Apparently after Rev. Shannon Collins made himself look foolish in public through my website, he felt the need to redeem himself. Collins did a two-hour interview with Robert Siscoe in an attempt to debunk sedevacantism. The interview was sent via a member of the Regina Pacis Community lead by Rev. John Rickert, FSSP of Lexington, Kentucky. Below is my open letter to the individual who regarded the interview as the definitive answer against the position of sedevacantism.
Dear _ _ _,
Thank you for providing this interview between Rev. Shannon Collins and Robert Siscoe. I listened to both talks all the way through, and I must tell you that this is one of the most dishonest talks I’ve ever heard on the subject. I’ll admit that it’s clever enough to fool the ignorant Catholic, but I’ll provide the proof why it’s contrary to the law and teachings of the Catholic Church according to the Catholic Church, and not the private judgment and interpretation of Shannon and Siscoe. I will also post this letter on my website for the world to see.
1: In Interview #1, Shannon and Siscoe quoted from Suarez and a French canonist on jurisdiction. Their conclusion was that if a heretical priest can provide valid sacraments (which is true), then such a person has jurisdiction in the Church.
What they fail to do is distinguish between different types of jurisdictions. If what they say is true then Eastern Orthodox Patriarch heretics/schismatics would maintain their offices within the Catholic Church. Of course, this is absurd. An example would be the Patriarch of Constantinople. His sacraments are valid, but does that mean that he is a member of the Catholic Church? Of course, not.
Priests remain priests forever regardless, but the office of the papacy is an entirely different type of office than that of the priesthood.
The two quoted theologians are entirely incorrect by simple logic.
But then again, Benedict XVI did call these heretical/schismatic Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs, “Pastors in the Church of Christ” because Benedict XVI doesn’t believe the Church of Christ IS the Catholic Church as he plainly admits. So Benedict XVI might agree with Shannon and Siscoe’s reasoning.
2: Canon law was severely misrepresented by Shannon and Siscoe. They brought up the issue of being suspect of heresy, but they failed to give the expert explanations of the following canons which debunk their conclusions.
Vatican approved Professor of Canon Law, Rev. P. Charles Augustine, O.S.B., D.D explained in Canon 2315 that there are three types of suspicion for heretics.
“Violent suspicion amounts to morally certain proof…and is to be considered as a positive proof and therefore rather falls under can. 2314.”
Canon 2314.1, ignored by Shannon and Siscoe, states that all heretics incur ipso facto excommunication.
Augustine explained can. 2314:
“2) The penalties here enunciated are twofold: censure and vindictive penalties; besides, a distinction is drawn, according to can. 2207, n. 1, by reason of dignity, between laymen and clerics.
a)The censure inflicted is excommunication incurred ipso facto, which per se requires not even a declaratory sentence… Note that the term moniti [warnings] (2314 Â§1, n. 2) does not refer to the incurring of the censure. Consequently, no canonical warning or admonition is required.” (A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW, Volume VIII, Book V, Penal Code, Canon 2314, pp. 275-276; B. Herder Book Company, Imprimatur by John J. Glennon, Archbishop of Saint Louis, Friday, August 25, 1922)
The Assisi Events qualify much more than a merely suspicion of heresy. These events are so outrageous that even Rickert called them contrary to the First Commandment, yet Rickert never dealt with the implication of them. These Events, no doubt, fall under the rubric of “violent suspicion.”
Now look at this devastating teaching from another expert in Canon law which Shannon and Siscoe never mention.
Canon 2200.2, 1917 Code of Canon Law: “When an external violation of the law has been committed, malice is presumed in the external forum until the contrary is proven.”
“The very commission of any act which signifies heresy, e.g., the statement of some doctrine contrary or contradictory to a revealed and defined dogma, gives sufficient ground for juridical presumption of heretical depravity… Excusing circumstances have to be proved in the external forum, and the burden of proof is on the person whose action has given rise to the imputation of heresy. In the absence of such proof, all such excuses are presumed not to exist.” (Rev. Eric F. Mackenzie, A.M., S.T.L., J.C.L., The Delict of Heresy, Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America, 1932, p. 35. (Cf. Canon 2200.2)
3: In both interviews, Shannon and Siscoe spend a great amount of time explaining why warnings are absolutely necessary to establish manifest heresy.
