Saturday, December 28, 2013

You Can't Lose What You Never Had

 There's a website  which excoriates the post-Vatican II "popes" for heresy, yet insists that John XXIII through Francis are truly Vicars of Christ. So close-minded to the evidence, they will not even allow sedevacantists (read: Traditionalists) to post or comment on anything. They have a link to sites against sedevacantism, mostly the same worn out and disproven arguments of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX).  One site, claiming to be apologetics for the Vatican II sect, had an interesting assessment and alleged "refutation" of sedevacantism by one Raymond Taouk. His piece, written in question and answer form, is entitled "What are we to think of the Sedevacantist position?"

  Reading it made me realize that the message of Traditionalists has moved into a new era. I will reproduce his Q & A's below, with my comments in red.

Q. What is a sedevacantist?
A. Sedevacantists are those who claim that that the "Conciliar popes", that is to say Pope John XXIII and his successors, were heretics and therefore forfeited the papacy. Although they do hold to the definition of the papacy as taught by the Catholic Church but openly Proclaim that Pope John Paul II is not Pope as they belief (sic) him to be a heretic and thus to have lost his seat as Pope . Thus they claim that we have no pope and that therefore the Holy See is vacant, sedes (seat) - vacante (vacant), which is why such people are referred to as "sedevacantists".

This article was obviously written pre-2005, before the death of Wotyla (JPII). This is NOT 100% accurate as I will explain by the end of this post.

Q. "Since both Paul VI and John Paul II have publicly acted and spoken as heretics, and have ignored all protests by Catholics against their heresy, they are rightly presumed to be formally guilty of heresy, and therefore incapable of being popes."

A One can't defend the Popes scandalous actions no matter what ever their intention may have been. However whether the Pope is orthodox in his personal theology is not the issue as Churches Magisterium teaches us clearly that popes can personally stray from the truth, far more the average Catholic would believe. The history of the Church, as handed down to us by the Catholic Popes and Councils, Fathers and Doctors, clearly indicate that. Some popes just barely were kept, by the protection of God for His Church, from the ultimate error, since their error was personal, even though public, but they did not formally and unequivocally teach error in the name of the Church. It is undeniable, however, that several came quite close to the edge.
Nevertheless the only issue to be considered is that none of the Pope's subjects has the right to pass judgment on the Pope with respect to his office (Canon 1556), since he cannot be authoritatively admonished (Canon 1558), and thus deprived by a superior (since he has none) nor by any Law since "the Pope is Superior to Canon Law and because of this no Bishop Exists who is not his inferior" (Pope Benedict XLV. Constitution Magnae Nobis. 1748).

This is a new one: "Orthodoxy at the edge." He gives no citations as to who was "close to the edge," but that doesn't really matter. Taouk falls into the same mistake as many "recognize and resist" pseudo-traditionalists do: thinking sedevacantism is based on canon law when in fact it's based on DIVINE LAW.

Heresy is both a crime (delictum) against canon law and a sin (peccatum) against divine law. The material Mr. Taouk quotes deals with heresy as a delictum and with the ecclesiastical censure (excommunication) that the heretic incurs. This is mostly irrelevant to the case of a heretical pope because he is the supreme legislator and therefore not subject to canon law. Hence, a pope cannot commit a true delictum of heresy or incur an excommunication. He is subject only to the divine law.
It is by violating the divine law through the sin (peccatum) of heresy that a heretical pope loses his authority - “ having become an unbeliever [factus infidelis],” as Cardinal Billot says, “he would by his own will be cast outside the body of the Church.” (De Ecclesia, 5th ed. [1927] 632.)
The canonist Coronata explains: “If indeed such a situation would happen, he [the Roman Pontiff] would, by divine law , fall from office without any sentence, indeed, without even a declaratory one.” (Institutiones Iuris Canonici [1950] 1:316)
So, all the canonical requirements governing the delictum of heresy need not be fulfilled for a heretical pope to lose his authority - his public sin against divine law (infidelity) suffices. These points have been summarized many times by Fr. Anthony Cekada, to whom I give full credit. (For his excellent articles see
Q. "Now if these new forms of worship, "laws," and doctrines which are evil, have been given to us by Holy church then she has defected and we are forced to the conclusion that these so-called "popes" were nothing of the sort, but were in fact impostors, masquerading as popes."

