CAUTION! Francis speaks!
Francis says Faith without Works “Is Not [True] Faith”
When a man who does not possess true Faith presumes to lecture the world on what constitutes true Faith, it is not exactly surprising that he should get it wrong. In his “stream of consciousness” homily of Feb. 21, 2014, at the daily Novus Ordo worship service at the Vatican guest house, “Pope” Francis uttered a verbatim denial of Catholic dogma as defined by the Council of Trent in the 16th century.
The Argentinian antipope said: “A faith that does not bear fruit in works is not faith” (source).
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Except it’s heresy:
Reality Check: “If anyone says that with the loss of grace through sin faith is also lost with it, or that the faith which remains is not a true faith, though it is not a living one, or that he who has faith without charity is not a Christian, let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Session VI, Canon 28)
Francis was reportedly commenting on James 2:26: “For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.”
Now it is necessary to draw some distinctions here so we are clear about what we are saying: Faith without works, that is, the virtue of Faith without the virtue of Charity, will not justify, will not lead to salvation. In this sense it is therefore a dead Faith, as St. James says. However, it is nevertheless a true Faith, albeit dead, as the Council of Trent defined infallibly.
How profoundly important this is can be seen when we consider the implications of Francis’ heresy. If Faith without works were not a true Faith, then this would mean that everytime a Catholic is in mortal sin, he is no longer a Christian, no longer a Catholic. It would mean that any and all mortal sin would expel one from Church membership. And this in turn would mean that, since we cannot know who is or isn’t in the state of grace at any particular point in time, we could never know who is actually a Catholic, who is a member of the Church. The visibility of the Church would vanish, and it is no coincidence that Protestants deny precisely this visibility.
Even more so, since those who are not members of the Church logically also cannot hold a position of authority in the Church, it would then follow that when a pastor, a bishop, or even a Pope commits a mortal sin and thus loses the virtue of charity (sanctifying grace in the soul), he would at once cease being a valid pastor, local bishop, or Pope. So one could never know who one’s legitimate shepherds are who have the valid authority to rule, teach, and sanctify them. Chaos would result, and the Church could not seriously claim to be the only Ark of Salvation, since one would not even be so much as able to identify the Church.
By contrast to the Protestant heresy now endorsed by Bergoglio, Pope Pius XII taught in his beautiful encyclical on the Church:
Nor must one imagine that the Body of the Church, just because it bears the name of Christ, is made up during the days of its earthly pilgrimage only of members conspicuous for their holiness, or that it consists only of those whom God has predestined to eternal happiness. It is owing to the Savior’s infinite mercy that place is allowed in His Mystical Body here below for those whom, of old, He did not exclude from the banquet. For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy. Men may lose charity and divine grace through sin, thus becoming incapable of supernatural merit, and yet not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope, and if, illumined from above, they are spurred on by the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit to salutary fear and are moved to prayer and penance for their sins.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 23; underlining added.)
Catholic teaching is very clear. It is necessary to have Faith as well as Charity (“works”) to save one’s soul, and it is Charity that gives life to Faith. With every mortal sin, Charity is lost and so we no longer possess the supernatural life of grace. However, Faith is not lost, unless, of course the sin was one against Faith itself, such as heresy or apostasy.
The Council of Trent beautifully elaborated on this point:
BY EVERY MORTAL SIN GRACE IS LOST, BUT NOT FAITH
Against the subtle wits of some also, who by pleasing speeches and good words seduce the hearts of the innocent, it must be maintained that the grace of justification once received is lost not only by infidelity, whereby also faith itself is lost, but also by every other mortal sin, though in this case faith is not lost; thus defending the teaching of the divine law which excludes from the kingdom of God not only unbelievers, but also the faithful [who are] fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liars with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins, from which with the help of divine grace they can refrain, and on account of which they are cut off from the grace of Christ.
(Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session VI, Chapter 15; underlining added.)
