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New post Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
This is my first post on the Bellarmine Forums. I was happy to see the forums re-opened. I registered on the forums before they closed, but never had a chance to post. I wanted to explain my current position with respect to Sedevacantism and listen to what others have to say about it.

I'll begin by saying that theologically, I am of a similar mindset as the SSPX in so far as I accept the possibility of obtaining salvation through BOD or BOB (I'm not a Feeneyite), and still consider Pope Benedict to be the Pope. Where I differ from many SSPX'ers is that I have read some of Ratzinger’s heretical books. He seems to have truly mastered the art of deception, by insinuating into the mind of the reader extreme doubt regarding Catholic dogmas. He uses language that casts ridicule on Catholic doctrine, while at the same time using very flowery and positive words when discussing heretics and their heresies. I refer to his books a weapons of mass destruction for the faith. I consder him not a conservative, but a far left extreme Modernists, not much different from Hans Kung. The main difference is in approach: Whereas Hans Kung openly denies dogmas, Ratzinger uses much more subtle and crafty speech to lead people into error. But his disgust for Catholicism, and the beautiful dogmas of our faith, seems to be almost equal to that of Hans Kung.

With that said, let me explain why I have not embraced the Sedevacantist position, but before doing that let me preface it by saying this: If the Church declares, in the future, that the last few Popes were heretics and therefore not true Pope, I will not be one bit surprised. So my reason for not holding the SV position is not because I am certain that it is incorrect. Rather, I hesitate to draw the conclusion for the following reasons:

1.) Based on my reading of the Saints, Doctors, and reputable theologians of the Church on this subject, it is not certain that a heretical Pope will automatically lose his jurisdiction. A Pope who was guilty of the sin of heresy would obviously lose the faith and cease to be a member of the Church in the internal forum, but the loss of faith, which results in separation from the Church in the internal forum, does not, in and of itself, result in the loss of membership in the Church in the external forum; and if a Bishop, it does not automatically result in the loss of jurisdiction.

As Bellarmine wrote: "[T]he Pope who is an occult (secret) heretic is still Pope. This is also the opinion of the other authors whom we cite in book De Ecclesia. ... the occult heretics are united and are members although only by external union."

But of course that is referring to one who is guilty of the sin of heresy, but not the crime of heresy.

So what about a Pope who manifests his heresy? From my reading of the theologians, it is not even certain that a public manifest heretic automatically loses his office. Some say he would, while other say he can be deposed by the Cardinals. Some teach that such a man would be a material, but not a formal Pope. The point is, from my reading of reputable sources, it is not even certain that a Pope who publicly manifests his heresy automatically lose his jurisdiction.

2.) Assuming that a Pope who is a public heretic does automatically ceases to be Pope, I still hesitate to declare these Pope to have lost their office due to the fact that their words are often ambiguous enough to allow for an interpretation that is not clearly heretical. Even though their words seem heretical, and cause others to end in heresy, if you examine them closely, a clever person could spin them in such a way that they are not truly heretical, but only seem to be.

So while the past few Popes certainly seem heretical (as did Pope Honorious during his day), and almost certainly are heretics, it is often difficult to pin them down. Yet if they cannot be pinned down, can we hold them out as public manifest heretics, or merely as suspect of heresy? If only suspect of heresy they retain the office, regardless of how scandelous they may be.

Regarding suspect of heresy, John Daly wrote the following:

“Canon 2315 affirms that "the suspect of heresy who, once he has been admonished, does not remove the cause of the suspicion is to be prohibited from legitimate actions [the denomination given by canon 2256 n.2 to certain juridical actions:- to be sponsor of baptism or confirmation, to vote in ecclesiastical elections, to manage ecclesiastical goods, etc.] and, if he be a cleric, when the warning has been once repeated in vain, he will be suspended a divinis [ie. forbidden to celebrate Holy Mass and to conduct other religious actions proper to clerics]; and if the suspect of heresy does not amend himself in the space of six full months, starting from the moment when he incurred the penalty, he will be considered as a heretic, subject to the penalties of heretics." Let us observe from this how patient and prudent the Church is in respect of such people. In addition to the warning which must be reiterated in the case of a cleric, she gives six months for the retraction or for ultimate clarifications before imposing the penalties proper to heretics. These penalties are not automatic; rather, they must be imposed by the bishop who may ultimately have reasons for not putting them into effect.”

If the Church is that "patient and prudent" in declaring someone a heretic, is it not rash for me, as a mere layman with no theological training, to declare the Pope a public manifest heretic?

Now, if the Pope openly left the Catholic Church to join the First Baptist "church" of Rome, it would be different, but that is not the case with the last few Popes. Instead, they remained in office, leading people astray through ambiguous and misleading words and actions - words and actions that allowed their defenders to twist in them in their defense, in such a way that pinning them down is very difficult (more difficult with John Paul II than it is with Ratzinger).

Also, consider the case of Pope Alexander VI, a scandalous Pope if there ever was one, and Savonarola. About Aexander VI, Savonarola writing to the Emporer said: “I declare in the first place and affirm it with all certitude, that the man is not a Christian; he does not even believe any longer that there is a God; he goes beyond the final limits of infidelity and impiety."

According to a contemporary of Alexander VI, it was absolutely clear that he lost the faith. In fact, Savonarola thought he was so heretical that he ceased to be Pope... but has the Church ever said that? As far as I know, the Church has never declared that he ceased to be Pope, even though it was clear to his contemporary that he lost the faith. And if it was clear to them, then obviously the loss of faith was not merely occult (secret), but publicly manifest.

For these reason, I have determined that it is more prudent to suspend judgment, rather than drawing a potentially false conclusion that could place me in objective schism (even if the subjective guilt was mitigated due to the circumstances).

Another point is that, according to moral theology, we are required to take the safest course of action. In this case, since I am a simple laymen, and as such have no duty before God to subjectively judge that one elected to the Papacy has lost his office through heresy, the safest course, it seems to me, is simply to suspend judgment, while at the same time remaining honest enough to admit that he is at least suspect of heresy, and certainly cannot be trusted.

With that said, I am interested in hearing what others have to say.


Last edited by RJS on Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:19 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Well, I agree with almost everything you have written, and I think your grasp of the essential principles is remarkable.

I am a sedevacantist because it is impossible for the Church to do what the New Church has done. Popes cannot authorise the establishment of a whole new religion.

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:51 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Wow, Mr. Lane! You have successfully reduced the entire Conciliar church to it most base element: It is a new religion. And it is.

It has its own rites, its own calendar, its own scripture (in English, anyway--I don't know about "translation problems" that may be found in other languages), its own doctrines, its own vestments, etc., etc., etc. It has substituted a communal meal for the sacrifice, a Cranmer's table for an altar, established a sacrament for sick people (even if they just have the sniffles or have retired) in place of Extreme Unction, and have placed their own faith on par with every other religious belief (or unbelief) on the planet.

They worship a god who may or may not have physically risen from the dead and may or may not have ascended into heaven. Their god's only real miraculous power is the power of persuasion, for their god certainly did not multiply 5 loaves and 2 fishes to feed 5,000; instead, he gave such an inspiring talk that those selfish Jews, er., I mean, the crowds shared their lunches with those who forgot to bring one.

They have eliminated even the idea that individuals commit sin. Instead they teach the communal problem of a lack of social justice and view protecting the environment and getting along with others as the ultimate goods.

And if you take John Paul 2, Benedict 16, and the vast majority of the Conciliar bishops seriously at their word, all of these are truly the official teachings and practices of their religion. (I don't comment on previous popes because I am simply too ignorant of history to have a valid opinion about them.)


Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:04 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
In Ratzo's case, he isn't even a Bishop, Montini having completely invalidated the rite for the "ordination" of a Bishop, a rite which was used on Ratzo.

I believe one definition of the Pope is that he is the Bishop of Rome.

Ratzo is not a valid Bishop. Therefore he is not the Bishop of Rome. Therefore he is not the Pope.

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:32 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Oh: one more thing: I forgot to mention the fact that I am not a sedevacantist either, although, unlike you, I firmly believe that Roncalli through Ratzo were/are all anti-popes. :)

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:35 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
TKGS wrote:
Wow, Mr. Lane! You have successfully reduced the entire Conciliar church to it most base element: It is a new religion. And it is.


Yes, however that was Archbishop Lefebvre's term. I've just borrowed it. You'll find that the SSPX continues to maintain this view also.

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:14 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Ken Gordon wrote:
Ratzo is not a valid Bishop. Therefore he is not the Bishop of Rome. Therefore he is not the Pope.


Ken, I used this argument against Robert Sungenis, however I'm not sure it is valid. A layman can be Bishop of Rome (or anywhere else). The point is he needs to seek ordination within a reasonable time. What I am unsure about is if he believes he has done this, but in reality he hasn't, what effect does that have on his possession of jurisdiction? Does he lose it automatically, or does he retain it (because he has complied with the law, even though his effort has been frustrated)?

I don't know the answer to this. It's a pretty obscure question, not covered by anybody I have come across.

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:17 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Ken Gordon wrote:
Oh: one more thing: I forgot to mention the fact that I am not a sedevacantist...


Good, Ken, since you claim to be a sedeplenist you can tell us who the Holy Father is. Otherwise you're not a sedeplenist, are you? You're a sedesomethingelse. :)

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:19 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Dear RJS,

I'll make some precisions, if you don't mind.

RJS wrote:
1.) Based on my reading of the Saints, Doctors, and reputable theologians of the Church on this subject, it is not certain that a heretical Pope will automatically lose his jurisdiction. A Pope who was guilty of the sin of heresy would obviously lose the faith and cease to be a member of the Church in the internal forum, but the loss of faith, which results in separation from the Church in the internal forum, does not, in and of itself, result in the loss of membership in the Church in the external forum; and if a Bishop, it does not automatically result in the loss of jurisdiction.


Your terminology is unclear. A forum is a place where judgements are made. In the way the word is used in canon law it is an abstraction referring to a conceptual "place". The internal forum is the forum of conscience, and judgements in the internal forum are only made in the confessional. The external forum is the realm of facts which are not retained within the individual's heart (or revealed only in the confessional).

The bonds of the Church are variously internal and external. Internal bonds include the virtues of faith and charity actually in the souls of Catholics, the character of baptism, sanctifying grace, etc. The external bonds are two - the profession of faith by Catholics and their common external unity of charity, shown by the submission to the hierarchy and their reception of the sacraments in common. There is a third unitive factor, which is the cause of both of these unities of faith and charity, and it is the activity of the hierarchy itself, which by its preaching and by its government of the Church causes and protects the two external bonds of unity.

So an occult heretic is severed from the internal unity of the Church. We wouldn't write that he would "cease to be a member of the Church in the internal forum."

Make sense?


Quote:
So what about a Pope who manifests his heresy? From my reading of the theologians, it is not even certain that a public manifest heretic automatically loses his office. Some say he would, while other say he can be deposed by the Cardinals. Some teach that such a man would be a material, but not a formal Pope. The point is, from my reading of reputable sources, it is not even certain that a Pope who publicly manifests his heresy automatically lose his jurisdiction.


I suggest if you haven't got it obtain da Silveira's book, republished by Fr. Vaillancourt as "Can the Pope Go Bad?" (I'm not sure if he has any copies left). Da Silveira verified the opinions of no fewer than 136 theologians on this question. No pre-V2 theologian suggests that a manifestly heretical pope "would be a material, but not formal pope." That's a new theory. :)

Your main point is however quite right - there isn't a perfect consensus on the question of "ipso facto loss of office" vs "must be deposed". Of course, that desn't mean you can't form a certain view of the correct doctrine yourself, for example by choosing to follow the Doctors of the Church rather than lesser theologians.

Quote:
2.) Assuming that a Pope who is a public heretic does automatically ceases to be Pope, I still hesitate to declare these Pope to have lost their office due to the fact that their words are often ambiguous enough to allow for an interpretation that is not clearly heretical. Even though their words seem heretical, and cause others to end in heresy, if you examine them closely, a clever person could spin them in such a way that they are not truly heretical, but only seem to be.


But have you studied how heresy is judged in order to be sure that this slipperiness is relevant? That is, why do you think that the deceitfulness of these men is exculpatory? Our Lord instructed us to beware of wolves in the clothing of sheep.

Quote:
If the Church is that "patient and prudent" in declaring someone a heretic, is it not rash for me, as a mere layman with no theological training, to declare the Pope a public manifest heretic?

You're quite right. However, if you study the teaching of the Church about her own indefectibility and infallibility, you will find that you don't have a choice - these men can't have been popes or the Church has defected and failed.

Quote:
Now, if the Pope openly left the Catholic Church to join the First Baptist "church" of Rome, it would be different


Yes, it would, and that I agree is the kind of case the canonists and theologians appear to have in mind when they speak of notorious or manifest heretics. But just because a potentially clearer case may exist, that doesn't mean that no other secure judgements can be formed. It just means that it is harder.


Quote:
And if it was clear to them, then obviously the loss of faith was not merely occult (secret), but publicly manifest.

