Category Archives: Sedevakantizam

Why would Anybody be a Sedevacantist?! A Calm and Insightful Explanation

Seriously now…

Why would Anybody be a Sedevacantist?! 

Despite over seven years of the walking disaster that is Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”), there are still people in the world who seriously wonder why anybody would be a sedevacantist; and decades of misinformation (usually propagated by critics of the position) and poor education (often due to scarce resources) certainly haven’t helped things.

Novus Ordo Watch tries to offer a much-needed corrective to this lamentable state of affairs, and in that spirit we would like to draw everyone’s attention to the following video interview with the well-known sedevacantist priest Fr. Anthony Cekada, who passed away just last month.

Produced by True Restoration in 2011, it is a calm and insightful conversation in which Fr. Cekada explains very simply why only the sedevacantist position is the truly Catholic position to take with regard to the Vatican II Church and the apostasy it has engendered, and how we can know this for certain. As a former member of the Novus Ordo Church and also the Society of St. Pius X, Father narrates his own personal conversion from his original “conservative Novus Ordo” position all the way to Sedevacantism. He also addresses many common questions and objections, including:

  • All will be fine if we’re only loyal to the “Holy Father”
  • If Vatican II is interpreted in light of Tradition, there is no problem
  • It’s safer to just “recognize and resist” the Vatican II Popes
  • We can’t judge the Pope, but we can resist errors and heresy
  • St. Paul resisted St. Peter, he didn’t declare him a non-Pope
  • A bad father is still a father, so a bad Pope is still Pope
  • We will have to wait for a future Pope to decide the sede vacante issue
  • So then why don’t you just have a conclave and elect a new Pope?
  • If you can’t have a conclave, how will you ever have a true Pope again?
  • What about Fatima? Our Lady said the Holy Father would consecrate Russia!

Be sure to watch this video, because even if you don’t agree, at least you will understand Sedevacantism and why more and more people are beginning to embrace it.

Recorded before Francis’ 2013 election, the video has the advantage of making the case for Sedevacantism apart from any of Bergoglio’s shenanigans. Many people labor under the very erroneous notion that the trouble didn’t really start until Francis came along, but nothing could be further from the truth.

For more — much more — information about Sedevacantism and how to refute a myriad of objections and supposed refutations, please see our topical page on Sedevacantism here.

And please say a Hail Mary for the repose of Father’s soul.

Collaboration of Stephen Heiner and Fr. Anthony Cekada

By Stephen Heiner

When I first called St. Gertrude the Great Catholic Church in 2006, I could not possibly have imagined the beginning of a relationship that would not only deeply impact my life, but the lives of many others.  I had just interviewed Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, an SSPX bishop; in this interview the bishop had referred to Benedict XVI as a heretic multiple times and in fact had taken control of the interview even as I had tried to end it by giving numerous references to the “heresies” of Benedict XVI.  I called a close friend that same day, expressing my shock, and went on to call Fr. Anthony Cekada.  While I had been attending the Masses of the Society of St Pius X for nearly a decade at that point, everyone knew Fr. Cekada to be an authority on sedevacantism.  I wanted to hear how sedevacantists would treat the question of papal heresy, as no one in the SSPX in the modern era had ever publicly referred to the man they call the Pope as a heretic.  Fr. Cekada was friendly from our very first conversation.  I told him that I wasn’t a sedevacantist, but in the interests of understanding the Bishop’s comments, I wanted his take and was willing to publish it on what at that point was simply the fairly new True Restoration blog.  Father obliged by producing a short piece calling attention to some problems in Bp. Tissier’s position.  That would be the first of many times that Father would say “yes” when I asked for his help.

Interviewing Bishop Tissier intellectually opened the door to sedevacantism for me.  If an SSPX bishop told me to my face over and over that Benedict XVI was a heretic, what did that mean?  Fr. Cekada was there for me by email and telephone for about a year and a half as I puzzled through it.  I perhaps knew the truth of things instinctively when I first heard Bp. Tissier’s accusations, but sedevacantism in the SSPX is painted as “extreme” and when you’re in that environment you’re often less interested in understanding an extreme position than in keeping the status quo.  But Fr. Cekada wasn’t extreme.  That summer I made sure to visit him in person and see St. Gertrude’s.  I met Bishop Dolan.  I met parishioners.  They were regular Catholics, but far more up to speed on the matters of Vatican II and the question of the pope than I was.  A group of us who had recently started Catholic blogs were in contact and we started taking a look at the Vatican II documents, trying to reconcile them with Catholicism.  None of them were particularly enthusiastic about my new interest in the articles at TraditionalMass.org.  But I didn’t care.  I was “catching up” on years of information, as quickly as I could get through the articles.  Some key milestones included:

  • The Letter of the Nine (to this day I consider this the document that exposes the inherent flaws in the SSPX position: it has never been answered). I was four years old when this document was authored by the then-Fr. Clarence Kelly.
  • Father’s “Frankenchurch” articles.  Part of why the anything-but-sedevacantism folks at the Remnant were willing to work with Fr. Cekada were the same reasons I felt comfortable with him the very first time I spoke with him: he was genial and funny and genuinely interested in intellectual debate.
  • The Letter of Fr. Robert Neville to Bishop Fellay.  This letter, mostly authored by Bishop Donald Sanborn, was an updated take on the Letter of the Nine, after almost 15 years had passed.

Father also mailed me free copies of Traditionalists, Infallibility, and the Pope, as well as Welcome to the Traditional Latin Mass, informative little pamphlets that were perfect for those who, like me, didn’t really have a clue about the sedevacantist position (You can still request these by writing to St. Gertrude’s).

By early 2008, if not sooner, I was morally certain that sedevacantism was the only coherent way a Catholic could understand the catastrophe that was Vatican II and all the disasters that followed: the New Mass, the New Code, and the New Sacraments.

But there was still more to learn.  I continued to attend SSPX Masses and started to become “disruptive” at coffee and donuts with my questions about Vatican II.  I didn’t want to blow a trumpet that I was a sedevacantist, in part because that would make me persona non grata with the Recognize-and-Resist crowd and I still very much believed in trying to take them on this journey with me.  I then started to look at the Una Cum question.

Father’s article, Grain of Incense, laid out a convincing case.  But my emotions stayed my hand.  Surely, I wasn’t going to go without Mass every Sunday?  The closest regular sedevacantist Mass was a three-hour one-way drive away.  I told Father Cekada I was struggling with this issue.  He told me to keep researching and praying about it, and that he would keep me in his prayers.  I remember telling him years later that I marveled at his patience with what must have seemed like great obtuseness on my part.  He would respond at that time, “These things take time.”

Part of me was saying, “Well, Father can’t be right, because that means I can’t go to Mass conveniently anymore.”  Father framed this as “geography determining theology.”  He was right.  As I called sedevacantist laymen around the world to get their takes, they could only offer me a rather relaxed view on attending una cum Masses; none could offer backing for their positions from Church teaching and precedent.  Even a sedevacantist bishop told me it was “understandable” that I was attending an SSPX Mass.  In the end, after a year of wrestling with the topic, I stopped attending SSPX Masses, much to the chagrin and disgust of my family, who I had led to the SSPX when I was 17.

While I was coming to the sedevacantist position and the non-una cum position, I had also been publishing the books of Bishop Richard Williamson, who had been a great influence on me because of his takes on cultural issues.  He attacked the money men, modern clothing, and the modern way of life.  At the time I really had no idea about all the ways that he and Fr. Cekada had interacted over the years, and Fr. Cekada would clue me in on some of those interactions when I called to let him know about some of the things that the Bishop had shared on a recent interview that surprised me.

Bishop Williamson knew that I was a sedevacantist almost as soon as I did, but he didn’t see that as an obstacle to working together.  But I was puzzled by his “Ratzinger doesn’t know what he’s doing” defense which he tried to use on me whenever we would (rarely) discuss the Pope issue.  I relayed his objections to Fr. Cekada who told me that this was not a new position of the Bishop and that Fr. Cekada had coined it “mentevacantism” years ago.  I asked Father if he might not write a piece refuting the Bishop’s position to help other young men like myself who admired Bishop Williamson and were wondering about these ideas.

A few weeks later, Father obliged by producing Bishop Williamson’s Mentevacantist Error.  I remember explicitly telling the Bishop that if he could refute Father’s piece, I’d give it a fair read.  Some months later, Bishop Williamson told me, “I’ve tried several times to answer it, but I’ve simply given up.”  When I shared this with Fr. Cekada he didn’t use this as an opportunity to tell me to stop working with Bishop Williamson (I later would, for other reasons), but only to draw the line that on these theological issues, he wasn’t just a little wrong, but grossly off the mark.

I also asked Father to address the “theft” question that was constantly circulated in SSPX circles.  It started to be repeated to me constantly once it was clear that True Restoration had “gone sedevacantist” that I was working with priests who had “stolen” chapels.  I asked Father about it and he told me this was an old accusation and that he had all the legal paperwork in a box somewhere and he meant to do a write-up about it sometime in the future.  “Could you do one now?” I gently asked.  In what had already started to become routine in our working relationship, within weeks Father produced the goods.  This time it was We Resist You to Your Face, which was an answer to the spurious allegations of “theft” leveled by the SSPX for years.  Once again Father produced a piece that was never answered, and one more brick in our coherent intellectual superstructure was added.

I didn’t fully realize it in those early days as I understand now what great working partners Father and I were.  We shared a choleric temperament and were good at setting deadlines and accomplishing tasks together.  He found in me a willing promoter of his positions (because I found them convincing) and I found in him someone who constantly taught me to “look it up” instead of just taking his word for it.

But after I had come to a correct understanding regarding the una cum question, and I had started to document my curiosity by articles and interviews with clergy, Fr. Cekada suggested that I meet Bishop Donald Sanborn in Florida.  Fr. Cekada would go once a month to teach classes and I arranged to be at the seminary during a week he was there as well.  I met Bishop Sanborn and did my first interview with him.  As with Fr. Cekada, I had no idea of the collaborations that lay ahead.  I had come to know Bishop Sanborn through some of his articles from years ago.  Key reads included:

During this same period, Fr. Cekada penned the Motu Mass Trap.  Father was always on the cutting edge of developments from the Vatican II sect and this time was no different.  As an interesting aside, one takes for granted all the terms that Fr. Cekada invented.  Apart from coining the “Motu Mass” he also gave a name to the strange pharisees known as “Home Aloners” and stuck “Recognize and Resist” so firmly as a label to its adherents that they wear it as a badge of honor, not realizing what an ecclesiological contradiction such a position is.

Father also laid out the reasons why many sedevacantists do not observe the Pius XII liturgical changes.  Father’s case, as always, was a coherent part of a larger understanding of what had been happening to the liturgy even before Vatican II, something that was collecting as material for his biggest project yet.  Key reads include:

I’m reminded of a comment Bishop Sanborn once made when I was asking about who would work on different projects with me and he said, “Think of us like a department store.  Father Cekada is in the canon law and liturgy department, Bishop Dolan handles pastoral issues, devotions, and saints, and I’m in charge of condemnations.”  A secret weapon of Father’s was his jovial nature.  That made him easy to work with and was why he collaborated so long and so fruitfully with these clergy.  Those clerical relationships are the main reason that we have a healthy and functioning seminary at Most Holy Trinity (a seminary which Fr. Cekada encouraged Bp. Sanborn to found).

You might laugh to hear me say yet again, “while this was going on,” but it was true.  While these articles were being published Father continued to work on a project I and a few others were privy to: a book on the New Mass.  He called it “Work of Human Hands” but told me to keep the title under wraps for the moment.  Father had been gathering information about the changes in the liturgy since the 1970s, and some of that had been compiled into a jewel of a booklet, Problems With the Prayers of the Modern Mass.  Our small team edited and proofread the manuscript over and over and over. True Restoration bought the (surprisingly expensive given how ugly the vestments are) stock photo that adorns the cover of the book as a contribution to Father’s efforts.  When the book was finally published the four dozen autographed copies we bought for the TR bookstore sold out thirty minutes after they were put on sale!

In Bishop Dolan’s moving eulogy of Fr. Cekada, he referred to Work of Human Hands as Father’s greatest legacy, and I agree (for more context, read just a few of the reviews of the book on Amazon).  Yet, knowing how much work it had taken Father to put together that book, within months of its publication I asked him to consider a four-volume work I was proposing, which was the compiling of all the articles on TraditionalMass.org into a topically arranged series of books.  He agreed and we spent some time together dividing the texts and before too long we shot a video to promote the book via crowdfunding.  This was something else that I really appreciated about Father.  He was always willing to try new technology and this paid off handsomely, as the Anti-Modernist Reader Volume I appeared in 2014.  When I visited Father in Summer 2019 we made some final additions to what will be the forthcoming Volume II.

Yet, Father still continued to work.  For those unfamiliar with St. Gertrude’s, it has so many moving parts.  I’ve spent more than two months there in all the years I’ve worked with Father and Bishop Dolan and Father continued to play the organ (you can watch him observing/assisting one of his young charges with a fugue after Mass), compose music, keep the accounting, handle maintenance issues, encourage and foster the YAG, create TradCircle, and oh, yes, still attend to all the duties of priesthood: saying Mass, hearing confessions, and making sick calls.  While other clergy occasionally turned me down when I asked for help with a project, Fr. Cekada never said no to me.  We just kept working on project after project together.

One of those projects included HD videos of Father answering some of the classic objections to our positions.  One of these first videos was inspired by an article Father wrote in the 1990s, entitled: Sedevacantism: How To Tell Aunt Helen.  It’s a classic Fr. Cekada title with an intriguing introduction:

Early in 1995 I carried on a cordial correspondence over the issue of sedevacantism with a Catholic priest who operates an independent traditional chapel. In one letter he allowed that while many of the sedevacantist arguments seemed reasonable, the “pastoral” side of the issue bothered him. He worried that such a position would shock parishioners, both current and potential, and possibly drive them into the arms of compromise groups such as the Fraternity of St. Peter. How would simpler people react, he wondered. And what would my Aunt Helen think? Herewith my reply.

I couldn’t resist a video revisiting these issues, and at the time of this article, more than 44,000 people have viewed Fr. Cekada’s How to Tell Aunt Helen video on YouTube.  Father and I shot a number of videos over a few days each time I visited. Many of those videos are available on YouTube, including:

I also convinced Father that there were some who might be persuaded to read some of his more serious articles by way of a video introduction, which we did for these articles:

We also shot a video on the Legal Status of the Traditional Latin Mass (refuting the thesis that Paul VI had not promulgated the New Mass correctly so it “didn’t count”) as well as an HD video of Father celebrating Low Mass.

Father, ever the autodidact, decided to create “Cekadawood Studios” to create his own video work.  He made, among other videos:

  • A beautiful chapter-by-chapter overview of Work of Human Hands
  • Hilarious takedowns of the incompetent True or False Pope book, by self-appointed lay theologians with zero theological training, which he recorded while undergoing chemotherapy!  If you appreciate music Father has quite a few inside jokes in these videos.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Father also found time to create a website, Quidlibet, for dealing with shorter topics.

In 2012, together with a few others, I founded Restoration Radio as a complement to the work True Restoration was doing in video and publishing.  Once again, Father said, “Yes” when I asked him to work with me.  Some of the radio work he did included:

When asked over the years why I was so keen to do all this work, I often replied that Fr. Cekada, and the other clergy who, like him, lived in a fully functional Catholic Church, were our last link to that time.  One day these clergy will pass on and we will have no one who had ever lived during a “normal” period of the Church and so I said we were running a high speed “mining” operation to take out every useful and helpful bit of information to guide us when they were no longer with us.

As I look at just some of the work Father and I did over the last 14 years, I’m so grateful that Our Lord gave us this time together to collaborate.  It was such a pleasure to work with Father and it’s a great blessing that what could have been simply private conversations, of which Father had dozens of every week all these years, have gone on to become publicly accessible testaments.  Have a question?  “Fr. C” (as he often referred to himself) has probably answered it.  All you have to do is “look it up.”  Each time you view any of these works, be they in print, audio, or video form, I ask you to say a prayer for the repose of his soul.  He deserves nothing less from us, who are so indebted to his faithful service as a priest of Jesus Christ.

Rest In Peace, Fr. Cekada: auf Wiedersehen.

Father Anthony Cekada, R.I.P.

Fr. Edmund James O’Reilly, S.J.: On the Idea of a Long-Term Vacancy of the Holy See

Fr. Edmund James O’Reilly, S.J.: On the Idea of a Long-Term Vacancy of the Holy See

By John Daly

Revised and edited by John Lane, October 1999

In 1882 a book was published in England called The Relations of the Church to Society — Theological Essays, comprising 29 essays by Fr. Edmund James O’Reilly S.J., one of the leading theologians of his time. The book expresses with wonderful clarity and succinctness many important theological truths and insights on subjects indirectly as well as directly related to its main theme. For our purposes the book has in one respect an even greater relevance than it did at the time of publication, for in it Fr. O’Reilly asserts with the full weight of such authority as he possesses, the following opinions:

  1. that a vacancy of the Holy See lasting for an extended period of time cannot be pronounced to be incompatible with the promises of Christ as to the indefectibility of the Church; and
  2. that it would be exceedingly rash to set any prejudged limits as to what God will be prepared to allow to happen to the Holy See (other, of course, than that a true pope will never fall into heresy, nor in any way err).

Of course Fr. O’Reilly does not have the status of pope or Doctor of the Church; but, that said, he was certainly no negligible authority. Some idea of the esteem in which he was held can be obtained from the following facts:

  • Cardinal Cullen, then Bishop of Armagh, chose him as his theologian at the Synod of Thurles in 1850. Dr. Brown, bishop of Shrewsbury, chose him as his theologian at the Synod of Shrewsbury.
  • Dr. Furlong, bishop of Ferns and his former colleague as professor of theology at Maynooth, chose him as his theologian at the Synod of Maynooth.
  • He was named professor of theology at the Catholic University in Dublin on its foundation. The General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Beckx, proposed to appoint him professor of theology at the Roman College in Rome, though as it turned out circumstances unrelated to Fr. O’Reilly intervened to prevent that appointment.
  • At a conference held regarding the philosophical and theological studies in the Society of Jesus, he was chosen to represent all the English-speaking “provinces” of the Society — that is, Ireland, England, Maryland, and the other divisions of the United States.

In short Fr. O’Reilly was widely recognized as one of the most erudite and important theologians of his time.

Finally, the following quotation by Dr. Ward in the justly renowned Dublin Review (January 1876 issue) is worth quoting (emphasis added):

“Whatever is written by so able and solidly learned a theologian — one so docile to the Church and so fixed in the ancient theological paths — cannot but be of signal benefit to the Catholic reader in these anxious and perilous times.”

Dr. Ward thought his times were anxious and perilous! Well, let us now see what “signal benefit” we, a little more than a century later, can derive from some of Fr. O’Reilly’s writing.

We open with a brief passage from an early chapter of the book, called “The Pastoral Office of the Church”. On page 33 Fr. O’Reilly says this (emphases added):

“If we inquire how ecclesiastical jurisdiction… has been continued, the answer is that… it in part came and comes immediately from God on the fulfillment of certain conditions regarding the persons. Priests having jurisdiction derive it from bishops or the pope. The pope has it immediately from God, on his legitimate election. The legitimacy of his election depends on the observance of the rules established by previous popes regarding such election.”

Thus, if papal jurisdiction depends on a person’s legitimate election, which certainly is not verified in the case of the purported election of a formal heretic to the Chair of Peter, it follows that, in the absence of legitimate election, no jurisdiction whatever is granted, neither “de jure” nor, despite what some have tried to maintain, “de facto.”

Fr. O’Reilly makes the following remark later in his book (page 287 — our emphases added):

“A doubtful pope may be really invested with the requisite power; but he has not practically in relation to the Church the same right as a certain pope — he is not entitled to be acknowledged as Head of the Church, and may be legitimately compelled to desist from his claim.”

