Archive for the ‘John Salza and Robert Siscoe’ Category

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Robert Siscoe’s latest article “Pope Celestine III’s Error on the Indissolubility of Marriage” published by the Remnant Newspaper is historically and theologically flawed throughout.

I recently posted a comment after the article from Cardinal Manning who taught precisely the opposite to Siscoe’s conclusion. The Remnant Newspaper removed my comment. In fact, the Remnant Newspaper has removed dozens of my comments over the years that expose their lies and misrepresentations. The Catholic World Report, Crisis Magazine, and others have removed my comments as well. I’m not the only one who gets censored in order that these pseudo-catholic publishers can save face.

Fr. Paul Kramer was also censored by the Remnant after sending a comment correcting all the errors of Siscoe’s article.

Fr. Kramer’s excellent reply proves that CNN, NBC, CBS, and ABC are not the only fake news outlets. The outrageous lies published by the Remnant Newspaper are inexcusable.  After being corrected, they remain obstinate in their sin against Christ and the Catholic Faith.

Below is Fr. Kramer’s rebuttal.

I have read the relevant Latin texts of Celestine III, and of Innocent III. They were ruling on two different cases. Gregory (incorporating Celestine’s ruling into Canon Law) ruled that the husband who defected from the faith out of hatred for his wife, thereby forfeited his matrimonial rights, so that the wife was not bound to return to her first husband, but was free to enter the monastic life, even with the husband opposed; and that the husband could marry the former infidel wife, converted to the Catholic faith, only after the death of the first wife.

Innocent ruled on a case referred to him by Bishop Hugo of Ferrara, that the wife of a man who defected into heresy could not remarry. Two entirely different cases. Celestine & Gregory did not rule that the woman could divorce and remarry, but only that she was not bound to return to the first husband, and was free to enter religious life, even against the opposition of her husband, who had forfeited his matrimonial rights. Celestine did make the error of basing his correct ruling on an erroneous interpretation of the Pauline Privilege, and thus condoned the woman’s second marriage — however, his error was not expressed in a magisterial teaching, but was only an erroneous opinion expressed in a legal case, upon which he correctly ruled that the woman was no longer bound to return to the first husband. He expressed an erroneous opinion that the woman’s second marriage was legitimate, but that was not his RULING, but only an erroneous basis for a CORRECT RULING that the woman was free to enter religion against the will of her first husband.

Siscoe’s claim that, “The case eventually reached Pope Celestine III (d. 1198), who considered the matter and judged that the woman should remain in her second adulterous union, rather than returning to her true husband”, is utterly false. Likewise, Siscoe’s claim that Celestine TAUGHT the error in his magisterium [1] is false, and likewise, his claim that Gregory IX incorporated into Canon Law [2] a ruling allowing divorce and remarriage is absurdly nonsensical, and only demonstrates how utterly incompetent he is in Canon Law and Theology.

[1] “The erroneous judgment of Pope Celestine highlights the limitations of papal infallibility by showing that a true Pope can, as part of his teaching office (Magisterium), render a judgment that contradicts divine revelation and confirms a person in objective mortal sin.”

[2]  “Celestine’s Error Incorporated into Canon Law” : “The limitations of Papal Infallibility is further highlighted by the fact that the error of Pope Celestine was later included in the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX (known as Quinque Libri Decretalium), which was the first collection of Canon Law promulgated by a Pope for the universal Church.” And, “this non-infallible papal judgment confirmed a woman in the objective state of adultery.”

Fr. Paul Kramer B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div., S.T.L. (cand.)


Siscoe’s article:


http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/fetzen-fliegen/item/3047-pope-celestine-iii- s-error-on-the-indissolubility-of-marriage


The page of Gregory IX’s Decretals, quoting Celestine III’s ruling:


http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/collections/cul/texts/ldpd_6029936_002/pages/ldpd_ 6029936_002_00000336.html?toggle=image&menu=maximize&top=199px&left=70px


Innocent III’s ruling:


Quanto te magis novimus in canonico iure peritum, tanto fraternitatem tuam amplius in Domino commendamus, quod in dubiis quaestionum articulis ad sedem apostolicam recurris, quae disponente Domino cunctorum fidelium mater est et magistra, ut opinio, quam in eis quondam habueras, dum alios canonici iuris peritiam edoceres, vel corrigatur per sedem apostolicam vel probetur. Sane tua nobis fraternitas suis literis intimavit, quod, altero coniugum ad haeresim transeunte, qui relinquitur ad secunda vota desiderat convolare et filios procreare, quod, utrum possit fieri de iure, per tuas nos duxisti literas consulendos. Nos igitur consultationi tuae de communi fratrum nostrorum consilio respondentes, distinguimus, licet quidam praedecessor noster sensisse aliter videatur, an ex duobus infidelibus alter ad fidem catholicam convertatur, vel ex duobus fidelibus alter labatur in haeresim, vel decidat in gentilitatis errorem. Si enim alter infidelium coniugum ad fidem catholicam convertatur, altero vel nullo modo, vel saltem non sine blasphemia divini nominis, vel ut eum pertrahat ad mortale peccatum, ei cohabitare volente: qui relinquitur, ad secunda, si voluerit, vota transibit. Et in hoc casu intelligimus quod ait Apostolus: “Si infidelis discedit, discedat. Frater enim vel soror non est servituti subiectus in huiusmodi,” et canonem etiam, in quo dicitur, quod “contumelia creatoris solvit ius matrimonii circa eum, qui relinquitur.” Si vero alter fidelium coniugum vel labatur in haeresim, vel transeat ad gentilitatis errorem, non credimus, quod in hoc casu is, qui relinquitur, vivente altero possit ad secundas nuptias convolare, licet in hoc casu maior appareat contumelia creatoris. Nam etsi matrimonium verum quidem inter infideles exsistat, non tamen est ratum. Inter fideles autem verum quidem et ratum exsistit, quia sacramentum fidei, quod semel est admissum, nunquam amittitur; sed ratum efficit coniugii sacramentum, ut ipsum in coniungibus illo durante perduret. Nec obstat, quod a quibusdam forsan obiicitur, quod fidelis relictus non debeat iure suo sine culpa privari, quum in multis casibus hoc contingat, ut si alter coniugum incidatur. Per hanc autem responsionem quorundam malitiae obviatur, qui in odium coniugum, vel quando sibi invicem displicerent, si eas possent in tali casu dimittere, simularent haeresim, ut ab ipsa nubentibus coniugibus resilirent. Per hanc ipsam responsionem illa solvitur quaestio, qua quaeritur, utrum ad eum, qui [vel] ab haeresi vel infidelitate revertitur, is, qui permansit in fide, redire cogatur. [Dat. Lat. Kal. Maii 1199.]




Pope Innocent III: On the Bond of Marriage and the Pauline Privilege [From the letter “Quanto te magis” to Hugo, Bishop of Ferrara, May 1, 1199]

405 Your brotherhood has announced that with one of the spouses passing over to heresy the one who is left desires to rush into second vows and to procreate children, and you have thought that we ought to be consulted through your letter as to whether this can be done under the law. We, therefore, responding to your inquiry regarding the common advice of our brothers make a distinction, although indeed our predecessor seems to have thought otherwise, whether of two unbelievers one is converted to the Catholic Faith, or of two believers one lapses into heresy or falls into the error of paganism. For if one of the unbelieving spouses is converted to the Catholic faith, while the other either is by no means willing to live with him or at least not without blaspheming the divine name or so as to drag him into mortal sin, the one who is left, if he wishes, will pass over to second vows. And in this case we understand what the Apostle says: “If the unbeliever depart, let him depart: for the brother or sister is not subject to servitude in (cases) of this kind” [1 Cor. 7:15]. And likewise (we understand) the canon in which it is said that “insult to the Creator dissolves the law of marriage for him who is left.” [from Isaac406 But if one of the believing spouses either slip into heresy or lapse into the error of paganism, we do not believe that in this case he who is left, as long as the other is living, can enter into a second marriage; although in this case a greater insult to the Creator is evident. Although indeed true matrimony exists between unbelievers, yet it is not ratified; between believers, however, a true and ratified marriage exists, because the sacrament of faith, which once was admitted, is never lost, but makes the sacrament of marriage ratified so that it itself lasts between married persons as long as the sacrament of faith endures.

Summary: 1) Quanto te affirms that true marriage does exist among unbelievers, (notwithstanding the fact that they do not regard marriage as indissoluble.)

