2) those who recognize neither authority nor valid elections since the death of Pius XII (totalists).

2. Who was the first proponent of THE THESIS?

The first proponent of THE THESIS was Most Rev. Michel-Louis Guérard des Lauriers O.P. (25 October 1898 – 27 February 1988), a French Dominican theologian.

3. What is the basis for THE THESIS’ claim that the See of Peter is formally vacant?

The basis for THE THESIS’ claim that the See of Peter is formally vacant is the universal imposition of Vatican II doctrines.

THE THESIS holds that Vatican II has imposed a new and false religion upon the Church’s institutions. THE THESIS does not argue that the “Vatican II popes” are false popes because they are heretics, as some contend, but rather because they intend to impose heresy on the universal Church. The current crisis is not a problem about the pope as he is a private person, to the point of perhaps being a public heretic as a private individual. THE THESIS argues that it is impossible for the pope and the Roman Catholic Church to universally impose a false religion, since this would destroy the Church’s unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity; the imposition of false doctrines is defection, and defection cannot be ascribed to the true Church of Christ.

4. What is Vatican II?

Vatican II designates the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), a robber council celebrated under John XXIII and Paul VI with the objective of radically changing the Catholic religion, under the disguise of an aggiornamento (bringing the Church up to date). The idea of changing the Church from within was the main goal of Modernism.

Robber Council (Latrocinium, Latin for “robbery”) is the term given to an illegitimate general council. Pope Leo I (Saint Leo the Great) used the expression  to describe the so-called Second Council of Ephesus.

Modernism is a synthesis of all heresies, famously condemned by the Church under the  indefatigable zeal of Pope St. Pius X. The main documents published against Modernism are the decree Lamentabili Sane Exitu and encyclical letter Pascendi Dominici Gregis (both in 1907). Pascendi described the “Modernist” in seven “roles”: as a purely immanentist philosopher, as a believer who relies only on his own religious experience, as theologian who understands dogma only symbolically, as historian and biblical scholar who dissolves divine revelation by means of the historical-critical method into purely immanent processes of development, as apologist who justifies the Christian truth only from immanence, and as reformer who wants to change the Church in a radical way. Agnosticism, immanentism, evolutionism and reformism are the keywords used by the pope to describe the philosophical and theological system of Modernism. The Modernist is an enemy of scholastic philosophy and theology and resists the teachings of the magisterium. His moral qualities are curiosity, arrogance, ignorance, and falsehood. Modernists deceive the simple believers by not presenting their entire system, but only parts of it.

5. Are we certain that Vatican II was an illegitimate Council?

Yes, there is absolute certainty about Vatican II’s illegitimacy. Vatican II promulgated doctrines which are contrary to the Catholic Faith. The Roman Catholic Church is an infallible and indefectible institution, the pillar and ground of the truth (I Tim. 3:15), whereas Vatican II erred and defected. Error and defection cannot proceed from divine authority, but only from human authority. A legitimate general council enjoys the infallible authority of the universal ordinary magisterium of the Church. The fact that Vatican II erred shows that it was not infallible; the fact that Vatican II was not infallible shows that it did not exercise the universal ordinary magisterium of the Church; the fact that Vatican II did not exercise the infallible magisterium shows that it had no authority to begin with, or, in other words, that it was illegitimate, a robber council.

Infallibility is the inability of the Church to err in matters of faith and morals.

Indefectibility  (of  the   Church).[2] That  prerogative of the Church in virtue of which it will  endure to the end of time, keeping in­violate the deposit transmitted to it by its divine Spouse (therefore, it implies also infallibility). This pre­rogative, too, flows from the very nature and purpose of the Church; since, in fact, the Church is to take over and continue Christ’s work, it must last  as  long  as  there  is a  soul to be saved on earth. Moreover, the Savior has explicitly promised: “Be­hold l am with you all days, even to the consummation of  the  world… and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it [the Church]” (Matt. 28:20; 16:18).[3]

6. Which are the main heretical doctrines promulgated by Vatican II?

The main heretical doctrines promulgated by Vatican II are 1) religious liberty, 2) ecumenism, 3) salvation by means of non-Catholic sects, 4) denial of the Church’s visibility and unity, 5) partial communion. This list of errors is by no means exhaustive.

