Comedy Hour with John Salza:
A Critical Review of his Interview on Papal Authority on Voice of Catholic Radio
It is really scary to see what is marketed as “traditional Catholicism” by the false traditionalist “Recognize-and-Resist” camp these days. Their stubborn unwillingness to concede that the Vatican II Church cannot be the Catholic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that its “popes” cannot be true Catholic Popes, is driving them to twist and distort genuine traditional Catholic doctrine regarding the nature, authority, and infallibility of the papacy and the Church’s Magisterium.
On March 30, 2014, the Long-Island-based program Voice of Catholic Radio featured a 40-minute interview with “Resistance” apologist John Salza, conducted by host Joe Bagnoli (click here to listen or download). Salza is a tax attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but he has become a name in Novus Ordo and Semi-Traditionalist circles as a former Freemason and “Catholic” author, lecturer, and apologist. Once highly regarded in Novus Ordo circles such as EWTN and Catholic Answers, Salza has since drifted into the Semi-Traditionalist camp and has become a defender of the Society of St. Pius X. On his web site at ScriptureCatholic.com, you can see a photo of him standing next to SSPX Superior General Bp. Bernard Fellay.
A few years ago, Salza published several essays against Sedevacantism (one in The Remnant in 2010 and another in Catholic Family News in 2011). Both articles were poorly researched in the extreme and revealed a complete lack of competence on Salza’s part regarding this topic. In fact, the blunders he put forth were so numerous that the rebuttal we published ended up being over 60 pages in length. See for yourself that we are not exaggerating about this:
The topic of the interview with Salza on March 30 was the nature and limits of papal authority. Though much of what he says is correct — which makes his total message all the more dangerous — there are a number of egregious errors Salza propagates in this broadcast that require comment and correction.
Although Voice of Catholic Radio promoted Salza as an “expert” on Catholic doctrine, you can see for yourself by means of the evidence we provide below that he is nothing of the kind.
Error #1 – Confusing Authority with Infallibility
The first error we shall look at is promoted by Salza somewhat subtly. He doesn’t come out and say it explicitly, but he certainly gives the impression that unless the Church or the Pope propose something infalllibly, it is of itself not really authoritative. His contention is that if it is not proposed as to be believed with divine and Catholic Faith (de fide divina et catholica), then it need not be believed at all.
This is a very common error among the Semi-Traditionalists — they somehow think that the Church binds us only to those things she proposes infallibly, and that all the rest is basically offered on a “take it or leave it” basis, left up to the personal decision of each individual, whether he finds it to be in agreement with his own personal study of history and prior Church teaching.
Not only is such a position completely contrary to Church doctrine, it also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It would in effect render the Church useless apart from infallible teachings, and downright harmful or dangerous, for Salza believes that the Church can very much give false doctrine to her children and lead them to hell by their adherence to these false teachings, she just cannot do so while at the same time claiming infallibility for them. The criterion, according to Salza, by which each member of the Church is supposed to judge the teaching proposed to him, is that of “whether it is traditional”, that is, “whether it has been taught from the beginning, everywhere, and by all.”
Now isn’t that precious. Each Catholic needs to be his own theologian. He must be able to read and write in various languages, especially Latin, and have at his fingertips a virtual library of Church documents, a better grasp of theology than the hierarchy, a sharp intellect, and plenty of time to do a lot of studying. This way, if we take Salza’s ideas seriously, each Catholic would end up becoming a judge of the Church, of her Magisterium, and even of the Pope.
Not surprisingly, this is exactly how things work in the Resistance camp: When the “Pope” issues an encyclical, canonizes a saint, promulgates liturgical laws, or imposes discipline, the self-appointed “experts” will tell you not to go by that! It could be heretical, erroneous, harmful, impious, or otherwise misleading. First better check with that unapproved bishop in Menzingen, or that priest in Canada, or that newspaper editor in Minneapolis, or that civil rights attorney in Virginia, or that tax lawyer in Milwaukee. If they give you the green light, then you’re good to go — but if not, then you must “resist” what comes from the (supposed) Holy See and even ignore declarations of excommunication if need be, because you — or at least they — know better than the Church.
This is absurd. Laughable. Preposterous. But the worst part is: This is being promoted as “traditional Catholicism.” See if you can find that in any approved pre-Vatican II magisterial document, theology manual, or catechism! Good luck.
This position, if it were true, would mean that the Church herself is not a reliable teacher and guide in her daily teaching, that God has outsourced the Church’s vigilance over the purity of the Faith to unappointed clerics and laymen. It would mean the Church could not truly be said to be the Ark of Salvation who safely guides all who want to be saved to Heaven via true doctrine and the means of sanctification. She would not be much different from Protestant sects, who advance all sorts of teachings and views, which are then judged to be in conformity with Scripture — or not — by each believer individually. We would end up being “children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive”, as St. Paul describes the heretical sects (Eph 4:14). Such a position does grave damage to the divinely-given purpose of the Church.
