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 Fr. Gleize, SSPX, asks, Can a pope fall into heresy? 
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New post Fr. Gleize, SSPX, asks, Can a pope fall into heresy?
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Can the pope falling into heresy? Matter of debate, by Father Jean-Michel Gleize - January 2017

1. At first glance, it would seem that this was an unlikely thing. Indeed, the answer to this question is the common opinion of theologians of modern times. They say indeed that the pope could not become formal and pertinacious heretic, that is to say conscious and guilty heretic, although it could become heretical material, through ignorance or not guilty due to a simple error, not because of ill will. The main proponents of this thesis are the Dutch theologian Albert Pighi (1490-1542) (1), St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) (2), Francis Suarez (1548- 1617) (3). Just before the First Vatican Council, this view is still followed by the French canon lawyer Marie-Dominique Bouix (1808-1870). At the council, Bishop Zinelli, speaking on behalf of the Delegation of the faith, praises the opinion of Bellarmine and Suarez is in his likely never Pope will formally heretical (4). In the aftermath of the council, Cardinal Billot (1846-1931) (5) repeated the same opinion. The father Dublanchy still takes after him. (6) Finally, under Pius XII, the classic handbook father Salaverri (7) mentions the issue of personal heresy of the Pope as a theological controversy in this matter and as probable the opinion of Bellarmine and Suarez, praised by Bishop Zinelli.

2. The point of this explanation is twofold, and it remains identical in all authors who adopt this position. There is a first theoretical argument that is presented as an argument of convenience: the infallibility of the promised function in Luke xxii, 32 would morally necessitate personal indefectibility in faith. Indeed, says St. Robert Bellarmine (8), the order established by God absolutely requires that the private person of the sovereign pontiff cannot fall into heresy, not even losing faith purely internally. "Not only the pope should not and cannot preach heresy, but he must also always teach the truth, and there is no doubt he always will, as the Lord commanded him to strengthen his brethren . But how can a heretic pope confirm his brethren in the faith; how will he always preach the true faith? No doubt, God is able to snatch from the heretical heart a profession of the true faith, just as he once made Balaam's ass speak. But there will be violence there, and not an action in line with God's providence, which disposes everything with sweetness. "There is also a second point of fact, the first result, which leads logically all supporters of the thesis to prove that never in the history of the Church has a pope been formally heretical (9).

3. However, the theologians of the modern era are latecomers. And one could argue before them theologians commonly believed, the twelfth to the sixteenth century, the Pope can fall into heresy. We encounter this idea in the twelfth century in the Decree of Gratian (10). Gratian said that the pope can not be judged by anyone, except where he would depart from the faith (11). This text would be the basis for any reflection canonists of the Middle Ages and now support a common opinion: "The canonists of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries," said the father Dublanchy, "know and comment on the text of Gratian. All admit readily that the Pope can fall into heresy like in any other serious misconduct; they care only to investigate why and under what conditions it may in this case be judged by the Church. (12) "Cajetan supports this thesis. Albert Pighi, in the sixteenth century, will be the the first to break a theological and canonical tradition hitherto unanimous. But even in modern times, the new opinion introduced by Pighi is not absolutely unanimous. Indeed, Pighi is quickly refuted by Melchior Cano (1509-1560) (13) and Dominique Banez (1528-1604) (14). The Dominican Charles René Billuart (1685- 1757) (15) shared the same opinion of these two theologians. Finally, following the Vatican Council, the father Palmieri (16) defends this thesis.

4. Consider also that the facts of history are clear. There was in the church one or two instigators of heresy and popes ago today, since Vatican II popes are serious problems to the conscience of Catholics, justly perplexed. Pope Honorius I (625-640) was anathematized by his successors St. Agatho (678-681) and St. Leo II (682-684) and at the 3rd Council of Constantinople in 681, as an abettor of the Monothelite heresy (17) . Secondly, it is clear that since Vatican II Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI taught, and Pope Francis still teaches, a theology that would be difficult to reconcile with the substance of Catholic dogma ( 18). Recent developments are probably more serious than the old facts. (19) But in both cases, the range is substantially the same. And these facts were noted by people whose judgment has a certain moral authority, if not legal.

5. All this leads us to estimate, no more no less, that the first opinion which looks unlikely as the fall of a Pope in heresy itself is ... unlikely. In other words, the arguments of theological authority that would go in the direction of a negative response to the question are not enough to reach agreement. Remains to show how right reason enlightened by faith, could justify an affirmative answer.

Father Jean-Michel GLEIZE , priest of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X

Sources : Letters from Rome No. 595 of January 2017 / The Latin Gate January 29, 2017

So the question, about all four - Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis - is an open one.

Fr. Gleize is the leading expert on ecclesiology in the SSPX.

In Christ our King.

Sun Jan 29, 2017 3:17 pm
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New post Re: Fr. Gleize, SSPX, asks, Can a pope fall into heresy?
Fr. Gleize has also published the following article, on Amoris Laetitia - entitled "Is Francis a Heretic?": ... gleize.php

In relation to the term "heretic" (as opposed to "heresy") Fr. Gleize says, "Il en va autrement de la censure doctrinale : celle-ci est une expression technique, elle fait partie de celles auxquelles recourent les spécialistes pour donner une évaluation aussi précise que possible. La qualification « d’hérétique » correspond à ce langage de précision dont use le théologien ; elle s’applique en ce sens à une personne dont les faits et les dires manifestent suffisamment un refus ou une mise en doute de la proposition du donné révélé, faite par le Magistère infaillible de l’Église."

Translation: "It is different from doctrinal censorship: it is a technical expression, it is one of those used by specialists to give an evaluation as precise as possible. The qualification of "heretic" corresponds to that language of precision used by the theologian; It applies in this sense to a person whose facts and statements sufficiently deny or question the proposal of the revealed gift made by the infallible Magisterium of the Church."

In the first paragraph he laments that the less formal and precise use of the epithet "heretic" has disappeared from public discourse. No liberal, Fr. Gleize!

In this paragraph he is defining the more strict, theological and canonical use of the term "heretic" and he pointedly omits any reference to a judgment by the Church being required for another to be, and to be known as, a heretic. Again, this is in the strict, theological, sense of the term "heretic." And he is precisely correct.

Even a warning may be an act of charity; if issued by an inferior or equal - it would constitute fraternal correction; or it may be a juridical warning, implicit in the law, or issued personally by a superior. But no personal warning at all is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that another is truly a heretic, if this is already evident.

Since contumacy implies obstinate persistence in crime, in order to become liable to these punishments a person must not only be guilty of crime, but must also persist in his criminal course after having been duly warned and admonished. This warning (monitio canonica), which must precede the punishment, can emanate either from the law itself or from the ecclesiastical superior or judge. Contumacy can therefore occur in one of two ways: first, when the delinquent does not heed the warning of his ecclesiastical superior or judge, addressed to him personally and individually; second, when he violates a law of the Church with full knowledge of the law, and of the censure attached, in the latter case the law itself being a standing warning to all (Lex interpellat pro homine). (The Catholic Encyclopedia, article: Censures, Ecclesiastical, vol. III, p. 529.)

As Cardinal de Lugo tells us:

Neither is it always demanded in the external forum that there be a warning and a reprimand as described above for somebody to be punished as heretical and pertinacious, and such a requirement is by no means always admitted in practice by the Holy Office. For if it could be established in some other way, given that the doctrine is well known, given the kind of person involved and given the other circumstances, that the accused could not have been unaware that his thesis was opposed to the Church, he would be considered as a heretic from this fact… The reason for this is clear because the exterior warning can serve only to ensure that someone who has erred understands the opposition which exists between his error and the teaching of the Church. If he knew the subject through books and conciliar definitions much better than he could know it by the declarations of someone admonishing him then there would be no reason to insist on a further warning for him to become pertinacious against the Church. (De Lugo, disp. XX, sect. IV, n.157-158, quoted by da Silveira, Essay on Heresy, translated by John Daly. Emphasis added.)

Now the SSPX is really in the game, and with an adult involved, a man who really knows his theology and law, and writes precisely and clearly.

Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:54 am
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New post Re: Fr. Gleize, SSPX, asks, Can a pope fall into heresy?
And now this from SSPX USA:

Emailed introduction:

The Question of Papal Heresy - Part 1

Heretical Pope, loss of Papal Office… Are St. Bellarmine’s comments only opinions? Fr. Gleize reviews the matter in a series of 6 articles.


Article: ... esy-part-1

The Question of Papal Heresy - Part 1
February 09, 2017
District of the USA

Heretical Pope, loss of Papal Office… Are St. Bellarmine’s comments only opinions? Fr. Gleize reviews the matter in a series of 6 articles.

Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize has been a professor in the SSPX's Seminary of St. Pius X in Econe, Switzerland for 20 years, where he is currently teaching ecclesiology. He is the author of numerous articles in Courrier de Rome and is a consultant to the SSPX commission responsible for doctrinal discussions with the Holy See.

Part 1: Introduction to the Problem

In Autumn of 2014, then again in October 2015, Pope Francis convened two Synods in Rome to consult with bishops from all over the world on questions concerning “the human family.” The outcome was, on March 19, 2016, the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia on “Love in the Family.” Its eighth chapter opens the door to a practical denial of the Church’s traditional discipline concerning the sacrament of marriage, and consequently calls into question also the dogmatic presuppositions underlying it.