So we see that it is not simply an academic question of terminology, as in, “Oh well — dead faith, false faith; what’s the difference?” The difference is enormous. It ultimately impacts whether or not we can know who is and isn’t a Catholic. That’s particularly important in our day, when so many people claim to be Catholics but in fact are not.
How, then, do we determine who is a member of the Church? Pius XII addressed this question in the encyclical already quoted, making the matter very easy to understand:
Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. “For in one spirit” says the Apostle, “were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free.”
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 22; underlining added.)
So, to be a member of the Church, to be a Catholic, you must (1) be validly baptized; (2) profess the true Catholic Faith; (3) not be in schism; and (4) not be under excommunication (here canonists and moralists draw some more distinctions, but these need not concern us now).
Note in particular point no. 2: You must profess the True Faith. Pius XII does not say you need only to believe it, regardless of what you profess. This distinction, again, is crucial because it directly impacts the visibility of the Church: While it is possible, through invincible ignorance, to mistakenly assent to a heresy and yet retain the virtue of Faith, if you outwardly profess your adherence to this heresy, you cease to be a member of the Church.
For this reason, the Catholic Church cannot regard individual members of heretical sects as Catholics even if they are not culpable with regard to their heresies and perhaps even possess the virtue of Faith. (The rejection of this all-important consideration is one of the fundamental errors of the False Ecclesiology of Vatican II, which grants “partial communion” to heretics on account of a valid baptism.)
For the same reason, the 1917 Code of Canon Law, compiled under Pope St. Pius X and solemnly promulgated by His Holiness Pope Benedict XV, legislates that any public defection from the Faith results in an immediate and automaticloss of office for all clerics, without the need for a declaration: “Any office becomes vacant upon the fact and without any declaration by tacit resignation recognized by the law itself if a cleric: … 4.° Publicly defects from the Catholic faith” (Canon 188.4). This loss of authority is not a punishment imposed by the Church but simply the necessary and therefore automatic consequence of ceasing to be a member of the Church due to public profession of heresy. (For our response to John Salza on this topic, please see our exhaustive rebuttal, “The Chair Is Still Empty”.)
Defection from the Faith — heresy and apostasy — are simply incompatible, by their very nature, with being a member of the Catholic Church, which is essentially visible according to the divine constitution of her Founder, our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ. (The same goes for schism, which, however, is a sin against charity, not against Faith.)
So, if we take a good look at all of this, what do we conclude? We conclude that there is a delightful irony here: Francis himself does not profess the True Faith but heresy, and he shows this, among many other things, in his teaching about what constitutes true Faith! For this reason he is not a member of the Catholic Church and cannot hold any position of authority in her. He is not the Pope and has no right to teach anyone, least of all Catholics, on matters of religion. His “faith” is not only a “dead” faith, it is much worse: it is non-existent. He has no faith, none whatsoever! For the Faith cannot be had in degrees but only as a whole or not at all:
Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: “This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved” (Athanasian Creed).
(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 24)
Now don’t let yourself be deceived by the two or three “Catholic” things Francis says on occasion, and which the Modernist “conservative” apologists love to harp on, for as Pope Leo XIII pointed out:
“There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition.” The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium.
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 9)
Not looking too good for Bergoglio and his Modernist gang, huh?
But for all those Ratzinger fans who are now thinking, “Oh, if only Benedict XVI hadn’t resigned! If only we still had him! Benedict, Benedict!” — we have a little nostalgia stopper: Just a few years ago, Fr. Ratzinger uttered the exact same Protestant heresy as Mr. Bergoglio: “[F]aith, if it is true, if it is real, becomes love, becomes charity, is expressed in charity. A faith without charity, without this fruit, would not be true faith. It would be a dead faith” (Benedict XVI, General Audience, Nov. 26, 2008). So says Benedict XVI. Who is right? Ratzinger, already under suspicion of heresy in the 1950s, or the infallible Council of Trent?
“Hermeneutic of continuity,” anyone?
Image source: composite with base element from shutterstock.com