But let’s see what the Church herself says about these matters.
Pope Leo XIII directly addresses this very argument brought up by Salza and blasts it to pieces:
In defining the limits of the obedience owed to the pastors of souls, but most of all to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, it must not be supposed that it is only to be yielded in relation to dogmas of which the obstinate denial cannot be disjoined from the crime of heresy. Nay, further, it is not enough sincerely and firmly to assent to doctrines which, though not defined by any solemn pronouncement of the Church, are by her proposed to belief, as divinely revealed, in her common and universal teaching, and which the [First] Vatican Council declared are to be believed “with Catholic and divine faith.” But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the Apostolic See.
And how fitting it is that this should be so any one can easily perceive. For the things contained in the divine oracles have reference to God in part, and in part to man, and to whatever is necessary for the attainment of his eternal salvation. Now, both these, that is to say, what we are bound to believe and what we are obliged to do, are laid down, as we have stated, by the Church using her divine right, and in the Church by the supreme Pontiff.
Wherefore it belongs to the Pope to judge authoritatively what things the sacred oracles contain, as well as what doctrines are in harmony, and what in disagreement, with them; and also, for the same reason, to show forth what things are to be accepted as right, and what to be rejected as worthless; what it is necessary to do and what to avoid doing, in order to attain eternal salvation. For, otherwise, there would be no sure interpreter of the commands of God, nor would there be any safe guide showing man the way he should live.
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae, n. 24)
Not surprisingly, Pope Pius XI teaches the same thing:
…[I]n order that no falsification or corruption of the divine law but a true genuine knowledge of it may enlighten the minds of men and guide their conduct, it is necessary that a filial and humble obedience towards the Church should be combined with devotedness to God and the desire of submitting to Him. For Christ Himself made the Church the teacher of truth in those things also which concern the right regulation of moral conduct, even though some knowledge of the same is not beyond human reason. …[God] has constituted the Church the guardian and the teacher of the whole of the truth concerning religion and moral conduct; to her therefore should the faithful show obedience and subject their minds and hearts so as to be kept unharmed and free from error and moral corruption, and so that they shall not deprive themselves of that assistance given by God with such liberal bounty, they ought to show this due obedience not only when the Church defines something with solemn judgment, but also, in proper proportion, when by the constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, opinions are prescribed and condemned as dangerous or distorted.
Wherefore, let the faithful also be on their guard against the overrated independence of private judgment and that false autonomy of human reason. For it is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances; or even that they must obey only in those matters which she has decreed by solemn definition as though her other decisions might be presumed to be false or putting forward insufficient motive for truth and honesty. Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord.
(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Casti Connubii, nn. 103-104)
The following three quotes from various Supreme Pontiffs further underscore how wrong John Salza is:
When one loves the pope one does not stop to debate about what he advises or demands, to ask how far the rigorous duty of obedience extends and to mark the limit of this obligation. When one loves the pope, one does not object that he has not spoken clearly enough, as if he were obliged to repeat into the ear of each individual his will, so often clearly expressed, not only viva voce, but also by letters and other public documents; one does not call his orders into doubt on the pretext – easily advanced by whoever does not wish to obey – that they emanate not directly from him, but from his entourage; one does not limit the field in which he can and should exercise his will; one does not oppose to the authority of the pope that of other persons, however learned, who differ in opinion from the pope. Besides, however great their knowledge, their holiness is wanting, for there can be no holiness where there is disagreement with the pope.
(Pope St. Pius X, Address to the Priests of the Apostolic Union, Nov. 18, 1912; in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 4 , p. 695)
To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor.
(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua, 1885)
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me” [Lk 10:16]; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 20, 1950)
Isn’t it amazing that the “expert” John Salza didn’t mention any of these things?
The below links are likewise helpful on this subject:
- “Must I Believe It?” by Canon George Smith (1935)
- “The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Allocutions” by Mgr. Joseph C. Fenton (1956)
- “The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals” by Mgr. Joseph C. Fenton (1949)
- “The Religious Assent due to the Teachings of Papal Encyclicals” [PDF] by Mgr. Joseph C. Fenton (1950)
- “You Can’t Have it Your Way” – Response to Fr. Chazal on Sedevacantism
In a nutshell, we must believe everything Holy Mother Church teaches in her Magisterium, not merely that which meets the criteria for infallibility or what is proposed as belonging to Faith. The fact that not every magisterial act or document is protected by the gift of infallibility is irrelevant, because the Church is the authoritative Teacher appointed by God, in virtue of which she has the right to command our assent and obedience to all she teaches, to her liturgical rites, her declarations of sainthood, and her disciplinary laws:
For the teaching authority of the Church, which in the divine wisdom was constituted on earth in order that revealed doctrines might remain intact for ever, and that they might be brought with ease and security to the knowledge of men, and which is daily exercised through the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops who are in communion with him, has also the office of defining, when it sees fit, any truth with solemn rites and decrees, whenever this is necessary either to oppose the errors or the attacks of heretics, or more clearly and in greater detail to stamp the minds of the faithful with the articles of sacred doctrine which have been explained.
