Archive for March, 2019

John Salza and Robert Siscoe have recently attempted to refute my article on the Sedevacantist Saint Vincent Ferrer [1] in their Feb. 2019 piece, claiming St. Vincent Ferrer was never a sedevacantist. [2]

They published the quotes that demonstrate that St. Vincent and others became sedevacantists, such as “withdrew their allegiance” and “It was not until 1416, when pressed by Ferdinand, King of Aragon, that he (St. Vincent) abandoned him.” Fr. Stanislaus M. Hogan O.P. implied that it was St. Vincent Ferrer that convinced King Ferdinand when the Saint told the king, “they were justified in withdrawing their obedience to Benedict.” [3] (The facts about the case are obviously disputed.)

I originally got the idea of posting an article about the great Dominican St. Vincent Ferrer from reading Henry Gheon’s book on the saint. [4] On page 143, Gheon uses the words, “withdrawal of obedience.” The Catholic Encyclopedia also uses the word, “obedience.” [5]

When good Catholics say they withdraw allegiance and obedience and abandoned a papal claimant, it logically means that they no longer recognize the claimant as pope. It is clear from the record that St. Vincent and the Spanish sovereigns no longer recognized Benedict XIII as pope. They were in effect declaring the Chair of Peter to be vacant because they did not recognize the other papal claimants at that time.

When Salza and Siscoe read “withdraw their allegiance,” “withdraw of obedience,” and “abandoned him,” it means that Catholics can withdraw allegiance, obedience, and abandon a pope even though he’s still recognized as such. That’s because that’s what they do with their pope Francis. They apparently advocate formal schism as a legitimate act against a pope.

They should read their own Catechism by their pope John Paul II about schism. It states,schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” [6] These men don’t submit to their pope or hold communion with the members of the Church under Francis. They reject Vatican 2, the new mass, and the novus ordo establishment but they want us to recognize their pope they don’t submit to.

Salza and Siscoe stretch the opinion of John of St. Thomas, Fr. Laymann, Cajetan, and Suarez to justify their 60 plus year church with heretical popes. All of these men would have long abandoned their opinions if they lived today. Besides, the great canonists Wernz/Vidal taught:

The fourth opinion, with Suarez, Cajetan and others [John of St. Thomas, Fr. Laymann, etc.], contends that a Pope is not automatically deposed even for manifest heresy, but that he can and must be deposed by at least a declaratory sentence of the crime. “Which opinion in my judgment is indefensible” as Bellarmine teaches. [7]

Bellarmine was clear that a Pope who remains Pope cannot be avoided.” [8]

Salza and Siscoe quoted Fr. Wernz about the legality of doubtful popes in their article but they readily admit that he’s wrong about the legality of heretical popes because he and canonist Fr. Vidal agree with St. Robert Bellarmine over John of St. Thomas. Salza and Siscoe quote from many sources but only agree with them when it suits them. They cite theologians and canonists as if they carry more authoritative weight than their own popes whom they avoid and withdraw obedience.

It gets better. Salza and Siscoe argue that St. Vincent Ferrer didn’t declare the Chair of Peter vacant because on the same day he withdrew obedience he also “declared anew” that Benedict was the true pope.

The edict is proclaiming that Benedict was (not is) the true pope. It’s implying that he, apart from the other claimants, held the legitimate claim to the Pontificate. The very next line reads, “but that, since he would not resign to bring peace to the Church, Ferdinand had withdrawn his states from the obedience of Avignon.” Benedict no longer will be recognized for what he claims to hold.  He can claim the papacy all he wants but he won’t be recognized as pope. Salza and Siscoe want to read the passage that Benedict is still the pope but St. Vincent and Ferdinand won’t obey him as pope, as they do with their pope Francis. That’s called schism.