Well there is plenty to be said about that case, it is hotly controverted. However on any reading Savonarola was not claiming that Alexander's heresy was already manifest. He was precisely calling for a council so that he could put his proofs and make manifest what he believed Alexander's heresy to be.


Quote:
Another point is that, according to moral theology, we are required to take the safest course of action. In this case, since I am a simple laymen, and as such have no duty before God to subjectively judge that one elected to the Papacy has lost his office through heresy, the safest course, it seems to me, is simply to suspend judgment, while at the same time remaining honest enough to admit that he is at least suspect of heresy, and certainly cannot be trusted.

Yes, except that if you do as I suggest and study the relevant teachings of the Church you will conclude that it is impossible for Paul VI and successors to have been popes. Then the safest course is to assert that he wasn't. :)

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:57 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
I first want to thank everyone for their replies. Unfortunately, I just got extremely busy at work and probably won't have time to reply at length for a while (I may have time on Sunday). But I did want to give my initial thoughts to John's first reply. The following are some of my thoughts, as well as what I will be considering in detail over the next few days and weeks.

Firstly, if we look at the heretical monster that is the Novus Ordo, we will say to ourselves "there is no way that cesspool of heresies is the spotless bride of Christ. It is simply not possible. God would not permit it". I think everyone here will agree with that statement, but I don't think it is that simple...

In my opinion, God will permit much more than we realize. According to Mary of Agreda, He permitted every single follower of Christ (except the Blessed Mother) to lose the Faith after the crucifixion. He allowed the true Church at the time (the Jews) to kill their long awaited Messiah. According to Fr. Jurgins, writing in the book Faith of Our Fathers, He allowed as many as 99% of the Bishops to lose the faith during the Arian Crisis, with the Pope himself appearing to side with the Arians (so much so that the Priests of Rome elected a new Pope while Liberius was still living). He also allowed the Great Western Schism, in which it was unclear for almost 40 years who was the true Pope (so unclear that you had Saints on both sides).

The point is, I think God will allow more than we realize. Therefore, rather than simply viewing the entire "monster" from a distance, I think we need to examine each particular that makes up the whole, and ask: Would God allow this? Again, taken as a whole it looks impossible that this thing is the Church, but when each point is examined in light of the exceptional cases found in the history of the Church, does the current situation exceed what God would permit? That is the question that must be asked and answered.

The Realm of Being and the Realm of Acting:

Setting aside for now the reforms that have apparently (I say apparently because much has been accomplished through deception) issued from the Novus Ordo, let's just consider the following.

In this point, we will distinguish between the realm of being, and the realm of acting. For now, we will focus only on the realm of being itself (the realm of acting pertains to what apparently issues forth from it).

The Realm of Being:

First question: Considering what God permitted with respect to Pope Alexander VI, let us ask if it is possible for God to permit another Pope as bad as Alexander VI be elected to the Papacy (keep in mind that Alexander VI was so bad that his contemporaries concluded that he completely lost the faith and did not even believe in God). Is such a thing beyond what God would permit?

Answer: If God allowed it once, then obviously it is within the realm of possibility, and therefore could happen again.

Second question: Would God simultaneously allow 95% of the other Bishops of the world to be similar to Alexander VI, with the remaining 5% being a mixture of completely confused Bishops, and Bishops who did know the truth but were too fearful to speak out?

Answer: Yes, it is possible that God would permit such a thing. Now obviously, if that happened the Church would be in a state of complete chaos and confusion, but it is certainly possible; and if it did happened, no promise of God would be violated.

In my opinion, rather than simply looking at what appears to be a monster and drawing a conclusion, we have to look at what is possible, and what is not possible. To determine what is possible, we can draw on exceptional examples from the past. Doing so, we can see how even evil can be used for a good, since we can use evil examples from the past (which God, who is Goodness Itself, permitted for His own reasons) in order to form a correct judgment about the present situation. The goodness of God can even be seen in the evil that He permits!

To conclude this point, it seems to me that in the realm of being, God will allow things to get very bad. I believe God would permit every single Bishop to be as bad as Alexander VI, who, again, appeared to his contemporaries to have lost the faith. In other words, in the realm of being God would allow things to get as bad as they are in the Novus Ordo.

Realm of Acting:

This is the complicated part, especially because much has been accomplished in the Novus Ordo through deceit. For example, Paul VI did not really abrogate the Mass (as many of us knew all along), but only led people to believe it had been abrogated. Similarly, many Traditionalists have argued that he never officially promulgated the Novus Ordo, but merely published it and led people to believe it was officially promulgated.

So, in considering the realm of acting (the “reforms” that have issued forth from the Novus Ordo), we have to examine them closely to determine if this is something that God, in His justice, would permit. I think it is a mistake to merely look at them as a whole because it could easily lead to a false conclusion; rather, we must examine each point individually. The whole looks very bad indeed; but does the whole merely consist of many “parts”, none of which violate what God would permit?

So, that is what I will be thinking about over the next few days. I look forward to reading what others have to say.

Before I end, let me just add one point: I think it is prudent for us to keep the will somewhat neutral while investigating this. If we harden our will in one direction (either for or against the proposition in consideration), it can easily affect our reasoning, and will amost certainly affect our conclusions, since the intellect only proposes, whereas the will embraces; and if the will is not open to what the intellect proposes, it will likely reject it.


Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:59 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
John Lane wrote:
RJS wrote:
Another point is that, according to moral theology, we are required to take the safest course of action. In this case, since I am a simple laymen, and as such have no duty before God to subjectively judge that one elected to the Papacy has lost his office through heresy, the safest course, it seems to me, is simply to suspend judgment, while at the same time remaining honest enough to admit that he is at least suspect of heresy, and certainly cannot be trusted.


Yes, except that if you do as I suggest and study the relevant teachings of the Church you will conclude that it is impossible for Paul VI and successors to have been popes. Then the safest course is to assert that he wasn't.


Yes, it is not necessary that heresy be proved by us. The idea that the Church, through Her visible head, "cannot be trusted" is simply not Catholic. If this could be the case, what exactly are we submitting to other than our own views?


Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:29 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
John Lane wrote:
Ken Gordon wrote:
Oh: one more thing: I forgot to mention the fact that I am not a sedevacantist...


Good, Ken, since you claim to be a sedeplenist you can tell us who the Holy Father is. Otherwise you're not a sedeplenist, are you? You're a sedesomethingelse. :)


Hee hee! :lol:

No, John, I am not a "sedeplenist", as you well know, at least not in the sense you and most others mean. I much prefer the term "Roman Catholic", but, I suppose, if you insist on hanging a tag on me and my ilk, it would be "sede-impeditist". I.e., the See is impeded.

As you well know, I firmly believe that Cardinal Siri was validly elected in the 1958 conclave, then shoved aside, solely for the purpose of keeping the Holy Ghost from effecting the one who finally appeared on the balcony, i.e., Roncalli, the first in a long line of anti-popes.

Whatever happened after that significant day, I am less certain about, but it is my contention that for the Church to really be without a real pope for 53 years and counting is simply not only unprecedented, but impossible.

I have no clear idea of how the Papal Succession was continued, although I am completely certain it has been, and that the true successor of Pius XII and all previous Popes will appear in God's good time, probably from a place we least expect him.

We have significant clues, and much circumstantial evidence, but not many solid facts...other than Our Lord's words to us.

But you know all this. Thanks for the opportunity to give our new member a different viewpoint. :D

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:56 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
RJS,

I think you are to an extent arguing against a straw man. I don't say that every person mired in the Novus Ordo milieu is a non-Catholic, and don't think anybody else here does either. The reason I and others use words like "milieu" to describe it is precisely to avoid an over-stretched generalisation which would indicate what we don't believe.

But having said that, there can really be said to be a New Church, and it is defined or described, like any other reality, by what is proper to it. These things are the New Mass, the documents of Vatican II, the new sacramental rites, the characteristic errors such as ecumenism, the worldly focus and ideals, the horrible architecture and art, etc. This is similar to the Greek sects, insofar as they too retain some things which are Catholic, but these are not proper to those sects - they are proper to Christ's Church, from which they have been taken unlawfully. What defines those sects is precisely what belongs to them exclusively, which are their heresies and their schism. That's what makes them sects. The difference is that the Church has judged these sects, whereas she has not judged the Novus Ordo.

So let this suffice to make the point for now. The rejection of the claim to the papacy of Paul VI does not mean that every bishop under him must necessarily have been an apostate also. But it is a matter of observation, as far as I can see (and I'm not infallible!) that all of the active members of the New Church hierarchy are today devoted Modernists, whether "conservative" in flavour or more openly radical. This transmogrification of the Church (I speak according to common appearances, not theologically clarified appearances) was a process which occurred over time and continues yet.

Anyway, the rejection of Paul VI's claim stands alone. There are further judgements that can and should be made, but these need to be proved on their merits in each case.

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:13 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
John,

I think you may have misunderstood what I was trying to say in my second post. I'll try to clarify what I meant this evening.


Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:43 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
John Lane wrote:
RJS,

I think you are to an extent arguing against a straw man. I don't say that every person mired in the Novus Ordo milieu is a non-Catholic, and don't think anybody else here does either. The reason I and others use words like "milieu" to describe it is precisely to avoid an over-stretched generalisation which would indicate what we don't believe.


John,

In my previous post, when I said we need to examine the particulars that make up the whole, by “particulars” I wasn’t referring to the individual members of the Church ("every person"), but rather the particular reforms that have issued forth from the Novus Ordo, and which are now present within the walls of the Church.

The reason I wrote that is because in your first reply to me you stated that you were a Sed because “it is impossible for the Church to do what the New Church has done”.

There is presently (and has been for almost 200 years) within the walls of the Church, a battle between the Church and the forces of anti-Church. The latter was suppressed prior to the Council, but emerged at Vatican II and quickly took over the leadership positions. Since then, various “reforms” have been introduced which have led to the destruction of the faith.

My point was, if we simply look at the entire whole as it exists today after the various reforms have been introduced, one could draw the conclusion that this is no longer the Church at all. But is that correct, or rather, has the true Church been invaded by Modernism which has spread throughout like a cancer; and have the various reforms that have been introduced come about by official acts of the Church, or rather through deceit, lies, heretical interpretations of ambiguous documents, and laxity on the part of those who should defend the faith?

The point is, is it truly “impossible” for what has taken place to take place within the Church, or have we merely reached the limit of what God will permit within His Church... as a test of our faith?

Again, if we look at everything as a whole it may appear to be more than God would permit, which is why I suggested that each particular that makes up the whole be examined in order to determine of any of them are a violation of what God could permit within the walls of the Church? If it is not contrary to a dogma, or a promise of God, it seems to me that it would be within the realm of possiblity.


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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
RJS wrote:
Again, if we look at everything as a whole it may appear to be more than God would permit, which is why I suggested that each particular that makes up the whole be examined in order to determine of any of them are a violation of what God could permit within the walls of the Church? If it is not contrary to a dogma, or a promise of God, it seems to me that it would be within the realm of possiblity.


Dear RJS,

I understand. You're essentially putting the official SSPX position.

I'm more than happy to discuss any of the changes and see whether they would be possible in and by the Church.

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Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:37 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Dear RJS,

We'll have a last attempt to introduce some order into proceedings.

If and when you return from your business trip please answer the post above: http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/viewt ... 214#p10214

Do not answer anything else until you have done so.

Also, please answer every point.

1. Either admit that your use of two important technical terms was mistaken and thank me for correcting you, or quote the many authorities you claim to have read and from which you got your ideas, to show that your use of terms is accurate. (This shouldn't be hard for you. I'll remind you, you wrote, "Based on my reading of the Saints, Doctors, and reputable theologians of the Church on this subject..." and "From my reading of the theologians ... from my reading of reputable sources..." etc.)

2. Tell us what you have read about heresy and how it is known, and why slipperiness is exculpatory rather than condemnatory. Quote your authorities for this point. Feel free to quote the numerous counter-proofs from the theologians at the same time and tell us why you refuse to learn from them, but don't feel obliged. I'll be quoting them anyway.

3. Tell us where you got your data on Savonarola and Alexander VI. If you only have one source (e.g. The Catholic Encyclopedia) it would be appropriate for you to respond with something like, "Actually, I've only read The Catholic Encyclopedia on the subject so I probably shouldn't have made any strong statements on that, and I withdraw the comments pending better instruction." That way you'll sound like an honest scholar.

If we get through this in a satisfactory manner, we can go through the other examples of where I have, taking you at face value, let you escape from errors without holding you to account. While we are at it, you can highlight any quotes or substantive points you think you made and which I failed to answer or refute. I would be very happy for you to do this, because I know I ignored some of your points out of kindness.

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Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:04 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
John,

I just saw the above post. I'll respond when I return home.


Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:43 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
RJS wrote:
1.) Based on my reading of the Saints, Doctors, and reputable theologians of the Church on this subject, it is not certain that a heretical Pope will automatically lose his jurisdiction. A Pope who was guilty of the sin of heresy would obviously lose the faith and cease to be a member of the Church in the internal forum, but the loss of faith, which results in separation from the Church in the internal forum, does not, in and of itself, result in the loss of membership in the Church in the external forum; and if a Bishop, it does not automatically result in the loss of jurisdiction.


John Lane wrote:
Your terminology is unclear. A forum is a place where judgements are made. In the way the word is used in canon law it is an abstraction referring to a conceptual "place". The internal forum is the forum of conscience, and judgements in the internal forum are only made in the confessional. The external forum is the realm of facts which are not retained within the individual's heart (or revealed only in the confessional).

The bonds of the Church are variously internal and external. Internal bonds include the virtues of faith and charity actually in the souls of Catholics, the character of baptism, sanctifying grace, etc. The external bonds are two - the profession of faith by Catholics and their common external unity of charity, shown by the submission to the hierarchy and their reception of the sacraments in common. There is a third unitive factor, which is the cause of both of these unities of faith and charity, and it is the activity of the hierarchy itself, which by its preaching and by its government of the Church causes and protects the two external bonds of unity.

So an occult heretic is severed from the internal unity of the Church. We wouldn't write that he would "cease to be a member of the Church in the internal forum."


John Lane wrote:
1. Either admit that your use of two important technical terms was mistaken and thank me for correcting you, or quote the many authorities you claim to have read and from which you got your ideas, to show that your use of terms is accurate. (This shouldn't be hard for you. I'll remind you, you wrote, "Based on my reading of the Saints, Doctors, and reputable theologians of the Church on this subject..." and "From my reading of the theologians ... from my reading of reputable sources..." etc.)


John,

When I used the term internal forum, I didn’t mean the internal forum of the Church, but the internal forum of the individual (the occult heretic). What I meant was that an heretic who denies a dogma internally (and who is guilty of the sin of heresy), but who does not do so externally, may indeed appear externally (in the external forum) to be a faithful Catholic, but on the internal forum (the realm of conscience which God alone sees), he is cut off from the Church.

Reviewing what I wrote previously, rather than using the word “member of the Church in the internal forum”, I probably should have said “united to the Church”. That may have made the statement a little more clear.

Regarding the internal and external bonds of the Church, I agree with everything you wrote. I often use the term body and soul of the Church. I know Fr. Fenton did not like those terms due to the way they were being used at the time, but when utilized correctly, I think they serve as a simple yet clear analogy to explain the internal and external union of the individual with the Church.

RJS wrote:
So what about a Pope who manifests his heresy? From my reading of the theologians, it is not even certain that a public manifest heretic automatically loses his office. Some say he would, while other say he can be deposed by the Cardinals. Some teach that such a man would be a material, but not a formal Pope. The point is, from my reading of reputable sources, it is not even certain that a Pope who publicly manifests his heresy automatically lose his jurisdiction.


John Lane wrote:
I suggest if you haven't got it obtain da Silveira's book, republished by Fr. Vaillancourt as "Can the Pope Go Bad?" (I'm not sure if he has any copies left). Da Silveira verified the opinions of no fewer than 136 theologians on this question.

Tell us where you got your data on Savonarola and Alexander VI. If you only have one source (e.g. The Catholic Encyclopedia) it would be appropriate for you to respond with something like, "Actually, I've only read The Catholic Encyclopedia on the subject so I probably shouldn't have made any strong statements on that, and I withdraw the comments pending better instruction." That way you'll sound like an honest scholar.


The first point is that I am not a scholar. I am a simply layperson trying to navigate through the worst crisis in the history of the Church without falling into error either on the right or the left (a monumental task in this day, and, in my opinion, virtually impossible without an extraordinary grace from God). Regarding Savonarola and Alexander VI, I have not studied this in depth. I’ve only read a few things here and there over the years. I appreciate your book recommendation for further reading on this subject, and will probably look into acquiring it.

John Lane wrote:
2. Tell us what you have read about heresy and how it is known, and why slipperiness is exculpatory rather than condemnatory. Quote your authorities for this point. Feel free to quote the numerous counter-proofs from the theologians at the same time and tell us why you refuse to learn from them, but don't feel obliged….


It sounds like you are giving me instructions for a term paper :). Rather than trying to remember everything I’ve read on this subject, I'll think it through openly and give my answer. Then you can tell me if you agree or disagree. And keep in mind, I don’t claim to be a scholar, theologian, or canon lawyer. I am a simple laymen and nothing more. I'm also open to any critique. Therefore, if I say something wrong, there is no reason to attempt to ridicule me. Simply say what you disagree with and we will go from there.

I’ll answer the following two questions: 1) How is heresy known, and 2) is slipperiness exculpatory and condemnatory?

I’ll answer the first question by distinguishing between the matter and form of heresy, the internal and external forum of the subject, and the substance and accidents of a materially heretical statement. To simplify things, I will limit by answer to a member of the Catholic Church (as opposed to a baptized member of a heretical sect).

Matter and form of heresy in the internal forum: The matter of heresy is a belief at variance with a doctrine that must be held by divine and Catholic Faith. The form of heresy is pertinacity, which is the obstinate adhesion to the heretical proposition with full knowledge that it is contrary to what the Church teaches. When the matter and form of heresy exist, the actor is guilty of the sin of heresy.

Matter and form in the external form: Since man is unable to judge the internal forum of another person, a judgment must be formed based on external evidence.

Matter in the external forum: External evidence of the matter of heresy would include words or actions indicating that the person holds to a proposition at variance with point of doctrine that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith. For example, if a person said they believed Mary was not assumed bodily into heaven, this would suffice for the matter of heresy. If a person believed that the substance of bread remained after a valid consecration, this too would constitute the matter of heresy.

But when judging even the matter of heresy (to say nothing of pertinacity), we should be both prudent and charitable with the individual, especially when dealing with subtle points of doctrine, or doctrinally-chaotic times such as we live in. Since heresy exists in the internal forum, and is expressed in the external forum, we have to be certain that a person who makes a heretical statement actually holds to a heretical position. Did the person misspeak? Did he use a poor choice of words to convey what he meant to say? In short, did the accidents (words used) properly signify the substance (meaning)?

Substance and accidents of material heresy: If we distinguish between the substance and accidents of verbal communication, the substance constitutes the meaning, whiile the accidents are the words used to express the meaning. If someone makes a materially heretical statement, we would need to determine if the substance was truly erroneous, or merely the accidents. As asked above, did the person misspeak? (I think we've all heard Priests misspeak from the pulpit) Or did the person simply use a poor choice of words to say what they intended? This would have to be determined in order to find out if the person truly held to a material heresy. Once that has been determined, the “judge” would need to discern if pertinacity exists.

Form in the External forum - Discerning Pertinacity: Pertinacity, which is the form of heresy, could be discerned in several ways. The simplest and clearest way is if the person admits that they reject a particular teaching that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith. For example, several months ago I was having a discussion with someone after Mass, and the subject of EENS came up. The person I was speaking with flat out rejected it; he didn’t simply water it down, but denied it. When I told him that this was a defined teaching of the Church, he said he believed the Church was wrong, and that it fell into error when it began to teach this doctrine. When I explained that the teaching goes back to the earlier years of the Church, and is found in the writings of St. Cyprian, he said he believed that the Church fell away from the truth back then. Clearly, this is an example of a person who is obstinately holding to a heretical belief. With such evidence, a person can be morally certain that pertinacity exists.

While pertinacity may be difficult to prove, it seems to me that one could be morally certain that pertinacity exists when a Catholic openly rejects a doctrine that has been sufficiently explained to him. It would seem to me that a sufficiently clear explanation of the teaching, at least by a person in authority (such as a Priest) would suffice, and that if a person continued to withhold belief pertinacity could be assumed.

To conclude this point, the act of heresy originates in the internal forum and is expressed in the external forum. Heresy is judged in the external forum by the words or actions of an individual in which it is clear that the person obstinately holds to a heretical proposition.

Regarding the slipperiness of crafty of those who seek to camouflage their errors, such dishonesty will not excuse them from the sin, but will likely increase their guilt. However, since the purpose of craftiness and slipperiness is to deceive, it makes it more difficult to form a certain judgment based on the evidence present. As such, the craftiness and slipperiness of heretics makes them more difficult to pin down, and as such much more dangerous.


Last edited by RJS on Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:09 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
For further consideration on this topic, I am going to quote an article written by John Daly. The purpose of the article is to show how cautions one should be in declaring another person a heretic. Although written to counter a common problem amongst traditionalists today, who rashly declare each other formal heretics, the article can also be read in light of traditionalists condemnation of the Benedict XVI and the Novus Ordo clergy.

Those who claim Benedict is a public manifest heretic and therefore not the Pope (since a heretic is not a member of the Church, and a man who is not a member of the Church cannot be its head), will have a difficult time holding to this position in light of the evidence John Daly presents. For he provides many examples of men who certainly seemed to be heretics, yet either retained their jurisdiction (if they were bishops), or were never considered as heretics by the Church, either while living or after death.

In my opinion, the following article should give pause to anyone who has arrived at the Sedevacantist position by the "public manifest heretic" argument.

Quote:

Heresy in History

Synopsis


Church history shows that one should be very slow to judge that someone claiming to be subject to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church is in fact a heretic or schismatic, and that, in the extreme case where this judgment is formed by a private individual, it gives no pretext whatever to condemn or withdraw from communion with those Catholics who do not share that judgment.

Introduction

All sedevacantists necessarily hold that private individuals can sometimes recognise heresy even before the culprit has been condemned by the authorities of the Church. They are right to do so, and the same applies to schism. However, it seems that some carry this exceptional principle much too far, and are prompt to condemn others as heretics or schismatics when the fact is not sufficiently founded.

In the case of heresy it is necessary that there should be rejection of a truth which it is manifest that the culprit knows is certainly taught by the Church to be believed with divine and Catholic faith. In the case of schism it must be manifest that the culprit has intentionally withdrawn from what he recognises to be the communion of the Catholic Church, either in the person of the pope, or in the person of the great mass of the faithful.

If even one of these elements is lacking in either case, or subject to prudent doubt, the judgment of heresy or schism cannot be made by the private individual - authoritative judgment must intervene.

The aim of this study is to assemble a representative sample of historical examples which show: (i) that good and learned Catholics have traditionally been very slow to conclude, even before the judgment of the Church, that a given person has fallen into heresy and can therefore no longer be counted a Catholic; (ii) what factors are necessary to justify the judgment of heresy and how they were evaluated in practice, and (iii) the attitude traditionally taken when orthodox-believing Catholics disagreed with one another, before the intervention of authority, as to whether this or that person or group were in fact heretics or schismatics.

While on the one hand it is imperative to shun heresy, on the other hand it is no less obligatory to refrain from rashly judging our neighbour to be a heretic - the most horrible accusation that can be conceived against anyone claiming or wishing to be a Catholic. Prudence is therefore needed to avoid all excess in either direction. The lessons of Church history must be of great utility for forming one's conscience.


1. Erasmus of Rotterdam

On the subject of Erasmus of Rotterdam, St Alphonsus Liguori tells us that he called the invocation of Our Lady and of the saints idolatry; he condemned monasteries and religious vows and rules, opposed the celibacy of the clergy, jeered at indulgences, relics, feasts, fasts and even auricular confession. He went do far as to claim that man is justified by faith alone and to call into doubt the authority of the Scriptures and of the Councils. St Alphonsus adds that Erasmus accused of audacity the granting of the name of "God" to the Holy Ghost! So it is not surprising to see St Alphonsus quote the proverb according to which Luther hatched out the egg that Erasmus had laid. Nor is it surprising to learn from him that "several writers openly accuse Erasmus of heresy".

But was Erasmus for all that a heretic? He was esteemed by several popes, one of whom asked him to refute Luther. He remained a close friend of St Thomas More. St Alphonsus concludes in his own name, with Bernini, that Erasmus died with the character of an unsound Catholic, but not of a heretic, as he submitted all his writings to the judgement of the Church. (History of Heresies and their Refutation)

What is quite certain is that notwithstanding his doctrines, which even before the Council of Trent could scarcely be considered excusable from the censure of heresy, notwithstanding numerous contemporary complaints and refutations, and notwithstanding his great learning, which diminished the possibility of blameless ignorance, it was and is permissible to consider Erasmus a Catholic. Were one to hold him definitely a heretic, it would follow that Pope Paul III, St Thomas More and many other excellent Catholics remained in communion with a heretic.

Those who today see pertinacity on all sides among traditional Catholics could hardly fail to hold that Erasmus was a heretic and therefore to censure all these good Catholics as heretics or schismatics for remaining in communion with him. Such a conclusion is clearly incorrect and can only be based on false premises.


