I rarely go on Twitter, as I don't have much time to spare in my life. One exception was a day in April of this year. I was on maybe 15 minutes when a Feeneyite challenged me to a debate. Feeneyites will never debate in a neutral forum where arguments can be made and studied, because they know they would lose. That's why I accept the challenge provided it is on a neutral forum, and in writing. This is the manner in which any Traditionalist should respond to them on the Internet or social media (especially Twitter). Here is how Feeneyites "argue" on Twitter:
- challenge someone to a debate
- if they refuse the challenge call them names ("liar," "fool," and even vulgarities) to get them to agree. If they don't agree, claim they are "cowards" and "can't deny infallible Church teachings" which allegedly "prove" their position"
- if they agree, immediately send screenshots from Fred and Bobby (already saved and waiting to go) that have infallible decrees in bold, italicized, and underscored twice, that allegedly "prove" that Baptism of Desire (BOD) and Baptism of Blood (BOB) are "heretical" because only sacramental Baptism by water can save a person's soul
- when you attempt to respond, they will inundate you with scripted responses and more screenshots of ex cathedra pronouncements. There are so many screenshots, you can't keep up
- The Feeneyite then declares you unable to respond, and further declares himself the "winner" of the "debate"
The Pope's Authority When Teaching Non-Infallibly
(The following section I have condensed from theologian Fenton, The Church of Christ, Cluny Media,  reprint of 1951 Humani Generis and the Holy Father's Ordinary Magisterium pgs. 110-123---Introibo).
On August 12, 1950, Pope Pius XII promulgated his encyclical Humani Generis, which exposed and rejected some false opinions threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic doctrine. His Holiness asked the great Thomist and Dominican theologian, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, a fervent anti-Modernist, to draft the encyclical. Paragraph number 20 of that document states:
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me"; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.
This paragraph brings forth great theological truths. I will condense the commentary on these truths as written by theologian Fenton.
1. The teachings of the pope are not to be minimized based on the subterfuge that he is not exercising the fullness of his authority.
The teachings of the encyclicals posits an assensum per se (an assent by its very nature), because it is a teaching of the supreme doctrinal authority within the One True Church of Christ. Catholics are bound to give, not merely a polite acknowledgement, but a genuine and sincere acceptance, to the teachings which the pope sets forth with a theological qualification less than de fide (of faith--infallible) or even doctrina certa (certain doctrine).
Humani Generis thus reasserts the right of the Supreme Pontiff to command "opinionative"assent. When in his encyclicals, or in any other documents or utterances of his doctrinal office, he imposes a teaching upon the members of the Church with anything less than his supreme authority (i.e., as infallible), the faithful must accept his opinionative judgement as their own. The obligation to assent is not satisfied when a person merely allows that a teaching set forth in a non-infallible papal pronouncement is a "respectable opinion." Catholics are bound, guided by the teaching authority of Christ which comes to them in the declarations of His Vicar on Earth, to take that opinion as their own.
The day may come when an opinion of this kind needs to be modified. The Church Herself allows for this possibility by not proclaiming it as definitive and binding for all time. The holding of this opinion will possibly be seen as no longer necessary for the purity of the faith. The labors of the approved theologians will, in large part, be responsible for this development. The modifications of these declarations, when and if such modification ever comes, in no way violates the infallibility or Indefectibility of the Church since the doctrine in question was never presented as infallible and irreformable teaching.
2. The pope also teaches in a universal and ordinary manner; encyclicals are always based largely on assertions that have been taught by the Magisterium (in one form or another) before.
The Vatican Council of 1870 infallibly defined that a dogma of the faith is a truth which the Church finds contained in either of the two sources of Revelation (Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition) and which She presents as divine revelation that all must accept as such. The Council goes on to explain that such presentation may be done in an extraordinary manner (infallible definitions of popes and ecumenical councils), or in a universal and ordinary way (the unanimous teachings of the approved theologians or teachings of the bishops spread throughout the world).
The Vatican Council of 1870 also presents as dogmatic the assertion that the pope enjoys the same infallibility in defining dogma that the universal Church possesses. Since the bishops can define a dogma in an extraordinary way (ecumenical council called and approved by the pope), or in a universal and ordinary way (when approving theology manuals and catechisms, etc.), it follows that the pope can also teach in an extraordinary manner (ex cathedra pronouncements like the Immaculate Conception, Assumption, canonizations, etc.), he can also do so in an ordinary way, as in an encyclical letter. The pope's teaching is truly universal because he exercises true episcopal jurisdiction over each of the faithful. Many theologians consider the papal bull Apostolicae Curae of Pope Leo XIII, declaring Anglican Orders "absolutely null and utterly void," to be in this category of a dogmatic pronouncement.
3.When the pope passes judgment on a disputed theological point, it is no longer up for debate and discussion among theologians. This is one (but not the only) sign that the pope has exercised his supreme authority in an ordinary manner.
An example is the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis, promulgated by Pope Pius XII, who settled long standing controversies over exactly what constituted the necessary and proper matter and form for Holy Orders when ordaining/consecrating deacons, priests, and bishops.
