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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?

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.

 

In Brief: The Facts on Pope John XXII

Historical Precedent for a “Heretical” Pope?

In Brief: The Facts on Pope John XXII

At a time when countless supposed “traditional Catholics” don’t think twice about accusing an unquestionably true Pope of the past of teaching heresy or at least grave doctrinal error, it behooves us to remind everyone that instead of simply believing whatever you see posted on a blog somewhere, the safer course is to simply look the stuff up. It’s not like these questions never came up before or that no clear answer was ever put forward.

Where to look it up? Look it up where any Catholic priest would have looked it up before Vatican II: in the most recent dogmatic theology manuals approved by the Church. Why most recent? Because the most recent Church-approved manuals will include the most recent doctrinal pronouncements and clarifications from the Magisterium and also take into consideration any of the latest historical research to shed light on questions pertaining to Church history insofar as it relates to doctrinal matters.

In this post, we will take a brief look at the famous case of Pope John XXII (reigned 1316-1334), who is accused of teaching that the souls of those who die in the state of sanctifying grace cannot see God in the fullness of the Beatific Vision until after the Last Judgment.

In the future we are going to post a carefully-researched essay on this with detailed documentation. For now, however, we will have to content ourselves simply with a brief overview of the facts of the case since the issue is continually brought up to discredit the sedevacantist position and “legitimize”, as it were, Francis’ claim to the Papacy.

The following succinct summary of the John XXII controversy comes from the treatise On the Last Things (De Novissimis) of vol. 4 of the extensive Jesuit dogmatic theology compilation Sacrae Theologiae Summa, which was originally published in Latin in 1956 and was recently released in English for the first time.

St. Bernard [Doctor of the Church, 1090-1153] often taught that deceased just persons immediately after death will obtain immense happiness, but not the beatific vision until the resurrection [of their bodies].

John XXII, the Supreme Pontiff, followed him almost to the letter, and the Friars Minor followed him, as is generally reported. He held that immediately after death some reward is given to the just, like seeing already the humanity of Christ in heaven, and that the wicked are punished in hell in some way; but before the final judgment that neither the face-to-face vision of God is granted to the blessed nor the punishment of fire to the damned.

However, he taught this as a private teacher, not as Pontiff, and he held it theoretically or for the sake of debate, thinking that he could be deceived in these matters and permitting others to think differently until the question should be decided authoritatively. Hence he took care to have the matter studied by the Doctors, and frequently summoning debates in his presence on this point, he was prepared to abandon his opinion if it was shown to be against the faith. Indeed, on the day before his death he ordered a declaration of the true doctrine in the presence of all the Cardinals, etc. He said that previously he thought differently about this matter by pondering it and speaking about it. In this way he prepared the way for his successor, Benedict XII, to proclaim a definition of the true teaching [see Denz. 530-531].

(Fr. Joseph F. Sagüés, S.J., Sacrae Theologiae Summa IVB: On the Last Things, trans. by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. [original Latin published by BAC, 1956; English published by Keep the Faith, 2016], n. 30; italics given; underlining added.)

Pope Benedict XII’s ex cathedra definition of the true doctrine concerning the fate of the departed was issued on Jan. 29, 1336:

By this edict which will prevail forever, with apostolic authority we declare: that according to the common arrangement of God, souls of all the saints who departed from this world before the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ; also of the holy apostles, the martyrs, the confessors, virgins, and the other faithful who died after the holy baptism of Christ had been received by them, in whom nothing was to be purged, when they departed, nor will there be when they shall depart also in the future; or if then there was or there will be anything to be purged in these when after their death they have been purged; and the souls of children departing before the use of free will, reborn and baptized in that same baptism of Christ, when all have been baptized, immediately after their death and that aforesaid purgation in those who were in need of a purgation of this kind, even before the resumption of their bodies and the general judgment after the ascension of our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, into heaven, have been, are, and will be in heaven, in the kingdom of heaven and in celestial paradise with Christ, united in the company of the holy angels, and after the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ have seen and see the divine essence by intuitive vision, and even face to face, with no mediating creature, serving in the capacity of an object seen, but divine essence immediately revealing itself plainly, clearly, and openly, to them, and seeing thus they enjoy the same divine essence, and also that from such vision and enjoyment their souls, which now have departed, are truly blessed and they have eternal life and rest; and also [the souls] of those who afterwards will depart, will see that same divine essence, and will enjoy it before the general judgment; and that such vision of the divine essence and its enjoyment makes void the acts of faith and hope in them, inasmuch as faith and hope are proper theological virtues; and that after there has begun or will be such intuitive and face-to-face vision and enjoyment in these, the same vision and enjoyment without any interruption [intermission] or departure of the aforesaid vision and enjoyment exist continuously and will continue even up to the last judgment and from then even unto eternity.