A This is a huge and unjustified mental leap in thinking, since non of the Popes innovations in these matters have been guaranteed by the Churches infallibility. Vatican II, the New Mass etc, are not instances were the Holy See has engaged her infallibility. Cardinal Newman affirms "a Pope is not infallible in his laws, nor in his commands, nor in his acts of state, nor in his administration, nor in his public policy" (Cardinal Newman, Difficulties of Anglicans, London, 1876, p.256).
St. Francis De Sales States, "Everything the Pope says is not canon law or of legal obligation . . . And again we must not think that in every thing his judgment is infallible, but then only when he gives judgments on matters of faith in questions necessary to the whole Church" - The Catholic Contraversy, Pg. 307
Further we see a minute parallel in the fourth Century, were Pope Liberius signed the Semi heretical Arian Creed (AFC, pp.319 - 320), yet Newman is of the opinion that "he is not at all on that account to be called a heretic" (J. Card. Newman, Arians of the Fourth Century (1871). P.476). Again not even St. Athanasius took the view that Pope Liberius was not Pope. St Athanasius did not set himself up against Pope Liberius and nor do you hear of his any of his statements condemning Pope Liberius as a heretic.
If Canon Law affirms that Bishops and Cardinals are not subject to ipso facto suspensions or interdicts (Canon 2227 § 2) and that they may only be punished or declared so by the Pope (Canon 2227 § 1) , we can see why its also affirms that the Primary See (the Roman Pontiff) can be judged by no one ( Canon 1556 Cf also Dz 330, Dz 352).
Further we must note that this is a theological opinion rather than a fact, we must realize that that even some Church fathers (e.g. Tertullian) have fallen away from the faith by holding to their opinion over and above that of the constant teaching Magisterium of the Church. Although St. Thomas More disobeyed Henry VIII when he refused to take the oath, yet he did not thereby deny the authority of the King to run the realm, but rejected his command as it conflicted with the divine will. We may reject the personal beliefs of the Person of PJ2, but we do not reject his authority as Pope.

Where to begin?  Both De Sales and Newman are taken out of context. The Church teaches a distinction between evil commands and evil laws---a distinction that escapes Mr. Taouk. Throughout De Comparatione, Cajetan provides specific examples of the papal misdeeds that do justify this resistance on the part of subjects: “promoting the wicked, oppressing the good, behaving as a tyrant, encouraging vices, blasphemies, avarices, etc.” (356), “if he oppresses the Church, if he slays souls [by bad example]” (357), “dissipating [the Church’s] goods” (359), “if he manifestly acts against the common good of charity towards the Church Militant” (360), tyranny, oppression, unjust aggression (411), “publicly destroying the Church,” selling ecclesiastical benefices, and bartering offices (412).

