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Archive for the ‘Dogmatic Fact’ Category

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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