Gnostic Catholic?

Your comment seems at least to tend towards making of the Catholic religion a sort of Gnostic cult where no Catholic can ever know his faith until and unless the pope tells him what to believe, even if the pope tells him something totally different than past popes told him.

Mike

I have to admit, this is a new one on me.  It had never occurred to me that adherence to the authority of the living pope, as a matter of presumption on the part of the ordinary faithful, could ever be construed as a form of gnosticism or as the logical error of appeal to authority (definition).  So, I guess we could say that the postconciliar Church of today is the Gnostic Church of Vatican II.

I have never claimed that the traditionalist arguments have no plausibility whatever.  What I have argued is that the only Church that Christ established is the one under the authority of His Vicar on earth.  Papal teaching authority cannot be reduced to documents, nor can the living pope be put in a box until he is needed to define something.  As I have already pointed out, the pope’s

power of jurisdiction in matters of faith, morals, discipline and government is supreme, universal, absolute, and immediate over the whole Church and each of its members. To deny this is heresy.

This being said, those who have a problem with papal teaching, particularly bishops and theologians, may have recourse to the Holy See in such a way that maintains the appropriate response to the Vicar of Christ.  This would not include preaching against the Holy Father from the pulpit, attacking his teaching in the mass media, or using political pressure tactics and propaganda to achieve one’s own agenda.  And here’s the rub:  the traditionalists are so convinced of their position, that is, they believe their position is so self-evident and irrefutable on the face of it, that they are obliged to proclaim their convictions from the rooftops.

Therefore, from the point of view of someone like me, traditionalism is fundamentally subversive and irredeemably so, because the basis of their claim to a just cause is that it is the pope himself who is the subversive and cannot be trusted.

The Pope As Gnostic Guru

It is not altogether clear to me what traditionalists actually believe about the papal office.  I have never claimed that the pope is always infallible.  I have never claimed that he is ever impeccable.  But I have claimed that the providence of God in regard to the Holy Father extends beyond the exercise of his infallibility.  For example, by nature the office of shepherd (pastor) is not a protected by any guarantee of infallibility.  That a particular pastoral decision might be mistaken is possible.  That a habit of mind by which we hold the universal and supreme Pastor of the Church in suspicion until he guarantees that he is right is another matter.

Gnosticism proposes a direct relationship between enlightenment and worthiness.  It is fundamentally elitist because it presumes that the mass of men are reprobate or only savable through those few who are capable of knowing the hidden truth.  In Gnosticism who decides who is worthy?  Well, of course, the worthy!  Gnosticism is imposed from above by those with power in the service of their own agenda.  This is why Pope Benedict succinctly identified Gnosticism as “intellectual elitism.”  I believe that both modernism and traditionalism are gnostic.

The papacy is not man’s idea.  It is not an ancient secret.  No one makes Catholicism a “gnostic religion,” by affirming the doctrinal and pastoral authority of Peter.  Yes, there are a lot of smart Catholics out there and many of them may be smarter than the pope.  But the Catholic religion has never been about following the smartest guy in the room.  The first pope was decidedly not the smartest guy in the room.  It is Christ who made the Church work the way it does, and it is Christ who in a mysterious way protects the Church through the office of Peter, even when Peter fails in virtue and in his teaching.

But the traditionalists will on the one hand argue that their positions are self evident, and when you point out to them that, no, they have not shown that their position is metaphysically necessary they bring out their very impressive list of alleged papal aberrations.  It is like experiencing a Protestant marshal verse after verse from the Bible to prove that the discourse on the Bread of Life in John 6 cannot be taken literally, and that the one and only possible explanation for the text is the one they propose.  In the midst of such a discussion you know that there is nothing you could possible say that will convince them otherwise.

The pope is only a guardian and transmitter of the deposit of the faith.  He cannot change anything.  But that does not mean that everything is always simple.  With Vatican II, the Church presented a take on the problem of modernity in a way that was innovative.  I have argued that that approach is not a contradiction of the previous magisterium, but in many ways it is contrary to it, that is, different from it, because perennial teaching has been applied in new ways to pastoral questions that were in need of a new approach.  Traditionalists will argue that it is self-evident that postconciliar teaching changed irreformable doctrine.  And if they cannot get away with that they will try to be the smartest guy in the room.  I am decidedly not the smartest guy in the room, so I follow the pope in Rome instead of the pope in the room.

Either you have a principle of authority to settle controversies and maintain unity or you don’t.  For this reason, I think the sedevacantists are far more consistent in their position than the other traditionalists.  Recourse to the pope to settle controversies is not the practice of gnosticism.  But we get closer to that beast when the smartest guy in the room starts waving a text in your face and tells you that if you don’t agree with his interpretation then you are denying what is self-evident.

Recourse to the Pope as an Argument from Authority

The argument from authority asserts that the expertise of the one making a claim guarantees its truth.  It is a logical fallacy. Expertise proves nothing. But the argument from authority has nothing to do with the papal office.  We do not say that the Holy Father is the smartest guy in the room.  And even if he is, as would be the case most of the time with Pope Benedict, we do not follow him for that reason.  We follow him because he has received his office directly from Christ who says: He who hears you hears me.  There is no natural explanation for this.  One cannot reduce the providence of God to an airtight syllogism.  There are many apparent contradictions in life and in particular in respect to things we cannot see.  We have a pope to guide us through such problems, not because of some presumption based on expertise or juridical authority, but because he has been given a mandate from Christ to teach.

I do not have a practical argument with those who are compelled by their convictions to withhold internal consent from this or that postconciliar teaching.  But those who evangelize and catechize against the Holy Father are another matter.  Yes, I think they should pray that they are right, and no I am not afraid of being wrong, because if I am, I am only following the one Christ told me to follow.

Is there more faith in that than reason?  Of course.  But the cause of supernatural faith is the grace of God.  Reason has its place in faith because faith is an intellectual virtue.  But reason is not the cause of faith.  God is.  I’ll stick with what Christ told me to do.  Otherwise, what is the point?

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58 thoughts on “Gnostic Catholic?

  1. I am not sure I will ever be able to grasp the position of traditionalists/sedevacantists – the claim of being totally faithful to Catholic Teaching but then by action rebelling against the Church and the Authority of the Church. What is a bigger contradition than that? What does Matthew 16:18-19 mean to them? What does the Catechism’s Teaching on the Church, authority of the Pope, etc., mean to them? I popped over briefly to the SSPX website to see if they have any references to the Catechism and low and behold one of their main feature articles is promoting a Novena for the election of the Pope. Well that is all fine and good but hopefully they are praying for obedience to the Pope as well. Assuming they use the Baltimore Catechism, how do you suppose they teach this? I just can’t imagine.

    Q. 528. How do you know that the Church can not err?

    A. I know that the Church can not err because Christ promised that the Holy Ghost would remain with it forever and save it from error. If, therefore, the Church has erred, the Holy Ghost must have abandoned it and Christ has failed to keep His promise, which is a thing impossible.

    Q. 532. Is the Pope infallible in everything he says and does?

    A. The Pope is not infallible in everything he says and does, because the Holy Ghost was not promised to make him infallible in everything, but only in matters of faith and morals for the whole Church. Nevertheless, the Pope’s opinion on any subject deserves our greatest respect on account of his learning, experience and dignity.

    In Christ,
    Marian

  2. Father,

    I’ll try a few more replies to some points you raise (your remarks in italics):

    Ultimately, whether the teaching of Mortalium Animos is in se irreformable is not for you or I to decide.

    That’s true; it’s for the pope to decide, and a pope (Pius XI) already has decided it. The teaching of Pius XI in this encyclical was something believed “always and everywhere, by all” (semper, et ubique, et ab omnibus–St. Vincent Lerins), since you will be unable to find any pope, saint, Father, or any Catholic authority in all of history prior to Vatican II who taught anything besides this truth: unity can only be achieved by the conversion of heretics, schismatics, etc. to the one true Church. The irreformability of this teaching is not something which is still uncertain; it has already been decided, by 2,000 years of consistent Tradition. Once more I think your attempt to render uncertain the status of preconciliar Magisterial teaching is an implicit admission that recent novelties so clearly clash with the past that the only viable way to defend them is to try to make the past teachings seem to have less authority than they really have.

    Of course there is a clash, but it is a clash of pastoral practice not a clash with irreformable doctrine.

    This is question begging. This is exactly the thing you have to prove; you can’t simply assume it to be true as your starting point.

    Your claim that Pius XI’s teaching is absolute is based on the a priori assumption that a text is absolute because that it does not say that it is not.

    No, my claim is based on the very nature of the case. Unity has always been defined by the Church as consisting partly in unity of faith (cf. Mystici Corporis Christi, n. 22; Ephesians 4:5). Since the marks of the Church cannot change, therefore the conditions for unity also cannot change, and thus there isn’t any need for Pius XI to preface everyone one of his statements by saying “The following is absolute and irreformable.”

    And the fact that not every instance of ecumenism and/or religious dialogue might have been carried out perfectly does not mean that the postconciliar teaching is illegitimate. Abusus non tollit usum.

    I’m sorry Father, but is that really how you’re going to describe the outrages at Assisi? “Not carried out perfectly”? Really? Desecrating a tabernacle by putting a Buddha statue on top of it (Assisi 1986), removing crucifixes from the “prayer rooms” (Assisi 2002), having the Roman pontiff apparently in attendance as an African witch doctor evidently recites prayers to a demon inside a Catholic church (Assisi 2011)? “Not carried out perfectly”? Father, that’s like watching someone get in a devastating car accident, totaling the car, bleeding to within an inch of his life, setting off a 10-car pileup, and then saying that the person “didn’t carry out his driving perfectly.” I think you know very well that every saint in Heaven would have recoiled in abject horror from the site of an idol being placed atop the Blessed Sacrament. We are talking about mortal sins against the First Commandment. All the saints reprobated these horrifying crimes. All of them. St. Benedict and St. Francis Xavier destroyed idols. What would they have done had they been at Assisi? They would have reacted exactly as traditionalists do.

    You also continue to evade my comment about Benedict XVI’s remarks. Benedict XVI formally encouraged non-Catholics to practice their false religions. I gave the quotation. The Church’s constant teaching from the very beginning has been that to practice a false religion, objectively speaking is a mortal sin against the First Commandment. Any reputable moral theology manual approved by ecclesiastical authority and used to train confessors prior to Vatican II (e.g., St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Manualia) would state this very clearly. Yet you appear to excuse Benedict XVI’s doing this because, well, he’s the pope. Does being pope endow someone with a license to encourage people to engage in objective violations of the First Commandment? Really? But despite this apparent belief that popes are now empowered to quite literally override Commandments, nevertheless you object to my characterizing this attitude as belief in “papal super-infallibility.”

    You are morally certain that it was a mistake. The postconciliar popes have been morally certain that it was not. They have authority to teach from Christ himself. You don’t.

    No, but Pius XI, St. Pius X, Leo XIII, etc. all had that same authority when they condemned these sort of things, so the argument doesn’t stand. I would also dispute your claim that the postconciliar popes have anything approaching moral certainty about their project. I already provided you then-Fr. Ratzinger’s quote about how ecumenism was a total novelty with no precedent in the Deposit of Faith. Here is John Paul II:

    “There are people who in the face of the difficulties or because they consider that the first ecumenical endeavours have brought negative results would have liked to turn back. Some even express the opinion that these efforts are harmful to the cause of the Gospel, are leading to a further rupture in the Church, are causing confusion of ideas in questions of faith and morals and are ending up with a specific indifferentism. It is perhaps a good thing that the spokesmen for these opinions should express their fears.”–Redemptor Hominis, n. 6

    John Paul II says that it is “good” that people point out the dangers of ecumenism leading to indifferentism. If John Paul II himself admits that his ecumenical enthusiasms earn worthwhile criticism from some quarters, then he is hardly to be classed as a “morally certain” proponent of those reforms.

    There was also a news article around the time of the last Assisi meeting saying that Benedict XVI had not wanted to carry it out, but was perhaps pressured to do so, and wrote a letter to a Protestant who expressed concern (a Protestant who apparently was more correct on this point than many Catholics!) by assuring him that he would do what he could to make sure that it didn’t turn out to be bad. Once more this is an expression of self-doubt on the part of a pope which does not allow any appeal to “moral certainty.”

    But if a pope was morally certain that desecrating a church with demon worship was alright, all that proves is that this pope was certainly wrong. If you can’t agree that demon worship is gravely immoral, no matter who approves of it, pope or not, then we are right back to my charge of implied Gnosticism: the Faith is a hidden and ethereal gnosis, so that the faithful cannot understand that blasphemy and sacrilege are evil, but must await the Vatican’s explanation as to how these always-condemned-as-sins practices are in fact perfectly acceptable and inoffensive.

    If you would like to defend the idea that John Paul II was “morally certain” that kissing the Koran was a good approach, and then hold that his authority somehow legitimizes this abomination, I can only reply that such would be a textbook case of an utterly fallacious appeal to authority.

    There is nothing I can say to change your mind because you insist that your conclusions are self-evident and because you insist on using texts as the last word. For you the Word of God is a text, like it is for the Protestants.i>

    Passing over your gratuitous swipe at me, once more likening me to the Protestants (which is still a false comparison, by the way, and no less false for your having repeated it), I ask you the following: Father, how else does a pope communicate to his flock, generally speaking, except through texts? How else are we supposed to know his teaching? You yourself have defended Benedict XVI by quoting one of his texts to justify your statement. I, too, have quoted Pius XI’s text, i.e., the words of the same living authority of whom you speak. The text is simply the medium through which that living authority speaks, rather than the end in itself. I think your criticism here is simply a semantical issue. I have not used texts as the last word: I have used the pope’s teaching authority, as expressed through the texts (the same as you have done, by the way). You said that a text is not the Vicar of Christ. True, but a text is the means by which the Vicar of Christ speaks.