2. John Henry Cardinal Newman

In 1845 an Anglican minister became a Catholic - John Henry Newman. Already learned in patristics, he did not equip himself with an adequate formation in Catholic theology. Ordained priest, he wrote on theological questions, admitting errors in Holy Scripture, salvation outside the Church, etc. One of the propositions later condemned by St Pius X's Lamentabili (Prop. 25) appears three times verbatim in different writings of Newman. Naturally in the prelude to the 1870 Vatican Council he opposed papal infallibility. His writings were attacked by Cardinals Franzelin, Lépicier and Billot, by Perrone and Brownson among others. Cardinal Manning reproached him with ten distinct heresies to be found in his writings. Other bishops spoke of his heresies also. Detailed refutations appeared which he could hardly have been unaware of. Nonetheless he retracted nothing.

So was he a heretic? Far from being excommunicated...he was himself raised to the cardinalate! The whole Church remained in communion with him. The only explanation for this must be that, despite appearances, his errors were not deemed to be directly and explicitly heretical...or else that the Catholics of the day, from the pope down, had a conception of pertinacity considerably more demanding than that in circulation among members of that sedevacantist school which hurls its anathemas so lightly in our days.

(Richard Sartino: Another Look at John Henry Cardinal Newman)

3. The Jansenist “Appelant” Bishops

During the eighteenth century Jansenist controversies, several bishops appealed against the teachings of the Church which infallibly condemned numerous Jansenist errors. So were these "appelant" bishops heretics? We can be sure that there were not so publicly and definitely, for the Church retained them in their episcopal offices and no one at all withdrew from communion with them.

Cardinal Billot explains the case. He says that those inwardly tainted with heresy deliberately hid and veiled their heresies so that it was impossible to be sufficiently sure about what their position really was. He explains too that it was possible for some element of doubt to remain about whether the infallibility of the bulls being rejected was itself an object of divine faith.

Billot shows that it was possible to know that these bishops were not Catholics only from the moment when "they began to reject openly and pertinaciously and unambiguously the bull Unigenitus which the Church had received with unanimous agreement as a rule of faith.” (De Ecclesia, p. 294) And only from that moment "were they no longer considered to be true and legitimate bishops."

I suggest that there is no trace of laxism or of wishful thinking in maintaining that the majority of traditionalists, including the clergy, are not in a state of opposition to the Church more blatant than the bishops in question were in the period immediately preceding their rejection of Unigenitus. I do not believe that as a generality they reject "openly and pertinaciously and unambiguously" infallible constitutions.


4. Fr Alfred Loisy

Fr Alfred Loisy, a notorious Modernist for many years, was excommunicated by name as a heretic by the Inquisition under St Pius X in 1908. Here is the text of the decree:

"It is already known everywhere that the priest Alfred Loisy, currently resident in the diocese of Langres, has taught orally and published in written form many things that overturn the most essential foundations of the Christian faith. However there was some hope that he had perhaps been deceived rather by love of novelty than by depravity of mind and that he would submit to the recent declarations and prescriptions of the Holy See in these matters. That is why hitherto grave canonical sanctions have been abstained from.

"But the opposite occurred, for, despising everything, not only did he not abjure his errors, but he also, by new writings and letters to his superiors, had the hardihood to confirm them obstinately. As his entrenched contumacy after the formal canonical admonitions is therefore now clearly established, this supreme congregation of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition, in order not to prove unfaithful to its task, and by express mandate of our holy Lord pope Pius X, pronounces sentence of major excommunication against the priest Alfred Loisy by name and personally, and declares him to be struck by all the penalties of the publicly excommunicated and thus that he is vitandus and must be avoided by all."

So we see that the Holy See does not blush to avow having long refrained from striking the heretic with excommunication, even though his heresies, which "overturn the most essential foundations of the Christian faith," were “already known everywhere”. And the justification for this restraint, leaving Catholics in communion with one who no longer believed in the resurrection or the virgin birth of our Lord, was the hope that he might be led astray only by "love of novelty"...which, however, is scarcely a virtue!

Now the fact that Loisy was truly a heretic even before this decree is much more certain than the notion that all the SSPX-supporters in our days are heretics, since his doctrines were much more manifestly opposed to those of the Church, even concerning the most essential foundations of the Christian faith, and without having the advantage of being able to offer, by way of excuse, the attempt to explain a truly unheard of and complicated situation such as that which today prevails in the Church.

However, far from condemning those who remained in communion with Loisy before his excommunication, the Holy See knowingly permitted them to do so, in order to wait until the very last minute before fulminating its excommunication!

5. Those Communicating with Loisy after his Condemnation

The decree excommunicating the heretic Loisy was promulgated 7th March 1908 and appeared in the 19th March issue of the French theological review L'Ami Du Clergé for the same year, accompanied by a commentary. This commentary explains the effects of the different excommunications in force at the time (still a decade before the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law currently in force): "in the case of those excommunicated by name by the pope [this was Loisy's case] the constitution Apostolicae Sedis contains an excommunication...against clergy who communicate in divinis knowingly and willingly with them by admitting them to religious services."

In other words, one incurs excommunication as a result of all religious communication with a heretic on the following conditions:

(a) The heretic must have been excommunicated by name by the Holy See.
(b) The culprit must communicate in religious services with him knowingly and willingly.
(c) The culprit must be a cleric.
(d) Even then, the excommunication incurred by the communicator is a minor excommunication, such that he is not himself regarded as a heretic or as vitandus.

Is there not a slight difference between that and the idea that one becomes an excommunicated schismatic or heretic by the simple fact of communicatio in sacris with a heretic even when he has not been excommunicated by anyone and when one is not aware that he is a heretic at all, and that this applies not only to the clergy but also to the laity?

And in any event, the excommunication in question was softened yet further by Pope Benedict XV when he promulgated our present Code of Canon Law...

6. Communist Party Members

On 1st July 1949 the Holy Office replied to several enquiries concerning the status of Catholics who had become members of the Communist Party. It emerges from the replies that every Catholic consciously enrolling himself as a member of the Communist Party is excluded from the sacraments as ill-disposed; but that these persons are not excluded from membership of the Church as heretics or apostates unless they expressly hold the materialistic and anti-Christian doctrines of the Communists. (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1949)

In other words, a Catholic could join the Communist party without being deemed to have lost the faith, on condition of not having embraced manifestly anti-Christian doctrines, which could occur if the miscreant simply imagined that the Communist Party represented the best solution to social problems... (See Canon E.J. Mahoney: Priests' Problems, p. 262)

So the Holy See judges it possible to remain a Catholic while being a member of the Communist Party. And yet some Catholics in our days think that one ceases to be a Catholic by the simple fact of remaining in communion with those who assist at the Masses of the SSPX? These Catholics must recognise that the Holy See seems quite unaware of the supposed duty of presuming pertinacity in the external forum even in cases where the error is much more manifest and hard to excuse than the errors of the SSPX in our days.

7. Czechoslovakian Schismatic “Catholic Action”

Less than two weeks before the above-mentioned decision, the Holy Office had published another decree, this time condemning a group in Czechoslovakia, purportedly belonging to Catholic Action, but which in reality was a fake, set up by the Church's enemies to seduce the faithful. The Holy Office declared that this organisation was "schismatic" and that any person, cleric or lay, who should knowingly and willingly adhere to it, would incur (or had already incurred) the excommunication of Canon 2314 as a schismatic. (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XLI, p. 333, Holy Office, 20th June 1949)

It is therefore possible to be a member of a schismatic group without oneself being either schismatic or excommunicated, even by external forum presumption. Yet it is argued that association with any of the different traditionalist groups who in our days hold one or more errors convicts those involved automatically of heresy or schism, at least by external forum presumption. NO - where the miscreant does not err from the Catholic faith or communion knowingly and willingly the conclusion clearly does not follow.

8. Michel de Bay

Doctor Michel de Bay (Baius), born in 1513 took part in the council of Trent and became a celebrated theologian at the university of Louvain where he opposed the Protestants, and in particular the Calvinists. "He seems to have been activated by a sincere desire to defend the Church, but...like so many of the Church's impulsive and ill-equipped champions he fell into the very errors which he had set out to destroy." (Brodrick: Blessed Robert Bellarmine, Vol. II, p. 3) From his youth he had a love of novelty disguised as a return to more ancient traditions. He affected to disdain the scholastics, without being very familiar with them, and to adhere instead to St Augustine.

A pronounced vice in his character was the ease with which he called heretics all those who failed to agree with his theological ideas, which, of course, he considered to be manifestly the only orthodox ones. From 1551 onwards he spread his errors from his professorial chair. In 1561 Pope Pius IV imposed silence on him, which he did not respect. In 1567 St Pius V drew up a decree condemning 79 of his theses, without promulgating it. De Bay was sent a copy and defended himself; reading his defence determined the pope to give public confirmation to the condemnation, in which several of de Bay's ideas were qualified as heretical. De Bay himself, out of charity, was not named, as it was hoped that his opposition to the doctrines of the Church was not conscious.

De Bay made himself the model of the future Jansenists (who were in many ways his spiritual descendants), by pretending to submit, without changing his beliefs in the slightest. He continued to spread his errors on the pretext that the decree condemned only false interpretations of his thinking.

St Robert Bellarmine arrived in Louvain as professor of theology also. From 1570 to 1576 he publicly opposed the errors of de Bay in his lectures, but without ever naming him. In speaking of him he always considered him as a learned Catholic, most worthy of respect, and at this time called him "prudent, pious, humble, erudite".

Nonetheless St Robert never ceased to hope for a new condemnation of his errors, and this appeared in 1579 (Pope Gregory XIII).

Bellarmine returned to Rome and later the Venerable Leonard Lessius came to replace him at Louvain. By way of preparatory information, Bellarmine told him that in his opinion the doctrine of de Bay and his disciples on the subject of predestination was heretical.

Lessius wrote from Louvain to Bellarmine at Rome, informing him that de Bay continued to spread his errors in private, even after the new condemnation, and sometimes even in public, and that his numerous disciples propagated them with great enthusiasm.

Supported by the advice of Bellarmine, Lessius continued to oppose these errors in his lectures, but without ever naming him or condemning the man who was the source of so much evil, and the precursor of Jansenism.


Now in the light of this account, one is forced to ask whether some sedevacantists in our days are not very much prompter than St Robert Bellarmine was in identifying pertinacity, and more animated by the bad example of de Bay himself than by the good example of St Robert and of the Ven Leonard Lessius. For in the light of the principles of those who call all SSPX followers heretics or schismatics, and place all traditional priests save one or two in the same bag, how is it possible to deny that de Bay was a heretic? And that granted, how is it possible for them not to condemn St Robert Bellarmine, doctor of the Church, for having remained in communion with (and even praised) one whose heretical doctrines and manifest bad faith he was all too well aware of?

Once again, if the Church presumes all who go astray in doctrine to be pertinacious, St Robert Bellarmine was clearly not aware of it. And while it can be possible to recognise someone as a pertinacious heretic even before the intervention of the Holy See, the fact remains that St Robert was slower to draw that conclusion, even after several Roman condemnations, than some are today when relying only on their own judgment of what seems evident.

9. Catholics Frequenting Protestant Services, Using Protestant Schools and Holding Protestant Beliefs

In 1907 (10th January), a parish priest requested the expert advice of the moral theologian on the staff of the Ami du Clergé concerning two or three families among his parishioners. Though baptised as Catholics, they sent their children to the Protestant school and from time to time went to the Protestant services of the same sect. They did not go to the Catholic Church at all, it would appear, and blasphemed the Blessed Eucharist to the parish priest, relying on typically Protestant arguments. Nonetheless, they refused to be called Protestants themselves, and requested the parish priest to baptise their children.

The parish priest asked whether the parents had incurred excommunication, whether they could be buried as Catholics, and whether, if he should manage to convert any of them, they would have to make a formal abjuration.

Now according to the position of those who think that most "traditionalists" today are excluded from membership of the Church, only one answer is possible: the culprits are manifest heretics and anyone who dares to consider them still Catholics and remain in communion with them must himself incur excommunication and be avoided by all true Catholics.

However, the Ami du Clergé, a periodical formally approved and encouraged at about this time by St Pius X himself, was not at all of this opinion. Their moralist argued that there is no proof that the culprits intended, by assisting at the Protestant ceremonies, to apostatise from the Catholic Church - indeed they expressly denied it by insisting that they were Catholics and not Protestants. Similarly, he held that their stated wish to be Catholics gave to understand that these poor misguided souls had no wish knowingly and willingly to reject the dogma of the Church concerning the Holy Eucharist.

So in evaluating the questions posed by the parish priest, the Ami du Clergé replied that the culprits were still members of the Catholic Church, were not excommunicated, had no need to make formal abjuration of their errors, but only to repair the scandal given, and that if, dying with no sign of repentance, they were ineligible for Catholic burial (which would perhaps need to be confirmed by the bishop) this would have been as public sinners and not as heretics.

Now I have no doubt that it will be objected that in this instance the Ami du Clergé did not play the part of a true friend of the clergy, but rather showed evidence of laxism. That is my own opinion of the matter too. I do not accept for a moment that the individuals complained of could have failed to realise that they were denying the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, and I imagine that when they claimed to be still Catholics, it was because they had completely lost sight of what being a Catholic means - imagining that their Catholic antecedents and baptism made them Catholics irrespective of their beliefs, which were plainly Protestant, when they knowingly rejected the faith of the Church.

