(1) Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos
(2) Plato, Laws, VII: 797. Reference to the Loeb Classical Liberation edition index under 'innovation' will give several statements along parallel lines. Plato especially speaks out against those who would innovate in musical and ritual matters.
(3) Sallust, Histories. Cicero, Lat. Dict. 521. We are of course not speaking of those who would make a 'better mouse trap,' but about those who would replace what is traditional with 'novelties.' One must be aware of the Platonic distinction between 'new songs' and 'a new kind of music.'
(4) Papias was Bishop of Hieropolis during the post-Apostolic period - there is some debate as to whether he was a disciple of John the Apostle or of John the elder. Cf. The Oracles of Papias, London: Longmans Green, 1894.
(5) The Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, Mich.: Eerdman, 1968.
(6) Ad Praxeam, quoted in 'The Faith of Catholics,' Rev. James Waterworth, London: Dolman, 1896; and Flesh of Christ, quoted in 'Faith of the Early Fathers,' William Jurgens, Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1970
(7) PG 155:701 a-b.
(9) Commenataria, available from same source as No. 4.
(10) Sermon 34., and De utilitate credendi.
(11) Quoted by J. Tixeront, History of dogmas, St. Louis, Mo.: Herder, 1926
(12) St. Brunonis, de Ornatu Eccles.
(13) Quoted in From the Housetops, No. 22, St. Benedict Center, Still River, Mass., 1982.
(14) The Letters of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, (No. 318) e.d. and translated by B. S. James, Chicago, Regnery: 1953
(15) Catechism Chretien, IIe part., Chap. 14.
(16) Preface to his The Love of God.
(18) Letter to Mr. d'Horgny.
(19) The Lives of the Saints.
(20) Van Noort, op. cit.
(21) Taken from the Liber diurnus Romanorum Pontificum, PL 105, S 54. This oath was also taken by John XXIII, but refused by both John Paul I and II.
(22) De Nupt, II.
(23) Life and Letters, page 72.
(24) Quoted in Works and Days of John Fisher, E. Sturtz, S.J., New Haven, Yale, 1981.
(25) Vatican II, under the heading of 'religious liberty' would concede to all religious sects, and to non-religious organizations, the right to propagate their views, no matter how heretical, and even in situations where the Church could prevent it. This is, the Council teaches, to be 'guaranteed' as a 'civil right.' What father would ever allow such in his family?
(26) In passing, the accusation that the Church 'burned' heretics is false. Heretics, especially anarchists and satanists were considered enemies of the state. The Albigensians (in France) denied all civil as well as all spiritual authority. The Church and her 'inquisition' functioned to determine whether or not they were in fact heretics, and always insisted that they be given a chance to 'recant.' Our modern 'jury' system is an outgrowth of the Inquisition as all evidence had to be presented, not to a jury of peers, but to one of experts. In many situations the Inquisition functioned to 'protect' the faithful from the state. It was those who clearly were attempting to destroy the civil order who were turned over to the state for punishment. That abuses occurred is unfortunately true, but these were surprisingly few in number. Those who are interested in an unbiased view of this institution are referred to William Thomas Walsh's 'Characters of the Inquisition' (available from TAN) and to a most remarkable study by Professor Jean Dumont of the Sorborne in Paris entitled 'L'Eglise au risque de l'Histoire', Limoge: Criterion, 1985. Professor Dumont is non-Catholic and hence cannot be accused of historical bias.
(27) The Church has always taken the position that error can under certain circumstances be 'tolerated,' but never that it gives approval or treats it on an 'equal footing' (to use a phrase culled from Vatican II). Thus while forced conversions are clearly forbidden by Canon Law, she has always done all in her power to prevent the faithful from being seduced by heretical teachings. Convinced of her sacred function and duty, how else should she behave?
(28) Quoted by Msgr. John Vaughan in Dangers of the Day, Ave Maria Press, 1909.
(29) Letter to his father quoted by George Rigault, St. Louis de Montfort, His Life and Work, N.Y., The MOntfort Fathers, 1947.
(30) Letter 318, op. cit.