2) Quanto te affirms that a marriage between believers is “ratified” because of the”sacrament of faith.” A ratified marriage remains even if one of the partners should renounce their faith.

3) The Pauline Priviledge is affirmed and the groundspermitting the convert to remarry are expanded to include not only

a) convert who have been deserted by the unbelieving spouse, (as per Paul) but also, b) a convert who would be subjected to blasphemy by an unbelieving spouse who remains, or, c) a convert who would be led into mortal sin by a spouse who remains.

How the unbeliever’s blasphemy or drawing to mortal sinamounted to the forteiture of the unbelievers marriage and how these acts were to be proved were not determined by these decretals.

The implication of course was significant: a valid, consummated marriage between Christian and unbeliever was dissoluble.


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epic fail 5


John Salza’s and Robert Siscoe’s new book, “True or False Pope – Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors” is selling fast according to the authors. They boast that the first print is almost sold out and claim the scales are now falling from the eyes of some (former) sedevacantists. They recently wrote an article claiming the book hasn’t been refuted, yet all their recycled arguments were answered long before their book was published. In my last post, I demonstrated how Salza/Siscoe’s book has already been refuted by Pope Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis Christi. In this post, more catastrophic errors will be presented.

Salza/Siscoe’s main argument hinges on how the loss of office occurs. Canon law defines it. Not once in 700 pages did Salza/Siscoe present an expert’s commentary on canon 188.4 because no canonist supports them. Salza/Siscoe use their private judgment on how the canons are to be interpreted.

Canon 188.4, 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.”

Salza/Siscoe argue the following four points.

1. Loss of Office from canon 188.4 is a severe vindictive penalty.

Salza/Siscoe write:

The sin of heresy alone, which has not been judged and declared by the Church, does not result in the loss of ecclesiastical office for a cleric. The loss of office for a cleric is a vindictive penalty, and there is a process in Church law which must precede vindictive penalties….

This also means that the loss of office for a cleric must be imposed (ferendae sententiae) by Church authority [70] which makes the loss of office a “vindictive penalty.” Footnote 70 – In the old 1917 Code, there was an exception to this rule for the more severe vindictive penalty (canon 188, §4). This topic will be discussed at the end of this chapter. (True or False Pope – Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors, p. 260, emphasis mine.)

Salza/Siscoe are entirely refuted by Fr. Gerald McDevitt. His work “The Renunciation of an Ecclesiastical Office,” published by Catholic University of America, is an invaluable resource for those interested in understanding the loss of office. On pp 115-117, McDevitt writes:

In treating of public defection from the faith, Coronata notes that the tacit renunciation which results in consequence of this defection is not strictly the effect of penal sanction. 10 (Institutiones, IV, n. 1864.) This statement is quite true. Certainly the tacit renunciation cannot be considered a penalty for a religious profession, which according to canon 188, n.1, effects a tacit renunciation. There is certainly nothing in such an act that would warrant a penalty. Even with regard to the acts in canon 188 which constitute crimes the writer believes that the tacit renunciation is not inflicted as a penalty. This fact seems quite clear to the writer, especially in view of the manner in which the Code refers to the tacit renunciation in the canons which treat of penalties. The quotation from the following two canons will serve to demonstrate the distinction that the Code makes. Canon 2168, § 2, in treating of the procedure against non-resident clerics, states the following:

In nomitione Ordinarius recolat poenas quas incurrunt clerici non residents itemque praescriptum can. 188, n. 8…

Canon 2314, in dealing with the crime of those who are guilty of heresy or apostasy, reads as follows:

§ 1,3. Si sectae acatholicae nomen dederint vel publice adhaeserint, ipso facto infames sunt et, firmo praescripto can. 188, n. 4, clerici, monitione incassum praemissa, degradentur.

The same procedure is followed in the other canons which make mention of a tacit renunciation. It is plainly evident that a distinction is being made between the threatened or enacted penalty on the one hand, and the tacit renunciation called a penalty. It is always set off in a separate ablative absolute clause when it is enumerated with penalties. For this reason the writer is of the opinion that a tacit renunciation is not to be classified as a penalty. The authors do not expressly designate it as a penalty, but they do list it along with the penalties when they consider the juridic effects consequent upon specific crimes. 11 (Vermeerch-Creusen, Epitome, III, 513; Coronata, Institutiones, IV, nn. 2178, 2196.

The direct purpose of this discussion was to demonstrate that cardinals are subject to the prescriptions of canon 188. Concomitantly the presentation of the arguments served the further purpose of clarifying that in this canon the law is not imposing a penalty, but is rather accepting the specified acts as tantamount to an express renunciation of office. It may here be noted also that a tacit renunciation and a privation of office are very similar, but that the law nevertheless consistently places them in different categories.

Fr. McDevitt continues under “Conclusions” page 156:

8. A tacit renunciation of an ecclesiastical office is not a presumed resignation; it is a true resignation admitted by the law as equivalent to an express renunciation.

9. A tacit renunciation of an ecclesiastical office is not a penalty, even though some of the acts which effect such a renunciation are criminal acts. Therefore, Cardinals are subject to the prescriptions of canon 188.

Salza/Siscoe, who arrogantly and obnoxiously attack sedevacantism on canon law, are proven wrong by the experts and it gets worse for them in the following points.

2. Public defection means joining another religion, public heresy alone doesn’t qualify.


(Note that “public heresy” and “public defection from the faith” are two different things. Sedevacantists have failed to grasp this point when they attempt to apply canon 188, §4, to the conciliar Popes.)…

As we will see below in our discussion on canon 188, §4, the old 1917 Code of Canon Law taught that in the extreme case in which a prelate publicly defects from the Faith by joining a non-Catholic sect, he is deposed without the need of a declaratory sentence. (ibid. p. 281)

Tacit resignation for public defection from the faith occurs when a prelate joins a non-Cathlic sect, not when he simply makes a heretical statement (judged so by private judgment). Canon 2314, §3 confirms this… (Ibid. p. 286)

In an article, titled, A Point-By-Point Refutation of Mario Derksen on Nestorius A Case of “Cherry-Picking” Theology and “Butchering” Canon Law, Salza/Siscoe write:

Speray needs to show us where “Rev. Augustine explains ‘tacit resignation’ in canon 188.4 is public heresy, not just joining another religion,” or he needs to retract his statement. Will he?

We have searched Fr. Augustine’s book thoroughly and found nothing that corroborates Speray’s claim. We’ve found a total of two references to Canon 188.4 in the entire book. One is found in the quotation we cited (page 280, footnote 13), and the other is on page 276.

Salza/Siscoe claim to have thoroughly searched and found nothing that corroborates my claim, yet Fr. Augustine writes in his commentary under canon 188.4 on page 161:

(4) Defection from the Catholic faith, if public, deprives one of all ecclesiastical offices he may hold; not, however, mere schism, if unconnected with heresy.

Fr. Augustine doesn’t mention joining another religion. He simply says office is lost by heresy, if public, schism doesn’t suffice by itself.

On page 86, in his “A practical commentary on the Code of canon law,” professor of canon law, Fr. Stanislaus Woywod translates c. 188.4 defection of faith:

(4) If a cleric has publicly lapsed from the Catholic Faith.

On page 139, from “The Renunciation of an Ecclesiastical Office,” Fr. Gerald McDevitt writes:

The defection of faith must be public. It is to be noted immediately that adherence to or inscription in a non-catholic sect is not required to constitute the publicity that the canon demands.

See below for McDevitt’s full commentary that defines defection of Faith as simply heresy and apostasy under canon 1325.

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.)

Salza/Siscoe quote Ayrinhac on deposition for canonical crime, but fail to quote him on canon 188.4 concerning the loss of office and public defection of faith. Whenever Salza/Siscoe see something from a canonist that doesn’t corroborate with their position, they simply ignore it and search out whatever appears to be in their favor to win the argument.

I’ve already shown in past articles what Pope St. Celestine and St. Robert Bellarmine say on defection of faith. Again, St. Robert Bellarmine:

And in a letter to the clergy of Constantinople, Pope St. Celestine I says: The authority of Our Apostolic See has determined that the bishop, cleric, or simple Christian who had been deposed or excommunicated by Nestorius or his followers, after the latter began to preach heresy shall not be considered deposed or excommunicated. For he who had defected from the faith with such preachings, cannot depose or remove anyone whatsoever.

