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Archive for October, 2022

Crisis Magazine has recently posted an article that perfectly demonstrates how Vatican 2 Catholics misunderstand Catholicism and particularly the papacy and the nature of the Church. Two striking features that stand out to me is the lack of critical thinking and the enormous amount of ignorance with the sedevacantist position. It’s as if they’ve never read a single thing we’ve ever written on the subject. However, I’m very thankful for the article since it gives us great opportunity to set the record straight once again.

The author of the piece, Kennedy Hall begins by stating, “mainstream diocesan bishops and clergy are questioning whether Pope Francis has published material or formal heresy.”

This immediately struck me. Has theological training become so bad that there’s such questioning?

Material heresy is when someone inculpably advances a heretical proposition by inadvertent ignorance. Formal heresy happens the moment one sufficiently knows the existence of the rule of the faith in the Church and that, on any point whatsoever, for whatever motive and in whatever form, one refuses to submit to it.

Theologians know what the Church teaches. Therefore, when they put forth a heresy to be believed, obstinacy is presumed, and it’s considered formal heresy. There should be no question about the matter when the subject is the papal claimant, because there’s no such thing as a true pope advancing material heresy only.

Hall continues with “there has never been a definitive teaching on how a pope could lose his office, or what we should do if he did.”

Sedevacantists do not think the Vatican 2 popes have lost the papal office. We believe they never had the Office to lose. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if there’s never been an explicit and definitive answer about how a pope can lose office or what to do if it happens. I would like to offer four explicit and definitive teachings that actually do tell us something concerning the crisis in which we can make a judgment call.

The First Vatican Council defines how a pope must be. [1] In light of the Council’s definition, has Francis kept the Catholic religion unsullied and teaching holy and remained unimpaired by any error? Does Francis have unfailing faith from Christ’s prayer and does he strengthen his brethren with the Catholic Faith? Has Francis turned the poisonous food of error away from the flock of Christ and nourished the Catholic flock with heavenly doctrine? Has Francis removed all occasion of schism that the Church might be saved as one and does he stay firm against the gates of hell?

If Francis fulfills the Vatican Council’s description, there’s no need to question his orthodoxy, how do depose him, etc. He would be the pope and that would be the end of it.

In his Encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi, June 29, 1943, Pope Pius XII declared:

“Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed…For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”

Does Francis profess the true faith? If not, can a public heretic, schismatic, or apostate be the Head of the Catholic Church?

Pope Leo XIII declared in his Encyclical, Satis Cognitum, June 29, 1896:

“St. Augustine notes that other heresies may spring up, to a single one of which, should any one give his assent, he is by the very fact cut off from Catholic unity. “No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or may arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single one of these he is not a Catholic” (S. Augustinus, De Haeresibus, n. 88)…

In this wise, all cause for doubting being removed, can it be lawful for anyone to reject any one of those truths without by the very fact falling into heresy? without separating himself from the Church? – without repudiating in one sweeping act the whole of Christian teaching? For such is the nature of faith that nothing can be more absurd than to accept some things and reject others.”

Pope Leo is very clear about it. Yet, it’s as if Vatican 2 Catholics won’t listen at all to his teaching nor will they apply it.

Lastly, we have Canon 188.4 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law: “There are certain causes which effect the tacit (silent) resignation of an office, which resignation is accepted in advance by operation of the law, and hence is effective without any declaration. These causes are… (4) publicly defects from the Catholic faith.”

Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac taught in his “General Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law,” pp. 349-350: Loss of Ecclesiastical Offices. Canons 185-191, “applies to all offices, the lowest and the highest, not excepting the Supreme Pontificate.” [p. 346] (d) Public defection from the faith, by formal heresy or apostasy, with or without affiliation with another religious society. The offense must be public, that is, generally known or liable to become so before long. (Can. 2197.)

Kennedy Hall says he can’t follow the arguments of sedevacantists, because he believes “it is not fitting for there to be no pope.” My question for him is how is it fitting there can be a heretical pope in light of the four explicit and definitive teachings I just mentioned?

It’s clear from this article that Hall doesn’t know the sedevacantist arguments in order to follow them. He makes a “Sedevacantist Wager,” but what is there for us to wager based on the teaching and law of the Church?

