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The Interruption of the Mission To Teach Among Sedevacantists

Several popes have taught that the mission of teaching must be perpetually maintained by the Church, that the fulfillment of this mission is uninterrupted.

Pius XI, Mortalium Animos:

"Now, in truth, his Church, Christ Our Lord, has established it in a perfect society, external by nature and perceptible to the senses, with the mission of continuing in the future the work of salvation of the human race, under the guidance of one leader (Matth. XVI, 18; Luc. XXII, 32; Joan. XXI, 15-17), through oral teaching (Mark. XVI, 15) and through the administration of the sacraments, sources of heavenly grace (Joan. III, 5; VI, 48-59; XX, 22; cf. Matth. XVIII, 18; etc.) That is why, in the parables, he declared it like a kingdom (Matth. XIII), to a house (cf. Matt. XVI, 18), to a cradle (Joan. X, 16) and a herd (Joan. XXI, 15-17). Undoubtedly, this Church, so admirably established, could not end or die at the death of its Founder and the Apostles who were the first to spread it, for it had been commanded to lead, without distinction of time and place, all men to eternal salvation: "Go therefore and teach all nations" (Matth. XXVIII, 19). In the uninterrupted accomplishment of this mission, will the Church be able to lack strength and efficiency, when Christ himself lends her his continual assistance: "Behold, I am with you, every day, until the consummation of the ages" (Matth. XXVIII, 20)?

It is, therefore, impossible not only that the Church does not subsist today and always, but also that she does not subsist absolutely the same as in apostolic times; - unless we want to say - God forbid! - or that Christ Our Lord failed in his plan or that he was wrong when he said that the gates of hell would never prevail against it (Matth. XVI, 18)."

Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum:

"But as we have said elsewhere, the mission of the Apostles was not such as to perish with the very person of the Apostles, or to disappear with time, for it was a public mission instituted for the salvation of the human race. Jesus Christ, in fact, commanded the Apostles to preach "the gospel to every creature," and "to bear His Name before peoples and kings," and to "serve as witnesses to Him to the ends of the earth." And, in the accomplishment of this great mission, He promised to be with them, and this not for a few years or a few periods of years, but for all times, "until the consumption of the century."

From this, it must be inferred that the mission of preaching and teaching the Catholic faith cannot be interrupted.

According to Leo XIII (Satis Cognitum) "It is therefore necessary that on a permanent basis remains, on the one hand, the constant and immutable mission of teaching all that Jesus Christ Himself taught; on the other hand, the constant and immutable obligation to accept and profess all the doctrine thus taught."

However, sedevacantist bishops do not have the power to preach and teach; since to receive these powers one must receive a mission.

Indeed, all the bishops appointed by Pius XII died (see here).

The remaining bishops were therefore unable to receive a mission from the pope, from the sedevacantist point of view.

Pius XII says in particular that the power of teaching can only be received by a bishop through the pope (in Ad Apostolorum Principis):

"It follows that bishops who have not been appointed or confirmed by the Holy See, who have even been chosen and consecrated against its explicit provisions, cannot enjoy any power of magisterium or jurisdiction; for jurisdiction reaches the bishops only through the Roman Pontiff, as We warned you in Our Encyclical Mystici Corporis:
The bishops... as far as their own diocese is concerned, each as a true Shepherd, grazes and governs in the name of Christ the flock assigned to him. Yet in their government they are not fully independent, but they are subject to the legitimate authority of the Roman Pontiff, and if they enjoy the ordinary power of jurisdiction, this power is immediately communicated to them by the Supreme Pontiff." 29 June 1943. AAS 1943 pp. 211-212.

Other popes have taught that no one can preach if he has not been sent; in other words, if he has not been given the task of doing so.

We can quote Pope Lucius III, at the Provincial Council of Verona, condemning those who claimed to preach without any mission of the Pope or a jurisdictional bishop:

Denzinger 761

"And because some under the guise of piety... Arrogate to themselves the authority to preach... we bind by the same bond of anathema all those who, while forbidden to do so or were not sent, dare to preach privately or publicly without having received the power of the Apostolic See or the bishop of the place."

This teaching was repeated by Innocent III at the Lateran IV Ecumenical Council in 1215:

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"Because 'some,' as the Apostle says, 'having the appearances of piety, but denying the Force "2 Tim 3:5, arrogate to themselves the right to preach, while the same Apostle says: "How will they preach if they are not sent?" Rom 10:15 , all those to whom this has been forbidden or who have not been sent, and who dare to usurp, in public or in private, the office of preaching without authorization given by the Apostolic See or by the Catholic Bishop of the place "761, will be excommunicated; if they do not promptly resipisce, they shall be punished by another appropriate punishment."

Thus, the sedevacantist clerics who claim to preach when they have no power to do so, because they have not been sent by anyone, are in reality usurpers who do not accomplish this mission of teaching which must remain in the Church without interruption.

Therefore, for the mission of teaching and preaching to be uninterrupted, there must always be jurisdictional bishops in the Church, sent by the Pope; and preachers sent by the jurisdictional bishops.

This is probably why Leo XIII suggests that the Church cannot be deprived of pastors (Leo XIII always heard this term as "jurisdictional bishops" (diocesan, etc.)) in Eximia Nos Laetitia:

"All understood that no one is allowed to affirm, or that the Catholic Church was somehow exiled from France by Pius VII, or that it was reduced to residing only in a few men deprived of pastors. "

"Absolutely no bishop considers them and governs them as his sheep. They must conclude from this, with certainty and evidence, that they are defectors from the fold of Christ."

In this quote, "governing" refers to the power of government that pastors have. And the words "like his sheep" confirm this, since a non-jurisdictional bishop cannot consider people "as his sheep" and even less govern them "as his sheep".

Bishop Van Noort teaches that the Church must always be led by pastors who are the successors of the Apostles, and that a bishop becomes the full successor of the Apostles only by possessing the complete powers of the Apostles, that is, of the two powers of order and jurisdiction:

"It has already been proven that Christ himself founded a living organization, a visible Church. If one accepts this fact, it should be obvious that an essential part of the structure of this Church is the apostolicity of government.


The apostolicity of government–or mission, or authority–means that the Church is always led by pastors who form the same legal person with the apostles. In other words, it is always led by pastors who are the legitimate successors of the apostles.

It is obvious that a man does not become a true successor of the apostles simply by arrogating to himself the title of "bishop", or by exercising in one way or another a function formerly exercised by the apostles. Nor is it enough for a man to possess individual power, for example the power of order. The power of order can be acquired even illicitly, and once acquired, it can never be lost. What is required for a true apostolic succession is for a man to enjoy the complete powers (that is, ordinary powers, not extraordinary ones) of an apostle. It must therefore, in addition to the power of order, also possess the power of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction means the power to teach and govern. This power is conferred only by a legitimate authorization and, even if received once, it can be lost again by being revoked. »

Mgr Gerardus van Noort, Christ's Church (Volume II), p. 152


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