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Host of the show: One of these three contestants is a true Catholic. He is a true follower of the Catholic Church.  The four panelists must ask the three contestants questions and with the audience correctly vote which one is telling the truth.

Panelist a): Must you always obey the pope?

Contestant #1: Only when he teaches ex cathedra, meaning when he defines a doctrine on faith and morals as the pope for the whole Church to believe as dogma of the Catholic faith.

Contestant #2: We must always obey him unless he goes against the faith, then we are not bound to obey him.

Contestant #3: We must obey the pope in all of his official acts, which include ex cathedra teachings, laws, and his ordinary magisterial teachings. Popes do not err against the faith. They can and have erred in an opinion the Church has not yet settled but we are not bound by those opinions.

Panelist b): What happens if the pope should err against the faith?

Contestant #3: He would by that very fact cease to be pope. However, as Catholics we may hold that Christ would not permit such a thing since He prayed that Peter’s faith will not fail.

Contestant #2: Christ’s prayer only refers to dogmatic definitions. Therefore, when a pope errs against the faith, Catholics may resist him.

Contestant #1: Historically, popes have erred against the faith but remained popes. Only a council of bishops or future pope can judge the erroneous pope.

Panelist c): A pope can be judged?

Contestant #1: Only when he departs from the faith.

Contestant #2: He can only be judged in the sense that we don’t have to believe and follow his errors.

Contestant #3: It’s a dogma that a true pope can’t defect from the faith and remain pope. Therefore, he need not be judged.

Panelist d): What about the dogma on unity of faith?

Contestant #2: We are unified in the essentials of the Catholic faith. That’s all that’s necessary to fulfill the requirement of the dogma. Unity of faith is just recognizing Francis as pope and going to a Catholic Church in union with him.

Contestant #3: A pope who rejects a dogma is not unified in faith. Therefore, the unity is only with actual members of the Church as opposed to fake members of the Church. Catholics are unified in all teachings of the Church.

Contestant #1: The unity or oneness is only with the Catholic faith. The Faith is one. It doesn’t include other faiths.

Panelist a): If the pope openly professes heresy, how can the Church with the unity of faith actually have unity of faith when the heretical pope who is its head is not actually in unity with the Catholic faith and faithful?

Contestant #2: The unity is not in the profession of faith but recognizing Francis as pope.

Contestant #1: The pope is only in unity of the Church as its head but not necessarily in the faith that’s professed.

Contestant #3: It can’t be. That’s why the pope who is the head of the Church must profess the Faith entirely in order to actually be one in faith with the faithful.

Panelist b): What about Pope Francis’ teaching that “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings” is now an official act of the Church by being placed in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis CXI, n. 3 (March 2019), pp. 349-356?

Contestant #3: This proves that Francis can’t be the true pope. If he were the true pope, the Church would officially be heretical and no different from Protestant and Eastern Orthodox religions in that respect.

Contestant #2: The Acta Apostolicae Sedis doesn’t represent the Catholic faith. Only ex cathedra and universal and ordinary teachings make up the Catholic faith.

Contestant #1: When a Church teaching only requires religious assent and not the assent of faith, it’s not guaranteed to be free from error. Vatican 2, for instance, doesn’t require the assent of faith. Therefore, the Church can have errors such as this one in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Panel c): If official Church teachings can be heretical, how is the Catholic Church not hypocritical for condemning other religions for being heretical?

Contestant 1: Because the Church is only guaranteed to teach truth when it’s teaching infallibly, Ex cathedra definitions and universal and ordinary teachings make-up of the faith. All other Church teachings can be resisted and rejected.

Contestant 2: I have nothing to add to #1 except that hypocrisy is found everywhere.

Contestant 3: This is precisely why the Church can never promulgate heresy in any form. Every official papal teaching must be safe and sound. Protestant religions never claim infallibility when they teach doctrine, but the Catholic Church still condemns them as heretical religions. Infallibility has nothing to do with it. It can never be heretical without being the biggest hypocritical religion in the world. 

Panelist d): Why the need for infallibility if the Church can’t teach heresy anyway?

Contestant 3: Heresy is a teaching contrary to the faith that’s been defined under the charism of infallibility. Doctrinal opinions are not at all part of the Faith. The pope and Church can err and has erred in opinions not yet defined or settled as part of the faith. Infallibility simply secures the indefectibility of the Church.

Contestant 2: The Church can teach heresy when not using infallibility.

Contestant 1: I agree with #2.

Host of the show: Okay panelists, mark your ballots. While you vote, it’s time for the studio audience to vote.

Panelist a): I’m not Catholic but I voted for #3. His position was the only one that’s consistent with the Catholic Church as I heard it from my grandfather.

Panelist b): I couldn’t tell the difference between #1 and #2, so I voted for #3.

Panelist c): Catholics can’t be so naïve as to believe the pope can never err against the Church, so it couldn’t be #3. I like how simple #2 answered. I voted for #2.

Panelist d): #3 doesn’t believe Pope Francis is the pope and the whole world knows he’s the pope. I like how #1 answered my question about unity of faith. #1 was more reasonable than #2 and he explained what ex cathedra meant at the beginning, so I voted for #1.

Host of the show: The audience vote is in and it’s 49 votes for #1, 41 votes for #2, and only 10 for #3.

Host of the show: Will the real Catholic please stand up?

Calvinism, named after Protestant Reformer John Calvin, is a theological position held by many denominations, such as the Presbyterians and the Baptists. However, I don’t think all of these Protestants really understand what their religions are actually teaching.

The leaders of Calvinism have created the acronym TULIP as a tool to help identify the main five points of Calvinism:

T = Total depravity: After the fall of Adam and Eve, man lost the ability to do as he ought in the sight of God. Such a man is considered “dead” in his will do as he ought.

U= Unconditional election: Before the beginning of time, God choice whom He will save and whom He will damn according to his own purposes apart from any conditions or qualities related to those persons. John Calvin taught that God created part of mankind for heaven and part of mankind for hell.

L=Limited Atonement: Christ’s death on the cross will only be applied to the elect unto salvation, not to all men. Christ draws only the elect to Himself, not all men. It is only the elect to whom God will give the ability to come to Him and do as he ought.

I=Irresistible grace: The grace given by Christ to the totally depraved man that gives him the desire and ability to come to Him and do as he ought. Because the man is dead in his will, this grace awakens the “dead” man, and he can’t resist being woken up and doing what the grace gives him to do. Only the elect are given this grace. The rest of mankind are left dead in their will to do as they ought, which they can’t do because God doesn’t give them the ability.

P=Perseverance of the saints: The elect are secured by God’s grace. They can’t lose their salvation.

The implications

-If you are not one of the elect, you can’t be saved under any conditions. Christ didn’t shed His blood for you, and He will not do anything whatsoever to help you overcome your fallen condition.

-God created most men to be damned since He created them without the ability to do good and He will not give them the ability to do good. Therefore, if God didn’t choose you, it’s because He created you to suffer the fires of hell forever, and there’s nothing you can do about it because Christ will not give you the grace to overcome.

-If you are one of the elect, you will be saved regardless of the situations. If God used secondary means through the preaching of others, He would have saved you anyway by some other means.

-If you’re saved, it’s because God did it all and you did nothing. But if that’s true, you only believed and loved Christ, because He MADE you believe and love Him. How do we know this is true? It’s because if you’re dead in your free will to do as you ought, God would have to make you alive in your free will which you CAN’T RESIST. He MAKES you know, desire, love, and serve Him because you didn’t choose to do so in cooperation with Him.

-When Christ said,Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you (Matt. 11:28)”, He knows that those that are given grace will do so regardless and for those who will not be given grace, He weeps crocodile tears.

-The Calvinist god is the great puppet master. Their christ is the devil!  

As Pope Pius XI declared in 1923, “It is in these heresies [of the Reformation] that we discover the beginnings of that apostasy of mankind from the Church, the sad and disastrous effects of which are deplored, even to the present hour, by every fair mind.”

I list the following movie in my MY TOP TEN FAVORITE CATHOLIC MOVIES. There are many heretics who lie about St. Ignatius and the Jesuits, but the truth is St. Ignatius was one of the greatest saints and his Jesuit order has produced some of the greatest saints, such as Sts. Francis Xavier, Robert Bellarmine, John de Brebeuf, Edmund Campion, Peter Claver, Claude de la Colombier, Aloysius Gonzaga, Isaac Jogues, Robert Southwell, and many more.

