In a disturbing turn of events, a chancery official of the diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire has changed a solemnly defined dogma of the Faith into a heresy.
Father Georges de Laire, appointed by Bp. Peter Libasci as judicial vicar and vicar for canonical affairs, timed his actions to coincide with his bishop departing for Chicago to do penance for abusive priests. On Jan. 7, he struck.
In an undated text, the official imposed a series of 15 "precepts" upon the members of the Saint Benedict Center, a community of devout lay women and men devoted to spreading the Church's official teaching on the need for all souls to join the Church in order to be saved. Without any evidence, the vicar asserts in his letter that his "precepts" are being imposed "at the direction" of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The 15 precepts range from a prohibition to identifying themselves as "Catholic" to even "presenting" any doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.
In November 1302, in what the historian Brian Tierney calls one of "the most famous of all the documents on church and state" titled Unam Sanctam ("One Holy"), Pope Boniface VIII, invoking the plenitude of his apostolic power, defined the ancient doctrine Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus — "outside the Church there is no salvation." This teaching was raised by him to the level of a solemnly defined dogma of divine and Catholic faith (De Fide Divina et Catholica Solemniter Definita).
The Second Vatican Council and the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, in article 846, confirm that this most ancient of core teachings of the Church remains valid:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. (Apostolic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 14)
The lay faithful of the Saint Benedict Center deserve commendation for their hard work in spreading one of the most important doctrines of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, they find themselves persecuted by the vicar of Bishop Libasci.
What did the vicar of Manchester do?
Apart from officially notifying them in writing and publicly, res inaudita ("a thing unheard of") that "affirmations of faith using the Athanasian Creed … are invalid," and that the Professions of Faith employing the Athanasian Creed that were signed by the members of their community in 2009 are "null and void," the vicar warned that by remaining steadfast in their adherence to the dogma Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, they have "persisted in their obstinacy," explicitly referencing canon 751 of the Code of Canon Law.
This canon states: "Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith."
In layman's terms, the vicar of Manchester has publicly accused them of being obstinate heretics by publicly spreading their belief in the official teaching of the Church that outside the Church there is no salvation. In the vicar's mind, the truth being denied by the members of the Saint Benedict Center is the heresy that is exactly opposed to the Church's dogma Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus: "outside the Church there is salvation." The vicar has changed dogma into heresy.
De Laire is said by current work colleagues to be emotionally unstable in his role as chief canonical judge of the diocese and counselor to his bishop. Church Militant has learned that there is much more than meets the eye to his fresh attack upon a group of devout lay Catholics. De Laire is said to be desperate to repair his image and save his chances at being promoted as bishop or an official of the Roman Curia.
Church Militant has learned that in recent years, at least three complaints against de Laire have been filed with the Holy See and made known to Libasci. Taken together they allege corruption, abuse of office, grave violations of the law, and incompetence as a canonist, even warning Vatican officials that in no case should de Laire be named bishop. And these matters were entirely unrelated to the Saint Benedict Center.
With incompetence in canonical matters also apparently well-known and corroborated in the Roman Curia, de Laire is nicknamed in those halls un incasinaro, "a troublemaker," owing to his notorious botching of canonical cases involving clergy and other matters. Multiple independent sources in the Roman Curia say he has repeatedly botched diocesan cases and embarrassed his bishop before the Roman congregations of the Curia.
De Laire's incompetence has reached such a point that Church Militant has learned he is currently outsourcing work product that he as a canon lawyer is being paid well by the diocese to complete himself to the canonical community at large, at increasingly great expense to the diocese.
On a professional level, he is said by priests and laity who currently work with him in the diocese to be a vindictive and manipulative clericalist who pines to be named a bishop or an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Hence his attack on the Saint Benedict Center, a "useful situation" designed to redirect attention away from complaints regarding his performance and instead to his "skill" as an expert in doctrinal matters, notwithstanding his incompetence in things canonical.
Additional questions are raised, however, not just by the recent decisions of the vicar affecting Catholic faithful under his power, but also by his acquisitions. While Pope Francis has checked into a hotel instead of the Apostolic Palace for lodging, Church Militant has learned that de Laire now frequently resides at an estate located near Manchester that he recently purchased, currently valued at $1.5 million: an exclusive 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom residence with 600 feet of waterfront, waterfalls and a koi pond.