So I have no difficulty in disagreeing with the Ami du Clergé. But what is quite different and indeed patently absurd is to claim that by forming its lax judgment of this case the moralist of the Ami du Clergé himself incurred excommunication and ceased to be a Catholic along with all who accepted his solution and therefore remained in communion with uncondemned public heretics. Indeed such a theory would involve the excommunication of the bulk of the clergy of France who all continued to remain in communion with the Ami du Clergé...


10. Ss Thomas More and John Fisher

In 1534 King Henry VIII of England separated himself from the pope, wanting to be recognised as head of the Church in his kingdom - an attitude which could hardly have been more clearly schismatic. He insisted that all the clergy of the kingdom together with the more prominent layfolk should swear an oath accepting that situation. The majority did so, but the two men in England most respected for learning and piety refused: Fisher, bishop of Rochester and More, who had already resigned the office of chancellor in anticipation of a conflict with the king.

Now according to the doctrine of those who think that they alone today are Catholics, More and Fisher, ready to die rather than sign, ought surely to have considered that those who had signed had abandoned the Church by schism and were no longer Catholics. If they were dying rather than commit a schismatic act, they must surely not have wished to die in communion with those who had already committed the very act they were giving their lives for refusing.

But that was not their attitude at all.

On 13th April 1534 we see More fortify himself for his initial refusal of the oath, planned for later that day, by receiving the sacraments at the hands of a priest who had already sworn the oath! Later, during the trial which preceded his martyrdom, he directly states that he attaches no blame to those who have sworn the oath he is refusing. Repeatedly while he was in prison we encounter in his words and acts the same attitude and there is no mistaking it. He simply encourages all to respect their conscience and expresses solid hope that they will all meet again merrily in heaven - an expression which has become almost proverbial. At the moment when he first refused the oath he (a husband and father) stated that he had never discouraged anyone else from taking the oath, and he continued thereafter to behave in the same way.

Fisher's attitude and behaviour were identical and we know that he also made his confession immediately before his martyrdom to a priest who had sworn the oath - the same is assumed to be the case with More, but not confirmed by contemporary witnesses.

Both are canonised saints of the Church and their behaviour in this regard did not even arouse any objections from the devil's advocate.

How is this situation to be explained? Could one not ask More: why die for this cause if it was not a matter of faith? And if it was a matter of faith, how could you remain in communion with those who chose the opposing side?

And how would More have replied to such questions? I suggest that only one possible reply makes the slightest sense. He would have said that, while the facts were clear enough for him that he would sin against faith or the unity of the Church by acting otherwise, they were not necessarily equally clear for others.

And suppose that one had pressed him, enquiring whether a Catholic in England could really be in good faith in rejecting the papacy when Henry VIII himself had defended it against Luther and when England was celebrated throughout the world for her devotion to the Holy See. His only possible reply would have been, of course, that the English were at the time very confused - many learned people were sowing confusion, only a small minority was resisting, the memory of the Great Western Schism with the eclipse of the papacy was still fresh... Given all these factors innocent confusion was possible and even probable and it was impossible to conclude that the seduced were guilty of schism or heresy without a formal judgment from the Church's authorities on the matter.

And is the situation today really clearer?
(Rev T E Bridgett C SS R: Life and Writings of Blessed Thomas More; R W Chambers: Thomas More)

11. Mgr Darboy

In 1865 Mgr Darboy, archbishop of Paris and member of the French senate expressed in an important speech to the senate ideas clearly opposed to the divinely instituted primacy of the Roman Pontiff over the entire Church, which, unlike papal infallibility, already belonged to the corps of Catholic doctrine. The speech was a public defiance of the pope and a refusal to recognise the pope's ordinary and universal jurisdiction in the dioceses of France.

Pope Pius IX, already aware of the ideas of this wayward bishop, reprimanded him sternly in a private letter in which he reminds him that his stated ideas are comparable to those of Febronius (already condemned) and opposed to the teaching of the IVth Lateran Council. In the same letter the pope complained also of the presence of Mgr Darboy at the funeral of a freemason and other scandals.


Darboy did not reply to the pope for some months and, when he finally did so, adopted a haughty tone to justify himself and to rebuke the pope! He retracted nothing whatever of the errors which had been reported throughout France with glee by the anti-Catholic press! He wrote to Cardinal Antonelli (the pope's secretary of state), for transmission to the pope, that the doctrinal question amounted to nuances of expression and that the other accusations were no more than puerile gossiping and insidious calumnies.

Nothing was done and in 1867 he met the pope in Rome, but, contrary to the hope he had given, did not mention the subject of this conflict at all.

In 1868 a new clash ensued between Mgr Darboy and Rome, when the private letter of the pope dated 1865 was "leaked" and widely published. Still Rome allowed the situation to “ride” and meanwhile the Vatican Council was in preparation.

Before and at the council, Darboy, needless to say, opposed the dogma of papal infallibility. For more than five years, despite the rebukes of the pope and of the nuncio, he never withdrew his extremely public errors against the faith. And then when the council proclaimed the dogmas concerning the pope, in 1870, he did not adhere to them. On 2nd March 1871, he at last informed the pope privately of his adherence to these dogmas, and even then he continued to delay before carrying out his duty of promulgating these decrees in his diocese. Only that promulgation at last constituted an implicit withdrawal of the false doctrines he was on public record as holding, despite the rebuke of the pope, since 1865.

Now was Mgr Darboy during that period a public heretic or not? If one answers "yes", one is in manifest disagreement with Ven. Pope Pius IX. And of course those who not only accuse others lightly of heresy, but even hold that remaining in communion with uncondemned heretics is an act of heresy, schism or at best a grave public sin entailing exclusion from the sacraments must conclude that all the Catholics of Paris, laity and clergy, simultaneously fell from grace by continuing to recognise Darboy as their bishop even when they deplored his behaviour.

(Ami du Clergé, 12th December 1907)


12. Berengarius

In about 1047 Berengarius of Tours spread scandal by his eucharistic doctrine, denying the true conversion of the elements into the Body and Blood of Christ, and reducing the Blessed Sacrament to a mere symbol. Berengarius justified himself by quoting a work falsely attributed to John Scotus Eriugena, which seemed to express similar ideas. Nonetheless the celebrated Lanfranc condemned this error as heretical.

Then began a cycle which was to be repeated three times: Berengarius's doctrine was condemend by a council of the Church. Berengarius himself avoided personal condemnation by retracting. Then he returned to his vomit by spreading anew his heretical doctrine.

Hard though it may seem to believe, Berengarius played this same trick three times in a row over the following years, mingling heresy with hypocrisy, and even after that Pope St Gregory VII accepted from him yet another retraction and recommended him to the bishops of Tours and Angers, forbidding anyone to inflict on him the slightest penalty or to call him a heretic.

Needless to say, it was not long before Berengarius attacked the text of the last retraction he had made and signed in the hands of the pope himself. However, after the council of Bordeaux he made a final retraction and this time persevered, dying in the communion of the Catholic Church.

Can anyone aware of such historical episodes seriously maintain that in our day it is mandatory to condemn as heretics or schismatics all traditionalists who have gone astray, or claim that one is excommunicated for hesitating to accuse of heresy in our days persons who one thinks may simply be confused?

(Catholic Encyclopaedia, art. “Berengarius”)


13. John Gerson

John Gerson (1363-1429) was one of the most learned ecclesiastics of his age. He maintained that the pope does not have universal authority over all the faithful, is not the universal bishop, can teach heresy while still remaining pope (but, if he did so, can fittingly be put to death by the faithful!), that the Church and the general council have authority over the pope, that the first four general councils were not summoned by the pope, that the laity can sit in a general council or even assemble one! Not only did he hold all of these principles, later to give rise to Gallicanism, but he even held them to be dogmas...

Now let us not waste our time discussing the notion that these ideas, though unorthodox today, were still orthodox and permitted in his days - it is simply not true. But far from being condemned either during his life or after death, Gerson is described as "Blessed" in five martyrologies!

What is the explanation? Quite simply, it is that he lived at the time of the Great Western Schism, when several pretenders to the papacy were reigning at the same time. If he allowed himself to entertain outrageous ideas, and even to think that they were dogmas, the reason was that he saw no other way of putting an end to the schism except on the basis of accepting such ideas. This explanation is not a personal one of the present writer - it is universally admitted: in other words, the Church makes allowances for the confusion which can prevail during times of schism and heresy in the absence of the ordinary authorities whose task is to settle disagreements and rule on which ideas exceed the bounds of orthodoxy.

Should we not act with at least as much tolerance in our days when the crisis is graver and authority yet more universally absent?
Are the ideas which certain traditional priests or layfolk permit themselves to explain the present crisis or to account for how it might be ended really more aberrant than those of "the Blessed" Gerson were in his day? …to such an extent that anyone who might think so, and therefore continues to recognise them as Catholics is himself to be considered as outside the fold? Really? In the sight of God can anyone aware of these historical episodes honestly claim such a thing?

(Catholic Encyclopaedia: art. “Gerson, John)

14. Martin Luther

In 1517 Martin Luther began to attack very publicly the Church's doctrine concerning indulgences. Tetzel, the official inquisitor, refuted his arguments and condemned his doctrines as heretical. Luther remained obstinate, but in 1518 he wrote to the pope a defence of his heresies, claiming to be ready to accept the pope's judgment in the matter. Pope Leo X saw the gravity of the errors and summoned him to Rome to defend himself. On various pretexts, Luther declined to appear in Rome, wanting to be judged in Germany. The pope sent the celebrated theologian cardinal Cajetan to Luther, not to debate with him but to obtain his retraction. Cajetan made no bones about the fact that Luther's doctrines were heretical, but Luther remained obstinate, appealing to the pope in person. Cajetan then wrote to the Elector Frederic that Luther was a heretic. In 1519 the pope condemned several of Luther's errors, but specifically allowed him two months to amend before being excommunicated. Only after this period had elapsed fruitlessly was the rebel monk finally condemned by official sentence as a heretic.

Now this cause célèbre at once shows that the pope distinguished clearly between condemning Luther's doctrines as heretical, on the one hand, and condemning Luther himself as a heretic on the other hand. In the light of this it is clearly impossible to maintain, as some do, that whoever defends a heresy is at once to be considered automatically a heretic by presumption of pertinacity.

Moreover, what was Luther's status between his meeting with Cajetan and his ultimate condemnation? Was he a heretic or not? If he was, how could the pope delay declaring the fact and allow him a period of grace? But if he was not, how can one explain the explicit judgment of Cajetan as papal legate, formed in perfect knowledge of the facts, that he was a heretic?

For my part I see only one explanation: Luther was a heretic, but pending the formal declaration of this fact on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities, it remained possible for a Catholic not to realise this and to remain in communion with Luther without incurring thereby either sin or censure.

But, that being the case, how is it possible to claim that Catholics today incur excommunication by the simple fact of remaining in communion with persons whose errors have never been directly judged by a legate of the pope and who are very far indeed from having been formally judged heretics by the pope himself?

(St Alphonsus Liguori: History of Heresies)


15. St Hypathius and Nestorius

Another historical example has been invoked in favour of the position of those who condemn all misguided traditionalists as heretics or schismatics: the case of St Hypathius. This Bythinian monk insisted on omitting the name of the heretic Nestorius from the diptychs from the moment when he began to preach his heresy, denying the unity of person in Our Divine Lord. His ordinary, Eulalius, while refusing the heresy of Nestorius, rebuked the holy monk Hypathius for withdrawing from communion with their Nestorius, who was their patriarch, before the judgment of a council. Hypathius replied: "...I cannot insert his name in the Canon of the Mass because a heresiarch is not worthy of the title of pastor in the Church; do what you will with me, I am ready to suffer anything, and nothing will make me change my behaviour." (Petits Bollandistes, 17th June)

But in fact this case merely illustrates what all sedevacantists are agreed upon: given a case in which one clearly sees, in all prudence, that one is dealing with a heretic, one must at once withdraw from communion with him. That is of course the correct position to hold with regard to Karol Wojtyla and many others in our days.

But when some sedevacantists withdraw from communion with other sedevacantists on the grounds that the latter remain in communion not with Karol Wojtyla but with certain traditional clergy or laity that the first group consider heretics...they are quite mistaken to quote the case of St Hypathius in their favour. For Hypathius, though he withdrew from communion with Nestorius, clearly did not withdraw from communion with Eulalius, who, though orthodox, mistakenly thought it right to remain provisionally in communion with Nestorius until the Church should have formally pronounced him a heretic.

Hence those who today condemn those of us who reject John-Paul II without rejecting misguided traditionalists ought by the same token to condemn St Hypathius whose example we follow. They ought to hold that he should never have been considered a saint after such a disgraceful example of liberalism and of schismatic dispositions!

