Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 2:30 pm
Franzelin on the Vacancy of the Holy See
Translated by James Larrabee.
VACANCY OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE
15. "Hence the distinction arises between the seat [sedes, See] and the one sitting in it [sedens], by reason of perpetuity. The seat, that is the perpetual right of the primacy, never ceases, on the part of God in His unchangeable law and supernatural providence, and on the part of the Church in her right and duty of forever keeping as a deposit the power divinely instituted on behalf of the individual successors of Peter, and of securing their succession by a fixed law; but the individual heirs or those sitting [sedentes] in the Apostolic seat are mortal men; and therefore the seat can never fail, but it can be *vacant* and often is vacant. Then indeed the divine law and institution of perpetuity remains, and by the same reason the right and duty in the Church of procuring the succession according to the established law; there remain also the participations in the powers [of the papacy] to the extent they are communicable to others [e.g. to the Cardinals or bishops], and have been communicated by the successor of Peter while still alive, or have been lawfully established and not abrogated [thus the jurisdiction of bishops, granted by the Pope, does not cease when he dies]; but the highest power itself, together with its rights and prerogatives, which can in no way exist except in the one individual heir of Peter, now actually belong to no one while the See is vacant.
"From this can be understood the distinction in the condition of the Church herself in the time of the *vacancy of the See* and the time of the *occupation of the See* [sedis plenae], namely that in the former time, a successor of Peter, the visible rock and visible head of the Church, *is owed* to the vacant Apostolic See by divine right or law but *does not yet exist*; in the time of the occupation of the See he now *actually sits* by divine right. It is most important to consider the very root of the whole life of the Church, by which I mean the indefectibility and infallible custody of the deposit of the faith. Certainly there remains in the Church not only indefectibility *in believing* (called passive infallibility) but also infallibility *in proclaiming* the truth already revealed and already sufficiently proposed for Catholic belief, even while she is for a time bereaved of her visible head, so that neither the whole body of the Church in its belief, nor the whole Episcopate in its teaching, can depart from the faith handed down and fall into heresy, because this permanence of the Spirit of truth in the Church, the kingdom and spouse and body of Christ, is included in the very promise and institution of the indefectibility of the Church *for all days* even to the consummation of the world. The same is to be said, by the same reasoning, for the unity of communion against a universal schism, as for the truth of the faith against heresy. For the divine law and promise of perpetual succession in the See of Peter, as the root and center of Catholic unity, remains; and to this law and promise correspond, on the part of the Church, not only the right and duty of, but also indefectibility in, legitimately procuring and receiving the succession and in keeping the unity of communion with the Petrine See EVEN WHEN VACANT, in view of the successor who is awaited and will indefectibly come ... " (Franzelin, op. cit., p. 221-223)
16. " ...When the Pope dies, says Cano [a leading theologian of the 16th century], the Church, without doubt, remains *one*, and the *Spirit of truth* remains in her; but she is left crippled [manca] and diminished without the Vicar of Christ and the one pastor of the Catholic Church. Therefore, although *truth even then is in the Church*; but if CONTROVERSIES OVER THE FAITH AND RELIGION SHOULD ARISE, *THE JUDGMENTS OF THE CHURCH* which is without a head on earth *WILL NOT BE AS CERTAIN*." (Ibid. p. 223)
17. "On account of the distinction as explained [between sedes and sedens], in so far as the Apostolic See can never fail in its permanence by divine right and law, but the individual occupants [sedentes], being mortal, fail at intervals, the APOSTOLIC SEE ITSELF, as the necessary foundation and center of unity of the Church can never be called in doubt without heresy; but it can happen sometimes, in great disturbances, and it is evident from history that it has happened, that many men, while holily keeping the Faith and veneration towards the Apostolic See as true Catholics, without their own fault are not able to acknowledge the one seated in the Apostolic See, and therefore while in no way falling into heresy, slip into schism, which however is not formal but only material. Thus in the lamentable disturbance throughout forty years, from Urban VI until Gregory XII [the Great Western Schism], Catholics were split into two and then three obediences, as they were then called, while all acknowledged and revered the divine rights of the Apostolic See; nevertheless, not acknowledging the right of the one seated in the Apostolic See, from invincible ignorance of the lawful succession [i.e. as to which claimant was the lawful successor] and thus adhering either to no one, or to a pseudo-pontiff. Among these, even saints such as St. Vincent Ferrer for a time, and his brother Boniface, a Carthusian Prior, were implicated in material schism." (Ibid. p. 223-4)