Hall writes: Suppose there is a pope and we have to be in the Church where he reigns in order to be saved—normally speaking. Then we ought to do just that. If we submit to the pope—in a manner properly understood—then we lose nothing ultimately and stave off the risk of losing everything. If there is no pope but in our Catholic sense we act as if there is, what could we lose?

The problem here is that it’s much more than having a false pope, but an entire religion with doubtful sacraments, heretical papal teaching, and evil and harmful disciplines and laws. Graces are lost that could be gained from valid priests and sacraments. Vatican 2 is directly responsible for the abolition of the Catholic state where religious liberty is not a God-given civil right. You lose the truth by following false teaching such as believing the death penalty is contrary to the dignity of the human person. Belonging to a religion that has as its mission (in certain areas) the LGBTQ lifestyle blessed with the tacit approval of the so-called pope is formal cooperation with evil, not to mention all of its other heretical teachings.

Hall asks: Will we stand before God at the end of our lives and be chastised for praying too much for Francis or any other pope?

This has nothing to do with sedevacantism since we still pray for all our enemies. What we will be chastised for is vincible ignorance and/or cowardice for not doing the right thing. We have plenty of Catholic and Biblical teaching about false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Popes are not false teachers or wolves. 

Hall asks: It is Catholic to believe and act as if there is a pope, as this is how Catholics have always lived. In a word, it is fitting to live and think as such.

Not when the entire religion has become Protestant and practically atheistic (modernist). It’s one thing to be honestly wrong about a false pope while the rest of the Church is Catholic. We’ve seen this numerous times in Church history with antipopes. The Vatican 2 religion has dozens and dozens of erroneous beliefs and practices. It can’t possibly be the Catholic Church. How do you live and think correctly as a Catholic in a false and counterfeit religion by which you’re constantly resisting?

Hall states: Even if the sedevacantists were right—which I don’t believe is true—they run a great risk if they are wrong.

There’s absolutely no risk of being wrong or else the Church has been wrong in the past. For the sake of the argument, if sedes are honestly wrong, we would still be members of the soul of the Church. Mortal sin requires knowledge and full consent of the will to do what he thinks is evil. 

Hall makes an observation that’s not true for most sedevacantists. He writes: Of course, if someone is confused, that is one thing—God knows the heart; but if one lives a life of anathematizing other Catholics for an opinion they have no business to dogmatize, then this presents a grave problem.

Sedevacantists are not living a life of anathematizing others. We are simply following what Pope Leo XIII and Pius XII taught above and applying it. Recognizing what’s Catholic is our duty. We are reaching out to Novus Ordo Catholics to tell them what’s going on. We want them to realize they’ve been duped by imposter popes leading them astray from Catholicism. All of us were once there in ignorance. [2] 

Finally, Hall states: In the end, if we wager that there is a pope, then we live as Catholics have always lived and we hope to die as Catholics ought to hope to die. Ultimately, wagering that there is no pope offers us little if anything, other than a great risk if we aren’t careful.

Hall has got it all wrong. You don’t live as Catholics correctly if you follow a religion that has so many blatant errors with a pope who doesn’t profess the faith. In the end, there are only two options: The Vatican 2 popes are false popes or the gates of hell have truly prevailed. There is no middle ground.

I’ve said it many times, if you’re not going to consider sedevacantism, you’re not ever going there. We have enough Church teaching to know that the Vatican 2 religion is not Catholic. The very fact that a Catholic must resist it proves it. After all, the Catholic Church must be one in faith and holy in doctrine and practice.

 

Footnotes

[1] “‘For the fathers of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, following closely in the footsteps of their predecessors, made this solemn profession: ‘The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true Faith. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Who said, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ (Matt. 16:18), should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied, and its teaching kept holy.’ …for they fully realized that this See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Savior made to the prince of his disciples, ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou has turned again, strengthen thy brethren’ (Luke 22:32)

“‘So, this gift of truth and a never failing faith was divinely conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair, that they might administer their high duty for the salvation of all; that the entire flock of Christ, turned away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished on the sustenance of heavenly doctrine, that with the occasion of schism removed the whole Church might be saved as one, and relying on her foundation might stay firm against the gates of hell.”

