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Archive for June, 2017

On Friday, June 9, 2017, The Remnant Newspaper Blog posted John Salza’s, “Note to Sedevacantists: Heresy Does Not Automatically Sever One from the Church.” [1] In his 5,404 word article, Salza makes the biggest goofball argument against sedevacantism I’ve seen to date.

I would have made a comment on the Remnant blog, but they have a long history of not posting my comments. Therefore, I’m posting my own counterpoint article.

Salza begins his article by quoting the relevant teaching from Pope Pius XII:

For not every offense, although it may be a grave evil, is such as by its very own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.

In the past, Salza argued that the “offense,” which Pope Pius XII was referring should be translated “crime.” And that crime has to be established by the Church and only then is the person who committed the crime of heresy understood to be severed from the Body of the Church by its nature. Salza writes:

Pope Pius XII is referring to the “offense” or CRIME (not SIN) of heresy, which severs one from the Body of the Church, after the formal and material elements have been proven by the Church. After the crime has been established, the heretic is automatically severed from the BODY (not SOUL) of the Church without further declaration (although most theologians maintain that the Church must also issue a declaration of deprivation). [2]

I responded to that argument Feb. 19, 2016 in an article titled The Sin of Heresy – Why John Salza and Robert Siscoe Get It Wrong (Part II) .

Now Salza introduces a new argument that differs from his old argument:

We affirm that heresy, by its nature, severs one from the Church spiritually (quoad se), and also disposes one to be severed legally (quoad nos, by Church authorities). Said differently, heresy, by its nature, severs the spiritual bond formally, and the legal bond dispositively. As Van Noort said, “internal heresy, since it destroys that interior unity of faith from which unity of profession is born, separates one from the body of the Church dispositively, but not yet formally.” [3]

Salza quotes Van Noort and completely misrepresents him. Van Noort is not saying that external heresy separates one from the body of the Church dispositively. It’s the internal sin that does so. External heresy separates one from the Body of the Church formally and that’s the issue at hand. Pope Pius XII is not referring to the internal sin of heresy. Van Noort explains:

Public heretics (and a fortiori, apostates) are not members of the Church. They are not members because they separate themselves from the unity of Catholic faith and from the external profession of that faith. Obviously, therefore, they lack one of three factors—baptism, profession of the same faith, union with the hierarchy—pointed out by Pius XII as requisite for membership in the Church. The same pontiff has explicitly pointed out that, unlike other sins, heresy, schism, and apostasy automatically sever a man from the Church. “For not every sin, however grave and enormous it be, is such as to sever a man automatically from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy” (MCC 30; italics ours).

By the term public heretics at this point we mean all who externally deny a truth (for example Mary’s Divine Maternity), or several truths of divine and Catholic faith, regardless of whether the one denying does so ignorantly and innocently (a merely material heretic), or willfully and guiltily (a formal heretic). It is certain that public, formal heretics are severed from the Church membership. It is the more common opinion that public, material heretics are likewise excluded from membership. Theological reasoning for this opinion is quite strong: if public material heretics remained members of the Church, the visibility and unity of Christ’s Church would perish. If these purely material heretics were considered members of the Catholic Church in the strict sense of the term, how would one ever locate the “Catholic Church”? How would the Church be one body? How would it profess one faith? Where would be its visibility? Where its unity? For these and other reasons we find it difficult to see any intrinsic probability to the opinion which would allow for public heretics, in good faith, remaining members of the Church. [4]

Where does Salza find words like spiritual and legal bond? It appears that he creates words to fit his understanding of the canonists and theologians. At least, you don’t see him quoting any of them using the phrase “legal bond.”

However, he lets us in on what he means by “legal bond.” Salza writes:

The Pope heretic is not a member of the Church as far as the substance and form [the spiritual bond] which constitute the members of the Church; but he is the head as far as the charge and action [the legal bond]

[O]ccult heretics are still of the Church, they are parts and members [the legal bond]… therefore the Pope who is an occult heretic is still Pope.