Moreover, we declare that according to the common arrangement of God, the souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin immediately after their death descend to hell where they are tortured by infernal punishments, and that nevertheless on the day of judgment all men with their bodies will make themselves ready to render an account of their own deeds before the tribunal of Christ, “so that everyone may receive the proper things of the body according as he has done whether it be good or evil” [ 2 Cor. 5:10].

(Pope Benedict XII, Apostolic Constitution Benedictus DeusDenz. 530-531)

Thus we can see that the case of Pope John XXII is in no way comparable to that of “Pope” Francis:

Pope John spoke (1) as a private teacher (2) on a matter not yet settled (3) in order to ascertain the truth of the matter so it could be defined, (4) meanwhile permitting others to differ from him. In other words, the Pope did not exercise his Magisterium; he did not commit heresy; and although his view was erroneous, it was permissible for him to hold at the time. The Church historian Fr. Reuben Parsons explicitly states that in holding his theory, Pope John was “in the full exercise of his right” (Studies in Church History, vol. 2, 2nd ed. [Fr. Pustet & Co., 1896], p. 500).

Contrast this with the apostasy of “Pope” Francis, who (1) issues magisterial documents (such as Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia) and has explicitly stated that he intends to speak magisterially even in interviews; (2) therefore as (putative) Pope; (3) on matters long settled and defined, even directly revealed by God (cf. Ex 20:14); (4) for the sake of changing established church teaching and practice.

On Dec. 3, 1334 — one day before he was to die — Pope John XXII issued a formal retraction of any errors he may have held, in the bull Ne Super His, which was published by his successor, Pope Benedict XII:

In order that those things often said — both by Us and by certain others in Our presence — on the subject of the purified souls separated from the body (whether before the resurrection of the bodies they can see the divine essence with that vision which the apostle calls face to face) — by citing Sacred Scripture and the original sayings of the saints or other modes of reasoning — should not impress the ears of the faithful otherwise than as was said or understood by Us or as is being said and understood [by Us], so We now earnestly declare as follows, in the context of the present [writings] Our opinion that We, together with the holy Catholic Church, have and have had regarding this matter.

We therefore confess and believe that the purified souls separated from the body are gathered together in heaven, in paradise and the kingdom of the heaven [sic], with Christ in the company of the angels, and that they, according to the common precept, clearly see God and the divine essence face to face, insofar as the state and the condition of the separated soul allows.

But if, in any way, other things may have been said, or [said] in another manner, by Us on this subject, We have said them in the disposition of the Catholic faith, and We affirm to have said them thus in discoursing and discussing, and We wish to have said [them] thus. Furthermore, if We, in what pertains to the Catholic faith, Sacred Scripture, or good morals, have said other things in preaching, discoursing, formulating a doctrine, teaching, or in any other way, these, insofar as they are in conformity with the Catholic faith, the Church’s way of thinking, Sacred Scripture, and good morals, We approve; other things, however, We wish to consider as though they were not said, and We do not in any way approve them; rather, insofar as these might not have been in accord with what We have mentioned — the Catholic faith, the Church’s way of thinking, Sacred Scripture, or good morals or any of these — We reject them; and likewise We submit to the judgment of the Church and Our successors all that We have said or written on any subjects wherever and in whatever place and in whatever situation We have or may have had up until now.

(Pope John XXII, Bull Ne Super HisDenzinger-Hünermann 990-991; available online in Latin here.)

Let no one, then, appeal to the case of Pope John XXII as historical precedent permitting refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff. The traditional Catholic teaching on the Papacy remains as true today as it was when enunciated by Pope Pius IX in 1853: “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).

