Comments on a Canon Liar


A response to the calumny of Rev. William J. King, CJD, judicial vicar of the Diocese of Harrisburg in his publication of accusations against Traditional Catholics on January 9, 2004


Human law, initially the means for providing internal order within a society has been corrupted, and so estranged from its proper end, that it is now the means for causing disorder within society.  The “Four Sins That Cry To Heaven For Vengeance” have become protected acts under law in the United States. 


The upshot of Vatican II, one might say its spirit, was the pathological desire to make the Church of Jesus Christ conform to the world.  Hitherto, the Church had always been the mother of high culture.  Where there was one priest faithful to Catholic doctrine, morals and worship, there was culture.  St. Damien among the lepers in Molokai is a good example of the transforming power of a single priest.  There are countless other examples in the history of the Church.  This secularizing spirit has exercised a corrupting influence on canon law, the human law of the Church, divorcing canon law from its proper end, and enrolling it in the service of ecumenism.  Ecumenism is not a Catholic doctrine.  It is not a moral obligation.  It is nothing more than a bureaucratic policy of operation.  So, what is the proper end of canon law?


The Church, like all creation, is hierarchical in every sense and only in understanding this structure can a Catholic have a true sense of the place and purpose of canon law.  St. Pius X in Pascendi says "every society needs a directing authority to guide its members toward the common end, to foster prudently the elements of cohesion, which in a religious society are doctrine and worship.  Hence the triple authority in the Catholic Church, disciplinary, dogmatic and liturgical” (emphasis his).  Note carefully that the purpose of the "directing authority" (i.e. disciplinary, canon law) is to direct the Church "toward the common end" which are "doctrine" (dogmatic) and "worship" (liturgical).


This "triple authority in the Catholic Church, disciplinary, dogmatic, and liturgical” corresponds to the governing, teaching and sanctifying power of the Church.  The power of jurisdiction concerns the governing of the Church.  It concerns matters of discipline.  It is the teaching and the sanctifying power of the Church that is concerned with matters of dogma.  The purpose of the jurisdiction is to protect and facilitate the teaching and sanctifying work of the Church by its legislative, judicial and coercive powers.  Canon law cannot be employed in any other sense.  It cannot be used as a weapon against doctrine, morals and worship.  Outside of its proper end, it has no power.  Just as no parent has the parental authority to command what is manifestly unjust, no bishop possesses the jurisdictional authority to forbid any of the immemorial traditions of the Roman Rite, including the traditional Roman Rite Mass.  And should he ever do so, as our local ordinary and his judicial vicar have done, let it be known that they "will incur the wrath of Almighty God and the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul" (Quo Primum).


Since Vatican II, the name “Catholic” has become meaningless.  When anyone describes himself as Catholic you can tell no more about what he believes than if he said he was a Rotarian.  To overcome this problem we have now Liberal (i.e. modernists), Conservative and Traditional appellations.  The Conservatives are impotent, sterile grumblers who can do no more than get in the way.  The fight for the Church is between the Liberals who have made the brotherhood of man their end, and the Traditionalists who have God as their end.  Some elements in this conflict have remained the same with each group over the past thirty years, but others have changed dramatically.


The liberal Novus Ordo Church has seen an unparalleled decline in their numbers.  Only 20% of Catholics keep the precepts of the Church.  Eighty-percent reject the Catholic doctrine of the True Presence.  There is poverty in vocations and conversions.  The religious houses are empty.  The liturgy is the very essence of bland spectacle.  They have made clerical attire the butt of late night jokes. Church closings and parishes without priests are common news.  From the very beginning, the Liberal Catholic attacks against Traditional Catholics in the fields of doctrine and morals have been thoroughly routed. That is because these attacks require the structure of real arguments.  In the field of arguments, the Liberal Catholic is disarmed.  Their one and only weapon has been the unjust use of canon law as a club to force their innovations on those who would have no part with them.  The comments made by Rev. William J. King  are the same unreasoned swinging of this club we have suffered under over the last thirty years, except in that Rev. King has not enough intellectual insight or imagination to structure a case without exposing himself as a liar. 


I mailed Rev. King the canonical opinion of Rev. John Huels, CJD, erstwhile head of the Servites, erstwhile professor of canon law at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and erstwhile assistant dean of canon law St. Paul’s University in Ottawa.  Rev. Huels, like Rev. King, is a priest; Rev. Huels, like Rev. King, is a canon lawyer; Rev. Huels, like Rev. King, is a confirmed enemy of Catholic Tradition; Rev. Huels, like Rev. King has no history of using canon law to protect the Church against pedophiles.  Rev. Huels had himself recently laicized after his long history as a homosexual predator was publicized.  