Nestorius didn’t join another religion, yet he defected from the faith by heresy alone! Many more examples could be given.

3. Canonical warnings are necessary before Can. 188.4 is effective.


As we will see below in our discussion on canon 188, §4, the old 1917 Code of Canon Law taught that in the extreme case in which a prelate publicly defects from the Faith by joining a non-Catholic sect, he is deposed without the need of a declaratory sentence. Nevertheless, the formal deposition would have to be preceded by a canonical warning (to confirm pertinacity), but it would not require a declaratory sentence of the crime. (ibid p. 281)

The reason why Salza/Siscoe think warnings are necessary is because they erroneously hold that loss of office is a vindictive penalty where warnings play a part in the punishments. However, Salza/Siscoe admit on page 45 that warnings are not always necessary. They write in footnote 40:

40 “Neither is it always demanded in the external forum that there be a warning and a reprimand as described above for somebody to be punished as heretical and pertinacious, and such a requirement is by no means always admitted in practice by the Holy Office” (De Lugo, disp. XX, sect. IV, n. l57-158, cited in “Essay on Heresy,” by Arnaldo da Silveira).

However, Salza/Siscoe claim on the same pages of their book that the pope is the exception to the rule, but they don’t cite the full context of De Lugo who continues…

For if it could be established in some other way, given that the doctrine is well known, given the kind of person involved and given the other circumstances, that the accused could not have been unaware that his thesis was opposed to the Church, he would be considered as a heretic from this fact… The reason for this is clear because the exterior warning can serve only to ensure that someone who has erred understands the opposition which exists between his error and the teaching of the Church. If he knew the subject through books and conciliar definitions much better than he could know it by the declarations of someone admonishing him then there would be no reason to insist on a further warning for him to become pertinacious against the Church.

So while Salza/Siscoe admit that other clerics wouldn’t always need canonical warnings because they should know better, the pope would always need canonical warnings even though he should know better, too. That’s the kind of logic Salza/Siscoe use in their futile attack against sedevacantism.

Canon laws clearly spell out how canonical warnings always come from superiors. Popes might be warned, but not canonically, because canonical warnings can’t be given to popes.

Popes and cardinals don’t suffer ecclesiastical penalties found in the penal legislation of the Fifth Book of the Code of Canon Law. Therefore, they don’t get warned. More importantly, Canon 1556 tells us: The First See is judged by no one. Yet, Salza/Siscoe keep arguing that popes can be judged for crimes, issued canonical warnings, and then suffer ecclesiastical penalties for those crimes. It is one absurdity heaped upon another absurdity.

Canon 188 is not a penalty. It requires no warnings because it’s a tacit resignation.

4. Professing public heresy is not openly and publicly leaving the Church.


As we will see below in our discussion on canon 188, §4, the old 1917 Code of Canon Law taught that in the extreme case in which a prelate publicly defects from the Faith by joining a non-Catholic sect, he is deposed without the need of a declaratory sentence. Nevertheless, the formal deposition would have to be preceded by a canonical warning (to confirm pertinacity), but it would not require a declaratory sentence of the crime. In fact, this extreme case may be what Bellarmine was actually referring to in De Romano Pontifice, when he wrote:

“This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and outstandingly that of St. Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 2) who speaks as follows of Novatian, who was Pope [antipope] in the schism which occurred during the pontificate of St. Cornelius: ‘He would not be able to retain the episcopate, and, if he was made bishop before, he separated himself from the body of those who were, like him, bishops, and from the unity of the Church.’ According to what St. Cyprian affirms in this passage, even had Novatian been the true and legitimate Pope, he would have automatically fallen from the pontificate, if he separated himself from the Church.

This is the opinion of great recent doctors, as John Driedo (lib. 4 de Script. et dogmat. Eccles., cap. 2, par. 2, sent. 2), who teaches that only those separate themselves from the Church who are expelled, like the excommunicated, and those who depart by themselves from her or oppose her, as heretics and schismatics. And in his seventh affirmation, he maintains that in those who turn away from the Church, there remains absolutely no spiritual power over those who are in the Church. Melchior Cano says the same (lib. 4 de loc., cap. 2), teaching that heretics [those who have turned away from the Church] are neither parts nor members of the Church, and that it cannot even be conceived that anyone could be head and Pope, without being member and part (cap. ult. ad argument. 12).”131

By referring to heretics as those who “separate themselves from the Church,” who “turn away from the Church,” and who “depart by themselves from her,” Bellarmine is referring not to those who merely profess a heretical proposition, but to those who openly leave the Church (no longer accepting the Church as the rule of faith). (ibid. pp. 281-282)

Professing heresy is openly leaving the Church and no longer accepting the Church as the rule of faith. All heretics “separate themselves from the Church,” “turn away from the Church,” and/or “depart by themselves from her.”

As proved in Part II of this series, Pope Pius XII declared in Mystici Corporis Christi that the sin of heresy severs an individual from the Body of the Church by its very nature. A severed individual cannot hold office in the Church. Salza/Siscoe deny the pope’s teaching. 

At the end of this study, Fr. Gerald McDevitt explains in, “The Renunciation of an Ecclesiastical Office” why Salza/Siscoe are wrong again.

Most Reverend Eric MacKenzie wrote on page 19 in his – “The Delict of Heresy”:

The heinousness of apostasy and heresy is found in the fact that misbelieve or unbelief is a blasphemous imputation of error deceit to God Himself. A further blasphemy is at least implicit, in that the apostate or heretic thinks, or seems to think, that he has some means of distinguishing truth from error, which operates more certainly and more infallibly than does God’s own Infinite Intelligence. Hence, sins against faith are basically blasphemies against God Himself. As such they are considered, next to odium Dei, the most heinous that man can commit. Nor is there any essential distinction between the guilt of heresy and of apostasy, since the same blasphemy is implicit in both.

Nowhere in Bellarmine’s above paragraphs do we see that joining another sect is a necessary requirement for defection of faith. In fact, we’ve already seen how St. Robert Bellarmine taught that Nestorius defected from the faith by heresy, and not joining another religion. Salza/Siscoe/SSPX etc. are so bent on not seeing the truth, that they twist simple concepts into absolute nonsense and think they’ve won the argument.

Because no expert canonist supports Salza/Siscoe, they dig themselves a deeper grave by using Novus Ordo non-canonist Rev. Brian Harrison for support on canon 188.4. Salza/Siscoe write:

What exactly does the canon mean by “publicly defected from the Faith”? The Sedevacantists interpret it to mean that if they privately judge a Pope to be a heretic, he has therefore “publicly defected from the faith,” which means his See (Sede) is vacant (vacat: hence sede vacante). But is this really what the canon under tacit resignation means? No, not at all. To quote Fr. Brian Harrison:

“Canon 188, §4 states that among the actions which automatically (ipso facto) cause any cleric to lose his office, even without any declaration on the part of a superior, is that of ‘defect[ing] publicly from the Catholic faith’ (‘A fide catholica publice defecerit’). However, to ‘defect publicly’ from the faith, in this context, clearly means something a lot more drastic than making heretical (or allegedly heretical) statements in the course of public speeches or documents. This particular cause of losing an ecclesiastical office is found in that section of the Code dealing with the resignation of such an office (cc. 184-191), and is part of a canon which lists eight sorts of actions which the law treats as ‘tacit resignations.’ In other words, they are the sorts of actions which can safely be taken as evidence that the cleric in question does not even to want to continue in the office he held up till that time, even though he may never have bothered to put his resignation or abdication in writing.”136

A simple review of the explanation of this canon, as found in the canonical manuals, explains precisely what the Church means by “public defection from the faith.” The statement does not apply, as Fr. Harrison correctly notes, to a person who merely makes a heretical statement. Public defection from the faith refers to a prelate who publicly joins a false religion, either formally or informally.

This is tacit resignation recognized by law (Canon 188.4) and therefore the vacancy is one de facto et iure [by fact and by law].”138

Tacit resignation for public defection from the faith occurs when a prelate joins a non-Cathlic sect, not when he simply makes a heretical statement (judged so by private judgment). Canon 2314, §3 confirms this when it provides:

“Canon 2314: (3) if they have joined a non-Catholic sect (Si sectae acatholicae nomen dederint) or publicly adhered to it (vel publice adhaeserint), they are ipso facto infamous, and clerics, in addition to being considered to have tacitly renounced any office they may hold, according to canon 188.4, are, if previous warning proves fruitless, to be degraded” (emphasis added). Furthermore, as noted above in Canon 2314 and in the quotation from Fr. Augustine, even in this extreme case in which a cleric publicly defects from the faith by joining a non-Catholic sect, the prelate must be duly warned before being degraded or “deposed.” Thus, even when a cleric openly leaves the Church (by joining another religion), thereby abandoning his office (which is de facto vacant due to his “tacit resignation”), he must first be warned by ecclesiastical authority before he is formally deposed (or degraded) by the Church.