Those “traditional Catholics” of our day who think they can find precedent in the Church’s past for resisting the Magisterium of a “heretical” Pope, forget that all these issues were debated extensively at the time of the First Vatican Council (1869-70) as the Pope and the bishops were preparing a dogmatic constitution on the primacy of the Pope and the extent of the infallibility of his Magisterium. The following anecdote was related by Abp. John Purcell of Cincinnati, who had attended the council:

The question was also raised by a Cardinal, “What is to be done with the Pope if he becomes a heretic?” It was answered that there has never been such a case; the Council of Bishops could depose him for heresy, for from the moment he becomes a heretic he is not the head or even a member of the Church. The Church would not be, for a moment, obliged to listen to him when he begins to teach a doctrine the Church knows to be a false doctrine, and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself.

(Abp. John B. Purcell, quoted in Rev. James J. McGovern, Life and Life Work of Pope Leo XIII [Chicago, IL: Allied Printing, 1903], p. 241; underlining added.)

Further information on the supposed “heretical” Popes of the past can be found in the following posts:

Historically, those accusing Popes of magisterial error or heresy have typically been the enemies of the Church and of the Papacy (specifically Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Gallicans, and Modernists), whereas those who have defended the Popes from such charges have enjoyed a great reputation for orthodoxy. Of the latter group we need but name a few: Pope Pius IX, St. Robert Bellarmine, Cardinal Joseph Hergenröther, Cardinal Louis-Nazaire Bégin, Dom Prosper Gueranger, and many others. Bellarmine even wrote a little compendium answering charges against a number of very specific Popes:

Those who deride the defenders of the integrity of the papal Magisterium as “Ultramontanists” apparently do not realize how foolish their charge is, because Ultramontanism is Catholicism: “For Catholics it would be superfluous to ask whether Ultramontanism and Catholicism are the same thing: assuredly, those who combat Ultramontanism are in fact combating Catholicism, even when they disclaim the desire to oppose it” (Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Ultramontanism”).

The only reason why accusing Popes of the past of heresy or other magisterial aberrations is very popular these days among those who mean to be traditional Catholics, is, of course, the simple fact that Francis’ manifest apostasy combined with an irrational but dogmatic refusal of Sedevacantism leaves such people no other choice but to seek some kind of similar case in history to which they can point and say, “See, this Pope was just as heretical as Francis is, and the faithful resisted him, and no one said he wasn’t the Pope.” Such dishonorable efforts, however, are guaranteed to fail because they aim at finding in Church history a theological absurdity, an utter impossibility.

As we have pointed out many times on this web site before, insisting that Jorge Bergoglio is a valid Roman Pontiff does incalculable damage to the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Papacy:

It is tragic to see how many would sooner jettison the true Catholic teaching on the Papacy than recognize that Jorge Bergoglio isn’t a valid occupant of the office.

Alas, people have ironically preferred having a Pope to the very meaning of the Papacy itself. For them, it is more important to have the papal office occupied than to preserve the correct understanding of what the papal office is. And so they have traded the Papacy for a Pope, as it were.

The just punishment of this Faustian bargain is that they now have neither: They have no true Pope, and they no longer have the correct understanding of the Papacy either.

See, then, how dire the consequences are to accepting Francis as a true Pope.

 

in Novus Ordo Wire     9

The Truth about Pope Liberius and St. Athanasius – John Daly destroys Michael Davies

Setting the Historical Record straight…

The Truth about Pope Liberius and the “Excommunication” of St. Athanasius 

Now that Francis has successfully detonated his nuclear bomb called Amoris Laetitia — the “Apostolic Exhortation” effectively granting free rein to people in permanent adultery and other “irregular unions” to receive the Novus Ordo sacraments — the anti-sedevacantist “resistance traditionalists” are scrambling to justify their refusal to countenance the possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, a man whom anyone can see is truly the Vicar of Satan cannot also be the Vicar of Jesus Christ at the same time (cf. 2 Cor 6:15).

One of the most predictable internet sites in this regard is the famous indult blog Rorate Caeli, which quickly recycled the old litany of “heretical Popes” of the past to justify the current situation:

Why it is intrinsically impossible to be more Catholic than the Pope, is something we explained to The Remnant’s chief rhetorician Christopher Ferrara a few months ago, and it bears repeating:

Last year we began a blog post series entitled The “Heretical” Popes, but, due to time constraints, we have only been able to publish a single installment so far. Nevertheless, it is well worth a read, as is the response we gave to the blogger Mundabor on one of his fantasies about the papacy:

As the chaotic fallout from Amoris Laetitia continues — we’ve been chronicling it here —, we can expect that lots of people who believe themselves to be traditional Catholics but accept, however grudgingly, Jorge Bergoglio as the Pope of the Catholic Church, will once again invoke the argument that Francis must still be considered a valid Pope because we’ve allegedly had similar cases in the past where Popes succumbed to heresy and still remained Pope. One of the celebrated examples then brought forward on such occasions is typically the case of Pope Liberius, who “fell into Arianism” and “excommunicated St. Athanasius”, who was then the “only bishop who remained faithful” in a time when almost the entire Catholic world had defected into Arianism.