This extract comes from one of two chapters devoted by Fr. O’Reilly to the Council of Constance of 1414. It may be remembered that the Council of Constance was held to put an end to the disastrous schism which had begun thirty-six years earlier, and which by that time involved no fewer than three claimants to the Papacy, each of whom had a considerable following.

Back to Fr. O’Reilly:

“The Council assembled in 1414…

“We may here stop to inquire what is to be said of the position, at that time, of the three claimants, and their rights with regard to the Papacy. In the first place, there was all through, from the death of Gregory XI in 1378, a Pope — with the exception, of course, of the intervals between deaths and elections to fill up the vacancies thereby created. There was, I say, at every given time a Pope, really invested with the dignity of Vicar of Christ and Head of the Church, whatever opinions might exist among many as to his genuineness; not that an interregnum covering the whole period would have been impossible or inconsistent with the promises of Christ, for this is by no means manifest, but that, as a matter of fact, there was not such an interregnum.”

Thus one of the great theologians of the nineteenth century, writing subsequently to the 1870 Vatican Council, tells us that it is “by no means manifest” that a thirty-six year interregnum would have been impossible or inconsistent with the promises of Christ. And we can therefore legitimately ask: at what stage, if any, would such be manifest? After thirty-seven years? Or forty-seven years? Clearly, once it is established in principle that a long interregnum is not incompatible with the promises of Christ, the question of degree — how long — cannot enter into the question. That is up to God to decide, and who can know what astonishing things He may in fact decide.

And, indeed, as Fr. O’Reilly proceeds further in this remarkable chapter, written over a hundred years ago but surely fashioned by Divine Providence much more expressly for our day than for his, he makes this very point about what it can and cannot be assumed that God will permit. From page 287 (all emphases added):

“There had been anti-popes before from time to time, but never for such a continuance… nor ever with such a following…

“The great schism of the West suggests to me a reflection which I take the liberty of expressing here. If this schism had not occurred, the hypothesis of such a thing happening would appear to many chimerical. They would say it could not be; God would not permit the Church to come into so unhappy a situation. Heresies might spring up and spread and last painfully long, through the fault and to the perdition of their authors and abettors, to the great distress too of the faithful, increased by actual persecution in many places where the heretics were dominant. But that the true Church should remain between thirty and forty years without a thoroughly ascertained Head, and representative of Christ on earth, this would not be. Yet it has been; and we have no guarantee that it will not be again, though we may fervently hope otherwise. What I would infer is, that we must not be too ready to pronounce on what God may permit. We know with absolute certainty that He will fulfil His promises; not allow anything to occur at variance with them; that He will sustain His Church and enable her to triumph over all enemies and difficulties; that He will give to each of the faithful those graces which are needed for each one’s service of Him and attainment of salvation, as He did during the great schism we have been considering, and in all the sufferings and trials which the Church has passed through from the beginning. We may also trust He will do a great deal more than what He has bound Himself to by His promises. We may look forward with a cheering probability to exemption for the future from some of the troubles and misfortunes that have befallen in the past. But we, or our successors in future generations of Christians, shall perhaps see stranger evils than have yet been experienced, even before the immediate approach of that great winding up of all things on earth that will precede the day of judgment. I am not setting up for a prophet, nor pretending to see unhappy wonders, of which I have no knowledge whatever. All I mean to convey is that contingencies regarding the Church, not excluded by the Divine promises, cannot be regarded as practically impossible, just because they would be terrible and distressing in a very high degree.

While Fr. O’Reilly himself disclaims any status as a prophet, nevertheless a true prophecy is clearly exactly what this passage amounts to. Moreover it is the kind of prophecy which, provided it is advancedconditionally, as in this case, both can and should be made in the light of the evidence on which he is concentrating his gaze. In respect of much that lies in the future there is no need for special revelations in order that we may know it. As Fr. O’Reilly indicates, except where God has specifically told us that something will not occur, any assumptions concerning what He will not permit are rash; and of course such assumptions will have the disastrous result that people will be misled if the events in question dooccur. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isaias 55:8)

 

Suarez on the Question of a Heretical Pope

Why Suarez’s position cannot be held today 

 

The Opinion of Francisco Suarez on the Question of a Heretical Pope

As Neo-Traditionalists John Salza and Robert Siscoe begin to ship the first copies of their new book against Sedevacantism to their hapless recipients, we continue to rain on their parade by refuting some of the errors we expect to see in their work, which have been around for decades. The following is an excerpt from John Daly’s book against the pseudo-traditionalist pioneer and SSPX apologist Michael Davies (1936-2004), whose research and argumentation has long been the bedrock for probably most of the English-speaking world on traditionalist issues, including Sedevacantism. The excerpt below is being reprinted with the kind permission of the author, from his exhaustive critique of Mr. Davies first published in 1989 and revised and expanded in 2015 (get it free here).

——————————————

The following is an excerpt from the Appendix to Chapter 3 of the book Michael Davies: An Evaluation by John S. Daly (2015). The book is available for free download electronically here, and it can be purchased as a hardcopy in paperback here.

[From Appendix to Chapter 3: The Opinion of Suarez on the Question of a Heretical Pope]

Writing in The Remnant on 15th February 1987, Davies summarized his position on the consequences of a pope’s falling into heresy as follows:

And what of the Pope himself? Does what I have written imply that the Pope could never be a heretic and forfeit his office? Of course it does not. Such a possibility exists, but it would have to be manifest and so notorious a heresy that no doubt of its existence could remain in the minds of the faithful. Reputable canonists and theologians also teach that high authorities in the Church would have to make [sic] a declaratory sentence that the Pope had lost his office through heresy. The Pope would not be deposed as a result of this sentence. No one in the Church has the right to judge or depose the Pope. They [i.e., presumably, the “high authorities”] would simply be declaring what had been manifest through his own actions.

Davies gives the impression, perhaps accidentally, that the doctrine he is putting forward is held by all “reputable canonists and theologians”, which is very far from being the case. He neither gives references to any of the canonists and theologians in question, nor lets his readers into the secret that in every era of the Church there has been a much stronger contrary opinion holding that by formal public heresy a pope would lose his office ipso facto (automatically), prior to and irrespective of any declarations to this effect which might or might not be made by “high authorities in the Church”. As readers will be aware, the different schools of theological opinion on this subject (of which St. Robert Bellarmine enumerated five) are no longer of practical interest, because ecclesiastical authority has decided the entire question by the terms of Pope Paul IV’s definition on the subject contained in his bull Cum Ex Apostolatus (1559) and by Canon 188§4 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law [39]. However, it is true that there have been theologians and canonists (including several not without eminence) who have at some point in history maintained a position similar to that outlined by Davies in the quotation above, and to do his case justice it seems appropriate to examine this position briefly.

As representative of this opinion, I have chosen the theologian whom I believe to have been its most illustrious and competent defender, the Spanish Jesuit Francisco Suarez (1548-1617) [40] who came from a converted Jewish family and was praised by Pope Paul V as “a pious and eminent theologian”. His consideration of this topic is found in his work De Fide, Spe et Charitate, tr. 1, disp. x, sect. vi, and covers about five closely printed and argued pages of Latin of folio size.

Does it appear rash, it is worth asking before going any further, to embark upon what amounts to an attempt by a layman without formal theological training to refute the teaching of a holy and extremely erudite theologian? There are, in fact, two solid reasons why no apology is due on this score:

  • (i) The opinions of a theologian are not, and cannot be, of any greater weight, as such, than the arguments which he adduces in their favour, and such opinions may always be disputed by anyone sufficiently informed on the topic in question to understand the theology involved.
  • (ii) Those of us who decline to accept Suarez’s opinion have a number of very distinguished predecessors. To mention but one, St. Robert Bellarmine characterizes it as an opinion which in his judgement “cannot be defended”. (De Romano Pontifice, Cap. XXX)

I turn now to what Fr. Suarez has to say. To begin with, it must be made clear that he is not in agreement with Davies on everything. In fact he does not accept at all that a pope can fall into heresy, whereas Davies maintains that this is possible. Suarez considers the question only because his opinion that the eventuality is inconceivable was, though “more pious and more probable” and even “to be held”, not absolutely certain. As I also subscribe to the view that a true pope cannot fall into heresy even in his private acts, it is evidently a part of my position that all of the Conciliar “popes” forfeited their offices by falling into heresy long before their putative elections — making these elections null and void (a possibility which Suarez expressly recognizes). Nonetheless, it is obviously logical that the consequences of a pope’s falling into heresy after election (if that be possible) should be the same as if he had been a heretic prior to his election, for either it is possible for a public heretic validly to occupy the office of pope or it is not. Hence this question has at least indirect relevance to the situation existing today.

Another difference between Suarez and Davies is that, while Davies appears to hold the position that a manifestly heretical claimant to the Holy See would cease ipso facto to be pope, but that the faithful could not be allowed to act on this fact by withdrawing their allegiance from him until a general council had notified them of it, Suarez apparently opines that the public heretic actually remains pope until the general council takes official cognizance of his heresy, at which point he ceases to be pope. [41] Where they are in agreement, however, is on the principal point that one is not entitled to withdraw one’s allegiance from a Roman pontiff until he has been officially declared a heretic.

Suarez recognizes that the main position conflicting with his is that of the school which holds that a heretical pope would be deposed ipso facto without need of any declaration. Considering, for reasons which I shall shortly examine, that the opinion of this school is untenable, he adopts the view which I have outlined above as his, but he did not adopt it, it must be emphasized, because there is any direct authority for it. His reason was simply that “it cannot be believed that Christ left the Church without any remedy in such a great danger [i.e. the danger arising from a heretical pope],” and that his own explanation is the only reasonable alternative to the ipso facto deposition, which he believes to be impossible.

Not surprisingly, Suarez recognizes that there are considerable difficulties associated with his position, and he does his best to resolve them as follows:

To the difficulty of who would be competent to declare the pope a formal heretic, he replies, persuasively, that nobody except a general council of all the bishops could be competent to do this, but he is forced to admit that there is no express warrant in Divine or human law authorizing even a general council to make such a declaration. He then continues as follows:

Next, however, a second problem arises, namely how such a council could legitimately be assembled; for only the pope can legitimately summon one.

Once again he has no authority to answer this query, but reasons that there are two available solutions:

  • (a) That a series of provincial councils throughout the world all agreeing in the same conclusion would be tantamount to a general council without the difficulty involved in summoning all the bishops to one place. This theory, however, is evidently:
    • (i) impractical, since the organisation of such a series of provincial councils would probably be exceedingly difficult if not impossible;
    • (ii) false, because a series of provincial councils is not tantamount to a general council, since at the latter all the bishops can hear one another’s views, and this does not apply to the former;
    • (iii) unreasonable, since it would leave the path open to countless disagreements, e.g. about what percentage of the bishops need to be agreed before the pope could be condemned; and
    • (iv) of no value, because, as it is no more than a conjecture, it would be impossible to know that the theory was correct and constituted sufficient grounds for the faithful to withdraw their allegiance from the pontiff.
  • (b) That “perhaps … for this business specially concerning the pontiff himself, which is, in a sense, in opposition to him, a general council might be legitimately assembled either by the college of cardinals or by the consent of the bishops; and if the pontiff attempted to prevent such assembly he would have to be disobeyed because he would be abusing the supreme power contrary to justice and the common good.” This is once again quite useless, because, being only a hypothesis, the deliberations of such a questionable council could never have binding force. Moreover, the hypothesis has been officially rejected by the Church since 1917; the Code of Canon Law declares that “An Ecumenical Council not summoned by the Roman pontiff is an impossibility [‘dari nequit’],” (Canon 222§1) and that “the decrees of a council do not have definitive obligatory force unless they have been confirmed by the Roman pontiff and promulgated by his command.” (Canon 227)

The third difficulty which Suarez tries to solve is this:

By what right can a pope be judged by an assembly of which he is the superior?

Let us first remind ourselves of Davies’s solution to this obvious and grave question. He simply maintains that the maxim “prima sedes a nemine judicatur” (“the first see is judged by no one”) does not apply. Because the pope has already forfeited his office automatically when his heresy was made public, the council is not deposing its superior, but declaring that he who seems to be its superior is in fact not so because he is bereft of all authority. This solution, of course, concedes that the pope actually forfeits his office ipso facto on being publicly guilty of heresy, and therefore leaves no grounds whatever for Davies’s insistence that those who are aware of this fact prior to its being officially declared are obliged to continue to submit to a non-pope as if he were the Vicar of Christ.

Now let us turn back to Fr. Suarez. As I have indicated, he differs from Davies on this point, holding that it is only as a result of the council’s condemnatory sentence that the pope loses his office.

He too addresses himself to the problem of how a council could condemn its own superior who “can be judged by none”, and in doing so he refutes a specious argument which has been used by the theologian Cajetan to cope with this difficulty.

Cajetan’s argument was that the council would not be condemning the pope as pope but as a private individual. But this theory, as Suarez convincingly points out, cannot be accepted. If it were accepted, it would be possible for anyone presumptuous enough to judge a pope simply to claim that he was judging him in his private rather than his public capacity, an interpretation which would negate the very principle which the maxim is intended to safeguard: that the pope is not to be judged. The solution which Suarez proposes, and which he considers to be, unlike Cajetan’s, not only sufficient to account for the deposition of a heretical pope, but also reconcilable with the principle that the pope must not be judged, is as follows:

So should the Church depose a heretical pope, she would not do this as a superior, but by the consent of Christ the Lord she would juridically declare him to be a heretic and hence utterly unworthy of the pontifical dignity; thereupon he would be deposed immediately by Christ and, having been deposed, would then be inferior and could be punished as such.

But I fear that in reality he comes no closer to solving the difficulty than Cajetan did. If the judgement of a general council that the pope is a heretic were to be considered binding even against the pope’s own judgement that he was not a heretic, this could only be on the bases:

  • (a) that appeal is made from the pope’s judgement to a council, an action which incurs automatic excommunication under Canon 2332, and
  • (b) that a council can be the pope’s superior, at least for some purposes — a proposition which is heretical.

Anyhow, once again the hypothesis is of no value precisely because, being hypothetical, there could be no certainty that it is correct, and indeed, as I have shown, since 1917 at the latest it has been certain that it is not correct.

Thus, Suarez’s opinion that a heretical pope would forfeit his office, not automatically, but only by virtue of condemnation by a council, involved its author in insoluble doctrinal difficulties, owing to its incompatibility with other doctrines. This incompatibility alone would compel us to reject Suarez’s opinion concerning heretical popes, but perhaps more important still is the fact that Suarez makes it clear that he has adopted his theory, not because of its intrinsic merit, but because it is the most reasonable alternative he can see to the rival view that offices are lost automatically by virtue of public heresy, a view which he found unacceptable. Hence, if it is possible to show that Suarez’s reasons for rejecting this latter opinion are definitely mistaken, because they have been denied by the Church’s authorities, we may conclude that Suarez lends no support at all to Davies’s thesis. Indeed we may be certain that its author would himself have rejected it had he been alive today, owing to the fact that his only reasons for not accepting the doctrines of Bellarmine and others have been repudiated by the Church whose docile son he was.

But to establish this bold claim that Suarez is really a negative witness against Davies, the objections which Suarez makes to the theory that a heretical pope would lose his office automatically must be carefully examined. This theory, which Davies rejects but which I maintain is today inescapably certain for all Catholics, was evidently well known to Suarez, for he devotes careful attention to it. After outlining his own theory of how to cope with a heretical pope, he refers to the view of others that such a pope “is immediately deposed by God Himself without regard to any human judgement.” He then sets out what he considers to be the four best arguments used by the defenders of this view and gives, in each case, his reasons for not being convinced by them. First he shows — to his own satisfaction, if to no one else’s — that the thesis in question is not compellingly true; then he adds further reasons for thinking that it is not only doubtful but in fact definitely wrong.

My next task is therefore to examine Suarez’s stated reasons for rejecting the position I am defending.

I shall begin my examination by considering his refutation of the arguments in favour of my position and I shall do this with a view to showing (a) that they are of no force, and (b) that they are no longer opinions that a Catholic is entitled to maintain.

  • (i) The first of his four best arguments against his own thesis (and in favour of that of writers like his contemporary and confrère St. Robert Bellarmine) is stated by Suarez as follows:

‘All the jurisdiction of the Church is founded upon faith,’ so those who have no faith cannot have jurisdiction.

In answer to this reasoning Suarez denies the fact, pointing out that the power of Order is superior to that of jurisdiction but that it is a dogma that Holy Orders are not lost if faith is lost and that, moreover, faith can be lost without exterior indication whereas the opinion that even occult heretics [42] forfeit their offices has not “a shadow of probability”.

My response to this refutation is that it would lose its force entirely if he had stated the argument more correctly, and had said instead that external profession of the true faith is a necessary foundation of ordinary jurisdiction. Suarez’s comparison with the power of Order is inconclusive because, although Order is admittedly a greater power than jurisdiction, it is also a different kind of power, and there is thus no reason for thinking that what applies to one will necessarily apply to the other.

  • (ii) Moving on to the second argument against him which he tackles, Suarez admits that: “The Fathers often indicate that no one who lacks faith can have jurisdiction in the Church [he then gives references to SS. Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Popes Gelasius and Alexander II].” But his only response to this is that there are (also) “Fathers who… consider that a heretic deserves to be deprived of all dignity and jurisdiction,” thus implying that such heretics are not already ipso facto deprived thereof.

On this subject Suarez’s credibility is open to serious question, for his contemporary St. Robert Bellarmine, who was thoroughly familiar with the whole of patristic literature, assures us in his own consideration of this subject [43] that “the Fathers are unanimous in teaching, not only that heretics are outside the Church, but also that they are ‘ipso facto’ deprived of all jurisdiction and ecclesiastical rank.” Certainly, the single instance adduced by Suarez in support of his statement shortly after the words quoted above does nothing to weaken St. Robert’s assurance, for Suarez’s claim that some Fathers differed from the view he rightly attributes to SS. Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, etc., is, he says, gathered from the first epistle of Clement I [the fourth pope, writing to the Corinthians in the closing years of the first century] which says, according to Suarez, that St. Peter taught that a heretical pope is to be deposed (rather than automatically deposed). And yet the fact is that St. Clement nowhere represents St. Peter as having said anything of the kind, as readers can confirm by reference to any of the translations of this epistle available in good libraries. The nearest St. Clement approaches to the subject is his statement that “our Apostles”, i.e. SS. Peter and Paul, “knew that there would be contention concerning the name of the episcopacy” and consequently left instructions “in what manner, when they [bishops and deacons] should die, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry (Chapter 44).” It is of little consequence whether Suarez was trusting an unreliable secondary source, or a corrupt primary text, or whether he has just made a mistake ; what cannot be denied is that his position is based on a misrepresentation of the teaching of the Fathers.

In passing, it should perhaps also be mentioned that, if any of the Fathers did assert that heretics deserve to be deprived of their dignity, this would not necessarily imply that they had not forfeited their office ipso facto, because it could equally refer to their de facto possession of the external trappings of the office. [44]

  • (iii) In his examination of the third argument against him, Suarez says that the position against which he is arguing

… is reinforced by a popular [‘vulgari’] argument to the effect that a heretic is not a member of the Church and cannot therefore be its head.

His response to this argument involves a subtle distinction, so I cite it in full:

It is replied [i.e. Suarez himself replies] that a heretical pope is not a member of the Church as to the substance and form by which the members of the Church are made such, but that he is nonetheless its head as to office and influence [‘influxum’]; which should cause no surprise as he is not the first and main head acting by his own power, but, as it were, the instrumental head and vicar of the first head who is able to convey His spiritual influence to His members through any secondary head whatsoever; for in a similar way He sometimes baptizes and on occasion even absolves through heretics.

This distinction seems exaggerated, for the pope is evidently more than a merely passive instrument of Christ. Certainly a heretic can validly baptize and in some circumstances even validly absolve, for he is then truly a “mere” instrument through whom Christ acts. But the manner in which the popes govern the Church and exercise jurisdiction is quite different, for it is their own intellects which they use to make the numerous decisions that have to be made, and a pope is therefore visible head of the Church in a much more than instrumental sense. It is one thing for Our Lord in rare cases to use enemies of the Church for the specific purpose of validly administering certain sacraments; it is quite another for Him unconditionally to delegate His Divine authority to such an enemy for the purpose of governing the Church. Hence Suarez’s distinction seems quite unjustified and a wholly inadequate response to his opponents.