Chapter 2 of John Salza’s and Robert Siscoe’s book’s main focus is the four marks of the Church.

I’ve argued many times that this is the crux of the matter because if the four marks are missing, so is the Catholic Church. The Vatican 2 church doesn’t have them and doesn’t even claim them, at least, not as the Catholic Church understands them. Salza and Siscoe have attempted to say otherwise and have made some of their biggest blunders in doing so.

Error 1: The Vatican 2 religion is not formally but only materially divided.

On pages 54-55, Salza and Siscoe claim that unity of faith concerns only with doctrines that require “assent of faith.” Since Vatican 2 and the Vatican 2 popes have not imposed anything requiring an assent of faith, then no formal disunity has taken place.

The hypocrites Salza and Siscoe have no problem applying their rule to their religion but refuse it to everybody else. They make a big deal out of divisions among sedevacantists, but according to their own argument, the divisions are only material and prove nothing.

They forgot, however, to include the fact their popes have not given assent of faith to certain dogmas. Therefore, there is a formal division between the faith of the Vatican 2 popes and Salza and Siscoe. Oneness in faith includes having the same Catholic Faith as the pope. If the pope doesn’t profess the Faith, then formal division necessarily follows. This is why a pope can’t be heretical.

Salza and Siscoe write about Liberius signing the semi-Arian creed under “force” to prove that division can occur between the faith of the pope and the people. The problem is that a pope who signs a heretical document under duress is not a heretic. The document would not be official Catholic teaching since the pope didn’t freely sign it. There is no actual division of faith. [1]

Lastly, Salza’s and Siscoe’s entire argument flies in the face of Quanta Cura.

Pope Pius IX declared in Quanta Cura, Dec. 8, 1864: “And, we cannot pass over in silence the boldness of those who ‘not enduring sound doctrine’ [II Tim. 4:3], contend that ‘without sin and with no loss of Catholic profession, one can withhold assent and obedience to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to relate to the general good of the Church and its right and discipline, provided it does not touch dogmas of faith or morals.’ There is no one who does not see and understand clearly and openly how opposed this is to the Catholic dogma of the plenary power divinely bestowed on the Roman Pontiff by Christ the Lord Himself of feeding, ruling, and governing the universal Church.”

Therefore, unity of faith requires more than what Salza and Siscoe claim. Their resistance position is a sin and loss of Catholic profession of the faith, which proves they are not one in faith! The next mark proves it more.

Error 2: The Vatican 2 religion is holy.

Salza and Siscoe write that the Church “is holy in the doctrines that it teaches” (p. 47).

Of course, this is true, but the doctrines they are referring to are only the ones that require the “assent of faith.”

One of the doctrines taught by the Vatican 2 religion is religious liberty, which Salza and Siscoe admit is a problem. [2]

Vatican 2 necessitates that the Catholic world to recognize the heresy of religious liberty “in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.” [3] Since Salza and Siscoe claim it was not a definitive teaching requiring the assent of faith, it can be resisted. The problem is that many Catholics will believe in religious liberty precisely because it’s taught officially by their pope and council. One minority group of Catholics will resist the teaching, while the great majority will not.

The idea there is no formal disunity and unholiness in doctrine when a majority of Catholics hold to a heresy because the Church officially but not definitively taught it, is ludicrous. Might as well say the Protestants are unified and holy since they haven’t definitively or infallibly taught anything.

This is just one of dozens of examples of errors of the Vatican 2 religion and Salza’s and Siscoe’s book. A holy religion has all holy doctrines, not just some.

Universal laws also play a role in the dogma of holiness. Canon law, for instance, must be holy. Salza and Siscoe argued that Pope Celestine III promulgated heresy by law. They so want sedevacantism to be wrong that they’ll deny their own religion in trying to disprove it.

Error 3: “We also find the miraculous charisms in the post-Vatican II Church. Padre Pio, for example (who remained a member of the modern Church and accepted Paul VI as Pope until his death in 1968),7 performed countless miracles throughout his life. He possessed the miraculous gift of reading hearts, which he did daily in the confessional. He also miraculously bore the wounds of Christ (the “stigmata”) which he suffered until his death. This is just one example of the charisms present in the Church since Vatican II.” (p. 48)

The post-Vatican 2 church according to Salza and Siscoe is a church with non-definitive heretical teachings from a council leading the world astray but whose members must remain loyal to pre-Vatican 2 teachings and practices and reject its own council.

That’s not the Catholic Church. Catholic councils ratified by popes must be accepted with docility because it would be safe to do so. It took time for most Catholics to realize and understand they had been duped by Vatican 2 and the Vatican 2 popes. Catholics can be fooled and still be Catholic and Padre Pio was no exception. 

We know Padre Pio wasn’t aware of the heresies of Paul VI, because ten days before Padre Pio died, he wrote a letter to Paul VI saying, “I pray that God may lead you with His Grace to follow the straight and painful way in defense of eternal truth, which does not change with the passing of years.”

Had Padre Pio known, his letter to Paul VI would’ve been quite different. He probably would have denounced him as a devil because as he said, “eternal truth…does not change” and no pope can change eternal truth as Paul VI attempted to do with his council and sacraments.

Padre Pio was a very simple man and most certainly wasn’t a theologian.

Paul VI was morally accepted as pope by most all those who would be sedevacantists in the short time after the council.

One exception was Fr. Saenz Y Arriaga, who would appear to have been a member of the Vatican 2 religion if he didn’t speak out and write his book. He made it perfectly clear (after Padre Pio’s death) that he never accepted its false teachings or belonged to the sect.

The years before Padre Pio died in 1968, he was ill and frail. The new mass hadn’t been promulgated and Padre Pio already showed disapproval for some of the changes that were taking place.

It was simply unthinkable that such evil could occur. No one expected it and almost no one had the moral fortitude to react correctly except for heroes like Fr. Saenz Y Arriaga. I’m sure Padre Pio would have supported the Mexican priest if lived long enough.

Error 4: “Because moral catholicity requires ‘a great number of people,’ the visible society will never be reduced to only a small remnant. There may come a time when the internal virtue of faith is only present in a small number of the members of the visible Church. But, as we will see in Chapter 3, the loss of interior faith alone does not, in and of itself, separate a man from the visible Church. Hence, the loss of faith in the end times, alluded to by Christ (Luke 18:8) and St. Paul (2 Thes. 2:3), does not contradict the teaching that the Church will always possess, as Van Noort said, ‘a great number of men from many different nations.’” (p. 50)

Defending the above statement, Salza and Siscoe turn to Van Noort:

“The Church is endowed with moral catholicity: Christ’s Church, after its beginning, should always be conspicuous for its morally universal diffusion. … To satisfy the requirements of moral catholicity in fact – a quality belonging to Christ’s Church perpetually and necessarily – we stated there was required: ‘a great number of men from many different nations.’ … Such diffusion, obviously, cannot be had without a really large number of adherents.”16

Salza and Siscoe took Van Noort and created their own “dogma,” viz, the Church must always be large in numbers. That’s not what Van Noort said. Salza and Siscoe like to place an ellipsis, when the rest of the quote or teaching doesn’t fit their argument. Van Noort wrote 5 pages on the subject and even the quote they provide doesn’t imply that the Church can’t be reduced to a remnant.

First of all, the Church was small in the beginning and yet had the mark of Catholicity. Van Noort points to that fact on the very page Salza and Sisco quote from. He’s just saying the Church was created for men in all nations and that it will reach all nations. Because it reaches all nations, it will be large in numbers.

Van Noort did not say or imply that the Catholic Church must always have large numbers. He couldn’t say that, because it would necessarily mean the Church was absent of Catholicity in the beginning, which is absurd.

On the very next page, Van Noort writes:

Please note, however, that the continuity of this progressive expansion should not be pressed too hard. The texts cited do not rule out the possibility of the Church’s being notably decreased in this or that century due to schism or heresy (whose occurrence was foretold in the Sacred Scripture), without it being able to recoup immediately. Still, theologians usually reject the hypothesis that the Church might ever be so besieged with heresy that it would-even for a brief period- be restricted to just one nation 12. Neither should one interpret the scriptural prophecies about the great defection at the end of the world in such a sense. 13

The footnotes read: 12 Melchior Cano (De locis, IV, 6. ad 13) and Bellarmine (De ecclesia, IV, 7) were of the opinion that even in this hypothesis the Church could still be call catholic; namely, insofar as it could be clearly proved to be the same Church as that Church which was once diffused throughout the whole world. But the point at issue is whether the Church, if confined in that fashion, would still be catholic in the sense indicated by the Scriptures.