This is also confirmed by Fr. Ayrinhac’s commentary on the 1917 Code, wherein he notes that a cleric who “formally affiliates with a non-Catholic sect, or publicly adheres to it” is only deposed after being warned. Wrote Fr. Ayrinhac:

“If they have been formally affiliated with a non-Catholic sect, or publicly adhere to it, they incur ipso facto the note of infamy; clerics lose all ecclesiastical offices they might hold (Canon 188.4), and after a fruitless warning they should be deposed.”139 [Footnote139] Ayrinhac, Penal Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law, p. 193. Note: “A deposition is an ecclesiastical vindictive penalty by which a cleric is forever deprived of his office or benefice and of the right of exercising the functions of his orders.” Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), vol. IV, p. 737. (ibid. pp. 284-286)

Clearly, canon 188, §4 in no way supports the Sedevacantist position, since: 1) none of the conciliar Popes have publicly defected from the faith by joining a non-Catholic sect; and, 2) they have not been warned (which the canon requires before deposition, or “degradation” occurs). Without even addressing whether or when canon law applies to the Pope, the foregoing analysis demonstrates that the Sedevacantists’ effort to commandeer this canon in support of their thesis is categorically misapplied and thus completely erroneous. It also demonstrates why such critical issues are left to the public judgment of the proper authorities in the Church, and not the private judgment of individual Catholics in the street. (ibid. p. 287)

We just read Salza/Siscoe’s private interpretation of canon law and their misunderstanding of Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac’s commentary. They state, “A simple review of the explanation of this canon [188.4], as found in the canonical manuals, explains precisely what the Church means by “public defection from the faith.”

Yet, they don’t cite a single manual on canon 188.4 because not a single canonical manual claims that public defection from the faith requires adherence to a non-Catholic sect.

On pp. 136-140 in “The Renunciation of an Ecclesiastical Office” Fr. Gerald McDevitt clarifies defection of faith in canon 188.4:

Since it is not only incongruous that one who has publicly defected from the faith should remain in an ecclesiastical office, but since such a condition might also be the source of serious spiritual harm when the care of souls is concerned, the Code prescribes that a cleric tacitly renounces his office by public defection from the faith. Prior to the Code the law imposed a privation of office and benefice on a cleric for such a crime. This penalty was certainly imposed upon those clerics who were publicly guilty of heresy and of apostasy, but because of two apparently contradictory laws it was disputed whether the penalty applied also to those who were publicly guilty of schism. The present law attaches a tacit renunciation instead of a privation of office to a public defection from the faith. Since canon 188, n. 4, uses a general terminology, it necessary to determine the meaning of defection of faith and also to determine the extent of publicity that is required if the act of defection is to become the basis for a tacit renunciation of office.

Since three specific crimes, namely, heresy, apostasy and schism, will enter this discussion, it is necessary to give the definitions of them as found in the Code. These definitions are contained in canon 1325, §2, which reads as follows:

Post receptum baptismum si quis, nomen retinens christianum, pertinaciter aliquam ex veritatibus fide divina et catholica credendis denegat aut de ea dubitat, haereticus; si a fide Christiana totaliter recedit, apostate; si denique subess renuit Summo Pontifici aut cum membris Ecclesiae ei subiectis communicare recusat, schismaticus est.

These definitions are quite clear. Apostasy is a total defection from the faith, while heresy is only a partial defection, but as MacKenzie remarks (The Delict of Heresy in Its Commission, Penalization, Absolution, The Catholic University of America Canon Law Studies, n. 77 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America, 1932), p. 19), they are essentially the same, since the rejection of any one truth involves the same blasphemous attitude towards God that is involved in a denial of all the truths.

The authors are not in agreement as to whether schism is to be included in the meaning of the term “defection of faith,” as used in canon 188, n. 4. Augustine, Blat, Toso and Coronata do not regard schism as constituting a defection from the faith as understood in canon 188, n. 4. since schism as such does not essentially militate against the possible retention of the faith even in its entirety. Maroto, Vermeersch-Creusen, Cocchi and Sipos, on the other hand, consider schism pure and simple as sufficient to constitute a defection from the faith and hence to call for the application of the sanction enacted in canon 188, n. 4. Heneghan includes those who are guilty purely of schism in his interpretation of the clause, “qui notorie aut catholicam fidem abjecerunt,” in canon 1065, § 1. The expression which Heneghan interprets in this manner is substantially the same as the expression employed in canon 188, n. 4, which reads as follows: “A fide catholica publice defecerit.”

According to the strict interpretation of the words contained in canon 188, n. 4, and of the definition of schism, it must be admitted that the canon does not indisputably comprehend the condition of pure schism, since in its essence schism does not denote defection from the faith, but rather connotes a violation of obedience and charity. However, one could doubt that the law intends to exclude the consideration of schism from this canon, for in canon 2314, §1, n. 3, which provides penalties for the public adherence to a non-catholic sect, cognizance is taken of canon 188, n. 4, with the words “firmo praescripto can. 188, n. 4.” Since the wording of canon 2314, § 1, n. 3, applies to a schismatical sect as well as to a heretical one, and since the application of canon 188, n. 4, is confirmed in this canon, on could reasonably be led to conclude that the wording of canon 188, n. 4, means to comprise also the condition of pure schism.

In practice it will be extremely rare that a case of pure schism will arise, for almost invariably and all but inevitably some heresy will be joined to it. This is especially true since the time of the solemn definition of the primacy and the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. If, however, there should arise a case of pure schism on the part of a cleric, the writer believes that the cleric would not lose his office by a tacit renunciation since the sanction of canon 188, n. 4, is of but doubtful efficacy in view of its questionable comprehension of the condition of pure schism, and especially since the effective application of that sanction involves the forfeiture of a vested right.

The defection of faith must be public. It is to be noted immediately that adherence to or inscription in a non-catholic sect is not required to constitute the publicity that the canon demands. The defection must be public according to the definition of publicity which is found in canon 2197, n. 1:

Delictum est publicum, si iam divulgatum est aut talibus constigit aut versatur inadiunctis ut prudenter iudicarit posit et debeat facile divulgatum iri.

The authors are in agreement that this is the type of publicity postulated for making the defection a public one. Thus the defection from the faith may be public by reason of the fact that it is already known to a notable part of the community. The law does not prescribe any special number as being necessary to constitute a notable part of the community. Determination of this point is left to man’s prudent judgment. Besides being public by reason of actual divulgation, the defection from the faith may be public also because of the fact that the circumstances force one to conclude that it will be easily divulged in the future. Thus if even only a few loquacious persons witnessed the defection from the faith, or if the sole and only witness was a taciturn person who later threatened to divulge the crime because of an enmity that has arisen between him and the delinquent, the delict would be public in the sense of canon 2197, n. 1.

A cleric, then, if he is to occasion the tacit renunciation of his office, must have defected from the faith by apostasy or heresy in a public manner according to the explanation just given. Since the writer holds the opinion that tacit renunciation is not of the nature of a penalty, he holds also that the prescriptions of canon 2229 concerning excusing causes with reference to latae sententiae penalties do not apply to the case of a tacit renunciation of office on the part of a cleric who has perpetrated the act which is mentioned in canon 188, n. 4. Thus the writer believes that even if it were thinkable that a cleric was excused from incurring excommunication involved in a defection from the faith in view of the prescriptions of canon 2229, § 3, n. 1, he still would lose his office by a tacit renunciation. In this regard a tacit renunciation is like an irregularity, which, while in many respects it looks like a penalty, is nevertheless not a penalty in a truly canonical sense.

John Salza and Robert Siscoe have been proven wrong about Nestorius, Cardinal Billot, St. Robert Bellarmine, Popes Pius XII and St. Celestine, the Councils of Constantinople IV and Vatican I, the four marks of the Church, and now the canonists have thoroughly refuted and exposed their canon law folly. They have lied about sedevacantism and sedevacantists, like Cekada, Derksen, and me.

