Archive for September, 2014

Robert Siscoe has recently commented on my blog and I didn’t want it hidden in the comment section.  So I posted it here with my added replies.

Siscoe brings up points that need to be addressed. I asked Siscoe to continue to challenge me so that all the bases are covered. Hopefully, good will come from it. Here we go…


I see you now acknowledge that a warning is necessary (according to canon law), for a cleric to lose his office due to heresy. That’s a change from what you wrote a few days ago when you cited Fr. Augustine saying that no warning is necessary for a person to incur the *censure* of excommunication.

Steven Speray Replies: No change at all. Different issue.

After posting that, you must have taken the time to read the very next paragraph, in which Fr. Augustine explains that the loss of office for a cleric does not occur due to the *censure* of excommunication. He notes that there are two penalties for heresy: one is a censure and the other is a vindictive penalty. He then explains that the loss of office is a vindictive penalty, and vindictive penalties must be preceded by a warning. In fact, Fr. Augustine explains that even in the case of a cleric who publicly defects from the faith (canon 188.4) by joining a false religion, must be warned.

Steven Speray Replies: I already dealt with the issue in the article and quote him abundantly.

Here is a link to the entire book for anyone interested in reading it. The pertinent information is on pages 278-280.


Now, after reading what Fr. Augustine had to say on this point, you’ve changed tactic.

Steven Speray Replies: Well, your argument changed too. At first, you said that warnings were necessary to be excommunicated but in fact you found out after I told you about Rev. Augustine’s commentary that warnings were necessary to be deposed not excommunicated. And Bellarmine taught that deposition was automatic, no warnings were necessary. But you now see that he couldn’t mean that two warnings were necessary for either because of the Liberius case. However, I’m not changing my tactic because excommunication is excommunication and the pope is different from all the rest.

You now claim that since “the first See is judged by no one”, it must mean that no one can warn the Pope. You maintain that a warning is a judgment, and therefore warning a Pope would be an act of “judging the Pope”. You further maintain that a warning must come from a superior, and since the Pope has no superior on earth, it follows that he cannot be warned.

There are a number of problems with your reasoning. Firstly, a warning does not constitute a judgment on the person of the Pope, but a judgment on a particular teaching which the Pope has professed (the internal guilt is unknown at this point and therefore is not being judged). We are permitted to make objective judgments regarding the words or actions of others (including Popes).

Steven Speray Replies: Not for crimes of formal heresies. Did you read Rev. Augustine’s commentary on the law?

St. Paul himself made an objective judgment about the actions of the first Pope (Peter). He judged these actions to be wrong, and openly rebuked Peter to his face “because he was to be blamed” (Galatians 2:11). This was an objective judgment about the actions of a Pope who, as St. Paul explained, “walked not uprightly unto the truth of the gospel” (vs. 14). Therefore St. Paul rebuked him, and St. Peter listened and amended his behavior. Here we see the good fruit that a warning can produce.

Steven Speray Replies: However, the warnings which Rev. Augustine is talking about is for CRIMES not sins. You are equating a crime against the faith with a sin against the faith. You can’t judge a pope for a crime against the faith as the Divine law implies.

Just as Peter could be rebuked (warned) by St. Paul for inappropriate behavior that threatened to undermine the faith, so too can a Pope be warned if his words threaten to undermine the faith. Such a warning would not constitute a judgment on the person of the Pope, any more than St. Paul’s rebuke constituted an inappropriate judgment of the Popes person.

Steven Speray Replies: And that’s where you are wrong. You are now rationalizing away the Divine law in Canon 1556.

Also note that St. Paul was not the superior of Peter. Quite the contrary. Yet St. Paul warned Peter that his actions were in appropriate. This shows that, according to divine law, a warning does not have to come from a superior.

Steven Speray Replies: Again, you are rationalizing away why you can accuse the pope for the crime of heresy and find him guilty enough that you must warn him. Sorry, but the laws quoted by Rev. Augustine speaks about trials before warnings, and therefore you are saying that you take the pope to trial and warn him. Sorry, but that’s not how it works and that the only way those laws apply. Rev. Augustine says warnings must be done according to Can. 2143. That can’t apply to the pope.

Warning a Pope of inappropriate behavior, or warning him that a particular doctrine that he holds is contrary to what the Church teaches, is an act of charity.

Steven Speray Replies: You have erroneously equated the issues of inappropriate behavior, mere doctrines, to that of crimes against rejecting defined dogmas. Warning a pope that he believes, teaches, and promotes a formal heresy is not an act of charity, but an act of heresy against the Divine law.

And this act of charity will have one of two effects: either the Pope will realize that he is mistaken and correct his position, or else the Pope will stubbornly hold to his position and thereby show that he is pertinacious.