(31) Frank Sheed, The Church and I, N.Y., Doubleday, 1974.
(32) One or two theologians have in fact been reprimanded recent years - men like Jacques Pohier whose names are completely unknown. One or two like Father Boff in Brazil were 'silenced' for a period of one year (with no retractions required). One or two others have been removed from their teaching positions. Such of course is mere 'tokenism'.
(33) New York Times Magazine Section, March 23, 1980.
(34) Quoted by the Abbe Georges de Nantes in his Liber Accusationis in Paulum Sextum, available from Ligue de la contre-Reforme Catholique, Maison Saint-Joseph, 10260 Saint-Parres-Les-Vaudes (France).
(35) July 15, 1966. The Index dates back to the Council of Nicaea in 325 when the works of Arius (specifically, his book Thalia) were condemned because of the author's views that the Word of God was a creature were 'set forth in a loose, free style, reminding one of the works of Sotades.' The 'loose free style' was not invented by the 'periti' of Vatican II. It should be noted in passing that any Catholic who has an adequate reason and the requisite intellectual background can get permission from his pastor to read books on the Index. The Holy Office of the Inquisition was changed to 'The Congregation for the Defense of Doctrine.' Paul VI diminished its role by eliminating its office for censorship of books and the Roman Index of Prohibited Books (Cf. The Remnant, Dec. 15, 1979).
(36) Quoted in 31.
CAN A POPE DEPART FROM UNITY OF FAITH AND WORSHIP?
Catholics hold the Papacy in such veneration that it is almost inconceivable that anyone would presume to criticize the individual who sits on the Chair of Peter. The Pope is the Visible Head of the Church. He is the Head because he is the Vicar of Christ and clothed with Christ's authority. He is said to be visible not only because he is the one that is seen, but also because one sees through him with the eyes of the faith, the invisible Head (Christ). He is called the Pastor of Pastors (from the Latin Pasco, to feed) because he 'feeds and confirms' all the other Pastors (bishops). He is also in like manner called the 'Doctor of doctors' (from docere, to teach), for he is the 'universal' or 'supreme' Doctor. And he is also called the 'Vicar' (from the Latin vicarius, to take the place of) because he stands in the place of Christ.
I - THE POPE IS HELD IN THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY BY CATHOLICS
A Pope then stands above all other men. Yet he stands below Christ. His authority, as all authority, comes from God, and no one who stands beneath him has the authority to command, confirm or teach him. His power is so great that he can dispense the faithful from any ecclesiastical law(1), but not great enough to dispense anyone from the natural or the divine law. He cannot be removed from his office even by an Ecumenical Council, though such a council can declare him a formal heretic, which if true, puts him in the situation of removing himself from office. But despite the power he welds and despite the authority he holds, he is limited by one important factor - even though he is Christ's Viceroy (which literally means 'Voice-King') on earth - he is not himself Christ. He can over-rule others, but never over-rule his divine Master. This is why he cannot dispense anyone from divine law. This is why he he can no more change our faith then he cannot 'unmake' the Truth. As St. Cyprian said: 'God is one, and Christ is one, and the Church is one, and the chair is one, founded by the Lord's word upon a rock. Another altar or a new priesthood, besides the one altar and the one priesthood, cannot be set up. Whosoever gathereth elsewhere scattereth.' (2)
It is because the Pope is Christ's highest representative on earth that he is given governance over the faithful. The reason we owe him obedience is that, as St. Norbort of Magdeburg says, 'obedience to the Pope is obedience to Christ' . As Msgr. Grou expresses, the Pope 'is one hierarchical person with Our Lord'. As such he is endowed with the charism of infallibility. Just as he is clothed with Christ's authority, so also he is clothed with Christ's infallibility, and it goes without saying that our Divine Lord could not teach anything but the absolute truth (3).
