Given in Rome, at Saint Peter, on the 27 May, the Solemnity of Pentecost, in the year 2007, the third year of His Pontificate, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI released an Apostolic letter to the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China.
One of the purposes of this letter was to clarify the relationship between the two Catholic Churches in China that administer the Sacraments to the faithful under the name of "Catholic." One of the Churches, the underground Catholic Church, has always remained in full union with Rome under his Holiness the Pope. Its Bishops are appointed by the Pope (making them legitimate) and its ordinations are valid.
The second Church, the Catholic Church that is public and controlled by the Republic of China, its Bishops being appointed by the Government of China, is not in full union with Rome under his Holiness the Pope. This Catholic Church is considered an illegitimate Church.
The Vatican, having received letters from some of the illegitimate Bishops who desired to be in full union with the Catholic Church of Rome, decide to implement an investigation on the matter of the validity of the Consecration of the Bishops who were not in full union with Rome.
After a lengthy investigation regarding the apostolic succession of each Bishop and the manner in which the episcopal ordinations were implemented, the Vatican concluded that the ordinations of the Bishops were valid, some being legitimate because they applied afterwards to the Vatican to have their episcopal ordination recognized, other remaining illegitimate because they have not sought the approval of the Vatican.
As previously stated, because of its persecution, the situation in China is very unique. What his Holiness the Pope has stated in his Apostolic Letter to China, only applies to China. It does not apply to Churches that have broken away from the Catholic Church throughout the world. I say this because:
1. Those alleged "Catholic Churches" are not persecuted by their government.
2. No investigation has been done by the Vatican to support the validity of the ordinations of all those Churches that claim to have apostolic succession. Some of those Churches, their Patriarch and/or Bishop(s) have received numerous "episcopal ordinations" in the hope that at least one of them is valid.
3. Those Churches are not in full union with Rome. If they were in full union with Rome, they would not exist. The reason that they are not in full union is because they reject one or more teachings of the Catholic Church, be it the new Mass, the policy regarding woman ordination, the denial of the Holy Eucharist to those who are divorced, the infallibility of the Pope as pronounced in Vatican I, etc...
To deceive the faithful Catholics who are in full union with the Church of Rome, and to draw them to their "alleged Catholic Churches," many of the separated Churches are using the words of Pope Benedict XVI that only applies to the Church of China, as an argument to support their apostolic validity that has never been proven, nor recognized by the Vatican.
The following is an example of the deceptive wording that is appearing on some websites:
This explanation by Pope Benedict, of apostolic validity is from his letter to the Catholic Church in China. We offer these excerpts for clarification regarding bishops and priests who are not in union with the Roman See.
“Finally, there are certain Bishops – a very small number of them – who have been ordained without the Pontifical mandate and who have not asked for or have not yet obtained, the necessary legitimation. According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, they are to be considered illegitimate, but validly ordained, as long as it is certain that they have received ordination from validly ordained Bishops and that the Catholic rite of episcopal ordination has been respected. Therefore, although not in communion with the Pope, they exercise their ministry validly in the administration of the sacraments, even if they do so illegitimately. What great spiritual enrichment would ensue for the Church in China if, the necessary conditions having been established, these Pastors too were to enter into communion with the Successor of Peter and with the entire Catholic episcopate! Not only would their episcopal ministry be legitimized, there would also be an enrichment of their communion with the priests and the faithful who consider the Church in China part of the Catholic Church, united with the Bishop of Rome and with all the other particular Churches spread throughout the world.” [The Chinese Episcopate, Section 8, Paragraph 12]
”Concerning Bishops whose consecrations took place without the pontifical mandate yet respecting the Catholic rite of episcopal ordination, the resulting problems must always be resolved in the light of the principles of Catholic doctrine. Their ordination – as I have already said (cf. section 8 above, paragraph 12) – is illegitimate but valid, just as priestly ordinations conferred by them are valid, and sacraments administered by such Bishops and priests are likewise valid. Therefore the faithful, taking this into account, where the eucharistic celebration and the other sacraments are concerned, must, within the limits of the possible, seek Bishops and priests who are in communion with the Pope: nevertheless, where this cannot be achieved without grave inconvenience, they may, for the sake of their spiritual good, turn also to those who are not in communion with the Pope.” [GUIDELINES FOR PASTORAL LIFE: Sacraments, governance of dioceses, parishes; Section 10, Paragraph 6]
Churches such as the "Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasileira, United Kingdom & Australia, (TRIDENTINE)" and the many other alleged Catholic Churches should be avoided as one would avoid Satan, if one values the salvation of his/her soul. No one can serve two masters. If such a Church is not in full unity with the Vatican, then it is against the Vatican.