On September 15, 2016, the four Cardinals Burke, Brandmüller, Caffarra, and Meisner sent to the Supreme Pontiff a private letter in which they respectfully asked him to clarify the recent Apostolic Exhortation on five disputed points, using the traditional procedure of “dubia” [“doubts”], in other words, by formulating five questions calling for a clear yes or no answer. The explicit intention of this step was to verify whether the text of the Exhortation at the points indicated could be considered in conformity with the moral teaching of the Church to date.

Since Pope Francis gave no response, the five dubia were made public on November 16. To date, the Holy See still had not provided the expected response.

Giving an account of this silence, during an interview published on LifeSiteNews on December 19, Cardinal Burke declared that there must be a response to the dubia:

...because they have to do with the very foundations of the moral life and of the Church’s constant teaching with regard to good and evil, with regard to various sacral realities like marriage and Holy Communion and so forth.”1

For his part, when questioned by Andrea Tornielli in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Cardinal Brandmüller declared on December 27:

We cardinals are waiting for the answers to the dubia, inasmuch as a lack of a response could be seen by broad sectors of the Church as a refusal to adhere clearly and distinctly to defined doctrine.”

Many reflections are coming to light in the wake of the cardinalatial initiative. Just how far will this fraternal correction go? Above all, what would be the consequences thereof, in the event that Francis refused to take them into account?

For John Lamont,2 the Pope’s response is still awaited, but one can from now on assert that Francis is teaching heresy. This is why, in the event that the correction proved ineffective, the theological opinion inherited from St. Robert Bellarmine envisaging the dethronement of a pope who had fallen into heresy could very well be the solution. All the more so because, in an interview granted to Catholic World Report on December 19, 2016, Cardinal Burke, while careful not to say that Francis is a heretic, presents this hypothesis of Bellarmine as a solid conclusion and does not rule out the possibility that the College of Cardinals might be led to draw this conclusion in view of the facts.

The question about a heretical pope, which is discussed relatively little in the (Scholastic) manuals of theology, nevertheless attracted the attention of some major authors.3 In any case it provides material for a debate, which to this day has never really been taken to its ultimate conclusions.

The important thing is to go back to the principles that always remain the same, through all contingencies, even if the application thereof might momentarily cause difficulties.

In the remaining articles in this series, we will distinguish three main questions:

1. It possible for a Pope to fall into heresy?
2. Can the presently reigning Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, be considered heretical, precisely because of what he teaches in Chapter Eight of the Exhortation Amoris laetitia?
3. Does a pope who has fallen into heresy lose the pontificate?

Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:02 pm
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Part II: ... esy-part-2

Part 2: The Case of Pope John XXII

Legends live on persistently. The legend about the heresy of Pope John XXII is one of the hardier ones. As with other episodes, a partial story has replaced the true one in this case. We do not deny, however, that the lessons of history can be of great help. In fact, very often, in order to understand, it is necessary to compare. And in order to compare, it is necessary to have points of comparison available. Indeed, it is not enough to possess principles. It is necessary also to measure the extent of their significance, by verifying how the light that they shed for us explains concrete experience and how too the concrete reality calls for that light and validates its illumination. “The metaphysical level of abstraction on which our reflections are defined,” Etienne Gilson writes somewhere,1

allows for great simplicity and facilitates brevity, but we must acknowledge that it does not allow first philosophy to fulfill its function completely....In order to present our abstract conclusions in their intelligible efficacy, it will be useful to show them at work in a particular case, thus giving an example of the sorts of dissociations from ideas to which metaphysics subjects reality, but also of the way in which it sheds light on it by those same analyses."

It is the same with theological reflection, which utilizes philosophy as its tool of preference and which also is the reflection of a sort of wisdom. This latter kind of reflection needs to be projected onto facts in order to be able to validate in them its own light, at the same time it sheds light on them. And these facts are provided by history.

This indicates the extent to which a misunderstanding of history could prove fatal, or at least the source of imbalances. It has been and it can be again.

Read from start to finish the works of the most illustrious Scholastic writers, and they will never make you feel the sense of the individual; they will never let you perceive the relative, changing aspects of things; they deal with the true, without age or date. Most often the truth that they consider does not, in itself, have any relation with praxis, and even when it belongs to a practical science, the manner of proposing and discussing it depends on pure speculation.... It is indisputable that the habit of abstract thought makes them lose their taste for facts and, consequently, for historical studies: the incompetence of the Middle Ages, in this respect, cannot be called into question: we even have difficulty getting any idea of it in an historical, literary age like ours.

"The reader was hardly demanding with regard to the historian; he did not ask him to cite his sources or to discuss them for him; he readily took him at his word, and if the account seemed plausible, edifying or marvelous, he was quite disposed to regard it as true. The art of discovering, selecting and interpreting documents that contain the truth was unknown. One can cite a few exceptions; but they prove absolutely nothing against the general state of mind that we are pointing out. We are indeed obliged to apply to the epochs in history the rule according to which one designates things depending on what predominates in them.”2

This lacuna proves most especially detrimental when the theologian seeks precedents in support of his hypotheses. Recent current events amply illustrate this: the obvious explanation for the sudden infatuation with which the least qualified non-specialists have set out to scrutinize the acts and deeds of Pope John XXII is their intent to endorse the step taken by the four cardinals who dispute Amoris laetitia. Thus writers here or there mention a “joint letter by the theologians of the University of Paris” which, if it really existed, would prefigure and at the same time justify the dubia of our cardinals. Some speak also about a condemnation or ever a deposition of Pope John XXII, which, assuming that they were duly established historical facts, could soon be a useful precedent. What one might call “the analogy of history” is a perfectly legitimate way of proceeding. But still it is necessary to make sure that it rests on adequate foundations.

John XXII’s Life and Writings

Jacques Duèse, born in Cahors, was the immediate successor of Clement V who had taken up residence in Avignon. Jacques Duèse was elected after a 27-month vacancy on August 7, 1316. (Clement V had died on April 20, 1314.) He was elected unanimously; the new Pope was 72 years old. By training he was a canonist; he taught in Toulouse. He was a favorite of the King of Naples, Charles II of Anjou.

Elected Bishop of Fréjus in 1300, he was called to Naples by the sovereign as chancellor of the Kingdom of Sicily in early 1308. He served in this capacity until Pope Clement V transferred him to the See of Avignon on March 18, 1310. Created cardinal with the titular See of Saint-Vital in December 1312, he was promoted to Bishop of Porto in April 1313.

After becoming Pope with the name of John XXII (1316-1334), he served Holy Church meritoriously on more than one count. First, he was the one who canonized Saint Thomas Aquinas on July 18, 1323, and on that occasion he paid a fine tribute to the one who later would be proclaimed the Common Doctor of the Church. “Why look for miracles?” the Pope said, speaking of the Angelic Doctor.

He performed as many miracles as he wrote articles in the Summa theologiae....His life was holy and his teaching cannot have been anything but miraculous; for he enlightened the Church more than all the other doctors, and by reading his works one derives more profit in just one year of study than by studying the teaching of the others throughout one’s life.”3

Secondly, he was the one who pronounced the first condemnation of the false principle of laicism, as it appears in the Defensor pacis by Marsilius of Padua († 1343).4This work dates from the year 1324, and it defends the schismatic attitude of the German Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria. Its ecclesiology would be condemned by Pope John XXII in his Apostolic Constitution Licet juxta doctrinam (October 23, 1327), along with propositions no. 3,5 no. 4,6 and no. 5,7 which are anathematized as “contrary to Sacred Scripture and inimical to the Catholic faith, heretical or similar to heresies and erroneous”.

The Pope adds that “the above-mentioned Marsilius and John [are] heretics, indeed, manifest and notorious arch-heretics.”8Thirdly and finally, we owe to John XXII the great reform of 1316-1317, which revised the territorial allocation of bishoprics in the kingdom of France by modifying the ecclesiastical division of the two provinces of Aquitaine and First Narbonnaise, giving birth on June 25, 1317, among others, to the diocese of Montauban, which was carved out of the diocese of Toulouse.9

Did John XXII have some sinister history and should we see him as the prototype of a “heretical” Pope, subject to the justice of his cardinals? The basic facts of the case are set forth nicely by the Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, in the article “Benoît XII”.10 Twice, in 1318 and 1326, John XXII had taught that the souls of the saints enjoyed the beatific vision as soon as they arrived in heaven, and before the general resurrection of all mankind. But from 1331 on he supported the contrary opinion in his preaching: on All Saints Day 1331, then on the Third Sunday of Advent of that same year, again on the Eve of Epiphany 1332, and finally on Ascension Thursday, May 5, 1334. The chief authority on which he relies is Saint Bernard. The latter had been influenced by Saint Hilary, Saint Ambrose, and Saint Augustine, whose language is not always very clear.11

Accusations of Heresy

The important point is the following one:

John XXII presented himself in his sermons not as Pope speaking ex cathedra but as a private teacher who is giving his opinion (hanc opinionem = this opinion) and acknowledges that it is debatable while seeking to prove it. In his second speech we read these words: ‘I say, like Saint Augustine, that if I am mistaken here, let the one who knows better correct me. This is how it seems to me, nothing else; unless someone shows me a contrary decision of the Church or an authoritative argument from Sacred Scripture that would express this matter more clearly than the above-cited authorities.”