    I would ask further, Father, in what sense are you open to changing your own mind? Have you shown any willingness throughout this exchange to entertain the idea that Benedict XVI might actually have made a serious error? Every challenge I present to you is either ignored, dismissed with speciously-pious appeals to papal authority and good faith, or returned unrefuted with accusations of Protestantism or the like. Being open-minded about one’s possible wrongfulness seems to be a one-way street in this exchange, a street which you would have me traverse, though not yourself.

    But Pope Leo X does not say that Luther was not Christocentric, does he?
    This is really clutching at straws now, Father. Leo X doesn’t explicitly spell out that Luther is not Christocentric, and therefore you interpret this as the pope leaving an open door that this infamous heretic may be in fact be centered on Christ? Pius XI’s encyclical against Nazism said that Hitler’s system was evil, but he did not explicitly say that Hitler himself wasn’t a good and pious man; shall we conclude that Hitler may be in fact be such, since the pope hasn’t expressly ruled it out?

    He says that he was a heretic. Is it metaphysically impossible for the theology of a heretic to be centered on Christ in some sense?

    Yes, it is impossible for someone who denies Christ’s teaching to be centered on Christ, since whoever denies Christ’s teaching implicitly or explicitly calls Christ a liar. St. Thomas says that heresy is one of the gravest of all mortal sins, worse than adultery, worse than treason, worse than mass murder, since heresy directly attacks one of God’s perfections: His perfect truthfulness. To say that a heretic could nonetheless be “centered on Christ” is like saying that a notorious bank robber could nonetheless be a decent and law-abiding respecter of other people’s property. The two descriptions are manifestly opposed. You don’t like my repeated charges of contradiction, but I don’t see that you’ve done anything to refute them.

    This is the problem of what I identified as your pretense of having airtight arguments and claiming everything you say is self-evident.

    Is it really not self-evident that someone who blasphemes and outrages Christ cannot at one and the same time be “centered on Christ”? If that isn’t self-evident, what possibly could be? Really, I’m not understanding your resistance to recognizing plain and undeniable contradiction as anything other than a dogged refusal for any reason to admit that the pope made a really bad error here.

    Again, the Pope Mahoney bit is a straw man because, as you have so clearly pointed out, we are not talking about anything de fide. This discussion is not about that, is it?

    No, the discussion is partly about how far someone will take your obedience to a pope. You said that you will obey without condition. So to test the reality of this claim, I pose a question: if the next pope rises to the level of clearly and unmistakably denying dogmas of the Faith, will you still obey? In that case you would be denying a dogma of the Faith to obey someone, even though that person (the claimed pope) is himself subject to the Faith, not vice versa. If this situation were to transpire, of course, I have no doubt that many people would simply deny that the pope had done anything wrong, that maybe he was giving us a “new understanding” of ancient teachings, that we ought to just trust that his denial of the Real Presence was really well-meaning, that anyone who dared challenge him was just being prideful and Protestant, and so on. The level of raw tenacity with which people refuse to acknowledge papal error is really stunning, even though nothing in all of Catholic teaching justifies this attitude when taken to such an extreme. There’s no “paranoia” here, Father. I’ve just got done replying to a post which describes things like putting idols on top of the tabernacle or invoking demons inside a church as an “imperfect” carrying out of ecumenism. Not a monstrous crime, not a mortal sin which cries to Heaven for vengeance, not an abomination with offends God, but just “not perfectly carried out.” And I know that the sole reason you use such mild words is that the pope is associated with these actions, and you fear to contradict him. If one of your penitents came to you and confessed that he went into your parish church and prayed aloud to Satan, or put an idol on top of your community’s tabernacle and committed sacrilege before the Blessed Sacrament, or kissed a Koran, or participated in animist pagan worship, I have no doubt that you would censure this penitent and give him an appropriately severe penance. But when the pope does things like this you turn the other way, you use only the mildest hints of criticism, and you turn your severest words not against the pope who committed these deeds, but against those who would criticize him for doing so. And that, Father, is a misplaced set of priorities if ever I saw one.

    • @Mike on March 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      Any attempt to establish a contradiction between pre- and postconciliar teaching, or to insist that postconciliar pastoral teaching constitutes in se (an inherent) contradiction of the deposit of faith involves a theological argument. For such a thing to be considered by the Church “theologically certain” and thus irreformable, the magisterium would have to proclaim it so. To insist that new teaching contradicts something that is irreformable also involves a theological argument, even if your argument is based on what you conclude to be part of the ordinary magisterium. Unless the magisterium explicitly condemns Vatican II or the teaching of the postconciliar popes, at the most your opinions may enjoy a degree of moral certitude based on theological argumentation. Therefore, for you to assert that conciliar and postconciliar teaching contradicts the deposit of the faith is not a conclusion inherently demanded by the deposit of the faith, but rather, is your contingent theological opinion. That is all it is.

      It may be that your arguments will eventually hold sway in magisterial teaching, but your claim that your conclusions are mathematically or metaphysically necessary is simply gratuitous. That you cannot see this fact is rooted in an error in logic, based perhaps on faulty epistemology or metaphysics. I don’t know. But it is a problem typical of traditionalism. Thaddeus Kozinski a man who knows traditionalism from the inside, identifies the problem the same way I do. In his article, “The Gnostic Traditionalist,” he writes:

      The spiritual error at the heart of this [traditionalist] obsession with syllogisms is the belief in the infallible certainty of one’s own private judgments, judgments that a priori cannot be certain due to their being bound up with concrete particulars. For example, take a syllogism like this: A formal heretic cannot be a pope. Cardinal X is a formal heretic. Therefore, Cardinal X, who was supposedly elected to the papacy, cannot be the pope. Now, even though the major premise might be true, and might be the kind of judgment that one can know to be true with certainty, the minor premise, prescinding from the question of its truth for a moment, is the sort of judgment that is intrinsically debatable for any human being, especially a lay person with no official authority in the Church, because it does not pertain to an immutable idea or general truth, but to a concrete, historical, personal particular. And we simply cannot judge the truth of particulars with the same level of certainty that we can judge abstract statements.

      Again, because you cannot distinguish between metaphysical and moral certainty, you also are incapable of distinguishing between a two statements involving a metaphysical contradiction and two statements that are contrary, but that do not inherently exclude each other. You cannot grammatically prove that two statements, considered outside of their complete context, involve inherent contradictions any more than someone can prove grammatically that two texts in sacred scripture involve inherent contradictions. (Only when context is manifestly irrelevant, as when one is dealing directly with metaphysics and mathematics, can simple grammar determine absolutely the existence of a contradiction because a thing cannot exist and not exist at one and the same time and under the same respect.) The Holy Doctors tell us that even if, after all possible alternative explanations have been exhausted, scriptural texts still appear to be contradictory, then we must conclude that we are missing something. I am not, therefore, saying that papal teaching enjoys the protection of inerrancy, or that good arguments cannot be made for the existence of contradictions between pre- and postconciliar teaching. What I am saying that conclusions derived from such arguments simply do not rise to the level of magisterial teaching. In fact, the very reason why we have a magisterium is to resolve such problems.

      Preconciliar teaching on ecumenism, which is a pastoral practice, cannot be proven a priori to be metaphysically irreformable. When a change in teaching arises, then the question of irreformabilty becomes relevant and must ultimately be decided by the magisterium itself. Theological arguments will be absolutely necessary in the process of discernment. But no such argument will reach conclusions that are metaphysically necessary.

      If is for this reason that I know that no amount of arguing with you over this will be convincing. The most fundamental problem has nothing to do with our disagreement over magisterial texts.

      You play more grammar gotcha with me over my statement about ecumenism being “imperfectly carried out.” In the process you inevitably miss the point. You are correct, I did not make much of the instances you listed because the existence or lack of existence of scandal is not probative. Abusus non tollit usum. This is metaphysics and logic. The word “imperfect” does not indicate a refusal to make moral judgments, but a refusal to allow you to deviate from the essential question. A particular instance of ecumenism, or a particular act that takes place in the name of ecumenism, which is imperfect is one that does not reach its perfection, that is, its end. That such an instance exists does not mean that defined end itself is evil. Again, you simply do not make the essential distinctions.

      Furthermore, a discussion about imperfect practices is a historical, not theological argument, and the conclusion arrived at thereby, is purely contingent, never necessary. This is a further distinction you fail to make.

      I have attempted in my own poor way to answer some of your concrete objections, namely, concerning the collaboration with non-Catholics in order to bring about peace, and the statement of Benedict XVI about the Christocentric spirituality of Luther. Readers will have to judge for themselves the relative value of our arguments. But for reasons already mentioned such arguments with you are a priori futile. We disagree theologically, and you have good arguments, but I am not going to allow you to deflect from the fact that you cannot distinguish what is necessary from what is contingent, and from the fact that your opinions do not and never will rise to the level of magisterial teaching.

      There is nothing that Catholics believe simply because a theological argument has proven it to be true. Theological faith is intellectual assent on the basis of authority. If some doctrine is determined to be theologically certain in the Catholic Church, it is because it has been so determined by the magisterium, not by theologians and historians. Assent to the deposit of faith is assent based on authority. Believing what is taught in Mortalium Animos is an assent to authority. But no such assent is reached by the “argument from authority” because the assent of faith does not have its necessary cause in reason. Faith is a gift. One cannot prove metaphysically by theological argument that something defined ex cathedra by the pope is revealed by God. We have reasons for our belief and compelling arguments. But the absolute certitude that is characteristic of faith is a gift of God not simply a logical conclusion.

      I vowed unconditional obedience to the next pope, like Benedict XVI, because I have faith that the next pope will not be a heretic. That I have to state this, or prove that it is the reasonable presumption, just brings home to me how surreal the traditionalist world really is. You are right, I do not have this all figured out, because I am not living in the traditionalist bubble—the narrow little world in which person opinion about contingent matters becomes metaphysical certitude and the veritable deposit of faith. I have never claimed that my arguments are anything more than my opinion, nor have asserted that there is the slightest measure of obligation to agree with anything I say. I have not confused what I have to say with Church teaching. But I do know who the Vicar of Christ is, and I do know what Christ wants me to do in his regard, and what not to do.

      You have taken upon your shoulders a very heavy burden of proof, not only because you are trying to theologically prove that the pope is wrong, but also because you think that your certitude justifies teaching your conviction to others. Qualified theologians and other concerned parties who serve the Church and have reached the same conclusion as you have a means of recourse. But they never become a parallel magisterium or supplant the role of the living magisterium.

      Fidelity to the Holy Father is not a respect for his person, nor a commitment to proclaim his impeccability, nor an irrational conviction that he is always right about everything. But it is an act of faith that he is the Vicar of Christ. My faith is and will remain always and in everyway in the person of Christ. That is not irrational. That is faith.

      In your comment to Marian you defend the position of the SSPX. Indeed, your positions are entirely consistent with SSPX doctrine. The Vicar of Christ in a very humble manner extended his hand and offered the Society a path to regularization. Archbishop di Noia in the Holy Father’s name has provided also a means in which to maintain conscientious objection within the limits required by humble submission to the Vicar of Christ, to which all Catholics are obliged. If your conscience compels you to do otherwise, it does so on the basis of a theological and/or historical argument which by its nature is personal and contingent, as are the arguments that priests are obliged to obey bishops without jurisdiction, or that jurisdiction is supplied for the valid administration of the Sacraments of Holy Matrimony and Penance. Likewise the contingent reasons separating a conviction that a pope has denied the deposit of faith from one that asserts the pope is guilty of heresy all lead to private judgments which are neither a matter of Church doctrine, nor metaphysical certitude.

      I pray for the return of the SSPX, for those who conscientiously object to the postconciliar magisterium and especially for all those who judge themselves obliged to publically oppose the Holy Father. May they, and may you find the blessings of God in humble submission to the Vicar of Christ, lest they and you learn as Napoleon did, that “he who eats the pope dies.”

      God bless you.

  3. Marian,

    I think the difficulty you have in attempting to imagine how the SSPX can reconcile those reference from the Baltimore Catechism is due to a misunderstanding you might have on the group. For starters… before Feb 28th they were not sedevacantists.

  4. Maybe in words they were not, but what about by their actions? They certainly have not been obedient to the authority of the Pope. And people who have a problem with the popes because they are imperfect people, certainly can find fault with any pope dating back to the first if that is what they are looking for. This argument sounds a lot to me like the Mormon’s claim of apostasy. The keys were taken from the Catholic Church and now they have the keys. However, if you don’t trust in the Promise of Christ to be with the Church to the end of time and the keys of authority given to Peter by Christ’s own words!!!, then you cannot claim assurance of truth being taught through whoever/whatever you are following because you believe that Christ does not keep His promises.

    I will follow the Pope
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p4.htm

    In Christ,
    Marian

  5. Timothy – so yes, in the links you provided, while the SSPX say in word that they accept the authority of the pope, in fact, Bishop Fellay gives himself a higher place by thinking he is the authority to decide what a Catholic will and will not accept. It is interesting because people who usually have a problem with the popes will bring up some of the popes from the middle ages but apparently the sspx and sedevacantists don’t have a problem with those.

    I thought of both groups at Mass today when I heard the readings. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” The SSPX heard the voice of God through Pope Benedict calling them home but so far their hearts remain hardened.

