By Br. Alexis Bugnolo
Now that it is becoming more and more clear that a great majority of the clergy have lost the Catholic Faith or are at least acting in such a way as to make themselves appear to have done so, many Catholics are wondering whether they can or cannot continue to attend Mass or receive the sacraments at their local parishes or from priests of whom they formerly had no doubts, but by whom they now have been gravely scandalized.
And in this matter, I have already discussed here, at FromRome.Info, the teaching of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who is the Doctor of the Church on moral questions, that is to say, in regard to specific questions, is the prime authority on such matters.
But as Saint Thomas Aquinas was named along with St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, as one of the two primary Doctors of the Church, his mere mentioning of this matter carries no small weight in the Church. And as he did speak of it briefly in the Summa Theologica, III, q. 82, a. 9, it merits a discussion.
First of all we need to understand that Saint Thomas wrote the Summa Theologica for what we would call highschool students of his day. That is for those who could not or had not yet qualified to attend the Unviersity. In the Middle Ages such students were seminarians who were preparing to be ordained simple priests, with faculties only to say Mass, not preach or hear confessions. And for this reason, we must recognize that the Summa Theologica speaks always in a brief manner about everything, and is not a technical handbook on theology. Indeed, most who misuse it, fall into this misuse for using it in such a manner.
So let us consider what Saint Thomas does say, and to do this, have recourse to the Latin text of Pars III, q. 82, article 9, which I take form the Corpus Thomisticum website. You can compare it in English here. After the Latin text, I will publish my own translation, which I did this morning.
First, as regard the format of an Article in Saint Thomas. He begins first by citing arguments for and against his position, and then he explains his own position, and then he replies to the arguments he moved against it. So nothing of what he says in the first list of arguments, does he say in his own name. He is merely quoting others or paraphrasing them. Only what he says in his Reply and refutation of the objections is the words of the Angelic Doctor.
Now, to the text.
Summa Theologica, III, q. 82, a. 9
 IIIª q. 82 a. 9 arg. 1 Ad nonum sic proceditur. Videtur quod aliquis licite possit communionem recipere a sacerdotibus haereticis vel excommunicatis, vel etiam peccatoribus, et ab eis Missam audire. Sicut enim Augustinus, contra Petilianum, dicit, neque in homine bono neque in homine malo aliquis Dei fugiat sacramenta. Sed sacerdotes, quamvis sint peccatores et haeretici vel excommunicati, verum conficiunt sacramentum. Ergo videtur quod non sit vitandum ab eis communionem accipere vel eorum Missam audire.
 IIIª q. 82 a. 9 arg. 2 Praeterea, corpus Christi verum figurativum est corporis mystici, sicut supra dictum est. Sed a praedictis sacerdotibus verum corpus Christi consecratur. Ergo videtur quod illi qui sunt de corpore mystico, possint eorum sacrificiis communicare.
 IIIª q. 82 a. 9 arg. 3 Praeterea, multa peccata sunt graviora quam fornicatio. Sed non est prohibitum audire Missas sacerdotum aliter peccantium. Ergo etiam non debet esse prohibitum audire Missas sacerdotum fornicariorum.
 IIIª q. 82 a. 9 s. c. Sed contra est quod canon dicit, XXXII dist., nullus audiat Missam sacerdotis quem indubitanter concubinam novit habere. Et Gregorius dicit, in III Dialog., quod pater perfidus Arianum episcopum misit ad filium, ut ex eius manu sacrilegae consecrationis communionem acciperet, sed vir Deo devotus Ariano episcopo venienti exprobravit ut debuit.
 IIIª q. 82 a. 9 co. Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, sacerdotes, si sint haeretici vel schismatici vel excommunicati, vel etiam peccatores, quamvis habeant potestatem consecrandi Eucharistiam, non tamen ea recte utuntur, sed peccant utentes. Quicumque autem communicat alicui in peccato, ipse particeps peccati efficitur, unde et in secunda canonica Ioannis legitur quod qui dixerit ei, ave, scilicet haeretico, communicat operibus illius malignis. Et ideo non licet a praedictis communionem accipere aut eorum Missam audire. Differt tamen inter praedictas sectas. Nam haeretici et schismatici et excommunicati sunt per sententiam Ecclesiae executione consecrandi privati. Et ideo peccat quicumque eorum Missam audit vel ab eis accipit sacramenta. Sed non omnes peccatores sunt per sententiam Ecclesiae executione huius potestatis privati. Et sic, quamvis sint suspensi quantum est ex sententia divina, non tamen quantum ad alios ex sententia Ecclesiae. Et ideo, usque ad sententiam Ecclesiae, licet ab eis communionem accipere et eorum Missam audire. Unde super illud I Cor. V, cum huiusmodi nec cibum sumere, dicit Glossa Augustini, hoc dicendo, noluit hominem ab homine iudicari ex arbitrio suspicionis, vel etiam extraordinario usurpato iudicio, sed potius ex lege Dei, secundum ordinem Ecclesiae, sive ultro confessum, vel accusatum et convictum.