First, St. Robert Bellarmine never said a pope is to be warned! They quote the great saint and completely mangle his plain words: “A pope who is a manifest heretic automatically (per se) ceases to be pope and head of the Church, just as he ceases automatically to be a Christian and a member of the Church. Wherefore, he can be judged and punished by the Church. All the early Fathers are unanimous in teaching that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction. St. Cyprian, in particular, laid great stress on this point.”
If it takes warnings and such, then it wouldn’t be automatic and immediate. Once a pope loses his office, of course, he will be judged and punished by the Church. It happens after he’s no longer a member of the Church!
Secondly, another Professor of Canon Law, R. P. Udalricus Beste, O.S.B., I.C.D., explains “Not a few canonists teach that, outside of death and abdication, the pontifical dignity can also be lost by falling into certain insanity, which is legally equivalent to death, as well as through manifest and notorious heresy. In the latter case, a pope would automatically fall from his power, and this indeed without the issuance of any sentence, for the first See [i.e., the See of Peter] is judged by no one.
“The reason is that, by falling into heresy, the pope ceases to be a member of the Church. He who is not a member of a society, obviously, cannot be its head. We can find no example of this in history.” (Introductio in Codicem. 3rd ed. Collegeville: St. John’s Abbey Press, 1946)
Warnings can only be given by superiors and it is up to their discrepancy to decide the fate of their inferiors. All the examples Shannon and Siscoe give from Daly, don’t apply to the papacy at all. They completely confuse the issue between the papacy and everyone else. Nearly an hour is wasted by Siscoe reading from Daly’s work only to misapply it to the subject of sedevacantism. Besides, Daly holds to the position of sedevacantism. Do Shannon and Siscoe really think Daly missed the point, which he spent several pages explaining? If they were going to use Daly’s work, why did they not use his explanation for sedevacantism and debunk that? Instead, they take Daly’s work out of context and used it as a pretext.
4: The approved apparition of Our Lady of Good Success –“Then the Church will go through a dark night for lack of a Prelate and Father to watch over it...”
According to the prophecy, this happens during the 20th century. What could this mean except that the Church will be without a pope? How many prelates and fathers watch over the whole Church? I only know one and he’s called the pope.
Besides, we know this regards the whole Church, because Our Lady is speaking about the collapse of the priesthood throughout the whole Church due to this lack of a prelate and father.
Shannon and Siscoe mention this quote but they don’t deal with it at all. They completely dismiss this particular prophecy altogether as meaning nothing. THIS IS DISHONEST! They even go so far as to say that Our Lady and Heaven are against sedevacantism right after Our Lady clearly teaches it! AMAZING!!!!
5: Shannon and Siscoe sort of reference the prophecy that Rome will lose the faith and drive away the pope, but they don’t tell you the whole thing. It reads, “Rome shall apostatize from the faith, drive away the Vicar of Christ and return to its ancient paganism. …Then the Church shall be scattered, driven into the wilderness, and shall be for a time, as it was in the beginning, invisible hidden in catacombs, in dens, in mountains, in lurking places; for a time it shall be swept, as it were from the face of the earth. Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers of the early Church.” (Cardinal Manning, 1861)
Sedevacantism holds that Rome did drive away the Vicar of Christ. It all depends on how you interpret it. Shannon and Siscoe want it to mean that the pope had to flee from Rome and hide somewhere, but that’s not what it says. It could mean that but it doesn’t have to. Our interpretation actually fits the whole thing just fine.
6: The subject of Pope Liberius’ fall from the pontificate was brought up but notice, they didn’t stay on that subject long, because it proves them wrong and us right! After all, Liberius never actually became a heretic, according to St. Robert Bellarmine. However, the saint said that the mere appearance of heresy was enough to reject one as the pope, and it was right to vote in another pope while a true pope lived. What happened to those warnings that were supposed to be given first to establish that Liberius was first a manifest heretic? Was St. Robert Bellarmine contradicting himself? Of course not, because Shannon and Siscoe lied about what St. Robert Bellarmine actually taught concerning the pope.