  • (iv) The last argument against himself that he puts forward is:

Likewise a heretic must not be greeted, but entirely avoided, as is taught by Paul in Titus 3 and by John in his second epistle; so much less must he be obeyed.

To this objection Suarez answers that “heretics are to be avoided as much as possible [‘quoad fieri potest’]” and that this does not contradict his theory but merely makes it imperative to proceed to depose the pontiff at the earliest opportunity.

I would suggest that it certainly does contradict both his theory and Davies’s. If they are right, it means that in the inevitable interim period before a heretical pope could be deposed — a period which might be long in duration — the faithful would be subject to, and required to obey, a man whom they are Divinely commanded to shun. And here we do not need to rely solely on logic, clear though the position is, for St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, has given short shrift to Suarez’s opinion, enquiring:

How can we be asked to avoid our own head? How could we separate ourselves from a member who is attached to us? [45]

These four arguments, as I have said, constitute Suarez’s response to his opponents’ position. Next, he gives his grounds for thinking that the view he offers as an alternative to that of his opponents is the correct one, and these grounds must now be considered. I shall allow Suarez to state his case before assessing its validity, and I shall do my best to allow him to do so in his own words, although the length of the original text and its desultoriness make it impossible to achieve this except by placing in sequence extracts which do not occur consecutively in the original — a method which I believe to be justified in the circumstances, as it in no way misrepresents or weakens its author’s case:

The main question is whether he [a pope] can be deprived against his own will…. There does not seem to be anyone by whom he can be deprived. In the case of heresy [some] say that he is deposed immediately by God himself.Against this opinion I say that… in no case, even of heresy, is the pontiff deprived of his dignity and power by God without the previous judgement and sentence of men…. And later in considering the other punishments of heretics …we show that no one at all is deprived by Divine law of ecclesiastical dignity and jurisdiction because he is guilty of heresy. (Emphasis added)Because it is a very grave punishment, for it to be incurred ‘ipso facto’ it would have to be expressed in the Divine law; but no such law is found laying down this rule about all heretics in general or about bishops in particular or with special reference to the pope; nor is there a certain tradition on the matter.Nor can the pope fall from his dignity ‘ipso facto’ because of a human law, because this would have been passed either by his inferior [i.e. someone below the rank of pope] … or by his equal [i.e. some previous pope] —  … but neither a previous pope nor anyone inferior to the pope is… able to punish the pope actually reigning, given that the reigning pope will be equal to the latter and superior to the former.

So the nub of Suarez’s argument is that neither Holy Writ nor sacred tradition contains any Divine law according to which heretics are ipso facto deprived of their offices, and indeed it is his view they are not deprived of their offices except by the legitimate intervention of ecclesiastical authority; that there is no human law on the subject either, but that even if there were, this would not bind a pope because he is necessarily superior to all human law.

Suarez goes on to consider the objection that a human law on the subject could bind the pope if it were interpretative of a Divine law. This he rejects as an idle hypothesis (“commentitium”) because no such Divine law exists, nor any human law interpreting it.

He also asserts that the absence of such a Divine law “is confirmed by the fact that such a law would be pernicious to the Church,” a view which he supports by the consideration that, if occult [i.e. secret] heretics were automatically deprived of their offices, no one could be certain that a jurisdictional act was valid, whereas if only manifest heretics were thus deprived ipso facto, “greater troubles would follow, as we should be doubtful about how notorious the fact had to be for it to be considered that [the pope] had fallen from his dignity, so schisms would arise in consequence and everything would become perplexed …. ”

Now these last two confirmatory objections can be dismissed at once, because the exact meaning of the terms “occult”, “public” and “notorious” have now been determined authoritatively for us by the Church in Canon 2197 and there is no doubt that it is only of public heretics that anyone seriously maintains the automatic loss of office. Moreover, it is not apparent that a theory can legitimately be rejected on the grounds that it could give rise to disputes and perplexities, because there is no Divine guarantee that the Church will be free of disputes and perplexities, as indeed is solidly proven by the fact that her history is full of them. Nor is there any basis for thinking that the doctrine according to which a general council or a series of provincial ones could indirectly depose the pope by judging him to be a heretic would be any less fecund in troubles, schisms and perplexities.

So we are left with Suarez’s argument that popes, like other clerics, retain their office in case of heresy until a judicial declaration of their heresy is made for the reason that there is no Divine law to the contrary. And this one remaining base on which Suarez’s position stands is totally annihilated by the fact that, notwithstanding the dignity it once had of being a respected though minority opinion, it is today known to be certainly false. I quote from De Processu CriminaliEcclesiastico by Dr. Francis Heiner [46] (Emphasis added):

Ancient authors disputed whether the penalty of privation of benefices [incurred by heretics] is incurred ‘ipso facto’ or after judicial sentence. But owing to the provisions of subsequent laws the matter is no longer doubtful. In the constitution Noverit Universitas of Pope Nicholas III dated 5th March 1280, for instance, it is said: ‘But heretics… are to be admitted to no ecclesiastical benefice or office; and if the contrary should have occurred, We decree that it is null and void; for, from now, We deprive the aforesaid of their benefices, wishing them to have none perpetually and in no wise to be admitted to the like in the future.’ Now the words ‘from now We deprive’ are equivalent to the words ‘ipso iure’ [by the law itself], as is taught by Suarez [De Legibus, Bk. 5, c. 7, n. 7] [47] and other canonists. Pope Paul IV says the same thing even more clearly in his constitution Cum Ex Apostolatus dated 15th February 1559, in which, after confirming the penalties established by his predecessors against heretics, he says in express words: ‘Of those who in any way knowingly shall have presumed to receive, defend, favour or believe those so apprehended, confessed or convicted [i.e. heretics] or to teach their doctrines, … each and every cleric … is by that very fact deprived… of all ecclesiastical office and benefices.’ Hence it cannot be doubted that clerics are deprived of their benefices ipso facto for the crime of heresy.

It will doubtless already have occurred to readers that Suarez’s position is anyhow untenable, because it conflicts with Cum Ex Apostolatus which expressly extends its provisions to the case of heretics elected to the Holy See. The fact is that, as I have already mentioned and as is clear beyond any doubt from the reasoning from his De Fide, Spe et Charitate that I have quoted, Suarez must have been unaware of that bull. And this of course destroys any possible credibility that his hypothesis could ever have had. One cannot possibly even begin to have a case if one is not in a position to deal with one of the most authoritative and compelling arguments against it.

And since Suarez’s time there has been an additional decree on the subject from the Holy See: Canon 188§4 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which provides that:

If any cleric … publicly defects from the Catholic Faith… all of his offices become vacant ‘ipso facto’ and without any declaration, by tacit resignation accepted by the law itself.

It is interesting to note that the last words of this canon effectively introduce a nicety which had evidently not occurred to Suarez in his argument that human law cannot deprive one who is equal or superior in authority to its promulgator — namely that the automatic loss of office incurred by heretics is not, strictly a privation, which is the act of a superior, but an act of resignation on the part of the heretics themselves. This is so even if they do not directly wish to resign, because by choosing a role radically incompatible with holding office in the Church (i.e. the role of heretic) they have externally expressed, at least interpretatively, the will to resign; and so the law itself interprets their action, and their office automatically falls vacant.

Finally, it should be noted that Suarez’s contention that there is no Divine law whereby heretics are automatically deprived of their offices is not correct. The words of St. Paul and St. John forbidding communication between the faithful and heretics (as quoted by Suarez himself) constitute just such a law, [48] as the unanimous teaching of the Fathers to the same effect, vouched for by St. Robert Bellarmine, proves beyond question. Consequently the automatic exclusion of even uncondemned heretics from all ecclesiastical offices pronounced by Cum Ex Apostolatusand in recent times by Canon 188§4 do indeed “bind the pope”, because although promulgated by his equal, they are interpretative of Divine law.

It is thus certain that the premises upon which Suarez bases his hypothesis — namely the absence of any Divine law or human law applicable to a pope who falls into heresy, as well as the view that even non-papal heretics retain their offices until officially deposed — are entirely unfounded and in conflict with explicit judgements of the Church’s highest authority. The corollary of this fact is that it is not open to Catholics today to recognize Suarez’s view even as a legitimate opinion. The opposite opinion, taught by St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Alphonsus Liguori and countless others, is the official view of the Church herself. All heretics, including a heretic elected to the Holy See or a pope who, if such a catastrophe be possible, became a heretic after being validly elected, lose their offices ipso facto, and that both by Divine and by human law.

____________
Footnotes:

[39] While the pope is not directly subject to penal law, it is notable that Canon 188§4 is not a penal Canon. It does not deprive clerics of their offices for heresy; it interprets public defection from the faith as an act of tacit resignation from those offices, to which it gives immediate effect. In practice the theological debate about the loss of the papacy following pubic heresy closely parallels the debate (now closed) as to the loss of lesser ecclesiastical offices under the same circumstances.

[40] The fact that he wrote after the promulgation of Cum Ex Apostolatus in no way contradicts my assertion that this bull makes his position untenable, for, as will be shown later in this appendix, he was clearly not aware of the Bull’s contents.

[41] To both views, however, the words of St. Robert Bellarmine are equally apposite: “The condition of the Church would be most wretched if it were obliged to recognize a manifestly ravening wolf for its pastor.”

[42] I.e. those who fall into heresy but give no exterior indication of having done so.

[43] De Romano Pontifice, a part of his famous Controversies.

[44] This would appear to be supported by the nearest instance I know to a statement by a Father of the Church that heretics deserve to be deprived of their dignity. Pope St. Celestine I (422-432) in his letter to John of Antioch preserved in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus (Vol. 1, cap. 19), says: “If anyone has been excommunicated or deprived either of episcopal or clerical dignity by bishop Nestorius and his followers since the time that they began to preach those things, it is manifest that he has persevered and continues to persevere in communion with us; nor do we judge him to have been removed, because one who has already shown that he ought himself to be removed [‘se iam praebuerat ipse removendum] cannot by his own judgement remove another.” Here it is evident that in referring to Nestorius and his supporters as “removendi” — “those who ought to be removed” — St. Celestine does not mean that they retain their offices until deposed. That is precluded by the fact that he expressly judges their authoritative acts to have been null even prior to their deposition. His meaning is evidently that they ought to be removed physically from the accoutrements of the office which they had already ipso facto forfeited. See also the same pontiff’s letter to the clergy of Constantinople.

[45] De Romano Pontifice, XXX.

[46] The author of this work, published at Rome in 1862, was an auditor of the Holy Roman Rota.

[47] Heiner is not suggesting that Suarez agrees with him as to the ipso facto deprivation of heretics, but only to the equivalence of certain phrases to ipso iure or ipso facto, which is the subject of the chapter of Suarez to which he refers.

[48] Although the law is implicit rather than explicit in the Apostles’ words, it is nonetheless inescapable, as it would certainly not be compatible with these apostolic injunctions to recognize a heretic as having authority in the Catholic Church. Many other laws recognized to be Divine in origin — such as that prescribing the seal of confession — are deduced from passages of Scripture in which they are even more implicit, but nonetheless certain.

——————————————

This was an excerpt from pp. 148-162 of John Daly’s book Michael Davies: An Evaluation (2nd ed., 2015). Italics in original.

The entire book is available for free electronically or for purchase in hardcopy:

We express our gratitude to Mr. Daly for kindly permitting us to provide this excerpt and for making the electronic version of his book available to the public for free.

 

A Challenge to Recognize-and-Resist Apologists: Is it a Mortal Sin to adhere to Francis’ Teachings?

In light of Catholic teaching on the Papacy, that is…

A Challenge to Recognize-and-Resist Apologists: Is it a Mortal Sin to adhere to Francis’ Teachings?

The altar of the Chair of St. Peter in the Vatican

Day in and day out we hear from the recognizing-and-resisting semi-traditionalists that this or that error of Vatican II or the post-conciliar magisterium is “not binding.” In a recent live interview on YouTube, semi-trad darling John Salza repeated it once again.

For the sake of argument, we will accept that claim precisely as stated: Certain papal teaching is not binding. That means, of course, that it is optional to embrace — take it or leave it. If it’s optional, however, one naturally wonders why they are so busy resisting it. We know the answer, of course: because they believe it is more than just not binding — it is, in fact, not permissible to adhere to because it is spiritual poison and contradicts what the Church taught for two millennia, often even the very Deposit of Faith directly.

Now of course the semi-trads don’t only resist their supposed Popes but also recognize them, meaning that they are just as certain that the men whose teachings they have decided are definitely not safe to embrace, are nevertheless definitely true Popes. These self-styled traditionalists also tell us that they adhere only to “what the Church has always taught”, and that is not optional.

To sum up, their position is:

  • what the Church “has always taught” is binding on Catholics
  • papal novelties, incl. errors and heresies, are not binding and not permissible to hold because they contradict “what the Church has always taught”
  • Francis is definitely the Pope

OK then. Since these people acknowledge that what the Church has always taught is not only true and correct but is binding on the Catholic conscience, let’s see what the Church has always taught about the Papacy, shall we? Once we’ve looked at that, we’ll apply it to the man whom the recognize-and-resisters are telling us is definitely — some even say infallibly — the current true Pope.

So first, let’s lay out the traditional doctrine.

We’ll begin with Pope Pius IX, who reigned for 32 years — longer than any other Pope in history — and issued plenty of magisterial documents. Among his rich teaching we find this:

Indeed one simple way to keep men professing Catholic truth is to maintain their communion with and obedience to the Roman Pontiff. For it is impossible for a man ever to reject any portion of the Catholic faith without abandoning the authority of the Roman Church. In this authority, the unalterable teaching office of this faith lives on. It was set up by the divine Redeemer and, consequently, the tradition from the Apostles has always been preserved. So it has been a common characteristic both of the ancient heretics and of the more recent Protestants — whose disunity in all their other tenets is so great — to attack the authority of the Apostolic See. But never at any time were they able by any artifice or exertion to make this See tolerate even a single one of their errors.

(Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, n. 17)

Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion. Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.

(Encyclical Inter Multiplices, n. 7)

Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that “without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.” But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.

(Encyclical Quanta Cura, n. 5)

Since the Roman pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment. The sentence of the apostolic see (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman pontiff.

(First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 3)

However it has never been possible to prove oneself a Catholic by affirming those statements of the faith which one accepts and keeping silence on those doctrines which one decides not to profess. But without exception, all doctrines which the Church proposes must be accepted, as the history of the Church at all times bears witness.

…For any man to be able to prove his Catholic faith and affirm that he is truly a Catholic, he must be able to convince the Apostolic See of this. For this See is predominant and with it the faithful of the whole Church should agree. And the man who abandons the See of Peter can only be falsely confident that he is in the Church. As a result, that man is already a schismatic and a sinner who establishes a see in opposition to the unique See of the blessed Peter from which the rights of sacred communion derive for all men.

…All these traditions dictate that whoever the Roman Pontiff judges to be a schismatic for not expressly admitting and reverencing his power must stop calling himself Catholic.

But the neo-schismatics say that it was not a case of doctrine but of discipline, so the name and prerogatives of Catholics cannot be denied to those who object. Our Constitution Reversurus, published on July 12, 1867, answers this objection. We do not doubt that you know well how vain and worthless this evasion is. For the Catholic Church has always regarded as schismatic those who obstinately oppose the lawful prelates of the Church and in particular, the chief shepherd of all.

…Most men feel that the Church’s supreme head and shepherd should decide who are Catholics and who are not.

(Encyclical Quartus Supra, nn. 7-9,12,15)

But you, dearly beloved Sons, remember that in all that concerns the faith, morals, and government of the Church, the words which Christ said of Himself: “he that gathereth not with me scattereth” [Mt 12:30], can be applied to the Roman Pontiff who holds the place of God on earth. Ground your whole wisdom therefore, in an absolute obedience and a joyous and constant adherence to this Chair of Peter. Thus, animated by the same spirit of faith, you will all be perfect in one manner of thinking and judging, you will strengthen this unity which we must oppose to the enemies of the Church….

(Apostolic Letter Per Tristissima; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 419)

Now we come to Pope Leo XIII, who, not surprisingly, taught the same things:

To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor.

(Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua)

If in the difficult times in which Our lot is cast, Catholics will give ear to Us, as it behooves them to do, they will readily see what are the duties of each one in matters of opinion as well as action. As regards opinion, whatever the Roman Pontiffs have hitherto taught, or shall hereafter teach, must be held with a firm grasp of mind, and, so often as occasion requires, must be openly professed.

(Encyclical Immortale Dei, n. 41)

In defining the limits of the obedience owed to the pastors of souls, but most of all to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, it must not be supposed that it is only to be yielded in relation to dogmas of which the obstinate denial cannot be disjoined from the crime of heresy. Nay, further, it is not enough sincerely and firmly to assent to doctrines which, though not defined by any solemn pronouncement of the Church, are by her proposed to belief, as divinely revealed, in her common and universal teaching, and which the [First] Vatican Council declared are to be believed “with Catholic and divine faith.” But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the Apostolic See.

Wherefore it belongs to the Pope to judge authoritatively what things the sacred oracles contain, as well as what doctrines are in harmony, and what in disagreement, with them; and also, for the same reason, to show forth what things are to be accepted as right, and what to be rejected as worthless; what it is necessary to do and what to avoid doing, in order to attain eternal salvation. For, otherwise, there would be no sure interpreter of the commands of God, nor would there be any safe guide showing man the way he should live.

(Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae, n. 24)

Wherefore, as appears from what has been said, Christ instituted in the Church a living, authoritative and permanent Magisterium, which by His own power He strengthened, by the Spirit of truth He taught, and by miracles confirmed. He willed and ordered, under the gravest penalties, that its teachings should be received as if they were His own.

Union with the Roman See of Peter is … always the public criterion of a Catholic …. “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held.”

(Encyclical Satis Cognitum, nn. 9,13)

This is Our last lesson to you: receive it, engrave it in your minds, all of you: by God’s commandment salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church; the strong and effective instrument of salvation is none other than the Roman Pontificate.

(Allocution for the 25th Anniversary of his Election, Feb. 20, 1903; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 653)

Pope St. Pius X echoed his predecessors as well because their teachings were precisely “what the Church had always taught”:

They [the Modernists] will learn many excellent things from such a great teacher [as Cardinal John Henry Newman]: in the first place, to regard the Magisterium of the Church as sacred, to defend the doctrine handed down inviolately by the Fathers and, what is of highest importance to the safeguarding of Catholic truth, to follow and obey the Successor of St. Peter with the greatest faith.

(Apostolic Letter Tuum Illud)

And this is why, when we love the Pope, we do not dispute whether he commands or requires a thing, or seek to know where the strict obligation of obedience lies, or in what matter we must obey; when we love the Pope we do not say that he has not yet spoken clearly — as if he were required to speak his will in every man’s ear, and to utter it not only by word of mouth but in letters and other public documents as well. Nor do we cast doubt on his orders, alleging the pretext which comes easily to the man who does not want to obey, that it is not the Pope who is commanding, but someone in his entourage. We do not limit the field in which he can and ought to exercise his authority; we do not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of other persons — no matter how learned — who differ from the Pope. For whatever may be their learning, they are not holy, for where there is holiness there cannot be disagreement with the Pope.

(Address to the Priests of the Apostolic Union, Nov. 18, 1912; in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 4 [1912], p. 695; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 752)

We’re not done yet. “What the Church has always taught” was also laid out by Pope Benedict XV:

All know to whom the teaching authority of the Church has been given by God: he, then, possesses a perfect right to speak as he wishes and when he thinks it opportune. The duty of others is to hearken to him reverently when he speaks and to carry out what he says.

(Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 22)

The same can be said of Pope Pius XI:

Wherefore, let the faithful also be on their guard against the overrated independence of private judgment and that false autonomy of human reason. For it is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances; or even that they must obey only in those matters which she has decreed by solemn definition as though her other decisions might be presumed to be false or putting forward insufficient motive for truth and honesty. Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord.

(Encyclical Casti Connubii, n. 104)

Finally, we come to the last (known) true Pope, Pius XII. Again we find that his teaching was no different either:

They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.

(Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 41)

The Pope has the divine promises; even in his human weaknesses, he is invincible and unshakable; he is the messenger of truth and justice, the principle of the unity of the Church; his voice denounces errors, idolatries, superstitions; he condemns iniquities; he makes charity and virtue loved.

(Address Ancora Una Volta, Feb. 20, 1949)

…[T]his sacred Office of Teacher in matters of faith and morals must be the proximate and universal criterion of truth for all theologians, since to it has been entrusted by Christ Our Lord the whole deposit of faith — Sacred Scripture and divine Tradition — to be preserved, guarded and interpreted…. Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me” [Lk 10:16]; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine.

(Encyclical Humani Generis, nn. 18, 20)

These are quite a few examples, and yet they are by no means exhaustive (you can find more here).

Now we’ll apply these teachings to Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”), the man we are told over and over again by the mainstream traditionalists is the true Pope. We will do that by replacing any mention of “Roman Pontiff”, “Pope”, “Vicar of Christ”, etc., with the phrase “Pope Francis” and/or make any other appropriate adjustments, indicated in bold red font.

This is how the above teachings read then:

Indeed one simple way to keep men professing Catholic truth is to maintain their communion with and obedience to Pope Francis. For it is impossible for a man ever to reject any portion of the Catholic faith without abandoning the authority of the Roman Church. In this authority, the unalterable teaching office of this faith lives on. It was set up by the divine Redeemer and, consequently, the tradition from the Apostles has always been preserved. So it has been a common characteristic both of the ancient heretics and of the more recent Protestants — whose disunity in all their other tenets is so great — to attack the authority of the Apostolic See of Pope Francis. But never at any time were they able by any artifice or exertion to make Pope Francis’ See tolerate even a single one of their errors.

********************

Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against Pope Francis’ Chair; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while Pope Francis’ Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion. Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this See of Pope Francis, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.

********************

Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that “without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See of Pope Francis, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.” But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.

********************

Since Pope Francis, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment. The sentence of the apostolic see of Pope Francis (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of Pope Francis to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to Pope Francis.

********************

However it has never been possible to prove oneself a Catholic by affirming those statements of the faith which one accepts and keeping silence on those doctrines which one decides not to profess. But without exception, all doctrines which the Church proposes must be accepted, as the history of the Church at all times bears witness.

…For any man to be able to prove his Catholic faith and affirm that he is truly a Catholic, he must be able to convince the Apostolic See of Pope Francis of this. For this See is predominant and with it the faithful of the whole Church should agree. And the man who abandons the See of Pope Francis can only be falsely confident that he is in the Church. As a result, that man is already a schismatic and a sinner who establishes a see in opposition to the unique See of Pope Francis from which the rights of sacred communion derive for all men.

…All these traditions dictate that whoever Pope Francis judges to be a schismatic for not expressly admitting and reverencing his power must stop calling himself Catholic.

But the neo-schismatics say that it was not a case of doctrine but of discipline, so the name and prerogatives of Catholics cannot be denied to those who object. Our Constitution Reversurus, published on July 12, 1867, answers this objection. We do not doubt that you know well how vain and worthless this evasion is. For the Catholic Church has always regarded as schismatic those who obstinately oppose the lawful prelates of the Church and in particular, the chief shepherd of all, Pope Francis.

…Most men feel that Pope Francis should decide who are Catholics and who are not.

********************

But you, dearly beloved Sons, remember that in all that concerns the faith, morals, and government of the Church, the words which Christ said of Himself: “he that gathereth not with me scattereth” [Mt 12:30], can be applied to Pope Francis, who holds the place of God on earth. Ground your whole wisdom therefore, in an absolute obedience and a joyous and constant adherence to this Chair of Pope Francis. Thus, animated by the same spirit of faith, you will all be perfect in one manner of thinking and judging, you will strengthen this unity which we must oppose to the enemies of the Church….

********************
To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to Pope Francis.

********************

If in the difficult times in which Our lot is cast, Catholics will give ear to Us, as it behooves them to do, they will readily see what are the duties of each one in matters of opinion as well as action. As regards opinion, whatever Pope Francis has hitherto taught, or shall hereafter teach, must be held with a firm grasp of mind, and, so often as occasion requires, must be openly professed.

********************

In defining the limits of the obedience owed to the pastors of souls, but most of all to the authority of Pope Francis, it must not be supposed that it is only to be yielded in relation to dogmas of which the obstinate denial cannot be disjoined from the crime of heresy. Nay, further, it is not enough sincerely and firmly to assent to doctrines which, though not defined by any solemn pronouncement of the Church, are by her proposed to belief, as divinely revealed, in her common and universal teaching, and which the [First] Vatican Council declared are to be believed “with Catholic and divine faith.” But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the Apostolic See of Pope Francis.

Wherefore it belongs to Pope Francis to judge authoritatively what things the sacred oracles contain, as well as what doctrines are in harmony, and what in disagreement, with them; and also, for the same reason, to show forth what things are to be accepted as right, and what to be rejected as worthless; what it is necessary to do and what to avoid doing, in order to attain eternal salvation. For, otherwise, there would be no sure interpreter of the commands of God, nor would there be any safe guide showing man the way he should live.

********************

Wherefore, as appears from what has been said, Christ instituted in the Church a living, authoritative and permanent Magisterium, now exercised by Pope Francis, which by His own power He strengthened, by the Spirit of truth He taught, and by miracles confirmed. He willed and ordered, under the gravest penalties, that its teachings should be received as if they were His own.

Union with Pope Francis is … always the public criterion of a Catholic …. “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Pope Francis is to be held.”

********************

This is Our last lesson to you: receive it, engrave it in your minds, all of you: by God’s commandment salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church; the strong and effective instrument of salvation is none other than Pope Francis’ Pontificate.

********************

They [the Modernists] will learn many excellent things from such a great teacher [as Cardinal John Henry Newman]: in the first place, to regard the Magisterium of the Church as sacred, to defend the doctrine handed down inviolately by the Fathers and, what is of highest importance to the safeguarding of Catholic truth, to follow and obey Pope Francis with the greatest faith.
********************

And this is why, when we love Pope Francis, we do not dispute whether he commands or requires a thing, or seek to know where the strict obligation of obedience lies, or in what matter we must obey; when we love Pope Francis we do not say that he has not yet spoken clearly — as if he were required to speak his will in every man’s ear, and to utter it not only by word of mouth but in letters and other public documents as well. Nor do we cast doubt on his orders, alleging the pretext which comes easily to the man who does not want to obey, that it is not Pope Francis who is commanding, but someone in his entourage. We do not limit the field in which he can and ought to exercise his authority; we do not oppose to Pope Francis’ authority that of other persons — no matter how learned — who differ from Pope Francis. For whatever may be their learning, they are not holy, for where there is holiness there cannot be disagreement with Pope Francis.

********************
All know to whom the teaching authority of the Church has been given by God: Pope Francis, then, possesses a perfect right to speak as he wishes and when he thinks it opportune. The duty of others is to hearken to Pope Francis reverently when he speaks and to carry out what he says.

********************

Wherefore, let the faithful also be on their guard against the overrated independence of private judgment and that false autonomy of human reason. For it is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances; or even that they must obey only in those matters which she has decreed by solemn definition as though her other decisions might be presumed to be false or putting forward insufficient motive for truth and honesty. Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor Pope Francis, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord.
********************
They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to Pope Francis. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.

********************

Pope Francis has the divine promises; even in his human weaknesses, he is invincible and unshakable; he is the messenger of truth and justice, the principle of the unity of the Church; his voice denounces errors, idolatries, superstitions; he condemns iniquities; he makes charity and virtue loved.

********************

…[T]his sacred Office of Teacher in matters of faith and morals must be the proximate and universal criterion of truth for all theologians, since to it has been entrusted by Christ Our Lord the whole deposit of faith — Sacred Scripture and divine Tradition — to be preserved, guarded and interpreted…. Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters Pope Francis does not exercise the supreme power of his Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me” [Lk 10:16]; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine.

Well, dear recognize-and-resisters, how’s it going? Is your head spinning yet? Or do you perchance not believe in the Papacy?

Actually, though, we haven’t even gotten to the challenge yet. This was just the preparatory work to make semi-trads understand what the true doctrine on papal primacy is — you know, “what the Church has always taught” on that — and what it would mean if Francis were a true Pope.

Here, then, is our challenge to all recognize-and-resist traditionalists, especially those who like to proclaim that they will never be sedevacantists, whom they sillily claim to be schismatics and/or heretics:

Considering your firm belief that Francis is the Pope, in light of the traditional Catholic teaching on the Papacy laid out above, is it objectively a mortal sin to adhere to the ideas promoted by Francis in his official documents and discourses?

In other words: How do you reconcile the traditional Catholic doctrine on the Papacy quoted above with the idea that Jorge Bergoglio is a valid Pope, when the traditional doctrine requires you under pain of mortal sin to adhere to everything the Pope teaches and yet you resist what Francis teaches because you know it is poison and therefore (objectively) a mortal sin to adhere to?

So, have at it, fellows: John Salza, Robert Siscoe, Christopher Ferrara, Michael Matt, Brian McCall, Steve Skojec, Eric Sammons, Eric Gajewski, Matt Gaspers… go ahead, answer the challenge.

As of late, more and more people have been opining that we must wait for a group of Novus Ordo cardinals or bishops to get together in a so-called imperfect council to determine if Francis is a heretic and/or a non-Pope. It is amusingly ironic that oftentimes they are the same people who didn’t care too much for the judgments of the last council that came around.

We sedevacantists believe in the Papacy. Recognize-and-resisters believe in Bergoglio.

Which do you believe in?

 

in Novus Ordo Wire     0

The “But we’ve had Bad Popes before” Objection

Is Francis a “bad father but still your father”?

The “But we’ve had Bad Popes before” Objection

With the recent idolatrous, heretical, and blasphemous circus surrounding the Amazon Synod, Novus Ordo and semi-traditionalist authorities and apologists are once again offering false solutions to their hapless followers, solutions aimed at mostly one thing: the continued acceptance of Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”) as the Pope of the Catholic Church, no matter how absurd and indefensible the idea may be — for the only truly intolerable view for them is that of Sedevacantism.

One of the most common objections one hears against Sedevacantism is, “But we’ve had bad Popes before” or, “A bad father is still your father!” People who think that such arguments can legitimize Francis are either not familiar with, or incapable of grasping, the difference between, on the one hand, Catholics who lead immoral lives, and, on the other hand, heretics.

Francis isn’t a bad Catholic. He manifests day in and day out that he is a non-Catholic. That’s the crux. Therefore, saying that we’ve had bad Popes in the past and they were still valid Popes, is totally beside the point. A man who professes the Catholic Faith whole and entire, no matter how wicked he may be, remains a member of the Catholic Church. Even if he hate God. Even if he be a murderer. Even if he be a sodomite.

God forbid, of course! Such a man, if he does not repent, will have an eternity of suffering in hell. His Church membership will have profited him nothing; his Faith, entirely dead because without charity, will not save him in the least. His knowledge of the True Faith will merely add to his misery in hell because he will have sinned with full knowledge of the sinfulness of his deeds.

Yes, all this is true. But such a man, if elected to the papacy, would still be a valid Pope, because what keeps a man from being validly elected to the papacy is not a lack of holiness but the public profession of heresy (among other things). In other words, what keeps him from being a valid Pope is not the commission of sins against morals (otherwise no one could be Pope, since we are all sinners), no matter how many or how grievous, but the commission of certain sins against Faith.

That is standard Catholic teaching and not controversial. Pope Pius XII put it best when he taught authoritatively in his beautiful encyclical on the Church:

Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed….

Nor must one imagine that the Body of the Church, just because it bears the name of Christ, is made up during the days of its earthly pilgrimage only of members conspicuous for their holiness, or that it consists only of those whom God has predestined to eternal happiness. It is owing to the Savior’s infinite mercy that place is allowed in His Mystical Body here below for those whom, of old, He did not exclude from the banquet. For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy. Men may lose charity and divine grace through sin, thus becoming incapable of supernatural merit, and yet not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope, and if, illumined from above, they are spurred on by the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit to salutary fear and are moved to prayer and penance for their sins.

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, nn. 22-23; underlining added.)

Note well, ladies and gentlemen: The only sins that by their very nature sever a man from the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, are the sins of schism, heresy, and apostasy. What this means is that these sins are such that committing them renders one a non-Catholic. A heretic, after all, professes a different religion than a Catholic, and so he cannot be a member of the Church, because one cannot be a Catholic and a non-Catholic at the same time. (The same goes, even more so, for an apostate. Schism is slightly different because it is a sin against charity and not against Faith, but this need not concern us here.)

Therefore, a schismatic, a heretic, or an apostate could not be a valid Pope, for this would mean that a man who is not a member of the Mystical Body can nevertheless be the head of that Mystical Body, which is a contradiction. The Catholic Encyclopedia, compiled during the reign of Pope St. Pius X, states very plainly: “Of course, the election of a heretic, schismatic, or female would be null and void” (s.v. “Papal Elections”).

To appreciate how important and serious this difference is between bad Catholic and non-Catholic, let us take a look at one of the most immoral Catholic Popes in history: Pope John XII, who reigned from 955 to 963. Prince Octavian (his birth name) was only 16 years of age when elected, and he was a complete moral reprobate:

Nothing in his life marked him for this office, and everything should have kept him from it. He was rarely seen in church. His days and nights were spent in the company of young men and of disreputable women, in the pleasures of the table and of amusements and of the hunt, or in even more sinful sensual enjoyments. It is related that sometimes, in the midst of dissolute revelry, the prince had been seen to drink to the health of the devil. Raised to the papal office, Octavian changed his name and took the name of John XII. He was the first pope thus to assume a new name. But his new dignity brought about no change in his morals, and merely added the guilt of sacrilege.

Divine providence, watching over the Church, miraculously preserved the deposit of faith, of which this young voluptuary was the guardian. This Pope’s life was a monstrous scandal, but his bullarium is faultless. We cannot sufficiently admire this prodigy. There is not a heretic or a schismatic who has not endeavored to legitimate his own conduct dogmatically: Photius tried to justify his pride, Luther his sensual passions, Calvin his cold cruelty. Neither Sergius III nor John XII nor Benedict IX nor Alexander VI, supreme pontiffs, definers of the faith, certain of being heard and obeyed by the whole Church, uttered, from the height of their apostolic pulpit, a single word that could be an approval of their disorders.

At times John XII even became the defender of the threatened social order, of offended canon law, and of the religious life exposed to danger.

(Rev. Fernand Mourret, A History of the Catholic Church, Vol. 3 [St. Louis, MO: Herder Book Co., 1946], pp. 510-511; underlining added.)

BAM! Did you get that?

Yes, there can be bad Popes, indeed. But in the exercise of their office they will be as orthodox and as Catholic as any other. Christ promised as much: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). That is the Catholic doctrine on the Papacy, backed by God Himself:

…the Church has received from on high a promise which guarantees her against every human weakness. What does it matter that the helm of the symbolic barque has been entrusted to feeble hands, when the Divine Pilot stands on the bridge, where, though invisible, He is watching and ruling? Blessed be the strength of his arm and the multitude of his mercies!

(Pope Leo XIII, Allocution to Cardinals, March 20, 1900; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 349.)

The Pope has the divine promises; even in his human weaknesses, he is invincible and unshakable; he is the messenger of truth and justice, the principle of the unity of the Church; his voice denounces errors, idolatries, superstitions; he condemns iniquities; he makes charity and virtue loved.

(Pope Pius XII, Address Ancora Una Volta, Feb. 20, 1949)

Thus, if one were to say that Francis is the Pope, one would have to conclude that all the Catholic teaching on the Papacy applies to him and that its guarantees are verified in him. To see how Bergoglio measures up, we have put together a handy little tool:

Unlike what so many prominent “traditionalists” have been spouting for decades, the Church is not guaranteed to have a Pope at all times; but when she has one, she is guaranteed to have one who’s Catholic. This is evident also because the Pope is the principle of unity in the Church and the proximate rule of Faith; he is the guarantor of orthodoxy and to him all must submit as a condition of their salvation (see Denz. 469). The idea that a public heretic could be Pope and teach in accordance with his heresies, would throw all of this completely out of sync.

Thus St. Robert Bellarmine, the Doctor of the Papacy, taught:

The Pope is the Teacher and Shepherd of the whole Church, thus, the whole Church is so bound to hear and follow him that if he would err, the whole Church would err.

Now our adversaries respond that the Church ought to hear him so long as he teaches correctly, for God must be heard more than men.

On the other hand, who will judge whether the Pope has taught rightly or not? For it is not for the sheep to judge whether the shepherd wanders off, not even and especially in those matters which are truly doubtful. Nor do Christian sheep have any greater judge or teacher to whom they might have recourse. As we showed above, from the whole Church one can appeal to the Pope yet, from him no one is able to appeal; therefore necessarily the whole Church will err if the Pontiff would err.

(St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book IV, Chapter 3; Grant translation; underlining added.)

Whereas certain self-appointed recognize-and-resist traditionalists want to “unite the clans” so as to mount a unified defense against their “Pope’s” open heterodoxy, the Catholic Magisterium is quite clear that the only principle that can produce the unity of the flock is the Pope, who alone possesses authority over all Christians and who cannot lead the flock astray in matters of Faith and morals:

The vigilance and the pastoral solicitude of the Roman Pontiff … according to the duties of his office, are principally and above all manifested in maintaining and conserving the unity and integrity of the Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God. They strive also to the end that the faithful of Christ, not being like irresolute children, or carried about by every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men [Eph 4:14], may all come to the unity of faith and to the knowledge of the Son of God to form the perfect man, that they may not harm one another or offend against one another in the community and the society of this present life, but that rather, united in the bond of charity like members of a single body having Christ for head, and under the authority of his Vicar on earth, the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Blessed Peter, from whom is derived the unity of the entire Church, they may increase in number for the edification of the body, and with the assistance of divine grace, they may so enjoy tranquility in this life as to enjoy future beatitude.”

(Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Pastoralis Romani Pontificis, March 30, 1741; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 31; underlining added.)

The Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have primacy in the entire world. The Roman Pontiff is the Successor of Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, true Vicar of Christ, Head of the whole Church, Father and Teacher of all Christians.

(Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Etsi Pastoralis, May 26, 1742; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 32; underlining added.)

To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor.

(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua to Cardinal Guibert; underlining added.)

Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

(Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam)

Union with the Roman See of Peter is … always the public criterion of a Catholic…. ‘You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held.’

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 13; underlining added.)

…[T]he strong and effective instrument of salvation is none other than the Roman Pontificate.

(Pope Leo XIII, Allocution of Feb. 20, 1903; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 353)

What? You haven’t heard these things lately from your favorite semi-trad newspaper, blog, or clergyman? You don’t say! Try applying the above quotes to the Vatican II Sect and its “Popes”, and you realize very quickly that their goose is cooked. Is Francis, even in his official acts, “the strong and effective instrument of salvation”? Hardly! If there’s anything he’s strong and effective in, it’s causing loss of Faith and thus damnation.

Take a good look also at the dogmatic teaching of the First Vatican Council on the connection between the Papacy and the True Faith, a connection which is not merely incidental but essential and necessary:

To satisfy this pastoral duty, our predecessors always gave tireless attention that the saving doctrine of Christ be spread among all the peoples of the earth, and with equal care they watched that, wherever it was received, it was preserved sound and pure. Therefore, the bishops of the whole world, now individually, now gathered in Synods, following a long custom of the churches and the formula of the ancient rule, referred to this Holy See those dangers particularly which emerged in the affairs of faith, that there especially the damages to faith might be repaired where faith cannot experience a failure. The Roman Pontiffs, moreover, according as the condition of the times and affairs advised, sometimes by calling ecumenical Councils or by examining the opinion of the Church spread throughout the world; sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by employing other helps which divine Providence supplied, have defined that those matters must be held which with God’s help they have recognized as in agreement with Sacred Scripture and apostolic traditionFor, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth. Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it, knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren” [Luke 22:32].

(Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, n. 4; Denz. 1836; underlining added.)

It’s time to change the channel, folks. It’s time to stop imbibing the semi-traditionalist propaganda produced by The Remnant and its theological cousins.

As Catholics, we can take a debauched but Catholic Pope John XII over a “nice” but heretical Francis any day. Pope Pius IX reminds us of this once more:

Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair [of St. Peter]; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices, n. 7; underlining added.)

But the supposed “Chair of St. Peter” in the Vatican II Sect has tottered and fallen; it therefore cannot be the true and genuine Chair of St. Peter.

Where, then, is the true Pope? We do not know. For all we know, we do not have a Pope. The See of Peter has been either vacant or impeded since 1958. It has most definitely not been validly occupied by the impostors of the Vatican II Church (John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Francis).

But keep in mind: Though the Church may not always have a Pope, she will always have the True Faith. And for this reason alone we know that the Vatican II Sect cannot be the Catholic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So… now what, you ask? Now go and be a real Catholic.

 

The Case of Pope Honorius I

Setting the record straight…

The Case of Pope Honorius I

These days, recognize-and-resist adherents are in an extremely difficult spot: They can no longer deny the horrendous public apostasy perpetrated by Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”) on a near-daily basis, yet they absolutely refuse to consider even as a possibility the idea that the greatest apostate the world has ever known is not at the same time the Vicar of Christ and head of the infallible and indefectible Roman Catholic Church.

Time and again, therefore, they are eager to find historical precedent for their position, and few things seem to please them more than to find, ostensibly, a “heretical Pope” in Church history they can point to in support of their stance. Like the Gallicans of the 19th century, today’s recognize-and-resisters think they have found such a case in the seventh-century Pope Honorius I, whom several ecumenical councils (Constantinople IIINicea II, and Constantinople IV) anathematized as a “heretic” for appearing to endorse the heresy of Monothelitism in a letter to Sergius, the Patriarch of Constantinople.

But what are the historical facts, and how can we be sure of them?

The issue of Pope Honorius was never more controversial than on the eve of and during the First Vatican Council, which was held from 1869-70 and defined as a dogma, among other things, the infallibility of the Pope when speaking ex cathedra. It was during this time that all the known facts on Pope Honorius were scrutinized and hotly debated. (Even the question of what would happen if a Pope became a public heretic was raised — and answered.) Arguments from all sides were exchanged by means of books, pamphlets, articles, and speeches. For example, in 1868 the Jesuit Fr. Paul Bottalla published the book Pope Honorius before the Tribunal of Reason and History (available for free electronically here), which he wrote in response to Peter Le Page Renouf’s pamphlet, The Condemnation of Pope Honorius.

Some maintained that Pope Honorius was indeed a Monothelite heretic, and that history proved it; others claimed that the historical documents on which this accusation rested had been interpolated or were outright forgeries. Others still argued that although the documents had to be admitted as authentic, they did not in fact prove Honorius to have been a heretic.

In order to bring this controversy, which has once again flared up in our day, to a decisive end, we have undertaken to translate from the original French the research presented on this issue by Fr. Louis-Nazaire Bégin (1840-1925) in his book La Primauté et l’Infaillibilité des Souverains Pontifes (“The Primacy and Infallibility of the Sovereign Pontiffs”), published in 1873. The Canadian Fr. Begin held a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was later appointed Archbishop of Quebec by Pope Leo XIII (1898) and created cardinal by Pope St. Pius X (1914). At the time of the Vatican Council, Fr. Begin was teaching dogmatic theology and Church history at a seminary in Quebec.

Writing in 1873, Fr. Begin had the benefit of being able to draw from all the research done in preparation for the council, from the acts of the council, and from its teachings. His book, which is based on a series of university lessons he gave, bears the required imprimatur of Cardinal Taschereau, then the Archbishop of Quebec. It is clear, therefore, that it will be a most reliable source — both in terms of assessing the facts of history and of ensuring doctrinal orthodoxy — for unraveling the confusing case of Pope Honorius according to the mind of the Church.

Fr. Begin’s book does not solely deal with the Pope Honorius controversy. As the title indicates, it is a general vindication of papal primacy and infallibility throughout Church history. It has been published only in French and can be read online for free here and purchased in paperback here. An English translation of the entire book is not available; however, we have translated the lecture dealing with the Honorius question and are making it available for you in full at the following link:

In this text, Fr. Begin proposes to answer “all the objections levied against the orthodoxy of Pope Honorius”, and he does not fail to deliver. “It is good for all to be acquainted with this controversy”, the author instructs his readers, “which has upset souls so much and which the enemies of the Church have abused so often against the papacy and Catholicism in general.”

The Canadian priest outlines the task before him as follows:

I shall begin by showing that the documents in question, that is to say the letter of Sergius to Honorius, the two letters of Honorius to Sergius, and the acts of the Sixth Council, are authentic; then I shall show that Honorius, nevertheless, did not fall into heresy, and that the Sixth [Ecumenical] Council [i.e. the Third Council of Constantinople] did not condemn him as a formal heretic, but only as guilty of negligence.

All of this Fr. Begin accomplishes with the necessary seriousness, erudition, sensibility, love of truth, and dedication to Holy Mother Church such an important subject demands.

The following select quotes from Fr. Begin’s investigation of the Pope Honorius case touch upon some key points of the controversy and will serve as additional incentives to read the entire text:

We come now to a very serious question, one which touches the very heart of our subject. This is the question: Did Pope Honorius fall into the heresy of Monotheletism? I answer, “No!” Here I find myself to have for adversaries a throng of writers hostile to the Catholic Church. On the other hand, I am supported by men who are the most eminent for their knowledge and erudition.

In his first letter [to Sergius, Pope Honorius] repeats several times that “the Scriptures demonstrate clearly that Jesus Christ is the same Who operates in things divine and in things human;” that “Jesus Christ operates in the two natures, divinely and humanly.” Nothing could be clearer or more obvious! The heresy is right away knocked down. It is thus evident that Honorius confesses in Jesus Christ not only two natures, but also two wills and two operations. Thus, this Pontiff professes in his letters the Catholic truth; he rejects only the new words being used to express it, and this for reasons of prudence, in order not to appear to favor Nestorianism or Eutychianism, and also because Sergius astutely portrayed these new expressions as a cause of troubles in the Church and an obstacle to the return of Monosphysites to orthodoxy.

John, secretary to Honorius, who wrote the letter to Sergius and who must have known better than any other the thoughts of the Pontiff, said on this matter: “When we spoke of a single will in the Lord, we did not have in view His double nature, divine and human, but His humanity only…. We meant that Jesus Christ did not have two contrary wills, that is to say one of the flesh and one of the spirit, as we ourselves have on account of sin, but that, with regard to His humanity, He had but one natural will.”

Pope John IV gave to Honorius’s words absolutely the same sense. It is therefore quite evident that the doctrine of Honorius in his letters to Sergius is irreproachable from the point of view of sound theology, because in addition to the divine will, which no one has denied, he confesses the human will in all its perfection.

…[Honorius’] unique goal, and certainly a very praiseworthy one, was to maintain peace in the Church by preventing the introduction of new words and removing all obstacles to the return of heretics to the true doctrine.

Thus, amid all the accusations brought against Honorius by the Fathers of the Sixth Council, none of them amounted to formal heresy; all of them were limited to incriminating this pope for having followed the advice of Sergius, who prescribed silence on the doctrine of the two operations in Jesus Christ, by which the error was propagated due to the audacious activity of the Monothelites and the blind obedience of Catholics, by which the heresy was not rejected and condemned in principle with the courage and energy which ought to be found in the supreme pastor; but in none of this do you see the council accuse Honorius of having professed a doctrine contrary to that of the Church. His negligence–this was his entire crime, this is why he was reproached, and this is what brought him condemnation.

…I do not deny the condemnation; on the contrary, I admit it according to what I said moments ago; but I distinguish the word heretic, which is quite imprecise and was still more so at the time of the councils in question. It was designated not only to those who professed the heresy knowingly and obstinately, but also to those who benefited it in any manner whatsoever, be it by their silence and negligence when their responsibilities obliged them to take action, be it by defending persons or the writings of heretics, be it even due to their communication with these heretics, or that they involuntarily admitted their doctrines.

…From this, I conclude that Honorius could have been condemned as a heretic by these three councils, and that he in fact was, not for having taught error, but solely for not having exerted the necessary vigor in his duties as Head of the Church, for not having vigorously used his authority to repress heresy, for having prescribed silence about the manner of expressing a truth, and having thus contributed to the diffusion of error.

This is the same conclusion which was reached by almost everyone who dealt with this question during the Vatican Council. Dom Guéranger, Abbot of the Solesmes Benedictines, said on the matter, “The real Sixth Council, the one to which the Roman Pontiff gave the necessary and canonical form, the one which requires the respect of the faithful, condemned Honorius only as an unfaithful guardian of the deposit of the faith, but not as having himself been an adherent of heresy. Justice and truth forbid us from going beyond that.”

These select few quotes are by no means meant to replace an attentive and thorough reading of the entire text, which we have gone through the trouble of procuring for you in English translation. Here, again, is the link to the full chapter:

You will not regret spending some time reading the scholarly presentation by this eminent seminary professor and later cardinal-archbishop.

Understanding the Pope Honorius controversy correctly is extremely important in our day, not only for the sake of maintaining the purity of Catholic doctrine and clarifying the historical facts, but also and especially so that it cannot be misused by others to promote a public apostate as the Vicar of Christ and head of the Catholic Church. The next time someone tries to tell you that Pope Honorius was a heretic, or that several ecumenical councils have condemned Pope Honorius as one, you will now have the ammunition you need to set the historical record straight.

 

in Novus Ordo Wire     25

The “Bad Popes” Argument

March 4, 2014

But haven’t we always had “bad Popes”? 

The “Bad Popes” Argument

A very common objection one hears when discussing Sedevacantism with those unfortunate souls who still believe Jorge Bergoglio (“Francis”) is the Pope of the Catholic Church, is, “But there have always been bad Popes!” They are either not familiar with, or incapable of grasping, the difference between, on the one hand, Catholics who lead immoral lives, and, on the other hand, heretics.

Francis isn’t a bad Catholic. He’s a Non-Catholic. That’s the crux. Therefore, saying that we’ve had bad Popes in the past and they were still valid Popes, is totally beside the point. A man who professes the Catholic Faith whole and entire, no matter how wicked he may be, remains a member of the Catholic Church. Even if he hate God. Even if he be a murderer. Even if he be a sodomite.

God forbid, of course! Such a man, if he does not repent, will have an eternity of suffering in hell. His Church membership will have profited him nothing; his faith, entirely dead because without charity, will not save him in the least. His knowledge of the True Faith will merely add to his misery in hell because he will have sinned with full knowledge of the sinfulness of his deeds.

Yes, all this is true. But such a man, if elected to the papacy, would still be a valid Pope, because what keeps a man from being validly elected to the papacy is not a lack of holiness but the profession of heresy (among other things). In other words, what keeps him from being a valid Pope is not the commission of sins against morals (otherwise no one could be Pope, since we are all sinners), no matter how many or how grievous, but the commission of sins against Faith.

This is standard Catholic teaching and not controversial. Pope Pius XII put it best when he taught authoritatively in his beautiful encyclical on the Church:

Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed….

Nor must one imagine that the Body of the Church, just because it bears the name of Christ, is made up during the days of its earthly pilgrimage only of members conspicuous for their holiness, or that it consists only of those whom God has predestined to eternal happiness. It is owing to the Savior’s infinite mercy that place is allowed in His Mystical Body here below for those whom, of old, He did not exclude from the banquet. For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy. Men may lose charity and divine grace through sin, thus becoming incapable of supernatural merit, and yet not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope, and if, illumined from above, they are spurred on by the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit to salutary fear and are moved to prayer and penance for their sins.

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, nn. 22-23; underlining added.)

Note well, ladies and gentlemen: The only sins that by their very nature sever a man from the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, are the sins of schism, heresy, and apostasy. What this means is that these sins are such that committing them renders you a non-Catholic. A heretic, after all, professes a different religion than a Catholic, and so he cannot be a member of the Church, because one cannot be a Catholic and a Non-Catholic at the same time. (The same goes, a fortiori, for an apostate. Schism is slightly different but this need not concern us here.)

Therefore, a schismatic, a heretic, or an apostate could not be a valid Pope, for this would mean that a man who is not a member of the Mystical Body can nevertheless be the head of that Mystical Body, which is a contradiction.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, compiled during the reign of Pope St. Pius X, states very plainly: “Of course, the election of a heretic, schismatic, or female would be null and void” (s.v. “Papal Elections”).

To appreciate how important and serious this difference is between bad Catholic and Non-Catholic, let us take a look at one of the absolutely most immoral Catholic Popes in history: Pope John XII (reigned 955-963). Prince Octavian (his birth name) was only 16 years of age when elected, and he was a complete moral reprobate:

Nothing in his life marked him for this office, and everything should have kept him from it. He was rarely seen in church. His days and nights were spent in the company of young men and of disreputable women, in the pleasures of the table and of amusements and of the hunt, or in even more sinful sensual enjoyments. It is related that sometimes, in the midst of dissolute revelry, the prince had been seen to drink to the health of the devil. Raised to the papal office, Octavian changed his name and took the name of John XII. He was the first pope thus to assume a new name. But his new dignity brought about no change in his morals, and merely added the guilt of sacrilege.

Divine providence, watching over the Church, miraculously preserved the deposit of faith, of which this young voluptuary was the guardian. This Pope’s life was a monstrous scandal, but his bullarium is faultless. We cannot sufficiently admire this prodigy. There is not a heretic or a schismatic who has not endeavored to legitimate his own conduct dogmatically: Photius tried to justify his pride, Luther his sensual passions, Calvin his cold cruelty. Neither Sergius III nor John XII nor Benedict IX nor Alexander VI, supreme pontiffs, definers of the faith, certain of being heard and obeyed by the whole Church, uttered, from the height of their apostolic pulpit, a single word that could be an approval of their disorders.

At times John XII even became the defender of the threatened social order, of offended canon law, and of the religious life exposed to danger.

(Rev. Fernand Mourret, A History of the Catholic Church, Vol. 3 [St. Louis, MO: Herder Book Co., 1946], pp. 510-511; underlining added.)

BAM! Did you get that?

Yes, there can be bad Popes, indeed. But in the exercise of their office they will be as orthodox and as Catholic as any other. Christ promised as much: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).

Unlike what so many prominent “traditionalists” have been spouting for decades, the Church is not guaranteed to have a Pope at all times; but when she has one, she is guaranteed to have one who’s Catholic. This is evident also because the Pope is the principle of unity in the Church and the proximate rule of Faith; he is the guarantor of orthodoxy and to him all must submit as a condition of their salvation (see Denz. 469). The idea that a heretic could be Pope would throw all of this completely out of sync.

In light of all the foregoing, consider these beautiful quotes regarding the authority and guaranteed infallibility of the Roman Pontificate:

“The vigilance and the pastoral solicitude of the Roman Pontiff … according to the duties of his office, are principally and above all manifested in maintaining and conserving the unity and integrity of the Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God. They strive also to the end that the faithful of Christ, not being like irresolute children, or carried about by every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men [Eph 4:14], may all come to the unity of faith and to the knowledge of the Son of God to form the perfect man, that they may not harm one another or offend against one another in the community and the society of this present life, but that rather, united in the bond of charity like members of a single body having Christ for head, and under the authority of his Vicar on earth, the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Blessed Peter, from whom is derived the unity of the entire Church, they may increase in number for the edification of the body, and with the assistance of divine grace, they may so enjoy tranquility in this life as to enjoy future beatitude.”

(Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Pastoralis Romani Pontificis, March 30, 1741; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 31; underlining added.)

 

“The Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have primacy in the entire world. The Roman Pontiff is the Successor of Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, true Vicar of Christ, Head of the whole Church, Father and Teacher of all Christians.”

(Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Etsi Pastoralis, May 26, 1742; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 32; underlining added.)

 

“To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor.”

(Pope Leo XIII, Letter Epistola Tua to Cardinal Guibert, June 17, 1885; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 263; underlining added.)

 

“Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

(Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302; underlining added.)

 

“Union with the Roman See of Peter is … always the public criterion of a Catholic…. ‘You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held.’”

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, par. 13; underlining added.)

 

“…the strong and effective instrument of salvation is none other than the Roman Pontificate.”

(Pope Leo XIII, Allocution of Feb. 20, 1903; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 353)

What? You haven’t heard these things lately from your favorite Resistance-Traditionalist newspaper, blog, or clergyman? You don’t say. Try applying the above quotes to the Vatican II Sect and its “Popes”, and you realize very quickly that it’s just not possible. Francis, even in his official acts, “the strong and effective instrument of salvation”? Give me a break. If there’s anything he’s strong and effective in, it’s causing damnation.

Take a good look also at the dogmatic teaching of the First Vatican Council on the connection between the Papacy and the True Faith, a connection which is not merely incidental but essential and necessary:

To satisfy this pastoral duty, our predecessors always gave tireless attention that the saving doctrine of Christ be spread among all the peoples of the earth, and with equal care they watched that, wherever it was received, it was preserved sound and pure. Therefore, the bishops of the whole world, now individually, now gathered in Synods, following a long custom of the churches and the formula of the ancient rule, referred to this Holy See those dangers particularly which emerged in the affairs of faith, that there especially the damages to faith might be repaired where faith cannot experience a failure. The Roman Pontiffs, moreover, according as the condition of the times and affairs advised, sometimes by calling ecumenical Councils or by examining the opinion of the Church spread throughout the world; sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by employing other helps which divine Providence supplied, have defined that those matters must be held which with God’s help they have recognized as in agreement with Sacred Scripture and apostolic traditionFor, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth. Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it, knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren” [Luke 22:32].

(Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, n. 4; Denz. 1836; underlining added.)

It’s time to change the channel, folks. Time to stop imbibing the Semi-Traditionalist propaganda produced by The Remnant and its cousins. Time to stop supporting “Fr.” Zuhlsdorf. Time to stop reading the paid apologists of the Modernist Vatican II Sect. Time to turn off Michael Voris.

Instead, tune in to some real Catholic information. Lent is a perfect time for that. “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: otherwise the new wine will break the bottles, and it will be spilled, and the bottles will be lost” (Lk 5:37).

As Catholics, we can take a debauched but Catholic Pope John XII over a “nice” but heretical Francis any day. Pope Pius IX reminds us of this once more:

Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair [of St. Peter]; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices, n. 7)

But the supposed “Chair of St. Peter” in the Vatican II Sect has tottered and fallen; it therefore cannot be the true and genuine Chair of St. Peter.

Where, then, is the true Pope? We do not know. For all we know, we do not have a Pope. The See of Peter has been either vacant or impeded since 1958. It is most definitely not validly occupied by the impostors of the Vatican II Church (John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Francis).

But keep in mind: Though the Church may not always have a Pope, she will always have the True Faith. And for this reason alone we know that the Vatican II Sect cannot be the Catholic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

in Novus Ordo Wire     2

The “Heretical” Popes (Part 1): Adrian VI

Setting the Record straight…

The “Heretical” Popes
Part 1: Adrian VI

[UPDATE 07-APR-2015: The First Vatican Council on the Question of a Heretical Pope]

There are two major lines of argument used by people who are rabidly anti-sedevacantist; that is, those who oppose the position of Sedevacantism not on account of evidence, real or imagined, but on account of a desire to see the position opposed for some other motive.

The first line of argumentation is to downplay the problems with the Vatican II “Popes” to make them seem less serious than they are. The second line of argumentation is to exaggerate the problems with some true Popes of the past to make them seem comparable to the situation we find ourselves in today, when outright apostates are claiming the papal office, especially Francis, Benedict XVI, John Paul II, and Paul VI.