To see here an attitude prefiguring that of the promulgator of Amoris laetitia would be rather bold; spare us such hypocrisy.

But as always in this fallen world, and even well before the invention of the Internet, minds began to fret about this, especially in France, where King Philipp VI already lent an ear to accusations that were hastily leveled against the Pope. He convened in Vincennes on December 19, 1333, a council in which twenty doctors from the University of Paris were assembled. The King of France forwarded the result of this deliberation to the Pope, asking him to be so kind as to explain his thought more precisely.

This was no order from the University of Paris, therefore, but a simple initiative by a temporal sovereign, who for this purpose consulted his theologians.13 Moreover John XXII had already taken the lead by asking for theological research to be done on the debated point, convening for this purpose a consistory of cardinals on December 28, 1333. And above all on December 3, 1334, he made in the presence of these cardinals an explicit, solemn retraction, the terms of which are reprinted by the Dictionnaire de théologie catholique:

This is how we declare the opinion that we presently have and have had on this matter, in union with the Holy Catholic Church. We confess and believe that the souls separated from their bodies and completely purified are in heaven, in the kingdom of heaven, in paradise, and with Jesus Christ in the company of the angels, and that, following the common law, they see God and the divine essence face to face and clearly, as far as the state and condition of the separated soul allow. If in any way we have said something else or have expressed ourselves otherwise on this matter, we said so while remaining attached to the Catholic faith, in habitu fidei catholicae, and while speaking by way of exposition and discussion; this is what we affirm, and this is the sense in which everything must be taken.”14

Then, when he was dying, the Pope submitted to the judgment of the Church and of his successors what he had said and written on this point or on any other.

A Closer Examination of the Matter

One of the first acts of his successor, Benedict XII, would be to publish this retraction in the form of a Bull. There is no heresy in the remarks of John XXII, "since at the time of the controversy the point in question had not yet been sanctioned by the Church, neither by a formal definition nor by a belief that was in fact sufficiently clear and universal.”15No dethronement, no condemnation. Quite the contrary: the dogmatic definition published by Benedict XII is nothing but the repetition of the very statement by John XXII!

Well, then, where does the legend come from? From those whom John XXII had condemned, not only partisans of the emperor’s supremacy over the pope, who were denounced as heretics in the Bull Licet juxta doctrinam, but also the Franciscan rigorists, the “Spirituals” or “Fraticelli” who insisted on an excessive concept of evangelical poverty, so that John XXII had to denounce them also as heretics in the Bull Quorumdam exigit (October 7, 1317).

These recalcitrant groups found their spokesman in the person of William of Occam. He magisterially declared that the Pope had to make a pure and simple retraction, baldly, in these or equivalent terms:

I abjure the heresy that I approved and taught in asserting that the souls of the saints do not have in heaven the clear vision of God.”16

Embittered by his failure and condemnation, Ludwig of Bavaria supported these schismatic intrigues, even going so far as to envisage the meeting of a Council that would depose “Jacques de Cahors”. It must be acknowledged: this is a far cry from Amoris laetitia and Cardinal Burke. One can only compare things that are comparable, and there is no possible point of comparison here.

At most one could acknowledge that there might have been in Jacques Duèse a lack of temperance in his intellectual research, let us say a certain eccentricity resulting from an unbridled theological curiosity. But Pope John XXII had the wisdom not to present this research as a formally magisterial teaching, and above all not to persist stubbornly in these risky views. Furthermore wasn’t this curiosity, along with the research that it led to, the sign of a sort of vitality? Every man naturally desires to know, good old Aristotle could say. And if he was forbidden to do so, the Angelic Doctor adds, he would be deprived of his happiness and frustrated in his natural aspirations. Must we then blame the Pope who canonized the Common Doctor of the Church for having that appetite, even if it was a bit exuberant?

Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:50 pm
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The Question of Papal Heresy - Part 3 ... rt-3-20413

At first glance it would seem that this is an improbable thesis. In fact, the negative answer to this question is the common opinion of theologians of the modern era. They say, in effect, that the pope could not become a formal, obstinate heretic, in other words a deliberate, culpable heretic, although he could become a material heretic, through non-culpable ignorance or because of a simple error and not by reason of ill will. The main advocates of this thesis are the Dutch theologian Albert Pighi (1490-1542) (author of the treatise Hierarchiae ecclesiasticae assertio, which examines this question), St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) (De Romano Pontifice, Book 4, chapters 6-14), and Francisco Suarez (1548-1617) (De fide, disputatio 10, sectio 6, §11, Opera omnia, 2:319). Just before Vatican Council I, this opinion was held also by the French canonist Marie-Dominique Bouix (1808-1870).

During that Council, Bishop Zinelli, speaking in the name of the Deputation of the Faith, praises this opinion of Bellarmine and Suarez: according to him it is probable that the pope will never be a formal heretic:

Since these things have been entrusted to supernatural Providence, we think it sufficiently probable that they will never come about” (Mansi, vol. 52, col. 1109).

In the wake of the Council, Cardinal Billot (1846-1931) reiterated the same opinion in L’Église, II–Sa constitution intime, question 14, thesis 29, part 2, nos. 940-949. Fr. Dublanchy too adopted it after him in “Infaillibilité du pape,” Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, 8/2:1716-1717. Finally, during the reign of Pius XII, the classic manual by Father Salaverri, De Ecclesia Christi, thesis 14, §657, mentions this question about the personal heresy of a pope as a matter for theological debate and presents as probable the opinion of Bellarmine and Suarez that was praised by Bishop Zinelli.

The Twofold Argument

The argument of this explanation is twofold, and it remains invariable in the writings of all the authors who adopt this position. First there is a theoretical argument that is presented as a matter of convenience: the infallibility of the office promised in Luke 22:32 would make personal indefectibility in the faith morally necessary. Indeed, St. Robert Bellarmine remarks in De Romano Pontifice, Book V, chapter 6 that the order established by God absolutely requires that the private person of the Supreme Pontiff not be able to fall into heresy, not even by losing his faith in a purely internal way.

For the pope must not and cannot preach heresy; not only that, but he must also teach the truth always, and there is no doubt that he will always do so, since the Lord commanded him to strengthen his brethren. But how can a heretical pope strengthen his brethren in the faith, how will he always preach the true faith? No doubt, God is still capable of extracting the profession of the true faith from the heart of a heretic, just as he once made Balaam’s ass speak. But there would be violence in that, and not an action in keeping with divine providence, which arranges all things smoothly.”

There is also a second factual argument, following from the first, which logically leads all the advocates of the theory to prove that never in all the history of the Church has any pope been formally heretical (see ibid., chapters 7-14).

The Premodern Opinion

Nevertheless, the theologians of the modern era are latecomers. And one might object that even before them, from the 12th-16th centuries, theologians commonly thought that the pope can fall into heresy. We encounter this idea in the 12th century in Gratian’s Decretum, specifically Book 1, distinction 40, chapter 6 entitled Si papa. Gratian says that the pope cannot be judged by anyone else, except in the case in which he strayed from the faith. This statement is attributed to St. Boniface, Archbishop of Milan, and it is cited under his name, before Gratian, by Cardinal Deusdedit and Yves de Chartres. It is the text that will serve as a basis for all the reflections of the medieval canonists and will henceforth support a common opinion: “The canonists of the 12th and 13th centuries,” Fr. Dublanchy says,

...know the passage from Gratian and comment on it. All admit without difficulty that the pope can fall into heresy, as into any other serious sin; their only concern it to investigate how and in what conditions he can in this case be judged by the Church” (Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, col. 1715).

Cajetan again supports this thesis. Albert Pighi in the 16th century would be the first to break with a theological and canonical tradition that had been unanimous until then. But even in the modern era, the new opinion introduced by Pighi would not be absolutely unanimous. In fact, Pighi was rather quickly refuted by Melchior Cano (1509-1560) (De locis theologicis, Book 6, chapter 8, §§21-23) and Domenico Bañez (1528-1604) (Commentary on II-II, q. 1, art. 10, folios 183-212 of the 1587 Venice edition). The Dominican Charles-René Billuart (1685-1757) shares the same opinion with these two theologians in his De fide, dissertatio 5, art. 3, §3, objectio 2; De regulis fidei, dissertatio 4, art. 8, §2, objectiones 2 et 6 and De incarnatione, dissertatio 9, art. 2, §2, objectio 2.

Finally, in the aftermath of the Vatican Council, Father Palmieri defends this thesis in Tractatus de romano pontifice, thesis 32, scholion, pp. 630-633.

Lessons from History and Today

Consider also that the facts of history are undeniable. There have been in the Church one or two popes who favored heresy, and there are today, since Vatican II, popes who have caused serious problems for the conscience of Catholics, who are rightly perplexed. For instance, Pope Honorius I (625-640) was anathematized by his successors, Ss. Agatho (678-681) and Leo II (682-684) during the Third Council of Constantinople in 681 for having favored the Monothelite heresy. (For more detailed information, see the article “Une crise sans précédents?” that appeared in the journal of the Institute Universitaire saint Pie X, Vu de haut 14 (Automne 2008), pp. 78-95.)

On the other hand, it is clear that since Vatican II, Popes Paul VI, John Paul II. and Benedict XVI have taught—and Pope Francis still teaches—theological opinions that would be difficult to reconcile with the substance of Catholic dogma. But in both cases, the import is essentially the same. And these facts have been noted by persons whose judgment has a certain moral authority, although it lacks juridical authority.