Just like the devil who was defeated at the Cross but continues with the lies and bringing millions of souls down to hell with him, Salza/Siscoe will continue to write more ridiculous articles, brag about how many souls they’ve converted, how many books they’ve sold, and how awesome they’re arguments are by telling everyone that their book has never been refuted.

The next installment of this series will deal with Salza/Siscoe’s huge omissions in their book against sedevacantism. These omissions prove sedevacantism, the reason why Salza/Siscoe don’t have them in their book.

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John Salza’s and Robert Siscoe’s new book, ‘True or False Pope – Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors’ is to sedevacantism what Loraine Boettner’s book ‘Roman Catholicism’ is to Catholicism. Yet, it has been heralded by the SSPX and other pseudo-traditionalists, and was thoroughly examined by a top SSPX theologian to assure nothing in it was contra Catholicism (at least, that’s what I’ve heard).

Because the book has more errors than found in Jack Chick’s tracts, only the major ones will be covered in a series of articles.

I, for one, have been thoroughly misrepresented in the book. As this is true about me, it’s also true about everyone else, including the popes, saints, canonists, and theologians. Their book doesn’t refute sedevacantism, but it does refute itself as you’ll see in a minute.

On pp. 157-160 of Salza/Siscoe’s book, two arguments are made:

(a.) Pope Pius XII taught in Mystici Corporis Christi the crime of heresy severs an individual from the Body of the Church.

(b.) The sin of heresy is in the internal forum only.

Salza/Siscoe just repeated an old argument by John Salza in a rebuttal article against an Anastasia. Salza writes:

“The sin of heresy alone does NOT ‘sever the person from the Body of the Church’ because sin is a matter of the internal forum [emphasis his]…

Anastasia: Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi(# 23), June 29, 1943: “For not every offense, although it may be a grave evil, is such as by its very own nature [suapte natura] to sever a man from the Body of the Church [ab Ecclesiae Corpore],as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”

J. Salza: Again, Pope Pius XII is referring to the “offense” or CRIME (not SIN) of heresy, which severs one from the Body of the Church, after the formal and material elements have been proven by the Church. After the crime has been established, the heretic is automatically severed from the BODY (not SOUL) of the Church without further declaration (although most theologians maintain that the Church must also issue a declaration of deprivation). [1]

The Latin version of the phrase in Mystici Corporis Christi reads: “Siquidem non omne admissum.” Most all translations render the phrase, “For not every sin” including the Vatican’s own website. Salza/Siscoe declare from their own private judgment that the word is to be understood as a crime, not sin. Of course, they don’t provide any translation or commentary that renders it as crime, except their own.

If Pope Pius XII was referring to sin, then Salza/Siscoe’s entire position and argument against sedevacantism goes up in smoke. In their book, they actually accuse sedevacantists of professing “that the internal sin of heresy alone severs a person from the Body of the Church” [2] despite the fact I replied to Robert Siscoe and the Remnant: “Siscoe completely misrepresents and confuses Mystici Corporis Christi by Pope Pius XII by introducing the subject of internal sins and falsely attributing the internal forum as a basis for the sedevacantism. Sede’s don’t believe that internal sins separate someone from the Body of the Church.”

All of Salza/Siscoe’s arguments presented in their book have already been answered one way or another. So let’s do it again.

1. Was Pope Pius XII intending to mean crime rather than sin?
2. Is the sin of heresy in the internal forum only?
3. Does it matter whether the pope was referring to crime rather than sin?

In his encyclical, Pope Pius XII continued the next two sentences, “Men may lose charity and divine grace through sin” and “Let everyone then abhor sin” using the Latin, “peccando” and “peccatum.” What is clear from the context is that Pope Pius XII was referring to sin and redemption, not crime and punishment.

The Ecclesiastical Review presented an article on the Mystical Body and Church Coextensive containing the following paragraph:

“Mortal sin, as such, does not break the tie which binds a man as a constituent member to the visible Body which is Christ’s. Only such a sin as public heresy, schism, or apostasy does that, and then only because such a sin breaks the tie of visible unity with the Body. Just a natural body, when some one of the extremities grows atrophied and turns black, until at last the soul seems to have withdrawn from that part of the body and the object of the whole body’s solicitude and care until amputation makes it cease at last to be a member, so the Catholic in mortal sin remains a member of the Mystical Body – though a dead member, and continues to be the object of innumerable medicinal activities on the part of the Soul and the other, living members as long as public heresy, apostacy, or the like does not definitively put an end to his membership.” [3]

As we see, it’s the sin that severs an individual by its very nature.

Robert Siscoe’s favorite theologian and professor, Msgr. Van Noort most certainly understood Pope Pius XII as referring to sin, not crime. He writes:

b. 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. [4]

Robert Siscoe actually quoted from the same page from Van Noort’s work in his article against me in his dishonest attempt to explain Mystici Corporis Christi as referring to internal sin. [5] Novus Ordo Watch used the Van Noort quote against Salza to show that Pope Pius XII was referring to sin, but Salza/Siscoe continue to ignore the facts and use their own private interpretation in their book to make false accusations against sedevacantists.

The canonist Michels writes:

Because the act of heresy is an erroneous judgment of intelligence, to commit the sin of heresy it suffices to knowingly and willingly express this erroneous judgment in opposition to the Church’s magisterium. From the moment that 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, formal heresy is complete. [6]

The Catholic Encyclopedia explains the gravity of the sin of heresy, and twice used the phrase “guilt of heresy.” Later, the CE speaks of “heretics as being guilty of crime” distinguishing the difference between how one can be guilty of sin or crime. Every time Salza/Siscoe see words like “guilt” “notorious” etc., they automatically assume canonical terms for crimes, when in fact, one can be guilty or notoriously sinful. [7] Salza makes the same mistake in his rebuttal to Anastasia by confusing the phrase “by its very nature” which was referring to Divine law, with “automatic” which Salza refers to Church law.

Salza/Siscoe’s argument proves that they know that the Body of the Church, that Pope Pius XII exclaims, refers to the external forum, which is why Salza/Siscoe tried to say that offense is a crime rather than sin. But if the pope meant crime, which he obviously did not, does that help Salza/Siscoe’s cause?

It is only when the sin of heresy is externalized that the individual IS guilty of a crime, and subject to judgment in the external forum of the Church, and punishable by the penalties contained in the penal legislation. However, the crime of heresy doesn’t cease to be the sin of heresy, both remain.

Salza/Siscoe argue that the crime of heresy must be established by the Church after the fact. They argue that establishing the crime comes through warnings. Only after the Church establishes the crime, then that crime severs the individual by its nature. Think about that absurdity for a minute.

An individual doesn’t commit a crime when the Church establishes it. The Church establishes what was already committed. Therefore, if it’s the crime of heresy that severs an individual from the Body of the Church by its very nature, Salza/Siscoe have just refuted themselves and lose the debate anyway. But as we’ve seen, Pope Pius XII was referring to the sin of heresy that severs one from the Body of the Church by its very nature.

By using the translation “offense” rather than “sin”, Anastasia gave John Salza just enough rope to hang himself and his partner in crime (or is it sin) Robert Siscoe whose collaboration on their 700 page book was just debunked by one sentence from Pope Pius XII!

And to think, there’s a catastrophic mistake in their book that makes this pale in comparison.





[1] John Salza Responds to Another Sedevacantist

[2] True or False Pope-Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors.

[3]The Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 103, Oct. 1940 –No. 4., Mystical Body and Church Coextensive, pp 324-325

[4] Dogmatic Theology Volume II: Christ’s Church, Van Noort, p. 241-242

[5] Answering a Sedevacantist Critic: Siscoe attempted to explain Pope Pius XII’s teaching:

“Msgr. Van Noort answered the same objection by explaining that the internal sin of heresy (and loss of faith) only separates a person from the Body of the Church dispositively, but not formally. He wrote:

‘internal heresy, since it destroys that interior unity of faith from which unity of profession is born, separates one from the body of the Church dispositively, but not yet formally.’

In other words, the sin of heresy disposes a person to be separated from the visible Church, but the actual separation does not take place until the Church itself renders a judgment (unless, of course, the person himself rendered the judgment by openly leaving the Church [15]). Because the Church, itself, does not judge internals (de internis ecclesia non judica), for the sin to be judged, it must be public; and needless to say the judgment of the public sin must proceed from the proper authorities, not from the individual Catholic in the pew, as sedevacantists imagine.”