…but would still retain his jurisdiction by which he would influence the Church [the legal bond] in ruling it. Thus he would still be nominally the head of the Church, which he would still rule as head, [Then why does John Salza refuse to let Francis rule him?]though he would no longer be a member of Christ, because he would not receive that vital influx of faith from Christ [the spiritual bond], the invisible and primary head. Thus in quite an abnormal manner he would be in point of jurisdiction the head of the Church [the legal bond], though he would not be a member of it.

The quoad se/quoad nos distinction used by John of St. Thomas harmonizes perfectly with the spiritual/legal bond distinction we have discussed in this article (as well as the Body/Soul distinction used by Bellarmine and others that we did not address here). Those who are united to the Church quoad nos (according to us) remain legal members of the Church (and if they are clerics, they retain their jurisdiction), even if they are spiritually severed from the Church; whereas those who cease to be united to the Church quoad nos (i.e., those who have openly left the Church or who have been declared heretics), do not. Because God alone knows who truly possesses interior faith and are thereby united to the Church quoad se,[19] if only these individuals (i.e., those who possess interior faith) were members of the Church, the Church would not be a visible society (whose members could be known), but rather “an invisible Church of true believers, known to God alone” which is a Protestant heresy that the Sedevacantists have embraced. [This accusation will be answered at the end.]

I think we can safely say that Salza’s meaning behind “spiritual bond” is Soul of the Church and his meaning behind “legal bond” is Body of the Church where persons can operate with authority.

As I also demonstrated in my 2016 article, The Ecclesiastical Review and Msgr. Van Noort explain that Pope Pius XII was speaking about the public external sin of heresy and how this external sin of heresy severs one from the Body of the Church by its nature. The internal forum, the internal sin of heresy and and even the external sin of heresy if occult have never been the issue. The reason Salza keeps bringing it into the equation is to confuse and misrepresent our position while hiding his error on the subject.

Salza then misrepresents and misapplies the plain meaning behind Rev. Sylvester Berry’s teaching below…

A heretic is usually defined as a Christian, i.e., a baptized person, who holds a doctrine contrary to a revealed truth; but this definition is inaccurate, since it would make heretics of a large portion of the faithful. A doctrine contrary to a revealed truth is usually stigmatized as heretical, but a person who professes an heretical doctrine is not necessarily a heretic. Heresy, from the Greek hairesis, signifies a choosing; therefore a heretic is one who chooses for himself in matters of faith, thereby rejecting the authority of the Church established by Christ to teach all men the truths of revelation. (…) A person who submits to the authority of the Church and wishes to accept all her teachings, is not a heretic, even though he profess heretical doctrines through ignorance of what the Church really teaches; he implicitly accepts the true doctrine in his general intention to accept all that the Church teaches.”

After quoting Berry, Salza writes:

As even the Sedevacantists would be forced to concede, all the conciliar Popes acknowledged the Church as the infallible rule of Faith. This means that even if Modernism has so confused their minds that they professed errors or even heresies, this material profession itself would not have formally severed their external and legal bond to the Church (and which, of course, means they retained their office and jurisdiction).

A note to Salza: The church the conciliar popes acknowledge is not the Catholic Church. In fact, modernism is more than merely professing errors and even heresies. Modernism is the “Synthesis of all Heresies” so said Pope St. Pius X. The conciliar popes are practical atheists and don’t acknowledge an infallible rule of faith at all. To call the conciliar pope’s false profession of Faith “material” means they are ignorantly and innocently professing Modernists.

Because the hearts of man can’t be read by mortals, we can’t say that any pope has professed a heresy materially. We can only say he has professed heresy!

Unfortunately, Salza leaves out the rest of Fr. Berry’s teaching (just like he didn’t provide his readers the full scope of Msgr. Van Noort’s teaching). Berry and Van Noort completely undercut Salza’s entire article. Fr. Berry continued:

“A heretic is one who chooses for himself in matters of faith, thereby, rejecting the authority of the Church established by Christ to teach all men the truths of revelation. [Notice here that Berry is talking about rejecting the teaching authority of the Church, not simply the profession of a heretical doctrine.] He rejects the authority of the Church by following his own judgment or by submitting to an authority other than that established by Christ. A person who submits to the authority of the Church and wishes to accept all her teachings, is not a heretic, even though he profess heretical doctrines through IGNORANCE of what the Church really teaches.” [5]

The SIN of heresy that severs one from the Church by its nature as Pope Pius XII taught in MCC is absent when the heresy professed is done through ignorance when that person wishes to accept all the Church’s teachings. However, that sin can be either occult or public which leads to different conclusions with his membership either in the Body or Soul of the Church.