Consider the words of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, delivered in his sermon at the June 30, 1988 episcopal consecrations at Ecône.

"Indeed, since the Council, what we [the popes before 1962] condemned in the past the present Roman authorities have embraced and are professing. How is it possible? We have condemned them: Liberalism, Communism, Socialism, Modernism, Sillonism. All the errors which we have condemned are now professed, adopted and supported by the authorities of the Church. Is it possible?”

Recent events, no doubt, are more serious than situations in the past. Here again is the Archbishop, this time from his March 30, 1986 Easter sermon:

"We find ourselves facing a serious, extremely serious dilemma that I think has never existed in the Church: the fact that the man seated on the chair of Peter participates in the worship of false gods. I do not think that this has ever happened in the history of the Church”

And, finally, attention must also be paid to the comments Bp. de Castro-Mayer made to Archbishop Lefebvre in a letter dated December 8, 1969:

"This is a very serious matter. We are on the way to a new Church. Rome is the one driving souls into heresy. It seems to me that we cannot accept all the documents of Vatican II. There are some that cannot be interpreted according to Trent and Vatican I. What do you think?”

All this leads us to think, no more no less, that the first opinion that regards as improbable the fall of a pope into heresy is itself improbable. In other words, the arguments from theological authority along the lines of a negative answer to the question posed are insufficient to win adherence. It must still be shown, therefore, how right reason, enlightened by faith, could justify an affirmative answer.

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New post Re: Fr. Gleize, SSPX, asks, Can a pope fall into heresy?
Part 4: About the Pope and Heresy

Defining Heresy

Heresy must be understood first as a morally bad human act, in other words, a sin. But like the act of faith to which it is opposed, this act is complex, for it depends simultaneously on the intellect and the will. Inasmuch as it follows from the intellect, this act is an error, which can occur in two modes: pure and simple negation; mere doubt. Inasmuch as it follows from the will, this act is the refusal to give the support of the intellect to the truth that is denied or doubted.

Pertinacity or Error

This refusal itself can occur in two modes, depending on whether or not it is culpable. Heresy takes place specifically when there is a voluntary refusal, with full advertence precisely to the simple fact that the truths denied or doubted are proposed by the Church’s authority, and not to the additional fact that the Church’s authority represents that of God and therefore obliges morally. With regard to this second fact, advertence defines heresy not as such but inasmuch as it is culpable. This culpability is tantamount to pertinacity, in other words, to the rejection of the matter of faith inasmuch as, in the view of the person who rejects it, it appears clearly obligatory because it is proposed by the authority of God’s legitimate representative, in this case the Magisterium of the Church.

Non-culpable rejection occurs, on the other hand, in someone who, without fault on his part, does not know that this ecclesiastical Magisterium obliged him inasmuch as it represents the divine authority. It follows therefore that pertinacity concerns directly the internal act of heresy, which is the act of adherence to error.

Formal or Material

At the level of the external act, which is the act of professing truth or error, the simple refusal (culpable or not) to profess the truth proposed by the Magisterium is already sufficient to define heresy specifically. Consequently, when we describe heresy by saying that it is formal or material, depending on whether or not it involved pertinacity, this distinction concerns only the internal act of heresy.

Act of Heresy or Heretical Proposition?

On the level of the external act, the rejection of the authority of the ecclesiastical Magisterium already corresponds to heresy properly so-called, whatever the case may be with regard to possible pertinacity on the level of the internal act. This pertinacity becomes manifest in the external forum when the competent authority intervenes to impose a retraction on the interested party and the latter with full knowledge of the facts refuses to make a retraction. The term heresy designates, secondly, and by the analogy of attribution, the doctrinal value of a proposition that is opposed to and contradicts Catholic dogma. From this perspective, in order to make a determination of heresy, it is necessary and sufficient to apply the simple rules of formal logic. The determination is imposed automatically, like it or not, but it applies to a speculative utterance, a simple literal proposition, apart from the person who utters it.

Occult, Public or Notorious Heresy

On the other hand, understood in the first sense as a morally bad human act, external heresy as such is distinct from internal heresy, which is not manifest at all. It is expressed by signs (words, actions, omissions), even if no one notices them. It is sometimes occult, sometimes public and sometimes notorious. If the expression is known by a small number of discreet witnesses, the heresy is said to be occult. If it is known by most people, it is public. Notoriety is something else again, because it is of a juridical order and is equivalent of a higher degree of public knowledge. Legal notoriety results from a juridical determination by the authority (for example by a judicial sentence passed in a matter that has been adjudicated or by the admission of a delinquent before the tribunal).

Notoriety in fact occurs when the act was performed in such circumstances that no artifice can conceal it and no juridical subtlety can excuse it, for example a flagrant delict (offense against the law) (cf. Raoul Naz, “Délit,” Dictionnaire de droit canonique (Letouzey 1949), 4:1087-1088). Notorious heresy therefore is not a heresy that everyone knows about. It is the sort of heresy that results from acts that the hierarchical authority of the Church denounces juridically as incompatible with the common good of Catholic society. In a strictly juridical sense, we speak only about occult or notorious heresy, and the notion of public heresy is reduced to that of occult heresy. In this juridical sense (which is sense used in canon law), any external act that has not been noted by the authority is occult.

Infallibility and Heresy

Having made these distinctions and clarifications, let us try to frame the problem before us: can the Pope fall into heresy? The Pope is a man called by God to exercise the supreme and universal power of jurisdiction (and therefore of the Magisterium or teaching office) over the whole Church. As a man, he remains, like all his fellow human beings, subject to error. In order for him not to be subject to error, it is necessary for God to have given him an explicit assurance, while specifying the limits within which he will enjoy this infallibility; and this assurance was given by God in restricted circumstances, outside of which there is no reason to say that the Pope is infallible. More precisely, any and all exercise of his function does not fall within these limits, but only one type of particular actions, the performance of which may appear clearly by means of the criteria of locutio ex cathedra (speaking from the teacher’s seat, authoritatively).

All theologians acknowledge that outside these limits the Pope is not infallible even though some of them have gone so far as to maintain that he would ordinarily be inerrant. (For further reading, see Jean-Baptiste Franzelin, De divina traditione (4th ed. 1896), thesis 12, appendix 1, principle 7 and its corollaries, pp. 118-141; Dublanchy, “Infaillibilité du pape, ”Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, col. 1711-1712; Straub, De Ecclesia, nos. 968 ff.; and Lucien Choupin, S.J., Valeur des décisions doctrinales et disciplinaires du Saint-Siège (Paris: Beauchesne, 1913), pp. 87-92). Consider also the words of the Dominican theologian Fr. Thomas Pègues, cited by Choupin, op. cit., p. 55.

"It could be, strictly speaking, that this teaching would be subject to error. We have a thousand reasons to believe that it is not. It probably never has been and it is morally certain that it never will be. But absolutely it could be, in the sense that God does not guarantee it as He guarantees teaching that is formulated by way of definition.”

To What Point a Pope Can Err?

It is therefore not a contradiction that the man who is Pope should be mistaken, even in the exercise of his office, and even to the point of heresy. But this conclusion is drawn on the universal level, which is the level of mere possibility, that is, the compatibility of abstract notions; it does not apply to a real risk in matters of fact, or to a greater or lesser probability, much less to a frequency. Consequently, even though it may be indubitable, this conclusion would not be tantamount (at least not yet) to the statement that Pope Francis is heretical.

The Pope can err to the point of at least material heresy: no theologian disputes that. The question being debated is not whether he could fall as far as formal heresy, with pertinacity. In fact, the passage from material heresy to formal heresy depends as such on the internal forum and remains unverifiable. The only question that matters is what may happen in the external forum. From this perspective, it is plain that the Pope can fall into occult heresy: not only private heresy but even public heresy.

Can a Pope Fall in Notorious Heresy?

On the other hand, if we are talking about notorious heresy, it is obvious that he cannot during his lifetime: notorious heresy is in fact heresy that is declared by the competent superior, and since the Pope has no superior here on earth, no one is competent to declare his heresy canonically. From a strictly canonical perspective, the Pope therefore during his lifetime could fall only into occult heresy. Once he has died, his heresy can obviously be declared by his successor and become notorious. But that does not authorize us to say that the Pope could fall into notorious heresy, since by definition this fall could take place only during his lifetime.

This authorizes us only to say that a Pope could be anathematized posthumously, provided that we are not misled by the expression, since a deceased pope is no longer Pope. In reality, this anathema pertains strictly speaking not to his person but to his statements: the heresy is notorious, but it is so if it is understood not in the first sense, as a person’s moral act, but in the second sense, as the doctrinal description of a proposition.

Cases Before and After Vatican II

As for what has happened in fact, the response is twofold, depending on whether it concerns past facts from the period before Vatican II or present facts, from the period inaugurated by Vatican II. In the case of the former, only Pope Honorius was anathematized posthumously, strictly speaking not as heretical but as having favored heresy; on the other hand, his successors, St. Agatho and St. Leo II, never proclaimed the posthumous dethronement of Honorius, who never ceased to be recognized thereafter as a legitimate pope. (For a more detailed discussion, consult the article “Une crise sans précédents” that appeared in the journal of the Institut Universitaire saint Pie X, Vu de haut 14 (automne 2008), pp. 78-95).