[2] Unfortunately, non-Catholic sedevacantists such as the Feeneyites do condemn everyone but themselves. They have become their own authority against the Roman Catechism, canon law, and popes who’ve taught and supported baptism of desire. Ironically, they do what R&R trads do by following only what they believe is dogmatically pronounced and resist everything else they believe is contrary to those dogmas. They ultimately think the Church is heretical.  

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I recently discussed the issue of Nestorius and his jurisdictional status after preaching heresy in a recent open email exchange with Robert Siscoe, who co-authored True or False Pope with John Salza.

Siscoe asked me [if preaching heresy qualifies for an ipso facto deposition] “why wasn’t John XXII ipso facto deposed?  And before you reply by saying the doctrine John XXIII denied had not yet been defined, keep in mind that the same is true for the doctrine that Nestorius denied.”

I replied and clarified: “It’s ipso facto loses jurisdiction…John XXII didn’t preach heresy. It was an open question in his day. Nestorius did preach heresy. Look it up. The Catholic Encyclopedia will tell you this on both accounts. Nestorius defected from the faith with his preaching so said the pope [Pope St. Celestine].” Siscoe apparently thinks John XXII preached heresy in his day. 

He replied:  The Pope didn’t say Nestorius defected from the faith with his preaching. That is a convenient Sedevacantist mistranslation.  What Pope Celestine actually said is that Nestorius “wavered (titubavit) in the faith” by his preaching.

I explained: He [Nestorius] was deposed 3 years after the preaching, but those 3 years in-between, he was an imposter so said another pope. The Church can grant supplied jurisdiction to such persons, but they don’t retain ordinary jurisdiction as Pope St. Celestine told us about Nestorius whose anathemas were all null and void during those 3 years.

He replied: St. Celestine didn’t say Nestorius lost his jurisdiction.  All he said is that the excommunications pronounced by Nestorius were null, since “he who has wavered in the faith by preaching such things was unable to expel or remove anyone.”

I stated: That means he already lost his jurisdiction.

Siscoe responded: No it doesn’t.  It only means he lost the authority (jurisdiction) to excommunicate, just as the ancient canon Audivimus, 24, q. 1 teaches: “if anyone shall have devised a new heresy in his heart, to the extent that he begins to preach such things, he can condemn no man.” (Audivimus, 24, q. 1).  Nestorius’ ordinary jurisdiction was restricted, it was not entirely lost and then partially supplied by the Church for certain act.

I partly quoted from Cardinal Billot, which ended it. However, I will show the full quote that demolishes Salza and Siscoe’s position:

“(4) Pope Celestine, epist. 11, n. 7 — See also epistle 12 of the same Celestine to John of Antioch, n. 2: ‘If anyone was excommunicated or cast out from episcopal or clerical dignity by the bishop Nestorius or those who follow him, from the time that they began to preach such things, it is clear that such a one has been and remains in our communion, etc.’ Thus you see, that a bishop who is an occult heretic, still has the power of binding and loosing, given that only from that time at which he begins to openly preach heresy, he loses episcopal jurisdiction and power of excommunicating. Thus the conclusion is clear. For if he who is not in the Church, cannot have authority in the Church, and an occult heretic can have it, in fact at times does indeed have it, clearly it follows that an occult heretic is not yet cut off from the body of the Church.” (Louis Cardinal Billot, S.J. De Ecclesia Christi. Q. 7, Thesis XI. pp. 291-304)

We see Cardinal Billot making the distinction between the jurisdictional status of an occult heretic and a public heretic. Billot uses Nestorius as a historical precedent of a public heretic. He tells us that when Nestorius preached heresy, he lost his jurisdiction and membership in the Body of the Church. This is precisely the application of Pope Pius XII’s teaching of Mystici Corporis Christi:“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” 

The penalties leveled against Nestorius three years later are irrelevant insofar as Nestorius already lost ordinary jurisdiction since he lost membership in the Church. 

Lastly, Pope Pius VI declared Nestorius to be an imposter, which means he wasn’t the Patriarch after his heretical preaching.

Defenders of the Vatican 2 religion rely on sophistry to fool the masses in order to maintain their allegiance. It’s totally diabolical and they just keep it up. 