This perception of the “bad Pope Liberius” and the “excommunicated” St. Athanasius is extremely widespread in “traditionalist” circles, due in large part to the tireless efforts of the celebrated Lefebvrist apologist Michael Davies (d. 2004), who repeated these claims ad nauseam, as they provided a convenient basis from which to argue in favor of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and against John Paul II, while still accepting the latter as a valid Pope. Not surprisingly, in their new book True or False Pope?, the new SSPX apologists John Salza and Robert Siscoe also restate the old accusations against Pope Liberius.

There is just one problem with them: They aren’t true.

In his exhaustive critique of Davies entitled Michael Davies – An Evaluation (1st ed., 1989; 2nd ed., 2015), sedevacantist author John Daly dedicates an entire chapter of over 50 pages to demonstrating — not justclaiming — that there is no genuine historical evidence available that could establish with certitude that Pope Liberius either did or probably did subscribe to Arianism or Semi-Arianism, nor is there any genuine evidence that the Pope ever excommunicated St. Athanasius. Rather, the historical evidence is to the contrary, evidence accepted and mentioned by serious Catholic historians and theologians before Vatican II, glossed over by Davies.

Mr. Daly has kindly given permission to Novus Ordo Watch to reprint the chapter on Pope Liberius and the Arian crisis from his book against Davies. In fact, we have previously offered, likewise with the author’s permission, Daly’s entire book as a free PDF download (here), and it is also available in paperback:


Michael Davies – An Evaluation (2nd ed.)
by John S. Daly (2015)

An electronic version of this book is available in PDF format
FOR FREE by clicking here

Here, then, are a few select paragraphs of Daly’s chapter on Pope Liberius. The entire chapter can be read in full at the link given at the end of the excerpt:

[…]

It must now be shown that Davies’s representation of history, unfortunately both for the arguments he seeks to base on it and for the cause of truth in itself, is very far from reality. First, I shall list a few very clear facts which are strongly suggestive – to say no more – that the story of a fall from orthodoxy on the part of Pope Liberius is no more than a myth. This done, it will be possible to examine in more detail the great mass of evidence which, taken collectively, raises this conclusion from probability to certainty.

The main facts are these:

1. Pope Liberius was in reality a staunch opponent, not only of the Arians, but also of the Semi-Arians.

2. He was sent into exile by the Semi-Arian Emperor Constantius precisely because of the failure of the attempts of that emperor and his toady bishops to influence him to excommunicate St. Athanasius and accept as orthodox a compromised Semi-Arian statement of Catholic doctrine concerning Our Lord’s Divinity. [4]

3. Constantius appointed Felix to replace the absent Liberius in the See of Rome, but Felix was not at that time accepted as pope by the Romans.

4. Felix himself did not in fact subscribe to Arianism, but he did acknowledge ecclesiastical communion with arianisers, for which reason, the fifth century historian-bishop Theodoret informs us, “none of the citizens of Rome entered into the church while he was inside.” (History of the Latin Church, Bk. II, c. 17)

5. The people of Rome remained loyal to Liberius and protested to the emperor at his detention.

6. Eventually their peaceable protests gave way to rioting, and as a result Liberius was permitted by Constantius to return to Rome.

7. On his return he was received as a victor there by the populace.

8. His reign in Rome then continued for a few years more, during which time he remained entirely orthodox, refused to compromise in the slightest degree on the orthodox doctrine of the Council of Nicæa, and was in full communion and friendship with St. Athanasius.

9. Some extant historical texts apparently of that period assert that the immediate reason for his return to Rome was that he had subscribed to a Semi-Arian formula. But many others favour the contrary view.

10. The weight of subsequent scholarship is strongly in favour of Liberius’s orthodoxy, and orthodox Catholic scholars in particular – and it is they who have studied the subject in greatest depth and are most reliable – are overwhelmingly of the view that Liberius never fell, remained orthodox throughout his exile, and always remained in full communion with St. Athanasius.