Allow me to quote from the "Dictionary of Biblical Theology, New Revised Edition, Edited under the direction of by Savier Léon-Dufour; The seabury Press - New York, 1973."
"There is only a shade of difference between schism (tearing) and heresy. Foreshadowed by those that existed in Israel and contradicted its nature as the 'assembly of Yahweh' [1 Cor. 28:8], these dissensions split the Church into rival groups and contradict its nature as the Body of Christ."
"1. Sin turns natural divisions into schisms. The division (distribution) of men into different peoples, languages and countries is a natural process [Gen. 1:28; 9:1; 10] and is a preparation for the history of salvation [Deut. 32:8]. But sin turns it into a source of numerous conflicts. This is why words expressing division often take on the pejorative sense of a breakdown of unity [Ps. 55:10; Gen. 49:7; Lam. 4:16] or a dispersion as a punishment for human pride [Gen. 11:1-9]."
"With Abraham, in whose posterity all nations will be blessed [Gen. 3:16], there begins the gathering together of belivers and the restoration of human unity. But what conflicts are still in store before the final gathering around the Lamb [Apoc. 7:9]!"
"2. Schism threatents the faith-life of the chosen people and compromises their witnesses. The unity of the chosen people, precarious on the sociological level, was based on a fellowship of faith; it was mainly the covenant with Yahweh that bound together the federated tribes in the acceptance of the same law and the same worship [Ex. 24:4-8; Js. 24]. The pilgrimages and the periodic gatherings at a central sanctuary (Shechem, Shilo..., and later the temple at Jerusalem) preserved the tribul unity and maintained it on its religious basis. On the other hand, it was a sin for a tribe to refuse to take part in the holy war [Nm 32:23; Jg 5:23] or to build a place of worship in opposition to the central sanctuary [Js. 22:29]. The split into two distinct kingdoms is nowhere condemned as a political event, but is described as an initiative on the part of God [1 Kg 11:31-39; 12:24; 2 Kg 17:21], who in this way was punishing the sins of Solomon [1 Kg 11:33]. So it is as a religious schism that the break is condemned. The sin of Jeroboam was to turn the Israelites away from the central sanctuary at Jerusalem by building rival sanctuaries and making the divine presence rest on a pedestal fashioned in the form of a bull, thus encouraging idolatrous confusion [2 Kg 10:29; 17:16; Ho 8:5], and by settling in Bethel priests who were not descendants of Levi [1 Kg 12:31, 13:13]."
"Certain texts from the exile foretell the reunification of Israel and Judah and suggest that the schism is an obstacle not only to the faith life of the holy people but also to the strength of their witness before the nations [Is 43:10, 44, 8]. In order that the nations may be gathered together on Zion [Jr. 3:17] it is essential that Judah should walk with Israel [Is. 11:12, Ez 37:11]. The unity of the holy people is seen as the reflection and the affirmation of the fact that their God is the only God."
"Destined to be a sign that is rejected [Lk. 2:34], Jesus brings division even into families, between those who are for Him and those who are against Him [Jn. 7:43, 9:16, 10:19]. But by this He is only disturbing a peace that is illusory or too natural, for He has come to gather together in unity the scattered children of God [Jn. 11:52], to kill hatred, to break down barriers and to establish true peace amongst men by making them sons of the same Father, members of the same Body, endowed with the same Spirit. In this Body any possible division is seen as a monstrosity [1 Cor. 12:25];; it is the fruit of the 'flesh' [1 Cor. 3:3], a source of sin."
