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Archive for February, 2019

In 2014 and 2015, I replied to the argument against sedevacantism that it’s a dogmatic fact that a pope is a valid pope when he’s accepted by the practical universal acceptance of the Church. [1]

Many theologians have taught that God “cannot however permit that the whole Church accept as Pontiff him who is not so truly and legitimately.” [2] Therefore, it’s argued that sedevacantism is impossible because the practical unanimous consent of the Church recognized as popes, John XXIII and Paul VI.

My rebuttals to the argument in 2014 and 2015 were that the practical unanimous consent of antipope Boniface VII and Pope Paul IV’s teaching that a heretic is not pope even if he’s recognized by the whole Church prove the argument wrong. [3]

Before saying the theologians are wrong, notice that they don’t all say the same thing. Card. Billot says, “whole Church” but doesn’t tell us what “whole Church” includes. If he means every single person, then the argument against sedevacantism doesn’t work. He doesn’t tell us if the acceptance must be absolute or moral.

Rev. Berry says, “practical unanimous consent” but doesn’t tell us if he means unquestionable, moral, implicit, explicit, or legal consent. He doesn’t tell us how the consent must be expressed. Is it by words or tacit? How could we know how it was fulfilled?

If we use the sacraments as an example, we have a moral certitude that they are valid, but not with an absolute certitude. We know that valid form, matter, intention, and minister are needed for valid sacraments. We don’t question the validity of the sacraments unless evidence to the contrary is presented. In other words, when something is found that would invalidate the sacrament. We see examples of this with marriage, which is presumed valid until impediments are presented and annulments granted. When I go to Confession, I presume the priest to be valid. However, if evidence came forward that the priest wasn’t a true priest, there would be a question as to whether my confession was valid. I would want to know all the facts and if the evidence is more than mere hearsay, then the Confession becomes doubtful. You can’t accept a doubtful sacrament as a valid sacrament. We can’t accept a doubtful pope, either, and for the same practical reasons. [4]

Therefore, if Billot and Berry meant an absolute acceptance or unquestionable consent presented in words, then it is possible to reconcile their statements with sedevacantism and the elections of John XXIII and Paul VI.

However one interprets the theologians, it’s only an opinion of theologians and not a Church teaching or law of the Church. The doctrine of opinions, which is not Church doctrine, is not infallible and it’s not binding. [5]

The argument using the opinion of these theologians that the Church can’t be wrong about its pope is further marred by the fact that the whole Church recognized one of the three doubtful popes during the Great Western Schism. Not only was the whole Church in error over the papacy, it was divided over the papacy, which in all practical purposes might be worse than having one false pope. We have another instance in history where the vast majority accepted antipope Anacletus II and the minority accepted Pope Innocent II until St. Bernard of Clairvaux convinced the majority to change positions. By the way, he did this on his own authority.

There’s also the teaching by some theologians that popes can’t be occult heretics. [6] The implication is that if one of the popes in history were an occult heretic, he wouldn’t have been a true pope even though the whole Church recognized him. Perhaps, it would be argued that we’ve never had an occult heretic pope, but how could anyone know? This minority opinion seems to fly in the face of the opinion that God cannot permit that the whole Church accept as Pontiff him who is not so truly and legitimate. Someone might argue that Billot also says “adhesion of the Church heals in the root all fault in the election and proves infallibly the existence of all the required conditions.” Therefore, the adhesion guarantees no occult heretic. However, Billot didn’t think an occult heretic can’t be a pope, so using his argument doesn’t work.

When I wrote my book, “Papal Anomalies and Their Implications” I noted that the greatest anomaly is the fact the Church has never defined what makes a pope a pope or defined all who have been popes. The Church has recognized popes who were never elected and who were invalidly, unlawfully, and unjustly elected. Since the conclave, the Church has recognized popes who are secretly elected and all we have is the testimony of the cardinals.

All we know for sure is that only a man can be elected. If he’s not baptized, he must get baptized. If he’s baptized, he can’t be a heretic/apostate. That’s about it. We have Pope Hadrian V who was never consecrated bishop, ordained priest, or crowned pope. The minimum age of a pope is not defined either. Pope John XII was elected at 15. Were these true popes? Again, the Church has never defined all who have been true popes.

My belief is that God protects the Church from doctrinal error regardless. Yet, we see so many Catholics accept the heresies of the Vatican 2 popes. How did God protect the Church with John XXIII and Paul VI?