Steven Speray Replies: But you already know that they are pertinacious as you even have claimed that they have been crafty in their attack against the faith. That means you know that they are so pertinacious that they use their cleverness to hide their heresies to fool the faithful. They have been doing this for 50 years over and over again, and now you’re going to tell the world that they need to be warned? Get real. You’re going way over the top to argue against sedevacantism. You don’t even follow your own popes. You reject Vat 2, the new mass, etc. You avoid your popes like the plague, but they are still popes no matter what they do and teach. That’s the difference between you and me; I believe a pope must be Catholic and you don’t.

If he is pertinacious in holding to a heretical doctrine after being warning, he thereby “judges himself” and manifests this judgment to all. The Church can then declare him judged. This is what Pope Innocent III was referring to when he said that a Pope who falls into heresy can be shown to be judged. He wrote:

“[T]he Roman Pontiff … should not mistakenly flatter himself about his power, nor rashly glory in his eminence or honor, for the less he is judged by man, the more he is judged by God. I say ‘less’ because he can be judged by men, or rather shown to be judged, if he clearly loses his savor to heresy, since he ‘who does not believe is already judged’ (John 3:18)…” (Pope Innocent III, Sermon IV)

Steven Speray Replies: You misrepresented the good pope. The Church can then declare a fallen pope as judged. Notice that it’s not really the men judging a pope but men judging a fallen pope which is no pope at all. See the difference?

If you read any treatise written by a real Church approved theologian that deals with the loss of office for a heretical Pope, the issue of a warning is constantly discussed. I have on my desk, as I write, the treatise of Cajetan (the one that Bellarmine refers to as the Fourth Opinion), and in this long treatise Cajetan quotes St. Paul’s teaching (Titus 3:10), about avoiding heretics after they have been warned, at least a dozen times. Here is just one example from Cajetan’s book:

“Fourth, [it is founded] on the apostle’s authority, ‘A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid [Titus 3:10]. If avoidance does not follow heresy [immediately], but only after a second admonition, a fortiori deposition does not either.” (Cajetan)

Steven Speray Replies: You’re using Cajetan who Bellarmine completely shows to be wrong about the papacy.

All of the theologians who discuss subject in any depth discuss this verse of St. Paul. They all claim that a warning is necessary according to divine law (not just canon law).

Steven Speray Replies: But not for the pope as St. Bellarmine proves with Liberius. Even if they all claimed something doesn’t make it true. There’s a difference between doctrines of opinions verses the doctrines related, pertaining, etc. to the faith.

The following quote from the eminent theologian, Peitro Ballerini, includes the same verse. He addresses not only who is able to warn a Pope, but also what such a warning accomplishes. He explains that an inferior can warn a superior, and then he explains that such a warning serves to demonstrate if the Pope is pertinacious in his denial of a dogma. By remaining pertinacious in the face of a public warning, he explains that the Pope essentially abdicates the Pontificate. Here is part of what he wrote: After saying that a Pontiff who “defended heresy” would be a grave danger to the faith, Fr. Ballerini begins by asking who would have the authority to warn the Pope. This is his answer:

“Is it not true that, confronted with such a danger to the faith, any subject can, by fraternal correction, warn their superior, resist him to his face, refute him and, if necessary, summon him and press him to repent? The Cardinals, who are his counselors, can do this; or the Roman Clergy, or the Roman Synod, if, being met, they judge this opportune. For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold: ‘Avoid the heretic, after a first and second correction, knowing that such a man is perverted and sins, since he is condemned by his own judgment’ (Tit. 3, 10-11). For the person, who, warned once or twice, does not repent, but continues pertinacious in an opinion contrary to a manifest or defined dogma – not being able, on account of this public pertinacity to be excused, by any means, of heresy properly so called, which requires pertinacity – this person declares himself openly a heretic. He reveals that by his own will he has turned away from the Catholic Faith and the Church, in such form that now no declaration or sentence of anyone whatsoever is necessary to cut him from the body of the Church. (…) Therefore the Pontiff who after such a solemn and public warning by the Cardinals, by the Roman Clergy or even by the Synod, maintained himself hardened in heresy and openly turned himself away from the Church, would have to be avoided, according to the precept of Saint Paul. So that he might not cause damage to the rest, he would have to have his heresy and contumacy publicly proclaimed, so that all might be able to be equally on guard in relation to him. Thus, the sentence which he had pronounced against himself would be made known to all the Church, making clear that by his own will he had turned away and separated himself from the body of the Church, and that in a certain way he had abdicated the Pontificate…” (End)

It should be noted that Fr. Ballerini is an adherent of the Fifth Opinion of Bellarmine. Like Bellarmine, Fr. Ballerini maintains that a heretical Pope loses his office ipso facto, yet he realizes that a warning is necessary for the Pope’s pertinacity (which is a necessary element of heresy) to be manifest.