13. Luke 18:8, II Thess. 2:3, see St. Augustine [?] De unitate ecclesiae 15. 38.

As sedevacantists, we most certainly don’t hold that the Church has been reduced to one nation, because sedevacantists exist in every nation. According to Van Noort, Cano and Bellarmine theorize that the Church could be restricted to one nation but would still be Catholic.

Rev. Sylvester Berry refutes Salza’s and Siscoe’s claim:

The idea of diffusion, or extension, throughout the world has so predominated in the notion of universality that the term Catholic is now used almost exclusively in that sense. …Catholicity of diffusion may be either de jure or de facto. The Church is catholic or universal de jure (by right) because it is destined for the salvation of all men, and therefore endowed with the ability to spread to all parts of the world to fulfill that mission; it is catholic de facto (in fact) when actually diffused or spread throughout the world. All who admit that Christ founded any church at all, must admit that it is Catholic de jure, — that it was commissioned by Christ to carry salvation to all nations, and that it was consequently endowed with the ability to spread throughout the world for this purpose. Hence de jure Catholicity is an essential property possessed by the Church of Christ from the first moment of her existence. It is immediately evident that de facto Catholicity could only come with the lapse of time, and gradually increase with the passing centuries, until the Church becomes completely Catholic, embracing all nations, tribes, and tongues. Therefore de facto Catholicity is not an essential property of the Church in the sense that it must have been present at all times from the very beginning; it is an essential property in the sense that it necessarily flows from the very nature of the Church as a society destined to carry the Gospel to all nations. (Berry, The Church of Christ, p. 69; italics given.)

Jesuit theologian Fr. Timothy Zapelena (1883-1962), who taught at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome wrote about catholicity of the Church towards the end of time:

[Objection 10:] However, the truth is, at the end of the world catholicity will be absent, as is clear from Lk 18:8: “But yet the Son of Man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” But catholicity presupposes unity of faith. Therefore…

Answer. I distinguish the major [premise]: That at the end of the world, living faith will be lacking in many, I grant; that all faith [will be lacking] according as there is an apostasy of all or of most—[this] the second premise demonstrates. Very decidedly, “then shall many be scandalized … and many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many. And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold” (Mt 24:10-12). But if at the end of the world apostasy of such a kind actually were to be the case in most men, it would be necessary to think of catholicity in such a manner that it must be understood in a very restricted sense as a stage immediately and very shortly preceding the consummation of the world. However, the difficulty relates to the end of the world, not the existence of the Church throughout the ages, about which we especially speak in this thesis. (Rev. Timoteo Zapelena, S.J., De Ecclesia Christi: Pars Apologetica [Rome: Gregorian, 1955], p. 489; italics given; underlining added. Translation by Novus Ordo Watch.)

Lastly, in explaining the third mark of Catholicity, Salza and Siscoe leave out a very important aspect to the dogma. The Roman Catechism explains:

“She is also called universal, because all who desire eternal salvation must cling to and embrace her, like those who entered the ark to escape perishing in the flood. This (note of catholicity), therefore, is to be taught as a most reliable criterion, by which to distinguish the true from a false Church.”

This is important because their religion doesn’t claim to be the only ark of salvation. The Vatican 2 religion includes false religions as making up the Church of Christ. As long are you’re in one of these false religions, you’re in the ark of salvation.

Error 5: “The attribute of infallibility guarantees that the Church will never impose a heresy upon the faithful to be believed with the assent of faith. This is the biggest sticking point today for the Sedevacantists, since they believe that unity of doctrine no longer exists, and infallibility has been violated. About this, however, they are mistaken.” (p. 52)

As long as the pope doesn’t teach ex cathedra, Salza and Siscoe believe he may impose a heresy to be believed by the faithful. They’ve heretically argued that Pope Celestine III taught heresy by law and they heretically argue the Church has taught heresy by Vatican 2 decrees. The argument Salza and Siscoe advance originated with the Feenyites, the absurdity I’ve dealt with here: Non-infallible Church Teaching Can’t Be Heretical

Salza and Siscoe write: “The Arian crisis is a parallel of the situation in which we find ourselves today, when vast numbers of Catholic bishops have been infected with the heresy of Modernism, just as the majority of the bishops in the fourth century were infected with the heresy of Arianism. But, in spite of the doctrinal crisis currently afflicting the Church’s hierarchy, the true Faith is still professed with clarity by countless traditional-minded Catholics throughout the world (priests and laity alike), just as it was during the time of the Arian crisis.” (p. 53)

The Arian crisis parallels today, but not for their resistance movement. St. Athanasius forbade worshipping with the Arians who had taken over Catholic churches, while bereft of the faith themselves. Salza and Siscoe act like the Arians were Catholics in the Church. They were not.

Error 6: “The principal difference between the teaching of the Catholic Church and that of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox sects regarding the mark of apostolicity, is apostolicity in government. This is because they lack legitimate apostolic succession (formal apostolic succession), which is also lacking in the Sedevacantist sects. In fact, it is apostolicity in government (the clearest mark of the true Church) that gives the Sedevacantist apologists the most difficulties. Their position forces them to openly depart from the teaching of the Church, or else invent wild theories to keep from having to reject what they know the Church teaches.” (p. 51)

What the Church teaches is not what Salza and Siscoe present. The one quote Salza and Siscoe rely solely on comes from Van Noort, who inserted his mere opinion in his “Christ’s Church Vol. 2.” He writes, “The only point to be proven here is that it was Christ’s will that the apostolic college should continue forever, in such a way that there would always be in the Church a body of men invested with the threefold power which the apostles enjoyed [which includes jurisdiction]. This thesis is a dogma of faith, as we know, e.g., from the Council of Trent, Sess. 23, c. 4 (DB 960).”

The Council of Trent says no such thing. It didn’t come close.

Christ instituted a hierarchy, but never did Trent say the offices will always be filled.

Salza and Siscoe could have just quoted Trent to prove their point, but Trent doesn’t say what they want it to say, so they turn to Van Noort’s interpretation of it.

It’s hard to believe a theologian could twist something so badly, but Van Noort did so and Salza and Siscoe tried to capitalize off of it.  I looked up four other theologians and none of them say what Van Noort said. It clearly is no dogma that a body of men filling bishopric offices will always exist. Only the potential of having offices filled will always exist.

I provided an explanation of the mark of apostolicity here: The Catholic Bottom Line – Part VIII. This link covers all the arguments on the subject in chapter 2 of True of False pope.

The rest of the chapter concerns arguments and opinion that have no bearing on whether sedevacantism is true or false. Therefore, we’ll ignore it.

To be continued…

 

Footnotes:

[1] Pope Pius IX in Quartus Supra (# 16), January 6, 1873 A.D., On False Accusations, declared: “And previously the Arians falsely accused Liberius, also Our predecessor, to the Emperor Constantine, because Liberius refused to condemn St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, and refused to support their heresy.”

[2] Pages 184-185

Likewise, the statement that man has a right to religious liberty and freedom of conscience is in itself perfectly orthodox, provided one understands it to mean that man has the right to embrace and publicly profess the one true religion established by Christ, and the right to refuse evil based on the dictates of a well-formed conscience. However, the statement would be erroneous if it meant that man has a moral right to violate the First Commandment by practicing a false religion, or that he should be permitted to publicly violate a just moral law by appealing to his “conscience” which does not reproach him for doing so.

A footnote on page 428:

Archbishop Lefebvre provides us a great example of the justifiable withholding of assent to the teachings of Vatican II through his scholarly and well-reasoned objections to the council’s teaching in Dignitatis Humane on religious liberty. In fact, in October 1985, Lefebvre submitted his famous Dubia about Religious Liberty to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which demonstrates that the council’s teaching is incompatible with the Church’s perennial condemnations of religious liberty. The authors have a copy of the Congregation’s 21-page unpublished reply (dated March 9, 1987) to Lefebvre’s dubia against Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty. The Congregation’s reply does little more than repeat the teachings of Dignitatis Humanae, rather than reconcile them with Quanta Cura and the Syllabus of Errors. Furthermore, the Congregation admits the possibility of further study of the problem (“…demeure la possibilité d’une étude ultérieure de ce problème…”

See also REMNNAT NEWSPAPER: A Vatican/SSPX Discussion (remnantnewspaper.com)

[3] Dignitatis humanae (vatican.va)

The first thing that struck me about chapter 1 of John Salza’s and Robert Siscoe’s heretical book “True or False Pope” are all the quotes from theologians.