I answer the question this way. There are two aspects to the Church, the faithful and her official teachings. When we say the Church teaches, we don’t mean everyone except the pope. The faithful who are not pertinacious in their errors are not heretics. They remain members of the Church, although, in an abnormal way, because they are worshipping in a non-Catholic new mass. It does seem strange that it’s possible that a vast majority of faithful could be so deceived, but God has allowed it.

I’m reminded of what Rev. M. P. Hill, S.J taught about the future Church after explaining the strangeness of the Great Western Schism: “But we, or our successors in future generations of Christians, shall perhaps see stranger evils than have yet been experienced, even before the immediate approach of that great winding up of all things on earth that will precede the day of judgment. I am not setting up for a prophet, nor pretending to see unhappy wonders, of which I have no knowledge whatever. All I mean to convey is that contingencies regarding the Church, not excluded by the Divine promises, cannot be regarded as practically impossible, just because they would be terrible and distressing in a very high degree. [7]

Many of the faithful didn’t accept the heresies of Vatican 2 because they were unaware of them and those who knew better rejected them. This made the Vatican 2 popes suspect.

What I’m specifically referring to in my statement that God protects the Church is in her official capacity for teaching. Antipopes have no authority to make official teachings. Vatican 2, for example, was not ratified by a true pope. Its teachings are not the Church’s teachings. Division and scandal immediately arose during the council. Although a false pope was practically universally recognized at least morally with silent implicit consent, Vatican 2 was not.

Bishop Blaise Kurz was one bishop at Vatican 2 that rejected the heresies of the Council and ordained Gunther Storch who would later be made bishop by Bishop Guerard des Lauriers. Archbishop Lefebvre said in an interview that 250 bishops supported him in opposition to the council because it had erred. [8]

Going back further, John XXIII’s document Pacem in Terris was rejected by an expert in theology. Rev. Saenz Y Arriaga, Ph.d. (carried 3 doctorates in theology, philosophy, and canon law) questioned/rejected John XXIII as pope and his acts. [9] He was not alone. His friends Frs. Adolfo Zamoro and Moisés Carmona would later be made bishops by Archbishop Thuc. The three Mexican priests suspected Paul VI as an antipope from the beginning. There’s no reason to believe these are the only Catholics in the world who rejected Vatican 2 and the Vatican 2 popes especially since these men had Catholic followers.

The Catholic Church has survived both in doctrine and in the Faithful. The argument using the opinion of the universal acceptance of a pope is crushed by history, a papal bull, and the fact that the faithful, which includes bishops, priests, and theologians, have kept it going.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] https://stevensperay.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/robert-siscoe-caught-in-his-own-trap-against-sedevacantism/

https://stevensperay.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/steven-speray-responds-to-robert-siscoe-and-the-remnan1.pdf

[2] Cardinal Billot – Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi Vol I pp 612-613:

“Finally, whatever you still think about the possibility or impossibility of the aforementioned hypothesis [of a Pope falling into heresy], at least one point must be considered absolutely incontrovertible and placed firmly above any doubt whatever: the adhesion of the universal Church will be always, 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. It is not necessary to look far for the proof of this, but we find it immediately in the promise and the infallible providence of Christ: ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it,’ and ‘Behold I shall be with you all days.’ For the adhesion of the Church to a false Pontiff would be the same as its adhesion to a false rule of faith, seeing that the Pope is the living rule of faith which the Church must follow and which in fact she always follows. As will become even more clear by what we shall say later, 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.

Rev. Sylvester Berry: “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”. (The Church of Christ, p. 290)

[3] Pope Paul IV’s bull, Cum ex apostolatus  officio of 1559, declared: In addition, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity We enact, determine, decree and define:] 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: (i) 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; (ii) 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; (iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way; (iv) to any so promoted to be Bishops, or Archbishops, or Patriarchs, or Primates or elevated as Cardinals, or as Roman Pontiff, no authority shall have been granted, nor shall it be considered to have been so granted either in the spiritual or the temporal domain; (v) each and all of their words, deeds, actions and enactments, howsoever made, and anything whatsoever to which these may give rise, shall be without force and shall grant no stability whatsoever nor any right to anyone; (vi) 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.