Steven Speray Replies: I already addressed the issue at hand. Notice the phrase, “So that he might not cause damage to the rest.” Well the damage is done today so Ballerini has been proven wrong in his thesis by the current situation. Nearly the whole Church has lost the faith because of the conciliar popes.

If you take the time to read any thorough treatise on the loss of office for a heretical Pope, you will see that all of the points you raised (and many more) in your posts, have been addressed in minute detail.

Steven Speray Replies: And you apply their position with the current situation, you’ll see that it’s completely wrong.

Another point is that no Church approved theologian has ever taught that a layperson is permitted to declare that a man elected by the College of Cardinals as Pope, and recognized by virtually the entire words as Pope, is not a true Pope (which is what Sedevacantists do.)

Steven Speray Replies: Wrong. I already was clear about this point on the phone with you. You are now misrepresenting the sedevacantist position. We are not declaring anything. We are acknowledging the facts. A non-Catholic is claiming to be pope. I as a layperson have every right and even a duty to reject an antipope as antipope.

Even Pope Paul IV taught that the College of Cardinals could falsely elect a heretic. So we have a pope to back us up. You don’t. However, you as a layman have publicly accused the conciliar popes of officially teaching heresy at councils, liturgies, etc. which is contrary to the Faith. You have judged what you call the HOLY SEE on official teachings from a council no less. Don’t you see your hypocrisy? We sedes don’t make such claims. Please show those Church approved canonists that what you’re doing is okay, meaning, you as a layperson can write and publish against the authority of the pope on doctrines of the Faith.

Yet such a position is contrary to the infallibility of the Church, since it is a “dogmatic fact” (which is infallible) that the man recognized as Pope by a morally unanimous consent of Catholics is indeed a true pope. Such morally unanimous recognition constitutes a Dogmatic Fact, and is therefore is infallible (as the theologians teach) Therefore, to deny that the one recognized as Pope by a moral unanimity of Catholics is a true Pope, is a denial of the Church’s infallibility. Such a position is not simply an error on the practical level; it is an error on the speculative level.

Steven Speray Replies: History has already debunked your whole thesis above. In the past, the whole Church has falsely recognized antipopes as popes and vice versa. I give examples in my book Papal Anomalies and their Implications.  So thank you for bringing it up to prove that your dogmatic facts from your theologians and canonists are proven wrong by history (if interpreted your way)zaaaaaa. You don’t know how and where infallibility applies. Unfortunately, even theologians get it wrong. But, in fact, you deny the Church’s infallibility on the mass, etc. The theologians that say that unanimous consent of Catholics on who the pope is constitute dogmatic facts are simply wrong. Theologians are not infallible! Even then, Catholics don’t have a unanimous consent. Who says they are popes? More heretics like themselves? Everyone I know that says they are popes reject the divine laws such as no one judges the Holy See, the condemnation on communicatio in sacris, women aren’t equal in authority to men, etc. Nearly everybody is a Catholic in name only, but aren’t really Catholic at all. Pope Pius XII declared, “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.” Yet, you believe popes don’t even have to profess the true faith. You believe that popes can reject the true Faith in public for generations through official documents, councils, laws, etc. 

One last thing, you have said that you don’t say one way or the other whether Francis is pope and yet you criticize and condemn sedevacantism. How can you say that it’s a dogmatic fact, and then not accept it? How can you not know if you even have a pope or not? Some good the pope is in your eyes. See the problem?

It’s time for you to give up your position and become formally what you are materially anyway.

Robert Siscoe replied a second time and my replies back…


Regarding the warning, I already explained at length why a warning does not constitute a judgment on the person.

Steven Speray Replies: And I showed you that it most certainly does according to Rev. Augustine’s commentary on warnings. You must accuse the pope of a crime of heresy which is a judgment.

That’s why all of the real theologians (who realize that a Pope cannot be judged) state that a Pope can indeed be warned over the matter of heresy. I cited several authorities who confirm this. You were unable to cite a single authority confirming your position that warning a Pope is considered “judging the Pope. The citation from Fr. Augustine did not say that warning a Pope was equivalent to judging a Pope. On the contrary, the citations I included addressed the point directly by maintaining that a Pope can indeed be warned. .

Steven Speray Replies: All your real theologians were wrong about what constitutes dogmatic facts. Sorry, but Rev. Augustine clearly tells us how warnings are to be done and they can’t apply to the pope without violating Canon 1556.

Steven Speray Replies: History has already debunked your whole thesis above [regarding Dogmatic Facts]. The whole Church has falsely recognized antipopes as popes and vice versa. So thank you for bringing it up to prove that your dogmatic facts from your theologians and canonists are proven wrong by history. You don’t know what infallibility means. In fact, you deny the Church’s infallibility on the mass, etc. The theologians that say that unanimous consent of Catholics on who the pope is constitute dogmatic facts are simply wrong. Theologians are not infallible!”