Here we have two men who don’t accept the teachings from their popes but place dogmatic values on the opinions of theologians. While some of the teachings of theologians are actually dogmatic teachings of the Church, some of them are not. Distinctions are needed before condemning opponents for not holding to opinions.

Salza and Siscoe hold the resistance position against papal teachings but refuse that same resistance of Catholics against theologians. Why must Catholics accept the teachings of theologians and not popes? Contradictions like this are foundational for the resistance movement. 

Throughout chapter 1, Salza and Siscoe misrepresent Sanborn, Matatics, Coomaraswamy, and Lane. I will simply answer the questions or accusations they accuse these four gentlemen of not dealing with.

The first error is repeated at least 7 times throughout the chapter.

Error 1: a. “Sedevacantists… cannot point to a Church that does possess them [attributes and marks], they end by reducing the meaning of “Church” to the Protestant concept of a scattered body of “true believers” (rather than a visible institution). (pp. 15-16)

b. “Sedevacantists, having lost the faith in the Church, have come to profess the same Protestant error, which reduces the notion of the ‘visible Church’ to ‘visible members’ who profess the true Faith.” (p. 25)

What’s ironic is the Vatican 2 popes have gone farther than this false accusation against sedevacantism. Vatican 2 redefined the nature of the Church and the Vatican 2 popes apply it by recognizing false religions as making up the Church of Christ.

The Vatican 2 religion holds that the Church is a scattered body of false believers and religions, and this body is the visible institution with the four marks. Do Salza and Siscoe agree with Vatican 2 and their popes on this point? Oh, the contradictions!

c. “And where is that visible Church, exactly? That is the question the Sedevacantists cannot answer. Because the Sedevacantist sects do not possess these attributes, they cannot be considered ‘the Church,’ as some of them imagine themselves to be.” (p. 32)

Sedevacantism is a position. Positions found within Catholicism are not sects. The attributes belong to the Catholic Church.

d. “After asking again, ‘where is the visible Church?,’ Sanborn responds by saying ‘It is realized in those who publicly adhere to the Catholic Faith, and who at the same time look forward to the election of a Roman Pontiff.’ Notice what the bishop just did. He reduced the Church to the Protestant concept of a loose association of individuals who profess the true faith, yet who are not united under a divinely established hierarchy. This is what he erroneously calls the ‘visible Church.’ This is essentially the same notion of the “visible Church” professed by Protestantism….” (p. 32)

e. “the visible Church is not just individuals, but rather a visible and hierarchical society.” (p. 32)

f. “One can’t help but see the irony of the Sedevacantists’ rejection of the last six Popes, because they allegedly professed heresy, while the Sedevacantists, themselves, publicly profess the Protestant heresy of the invisible Church consisting of ‘visible members.’” (p. 34)

A Catholic living in Japan in 1800 would point to his family and friends as the Catholic Church, because without priests and outside communication, that’s all a Japanese Catholic could do. Professing Catholics united to Peter make up the Church.

When Protestants refer to the Church has having visible members, they’re referring to most everyone who professes belief in Christ. Their church is invisible because they can’t point to a particular group with a particular set of doctrines. They hold that the body of the church makes up every true believer crossing all denominational lines, with no set of necessary beliefs and with no central authority. This is far different from how Sanborn, Matatics, Coomaraswamy, and Lane mean “visible members” forming the visible Church.

All the churches united in faith with the Chair of Peter make up the Catholic Church. Just as in Japan in 1800, a Catholic would point to his particular Catholic group with no clergy as the visible Catholic Church. The Church will always be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in faith as the Church has always been. The only difference is the fact that all the offices are currently vacant. It’s a unique situation, but so was the Great Western Schism in its day. If you lived before the schism, you would have said, such a thing, were impossible, yet it happened.

The hierarchical society is in an incomplete form as the Church is in an incomplete form when a pope dies. The offices need to be filled, but the vacancy of them doesn’t negate the four marks. Since the Church existed in Japan during the 17th through the 19th centuries, it follows that it existed with the four marks despite having no clergy.

The church Salza and Siscoe must point to as the Catholic Church doesn’t even claim to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic as the Catholic Church defined it. They must point to that bishop or pope who they don’t even agree with on the very Faith of Christ. This is the visible church according to them, a divided church with unholy doctrines and laws. It doesn’t remotely square with any of the theologians from whom they quote. 

Error 2: “The unavoidable consequence of their [sedevacantists] stated position is that “the gates of hell” have indeed prevailed against the visible Church founded by Christ. (p. 16)

It’s actually the other way around. The unavoidable consequence of Salza’s and Siscoe’s stated position is that “the gates of hell” are running the visible church. The four marks have no real value when there’s disagreement with the pope over official teachings on faith and morals. Again, the Vatican 2 religion implies the Protestant notion of “church” as the body of true believers.

Sedevacantists don’t hold to an invisible church like the Protestants, but we do hold the Catholic doctrine that one can be united to the soul of the Church only. There’s nothing wrong with saying the Church is the body of true believers provided it’s understood properly. The visible aspect of the Church is the body of true believers who profess the Catholic faith united to the office of the papacy. You find which sedevacantists are Catholic and the which are not by the 4 marks.

Error 3 “Now, because Sedevacantists claim we have not had a successor of St. Peter for the past six decades (or longer), some will attempt to limit the council’s teaching to affirming that the office of Peter will continue until the end of time (i.e., that the primacy didn’t die out when Peter died), but not that there will be ‘perpetual successors in the Primacy.’… their position requires them to deny the council’s plain teaching that there will be a perpetual line of successors until the end.” (pp. 19-20)

Six years before Salza and Siscoe wrote this book, I published the answer to this accusation. Sedevacantists are not denying that Peter has perpetual successors. However, there will be an end to Peter’s successors because there will be an end to time. Perpetual succession doesn’t mean the office must be filled at the very end of time. The Chair of Peter could be vacant at the end. Vatican I did not give a time limit on an interregnum period.

However, Salza and Siscoe have placed an interpretation on Vatican I and made a dogma out of their interpretation. Vatican I stated, “perpetual successors IN THE PRIMACY” for a specific reason. Again, Vatican I:

Therefore, if anyone then says that it is not from the institution of Christ the Lord Himself, or by Divine right that the blessed Peter has perpetual successors in the primacy over the universal Church…

The Eastern Orthodox recognize that Peter has successors but not in the primacy. The pope is the successor of St. Peter in the primacy perpetually, meaning, every time there is a pope until the end of time, he is a successor in the same primacy with the same authority as St. Peter.

After my added ellipsis, Vatican I specifically dealt with Protestants who don’t believe the Roman Pontiff is the successor of Blessed Peter in this primacy. Vatican I continued: 

“or that the Roman pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema.”

Vatican I is knocking out both the Eastern Orthodox and Protestant heresies with one stone.  None of the Vatican I statements say there must always be a pope or else every time a pope dies, Vatican I statements would fail. This argument from Salza and Siscoe is a straw-man argument that’s used ad nauseam.

Also, Salza and Siscoe argue against Gerry Matatics over Rev. Sylvester Berry on perpetual succession, but they omit what Berry says about the papacy:

“It is a matter of history that the most disastrous periods for the Church were times when the Papal throne was vacant, or when anti-popes contended with the legitimate head of the Church. Thus also shall it be in those evil days to come.”

It’s clear Rev. Berry didn’t believe as Salza and Siscoe on perpetual succession or else he could not have said the Papal throne might be vacant during the end of time. He’s saying what sedevacantists are saying.

Error 4: “the Church has never failed to provide a successor to St. Peter” as if to prove a 70-year interregnum were impossible. (p. 22)

Because something never happened, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. For 300 years, the Church never had an interregnum lasted over 3 years, but in 308, it happened. For over 1400 years, the Church never had a situation where three so-called popes reigned and the Church was split over it, but it happened. We never had a pope to become a heretic, but the fathers of Vatican I didn’t think it was impossible. They told us how to respond if it ever were to happen. It’s a fallacy to say because something has never happened, therefore, it can’t happen.