[…]

Another fact which Davies does not mention, even if only to try to explain it away, is that Pope Liberius is honoured as a saint in the ancient Latin Martyrology. Although Davies says repeatedly that Athanasius was canonized and Liberius was not, this is in fact quite false. Neither was formally canonized, as the formal procedure of canonization did not exist at the period that the Church began to revere them (which was immediately after their deaths); but both benefited from the Church’s official recognition as saints in the form which did then exist, by their inclusion in the martyrologies of West and East.

In fact evidence in further support of the testimonies already given could be multiplied almost indefinitely, for instance from the historians Cassiodorus (490-583) and Theophanes (IXth century). But after such conclusive testimonies to Pope Liberius’s sanctity and unfailing orthodoxy, what can be the need?

Instead, let us move on to an examination of such early sources as can be adduced in favour of the allegation of his having subscribed to heresy. It need hardly be said that, even if these sources might appear to be conclusive, the testimony of the authors just cited would oblige us to pause long for thought and to make us in the highest degree reluctant to accept the conclusion they tend towards. But in fact no such dilemma would occur to anyone who looks at the evidence attentively, for the miserable clutch of references from which the opponents of Liberius and enemies of the Holy See attempt to construct an adamantine case against Liberius are no sooner scrutinized than they fall away as probably inauthentic and certainly erroneous – as will now be shown.

[…]

The Division of Scholarly Opinion

It would not be true to say that Davies never at all acknowledges that there is scholarly dissension on the question of the fall of Liberius and his excommunication of St. Athanasius; but such acknowledgements are very rare, and even when they are made they are formulated in terms which suggest that the dissenters are a small minority of overzealous fanatics whose historical learning is unworthy of serious consideration. Here, for instance, is what he writes in both Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, Vol. I, p. 371 and The True Voice of Tradition, p. 9:

Some Catholic apologists have attempted to prove that Liberius neither confirmed the excommunication of Athanasius nor subscribed to one of the formulæ of Sirmium. But Cardinal Newman has no doubt that the fall of Liberius is an historical fact.
In other words, such is the measure of Davies’s contempt for these “Catholic apologists”, that he deems them worthy only of anonymous obscurity, and considers the weight of Cardinal Newman’s opinion alone sufficient to justify his readers in dismissing them as unworthy of further attention.

And what is the truth on this matter? It can easily be seen simply by comparing a list of those serious scholars who hold the theory that Liberius capitulated to Constantius with a list of those who defend his orthodoxy.

Anti-Liberian Writers

Let us begin with those who may broadly be regarded as on Davies’s side. They comprise Moeller, who was a Gallican; Barmby, who was a Protestant; Langen, who was an Old Catholic; Tillemont, whom Fr. W.H. Anderdon S.J. selects in his Britain’s Early Faith (p. 39) as the archetypal sceptic; Döllinger, the famous scholar who left the Church at the time of the declaration of Papal Infallibility in 1870 and became an Old Catholic; Cardinal Newman, in his Arians of the Fourth Century, written in 1833, twelve years before his conversion in a work in which he accuses the papacy of having apostatized altogether at the Council of Trent [21]; Renouf; Schiktanz; Fr. Alban Butler [22]; the infidel Gibbon, whose Decline and Fall is on the Index and who seems to have decided whether or not to accept allegations hostile to the papacy purely on the basis of whether they would be useful for bringing the Catholic Church into disrepute. I cannot bring myself to add the name of St. Robert Bellarmine to this list, for he was at best no more than a highly tentative anti-Liberian and appears to express contradictory views on the subject in two different places (De Romano Pontifice lib. IV, cap. 9 and lib. II, cap. 30, para. 2). Moreover he was writing at the dawn of critical historiography, before any question had been raised as to the authenticity of some of the patristic manuscripts he was using, and he emphasizes that any brief defection from his celebrated orthodoxy on the part of Liberius is a matter of doubt.

On the other hand I freely offer Michael Davies the support of E. Amman in the Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique. Indeed special mention is called for in his case, because the Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique is a justly famous work and generally reliable. What must never be forgotten, however, is that all encyclopædic works inevitably suffer from the defect that some of their contributors tend to be less reliable than others, for equality in this field, as in any other field, is simply not a characteristic of the human race – a fact which obstinately continues to apply no matter what rarefied levels of scholarship are reached, and a fact which no editor can overcome because no editor is competent to verify all his contributions. As regards Amann’s article as an example of this phenomenon, it is sufficient to note that he quotes in inverted commas – yes, quotes – what purport to be the passages from the writings of St. Athanasius in which the “capitulation” of Pope Liberius has been interpolated, and that in each case the true meaning is both grossly distorted and further corrupted with inventions of his own. In other words, not content with passing off, in defiance of the overwhelming evidence we have seen earlier, the contemporary pseudo-Athanasius as Athanasius, he falsifies even that corruption. A forgery is not sufficient for his purposes; he must embellish it with further forgeries of his own. (See Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, Vol. IX, column 638.)

