Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2020

The Wise Men Guided by a Star by Gustave Doré, 1865

There are Catholic sedevacantists that have been so upset with the fact that there is no pope that they decided to join heretical sects and become their own pope. Their private interpretations, decisions, and explanations have become for them law, dogma, and the infallible truth.

Failure to make proper distinctions always appears to be the cause for people to misunderstand Catholicism. However, I find often that people are only looking for an excuse to reject the Catholic religion because of the difficulty of maintaining true Christianity.

Understanding the difference between the pope and papacy:

  1. The Roman Pontiff or pope is the person that holds the office of the papacy. The papacy concerns the system in which the pope governs the Church. Christ didn’t intend to create a papacy without ever having a pope. Indeed, there would be no papacy without ever having a pope. Christ established the papacy by making St. Peter the first pope and giving him the keys. Where Peter is, there is the Church. Therefore, he who separates from the pope separates from unity of the Church, Christianity, and from Christ Himself. When there’s no pope, he who separates from the papacy separates from the same unity of the Church and ultimately Christ.

  2. The papacy is essential. Without the papacy, there is no Catholic Church. However, the Church can exist without a pope as it does each time a pope dies. Sometimes, it has taken years for the Church to attain a pope. For example, the interregnum between St. Marcellinus and St. Marcellus I lasted from 304 to 308 AD. [1] The 13th and 14th centuries also saw long interregnums. During the time of the Great Schism of the West, the Church was unsure who the true pope was. Professor and Reverend Francis X Doyle, S.J. (1927) wrote that Suarez suggested that none of the popes during that time were true popes, which means it’s possible that the Church experienced an interregnum lasting around 50 years. [2] Opinions differ on the subject, but it proves that the opinion that the Church can exist and did exist without a pope during the Great Schism is permitted to be held by the Catholic Church. It also proves that the Church can exist without a pope with an unforeseen resolution for a very, very long time.

  3. If a pope defects, he ceases to be pope, but the papacy doesn’t defect. The papacy always remains intact. If it were possible, [but is not possible] there are only two ways for the papacy to defect: (a.) If a pope taught error from the Chair of Peter as part of the papacy. (b.) The ability to have a pope ceases, which means the Church defects. For instance, no more Catholics existed. Opinions differ on what’s the minimum requirement for the Church to exist, but even a layman can be pope since Pope Hadrian V was a layman. Another argument against the papacy is the extinction of the College of Cardinals, which elects the new pope. That argument is answered here The Catholic Bottom Line – Part IV. In scenario (a.), Christ protects the papacy by preventing the pope from teaching error for the world to adhere to. A pope can teach error outside of his office, but his error can’t be against the Catholic faith as defined by the Church. His error would have to be in the realm or doctrine of opinions where the Church or previous popes have not yet made a judgment on the issue. An example of doctrine of opinions would include things like whether the Blessed Virgin Mary died or not.  In the past, the Immaculate Conception and the validity of Holy Orders of simoniacs were in the realm or doctrine of opinions. Now they are dogmas because the Church defined them. In scenario (b.), Christ established a built-in protection for the papacy. When Christ said the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church, it was not so much a promise as an established fact. Whatever opinion that would contradict the papacy would be proven false by that fact alone. For instance, the opinion that there are no more Catholics left either in Rome, the Diocese of Rome, or in the World. Since the papacy demands that Catholics exist then Catholics exist somewhere. If they must exist in Rome or the Diocese of Rome, then they exist. We would presume that whatever is needed for the papacy or Church is present regardless of appearances because our faith in Christ’s Word demands it. Proof of its existence exists in Christ’s Declaration, the teaching of the Church, divine law, and logic. When Christ said that He is truly present in the Eucharist, we believe it, but we can’t prove it scientifically. The proof of His Real Presence exists in His Word and the teaching of the Church. We don’t have to prove that Catholics exist and it can’t be proven they don’t exist either in Rome or in the world. That being said, we can easily point to Catholics in Rome and the world. Other arguments against the papacy can be found by those who insist that Vatican 2 and our present day crisis prove the papacy defected. The problem with that argument is that it couldn’t be used prior to 1958. It only proves that those who make such an argument fail to understand either the papacy or the facts that surround Church teaching. Using a Church-permitted theological opinion against the papacy is also futile. The best that anyone could do is present how the theological opinion is false, not the papacy. If a theological opinion by a saint or theologian is found that denied the possibility of our present crisis, it would only mean that opinion by the saint or theologian is erroneous and would be scrapped. I’ve not yet seen such an opinion. All the so-called death knells to Catholicism/sedevacantism are actually proofs or evidence for the truth of Catholicism/sedevacantism. It’s just the failure to make proper distinctions on the part of the heretics.

  4. It’s dogma that Peter has perpetual successors in the papacy. [3] Perpetual succession is not lost unless the principle of perpetuity is lost (the ability to have another pope). We know that as long as there is a bishop and a few Catholics left, the principle of perpetuity remains. It may not even require that much. The Church can have a papacy vacant of a pope as long as the ability to have another pope is present. Since Christ guarantees that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church, the papacy will not defect. As seen from the Great Schism of the West, it’s possible for the Church to not know how it will resolve a papal crisis. In our current situation, there are several possibilities in resolving the crisis. One way is for Francis or his successor to renounce his errors, be universally accepted, and assume the papacy. Another way is for all Catholics to agree that a certain bishop will be pope. Perhaps, it will take a miracle for either case. I’m of the opinion that we’re not going to get another pope not because it’s impossible but rather it seems to best fit the scenario of the final battle with Antichrist as Scripture and the Fathers foretold.

  5. The pope is the center of visible unity. When the pope dies and the Church continues without a pope even during long interregnums, the visible unity of faith doesn’t cease. It remains unified in Catholic doctrine. When a Catholic rejects Catholic doctrine publicly, he ceases to be a Catholic and member of the Body of the Church. The oneness of faith is the first article of faith. When the Church is in an interregnum state, it is in an imperfect and provisional state. Keep in mind that the Church is always perfect in law, doctrine, etc. but it can be imperfect in the sense that Catholics sin or when it’s absent of a pope. The person that represents the visible center of unity is absent but the papacy remains as the foundation for that unity.

If anything I’ve written is used against the papacy, it would only prove that I’m mistaken or the interpreter has misrepresented me, the papacy, or the facts of the matter.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

[2] 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.)

[3] https://stevensperay.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/sedevacantism-contradicts-the-first-vatican-council/

Read Full Post »