Error 5: “as we noted in the Preface, a fundamental misunderstanding of infallibility is one of the principle causes of the Sedevacantist error.” (p. 31)

Actually, Salza and Siscoe have the fundamental misunderstanding that if infallibility is not used, papal teaching could be erroneous against the faith.

Papal teaching can be erroneous, but not against the faith, which is defined.

Error 6: As we will see in the next chapter, it is de fide (of the faith) that the Magisterium (composed of validly ordained bishops with jurisdiction) will always exist.

Salza wants us to believe his Magisterium with jurisdiction also teaches heresy and other errors that must be resisted. It must exist despite being heretical.

What’s de fide is that the Magisterium is free from all theological and moral error against the Faith.

Error 7: “Sedevacantist apologist, John Lane, wrote: ‘The Catholic Church didn’t cease to exist, or to have a hierarchy, in an instant in, say, 1958 or 1965. Such a view would be not merely nutty, but manifestly unorthodox. It’s sufficiently clear that what happened was a process of apostasy…’ Someone should inform Mr. Lane that there is no essential difference between claiming the Church defected overnight, and claiming it happened gradually over a period of months, or perhaps years, since any defection of the Church (either overnight or by a ‘process’) would violate its attribute of indefectibility.” (p. 38)

Lane is not saying the Church defected. He’s saying the people defected from the Church gradually. Holy Scripture speaks of a mass defection in II Thess. 2:3. The Roman Catechism speaks of a falling away from the faith as a sign before the end of time. Cardinal Manning taught in 1861 about the end of time, “Then the Church shall be scattered, driven into the wilderness, and shall be for a time, as it was in the beginning, invisible hidden in catacombs, in dens, in mountains, in lurking places; for a time it shall be swept, as it were from the face of the earth. Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers of the early Church.”  

Would Salza and Siscoe argue against the universal testimony of the Fathers of the Church that a mass defection is impossible because of the attribute of indefectibility?  

Error 8: Universal acceptance proves the Church can’t elect or follow a false pope. (pp. 38-41)

This opinion, while accepted as a permissible position, is not a teaching of the Church. At least 5 theologians and canonists have rejected this opinion. 

Everything hinges on this error, because without it, Salza and Siscoe can’t tell us why Francis is pope. Since their argument proves nothing, the best argument they have is that it’s their opinion only.

Salza and Siscoe finish the chapter with the Siri Thesis, but since it’s irrelevant to the truth of sedevacantism, we’ll ignore it for now.

To be continued…

Recently, John Salza claimed that his book “True or False Pope – Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors” has not been refuted by any sedevacantist after 6 years. Apparently, he didn’t read my article on Canon 188.4, which alone refutes the entire book. Lately, however, he has been refuting part of his own book.

In response to Kennedy Hall, Salza wrote: “if he actually read that book [True or False Pope] and learned its contents, he would have concluded that the SSPX is in nearly the same canonical situation as the Sedevacantist clergy.” What’s ironic is that Salza himself just came to this conclusion after 6 years of writing his own book. [1] It’s good that he’s realizing his errors, but he’s got a long way to go.

Therefore, I’ve decided to do a whole series of articles on his other errors and contradictions from his book. This installment will only cover the Preface. The next installment will cover Chapter 1, and so on.

The Preface

Error 1: Sedevacantists hold: “Whatever comes from or is approved by a Pope must be true and good because ‘the Pope is infallible.’” (p. 2)  

Right off the bat, Salza and Siscoe demonstrate that they don’t understand sedevacantism or they intentionally misrepresent it.

Sedevacantists understand that popes can err. Not everything they approve must be true and good. The correct major premise of sedevacantism: Whatever decree or law that’s approved and promulgated by a pope must be safe and sound for all Catholics to hold for they must give their assent to them.

Error 2: “The correct Major Premise is actually the following: “A true Pope cannot give or approve evil teachings and practices when he invokes Christ’s gift of infallibility” (which is not an habitually active charism).” (p. 3)

This is a half-truth. Salza’s and Siscoe’s statement implies that popes can approve evil and heretical teachings and practices when not invoking infallibility, which is incorrect. I answer this error here: Non-infallible Church Teaching Can’t Be Heretical

Error 3: “While some of Vatican II’s teachings are ambiguous and even erroneous, they have not compromised the Church’s infallibility.” (p. 4)

The Church has infallibly declared that she is holy. This means the Church’s teachings can’t intentionally be ambiguous to decieve or promulgate heresy or lesser errors against the faith in any form. Vatican 2 did both by decree. Only false religions promulgate errors and heresies against the Faith, not the Catholic Church. On Salza’s and Siscoe’s website, they argue that the Catholic Church has promulgated heresy by canon law. Yes, you heard that correctly. They have argued that the Catholic Church has been a heretical religion. [2] I have published a full rebuttal to this blasphemous nonsense. [3]

Error 4: “None of [Francis’ heretical] statements were in any way contrary to the doctrine of infallibility, since papal infallibility is only engaged when a Pope defines a doctrine, which Pope Francis has never done.” (p. 6)

This is a red-herring and is connected to Error 2. It’s irrelevant whether Francis was teaching domatically or not. The doctrine of papal infallibility doesn’t mean popes can teach heresy when not using their full apostolic authority. We believe the Church is infallibly one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Are we one in faith with the pope? If not, the problem doesn’t lie with the Church.

Error 5: “What is common among [sedevacantists] is their belief that the ultimate determination of who is a valid Pope and who is not is a matter of the private judgment of individual Catholics, and not the authority of the Catholic Church. In fact, this ultimate judgment of who is a valid Pope and who is not perhaps best exemplifies the reflexive “Protestant” nature of Sedevacantism.” (p. 7)

The fact is sedevacantists don’t hold that private judgment is what determines who is and is not a valid pope. What determines who’s pope is if he meets the qualifications, such as being a Catholic man, elected by the Church, and fits the First Vatican Council’s definiton of the pope. Catholics must be able to recognize Catholic truths such as these qualifications. 

True popes can’t be heretical as Vatican I necessarily implies, nor can the Church stand in judgment of a pope (it wouldn’t need to if he fit’s Vatican I’s definition), like Salza and Siscoe heretically hold. Also, obedience is to be given to the pope, something Salza and Siscoe don’t do. They use their private judgment as to what laws and decrees they’ll accept as Catholic. This practice is what best exemplifies the reflexive Protestant nature of their resistance position.

Error  6: “Those Sedevacantist clerics who have not declared themselves Pope certainly act as de facto Popes over their Sedevacantist communities, such as Bishops Clarence Kelly, Donald Sanborn, Mark Pivarunas and Daniel Dolan, as well as Fr. Anthony Cekada” (p. 8)

This is another red-herring and half-truth. Bishops are to act as bishops. Regardless whether our bishops act correctly or not has no bearing on the position of sedevacantism. The Catholic Church has always had bishops and popes who have not acted correctly according to their positions. 

Error 7: There are no sound theological arguments in favor of Sedevacantism, “as this book demonstrates.” (p. 8)

This is just a lie. For instance, I presented the argument of altar girls. [4] Salza and Siscoe argue that altar girls are a scandalous prudential judgment that doesn’t contradict the doctrine of the Church (pp. 480-482). However, it does contradict the dogma of the holiness of the Church and Can. 7 of session XXII of Trent, which I spelled out in my argument. Salza and Siscoe completely ignored the dogma of holiness and Trent’s canon.

Not only did they misrepresent my arguments, but they misrepresented all the sedevacantist apologists. Their book only demonstrated their dishonesty and inability to comprehend what they read. 

Error 8: “‘Sedevacantists’ have ‘lost the Faith in the Church’ and don’t recognize the ‘disfigured’ Church and ‘vilify the Church with diabolical fervor.’” (pp. 8-9)

We most certainly have not lost Faith in the Church. That honor goes to those who left sedevacantism to join the Eastern Orthodox or something else. The meaning Salza and Siscoe give is to their church, but the reality is they have lost Faith in the Church. They have vilified the Catholic Church by accusing it of heresy by law and by attacking the papacy. They accuse the papacy of being the office that’s caused the Church to be disfigured. That’s like saying Jesus disfigured Himself and was the cause of His Passion. Their argument is absolute blasphemy. The Church is disfigured not because of popes, but because of an imposter popes. Christ was disfigured by those who weren’t members of the Church and so it is with His Church. Salza and Siscoe are partly guilty of disfiguring the Church with their heretical book and website.