In the case of the present period, no canonical declaration has yet occurred to declare juridically the notoriety of what might be the heresy of the conciliar popes. Can we speak nonetheless about an occult heresy? It is at least beyond doubt that the attitude of these popes complies with the presuppositions of liberalism and modernism, which have been condemned by the Magisterium, and that these popes therefore favor heresy, inasmuch as they preach and put into practice the teachings of Vatican Council II and carry out all the reforms that result from it.

Modern Theologians Say Papal Heresy is Impossible

This is why, considering the apparently unanimous statements by theologians of the modern era (who consider the heresy of a pope as improbable), we respond first that their opinion does not deny that the Pope could fall into heresy; it denies that he could fall into formal and public heresy, even if it were not notorious. We respond secondly that the theological tradition is fallible and capable of reform, even if it is temporarily unanimous, since it is not constant. For example, in considering the matter concerning the Scholastic theologians who all thought unanimously that the matter of the sacrament of Holy Orders was the conferral of the instruments, Franzelin comments, op. cit., thesis 17, nos. 360-362:

"Even if one could demonstrate that the consensus existed temporarily, it was not constant and, as we said, it is an argument thanks to which we prove that such a consensus, if there was one, pertained not to a firm and certain way of thinking (avis) but to an opinion.”

The episode that we have been going through for fifty years could therefore lead theologians to revise and refine the position that had been followed since the sixteenth century. All the more since one among them, Fr. Dublanchy, op. cit., concluded in very measured terms: “This opinion is worth as much as the reasons that support it; but it is by no means guaranteed by the Church nor adopted by theologians as a whole.” We see clearly also that at the time of Vatican Council I, Msgr. Zinelli, likewise cited by the one raising the objection, affirms nothing categorical. Deeming it at most probable that the Pope will never fall into heresy, he immediately adds that, even if God were to permit it, He would not leave His Church defenseless and at the mercy of that tyranny.

As for the argument from reason which is thought to support this opinion, we respond that even if absolute personal infallibility was advisable for the exercise of the office, this would only be a matter of suitability [convenance]. Such a privilege is not included in the promise of papal infallibility, which concerns the office only; besides, revelation says nothing about it. Sound reason even leads us to think that this infallibility is not strictly necessary: someone who tries to prove too much proves nothing, and one would run the risk of devaluating infallibility while trying to extend it beyond its limits. Therefore it remains possible that the Pope might err personally in the faith, although his office would never be engaged solemnly in the service of heresy.

Recent Popes and Heresies

The events that followed Vatican Council II, incidentally, sufficiently show this. Here is the analysis of Fr. Roger-Thomas Calmel, taken from his unpublished 1973 manuscript L’Église plus grande que le pape, which is preserved in the personal archives of Archbishop Lefebvre at the Saint Pius X Seminary in Ecône.

"The privilege of infallibility will always preserve the Pope from changing the religion formally. But, even without formal changes, attempts [to make them] or acts of complicity or cowardice can go very far and become a very cruel trial for Holy Church. The modernist system, more precisely the modernist apparatus and procedures, offer the Pope a brand new occasion of sin, a possibility of evading his mission that had never before been proposed to him. Once the twofold modernist principle was admitted: first, universal reform, especially in the case of the liturgy, in the name of a certain pastoral openness to the modern world; secondly the abdication of regular, defined authority in favor of feigned, fleeting, anonymous sorts of authority that are typical of various forms of collegiality—in short, once the twofold principle of modernism penetrated into the Church, this destructive consequence followed: the apostolic tradition in matters of doctrine, morals and worship was neutralized, although it was not killed—without any need for the Pope officially and openly to deny the whole tradition and therefore to proclaim the apostasy.”

As for the argument that would cite history as its authority, we respond that, certainly, no pope has ever fallen into notorious heresy, but nonetheless some popes favored heresy and some still do. And that one of them was anathematized as “favens haeresim” posthumously.

Considering the statements by theologians from the medieval period, who consider papal heresy probable, even though these theologians think that the Pope can fall into not only material heresy but even formal and public heresy, it must be noted that they nevertheless do not maintain that the Pope’s heresy would be notorious.

As for the facts of history cited by these theologians, they prove at most that the Pope can be materially heretical and favor heresy publicly, but not that he should be formally heretical in a notorious manner.

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New post Re: Fr. Gleize, SSPX, asks, Can a pope fall into heresy? ... -heretical

Part 5: Is Pope Francis Heretical?

Identifying Heresy

Calling one’s adversary “heretical” could be polite in a certain ecclesial context that is now past. More precisely, men of the Church too, whether or not they were theologians, had their repertoire of insults. Invective is found in all times and in all professions. We already find considerable traces of it in the Gospel, even on the lips of the Incarnate Word. One may regret that it has become rare, since the last Council, and deplore the kid gloves and sugar coatings that prevail now in inter-confessional dialogues.

The use of insults ought to remain legitimate, provided that no mistake is made about its significance, which will always be limited. Very often, it falls short of its original value and is no more than the last resort of those who have lost all their arguments and just want to avoid losing face. And we are not talking about demonization, which is a form of manipulation on a grand scale. In short, we may be in the middle of rhetoric here and, if you will, outside of the field of theology, properly speaking. Rhetoric may possibly serve as a support to theology, and that is precisely the basis of its legitimacy, but it could never replace it, much less mask the absence thereof.

"Heretical" Demands Contradiction To Defined Truth

It is different with the doctrinal censure “heretical”: the latter is a technical expression, part of the terminology to which specialists resort in order to give as precise an evaluation as possible. The designation “heretical” corresponds to this precise language that the theologian uses; in this sense it applies to a person whose acts and words sufficiently manifest a rejection or a questioning of the revealed truth that is proposed by the infallible Magisterium of the Church. It applies also, consequently, or by extension of its meaning, to a proposition which demonstrably contradicts dogma.

Applying this type of designation to a person or to a proposition therefore implies that one has previously verified the rejection or contradiction in question. What matters is not only whether or not there is a rejection or a contradiction. What also matters is verifying whether this rejection or contradiction has any precise bearing on a dogma, in other words, on a truth that is not only revealed but also proposed as such by an infallible act of the ecclesiastical Magisterium. That spells out the whole complexity of the matter that is hidden behind the word.

The Case of Pope Francis

The question that we are asking ourselves here is extremely precise: Does Pope Francis deserve this designation in the eyes of simple theology, as any member of the teaching Church can practice it by reason of his real, acknowledged competencies? And does he deserve it because of what he affirms in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia? Forty-five theologians thought that they were obliged to affirm it. Four cardinals give us to understand clearly enough that, unless he gives a satisfactory response to their dubia, the Supreme Pontiff could deserve the assignment of such a censure.

What can we say? Let us simply take a look at the five dubia presented by the four cardinals and also at the corresponding passages from Amoris laetitia whose meaning is in doubt. In order to be brief, and in order to be as clear as possible, we will formulate the essential idea of each dubium.

The First Dubium

The first dubium poses the question concerning paragraphs 300-305 of Amoris laetitia: is it possible to give absolution and sacramental Communion to divorced-and-remarried persons who live in adultery without repenting? For someone who adheres to Catholic doctrine, the answer is no. What exactly does Amoris laetitia say? The following passage from par. 305 says this:

"Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin—which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such—a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.”

(A footnote reads: “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, ‘I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy’ (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 44). I would also point out that the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak’ (ibid., 47)).

The doubt arises here with the note. There is no doubt about the fact that non-culpable ignorance of sin excuses from sin. But to those who are victims of this ignorance and thereby benefit from this excuse, the Church offers first the help of her preaching and warnings, the Church starts by putting an end to the ignorance by opening the eyes of the ignorant to the reality of their sin. The help of the sacraments can only come afterward, if and only if the formerly ignorant persons, now instructed as to the seriousness of their state, have decided to make use of the means of conversion, and if they have what is called a firm purpose of amendment. Otherwise the help of the sacraments would be ineffective, and it too would be an objective situation of sin.

We are dealing here therefore with a doubt (dubium) in the strictest sense of the term, in other words, a passage that can be interpreted in two ways. And this doubt arises precisely thanks to the indefinite expression in the note: “in certain cases”. In order to dispel this doubt, it is essential to indicate clearly what these cases are in which the Church’s sacramental aid proves possible and to state that this is about situations in which the sufficiently enlightened sinners have already decided to abandon the objectively sinful situation.

The Second Dubium

The second dubium poses the question concerning paragraph 304: is there such a thing as intrinsically evil acts from a moral perspective that the law prohibits without any possible exception? For someone who adheres to Catholic doctrine, the answer is yes. What exactly does Amoris laetitia say? Par. 304, citing the Summa theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas (I-II, question 94, article 4), insists on the application of the law, rather than on the law itself, and emphasizes the part played by the judgment of prudence, which allegedly can be exercised only on a case-by-case basis, strictly depending on circumstances that are unique and singular.

"It is true that general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations. At the same time it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule.”

This passage does not introduce any ambivalence, properly speaking. It merely insists too much on one part of the truth (the prudent application of the law), to the point of obscuring the other part of the same truth (the necessary value of the law), which is altogether as important as the first. The text therefore errs here by omission, thus causing a misreading.

