The internet is abuzz again after the latest attempt by conservative Novus Ordos to do something about the pink elephant in St. Peter’s Basilica: Their “Pope” is a blatant pertinacious heretic.
Yesterday, April 30, the feast of St. Catherine of Siena (in the traditional Roman calendar), a document entitled “Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church” was released simultaneously in six different languages:
The English version was introduced by Maike Hickson at LifeSite, and its release is accompanied by a one-and-a-half-page summary and a select bibliography for further reading. In addition, an online petition has been started that seeks public support for the letter.
The contents of the letter can be outlined as follows:
- Introductory comments
- Listing of seven heretical propositions Francis is accused of holding, and their condemnation by the Magisterium
- Evidence that Francis holds these heresies
- Listing of public heretical statements
- Listing of public heretical actions
- Evidence that Francis is pertinacious (=aware of and obstinate) in these heresies
- Specific request made of “bishops”
- Appendix: theological justification for request
In her piece for Life Site, Hickson refers to the 19 signatories as “prominent clergymen and scholars”, though just how prominent each one of them is, may be disputed. Most of the names will not be familiar to even the average conservative Novus Ordo who is interested in theology. Here is a list of the names together with each person’s academic credentials, in alphabetical order:
- Georges Buscemi, President of Campagne Québec-Vie, member of the John-Paul II Academy for Human Life and Family
- Robert Cassidy, STL
- Fr Thomas Crean, OP
- Matteo d’Amico, Professor of History and Philosophy, Senior High School of Ancona
- Deacon Nick Donnelly, MA
- Maria Guarini STB, Pontificia Università Seraphicum, Rome; editor of the website Chiesa e postconcilio
- Prof. Robert Hickson, PhD, Retired Professor of Literature and of Strategic-Cultural Studies
- Fr John Hunwicke, former Senior Research Fellow, Pusey House, Oxford
- Peter Kwasniewski, PhD
- John Lamont, DPhil (Oxon.)
- Brian M. McCall, Orpha and Maurice Merrill Professor in Law; Editor-in-Chief of Catholic Family News
- Fr Cor Mennen, JCL, diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands), canon of the cathedral Chapter. lecturer at de diocesan Seminary of ‘s-Hertogenbosch
- Stéphane Mercier, STB, PhD, Former Lecturer at the Catholic University of Louvain
- Fr Aidan Nichols, OP
- Paolo Pasqualucci, Professor of Philosophy (retired), University of Perugia
- Dr. Claudio Pierantoni, Professor of Medieval Philosophy, University of Chile; former Professor of Church History and Patrology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
- Professor John Rist
- Dr. Anna Silvas, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education, University of New England
- Prof. dr. W.J. Witteman, physicist, emeritus professor, University of Twente
The only names that will jump out at most people are probably those of Nick Donnelly, John Hunwicke, Peter Kwasniewski, John Lamont, Brian McCall, and perhaps Aidan Nichols. We note the complete absence of any Novus Ordo clergy of higher rank than priest, and even the ubiquitous Prof. Roberto de Mattei did not sign this letter. How “Fr.” John Hunwicke‘s academic claim to fame — having once been, in his Anglican days, a researcher at a heretical house of studies — is helpful in lending credible support to accusing the “Pope” of heresy, is not immediately clear.
In any case, the seven specific heresies the authors are accusing Francis of are very well researched, well argued, and well presented, and there is no question that he is guilty as sin of pertinaciously holding and spreading these denials of dogma. That part of the Open Letter is commendable. As far as the theological justification for “bishops” declaring the “Pope” a heretic so he will lose his office, and related issues — that is an absolute disaster. However, our commentary on that will have to wait for a separate post.
Meanwhile, you can get our initial reaction to the letter in a brief podcast we put together last night:
What will this latest effort, this “measure [taken] as a last resort to respond to the accumulating harm caused by Pope Francis’s words and actions over several years” accomplish? We predict that it will accomplish absolutley nothing in terms of real, long-term effect. It will simply generate headlines for the next few days, keep journalists and bloggers busy, (re-)trigger theological discussions, and ultimately have no effect whatsoever on Francis or his pseudo-Catholic hierarchy.
We’ve seen this all before, and more than once. Remember?