As the heresies of Francis are so much out in the open now that anyone who wishes to retain some respectability and credibility can no longer deny them, it is the second line of argumentation that is now receiving renewed emphasis. On various blogs, forums, and web sites, claims are being made by some to the effect that “we’ve always had heretical Popes” — an outrageous and theologically as well as historically erroneous statement that is being uttered with a nonchalantness that could put Hans Kung to shame.

Boiling it down to the basics: The reason it is impossible for the Church to have a publicly heretical Pope is that this would destroy the unity of the Church, one of the hallmarks of her nature. The Church is necessarily united in Faith; if her head publicly held a different faith, she would cease to be one and be no better than the local Protestant church down the street, where each believer may disagree with any other, even with the pastor, about what the truth really is.

Already in Holy Scripture, St. Paul the Apostle refers to Holy Mother Church as “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15) and teaches that our Lord instituted the sacred hierarchy so that “we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ; that henceforth we be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph 4:13-14).

Furthermore, the Catholic Magisterium has consistently taught that all Catholics must be subject to the papacy as a student is subject to his teacher:

“The vigilance and the pastoral solicitude of the Roman Pontiff … according to the duties of his office, are principally and above all manifested in maintaining and conserving the unity and integrity of the Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God. They strive also to the end that the faithful of Christ, not being like irresolute children, or carried about by every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men [Eph 4:14], may all come to the unity of faith and to the knowledge of the Son of God to form the perfect man, that they may not harm one another or offend against one another in the community and the society of this present life, but that rather, united in the bond of charity like members of a single body having Christ for head, and under the authority of his Vicar on earth, the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Blessed Peter, from whom is derived the unity of the entire Church, they may increase in number for the edification of the body, and with the assistance of divine grace, they may so enjoy tranquility in this life as to enjoy future beatitude.”

(Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Pastoralis Romani Pontificis, March 30, 1741; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 31; underlining added.)

 

The Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have primacy in the entire world. The Roman Pontiff is the Successor of Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, true Vicar of Christ, Head of the whole Church, Father and Teacher of all Christians.”

(Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Etsi Pastoralis, May 26, 1742; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 32; under-lining added.)

 

“Our desire is to maintain unity in the bond of peace; and We have no other motive, in exposing the deceits of those who abuse the names of the [Church] Fathers to give false meaning to their words. Let all understand that there is no teaching which the Fathers have more at heart than that all should be kept in unity, attached to this Chair [of St. Peter] which alone Christ has made mother and mistress of all the others.”

(Pope Pius VI, Decree Super Soliditate, Nov. 28, 1786; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 60; underlining added.)

 

To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor.”

(Pope Leo XIII, Letter Epistola Tua to Cardinal Guibert, June 17, 1885; underlining added.)

 

“Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

(Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302; under-lining added.)

 

“Now, whoever will carefully examine and reflect upon the condition of the various religious societies, divided among themselves, and separated from the Catholic Church, which, from the days of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles has never ceased to exercise, by its lawful pastors, and still continues to exercise, the divine power committed to it by this same Lord; cannot fail to satisfy himself that neither any one of these societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity.

“For, whereas such societies are destitute of that living authority established by God, which especially teaches men what is of Faith, and what the rule of morals, and directs and guides them in all those things which pertain to eternal salvation, so they have continually varied in their doctrines, and this change and variation is ceaselessly going on among them. Every one must perfectly understand, and clearly and evidently see, that such a state of things is directly opposed to the nature of the Church instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ; for in that Church truth must always continue firm and ever inaccessible to all change, as a deposit given to that Church to be guarded in its integrity, for the guardianship of which the presence and aid of the Holy Ghost have been promised to the Church for ever. No one, moreover, can be ignorant that from these discordant doctrines and opinions social schisms have arisen, and that these again have given birth to sects and communions without number, which spread themselves continually, to the increasing injury of Christian and civil society.”

(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes [1868]; underlining added.)

These quotes speak for themselves, and they are obviously incompatible with the idea that a Pope could be a heretic, and that when he is, each of the faithful needs to determine this for himself and “resist” him accordingly, lest he be led astray and be punished eternally.

If a true Pope could be a heretic and still remain Pope, then the Church would have no need of a Pope — then he would not differ in essence from the leaders of the Anglican sect, or of the Eastern Orthodox churches, or of the Protestant faith communities. He would just become a ceremonial head whose tasks might include that of guiding, directing, and inspecting, but who ultimately holds no genuine authority, in virtue of his office, to teach the Faith and whose teaching demands assent for the mere fact that he, the Pope, is the one who is teaching (cf. Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 20).

The one ecumenical council that dealt extensively with the dogmatic teaching on the papacy and the nature and authority of the Catholic Magisterium was the Vatican Council of 1870 (aka the “First” Vatican Council). Listen attentively to what the council teaches so eloquently:

To satisfy this pastoral duty, our predecessors always gave tireless attention that the saving doctrine of Christ be spread among all the peoples of the earth, and with equal care they watched that, wherever it was received, it was preserved sound and pure. Therefore, the bishops of the whole world, now individually, now gathered in Synods, following a long custom of the churches and the formula of the ancient rule, referred to this Holy See those dangers particularly which emerged in the affairs of faith, that there especially the damages to faith might be repaired where faith cannot experience a failure. The Roman Pontiffs, moreover, according as the condition of the times and affairs advised, sometimes by calling ecumenical Councils or by examining the opinion of the Church spread throughout the world; sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by employing other helps which divine Providence supplied, have defined that those matters must be held which with God’s help they have recognized as in agreement with Sacred Scripture and apostolic tradition. For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth. Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it, knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren” [Luke 22:32].

So, this gift of truth and a never failing faith was divinely conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair, that they might administer their high duty for the salvation of all; that the entire flock of Christ, turned away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished on the sustenance of heavenly doctrine, that with the occasion of schism removed the whole Church might be saved as one, and relying on her foundation might stay firm against the gates of hell.

(Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 4; Denz. 1836-1837; underlining added.)

It should be obvious to all that this teaching cannot be squared with the idea of a Pope who is also a public heretic, that is, one who publicly professes a faith that contradicts the faith of the Catholic Church as received from the Apostles. Quite simply, if a Pope could be a public heretic, then Vatican I’s teaching was false. But this is impossible. Therefore, we know that a Pope cannot be a public heretic.

Nevertheless, time and again assertions are made by anti-sedevacantists that several Popes in the Church’s history were public heretics — the sole objective being, of course, to lend support to the argument that if these “heretical Popes” were still true Popes, then so must we consider Francis and his five predecessors of infelicitous memory likewise to be true Popes, at least until some future Pope should declare otherwise (in which case one would then have to ask why anyone should pay attention to that future Pope if the contemporary ones need not be heeded, since what applies to one Pope necessarily applies to all of them). The position is entirely driven by the desire to justify accepting the Vatican II “Popes” while not having to assent to their teaching or having to submit to their rule.

The names of the alleged “heretical Popes” in Catholic history are usually the following, in chronological order (though others pop up occasionally as well): Liberius, Honorius I, Stephen VII, John XII, and John XXII. We will examine each case one by one, and perhaps a few others, in several installments, of which the current post is but the first, although we must begin with a different name altogether: that of Adrian VI.

Although no one has accused Pope Adrian VI of heresy, we will begin our blog post series on the “heretical Popes” with his case because he is sometimes invoked as having taught and believed that Popes can be heretics. In fact, the infamous quote, “Many Roman Pontiffs were heretics, the last of them being John XXII”, is ascribed to Pope Adrian, and some eager anti-sedevacantists have been quick to circulate this suspicious quote on the internet because, if true, it would help their case tremendously. Yet, this attitude of “Let’s make a claim first and ask questions later” is not acceptable with regard to such a serious and important matter as the orthodoxy of the Vicars of Christ and Catholic teaching on the papacy in general, which is the most august office in the world.

So, let’s pose the question directly: Did Pope Adrian VI truly utter or even teach these words, and what is their source?

The fact is that Pope Adrian did no such thing. Rather, the words were uttered by the theologian Adrianus Florentius, who later became Pope Adrian VI (he retained his baptismal name, Adrian, even as Pope). The book in which Adrianus makes this assertion is his Commentary on the Fourth Book of Sentences of Peter Lombard, published in 1516 (and in other editions even before then). Adrian did not became Pope until 1522 and died the following year. The authenticity of the quote can be verified by consulting an original copy of the book, which is available online. We are producing here a snapshot of the paragraph that contains the passage in question:

Source: Hadrianus Florentius, Quaestiones in quartum sententiarum praesertim circa sacramenta (Louvain, Belgium: 1516), fol. XXIII [screenshot of p. 52 of PDF file provided by Google Books]

There is no doubt that this quote and its source are authentic. We see, for example, other Catholic theologians writing at the time of Adrianus Florentius or after — but before the Vatican Council of 1870, we curiously note — referring to Adrian’s quote. For example, Bp. Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet of Meaux, France, uses the controversial quotation in Chapter 28 of his monograph Gallia Orthodoxa (1682).

Though in many ways recognized as a great theologian, Bossuet was also a proponent of Gallicanism and opposed the infallibility of the Pope, which was later defined as a dogma by the First Vatican Council, where this tenet of the Gallican school was condemned as heretical. At the time of Bossuet, however, a number of Gallican positions later condemned were still permitted theological opinions, or at least ones that were tolerated. This explains why Bossuet was able to hold this particular idea without being condemned at the time.

Gallicanism was a conglomeration of errors concerning the authority of the Pope mostly found in 17th and 18th-century France, though its origins go back to the 14th century. Over time, various Gallican propositions were condemned by the Church, most notably by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690 and Pope Pius VI in 1794, and most recently by the First Vatican Council in 1870, so that Gallicanism “is now professed only by the heretical sect of the Old Catholics” (Donald Attwater, ed., A Catholic Dictionary, s.v. “Gallicanism”) — note well! It is perhaps no accident that a lot of the errors held and promoted by the Society of St. Pius X resemble those of Gallicanism, as their founder, Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, was French.

Back to Bossuet. In the above-mentioned work, he approvingly cites Adrianus Florentius — who, at the time, was a theology professor in Louvain, Belgium — concerning the allegation that “many Roman Pontiffs were heretics”, though he admits that Adrianus wrote this not as Pope but as a theologian before he was raised to the Supreme Pontificate. Nevertheless, Bossuet argues, after Adrian had become Pope, he never retracted his original claim and even published his writings in Rome in 1522, that is, after becoming Pope. This is also the argument made by the rabidly anti-sedevacantist French blog La Question, which features an article on the topic here:

So, this seems like a slam dunk for the anti-sedevacantists, doesn’t it?

Well, not so fast. We need to be careful to distinguish evidence and facts from assumptions and conjecture. Let’s take a step back and list what we know and what we can reasonably infer:

  • Though not clearly proven, it is reasonably established that Adrianus Florentius made the claim that many Popes were heretics — unless the document was a forgery, which, however, would have to be proven
  • It is known that this was Adrianus’ belief before becoming Pope — he uttered it as a theology professor at Louvain
  • This belief, though erroneous, was allowed to be held at the time, or at least tolerated, as we can see from the fact that other theologians who held it, not only Adrianus Florentius but also Bossuet, for example, were not censured at the time (something that St. Robert Bellarmine points out, as we will see below)
  • It has not been directly proven, but merely inferred (albeit reasonably), that the edition of Adrianus’ writing after he became Pope still contains the claim that many Roman Pontiffs were heretics
  • The position taken by Adrianus and seconded by Bossuet was adhered to before the dogmatic teaching on the papacy by the Vatican Council of 1870
  • Even if we were to concede that it is possible for a Pope to become a public heretic and still remain a valid Pope, it is clear that Adrianus’ assertion that “many” Popes were heretics is definitely false
  • The only “Catholic” book we know of that still used the Adrianus quote after the First Vatican Council is Paul Viollet’s 1904 work L’Infaillibilité du Pape et le Syllabus [“The Infallibility of the Pope and the Syllabus”], where the author tries to back up his position that Popes can be heretics. This book, however, was subsequently examined by the Vatican and placed on the Index of Forbidden Books under Pope St. Pius X in 1908

Can you imagine what the anti-sedevacantists would say to us if as “proof” of our position we used a statement written by a Pope before he was Pope on the grounds that he did not retract it after becoming Pope and ordered (or simply didn’t prevent) the publication of his book during his pontificate? We’re talking here about people who do not think they are bound by teachings in papal encyclicals, by papal canonizations, by decrees of ecumenical councils, by universal church law, etc. Why would they care about what a Pope said before he became Pope — even if he allowed the document to be published once more after ascending the papal throne — about 350 years before the First Vatican Council?

It’s really funny how these anti-sedevacantists always demand nothing short of an ex cathedra pronouncement of us to prove our position, but somehow their position is definitively proved by every hiss or sneeze of anyone who wasn’t burned at the stake. The double standard is glaring and quite telling. Apparently, their arguments are determined not by what is true and reasonable, but solely by what helps support their desired conclusion.

But let’s look at some more evidence concerning the position taken by Adrianus Florentius, which he may also have held privately as Pope Adrian VI (we say “privately” because he certainly never made it part of his pontifical Magisterium). It’s not like no Catholic theologian or historian has ever written about this other than Bp. Bossuet and Paul Viollet. In fact, even St. Robert Bellarmine mentioned Adrian VI, as we will see later.

The famous French manual Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique [“Dictionary of Catholic Theology”] has an entry on Adrian VI, and devotes one paragraph in particular to the issue at hand:

In Quaestiones in IVum Sententiarum, the statement that the pope can err, even in something which touches upon the faith has been noted. But it is altogether wrong that certain adversaries of infallibility have seen in this a serious argument in their favor, or that even in our days, certain others pretend to be scandalized by it. Adrian wrote the book from which the citation is taken long before his elevation to the chair of Peter, and it obviously does not participate in any way in the authority of pontifical acts. There is, moreover, no proof that in the mind of its author the assertion applies to ex cathedra definitions; consequently, [the statement] is nothing more than a reproduction of a theological opinion we encounter many times before the sixteenth century, either from the pen of popes themselves or in documents they approved. Thus Innocent III wrote: ‘Faith is so necessary to me that, if for every other fault I am subject to the judgment of God alone, it is only for a sin I commit in a matter of faith that I become subject to judgment of the tribunal of the Church.’ And already even before this, one reads in the Decree of Gratian (dist. XL, c. vi) these words of Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz: ‘No mortal man should pretend to reproach [the Roman Pontiff] for his faults. For, established as the judge of all, he recognizes no judge over himself, at least as long as he does not commit an error against the faith.’ In these texts and many others like it, the pope is obviously spoken of as a private doctor.

(J. Forget, “Adrian VI”, in Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique [Paris: Letouzey, 1913-50], vol. I, c. 461; our translation; some italics removed.)

So, in short, the key take-away here is that what Adrianus said, even if we grant that he ordered it reprinted while he was Pope, is nothing but a “theological opinion” which, at that point in time, was still permissible to hold, but which was certainly no longer acceptable since the First Vatican Council, whose teaching is irreconcilable with the idea that the Pope could be a heretic. Hence it is easy to see why Paul Viollet’s book was put on the Index, even though it actually carried an imprimatur from the local ordinary, Abp. Fulbert Petit (ouch!).

The argument about Adrianus Florentius on the “heretical Popes” is also made by the excommunicated “Old Catholic” heretic Johann von Döllinger in his condemned work Der Papst und das Concil [in English translation as The Pope and the Council (Boston, MA: Roberts Brothers, 1870), p. 306], which he wrote under his pseudonym Janus. The work was also put on the Index of Forbidden Books and was refuted by Cardinal Joseph Hergenröther in his 1870 book Anti-Janus.

Next, let’s go to an Italian resource. The Dizionario di Erudizione Storico-Ecclesiastica [“Dictionary of Historical-Ecclesiastical Erudition”] says regarding Pope Adrian VI:

Adrian VI, Pope 228, formerly Adriano Florenzio, son of the craftsman Florenzio, was born on March 2, 1459 in Utrecht, Netherlands, and not in Sanzano in the diocese of Brescia, as stated without any good reason by the capuchin Mattia Bellintani (Storia di Salò, 1586). He received his degree in Leuven, and after that founded a college in that university which bears his name, which was later also named “Pontifical”. Someone noted that Adrian wrote (in 4 sent. de confirmatione): plures Pontifices fuerunt heretici (multiple Popes were heretics). Lodovico Vincenzo Goti excellently answers this accusation (tom. I verae eccles. cap II. n. 6): Adrian stated this while he was a theologian in Leuven; therefore, if his works were reprinted after he became Pope, without the removal of these words, one cannot say that he, as Pope, would support such a statement. How many times are works not reprinted without the author being aware of it, or with the author not being the last to make amendments? Later, Adrian received the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Leuven, then became dean of the cathedral, and finally vice-chancellor of the university. Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, appointed him as preceptor of Charles, his grandson, also sending him as ambassador to Ferdinand, the King of Spain, who appointed him as bishop of Tortosa, in that kingdom. When Charles ascended to the throne, the king gave to Adrian full powers over all the aspects of his monarchy and, since Adrian had already been made Cardinal of Saints John and Paul by [Pope] Leo X after an inquiry of Maximilian, he left him as general inquisitor and governor of Spain for the whole time, before going to Germany and taking possession of that empire under the name of Charles V.

(Gaetano Moroni Romano, ed., Dizionario di Erudizione Storico-Ecclesiastica [Venice: Tipografia Emiliana, 1840], s.v. “Adriano VI”, p. 104; our translation; some italics changed.)

Ah, so maybe the whole matter isn’t as clear-cut as some anti-sedevacantists would have us believe. Viollet, in his condemned work, mentions this reference and even quotes it (see p. 21, fn. 1) but claims it is improbable that Pope Adrian modified his work before being reprinted, or that it was reprinted without his knowledge or permission. All right, so now we’re down to arguing probabilities. That’s fine, as far as it goes, but let’s not act as though we had a clear-cut case here. In addition, let’s not forget that Viollet’s opinion appears in a book that has been condemned by the Church. So, which position had we rather side with?

At the end of the day, however, as already indicated, it does not really matter whether Pope Adrian had this work reprinted with or without this error, for the following two reasons:

  • The error was a permitted theological opinion at the time
  • The error in no wise became a part of his papal Magisterium

St. Robert Bellarmine himself in fact addresses the thesis of Adrianus Florentius in his monumental work De Romano Pontifice, first published by this name in the 17th century. He calls the opinion that the Pope can be a heretic and of himself (though not when making a definition at a council) teach heresy an opinion that “we dare not call properly heretical, for we still see those who maintain this position tolerated by the Church; yet it does seem completely erroneous and proximate to heresy and can rightly be judged heretical by the Church” (St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book 4, Ch. 2, in Opera Omnia, Book 1 [Naples: J. Giuliano, 1856], p. 478; now available in complete English translation here: On the Roman Pontiff).

Now notice one very important thing: St. Robert is writing in the 17th century, over 250 years before the First Vatican Council issued its dogmas on the papacy. This corroborates exactly what we’ve asserted in this post, namely, that before Vatican I, these matters were still being disputed among theologians, especially back in the 1500’s and 1600’s, when Adrianus and Bossuet were writing, and therefore some positions were then either allowed or at least “tolerated” (St. Robert’s word) that can no longer be held today, over 140 years after Vatican I. In fact, St. Robert — who, as of 1931, is a Doctor of the Church, we might add — already says in the 1600s that the position taken by Adrianus and many anti-sedevacantists today could with justice be condemned as heretical in the future. This had not yet been done back then, so the people who held it were not heretics, but it is significant that St. Robert says that it deserves to be condemned as heretical. No wonder books during and after Vatican I who maintainted this position were put on the Index.

