Archive for October, 2014

Dear Karl,

Since you, Catholic Answers Live radio host, Patrick Coffin, apologists Jimmy Akin and Tim Staples, and staff apologists who take questions via EWTN’s website were unable over the past several weeks to answer the following question, I now ask in front of a larger audience. Included in the email is your friend, Dave Armstrong, who has written about “radical traditionalists” in his book, Reflections on Radical Catholic Reactionaries. Is it because he also doesn’t have an answer that this subject is absent from Armstrong’s book?

Steve Speray has featured this open letter on his website and his offer still stands to post your organization’s official answer to this question.

Yours in Christ,
Matt Haltom

Given the following facts, on what grounds do you believe Vatican II popes aren’t in a state of manifest heresy?

a) Obstinate post-baptismal denial of a dogma is heresy, and public denial is manifest heresy.

b) The First Vatican Council infallibly anathematized anyone who professes that the understanding the Church has always had of a dogma can change. [1] Pope St. Pius X later designated this “evolution of dogma” the heresy of modernism.

c) The Church being one in faith, governance and worship is dogma, so this understanding can’t be redefined or supplanted by a new understanding.

d) Vatican II popes from Paul VI on have openly approved of, or openly declared, that the Church is divided, or that Eastern Orthodox and their religion are part of the Church, which means these popes reject the dogma on the Church being one, and believe dogma can change.

e) Eastern Orthodox are heretics and schismatics for denying papal primacy of jurisdiction, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary. [2]

[1] “Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding. May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole Church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding (Session 3, chapter 4, para. 14). . . “ If anyone says that it is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has understood and understands: let him be anathema” (Canon 4, paragraph 3).

[2] The Catholic-Lutheran Joint Statement on Justification (November 1, 1999), which John Paul II praised numerous times, concludes by saying, “We give thanks to the Lord for this decisive step forward on the way to overcoming the division of the church. We ask the Holy Spirit to lead us further toward that visible unity which is Christ’s will.” As for the popes endorsing the idea that the Orthodox and their religion are part of the Church, the Balamand Statement declares that “the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches recognize each other as sister Churches, responsible together for maintaining the Church of God in fidelity to the divine purpose …“ Paul VI, Benedict XVI and Francis I have all stated publicly that Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs are “pastors in the Church of Christ” who “guide the Church.”

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I received a text from Robert Siscoe (contributor to Catholic Family News) asking if he can answer my Boniface and Cum Ex objection against his universal recognition/dogmatic fact argument without me blocking his comment. I said absolutely. He said he would reply that evening but that was Oct. 2 and I still haven’t heard from him. I suspect he’s decided to write a big article for Catholic Family News with his argument and answers to my objections.

Another brief look at Siscoe’s argument

The practically unanimous consent of the faithful in accepting a Roman Pontiff as legitimately elected, gives absolute and infallible certainty of the fact. 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.

What Siscoe’s argument means

Since Francis I and his five predecessors were universally accepted by the practical unanimous consent of the faithful, it is an infallible dogmatic fact that all of them are true popes. Therefore, sedevacantism must be wrong.

My two objections

1. Antipope Boniface VII was accepted as a true pope by the practical unanimous consent of the faithful. There are several other antipopes also like Boniface, who were accepted as true popes by the vast majority of Catholics.
2. Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio by Pope Paul IV clearly teaches the contrary: “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…”

Therefore, the proposition that, the practically unanimous consent of the faithful in accepting a Roman Pontiff as legitimately elected, gives absolute and infallible certainty of the fact, is false when the papal claimant is a manifest heretic.

The implication to Siscoe’s argument

Whatever Siscoe replies to my objections, his argument has bound his future wishes, because no future pope could ever denounce the Vatican 2 popes as antipopes since infallible dogmatic facts are immutable. Yet, Siscoe not only hopes that a future pope makes the announcement, he’s depending on it. That’s why he’s suspending his “assent of Faith” to the current canonizations on John XXIII and John Paul II by Francis I. However, since under Siscoe’s argument, it’s an infallible dogmatic fact that Francis I is a true pope today meaning his two canonizations are locked up forever without any possible way for a future pope to denounce them. Future popes can’t undo canonizations or any other infallible dogmatic facts such as who was pope.

In fact, no future pope could ever undo the mess of the Vatican 2 popes without denouncing them as antipopes.

For example, if a future pope denounces the actions of the numerous inter-religious worship ceremonies by the Vatican 2 popes as contrary to the Divine law and the First Commandment (a situation which Siscoe holds), the faithful would necessarily have to render the condemnation as erroneous and meaningless. Why? Because rejecting the Divine law and First Commandment would be the equivalent of rejecting Catholicism, which a pope couldn’t do without losing his office, especially in light of the fact that the Vatican 2 popes call their rejection of the Divine law and First Commandment good and holy. Therefore, the future pope can’t denounce and undo the belief that inter-religious worship ceremonies aren’t contrary to Divine law and First Commandment.

Siscoe is trapped and has locked himself in his false religion with no way out. He can’t reasonably hold out on the canonizations which he knows are false because nothing can be done about them now.

Robert Siscoe’s aversion to sedevacantism runs so deep that he’ll reject his own faith in arguing against it.

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In his book “Pope Fiction,” Patrick Madrid makes the claim that Sedevacantists “come up empty-handed when it comes to the hard facts needed to make their case. Colorful fantasies are about all the Sedevacantists can muster to support their claim.” p. 273.

Yet, Madrid ignores the real “hard facts” and the two easiest and most important arguments used by Sedevacantists to support the position that the Chair of Peter is empty. I cover one of them directly with Madrid with  The Heresy on the Nature of the Church .  The other argument is found in my book here.

However, Madrid does attempt to answer the argument on religious liberty, and it is here that Madrid accidentally proves himself wrong and sedevacantism right.

Madrid quotes Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors that condemns that “Each one is free to embrace and profess that religion which, led by the light of reason, he thinks is true,” and remarks, “This statement condemns relativism, not the freedom from coercion advocated by Vatican II. It’s true, no one has the right to believe in and follow a false religion; all rights come from God, and He doesn’t endorse error. This fits perfectly with the Declaration’s statement on the ‘moral duty’ of people to pursue the ‘true religion and the one Church of Christ.’ In the pursuit, however, no one is to be forced against his free will. They must embrace the truth of their own accord.” Pp. 276-277.

While it’s true that Vatican II rightly condemns coercion, Madrid missed the second part of Vatican II’s declaration, which is contrary to Madrid’s own admission.

After Vatican II defined that religious liberty consists in the freedom from coercion it continues with, “4. The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. Religious communities are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself…

Religious communities also have the right not to be hindered, either by legal measures or by administrative action on the part of government…

in erecting buildings for religious purposes, and in the acquisition and use of suitable funds or properties.

Religious communities also have the right not to be hindered in their public teaching and witness to their faith, whether by the spoken or by the written word.”

Madrid has implied that sedevacantism would have a case if Vatican II is shown to have taught heresy.

Madrid admitted that “no one has the right to believe in and follow a false religion.”

Madrid falsely concluded that Vatican II declared that religious liberty consists only in the freedom from coercion, because Vatican II taught that men do have a right to believe in and follow a false religion in religious communities, to erect buildings, acquire property for their false religion, and to spread their false religion publicly in speech and writing without hindrance.

Unknowingly, Madrid proved the truth of sedevacantism, since Vatican II rejects and contradicts what Madrid has admitted is Divine law.

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