Robert Siscoe Replies: Let’s stick with this issue, since it is a simple way to refute the error of Sedevacantism.

Steven Speray Replies: You can’t refute a fact. You’re giving errors of opinion which are simply refuted.

Firstly, we are not talking about my thesis, as if it is something I came up with. This is the common teaching of theologians and can be found in all of the theological manuals.

Steven Speray Replies: You brought up the thesis and history proves it wrong. Can’t you admit it?

A Dogmatic Fact is a secondary object of infallibility. It is in the same category as universal disciplines and the canonization of saints. While it is true that the Church has never infallibly defined whether or not She speaks infallibly on matters that fall into this category, it is the common teaching of theologians that she does. I just checked Van Noot’s manual to see what qualification he give to Dogmatic Facts. He explains that it is qualified as *theologically certain* that Dogmatic Facts are infallible. To deny a teaching that is theologically certain is not heresy in the first degree, but it is a mortal sin against Faith. Here is a source to confirm this point: http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/theolnotes.htm

Steve Speray Replies: But it’s not a dogmatic fact that the unanimous consent of Catholics prove who’s a true pope. As for canonizations, it is infallible because it falls under the liturgy which is infallible. You have to accept canonizations, but do you accept the canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII?

Therefore, if you deny this teaching you are guilty of a mortal sin against faith, and no historical case that you think contradict this teaching will excuse. If there were any real historical cases that contradicted this, it would not be held unanimously by the real Church approved theologians (as opposed to armchair “theologians” who know just enough to be dangerous).

Steven Speray Replies: Then I guess the gates of hell have prevailed. Let’s go home. Ignore the facts of history. Sorry but you’re wrong.

Second point, how many times have you attempted to defend the Sedevacantist position basis on the infallibility of universal disciplines? You maintain that certain things that have taken place over the past 50 years are a violation of the infallibility of universal disciplines, which you claim proves that the post-Conciliar Popes cannot be true Popes. In fact, you once told me that this is what convinced you of the Sedevacantist position.

Steven Speray Replies: Absolutely!

Yet now you claim that dogmatic facts (which are in the same exact category as universal disciplines) are not infallible!

Steven Speray Replies: Wrong. I deny what you call dogmatic facts. Yet, you do actually reject dogmatic facts since you won’t say that Francis is indeed pope unless you’ve changed your position. Again, do you accept those canonizations?

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t defend the Sedevacantist position based on the infallibility of universal disciplines, and then refuse to accept objections to Sedevacantism based on the infallibility of dogmatic facts. Both are in the exact same category. They are both secondary objects of infallibility, and they are both qualified as theologically certain.

Steven Speray Replies: I accept dogmatic facts, but deny what you call dogmatic facts. You actually deny what you call dogmatic facts.

If we simply reject the common teaching of the Church theological manuals (which are unanimous on this point) in favor of our own personal opinion and private judgment, we are no different than Protestants.

Steven Speray Replies: And if we reject the facts of history to support theological positions, then we are just liars.

Now, before ending, I will again cite several authorities to support my position, and I expect you to do the same. And if you do cite any authorities, be sure that they addresses the question at hand directly. It won’t suffice if you quote someone saying one thing (the Pope is judged by no one), and then try to apply it to another point (a Pope can’t be warned). And if you don’t cite any authorities to support your position, I will assume you are unable to do so. In that case, your entire position will be based merely on your own personal opinion – just like the Protestants.

Steven Speray Replies: I’ve already demonstrated the facts using Rev. Augustine. Warnings are for crimes. Warnings come from trials. You can’t bring a pope to trial. I would like for you to apply Canon 1556 and then tell us how you’re not violating it by criticizing Vatican 2, the mass, etc. If you can’t do that then you are worse than the Protestants. However, I will do better than give mere theological opinions from some theologians. I’ll give you papal quotes and facts of history to prove you wrong.

For my part, I will cite three authorities that address the issue of dogmatic facts directly. The first authority will explain how this applies to a Pope, the second will explain that the acceptance only has to be “morally unanimous”, and the third will apply this teaching to Paul VI specifically.

The first quote is from Cardinal Billot:

“The adhesion of the universal Church will always be, in itself, an infallible sign of the legitimacy of a determined Pontiff, and therefore also of the existence of all the conditions required for legitimacy itself. God can permit that at times a vacancy in the Apostolic See be prolonged for a long time. He can also permit that doubt arise about the legitimacy of this or that election. He cannot however permit that the whole Church accept as Pontiff him who is not so truly and legitimately. Therefore, from the moment in which the Pope is accepted by the Church and united to her as the head to the body, it is no longer permitted to raise doubts about a possible vice of election or a possible lack of any condition whatsoever necessary for legitimacy. For the aforementioned adhesion of the Church heals in the root all fault in the election and proves infallibly the existence of all the required conditions.”