The Pope is infallible when he functions as Pope, when he speaks from the Chair of Peter (ex Cathedra as explained in Chapter II). This infallibility does not extend to him as a private person or even as a private theologian. There is no limit to the pope's infallibility except that of teaching error, for error can never be infallibly true. The pope is unlimited in his function of preserving the deposit of the faith, but he is limited by this function, for he cannot teach anything contrary to this deposit. 'The Holy Spirit is not promised to the successors of Peter so that, through His revelation, they may bring new doctrines to light, but that, with His help, they may keep inviolate and faithfully expound the revelation handed down through the Apostles, the deposit of faith' (Denzinger 1836).
The Church has always recognized the limitations under which the Pope rules. As St. Bernard wrote to Pope Eugene in his Five Books on Consideration (otherwise known as Advise to a Pope): 'You have been entrusted with stewardship over the world, not given possession of it. Leave possession and rule to Him; you take care of it. This is your portion: beyond it do not stretch your hand. You should not think that you are excluded from those about whom God complains, (when He says in Hos. 8:4) 'They have reigned, but not by Me; princes have arisen, but I do not recognize them'' (4)
It should be clearly understood that the charism of infallibility does not deprive the pope of his free will. He is not turned into a robot. If he were, every pope would be a canonized saint. A Pope, like every man, can be a sinner - omnis homo mendax, and indeed some were. But even though he sin, he still retains his function as Pope (5). It is one thing to sin against the flesh, for all men are weak ; it is quite another to deny the truth with obstinacy which is a 'sin against the Holy Ghost' (6).
II - CAN A NON-CATHOLIC BE ELECTED TO THE PAPACY?
Non-Catholics include those who have never been Catholic, and those who once were Catholic but who either apostacized or were excluded from the Body of Christ by legitimate disciplinary action. Those who are not Catholic are not and cannot be, suitable candidates for the papacy. Pope Paul IV made this clear in his Apostolic Bull Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio (1559): 'Should it happen that a bishop, cardinal, legate, or even the Roman Pontiff had deviated from the Catholic Faith before his nomination as bishop, cardinal or pope, the following dispositions are compulsory. The promotion or election, even if the cardinals have consented to this of common accord, [i.e. all of them], is null and void. They cannot acquire validity by the fact of the subject's entry into function or by the fact of consecration or subsequent exercise of authority - in the case of a pope - by the fact of enthronement, or the act of veneration or subsequent general obedience... Nor can they confer upon such persons... any power to command either in the spiritual or temporal domain... Whoever does not refuse his fidelity and obedience to such persons thus promoted or called are tearing the Lord's robe..'
III - CAN A POPE LOOSE HIS AUTHORITY?
A Pope may loose his authority in several ways. He may loose it by death; by insanity, by schism (separating himself from the Church) and by apostasy (which is spiritual death). There is no difficulty in understanding the principle behind death or insanity. Hence the question can be rephrased thus: CAN THE POPE SEPARATE HIMSELF FROM THE CHURCH (SCHISM); AND CAN HE FALL INTO HERESY?
A) CAN A POPE BECOME SCHISMATIC?
Schism is defined as the rupture of ecclesiastical unity. St. Augustine tells us that 'By false doctrines (7) concerning God heretics wound faith; by iniquitous dissensions schismatics deviate from fraternal charity, although they believe what we believe' (8). The Church has always held that a pope can become schismatic.
'One (a Pope) also falls into schism if he himself departs from the body of the Church by refusing to be in communion with her by participating in the sacraments... The Pope can become schismatic in this manner if he does not wish to be in proper communion with the body of the Church (i.e., the Church of All Times), a situation which would arise if he tried to excommunicate the entire Church, or , as both Cajetan and Torquemada observe, IF HE WISHED TO CHANGE ALL THE ECCLESIASTICAL CEREMONIES, FOUNDED AS THEY ARE ON APOSTOLIC TRADITION.' - Francis Suarez, S.J.
And indeed, what Ecclesiastical Ceremonies have the post-Conciliar 'popes' left unaltered?
'By disobedience the Pope can separate himself from Christ despite the fact that he is head of the Church, for above all, the unity of the Church is dependent on its relationship with Christ. The Pope can separate himself from Christ by either disobeying the laws of Christ, or by commanding something that is against the divine or natural law. By so doing, the Pope separates himself from the body of the Church because this body is itself linked to Christ by obedience. In this way, the Pope could without doubt fall into schism.'