(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 9)
So there we have it. The teaching authority of the Church is exercised daily through the Pope himself and the bishops who are in communion with him. Obviously, this includes infallible as well as non-infallible teachings. The point is that the Church teaches with authority — even when not infallible — which by that very fact alone binds the faithful to adhere to her teachings, for the Church’s teaching mission comes from Christ Himself.
If a tax lawyer from Milwaukee disagrees, that’s just too bad. For the tax lawyer.
Error #2 – We can ignore what Francis says to the Media
After reinforcing in people’s minds Error #1, Salza proceeds to apply this error in practice and argues that what Francis says to the media can be ignored because by doing so he is not directing his words to the Universal Church and therefore his comments are not magisterial. Thus, Salza reasons, Francis isn’t protected by infallibility and so what he says can contain error.
For the sake of argument (but not in reality), we shall grant that (putative) papal comments directed at the press are not magisterial. Clearly, non-magisterial remarks are not protected by infallibility. So far, so good. Yet, it does not follow that therefore such comments can be ignored. One very important consideration Salza conveniently glosses over is that non-infallible statements nevertheless reveal the mind of the speaker; they reveal the doctrines he holds, the tenets he believes. And in the case of Francis, his words and actions have made abundantly clear that he is not a Catholic. Again and again, Francis has demonstrated to the world that he does not adhere to Catholic teaching. He has done so “magisterially” as well as “non-magisterially.” The following links prove our point:
- Heresy in Francis’ “Apostolic Exhortation” Evangelii Gaudium (n. 247)
- Heresy: Francis claims Old Covenant valid, today’s Jews still God’s Chosen People
- Heresy: Francis says Faith without Works Not True Faith
Once again, the question of infallibility does not come into play here; it is a red herring, serving merely as a distraction from the real issue: Francis does not hold the Catholic Faith and therefore (among other things) cannot be the head of the Catholic Church.
Therefore, Salza is wrong in saying we can simply ignore anything from Francis that is not magisterial.
Error #3 – The Catholic Church can teach Freemasonic Ideas
Towards the middle of the interview, Salza casually and fleetingly mentions that there are “Masonic principles … now enshrined in Vatican II teaching.” …Wait a minute, what?! A Catholic ecumenical council approved and promulgated by a true Pope — which is what Salza believes Vatican II (1962-65) to have been — can propose as Catholic doctrine condemned Freemasonic ideas?!
By now it is clear: This must be the John Salza Comedy Hour. Except that it’s really not funny. Such a claim is not only preposterous, it is also impious and heretical. It would mean that the Spotless Bride of Christ, the Church, can at the same time be a harlot, drunk with the poison of anti-Christ doctrine which she hurls at the unsuspecting faithful. Now don’t think you can just take care of this problem by somehow blaming it on the Church’s “human element,” as the Resistance apologists love to do. The Church’s Magisterium exercised through the teaching of an ecumenical council solemnly approved by the Pope, this is not the “human” element but the divine! This is precisely where the Church cannot fail.
Consider how grave Salza’s error is. Under his thesis, a true Pope — for such he believes Paul VI to have been — could promulgate “for the glory of God” and “establish in the Holy Spirit” a slew of conciliar decrees in which all the world’s bishops are teaching in union with the Pope on faith and morals, and yet this teaching could still be false, nay, more than that, could be the very antithesis of Catholicism, straight from the pit of hell! It would mean that the faithful are not safe in the Church of God but are in a most dangerous and precarious position, being exposed to a legitimate hierarchy that can so easily mislead them.
It would mean that the faithful have to be suspicious of the Church’s very teaching authority and effectively become their very own guardians of truth. It would mean that distinguishing the true from the false would now be incumbent upon them — or their local tax attorney perhaps — rather than upon those to whom Christ gave the commission, and each member of the Church would now have to determine for himself whether he’s being deceived or not and figure out what the true teaching is to which they must cling instead of that which the ecclesiastical hierarchy is proposing to him.
This, ladies and gentlemen, would be the end of the Church. Who would need such a church? How could anyone say it is the Ark of Salvation, outside of which no one can be saved? How could it truthfully be said to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15)? How could one say that the gates of hell have not prevailed against her (cf. Mt 16:18)?
Error #4 – The Novus Ordo “Popes” are not Heretics
Salza also tackled the question of heresy and heretics, specifically regarding the authorities in the Novus Ordo Church. He said: “I think the only thing that saves some of these men from formal heresy is the very fact that they claim, and think, that they’re teaching the Catholic Faith. They’re not formally saying, ‘We are renouncing the Catholic Faith; we are publicly defecting.'”