It would be unjust to conclude from this association that Rev. King is himself a pedophile, but guilt by association is the sort of game that Rev. King likes to play.  What it does establish is clear evidence of Rev. King’s priorities.  Excommunication is the most potent weapon that can be employed by Church authority.  Rev. King is now on record as having threatened this penalty against Traditional Catholics for doing what they have always done when they were simply known as Catholics.  We should be grateful that this is not the Middle Ages or we might find ourselves, like St. Joan of Arc, burning at the stake.


Stop for a moment and appreciate the hypocrisy of Rev. King.  He affirms against the Traditional Catholics of SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission, without providing a single shred of evidence, that “many of their doctrines and practices contradict Biblical revelation and authentic Catholic teaching,” and that “their theology contains certain doctrinal errors.”  He then exudes a paternal concern and threatens with excommunication any Catholic who would be associated with these supposed “errors.” Yet this is the same priest that permits Catholic children to attend Lutheran Bible Camps for their doctrinal formation. He is the same priest who endorses ecumenical prayer services with Moslems and Jews where the name of Jesus Christ is conveniently expelled.  These allegations against Traditional Catholics are pure calumny.  They will only convince those who are buried in doctrinal indifferentism and moral subjectivism.  The real problem for the liar, Rev. King, is that his audience is already convinced.


As for Rev. King’s remarks that attendance at the Traditional Roman Rite (Tridentine) Mass offered in the Church of SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission “does not satisfy the obligation for Catholics to participate in the Mass” and that anyone attending these Masses are in “schism,” I offer the same reply that was mailed to Rev. King last July:


……charge of “schism” leveled by Rev. King has been made before. Bishop Ferrario, of Honolulu on January 18, 1991 made the charge of schism against several lay Catholics and formally “excommunicated” them for doing the same thing that we are doing in the Diocese of Harrisburg.  The “excommunication” was nullified on appeal to Rome by Cardinal Ratzinger on June 4, 1993.  Apparently, Rev. King does not distinguish the difference between disobedience and schism.  He would accuse the “man born blind” in the gospel of St. John, chapter 9, of being a “schismatic.” 

As for the Sunday obligation, I frankly wonder if Rev. King even knows what the obligation actually entails.  Be that as it may, Rev. Msgr. Camille Perl, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission of Ecclesia Dei and no friend of Catholic tradition, wrote a private letter on September 27, 2002 that was published in part in the Remnant.  Msgr. Perl wrote a follow up public letter on January 18, 2003 that was intended to provide further clarification of the private letter written in September.  In the letter of January 20, 2003 Msgr. Perl said:

“In response to the question, Points 1 and 3 in our letter of 27 September 2002 to this correspondent are accurately reported. His first question was "Can I fulfill my Sunday obligation by attending a Pius X Mass" and our response was:

"1. In the strict sense you may fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X."


The Office of Bishop Dattilo has confirmed that any parish has the standing “permission” of Bishop Dattilo to conduct an ecumenical prayer service in the sanctuary of a Catholic Church with Mohammedans, Talmudic Jews, and Novus Ordo Catholics to pray to their “common god.”  Since Jesus Christ is formally expelled from these prayer services, it remains a mystery as to what god these prayers are directed.  It is little wonder that Bishop Dattilo, who has the hubris to believe that he can nullify the First Commandment, would have any trouble prohibiting the Traditional Roman Rite of the Mass.


Before sending this to Rev. King, we could only accuse him of negligent incompetence with regard to his canonical opinions.  Now that we know that he has been informed, we can call him a liar.  He knows the truth of the matter, but like other canonists before him over these past thirty years, he will never let truth stand in his way.


Furthermore, Rev. King should certainly be aware of the ad hoc commission of eight cardinals convoked by Pope John Paul II to answer two important questions:  Was the Tridentine Mass every outlawed?; and, Does every priest possess the right to offer this Mass?  Cardinal Alfonse Strickler was a member of this commission and published its findings.  Seven of the eight ruled that the Tridentine Mass had never been outlawed. They ruled unanimously that every priest has the perpetual right to offer the Traditional Mass.