    In Christ,
    Marian

  6. I find it very comforting to know that, even though a pope’s personal actions may be questionable, he cannot err when he he speaks ex cathedra on matters of Faith and morals. Otherwise I would have to roam here and there searching for truth and tormented by doubt and fear! It is truly wonderful to know that the teachings that come from the Holy Father when he speaks from the Chair of Peter as Vicar of Christ are protected with infallibility by the promise of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit! That is faith and it is so consoling!
    And just for the record, (we are currently without a Holy Father as we await the election of our new pontiff, but when we did have one) I did not fear him! I loved him and his predecessor!! We have been extraordinarily blessed in the past century or so to have been given such awesome popes, holy men of humble heart and pure intentions. We may not be so fortunate in the future, but we can know for certain that he will not teach falsehood when he speaks as Vicar of Christ from the Chair of Peter! I find that very encouraging!

  7. I will follow the Pope

    What if the pope is wrong, Marian? Will you still follow him then?

    Bishop Fellay gives himself a higher place by thinking he is the authority to decide what a Catholic will and will not accept.

    No, you’ve misrepresented the arguments given by the SSPX. Bishop Fellay always appeals to the authority of the (preconciliar) popes to justify his resistance to the postconciliar errors and novelties. He does not appeal to his own authority. Please represent the SSPX’s claims fairly and accurately if you are going to disagree with them.

    The SSPX heard the voice of God through Pope Benedict calling them home but so far their hearts remain hardened.

    Marian, unless you have been given the gift of reading souls, like Padre Pio or St. John Vianney, then you don’t have any business making comments speculating on the state of the SSPX members’ hearts.

  8. Mike, one knows the tree by the fruit it bears. Somewhere in St Matthew’s Gospel our Lord tells us that we all will be accountable for every word we utter…you, sir, have uttered far too many against the popes you deem ‘questionable’.

    And who are you to say ‘the Pope is wrong’? Raise your eyes a little higher.

  9. Mike : Bishop Fellay always appeals to the authority of the (preconciliar) popes to justify his resistance to the postconciliar errors and novelties. He does not appeal to his own authority. Please represent the SSPX’s claims fairly and accurately if you are going to disagree with them.

    Marian: Mike the only analogy I can come up with at the moment is that this is kind of like accepting the Old Testament without the New Testament and to do that as we know is not accepting the entire Word of God in Scripture. Just hanging the Pope’s picture on the wall does not mean that you are giving him the authority he deserves. Don’t you think that for Bishop Fellay to decide what is error in the Church and what is not is kind of like making himself the authority of the Church? Christ did not say that He would be with the Church only until the Second Vatican Council. But, again, if you have a problem with the popes, why don’t you reject more popes, more church teaching?

    But, yes, please be fair. In the case of your points against Blessed John Paul II, for example, just browsing the web there are many theories out there as to what actually happened with the Quran. Was it the Quran? Did Blessed John Paul II know that? What was his intention? Was he making a gesture as he does when he kisses the ground? So many questions that you don’t know the answer to unless you have been able to ask him? It almost seems like you believe that the Pope knows every detail in the planning of every event that he attends. I would be very surprised if that is the case. Blessed John Paul II was brilliant, faithful, deeply prayerful and inspired by God. If you have the opportunity to watch “Witness to Hope” on his life, please do so. Blessed John Paul II was one of the precious jewels of the Church.

    Mike: Marian, unless you have been given the gift of reading souls, like Padre Pio or St. John Vianney, then you don’t have any business making comments speculating on the state of the SSPX members’ hearts.

    Hewbrews 3:
    14 We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end, 15 for it is said: “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion.’”

    In many Scripture verses, hardness of heart is associated with rebellion. Have you listened to his December interview?

    In Christ,
    Marian

  10. Marie,

    You ask me, who am I to say that the pope is wrong. With all due respect, who are you to say that the pope is right?

    I’ve already explained, repeatedly, if you read my posts, that my objections to recent popes’ actions really aren’t “my” objections, since it is the constant teaching of the Church–not my own “opinions”–which rejects the novelties. For example, the Church has always condemned Islam as a false religion. I could give you continual quotes from saints, popes, Church doctors, etc., showing that any religion which rejects Christ’s divinity is offensive to God and evil. Yet John Paul II kissed the Koran and asked John the Baptist to protect Islam. If what John Paul II did was alright, then it follows that the Church was wrong for 2,000 years in condemning Islam. But if the Church was right for 2,000 years, and she certainly was, then what John Paul II did was wrong (and even some of his great admirers will concede this specific point). It’s really very simple, and the attempts to make simple things look complicated are really attempts to avoid facing uncomfortable but obvious facts.

    God bless you Marie, and may your patron the Blessed Virgin Mary guide you.

  11. Marian,

    Yes, I did listen to Bishop Fellay’s December conference, and I recall nothing in it which was in any way incompatible with the Catholic Faith. If you are aware of some specific (I emphasize the word specific) heresy or other doctrinal error which he spoke in that conference, please bring it to my attention, and I will be happy to retract what I said.

    I do not agree with you that Bishop Fellay is at all making himself the authority of the Church, since Bishop Fellay always backs up his objections to papal misdeeds by citing the teaching of preconciliar popes. If Bishop Fellay is wrong, therefore, then so were the preconciliar popes, since he is simply repeating what they said.

    I don’t reject any of the Church’s teachings, and I also don’t “reject” the pope. I do however reject some of what he has done, and to be honest, I’m sure you also reject things that popes have done. For example, do you reject the deeds of Pope Stephen VII, who dug up the corpse of a dead pope and mutilated it before having it thrown in the Tiber River? Do you reject that wicked action? I certainly hope you do. And if you do, then you agree with me that some papal deeds can and should be rejected. Yet it would be absurd for me to accuse you of “making yourself an authority” because you did the right thing and rejected the evil deeds of a pope. My main point is this: not everything a pope does is good and holy. Popes are human beings capable of sinning and making errors, even very grave and serious errors, and therefore no one should uncritically and blindly accept everything they say and do as though it were inspired by God, because it’s not. If everything done by the pope is inspired by God, then St. Peter, the first pope, was “inspired by God” when he publicly denied Christ three times, which would clearly be an absurd thing to say.

    About the Koran kissing incident, yes, according to an eyewitness–Raphael Bidawid, the Chaldean patriarch–John Paul II seemed to know exactly what he was doing:

    On May 14th I was received by the Pope, together with a delegation composed of the Shi’ite imam of Khadum mosque and the Sunni president of the council of administration of the Iraqi Islamic Bank…At the end of the audience the Pope bowed to the Muslim holy book, the Qu’ran, presented to him by the delegation, and he kissed it as a sign of respect.

    It doesn’t matter what his intention was, since good intentions don’t change objectively evil acts into good ones. If I rob a bank while intending to use the money to feed the poor, I still did something evil, even though I intended something good.

    Finally, not all rebellion means hardness of heart. St. Paul rebelled against something which St. Peter did (Galatians 2:11); does that mean St. Paul was hard-hearted? No, it means that St. Peter was wrong, and that St. Paul’s rebellion in this case was a good thing. Blind obedience isn’t Catholic.

    God bless you Marian, and may your patron the Blessed Virgin Mary guide you.

  12. Fr. Angelo, thanks for your thorough reply. I’ll try to hit the main points.

    Firstly, while I’m sure you mean well by your repeated insistence that I err regarding moral vs. metaphysical certainty, in fact I do have a background in logic and so I’m well aware of the difference. I’ll try to demonstrate why the case involves the latter and not the former in what follows.

    My metaphysics are those of St. Thomas Aquinas, so if my metaphysics are in error, then so are St. Thomas’s, which would be quite a bold (and false) thing to say.

    I’ll try to give an example, one I’ve already given, but this time spelled out more clearly, to show why the case here is indeed one of metaphysical–not merely moral–certainty.

    Here is what Benedict XVI said, once more, on January 1, 2011:

    [Assisi III] will aim to commemorate the historical action desired by my Predecessor and to solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as a service to the cause of peace.

    Now Benedict XVI is here referring to his desire that members of false religions, religions which deny the dogmas of our Catholic Faith, practice those same false religions, as he claims, to serve peace (I’ve already noted Pius XI’s teaching that peace can come only through Christ, and thus, not through religions which reject Christ).

    Why is this a metaphysically certain clash with past teaching, and not merely my opinion? I’ll lay out the steps; let’s just take the examples of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, all of which deny Christ’s divinity, whereas the Church has formally and dogmatically condemned the denial of Christ’s divinity as a heresy at the First Council of Nicea, A.D. 325. The argument can be simplied to this form:

    1. It is objectively wrong to encourage someone in the practice of what is evil and offensive to God.
    2. But religions which deny God’s revelation (e.g., the divinity of Christ) are evil and offensive to Him.
    3. Therefore it is objectively wrong to encourage someone to practice those religions.

    Premise #1–that God is a being Whom it is evil to offend–is something which could be deduced from natural theology, which is a part of metaphysics. Premise #2 is simply a statement of fact, which Catholics already know from the Church’s teaching, but whose coherence even an agnostic or atheist could understand. The conclusion follows with metaphysical–not merely moral–certainty. Moral certainty admits of the possibility of error; neither supernatural faith nor metaphysics admits of such possibility. If I am morally certain that my very honest friend is telling me the truth, there is still a slim chance that this could be the one time he is lying to me. But there is not even a slim chance that it could be alright to encourage evildoing against God (premise #1), nor is there a slim chance that something which denies God’s revealed truth might not offend Him (premise #2). For that reason the example offers absolute certainty.

    It’s true that I’ve referenced an article of Faith in this argument, but I am discussing this with fellow Catholics, and St. Thomas says at one point in the Summa that the articles of Faith are to the intellect enlightened by the virtue of faith what the principle of non-contradiction is to an intellect with the natural light of reason. Further, the reasoning is presented in such a way that even an atheist can see that it is internally consistent. Atheists reject God’s existence, but they can admit that if God did exist, and if Christ were God, then it would be an objectively evil thing to practice a religion which denies His divinity.

    So there’s one example of why I claim that metaphysical certainty is possible here, Father, and why I don’t think you have done justice to my argument nor correctly defended the existence of the error which you think that I am making.

    When a change in teaching arises, then the question of irreformabilty becomes relevant and must ultimately be decided by the magisterium itself.

    I think here you are begging the question by simply assuming that these issues haven’t already been settled. I am arguing that the Church’s bimillenial rejection of things like Assisi, stated explicitly by Pius XI, is evidence that this was believed “always and everywhere, by all” (i.e., the ordinary and universal teaching of the Church), and that therefore the Magisterium has already decided this question. Here you are simply stipulating that we must “wait for the Magisterium” to decide, whereas I argue–with better reason, since I’ve given you a text to prove it–that the Magisterium has decided:

    For which reason conventions, meetings and addresses are frequently arranged by these persons, at which a large number of listeners are present, and at which all without distinction are invited to join in the discussion, both infidels of every kind, and Christians, even those who have unhappily fallen away from Christ or who with obstinacy and pertinacity deny His divine nature and mission. Certainly such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy…This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ…So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it.–Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos

    The pope–that is, the Magisterium, the same Magisterium to which you urge obedience–states clearly and unambiguously that Catholics cannot do these things, that the Holy See never allows such practices to be carried out, that it is unlawful for Catholics to have anything to do with them.

    What is contingent, unclear, subject to change, or left “undecided” about any of this, Father?

    You play more grammar gotcha with me over my statement about ecumenism being “imperfectly carried out.”

    It’s not “gotcha” at all Father. It’s simply an expression of amazement that such obviously wicked things–desecrating the Blessed Sacrament, having apparent demon worship inside a Catholic church, etc.–could be so casually described by you, when you know full well that every saint in Heaven would have rent their garments in anguish and outrage at such a scene. The lives of the saints are literally full of episodes demonstrating their horror in the face of idolatry and sacrilege; even Our Lord Himself, Who was rarely angry, showed very great anger when He found people desecrating the temple, even taking up a whip to beat them and expel them physically. But I’m simply pointing out that the phrase you chose is revealing, since it shows that your embrace of the “always assume the pope is right” motto (where the pope might theoretically be wrong, but in practice more or less never is) is so strong that truly evil things are described as merely “imperfectly” executed.

    Abusus non tollit usum.

    But Father, here’s the point: you admit, apparently, that what I am describing is an abuse. To say that abuse does not remove use concedes the existence of an abuse, and yet throughout this discussion you have chided me for private judgment, Protestantism, etc. for considering these papal misdeeds as real and objective errors. So please clarify, which is it? Were the things I described as being done by John Paul II and Benedict XVI real abuses, in which case you agree with me that one may recognize error without being “Protestant” for doing so?

    A particular instance of ecumenism, or a particular act that takes place in the name of ecumenism, which is imperfect is one that does not reach its perfection, that is, its end. That such an instance exists does not mean that defined end itself is evil. Again, you simply do not make the essential distinctions.

    Yes, I’m familiar with St. Thomas’s teaching on moral agency and the intentionality of moral activity, but I don’t see any failure to make distinctions. If you are speaking of the finis operantis, John Paul II’s good intentions would not salvage his act from the realm of the objectively evil, since good intentions don’t change the object of the act.

    If you are speaking of the finis operatio, I’m not sure how you could describe these objects as intrinsically good but having failed to reach their perfection. Put differently, what perfection, exactly, was the decision to kiss a book which blasphemes Our Savior tending towards?

