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 The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Mattei 
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New post The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Mattei ... to-de.html

This article is devastatingly dangerous. It begins with loose ideas, and rapidly descends to heterodoxy.

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
The authority of the Pope has precise limits however, which cannot be ignored. Javier Hervada in his well-known manual on Constitutional Canon Law, writes: “The power of the pope is not unlimited: it is circumscribed within determined limits. The limits may regard the validity or lawfulness in his exercise of power. The limits regarding validity are given as: a) of the natural law: b) of the positive Divine law; c) of the nature and the ends of the Church”[4].

If the Pope oversteps these limits he deviates from the Catholic Faith.

There are any number of potential abuses able to be committed by a (true) pope which would not be "deviations from the Catholic faith." This is sloppy writing at best.

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
The hypothesis of a heretic Pope is treated as [a]“scholion” in all theological treatises[6].

De Mattei cites Journet for this opinion. I haven't bothered checking Journet, because the assertion is manifestly untrue. Very few theological treatises treat of this question. There are thousands of theological treatises, dealing with everything from the exact characteristics of the natural state of beatitude of Adam and Eve, to the nature of the beatific vision; only some of the treatises dealing with ecclesiology, and some few others, deal with the pope heretic thesis.

Sloppy writing again, at best. This is the mark of a man not accustomed to treating theology; a historian grappling with matters outside of his ken.

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
It should be emphasized that the expression “private doctor” does not refer to the Supreme Pontiff’s acts of a private nature, but to his “public” function as supreme Pastor of the Church[7].

This is the precise opposite of the truth. Consider this answer given in the American Ecclesiastical Review in 1897:

Qu. … Another question which obtrudes itself here is: Is it admissible that the Sovereign Pontiff could ever be heretical in his expressions on subjects of faith? And how could such expressions be distinguished as heretical since there is no authority above the Pope to judge the degree of his orthodoxy, which by reason of its coming formally from the actual head of the Church, is, it would seem, stamped with the seal of infallibility?

Resp. … As to the question whether a Pontiff could be heretical in his expressions, it seems altogether futile. History has hitherto furnished no example of such an occurrence, though there have been allegations of the kind, as in the case of Honorius. If Christ has promised to keep the Church from error through the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost, we may suppose that He will keep the Pontiff, to whom He has committed the guidance of that Church, likewise from error. And as the weaknesses of members in the Church do not militate against this operation of the Holy Ghost, neither would the personal weaknesses of its head interfere with the divine promise. For the rest, the admission that the Pope, whilst personally peccable, yet in his office as supreme teacher and moderator of the Church is infallible, covers the whole case; nor is there any more difficulty here than there is in distinguishing between the official acts of a sovereign and his private deeds, not as a private man but as sovereign.

(Question and Answer, American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. XVII 1897, pp. 312 -314. Emphasis added.)

Are these "private acts" the acts of the pope? Explicitly, no. They may be the acts of the Bishop of Rome, or of the Patriarch of the West, or of the King of Rome, but they are most certainly not papal acts. Not all papal acts are acts defining truths of faith and morals, and therefore not all papal acts are posited under the protection of the charism of infallibility, but the notion of papal acts that are heretical is not even considered by the Roman theologians. Such a notion is blasphemous.

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
This infallibility is expressed in the so-called “sensus fidelium”[16], of which the entire people of God enjoy infallibility not only by reflex, but also pro-actively, as often they anticipate Church definitions, or contribute in making them clearer: for example, this occurred before the Council of Ephesus proclaimed the Virgin Mary as Mother of God. St. Cyril[17] and St. Celestine[18] attest that the Christian populace already acknowledged belief in the Divine Maternity as “the faith that the Universal Church professes”[19]

This too is contrary to Roman Theology. The objective content expressed in the sensus fidelium is a result of the preaching of the Church. The Church believing is taught by the Church teaching, and then holds fast to what it has received. Equipped by the virtue of faith, the individual believer is aided by the Holy Ghost in this holding fast to what he has received. He knows the teaching of the Church - because he has been taught the content of that faith - and he can recognise what is incompatible with it, and he knows that he has no right to accept such novelties. Yes, he is aided in this discernment by the Holy Ghost, but it depends utterly, radically, and essentially, upon the teaching activity of the Church. "Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14).