Anyhow the foregoing writers are the most renowned historians of the anti-Liberian school.

Exceptions

There are also writers who hold the more moderate position, similar to that maintained by Sozomen among the ancients, that Liberius subscribed to a formula deliberately couched in ambiguous terminology, which, although it was in fact open to a heterodox interpretation, led him genuinely to believe that the formula was a statement of the Catholic Faith. These writers include Baronius, [23] von Hefele, who was a liberal, Funk, and Duchesne, a notorious Modernist, some of whose writings are on the Index of Forbidden Books.

Pro-Liberian Writers

The very least that can be said of the list of writers who have defended the orthodoxy of Liberius is that it is no less impressive than what we have seen so far. It comprises the Mediæval Byzantine historian Georgio Cedrenos (c. 1100), faithful relayer of the traditions of Eastern Christendom; Stilting; Zaccaria; Palma; Dom Guéranger (The Liturgical Year: Feast of St Eusebius); Cardinal Hergenröther, the famous vindicator of Catholic orthodoxy against the attacks of Döllinger at the time of the 1870 Vatican Council; Jungmann, whose work on the subject covers eighty pages of close argument and is in this writer’s opinion entirely conclusive alone; [24] Grisar; Freis; Flavio; Corgne; Rohrbacher, whose Histoire Universelle de l’Église Catholique has been justly hailed as “sublime” (Palme), “monumental” (Catholic Encyclopædia), and the finest history of the Church written since the sixteenth century and should be snapped up by anyone with the ability to read French [25] who comes across it; Dom John Chapman in his article in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopædia; Alzog in his Universal Catholic History, Vol. I, p. 542; Darras in his General History of the Catholic Church, p. 456 et seq.; Reinerding; Schneeman; Wouters; Barthélémy in his Erreurs et Mensonges Historiques which earned a papal accolade; Harrold in The American Catholic Quarterly Review, 1883; Fr. Luke Rivington in The Primitive Church and the See of Peter; Dumont; the renowned Scriptural exegete Menochius; the very learned historian and theologian Ballerini; Galland; the Roman Breviary itself (December 16th); and the famous Gallican bishop Bossuet, who originally argued in favour of the capitulation of Liberius but, according to his secretary, D. Ledieu, wished to have what he had written on this subject deleted from his works. Nor ought we to overlook the renowned Enchiridion Symbolorum first edited by Fr. Heinrich Denzinger and later appearing in more complete editions with various learned editors, for under No 93 it lists the letter of St. Anastasius vindicating Pope Liberius (referred to earlier) under the heading “De orthodoxia Liberii Papæ” – “Concerning the orthodoxy of Pope Liberius”.

According to What Criteria Does Davies Select His Sources?

Very revealing and instructive is the bibliography to Davies’s booklet on Liberius and Athanasius, listing the six works which Davies has drawn on for the material used in the pamphlet. To offer a brief assessment of these works will not take long.

Two are “Catholic dictionaries”, one of them published as late as the 1970s and therefore obviously unreliable. One is a small book called A Handbook of Heresies by M.L. Cozens, which, though sound, devotes only seven pages to the entire topic of Arianism and Semi-Arianism and nowhere even mentions Liberius. Another, the only full-length book, is The Arians of the Fourth Century by Davies’s hero, Cardinal Newman. And the two remaining works are the 1913 Catholic Encyclopædia and the 1967 New Catholic Encyclopædia.