So… let’s make sure we get this straight: Salza is saying that it is precisely the Novus Ordo bishops’ Modernism that keeps them from being, uh, Modernists?! You’ve got to be kidding! That’s a great punch line for Comedy Hour, but this sort of nonsense has no place in theological discourse concerning such serious matters that pertain to our eternal salvation.
Host Joe Bagnoli, who admitted that the Vatican II Sect is a “Modernist church”, even brought up the case of “Cardinal” Oscar Maradiaga, who explicitly referred to the Catholic Church’s condemnations of Modernism and boldly stated that Vatican II had reconciled the Church with this heresy:
The Second Vatican Council was the main event in the Church in the 20th Century. In principle, it meant an end to the hostilities between the Church and modernism, which was condemned in the First Vatican Council. On the contrary: neither the world is the realm of evil and sin — these are conclusions clearly achieved in Vatican II — nor is the Church the sole refuge of good and virtue. Modernism was, most of the time, a reaction against injustices and abuses that disparaged the dignity and the rights of the person.
(Oscar Rodriguez-Maradiaga, “The Importance of the New Evangelization”, Oct. 25, 2013, sec. 2)
How much more blunt and pertinacious can it get?! These people know very well what they’re doing, that they’re rejecting Catholic doctrine, and that what they believe has been condemned by the true Church! They are heretics! The very fact that they’re doing it under the label “Catholic” does not excuse their heresy — it makes it worse. Is the wolf no longer a wolf but a sheep just because he puts on sheep’s clothing? Is this what our Blessed Lord taught?! (Cf. Mt 7:15-20) Is this how we are to put into practice Christ’s counsel, “Take heed lest any man deceive you” (Mk 13:5)?
Ah, if Martin Luther had only labeled his Protestant heresies “Catholic”, he could have spared himself a whole lot of trouble!
Error #5 – The Second Vatican Council does not demand Assent
Like so many other apologists in the false traditionalist camp, Salza too repeats the argument that Vatican II does not demand any assent to its teaching.
This error has been refuted many times in the past, and we’re happy to make available once again some links on this topic where you can see for yourself what the facts really are:
But there is another issue here that is often neglected: It is one thing to say that Vatican II does not require assent; but what Salza and his Semi-Trad apologist buddies are really saying is that you are not allowed to assent to its teachings, lest you be infected with Modernism. (In the Catholic Church, you don’t have the option to adhere to Modernism if you so desire.) So, let’s stop talking about whether we “must” adhere to the Council and instead talk about whether we “can”, that is, whether we are even “allowed to”, considering that, as the “expert” himself said, it contains Freemasonic doctrine.
Put this way, Salza’s argument disappears completely. He’s saying that what the “Pope” requires you to believe is something you are not allowed to believe, sometimes even under pain of heresy. And this is being promoted as “traditional Catholicism”? The Pope’s teaching being opposed and corrected by an American layman? How do you think Pope St. Pius X would have reacted to that? Once again, this is Comedy Hour. As Mr. Zuhlsdorf would say, “Make popcorn.”
Since Mr. Salza claims to be so fond of traditional, pre-Vatican II teaching, we shall quote the great Pope Leo XIII:
…[A]mong Catholics – doubtless as a result of current evils – there are some who, far from satisfied with the condition of “subject” which is theirs in the Church, think themselves able to take some part in her government, or at least, think they are allowed to examine and judge after their own fashion the acts of authority. A misplaced opinion, certainly. If it were to prevail, it would do very grave harm to the Church of God, in which, by the manifest will of her Divine Founder, there are to be distinguished in the most absolute fashion two parties: the teaching and the taught, the Shepherd and the flock, among whom there is one who is the head and the Supreme Shepherd of all.
(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua, 1885)
Repeat: In the Church there is an absolute distinction between “the teaching and the taught.” Just guess into which of these two categories Mr. Salza falls…. You got it.
Next, Salza advances another erroneous idea, namely, that before Vatican II, no assent was required to be given to any teaching which was proposed non-infallibly, on the simple grounds that it could contain error.
This is simply false, and quite outrageously so. For all his emphasis on what the Church has “always believed”, Salza sure doesn’t seem to have a very good grasp of just what that is. In his 1950 article “The Religious Assent Due to the Teachings of Papal Encyclicals” (PDF download here), the revered and papally-honored dogmatic theologian Mgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton explained:
Indubitably the Roman Pontiff has the right to issue authoritative doctrinal statements which are presented neither as dogmas of divine faith nor as truths of what has been, since the seventeenth century, generally called fides ecclesiastica. This divinely given power, which [Cardinal] Franzelin ascribes to his “authority of doctrinal providence,” obviously involves the right to demand from the faithful an acceptance of these statements by an assent which is firm and sincere, yet inferior to the assent of divine faith and the assent of the so-called ecclesiastical faith. Dominic Palmieri and Thomas Pègues speak of a morally certain assent which must be accorded to these authentic, yet non-infallible pontifical teachings. Ludwig Lercher describes this internal religious assent as interpretative condicionatus. All agree that the faithful are obligated in conscience to give at least this type of assent to any teaching which has been authoritatively presented to the Church solely through the medium of a papal encyclical.