Error 9:  “‘This cannot be the true Church!,’ the Sedevacantists proclaim. ‘God would simply not permit it. It is impossible!’ And why is it impossible? They claim it is not possible because of the alleged violations of the Church’s infallibility. But about this they are gravely mistaken, for nothing that God has permitted has violated any of His promises or the infallibility of His Church, as this book will aptly demonstrate.” [p. 10]

Take out the words “the Sedevacantists proclaim” and replace them with “Salza and Siscoe proclaim” and read it through. We could make the same statement back to them, but it doesn’t prove anything. 

Of course, nothing God has permitted has violated any of His Promises or the infallibility of His Church. What is impossible is for God to permit His Church to be heretical and to lead the faithful astray to hell. What is impossible is for the papacy to be the cause of the Church’s destruction by heresy. What’s impossible is for the gates of hell to run the Church. [5]

Salza and Siscoe have it exactly backwards. 

To be continued…

 

Footnotes:

[1] True or False Pope

[2] True or False Pope: Pope Celestine III’s Error on the indissolubility of Marriage

[3] Censoring Truth – Fr. Paul Kramer debunks Robert Siscoe and the Remnant Newspaper

[4] Altar Girls are Impossible for the True Catholic Church | Speray’s Catholicism in a Nutshell (wordpress.com)

[5] the-gates-of-hell-and-the-gates-of-the-church1.pdf (wordpress.com)

Nishant Xavier (OnePeterFive contributer) commented on my website on three separate occasions concerning the universal acceptance doctrine:

       It is heretical to say a Universally Accepted Pope is a heretical [sic], as Cardinal Billot clearly teaches. Therefore, all sedes are objectively heretics, while the Universally Accepted Pope is the True Pope.

       A Universally Accepted Pope cannot be a heretic, but by the very fact of UA [universal acceptance] is infallibly proven to be a Catholic, since a heretic cannot be validly elected Pope.

       Sedevacantism is heretical when there is a Universally Accepted Pope. Cardinal Billot clearly teaches this is the most certain principle of all in the Pope-Heretic question. Why do you obstinately reject it, Steven?

John Salza and Robert Siscoe published a list of canonists and theologians who teach that a pope universally accepted by the Church is a true pope removing all doubt that the pope could be a heretic, or is unbaptized, or having some other impediment preventing him from holding the papacy. [1]

I’ve responded to the universal acceptance doctrine several times over the years. [2] The doctrine has been labeled as de fide and a dogmatic fact, but it appears to be a thesis only, which falls into the realm of theological opinions. Dr. Ludwig Ott writes in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

       Theological opinions are free views on aspects of doctrines concerning Faith and morals, which are neither clearly attested in Revelation nor decided by the Teaching Authority of the Church. Their value depends upon the reasons adduced in their favour (association with the doctrine of Revelation, the attitude of the Church, etc.).

       A point of doctrine ceases to be an object of free judgment when the Teaching Authority of the Church takes an attitude which is clearly in favour of one opinion. Pope Pius XII explains in the Encyclical “Humani generis” (1950): “When the Popes in their Acts intentionally pronounce a judgment on a long disputed point then it is clear to all that this, according to the intention and will of these Popes, can no longer be open to the free discussion of theologians” (D 3013).

The universal acceptance doctrine is not universally accepted by canonists and theologians.

As I demonstrated in a recent article, the 17th century canonist and theologian Fr. Laymann explained how supplied jurisdiction would be provided if a pope becomes a heretic. This means the universally accepted pope is not actually the pope, because a true pope doesn’t need supplied jurisdiction to rule; only an imposter needs it. 

Another 17th century Spanish Jesuit theologian Fr. Juan Azor taught the same as Fr. Laymann.

In my research on the subject, I found other theologians that rejected the universal acceptance thesis. In the following quote taken from a 1868 edition of The Dublin Review, we see how the Church could mistakenly believe in a false pope and that it’s not merely a universal acceptance that proves a pope is truly pope.

       Turrecremata’s doctrine has been carried by later theologians to its legitimate results. Divine Providence he says will protect the Church against any evil results which might ensue to the Church from an unavoidable mistake of some seeming Pope for a true one. But if the false Pope proceeded to put forth doctrinal determinations quasi ex cathedra most serious evil would accrue to the Church. It is the explicit doctrine therefore of later theologians that so soon as a Pope recognized as such by the Universal Church has put forth any doctrinal determination he is infallibly the true Pope. Even F. Ryder (Letter p. 9) considers that this proposition is de fide. Whenever therefore any universally recognized Pope puts forth any doctrinal determination it is infallibly certain that he is not unbaptized, nor otherwise disqualified for the Pontificate. [3]

The Dublin Review, edited by William George Ward at the time, points to the teaching of theologian and Superior of the Birmingham Oratory, Fr. Henry Ignatius Dudley Ryder (1837-1907) who wrote in his Letter:

       As to the third, I hold with Suarez (Disp. x. §. 5) that it is De fide (at least, after the Pope has pronounced a dogmatical definition), that he is Pope; neither do I see how this can be denied, without falling back upon the Gallican position, as Bannez unconsciously does {De Fide, qu.. i. art. 10), when, after maintaining that “etiam post summi Pontificis definitionem solum habetur ex humana prudentia et evidente inquisitione, aut etiam ex infusa prudentia cui potest sudesse falsiim speculativey quod hie est summus Pontifex …. nihilominus negare valde temerarium et scandalosum foret nisi proharet,” he insists, that any how, the Pope’s accepted definitions will be de fide, inasmuch as the universal Church cannot be deceived in accepting them. [4]

Suarez didn’t say “at least, after the Pope has pronounced a dogmatical definition.” Fr. Ignatius added this qualifier and for good reason.

This proves that at least two theologians in the late19th century did not hold that a mere universal acceptance by the Church proves an individual is the pope. According to them, it takes a dogmatic definition to prove it. Fr. Ignatius also taught that “It has always been maintained by Catholic theologians that for heresy the Church may judge the Pope, because, as most maintain, by heresy, he ceases to be Pope.” [5]

Lastly, Canonist Francis Sigismund Miaskiewicz demonstrated in 1940 that universal acceptance doesn’t make a true pope. Salza and Siscoe actually have part of the following quote on page 41 in their heretical book “True or False Pope – Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors.” They misrepresented Miaskiewicz as they did with Fr. Laymann.

John Salza also used Canonist Miaskiewicz in his Sept. 21, 2021 article, “Against Sedevacantism: Errors Concerning Supplied Jurisdiction.” [6] He obviously didn’t catch the fact a true pope doesn’t need supplied jurisdiction. However, Miaskiewicz implies that supplied jurisdiction is needed by one regarded as Pope by the world precisely because such a person is not actually the pope. Miaskiewicz wrote:

        First, it must be remembered that at any time when the Church supplies jurisdiction she does so because in the person conferring or accepting the jurisdiction, or in the manner of its bestowal or acceptance, some formality required by the law for validity was not observed. Hence it is erroneous to say that the omission of formalities required by law for validity is not supplied. As a matter of fact, there are no formalities of Church law which could not be supplied. Thus, for example, if a Pope were invalidly elected, once he were regarded by the world as Pope all of his jurisdictional acts would be valid. [7]

Miaskiewicz did not say, “If a Pope were invalidly elected, once he were regarded by the world as Pope, he would be Pope.” A true pope is understood to have supreme jurisdiction. Yet, Miaskiewicz has to tell us that such a person has valid acts of jurisdiction, because it’s understood that he is not actually the pope. It has to be supplied. Hence the fact Miaskiewicz is explaining Canon 209, which concerns common error and supplied jurisdiction.

It’s irrelevant whether Laymann, Azor, Miaskiewicz, or Ward and Ryder are correct. The point here is that at least 5 canonists and theologians held that a mere universal acceptance of a pope doesn’t guarantee he’s the pope.

The main idea behind the universal acceptance thesis and the Laymann/Miaskiewicza/Ryder positions is to explain what makes for a true pope and what guarantees the Church from not following someone who can lead them into eternal perdition. The Church hasn’t defined what allows us to know with absolute certaintly that a pope is truly pope. What we  know is that a true pope can’t lead the Church to hell through error and heresy and the Church itself can’t be fooled into thinking the path to hell is the path to heaven through an imposter pope. 