Notice that the universal acceptance of a Pope not only an infallible sign of the legitimacy of a determined Pope, but it is also an infallible sign of the conditions required for his legitimacy. It also “heals in the root all fault in the election”.

Steven Speray Replies: The whole Church accepted Boniface VII as pope and he was even on the “official” list of popes for a 1000 years before being removed. However, if you mean absolutely everyone by the word universal than you have the problem not me. Not everyone accepted the last 6 conciliar popes as popes. So your point is moot. Billot can be accepted if interpreted differently.

The next quote is from Fr. Sylvester Berry, who explains that the acceptance does not have to be absolutely unanimous (mathematically unanimous), but only practically unanimous. He wrote:

“The practically unanimous consent of the Bishops and faithful in accepting a council as ecumenical, or a Roman Pontiff as legitimately elected, gives absolute and infallible certainty of the fact”.

Steven Speray Replies: Another fact of history shows that Anacletus was accepted by the vast majority of Catholics, yet he was not the pope. Fr. Berry also taught what we see today, which supports sedevacantism.

Lastly we have a quotation from the Fr. Francis Connell, CSSR, in a Q&A that appeared in The American Ecclesiastical Review in December 1965 (the same month that Paul VI ratified the documents of Vatican II). As Providence would have it, in anticipation of the error of Sedevacantism, the following question and answer appeared in that publication:

“Question: What certainty have we that the reigning Pontiff [Paul VI] is actually the primate of the universal Church – that is, that he became a member of the Church through valid baptism, and that he was validly elected Pope?

“Answer: Of course, we have human moral certainty that the reigning Pontiff was validly elected in conclave and accepted the office of Bishop of Rome, thus becoming head of the universal Church. The unanimous consensus of a large group of Cardinals composing the electoral body gave us this assurance. And we also have human moral certainty that the reigning Pontiff was validly baptized, since there is a record to that effect in the baptismal register of the
church in which the sacrament was administered. We have the same type of certainty that any bishop is the true spiritual head of the particular See over which he presides. This type of certainty excludes every prudent fear of the opposite.

Steven Speray Replies: Pope Paul IV most certainly didn’t hold to it. He taught in Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, “that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy: the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless; it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation; it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way…those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power…

What’s funny about your above quote in 1965 is that it appears to be written by the devil himself so that people like you will continue to be united to an apostate church. Again, who’s that majority that says they are popes Siscoe? Oh that’s right, everyone who doesn’t hold the faith anyway.

“But in the case of the Pope we have a higher grade of certainty – a certainty that excludes not merely the prudent fear of the opposite, but even the possible fear of the opposite. In other words, we have infallible certainty that the present Sovereign Pontiff has been incorporated into the Church by a valid baptism and has been validly elected head of the universal Church. … This is an example of a fact that is not contained in the deposit of revelation but is so intimately
connected with revelation that it must be within the scope of the Church’s magisterial authority to declare it infallibly. The whole Church, teaching and believing, declares and believes this fact, and from this it follows that this fact is infallibly true. We accept it with ecclesiastical – not divine – faith, based on the authority of the infallible Church.”

Steven Speray Replies: And yet, that same magisterium that elected Roncalli also approved the terrible heresies of Vatican 2. So why should I conclude that the majority of them constituted the magisterium when they didn’t accept the dogma that the Church is one in Faith?

Notice the perfect continuity between the teaching of the real Church approved theologians on this point.

Steven Speray Replies: Unfortunately, none of them help your case one little bit.

Now, since the universal acceptance of a Pope is a dogmatic fact (which is qualified as theologically certain), and since the denial of a theologically certain proposition is a mortal sin against faith, no Catholic has any excuse for rejecting it.

Steven Speray Replies: Yet, you don’t accept it. Why?

Ever heard this teaching by a pope, “You will firmly abide by the true decision of the Holy Roman Church and to this Holy See, which does not permit errors.” How about, “By passing a preceding judgment on the great See, concerning  which it is not permitted any man to pass judgment, you have received anathema from all the Fathers of all the venerable Councils….”

Yet you don’t believe it. You have received an anathema Siscoe.

So, if you are unable to see through the many glaring errors of Sedevacantism, you should reject the erroneous theory based on this point alone. Failing to do so is an objective mortal sin and therefore places one’s eternal salvation is very grave jeopardy.