Roberto de Mattei wrote:
The first historical manifestation of the sensus fidei however, may be regarded as the Arian Crisis in which, according to the careful reconstruction by Blessed John Henry Newman[21] (1801-1890), the ‘Church teaching’ appeared often uncertain and lost, but the sensus fidelium preserved the integrity of the Faith, so much so that St. Hilary was able to say: “Sanctiores sunt aures fideles populi labiis sacerdotum”[22]. Card. Newman writes: “There was a temporary suspense of the function of the Ecclesia docens. The body of Bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, once against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years”. During this period, he adds, “the Divine tradition committed to the infallible Church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the Episcopate”[23].

Newman's doctrine here got him into trouble with Rome, and he was forced to write a "clarification" in the pages of The Rambler, the forum in which, as a Catholic, he had first put these unorthodox ideas (he had previously published them, as an Anglican, in his Arians of the Fourth Century, but of course the Catholic Church at that time took no notice; now, Rome was vitally concerned). The result was Newman resigned as editor of The Rambler. It is not astonishing that Conciliarists should embrace Newman's unsound ideas, against the clear witness of history that these ideas were considered as reprehensible by Rome; it is sad that traditionalists should be so insensitive to Tradition!

Repeatedly, from this point in his essay onward, de Mattei cites evidence which applies to the fact that the "Church teaching" (the ecclesia docens) is infallible, as if it applied to the "Church taught" (the ecclesia discens), without however showing the dependency of the latter upon the former. He makes the sensus fidelium into a kind of Gnosticism, by which the faithful receive light directly from the Holy Ghost by which they just know, without being taught, what is sound and what is unsound. This is an abuse of the sources, conflating the sensus fidelium with such concepts as the consensus of the Church, and other perfectly clear and distinct notions of the theologians.

Are we really surprised? De Mattei is a student of TFP founder Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, and openly praises in this very article, on this very subject (the sensus fidelium) the works of Modernist theologians such as Joseph Ratzinger and two members of Opus Dei! TFP was condemned by Bishop de Castro Mayer, who knew it intimately, as a heretical sect; no comment is required, for traditionalists, on Ratzinger or Opus Dei.

If any doubt remains about what pure Gnosticism is involved here, take a look at this example of totally non-Catholic illuminism from de Matei:
Roberto de Mattei wrote:
In 2014, the International Theological Commission, presided by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith, published a study, entitled The sensus fidei in the life of the Church, interesting, most of all for its references to St. Thomas Aquinas[37]. In these pages it is made clear, that unlike theology, which can be described as a scientia fidei, the sensus fidei is not a reflexive, conceptual knowledge of the mysteries of the Faith, but a spontaneous intuition, with which the believer adheres to the true Faith or refuses what opposes it[38]. [Emphasis added.]

Much of the explanatory material which follows this point in de Mattei's article is perfectly compatible with the truths of theology. Unfortunately, by this point, however, the damage is done. He has omitted to state the true nature of the sensus fidelium, he has presented texts on distinct points of theology as though they bore on this matter, and he has stated quite erroneously that the sensus fidelium is some kind of independent instinct, given by the Holy Ghost, without reference to the concrete, living, magisterium, without which it can have no orthodox meaning. For battle-worn traditionalists, who are trying to keep their faith in the midst of a milieu packed with heterodox teachers masquerading as Successors of the Apostles, such a doctrine is like a siren song, beautiful, intoxicating, and leading to the rocks...

Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:49 pm
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New post Re: The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Matte
An email exchange over the above:

From: John Lane
Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 8:25 AM
To: Fr. X
Subject: RE: The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Mattei

Dear Father,

Your email seems to me to be mostly a misunderstanding of what I wrote, and makes me wonder how I could have written so badly as to have you write that in response!

This is not about sedevacantism. It’s about the truths of the faith.

In brief, Newman (and many at V2, and now Mattei) put forward a notion that fails to maintain the truth that the faithful get the content of the faith from the hierarchy. Without that truth, you’re heading for illuminism. Rome reacted strongly in the nineteenth century to this error, and Mattei (and many others in the past sixty years) ignores that and blithely reintroduces Newman’s error as a great and important truth!