…[A]ll doctrinal statements contained in the encyclicals must be accepted with a firm and sincere inward assent. For this same reason a denial of such doctrinal propositions may be qualified or censured as at least temerarious.
Objectively the man who teaches or who accepts such a temerarious proposition is morally at fault [i.e. commits sin].
…No individual and, for that matter, no group of individuals within the ecclesia discens [i.e. those being taught] can be said to have the competence to dispute with the visible head of the Church militant on a matter connected with the Church’s deposit of divine revelation.
At least in an indirect manner, however, every rejection of an authoritative doctrinal pronouncement contained in a papal encyclical is opposed to the theological virtue of faith itself.
…[W]e lay ourselves open to very serious misunderstandings when we fail to appreciate the fact that the teaching of the Church must be taken as a unit. While it remains perfectly true that not every individual authoritative statement issued by the ecclesia docens[teaching church] is to be accepted with the assent of divine faith, we must remember that all of the doctrinal activity of the Catholic Church is essentially nothing more or less than the highly complex process of teaching the content of divine public revelation.
(Mgr. Joseph C. Fenton, “The Religious Assent Due to the Teachings of Papal Encyclicals”, American Ecclesiastical Review CXXIII, n. 1 [July 1950], pp. 59-67.)
When we juxtapose this clear and competent (even if succinct) elucidation of the subject by Mgr. Fenton with the half-baked Resistance propaganda of John Salza, we see quite clearly why Holy Mother Church commissions specially-trained theologians to expound such subject matters — and not lay tax attorneys from Wisconsin.
Incidentally, an excellent talk on this subject of what teachings Catholics are bound by and how the Ordinary Magisterium works, was given by Fr. Gabriel Lavery a few years back. It is entitled “The Ordinary Magisterium and Devotion to the Pope” and well worth a listen: Click here to stream/download. Among many other things, Fr. Lavery sets the record straight on how the Church herself understands St. Vincent of Lerin’s famous words regarding Catholics being bound to those things which have been believed “always, everywhere, and by all.”
Resistance apologists like John Salza have continually misused the “Vincentian canon,” as it is called, to give them free rein to reject any teaching from the Novus Ordo Sect they do not think conforms to Sacred Tradition, while still maintaining, however, that the Novus Ordo authority promulgating such teaching is the legitimate Catholic hierarchy commissioned by Christ Himself. Be sure to listen to Fr. Lavery’s interesting lecture on this important question, perhaps while you’re enjoying some of that popcorn.
Error #6 – The Conciliar Church is the Spotless Bride of Christ Disfigured
Towards the end of the interview, Salza moves to his grand finale. Even though he accuses “Pope” Francis of “using his magisterium to teach error, and even heresy”, referring to Bergoglio’s detestable Christ-denying heresy regarding the Old Covenant in Evangelii Gaudium n. 247, Salza then tries to convince his listeners that what we’re seeing in the Vatican is still the Spotless Bride of Christ, the divinely-founded Catholic Church of our Blessed Lord, but she is “disfigured,” he says, because she is undergoing her very own Sacred Passion after the manner of her Lord.
It is quite true, as we ourselves have pointed out before, that the Catholic Church has been predicted to undergo the Passion like her Bridegroom Jesus Christ Himself: “…the Church is ever re-enacting, during all the ages, the life story of her Divine Spouse — undergoing in the Mystical Body what He suffered in His Natural Body…” (Fr. Edward Leen, In the Likeness of Christ [New York, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1936], p. 290).
There is no question as to the truth that the Mystical Body of Christ must suffer its own Passion. The question is only as to the nature of this suffering, what it entails; and we know it must necessarily conform to Catholic teaching, which can never be rendered invalid, inapplicable, or false.
According to Salza, the disfiguring Passion of the Catholic Church entails her offering heresy to her dear children, impious and harmful liturgical rites, false “saints”, evil and heretical disciplinary laws, and erroneous doctrines. But is such a thing possible? Is this compatible with Church teaching and with the promises of Christ?
In addition to the evidence already adduced, we present a few more quotes from various Popes:
Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
(Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302)
Nor will We permit anything against the sanctity of the oath by which We were bound when, however undeservingly, We ascended the supreme seat of the prince of the apostles, the citadel and bulwark of the Catholic faith.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Qui Nuper, n. 3)
Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair [of St. Peter]; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion. Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices, n. 7)
This is Our last lesson to you: receive it, engrave it in your minds, all of you: by God’s commandment salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church; the strong and effective instrument of salvation is none other than the Roman Pontificate.