What About Papal Teaching Not In Encyclical Letters?
There are many other means whereby the pope speaks authoritatively, other than an encyclical. Pope Pius XII, the last true pope of the Catholic Church before the Great Apostasy (1939-1958), used allocutions, as different mediums of communication were coming out. Are allocutions and other non-encyclicals binding on Catholics?
In his treatise Authentic Teaching of the Magisterium, theologian Cotter teaches:
The Pope [Pius XII] has no doubt that those Catholic theologians whom he has in mind throughout the encyclical [Humani Generis] are willing to abide by the definitive decisions of the Magisterium, those handed down, solemni iudicio, They are neither heretics nor schismatics. But he complains that they ignore papal pronouncements that come to them with less authority, such as encyclicals. If reputable theologians have disagreed in the past, that assume that nothing less than a solemn definition can settle the matter; and as long as none such is forthcoming, everyone is presumed free to construe papal documents according to his own interpretation of Tradition.
In reply, the Pope reminds them that encyclicals, besides often containing matters of dogma, may intend to settle points hitherto disputed, and that such decisions demand of themselves a positive assent on the part of the faithful, theologians included. In issuing them the popes exercise what is technically known as the Ordinary or Authentic Magisterium, of which it is true to say: "He that heareth you, heareth Me."
(As cited in Contemporary Moral Theology, , 1:24-26).
Theologian Cotter notes, though the papal statement refers primarily to encyclicals, it is not restricted to these. Rather, it covers the whole range of what is called the "Ordinary Magisterium" of the Holy Father. Everything that has been said, therefore, could apply to the papal radio messages and allocutions; yet, since these have played such a prominent part in papal teaching (especially under Pope Pius XII), they merit special attention. Pope Pius XII himself, made it strikingly clear that his discourses, even when given to small groups, can contain authoritative teaching for the whole Church.
In his radio message on the education of the Christian conscience, Pope Pius XII said:
Mindful, however, of the right and duty of the Apostolic See to intervene authoritatively, when the need arises, in moral questions, in the address of 29th October last we set out to enlighten men's consciences on the problems of married life. With the self-same authority we declare today to educators and to young people also that the divine commandment of purity of soul and body still holds without any lesser obligation for the youth of today.
According to theologian Hurth (consultor to the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office and a staunch anti-Modernist) papal radio addresses and allocutions have the same doctrinal value as encyclicals: they are an integral part of the ordinary teaching of the pope; and, as such, though not infallible, they require both internal and external acceptance. (Ibid, pg. 26; Emphasis mine).
Catholics Must Assent To Non-Infallible Teachings. Therefore, Feeneyites Are Not Catholic
Feeneyites have the temerity to claim that there is no positive duty to accept non-infallible teachings of the Church. Here's what the popes themselves have taught:
Pope Leo XIII:
In defining the limits of the obedience owed to the pastors of souls, but most of all to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, it must not be supposed that it is only to be yielded in relation to dogmas of which the obstinate denial cannot be disjoined from the crime of heresy. Nay, further, it is not enough sincerely and firmly to assent to doctrines which, though not defined by any solemn pronouncement of the Church, are by her proposed to belief, as divinely revealed, in her common and universal teaching, and which the  Vatican Council declared are to be believed “with Catholic and divine faith.” But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the Apostolic See.
(See Sapientiae Christianae, para. #24; Emphasis mine).
Pope Pius IX:
Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that “without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.” But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.
(See Quanta Cura, para. #5; Emphasis mine).
Pope Pius XI:
Wherefore, let the faithful also be on their guard against the overrated independence of private judgment and that false autonomy of human reason. For it is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances; or even that they must obey only in those matters which she has decreed by solemn definition as though her other decisions might be presumed to be false or putting forward insufficient motive for truth and honesty. Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord.
(See Casti Connubii, para. #104; Emphasis mine).
Could the Pope Teach Heresy as an "Innocent Mistake"?
In the face of all of the above, which Feeneyites deny, they will claim that in non-infallible teaching, a pope could introduce a heresy as an "innocent mistake." This is impossible because of the dogma of Indefectibility, which states that the Catholic Church must endure as an institution until the end of time, and must remain essentially the same until the end of time. This means that She must have perfect continuity of dogma and moral teaching, with no contradictions, perfect continuity of worship, and perfect continuity of all of its essential disciplines. It is based on the very words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (St. Matthew 28:20).
Christ also said to the Apostles: “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.” (St. Luke 10:16). This means that every Catholic can, and must, listen to the Church teaching as the teaching of Christ Himself. What if they are not teaching infallibly? Such teachings are nevertheless protected by the Holy Ghost from teaching any pernicious doctrine. This means the Church cannot teach anything which is contrary to Catholic doctrine or morals, and which would be a sin to embrace. The Church also cannot impose evil disciplines, and thereby prescribe something evil to the faithful, making it sinful to observe; nor can the Church give anything which would constitute an incentive to impiety.