Steven Speray Replies: If you are unable to see through your glaring errors that popes can reject the faith publicly for 50 years, give us harmful liturgies, false canonizations, etc. then perhaps it’s you whose eternal salvation is in very grave jeopardy. NOW ANSWER THE QUESTIONS. Why do you reject what you call dogmatic facts? Do you accept the canonizations? What good is a pope if leads the whole church to hell by merely following him for what he officially teaches?



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I recently reported and explained why Robert Siscoe’s argumentation against sedevacantism in Catholic Family News was false. However, further explanation is needed to end the debate once and for all.

Again, we need to look at the full context of Siscoe’s argumentation…

He wrote:

Some theologians have held that if a pope became a manifest heretic he would automatically lose his office, thereby rendering the Chair of Peter vacant. The great Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine, was of this opinion. He wrote:

Bellarmine: “[T]the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church”. (13)

The question we must consider is what constitutes manifest heresy in the external or public forum? According to the late Canon Gregory Hesse, who held a Ph.D. in canon law and Thomistic theology, a formal heretic in the external forum is a declared heretic. He explained that a heretic can be declared in one of two ways: either he is declared a heretic by the proper authorities, or he declares himself a heretic. But how would a person declare themself to be a formal heretic?

Since formal heresy requires pertinacity, in order for a statement that is materially false to be considered formally heretical in the external forum, pertinacity would also have to be manifest. Without a formal declaration by the Church, and short of the man in question leaving the Church, or publicly admitting that he rejects a defined dogma, pertinacity would have to be demonstrated another way. The other way, according to St. Robert Bellarmine, would be for the man to remain manifestly obstinate after two warnings. Only then would pertinacity be demonstrated in the external form, thereby rendering him a manifest heretic.
What are manifest heresies and heretics? According to Siscoe’s muddled presentation, declared ones.

How would a manifest heretical pope be declared? According to Siscoe, the accused would be warned twice and if he doesn’t amend, then the Church declares him a manifest heretic.  John Salza tried the same argument before in Catholic Family News.

Now Siscoe acknowledges that St. Bellarmine taught that a pope who becomes a manifest heretic ipso facto loses his office, but then falsely tells us that a pope must be declared a heretic before he’s actually a manifest heretic.

Remember that heresy is a crime.

Rev. Augustine explains in his 1918 commentary on canon law that A crime, in ecclesiastical law, is an external and morally imputable transgression of a law to which is attached a canonical sanction, at least in general…and the transgression which the ecclesiastical law considers is not merely the guilty mind (mens rea), but the act, i. e., an outward manifestation of a vicious intention, or a breach of the law as externally apprehensible. This may be positive or negative, or, in other words, it may consist in an act or in an omission.

3. Externality, however, does not exclude imputability, and hence the definition contains the addition, morally imputable. The vicious act, therefore, presupposes a guilty mind (mens raz)….

For a sin (e. g., mental apostasy or heresy) may be committed by the mind only, whereas a crime supposes an external act.

Augustine continues on the PUBLICITY OF CRIMES

Can. 2197 distinguishes three kinds of crimes, public, notorious, and occult.

A crime is public if committed under, or accompanied by, circumstances which point to a possible and likely divulgation thereof. Canonists enumerate different degrees of publicity: almost occult (pene occultum), which is known to at least two witnesses; famosum or manifestum, which not only can be proved, but is known to many; and, finally, notorium. From this it will be seen that a real intrinsic distinction between a public crime and a crime notorious in fact can hardly be established. 10 (We shall point out one distinctive trait below.) To fix the number of persons required for making a crime a public one is rather hazardous, though it may furnish a certain rule which will enable the judge to decide as to the secrecy or public character of a crime. Many canonists hold that at least six persons in a community, even the smallest (for instance, a religious house of 10 or 12 inmates), must know of a crime, to render it public. 12 Nor should there be any doubt about the character of the persons who are witnesses to the crime. Furthermore, the interest they may have in the crime should be weighed. 13 …..

A crime is notorious notorietate facti when it is publicly known and has been committed under such circumstances that it cannot be concealed by any artifice or be excused by any legal assumption or circumstantial evidence. The term nulla tergiversatione celari is equivalent to the other used in the Decretals. 15 The second clause refers to imputability, which may be lessened by extenuating circumstances, according to can. 2201-2206.

Hence not only the fact itself must be notorious, but also its criminal character. 16 Thus, for instance, the fact of alienation may easily be proved by a legal deed, but whether it was criminal must be ascertained by other means ; because it may be that the administrator or procurator had due permission and therefore acted lawfully.

It is this element of inexcusability or of knowledge of the criminal character of the deed that appears to distinguish a public from a notorious crime. For the text manifestly lays stress on divulgation with regard to public crimes and emphasizes the criminal character as known and in excusable.

Siscoe also thinks Rev. Augustine supports his warning system for popes because the canonist speaks about needed warnings for the deposition of clerics.