Siscoe puts his little spin on Van Noort. Needless to say? Who says, besides Salza/Siscoe, the public sin of heresy can’t be recognized by individuals? Siscoe also referred to the sin of heresy and crime of heresy interchangeably without making proper distinctions.

[6] De Delictis et Poenis, 1:140, taken from Jerry Ming’s Open Letter to Mr. John Vennari

[7]Catholic Encyclopedia link

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John Salza and Robert Siscoe have done it again. They have completely misrepresented me, got all the facts wrong, and have become the very definition of hypocrisy. The title of their latest childish article is:

Cracking His Nutty Arguments about
St. Robert Bellarmine One at a Time [1]

Salza/Siscoe have complained over and over again about sedevacantists using ad hominem attacks, but have no problem of doing the same to me. I personally have no problem with ad hominem, but to use it (and use it excessively) after deriding others for it is hypocritical.

They begin their nutty article with an utter lie. They write:

In fact, Speray ups the ante by even claiming that “Bellarmine’s position requires private judgment.” You read that correctly. Steve Speray claims that St. Robert Bellarmine requires (!) Catholics to individually judge (and decide for themselves) whether or not the Pope, who has been elected by the Church, is the true Vicar of Christ, even if their judgment is contrary to the public judgment of the Church.

What they don’t tell their readers is that I was referring to what John of St. Thomas says against St. Robert Bellarmine. The full quote reads, “John of St. Thomas is also saying that Bellamine’s position requires private judgment for which Salza/Siscoe condemn sedevacantists.”

Just as John of St. Thomas gets Bellarmine wrong about private judgment, Salza/Siscoe get sedevacantists wrong about private judgment. I’ve explicitly repeated in many articles that private judgment is not how popes get into office or how they lose their office. Salza/Siscoe argue throughout their entire article against a position I don’t hold.

I’ve also defined what private judgment means in my article, The Gates of Hell and the Gates of the Church (The Best Defense for Sedevacantism). However, you won’t find Salza/Siscoe defining what they mean by the phrase, because they know they’re actually guilty of doing so against their church. Again, they’re hypocrites.

Salza/Siscoe end their first nutty straw-man argument:

Thus, contrary to Steve Speray’s delusional assertions, Bellarmine, far from requiring Catholics to declare bishops depose by their by private judgment, actually condemns such a practice, and affirms that such a judgment must be made by the Church.

I’ve never said or implied that individuals depose bishops. I totally agree that only the Church deposes bishops. In fact, I’ve explicitly written to Siscoe several times that the Church can’t even depose a pope, much less by private judgment. But Salza/Siscoe have no problem bearing false witness against me in public.

Salza/Siscoe continue to malign me with the tired old argument that Bellarmine required two warnings by repeating his fourth opinion. They write:

Bellarmine explains that one who remains in heresy “after two warnings” thereby shows himself to be “manifestly obstinate,” and, consequently, can be considered a “manifest heretic.” It is clear that this proof of obstinacy (pertinacity) is established by virtue of the “two warnings” (refusing to “hear the Church”) which is the Scriptural authority upon which Bellarmine relies.

As I’ve explained a dozen times, Bellarmine was answering what happens to a manifest heretic. Cajetan is already speaking about a manifest heretic, so there’s no reason for Bellarmine to use St. Paul to demonstrate what is already presumed in Cajetan’s objection. Salza/Siscoe continue by trying to refute the rest of my argument by quoting Bellarmine, then me, and twisting it:

“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.” (On the Roman Pontiff, 29).

Speray then concludes: “If two warnings are necessary to prove obstinacy and thus a manifest heretic is made, why would he say that a pope doesn’t even have to be a heretic at all, but only appear as one to lose his office? The reason is that St. Robert Bellarmine never said or implied that two warnings were necessary.” Yes, Speray actually argues that a Pope loses his office automatically if he simply appears to be a heretic. He argues that this takes place not upon the judgment of the Church, but according to the private judgment of individual Catholics, and he attributes such an absurdity to a saint and Doctor of the Church.

I didn’t say he lost it automatically. I was pointing to the fact that two warnings aren’t necessary; the point that proves Salza/Siscoe wrong about Bellarmine requiring two warnings.

Salza/Siscoe continue their nutty argument by claiming Liberius lost office by “sede impedita (the inability of the Pope to function as Pope). Liberius was not available to answer any charges of heresy.”

The problem is that’s not what Bellarmine taught. 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 [merito] 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 [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.” [2]

Salza/Siscoe can’t admit they’re wrong, so they twist the facts and mock me in the process. They continue by saying that I “didn’t want you to see” that the authorities stripped Liberius. It didn’t happen by private judgment. But that wasn’t the issue in the article. The article was dealing specifically about two warnings. However, I wrote about the entire event in my book “Papal Anomalies and Their Implications” providing the full quote on page 37 that Salza/Siscoe claim I didn’t want you to see. They have the book and quoted from it in their article “Sedevacantists Reject Pre-Vatican 2 Popes” misrepresenting me in it as well.

Again, Salza/Siscoe seem to have no conscience lying about me in public. They continue to misrepresent me on Wernz/Vidal and Pope Innocent III. They also misrepresent Wernz/Vidal and Pope Innocent III, so I’m in good company. They don’t deal with the actual teaching of Wernz/Vidal at all, because W/V taught that Salza/Siscoe’s position is indefensible. Again, Wernz/Vidal:

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.

Salza/Siscoe don’t stop there. They play God by judging me guilty of mortal sin. They end their article with, “Steve Speray should either rename his apostolate ‘Speray’s Catholicism in a Nut House,’ or better yet, shut it down completely.”

This translates as I’ve proven them wrong on every point and they can’t stand it. They want me to shut down so that they’ll stop looking like the “gates of hell” that they are. The first thing that came to mind when I read this last sentence was the passage in Holy Scripture that reads, “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” [3]

Now, I better qualify it, because Salza/Siscoe will twist it to mean that I think I’m Christ now. What I mean is that the devil wants me to quit, like he wanted Our Lord to quit.




[2] (Book IX, Ch IX, n. 15)

[3] (Mark 15:29-30)

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Cardinal Billot. S.J.

John Salza and Robert Siscoe have attacked me on the case of Nestorius in their new heretical book and website. My friends at Novus Ordo Watch just posted a devastating piece against Salza/Siscoe on the issue. It just so happens that Cardinal Billot supports the very argument that Salza/Siscoe ridiculed me for making. Below is the brilliant article by Novus Ordo Watch.

When did Nestorius Lose his Office? A Refutation of John Salza & Robert Siscoe

Salza/Siscoe need to concede or denounce Cardinal Billot as a nutty professor. Of course, that won’t happen, but rather we’ll see them twist the facts with a bombardment of all the usual smoke-screens/red herrings, and ad hominems. They’re desperate! They don’t like having their arguments put under the microscope and shown to be disease-ridden.

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Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 22.)

Instead of following the good advice of St. Ignatius, John Salza and Robert Siscoe have accused me, in their new book and website, of declaring Popes Honorius, Stephen VI, Alexander VI antipopes, and that I’ve “extended infallibility beyond the limits established by the Church.” [1] They used quotes from my book “Papal Anomalies and Their Implications,” but fail to tell the readers the whole truth about my position.

In the introduction, I wrote:

I don’t claim to be infallible and therefore don’t claim my work to be without error. If any part is contrary to the Faith, I humbly submit to the Church. [2]

I also qualified what I meant when I used the word Church:

Also, the term “Church” will have different connotations throughout this study. In one sense, it will mean the pope, bishops, etc. in an official capacity. In another sense, it will mean the faithful in general in an unofficial capacity. This distinction is important because the Church in its official capacity cannot lead the faithful astray from salvation. However, unofficially, the Church can err in many other ways that do not pertain to salvation as demonstrated in the following anomalies. [3]

I even explained the limits of infallibility over and over again in my book. For example:

The Church is not infallible outside the realm of doctrine, universal disciplines, and laws. Therefore, the Church may err in government, science, and even within the religion itself, such as personal excommunications, translation of bishops, nominations for the cardinalate, papal letters to individual bishops, priests, or dioceses, etc., and who may be demonically possessed and who may be mentally ill. [4]

On the blog page “Against Salza,” I made the statement that “Honorius must be considered an antipope.” Salza/Siscoe highlighted this quote and accused me of declaring Honorius an antipope. Usually, I’m pretty careful about how I word my sentences, but in this case, I wasn’t careful enough. I should have stated it as I wrote it in my book:

Whatever the truth is about Honorius, he is at least a doubtful pope after appearing to have fallen into heresy, which means he might be considered an antipope during that part of his “pontificate.” [5]

I left the question open. I personally don’t think Honorius lost his pontificate. Instead of asking for a correction or clarification (knowing full well what I wrote in my book), Salza/Siscoe attacked me and my position in public.