Berry went on to say:

“A person may reject the teaching authority of the Church knowingly and willingly, or he may do it through ignorance. In the first case he is a formal heretic, guilty of grievous sin; in the second case, he is a material heretic, free from guilty. Both formal and material heresy may be manifest or occult. Heresy is manifest when publicly known to such an extent that its existence could be proved in a court of law; it is occult if not externally manifested by word or act, or if not sufficiently public to allow proof of its existence in court.

EXCLUDED FROM MEMBERSHIP. Manifest heretics and schismatics are excluded from membership in the Church. Heretics separated themselves from the unity of faith and worship; schismatics from the unity of government, and both reject the authority of the Church.  So far as exclusion from the Church is concerned, it matters not whether the heresy or schism be formal or material. Those born and reared in heresy or schism may be sincere in their belief and practice, yet they publicly and willingly reject the Church and attach to sects opposed to her; they are not guilty of sin in the matter, but they are not members of the Church. For this reason, the Church makes no distinction between formal and material heresy when receiving converts into her fold.

There is no need to adduce arguments from Scripture or tradition for a truth that is practically self-evident. St. Jerome says:  “An adulterer, a homicide, and other sinners are driven from the Church by the priests (I.e., by excommunication); but heretics pass sentence upon themselves, leaving the Church by their own free-will.” [Notice that heretics have left the Church which is the definition of defection of faith. Joining another sect is not necessary as Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac taught in his “General Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law” on Can. 188.4.] 19 St. Augustine gives expression to the same doctrine: “If you do not wish to belong to the Church,…separate yourself from her members, put yourselves off from her body. But why should I now urge them to leave the Church, since they have already done this? They are heretics, and therefore already out.”

Rev. Berry’s teaching says it all. The heretics Fr. Berry is talking about as being excluded from membership in the Church, regardless of whether they’re innocent or guilty of the sin of heresy, are those who “reject the teaching authority of the Church”, which would mean Protestants, etc., not simply Catholics who happen to say something heretical without meaning to go against the teaching authority of the Church.

Now getting back to Salza’s statement below…

The quoad se/quoad nos distinction used by John of St. Thomas harmonizes perfectly with the spiritual/legal bond distinction we have discussed in this article (as well as the Body/Soul distinction used by Bellarmine and others that we did not address here). Those who are united to the Church quoad nos (according to us) remain legal members of the Church (and if they are clerics, they retain their jurisdiction), even if they are spiritually severed from the Church; whereas those who cease to be united to the Church quoad nos (i.e., those who have openly left the Church or who have been declared heretics), do not. Because God alone knows who truly possesses interior faith and are thereby united to the Church quoad se,[19] if only these individuals (i.e., those who possess interior faith) were members of the Church, the Church would not be a visible society (whose members could be known), but rather “an invisible Church of true believers, known to God alone” which is a Protestant heresy that the Sedevacantists have embraced.

We sedevacantists don’t recognize that the Visible Church is made up of members with the interior faith only. Where did he come up with that nonsense? It’s as if Salza has never read or tried to understand our position. In fact, it’s Salza’s position that is reminiscent of the Protestant heresy because his position is that you can profess any and every heresy under the sun and still be considered a member of the Church unless declared a heretic by authorities. Salza’s visible church is made up of individuals that are divided in faith.

So, if Salza is looking for a Protestant church, he needs to look no further than the institution headed by Jorge Bergoglio, where anything goes, as long as it’s not Catholic.

 

Footnotes:

[1] http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/fetzen-fliegen/item/3232-note-to-sedevacantists-heresy-does-not-automatically-sever-one-from-the-church

[2] John Salza Responds to Another Sedevacantist

[3]http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/fetzen-fliegen/item/3232-note-to-sedevacantists-heresy-does-not-automatically-sever-one-from-the-church

[4] Dogmatic Theology Volume II: Christ’s Church, Van Noort, p. 241-242

[5] Rev. Sylvester Berry’s Church of Christ, p 128:

 

 

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