    Furthermore, a discussion about imperfect practices is a historical, not theological argument, and the conclusion arrived at thereby, is purely contingent, never necessary.

    This does not follow at all. It is perfectly possible for a historical event to feature in an argument which arrives at a necessary conclusion. For example:

    1. Atheism is false.
    2. Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Kim Jong-Il, etc. adhered to atheistic systems.
    3. Therefore, these tyrants adhered to systems which were false.

    Premise 1 is a statement provable with deductively sound arguments, premise 2 is a statement of historical fact, and the conclusion is certainly not a contingent but rather a necessary truth deduced.

    I would also point out that by trying to render the various problems which I raise as “contingent,” you seem to be using a double standard. Pius XI and the other popes I cited nowhere said that their teaching on these matters is contingent or that it could be freely altered in the future. In order to arrive at this conclusion you have had to foist your own judgment on their teaching and place it in the realm of the contingent, which seems to be the same sort of “private judgment” of which you accuse me.

    It is interesting that you charge me with possible epistemological errors, but yet I see that you haven’t answered one of my prior objections: You said that a text is not the Vicar of Christ, and I replied that a text is the means by which the Vicar of Christ, the living authority, communicates the decisions of his authority. You implicitly acknowledged this by yourself quoting from Benedict XVI.

    So my question, which has so far remained unanswered as best I can tell, is this: Why is it that when I quote one of the preconciliar popes to criticize some postconciliar aberration, you straightaway accuse me of “private judgment” of Magisterial texts, but then, when you quote a postconciliar pope to exonerate one of them from such criticism, you are not also engaging in the very same sort of private judgment? Please explain this to me. It’s not a purely rhetorical question.

    This is why I have made the remark on Gnosticism. I really don’t see, on your position, how a Catholic is supposed to or is even capable of knowing his faith, Father?

    How is a Catholic supposed to know what to believe? You say that he must listen to the living authority, the pope. But the past popes were also living authorities, and yet you say that to read their texts and quote from them–which is what I have done–is “private judgment” or “prooftexting,” and that their teaching on ecumenism is contingent (because of course that’s the only way to try to exonerate the recent popes from blatantly contradicting it). Further, the way that the living authority, the pope, tends to communicate his teaching is with a text. But in order to know what he is teaching the faithful must read and then use their personal judgment to interpret that text. You say, however, that “private interpretation” is forbidden. So how is a Catholic supposed to know what to believe? You seem to have cut off all access points. He can’t even be sure that what the Church taught yesterday is what she teaches today, for someone may come along and tell him that this or that teaching was merely a “contingent” or “reformable” matter, in order to avoid blaming the present authorities for obviously going astray from that past teaching (when the more logical thing to do would be to consider constantly repeated past teachings as the unchangeable, error-free thing, and the changeable, error-prone man as the one who might be wrong).

    your opinions do not and never will rise to the level of magisterial teaching.

    Father, I’ve constantly maintained that this entire debate has nothing to do with my opinions. It is not “my opinion” that false religions are evil and cannot be practiced: this is the Church’s teaching, and I can give you many sources for it, as you know. It is not “my opinion” that the Koran contains blasphemies against Our Lord (cf. Council of Nicea on Arianism), that pagans worship the devil (cf. Psalm 95:5), that Luther was a heretic (cf. Pope Leo X), that Catholics are not allowed to promote pan-religious pow-wows (cf. Mortalium Animos), etc., etc. For all of these things I have given you various Magisterial texts of the popes which clearly and unambiguously condemn these things, and every single time you seem to ignore the clear and plain meaning of those words and simply accuse me of “private judgment.” If your criticism were true then no Catholic could ever know his faith or what it means, since his very reading of a papal encyclical will expose him to the objection that his mode of understanding is mere “private judgment.” A Catholic who reads John Paul II’s encyclical saying “Christ is really present in the Holy Eucharist” on this view can’t be sure what that means. If he thinks it means what it says (i.e., Christ is really present in the Holy Eucharist), maybe a papal heretic will be elected and tell us that we have a new understanding of this doctrine, that the old way was merely contingent, that (as Archbishop Mueller said) Christ’s Real Presence doesn’t mean “the material components of His transfigured corporality” but that it actually means that Christ is present in the “signs of bread and wine,” and that anyone who disagrees with this “new” teaching and continues to hold to the old is a Protestant and a private interpreter. When the person replies that he is simply repeating what the Church had taught for 2,000 years, someone of your view will reply that we must simply obey unconditionally, trust that the new pope isn’t really a heretic (even if his teachings blatantly contradict the old), that we can’t be sure of that, that you shouldn’t contradict him unless you think you’re St. Paul to his St. Peter, etc. Effectively you’ve left no way open for me to convince you that my opinions have nothing to do with this, and that at every stage what you call my “opinion” is simply my quoting from some Magisterial text.

    I have faith that the next pope will not be a heretic.

    But this cannot be an object of supernatural faith, since the object of supernatural faith is what God has revealed, and God has never revealed that popes are incapable of being heretics. This is actually a great example of what I’m talking about: conservative Catholicism, as opposed to traditional Catholicism, is ultimately founded on wish fulfillment and on pious desires which may have no foundation in reality. You trust that the next pope won’t be a heretic, you don’t want the next pope to be a heretic, but it doesn’t follow that therefore he won’t be a heretic. Now while I agree with you in not wishing for this outcome, I recognize that it is possible, that saints (Robert Bellarmine, Alphonsus Liguori, etc.) allow that it could happen, and that my wishing and hoping that something won’t happen doesn’t mean that it can’t. You cannot properly term a pious wish “faith,” since faith regards what God has actually done, not what we’d like Him to do.

    I do know what Christ wants me to do in his regard, and what not to do.

    Is this not also an act of private judgment, since Christ has never said that we ought to indiscriminately defend everything which a pope says or does?

    Father, you’ve said that you admit the theoretic possibility that a pope could be wrong, but yet in practice I don’t see that you’ve left any conceivable way of knowing this. You admit in theory that the pope might be wrong, but in practice, whenever an example is given, you always seem to find a way to shoot it down. You claim that the matter is a contingent and changeable one, that we ought to give benefit of the doubt, that someone who points out the error can’t be sure of it, that even if there is an error, it’s dangerous to point it out, since you might not be sure, that pointing out the error is Protestant or privately judging something or making a Magisterium of one’s opinion, etc.

    If you admit that the pope could be wrong, but always reject the clearest possible instances where he is wrong, in what real sense do you think that the pope could err? Put differently, since anyone who points out the errors has his statements unfailingly rejected by you, on what grounds could you ever be convinced that a pope has actually erred?

    That I have to state this, or prove that it is the reasonable presumption, just brings home to me how surreal the traditionalist world really is.

    Father, would you like me to provide you with a list of sacrileges, errors and/or heresies, and various other publicly known scandals committed by numerous bishops and cardinals to show you that it is far from a “reasonable presumption” that the next pope turns out to be a surefire hero of orthodoxy? I’ve already given you one example: Cardinal Roger Mahony, whose teaching on the Real Presence was condemned on television by Mother Angelica, who bluntly accused him, if I recall, of denying the dogma.

    Is Mother Angelica also a Protestant, a private interpreter, and a “surreal” traditionalist, or is she simply stating plain and undeniable facts which can only be ignored by someone terribly uncomfortable with the idea that popes aren’t always right, and that the faithful are capable of recognizing when they’re wrong?

    You are right, I do not have this all figured out, because I am not living in the traditionalist bubble

    So you admit that you haven’t figured it all out, yet at the same time you know that traditionalists are wrong. But if you know that traditionalists have it wrong, logically that means that your anti-trad contradictory beliefs must be right and you have “figured it out, since of two contradictions, one is wrong and the other is right.

    It may seem like it to you, Father, but I’m not trying to pick on you, although with your spate of anti-traditionalist accusations and name-callings, I am unfortunately without the same assurance from your end. I also wish for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, and I am certain that the confusion, scandal, and apostasy which has prevailed over the last 50 years is promoting neither, and that such errors stem at least in part directly from errors disseminated by the very top.

    You charge me with having a grave burden of proof. How much graver, Father, is your burden in proving that what the popes and saints taught about false religions, what they said in absolute and necessary terms, was in fact all wrong, and could be discarded as “contingent” at a moment’s notice by the whim of a postconciliar pontiff?

    The Vicar of Christ in a very humble manner extended his hand and offered the Society a path to regularization.

    He did not. The “path” evidently involved assenting wholesale to all the errors and novelties which the Society has spent 40 years rejecting. The whole crux of the debate is whether all this religious and ecumenical business is actually Catholic; the Roman authorities effectively told the Society, “We say that this is all Catholic, so it is: now sign this paper agreeing with us.” Do you really think that this is “humble”? The authorities cannot demand such obedience from any Catholic when the novelties seem to blatantly contradict past teaching. And what’s more, the authorities themselves agree with the SSPX that the novelties at least seem to conflict; otherwise they wouldn’t be perpetually going on about a “hermeneutic of continuity,” which they need to propose in order to show how their scandalously confusing teachings actually make sense in light of traditional Catholic doctrine.

    I pray for the return of the SSPX, for those who conscientiously object to the postconciliar magisterium and especially for all those who judge themselves obliged to publically oppose the Holy Father.

    You’re praying for something impossible, since it’s impossible to “return” if you’ve never left. As Cardinal Raymond Burke said of the SSPX, “They have the Catholic Faith.” According to Ven. Pius XII (Mystici Corporis Christi, n. 22), someone who is baptized and has the Catholic Faith is Catholic. Since the SSPX meets both criteria, they are Catholic. Bishop Fellay said they would sign the Creed with their blood. How many “canonically regular” Catholics would do that, Father?

    You are postulating a strange and never-before-heard-of state, where someone can be baptized, profess every single dogma of the Faith, not be excommunicated, and thereby fulfill all the conditions laid out by Pius XII necessary to make one a Catholic, and yet, according to you, be “outside.” So the SSPX is Catholic, according to Pius XII, but is apparently “outside” the Church, according to you.

    You conclude by essentially exhorting people to give up the fight and just come around to agree with everything the pope says, thereby ignoring that this is the whole crux of the debate. We are debating “Is the pope always right?” You try to resolve the debate by saying “Just be humble and agree that the pope is right.” But that doesn’t resolve the debate; it simply restates the fundamental disagreement at the heart of it.

    God bless you also, Father.

  13. Mike-

    I have a couple questions for you, and have patience with me if I am slow, your argument touches so many different points all seemingly arguing toward several different ends. What I really want to know is what your main issue is?

    Is your main issue. “Is a pope always right?” as you have stated in your latest comment? Hey, the pope can get the time wrong just like the rest of us, not meaning to be facetious, but there it is. So is that really the crux of your debate or is it something else? What exactly do you believe about the popes and the doctrine of papal infallibility on matters of faith and morals? I would like to know. –

  14. Mike: Yes, I did listen to Bishop Fellay’s December conference, and I recall nothing in it which was in any way incompatible with the Catholic Faith. If you are aware of some specific (I emphasize the word specific) heresy or other doctrinal error which he spoke in that conference, please bring it to my attention, and I will be happy to retract what I said.

    Marian: Here is one example that instantly comes to mind. Jesus is made Present Body, Blood Soul and Divinity at the Mass and I am wondering why you don’t have a problem with him saying this about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
    Bp. Fellay: Well, we rarely use the word “licit.” We just simply say about the New Mass that it is evil (56:30-39).

    Mike: I do not agree with you that Bishop Fellay is at all making himself the authority of the Church, since Bishop Fellay always backs up his objections to papal misdeeds by citing the teaching of preconciliar popes. If Bishop Fellay is wrong, therefore, then so were the preconciliar popes, since he is simply repeating what they said.

    Marian: Because the line of popes did not stop with the preconciliar popes and he is rejecting that authority by remaining outside of full communion with the Church.

    Mike: I don’t reject any of the Church’s teachings, and I also don’t “reject” the pope. I do however reject some of what he has done, and to be honest, I’m sure you also reject things that popes have done. For example, do you reject the deeds of Pope Stephen VII, who dug up the corpse of a dead pope and mutilated it before having it thrown in the Tiber River? Do you reject that wicked action? I certainly hope you do. And if you do, then you agree with me that some papal deeds can and should be rejected. Yet it would be absurd for me to accuse you of “making yourself an authority” because you did the right thing and rejected the evil deeds of a pope. My main point is this: not everything a pope does is good and holy. Popes are human beings capable of sinning and making errors, even very grave and serious errors, and therefore no one should uncritically and blindly accept everything they say and do as though it were inspired by God, because it’s not. If everything done by the pope is inspired by God, then St. Peter, the first pope, was “inspired by God” when he publicly denied Christ three times, which would clearly be an absurd thing to say.

    Marian: Actually in my previous post I stated just this about the popes being imperfect men but I am wondering why you don’t treat in the same way every pope after Pope Boniface VI as you treat the popes after the council? Shouldn’t you only refer to popes up to Boniface and set up a Church called SBVI?

    Mike: About the Koran kissing incident, yes, according to an eyewitness–Raphael Bidawid, the Chaldean patriarch–John Paul II seemed to know exactly what he was doing:

    On May 14th I was received by the Pope, together with a delegation composed of the Shi’ite imam of Khadum mosque and the Sunni president of the council of administration of the Iraqi Islamic Bank…At the end of the audience the Pope bowed to the Muslim holy book, the Qu’ran, presented to him by the delegation, and he kissed it as a sign of respect.

    It doesn’t matter what his intention was, since good intentions don’t change objectively evil acts into good ones. If I rob a bank while intending to use the money to feed the poor, I still did something evil, even though I intended something good.