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Trent Horn of Catholic Answers recently posted a video attempting to rebut sedevacantism. Horn critiques Peter Dimond in his debate with Jeff Cassman, but grossly misrepresents the issues. I will address only the main errors of the first half of Trent Horn’s lengthy video, most of which come from John Salza’s and Robert Siscoe’s heretical book, True or False Pope, which is loaded with error.

Horn’s First Error: It’s almost impossible to find a valid mass in light of the fact sedevacantists claim that Vatican 2 bishops and priests are invalid.

It’s actually very easy. Here is a website that shows where the valid masses are located: Lux Vera USA Directory

Horn’s Second Error: There will always be popes holding the office of Peter.

Horn quotes Pope Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum and Pope Pius IX’s Etsi Multi to support his claim. However, the issue of the popes he cites are only telling us about the perpetual principle of the papacy, which sedevacantism accepts. The popes aren’t saying that long interregnums won’t happen. I’ve dealt with Horn’s argument many times in the past. See How Long Can the Church Exist Without a Pope?

Horn’s Third Error: The temple in which antichrist sets himself up as god to be worshiped is probably the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.

Pope St. Pius X told us the temple of Antichrist is the universe. See The Distinguishing Mark of Antichrist

Trent Horn is a “Catholic” apologist by profession; he should know better.

Horn’s Fourth Error: The sin of heresy does not sever one from the Body of the Church.

Trent Horn makes the same argument as Salza and Siscoe concerning the sin of heresy.

The public sin of heresy is a crime. Pope Pius XII declared in Mystici Corporis Christi: “For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”

The “Body” denotes the external forum of the Catholic Church.

Theologian 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.

I dealt with Horn’s fallacy here: A Note to John Salza: Heresy ‘Does’ Automatically Sever One from the Church

Horn’s Fifth Error: All theologians agree that a pope would not lose office without first being found guilty of the canonical crime of manifest heresy. This is done by competent authority that makes a declaration by the cardinals or a council of bishops.

Well, we’ve heard this argument a time or two. At 19:12 through 20:29, Trent Horn misrepresented Suarez and Bellarmine. Suarez gave several ideas about what would happen if a pope became a heretic but then acknowledged that none of the arguments work. Therefore, a pope can’t become a heretic. Suarez didn’t even believe a pope could be an occult heretic, unlike Bellarmine.

Bellarmine thought a pope could be an occult heretic but not a manifest heretic. 20th century canonists Wernz/Vidal explain Bellarmine’s position, “a Pope who fell into public heresy would cease by that very fact to be a member of the Church. Therefore he would also cease by that very fact to be the head of the Church.” Horn completely mangled Bellarmine on this point.

Horn cites the law that no one can judge the pope, then explains how authorities must judge the pope of a canonical crime before he loses office. He, like so many others, don’t see the absurdity of their arguments. A pope loses his office automatically precisely because he can’t be judged for a canonical crime. Dozens of theologians tell us this. A few of examples:

F.X. Wernz, P. Vidal (1943): “Through notorious and openly revealed heresy, the Roman Pontiff, should he fall into heresy, by that very fact is deemed to be deprived of the power of jurisdiction even before any declaratory judgment of the Church…” (Ius Canonicum. Rome: Gregorian 1943. 2:45.)

Udalricus Beste (1946): “Not a few canonists teach that, outside of death and abdication, the pontifical dignity can also be lost by falling into certain insanity, which is legally equivalent to death, as well as through manifest and notorious heresy. In the latter case, a pope would automatically fall from his power, and this indeed without the issuance of any sentence, for the first See [i.e., the See of Peter] is judged by no one.  (Introductio in Codicem. 3rd ed. Collegeville: St. John’s Abbey Press 1946. Canon 221)

My favorite is St. Antoninus, O.P. (1389-1459): “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.)

Only a small number of theologians use the absurd argument that a declaration must be made beforehand. However, most of them see the absurdity and conclude that a pope can’t become a heretic to begin with. Cajetan and John of St. Thomas are exceptions.

Horn’s Sixth Error: Canon 10 of the Fourth Council of Constantinople condemns rash judgment of the pope.

