Why Tyconius’ idea of a future Great Discessio is heretically wrong

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

The other day, Marco Tosatti launched on his blog, an anonymous essay, about the Donatist writer Tyconius‘ idea of a final great separation of the true Church from the false Church. And since I am seeing many refer to it across the net, I believe it is necessary to warn against how great an error it contains.

Tyconius was a Donatist. Donatists believed that there were some sins so great that EVEN WHEN REPENTED OF they put you out of the Church. It was a very convenient theory for that group of Catholics in North Africa, who having faithfully endured and resisted the final persecutions of Diocletian, considered themselves therefore not only superior but entitled to govern the Church thereafter.

In the Apocalypse of the Apostle John, we read about the beast with 10 horns, the last of which has one horn removed and three sprout up in its stead. Some writers interpret these horns as the 10 major persecutions of the Catholic Church in the Roman Empire, which culminated with the persecutions of Diocletian, which was a threefold persecution: confiscating the Scriptures, rounding up the clergy, and demanding all Catholic to burn incense on an altar of Mars, the refusal to comply with which was in each case to be punished by local authorities with death.

In many parts of the Roman Imperium the local authorities were reluctant to persecute Christians in such a vicious manner. They allowed Catholics to purchase a document, a libellum, which stated they had burned incense or otherwise cooperated with the decrees of Diocletian. For many lax-conscienced Catholics this was the easy way out. Others burned the incense, handed over priests to death, and surrendered copies of the books of Scripture and liturgical texts.

After Constantine decreed that Catholics had the liberty to worship the Triune God, Catholics returned to practice their faith, and indeed, were now allowed to do so in the open light of the day.

Throughout the Church, the Bishops called for the repentance of those who had failed to resist the terms of the persecution and chose treachery, idolatry or apostasy as a way out.  Long penance where required. In some places a life time of waiting at the door of the Church, with re-admittance to communion only at death.

A great controversy about the Sacrament of Penance broke out in the Church, with some espousing the idea, which was common, that this Sacrament can only be received once in a lifetime sincerely, others that it could be received more often.

But in North Africa the situation was even more grave, since many bishops had denied the faith, obtained libella, handed over the scriptures and betrayed their priests, or burned incense to Mars (the Roman God, not the planet).

When these repented and received the Sacrament of Penance, they were admitted back to communion in many Churches, even back to their offices.

The idea of a ex-apostate, ex-traitor, ex-idolater, ex-collaborator as one’s bishop incensed the Catholics of North Africa.  This is totally understandable, and in an age of persecution, we ourselves can readily appreciate their just anger.

But some Catholics went to the extreme of asserting that such men, EVEN WHEN REPENTANT and reconciled to the Church, could no longer hold the offices of Bishop or pastor of souls.

This group was led by a certain Donatus, and so they were called Donatists.  He taught that these repentant clergy were still so odious to God that even the Sacraments they confected were invalid.

So his followers separated from them and began ordaining their own bishops and clergy and seizing Churches. As they had numerous Bishops and clergy among their number, these ordinations and consecrations were valid. But they were usurping jurisdiction in those dioceses where there were already bishops, albeit repentant ones.

So Tyconius’ had a very bad personal experience upon which to begin to theorize interpretations of St. John’s Apocalypse, on such passages as the Whore of Babylon and the Stars Swept out of the Sky by the Dragon’s tail.

His idea was that at the end of time, the True Church and the False Church, which had been cohabiting in the one visible Church, would separate from one another in a sort of final divorce. He called it the great Discessio, a Latin word which means, “walking away from one another”.

And his error was a serious one, because he posited that the false and evil men, who were not among the elect, were not true members of the true Church, and that therefore the Church of the Antichrist or the Body of the Antichrist, as it came to be called in the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo, were a real entity, and thus positively willed by God (since nothing can have real existence but what is positively willed by God).

St. Thomas Aquinas, about a thousand years later, explained how wrong this error is when he succinctly summarized the Catholic doctrine on evil: evil is the deprivation of some good which ought to be in a real existing thing. It has no existence of itself.