7. How does THE THESIS explain the manner in which “Vatican II popes” are deprived of authority?

THE THESIS explains the manner in which “Vatican II popes” are deprived of authority by arguing a defect of intention which is an obstacle to the proper acceptance of the papacy.

A person validly elected to the papacy must accept the obligations attached to the papal office. Such requirements can be found explicitly in the papal oath which the pope-elect once took; the custom lasted many centuries and eventually fell into disuse. The obligations expressed by the oath derive from the very nature of the office, in such a way that an intention on the part of the elect not to fulfill such obligations would prevent the election from attaining its proper effect. THE THESIS argues that a pope-elect who intends to impose false doctrines upon the Church (such as the Vatican II errors) does not intend to properly fulfill the obligations attached to the papal office and therefore cannot be the pope formally, i.e., with authority, until he removes this voluntary obstacle.

8. If “Vatican II popes” are deprived of authority, doesn’t that mean that they have nothing of the papacy?

No. THE THESIS affirms that “Vatican II popes” although they have no authority to rule the Church by reason of a defect of intention, they nevertheless retain an aspect of the papacy, namely, a valid election. According to THE THESIS, “Vatican II popes” are popes materially (materialiter) but not formally (formaliter).

The scholastic distinction between matter and form is commonly used by the Church to explain doctrinal, moral, and canonical questions. Its analogical application to the papacy is commonly taught by theologians.[4] Between the election and the acceptance, the designated subject has the ultimate disposition to receive authority. THE THESIS recognizes, on the one hand, the pope-elect status of the person designated by the cardinals, since papal elections must be assumed valid until the Church legally declares otherwise, and on the other hand demonstrates that a proper acceptance of the election has not occurred by reason of an obstacle (defect of intention).

9. Is the College of Cardinals the only body that can validly elect the Pope?

Yes, the College of Cardinals is the only body that can validly elect the Pope. Pope Pius XII, echoing his predecessors, affirms that “the right to elect the Roman Pontiff belongs solely and exclusively to the Cardinals.”[5]

10. If “Vatican II popes” are not formally popes, how can they appoint cardinals?

“Vatican II popes” are able to appoint cardinals not with ordinary power which they lack by reason of an obstacle, but with supplied power, which Christ directly grants to them for those acts which are absolutely necessary for the Church to continue existing and functioning. One of those necessary acts is the appointment of papal electors. Perpetual successors of Peter demand perpetual electors of Peter. When there is no pope, the papacy remains, in a sense, in the College of Cardinals, since the cardinals are able to produce the matter, i.e., the subject recipient of authority (form)[6].

The granting of supplied power by Christ to a false pope is a hypothesis discussed, among others, by the theologians Zapelena, Wilmers, Franzelin, and Billuart. The principle invoked is the following: the jurisdiction necessary for the functioning of the Church as an institution is supplied by Christ when ordinary jurisdiction is lacking, since the common good of the Church requires it.

11. What is, according to THE THESIS the foundation for the suppleance of jurisdiction in “Vatican II popes”?

According to THE THESIS the foundation for the suppleance of jurisdiction in “Vatican II popes” is the possession of a true title[7] to the papacy in virtue of an election. In matters of jurisdiction, the word title refers to any act that establishes a right or a capacity.[8] The act of election by the cardinals establishes the capacity in the elect of receiving supreme power to rule the Church, provided that the election be properly accepted. Since a defect of intention prevents “Vatican II popes” from receiving ordinary supreme power, the only power “Vatican II popes” are capable of receiving is supplied power, which Christ directly grants to them for those acts which are absolutely necessary for the Church to continue existing and functioning.

Pope Pius XII teaches in the encyclical letter Mystici Corporis that the juridical principles, on which the Church rests and is established, derive from the divine constitution given to it by Christ and contribute to the attaining of its supernatural end[9]. THE THESIS affirms that the suppleance of jurisdiction in “Vatican II popes” is the only way to guarantee the continuity of the Church as an organization juridically constituted. THE THESIS does not say that the post-conciliar hierarchy enjoys supplied jurisdiction for each and every ecclesiastical act. The common good of the Church prevents those who intend to impose false doctrines from having habitual power. The suppleance is guaranteed only for those acts which are absolutely necessary for the continuation of the Catholic Church. The importance of a proper understanding of a legal title as the foundation of supplied jurisdiction cannot be overemphasized.