All the above theological positions are actually rejected by the resistance position, because it’s known that following the Vatican 2 popes in their doctrinal teachings and liturgical disciplines will lead men to eternal perdition. The resistance position ultimately holds that true popes can lead men into hell through decree, liturgy, and law, which is contrary to the dogma on the papacy. Thus, each individual must become the pope’s pope. Every law and decree has to be judged by each individual Catholic and the pope’s authority is regulated or governed by the members of the Church.

The resistance position is further marred by the fact when a heretical pope promulgates some error by law or decree, the religion itself is no longer one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Popes validly and authoritatively promulgate the teachings of the Church. Those holding the resistance position now belong to an erroneous church, which they must accept as the true Catholic Church. Certain teachings of faith it promulgates, they must reject. As Pope Leo XIII taught in Satis Cognitum: For such is the nature of faith that nothing can be more absurd than to accept some things and reject others…”

I think Fr. Ignatius Ryder’s position harmonizes with sedevacantism. It would seem that if a dogmatic definition is pronounced, it would be guaranteed we have a true pope. However, it would seem that an imposter pope could also pronounce a dogmatic definition, which is actually sound and true. The difference would be in the fact that a dogmatic definition from a fake pope wouldn’t actually be a dogmatic definition. The Church would err in accepting as matter of divine faith and giving the assent of faith to an invalid definition by which it could excommunicated its members for not adhering to. God would have to protect his Church from an unknown imposter pope from pronouncing a dogmatic definition to prevent the Church from falling into this error. Therefore, in my opinion, Fr. Ignatius Ryder answers the question on what allows us to know with absolute certaintly that a pope is truly pope.

Sedevacantism holds that there’s a moral certitude the man elected to the papacy is pope. When there’s universal acceptance of a doctrinal decision on faith and morals by the papal claimant, it’s guaranteed the Church doesn’t err in accepting it. Therefore, we could have an absolute assurance that a true pope rules.

If the pope were to fall into heresy without the knowledge of the Church, Divine Providence would protect the universal Church from falling into error by keeping the heretic from teaching authoritatively whereby the Church couldn’t recognize it. The sedevacantist position presumes one is pope and is to be obeyed. Just as the sacraments are presumed valid until evidence to the contrary is proven, a pope is presumed to be a true pope until evidence to the contrary is proven.

Lastly, I don’t want to forget about Pope Paul IV who promulgated Cum ex Apostolatus officio in 1559, which was an official papal teaching on the matter at one time. Not only did the pope reject the universal acceptance thesis, but in my opinion, condemned it by law. Though Cum ex has been superseded by later legislations, it remains that the Church at one time officially held that it was possible to universally recognize a fake pope. To date, the Church has never officially taught the contrary. Cum ex reads:

       In addition, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity We enact, determine, decree and define:] that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy: (i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless; (ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired validity)through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation; (iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way; (iv) to any so promoted to be Bishops, or Archbishops, or Patriarchs, or Primates or elevated as Cardinals, or as Roman Pontiff, no authority shall have been granted, nor shall it be considered to have been so granted either in the spiritual or the temporal domain; (v) each and all of their words, deeds, actions and enactments, howsoever made, and anything whatsoever to which these may give rise, shall be without force and shall grant no stability whatsoever nor any right to anyone; (vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power.

Footnotes:

[1] True or False Pope: Peaceful and Universal Acceptance of a Pope

[2] The Universal Acceptance Argument Revisited

[3] The Dublin Review Vol. 11, p 230

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: William George Ward (newadvent.org)

[4] A letter to William George Ward, Esq., D. Ph. on his theory of infallible instruction : Ryder, H. I. D. (Henry Ignatius Dudley), 1837-1907 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

[5] Full quote: “It has always been maintained by Catholic theologians that for heresy the Church may judge the Pope, because, as most maintain, by heresy he ceases to be Pope. There is no variance on this head amongst theologians that I know of, except that some, with Torquemada and Bellarmine, hold that by heresy he ipso facto ceases to be Pope: whilst others, with Cajetan and John of St. Thomas, maintain that he would not formally [as opposed to materially] cease to be Pope until he was formally deposed.” Catholic Controversy, 6th ed., Burns & Oates, pp. 30-31

[6] Against Sedevacantism: Errors Concerning Supplied Jurisdiction – OnePeterFive

[7] “Supplied Jurisdiction According to Canon 209” by Francis Sigismund Miaskiewicz

Many of those who recognize and are united to Bergoglio as pope have contempt for the new mass. Yet, if it is an approved rite of the Church, this behavior is anathema. The mass is an “untainted source,” must be “embraced,” and is “perfect.”  

SESSION VII, CANON XIII. If any one saith, that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, wont to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments, may be contemned, or without sin be omitted at pleasure by the ministers, or be changed, by every pastor of the churches, into other new ones; let him be anathema. 

Is the novus ordo missae an approved rite that administers the sacrament of the Eucharist? 

SESSION XXII, CANON VII. If any one saith, that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema. 

How could the novus ordo missae be a problem if those things within it can’t be? 

Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, 9 (1832):Furthermore, the discipline sanctioned by the Church must never be rejected or branded as contrary to certain principles of the natural law. It must never be called crippled, or imperfect or subject to civil authority. In this discipline the administration of sacred rites, standards of morality, and the reckoning of the Church and her ministers are embraced. 

How can a Catholic not embrace the novus ordo missae as sound, perfect, and holy, since this teaching must be accepted as true? 

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (1896): For, since Jesus Christ delivered Himself up for the salvation of the human race, and to this end directed all His teaching and commands, so He ordered the Church to strive, by the truth of its doctrine, to sanctify and to save mankind. But faith alone cannot compass so great, excellent, and important an end. There must need be also the fitting and devout worship of God, which is to be found chiefly in the divine Sacrifice and in the dispensation of the Sacraments, as well as salutary laws and discipline. All these must be found in the Church, since it continues the mission of the Saviour for ever. The Church alone offers to the human race that religion – that state of absolute perfection – which He wished, as it were, to be incorporated in it. And it alone supplies those means of salvation which accord with the ordinary counsels of Providence. 

How can there be a state of absolute perfection if the novus ordo missae is not?

Pope Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas, May 15, 1956: From what We have so far explained, venerable brethren, it is clear that the faithful must seek from Scripture, tradition and the sacred liturgy as from a deep untainted source, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus if they desire to penetrate its inner nature and by piously meditating on it, receive the nourishment for the fostering and development of their religious fervor. 

All this means the novus ordo mass can’t be treated with contempt, nor spoken of as contemptible, or leading to impiety, if Francis is a true pope. 

Yet, most all pseudo-traditionalists have problems with the new mass in some way. All of them have anathematized themselves by their own contempt for their own religious rites approved by their own pope and church.

Keep this in mind when you speak to family and friends who fall in this category. 

John Salza and Robert Siscoe thought they found another canonist that refutes sedevacantism. [1] Not only did they place their newfound argument on their website, but they placed it in 3 different places in their heretical book “True or False Pope – Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors.”

German Jesuit priest Fr. Paul Laymann lived in the 16th  and 17th centuries and was a professor of philosophy, moral theology, and canon law. He was a highly regarded moralist and canonist in his day.

Salza and Siscoe take the following quotation dealing with the heretical pope question from Fr. Laymann’s book Theologia Moralis, Book 2, Tract 1, Chapter 2, p. 153, published in 1700:

     “But note that, although we affirm that the Supreme Pontiff, as a private person, might become a heretic … nevertheless, for as long as he is tolerated by the Church, and is publicly recognized as the universal pastor, he is still endowed, in fact, with the pontifical power, in such a way that all his decrees have no less force and authority than they would if he were a truly faithful, as Dominic Barnes notes well (q.1, a. 10, doubt 2, ad. 3) Suarez bk 4, on laws, ch. 7.

     “The reason is: because it is conducive to the governing of the Church, even as, in any other well-constituted commonwealth, that the acts of a public magistrate are in force as long as he remains in office and is publicly tolerated.” [1] (Translation given by Salza & Siscoe)

Salza and Siscoe then boast how “Fr. Laymann’s explanation reflects the constant teaching and practice of the Catholic Church.”

There is no historic practice of the Church recognizing heretical popes. That’s silly. Fr. Laymann himself tells us how his explanation is the more probable opinion. Salza and Siscoe also say they anticipate our sedevacantist response to be us saying “canonists and theologians are not infallible.”