(Pope Leo XIII, Allocution for the 25th Anniversary of his Election, Feb. 20, 1903; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 653)
Union with the Roman See of Peter is … always the public criterion of a Catholic …. “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held.”
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 13)
Passion or no Passion, Church teaching does not become obsolete. It is valid in perpetuity and not subject to change, revision, or correction; it does not somehow become “inapplicable” due to changed historical circumstances. To say otherwise would be Modernism.
What, then, is the Passion of the Church? What can it be?
A whole book could be written about this subject, but we want to confine ourselves merely to demonstrating that (1) yes, the Passion of the Church has been foretold; (2) no, Salza’s idea that the Novus Ordo Sect is the Disfigured Catholic Church is impossible because the Novus Ordo Church teaches an essentially different religion; (3) instead, the Passion of the Church must involve a different kind of suffering, one that does not clash with Church teaching.
While it is impossible for the Church herself to defect, as she is guaranteed to remain unchanged until the end of time and to faithfully conserve and safeguard the Deposit of Faith entrusted to her, it is not impossible that individuals defect from the Faith and illegitimately claim to be members of the Church when in fact they are not; that they claim even to hold offices in the Church when in fact they do not. (On this point, also watch Bp. Donald Sanborn’s conference on Vatican II Ecclesiology, available here.)
It is likewise not impossible that an anti-Catholic sect should cleverly emerge under the appearance of the Catholic Church, eclipsing the Mystical Body of Christ. In fact, such seems to be exactly what has been foretold:
The prophecies of the Apocalypse show that Satan will imitate the Church of Christ to deceive mankind; he will set up a church of Satan in opposition to the Church of Christ. Antichrist will assume the role of Messias; his prophet will act the part of Pope, and there will be imitations of the Sacraments of the Church. There will also by lying wonders in imitation of the miracles wrought in the Church.
(Fr. E. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise , p. 119)
The Papacy will be attacked by all the powers of hell. In consequence the Church will suffer great trials and afflictions in securing a successor upon the throne of Peter…. It is a matter of history that the most disastrous periods for the Church were times when the Papal throne was vacant, or when anti-popes contended with the legitimate head of the Church. Thus also shall it be in those evil days to come.
(Fr. E. Sylvester Berry, The Apocalypse of St. John , pp. 121, 124)
[Satan] will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the [Catholic] Church…. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.
(Mgr. Fulton Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West , pp. 24-25)
The Church will be punished because the majority of her members, high and low, will become so perverted. The Church will sink deeper and deeper until she will at last seem to be extinguished, and the succession of Peter and the other Apostles to have expired. But, after this, she will be victoriously exalted in the sight of all doubters.
(St. Nicholas of Flue; qtd. in Yves Dupont, ed., Catholic Prophecy, p. 30)
On a more doctrinal level, the following observations by the 19th century Jesuit theologian Fr. Edmund James O’Reilly are of great relevance:
The great schism of the West [in the 14th century] suggests to me a reflection which I take the liberty of expressing here. If this schism had not occurred, the hypothesis of such a thing happening would appear to many chimerical. They would say it could not be; God would not permit the Church to come into so unhappy a situation. Heresies might spring up and spread and last painfully long, through the fault and to the perdition of their authors and abettors, to the great distress too of the faithful, increased by actual persecution in many places where the heretics were dominant. But that the true Church should remain between thirty and forty years without a thoroughly ascertained Head, and representative of Christ on earth, this would not be.
Yet it has been; and we have no guarantee that it will not be again, though we may fervently hope otherwise. What I would infer is, that we must not be too ready to pronounce on what God may permit. We know with absolute certainty that He will fulfil His promises; not allow anything to occur at variance with them; that He will sustain His Church and enable her to triumph over all enemies and difficulties; that He will give to each of the faithful those graces which are needed for each one’s service of Him and attainment of salvation, as He did during the great schism we have been considering, and in all the sufferings and trials which the Church has passed through from the beginning. We may also trust He will do a great deal more than what He has bound Himself to by His promises. We may look forward with a cheering probability to exemption for the future from some of the troubles and misfortunes that have befallen in the past.
But we, or our successors in future generations of Christians, shall perhaps see stranger evils than have yet been experienced, even before the immediate approach of that great winding up of all things on earth that will precede the day of judgment. I am not setting up for a prophet, nor pretending to see unhappy wonders, of which I have no knowledge whatever. All I mean to convey is that contingencies regarding the Church, not excluded by the Divine promises, cannot be regarded as practically impossible, just because they would be terrible and distressing in a very high degree.
(Fr. Edmund O’Reilly, The Relations of the Church to Society , p. 287-288)
Note well: Fr. O’Reilly here says that pretty much anything is possible except that which is excluded by Divine promise — such as, of course, the perennial validity and unchangeability of Church teaching, the perfect faithfulness of the Church to her Divine Lord, and so forth. In the same book, in fact, he also points out specifically that a long-term vacancy of the Papal Throne would not be impossible: “…not that an interregnum covering the whole period [of the Western Schism] would have been impossible or inconsistent with the promises of Christ, for this is by no means manifest” (ibid., p. 283).