All these involve evil commands (praecepta) - but evil commands are not the same as evil laws (leges). A command is particular and transitory; law is general and is stable. (For an explanation, see R. Naz, “Précepte,” Dictionnaire de Droit Canonique, [Paris: Letouzey 1935-65] 7:116-17.)
Bellarmine and Cajetan’s argument justifies only resisting a pope’s evil commands (to sell a benefice, say). It does not support the notion that a pope, while still retaining authority from Jesus Christ, can (for example) impose a sacrilegious, protestantized and invalid "mass" on the whole Church, whose members can then “resist” him, while continuing to recognize him as a true pope. Opinions differ on whether or not Pope Liberius actually signed the so-called Semi-Arian Creed, but Newman doesn't think him a heretic for a very good reason: He was imprisoned by the Arian Emperor Constantine and under threat of torture and death. This is an excusing cause under canon law (1917): The Code of Canon Law gives seven general causes that exclude moral culpability (and hence “notoriety”) in an offense: lack of reason, habitual inculpable ignorance, actual inculpable inadvertence or error, involuntary intoxication, physical force, uncontrollable passion preceding an act of the will, and legitimate self defense. (See canon 2199ff. Emphasis mine) The appeal to canon law is badly misplaced. “Immunity of the Roman Pontiff. ‘The First See is judged by no one.’ (Canon 1556). This concerns the Apostolic See or the Roman Pontiff who by the divine law itself enjoys full and absolute immunity.” (Cappello, Summa Juris Canonici 3:19.)      The judicial immunity of the pope was disputed in church history by partisans of Gallicanism and Conciliarism, who also maintained that a pope’s decisions could be appealed to a general council. The maxim “the First See is judged by no one” is a procedural norm. Finally, his analogy of a pope to a king is inapposite. The papacy was Divinely established by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and has its own unique function. The pope is no mere king of a State.
Q. The Conciliar Popes are heretics , even if only some recognize the heresy for what it is, because only some are sufficiently alert and well-educated, then that is sufficient to constitute "manifest" or "public" heresy."

A The Problem with the heresy of Modernism is that it is disguised so well, their writings and works are ambiguous. So why do people not see it? As Pope St. Pius X said of the Modernists :
"in their books one finds some things which might well be approved by a Catholic, but on turning over the page one is confronted by other things which might well have been dictated by a rationalist." (Pascendi)
Contrary to what some may want to assert this in no way means that we hide the errors of the current pontiff and those who hold to the same novelties but rather in the words of Pope St. Pius X "we must interrupt a silence which it would be criminal to prolong, that we may point out it to the whole Church" (Pascendi Dominci Gregis) by unmasking modernism for what it really is (nothing but a novelty that leads to apostasy from God) while ourselves holding to "that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. For this is truly and appropriately Catholic"(St.Vincent de Lerins Commonitorium).
Heresy is a very "heavy" word to toss around and calling a person heretical should be done with some hesitation: we should not be too quick to judge. We would not be so bold to say that the entire hierarchy is in heresy. But then we must admit that the vast majority of the hierarchy is in formal heresy in one form or another. Formal heresy is that which is deliberate denial of Catholic teaching. Material heresy is that which is the outcome or result of ignorance; Protestants are material heretics, because they are ignorant of the truth. Once exposed to the truth, and rejecting it with obstinacy, the heresy would become formal and then to them can be attributed the law in this regard.
However when attempting to accuse the Pope of formal Heresy one must keep in mind that such a canonical conclusion (the accusation of "Heretic") logically requires canonical terms and definitions. A heretic is not merely one who rejects anything related to the Catholic faith but one who "pertinaciously denies or doubts a truth of divine and Catholic faith" (Canon 1325 § 2). Further pertinacity must be proven and not simply supposed, since for this reason does the church often has recourse to monitions (Canon 2223 § 4) and inquiries (Canon 1939) in order to admonish those suspected of heresy.
“A heretic who pertinacious disbelieves one article is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all matters. If he is not pertinacious he is not in heresy, but only in error”. St. Thomas Aquanis, Summa Theologica, 2a-2ae. V. 3.
 Once more, the appeal to canon law is fallacious, because this is a matter of DIVINE LAW. Secondly,“manifest,” as applied to heresy in canon law, however, does not refer to what truths a heretic denies (Trinity, transubstantiation, etc.), but rather to how openly he denies them.
      A heresy becomes manifest (or notorious), when its existence is “established in a public way” (constat modo publico).      This occurs, for instance, when the existence of the heretical statement “is established through authentic public documents… because such documents of their nature are open to inspection by many people, and therefore necessarily bring with them public notice.” (Michels, De Delictis et Poenis,  1:140)The authentic public digest for all the documents of the Holy See is the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. (See canon 9.) Publishing heretical decrees, pronouncements and encyclicals in the Acta — as JP2 and company did — would therefore render heresy “manifest” or “notorious.“Manifest,” again, refers to the how, not the what, of heresy. Third,