The sensus fidelium is indeed a faculty supported by grace. It consists in that connatural instinct by which we retain and maintain by intellectual recognition and strength of will what has once been given to us. That last phrase implies, as essential, the magisterium. What the sensus fidelium is not, is some kind of special inspiration enlightening us as to what the Church teaches, independent of actual, external preaching by authorized ministers. I agree that this grace enables us to reject error, even if it were to come via an angel from heaven, or a bishop, or a pope. That’s not the point. The point is that the intellect is informed, by natural means (aided by grace, or perfected by grace in its operation, but still operating according to nature, and not outside of nature, such as private revelation implies), of what it is that Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed, by the Church. Faith cometh by hearing. After that, we hold fast (with the aid of the Holy Ghost). Without that, we cannot know what He revealed. However you explain the sensus fidelium, you have to make this point. If you leave it out, you’re opening the door to all manner of false spiritualism, mysticism, and ultimately, Protestantism.

As for those times when the living magisterium is not operating, or not telling the truth, I deny they ever existed or can exist. This was Newman’s error in a slightly different guise, and Rome rejected it. His phrase “there was a temporary suspense of the ecclesia docens” was regarded by Rome as poison. Yes, I know some variation of that error is a common view among trads now, but that doesn’t make it orthodox!

Indeed, and ironically, it is because people perceive that sedevacantism leads to the absence of the living magisterium that they reject it. So, underneath their confusion, they do know that you cannot have a Church without an active magisterium. So, whatever theory we have, we have to say where the hierarchy is. On the sedeplenist theory, the hierarchy includes the Modernists and (in my view) wrecks the nature of the magisterium; on the sedevacantist theory, the integrity of the magisterium is maintained, but many or most of the purported hierarchy are rejected as not truly exercising it – that is, they do not represent the Church, do not speak in her name, and therefore the magisterium is not soiled by their errors and heresies. (There’s a strain of sedevacantist theory which denies or at least entertains the notion that the entire hierarchy is extinct – I have argued energetically against this for many, many, years. I was slanderously misrepresented on this point in a book late last year, as you know.) But again, the main objection to sedevacantism relies upon the insistence that there be an actual, living, hierarchy. In itself, that’s a sound instinct. But that brings us back to de Mattei. TFP, Opus Dei, and Newman. He’s dangerous. To the weary and uninformed trad in the pew, his ideas will appeal, and his ideas are Newman’s ideas, reprehensible to the Catholic Church.

Father, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, as my various objections to his article show sufficiently well. The very fact that he resurrects Newman’s error, the error that resulted in Newman’s resigning as editor of The Rambler under pressure from Pius IX, illustrates the reality.

Yours in the Immaculate,

From: Fr. X
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2016 8:34 PM
To: 'John Lane'
Subject: RE: The Latest Theological Trojan Horse from Robert De Mattei

Dear John,

I can’t say that I agree with your views on this at all.

“Unfortunately, by this point, however, the damage is done. He has omitted to state the true nature of the sensus fidelium, he has presented texts on distinct points of theology as though they bore on this matter, and he has stated quite erroneously that the sensus fidelium is some kind of independent instinct, given by the Holy Ghost, without reference to the concrete, living, magisterium, without which it can have no orthodox meaning.”

That point you make is not true at all. You seem to want to make all fit your one conclusion ‘Sede Vacante’, which in essence is not Catholic, hence your problem with the views as set forth. In my opinion the Sede’s seem to have a view of the Church which is both not realistic or Catholic.

Tradition (the Deposit of the faith) and the sensus fidelium do rest independent of the living magisterium; in as much as they are not one and the same entity. The living Magisterium ought to be the living voice of that reality. However, in those rare times in history when it doesn’t, the sensus fidelium still endures rightly the those upholding the faith.

I think in actual fact, if you were honest enough in this regard you would admit that this is exactly what you have done. From grasping the faith, you could have enough sense to grasp that the living magisterium has failed in its duty. – We don’t purely depend on the living voice of the magisterium to tell us the faith, for the faith is something that has already been handed over to us. We need that magisterium to uphold and confirm it. For the living Magisterium is dependent on the voices of the magisterium that bequeathed the faith to it.

Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:29 am
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