    Marian: Here is an article for you
    http://jimmyakin.com/2006/04/jp2_and_the_qur.html

    Mike: Finally, not all rebellion means hardness of heart. St. Paul rebelled against something which St. Peter did (Galatians 2:11); does that mean St. Paul was hard-hearted? No, it means that St. Peter was wrong, and that St. Paul’s rebellion in this case was a good thing. Blind obedience isn’t Catholic.

    Marian:
    Principal consecrator: Are you resolved to be faithful in your obedience to the successor of the apostle Peter?

    Bishop-elect: I am.

    In Christ,
    Marian

    In Christ,
    Marian

  15. Hello Courtney,

    The main issues are obviously numerous, as the long replies above will show. But certainly one of the issues is the belief among certain Catholics that although the pope might theoretically make an error, in practice he never does so, and no Catholic may ever criticize him (the new Code of Canon Law, canon 212, rejects that idea).

    I wouldn’t say that the pope only gets things like the time wrong, but that he makes more serious errors. I gave the example of John Paul II kissing the Koran, for instance, or praying with animists.

    I believe about the papacy and infallibility exactly what the Church teaches, as stated by the First Vatican Council:

    For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Apostles.

    According to Vatican I, the pope has no authority to invent new teachings; he can only expound the teachings which Christ already gave to the apostles and to the Church.

    When the spoke teaches infallibly, God preserves him from teaching error. When he speaks fallibly he can err (and has erred). It doesn’t mean that he’s always wrong when he speaks fallibly, but sometimes he is, and I don’t think some Catholics recognize that.

    God bless you Courtney.

  16. Hello Marian,

    Marian: Here is one example that instantly comes to mind. Jesus is made Present Body, Blood Soul and Divinity at the Mass and I am wondering why you don’t have a problem with him saying this about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
    Bp. Fellay: Well, we rarely use the word “licit.” We just simply say about the New Mass that it is evil (56:30-39).

    This is not a heresy. Bishop Fellay is certainly not saying that the Real Presence is “evil.” The Church teaches that a Mass can be both valid and evil. A Black Mass, for instance, celebrated by Satanists, can be valid but it is still a terrible evil.

    I believe that the SSPX argues that the new Mass can be valid, but because it systematically eliminates or obscures references to Catholic doctrines (e.g., that the Mass is a propitiatory Sacrifice offered to atone for sin), it lacks a good which should be present. And St. Thomas Aquinas says that to lack a due good is the definition of “evil.”

    I think Bishop Fellay should explain himself more carefully and use more distinctions than he does, and his words are open to causing confusion, but what he said isn’t heresy.

    Marian: Because the line of popes did not stop with the preconciliar popes and he is rejecting that authority by remaining outside of full communion with the Church.

    Bishop Fellay doesn’t say that the popes stopped with preconciliar times. When John Paul II condemned women’s ordination, for example, the SSPX completely obeyed, because the pope was speaking infallibly. Someone rejecting the pope’s authority would have ignored what John Paul II taught there. The SSPX is not out of “full communion”; Pope Leo XIII (in Satis Cognitum) taught that there is no such thing as “partial communion.” Someone is either inside the Church or not. It’s not possible to be “partly” or “kind of” inside. If you can’t name a single doctrine which the SSPX denies, I don’t understand why you say they are outside.

    Marian: Actually in my previous post I stated just this about the popes being imperfect men but I am wondering why you don’t treat in the same way every pope after Pope Boniface VI as you treat the popes after the council? Shouldn’t you only refer to popes up to Boniface and set up a Church called SBVI?

    I do treat the former popes the same way. Pope John the 22nd (who ruled in the 14th century) made a serious error about a matter of faith which was condemned by the next pope as heresy, if I recall. I reject John XXII’s error just as much as I reject those of the modern popes. Rejecting a pope’s error doesn’t mean that you must “set up a new church.” It simply means recognizing Catholic teaching that the pope can be wrong.

    Marian: Here is an article for you
    http://jimmyakin.com/2006/04/jp2_and_the_qur.html

    Jimmy Akin doesn’t succeed in excusing what John Paul II did. If I read correctly, he actually admits that this was an error; he seems to try to excuse the error by appealing to confusion or good intentions. But as I’ve already noted (and Akin’s piece does not refute this), good intentions don’t change bad actions into good ones. Christ Himself said that people can do terribly evil things while fully intending to do, and believing themselves to be doing, good and holy things (cf. John 16:2-3). What John Paul II did was wrong, and I think that those who try to excuse what he did are in confusion about the nature of the papacy. They think that loyalty to the pope means that whenever the pope does wrong, we must make every possible excuse to excuse what he did, and when we can’t find any more excuses, we should just pretend that what he did wasn’t really that bad.

  17. Mike –

    Re: your message to Marie

    “Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam all the richness of God’s self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside.

    Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us. Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad. There is also mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of redemption is completely absent. For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity.”
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/ZMNYRELI.HTM

    In Christ,
    Marian

  18. All this arguing with Mike is just an exercise in futility. He, like all dissenters, wants to be his own pope. As the papal magisterium correctly interprets the Sacred Scripture, so it also correctly interprets the other side of Tradition, namely, the oral tradition of our Church as taught by the papal magisterium in times past. Each Holy Father is guided by the Holy Spirit to preserve the deposit of faith and to guard the flock from error in faith and morals. Of course, there is development of doctrine, and, also, we please Jesus Christ if we assent to and follow the mind of the Vicar of Christ in regard to Church discipline and governance.
    Following is the best short article that I have ever read regarding the papal magisteium.

    THE MAGISTERIUM OF THE VICAR OF CHRIST
    Norman Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney

    Taken from:
    L’Osservatore Romano
    Weekly Edition in English
    4 April 1968, page 7

    Quest for Truth
    Man’s great search is the search for truth. Truth sets him free—free from the torturing doubt that paralyses, free to develop his whole personality and reach out to his destiny.
    But, apart from a few fundamental axioms which the human mind perceives almost instinctively, man does not possess truth within himself. Nor does he communicate directly with it. On the contrary, truth is mediated to him by others. Man is fundamentally a being who is taught.
    These observations are pre-eminently valid in the sphere of religious truth—that sphere which considers the great basic problems that vex the human mind and heart. They hold good even as regards that body of truth known as the “natural truths of religion”, which are needed for the correct ordering of life.
    Limits of Human Intelligence
    What the First Vatican Council had to say on this matter (Session 3, chap. 2) is tragically borne out by human experience. History has shown how, on the great fundamental issues of life which are based on truths “not inaccessible to human understanding as such” (ibid.), mankind has been left in confusion and doubt by human teachers. Authority contradicts authority, philosophy rebuts philosophy, disciples refute masters until, in the end, it would seem that mankind is made the unhappy sport of human opinion. Through all the centuries the perennial question has been: where is the truth?
    Even in this sphere, then, man labours under the moral necessity to be taught by God. But who shall mediate the truth to him? If there is not on this earth an authentic teaching voice, communicating a teaching free from error, then the plight of man is the most pitiful of all: he cannot break the curtain of doubt, he cannot escape the nightmare of confusion.
    When we ascend to the immensurably higher sphere of the divine mysteries and of God’s mysterious plan for man’s salvation, then not only is it absolutely necessary that man be taught by God through revelation (Cfr. First Vatican Council, Sess. 3, ch. 4), but the need for an authentic teaching voice, that is, an authority teaching in God’s name, is absolutely necessary if truth is not to be transformed into error.
    Magisterium a gift of God
    The authentic magisterium is not only one of God’s greatest gifts to His Church; it is also that which man most needs. It is not a strange and incomprehensible privilege.
    There is nothing strange in the fact that God’s revealed truths are preserved, interpreted and communicated to men by means of a teaching free from error. As has often been pointed out, what is strange is that this teaching should be challenged or despised, notwithstanding our need of it—an anomaly that can only be explained by the disorder introduced by original sin.
    Without the God-given guarantee of the authentic magisterium how could the Church demand our faith, our religious assent? How could the Church be a “community of faith, hope and charity”? (Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, ch. 1, n. 8). How could we, God’s people, on our twilight pilgrimage of faith, walk with sure and joyful step toward the kingdom of light?
    If there is anything for which we should be constantly, profoundly and humbly grateful to Almighty God it is this precious gift of a magisterium sealed with divine authenticity. Man’s deepest need is the firm establishment of his relations with the truth that saves. And it is the authentic magisterium alone that answers to that deepest need.

    The “Sacrament” of Truth
    What Baptism is in the sacramental economy, that the magisterium is in the order of truth. Baptism is the most necessary sacrament and the indispensable foundation of further sacramental sanctification and consecration. It transfers us from spiritual darkness to spiritual light. It gives us the freedom of the sons of God—the freedom to be led by the Holy Spirit even to the heights of sanctity. By analogy, the magisterium of the Church is the most necessary “sacrament” in order of Christian truth and Christian morality, and the indispensable guide to further penetration of the truth and a more thorough living of the Christian life. It, too, transfers us from darkness—the darkness of doubt, confusion, and mere human opinion both inside and outside the Church—to the clear light that shines as a beacon on our pilgrim path.
    Thus the Second Vatican Council says: “God’s People accepts not the word of men but the very Word of God (cf. 1 Th. 2:13). It clings without fail to the faith once delivered to the saints (cf. Jude, 3), penetrates it more deeply by accurate insights, and applies it more thoroughly to life. All this it does under the lead of a sacred teaching authority to which it loyally defers” (Conc. Vat. II, ch. 2, n. 12).
    Need for a Rule of Faith
    As we said when speaking of the natural truths of religion and of rational morality, so now we say with immeasurably more justification, when speaking of the revealed doctrines of the Faith and the code of morality that accompanies them, it is the authentic magisterium alone that saves the members of the Church from being the miserable sport of mere human opinions within the Church, no matter from whom or from how many they may emanate.
    The validity of this cannot be questioned. It has been said that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. History has signally verified that nowhere is this so true as in the field of religious truth and morality. And this holds good for those who were, and are, within the Church as much as it did, and does, for those without.
    It is only through “loyal deference to the sacred teaching authority”—a loyalty due to Christ Himself—that you and I, members of Christ’s Body, can truly discern the tenets of Christian faith and morality, penetrate them more deeply, and enrich our lives with them. There is no other way. It is the way given by Him Who said: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14, 6). He is still, and forever, all that, but only through and in those charged with the magisterium: “Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all days (teaching) even unto the consummation of the world” (Mt. 28, 19-20). Again: “He who hears you, hears me” (Lk. 10, 16). This is the crux of the matter; and often it is a heavy cross.
    Vatican II on the Magisterium
    The Second Vatican Council, dwelling on the authentic magisterium, states: “In matters of faith and morals the bishops speak in the name of Christ, and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent of soul. This religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, ch. 3, n. 25).
    Some seem to think that the Vicar of Christ exercizes his authentic teaching authority only when he speaks “ex cathedra”. They seem to think that only in those solemn circumstances arc they bound in conscience to accept his teaching. They seem to think that in all other cases, even in the case of a papal encyclical, or a similarly authoritative document, they are at liberty to challenge, to argue, to criticize, to accept or reject. They do not hesitate to weigh the doctrine imparted against their own arbitrary judgements and reasoning, seemingly oblivious or ignorant of the fact that Christ our Lord has sealed the teaching authority of His Vicar on earth with a special charism for the protection of the People of God, not only against overt error but also against speciousness and plausibility.
    Such a mentality is radically uncatholic, radically unorthodox. Plainly it is a rejection of the authentic ordinary magisterium of the Vicar of Christ.
    Catholic doctrine, re-affirmed by the Second Vatican Council, demands a special (singulari ratione) religious submission of our will and mind to the authentic ordinary magisterium of the Supreme Pastor. Plainly, our consciences are bound. Plainly, Christ binds. The authentic ordinary magisterium of the Pope “must be acknowledged with reverence, and the judgements made by him sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will” (ibid.)
    Authentic ordinary Magisterium
    The Council indicates the main criteria by which we are to judge when the Sovereign Pontiff is exercizing his authentic ordinary magisterium. “His mind and will in the matter may be known chiefly either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking”. And, we way add, this magisterium is then most certainly exercized when the Pope, having reserved to himself the decision on any matter of faith or morals, finally gives his teaching to the Church.
    It is often said that devotion to the Vicar of Christ is at the heart of Catholicism. It is a saying dear to every true son and daughter of the Church. It speaks of love, of reverence, loyalty, generosity. But the real test of devotion to the Holy Father is a spirit of docility—a willing readiness to accept his teachings and decisions.
    A loyal Catholic does not seek to distinguish between the different modes by which the Pope exercizes his teaching authority before making up his mind whether he will accept the teaching or not. After all, a Thomas More and a John Fisher did not lay down their lives for a distinction!
    The Cathedra of Peter, “the source of priestly unity” (St. Cyprian, Letter to Pope Cornelius, n. 59), was set up by Christ our Lord “so that in that one Cathedra unity might be preserved by all” (St. Optatus Milevitanus, Against Parmenian, c. 2, n. 2).
    In these difficult times of renewal, accompanied often by ferment, and sometimes by painful dissension, we can offer no greater service to Christ our Lord and His Church than that of complete loyalty to the teaching authority of the Vicar of Christ. Priestly unity in the unity of the whole People of God—that is the will of Christ for His Church. But that unity can be preserved and intensified only by unswerving devotion to him whom Christ made the foundation—rock of the Church—the very principle of unity, cohesion and stability—and to whom He gave the authentic mission to confirm his brethren in the Faith, and the power to bind and loose the consciences of all members of the Church, without exception

  19. Mike–

    Another question. You said that when Pope John Paul II condemned women preists magisterially that the SSPX obeyed him BECAUSE he was speaking magisterially. I had no idea that it was ever part of the particular “charism”, if you will, of the SSPX to allow women priests! Was it at some point that I am unaware of? I did not know that!
    If, however, this was not the case, it hardly seems fair to contend that the SSPX obeyed John Paul on this matter BECAUSE he was speaking magisterially–when they had, in fact, no intention of ordaining women in the first place. To further use this assertion to prove the SSPX obedience to the pope seems a bit off somehow. Any thoughts?