So, if John Salza wants to argue that the Catholic Church must undergo her own Passion, we can certainly agree; but we cannot agree that this Passion should mean the Church’s own teachings can be dispensed with, that she can turn from the Ark of Salvation to the Ark of Damnation, that she can turn from the bulwark of truth into a sewer of heresy, from which we must then rescued by various non-authoritative, non-appointed laymen or clerics in the Resistance camp who figure it all out for us.
When our Blessed Lord underwent His Sacred Passion, did He cease to be true God and true man? By no means. Did He cease to be the Savior? Not at all. Did He abandon His mission and change His holy doctrine? Not in the least. Neither, then, can anything of the kind befall Holy Mother Church. Rather, just like her Divine Lord, she too will be laid in the tomb and her existence appear to the world to have been snuffed out. But just like Christ, she too will again rise gloriously to confound all skeptics and scoffers.
This is the true Passion of the Church, in which she remains undefiled for even one instance.
And so we must reject Salza’s heretical idea of the true Church turning into the Whore of Babylon for a time, where the “Chair of Truth” becomes the “Chair of Lies” and the Vicar of Christ the Vicar of the Devil. No, this is impossible! But for John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis to be impostors, this is possible indeed! (On this very point, please see the important video “Papal Impostors: Historical Precedents.”)
In his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, St. Paul the Apostle warned of a great deception that would befall the Church before the end of time:
Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity. But we ought to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, beloved of God, for that God hath chosen you firstfruits unto salvation, in sanctification of the spirit, and faith of the truth: Whereunto also he hath called you by our gospel, unto the purchasing of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.
(2 Thess 2:3-14)
Is a picture beginning to emerge yet? Is it all starting to make sense now? Are things starting to fall into place? It’s not that difficult after all, is it?
Aside: Why does Salza Promote Heresy on his Web Site?
The foregoing lines have proved more than adequately that the label of “expert in Catholic theology” is a bit, shall we say, exaggerated when it comes to John Salza. As we would hope that he is not deliberately trying to deceive anyone, the best we can say is that he is entirely incompetent on this topic.
However, there is another disturbing fact that we cannot dismiss out of hand: Mr. Salza’s web site contains an essay that promotes open heresy.
The article in question is entitled “Catholicism and Orthodoxy: A Comparison” and was penned by Dave Armstrong, one of the most industrious Modernist apologists on the internet. The author affirms unequivocal heresy when he boldly states: “Catholics must believe that [Eastern] Orthodoxy is a part of the universal Church (commensurate with the Second Vatican Council and many recent papal encyclicals on ecumenism in general or Orthodoxy in particular)” (sec. I).
This is a clear denial of the dogma of the unity of the Church and the complete identity of the Church founded by Christ with the Catholic Church (watch a debate on this topic here). This heresy has been reproved in various magisterial writings, such as the following:
…[N]either any one of these [non-Catholic] societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity.
(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes, 1868)
The foundation on which this [ecumenical] society rests is of such a nature that it makes the divine establishment of the Church of no consequence. For, it is wholly in this: that it supposes the true Church of Jesus Christ to be composed partly of the Roman Church scattered and propagated throughout the whole world, partly, indeed, of the schism of Photius [=Eastern Orthodox], and of the Anglican heresy, to which, as well as to the Roman Church, “there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism” [cf. Eph. 4:5].
(Letter of the Holy Office to the Bishops of England, Sept. 16, 1864; Denz. 1686)
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, 1896)
So the question is: Why does Mr. Salza have a heretical essay on his web site? Moreover, why does he post anything on his site written by Dave Armstrong, a Vatican II Modernist of the worst sort, who even argues it is morally permissible to donate money to the building fund of an Islamic mosque?! (See here – scroll down to “The Vatican II Sect’s Rock’n’Roll Apologist Weighs In”.) Why does Salza have on his site the writing of a man who adheres to and has dedicated his life to defending ad nauseam the very “Masonic principles … enshrined in Vatican II teaching” Salza supposedly rejects?
Hello? Anybody home?
Clearly, Salza is someone who cannot be trusted on matters of Catholic theology. Oh yes, he loves to be an author, lecturer, and sought-after “expert” on Catholic doctrine, speaking at conferences, writing books, and giving interviews. But at best, he is incompetent; at worst, he is a malicious deceiver trying to keep souls ensnared in the New Church at all costs.
It is truly tragic that so many who desire to be good and faithful Catholics are turning to John Salza as an “authority” on doctrinal questions.
Further Errors & Concluding Thoughts
Sorry, but we’re still not done wading through all the howlers Salza puts forward in this theological nightmare of an interview.
One of the craziest things Salza says comes towards the end, where he wonders out loud “whether the Conciliar Magisterium is even part of the Catholic Church or some kind of foreign body that has temporarily invaded her.”