And curiously enough, one sedevacantist of those who feel that they are more faithful to the Church the more people they consider excommunicated in our days, has even reached that extreme, for when the example of St Hypathius was quoted to him he replied that Hypathius must have repented of the incident to have been considered a saint by the Church. In other words he made the saint's chief glory into an act of shame which he spontaneously compared with the youthful indiscretions committed by St Augustine before his conversion!

16. The Controversies Concerning Grace and Free Will

In the years around 1600 occurred the celebrated controversies concerning grace. Each side believed that certain of the opinions of the opposing party were impossible to reconcile with dogmas of the faith. Accusations of heresy were freely hurled. However, after lengthy and careful study, the Holy See condemned no one, simply forbidding each party to attach the slightest theological censure to the opposing views. Despite that, saints did not hesitate, subsequently, in expounding their view of the matter, to say that they could not see how this or that opposing opinion could be reconciled with such and such a dogma.

Now how can it be permissible to think that a given opinion cannot be reconciled with a dogma and yet be forbidden to apply the word “heresy” to this opinion? I suggest the reason is that the word heresy applies only to the direct and manifest negation of a dogma. In every other case one may oppose the opinion one objects to, one may denounce it as worthy of condemnation, one can advance logical reasoning as to why it seems impossible to reconcile it with a dogma…but one may not pronounce the word heresy before the Holy See has judged the case.


17. Blessed Noël Pinot

This martyr of the French Revolution was Parish Priest of Le Louroux Béconnais, a country parish which he served with the aid of a single curate, M. Garanger. Blessed Noël remained submissive to the revolutionary civil power in France as far as conscience permitted between 1789 and 1791, even to the extent of allowing public notice to be given from the Church pulpit of new anti-Catholic legislation. But when it was decreed that the clergy must publicly swear to uphold the new civil constitution imposed on the French church by the revolutionaries, the future martyr resolved never to give his consent to an act he rightly judged to be irreconcilable with Catholic Faith and communion. At first he did not resist publicly, playing for time, though he encouraged his fellow clergy in private not to consent to these measures. But finally on Sunday 23rd January 1791, the representatives of the local revolutionary council arrived at the Church to require his signature before the people, and Blessed Noël refused. However, his curate who was also present, unconvinced by the arguments his parish priest had presented to him in private, yielded and swore the required oath, to the scandal of the parishioners.

Yet Blessed Noël Pinot remained calm. He did not sever communion with his confrère, or denounce him or advise against frequenting the sacraments administered by him. “Had the young priest truly realised that swearing the oath involved a grave fault? His parish priest concluded that the sin was material, not formal, in view of a certain good faith due to a deviation of judgment: the curate had thought he could go that far without ceasing to be a good priest. In any case, as the pope had not yet pronounced upon the subject of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, M. Garanger had not incurred any censure by his oath. So, trusting that the instructions awaited from Rome would open his eyes, M. Pinot allowed him to pursue his parochial activities as before.” (Mgr Francis Trochu: Vie du Bienheureux Noël Pinot) And this tolerance, we recall, was granted despite the fact that Pinot himself had already set out to Garanger as clearly as he was able the reasons why the content of the oath was intrinsically schismatic. Pinot's trust in his confrère's good faith was therefore possible only on the basis of a “deviation of judgment” - a failure to think straight on a matter which in itself was quite clear and had been sufficiently drawn to his attention.

This split ministry between one who had refused and one who had accepted the schismatic constitution continued until 27th February of the same year when Pinot saw fit to explain from the pulpit his reasons for refusing the oath and to warn his flock explicitly of its schismatic character. Thereafter he was obliged to go into hiding and continue his ministry in secret (until he was captured and executed in 1794). The Roman condemnation of the civil constitution was finally pronounced in March 1791 and eventually Garanger indeed returned to his senses and withdrew his error. He was later exiled and, after his return to France exercised his priesthood for some years before he became insane and died.


18. The Judgment of Pope Pius VI on Louis XVI and Blessed John de Britto

In his allocution Pourquoi Notre Voix of 17th June 1793, Pope Pius VI expressed the opinion that the recently assassinated king of France had died a true martyr to the Catholic Faith and might well one day be found eligible for canonisation. He mentioned that an argument against this might be adduced from the fact that the king had sealed the schismatic civil constitution of the clergy. But he answered the objection by observing that the apparent approval in question would seem to have been elicited against the king's will on the pretext that the seal indicated only the conformity of the copy to the original, not the royal assent, and that in any event the king had sufficiently expiated any fault against faith by his death for the faith - and the pope suggested a comparison with the case of Jesuit missionary Blessed (then Venerable) John de Britto.

The interest of the first of these defences considered admissible by the pope is that if Louis did not intend to express his assent to the document by affixing his seal, this fact was quite unascertainable in the external forum at the time (cf. the signatures of the conservative Fathers of the Second Vatican Council on the council's decrees), yet no one saw fit to consider the king a heretic or a schismatic even presumptively until the Holy See had pronounced on the issue directly.

And the interest of the second defence (martyrdom) is that a defined dogma of our faith teaches that even to lay down one's life for Christ is of no avail for salvation if one should die outside the Church's communion (Denz. n. 714). And while it is true that Louis had expressed regret for having given at least exterior consent to the revolutionary constitution, Blessed John de Britto (with whom the king was compared) had expressed no regret whatever for his adherence to the Chinese rites after their explicit and vehement condemnation under pain of excommunication by the Holy See. And he had displayed the disquieting custom of performing frequent miracles during this period of apparent rebellion. The explanation is that (a) the rites approved by Blessed John were not intrinsically evil, as were some of the condemned Chinese rites, and (b) his disobedience to the Holy See's decrees in this matter was mitigated by the existence of a current of cavilling arguments presenting the decrees as less universal in their import than they were in fact clearly intended to be. Thus, though disobedience to the decrees was quite unjustifiable and the arguments against the decrees' authenticity were worthless (see Benedict XIV: Ex Quo Singulari, 11th July 1742), it was nevertheless perfectly possible for a holy and orthodox priest to be for a time (seventeen years to be precise) deceived by these sophistries and yet to live holily and die for the faith, atoning with his blood for whatever fault there may have been in his want of simple and childlike obedience.


19. A Hypothetical Case?

Let us imagine the case of a bishop who finds himself in disagreement with the pope about a doctrinal point of grave practical importance. The pope formally indicates to him, several times, the sound doctrine to be held on the matter, but the bishop is obstinate in his contrary opinion. Rummaging in his archives he claims to have established the existence of a "tradition" in his region on the subject, contrary to the pope's doctrine. He replies to the pope haughtily, refusing to accept his doctrine and claiming, on the basis of his "tradition" (which in reality is no older than fifty years!) that those who live in his country have the right to retain their own doctrine on the matter. He loses his cool and becomes angry, addressing to the pope words which no Christian should address to a superior. The pope contemplates excommunicating him with his adherents. He reminds them of the pre-eminence of the See of Rome, but one of the adherents of the first bishop accuses the pope of boasting! Another bishop of sound doctrine on this issue encourages the pope not to have recourse to excommunication, with the possibility of losing many souls in consequence, but to be more understanding, despite the dangers involved in leaving this error without formal and infallible condemnation.

Should I be wrong in thinking that some readers, of inquisitorial persuasion, would find the advice of this bishop very liberal? Would they not say that the erring bishop was already a heretic, since his error was objectively opposed to faith and his pertinacity clearly demonstrated by his obstinacy in the face of the public refutations of his errors and the reprimands of the pope, even of these reprimands were not actually infallible? And in any event, pertinacity would have to be presumed in the external forum...?

Well, in the case recounted, the erring bishop was St Cyprian with his doctrine of the invalidity of baptism conferred by heretics and his, for a time, unworthy attitude towards Pope St Stephen, whose anathema was restrained by the prudent and charitable counsel of St Dionysus of Alexandria. And let it not be forgotten that we have no evidence that St Cyprian ever came to accept the true doctrine before his martyrdom, and that it is impossible to die a martyr for the Church unless one accepts her faith...

(Rev Alban Butler: Lives of the Saints…)

I invite all readers to consider honestly and in the sight of God whether these events support the position of those who refuse to consider misguided traditionalists as Catholics, or the milder position of those of us who consider them confused but still members of the Catholic Church.

Conclusion

This short study was written to refute those who are too prompt to judge others to be heretics, and especially those who judge as heretics or schismatics other sedevacantists who maintain some measure of communion with non-sedevacantist traditionalists. It is not intended to support the error of those who think that private individuals may never conclude that someone is a heretic before the direct intervention of the Church condemning him. Other historical events could be invoked showing that this is not the case. Nothing in this study is opposed to recognition of blatant cases of heresy such as that of Karol Wojtyla, alias John-Paul II, of which there are many in our days. The moral is not that we should refuse to recognise the evident, but that we should be slow and reluctant to condemn as heretics or schismatics persons who, however confused, may not have definitely rejected the duty of submission to the Church.

LAUS DEO SEMPER

© J. S. Daly 1st May 2000 & 16th February 2002
Le Bouchillou
24410 Servanches
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Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:40 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
RJS:
Quote:
Although written to counter a common problem amongst traditionalists today, who rashly declare each other formal heretics, the article can also be read in light of traditionalists condemnation of the Benedict XVI and the Novus Ordo clergy.

Those who claim Benedict is a public manifest heretic and therefore not the Pope (since a heretic is not a member of the Church, and a man who is not a member of the Church cannot be its head), will have a difficult time holding to this position in light of the evidence John Daly presents. For he provides many examples of men who certainly seemed to be heretics, yet either retained their jurisdiction (if they were bishops), or were never considered as heretics by the Church, either while living or after death.

In my opinion, the following article should give pause to anyone who has arrived at the Sedevacantist position by the "public manifest heretic" argument.



John Daly:
Quote:
Conclusion

This short study was written to refute those who are too prompt to judge others to be heretics, and especially those who judge as heretics or schismatics other sedevacantists who maintain some measure of communion with non-sedevacantist traditionalists. It is not intended to support the error of those who think that private individuals may never conclude that someone is a heretic before the direct intervention of the Church condemning him. Other historical events could be invoked showing that this is not the case. Nothing in this study is opposed to recognition of blatant cases of heresy such as that of Karol Wojtyla, alias John-Paul II, of which there are many in our days. The moral is not that we should refuse to recognise the evident, but that we should be slow and reluctant to condemn as heretics or schismatics persons who, however confused, may not have definitely rejected the duty of submission to the Church.


Well, it would seem that the author you quoted for your defense, actually disagrees with your interpretation, and is pretty strong in doing so.


Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:53 am
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Geoff Tribbe wrote:
RJS:
Quote:
Although written to counter a common problem amongst traditionalists today, who rashly declare each other formal heretics, the article can also be read in light of traditionalists condemnation of the Benedict XVI and the Novus Ordo clergy.

Those who claim Benedict is a public manifest heretic and therefore not the Pope (since a heretic is not a member of the Church, and a man who is not a member of the Church cannot be its head), will have a difficult time holding to this position in light of the evidence John Daly presents. For he provides many examples of men who certainly seemed to be heretics, yet either retained their jurisdiction (if they were bishops), or were never considered as heretics by the Church, either while living or after death.

In my opinion, the following article should give pause to anyone who has arrived at the Sedevacantist position by the "public manifest heretic" argument.



John Daly:
Quote:
Conclusion

This short study was written to refute those who are too prompt to judge others to be heretics, and especially those who judge as heretics or schismatics other sedevacantists who maintain some measure of communion with non-sedevacantist traditionalists. It is not intended to support the error of those who think that private individuals may never conclude that someone is a heretic before the direct intervention of the Church condemning him. Other historical events could be invoked showing that this is not the case. Nothing in this study is opposed to recognition of blatant cases of heresy such as that of Karol Wojtyla, alias John-Paul II, of which there are many in our days. The moral is not that we should refuse to recognise the evident, but that we should be slow and reluctant to condemn as heretics or schismatics persons who, however confused, may not have definitely rejected the duty of submission to the Church.


Well, it would seem that the author you quoted for your defense, actually disagrees with your interpretation, and is pretty strong in doing so.


Yes, I realize the author is not in agreement, but it seems to me that he missed the obvious conclusion of his own examples which demonstrates the rashness of his own position. Consider the examples he gave in the article, and then compare them with John Paul II. I was not fan of John Paul II by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think his errors were more blatant than some of those cited in the article. Let's consider just one of them.

In 1865 the archbishop of Paris and member of the French senate (Msgr Darboy) publicly taught errors "clearly opposed to the divinely instituted primacy of the Roman Pontiff over the entire Church, which, unlike papal infallibility, already belonged to the corps of Catholic doctrine. The speech was a public defiance of the pope and a refusal to recognize the pope's ordinary and universal jurisdiction in the dioceses of France".

Pope Pius IX, "reprimanded him sternly in a private letter in which he reminds him that his stated ideas are comparable to those of Febronius (already condemned) and opposed to the teaching of the IVth Lateran Council".