The Catholic interpretation of the Apocalypse therefore never envisions the Church of the Antichrist or the Mystical Body of the Antichrist as something positively willed by God, as a real thing existing by itself. It is rather an infection, disease, evil in the one true Mystical Body, though its “members” are really only those who heed the voice of Demons rather than that of God.

Now if Cardinal Ratzinger mused on occasion about Tyconius’ theories, that is nothing really notable, since he commented on the theories of many theologians, Catholic or otherwise during his lifetime. And that he repeated his opinions as Roman Pontiff, means nothing more too, because Popes can express private opinions, as John XXI did regarding what he believed was the necessity that the Saints be purified before attaining Heaven (condemned as a heresy, by his Successor).

But in our day, this error of Tyconius is especially dangerous, because those who accept it would be led to think like Tyconius, that they can pursue fidelity to the will of Jesus Christ by abandoning the visible Church, founding their own Churches, and thus coping out of the Church Militant by a de facto surrender to the forces of Darkness which want to take Her down.

And this is just what the Globalists and Bergoglians would want Catholics to do, because they do not want a restoration. They want to take full possession of the property, moral and legal authority of the visible Church.

Marco Tosatti has been shown the evidence that Benedict XVI is still the pope. He has allowed discussion of it, but personally he has rejected the opinion. He has even stooped to vile insults of those who defend the Holy Father, giving them no space to defend themselves on his blog.

So it does not surprise me that he is airing a theory which is basically saying, “Surrender to Bergoglio and to the Church he is founding”.

But this notion of Tyconius is shared ideologically and widely by many groups, which style themselves as Traditionalist, such as Sedevacantists and many priests and priestly groups which espouse the Traditional Latin Mass, because it is a convenient theory to justify opting out of the visible Church, ignoring Canon law, usurping jurisdiction and authority and washing one’s hands of any responsibility to work for the salvation of your Diocese.

However, it should be noted and highlighted by everyone, that the Holy Father clearly uses a different theory in his Declaratio, when he speaks the vobis decisionem magni momenti. He is speaking not of a great separation, but of how he is announcing that there exists between him and the Cardinals a separation, and that he is cutting them off from the Papal Munus since they won’t obey him any more. His use of the term decisio (“a cutting off”, “a pruning away”) rather than discessio, show that he understands that the Church of the AntiChrist has no life and can have no life separated from the true Church, and its time to distinguish the wheat from the tares. Indeed, what he did in his Declaratio of Feb. 11, 2013, is the means whereby those with true Faith can discern what is going on, while those blinding by their lusts for the world, flesh and devil, cannot.

CREDITS: The Featured Image is a depiction of the meeting between St. Augustine of Hippo and the leaders of the Donatist party, by Charles Andre van Loos (18th century). Note the anachronistic clothing.


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20 thoughts on “Why Tyconius’ idea of a future Great Discessio is heretically wrong”

  1. Deo gratias for such an excellent, detailed explanation of this vitally important scenario. I am reminded of the ancient Chinese expression “May you live in interesting times” [often said as a curse!] and, here in England, now that Queen Elizabeth II has died, notorious globalist & freemason King Charles takes over the protestant crown from his late mother…….

    1. May you and the Commonwealth of Great Britain be blessed in your grief. Globalist, Freemason, Open WEF/CCP Cabalist…It is certain NOTHING GOOD WILL COME FROM THIS King Charles. It’s also certain his Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, KNEW HER SON and it’s curious about any provision she may have made to oppose anything she knew he would seek to enact or perpetrate. The Queen’s banker is a Rothschild…Though the Queen was loved, those surrounding her who she couldn’t help but thoroughly know, were all as her Uncle the deposed King who supported the Nazis. The Monarchists have always been privately resentful towards the rise of the Proletariat beginning in North America; and terrified as a result of the revolt of the masses in Europe ending in the executions of Monarchist relatives. The current Globalism arose from this resentment and terror and is a way to REGAIN LOST POWER as well as to eradicate their terror. We live in a time of danger and her death doesn’t provide any sense of a lessening of the tension and sense of imminent threat. The royals have a history of sociopathic Predation of their own family members. Certainly, ‘The People’ of the world are not any safer knowing that fact.