The canon actually condemns rash judgment of any sitting Patriarch. However, Horn misapplies the canon to sedevacantism.

1. The Council and Canon 10 have nothing to do with sedevacantism.

2. The Council condemned usurpers to the throne AND their supporters, which would, in principle, condemn Francis I and Trent Horn who represent the new Photius and his support group.

3. The Council deposed Photius after declaring he never had office, which means being deposed doesn’t presuppose one actually had the office.

4. The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “By this act Photius committed three offences against canon law: he was ordained bishop without having kept the interstices, by an excommunicate consecrator, and to an already occupied see. To receive ordination from an excommunicate person made him too excommunicate ipso facto.”

5. Canon 10 condemns judging rashly a patriarch. It’s not about judging rightly about one who manifestly professes heresy whereby such individuals lose office ipso facto, because they ipso facto cease to members of the Body of the Church before trial, judgment, and excommunication.

Horn’s Seventh Error: Laymen are not qualified to recognize when a bishop is a manifest heretic.

This implies that we can’t follow Our Lord’s words when He said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matt. 7:15-16)”

St. Paul tells us in Acts 20:28-29 that wolves will enter the Church.

“Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock.”

There will be wolves acting as bishops but according to Horn, we aren’t qualified to recognize they are wolves.

Horn’s Eighth Error: No bishop declared John XXIII or Paul VI a manifest heretic because they were not manifest heretics.

Actually, there were a few bishops that thought so. One bishop for sure did declare it. However, failure to make a declaration has nothing to do with whether they were indeed manifest heretics. Bishops can fail in their duty as they did.

No priest in the Diocese of Lexington has declared Bishop John Stowe a manifest heretic despite the fact that Stowe manifestly endorses and promotes the LGBTQ objective, which is to be recognized and accepted as a legitimate way of life.

What bishop has condemned Francis for praising, supporting, and endorsing LGBTQ priest James Martin or his tacit approval of the blessing of same-sex couples by the numerous bishops around the world? If public approval of the LGBTQ objective is not manifest heresy, then there’s no such thing as manifest heresy. Imagine if Francis praised and endorsed Planned Parenthood or NAMBLA? Would that constitute manifest heresy and if not, may Catholics follow Francis in his endorsement of these different organizations?  

Horn’s Ninth Error: Popes can have lesser errors against the faith than heresy, such as John XXII teaching on the Beatific Vision.

Popes can err but not against the Faith, not even a little bit. John XXII did not err against the faith since it was an open question at the time. The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us so. 

Horn’s Tenth Error: Vatican 2 doesn’t teach any heresies.

Horn actually tells us one heresy, viz, baptized non-Catholics are members of Christ, but denies it is heresy. I cover it in Horn’s Eleventh Error.

Other Vatican 2 heresies include religious liberty covered in Horn’s Twelfth Error and the heresy that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. See UPDATE: Fathers of Mercy Priest Enters Vatican II’s “Subsists” Debate

OPEN EMAIL DISCUSSION OVER VATICAN II’S “SUBSISTS”

The Heresy on the Nature of the Church

Horn’s Eleventh Error: Non-Catholics are members of the Body of Christ in virtue of their baptism but have an imperfect communion and the Apostle Paul taught in Rom. 6 that everyone validly baptized is united to Christ.

This is blatant heresy. St. Paul said no such thing. I have written extensively on this subject, so I’ll refer to the articles I’ve already written on the subject.

A Perfect Example of Modernism in Vatican 2

Are Protestants Christians and Members of the Church of Christ?

A Right to the Christian Name

That They May Be One (Ut Unum Sint)

Horn’s Twelfth Error: Vatican 2’s teaching on religious liberty is only about coercion in civil society. In other words, men can’t be forced to be Catholic.

While it’s true that men can’t be forced to be Catholic, Vatican 2 goes much further. Again, I’ve dealt with this in the past as well. See

Religious Liberty and the Dignity of the Human Person

Rev. Brian Harrison Responds to My Article on Patrick Madrid and Religious Liberty

Trent Horn obviously hasn’t done his homework on the issues. It appears he’s made a cursory reading on the subject and repeats the same tired arguments we’ve refuted numerous times. It’s just sorry and dishonest!

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