[4] Rev. Francis X Doyle, S.J. explains: “The Church is a visible society with a visible Ruler. If there can be any doubt about who that visible Ruler is, he is not visible, and hence, where there is any doubt about whether a person has been legitimately elected Pope, that doubt must be removed before he can become the visible head of Christ’s Church. Blessed Bellarmine, S.J., says: ‘A doubtful Pope must be considered as not Pope’; and Suarez, S.J., says: ‘At the time of the Council of Constance there were three men claiming to be Pope…. Hence, it could have been that not one of them was the true Pope, and in that case, there was no Pope at all….” (The Defense of the Catholic Church, 1927, Fr. Francis X. Doyle, S.J.)

[5] § 7. Theological opinions are free views on aspects of doctrines concerning Faith and morals, which are neither clearly attested in Revelation nor decided by the Teaching Authority of the Church. Their value depends upon the reasons adduced in their favour (association with the doctrine of Revelation, the attitude of the Church. etc.). A point of doctrine ceases to be an object of free judgment when the Teaching Authority of the Church takes an attitude which is clearly in favour of one opinion. Pope Pius XII explains in the Encyclical “Humani generis” (1950): “When the Popes in their Acts intentionally pronounce a judgment on a long disputed point then it is clear to all that this, according to the intention and will of these Popes, can no longer be open to the free discussion of theologians” (D 3013). (Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 9)

  1. Common Teaching (sententia communis) is doctrine, which in itself belongs to the field of the free opinions, but which is accepted by theologians generally”
  2. Theological opinions of lesser grades of certainty are called probable, more probable, well-founded (sententia probabilis, probabilior, bene fundata). Those which are regarded as being in agreement with the consciousness of Faith of the Church are called pious opinions (sententia pia). The least degree of certainty is possessed by the tolerated opinion (opinio tolerata). which is only weakly founded, but which is tolerated by the Church. (Ibid. p. 10)

[6] Ioannes de Turrecremata (Juan de Torquemada), Summa de Ecclesia, lib. 4, pars 2 c. 18, IIIa via;

Francisco Suárez, De fide disp. 9, sect. I, nn. 5, 13, 18 (Opera, vol. 12, pp. 246, 248-249, 250-251);

Luis Molina, Concordia (Ed. crit., Oniæ-Matriti, 1953), p. 3, q. 14, a. 13, disp. 46, n. 18, pp. 283-284;

Charles-René Billuart, Summa sancti Thomæ (ed. Palmé, nova editio), vol. III, diss. 3, a. 2, §IV, pp. 299-301;

Johann Baptist Franzelin, Theses de Ecclesia Christi, th. 23, pp. 402-423;

Michelitsch, §202;

Fraghi, De membris Ecclesiæ, 90;

Stolz, 32;

Journet, vol. II, 1064;

Zapalena, vol. II, 389.

[7] The Catholic’s Ready Answer [1915] p. 287.

[8]  http://www.catholicapologetics.info/apologetics/defense/inview.htm

[9] The New Montinian Church, ch xii and xxii. Also, on p. 329, Fr. Saenz Y Arriaga writes: About John XXIII we can say that he tolerated and fostered heresy, although, at least so it seems, he did not undersign and ratify it.

On p. 342, he writes: As time passes and events occur, ail forecasts agree as to the principal evil forces behind it, namely, the deviation and manifest turnabout of the hierarchy and the ambiguous Vatican Council II, which intended to create a new pastoralism without firmly resting it on the immutable dogmas of our Catholic Faith. Both of the last two Pontiffs have indisputably interrupted the harmonious unity of the Church’s Tradition and Magisterium. That is why I have always maintained that as long as we keep on trying to save John XXIII, Paul VI, and their pastoral council, we shall find ourselves in a blind alley.

 

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Today is President’s Day for the United States and I thought a little fascinating video is in order. Abe Lincoln was born in my home state of Kentucky.

 

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Are you permitted to believe as “Pope” Francis that God positively wills the diversity of all religions? [1]

The Vatican 2 apologist says, “It is heresy and contrary to Catholicism that God positively wills the diversity of all religions. However, Pope Francis didn’t say ‘positively’. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t mean positively wills it.