such “actual publication [divulgatio seu notitia actualis]” the canonist Michels says, is not required - only “the positive danger that publication can easily and proximately take place [facilis et proximae divulgationis].”This would occur, for example, “in surroundings necessarily accompanied by publication, such as one committed in a public place or gathering with many persons present, or through a means naturally directed toward publication, such as heresy professed in a public journal .” (De Delictis et Poenis [Paris: Desclée 1961] 1:131. Emphasis mine.)
Heresy proclaimed to the crowds in St. Peter’s Square or published in Osservatore Romano, therefore, is public as regards ecclesiastical law, no matter how few people fail to recognize what is said as heretical.
Q.Pope John Paul II was a notorious heretic before his so-called election to the papacy. Since the promulgation of the infallible Bull Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio in 1559 no one can question that a manifest heretic cannot be elected to the papacy.

A This was in force before 1917 Code of Canon Law and so all legislation prior to the Code of 1917 binds only to the extent that the code assumes to itself that legislation. However "Cum Ex apostolatus" is not taken up by the code in its entirety as Canon 2265 § 2 gives validity to an election and all consequent acts of those who had been previously been under ecclesiastical interdict.
Taking it one step further Pope Pius X in his Constitution "Vacante Sede Apostolica" says: "By reason or pretext of any kind of excommunication, suspension, or interdict or any other ecclesiastical impediment, no Cardinal can be excluded, in any manner, from an active or passive (papal) election”. Again the same is affirmed by Pope Pius XII in "Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis" (AAS 38 [1946], p. 76).
We also add that for Bishops and Cardinals to be canonically declared as "heretics" it would have had to have been declared by the Pope alone (Canon 1557 & 1558). But this was not the case for Bishops Roncalli, Montini and Wytola.


Quoting verbatim Fr Cekada:
"Most SSPX types, many sedevacantists, and even intelligent academics assume that excommunication is the starting point for the sedevacantist argument, which they believe, goes something like this:
• Canon law imposes an automatic excommunication on a heretic.
• Excommunication prevents a cleric from voting to elect someone to office, being elected to office himself, or remaining in office once he has become a public heretic.
• Paul VI and his successors incurred this excommunication for public heresy.
• Therefore, they were not true popes.
Take away the possibility of excommunication with ¶34 of Pius XII’s Constitution (the anti-sede argument goes), and the sedevacantist argument disappears.
But they misunderstand. Excommunication is a creation of ecclesiastical law, and it is not the starting point for the sedevacantist argument. In fact, it has nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Rather, for sedevacantism the starting point is another principle entirely: that divine law prevents a heretic from becoming a true pope (or remaining one, if a pope embraces heresy during the course of his pontificate.) This principle comes straight from those sections of major pre-Vatican II commentaries on the Code of Canon Law that deal with election to papal office and the qualities required in the person elected.
Here are a few quotes:
Heretics and schismatics are barred from the Supreme Pontificate by the divine law itself… [T]hey must certainly be regarded as excluded from occupying the throne of the Apostolic See, which is the infallible teacher of the truth of the faith and the center of ecclesiastical unity.” (Maroto, Institutiones I.C. 2:784)
Appointment to the Office of the Primacy. 1. What is required by divine law for this appointment… Also required for validity is that the one elected be a member of the Church; hence, heretics and apostates (at least public ones) are excluded.” (Coronata, Institutiones I.C. 1:312)
“All those who are not impeded by divine law or by an invalidating ecclesiastical law are validly eligible [to be elected pope]. Wherefore, a male who enjoys use of reason sufficient to accept election and exercise jurisdiction, and who is a true member of the Church can be validly elected, even though he be only a layman. Excluded as incapable of valid election, however, are all women, children who have not yet arrived at the age of discretion, those afflicted with habitual insanity, heretics and schismatics.” (Wernz-Vidal, Jus Can. 2:415)
Thus heresy is not a mere “ecclesiastical impediment” or censure of the type that Pius XII enumerated and suspended in paragraph 34 of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. It is instead an impediment of divine law which Pius XII did not suspend — and indeed could not have suspended, precisely because it is one of divine law.