 12. If “Vatican II popes” can receive supplied power to appoint cardinals, why cannot sedevacantist bishops elect the pope with supplied power?

The reason why sedevacantist bishops are unable to receive supplied jurisdiction to elect the pope is because they do not possess any title to jurisdiction.

The jurisdiction which is ordered to the government of the Church (whether ordinary, delegated, or supplied)requires a legal title, which can only be obtained by election or convalidation[10].

Sedevacantist bishops do not have, nor claim to have,  a title to the jurisdiction which is properly of government, belonging to the external forum, which produces juridical effects of a public nature, and is attached by law to an ecclesiastical office.[11]

13. Is it possible that the elections of “Vatican II popes” have in fact been invalid, and thus unable to grant a true title?

Yes. It is not outside the realm of possibility that some or all papal elections since the death of Pope Pius XII were invalid and therefore unable to grant a true title to the papacy. In the practical order, however, this would change nothing. In the absence of a true title it is evident that “Vatican II popes” would possess a colored title.

A dictionary of Catholic theology explains:

Ancient canonists and theologians distinguished four kinds of titles: 1) true or legitimate, given by competent authority under the required forms, to a capable subject. This title confers a genuine jurisdiction; 2) invalid, which lacks one of the essential conditions or is made void by the law, a defect which is usually public and can be easily known; 3) colored, which has all the appearances, the colors, of validity but which in reality has no value or effect, by reason of a hidden defect; 4) putative or presumed, which is falsely believed to have been given, but which in reality does not exist and has never been granted. In matters of jurisdiction properly so called, it goes without saying that an invalid title or a putative title are unable of themselves to transmit or create legitimately an ordinary or delegated power. And yet these two kinds of titles can serve as the basis for the “common error”, because they are capable of creating in the community a false judgment about the existence of the jurisdiction. However, in the case of a common error, the Church declares to supply the jurisdiction. Cf. Canon 209. For a greater reason, if there is a colored title, the common error will happen almost automatically and will produce the same effects as a true and legitimate title.[12]

A colored title depends upon perception. How many of the 1.3 billion Catholics perceive that the current occupant of the See of Peter is not the pope? Traditional Catholics are less than 0.1 percent of the total of baptized Catholics. Sedevacantists are a minority among Traditional Catholics. And a great number of Sedevacantists hold THE THESIS.  

14. Why does THE THESIS insist upon recognizing the validity of the election of “Vatican II popes”?

THE THESIS insists upon recognizing the validity of the election of “Vatican II popes” because it is not up to a mob of private individuals to determine the validity of papal elections, but to the authority of the Catholic Church. An attempt at appropriating a right which belongs exclusively to a general council[13] would be very dangerous and savoring of schism.

The consequences of not adhering to solid theological and canonical principles has produced the error of conclavism. Conclavism affirms that the right to elect the pope today belongs not to the present-day cardinals (by reason of their “heresy”) but to “the Church”, that is to say, to (sedevacantist) Catholics bishops. Conclavists fail to understand, first, that, according to Canon Law[14], heretics who have not been sentenced are able to validly elect and be elected. This is especially true of cardinals who participate in the conclave. Let us recall that simple heresy, i.e., unsentenced heresy, only carries with it simple excommunication, which is suspended during the conclave.[15] Pius XII removes all doubt: “None of Cardinals can be in any way excluded from active and passive election of the Supreme Pontiff, on the pretext or cause of any excommunication, suspension, interdict, or other ecclesiastical impediment; indeed, We suspend these censures only as to the effect of this election, but they shall otherwise retain their force.”[16] The Rev. P. Chas. Augustine, O.S.B.,[17] in a footnote to his Commentary on Canon Law asks the following question: what if, by a very improbable supposition, an excommunicated cardinal should be elected Pope? And this is his answer: “he would go to confession or ask any confessor to absolve him from the censure. That is all.”

 Conclavists fail to understand, secondly, that no true representation of the universal Church is possible without bishops with jurisdiction. Sedevacantist bishops have no link whatsoever to the hierarchy of jurisdiction and therefore have no right nor power to make juridical decisions in the Catholic Church. 

15. What is, according to THE THESIS the justification for an apostolate (i.e., the preaching of the Faith and the administration of the sacraments) during the current formal vacancy of the See of Peter?