 IIIª q. 82 a. 9 ad 1 Ad primum ergo dicendum quod in hoc quod refugimus audire talium sacerdotum Missam aut ab eis communionem recipere, non refugimus Dei sacramenta, sed potius ea veneramur, unde hostia a talibus sacerdotibus consecrata est adoranda, et, si reservetur, licite potest sumi a sacerdote legitimo. Sed refugimus culpam indigne ministrantium.
 IIIª q. 82 a. 9 ad 2 Ad secundum dicendum quod unitas corporis mystici est fructus corporis veri percepti. Illi autem qui indigne percipiunt vel ministrant, privantur fructu, ut supra dictum est. Et ideo non est sumendum ex eorum dispensatione sacramentum ab eis qui sunt in unitate Ecclesiae.
 IIIª q. 82 a. 9 ad 3 Ad tertium dicendum quod, licet fornicatio non sit gravior ceteris peccatis, tamen ad eam sunt homines proniores, propter carnis concupiscentiam. Et ideo specialiter hoc peccatum a sacerdotibus prohibitum est ab Ecclesia, ne aliquis audiat Missam concubinarii sacerdotis. Sed hoc intelligendum est de notorio, vel per sententiam quae fertur in convictum, vel confessionem in iure factam, vel quando non potest peccatum aliqua tergiversatione celari.
My Translation of Summa Theologica, III, q. 82, a. 9
- To the ninth (article) one proceeds in this manner. It seems that somone may licitly receive communion from heretical and/or excommunicated priests, and/or even from sinners, and to hear a Mass (said) by them. For (St.) Augustine (of Hippo) says “Against Petilianus”, Let no one flee the Sacraments of God neither for the good in a man nor for the evil in a man. But priests, though they be sinners and heretics and/or excommunicate, truly confect the Sacrament. Therefore, it seems that one must not avoid accepting communion from them and/or hearing their Mass.
- Moreover, the Body of Christ is truly figurative of the Mystical Body, just as has been said above. But the true Body of Christ is consecrated by the aforesaid priests. Therefore, it seems, that those who are of the Mystical Body, may communicate in their sacrifices.
- Moreover, there are many sins more grave than fornication. But the hearing of the Masses of priests sinning in another manner is not prohibited. Therefore, also, the hearing of the Masses of priest fornicators ought also not be prohibited.
But on the contrary there is that which Canon XXXII, says in the distinction, “Let no one hear the Mass of the priest who undoubtedly is known to have a concubine”. And (Pope St.) Gregory (the Great) says in the Third (Book) of (his) Dialogues, that A treacherous father sent an Arian bishop to (his) son, so that he might accept from his hand the communion of a sacrilegious consecration, but the man, devoted to God reproached the Arian bishop at his arrival, as he should have.
I RESPOND, that it must be said, that just as was said above, priests, if they be heretics and/or schismatics and/or excommunicated, and/or even sinners, though they have the power to consecrate the Eucharist, yet they do not use that uprightly, but sin using (it). Moreover, whosoever communicates in the sin of another, is himself made a participant in the sin, wherefore, there is also read in the Second Canonical (Letter) of (St.) John (the Apostle), that he who will have said to him, namely the heretic, “Greetings”, communicates in his malign works. And for that reason it is not licit to accept communion from the aforesaid or to hear their Masses. However, there is a difference between the aforesaid groups. For heretics and schismatics and the excommunicate are deprived from executing a consecration through a (canonical) sentence of the Church. And for that reason, whomsoever hears their Mass and/or receives the Sacraments from them, sins. But not all sinners have been deprived of the execution of this power through the sentence of the Church. And in this manner, though they have been suspended as much as is on account of the Divine Sentence, yet not as much as regards the others on account of the sentence of the Church. And for that reason, up until (there is) a sentence of the Church, it will be licit to accept communion from them and to hear their Masses. Wherefore, on that (verse) of First Corinthians, Chapter V, with these of this kind do not even take food, the Gloss of (St.) Augustine says, “by saying this, he did not want that a man be judged by a man on account of an arbitrary suspicion, and/or even by an extra-ordinary usurped judgement, but rather on account of the law of God, according to the order of the Church, or without having confessed, and/or having been accused and convicted.
Ad arg. 1. To the first, therefore, it must be said, that in this, that we flee the hearing of the Mass of such priests or the receiving of communion from them, we do not flee the Sacraments of God, but rather we venerate Them, on which account the Hosts consecrated by such priests are to be adored, and, if they be reserved, they can be licitly taken in hand by a legitimate priest. But we do flee from the fault of the ones ministering (them) unworthily.