"1. The schisms resulting from the charisms. It is mainly in Corinth that Paul encounters the evil of divisions among the faithful [1 Cor. 1:10, 11:18, 12:25]. But, he writes, 'is Christ divided?' Is it not in His Name alone that they have been baptized; is it not He alone who has saved them by His death? Those who encourage factions are not really 'wise men' [1 Cor. 2:6] nor 'spiritual men' [1 Cor. 3:1], and Paul condemns the dissensions that are provoked by an uncontrolled eagerness to possess the spectacular charisms. They are forgetting the one divine source of the various gifts and the edification desired by the Spirit who distributes them as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11]. Some, by their greediness and selfishness in the agape, make the scandal of division worse [1 Cor. 11, 22:27-32]. And finally all of them are forgetting the greatest of the spiritual gifts [1 Cor. 12:31], the only one that is indispensable; brotherly love, which has union and edification as its direct result [1 Cor. 8:1], thus excluding division."
"2. Schisms corrupt the Church's witness. Thus, even if they spare the unity of faith (which however, they threaten every time they follow or precede some piece of heretical propaganda), internal divisions contradict the nature of the Church and impair charity. John suggests an important consequence of this second effect; the witness that the Church ought to give Christ is obstructed, since it is the mutual love of Christians that makes them recognized as His disciples [Jn. 13:35]. The seamless tunic that is not 'torn' [Jn. 19:35] is a sign perhaps that Jesus is the High Priest of His sacrifice and that His Church is undivided. In any case He sacrificed Himself in order that His followers should be one and in this way show the world the fellowship of love founded by the One sent by the Father [Jn. 17, 21:23].
WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID ALL ALLEGED CATHOLIC CHURCHES WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CHURCH OF ROME.
1. Jesus founded only one Church, the Roman Catholic Church. (This includes the Rites that are in full communion with Rome.) If you do not belong to this Church, you do not belong to Jesus. You belong to the Patriarch of the Church that you are attending!
2. The Church of Jesus is united. It does not have 2, 3, 4, or more sister Churches.
3. There is only One Body of Christ. Either you belong to it or you do not belong to it. It cannot be both!
4. Other Churches, founded by dissidents, are the cause of division. As Saint Paul said, this is a montrosity. By attending such Churches, you become part of the problem instead of being part of the solution. If they had no members, they would fade away. Since you seek to support them, you are condemned as much as they are for dividing the Body of Christ.
5. Division is a source of sin. By supporting division, you are sinning. As such, not being in a state of grace, not only can you not receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church, but also, you cannot receive it in the separated Church that claims that sinners should not approach the table to receive the Body of Christ.
6. By supporting division within the Church founded by the Lord Jesus, you are not only going against the Catholic Church; you are going against Christ Himself.
7. By supporting division, you have chosen to follow those who are not wise men, nor spiritual men. You encourage them to continue in their sins of greed, selfishness and pride.
8. Jesus sacrificed Himself in order that His followers should be one. Are you rejecting the sacrifice that Jesus made for you?
9. Division contradicts the nature of the Church and impairs charity. On Judgment Day, do you want Jesus to judge you for your lack of charity as a result of your involvement in division?
The harm that you do to Jesus, the Catholic Church, the members of the Church and your soul cannot be measured. It is a grave sin that can lead to your eternal damnation. Satan will put all kind of crazy things in your head to try and convince you that it is alright to get involved with the dissident Churches. After all, he wants your soul. What a victory it would be to use the Churches to obtain souls, fooling the blind who refuse to remain faithful to the Church of their childhood.
You have a free will. You are free to choose as you please. Just be prepared to accept the consequence that comes with going against Jesus and His Church. Your punishment can be eternal!