According to THE THESIS the apostolate of faithful priests and bishops is not only justified but even necessary during the current formal vacancy of the See of Peter on account of the grave necessity of the faithful caused by Vatican II.

Since those appointed to positions of authority are not carrying out the command Christ gave to His Church: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 28:19), it is up to faithful priests and bishops to continue in an extraordinary manner the mission of the Church, otherwise the eternal salvation of faithful Catholics – and potential converts – would be gravely at risk. The sacraments are morally necessary for salvation. Therefore, the intention of Christ and of the Church is that the sacraments be always available, since “the salvation of souls is the highest law” (salus animarum suprema lex).[18] 

16. What does adherence to THE THESIS mean for a Catholic?

Adherence to THE THESIS means for a Catholic (1) the total rejection of the Vatican II religion, which requires (2) repudiation of the conciliar and post-conciliar reforms and of the widespread heteropraxis which confirms the heretical nature of Vatican II, (3) avoidance of the Novus Ordo Mass, and (4) avoidance of Traditional Latin Masses offered in union with (una cum) the current papal claimant, (5) recognition of the ability to elect a true pope and of the ability of a “Vatican II pope” to repudiate Vatican II and its reforms, and thereby to become a true pope.

Total rejection of Vatican II. The Catholic Faith must be integral, or it does not exist at all. A necessary condition to remain Catholic today is the total repudiation of Vatican II and the “Vatican II popes”.

Repudiation of the conciliar and post-conciliar reforms and of the widespread heteropraxis which confirms the heretical nature of Vatican II.  The heretical nature of this council is confirmed by (1) the doctrinal interpretation given to Vatican II by Paul VI and his successors in their decrees, encyclicals, catechisms, and other documents; (2) the series of abominations perpetrated by Paul VI and his successors against the First Commandment of God, in the form of ecumenical ceremonies which constitute false worship, even to pagan deities in some cases; (3) the alteration of the Sacred Liturgy in such a way that the Catholic Mass has been replaced by a Protestant supper service; (4) the tampering with the matter and form of the sacraments so that many of them, but most notably the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders, including episcopal consecration, labor under doubt or invalidity; (5) the promulgation of disciplines, especially the 1983 Code of Canon Law and the Ecumenical Directory, which approve of sacrilege against the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Matrimony, and which demonstrate heresies concerning the unity of the Church as their theoretical basis; (6) the scandalous mockery made of the Sacrament of Matrimony by the granting of annulments for spurious reasons, constituting an abandonment of the sacred doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage; (7) the fact that Paul VI and his successors are in communion with manifest heretics, have openly declared themselves to be in communion with non-Catholic sects, and have recognized an apostolic mission in the clergy of non-Catholics, all of which destroys the unity of faith.

Avoidance of the Novus Ordo Mass. Lex orandi, lex credendi: The law of what is prayed is the law of what is believed. Rejecting Vatican II necessarily includes avoidance of the liturgical abomination known as the “New Mass”. The Mass of Paul VI is Protestant, Modernist, sacrilegious and even invalid.

Avoidance of una cum Masses. In order that a Mass be a Catholic Mass, it is not sufficient that it be merely valid, but it must also be offered in union with and in submission and obedience to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Just as you cannot divorce Catholicism from the Catholic hierarchy, so you cannot divorce the Mass, the central act of worship, from the Catholic hierarchy.

When a true pope is reigning, the Mass must contain the name of the true pope in the first prayer of the Canon, the Te igitur. If the bishop of the diocese is living, his name must also be pronounced in the same place. This is a profession of communion with the Roman Pontiff and with his representative, the bishop of the diocese, and therefore of submission and obedience to them as well. This small but very important gesture is what distinguishes a Catholic Mass from a schismatic Mass.

How is a Mass Catholic, then, when there is a vacancy in the Roman See? In order that the Mass be Catholic in the Roman vacancy, it is necessary that no name of a pope be mentioned in the Canon for as long as the see is vacant. There is still a profession of communion, submission, and obedience to the Roman Pontiff inasmuch as the faithful are awaiting the election of a new pope, to whom they will be duly submitted.

Naming a false pope (and leader of a false religion) in the Canon of the Mass is schismatic, such a Mass is not a Catholic Mass but falls into the category of false worship.[19] The una cum Mass is a lie and a sacrilege.