The average Catholic responds, “You need to give him the benefit of the doubt because the text logically implies a positive will and you hope he doesn’t mean what he plainly says. How about all those ‘Catholics’ out there who read the document as it stands and understand Francis to mean ‘positively’ wills and agree with it? Are they not permitted to believe as the pope by the words he uses to make declarations? Can the pope be the source of error where the entire flock of Christ is poisoned with heresy because of his faulty words (but he didn’t mean what he says)? ”

Every Vatican 2 “Catholic” should be asked the following questions:

Are you permitted to believe as “Pope” Francis that the Blessed Virgin Mary wasn’t born a saint and that she has defects as the Church? [2]

Are you permitted to believe as “Pope” Francis that Jesus had to beg forgiveness from Joseph and Mary? [3]

Are you permitted to believe as “Pope” Francis that sins of the flesh are the least serious sins? [4]

Are you permitted to believe as “Pope” Francis that religious liberty to blaspheme Christ in public is a God-given civil right? [5]

Are you permitted to believe as “Pope” Francis that the visible Church is divided in faith and that Protestant religions are part of the one Church of Christ? [6]

Are you permitted to believe as “Pope” Francis that there’s no Catholic God? [7]

Or is the Pope the only one permitted to believe in these abominable heresies?

 

Footnotes:

[1] https://novusordowatch.org/2019/02/apostasy-francis-diversity-of-religions/

[2] https://novusordowatch.org/2018/12/francis-denies-immaculate-conception/

https://novusordowatch.org/2013/09/francis-church-has-flaws-like-mary/

[3] https://novusordowatch.org/2015/12/francis-says-jesus-sinned/

[4] https://novusordowatch.org/2019/02/francis-least-serious-sins-flesh/

[5] https://stevensperay.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/rev-brian-harrison-responds-to-my-article-on-patrick-madrid-and-religious-liberty/

[6] https://novusordowatch.org/2015/11/francis-all-baptized-members-of-church/

https://novusordowatch.org/2018/06/francis-world-council-churches/

https://novusordowatch.org/2018/03/catholic-church-world-council-of-churches/

[7] https://novusordowatch.org/2013/10/no-catholic-god-francis/

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The following 12 arguments made against sedevacantism have a flip-side, which works against the one making the argument. The purpose of this work is not to refute or give credence to the argument. It merely shows that sedevacantism exists precisely because the flip-side of the argument actually came first.

 

1. Argument: The Church can’t go 60 plus years without a pope.

Flip-side: The Church can’t go 60 plus years with heretical popes.

 

2. Argument: The Gates of Hell have prevailed if the Vatican 2 popes aren’t true popes.

Flip-side: The Gates of Hell are running the Catholic Church if the Vatican 2 popes are true popes.

 

3. Argument: Theologians said universal acceptance makes for a true pope.

Flip-side: Theologians say heretics can’t be popes.

 

4. Argument: Sedevacantists are divided over which popes are true.

Flip-side: Novus Ordo Catholics are divided over dogmas of the Faith.

 

5. Argument: Apostolicity is only found in bishops with ordinary jurisdiction.

Flip-side: No one in the Novus Ordo religion has ordinary jurisdiction.

 

6. Argument: Sedevacantists haven’t elected a pope.

Flip-side: The Novus Ordo religion hasn’t elected a pope who’s Catholic.

 

7. Argument: Sedevacantists privately judge that there’s no pope.

Flip-side: Novus Ordo “Catholics” privately judge that their popes err in good faith.

 

8. Argument: Sedevacantists reject the teachings of theologians on universal acceptance.

Flip-side: Novus Ordo “Catholics” reject the teaching of theologians on what makes a person a formal heretic.

 

9. Argument: Sedevacanism is a form of Protestantism.

Flip-side: Protestantism is revered by the Vatican 2 popes who promote and uphold Protestant beliefs.

 

10. Argument: Sedevacantism didn’t exist until the 1960’s.

Flip-side: The Vatican 2 religion didn’t exist until the 1960’s.

 

11. Argument: Sedevacantists have left the Church.

Flip-side: The Vatican 2 religion left Catholicism.

 

12. Argument: Sedevacantists reject Vatican I’s teaching on perpetual succession after Peter until the end of time.

Flip-side: The Vatican 2 popes reject Vatican I’s teaching: a). to reject and condemn [all] the errors contrary to Catholicism. b.)  that the “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.”

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One main argument in defense of the Vatican 2 popes is that they err in good faith. In other words, they aren’t pertinacious.

A recent commenter named “Xavier” on this site admitted that Benedict XVI’s belief, practice, and promotion of inter-religious worship was “mad.”