Ad arg. 2. To the second, it must be said, that the unity of the Mystical Body is the fruit of the True Body received. Moreover, those who receive and/or minister unworthily, are deprived of the fruit, as has been said above. And for that reason, there is not to be a taking up of the Sacraments from their distribution by those who are in the unity of the Church.
Ad arg. 3. To the third, it must be said, that though fornication is not more grave than all other sins, yet men are more prone to it, on account of the concupiscence of the flesh. And for that reason, this sin is to be especially prohibited to priests by the Church, so that no one hear the Mass of a fornicating priest. But this is to be understood concerning the notorious (sinner), and/or through the sentence which was borne against the convict, and/or through a confession made formally [in iure], and/or when the sin cannot be hidden by any subterfuge.
Discussion of the Text
It is clear that Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches the perennial doctrine, handed down from the Apostles, that one must not partake of the Sacraments from one who is a heretic, schismatic or public sinner. And he specifies in every case that he is speaking of those who are not merely suspected by private judgement — as Sedevacantists do in our own day — but by those who are know as such by an official judgment, such as excommunication or such like, published by the Church or by facts which are manifest and public and cannot be factually denied.
So here Saint Thomas founds his doctrine upon the knowledge of the truth, whether that knowledge come to us through public means: the sentence of the Church; or by non pubic means: by facts which cannot be denied by any sort of explanation. When the believer is cogniscent of such truth, he must refrain from receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist from such sinners.*
So, to all those who would say that we can receive the Sacrament from such men, we can say that St. Thomas stands against them. But to those who entertain unreasonable or irrational suspicions against a priest, we can say that St. Thomas teaches that on that account they should not refuse the Sacraments of a priest. — I add, so long a the one suspecting has not fallen into mortal sin of rash judgment, defamation or calumny against such a priest, because then he should not receive until he first confesses and repents of his sin.
And thus is clear the true teaching of the Angelic Doctor and under what conditions he speaks.
Applying this teaching to current events
Clearly then we must avoid the Sacraments from priests who have abandoned the Catholic Faith, such as those who give them to public sinners of any kind, on account of the error taught in Amoris Laetitia. We must also refuse the Sacraments of priests who push the vaccine or commit the daily sacrilege of celebrating with the Mask or sanitizing gel, and would fear less to offend God than to drop Him like a cookie in the hand. Also we must refuse the sacraments from priests who are in communion with the Antipope, however so friendly and orthodox they be, because otherwise we are partaking in their sin.
Our Lady at Akita told us that there would come a time when the Church would be full of those who make compromises, and that the true faithful would only have the consolation of the Rosary and the crucifix. Those days have come, for those who still have the eyes of faith to see and the will to see.
In the case of the priest who rejects the heresies of Bergoglio and all other heresies, and names Benedict in the canon of the Mass while also naming Bergoglio, because he does not know who is the pope, one can receive the Sacraments from him. But if he names Bergoglio sometimes and Benedict other times, when we come to know of this, we cannot attend his masses, since what he is doing is gravely dishonest. But if we did not know of this, and only attended masses where he named Benedict, then so long as we did not come to know of it, we could attend them and receive the Sacraments from him.
As Saint Thomas teaches, if a Deacon or priest in communion with Pope Benedict, finds the Sacrament confected by heretics or schismatics or the excommunicated or even a Bergoglian, he can take the sacrament and consume it so as to remove it from existence (such as would be necessary if he were to celebrate at the same altar or take possession of a Church where such be found). But he should not distribute it, so as to avoid scandal, except in the case of a Deacon who being in a place without priests in communion with the true Pope, transports such hosts to another place and distributes them to the faithful who are in communion with Him for the sustenance of their souls, since in such a rare case, scandal is avoided and a good work is done, since it is holy and righteous thing to take back the property stolen form the Church.
* Contrary to the opinion of many ill instructed Catholics, it is not necessary for salvation to receive the Eucharist worthily, if you have done so already at least one time in your life. For that reason, Saint Thomas admits of no exceptions to the rule he cites here. However, Saint Thomas does not discuss the Sacrament of Confession, in the case of extraordinary, that is singular, events or occasions, in which not in public but in secret a Catholic who is in the state of mortal sin, can confess his sin and be validly absolved by priests who are sinners or schismatics. In such cases St. Alphonsus says it can be permitted, that is, the mortal sinner can ask the Sacrament of Confession, are receive it without sin, even though the priest giving it might by his fault alone sin in giving it. That is not the fault of the penitent. But the case must be only under the most urgent circumstance and rarely done and then not in public, to avoid scandal. This sole exception is allowed, because the Sacrament of Confession for one in mortal sin is necessary for salvation or must be presumed as such, since God’s granting of the grace of perfect contrition, outside of confession, is extremely rare, and as the Council of Trent teaches, never to be presumed.