Recognition of the material reality of the papacy as it exists today. THE THESIS is the only position that offers a way out of the present crisis. The problem began in Rome. The solution will end in Rome. According to THE THESIS, if the obstacle (intention to impose Vatican II) is removed, the elect automatically becomes the pope. And now I have told you before it comes to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe. (John 14:29)

[1] Alternate names: “Thesis of Guérard des Lauriers”, “Thesis of Cassiciacum”, “Formal Sedevacantism”, “Material-Formal Thesis”, “Sedeprivationism”.

[2] Indefectibility is the quality or property of the Church, given to her by Christ, by which it will remain in that unchanged state until the end of time, just as Christ has founded it. The definition includes: [1] the existence of the Church never to be interrupted; [2] the identity of being, i.e., its absolute continuity and changelessness, in regard to all things which pertain to the essence of the Church; [3] the perennial visibility of the Church, since we have proven that visibility pertains to the essence of the Church. But what is not excluded is [1] the progress of men in believing, explaining, and scientifically declaring the law of Christ; [2] the changes of those things which the Savior in particular left to the Church to determine, such as certain times of fasting, etc. Indefectibility is called by some perpetuity. De Groot O.P., Summa Apologetica de Ecclesia Catholica, Qu. VIII, Art. I, Ratisbonae, 1906.

[3] Dictionary of DOGMATIC THEOLOGY, by Msgrs. Pietro Parente, Antonio Piolanti, Salvatore Garofalo. Translated by Rev. Emmanuel Doronzo, O.M.I. First English Edition, Third Printing (1957). Bruce Publishing Company.

[4] Saint Robert Bellarmine: “When Cardinals create the Pontiff, they exercise their authority not over the Pontiff, because he does not yet exist; but over the matter, that is, over the person whom they dispose in a certain measure through election, that he might receive the form of the pontificate from God.” De Romano Pontifice, lib II, cap. XXX.

Saint Antoninus of Florence: “The power of the Pope remains in the Church and in the College with respect to that which is material in the papacy, since after the death of the Pope the College is able, through election, to determine a person to the papacy, that it be such or such a one.” Summa Sacrae Theologiae, pars III, tit. XXI, n.3

[5] Ius eligendi Romanum Pontificem ad S. R. E. Cardinales unice et privative pertinet. Pius XII, Const. Apost. Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, 1945. A.A.S., vol. XXXVIII (1946), n. 3, pp. 65-69.

[6] “The power of the Church, therefore, does not perish with regard to jurisdiction, which is something formal in the papacy, when the pope dies, but it remains in Christ. Nor does it perish with regard to the election and determination of the person, which is as something material, but it remains in the College of Cardinals.” St. Antoninus of Florence O.P. Summa Theologiae, III pars, cap. II, p. 376.

[7] A title is defined as the concrete fact upon which a definite person’s right to a definite juridical object is based. Bernard Wuellner, S.J. Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy, The Bruce Publishing Company, 1956,p. 125.

[8] “En matière juridictionnelle, le mot titre se dit de tout acte qui établit un droit ou une qualité. Il peut s’entendre aussi de la cause en vertu de laquelle on possède ou on réclame ce droit; il peut enfin signifier ce droit lui-même. Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (DTC), “Titre”, III. Titre de juridiction.

[9] Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 63.

[10] The theologian Joannes de Lugo, responding to the objection of an adversary who is trying to justify the suppleance of  temporal power in a tyrant by equating this to the case of suppleance of jurisdiction in an usurper of the papacy,  teaches that the papal usurper cannot receive power either from Christ or from the Church because of the lack of a legal title which can only be granted by implicit or explicit designation (my emphasis). Joannes de Lugo, Disputationes Scholasticae et Morales (Tom. 7), Paris, 1893.

[11] According to the Dictionary of Moral Theology, ecclesiastical jurisdiction may be defined as the authority belonging to the Church, as a perfect society, of ruling her members for the attainment of their eternal salvation. This power, which is of divine institution, includes legislative, executive, and judicial authority. Thus, while the power of orders stems from the sacrament of Holy Orders and is immediately directed to the sanctification of her members, the power of jurisdiction or government springs from the very nature of the Church as a supreme and perfect society that needs to be guided and governed in order fully to attain her spiritual end. Ordinarily, ecclesiastical jurisdiction can only be exercised by clerics (Can. 118).