The Third Dubium

The third dubium poses the question concerning paragraph 301: can we say that persons who habitually live in a way that contradicts a commandment of God’s law (for example the one that forbids adultery) are in an objective situation of habitual grave sin? The Catholic answer is yes. Amoris laetitia says on this subject: “Hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.” Two points should be emphasized.

The sentence just quoted posits in principle the impossibility of making a universal affirmation. It does not deny the possibility of saying that public sinners are deprived of grace; it only denies the possibility of saying that all public sinners are deprived of it. This denial has always been taught by the Church. There are in fact, in concrete human acts, what is called exculpatory or “mitigating” reasons (or factors). Because of them, the sinner may not be morally responsible for the objective situation of sin. These reasons include not only ignorance, but also defects of an emotional, affective or psychological sort, and paragraph 302 provides the details, relying on the teaching of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992). Nevertheless, these mitigating factors (even if they were frequent, which remains to be proved) exonerate the person but still do not put an end to the objective situation of sin: the subjectively exonerated sinner does not cease to be in that situation objectively. By omitting this key distinction the passage from Amoris laetitia again introduces doubt here.

The Fourth Dubium

The fourth dubium poses the question concerning paragraph 302: can we still stay, from a moral perspective, that an act that is already intrinsically evil by reason of its object can never become good because of circumstances or the intention of the person who performs it? The Catholic answer is yes. Amoris laetitia says: “A negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgment about the imputability or culpability of the person involved.” That is true, but the reverse is not, and by neglecting to say that, this passage again introduces doubt.

If a divorced-and-remarried person sins, he sins as such, precisely because he is living in an objective situation of a remarried divorcé, which is an objective situation of grace sin, as such calling for a negative judgment. If the divorced-and-remarried person does not sin, it is not as such, but rather precisely for reasons other than his objective situation as a remarried divorcé, which in itself leads to sin.

The confusion arises here between the intrinsically evil malice of an act and the imputability of this malice to the one who commits the act. The circumstances of the act and the intention of the one who commits the act can have the effect of annulling the imputability of the malice of the act, but not of annulling the malice of the act. This fourth doubt proceeds from the same sort of omission as the third.

The Fifth Dubium

The fifth dubium poses the question concerning paragraph 303: can we say that conscience must always remain subject, without any possible exception, to the absolute moral law that forbids acts that are intrinsically evil because of their object? The Catholic answer is yes. Amoris laetitia repeats here the false confusion introduced already by Francis in his interview with the journalist Eugenio Scalfari, “Interview with the founder of the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica,” in L’Osservatore romano, weekly French edition, dated October 4, 2013. (For more on this subject, see the December 2013 issue of the Courrier de Rome, the article entitled “Pour un Magistère de la conscience?” [“In favor of a Magisterium of the conscience?]).

No one can act against his conscience, even if it is erroneous. Nevertheless, to say that conscience obliges, even when erroneous, means directly that it is wrong to go against it; but that does not imply at all that it is good to follow it. If the conscience is in error, because it is not in conformity with God’s law, not following it is enough for the will to be bad, but following it is not enough for the will to be good.

Saint Thomas remarks that the will of those who killed the Apostles was bad (Summa theologiae, I-II, question 19, article 6, sed contra). However, it agreed with their erroneous reason (= conscience), according to what Our Lord says in the Gospel (Jn 16:2): “The hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth a service to God.” This therefore is the proof that a will conformed to an erroneous conscience can be bad. And this is precisely what Amoris laetitia does not explain, introducing here a fifth doubt.

Subjectivism: Root of Five Dubia

The five dubia are therefore quite well-founded. The root of them is always the same: the confusion between the moral value of an act, a strictly objective value, and its imputability to someone who performs it, a strictly subjective imputability. Even though it may happen that the moral malice cannot be imputed subjectively, because the person who performs the act is excused from it (which remains to be proved, as much as possible, in each case), the act always and everywhere corresponds to an objective malice and consequently is at the root of an objectively sinful situation, whether or not it is in fact imputed to the one who finds himself in it. The Church’s traditional doctrine gives primacy to this objective order of the act’s morality, which follows from its object and its end or purpose. Amoris laetitia, by reversing this order, introduces subjectivism into morality.

Is Subjectivism Negation of Revealed Truth?

Does such subjectivism, as understood in its principle as well as in the five conclusions that follow from it here, represent the negation of a divinely revealed truth that is proposed as such by an infallible act of the ecclesiastical Magisterium? One would have to be able to answer yes in order to conclude that Amoris laetitia presents a heresy in each of the points just singled out and that Francis deserves the equivalent theological designation.

In order to establish this conclusion, it would be necessary to verify two things. First, are the five truths demolished by these five doubts so many dogmas? Secondly, does Amoris laetitia negate these dogmas, or at least call them into question formally and explicitly enough? The answer to these two questions is far from obvious and certain. For this new theology of Francis, which extends that of Vatican II, avoids this sort of formal opposition with regard to truths already proposed infallibly by the Magisterium before Vatican II. It sins most often by omission or by ambivalence. It is therefore dubious, in its very substance. And it is dubious exactly insofar as it is modernist, or more precisely: neo-modernist.

Does the Pope Intend to Affirm or Deny?

Chapter Eight of Amoris laetitia is defined, like the others, by the fundamental intention assigned by the Pope to the whole text of the Exhortation, which is “to gather the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice” (paragraph no. 4). Therefore we find here neither more nor less than matter for reflection, dialogue and practice. That is not material for clear-cut denial or calling into question. Or rather, if Amoris laetitia became the cause of heresy, it would be in an absolutely unique way, underhanded and latent as modernism itself. In other words, by the slant of a practice and an adaptation, more than within the framework of a formal teaching.

Practical Subversion of Doctrine

The heresy (if there is one) of Pope Francis is the heresy of a practical subversion, a revolution in deeds, and we would certainly say that this is what remained hidden until now behind the new concept of “pastoral Magisterium.” Now, in this area, it is difficult to make doctrinal censures. Indeed, censures establish a logically contrary relation between a given proposition and previously defined dogma. And this relation could exist only between two speculative truths, belonging to the same order of knowledge. The subversion, for its part, consists of eliciting among Catholics behaviors following from principles opposed to the doctrine of the Church.

This is how Amoris laetitia, while reaffirming the principle of the indissolubility of marriage (in paragraph nos. 52-53, 62, 77, 86, 123, 178), legitimizes a manner of living in the Church that follows from the principle opposed to this indissolubility (243, 298-299, 301-303): the neo-modernist Magisterium reaffirms the Catholic principle of marriage while permitting in practice everything to happen as though the opposite principle were true. How can anyone censure that? Would the note of heresy (understood in the strict sense of a doctrinal evaluation) still retain its meaning then?

Finding the Appropriate Expression

In this matter of censures, it is difficult to find the most appropriate expression, and not uncommonly theologians differ in their appraisals. Without intending to state that their insights are false, or that appraisals contrary to theirs are true, we would like to draw the attention of perplexed Catholics to a problem that perhaps is not always sufficiently taken into account.

The problem of this neo-modernist characteristic of Vatican II, which proceeds much more by way of a subversion in deeds than along the lines of a doctrinal heresy in the documents. Conclusive evidence of this problem, incidentally, has just been given to us, as though in spite of himself, by the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

When questioned on Saturday, January 7, by an Italian news agency, Cardinal Gerhard Müller declared that the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia “is very clear in its doctrine” and that one can interpret it in such a way as to find in it “all of Jesus’ teaching about marriage, all the doctrine of the Church over 2,000 years of history.” According to him, Pope Francis is:

"asking us to discern the situation of these persons who are living in an irregular union, in other words, who do not observe the Church’s doctrine on marriage, and asks that we come to the aid of these persons so that they can find a path toward a new integration into the Church.”

Consequently, the Cardinal thinks that it would not be possible to proceed to the fraternal correction mentioned by Cardinal Burke, given that there is in Amoris laetitia “no danger to the faith” (see his remarks reprinted by Nicolas Senèze in La Croix on January 9, 2017). In reality, the danger is very real, and Cardinal Burke rightly reacted to this statement by Cardinal Müller, insisting on the need for a pontifical correction.

Not Heretical but Promoting Heresy

The debate, therefore, is far from useless, but let us not lose sight of its object: it is not the scandal of a heresy formulated doctrinally; it is the scandal of a praxis that clears the way for a challenge to Catholic truth on the indissolubility of marriage.

To use the words of Saint Pius X himself from the encyclical Pascendi, the proponents of the new moral theology proceed with such refined skill that they easily take advantage of unwary minds. They promote heresy while giving the appearance of remaining Catholic. “Promoting heresy”: this corresponds to the theological note that Archbishop Lefebvre believed he had to use in order to characterize the harmfulness of the Novus Ordo Missae .

"This rite in itself does not profess the Catholic Faith as clearly as the old Ordo Missae and consequently it may promote heresy....What is astonishing is that an Ordo Missae that smacks of Protestantism and therefore favens haeresim [is promoting heresy] could be promulgated by the Roman Curia." (Mgr Lefebvre et le Saint-Office”, Itinéraires 233 - May 1979, p. 146-1-47).

Without prejudice to any better opinion, we willingly had recourse to it in order to describe the major problem posed today for the conscience of Catholics by the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia.