'The Pope can also separate himself from the Church and her priests if he so wishes to do and without any specific reason. [i.e., by the exercising of his free will]. He also does this if he refuses to do what the Universal Church [i.e., the Church of All Times] does, based as these things are, on the Tradition of the Apostles; or again, if he does not observe those precepts which the Holy and Ecumenical councils or the Holy See have determined to be of universal application. Especially is this true with regard to the divine liturgy, as for example, if he did not wish personally to follow the universal customs and rites of the Church. Such would be the case if he did not wish to celebrate Mass with the sacred vestments or with candles, of if he refused to make the sign of the cross in the same manner as other priests do. The same holds true for other aspects of the liturgy in a very general fashion, and for anything that might go against the perpetual customs of the Church as incorporated in the Canons Quae ad perpetuum, violatores, Sunt Quidem and Contra Statua. By separating himself from the observance of the universal customs of the Church, and by doing so with obstinacy, the Pope is able to fall into schism. Such a conclusion is only just because the premises on which it is based are beyond doubt. for, just as the Pope can become a heretic, so also is he able to do so with the sin of obstinacy. Thus it is that Pope innocent states (De Consuetudine) that, it is necessary to obey a Pope in all things as long as he does not himself go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, he need not be followed...' - Jean de Torquemada.
B) CAN A POPE FALL INTO HERESY?
Heresy is the sin of denying a revealed truth with obstinacy. Properly speaking, obstinacy does not constitute the sin of heresy, but rather manifests it and permits one to distinguish the heretic who wishes to deny a truth of the faith, from a person who is in error from ignorance and without any desire to deny a truth of the faith. This is the distinction between material and formal heresy. Any one who holds to an erroneous belief in ignorance of the teaching of the Church is materially wrong, but in so far as he has no desire to be in error, he is not formally wrong. However, a person who is a material heretic, and who once having been corrected, persists in his error, adds obstinacy to his attitude and becomes a formal heretic (9). Such 'willful error' is a mortal sin.
Every mortal sin results in the loss of the state of grace, but even when deprived of this divine grace, the sinner remains a member of the Church. He is like a branch of the vine in which the sap of grace no longer flows, but a branch not cut off, and hence one that can be brought back to life. Even though such a person is 'spiritually dead', he remains within the Church. As Pius XII pointed out, 'sinners are in the Church of which they are always members' (Mystici corporis).
However, the sins of schism and heresy not only cause spiritual death, they also separate those who are guilty of such from the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church. Unlike a sinner, a heretic is no longer a member of the Church. Should the heretic be in Holy Orders (a deacon, priest or bishop), he retains the powers inherent in the order received, but looses the right to use them. In addition, he looses all jurisdiction or authority. (10)
The principle involved is enshrined in Canon Law (1917). Canon 138 states: 'Through tacit resignation, accepted by the Law itself, all offices become vacant by the very fact (ipso facto) and without any declaration, if a cleric... has publicly defected from the Catholic Church.
It should be clear that the Pope, like anyone else is free and hence perfectly capable of apostatizing from the faith. This he does by becoming a 'formal' heretic. As some would deny it is possible for a Pope to apostatize from the faith, let it be noted that Dante has never been criticised by the Church for placing several Popes in hell. The promise of Christ - 'I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not' (Luke 22:31) in no way guarantees papal indefectibility. It is the Church which is indefectable, and not the pope.
IV - WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A POPE BECOMES A HERETIC?
It is of course true that a pope cannot be deposed, even by a Council (for no act of a Council has authority until it receives papal approval), but should a pope fall into notorious or formal heresy, he automatically falls from his high station and looses all his authority. Let the teaching of the Church be clear: 'There is no doubt but that a Pope, even if he should be a notorious heretic - if for example, he taught a doctrine contrary to the divine faith - could not be deposed by a Council; the council would simply declare that he was a heretic and as a result that he had fallen from his pontificate.' - Saint Alphonse de Liguori.
'(A Pope) who is a notorious heretic automatically ceases to be the pope and chief, just as he automatically ceases to be a Christian and a member of the Church.' - Cardinal Saint Robert Bellarmin.