Another point that ought to be brought up, even if just for the sake of historical accuracy, is that when Adrianus Florentius wrote that “many Roman Pontiffs were heretics” in his Quaestiones in Quartum Sententiarum, he said it merely in passing and not as part of a treatise on papal authority or the unity of the Church. Rather, the context was dismissing an argument made by a theological opponent regarding the sacrament of confirmation. The opponent had cited St. Gregory the Great to substantiate his point about priests being able to administer confirmations, and Adrianus, disagreeing, said that Gregory had been wrong, and besides (so the theologian Adrianus claimed), “many Roman Pontiffs were heretics”. That is the context of the controversial saying to begin with. This does not, of course, negate what he said, but it is important to keep in mind that Adrianus’ remark was incidental to a discussion on a completely different topic; it was an obiter dictum. In addition to that, we note that he was wrong, not only with regard to confirmation, but also with regard to the question of whether many Popes were heretics. This is something that tends to be glossed over: Adrianus’ assertion is false.

And thus we have demolished yet another misleading anti-sedevacantist argument. As you can see, it takes real research to properly understand such issues, and we Sedevacantists are greatly outnumbered by the (often paid) apologists of the much more popular and convenient “resistance” position, in which you can have all the advantages of the sedevacantist position without any of its disadvantages.

Alas, our critics have the “bully pulpit”. They have the prestige, the positions of authority, the applause of the majority, the fancy broadcasting equipment, and the money and the time to disseminate their position to a wide audience. But there is one thing we have that they do not: the truth. If you would like to help the mission of Novus Ordo Watch, we have listed 12 specific ways you can do so; and no, they do not have to involve money.

A few more closing comments are in order.

In the debate about Sedevacantism, whether the Chair of St. Peter has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, a lot of things are asserted by people who do not really understand the subject matter or who do not take the time to do real research. As we can see in the case of Pope Adrian VI here, it is very disappointing and troublesome to see anti-sedevacantists mindlessly recycle a quote of which they have no real knowledge other than someone having discovered it in a book put on the Index. They use the quote because it helps their case, regardless of what the truth of the matter may be. Such “research” and argumentation are reprehensible, and look at the consequences: They have now put in people’s minds the impious idea that a Pope does not even have to profess the true Faith in order to be Pope, in order to be the bulwark of truth and the principle of unity in the Church. The matter is absurd.

What’s also quite interesting is that these arguments and quotes brought forth by the anti-sedevacantists about the “heretical Popes” tend to be brought up, since 1870, only by people who argued against Vatican I. The only two “Catholic” books we know of since that council that use the case of Adrian VI to argue that Popes can be heretics are Dollinger’s and Viollet’s, and both were put on the Index. Not exactly a positive omen for our critics.

That’s why it is no surprise to see that, in general, any “resistance” quotes brought up by anti-sedevacantists are always from sources before 1870, when the First Vatican Council settled a number of teachings regarding the Papacy and the Magisterium. (Our TRADCAST 003 podcast deals with this matter at length.) Why will they not quote theologians after the council to justify their “recognize-and-resist” stance? Quite simply, because they cannot find any who teach such a thing, that’s why.

In Sacred Theology throughout history, you will always find positions at one time permitted and held that are later condemned or abandoned. This is to be expected, as the task of the theologian is to explain Catholic teaching and show its source in and harmony with Divine Revelation. Over hundreds of years, as theologians debate various issues, there will always be positions accepted that are later rejected by the Church as untenable, erroneous, or even heretical, and the history of the Church is full of precisely that, as the famous doctrinal document collection Denzinger (“The Sources of Catholic Dogma”) attests.

As we have insisted on numerous occasions in the past, it is absolutely essential to distinguish “heretical” Popes from immoral or “bad” Popes. The former is an impossibility, whereas the latter is, unfortunately, not unheard of in the history of the Church. The following resources we have produced will clarify this important distinction and explain the reasons why one is impossible and the other isn’t:

The Vatican II Sect and the resistance position of the Society of St. Pius X have done immeasurable damage to people’s understanding of Catholicism, especially the papacy. People are now accustomed to accusing real Popes (including the fake ones, inasmuch as they believe them to be real) of heresy without batting an eye. Yet notice how, even hundreds of years before Vatican I, St. Robert Bellarmine went out of his way to argue that such a thing was not even possible. If only St. Robert had had the wisdom of today’s resistance bloggers! He had no idea that the history of the Church is filled with “heretical Popes”, and neither did the fathers of the First Vatican Council! Martin Luther would be proud.

In truth, the situation is absurd. In their insatiable desire to see the Novus Ordo “Popes” as true Popes, while rejecting anything and everything from them that they find objectionable, the “resisters” have injected into people’s minds ideas that are entirely at odds with sound Catholic teaching, perverting their Faith to the point that they would never think of applying the clear teachings of the Catholic Magisterium on the papacy to Francis, Benedict XVI, John Paul II, or Paul VI. They would never do so because they know that if they did, it would turn them into heretics. But you cannot fight heresy with more heresy, nor with schism. It is simply impossible to accept Francis and his five predecessors as true Popes (with all that entails, not just the verbal acknowledgment) and still be a Catholic. So, what follows? They cannot have been true Popes. It is a necessary conclusion.

Thus far our first post in our ongoing series The “Heretical” Popes. Others will follow in due time. As you can see, it is very easy to disseminate a quote one has picked up somewhere without knowing the background, and to accuse Popes of the past of having been heretics. But it takes real, painstaking research to disentangle the whole mess and find out what the truth of the matter really is.

 

in Novus Ordo Wire    

The Errors of Michael Davies: A Comprehensive Refutation

John Daly destroys Semi-Trad Pioneer

The Errors of Michael Davies:
A Comprehensive Refutation

MICHAEL DAVIES — AN EVALUATION
by John S. Daly

(1st ed. 1989, 2nd ed. 2015)

FREE DOWNLOAD!

One of the most prominent and influential writers of the traditionalist movement in the Vatican II Church was the English writer Michael Treharne Davies (1936-2004), shown above with then-“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger. No individual has written more prolifically than Davies on traditionalist issues, and probably no single layman, with the possible exception of Dietrich von Hildebrand, has enjoyed wider prominence, credibility, and trustworthiness than him. But is this respect Mr. Davies has enjoyed really well-founded? If not, what does this mean for the people who base most of their understanding of the traditionalist subject matter on the research and argumentation of this one individual?

In a devastating dossier of 584 pages entitled Michael Davies — An Evaluation, Englishman John S. Daly (web site here) thoroughly dismantles the star apologist for Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X. This exhaustively-researched and well-documented book exposes and refutes the errors, fallacies, dangers, false theology, and sloppy scholarship of Michael Davies. Twenty-six years after it was first published, a new revised and expanded edition of this invaluable work was made available to the public in 2015, both in hardcopy and electronically, the latter as a free PDF download only through Novus Ordo Watch. We have advertised this outstanding work in various ways on this web site before and are happy to do so once more.

The book description provided by the author reads as follows:

Cambridge-educated translator John S. Daly puts the scholarship of the late Michael Davies under the spotlight. What emerges from systematic comparison with statements of the Magisterium and the greatest theologians must destroy Davies’s credibility in the eyes of every serious reader. “Michael Davies – An Evaluation” remains not only an unanswered indictment of Davies as a Catholic scholar, but a standing refutation of the entire ecclesiology of those who believe it possible for an orthodox Catholic to reject the doctrinal errors and reformed rites spawned by Vatican II without calling into doubt the legitimacy of recent papal claimants and the validity of the new sacraments….

(source)

There is no doubt, of course, that Davies has done considerable good and provided excellent analysis and refutation of many errors promoted by the Vatican II religion. His work as a whole is certainly responsible for opening the eyes of a great many people to the dangers and heresies of the Novus Ordo Sect (which he, alas, identified with the Catholic Church), and has (re)kindled in countless souls a love for the Holy Catholic Mass offered in the traditional Roman rite.

Daly’s exposé does not mean to detract from the good which has admittedly been accomplished by Davies over the years. However, this good must be weighed against the considerable damage he has done and harm to souls he has caused, as demonstrated throughout this work. A glass may be filled 80% with nutritious juice, but if the remaining 20% are poison, the entire glass will be contaminated, and death or serious illness will result. Pointing out that 80% of the contents were good, will not help to undo or minimize the damage of the 20%. It would also be quite irresponsible and deceptive to focus only on the healthful content and pretend the poison does not exist.

It is for this reason that we wish to assist in the distribution of Mr. Daly’s dossier — to reveal, for the good of souls, the many dangerous errors, fallacies, and problems in the research and argumentation of Michael Davies, upon whom so many, quite unjustifiedly but in good faith, have relied in their understanding of traditionalist Catholic issues over the years.

The author himself clarifies his motives for exposing Davies in the introduction to his study:

In view of Mr. Davies’s uniquely influential position in the Catholic world today, a candid examination of his writings to assess to what extent his facts, theology and reasoning can be relied upon seems to be an appropriate undertaking. That is what this Evaluation sets out to achieve by subjecting Mr. Davies’s writings to careful analysis in the light of Catholic authority.

…After several years of study and work in Catholic publishing I reached the conclusion that an Evaluation such as this was necessary in order to accomplish three main objectives:

(i) To refute the gravely erroneous positions of Mr. Davies … in which his assertions have been responsible for leading many souls astray in matters upon which salvation may quite literally depend.

(ii) To show by careful analysis that Mr. Davies is a grossly unreliable author whose statements about Catholic doctrine should never be accepted without verification from genuine Catholic authorities.

(iii) To set out in a single study the main points of disagreement among those commonly referred to as traditional Catholics, allowing both sides to state their case, and showing by rigorous demonstration in each case where the truth lies.

(John S. Daly, Michael Davies — An Evaluation, new ed. [Saint-Sauveur de Meilhan: Tradibooks, 2015], pp. XIII-XV)

Davies was a very interesting speaker, and his writing was usually quite pleasant to read. His English accent and delightful humor contributed to his affable personality. We have already conceded that much of his research and argumentation was valid and good. However, this cannot exonerate him from the many erroneous arguments he advanced and the inadequate or selective research he engaged in, often with regard to issues impacting Sedevacantism (case in point: his widely-repeated but false thesis that St. Athanasius was excommunicated by Pope Liberius, refuted here and also here).

The conclusions author John Daly reaches about Michael Davies are less than flattering:

The conclusions reached in this Evaluation are that Mr. Davies is a shameless purveyor of false doctrine, sometimes reaching actual heresy; intensely ignorant even on many elementary points of theology as well as on matters of historical fact and general Catholic knowledge; not infrequently guilty of downright dishonesty; an execrable scholar; arrogant and foolish; a source of huge scandal and, in fine, an utter disgrace to the name of Catholic. Naturally these conclusions are far from savoury. My only justification for reaching them is that they are inescapably true, and my justification for publishing them is that the good of souls demands that so great a source of danger be exposed as publicly as possible.

(Daly, Michael Davies, p. XV)

To give you a snapshot of the valuable information contained in Michael Davies — An Evaluation, we are reproducing here its table of contents:

Introduction to the New 2015 Edition

Introduction

I. Davies’s Attitude to Authority

II. Shockingly Slipshod Scholarship

III. The Vacancy of the Holy See

Appendix: Suarez on the Heretical Pope

IV. Dishonesty, Inconsistency and Arrogance

V. Which Side is Michael Davies on?

VI. Miscellaneous Doctrinal Errors

VII. The Society of St. Pius X

VIII. Davies as an Anarchist

IX. Errors of Sacramental Theology

(a) The Orders of Archbishop Lefebvre
(b) The 1968 New Rite of Ordination
(c) Validity and “Significatio Ex Adjunctis”
(d) Validity of the Novus Ordo Missæ

X. The Alleged Fall of Pope Liberius

XI. Salvation Outside the Church?

XII. Doctrinal Evolution?

XIII. Open Letter to Mr. Michael Davies

At almost 600 pages, the reader will find this work is quite comprehensive in its critique of the Lefebvrist apologist. Such a critique is necessary because we who live in these times are engaged, at least in prefigurement, in the battle of Christ vs. Antichrist, and certainly that of Pope vs. Antipope, Church vs. Counterchurch. Human respect can never get in the way of defending the truth, no matter how unpopular it might be.

To purchase a copy of this dossier on Michael Davies in paperback, you may do so directly from Mr. Daly’s web site:

If you prefer to order through Amazon.com, you may do so by clicking here.

If you would like to download for free an electronic copy of this book — fully searchable through optical character recognition — you may do so at the link below:

Download Here:
PDF Format (3.5 MB)

Michael Davies — An Evaluation
by John S. Daly
New Edition (2015)
© John S. Daly

Although this book reserves copyright, Novus Ordo Watch is distributing it with the full and explicit permission of the copyright holder, author John S. Daly.

The battle for truth is an essential part of the battle for the salvation of souls, our own as well as those of others. It is therefore imperative for people to see falsehood exposed for what it is, and to realize that Michael Davies, whom many consider a weighty authority on the pressing issues or our time, was in fact a dangerous charlatan, even if he was right on many points. People who object in principle to a critique such as the one by Mr. Daly, on the grounds that “we should not be criticizing fellow-traditionalists”, have not understood the nature and the severity of the situation we are dealing with. Motives aside, we must know who is working on the side of Christ and the Truth, and who is working for the other side.

In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, St. Paul wrote that God would permit, in the end, the “operation of error” to blind many souls because they did not love the truth:

And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.

(2 Thess 2:6-11; underlining added.)

If you have not seen it yet, make sure you read Cardinal Edward Manning’s commentary on this passage and the great research he did on the question of the Pope, the Antichrist, and the latter times, in which we must surely now be, simply because that which 60 years ago would have been considered practically impossible, has now come to pass, and things are deteriorating quickly:

The situation in which we find ourselves today is unprecedented but not unexpected. A long-term vacancy of the Apostolic See, with no clear way out, seems to be a necessary condition enabling the rise of the Antichrist, else “he who withholdeth” — the Pope — would indeed restrain him. So, keep this in mind, whenever you hear some uninformed loudmouth tell you that “God would never permit this!”, that what God will or won’t permit is told to us in Divine Revelation, including Holy Scripture, and the matter is clear: God will not only permit but even “send”, as it were, the “operation of error”, with the precise intent that people will “believe lying” so that “all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity”.

Davies in his last years

We must remember also that while good will is necessary in this battle, it is not sufficient. The late great Fr. Frederick William Faber warned that one reason why the deception of the Antichrist would be so successful is that many “manifestly good” men would follow him and do his work, in ignorance:

We must remember that if all the manifestly good men were on one side and all the manifestly bad men on the other, there would be no danger of anyone, least of all the elect, being deceived by lying wonders. It is the good men, good once, we must hope good still, who are to do the work of Anti-Christ and so sadly to crucify the Lord afresh…. Bear in mind this feature of the last days, that this deceitfulness arises from good men being on the wrong side.

(Fr. Frederick Faber, Sermon for Pentecost Sunday, 1861; qtd. in Fr. Denis Fahey, The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World [text here]; underlining added.)

Besides, fallen men tend to deceive themselves, quickly ascribing good will to themselves when in fact the truth may be quite different. How often do we not tell ourselves we are only interested in the truth when in fact we are not and prefer our own self-interest before all else! (On this, see the same Fr. Faber’s excellent spiritual advice on self-deceit in Spiritual Conferences, 2nd ed. [1860], pp. 153-235.)

Jeffrey Knight’s talk on Sedevacantism and willful ignorance is also apropos here, a real eye-opener:

So, remember, ignorance alone will not get you off the hook, because much ignorance today is quite culpable. This doesn’t mean that those who are culpably ignorant are guilty of malice or ill will — no, it may simply be a case of culpable negligence. It’s time to show some fortitude, which is, after all, one of the four cardinal virtues and also a gift of the Holy Ghost: This is about the eternal destiny of your soul, for heaven’s sake! And if you have a spouse and children, it is about their souls as well. It’s time to take things seriously! Stop kidding yourself and look the facts in the eye! They do not cease to be facts just because we refuse to look.

Likewise, remember that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain: If Sedevacantism is true, it does not become false just because you refuse to look at the evidence; and if Sedevacantism were false, it would not become true just because you are looking into it. Besides, consider that Sedevacantism is entirely safe. By adhering to it, you cannot be led into heresy, nor into schism, if you are faithful to Catholic teaching. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that the position were false, where would be the danger? What could you be accused of?

The worst that could be said of you is that you were wrong about who the Pope was, or whether there was a Pope. You believed, in good faith, that there was no Pope when in fact there was one — but at least you acted consistently and in accordance with Catholic teaching, to the best of your ability and in peace with your conscience. You could be accused of having made a sincere mistake, nothing more; a mistake regarding the identity of the true Pope, as many others did before in Church history, and quite innocently (assuming, of course, that you have done your best to figure it out). This is the worst that could be said. You could not be accused of adhering to or spreading false doctrine (heresy), nor of refusing to be subject to the man you acknowledged to be the Pope (schism). That you would not submit to a man you were sincerely convinced could not possibly be Pope, cannot be laid to your charge, since a Catholic is required to refuse submission to an impostor.

God does not require us to be infallible, but He does require us to adhere to Catholic teaching at all times and in the same sense and meaning it has always had, and He requires us to accept manifest facts as true and to reject contradictions as false. Sedevacantism is the only position that can reconcile the known empirical facts with Catholic teaching. For this you cannot be faulted, even if — per impossibile — it turned out to be false.

But back to Michael Davies, the man upon whose research and argumentation so many have relied for their understanding of traditionalist issues, from the Novus Ordo Missae to Sedevacantism to the illicit episcopal consecrations of Archbishop Lefebvre.

On April 22, 1980, Davies appeared on Firing Line with Bill Buckley, Jr., debating a Novus Ordo priest and the infamous pseudo-traditionalist Malachi Martin. The video of the show is available online, and we are embedding it below as a little perk so you can experience Michael Davies at a time when he had just published the first volume of his Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre:

Michael Davies on Bill Buckley’s Firing Line (1980)

What’s interesting — and very telling — is that although Michael Davies lived until 2004, he never responded to John Daly’s blistering critique, which had first been published fifteen years prior. One would think that if such a powerful refutation of one’s own writings was being disseminated, that the individual targeted would do everything in his power to defend himself to retain or regain his credibility, certainly over a period of time as long as 15 years and at the request of several intellectuals (see Daly, Michael Davies, pp. IX-X). Not so with Michael Davies — even though his critic had even provided a convenient summary of his findings, issued as an open letter consisting of very specific errors he challenged Davies to address (found in the book as Chapter 13, pp. 553-584). No attempt at a rebuttal was ever made by the Lefebvrist apologist.

Davies died on September 25, 2004, and so has already received his judgment. We pray that it was a merciful one and that he repented of all his errors and sins before being summoned to appear before the Divine Judge. It is not our desire to focus so much on the person of Davies as on his errors, powerfully refuted in this work by John Daly, because these errors are still alive and well today, not least because the name of Michael Davies has been attached to them. Nevertheless we must call attention to the fact that it is not wrong, according to the Catholic position on personal polemics, to attack, besides the argument itself, also the person making it. Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany explained this in his Vatican-endorsed book Liberalism is a Sin (1886):

This monumental dossier on Michael Davies is as explosive as it is detailed, and yet it is also eminently readable. You will find a great many arguments still heard today from people in the “recognize-and-resist” camp competently refuted by the sound reasoning and authentic Catholic sources used in this powerful critique, which most people have never seen or even heard of.

This Evaluation of Mr. Davies will prove a very valuable tool in defending the sedevacantist position and debunking one of its foremost critics. We do not think it an exaggeration to say that after these 584 pages, there is nothing left of the credibility of the celebrated Lefebvrist apologist.

The facts are in; the truth is out. Exit Michael Davies…

Ending Cognitive Dissonance: Recognize-and-Resist Blogger becomes Sedevacantist

Deo gratias!

Ending Cognitive Dissonance:
Another Recognize-and-Resist Blogger becomes Sedevacantist

Cognitive dissonance can be defined as “the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values” (Wikipedia).

On July 10, 2016, we posted the article “The Trouble with Jorge: Semi-Trads at the Breaking Point”. After providing some papal quotes on the traditional Catholic doctrine on the Magisterium and the Papacy, we observed: “The cognitive dissonance involved in perhaps professing these truths externally — as the semi-trads might very well do — while at the same time thinking, acting, and speaking in contrary fashion is beginning to push people over the edge.”