Editor's note

Fr. Gleize's precise distinction will surprise more than one. In short, it seems that Pope Francis cannot be considered heretical, since none of the ambiguous statements in Amoris laetitia constitute “a rejection or contradiction of a truth that is not only revealed but also proposed as such by an infallible act of the ecclesiastical Magisterium.”

However, in the popular use of the word "heretical," one who acts and talks in such a way that he encourages evil and favors heresy is considered heretical. "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck!" The popular expression is not a precise theological judgment; it is rather a common way of designating persons or ideas at odds with the deposit of faith.

The theological expression which can be properly applied to Pope Francis instead of “heretical” is favens haeresim or "promoting heresy.”

That does not change that the fact that the Holy Father is ambiguous in his declarations, refusing to clarify them, and - far from correcting evil- promotes it by practical disposition. It is what Fr. Gleize calls "the scandal of praxis."

More will be discussed in the sixth and final installment of this series: Does a pope who falls into heresy lose his investiture in the primacy?

Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:16 am
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New post Re: Fr. Gleize, SSPX, asks, Can a pope fall into heresy?
Part 6a – Does a pope who falls into heresy lose his investiture in the Primacy?

The Opinion before Vatican II

The theologians who lived until Vatican Council II all answered this question in the affirmative. They are unanimous in declaring this fact: in the person of a pope, the possession of the supreme pontificate is incompatible with heresy. They are no longer unanimous when it comes to explaining this fact and indicating the reason for it.

Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388-1468), in his Summa de Ecclesia, Book 4, Part 2, chapters 18-20, writes that in the person of the pope, the papacy is incompatible not only with external but even with internal heresy. The mere fact that the pope adheres in the internal forum of his conscience to an error contrary to doctrine would result in the cessation of his papal office.

The common opinion of Medieval theologians is that a heretical pope in the external (and not just internal) forum must and can be deposed by a human authority, since there is (they claimed) here on earth a power above his. This authority is superior to the pope by way of exception, in the case of heresy. This could be the authority of the college of cardinals or possibly of an Ecumenical Council.

Cajetan’s Thesis

Cajetan (1469-1534), in chapters 20-21 of his 1511 treatise, De Comparatione auctoritatis papae et concilii, holds that there is an authority that can undo the investiture, in other words, cause the existence of the pontifical authority and the pope’s possession of it to cease. But Cajetan tries to differentiate his view from that of the theologians of the previous period by maintaining in principle that on earth there can be no authority superior to the pope, not even in the case of heresy. Indeed, the authority that is required to cause the investiture to cease would be exercised not on the pope but on the connection that exists between the person of the pope and the papacy.

Cajetan’s thesis is adopted by Domenico Báñez (1528-1604) (Commentary on the Summa theologiae II-II, q. 1, art. 10, conclusio 2, folios 194-196 of the 1587 Venice edition) and by John of Saint Thomas (1589-1644) (Cursus theologicus, 5:258-264: De fide, commenting on II-II, q. 1, art. 10, disputatio 2, art. 3, §§17-29). More recently, Cardinal Charles Journet (1891-1975) considered the argument “penetrating” (The Church of the Incarnate Word, vol. 1, Excursus 4). It is made up of two aspects.

First, in De comparatione, chap. 20, §§280 and 281, Cajetan states an authentic principle: the solution to the problem raised must be rooted in the sources of revelation. Now, divine law is content to say that, if the pope becomes heretical, the Church must avoid him. In fact, we can cite at least six passages of Scripture in which God commands His people not to relate to a formal, public heretic.

Passages cited by Cajetan in §280 include Num 16:26: “Depart from...these wicked men”; Gal 1:8: “Let him be anathema,” in other words, separate yourselves from him; 2 Thess 3:6: “Withdraw yourselves from [him]”; and 2 Jn 10: “Receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you.” The most eloquent passage (which Cajetan moreover cites constantly rather than the five others) is the one from the Epistle of Saint Paul to Titus 3:10: “Hominem haereticum post unam et secundam correptionem devita.” [“A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid.”] Consequently, divine revelation teaches us no more and no less than this: the Church must avoid any dealings with the heretical pope.

Avoiding a Heretical Pope

Cajetan then proceeds to justify his own theory. He says that there is only one means of avoiding having anything to do with the heretical pope, in keeping with the requirement of divinely revealed law. This means is the exercise of a ministerial power that is not a power of jurisdiction strictly speaking, the use of which implies no superiority over the pope. Indeed, this power is none other than the very power that the Church uses to establish the pope in his ministry: its precise object is not the person of the man who receives the papacy, nor the papacy (in other words the pope as such), but the connection between the two, in other words the relation that exists between the person who receives the papacy and the papacy itself (see De comparatione, chapter 20, §§282-297).

This power can be exercised in two directions: both to undo the connection as well as to make it. To illustrate this idea, Cajetan turns to an example. The generation or the corruption of a man is caused by an agent that has power over the union between a matter and a form, inasmuch as it disposes the matter, without thereby having power over the form. Similarly, the Church has the power to give the papacy to the person who receives it or to take it away from the one who loses it, inasmuch as she disposes this person, without thereby having power over the papacy.

As John of Saint Thomas remarks, this explanation avoids saying that the Church is above the pope as such. Indeed, the Church acts here only as an instrumental cause or to bring about either the investiture or the cessation thereof. In the first case, the Church causes in the person of the pope the disposition required for the investiture, which is the appointment to the See of Rome.

In the second case, the Church causes in the person of the pope a disposition that is incompatible with the office of the pope, which results therefore in the loss of this office. This incompatible disposition that the Church causes is, the argument says, the notoriety of the heresy. And the incompatibility between the notorious heresy and the Supreme Pontificate is said to be taught by divine revelation in Titus 3:10.

Suarez’s Opinion

Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), in his De Fide, disputatio 10 De Summo Pontifice, section 6, §§3-13. Opera omnia, 12:316-318, states, like Cajetan, that the pope does not lose his pontificate by reason of his heresy itself, whether it be occult or even notorious. He then presents what in his opinion is the common explanation of the theologians. A publicly and incorrigibly heretical (i.e. pertinacious) pope loses the pontificate when the Church declares his crime. This declaration constitutes a legitimate act of jurisdiction, but it is not a jurisdiction that exercises a superior power over the pope. In this case the Church is represented not by the cardinals but by the Ecumenical Council: the latter can be convoked by someone other than the pope since it does not meet to define faith and morals.

Suarez then explains the essential point of his thesis: he refuses to say that in this exceptional case the Church possesses a true power of jurisdiction over the pope. The Church does nothing but declare in the name of Christ the pope’s heresy, which amounts to declaring that the pope has become unworthy of the papacy. And by means of this declaration of the Church, Christ immediately takes the papacy back from the pope.

In a third logical moment, the pope who has fallen from his office becomes inferior to the Church and she can punish him. The thesis therefore is based entirely on one truth. This truth is that the previous declaration of the Church that notes the pope’s heresy is the necessary and sufficient condition for Christ to withdraw the papacy from the pope. And Suarez proves this truth by saying that it is spelled out in the divine law of revelation. In support of this, Suarez also cites Titus 3:10 along with a passage from the First Epistle of St. Clement of Rome which allegedly says that “Petrum docuisse haereticum papam esse deponendum.” [“That Peter who has taught something heretical must be deposed as pope.”]

St. Robert Bellarmine’s Opinion

The opinion of St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), which is found in De romano pontifice, Book 2, chapter 30, and which is followed by Cardinal Billot (1846-1931) (Traité de l’Église du Christ, question 14, thesis 29, Part 2, nos. 942-946), is purely theoretical, because his real thesis is that the pope will never fall into heresy. Assuming nevertheless that, per impossibile, the pope happened to fall into public heresy, he would ipso facto lose the pontificate.

As Bellarmine explains clearly, the basis for this thesis is that a notorious heretic as such is no longer a member of the Church. Now, the pope necessarily must be part of the society of which he is the head. This is why the heretical pope, no longer being a member of the Church, ceases to be her visible head.

If we adopt this explanation of Saint Robert Bellarmine and of Cardinal Billot, the disputed question then is: As of what moment can one say that the heresy is notorious, in the case of the pope? The Church’s historic Canon Law (CIC 1917, canons 2264 & 2314) allows, for persons other than the pope, an intermediary situation in which, if the heresy has not been manifested sufficiently, all acts of jurisdiction in the external forum would remain valid albeit illicit. By analogy, a pope who is formally but not yet notoriously heretical could for some time remain at the head of the Church.

But Billot adds that Providence could not permit the whole Church to acknowledge as her head a formal heretic. If the elected man is or becomes formally heretical, this acknowledgment could not persist, and this is why the notoriety would have to appear rather quickly, in one way or another.

At the very most, it could happen that only a few periti [experts] in the Church were endowed with the necessary theological intelligence to assess the whole situation; the others (in other words almost the totality of the Church) would not be capable of understanding the whole import of the crisis, even though their virtue of faith sufficed for their personal conduct. St. Thomas Aquinas makes a similar distinction when he speaks about “majores” and “minores” [the greater and the lesser] with regard to the notoriety of the Messiah among the Jews (STh III, q. 47, art. 5).

A Delegation from God

Finally, a recent study by Fr. Guillaume Devillers in part 6 of his study on the Doctrine sociale et politique à l’école de saint Thomas, at article 9 in the journal Le Sel de la terre 54 (automne 2005) pp. 165-168, arrives at different conclusions. One can even go so far as to say that these conclusions are truly new (and therefore deserve wide attention), even though one may claim that they are based on the above-cited theologians, in particular on Cajetan.