'A pope who makes himself the mouthpiece of heresy is no longer a pope, and when he is mistaken, he is not the less mistaken because he is a pope. In such a situation, it is not the Church which errs, for she can always elect another pope.' - Francis Suarez, S.J.
'A Pope, by the simple fact that he is guilty of heresy, places himself outside the Church, and he is relieved of his function by God himself.' - Thyrsus Gonzales, S.J.
'In the situation where the pope becomes a heretic, he finds himself by that sole fact and without any other sentence, separated from the Church. In effect, a head separated from the body can no longer, as long as it is separated, be the head of that body from which it is separated. Thus, a pope, who become separated from the Church by heresy, ceases by that fact to be head of the Church. He cannot be a heretic and remain pope because one who is outside the Church cannot hold the keys of the Church.' - St.Antonin of Florence
'If the pope is a heretic, by that very fact (ipso facto) he falls out of the Church.' - St. Francis de Sales.
V - CAN ONE PRESUME THE GOOD WILL OF A POPE WHO OFFICIALLY TEACHES ERROR WITH REGARD TO DOCTRINAL MATTERS?
The pope can fall into heresy as a private doctor. (He is prevented from doing so in his capacity of Universal Doctor - that is, in his official capacity as pope.) He can manifest this doctrinal error in two ways.
As a private doctor: In such a case, as would be the situation with any of the faithful who made a mistake, one not only can, but one should, presume good faith, especially if he retracts as soon as he is made aware of his error. Such was the situation with St. Peter, and Pope Pascal II.
In an official manner: In this situation his good faith cannot even be presumed. In effect, it is a dogma of our faith that in the exercise of his function of pope, he cannot teach error. Hence it follows that if a pope should teach error in his official capacity, by that very fact he makes it manifestly clear that prior to this he had fallen into error and lost the papacy . To refuse to accept this statement is to either deny the dogma of infallibility, or quod absit, to accuse Christ of teaching falsehood. As Leo XIII stated, 'if, which is impossible, the official teaching of a pope should be erroneous, it would follow that God Himself would be the author of error among men. O Lord, if we are in error, it is You Yourself who have deceived us' (Satis cognitum)
VI - THE PROBLEM OF A DOUBTFUL POPE
There are three ways in which doubts can arise as to whether a given individual is truly the pope. The first is as to whether he was a Catholic prior to his election. Section 2 above points out that it is impossible for a non-Catholic to be elected to the Papacy. Doubt about a person's orthodoxy prior to election can lead to doubt about the validity of his election.
Secondly, one can question the election process itself. Here the laws of the Church (The Apostolic Constitution Vacante sede, Dec. 25, 1904) must be clearly followed, laws set up precisely to prevent undue influence by the powers of this world in the final result (13). The rules to be followed in this situation are given below.
The third area relates to the status of a given pope after his election and acceptance of the papacy. An individual who is unquestionably pope can still defect from the faith and place himself outside the Church. Should such be the case, he would, as shown above, loose all authority and jurisdiction.
Where the issue is uncertain, the principle that 'a doubtful pope is no pope at all' applies. Such is the statement of Father Wilmers: 'In the case where the election of a pope has become so doubtful that it is impossible to know with certitude whether or not he is a true pontiff, he whose election is doubtful should, according to most authors, step down in order to allow a new election to take place. If he refuses to do so, the Church and the bishops can declare that he is not a pope because his election is in doubt. This follows from the principle that 'a doubtful pope is no pope at all.' In effect, he whose authority is uncertain is unable to oblige anyone to obey him, in the same fashion that one is not obliged to obey a law before it is promulgated.'
In view of what has been said in previous sections, the ability of a council to declare a doubtful Pope as without authority may be questioned. Consider the words of Cardinal Saint Robert Bellarmin: 'A doubtful pope should not be considered as a pope, and hence to exercise authority over him is not to exercise authority over a pope... Even though a council cannot convene in the absence of a pope in order to define new dogmas, it nevertheless can convene, during a period of schism, to determine who is the true pope and, if the first [shown to be either] null or doubtful, to furnish the Church with another pastor.'