The fact remains that Honorius was anathematized by the Church, which resulted in the Church destroying his images, writings, and his memory. It is, on that account, I said he must be considered an antipope, meaning the consideration must be made. Again, it’s just my opinion, one of many opinions on the matter, but I should have qualified it with a “might” as I did in my book.

Furthermore, Salza/Siscoe used the blog quote rather than my book quote, because it suited their agenda. They accuse sedevacantists of using dishonest tactics, but it’s really Salza/Siscoe who have mastered the technique.

Salza/Siscoe wrote: You see, when an historical case poses a problem for Steve Speray, he simply declares that the Pope in question was not a true Pope.

There’s no real historical problem. As I stated, infallibility doesn’t necessarily pertain to the anomalies. I’m just presenting what happened and the different ways of looking at it. I never declared Honorius an antipope. His case proves sedevacantism because the Church hasn’t officially declared whether Honorius indeed kept or lost his pontificate. However, my opinion is that the evidence points to the latter.

Next, Salza/Siscoe list me in the index of their book as “accuses Pope Stephen of being an antipope.”

What Salza/Siscoe don’t tell their readers is that I also wrote:

Stephen VI’s case shows that either the Church has failed to view him as insane, or that She recognized an insane pope given that he is viewed as a true pope by his successors and placed on the official papal list [6]

Again, I left the question open. I didn’t declare Stephen VI an antipope.

Salza/Siscoe continue,

“Steve Speray, who calls himself a Traditional Catholic, is quite pleased to publicly denounce what the Church holds to be true.”

The Church has never said officially one way or the other, because the official list of popes is not an official Church document. At the time, the Church had Stephen VI stripped of his papal vestments before killing him.

Salza/Siscoe continue to misrepresent me over Pope Alexander VI. They write:

Savonarola himself submitted to the excommunication that was imposed on him by Alexander VI, and, before being put to death, even knelt at the feet of Bishop Romolino to receive the blessing and plenary indulgence granted to him by the same Pope, which suggests that he had renounced his previous opinion about Alexander’s legitimacy. Yet in spite of this, Steve Speray wrote:

“Sometime between the years of 1494 and 1494 A.D., Girolamo Savonarola denounced Alexander for simony, which according to the former, invalidated the election of Alexander thus making him an antipope. (…) Although Alexander is considered a true pope, and listed as such on the official list, it appears that Savonarola was correct.”

So notice, Speray admits that Alexander ‘is considered a true Pope’ by the Church, and is even ‘listed as such on the official list’ of Popes, yet Speray disagrees with the Church based on his own private judgment. As we have seen, we have infallible certitude that Speray’s judgment is erroneous by the fact that Alexander was accepted as Pope by the Church.”

What Salza/Siscoe don’t say is that Savonarola renounced his accusation after being tortured repeatedly and out of fear of being executed. St. Joan of Arc did the same by renouncing her visions before heroically repenting of doing so.

History doesn’t record if Savonarola did so, but history does record that Pope Julius II rejected Alexander VI as a true pope because of Simony.

Salza/Siscoe quote Cardinal Billot about Alexander VI being a true pope because “all of Christendom adhered to Alexander VI and obeyed him as the true Pontiff. For this very reason, Alexander VI was not a false Pope, but a legitimate one.”

What Salza/Siscoe don’t provide is the next line from Billot which refers to Alexander as not being a heretic and it is on that account that Alexander was a true pope. However, Billot doesn’t say anything about Alexander VI and Simony, which is the primary reason for Savonarola’s objection to Alexander’s pontificate. Keep in mind that Billot is giving his opinion only. The Church has never officially said if Alexander VI was pope, so I don’t disagree with any Church declaration. Also, I said “it appears that Savonarola was correct” which means that it only appears so, not that it actually is so.

In conclusion, I didn’t declare Honorius, Stephen VI, or Alexander VI antipopes. Those who’ve actually read my book know I’m only giving possible explanations and opinions, and I submit my opinion to whatever the Church officially declares on the matter. My opinion, right or wrong, has no bearing on sedevacantims anyway. The whole point of Salza/Siscoe’s article is to deride sedevacantism. They don’t care what sedevacantists really hold. They want sedevacantists to appear ridiculous, illogical, and contradictory even if it means to lie and misrepresent us.

What’s funny is that Salza/Siscoe write,“Steve reveals his loss of faith in the Church” because I disagree with an unofficial document and the general opinion on something. Salza/Siscoe began their article, “Sedevacantists believe that the legitimacy of a determined Pope – that is, one who has been elected by the Cardinals in accord with the laws of the Church, and accepted as Pope by the Church – is simply a matter of private opinion.” Yet, Salza/Siscoe reject papal laws, decrees, and canonizations, because it’s really just a matter of Salza/Siscoe’s private opinion whether they are official, valid, or true. They put more stock in Cardinal Billot’s opinion than their own pope’s authority on matters of faith and morals. The hypocrisy found in Salza/Siscoe’s position is astounding!


[1] True or False Pope Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors, p. 224, and SEDEVACANTISTS REJECT PRE-VATICAN II POPES
[2] Papal Anomalies and Their Implications, p. 28
[3] Ibid. p. 42
[4] Ibid. p. 51
[5] Ibid. pp. 56
[6] Ibid. p. 72

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Robert Siscoe and John Salza have repeated in their articles and interviews (we’ll see it again in their book) that St. Robert Bellarmine taught warnings are necessary to establish that one is a manifest heretic. For instance, Siscoe quotes the fourth opinion of Bellarmine and writes:

So according to St. Bellarmine, who bases his opinion on St. Paul, a heretic is considered to be manifestly obstinate after receiving two warnings. [1]

Again, in his reply to Cekada, Siscoe insists that Bellarmine taught that two warnings were necessary.

I’ve written several rebuttals to this assertion. [2] However, in another article against me, Siscoe tries to use John of St. Thomas as witness to his argument with Bellarmine. Siscoe writes:

According to John of St. Thomas, who studied Bellarmine at length regarding this question, and who spoke Latin fluently, Bellarmine was in agreement with Suarez that the pope must be declared incorrigible (declaratory sentence) by the Church before he loses his office. John of St. Thomas addressed this point in his treatise on the deposition of a heretical pope. He wrote:

“without qualification, the Lord Christ is the only superior with respect to the pope. And for that reason, Bellarmine and Suarez judge that the pope, by the very fact that he is a manifest heretic and has been declared incorrigible, is deposed immediately by the Lord Christ, not by some other authority of the Church.” [20]

So John of St. Thomas, who himself was a young contemporary of both Bellarmine and Suarez, and who wasn’t limited to reading a few quotations from Bellarmine posted on sedevacantist websites, states that Bellarmine agrees with Suarez in holding that a manifestly heretical pope must be “declared incorrigible” before being deposed immediately by Christ. [3]

What Siscoe doesn’t tell his readers is that John of St. Thomas criticizes Bellarmine for rejecting the need for two warnings. That’s right, the very person Siscoe (and Salza) uses as the primary source against sedevacantists, supports sedevacantists on Bellarmine.

John of St. Thomas wrote:

“Bellarmine objected that the Apostle [St Paul] says that we must avoid the heretic after two admonitions, that is to say, after he clearly appears pertinacious, before any excommunication and sentence of a judge, as St. Jerome says in his commentary, for heretics separate themselves by the heresy itself (per se) from the Body of Christ.

And here is his reasoning:

• A non-Christian cannot be Pope, for he who is not a member [of the Church] cannot be the head; now, a heretic is not a Christian, as commonly say the Fathers; thus, a manifest heretic cannot be Pope….

I answer [to Bellarmine] that the heretic should be avoided after two admonitions legally made and with the Church’s authority, and not according to private judgment. [4]

According to John of St. Thomas, Siscoe is wrong about Bellarmine.