  2. James 4:7 …Submit Therefore to God, and stand against Satan, and he will flee from you…

    We are not called to run away from Satan, but to stand and fight. I have seen a very small core of faithful, praying Christians retake a Baptist church that was infiltrated and decimated by the enemy.

    We have the victory in Jesus Christ, but we have to claim it. Christians need to fight for their churches, not cede the ground to the enemy without a fight.

    In the above-mentioned church, God sent several people who were experienced in spiritual warfare to help retake the church, but it was the small remaining core of prayer warriors who by faithfully petitioning the greatest power in the universe turned the tide by their willingness to stand and fight for their church.

    That church is growing again today, but the price for that is ongoing vigilance. The enemy never gives up.

    I hope that Catholics will not be bamboozled into handing your church over to the enemy. Many will leave, but it only takes a few who are willing to stand and fight to take back the ground. After all, we have the King on our side.

    Thank you, Brother, for a very interesting article.

  3. The image of St Augustine of Hippo versus the Donatists is like what Jesus tells “sending you as sheep amidst the wolves”.

    Even if a saint is alone the hierarchy of angels is supporting.

  4. What should Catholics worldwide do then? Remain going to masses said by sodomites in union with an Anti-Pope? OR take over their churches through the use of force and remove these Satanists who currently occupy many of the dioceses in the U.S. ? Although I’m in favor of option 2, I don’t see it happening. This has been going on for nearly 10 years now and to my knowledge hasn’t been done anywhere. I think a more likely scenario that plays out is exactly what happened during the fake covid scam. Faithful priests continued to say mass in secret and provided the Sacraments to those who sought them out. The unfaithful ones did not. I also think the “walking away” from each other is happening only because the anti-church that currently controls the visible church is pulling itself further and further away from the Truth and that real Catholics haven’t gone anywhere. They have remained firmly planted in the truth of Christ which is immobile. It would seem then that the Catholics in union with Benedict have to find the few priests who share this belief and continue going to them for the sacraments. What about those who can’t find that option? The Rosary and Scapular may be all they have during these times.

    1. 1 Samuel 17:47 …the battle is the Lord’s…
      Ephesians 6 …for we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places…

      This is a spiritual battle, not a battle against flesh and blood. It is for us to stand firm in prayer to our Father, who will send us the help we need, whether it be humans versed in spiritual warfare, or angelic warriors. Or both.

      The battleground is not the physical churches, but the souls of men who have been influenced or possessed by unclean spirits. If you can drive out these unclean spirits, you may regain the true church, which is the souls of men who are faithful to Jesus Christ. If the church buildings come along with them, so much the better.

      But that’s not necessary. St. Francis lived in a hut, didn’t he? And look what he accomplished!

      Many people are unaware that they have given place to demons in their lives. Unconfessed sin will quench the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, allowing demons entry. Confession and repentance are the key.

    2. Man up and call out your bishop as heretic if he still believes Bergoglianism after all these 9 years.

      Yes people and even your own brother may stone you, but at least your are a real child of God in the eyes of the Heavenly Hierarchy.