VII - THE PROBLEM FOR THE FAITHFUL
It is not for the faithful to declare that a given individual is or is not the pope. This decision resides with the Magisterium of the Church (14). What the faithful can and must do however, is decide whether a given person sitting in the Chair of Peter is Catholic or not. To argue that no member of the Church has the right to judge the Pope's orthodoxy is to argue that the faithful have no right and hence no obligation, to distinguish between truth from error. If such be the case, than none of us will be held responsible for being Catholic Once one determines that a given pope teaches error 'with the appearances of and the solemnity of an ex cathedra pronouncement', one can decide that he is not Catholic and that the rules of the Church apply. This may seem to beg the issue, but in point of fact functions to protect both pope and laity from rash judgements. At issue is not what one thinks or feels, but what is fact. If a given pope teaches error in an ex cathedra manner, it is prima facie evidence that he has lost the faith.
Lest there be any doubt about this the following quotations are offered: 'When the shepherd turns into a wolf, the first duty of the flock is to defend itself. As a general rule, doctrine comes from the bishops to the faithful, and it is not for the faithful, who are subjects in the order of faith, to pass judgment on their superiors. but every Christian by the virtue of his title to the name Christian, has not only the necessary knowledge of the essentials of the treasure of Revelation, but also the duty of safeguarding them. The principle is the same, whether it is a matter of belief or conduct, that is of dogma or morals' - Dom Gueranger, The Liturgical Year.
All this is incorporated in Canon Law. 'Any member of the faithful may at all times denounce the offence of another... and the obligation of denouncing another becomes urgent... when one is obliged to do so in virtue of the natural law where there is a danger to faith or religion or other imminent public evil.' - Canon 1935 (1917).
Finally, the importance of all this becomes clear in that obedience does not excuse one or abolish the responsibility for sin. Listen to the words of St. Catherine of Sienna as addressed to Pope Gregory XI: 'Alas, Alas, my most sweet Father... those who obey [an evil pastor] fall into disorder and iniquity. Alas, I say this with sorrow. How dangerous is the consuming road of self-love [on the part of a pastor], not only because it destroys his own sou, but also because it leads so many others to hell.'
VIII - DOES ONE ALWAYS HAVE TO OBEY THE POPE?
While the next chapter will provide an in detail study of obedience, the subject will be briefly discussed at this point. Many doubts have been raised about the validity of the post-Conciliar 'popes'. Strictly speaking, if they are true popes, they are to be obeyed as one would obey Christ. Their teachings are to be accepted as if they came from Christ Himself. Logically speaking, in order to disobey them one would have to come to the conclusion that they had lost their authority in one of the ways discussed above.
But it is to be admitted that many are confused by current events. They see the evil fruits of Vatican II and hear the voice of a stranger (the sheep know their Master's voice) coming from Rome. They are asked in the name of obedience to discard all that they once were taught to hold sacred, the liturgy and practice of the Church. Yet they find it difficult to conclude that those sitting in the Chair of Peter lack valid authority. For those in doubt about whether one should be in doubt about the validity of these 'popes'; and until the issue has been resolved, there are still principles of behavior that apply. Such is the care with which the Church protects the faithful.
'Although it clearly follows from the circumstances that the Pope can err at times, and command things which must not be done, that we are not to be simply obedient to him in all things, that does not show that he must not be obeyed by all when his commands are good. to know in what cases he is to be obeyed and in what not... it is said in the Acts of the Apostles: 'One ought to obey God rather than man'. Therefore, were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scripture, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the Sacraments, or the commands of the natural or divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands, to be passed over (despiciendus).' - Cardinal Turrencremata (Summa de Eccl.).
'It is lawful to resist him [the Pope] if he assaulted souls, or troubled the state, and much more if he strove to destroy the Church. It is lawful, I say, to resist him by not doing what he commands and hindering the execution of his will' - Cardinal Saint Bellarmin (De Rom. Pont.).