Bearing in mind how frequently and emphatically Davies has put forward his opinion on what is recognized by everyone else to be a very controversial subject, this bibliography is of course ludicrously short. But there is another feature of it which is of even greater interest. This, to which reference has already been made in this Evaluation, is that, whereas five of the works given in the bibliography are also cited in the text of the booklet – most of them more than once – the sixth, the 1913 Catholic Encyclopædia, does not feature in the text at all. It is in fact difficult to see why the 1913 Catholic Encyclopædia rates a mention in the bibliography, unless it is simply that Davies, who uses it as a reference work for many other purposes, was simply embarrassed to cite only the 1967 New Catholic Encyclopædia and thus admit openly that he was ignoring everything in the more traditional and obviously more reliable work in favour of this inferior post-Vatican II substitute which itself stands under far heavier accusation of compromise with heresy than Pope Liberius ever did! As for why he did the opposite of what any true Catholic would do who wanted to consult an encyclopædia, and turned single-mindedly to the post-Vatican II version published under the umbrella of the Conciliar Church – that admits no difficulty whatever of explanation. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopædia, which Davies frequently quotes in his works on subjects other than Pope Liberius, contains an excellent and cogent article arguing that the various charges made against Liberius are entirely spurious, and for Davies this is sufficient to make it, in Orwellian terms, an un-encyclopædia.

Needless to say, the dreadful New Catholic Encyclopædia, like all such works which have emanated from the Conciliar Church in order to “update” and outdate their pre-Conciliar counterparts, seizes every opportunity that presents itself to undermine the Church and diminish the esteem which Catholics should have for the Holy See, by invariably siding with the enemies of the Vicar of Christ in the allegations which they bring against him. Davies stands revealed as a man who is prepared to turn to such a source as this to bolster up his prejudices while dismissing traditional and trustworthy authorities who contradict the thesis which he finds it convenient to champion.

[…]

To read the entire chapter refuting Michael Davies, go here:

Over the last few decades, Michael Davies enjoyed among traditionalists a great, although unfounded, reputation for being a reliable scholar in historical and theological matters. Yet in this exhaustive critique of Davies, Daly proves that Davies was little more than a third-class propagandist for the pseudo-traditionalist positions of the SSPX. While giving credit where credit is due, Daly systematically and rigorously dismantles Davies’ main arguments, both those for the false recognize-and-resist traditionalism and those against sedevacantism.

It is highly deplorable that the great majority of English-speaking people today who are meaning to be good traditional Catholics, have unwittingly obtained their historical and theological information, ultimately, from Michael Davies.

It is time to stop reading Davies and to start reading real Catholic history!

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    

Recognize-and-OBEY is the Traditional Catholic Teaching

Not ‘recognize-and-resist’…

Recognize-and-OBEY is the Traditional Catholic Teaching

The sedevacantist blogger Steven Speray has recently released an important blog post we are happy to republish on this web site, with his permission. It concerns the foundational belief of those who try to be traditional Catholics while believing the “Popes” after Pius XII to be valid and true Vicars of Christ — the so-called “recognize-and-resist” position (R&R).


Pope Pius XI Squashes the Recognize-and-Resist Position

by Steve Speray (Aug. 27, 2019)

Can the faithful recognize and resist the pope? I dealt with this question in a 2015 article. However, I recently stumbled upon some teachings from Pope Pius XI that castigate the recognize-and-resist theology. I’ve highlighted the relevant parts within the context that contradicts R&R-ism.

In Mortalium Animos – On Religious Unity, Jan. 6, 1928, Pope Pius XI declared:

#5 Admonished, therefore, by the consciousness of Our Apostolic office that We should not permit the flock of the Lord to be cheated by dangerous fallacies, We invoke, Venerable Brethren, your zeal in avoiding this evil; for We are confident that by the writings and words of each one of you the people will more easily get to know and understand those principles and arguments which We are about to set forth, and from which Catholics will learn how they are to think and act when there is question of those undertakings which have for their end the union in one body, whatsoever be the manner, of all who call themselves Christians…

#7…There are some, indeed, who recognize and affirm that Protestantism, as they call it, has rejected, with a great lack of consideration, certain articles of faith and some external ceremonies, which are, in fact, pleasing and useful, and which the Roman Church still retains. They soon, however, go on to say that that Church also has erred, and corrupted the original religion by adding and proposing for belief certain doctrines which are not only alien to the Gospel, but even repugnant to it.

#11…Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls?

The words “recognize and obey” are exactly opposite to “recognize and resist.”  The R&R crowd doesn’t obey those they call the legitimate successors of Peter. They ignore them, resist them, and reject their teachings. They are most certainly trying to stand in the way of the Vatican II popes and implementing Vatican II and the Novus Ordo. Of course, the R&R crowd is correct in rejecting the Modernism of the Vatican II “popes”, but their justification for doing so in opposition to what is recognized as the papal authority, is heretical, blasphemous, and just plain stupid.