  20. Hello Courtney,

    What I meant by the example was to show that those who accuse the SSPX of “dissenting from the Magisterium” are not correct, since whenever John Paul II really spoke with the full authority of his Magisterium (and one example of this would be his condemning women’s ordination), the SSPX obeyed. Whenever they disobeyed, they disobeyed things which did not have any infallible authority underlying them (and even then they didn’t always disobey his fallible statements, but rather those which clearly clashed with past teaching, of which I have some examples). Now of course you’re right to say that the SSPX would never have had women priests anyway, but my point is that if there is some doubtful matter which is settled by infallible authority, they obey, whereas real schismatics would not obey. If the pope tomorrow commanded a worldwide day of fasting in reparation for abortion, the SSPX would obey both because it was a good idea, and because of the authority of the pope who ordered it. If the pope tomorrow commanded a worldwide day of fasting in reparation for abortion, real schismatics (like the Eastern Orthodox) might obey simply because penance is a good idea, but they would not obey because of the pope’s authority, and that is the all-important distinction. Another example might be some of the modern bioethical problems (cloning, stem cells, surrogacy, in vitro, bionic “humans,” etc.). Not every biomedical technological innovation is as clearly against the Catholic faith as something like women’s ordination, and yet if the pope were to infallibly settle that some such modern innovation was contrary to Catholic morals, there’s little doubt that the Society would obey.

    God bless you.

  21. Bill Foley,

    It’s kind of funny that you accuse me of “wanting to be my own pope” (which is absurd) and being a “dissenter,” yet you fail to offer a single example of any Catholic dogma which I deny (and you won’t be able to, because I believe in every Catholic dogma).

    On the other hand, I would ask you if you are aware that in Catholic teaching, calumny (that is, falsely accusing someone of a serious sin) can itself be a serious sin?

    You have accused me of dissent and of desiring to be my own pope, both serious sins, but you have accused me falsely, as is clear from the fact that you offer no evidence at all for these ridiculous claims. I suggest to you that before you lecture other people on their fidelity to Catholic teachings, you make sure that you yourself are in conformity with Catholic teaching regarding the sins of calumny and false accusation. See Matthew 7:3-5 for more details.

    It is also false to suggest that you please Jesus Christ if you follow the mind of a pope who is doing something wrong. Pope Stephen VII dug up the corpse of Pope Formosus and mutilated the cadaver before having it thrown into the Tiber River. Do you believe that you would please Christ by following the mind of this corpse-desecrating pope, Bill Foley? If so, your belief would be self-evidently absurd. If not, then you agree in principle with me, the alleged “dissenter.”

    A blessed day to you.

  22. @Mike on March 9, 2013 at 2:30 am:

    Mike,

    Your reply verifies my contention that you most certainly do not distinguish between things that are necessary and those that are contingent, and consequently claim that conclusions that are merely contingent are metaphysically necessary.

    Because your minor premise(s) deal with particulars they are contingent. There could be particular facts in the case would lead to a different conclusion, even though there may not be. The facts in a case need to be determined, and the conclusion derived therefrom would not be a metaphysical certainty. It may be that no reasonable person would debate the facts in the case, as no one will debate that “Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Kim Jong-Il, etc. adhered to atheistic systems.” But nothing metaphysically precludes the possibility that evidence to the contrary could be produced.

    Likewise, your minor premise in the first syllogism contains a measure of contingency: “But religions which deny God’s revelation (e.g., the divinity of Christ) are evil and offensive to Him.” While it is necessary fact the denial of the true divine revelation is offensive to God, the facts as to whether a religion that does so is, under every respect and at all times, offensive to God are contingent. St. Paul spoke favorably of the worship of the “Unknown God” of the Athenians, not because he was encouraging the denial of true religion, but as a means of encouraging pagans along the path that leads to the true God. If at times the Church has encouraged non-Catholics and non-Christians to pray according to their own faith, this is not a denial of doctrine, but the approval of a practice, rooted in the desire that all men may proceed along way of conviction toward the worship of the One True God.

    I am sure you must be aware of the debate on the matter of ecumenism in which Thomas Pink was a major player. Pink argues cogently that a hermeneutic of continuity can be applied to the differences between Mortalium Animos and Unitatis Redintegratio. It is a contingent argument, for sure, but it just makes it abundantly clear that your conclusions are not metaphysically necessary. Again, your opinion is just that, and only that: your opinion. I would recommend to the readers here that insofar as Pink is not sowing the seeds of suspicion and contempt for the postconciliar papal magisterium among the simple faithful, that he is a safer guide than you.

    Your lengthy quote from Mortalium Animos, likewise, is full of contingent facts, which Thomas Pink characterizes in the following way:

    We have here, in Pius XI’s rejection of ecumenical dialogue, not a direct doctrinal condemnation – but rather a bleak and pessimistic view of the likely outcome of such dialogue, and, based on that view, a clear policy-directive against participation in ecumenism.

    That reasons might exist for a more hopeful view ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, in the context of different times and circumstances, in such a way that would result in a change of policy is also contingent fact, and not one to be excluded by some kind of metaphysical necessity.

    I am not foisting my own judgment on anyone. That a triangle has three sides is necessary. That this wooden triangle might or might not have another shape is contingent. That false worship is a sin is necessary. That some aspects of religions involved in false worship may or may not be evil is contingent. That the Church actually holds certain aspects of Mortalium Animos to be contingent is also contingent. But it happens to be the manifest in the teaching of the Church over the last fifty years.

    There is your opinion. Then there is my opinion. And then there is the teaching of the Church, whose principle representative and guarantor up until about a week ago was Benedict XVI. I quote the present magisterium against you, because it is the living magisterium’s responsibility to hand on and protect the deposit of the faith and to settle matters that are debatable. I am not quoting Benedict XVI against Pius XI, because Benedict XVI says that situation has changed. But you absolutely are quoting Pius XI against Benedict XVI, because you deny the right of Benedict XVI to interpret Pius XI. How do I know I know that I am not using your methods? Because Roman Catholics are supposed follow the visible head of the Church on earth.

    The difficulties surrounding these issues will ultimately be resolved, and contingent theological and historical arguments will continue to have an important role to play, but ultimately the resolution will come through the Successor of St. Peter. Meanwhile, under the protection of divine providence, we know that whatever defects might exist in policy and practice, we will be blessed by showing respectful submission to the One Christ has mandated to teach in His name.

    Yes, I have admitted that traditionalist arguments have a measure of plausibility, because we only disagree about contingent facts and not metaphysically necessary doctrine. I don’t claim to be right about anything except that it is neccesary to follow the pope when we are dealing with contingent arguments. That smarter people than me will have serious reasons for submitting their objections to the Holy Father, I do not doubt. That they have objective reasons to speak publically against him, form the simple faithful to reject his teaching, and engage in propaganda campaigns against his teaching is another matter.

    God bless you too, Mike. I am really thankful for this discussion and wish you the very best.

  23. Mike–

    I am sorry, I seem to have lost your line of reasoning. I don’t follow at all. So we are only to “follow the minds” of popes we consider to be good? Is that what you are trying to say? You might have a different way of putting it, but is that what you are saying? I really am trying to define your main point as breifly and succinctly as possible. Is that it?

  24. Mike -
    I am not sure what more I can say. Your arguments are based on private judgment of Church tradition which cannot have a higher priority than the authority Christ establshed to guide the Church.

    In reality the Mass is this -
    “In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.”

    See Paragraph 4
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_letters/documents/hf_ben-xvi_apl_20090702_ecclesiae-unitatem_en.html

    Witness to Hope
    http://www.ignatius.com/Products/WTHP-P/witness-to-hope.aspx

    Blessings!

    In Christ,
    Marian

  25. Courtney,

    You said this: So we are only to “follow the minds” of popes we consider to be good?

    No, this is my point: there is a way of telling whether popes are objectively good, not merely whether they are “considered” good by us. You’ve restated my point in such a way as to make it seem like my criticizing this or that pope is a purely subjective, personal matter, but what I am arguing is that there are ways to determine whether this or that pope is acting well or badly objectively, independently of someone’s personal opinions. It’s not that I “don’t consider it good” to kiss the Koran; it’s that the Catholic Church, by condemning the doctrines contained in that book for 2,000 years, doesn’t consider it good. So we should not follow the example of someone who does something like that, not because I personally don’t consider it good, but because the Church herself doesn’t consider it good, and has canonized martyrs who died rather than embrace those doctrines.

    We should follow the minds of popes who are objectively good, and there are ways of telling whether something is objectively good. The Church teaches that we can do this, since the Church hasn’t told us what to do in every single possible moral dilemma which we could ever encounter. She gives us the principles and it is often up to individual Catholics to apply them in certain cases. I gave an extreme example to illustrate: would you suggest following the mind of Pope Stephen VII, whose mind it was to dig up a dead body, desecrate it, then throw it in a river? I don’t think you would suggest following the mind of that pope, and if you wouldn’t, then you agree with me that we can tell whether this or that pope is doing something objectively good or objectively evil.

  26. Marian,

    Your arguments are based on private judgment of Church tradition

    No, I’ve already explained that they really aren’t. The fact that Martin Luther is a heretic whose teaching is condemned by God is not at all my “private judgment” of tradition; it is the public judgment of the Church, as expressed by Pope Leo X. That means that anyone who comes along later in history, even if he is a pope, and says that Luther’s teaching wasn’t really evil, or even that it was “Christocentric” (see papal address of Sep. 23, 2011 on vatican.va) is saying something objectively contrary to what the Church (Leo X) taught about this matter. You keep accusing me of private judgment, and I keep trying to explain that there’s nothing “private” about it. I am literally simply repeating the public teaching of the Church. I’ve given you the citations, so I’m really at a loss to understand why you insist that my merely quoting public statements of the Church means that I am “privately judging.” What I’m doing is exactly the opposite of private judgment. If repeating statements of popes is private judgment, then you yourself are privately judging also when you quote Benedict XVI.

    I would add that what Benedict XVI has himself admitted the flaws and deficiencies of the new rite of Mass. He also refers elsewhere in the very same motu proprio you are referencing to the new rite (not form) of Mass. Here’s the quote:

    The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

    So he says that they’re not two rites, then speaks of the new rite.

    You’re quoting non-infallible statements seemingly as though they were infallible, which is itself an act of private judgment on your part. So I’m especially at a loss to understand how you can accuse me of private judgment, when I’m not doing that, then yourself use papal statements in a way which you seemingly dismiss as “private judgment.”

    It’s simply an objective fact that the new Mass eliminates many references to its propitiatory nature, and that therefore its theology–as Cardinal Bacci and Cardinal Ottaviani both said to Paul VI–deliberately obscures what the Council of Trent taught on this topic. You seem to be saying that modern popes are allowed to reject what the Church taught in the past, simply because they are the current ones in power. But St. Paul and the First Vatican Council both taught that no one at all, including popes, has the right or the authority to change what the Church has taught (cf. Galatians 1:8). Christ never gave the pope that particular authority, and you will not find it anywhere in either Scripture, or Tradition, or anything which the Church has taught. There’s no “private judgment” here; I’m simply stating reality.

  27. Ave Maria!

    I had the wonderful privilege of visting the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, MA today. Blessed Pope John Paul II’s first class relic (blood) was there in the chapel to venerate. I could just cry thinking that anyone would accuse this holy Pope of doing anything less than appropriate while sitting in the Chair of Peter. Don’t you know that he was Our Lady’s Pope? Don’t you realize that God ordained that this Holy Father should die right after the vigil Mass of Divine Mercy, and also on the First Saturday of the Month? Pope John Paul II received all the graces and remission of temporal punishment because of the Feast of Divine Mercy, and the Sabatine Privileges, too! Sort of like a ‘trifecta’ of graces! :)
    How could anyone, anyone, pick on this Pope who was so loved by Jesus and Mary, and millions of people (Catholics, and non-Catholics)? He was the Pope who proclaimed Totus Tuus to the Immaculate!
    Look skyward, please. You are all fighting with each other over things you have no control over, things that don’t even affect your daily lives. The message of mercy is what we should all be focusing our attention on in these days…it’s the Lenten message in the readings at Holy Mass. It’s time to have compassion, love for one another, and stop the bickering. Don’t you see this is a deception of the devil? Arguing over holy things is still arguing.
    Please, it’s Lent. Trust fully in the Infinite Mercy of God and in the maternal intercessions of Mary.
    Jesus prayed to His Father (St John’s Gospel) that we all be united as They are united. Where there is no charity, there is no unity!

    Mike, please read “John Paul II ~ The Great Mercy Pope”

    My heartfelt wishes for all of you to have a grace filled Lent, to have the holiest Easter ever in your lives, and that you all see that God will not leave us orphans!

    Ave Maria!

  28. Hello Fr. Angelo,

    Because your minor premise(s) deal with particulars they are contingent.