John of St. Thomas got his information from Bellarmine’s De Romano Pontifice. If Bellarmine taught that the heretical pope needed to be declared incorrigible, then Siscoe would have cited Bellarmine, not John of St. Thomas. John of St. Thomas probably just lumped Suarez’s opinion with Bellarmine’s, because you won’t find Bellarmine saying a declaration is needed before the pope loses office.

John of St. Thomas is also saying that Bellamine’s position requires private judgment for which Salza/Siscoe condemn sedevacantists. How does private judgment fit in Bellarmine’s position if he taught that a declaration by the Church happens first?

Siscoe continues to mislead his readers when he quotes Wernz/Vidal as support for his argument against sedevacantism. Siscoe writes:

“It should also be noted, as Fr. Wernz S.J. observed, that the declaratory sentence of the crime “does not have the effect of judging a heretical pope, but of demonstrating that he has already been judged.” [5]

What Siscoe doesn’t tell his readers is that Wernz/Vidal taught that the opinion of Suarez, Cajetan, and John of St. Thomas is indefensible according to Bellarmine and Wernz/Vidal agree with Bellarmine. Wernz/Vidal write:

The fourth opinion, with Suarez, Cajetan and others [John of St. Thomas], 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.

Finally, there is the fifth opinion – that of Bellarmine himself – which was expressed initially and is rightly defended by Tanner and others as the best proven and the most common. For he who is no longer a member of the body of the Church, i.e. the Church as a visible society, cannot be the head of the Universal Church. But 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. [6]

The fifth and true opinion is utterly rejected by Siscoe and Salza who continue to misrepresent the popes, saints, and canonists on the issue.

Because the next quote is confused by Salza/Siscoe, a closer look at Pope Innocent III’s teaching is in order:

“The pope should not flatter himself about his power, nor should he rashly glory in his honour and high estate, because the less he is judged by man, the more he is judged by God. Still the less can the Roman Pontiff glory, because he can be judged by men, or rather, can be shown to be already judged, if for example he should wither away into heresy, because he who does not believe is already judged. In such a case it should be said of him: ‘If salt should lose its savour, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trampled under foot by men.’” [7]

Notice that he qualifies his statement by saying “or rather, can be shown to be already judged.”

A pope who is already judged is not pope, that’s why he can be judged. Bellarmine said just that:

Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church.

When does Bellarmine say the pope loses office: This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction… NOT AFTER WARNINGS OR DECLARATION BECAUSE heretics already before being excommunicated are outside the Church and deprived of all jurisdiction. For they have already been condemned by their own sentence, as the Apostle teaches (Tit. 3:10-11), that is, they have been cut off from the body of the Church without excommunication, as St. Jerome affirms… [8]

Salza/Siscoe actually reject what Bellarmine really says, and they reject “the opinion of all the ancient Fathers” all the while leading their readers to believe their private heretical opinion is shared by St. Robert Bellarmine and Wernz/Vidal. What’s funny is that Salza/Siscoe don’t even get John of St. Thomas right. Rather than admitting their errors, they will continue to attack sedevacantism and sedevacantists. What’s worse, they will continue to attack the Catholic papacy and undermine Christ’s promise to Peter!


[1] Sedevacanatist and the Manifest Heretic, The Remnant Online, POSTED: 3/27/13
[2] Definitive Proof that St. Robert Bellarmine Supports the Sedevacantist Position
[3] Answering a Sedevacantist Critic, The Remnant, Wednesday, March 18, 2015
[4] ON THE DEPOSITION OF THE POPE, Text of John of St. Thomas O.P.Translated from the Latin and annotated by Fr. Pierre-Marie O.P. (Avrillé. France) and published in Le Sel de la Terre [No. 90, Fall 2014] Translated from French to English by Fr. Juan Carlos Ortiz.
[5] Can the Church Depose an Heretical Pope?, The Remnant, Tuesday, November 18, 2014
[6] Jus Canonicum by the Rev F X Wernz S.J. and the Rev P Vidal S.J. (1938) Chapter VII. Translated by John Daly.
[7] Sermo 4
[8] De Romano Pontifici 30

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“This is the most thoroughly researched and articulately presented book of its kind. Whether you are a Sedevacantist, or researching the movement, this book is irreplaceable. Brilliant!” [1]

Director of Apologetics and Evangelization
Catholic Answers

Tim Staples calls brilliant a book that heretically explains:

a. How the Church can be heretical by law and decree.
b. How the pope can lead the Catholic Church into heresy and error.
c. How anyone, including the pope, can publicly, repeatedly, and knowingly reject the Catholic Religion altogether and still be a member of the Church.

Catholics believe:

a. The Catholic Church is spotless in all her doctrines, laws, decrees, and liturgies. (Popes St. Zosimus, St. Hormisdas, Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI, and Pius XII.) [2]
b. The Pope guards the Church from all heresy and error. He doesn’t and can’t believe, instigate, lead, or promote heresy and error against the Faith. (Pope Leo XIII.) [3]
c. Only those are to be accounted really members of the Church who have been regenerated in the waters of Baptism and profess the true faith. (Pope Pius XII.) [4]

Salza/Siscoe and company utterly reject the above three Catholic beliefs. Apparently, Tim Staples does too.


[1] http://www.trueorfalsepope.com/p/endorsements.html

Further reading: The Anti-Sedevacantist Syndrome

[2] Pope St. Zosimus in Quamvis Patrum traditio 409 AD, Pope St. Hormisdas in Libellus professionis fidei 517 AD, Pope Pius IX in Quanta Cura 1864 and the First Vatican Council, Pope Leo XIII in Satis Cognitum 1896, Pope Pius XI in Quas Primas 1925, and Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis Christi 1943 and Haurietis Aquas 1956.

[3] Pope Leo XIII in Satis Cognitum 1896.

[4] Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis Christi 1943.

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In a Sept. 2014 article, John Salza Responds to “Novus Ordo Watch” “The Chair is Empty? Says who?” Salza attempts to show a foundational error of sedevacantism. Below is the relevant paragraph found on p. 3 of his 34 page article [1].

When you boil this down, the real issue is that sedevacantists presume to know the limits of what God wills to permit. In their minds, God could never will to permit the crisis of Faith we are experiencing, especially when it is being principally caused by God’s Vicar on Earth. Says who? Didn’t God will to permit the defection of almost the entire Church during the Arian crisis? Didn’t Jesus reveal in advance His will to permit universal apostasy, where upon His return He will not “find faith on Earth?” Sedevacantists put an artificial limit on God’s permissive will, but certainly not on their own abilities to play God and depose a Pope under “Divine law.” This is because sedevacantism embodies the reflexive faith of Protestantism, where man and his judgments are the center of everything.

Says who? Our Lord Jesus, who established the papacy for the very purpose of guarding the Church. Peter doesn’t have Faith only during times when defining dogmas while lacking it the rest of the time. Perhaps, Salza should read more commentary on Matt. 16:18 before mocking Christ in public.

No, God didn’t permit the defection of almost the entire Church during the Arian crisis because of the pope. Arianism wasn’t created, promoted, or spread by a pope. And it wasn’t almost the entire Church that fell into the Arian heresy. It was primarily the bishops, not the laity.

No, Jesus didn’t reveal in advance His will to permit universal apostasy, where upon His return He will not “find faith on Earth?” because of the pope. And it wasn’t universal apostasy Christ was referring. Jesus didn’t say that He won’t find faith on earth, because we’re told that not all will be goats at His return.

No, sedevacantists don’t put a limit on God’s permissive will. God has told us what He will NOT permit. Salza tells us that popes are the gates of hell and that they are promoting the gates of hell with heresies. [2]

No, sedevacantism doesn’t embody the reflexive faith of Protestantism, where man and his judgments are the center of everything. However, Salza uses his private judgment to reject and/or question the laws, decrees, and even canonizations [3] of his own popes. It is Salza that embodies the reflexive faith of Protestantism.

When you boil this down, the real issue is that Salza presumes to know the limits of what God wills to permit. In his mind, God IS permitting the crisis of Faith being principally caused by God’s Vicar on Earth, despite the fact that Our Lord specifically said otherwise. In Salza’s mind, God IS permitting popes to cause universal apostasy by law and decree.

John Salza gets sedevacantism wrong because he gets Our Lord wrong.


[1] John Salza Responds to the Sedevacantists at NovusOrdoWatch.com
[2] The Gates of Hell and the Gates of the Church
[3] Questioning the Canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II

John Salza vs. Fr. Brian Harrison on the Canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II

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