A few examples of Benedict’s inter-religious acts include:

          Benedict XVI prayed in a mosque with Muslims as Muslims (barefoot with arms  crossed) towards Mecca on Nov. 30, 2006.

          On March 14, 2010, in a Lutheran temple in Rome, Benedict XVI preaches on the anniversary of the joint declaration on justification which implied that the Lutheran religion is part of the one Church of Christ and the visible Church is divided. In 1983, John Paul II went to the same Protestant temple for the 500th anniversary of Luther’s birth.

          On September 23, 2011, Benedict XVI met with the Lutheran council in Erfurt, Germany and celebrated an ecumenical service in the chapel of the Lutheran monastery of St. Augustine. Benedict bowed towards their empty altar and prayed alongside a woman bishop.

            The 2011 Assisi Events witnessed Voodoo Warlock Wande Abimbola from the Nigerian Yoruba Voodoo sect singing a hymn to the goddess Olokun and calling her down to be possessed by her (which apparently happened) at the Assisi Basilica of Holy Mary of the Angels. Benedict XVI promoted this event giving demons a place of honor in a Catholic Church.

I challenged Xavier to tell me what this means concerning his pope. Is Benedict XVI a dummy, mad, pertinacious, or possessed? His reply was that he erred in good faith, “without pertinacity.”

In other words, Xavier is saying his pope is a big dummy. Poor Benedict the great theologian of Vatican 2 and pope of the same religion didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong. Of course, Xavier knows better, as does every Catholic from children to adults whether Novus Ordo, SSPX, or sedevacantist.

To say Benedict was erring in good faith is like saying a priest who celebrates sodomite “marriages” is erring in good faith. It’s absurd! There is no excuse for him.

Benedict is no dummy! He is a trained theologian and these acts are clearly and unambiguously contrary to the Faith. They are so clear that every Catholic knows better. Xavier’s reply shows that he doesn’t want to accept the reality that his now ex-pope is a radical heretic.

When it’s obvious that someone is knowingly going against the Catholic Faith, pertinacity is presumed. For the sake of the argument, if Benedict really was erring in good faith, it’s not to be presumed. 

St. Robert Bellarmine makes this point when he taught,

“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 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, and condemn him as a heretic.” (De Romano Pontifice, II, 29)

Since pictures speak louder than words, would it be right for Catholics to presume the clerics in the following links are erring in good faith? (WARNING: GET BARF BAG READY!)

A priest who advocates celebrating sodomite marriages: https://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A778-Ibero.htm

Six bishops concelebrating mass with two female Protestant ministers: >https://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A771-Romaria.htm

A priest promoting lesbian art in a Cathedral: https://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A808-Lesb.htm

“Cardinal” Schonborn inviting a transvestite to speak at the Vienna Cathedral (not to mention the dozens of other things he has done): https://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A759-Concha.htm

A priest inviting a drag queen to deliver the homily at mass and raise the Chalice after consecration: https://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A712-Drag_Br.htm

Why would we presume these “clerics” are innocently promoting these abominations? And if we don’t presume these clerics are erring in good faith, why would we grant that presumption to the Vatican 2 popes in their abominations? By the way, the Vatican 2 popes are doing absolutely nothing about the thousands upon thousands of abominations by their clerics. Instead, the Vatican 2 popes install sodomy friendly bishops all over the place and the homosexual problem is getting worse.

By saying they are erring, you’re admitting that you know better (as all Catholics know better). If you know better, how can trained theologians acting as popes not know better?

As always with these Vatican 2 pope defenders, everyone has to believe in the Catholic Faith except the pope.

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The Catholic Church has never answered the question, but I think it’s safe to say that it can’t go on indefinitely. What we do know is that the Church can exist a very long time without a pope. I thought we should revisit the question since the old accusation against sedevacantism keeps coming up despite the fact it’s been dealt with many times.

One of the longest interregnums in church history was three and half years between the death of Marcellinus in 304 and the election of Marcellus I in 308. It appears that we may have had a much longer interregnum in church history. Case in point is the Great Western Schism. Which side had the true pope?  The Church has never answered the question. It’s generally held that the Roman line was the true line. However, it’s been argued that there were no true popes throughout that whole period.