In April of the following year, we published the essay “Anything but Sedevacantism! Analysis of a curious Phenomenon”. There, too, we spoke about the same subject: “We have seen that the Papacy has consequences. So does a denial of the Papacy. The cognitive dissonance of a ‘practical sedevacantism’ [proposed by Steve Skojec] will be coming home to roost.”

And finally, we again brought up the issue in the July 25, 2017 post “The Stumbling Block of the Papacy: Why Bergoglio doesn’t fit”.

We were all the more hopeful, therefore, when we noticed a new post on a recognize-and-resist blog the other day that was entitled, “Ending Cognitive Dissonance”, written by one Jonathan Byrd. The site’s name is Traditional Catholic Priest.

And indeed, we were not disappointed. The blogger in question (shown on the left) is a layman “with a wife, 10 kids, 4 cats and a dog”, as his profile says. He had already been convinced that Francis was a false pope, but he thought Benedict XVI was the true Pope instead. In other words, he held the position we have dubbed “Resignationism”, due to doubts about the validity of the resignation of Benedict XVI in 2013.

Byrd wrote his post to outline the evidence — the data and the reasoning — that have led him to understand that the only way to be a true traditional Catholic — one who actually believeswhat the Church traditionally taught, especially about the Papacy — is to dump Francis and the entire Vatican II religion. In other words, he has taken the difficult but necessary step to becoming what is typically called a sedevacantist. Mr. Byrd, congratulations!

We would like to encourage all to read his post in full. What follows below are some of the highlights (bold print and italics in original):

These reasons are all objective – all based on the teachings of the church, the doctors of the church the popes, etc. In short, all identify exactly what Francis is without the need or worry about what Benedict “meant” when he “resigned”.

We can know from the above a few things that have held constant:

Christ will always be with His Church

The Church is a teaching Church

The Pope has the power to loose and bind and that he who hears Peter hears Christ.

This is what the Church has always held from the very beginning.

Our souls were so important to Christ He offered up His life for us in the most brutal way imaginable so do you really think a God made Man who suffered this much for our salvation wasn’t going to make the Faith and consequently our Salvation objectively easy to comprehend?

The spotless bride of Christ – Our holy Mother – The Church hasn’t left us without recourse.  Our Father was well aware of the situation all Catholics would be in today so He provided, through the Church, the solutions to end our cognitive dissonance.

The way forward – the way to Truth – is to look back. We look back to what the Church has taught.

We don’t bring our intellectual criticism – our thoughts, our opinions, our blogs, our blog followers, our livelihood, our comforts, our friends, our “mother and brethren” into this equation.

We can know The Truth and as a Catholic, we have a duty to seek it out at all cost as it is the Pearl of Great price and then give our assent to that Truth no matter what the cost is to us.

Our Holy religion teaches us that our Holy Mother the Church is the pure spotless bride of Christ.  This church can only give us Bread – she can’t give us stones. She can be trusted in all matters because Christ promised “he who hears you hears ME.”

We look around at what we see around us occurring in the world and in what we know as the church and all we see is heresy – stones being fed to us – someone – something – that can’t be trusted if you want to keep the faith.

I recently had a conversation with a priest friend of mine and I asked him about teaching what the church currently teaches and he told me “if I did that I would go to hell.

This about sums up the current state of affairs in the church and at the same time provides the cognitive dissonance that we all feel.

The problem with the above is it directly contradicts what the church has always taught about the Magisterium of the Church, the honor, respect and obedience we owe to Her and to the Pope, and it doesn’t square at all with the Church Fathers, Doctors and Theologians.

Because of this apparent contradiction we have tried to explain why this could be the case. The problem is, while trying to explain this away – we have done harm to the Faith.

How so?

We did the very things that the modernist have done – namely- we have twisted words to suit new meanings.  

We want to cling to this idea that all is well when we know full well it isn’t.  This dissonance has spawn so many theories, arguments, and innumerable bloggers making a living off of trying to explain this dissonance.  The problem is this hasn’t helped.

If this was the answer we would have figured it out sometime before the last 60 years. Instead of spending all of this energy trying to understand how a heretic calling himself pope francis could be the pope – we failed to be Catholic.

In fact, we have lost what it means to be Catholic by explaining away the faith to justify how people like Francis can all themselves Catholic. Think about this for a moment.

I can go on and on showing the changes but we are all aware of them. They have been talked about ad nauseam for the last 60 years yet no one seems any closer to the answer.

But maybe, just maybe, they do know the answer and that answer shakes them to the core of their being.

That answer is what keeps them up at night because they know if they ever truly accept it – it would mean being an outcast.

They know they would have to come outside the camp, take up their cross and proceed to the inevitable crucifixion and that would cost them too much……

I converted nearly 10 years ago and I was firmly in the Recognize and Resist camp from the very beginning.

Coming from my protestant background – that never sat well with me. I just left “Protesting the Church” to join a church so I could continue protesting….

That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

Its extremely illogical and extremely NOT Catholic.

One thing that we have to always keep at the forefront of our mind is that we can’t twist facts to make it come to the conclusion we want.  We simply have to state the facts and see where it leadsand this is what is going to be outlined below.

The person that is the Pope must first be Catholic and if he isn’t Catholic then he isn’t the pope.  1+1=2…ain’t that hard to understand.

The Conclusion is very simple

If you accept Francis is the pope then you must acceptcommunion for adulterers, you must accept allowing communion for protestants, you must accept LGBT novelties, you must accept the novus ordo mass, the new rites, the “cult of man”, Ecumenism, that the Roman Catholic Church is just one of many that lead to heaven, That error has rights, and all of the other profanations you see around you because it is from the pope and the magisterium and Vatican II……

If the above is abhorrent to you…

If you would rather die a thousand deaths than to give your consent to such abdominal practices…

Then welcome to Sedevacantism….

Welcome indeed! Again, the full post is really worth reading and can be found here:

It is wonderful to see that another soul has allowed God’s grace to prevail, despite the tireless efforts of our opponents to fight Sedevacantism tooth and nail.

Rejoice, fellow-sedevacantists, for another good man has seen the light and followed it wheresoever it led, no matter the consequences! Let us “make merry and be glad, for this [our] brother was dead and is come to life again; he was lost, and is found” (Lk 15:32)! Pray for Jonathan Byrd and his family, that they will persevere to the end, and that there may be many more like them.

Our Lady, Queen of the Rosary, pray for us.

The Synagogue Of Satan

One of the most overlooked and underrated popes in the history of the Church was His Holiness Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903). He had the “misfortune” (if you can call it that), to have his papacy overshadowed by both his immediate predecessor (Pope Pius IX) and his immediate successor (Pope St. Pius X). Pope Pius IX had presided over the Vatican Ecumenical Council from 1869-1870, defined the dogma of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception in 1854, and condemned many propositions in his famous Syllabus of Errors. Pope St. Pius X was the quintessential “Foe of Modernism,” and beat back the most deadly partisans of evil and error ever unleashed by Hell.

In between these two giants was Vincenzo Cardinal Pecci, an approved theologian and canonist with a double doctorate, whose brilliance was exceeded only by his piety. He was elected pope on the third ballot of the conclave after the death of Pope Pius IX. As Pope Leo XIII, he accomplished much good. The true social teaching of the Church was magnificently expounded upon in Leo’s famous encyclical Rerum Novarum. With Aeterni Patris, he revived Thomism and enthusiastically ordered it promoted in all Catholic universities and seminaries. His tender devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary produced no less than eleven (11) encyclicals on the Rosary, and he approved the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The ecclesiology in his encyclical Satis Cognitum is so clear, precise, and orthodox, it is (in my opinion) one of the greatest encyclicals of all time. He composed two of the prayers after Low Mass which he ordered to be instituted in 1884. Much more could be said of this illustrious pope, who was not expected to have a long reign. He was elected at the age of 68 (old for the time period), and was of slight stature, looking quite frail. Only God knows a life expectancy, and his pontificate lasted twenty-five (25) years until his death on July 20, 1903 at the age of 93. He was the last pope of the nineteenth century, as well as the first pope of the twentieth century, and his reign is the third longest behind Pope Pius IX at 32 years, and St. Peter at 34 years.

With all he did for the One True Church, Leo nevertheless did something most special, for which we all owe him a great debt of gratitude; he exposed the most wicked aims of Satan’s greatest allies–the Freemasons. To be certain, Leo was not the first pope to unambiguously condemn Freemasonry, the Church hurled anathemas against that wicked organization that plots against the Church many times before. Yet Pope Leo’s encyclical Humanum Genus, lays out the nefarious plot of Satan’s kingdom on Earth with a surgical precision one could only expect from a Vicar of Christ who was both a theologian and canonist. In this post, the truths about Masons will be set forth, as well as the most popular misconception in our day; that sacraments conferred by Masons are to be considered “dubious.”

The “Kingdom of Satan”
 
 On April 20, 1884, Pope Leo penned Humanum Genus, and compared the Masonic sect founded in 1717 to the “kingdom of Satan:”
The race of man, after its miserable fall from God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts, “through the envy of the devil,” separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth.The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation, must of necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God. (para. #1; Emphasis mine)
The pontiff goes on to tell us that the Masonic Lodge tries hard to conceal itself. Most low ranking Freemasons think they belong to a charitable organization which is a good place to play cards with the guys once a week and leave the wives at home.

There are several organized bodies which, though differing in name, in ceremonial, in form and origin, are nevertheless so bound together by community of purpose and by the similarity of their main opinions, as to make in fact one thing with the sect of the Freemasons, which is a kind of center whence they all go forth, and whither they all return. Now, these no longer show a desire to remain concealed; for they hold their meetings in the daylight and before the public eye, and publish their own newspaper organs; and yet, when thoroughly understood, they are found still to retain the nature and the habits of secret societies. There are many things like mysteries which it is the fixed rule to hide with extreme care, not only from strangers, but from very many members, also; such as their secret and final designs, the names of the chief leaders, and certain secret and inner meetings, as well as their decisions, and the ways and means of carrying them out. This is, no doubt, the object of the manifold difference among the members as to right, office, and privilege, of the received distinction of orders and grades, and of that severe discipline which is maintained.

Candidates are generally commanded to promise – nay, with a special oath, to swear – that they will never, to any person, at any time or in any way, make known the members, the passes, or the subjects discussed. Thus, with a fraudulent external appearance, and with a style of simulation which is always the same, the Freemasons, like the Manichees of old, strive, as far as possible, to conceal themselves, and to admit no witnesses but their own members…Moreover, to be enrolled, it is necessary that the candidates promise and undertake to be thenceforward strictly obedient to their leaders and masters with the utmost submission and fidelity, and to be in readiness to do their bidding upon the slightest expression of their will; or, if disobedient, to submit to the direst penalties and death itself. As a fact, if any are judged to have betrayed the doings of the sect or to have resisted commands given, punishment is inflicted on them not infrequently, and with so much audacity and dexterity that the assassin very often escapes the detection and penalty of his crime. (para. #9; Emphasis mine)

Interestingly, while I conceal my identity to prevent any negative repercussions to my family and friends for speaking out about the Faith, John Salza, who claims to have been a 32nd degree Mason (ruling class elite), has had no major setbacks to the best of my knowledge and belief. He even goes about “exposing” Masonry and profits off the sale of his books. Am I the only one who thinks Salza may not be an “EX-Mason”?

 Masonry: Founded Upon Naturalism
 
Naturalism is the philosophy that human reason is supreme and nothing exists beyond nature; therefore there is no supernatural order. It is upon this false system that Masonry was developed. From this flows grave heresy. One consequence is the idea of separation of Church and State, the ideal in the United States, since the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution were mostly Masons and Deists (those who believe in an impersonal “god” who started the universe, but does not care about it, nor intervene in it).
 In those matters which regard religion let it be seen how the sect of the Freemasons acts, especially where it is more free to act without restraint, and then let any one judge whether in fact it does not wish to carry out the policy of the naturalists. By a long and persevering labor, they endeavor to bring about this result – namely, that the teaching office and authority of the Church may become of no account in the civil State; and for this same reason they declare to the people and contend that Church and State ought to be altogether disunited. By this means they reject from the laws and from the commonwealth the wholesome influence of the Catholic religion; and they consequently imagine that States ought to be constituted without any regard for the laws and precepts of the Church. (para. #13; Emphasis mine)
Another serious evil Naturalism engenders is Indifferentism. This is the heretical idea that one religion is as good as another (positive indifference) or the idea that one religion is just as bad as another (negative indifference). As Masons eschew the supernatural, they believe there is no true religion.
If those who are admitted as members[to the Masonic Lodge] are not commanded to abjure by any form of words the Catholic doctrines, this omission, so far from being adverse to the designs of the Freemasons, is more useful for their purposes. First, in this way they easily deceive the simple-minded and the heedless, and can induce a far greater number to become members. Again, as all who offer themselves are received whatever may be their form of religion, they thereby teach the great error of this age-that a regard for religion should be held as an indifferent matter, and that all religions are alike. This manner of reasoning is calculated to bring about the ruin of all forms of religion, and especially of the Catholic religion, which, as it is the only one that is true, cannot, without great injustice, be regarded as merely equal to other religions. (para. #16; Emphasis mine)
Masonry Seeks to Corrupt Morality and Enslave Humanity
 
 As Fyodor Dostoyevsky astutely observed, “If there is no God, everything is permitted.” By banishing the supernatural order and giving people a false confidence in fallen human nature, immorality of the worst kind surely follows, just as it did in godless Communist governments.
 Moreover, human nature was stained by original sin, and is therefore more disposed to vice than to virtue. For a virtuous life it is absolutely necessary to restrain the disorderly movements of the soul, and to make the passions obedient to reason. In this conflict human things must very often be despised, and the greatest labors and hardships must be undergone, in order that reason may always hold its sway. But the naturalists and Freemasons, having no faith in those things which we have learned by the revelation of God, deny that our first parents sinned, and consequently think that free will is not at all weakened and inclined to evil. On the contrary, exaggerating rather the power and the excellence of nature, and placing therein alone the principle and rule of justice, they cannot even imagine that there is any need at all of a constant struggle and a perfect steadfastness to overcome the violence and rule of our passions…For, since generally no one is accustomed to obey crafty and clever men so submissively as those whose soul is weakened and broken down by the domination of the passions, there have been in the sect of the Freemasons some who have plainly determined and proposed that, artfully and of set purpose, the multitude should be satiated with a boundless license of vice, as, when this had been done, it would easily come under their power and authority for any acts of daring. (para. #20; Emphasis mine)
With God forsaken, and the State made secular, it will be easy to control the masses when the State takes over education and marriage.
 What refers to domestic life in the teaching of the naturalists is almost all contained in the following declarations: that marriage belongs to the genus of commercial contracts, which can rightly be revoked by the will of those who made them, and that the civil rulers of the State have power over the matrimonial bond; that in the education of youth nothing is to be taught in the matter of religion as of certain and fixed opinion; and each one must be left at liberty to follow, when he comes of age, whatever he may prefer. To these things the Freemasons fully assent; and not only assent, but have long endeavored to make them into a law and institution. For in many countries, and those nominally Catholic, it is enacted that no marriages shall be considered lawful except those contracted by the civil rite; in other places the law permits divorce; and in others every effort is used to make it lawful as soon as may be. Thus, the time is quickly coming when marriages will be turned into another kind of contract – that is into changeable and uncertain unions which fancy may join together, and which the same when changed may disunite. (para. #21; Emphasis mine)
Masonic Ties to Other Evils
 
 Masons are “fellow-travelers” with Socialists and Communists (as well as Modernists).
Now, from the disturbing errors which We have described the greatest dangers to States are to be feared. For, the fear of God and reverence for divine laws being taken away, the authority of rulers despised, sedition permitted and approved, and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness, with no restraint save that of punishment, a change and overthrow of all things will necessarily follow. Yea, this change and overthrow is deliberately planned and put forward by many associations of communists and socialists; and to their undertakings the sect of Freemasons is not hostile, but greatly favors their designs, and holds in common with them their chief opinions. And if these men do not at once and everywhere endeavor to carry out their extreme views, it is not to be attributed to their teaching and their will, but to the virtue of that divine religion which cannot be destroyed; and also because the sounder part of men, refusing to be enslaved to secret societies, vigorously resist their insane attempts. (para #27; Emphasis mine)

 

Does Masonic Membership = Dubious Sacraments?
 
Having shown the evil of Masonry, some wrongfully assert that if a clergyman is a Freemason (like Bugnini), the sacraments he attempts to confer must be considered dubious at best. This is because they allegedly “withhold their intention” when performing the sacraments. Having the intention to “do what the Church does” in administering the Sacraments is necessary for validity. Since Cardinal Lienart, the prelate who ordained Archbishop Lefebvre a priest, and later consecrated him a bishop, is rumored to have been a Mason, Archbishop Lefebvre’s orders are called into doubt–and with him all the Traditionalist clergy he ordained.
Assuming, ad arguendo, Lienart was a Freemason, it does nothing to impugn the validity of Archbishop Lefebvre’s orders.

I have written on this topic in depth, and I invite all interested readers who want to know the reasons Masonic membership does nothing to cast doubt on the validity of the sacraments, to read my post: https://introiboadaltaredei2.blogspot.com/2018/05/intent-on-causing-harm.html

The Vatican II Sect: Promoting the Masonic Ideals of Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity
 
 The Masonic inspired French Revolution had as its motto, “Equality, Liberty, Fraternity.” It sounds good until you realized they corrupted the meaning of the words. Equality came to mean an absolute equality wherein there is no rightful authority appointed by God over men; all people being “equal” in all aspects. Liberty now meant the “right to do wrong and believe in anything.” Fraternity devolved into unity between believers and unbelievers, as God is not acknowledged. A perfect example is the heretical Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes (hereinafter GS), the “Constitution of the Church (sic) in the Modern World.” While the True Church always acknowledged the world (along with the devil and the flesh) to be Her enemies, the Vatican II sect seeks to unite itself with it. While not all Modernists are Masons, all Masons are Modernists. They were working together for the destruction of the True Church and society.

On Equality:
GS, Ch. II, para. 29: Nevertheless, with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent. (Emphasis mine)
The True Religion cannot be given preference over false sects. That would be “discrimination.”
On Liberty:

GS, Ch. I, para. 21: Hence the Church protests against the distinction which some state authorities make between believers and unbelievers, with prejudice to the fundamental rights of the human person.(Emphasis mine).
What “fundamental rights of the person” prevents the State from making distinctions between those who profess the Truth, and those who are partisans of error?
On Fraternity:

GS, Ch. V, para. 91: Drawn from the treasures of Church teaching, the proposals of this sacred synod look to the assistance of every man of our time, whether he believes in God, or does not explicitly recognize Him. If adopted, they will promote among men a sharper insight into their full destiny, and thereby lead them to fashion the world more to man’s surpassing dignity, to search for a brotherhood which is universal and more deeply rooted, and to meet the urgencies of our ages with a gallant and unified effort born of love. (Emphasis mine)
Atheists, agnostics, and members of the Church can “fashion the world more to man’s surpassing dignity” and achieve “universal brotherhood” in which God is irrelevant at best. Pure Masonic poison.
Conclusion
Masonry continues to be one of the deadliest foes of God and humanity. Working with the other enemies of the Church, they engineered the creation of the Vatican II sect, a counterfeit Catholicism based on Modernism. As Pope Leo advised, we must expose these enemies, and seek the supernatural aids (which Traditionalists still possess) to combat them (e.g., Mass, sacraments, true doctrine,etc.) Many Masonic ideals are identical to the ideology of the Modernists. Naturalism seeks to banish God from society and deify humans with false and exaggerated claims of “human dignity” and “human rights.” Pope Leo XIII said it best, “About the ‘rights of man,’ as they are called, the people have heard enough; it is time they should hear of the rights of God.” (See Tametsi November 1, 1900).
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