So we have an Archbishop who publicly preached errors that, due to his education, he should have known were contrary to the Faith. In addition, he was reprimanded by the Pope himself. Therefore, any excuse of ignorance could no longer be justified. What was the response of the archbishop? "Darboy did not reply to the pope for some months and, when he finally did so, adopted a haughty tone to justify himself and to rebuke the pope! He retracted nothing whatever of the errors which had been reported throughout France".

Here we have an archbishop who persisted in his errors after being reprimanded by the Pope. Furthermore, his public errors had been "reported throughout France", which would have likely caused grave scandal to the faithful.

Now, which of John Paul II's public errors were more blatant than that? John Paul II was usually crafty enough to allow just enough ambiguity so that his blind followers were able to offer up a weak defense. But how could anyone have made a similar defense of the archbishop of France? He not only taught error publicly, but he persisted after being reprimanded by the Pope!

If John Paul II lost his jurisdiction due to public manifest heresy, why did not the Archbishop of France lose his jurisdiction due to an even more clear crime of heresy (one for which he was reprimanded by the Pope himself)? If you say he did lose his jurisdiction, you are in disagreement with Pius IX who left him in his position. If you say he didn't lose it, they why would John Paul II have lost his?

Those who claim John Paul II was a public manifest heretic and therefore not the Pope, are judging him with greater severity than Pius IX did with the Archbishop of France. The other examples given in the article further confirm that this is a rash judgment. "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread".


Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:20 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
So, your treatment is the same for sheep and shepherds?


Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:20 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
RJS wrote:
Yes, I realize the author is not in agreement, but it seems to me that he missed the obvious conclusion of his own examples which demonstrates the rashness of his own position.


Dear RJS,

Welcome back.

You confuse rashness with judgement as such.

The Nopes promulgated and enforced an entire New Religion. New worship, new laws, new doctrines, new spirit, new government, new culture, new priorities, new relations to the world and new relations to every identifiable group in the world, new relations with governments, new relations with individuals.

Archbishop Lefebvre stated that fifty thousand priests abandoned their vocations in the ten years from 1965. And that was eclipsed by the losses of religious. The apostasies amongst the laity in the same brief period would be an order of magnitude greater again.

New religion, unprecedented catastrophe.

John Paul II's reaction? It's a New Pentecost.

What was that you were saying about Mgr. Darboy?

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Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:19 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Dear RJS,

If you read again how I have dealt with you, I think you will see that I was not "ridiculing" you I was trying to get you to take a deep breath and start again. Anyway, no offence was intended and I apologise for any taken.

In relation to your anti-EENS opponent, I would like more data before making any judgement of heresy. His statements could easily have been made under the influence of passion due to the argument. Or he could be a typical Novus heretic who insists on believing in quasi-universal salvation, even despite knowing that the Church teaches otherwise.

My next article for The Four Marks is entitled Heresy and Heretics and covers all of this ground in detail. I'll use some extracts from it in this post.

RJS wrote:
I’ll answer the following two questions: 1) How is heresy known

I don't think you have presented how the Church teaches us to identify heresy. I'll come back to this.

In general, I agree with your understanding of the nature of heresy. The only point in which I am certain you err is in limiting heresy to de fide doctrines. St. Thomas says, “Now a thing may be of the faith in two ways, as stated above, in one way, directly and principally, e.g. the articles of faith; in another way, indirectly and secondarily, e.g. those matters, the denial of which leads to the corruption of some article of faith; and there may be heresy in either way, even as there can be faith.” S. Th. II-II, Q. 11, Art 2, Resp.

Cartechini says that the second kind of heresy is the pertinacious denial or doubt of "a truth not directly revealed by God but closely connected with divine revelation and infallibly proposed by the magisterium." Rev. Sixtus Cartechini S.J., On the Value of Theological Notes and the Criteria for Discerning Them (Rome, 1951), translated by John S. Daly. The concept of merely ecclesiastical faith is controverted, however it is commonly accepted that one who refuses to believe a doctrine which fits within the scope of the definition of “ecclesiastical faith” suffers shipwreck of his faith, and if he professes his unbelief publicly, he forfeits his membership in the Church.

Now as to how heresy is known.

Our Lord therefore warned us to be especially on our guard against heretics. In addition, St. Paul has laid down a divine injunction incumbent upon all Christians that heretics are to be avoided. “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: Knowing that he that is such an one is subverted and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.” Titus 3.

The judgement that must be formed concerns the question of what the culprit actually believes, and whether he knows that his belief contradicts the teaching of the Church.

Often it appears that traditional Catholics are more concerned about the good name of a putative heretic than they are about the common good. Familiarity with Church history ought to disabuse anybody of this unjust approach. The man who by his words or actions creates doubt about his own faith, and especially if he allows those doubts to persist when he is put on notice in one way or another, is solely responsible for the fact that others think him a heretic. Both justice and charity towards the faithful who might be harmed by such a person demand that he be held accountable for his own choices.

Because true heresy necessarily includes pertinacity, this must be clear just as the error or doubt itself must be. Pertinacity is judged by assessing a necessary condition in the presence of which it is impossible that the putative heretic is innocently mistaken. This condition is that he is aware of what the Church teaches concerning the point upon which he errs or doubts. It is clear that if a man raised in the faith of his baptism (i.e. raised as a Catholic) knows that he contradicts the Church, his will must necessarily be perverse in maintaining his error. There is no other possibility – he is a heretic.

St. Pius X expounds this doctrine with great clarity. "Although they express their astonishment that We should number them amongst the enemies of the Church, no one will be reasonably surprised that We should do so, if, leaving out of account the internal disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge, he considers their tenets, their manner of speech, and their action."

The famous handbook for inquisitors from the Middle Ages, the Malleus Maleficarum, further explicates this doctrine. "There are two kinds of judgement, that of God and that of men. God judges the inner man; whereas man can only judge of the inner thoughts as they are reflected by outer actions, as is admitted in the third of these arguments. Now he who is a heretic in the judgement of God is truly and actually a heretic; for God judges no one as a heretic unless he has some wrong belief concerning the faith in his understanding. But when a man is a heretic in the judgement of men, he need not necessarily be actually a heretic; but because his deeds give an appearance of a wrong understanding of the faith he is, by legal presumption, considered to be a heretic."

In this last text the Church’s approach to heretical words and actions on the part of persons is explicitly stated. The Church takes these data on face value and if perhaps they have been misunderstood the onus is on the perpetrator to prove it, and thereby show that he is not a heretic. He alone is responsible for creating the appearance of heresy, and he alone bears the responsibility to undo what he has done.

Considered in the light of morality, words and actions which lead to a reasonable judgement that a man is a heretic even if he is not so in reality, are still evil. A man who through carelessness kills another might well be found not guilty of murder, however he is still subject to a conviction for manslaughter. Likewise, a man who with criminal irresponsibility preaches or writes or acts in such a way as to cloud sacred doctrine in obscurity has sinned gravely. The primary concern of the faithful Catholic ought not to be for a suspected heretic’s good name, but for the rights of God and for the safety of the flock. This is certainly the spirit of the Church as expressed in her laws and canonical procedures.

Our Lord Himself teaches, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them."

This instruction is the counterpart to that of St. Paul to Titus, and it is as clearly an instruction to all Catholics as St. Paul’s. If the only way to know a heretic with certitude was to await the authoritative determination of the Church, this doctrine of Our Lord would be worse than useless: it would be positively misleading.

“By their fruits” is not “by the judgement of the Church,” but rather it refers to what is apparent, that which is visible, that which is produced by the mind and heart of the man. Our fruits are our words and actions.

Our Lord repeated the principle, which would indicate its importance. "Either make the tree good and its fruit good: or make the tree evil, and its fruit evil. For by the fruit the tree is known. O generation of vipers, how can you speak good things, whereas you are evil? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

St. John Chrysostom explains, "‘For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ Here again He indicates His Godhead, which knew their secrets: and that not for words only, but also for wicked thoughts, they shall suffer punishment; and that He knows it all, as God. And He saith, that it is possible even for men to know these things; for this is a natural consequence, that when wickedness is overflowing within, its words should be poured forth through the lips. So that when thou hearest a man speak wicked words, do not suppose only so much wickedness to be in him as the words display, but conjecture the fountain to be much more abundant; for that which is spoken outwardly, is the superabundance of that which is within."

In summary, men are responsible for their actions. If these give the appearance of heresy, we are entitled to make that judgement. We should be reluctant to make the judgement in individual cases, but this reluctance is conditioned by the danger that the putative heretic presents to the common good. It is certainly possible for the judgement of a layman to be sufficiently secure, as the case of Eusebius and Nestorius makes clear. Eusebius’s accusation that Nestorius was a heretic (not just preaching heresy) was subsequently confirmed by Pope St. Celestine I, and all of history praises his courage and his sound Catholic sense.

In the end the problem is one of judgement. Men lack that faculty today, for many reasons, but it's essential. Without it we cast about for ways to simplify the matter so as to avoid the challenge of forming a judgement, for which we feel unequipped. Examples of this abound on all sides, sedevacantist and sedeplenist.

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Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:55 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
Thank you very much for this explanation, John.

I have printed off this last discussion of yours and am including it in the weapons my dear Wife has accumulated in her latest battle with one of Ratzinger's books, "Jesus of Nazareth", which is, in fact, "teeming with heresies".

We were discussing parts of it again last night before bed time. There can be absolutely no doubt whatever that Ratzo was a flaming heretic, at least at the time he wrote that book. He most certainly has never recanted any of those heresies publically.

Therefore, we can only conclude he still holds them.

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Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:36 pm
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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
John Lane wrote:
In general, I agree with your understanding of the nature of heresy. The only point in which I am certain you err is in limiting heresy to de fide doctrines. St. Thomas says, “Now a thing may be of the faith in two ways, as stated above, in one way, directly and principally, e.g. the articles of faith; in another way, indirectly and secondarily, e.g. those matters, the denial of which leads to the corruption of some article of faith; and there may be heresy in either way, even as there can be faith.” S. Th. II-II, Q. 11, Art 2, Resp.

Cartechini says that the second kind of heresy is the pertinacious denial or doubt of "a truth not directly revealed by God but closely connected with divine revelation and infallibly proposed by the magisterium." Rev. Sixtus Cartechini S.J., On the Value of Theological Notes and the Criteria for Discerning Them (Rome, 1951), translated by John S. Daly.


We’re not in disagreement on this. When I stated that a heretic is one who denies a doctrine that must be held by divine and Catholic faith, I did not intend to limit the matter to the primary objects of infallibility (those teachings that have been formally revealed), but also meant to extend it to the secondary objects of infallibility, which themselves must be adhered to with divine and Catholic faith after Church has taken an official position on them.

Since primary objects of infallibility and secondary objects of infallibility are both objects of infallibility, and since Catholics must adhere with divine and Catholic faith to all that has been proposed infallibly by the Church, the doctrines contained in both categories require the exact same degree of assent, since they are being taught by the same infallible authority.

Regarding the remainder of what you wrote, I agree with all of it as well. Where you and I disagree is in the conclusion that is drawn from what you wrote. What I mean is, we both agree that these Popes appear to be heretics. Your conclusion is that, since they appear to be heretics, they cannot be true Popes. My conclusion is that, although they do indeed appear to be heretics, it does not necessarily follow that they are not true Popes.

Losing the faith does not immediately result in the loss of jurisdiction. A person who has totally lost the faith (an occult heretic) can be a Bishop of the Catholic Church with jurisdiction. A person who has lost the faith internally, and in addition given external evidence to suggest that he has lost the faith (suspect of heresy), can also be a Bishop of the Catholic Church with jurisdiction.

Saying the last few Popes appear to have lost the faith is one thing; but saying they have lost their office due to heresy is another thing altogether. In my opinion that is a rash judgment, and I think the rashness of that judgment can be demonstrated by considering the example of Archbishop Darboy.

Let’s imagine that you and I lived during that time of the Darboy affair. Let’s say we were both strong defenders of the Faith against the Masonic and Liberal forces at work against her. Now, what would we have said if we were present at the speech given by Archbishop Darboy? I am pretty sure I know what we would have said. In all likelihood, both of us would have said “Archbishop Darboy is a heretic”! We wouldn’t have been concerned about his level of guilt before God. We would have been concerned only with the fact that he was publicly preaching heresy. As such, we would rightly call him a heretic.

The difference is, if you reasoned then as you are now, in addition to calling him a heretic, you would have said he is no longer the Archbishop of France, whereas I would not have gone that far. In defense of your position, you probably could have produced many citations showing how we are to judge heresy, applied it to him, and concluded that he was an antibishop. I would have agreed with all the citations you provided, but would not have gone so far as to depose him (or declare him to have deposed himself through public heresy). In short, I would have been in agreement with Pius IX who left him in his position, while you would have been forced to disagree with Pius IX, which itself could have easily led to a further rash conclusion. Again, I would have agreed with you in saying that (by all appearances), the Archbishop was a heretic, but I would not have gone the extra step by saying the See of France is vacant, and he who claims to be the Bishop is an anti-Bishop.