Ecclesiastical jurisdiction has a twofold nature, and consists of an internal and an external forum. Jurisdiction of the external forum concerns the common good directly; it governs social relations, and its exercise produces juridical effects of a public nature. The jurisdiction of the internal forum aims chiefly at the good of each member; it regulates the relations between the faithful and God, and its exercise is productive of moral effects. The jurisdiction of the internal forum (or forum of conscience) is called “of the sacramental forum” if it is exercised only in sacramental confession; in other circumstances it is called “of the extra-sacramental internal forum.”

Jurisdiction is also ordinary and delegated.

Ordinary jurisdiction is that which is attached by law to an ecclesiastical office (Can. 197, par. 21). It is called proper if it is exercised in one’s name (e.g., by the Supreme Pontiff or by the Ordinary, etc.) or delegated (vicarious) if it is exercised in another’s name (e.g., by the Roman Congregations or by the Cardinal Vicar in the name of the Supreme Pontiff, by the Vicar General in the Bishop’s name, etc.).

Some of those who enjoy ordinary jurisdiction are called Ordinaries by the Code. These are the Roman Pontiff (who exercises his power either directly or through the Apostolic See, i.e., Congregations, Tribunals, and Offices), resident bishops, abbots and prelates nullius, with their Vicars General, Apostolic Administrators, Vicars and Prefects Apostolic (called Ordinarii locorum because their jurisdiction is of a territorial nature); finally, major superiors of exempt clerical Congregations, who are properly called Prelates Regular, or simply Ordinaries.

Source: “Jurisdiction”, in the Dictionary of Moral Theology, Roberti/Palazzini, The Newman Press, 1957 (English Trans. 1962).

[12] Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (DTC), “Titre”, III. Titre de juridiction.

[13] The Council of Constance (1414-1418), on Session XXXIX, gives us the key principle governing the question of the validity of elections: “The cardinals may not proceed to another election until a council has reached a decision about the election, unless the person elected resigns or dies.” This principle is essentially the same as the one dealing with a heretical pope: “The interpretation of the law is that the right of election returns to the cardinals only once the declaratory sentence of the crime has been made.”  Cardinal Gian Girolamo Albani, De Potestate Papae et Concilii, revised and augmented edition of 1561, Venice.

[14] Cf. CIC, Canon 2265. This question is thoroughly discussed in the article On the Canonical Crime of Heresy in Relation to the Thesis, by Rev. Damien Dutertre.

[15] Canonists interpret Can. 2265 (regarding excommunication) as applying to unsentenced heretics. MacKenzie (The Delict of Heresy p. 91) explicitly teaches that unsentenced heretics are only illicitly placed in office, while sentenced heretics whether tolerati or vitandi, are invalidly elected or appointed, and do not receive the office at all.

[16] Nullus Cardinalium, cuiuslibet excom- municationis, suspensionis, interdicti aut alius ecclesiastici impedimenti praetextu vel causa a Summi Pontificis electione activa et passiva excludi ullo modo potest; quas quidem censuras ad effectum huiusmodi electionis tantum, illis alias in suo robore permansuris, suspendimus. Pius XII, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, n. 34.

[17] P. Chas. Augustine, O.S.B., D.D., A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law, Herder, 1922, vol. VIII, p. 190.

[18] The administration of the sacraments requires not only valid ordination but jurisdiction as well. Sacramental jurisdiction is sought and obtained in ordinary times from the bishop of the diocese. However, in these times of the vacancy of the episcopal sees owing to the promotion of heresy, jurisdiction to distribute the sacraments comes from the principle of epicheia, which is the favorable interpretation of the will of the lawmaker in the absence of the lawmaker. This principle, therefore, demands two things in order that it can be validly cited and used for sacramental jurisdiction: (1) the absence of the lawmaker, and (2) a reasonable cause by which to presume the permission of the absent lawmaker. If either of these conditions should be lacking, then epicheia could not be used for sacramental jurisdiction.

[19] And there is the dilemma of the Mass offered by the priests of the Society Saint Pius X: if the current occupant of the See of Peter is the pope, then their Masses are schismatic, since they are being offered without the pope’s authorization. If the current occupant of the See of Peter is not the pope, then their Masses are schismatic, since they are being offered in union with a false pope.