    Father, my 2 premises, to repeat them, are these:

    1. It is objectively wrong to encourage someone in the practice of what is evil and offensive to God.
    2. But religions which deny God’s revelation (e.g., the divinity of Christ) are evil and offensive to Him.

    Premise 2 (false religions offend God) is not “contingent.” Christ Himself says that religions and teachings which contradict his own are false and offensive to Him (John 8:24-49, John 3:18, John 4:22, Matthew 10:33, Mark 16:16). Or are you saying that it’s “contingent” that Benedict XVI encouraged people to practice false religions? How could you describe it that way if I’ve provided a direct quote from the pope showing clearly that he explicitly encourages this: “[Assisi III] will aim to commemorate the historical action desired by my Predecessor and to solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as a service to the cause of peace.”

    There’s nothing contingent about this. You seem to be implying that a statement or premise about a contingent reality is something which itself has a contingent truth status, which is not correct. For example, if someone’s name is John, it is a contingent fact that his parents chose that name for him. But if I make an argument which involves a premise saying “That man’s name is John,” my premise is not in any way contingent, nor does the conclusion need to be contingent, since the fact that John’s parents might have named him something else doesn’t change the fact of objective, as-is reality that this is certainly and undeniably his name in the actual world. I’m very surprised that you would fault me for errors in logic for pointing out the preceding obvious rule about syllogisms.

    You’ve stated that “nothing metaphysically precludes the possibility that evidence to the contrary could be produced,” but in fact, Father, if that were true, then the Church’s own teaching would be in error. At Vatican I the Church infallibly defined that the existence of God can be proven with certainty from metaphysical arguments, and yet every minor premise of one of the theistic arguments, like most all minor premises, is a statement of fact. For example, “things are in motion” (St. Thomas’s first proof) or “things are caused” (his second proof). If what you said were true, we would have to reject the council’s infallible teaching on the grounds that maybe someone might produce some clever modern day “Zeno’s paradox” showing that things aren’t really in motion, since, after all, it’s not necessary that things be moving.

    Do you really believe that someone might discover evidence proving that Mao, Lenin, Stalin, and Kim Jong-Il, who publicly adhered to Communism in front of the eyes of the world world for decades, maybe actually weren’t really Communists? If you think that this is uncertain then you seem to be denying the possibility of any certainty of any kind. Even Aristotle said that our metaphysically certain knowledge is gained by induction from sensory experience of contingent particulars. E.g., I experience that wholes are always greater than parts with contingent examples, then conclude to the necessary truth that a whole is always greater than a part. I really can’t understand why you would fault me for metaphysical or epistemological error here when I’m simply repeating St. Thomas’s teaching, and when your position seems to lead to absolute skepticism about literally all of reality. I’m really amazed that the desire to uphold the bad deeds of some popes is so tenacious that it leads to postulating the possible falsity of pretty much any obvious, undeniable fact about reality. You’re conducting this argument in the reverse: people should allow facts to lead them to the theory, but you have a theory which you hold to with such determination that it leads you to deny, reinterpret, or otherwise change the modality of facts.

    The Church has never encouraged non-Catholics to worship specifically by the rites which offend God. For instance, the Church has never encouraged Jews or Moslems to recite prayers featuring denials of Christ’s divinity, since that would mean the Church encouraged people to do evil. Nor is the example from St. Paul apposite, since St. Paul was not encouraging the Athenians to worship their idols or human sacrifice, i.e., practice the specific aspects of their religion which were forbidden. I never said, and a charitable interpretation of my premise precludes the idea that every aspect of false religions offends God. That’s not even true of Satanism; even Satanists believe in the existence of the devil, which is something revealed by God. But it would be absurd to encourage the practice of Satanism on the grounds that something in it is true. If you really think that St. Paul would have countenanced demon worship inside a Catholic church a la Assisi 3, then there’s literally nothing I could say to persuade you, because the self-evident absurdity of that idea is its own refutation.

    I disagree with Pink’s classification of Pius XI’s teaching as simply a “pessimistic view” rather than a doctrinal statement, and in fact, Father, it’s quite amazing that you aren’t denouncing Pink’s remark as the very same sort of private judgment of which you repeatedly accuse me. If I don’t have the right to simply quote Pius XI’s condemnation of ecumenism without accusations of prooftexting or private judgment being immediately invoked, how is it conceivable that Pink, who enjoys no Magisterial authority, is nevertheless authorized to take Pius XI’s formal condemnation of ecumenism and downgrade it to the status of a mere “pessimistic view”? Do you really not see the obvious contradiction in the way you categorize Pink’s statement against mine? When I say that Benedict XVI’s actions are not infallible and could be wrong, I am “privately judging”; when Pink says Pius XI’s teaching is not infallible and could be wrong, he is just fine. You really see no inconsistency there, Father? Really?

    Once more you recur to the “argument from authority”: Pink is a safer guide, you say. But the whole debate is about whether recent popes’ actions can be reconciled with past teaching, whuch Pink accepts and I deny. But then you are judging Pink to be the safer guide simply because he agrees with you! That’s quite a sleight of hand, Father.

    I’m not casting any contempt on the Magisterium, and the attempt to classify my words as such shows a missing of the point of my argument. The whole crux of my argument is precisely to hold that all these aberrations of the last two popes aren’t Magisterial acts, and never could be, which means that you can’t appeal to them as though they proceeded from the fullness of papal authority, since they are rather personal and hence fallible acts of popes acting in their private capacity. You’re really misrepresenting my argument in a significant way in an effort to drive home the conclusion which you’ve already decided to embrace, no matter the contrary evidence.

    I am not quoting Benedict XVI against Pius XI, because Benedict XVI says that situation has changed.

    But you certainly are, because Pius XI never said that his teaching was subject to change. That’s your reading of it, Father; that’s never what Pius XI said. That’s your private judgment to say that later popes can override past ones and retroactively declare their teaching to be “changeable” and “contingent,” even when the latter use words like “never allowed,” “always forbidden” and so on, which are not words used for contingent policies. And you once more beg the question by assuming, not proving, that Benedict XVI’s private, non-Magisterial comments on Pius XI are “The Church’s Teaching On The Matter,” which is a false assumption, and therefore doesn’t prove anything about contingency. It’s your private judgment that Benedict XVI is acting on behalf of the whole Church when he makes those comments, since Benedict XVI never said, nor could he say, in this case, “I declare, define, say, and pronounce that Pius XI was wrong, and that this is to be definitively held by all the faithful.” You’re doing the very same thing which you accuse me of doing, but you justify it because the authorities that you quote happen to be more recent (“living” as you say) than the ones I quote. But in Catholicism, the Faith is not determined by what is recent, but rather by what is true.

    it is neccesary to follow the pope when we are dealing with contingent arguments.

    Why is that necessary, Father? What proof have you offered for this assertion? If we’re dealing with contingent arguments then you admit that the pope might be wrong, since if it’s not necessary, he evidently might be erring. Then in that case it’s not necessary to follow him, since he might be wrong. You say “It’s necessary,” but simply saying “You must do this” doesn’t actually show that we must. The Catholic religion is fides et ratio; statements like this need some sort of justification, but I can’t see that you’ve offered any beyond pious desires.

    I guess I can sum up my argument with a question, Father, and I hope you’ll answer: Even if you admit the theoretic chance that a pope can possibly err, on what grounds, given your position, could any of the faithful ever know or say that a pope has actually erred? You say that a pope might be able to err, but whenever someone gives an example, you simply shoot it down, appeal to alleged contingency or the chance of contrary evidence, etc. So in other words, a pope might be wrong, but we can never know it, since you’ll always find a way to excuse what he did. If that is true, then it was to no purpose that the Church defined infallibility as holding only under specific cases, since in your view it is de facto that the pope more or less never errs, at least such that we can realize it.

    I really don’t see how there even could be in theory any way, ever, to convince you that a pope was actually wrong. Do you agree that Stephen VII was wrong to desecrate a corpse? But how could you agree, since maybe some contrary evidence will show up some day that corpse desecration really isn’t always wrong? How could you pray to the saints, since the saints are canonized on the basis of miracles and holiness of life, but maybe some contrary evidence will show up that they didn’t really live holy lives? You might argue that you rely on the Church’s teaching, but the accuracy of your hearing and eyesight is contingent, so maybe you heard or read wrong when you learned the Catechism, so that you can’t really know what the Church teaches. And maybe some future pope will come along and change things, and then you must obey, even if he contradicts past teaching, since the pope must always be obeyed without condition. If Pope Mahony is elected and denies the Real Presence, you would on this basis have to obey him, since no one has the right to stand in private judgment of the pope, and it would be for Pope Mahony himself to tell us whether his hypothetical denial of the Real Presence did or did not agree with Catholic teaching. But of course this idea makes of the pope a sort of doctrinal totalitarian dictator who is free to change the Faith at his whim, though the Church has always taught that the Faith can never be changed (Galatians 1:8).

    I appreciate the exchange, Father, and your taking the time to go back and forth with me, and I reciprocate your good wishes.

    • Mike,

      I think we have gone the distance here and now are just going in circles. Fortunately, we have had the opportunity to make our positions clear. The record speaks for itself. This will be my last comment on the matter.

      That false religions offend God is not a contingent statement. But that all aspects of a false religions, including those aspects that are true, offend God is a contingent statement. That Pope Benedict is guilty of promoting false religions is also a contingent statement. Your view of his actions and the explanation of his actions are entirely prejudicial.

      If you look at my statement above you will see that I said: “your minor premise in the first syllogism contains a measure of contingency.” I did not say that all of it was contingent.

      You wrote:

      You’ve stated that “nothing metaphysically precludes the possibility that evidence to the contrary could be produced,” but in fact, Father, if that were true, then the Church’s own teaching would be in error. At Vatican I the Church infallibly defined that the existence of God can be proven with certainty from metaphysical arguments.

      First off, my statement that you quote was particular, not general. It had to do with whether the communists you mention adhere to atheistic systems of belief. Of course, I do not believe that anyone will find evidence to prove that Mao et al. were not atheists. No one in their right mind does. But there are many people, including the pope, who have rational arguments, showing that pre- and postconciliar teaching can be reconciled. These arguments are based in part on contingent facts, over which good and reasonable men can disagree. And men do disagree because the conclusions are not self-evident. Such men are engaging in theological argumentation and arriving at contingent conclusions. It is the pope’s job to settle such matters. It is the pope’s job to authoritatively interpret prior magisterium.

      The existence of God can be proven with metaphysical arguments because God is metaphysically necessary. God cannot not exist, otherwise nothing would exist. But this proves nothing concerning what we are discussing.

      Again your long discussion about my presumed doubt as to whether Mao, et al. were atheists, just shows that you simply miss the point of my statement. I do not know how much clearer I can be about the difference between contingent and necessary. You treat every one of your premises (major and minor) as though they were all metaphysically necessary. That is not the case.

      I think you need to read the whole of Pink’s argument. I assumed you had. In any case, that you disagree with him, is based on your theological interpretation of the contingent facts, such as that your interpretation of Pius XI regarding irreformability is more accurate than that of Pink. You have a theological argument with Pink, and your conclusion, as well as his, is contingent. That is why Vatican II and fifty years of papal teaching has so much more authority than your opinions. The postconciliar magisterium is doing its job in interpreting preconciliar magisterium.

      Pink is not arguing against Pius XI, the way you are arguing against Benedict XVI. Pink is agreeing with the authoritative interpretation of Pius XI given by Benedict XVI. Whether or not he is right or not does not touch immediately upon what I see as our central disagreement. The real problem is that you cannot recognize that this whole discussion has been a theological argument about contingent facts, and that your conclusions have no metaphysical necessity whatever. I have found this over and over to be the case among traditionalists.

      Above, one of the commenters asked you how you know the pope is wrong. And you retorted with the counter question: “How do you know he is right?” The faithful follow the pope because they have found the Catholic faith to measure up to the demands of the true religion. They believe there must be a principle of authority to guarantee an objective rule of faith. Most of them understand that the pope can err, in matters that are not proclaimed ex cathedra. But they do not need to prove the pope is right because of their faith in Christ. Any reasonable person knows that smarter people than them can be and are often wrong. Such a man knows that sometimes men can be too smart for their own good. Having an answer for everything does not make one right.

      Catholic intellectuals have a particular role to play in the preservation and development of doctrine. But only the Successor of St. Peter can teach with definitive authority.

      God bless you.

  29. Marie -
    Sounds like an absolutely beautiful day! Thank you for sharing your experience with us and your thoughts about Blessed John Paul II. When you learn about the events of his life you can see how God was preparing him through his whole life for the papacy. God is truly Awesome. Blessed John Paul II was the light of Christ to the world. But we should not be surprised that he would be persecuted as our Lord was not spared these sufferings.
    In Christ,
    Marian

  30. Mike –
    I was wondering wht your thoughts are on the crisis in the SSPX – priests calling on Bishop. Fellay’s resignation, Bishop. Fellay excommunicating Bishop. Williamson, Bishop Williamson accusing Bishop Fellay and the SSPX of modernism, etc. What would you do if the sspx reconciled with the Church?

    In Christ,
    Marian

  31. Thanks, Marian. I love JPII so much. I remember keeping a prayerful vigil during his last days on earth. Bl. JPII showed the world how to suffer with dignity!! :)
    He was a ‘Christ on earth’! :)

  32. Pingback: Second Guessing the Conclave Before It Happens | Mary Victrix

  33. I have been reading St. Therese of Lisieux by Those Who Knew Her, which is a compilation of the testimony for her canonization process. On page 234 there is the answer of Sister Marie of the Trinity and then the retort of St. Therese. St. Therese asked if the sister would abandon “the little way” after Therese’s death. Sister Marie answered: “Certainly not. I believe in it so firmly that if the pope himself were tto tell me that you had been wrong, i think I could still believe in it.” Therese then said: “Oh! You shoud believe the pope before anybody else.”