'If the Pope, by his orders and his acts, destroys the Church, one can resist him and impede the execution of his commands.' - Francisco de Vitoria.
'If the Pope lays down an order contrary to right customs, one does not have to obey him...' -
Francis Suarez S.J.
All this is well summed up by Bishop Robert Grosseteste, himself a man who found it necessary disobey the pope: 'Those who preside in this most Holy See are most principally among mortals clothed with the person of Christ, and therefore it is necessary that in them especially the works of Christ should shine, and that there should be nothing contrary to Christ's works in them. And of the same reason, just as the Lord Jesus Christ must be obeyed in all things, so also those who preside in this see, insofar as they are clothed with Christ and are as such truly presiding, must be obeyed in all things. But if anyone of them, (which God forbid!) should put on the clothing of kingship and the flesh of the world or anything else except Christ, and for love of such things should command anything contrary to Christ's precepts and will, anyone who obeys him in such things manifestly separates himself from Christ and from His Body which is the Church.
IX - A CONSTANT TEACHING OF THE CHURCH
Traditional Catholics vary in their attitude towards the post-Conciliar pontiffs. Some reject their validity outright; others see them as material, but not formal 'popes' - as individuals sitting in the Chair of Peter but void of all spiritual authority; still others consider them legitimate pontiffs who are 'tainted with error', or as material, but not formal heretics, and hence as individuals who have not lost their high estate. The latter group tend to disobey them when they command the faithful to act against the traditions of the Church but are inevitably forced into the position of picking and choosing just what they accept and what they reject.
The principles involved in such decisions have always been with the Church. I quote below the statement of William of Ockham (circa 1324) on which he founded his opposition to John XXII. In doing so the author of this book in no way intends to defend the Nominalist position, but only to show that the theological principles involved.
'Because of the errors and the heresies mentioned above and countless others, I turned away from the obedience of the false Pope and all who were his friends to the prejudice of the orthodox faith. For men of great learning showed me that because of his errors and heresies the same pseudo-pope is heretical, deprived of his papacy and excommunicated by canon law itself, without need of further sentence.... In proof thereof several volumes have been published... For against the errors of this pseudo-pope I have turned my face like the hardest rock, so that neither lies nor calumnies nor any persecution (which cannot touch my innermost self in any bodily fashion), nor great numbers of men who believe in him or favor him or even defend him, shall be able to prevent me from attacking or reproving his errors, as long as I shall have hand, paper, pen and ink...
If anyone should like to recall me or anyone else who has turned away from the obedience of the false pope and his friends, let him try to defend his Constitutions and sermons, and show that they agree with Holy Scripture, or that a Pope cannot fall into the wickedness of heresy, or let him show by holy authorities or manifest reasons that one who knows the Pope to be a notorious heretic is obliged to obey him. Let him not, however, adduce the great number of his adherents, not base his arguments on reporaches, because those who try to arm themselves with great numbers of with lies, reproaches, threats and false calumnies, show that they are void of truth and reason. Therefore let none believe that I mean to turn away from the recognized truth because of the great number of those in favor of the pseudo-pope, or because of proofs that are common to heretics and to orthodox men, because I prefer Holy Scripture to a man unlearned in holy science, and I have a higher esteem for the doctrine of the Fathers who reign with Christ than for the tradition of men dwelling in this mortal life.' (16)
(1) Ecclestical law refers to those laws established by the Church.
(2) St Cyprian, Ex. xl., Ad Plebem, , De Quinque Presch., n. 5 and De Unitate. 'Adoration is necessary, but adorationwhich is not out of the Church, only that ordered in the very court of God. Invent not, He saith, your own courts and synagogues for Me. One is the holy court of God' (St. Basil, Hom. in Ps. xxviii. n. 3).
(3) St. Norbert, founder of the Canons regular (Premonstratensians) told Pope Innocent II that 'the seat of Peter exercises the office of Peter. Because of the promise of Christ, he who obeys Peter obeys Christ. But if you command obedience to this proposition (regarding investitures), you place yourself in opposition to the entire Church' (Vita A. de San Norberto, Cited by R.P.J. Campos in Un defensor energico del Papa, Roma, No. 36, pg. 63. The problem of 'Obedience' is discussed in the next chapter.
