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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.

 

 

 

Footnotes:

[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:

SPERAY’S CATHOLICISM IN A NUT HOUSE:
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.

 

Footnotes:

[1]http://www.trueorfalsepope.com/p/sedevacantist-watch-sperayscatholicism.html

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

[3] (Mark 15:29-30)

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billot

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!

Footnotes:

[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!

 

Footnotes:
[1] Sedevacanatist and the Manifest Heretic, The Remnant Online, POSTED: 3/27/13
[2] Definitive Proof that St. Robert Bellarmine Supports the Sedevacantist Position
https://stevensperay.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/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]

TIM STAPLES
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.

Footnotes:

[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.

Footnotes:

[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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071A.David_Slays_Goliath

“David and Goliath” by Gustave Doré (1832-83)

Click below to read the best defense for the position of sedevacantism

The Gates of Hell and the Gates of the Church

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800px-Hagia_Sophia_Constantinople_2007_(28)

The above image is Patriarch Ignatius of Constantinople as seen in Northern tympanon, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Click below, then click again to read…

Canon 10 of the Fourth Council of Constantinople

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crusader-flag-71478

Click below to read…

Steven Speray responds to Robert Siscoe and The Remnant

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