Does Siscoe’s argument hold water against sedevacantism?

Here’s what Rev. Augustine states on p. 278 and following on can. 2314:

The crime of apostasy, heresy, or schism must be exteriorly manifested, either in words, writings, or acts which betray defection from the Christian Church, denial of some article of faith, or separation from the unity of the Church, according to can. 2195, i; because merely internal apostasy, heresy, or schism do not belong to the external forum and therefore are not intended here. From merely internal transgressions, even though they be grievously sinful, any confessor may absolve.

Contrary to Siscoe’s definition of manifest heresy, Rev. Augustine tells us that the crime of heresy is merely manifested in words, writings, or acts. He explained public and notorious crimes are not declared ones. Keep in mind that St. Bellarmine taught that a pope who becomes a manifest heretic ipso facto loses office. Siscoe already missed the point on what makes a manifest heresy.

Rev. Augustine continues to enumerate the different penalties…

2) The penalties here enunciated are twofold: censure and vindictive penalties; besides, a distinction is drawn, according to can. 2207, n. i, 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. Only if, in the prudent judgment of the
superior, the public welfare should require such a sentence, it must be pronounced. 7 The bonum publicum certainly demands it in the case of clergymen. Note that the term moniti (i, n. 2) does not refer to the incurring of the censure. Consequently, no canonical warning or admonition is required. 8

b) The vindictive penalties inflicted are:

For laymen: privation of all offices and pensions they may hold in the Church, and imfamy. For clerics: privation of every benefice, dignity, pension, office, or charge which they may hold; also infamy and, after a fruitless warning, deposition.

A warning must precede these vindictive penalties, and we suppose the warning must be administered ac cording to can. 2143, i. e., before an official of the diocese or two witnesses, or by registered letter. The infamy inflicted on both laymen and clergymen, and the de position pronounced against clerics, are ferendae sententiae. Q

Deposition requires a second warning after the first one has been served, with the threat of privation and infamy.

According to Canon 2143, warnings come from a trial against the accused. When the accused is found guilty of the crime of heresy, he must be warned at least twice.

Rev. Augustine continues …

We now proceed to the penalties the Code inflicts on those suspected of heresy.

a) They must, first, be warned, according to can. 2307, to remove the cause of suspicion. A reasonable time should be granted for this purpose in the canonical warning.

b) If the warning proves fruitless, the suspected person must be forbidden to perform any ecclesiastical legal acts, according to can. 2256. If he is a cleric, he must be suspended a divinis* after a second warning has been left unheeded.

c) If, after the lapse of six months, to be reckoned from the moment the penally has been contracted, the person suspected of heresy has not amended, he must be regarded as a heretic, amenable to the penalties set forth in can. 2314. Whilst the penalties enumerated under (b) are ferendae sententiae, to be inflicted according to can. 2223, 3, the penalties stated under (c) are a iure and latae sententiae?

Note that, since the ferendae sententiae penalties require a canonical warning and a clear statement of the time granted, the moment from which the penalty is contracted can be almost mathematically determined.

Oh no, it looks like Siscoe has it. The pope must be warned twice before he can lose his office…right?


Just as Siscoe didn’t cover all his bases on what makes a manifest heresy, etc. he left out one big canon which is the Divine law. Rev. Augustine taught in Vol. 7, book 4. Pps. 11-12:

CANON. 1556

“Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur.”

The first or primatial see is subject to no ones judgment. This proposition must be taken in the fullest extent, not only with regard to the object of infallibility. For in matters of faith and morals it was always customary to receive the final sentence from the Apostolic See, whose judgment no one dared to dispute, as the tradition of the Fathers demonstrates. 1 Neither was it ever allowed to reconsider questions or controversies once settled by the Holy See. 2 But even the person of the Supreme Pontiff was ever considered as unamenable to human judgment, he being responsible and answerable to God alone, even though accused of personal misdeeds and crimes. A remarkable instance is that of Pope Symmachus (498-514). He, indeed, submitted to the convocation of a council (the Synodus Palmaris, 502), because he deemed it his duty to see to it that no stain was inflicted upon his character, but that synod itself is a splendid vindication of our canon. The synod adopted the Apology of Ennodius of Pavia, in which occurs the noteworthy sentence : ” God wished the causes of other men to be decided by men; but He has reserved to His own tribunal, without question, the ruler of this see.” 3 No further argument for the traditional view is required. A general council could not judge the Pope, because, unless convoked or ratified by him, it could not render a valid sentence. Hence nothing is left but an appeal to God, who will take care of His Church and its head.”

The Canon comes from Pope St. Nicholas, epistle (8), Proposueramus quidem, 865: “… “Neither by Augustus, nor by all the clergy, nor by religious, nor by the people will the judge be judged… ‘The first seat will not be judged by anyone.’”