  34. Sorry, Mike, but YOU are YOUR own little pope because YOU interpret statements of previous popes and dissent from the interpretation by recent popes.
    Soon we will have a new Vicar of Christ, and he will have my love and prayers and total obedience in matters of faith, morals, and Church governance.

    Timothy, St. Therese would always be obedient to the current Vicar of Christ. To postulate otherwise would reveal ignorance of her complete writings and sayings and the testimony of those who knew her.

  35. Mr. Foley, I agree that St. Therese would have no issues with the virtue of obedience. As I noted (and Fr. Angelo agreed) in another thread, there is an important distinction between ‘Belief’ and ‘Obedience’: http://anonisnowhere.blogspot.com/2012/04/belief-and-obedience-critical.html

    Father, would you mind discussing how a Catholic knows when the pope is acting with infallibility, and when he is acting privately as a theologian?

  36. Sorry, Mike, but YOU are YOUR own little pope because YOU interpret statements of previous popes and dissent from the interpretation by recent popes.

    Bill Foley,

    Calumny, even when you repeat it, is still calumny.

    If you would obey the pope no matter what he told you to do then you are acting very foolishly. What if the pope commanded you to sin; would you obey him?

    Pope Stephen VII mutilated a corpse and threw it in the river. If he had commanded you to help him throw the cadaver into the water, would you have obeyed him? If so, you would have committed mortal sin and been damned had you not repented.

    St. Peter publicly denied Christ three times. If you had been standing next to St. Peter during his moment of sin, and if he had commanded you to join him in denying that you knew Jesus Christ, would you have obeyed him? If so you would have committed mortal sin.

    John Paul II kissed the Koran, a book which blasphemes Jesus Christ and denies His divinity. If John Paul II had commanded you to kiss this book, would you have obeyed? If so you would be showing reverence to a book which blasphemes and offends God, which is a horrifying and wicked thing to do. You have so exaggerated the idea of respect for the papacy that your argument could be taken to imply that you would actually choose to sin and offend God rather than disobey a pope.

    Papal infallibility was defined by the First Vatican Council to exist only under certain conditions and not outside those conditions. If you believe that the pope is always infallible, rather than infallible only under limited circumstances, if that’s what you believe, then you are denying the infallible teaching of the First Vatican Council.

    Here is when the pope is infallible, according to Vatican I:

    1. When he speaks ex cathedra, in virtue of his apostolic authority
    2. About a matter of faith or morals
    3. In a definitive matter
    4. Such that his definition is to be held by the whole Church

    You are also wrong to state that I “interpret” anything. Pius XI’s teaching is the interpretation. We don’t have to wait for someone else to interpret what Pius XI said; Pius XI has already interpreted it merely by having said it. As one commentator has pointed out about arguments like yours, your statement posits a need to engage in an infinite regress of interpretations of papal words, so that we can never know what the pope actually taught, because some later pope might come along and “reinterpret it.” We have the pope’s words, and then according to you, apparently, we need an interpretation of the pope’s words, and then we’ll need someone to interpret the interpretation, but then we’ll need someone else to interpret the interpretation of the interpretation, and this process will evidently never cease, so that the Catholic Faith becomes totally unknowable.

    Bill Foley, a last question for you: Mother Angelica, remember, effectively accused Cardinal Mahony of denying the Real Presence. If Pope Mahony is elected and if as pope he denies the Real Presence, will you obey him and stop adoring the Blessed Sacrament? After all, he’s the pope, and everything the pope says is always true, right? The Catholic Church has never taught that, Bill Foley, and no matter how many times you might wish to repeat this error, it will still be an error, and a very dangerous one at that.

  37. Proverbs 3:5-6
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

  38. Sorry, Mike, but it is only in harmony with the magisterium of today that magisterial texts of yesterday may be rightly understood.

    Just keep on giving your interpretation if you wish, but I will continue to follow the magisterium of today.

  39. Bill Foley,

    You’re begging the question again. You simply stipulate that everyone must agree with whatever is most recent. But that’s exactly what your opponents are disputing. You cannot prove that whatever modern Rome says is true, because modern Rome said it. That is blatant question begging.

    You answered none of my questions about papal orders to do what is wrong. If the pope commands you to sin, will you do it? If yes, then you would offend God. If no, then you agree with traditionalists that popes are not totalitarian dictators whose will is absolute law.

    You also beg the question by again accusing me of “giving my own interpretation,” though I’ve already explained to you that the wrongfulness of kissing the Koran, for instance, is not “my interpretation” but the Church’s. Long before I existed, the Church condemned religions which deny Christ’s divinity, and by extension, books which do the same (see the Council of Nicea, for instance). If you are saying that my words about the wrongfulness of Koran kissing are false, then you are in effect accusing the Church herself of error, since it is the Church which taught this, not me. I’m not giving you my interpretation; I’m repeating the Church’s interpretation/teaching. You seem to have a problem with repeating false statements over and over again, as though repeating them will make them true.

    Finally, you are assuming–not proving–that all the recent errors and aberrations are “the Magisterium of today,” whereas in fact none of these errors really come to us from the Magisterium. John Paul II’s decision to kiss the Koran was not a Magisterial act; it was his own (wrongful) action as a private person, and it would be absurd to pretend that such deeds are binding on Catholics.

    I notice, finally, that while still putting yourself forward as a quasi-theological authority, competent to indict other Catholics for alleged dissent from the Magisterium, nevertheless you apparently aren’t of sufficient theological ability to recognize and then retract calumny. I suggest that before lecturing others about adherence to the Magisterium, you might wish first to lecture yourself about adherence to the Eighth Commandment, which commands us not to falsely accuse people of serious evils, like “wanting to be their own pope,” as you have done.

  40. He does the same thing with Church tradition as the protestants do with the Bible. Mike did you see my message above with questions for you?
    In Christ,
    Marian

  41. He does the same thing with Church tradition as the protestants do with the Bible.

    If you’re referring to me, Marian, no, I don’t. You’re simply repeating the same false accusation, but repeating it doesn’t prove it, as I’ve explained.

    Christopher Ferrara had a very good article in the Remnant which refutes these continual accusations of “private interpretation” which misinformed neo-conservatives enjoy lobbing at traditionalists (http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2009-0220-ferrara-neocatholic_blues.htm):

    Right out of the gate Mirus reveals serious confusion about the nature of Catholic dogma and doctrine and the traditionalist position with respect to the Magisterium. First of all, Catholics are not obliged to seek a “proper interpretation” of Magisterial pronouncements by looking to “all the relevant Scriptural and Magisterial texts” as if the Faith were an endless exercise in continuous cross-referencing. For one thing, the Church’s dogmatic definitions are infallible ex sese—of themselves—as the First Vatican Council teaches in its Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus (1870). The definitions thus “interpret” themselves, and a literate Catholic need do nothing but read the definition in order to understand what the Church teaches and what he must believe. Take, for example, the infallible definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Blessed Pius IX in 1854…The definition speaks for itself, and there is no reason to “consult all the relevant Scriptural and Magisterial texts,” as Mirus supposes, in order to know with absolute certainty the meaning of this, or any other, article of the Faith. Catholics are not only entitled to “prefer” this statement of dogma to any later statement, they are obliged to cling to it, rejecting any attempt to alter its meaning. For as Vatican I further declares: “that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by holy mother church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.”[1]

    As to Catholic doctrine below the level of defined dogma, traditionalists do not “prefer” some Magisterial statements over others. That accusation is just plain silly. In fact, traditionalists assert precisely the opposite: that one must not prefer some Magisterial statements over others. In particular, one must not do what neo-Catholics do, along with Modernists: give overriding importance to the teachings of Vatican II merely because of their recency. Traditionalists rightly insist that there is no need to “cross-reference” any authentic teaching of the Magisterium, before, during or after the Council, since all Magisterial teachings are true in themselves and not subject to revision by later teachings.

    I’m not sure which question you’re referring to. Do you mean about the infighting in the SSPX? The politics of the fighting doesn’t interest me as much as the truth of what they say. That’s the important thing here: the truth. I do not agree with you that the SSPX needs to be “reconciled” with the Church, since as Cardinal Raymond Burke said, they already have the Catholic Faith. And as Cardinal Castrillon said, they’re not schismatics. They are baptized and they have the Catholic Faith and are not excluded by excommunication, and according to Pius XII (Mystici Corporis Christi, n. 22), that makes someone Catholic. If you consider them non-Catholic, then ironically it is you yourself who are apparently speaking against the teaching of a pope.

  42. The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy Novena

    ——————————————————————————–

    Fifth Day:
    Today bring to Me THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE SEPARATED THEMSELVES FROM MY CHURCH,* and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church, My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion.

    Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

    Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son’s Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

    ——————————————————————————–

    *Our Lord’s original words here were “heretics and schismatics,” since He spoke to Saint Faustina within the context of her times. As of the Second Vatican Council, Church authorities have seen fit not to use those designations in accordance with the explanation given in the Council’s Decree on Ecumenism (n.3). Every pope since the Council has reaffirmed that usage. Saint Faustina herself, her heart always in harmony with the mind of the Church, most certainly would have agreed. When at one time, because of the decisions of her superiors and Father confessor, she was not able to execute Our Lord’s inspirations and orders, she declared: “I will follow Your will insofar as You will permit me to do so through Your representative. O my Jesus, I give priority to the voice of the Church over the voice with which You speak to me” (Diary, 497). The Lord confirmed her action and praised her for it.

  43. Marian,
    I read the article you linked us to. Job well done. I find it a bit ironic that Mike is not the only one to use Cardinal Burke as a reference. So many cardinals in the Church and this particular cardinal; one closely associated with the FI, is mentioned more than any other. Coincidence?

    May Christ’s peace be with us all. :)

  44. Marian,

    I wasn’t “taking what he said and running with it” at all. I provided you a quote from a cardinal pointing out that the SSPX are Catholic; they have the Catholic faith and are not outside the Church. I was not appealing to Cardinal Burke as though I agreed with every remark he has ever made about the SSPX.

    It seems as though you’ve perhaps already made up your mind that the SSPX is non-Catholic or somehow outside the Church, despite what the facts say, and so of course it would be impossible to persuade you if even facts will not change your mind.

    God bless you.

  45. Mike –
    Yes, I have made up my mind to follow the guidance of the authority that Christ established.
    The fact is that the keys of authority were given to Peter and his successors. I am sure you will never be able to explain to me why you don’t place your trust in that but Jesus said “follow me” and in following the authority He established, we can be certain that we are following Him and the Truth. If you want to place your trust in some other authority that is your decision but that is not being traditional. Here are just a few quotes. Obviously, there are many more –

    Cyprian of Carthage
    “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. … ’ [Matt. 16:18]. On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. . . . If someone [today] does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; first edition [A.D. 251]).
    Optatus
    “You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all” (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).
    Jerome
    “I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails” (ibid., 15:2).
    Ambrose of Milan
    “[T]hey [the Novatian heretics] have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism; and this, too, they do, wickedly denying that sins can be forgiven [by the sacrament of confession] even in the Church, whereas it was said to Peter: ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven’[Matt. 16:19]” (Penance 1:7:33 [A.D. 388]).
    Council of Ephesus
    “Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed pope Celestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place, and us he sent to supply his place in this holy synod’” (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 431]).
    Peter Chrysologus
    “We exhort you in every respect, honorable brother, to heed obediently what has been written by the most blessed pope of the city of Rome, for blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the truth of faith to those who seek it. For we, by reason of our pursuit of peace and faith, cannot try cases on the faith without the consent of the bishop of Rome” (Letters 25:2 [A.D. 449]).
    Council of Chalcedon
    “After the reading of the foregoing epistle [The Tome of Leo], the most reverend bishops cried out: ‘This is the faith of the fathers! This is the faith of the apostles! So we all believe! Thus the orthodox believe! Anathema to him who does not thus believe! Peter has spoken thus through Leo! . . . This is the true faith! Those of us who are orthodox thus believe! This is the faith of the Fathers!’” (Acts of the Council, session 2 [A.D. 451]).

    In Christ,
    Marian

  46. Marian,

    I already explained that I am following the authority that Christ established. Preconciliar popes are authorities just as much as postconciliar ones; you cannot reject the preconciliar teaching and claim that you are following the authority that Christ established. If you reject the teaching in Mortalium Animos, for example, then you are rejecting authority, not following it.

    Christ never said to blindly obey everything that a pope says or does, and none of the saints said that either. Blind and unquestioning obedience is the hallmark of a cult member, not a Catholic. Christ established a religion of faith and reason, not a cult.

  47. Michael,

    I think our discussion is finished. I am not sure why you are in denial even about the status of the SSPX with regard to not being in full communion in the Church. Here is the reference one last time. If the SSPX was as obedient as they should be, then there would be no need for negotiations that have been taking place to try to reconcile SSPX to the Church. Hopefully Bishop Fellay & the SSPX will give our new Holy Father the respect and obedience that they should have shown to our previous popes.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_letters/documents/hf_ben-xvi_apl_20090702_ecclesiae-unitatem_en.html

    Now I am going to go pray in thanksgiving for our new Holy Father!

    In Christ,
    Marian

  48. Pingback: The Art of Celebration | Mary Victrix

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