(Quick time out for a good face-palm.)
Got that popcorn ready yet? Comedy Hour has just gotten even funnier. After having trashed the Catholic understanding of the Church’s magisterial authority, Salza now floats the idea that, regardless, perhaps the Novus Ordo Magisterium isn’t a part of the Catholic Church at all — all the while, of course, insisting that nevertheless Francis and his five predecessors of infelicitous memory are true Roman Catholic Popes and the religion of which they are the indisputable heads is the Catholic religion founded by God Himself!
You just can’t make this stuff up!
But Salza continues with his “Recognize-and-Resist” lunacy, even going so far as to admit outright: “Either the Church was wrong for 1960 years, or the Conciliar Church is wrong. But they can’t both be right, because they teach completely different things.”
Whoa! Touché, Mr. Salza, touché! But now it’s time to draw the conclusion that follows necessarily from this: If there is a Catholic Church and a “Conciliar Church”, both of which teach “completely different” doctrines that are so gravely at odds with each other that “they can’t both be right”, well then the two institutions cannot both be the Catholic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Ark of Salvation, the Bulwark of Truth, the Beacon of Orthodoxy, the Door to Grace and Salvation!
Come on, Mr. Expert, you’re smarter than this!
It’s very simple: The Vatican II Church is a false church, a diabolical sect that has been masquerading as the Catholic Church since John XXIII usurped the papal throne at the turbulent conclave of 1958. As Bp. Donald Sanborn explained in his conference given in London, England, in December 2013 (watch video here), either the religion of Vatican II differs essentially or only accidentally from the traditional Catholic religion. If the difference is only accidental, we must accept all the changes, because the Church has the right and the power to change in that which is accidental. If the difference, however, is essential, then it is a different religion altogether, and so we must reject not only the Council, but with it the authority that imposed it because it is by that very fact exposed to be unlawful, illegitimate, invalid, and non-Catholic – bogus!
In the seventh century, Pope St. Leo II, presiding over the Third Council of Constantinople, declared the following:
…[I]t is not allowable for anyone to produce another faith, that is, to write or to compose or to consider or to teach others; those who dare to compose another faith, or to support or to teach or to hand on another creed to those who wish to turn to knowledge of the truth, whether from Hellenism or Judaism or indeed from any heresy whatsoever, or to introduce novelty of speech, that is, invention of terms, so as to overturn what has now been defined by us, such persons, if they are bishops or clerics, are deprived of their episcopacy or clerical rank, and if they are monks or layfolk they are excommunicated.
(Pope St. Leo II, “Exposition of Faith”, Third Council of Constantinople )
Not only did the Modernist Second Vatican Council produce another faith; at this point we must say that John Salza is no better — he, too, has produced another faith, one that allows him to reject the errors of Vatican II while still retaining the Modernist hierarchy as somehow valid and legitimate.
And all of this, why? Because Salza and his apologist buddies in the Recognize-and-Resist camp will not admit that the Vatican II Sect is a false church and not identical to the Catholic Church of Pope Pius XII and his predecessors; they simply refuse to concede that the “Popes” after Pius XII have been impostors, anti-popes, charlatans.
But why? It is anyone’s guess, although we must not be naive: Many of them make a living holding and promoting this position, and so they have a lot invested in keeping these nefarious Resistance errors alive. We pray that they will finally look the facts squarely in the eyes and abandon and retract their errors before they have to appear before their Judge.
In an essay refuting a book published by the Society of St. Pius X against Sedevacantism, Catholic author John Lane summed up why recognizing the fact that the Novus Ordo “Popes” are but charlatans is so important in combatting the Modernist heresies of the Novus Ordo Sect:
The entire force of the Conciliar revolt comes from the fact that it has apparently been imposed by the authority of the [Catholic] Church. How many bishops, priests, religious, and laymen, would have swallowed the lies of the heretics if they had not believed themselves bound to do so by the voice of Christ’s Vicar on earth? Questioning the authority of these men renders their revolution of doubtful authenticity.
(John Lane, “Concerning an SSPX Dossier on Sedevacantism” [PDF], p. 65)
As we have seen in all of the quotes adduced in this post, denying the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo “Popes” is the only way to reject their heretical teachings, because if they were legitimate Catholic authorities, then, per Catholic doctrine, we would have no choice but to assent to their errors.
As noted at the beginning of this post, the Voice of Catholic Radio program has touted Salza as an “expert” on Catholic theology. If he can be considered an expert, we’d really hate to see what amateurs come up with. As we have amply demonstrated here, Salza is either absolutely clueless or he is deliberately deceiving well-meaning traditionalists who desire to be good and faithful Catholics. Either way, the damage is the same, as he is badly distorting and falsifying authentic traditional Roman Catholic doctrine.
In other words: Salza’s Comedy Hour is dead serious.