In his Consistory Allocution of 2 June 1944, "The mandate Confided to Peter",
Pope Pius XII stated:
Pope Pius XII was referring here to one of the greatest prerogatives of the Church, her indefectibility. The word indefectible means unable to fail. When used with reference to the Catholic Church it means that the Church will persist until the end of time, and that she will preserve unimpaired her essential characteristics. It can never become corrupt in faith or in morals; nor can it ever lose the Apostolic hierarchy, or the sacraments through which Christ communicates grace to men. The constitution received from her divine Founder must, as Pope Pius XII explained, remain firm. The Church will always remain faithful to it, particularly in the two aspects specifically mentioned by the Pope, the transmission of truth and grace. We can be absolutely certain of this because the constitution of the Catholic Church has a divine origin. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself founded His Church, and He imparted to her the divine constitution which He has solemnly guaranteed will remain essentially immutable until the end of time. The Church can never undergo any change which would make her, as a social organism, something different from what she was constituted by Our Lord. If any essential change took place in her constitution she would cease to be the Church which He had founded. It would mean that Our Lord had made promises which He could not fulfil, which would mean that He was not divine. This would make the entire Christian religion meaningless. It was explained supra that, in her innermost reality, the Church is Christ in the world today. If the Church required us to believe what is false, Christ would require us to believe what is false. If the Church offered us sacraments that are invalid, Christ would be offering us sacraments that are invalid. If the Church offered us sacramental rites that were explicitly or implicitly heretical, or were intrinsically evil and harmful to souls, then the responsibility for these aberrations would be that of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It is manifestly impossible that such a situation could ever occur if Our Lord is indeed divine, if He did indeed found a Church and did indeed endow it with an indefectible constitution. This is explained very clearly in The Catholic Encyclopedia:
Those who claim that John Paul II is not a true pope, having vacated the Holy
See through heresy, or make the same claim regarding either or both his
immediate predecessors, cannot escape the fact that this means that the Catholic
Church is no longer organized in the way that Our Lord constituted it, i.e. a
visible, hierarchical Church in communion with the successor of Peter. In other
words, Our Lord has been unable to keep His promise to be with His Church
always, and therefore the Church that He founded has failed. This would also be
the case if Pope Paul VI had mandated or authorized for universal use a
sacramental rite that was in itself bad, evil, or harmful to the faithful. St.
Pius X assures us in his Encyclical, Iucunda Sane, 1904, that Our Lord
will never allow His Church to fail:
© 1997 Michael Davies.
Last modified 27th October, 1997, by David Joyce.