Paragraph 34 of Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis suspends the effects of censures (excommunication, suspension, interdict) and other ecclesiastical impediments (e.g., infamy of law) for cardinals who are electing a pope and for the cardinal they finally elect. Thus, a cardinal who had incurred an excommunication prior to his election as pope would nevertheless be validly elected.
This law concerns only impediments of ecclesiastical law, however. As such, it cannot be invoked as an argument against sedevacantism, which is based on the teaching of pre-Vatican II canonists that heresy is an impediment of divine law to receiving the papacy.
Anti-sedevacantist controversialists should therefore stop recycling arguments based on the passage in question. It has nothing to do with the position they oppose."

It's obvious that Mr. Taouk has no idea about the matter on which he chooses to expound. Rather than go through the rest of his article, conceived in sheer ignorance, I wish to stop and bring to your attention a very important point. Traditionalists no longer need to belabor the point about the loss of ecclesiastical office. Bergoglio goes beyond heresy to proven apostacy. As a cleric, he never held to the Catholic Faith and even goes so far as to reject the very basic truths of the Faith, such as the Divine Institution of the Church by Jesus Christ (i.e. "There is no Catholic God."). If you're ever in an argument about sedevacantism again, simply point out Bergoglio's apostasy, and let them know that an apostate can't lose the papacy because, by Divine Law, he could never have held it.



  1. I haven't looked into this in great detail, but I am aware of the basics of the arguments.The problem I have with both traditionalist sides in this debate is they don't focus on particular known and undeniable facts associated with the current papal claimant and how they are much more damning than in the case of the prior VII Popes.

    The prior VII papal claimants were careful enough with their actions and pronouncements that in most instances they could be accused only of material heresy. For example, did JP II make an ex cathedra statement that contradicted a prior dogmatic teaching of the church? Did JP II when exercising his ordinary teaching authority contradict by name a prior dogmatic teaching of the church? Were his public ecumenical actions merely scandalous and not clear enough so one could draw the conclusion that he had objectively defected from the faith?

    The current claimant is not so careful in his actions. When archbishop he actively participated in the formal religious rites of that sect whose members deny that Jesus had any mission, whether messianic or prophetic. I considered these actions as objectively demonstrating a possible interior defecting and apostatizing from the faith.

    Participating in the rites of another religion is different from engaging in some ecumenical gathering. A reasonable person cannot reasonably conclude that a person had adopted the beliefs of a non-catholic faith by participating in an ecumenical service, but a reasonable person certainly can conclude that someone who joins in the actual rites of a non-catholic sect may have adopted the faith of that group he is praying with. Since the particular sect has Christ-denial as an implicit element of its creed, as a faithful Catholic using my reason I can reasonably conclude that this person, by his objective actions in the public sphere may have adopted Christ-denial as a belief. At the very least it raises a doubt about his allegiance to Christ and his church.

    Since none can deny that Christ denial would place this person outside the church, I don't see how I can obey him until he reassures the faithful that he has not defected from the faith. Reasoning similar to the teaching about not approaching a doubtful sacrament by analogy would seem to apply here. A superior who has committed an action that objectively evidences outright apostasy from the faith is a doubtful member of the church and should not be obeyed it would seem to me.

    When viewed from this perspective it becomes obvious what the real problem is in the church - that discipline is so lax that a prelate can actually practice the rites of a sect whose beliefs are incompatible with those of catholicism without sanction. Ultimately, it also shows just how dulled the Catholic sense of many catholics has become. The actions engaged in by this person are by any objective standard an outrageous affront that would only be done by someone who gave no thought whatsoever to how Our Lord might consider such an action. It would seem that Our Lord would be justified in concluding that since this person was demonstrating his allegiance to a group that is objectively against Christ by participating in their rites he is likewise against Christ.

  2. Bergoglio isn't even a valid priest,let alone bishop & Pope.