Rev. Francis X Doyle, S.J. explains: “The Church is a visible society with a visible Ruler. If there can be any doubt about who that visible Ruler is, he is not visible, and hence, where there is any doubt about whether a person has been legitimately elected Pope, that doubt must be removed before he can become the visible head of Christ’s Church. Blessed Bellarmine, S.J., says: ‘A doubtful Pope must be considered as not Pope’; and Suarez, S.J., says: ‘At the time of the Council of Constance there were three men claiming to be Pope…. Hence, it could have been that not one of them was the true Pope, and in that case, there was no Pope at all….” [1]

Rev. M. P. Hill, S.J taught in his The Catholic’s Ready Answer [1915]:

“The Great Western Schism, as it is generally named by historians, furnishes an interesting illustration of succession established with absolute certainty after a period of what was considered in some quarters as doubtful succession. The schism lasted thirty-nine years. The first of the Popes whose title was questioned was Urban VI (1378)…There can be no doubt that a lawful successor to the See of Rome was appointed in the person of Martin V, by whose election the schism was healed. The point we insist on is that there has been a succession of legitimate pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XV. If during the entire schism there had been no Pope at all — that would not prove that the office and authority of Peter was not transmitted to the next Pope duly elected. [2]

Fr. Hill says the schism lasted 39 years because he was going by Pope Martin’s election date in 1417. However, there were other papal claimants during that year. Benedict XIII was the Avignon Pope and was deposed by the Council of Constance in 1415. Can popeless councils legitimately depose true popes? A doubtful deposition deposing a doubtful pope doesn’t remove all doubt. Doubt about the Benedict XIII papacy might still exist until his death in 1423. Clement VIII was elected June 10, 1423 to replace Benedict. He later abdicated on July 26, 1429 and recognized Martin V, thus ending the Great Schism without a doubt. Some believe the schism ended after Benedict XIII was deposed and Martin was elected as Fr. Hill believed. If you go by Clement’s abdication and recognizing Martin, that would put the schism at 51 years.

Regardless, 39 or 51 years, we have two reputed authorities teaching that the Church can go for a very, very long time without a pope.

We also have another eminent theologian and professor (chosen by several different bishops to be their theologian at different Synods) who wrote about the Great Western Schism. Fr. Edmund James O’Reilly taught that an “interregnum covering the whole period” was not “impossible or inconsistent with the promises of Christ.” [3] Perhaps, one should consider seriously what he says on page 287 of his book.

“The great schism of the West suggests to me a reflection which I take the liberty of expressing here. If this schism had not occurred, the hypothesis of such a thing happening would appear to many chimerical [unrealistic]. They would say it could not be; God would not permit the Church to come into so unhappy a situation. Heresies might spring up and spread and last painfully long, through the fault and to the perdition of their authors and abettors, to the great distress too of the faithful, increased by actual persecution in many places where the heretics were dominant. But that the true Church should remain between thirty and forty years without a thoroughly ascertained Head, and representative of Christ on earth, this would not be. Yet it has been; and we have no guarantee that it will not be again, though we may fervently hope otherwise. What I would infer is, that we must not be too ready to pronounce on what God may permit. We know with absolute certainty that He will fulfil His promises; not allow anything to occur at variance with them; that He will sustain His Church and enable her to triumph over all enemies and difficulties; that He will give to each of the faithful those graces which are needed for each one’s service of Him and attainment of salvation, as He did during the great schism we have been considering, and in all the sufferings and trials which the Church has passed through from the beginning. We may also trust He will do a great deal more than what He has bound Himself to by His promises. We may look forward with a cheering probability to exemption for the future from some of the troubles and misfortunes that have befallen in the past. But we, or our successors in future generations of Christians, shall perhaps see stranger evils than have yet been experienced, even before the immediate approach of that great winding up of all things on earth that will precede the day of judgment. I am not setting up for a prophet, nor pretending to see unhappy wonders, of which I have no knowledge whatever. All I mean to convey is that contingencies regarding the Church, not excluded by the Divine promises, cannot be regarded as practically impossible, just because they would be terrible and distressing in a very high degree.

 

Footnotes:

[1]The Defense of the Catholic Church, 1927, Fr. Francis X. Doyle, S.J.

[2] https://archive.org/details/catholicsreadyan00hill/page/n10

[3] (Fr. Edmund James O’Reilly, The Relations of the Church to Society – Theological Essays, 1882) http://www.cmri.org/02-long-term-vacancy.shtml

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