Now, to see if my opinion about how you would have handled Archbishop Darboy is correct, let’s consider the rest of what you wrote in light of the “Darboy affair”.

John Lane wrote:
Now as to how heresy is known.

Our Lord therefore warned us to be especially on our guard against heretics. In addition, St. Paul has laid down a divine injunction incumbent upon all Christians that heretics are to be avoided. “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: Knowing that he that is such an one is subverted and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.” Titus 3.

The judgement that must be formed concerns the question of what the culprit actually believes, and whether he knows that his belief contradicts the teaching of the Church.


If Darboy did not meet that criteria then no one would. After all, not only was Darboy an Archbishop who had been through years of Seminary training, but he received a letter from the Pope himself warning him that his errors were contrary to the Fouth Lateran Council.

John Lane wrote:
Often it appears that traditional Catholics are more concerned about the good name of a putative heretic than they are about the common good. Familiarity with Church history ought to disabuse anybody of this unjust approach. The man who by his words or actions creates doubt about his own faith, and especially if he allows those doubts to persist when he is put on notice in one way or another, is solely responsible for the fact that others think him a heretic


This applies perfectly to Archbishop Darboy, who was not only warned, but whose errors were widely known.

John Lane wrote:
Both justice and charity towards the faithful who might be harmed by such a person demand that he be held accountable for his own choices.


I agree. So what does this say about Pius IX who left Archbishop Darboy in office? Did he cease to be Pope, since he remained in union with a public heretic?

John Lane wrote:
Because true heresy necessarily includes pertinacity, this must be clear just as the error or doubt itself must be. Pertinacity is judged by assessing a necessary condition in the presence of which it is impossible that the putative heretic is innocently mistaken. This condition is that he is aware of what the Church teaches concerning the point upon which he errs or doubts. It is clear that if a man raised in the faith of his baptism (i.e. raised as a Catholic) knows that he contradicts the Church, his will must necessarily be perverse in maintaining his error. There is no other possibility – he is a heretic.


Due to Arbhbishop Darboy’s education, and given the fact that the Pope himself sent him a letter admonishing him, the only conclusion is that he was a heretic - “there is no other possibility”.

John Lane wrote:
The famous handbook for inquisitors from the Middle Ages, the Malleus Maleficarum, further explicates this doctrine. "There are two kinds of judgement, that of God and that of men. God judges the inner man; whereas man can only judge of the inner thoughts as they are reflected by outer actions, as is admitted in the third of these arguments. Now he who is a heretic in the judgement of God is truly and actually a heretic; for God judges no one as a heretic unless he has some wrong belief concerning the faith in his understanding. But when a man is a heretic in the judgement of men, he need not necessarily be actually a heretic; but because his deeds give an appearance of a wrong understanding of the faith he is, by legal presumption, considered to be a heretic."


Therefore, “by legal presumption”, Arbhbishop Darboy is considered to have been a heretic. The question is: based on that, would you have concluded that Mgr. Darboy was no longer the Archbishop of France, but instead a heretical anti-bishop?

John Lane wrote:
In this last text the Church’s approach to heretical words and actions on the part of persons is explicitly stated. The Church takes these data on face value and if perhaps they have been misunderstood the onus is on the perpetrator to prove it, and thereby show that he is not a heretic. He alone is responsible for creating the appearance of heresy, and he alone bears the responsibility to undo what he has done.


So, it was up to Archbishop Darby to prove he was not a heretic. In the meantime, would you have concluded that he lost his jurisdiction?

John Lane wrote:
… “By their fruits” is not “by the judgement of the Church,” but rather it refers to what is apparent, that which is visible, that which is produced by the mind and heart of the man. Our fruits are our words and actions….

In summary, men are responsible for their actions. If these give the appearance of heresy, we are entitled to make that judgement.


But, are we entitled to declare that the Prelate lost his jurisdiction? That is a separate and distinct question. If you and I lived at the time of Mgr. Darboy, I think it is safe to say we both would have called him a heretic. The difference is, you would have also said he ceased to be the Archbishop of France, whereas I would not have gone that far.

John Lane wrote:
We should be reluctant to make the judgement in individual cases, but this reluctance is conditioned by the danger that the putative heretic presents to the common good. It is certainly possible for the judgement of a layman to be sufficiently secure, as the case of Eusebius and Nestorius makes clear. Eusebius’s accusation that Nestorius was a heretic (not just preaching heresy) was subsequently confirmed by Pope St. Celestine I, and all of history praises his courage and his sound Catholic sense.

In the end the problem is one of judgment. Men lack that faculty today, for many reasons, but it's essential.


Once again, applying the same criteria, you would have been forced to conclude, not only that Archbishop Darboy was a heretic, but that he lost his jurisdiction. Has a Pope or theologian ever declared that Mgr. Darboy lost his jurisdiction during that time? If not, why not? After all, he clearly taught heresy publicly, and was even warned by the Pope himself.


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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
RJS wrote:
We’re not in disagreement on this. When I stated that a heretic is one who denies a doctrine that must be held by divine and Catholic faith, I did not intend to limit the matter to the primary objects of infallibility (those teachings that have been formally revealed), but also meant to extend it to the secondary objects of infallibility, which themselves must be adhered to with divine and Catholic faith after Church has taken an official position on them.

Since primary objects of infallibility and secondary objects of infallibility are both objects of infallibility, and since Catholics must adhere with divine and Catholic faith to all that has been proposed infallibly by the Church, the doctrines contained in both categories require the exact same degree of assent, since they are being taught by the same infallible authority.


Read this and see what I am driving at: http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/fento ... faith.html

Even if you take the view proposed by Fenton, you need to acknowledge that it is only probable. It's my view too, but it isn't Catholic doctrine, but rather a theological opinion. More importantly, there is a real different between the truths we call "dogmas" and those which have been infallibly defined yet are not formally revealed. The nature of that difference hasn't been defined, but I think it is testified to by the constant tradition of the Church and could not be denied without censure.

Quote:
Your conclusion is that, since they appear to be heretics, they cannot be true Popes.

That sentence doesn't describe a conclusion, but rather an argument. And it isn't my argument. My argument is that these men meet the definition of heretics. Another way of saying the same thing is that the only reasonable judgement is that they are heretics. The judgement that they are not, or that the matter is doubtful, is an unreasonable judgement. In the concrete, it is generally based on misconceptions about what is to be judged or how it is to be judged. Sometimes, although this is less common these days, it is based upon the nonsense that authority is required before a certain judgement can be formed.

As for Mgr. Darboy, I am far from judging him to have been a Catholic all through. It seems to me that he was certainly open to the judgement that he was a heretic.

Did he lose his office automatically? Possibly yes. And received it back again by the tacit approval of the Roman Pontiff. But these things are unimportant speculations. Darboy did submit in the end.

In our present case we have a double difference from that case - we have unrepentant heretics and they claim the office of Supreme Judge of doctrine in the Church. The question of St. Robert is pertinent, indeed urgent, how can we avoid our head? Since there is only one answer to that question, despite the SSPX view that there are two, Benedict can't be pope.

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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
My question would be more direct: "How can someone who is not a member of a particular society be its head?"

In the case of the Church we would ask, "How can someone who has cut himself off from membership of the Church by repeated public and un-recanted heresy, and thus is no longer a member of the Church but is an apostate, still be its Head?"

It is completely clear to me that (among other things) those who insist that such an one can be the Head of the Church are conflating two completely incompatible ideas.

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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
RJS wrote:
Where I differ from many SSPX'ers is that I have read some of Ratzinger’s heretical books. He seems to have truly mastered the art of deception, by insinuating into the mind of the reader extreme doubt regarding Catholic dogmas. He uses language that casts ridicule on Catholic doctrine, while at the same time using very flowery and positive words when discussing heretics and their heresies. I refer to his books a weapons of mass destruction for the faith. I consder him not a conservative, but a far left extreme Modernists, not much different from Hans Kung. The main difference is in approach: Whereas Hans Kung openly denies dogmas, Ratzinger uses much more subtle and crafty speech to lead people into error. But his disgust for Catholicism, and the beautiful dogmas of our faith, seems to be almost equal to that of Hans Kung.


Dear RJS,

What this text states is the moral certitude that Benedict is an unbeliever and that he is very clever in insinuating his doubts and denials into the minds of others.

It isn't a surprising conclusion, since many or even most SSPX priests think the same thing. He is a heretic. Legally, he is a notorious heretic, because no legal procedure could possibly save him from conviction. He couldn't argue ignorance, nor could he argue orthodoxy in his words.

Even Bishop Williamson's argument that such men are incapable of real belief because of their defective philosophy wouldn't save him, because if that argument means anything it means that they are not believers. It only tries to show that they are morally innocent of their unbelief.

You think it would be rash to take the judgement that is truly in your mind and apply it to the teachings of the Doctors and theologians, concluding that Benedict isn't pope. Rashness is defined as an act which is based upon insufficient cause. It suggests a course of action which is a) dangerous, and opposed to some less dangerous course open to the actor, and b) based upon principles or facts which do not provide a secure foundation for a reasonable judgement.

Both parts of the case display obvious problems. In relation to the supposed danger, what exactly is it? I am unaware of any danger that my sedevacantism entails. I see the dangers that faced Archbishop Lefebvre, precisely because of his entirely different position than mine, and I refuse to criticise him for not making the same judgement as me. But there is a more vital issue with this whole point, which is that anybody who stands back from the situation and contemplates it whole in a single glance, so to speak, will see the gigantic fact that sedeplenism entails a fallible, erring, unreliable, untrustworthy church, leading souls to hell daily by false doctrine, false worship, invalid sacraments (how many Novus marriages does the Novus itself regard as invalid, why does the SSPX conditionally confirm all those confirmed in the Novus?), repeated public scandals of various kinds including open violation of the First Commandment, etc.

That isn't the Catholic Church. It would indeed be rash to regard it as the Church. Archbishop Lefebvre certainly didn't regard it as the Church. He accepted that his sedeplenism posited a very mysterious situation indeed. And that's why instead of regarding sedevacantism as "rash" he openly published the speculation that he might adopt that view himself.

The other aspect is the security of the data and principles. Our principles are as secure as anything not yet defined could be. In the course of the centuries our theological thesis has endured the usual course that definable doctrines run. It was initially universally held and undisputed, acted on at every point, never analysed because so obvious. In that period, leading up to the Great Western Schism, it was exactly like papal infallibility, held by all and included in the canon law, mentioned in passing by popes in sermons, employed by saints during crises, and completely unremarkable. Then it suffered a period of analysis and dispute, even denial, as it was precisely defined by the theologians, until during the nineteenth century a common consensus was reached and the doctrine became virtually universally clear to theologians and hardly a dissenting voice could be heard. One advantage our doctrine has over papal infallibility prior to its definition is that our chief theologian has been declared a Doctor of the Church. If that had happened in the seventeenth century papal infallibility would have reached its complete clarity far earlier than it did, because the authority of Bellarmine (its chief and best doctor) would have crushed the opposition to it more quickly. Our thesis has that huge advantage today, and has had it since 1931. From that year anybody quoting Cajetan against St. Robert looks foolish, even perverse.

So we have a secure theological foundation, and secure factual data, made imperatively secure by the impossibility of any other explanation. We are faced with a choice between impossible and really blasphemous and heretical acknowledgment of the New Church as the true Church, and the elegant and simple notion that the Church is eclipsed.

Quote:
The prophecies of the Apocalypse show that Satan will imitate the Church of Christ to deceive mankind; he will set up a church of Satan in opposition to the Church of Christ. Antichrist will assume the role of Messias; his prophet will act the part of Pope, and there will be imitations of the Sacraments of the Church. There will also be lying wonders in imitation of the miracles wrought in the Church. (Rev. E. Sylvester Berry, D.D., The Church of Christ, An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise. Herder, St. Louis and London, 1927 & 1941. p. 119.)

And, “there seems to be no reason why a false Church might not become universal, even more universal than the true one, at least for a time. (Rev. E. Sylvester Berry, D.D., op. cit. p. 155.)

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New post Re: Comments from a non-Sedevacantist
My wife and I (mostly my wife) are reading and we are discussing two of Ratzo's books. Tonight we discussed several passages from one of his older books. As several here have stated, it is extremely difficult to pin him down, but it is very clear that he is a flaming heretic. He quotes from theologian after theologian....except that 99% of those he quotes are Protestants.

Today we learned that we Catholics can no longer call Protestantism an heresy. (!) That there is nothing heretical about it.

We also learned that Christ freed all of us from original sin....although Ratzo never uses the words "original sin". It is very clear he doesn't believe it exists...

He states things in this book we are reading that are mentioned, practically word for word, by Pope Honorius I (in that article we have on our website) the use of which Honorius condemned, and in almost identical terms "...in order that we Catholics not wander into the mud of Nestorianism on the one hand, nor Eutychianism on the other." I am not sure which Ratzo is: maybe he is both.

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