Thus in the Motu Proprio, Ecclesia Dei, the Pope said,  “To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition, I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations. In this matter I ask for the support of the bishops and of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry in the church." Here a proper distinction is made between "liturgical and disciplinary" categories. This is not simply a question of the Mass, but of all the Ecclesiastical Traditions of our Church.  The Pope also acknowledges the "rightful aspirations" of Traditional Catholics and therefore professes his "will" to perform his duty to "guarantee respect" for these rights. Further, the Pope is not granting an indult. An indult is "a faculty granted by the Holy See to bishops and others to do something not permitted by the common law of the Church" (Catholic Dictionary, Attwater). Hence, a "rightful aspiration" cannot be the subject of an indult.


The Pope in asking for “the support of the bishops” has found an appalling deafness in the ears of Bishop Dattilo and his judicial lackey.  The real problem is that the practice of Traditional Catholicism is an open condemnation of those who are responsible for the state of the Catholic Church today. 


With the advent of the Internet, any Catholic interested in practicing the Catholic Faith according to the Ecclesiastical Traditions of the Catholic Church is able to read our reply to the scurrilous charges made by Rev. King.  He also has access to traditional references to examine the merits of any argument.  It is now the case that an individual Catholic has in his power the tool to answer the personal injustice of some disordered prelate and effectively reach his audience, while the disordered prelate has lost both his audience and his credibility.  Soon, everyone, for whom these questions are of importance, will know that Rev. King is a liar. 


I have asked Bishop Dattilo to authorize Rev. King to engage in a public debate regarding his charge that SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission “doctrines and practices contradict Biblical revelation and authentic Catholic teaching” and that our “theology contains certain doctrinal errors.”  This is a most serious charge.  This is the charge of heresy, and every Catholic should demand from Rev. King a specific and detailed elucidation of his accusation.  It is interesting that two years ago, Msgr. Mercurio Fregapane, on my behalf, formally submitted to Bishop Dattilo a detailed theological defense of the right of Traditional Catholics to the Ecclesiastical Traditions of the Church, and requested from him an authoritative response.  Directly after submitting this request, Msgr. Fregapane was summarily retired. Bishop Dattilo had a strict moral obligation to respond in detail to any errors in this document, yet he has failed to do so.  As a matter of fact, Bishop Dattilo has never responded to a single letter sent to him or copied to him, or answered a simply telephone call from a Traditional Catholic since he came to Harrisburg. 


Contrast this to the lives of the saints who would stop at nothing to convert the soul of one heretic: St. Dominic among the Albignesians, St. Francis de Sales among the Calvinists, St. Louis de Montfort among the Jansenists.  It is because their Faith was fully animated with the virtue of Charity.  With Rev. King, not only is there no Charity, there is good reason to doubt the virtue of Faith.  But we shall see.  Let him come forward with his allegations into the public forum so everyone can see if the insults he has received are justly merited.


Bishop Dattilo and Rev. King have both received a copy of the corporate purpose of SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission:


The members of the Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission have joined together to work toward the sanctification of their souls by restoring to the Diocese of Harrisburg, and by defending the Ecclesiastical Traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, the patrimony and right of all Catholics. The primary focus of these efforts are the propagation of the traditional Roman Rite of the Mass for the holy and acceptable public worship of God, as codified by Pope St. Pius V, and in the providing of sound traditional catechetical instructions for the purpose of promoting the greater glory of God and to obtain the conversion of souls to the Catholic Church, "outside of which there is no salvation". The members observe holy Catholic obedience to our Holy Father, the Pope of Rome and his delegated representative, the local ordinary of the Diocese of Harrisburg, in all things that are not contrary to, or could in any way impede, the restoration and defense of the immemorial traditions of the Catholic Church.


The Members, in following the exhortation of Pope St. Pius X to "restore all things in Christ", bound together in acts of prayer and penance, will engage in any form of Catholic Action, which is related to the divine mission of the Church in extending the Kingdom of God to everyone; individuals, families and society.  So help us God.


What is it in these words that so infuriate them that they can only respond with the threat of excommunication, calumny and lies that are easily established?  What we are doing at SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission is what Bishop Dattilo has a solemn moral and legal obligation to do himself.  He has not done it, and now others are doing the job for him. Catholics have asked for bread, and he has given them stones.  It really is not much more complicated than that.  Still, the name of Bishop Dattilo is specifically named in the canon of the Traditional Masses offered at our Mission.  May God grant that it may do him good.


David Drew


SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission

P. O. Box 7352

York, PA 17408



SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Chapel

129 South Beaver Street

York, PA 17403