The underlying principle of Mortalium Animos is rejected by the R&R crowd. But then again, every papal document is an instance of the Roman Pontiff putting forth his papal authority for the faithful to obey, not to resist.

On Dec. 31, 1929, Pope Pius XI declared in Divini Illius Magistri – On Christian Education:

18. Hence it is that in this proper object of her mission, that is, “in faith and morals, God Himself has made the Church sharer in the divine magisterium and, by a special privilege, granted her immunity from error; hence she is the mistress of men, supreme and absolutely sure, and she has inherent in herself an inviolable right to freedom in teaching.’…

20.The Church does not say that morality belongs purely, in the sense of exclusively, to her; but that it belongs wholly to her.…

25. The extent of the Church’s mission in the field of education is such as to embrace every nation, without exception, according to the command of Christ: “Teach ye all nations;” and there is no power on earth that may lawfully oppose her or stand in her way. In the first place, it extends over all the Faithful, of whom she has anxious care as a tender mother.

The whole document is about the importance of getting a good, holy, and true Christian education, which can only come about by following and obeying the teachings of the Roman Pontiff and following his rules for this education. What’s the point if the Catholic Church is propagating error like every other religion, as the R&R proponents essentially claim?

The position of the R&R crowd makes the Catholic Church out to be the biggest hypocritical organization in the world. It would mean that the Catholic Church is more or less permitted to lead people astray with error, while all other religions are condemned by the Catholic Church for doing the same thing. It would mean only the Catholic Church gets to be heretical, while Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy are condemned by the Catholic Church as false religions when they do so.

That’s why the R&R position is heretical, blasphemous, and stupid.

On Dec. 31, 1930, Pope Pius XI promulgated Casti Connubii – On Christian Marriage. Once again, the pope emphasizes his authority over all the faithful. He declares in #104:

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.

The approach of the R&R crowd is to resist, dismiss, and disdain every papal teaching that they think comes short of proclaiming in an extraordinary manner dogmas protected by infallibility. In principle, the R&R crowd is really no different than the liberals who reject the teaching of Casti Connubii on the authority of the Roman Pontiff as much as they do — they just apply it to a different issue (that of contraception; see #54).

The pick-and-choose mentality of the R&R crowd is what makes them the worst of hypocrites. They profess to be obedient and faithful Catholics but are neither.

Jesus told us where hypocrites go in Matt. 24:51 — and it’s not paradise.


Minor edits have been made to this post to enhance readability and consistency, with the author’s permission. The original can be found here.


 

in Novus Ordo Wire     0

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…

¿Quis ut Deus? Veritas Vincit

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¿Quis ut Deus? Stat Veritas

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Traditional Catholic Education

A Traditional Catholic(Sedevacantist) Site.

Call Me Jorge...

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

AMOR DE LA VERDAD

que preserva de las seducciones del error” (II Tesal. II-10).

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St. Gertrude the Great

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

Speray's Catholicism in a Nutshell

Apologia for Sedevacantism and Catholic Doctrine

SCATURREX

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St. Anthony of Padua - Hammer of Heretics

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

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True Restoration

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

Homunizam

homoseksualizacija društva - politička korektnost - totalitarizam - za roditelje: prevencija homoseksualnosti - svjedočanstva izlaska iz homoseksualnosti

¿Quis ut Deus? Veritas Vincit

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

¿Quis ut Deus? Stat Veritas

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

Traditional Catholic Education

A Traditional Catholic(Sedevacantist) Site.

Call Me Jorge...

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

AMOR DE LA VERDAD

que preserva de las seducciones del error” (II Tesal. II-10).

Ecclesia Militans

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

St. Gertrude the Great

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

Speray's Catholicism in a Nutshell

Apologia for Sedevacantism and Catholic Doctrine

SCATURREX

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

St. Anthony of Padua - Hammer of Heretics

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

Introibo Ad Altare Dei

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

: Quidlibet :

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

TraditionalMass.org Articles

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

TRADITIO.COM: The Traditional Roman Catholic Network

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

True Restoration

Defensor Blog ⚜️ Traditional Catholicism ⚜️ Apostolica Sedes Vacans

Homunizam

homoseksualizacija društva - politička korektnost - totalitarizam - za roditelje: prevencija homoseksualnosti - svjedočanstva izlaska iz homoseksualnosti

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