  5. I’m not really familiar to Pope Benedict’s references to Tyconius’ ecclesiology. What I certainly can note is that, in his paper “Observaciones sobre el concepto de Iglesia
    en el Líber regularum, de Ticonio”, Ratzinger literally wrote: “Si damos una ojeada general, veremos que Ticonio no se engañaba al mantenerse lejos de la Iglesia católica. A despecho de ciertas tendencias catolizantes, su doctrina es en el fondo absolutamente acatólica”, that is to say, that according to Ratzinger, Tyconius’ “doctrine is fundamentally absolutely
    non-catholic”. See: El Nuevo Pueblo de Dios: Esquemas para una Eclesiología. Barcelona: Herder, 1972, p 28. Available on: https://portalconservador.com/livros/Joseph-Ratzinger-El-Nuevo-Pueblo-de-Dios.pdf
    So we should always be careful not to attribute to Ratzinger a non-existent approval or personal defense of heretical views (something that, unfortunately, is very fashionable these days).
    Apart from that, the paper has some value and interesting insights, no? And is clearly pro-BiP (Benedict is Pope).

  6. If Benedict actually excommunicated all of the Cardinals for disobedience, then all of them (I would also say the excommunication would apply to bishops, priests, and laity as well) now find themselves in a state of schism from the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict. It seems to me that Benedict is indeed saying through his Declaratio that the post-Vatican II “church “ is the antichurch. Perhaps the SSPX is the remnant? Notwithstanding their public position that Bergoglio is the pope.

    Make no mistake, Benedict is still the pope operating imprisoned inside the Vatican in an impeded See.

    Personally, I think that Bergoglio is now the head of an apostate antichurch. It seems as though nearly all of the prelates and clerics believe this. I certainly do.

    Whether or not Tossatti is right or wrong, he makes very good points.

    1. It is one thing to say that the Church of Bergoglio is that of the antichurch, and quite another to say the Catholic Church is the antichurch, or the visible Church is the antichurch.

  7. Dear Br. Alexis Bugnolo,

    How is Tyconius’ notion of the true believing Catholic faithful “withdraw from the evil within the visible institution of the Catholic Church” at variance from St. Athanasius’ notion of “They can occupy our churches, but they are outside the true Faith”?

    Letter of St. Athanasius to his flock –
    May God console you! …What saddens you …is the fact that others have occupied the churches by violence, while during this time you are on the outside. It is a fact that they have the premises─but you have the apostolic Faith. They can occupy our churches, but they are outside the true Faith. You remain outside the places of worship, but the Faith dwells within you. Let us consider: what is more important, the place or the Faith? The true Faith, obviously. Who has lost and who has won in this struggle-the one who keeps the premises or the one who keeps the Faith?
    True, the premises are good when the apostolic Faith is preached there; they are holy if everything takes place there in a holy way …You are the ones who are happy: you who remain within the church by your faith, who hold firmly to the foundations of the Faith which has come down to you from apostolic Tradition. And if an execrable jealousy has tried to shake it on a number of occasions, it has not succeeded. They are the ones who have broken away from it in the present crisis.
    No one, ever, will prevail against your faith, beloved brothers. And we believe that God will give us our churches back some day.
    Thus, the more violently they try to occupy the places of worship, the more they separate themselves from the Church. They claim that they represent the Church; but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray.
    Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ.

    1. Because Athanasius worked day and night to take back the Churches, traveling from diocese to diocese, encouraging the Catholics to come together and elect a Catholic Bishop where an Arian held sway, consecrating the elected man a bishop and then moving on to another diocese. But the Donatists hid away and let the Church in N. Africa go into oblivion, surrendering to the Muslims and becoming Muslim.

  8. Many decades ago King Charles 3 was reported as not being a Freemason. Diana used to take Wm and Harry to Masonic events but the report was Charles would not go.Therefore he would probably not ever become King…Is it certain that he joined at some point ?

  9. So what are the faithful to think when the majority of bishops vote to change church doctrine on homosexuality and female ordination and Bergoglio puts it into effect? Beginning the next day, the faithful will be hounded out of their churches or forced to be silent. Shortly after, the churches will begin performing same sex marriages and other abominations — activists will see to that in the same way they worked to force Christian bakeries to bake their rainbow wedding cakes. They will have the new doctrine behind them, which they will use as a cudgel, backed by the force of law. It seems to me that whether or not Tyconius was a Donatist, at that point the true church and the false church – or whatever you want to call them – will have diverged.

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