St. Bellarmine confirms sedevacantism again.

Like I said a dozen times, those canons on warnings don’t apply to the pope because…




And that puts a definitive END to Siscoe’s and Catholic Family News’ argument against sedevacantism.

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My younger brother recently wrote a defense comment on my blog for Robert Siscoe and Catholic Family News on the issue of St. Robert Bellarmine’s position on a pope who becomes a heretic. You can read his comment and my replies found as the fourth comment below the article titled: Robert Siscoe and Catholic Family News Present Another False Argument Against Sedevacantism

I’m very close to my brother and love him dearly. I even speak to Robert Siscoe occasionally over the phone and consider him a friend. So these articles are not attacks on their persons but their ideas and positions.

Anyway, St. Robert Bellarmine wrote in Book IX, Ch IX, n. 15: “For although Liberius was not a heretic, nevertheless he was considered one, on account of the peace he made with the Arians, and by that presumption the pontificate could rightly [merito] be taken from him: for men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.”

If two warnings are necessary to prove obstinacy and thus a manifest heretic is made, why would he say that a pope doesn’t even have to be a heretic at all, but only appear as one to lose his office?

The reason is that St. Robert Bellarmine never said or implied that two warnings were necessary.

Siscoe actually uses the above quote from the saint and missed the implication. He buried himself and didn’t realize it.

This quote from St. Bellarmine is the definitive proof of today’s position known as sedevacantism.

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In Robert Siscoe’s latest article in Catholic Family News against Rev. Anthony Cekada and sedevacantism, Siscoe argues that a manifest heretic can only be considered a manifest heretic after two warnings. Therefore, a pope would need two warnings to be considered a manifest heretic. Siscoe cites St. Robert Bellarmine’s De Roman Pontifice to demonstrate his point:

“The fourth opinion is that of Cajetan, for whom (de auctor. papae et con., cap. 20 et 21) the manifestly heretical Pope is not ‘ipso facto’ deposed, but can and must be deposed by the Church. To my judgment, this opinion cannot be defended. For, in the first place, it is proven with arguments from authority and from reason that the manifest heretic is ‘ipso facto’ deposed. The argument from authority is based on St. Paul (Titus, c. 3), who orders that the heretic be avoided after two warnings, that is, after showing himself to be manifestly obstinate – which means before any excommunication or judicial sentence. And this is what St. Jerome writes, adding that the other sinners are excluded from the Church by sentence of excommunication, but the heretics exile themselves and separate themselves by their own act from the body of Christ.”

There are two major flaws to Siscoe’s argument.

First, Bellarmine did not teach or imply that two warnings are needed before being considered a manifest heretic.

The issue is not about what makes a person a heretic, but rather what happens to a heretic. Siscoe confuses the two issues.

Look closely at the quote. Even though St. Paul is giving a general principle to show how to identify that a person is being obstinate and thus a heretic, Bellarmine is clearly using St. Paul to show the consequence of being an obstinate manifest (public) heretic, which is automatic excommunication. Bellarmine is not trying to argue what is necessary to show that a person is obstinate against the Faith. There’s no reason to conclude such a notion unless you’re bent on some argument, any argument, against sedevacantism.

The law of the Church states that two warnings are not necessary to demonstrate that one is a manifest heretic. Siscoe cites John of St. Thomas who misunderstood the clear and unambiguous meaning of Bellarmine and concludes that two warnings are not only necessary, but is Divine law.

St. Paul himself didn’t write or imply that two warnings are necessary, but only gives a general rule which the authority of the Church has officially deemed not to apply to clerics.

Rev. Charles 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 §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)

If John of St. Thomas is right, then the gates of hell have prevailed against the Catholic Church for promulgating a law that violates the Divine law.

Second problem to Siscoe’s argument is that there is no Church protocol to how a pope is warned, censored, etc. as other members of the Church. The reason for this is due to the fact that Church protocol requires that only a superior can warn, censure, etc., and the pope has no superiors. There are specific laws that deal with the issues. If a pope must be warned, etc. before anything can be done about him then there must be some law, some Church protocol to deal with it. But alas, there is none! Therefore, it can’t be carried out! It’s that simple.

In conclusion,

1. St. Bellarmine didn’t teach that two warnings are necessary to prove that a manifest heretic is a manifest heretic.
2. St. Paul doesn’t teach that two warnings are necessary.
3. The official Church law teaches that two warnings are not necessary to be excommunicated due to heresy.
4. There is no law, protocol, etc. for any authority or all the authorities together to warn the pope for formal heresy.
5. Robert Siscoe’s argument in Catholic Family News is false and is a misrepresentation of St. Robert Bellarmine, the law, and the Catholic Faith.

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