This completely rules out any possibility of the pope teaching heresy, for the protection of the Holy Ghost precludes it. Theologian Fenton teaches:
To the Holy Father’s responsibility of caring for the sheep of Christ’s fold, there corresponds, on the part of the Church’s membership, the basic obligation of following his directions, in doctrinal as well as disciplinary matters. In this field, God has given the Holy Father a kind of infallibility distinct from the charism of doctrinal infallibility in the strict sense. He has so constructed and ordered the Church that those who follow the directives given to the entire kingdom of God on earth will never be brought into the position of ruining themselves spiritually through this obedience. Our Lord dwells within His Church in such a way that those who obey disciplinary and doctrinal directives of this society can never find themselves displeasing God through their adherence to the teachings and the commands given to the universal Church militant. Hence there can be no valid reason to discountenance even the non-infallible teaching authority of Christ’s vicar on earth.
(See "The American Ecclesiastical Review;" [August 1949], “The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals, Part I”, pgs. 144-145).
A Feeneyite Conundrum: Were Popes Pius IX and XII True Popes?
It has been demonstrated that a pope, when teaching the Church infallibly or non-infallibly, cannot teach heresy, and Catholics must submit to those teachings. Feeneyites claim that water Baptism excludes both BOD and BOB, because only water Baptism can save a soul, and that this is a dogma of Divine and Catholic Faith. For Fred and Bobby Dimond, and their followers in Feeneyism, you are a heretic if you profess either BOD or BOB.
Now consider the following teachings of the popes:
In his encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, Pope Pius IX declares in para. #7:
Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments. (Emphasis mine).
In the first part I emphasized, Pope Pius IX clearly states the dogma Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Outside The Church No Salvation). In the next part, he acknowledges that those invincibly ignorant, who live honest lives according to the Natural Law, and are open to the actual graces of God can be saved, not by baptism of water--or he would have written it--but "by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace." God can infuse them with sanctifying grace and the True Faith before death (Baptism of Desire).
Pope Pius XII (Oct. 29, 1951): Address to the Congress of the Italian Catholic Association of Midwives:
If what We have said up to now deals with the protection and the care of natural life, it should hold all the more in regard to the supernatural life which the newly born infant receives with Baptism. In the present economy there is no other way of communicating this life to the child who has not yet the use of reason. But, nevertheless, the state of grace at the moment of death is absolutely necessary for salvation. Without it, it is not possible to attain supernatural happiness, the beatific vision of God. An act of love can suffice for an adult to obtain sanctifying grace and supply for the absence of Baptism; for the unborn child or for the newly born, this way is not open...(Emphasis mine).
Pope Pius XII clearly teaches Baptism of Desire. Neither Pope Pius IX nor Pope Pius XII were speaking infallibly, yet they cannot be giving a doctrine contrary to the Catholic Faith, especially heresy. Pope Gregory XVI in Quo Graviora (1833) states, "The Church is the pillar and foundation of truth, all of which truth is taught by the Holy Ghost. Should the Church be able to order, yield to, or permit those things which tend toward the destruction of souls and the disgrace and detriment of the sacrament instituted by Christ?”
If the popes cannot teach heresy, and they teach BOD, it logically follows that BOD is NOT heresy, and Feeneyism collapses. They must submit to the teaching authority of the pope. Some may protest, "No! The pope was merely speaking as a private theologian and not meaning to bind the Church." That's ridiculous, but let's suppose it true. Feeneyites have a bigger problem. It brings them to a place they don't want to be. As St. Alphonsus Liguori teaches: "If ever a pope, as a private person, should fall into heresy, he would at once fall from the pontificate.”(See Oeuvres Completes. 9:232; Emphasis mine).
Here now is the Feeneyite conundrum: If Pope Pius XII (or IX) were truly pope, then the teaching on BOD cannot be heretical, either innocently or otherwise. If either pope were expressing his opinion as a private theologian, and teaching BOD is heresy, they could not be pope. Which is it? Feeneyite Richard Ibranyi has pushed the vacancy in the papacy back to 1130 AD, with the death of Pope Honorius II. Another Feeneyite who commented once on this blog has Pope Leo V in 903 AD as the last true pope. (I call such people "Vacancy Pushers"--pushing back the time of the vacancy). Any answer? Fred? Bobby?
Never debate a Feeneyite on their terms. If they want an open and honest debate, do so on an independent platform where arguments are written and can be studied. No Feeneyite to date has ever agreed to such with me. As my friend and fellow Traditionalist blogger, Steve Speray says, "Feeneyites have a certain sickness of soul." It is clear that two popes non-infallibly taught BOD. Since popes cannot teach heresy when they teach the Church (infallibly or non-infallibly), Feeneyites must submit to the teaching of BOD. If they spoke as "mere private theologians," they fell from office and could not be pope.
It's no wonder Feeneyism, with all its errors regarding the Church, gives rise to the whacky ideas of those such as Ibranyi. Pretty soon they'll take the vacancy back to St. Peter himself. I can hear it now: "I always had a sneaking suspicion about that Pope St. Linus!"