Warnings are not needed, because no one can warn a pope as if an inferior could do something about it. No one can declare or depose a true pope. That’s the teaching of the Church. The First Vatican Council taught that the pope has jurisdiction over the whole Church, not that the whole Church has jurisdiction over the pope.
Imagine saying, “Hey Pope (X), if you don’t…. we’ll declare and depose you, because we have power over you.” Besides, this is impractical. What if the pope is orthodox, and a council declares the pope a heretic, when in fact the council is heretical, but you the layman don’t know who’s right? Who do you follow? According to Shannon and Siscoe, you would follow the council, because they are implying that the other authorities of the Church have power over the pope. In other words, Shannon and Siscoe are contradicting the First Vatican Council. If the common opinion ever held that the Church can depose a true pope, then the First Vatican Council dispelled that notion for good.
7: Only 5 theologians ever taught that a pope can be a heretic. Shannon and Siscoe mentioned two of them. I know of 3 more. None of them are saints, all of them have been shown to be in serious error by either the popes, saints, or the Vatican approved experts! All 5 of these erroneous theologians actually argue that a pope need not be a Catholic, and Shannon and Siscoe act like that is the correct position despite the numerous teachings from the popes, saints, and doctors.
8: Shannon and Siscoe fail to mention Cum Ex Apostolatus by Pope Paul IV which absolutely destroys every part of their arguments! Pope Paul IV taught that even if a heretic is elected by all the cardinals and is followed in obedience by everyone in the Church, such a person is still not the pope! THAT IS THE DIVINE LAW! It can’t be superseded by anyone or anything.
9: Shannon and Siscoe quote St. Francis de Sales: “Now when he (the Pope) is explicitly a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church, and the Church must either deprive him, or, as some say, declare him deprived, of his Apostolic See.” (The Catholic Controversy, Tan Books, pp. 305-306)
Shannon and Siscoe argue that St. Francis de Sales was teaching that the Church must deprive or declare the pope deprived before a pope loses his office. THIS IS EXACTLY THE SAME ARGUMENT MY BROTHER USED LAST YEAR. Below was one of my explanations to him.
“If the pope no longer has the dignity of pope and is no longer Catholic and is out of the Church, what is St. Francis de Sales saying the Church must deprive him from if his apostolic see has already been lost? WAS ST. FRANCIS DE SALES AN IDIOT? No, because the natural occurrence of events should follow. If a pope loses his office, the Church shouldn’t continue to recognize him as pope and allow him to occupy the Lateran. The Church should deprive him and declare him deprived, of course. That doesn’t mean that the antipope must continue as pope UNTIL the Church deprives him and declare him deprived.”
Shannon and Siscoe must think St. Francis de Sales was an idiot, too!
Throughout both interviews, ole Shannon snickers in the background because he thinks that he and Siscoe keep providing the answers against sedevacantism, only they make themselves look like buffoons in the process.
10: Shannon and Siscoe imply that the conciliar popes have not crossed any line of manifest heresy. Oh really?
Ratzinger rejects the Catholic Church’s teaching on inter-religious worship which has more historical and papal teachings than artificial contraception which has the same level of authority. THESE TWO ISSUES ARE ON THE EXACT SAME LEVEL OF MORAL TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH! Would you follow Ratzinger if he believed artificial contraception was good and promoted it as good?
Ratzinger rejects the teaching of the Catholic Church that “The Church of Christ IS the Catholic Church” as taught by Pope Pius XII and the entire history of the Church. The word “subsists” automatically implies that it’s not the same. Again, Ratzinger says the “Church of Christ extends much further than the Catholic Church.” THIS IS AS MUCH A HERESY AS SAYING MARY WAS NOT IMMACULATELY CONCEIVED!
Ratzinger believes that it’s okay for women/girls to assist at the altar during mass. This has been condemned as intrinsically evil by Pope Gelasius, Innocent IV, and Benedict XV. It’s impossible for a true pope to believe as good the intrinsically evil practices of women serving at the altar, JUST AS it is impossible for a true pope to believe as good the intrinsically evil practice of homosexuality. Would you leave Rome if pope Ratzinger said homosexuality is okay? If so, then you must leave for saying it’s okay for women to serve at the altar.
I know how upsetting this is. I used to go to mass daily for over 15 years. I couldn’t eat or sleep properly for a week after I realized all this stuff!