(4) Eugene IV was formerly a monk in St. Bernard's community. This famous text, described as 'both a treatise on the politics of theocracy and a paternal admonition to a spiritual son whose very soul, Bernard believed, was imperiled by his high office', subsequently became a standard text on papal behavior. Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Mich., 1976.
(5) It is a principle of theology that a priest's sacraments are valid even though he himself is in a state of mortal sin. The reason is that the sacramental act is Christ's and not the priest's.
(6) The Pope, like every Catholic, goes to Confession. Sins against the flesh are not limited to the sexual domain. They also include such things as anger, glutony and sloth. Sins against the intellect are of a different order for one is not led into them by pleasure.
(7) It is presumed the reader has read the previous chapter on The Nature of the Catholic Faith. In essence, to be Catholic, one has to believe all that the Church teaches. If one believes something that goes against what the Church teaches, one is a material heretic. If one persists for 6 months after being corrected, in holding to such an opinion, one adds obstinacy to the material error and becomes a formal heretic. A formal heretic automatically places himself outside the Church.
(8) De fide et symbolo, ix. In point of fact, as St. Jerome points out, Schism rarely exists apart from heresy.
(9) The Church allows a period of six months for this to become evident.
(10) 'A manifest heretic cannot be a Christian�, as states St. Cyprian in Book IV, Epistle 2; St. Athanasius, in his second sermon against the Arians; St. Augustine in his book De gratia Christi, Ch. 20; St. Jerome (Contra Lucifer) and many others. It follows that 'a manifest heretic cannot be Pope'. Those interested in a fuller discussion are referred to Father Joaquin Saenz y Arriaga's 'Sede Vacante�, Editores Asociados: Mexico, 1973. The quotation of St. Antonine is available in Actes et histoire du Councile Oecumenique de rome, 1er du Vatican (1960), Vol I., Histoire des Councles, Premier partie: Traite theologique. Ch. III. Published by Victor Frond and a work given the approval of Pope Pius IX. Charles Journet also gives a similar opinion from the writings of Savanarola along with an excellent discussion in his The Church of the Word Incarnate, Vil. !, Sheed and Ward: N.Y.
(11) We do not say 'to teach error ex cathedra' for, with regard to the faith, such a supposition would be absurd; we say 'in the form ex cathedra' by which we mean, 'with the appearances of and the solemnity of an ex cathedra pronouncement'.
(12) Quoted by Arnaldo Xavier de Silveira, L'Ordo Missae de Paul VI: Qu'en Penser?, Diffusion de la Pansee Francaise: Paris, 1980.
(13) According to Wernz-Vidal, and almost all theologians agree with him, the peaceful acceptance of a pope by the entire Church is 'the sign and the infallible effect of a valid election'. As St. Alphonsus Liguori says: 'It matters little if in previous centuries a given Pontiff was elected in an illegitimate fashion, or took possession of the pontificate by means of fraud: it suffices that he was subsequently accepted as pope by the entire Church, because from this alone, he becomes a true pontiff. But if during a certain time he was not accepted truly and universally the Church, the Apostolic see was vacant, just as it would be vacant at the death of a pope.' The legitimacy of the post-Conciliar pontiffs has been disputed by significant numbers of Catholics - and orthodox Catholics - in every nation of the world.
(14) To judge a person's Catholicity is not to judge his soul. The Church has always taught that a person's external intention can be judged by his acts and statements, but that it is not possible to judge a person's internal intention.
(15) Lettres de Sainte Catherine de Sienne, Editions P. Tequi, Letter I.
(16) The Tractatus de Successivis, attributed to William Ockham, Franciscan Institute Publications, St. Bonaventure College: N.Y., 1944.
THE PROBLEM OF OBEDIENCE
'The Church is destroying herself by the path of obedience... The masterstroke of Satan is thus to spread the principles of revolution from within the Church, and under the authority of the Church itself... he has succeeded in getting those whose duty it is to defend and propagate the Church, to condemn those who are defending the Catholic Faith...'