The hypothesis says: The Church, like any other society, has the power to depose a heretical pope by a delegation received from God in the case of heresy. The proof rests on two arguments: [1] the authority of St. Clement of Rome in a passage from his Epistle to the Corinthians; and [2] an analogy with what happens in civil society in the case of tyranny. This boils down to saying (and the author states this explicitly at the outset of his study) that everything is based not on the divine positive law of revelation, but on simple natural law. Indeed, our author notes that all theologians have endeavored to justify their theses by citing the facts of revelation and Christ’s positive institution: according to them, the deposal of the heretical pope would be necessary according to the teaching of Scripture and Tradition.

Now it is clear that revelation does not teach that. This is why the remaining option is to turn to the natural law. It is enough to apply the principle that the supernatural order presupposes the natural order. The Church is a society. Now, in every society, natural divine law requires that in a case of tyranny the citizens proclaim the dethronement of a power that may still be legal but has become illegitimate. And on the other hand this natural divine law which applies to the case of the city [= society] of the natural order remains valid also in the case of the Church, because she is a city in the supernatural order. This is why it is not only licit but necessary to depose a heretical pope, because that pope is to the Church what a tyrant is to natural society. And in order to do this, society receives in that case delegation from God.

Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:50 am
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New post Re: Fr. Gleize, SSPX, asks, Can a pope fall into heresy? ... sy-part-6b

Part 6b – Does a pope who falls into heresy lose his investiture in the Primacy?

Two Approaches to the Question of Heresy

Following on what has been said in Part 6a, we can therefore pose the question about the heresy of the pope in two different ways. First, as a purely speculative problem, abstracting from all circumstances. Then we stick to purely theological reasons, which are supposed to be valid in all cases but are only probable and remain insufficient to provide speculative certitude, since only a still non-existent argument of Magisterial authority could give an apodictic answer.

Secondly, as a prudential problem, while taking into account the circumstances, the solution of which could be applied only to a single case. We stick then not to what is certain, theologically speaking, but to what is surest, given the circumstances. The judgment of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and of the Society of Saint Pius X on the crisis of the Church is not a theoretical, purely speculative judgment (as is a mathematical judgment); it is a practical and prudential judgment. This explains why it could evolve and be modified by reason of new circumstances. (Conversely, the judgment of the sedevacantists and the ecclesiadeists is a mathematical judgment that tries to stick to a unique, universal conclusion that is true and certain in all circumstances.)

Speculative Opinions Remain Debatable

As for the purely speculative opinions of the older theologians, they remain debatable, on that same level of speculation.

The opinion of Juan de Torquemada (see Part 6a) is improbable; moreover it is presented as an objection and refuted by Cajetan in his De comparatione, in chapters 17, 19, and 22. Heresy committed in the internal forum of the conscience is unverifiable; if it entails the loss of the supreme pontificate, it will never be possible to verify this and the Church will never have certitude about a possible cessation of the investiture. Such a situation contradicts the essentially visible character of the Church.

The opinion of the medieval theologians (cf. no. 3), which acknowledges that the Church has a power to depose the pope if necessary, contradicts the divine constitution of the Church: Cajetan recognizes that this thesis mentioned in an objection was (at least in his era) the common opinion. But it does not hold up, because since the pope is above the Church by divine right, if there is an exceptional case in which the Church has power over him, this case must be explicitly foreseen and stated as such in the sources of revelation. Now, “when we consider the exceptional case of heresy, divine law does not foresee that the pope should be subject to the Church” (see De comparatione, chapter 20, §280). This is why the explanation set forth by these theologians should be rejected: it contradicts the explicit teaching of revelation.

Cajetan’s explanation suffers from a weakness that it without a doubt fatal to it. For it begs the question, supposing that the authentic meaning of Titus 3:10 (and of other similar passages in Scripture) is the sense required in order to be able to prove the alleged interpretation. Now this supposition is purely gratuitous. St. Paul says that it is necessary to avoid a notorious heretic, no more and no less.

On the basis of that, nothing proves that a notoriously heretical pope is dismissed from his office, because nothing says that the situation of someone who must be avoided by the faithful is incompatible with the title of the papacy. Despite the paradoxical attractiveness of this assertion at first glance, it is still possible to avoid having anything to do with a notoriously heretical pope, without therefore considering him as being dethroned from the papacy.

Lefebvre’s Prudential Approach

Abp. Lefebvre’s supernatural prudence in the present situation of the Church since Vatican Council II demonstrates this sufficiently. A good summary of this attitude is given by the Declaration of Fidelity to the Positions of the Society of St. Pius X:

"I, the undersigned, recognize Francis as Pope of the Holy Catholic Church. That is why I am ready to pray in public for him as Supreme Pontiff. I refuse to follow him when he departs from Catholic Tradition, especially in the questions of religious liberty and ecumenism, as also in the reforms which are harmful to the Church.”

This expression “I refuse to follow him” neatly corresponds to the devita of Saint Paul, and it does not rule out the “I recognize.”

Billot Contra Cajetan’s Speculative Opinion

Returning to the matter of speculative opinions, we can also add (to confirm this first argument, which is the main argument of the refutation) that Cajetan’s explanation in reality does not avoid saying that the Church is above the pope. Cardinal Billot saw this clearly in his Traité de l’Église du Christ, question 14, thesis 29, part 2, pp. 605-606, nos. 940-941:

"Let no one say that the deposal could still be understood not as the direct withdrawal of the papacy (since this power is given directly by God and subordinates all other power in the Church to itself), but rather as a simple change of subject, inasmuch as one would withdraw from the pope the legitimacy that acquired his election for him. In fact…far from being the contrary corresponding to the election, this change of person is dependent on another order, for it corresponds to an act of jurisdiction and to the exercise of a power. This is why the objection’s conclusion does not follow: just because the person of the pope can be designated by men, this does not mean that the latter have the legitimate power to dismiss the person of the pope from the papacy....The Church, or an ecclesiastical assembly, cannot perform any act upon the person of the pope, except for the election. And therefore, once the election is canonically terminated, the Church has nothing more to do until a new election takes place, which can occur only after the see becomes vacant.”

And, further, Billot observes the following:

"Cajetan takes a lot of trouble without managing to show how it would be possible to keep these three principles together: a pope who has fallen into heresy is not thereby deposed by virtue of divine law nor by virtue of human law; the pope who remains pope has no superior on earth; if the pope loses the faith, the Church has the power to depose him all the same. But one may reply that, if the pope who has fallen into heresy remains pope and can be deposed by the Church, one or the other of these two consequences must necessarily be admitted: either the fact of deposing the pope does not require the one who deposes him to have power over him, or else the pope while remaining pope is really subject on earth to a superior power, at least in a particular situation. Moreover, as soon as we open the door to a deposal, there is no longer any reason to restrict it (by the very nature of things or by virtue of a positive law) to deposal solely in the case of heresy. For then we have already destroyed the principles that make the deposal impossible in general, and nothing remains but a voluntaristic rule, accompanied by an arbitrarily defined exceptional case.”

Shortcomings in Suarez’s Explanation

Suarez’ explanation (see Part 6a) is original. In fact it can be likened neither to Cajetan’s nor to St. Robert Bellarmine’s. For Cajetan, the Church alone causes the pope’s dethronement; for Saint Robert Bellarmine it is Christ alone. For Suarez it is Christ and the Church at the same time. We should note in passing that this way of viewing the problem is characteristic of his eclecticism. Suarez has a lot of erudition but little genius. He does not synthesize. He always has trouble deciding among opposing authorities, and his tendency is to reconcile them is a sort of middle-of-the-road solution.

In acting this way, he weakens the principles: this, incidentally, is the main reason why Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange disapproves of Suarez. For example in De Christo salvatore, pp. 108-109, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrant writes:

"In this question, Suarez, as is often the case with his eclecticism, refutes Scotus by relying on Saint Thomas and Saint Thomas by relying on Scotus. But this intermediate position is very difficult to hold, and it is not at all easy to preserve its equilibrium or stability, and this is why it is not uncommon for Suarez, when he sets forth his theses, to waver or oscillate between Saint Thomas and Scotus without finding a firm position.”

(For more on this topic, see the book by Michel Villey, La Formation de la pensée juridique moderne (Presses Universitaires de France, 2003), pp. 351-353).

It is important to remember that Suarez is a man of his times, and the deep trends that he expresses already herald modern positivism. For Cajetan, the Church deposes the pope without thereby exercising a power that was superior to the papacy. Christ does not intervene; it is enough for the Church to annul the final condition, which is insufficient but nonetheless required for investiture so that it can produce its fruit. Everything happens at the level of the previous disposition.

For St. Robert Bellarmine, Christ denies the formal heretic’s investiture inasmuch as he is a formal heretic: the Church has no role to play. For Suarez, the Church prepares, so to speak, the way to Christ, so that He can depose His vicar. The same critique can be made of this explanation as of Cajetan’s. Suarez supposes that the passage by St. Paul to Titus justifies his thesis. Now we have seen that that is not at all the case.

As for the passage from the First Epistle of St. Clement of Rome which both Cajetan and Suarez rely upon, the text cannot be found in the editions of the authentic works of Saint Clement: it is probably apocryphal.

Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:43 pm
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