Did St. Vincent Ferrer use private judgment [own authority not against the Church’s]? You bet he did and so did the Spanish sovereigns. However, Salza and Siscoe argue that it was legally done as if there were Church laws on how to depose a pope. They point to article III of the Treaty of Narbonne where it was agreed in Dec. 1415 that “Benedict’s said Obedience cannot legally recognize any Pope, unless the See becomes vacant, either by the Death, or by the voluntary Abdication, or by the deposing of Benedict; the Council, before they elect another Pope, shall proceed to such Deposition in due Course of Law…” [9]

Salza and Siscoe write that, “This entirely refutes the claim that those at the time, such as St. Vincent, who believe obedience could be withdrawn from Benedict did so because they thought he had already lost his office, and that the See had become vacant. According to the Article, which was agreed to by both sides and confirmed by the Council itself, the only way they could consider the Papal See vacant, is if he died, abdicated or was legally deposed by the Church (or legally declared not to be Pope, if your prefer).”

First, the treaty has no authority to lay down a law for the Church and it was not a legal or binding law of the Church whatsoever. The Council of Constance was partly condemned for the idea that the Church had power over the pope and to depose him. Whatever the kings thought best at the time was fixed by St. Vincent, who told them they were justified in withdrawing obedience.

Salza and Siscoe will have you believe that the great theologians and saint held to the later condemned proposition of Constance. Their story is the real fable. Benedict was deposed by the Council July 26, 1417 but St. Vincent and the Spanish sovereigns withdrew their obedience Jan. 6, 1416. They didn’t wait until Benedict was deposed. They already didn’t recognize him as pope and were making that clear to him and the world on Jan. 6, 1416.

Dominican Bishop Ranzano writes, “After having long endeavoured to move Peter de Luna to resign his pretensions to the papacy, but finding him obstinate, he advised King Ferdinand to renounce his obedience in case he refused to acknowledge the council of Constance; which that prince did by a solemn edict, dated the 6th of January, in 1416, by the advice of the saint, as Oderic Raynold, Mariana, and Spondanus most accurately relate, The saint laboured zealously to bring all Spain to this union, and we sent by King Ferdinand to assist at the council of Constance.” [10]

Salza and Siscoe make much of the “doubtful pope” argument for the reason why St. Vincent and others could legitimately withdraw obedience. Yet, St. Vincent Ferrer didn’t think Benedict XIII was a doubtful pope. In fact, he wrote treatises explaining why Benedict was the true pope without a doubt.

Salza and Siscoe’s arguments don’t make sense. They argue, St. Vincent withdrew obedience because Benedict was always a doubtful pope which is no pope at all. St. Vincent didn’t use private judgment even though he convinced Spanish sovereigns that Benedict should not be submitted to.

If the great theologian St. Vincent thought Benedict was a doubtful pope, why would he think it necessary for legal action to rid Benedict from a pontificate he didn’t hold? If he didn’t use private judgment, what Church authority gave him the authority to convince Ferdinand and others to withdraw obedience?

Every time I read an article by Salza and Siscoe, I think of the Bible passage by St. Paul: “And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.” (Thess. 2:10-11)

In case you missed it from my previous articles, the topic of a pope becoming a heretic was addressed at the First Vatican Council by Archbishop Purcell, of Cincinnati, Ohio:

“The question was also raised by a Cardinal, ‘What is to be done with the Pope if he becomes a heretic?’ It was answered that there has never been such a case; the Council of Bishops could depose him for heresy, for from the moment he becomes a heretic he is not the head or even a member of the Church. The Church would not be, for a moment, obliged to listen to him when he begins to teach a doctrine the Church knows to be a false doctrine, and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself.

“If the Pope, for instance, were to say that the belief in God is false, you would not be obliged to believe him, or if he were to deny the rest of the creed, ‘I believe in Christ,’ etc. The supposition is injurious to the Holy Father in the very idea, but serves to show you the fullness with which the subject has been considered and the ample thought given to every possibility. If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I; and so in this respect the dogma of infallibility amounts to nothing as an article of temporal government or cover for heresy.” (The New Princeton Review, Volume 42 p. 648, also The Life and Life-work of Pope Leo XIII. By James Joseph McGovern p. 241)

Notice that he states that the Church would not be, for a moment, obliged to listen to him. Why, because, he is no more Pope than either you or I. That’s not what Salza and Siscoe believe or practice.