I have news for them, fallible opinions from canonists and theologians is not the issue concerning Fr. Laymann. It’s about presenting a historical canonist and theologian honestly and correctly, something Salza and Siscoe don’t do at all with anyone. They place an ellipsis between “heretic” and “nevertheless” which skips over this absolutely crucial part of Fr. Laymann’s teaching:

     “and therefore cease to be a true member of the Church (as the Church is the congregation of the faithful, thus any heretics, by the very fact that they reject the true faith of Christ, are neither faithful, nor true Christians, according to St. Augustine, Enchridion chap. 5).” See footnote [2] for the Latin text.

Salza and Siscoe provided a snapshot of the page from Laymann’s writing for reference, so why did they leave out this crucial part? 

I suspect they didn’t understand how Fr. Layman could say “the Supreme Pontiff, as a private person, might become a heretic and therefore cease to be a true member of the Church,” and then explain how a non-member of the Church could still be pope “endowed, in fact, with the pontifical power, in such a way that all his decrees have no less force and authority than they would if he were a truly faithful.” Therefore, they just decided to cut out those sections to deceptively make Fr. Laymann appear to be on their side and against sedevacantism. 

Salza and Siscoe also omitted another crucial citation at the very end of the page, which explains Fr. Laymann’s full teaching on the matter.

The citation reads:

     “as long as he is left in such an office, and is publicly tolerated, according to the law of Barbarius, of the office of Praetor.”

The law of Barbarius is the example from Roman history that is cited as the first example of supplied jurisdiction in common error, which later became a matter of law. Barbarius was a runaway slave and thus ineligible for the office of Praetor, but he attained this office in Rome and held it for a number of years. After his ineligibility was discovered, his jurisdictional acts were allowed to stand as valid.

Laymann’s reference to the law of Barbarius implies that if a pope were to become a heretic, his acts of jurisdiction would be valid by supplied jurisdiction because of common error that the non-Catholic heretic is pope when in fact, he is not. [3]

Can. 209 of the 1917 Code of Law provides for the common good and public security by reaffirming the well-known principle that the Church supplies the necessary jurisdiction when there’s common error to an apparent title to the office one exercises. This means supplied jurisdiction is given by the Church, because the person claiming the title of an office doesn’t actually possess the office with ordinary jurisdiction. It’s only an apparent title.

Perhaps, Salza and Siscoe can explain their omissions of these two important parts if I’m incorrect for suggesting ignorance and dishonesty. 

Not only is Fr. Laymann against Salza and Siscoe on this point, he’s also against them on the universal acceptance argument, which they claim proves Francis is truly pope. [4] Since Fr. Laymann is using the common error explanation for a pope who might become a heretic, the implication is the universal acceptance of the Church is mistaken, because the common error of the Church would be recogizing an imposter as pope. 

Fr. Laymann also destroys the recognize and resist position. In case of common error, a non-Catholic heretic acting as pope issues authoritative decrees, which must be accepted. Salza and Siscoe argue against Fr. Laymann that the decrees of their believed-to-be pope Francis are invalid, not authoritative, and are to be rejected.

Even “Abp.” Vigano wrote in his Open Letter to Confused Priests: we can nevertheless recognize a Pope as a heretic, and as such refuse, on a case-by-case basis, to show him the obedience to which he would otherwise be entitled.” These pseudo-traditionalists don’t even accept authoritative decress from those they accept as true popes, a far cry from Fr. Laymann’s teaching and the real constant teaching and practice of the Catholic Church. 

Once again, Salza and Siscoe have twisted another theologian and canonist to mean exactly opposite to his teaching. By providing that snapshot of Fr. Laymann’s teaching, they have inadvertently provided more evidence to the truth of sedevacantism and the condemnation of several of their own positions. For that, I thank them. 

 

Footnotes:

[1] True or False Pope: A RENOWNED 17TH CENTURY CANONIST REFUTES SEDEVACANTISM

[2] Reverendi Patris Pauli Laymanni … Theologia Moralis: In Quinque Libros 

 

[3] Miaskiewicz discusses Barbarius on pp. 32-40

http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/books/Miaskiewicz–Canon%20209.pdf

[4] The Universal Acceptance Argument Revisited

Lutherans, Anglicans and Methodists say the Apostles Creed claiming the church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

Contrary to Catholicism’s definition, oneness or unity simply means the Church made up by believers across denominational lines are united to Christ. There is no formal unity. It doesn’t require a unity of faith in all doctrine, but a merely an acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior with some basic beliefs surrounding Christianity. There’s no definition as to what constitutes what beliefs are necessary. However, if there was a denial of hell, Christ’s divinity, or Trinity, you may not be considered by these particular Protestants as Christians united to Christ.

Vatican 2 redefined the nature of the Church by promulgating this Protestant understanding. The Vatican 2 religion through its popes promote this Protestant understanding in decrees, letters, addresses, and other documents, such as the Balamand Statement and the Joint Declaration with Lutherans.

In Lumen Gentium, Vatican 2 declared:

     “This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic…”

According to same Vatican 2 religion, this Church of Christ is also formally divided and not unified in faith.

In Unitatis Redintegratio, Vatican 2 declared:

     4. “Nevertheless, the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of Catholicity proper to her, in those of her sons and daughters who, though attached to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her.  Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full Catholicity in all its bearings.”

This statement makes no sense unless Vatican 2 is saying the Eastern Orthodox and Protestants and their false religions make up the Church of Christ. However, the Vatican 2 popes have removed all doubt that this, indeed, is what Vatican 2 means:

In 1972, Paul VI addressed the newly elected Patriarch of Constantinople a telegram saying: “At the moment when you assume a heavy charge in the service of the Church of Christ…” (L’Osservatore Romano, July 27, 1972, p. 12)

In a 2006 Joint Declaration with the Eastern Orthodox, Benedict XVI referred to Patriarch Bartholomew and himself “as Pastors in the Church of Christ.” (www.zenit.org, Zenit news report, Nov. 30, 2006)

The following year in the Common Declaration with the Eastern Orthodox, Benedict XVI referred to Archbishop Chrysostomos II and himself “as Pastors in the Church.”

That same year Benedict XVI’s told the Eastern Orthodox Romanian Patriarchate: “I also wish to express my earnest good wishes for you and your brother Bishops as you guide the Church in this time of transition.”

In a Jan. 22, 2013 L’Osservatore Romano article titled: The divisions among Christians disfigure the face of the Church, it was written that Benedict XVI said, “One of the gravest sins ‘that disfigure the Church’s face’ is the sin ‘against her visible unity’.”

On May 25, 1995, John Paul II, in Ut Unum Sint, n. 59, approved the 1993 Balamand declaration, which declared:

     14. It is in this perspective that the Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Churches recognize each other as Sister Churches, responsible together for maintaining the Church of God in fidelity to the divine purpose, most especially in what concerns unity. According to the words of Pope John Paul II, the ecumenical endeavour of the Sister Churches of East and West, grounded in dialogue and prayer, is the search for perfect and total communion which is neither absorption nor fusion but a meeting in truth and love (cf. Slavorum Apostoli, n. 27).

According to this statement, the visible Church of God is divided and the Eastern Orthodox churches form the one Church of God.

The Nov. 1, 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification  by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church states:

     44. We give thanks to the Lord for this decisive step forward on the way to overcoming the division of the church. We ask the Holy Spirit to lead us further toward that visible unity which is Christ’s will.

Again, we see the rejection of the dogma on the visible unity of the Church and the heresy that Lutherans are part of the Body of Christ the Church. John Paul II approved and blessed the Joint Declaration.

The Vatican 2 religion and popes hold the Protestant-style oneness doctrine opposed to the Catholic definition.

The Catholic doctrine of oneness is so foundational, deviation from it amounts to an avalanche of heresies. The Trinity is one, Christ is one with His Body, and the Church must be one in faith. If it were divided in faith, Christ would be divided with truth, Christ’s prayer for unity would be a failure, the true Church couldn’t be identified because it would not truly exist, the Catholic definition would be false, Scripture and particular I Tim. 3:15 would be a lie, thus making the gates of hell the prevailer of the Church and ultimately proving Christianity a false religion.

The Church is one in faith or else Christ is not Lord.

What I find astounding is how pseudo-traditionalist “Catholics” hold to the same heretical principle of oneness as Vatican 2 and Protestantism. They claim to hold the oneness dogma, while outwardly being divided in faith with Vatican 2 and their pope. What blindness! 

For further reading see That They May Be One (Ut Unum Sint)