The same Vatican council quotes another great Dominican who lived in the day of St. Vincent Ferrer on the issue of a pope who becomes a heretic. St. Antoninus, O.P. (1389-1459) declared, “In the case in which the pope would become a heretic, he would find himself, by that fact alone and without any other sentence, separated from the Church. A head separated from a body cannot, as long as it remains separated, be head of the same body from which it was cut off. ‘A pope who would be separated from the Church by heresy, therefore, would by that very fact itself cease to be head of the Church.  He could not be a heretic and remain pope, because, since he is outside of the Church, he cannot possess the keys of the Church.’”  (Summa Theologica cited in Actes de Vatican I. V. Frond pub.)




[1] https://stevensperay.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/the-sedevacantist-saint-vincent-ferrer/

[2] http://www.trueorfalsepope.com/p/st-vincent-ferrer-sedevacantist.html

[3] https://books.google.com/books?id=jWBF8sNnuosC&pg=PA74&lpg=PA74&dq=St.+Vincent+replied+that+since+Benedict+XIII+had+resisted+all+attempts+to+procure+the+union+that+was+so+necessary,+and+since+his+conduct+gave+scandal+to+all+the+faithful,+they+were+justified+in+withdrawing+their+obedience+to+Benedict.+This+decision+was+confirmed+by+the+assembly+of+Bishops+convened+by+Ferdinand+and+representing+the+obedience+of+Avignon.%E2%80%9D+%5B&source=bl&ots=Ql0j-f7xnZ&sig=ACfU3U3mexUVUpJaZYOc_sV-7zluyg3ZcA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiYs9OS5t_gAhUEb60KHZ5DBLEQ6AEwAHoECAEQAQ#v=onepage&q=St.%20Vincent%20replied%20that%20since%20Benedict%20XIII%20had%20resisted%20all%20attempts%20to%20procure%20the%20union%20that%20was%20so%20necessary%2C%20and%20since%20his%20conduct%20gave%20scandal%20to%20all%20the%20faithful%2C%20they%20were%20justified%20in%20withdrawing%20their%20obedience%20to%20Benedict.%20This%20decision%20was%20confirmed%20by%20the%20assembly%20of%20Bishops%20convened%20by%20Ferdinand%20and%20representing%20the%20obedience%20of%20Avignon.%E2%80%9D%20%5B&f=false

[4] St. Vincent Ferrer, Gheon, Sheed & Ward, 1954.

[5] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15437a.htm

[6] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a1.htm

[7] Jus Canonicum by the Rev F X Wernz S.J. and the Rev P Vidal S.J. (1938) Chapter VII. Translated by John Daly.

[8] St. Robert Bellarmine in De Romano Pontifice, 30

[9] https://books.google.com/books?id=B0WPqThQowMC&pg=PA549&lpg=PA549&dq=Article+IIII+But+as+Benedicts+said+Obedience+cannot+legally+recognize+any+Pope,+unless+the+See+becomes+vacant,+either+by+the+Death,+or+by+the+voluntary+Abdication,+or+by+the+deposition+of+Benedict;+the+Council,+before+they+elect+another+Pope,+shall+proceed+to+such+Deposition+in+due+course+of+law%E2%80%A6+%5B&source=bl&ots=HuFtMVfrYy&sig=ACfU3U1rb85fqEAc18TFpNzwqlmlXFnG9A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiu5YbC2t_gAhVGX60KHcJLDP4Q6AEwAHoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=Article%20IIII%20But%20as%20Benedicts%20said%20Obedience%20cannot%20legally%20recognize%20any%20Pope%2C%20unless%20the%20See%20becomes%20vacant%2C%20either%20by%20the%20Death%2C%20or%20by%20the%20voluntary%20Abdication%2C%20or%20by%20the%20deposition%20of%20Benedict%3B%20the%20Council%2C%20before%20they%20elect%20another%20Pope%2C%20shall%20proceed%20to%20such%20Deposition%20in%20due%20course%20of%20law%E2%80%A6%20%5B&f=false

[10] From his life, written by Ranzano, Bishop of Lucera, in order to his canonization, in Henschenius with the notes of Papebroke. See Touron, Hommes Illustres de l’Ordre de St. Dominique t. iii.; Fleury, b. cx.  http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/ferrer.htm






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