Speaking of “Private Judgment”…
False Resistance Theology:
The Pope Speaks — You Decide!
It looks like this year is shaping up to be a veritable armageddon between the false traditionalist recognize-and-resist position and Sedevacantism. Very good, let it be so, for this is an all-important issue. The current strategy being executed by John Salza & Robert Siscoe — authors of True Or False Pope? — appears to be that of an attempted one-two punch of flooding the debate with a flurry of short articles so as to try to overwhelm us, and using a “divide-and-conquer” tactic by focusing on matters on which sedevacantists do not agree so as to prevent a unified response and paralyze us, as it were, perhaps hoping we will yell at each other instead of Salza and Siscoe.
Well, nice try — but the strategy will fail.
As we announced before, we must resist the temptation to respond piece by piece to everything they’re currently throwing out there. Right now we are sitting back and watching the show to see how it unfolds. Our responses will come, but they won’t be a frantic flurry of direct replies to each piece as they post it. Rather, we will calmly provide well-argued responses at the appropriate time. Perhaps they are trying to cause panic, but if so, it’s not working. While we have linked to them, we have noticed that they have not linked to us. That’s unfortunate, but we’ll manage. Here is a quick recap of links to recent posts we have published, pertaining to their book and/or their position:
- True or False Pope: On that alleged “Irrational” Sedevacantist Response
- True or False Popes? Novus Ordo Watch Page on Sedevacantism
- TRADCAST 010: A Critical Look at the Endorsements for the book True Or False Pope?
- TRADCAST 009: Dismantling John Salza’s Interview on TradCatKnight Radio (Part 1)
- TRADCAST 011: Dismantling John Salza’s Interview on TradCatKnight Radio (Part 2)
- Sedevacantism and Private Judgment
- Why do Many Traditionalists Fear Sedevacantism?
- Francisco Suarez on Heretical Popes
- Have the Gates of Hell Prevailed against the Church?
While we are still waiting to get our copy of True or False Pope? (come on, guys, hurry up!), it is time to shine the spotlight again on the alternative to Sedevacantism which Salza and Siscoe propose as the only authentic “traditional Catholic” position — a position which is often referred to as “recognize and resist”, and which can be summarized in the words: “The Pope Speaks — YOU Decide!”
Have a look at this informative new video:
Surely some will immediately object, upon seeing this video, that some (by no means all) sedevacantists also “recognize and resist”, namely, the liturgical changes of Pope Pius XII for Holy Week, promulgated in the mid-1950s. Just for the record: Concerning this matter, (1) Novus Ordo Watch takes no public position either way; and (2) some at Novus Ordo Watch attend parishes at which the new Holy Week rites of Pius XII are adopted, whereas some attend parishes at which they are not. Without going into detail on the issue now, we must point out that the controversy is fundamentally different from what Salza/Siscoe adhere to, because there is no doubt that back in the 1950s, when His Holiness Pius XII promulgated the liturgical changes, these changes were legal and effective and binding on everyone. This is beyond question. No “resistance” was permitted. The Pius XII Holy Week controversy today centers around the question whether it is reasonable to suppose that the Supreme Legislator, Pius XII, would still want his revised Holy Week liturgy to be used today, when his liturgical revisions proved to be but the stepping stone to the apostate liturgy of the Novus Ordo. As to the authority, lawfulness, and power of the Pope to change liturgical rites, there can be no question: “…the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites [!], as also to modify those he judges to require modification” (Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mediator Dei, n. 58). This is something sedevacantists adhere to; but do Salza, Siscoe, and the rest of the resistance/SSPX gang?
Always remember one thing: The vehemence with which these recognize-and-resist traditionalists insist that Francis is Pope, is only matched by the vehemence with which they refuse him submission. The scenario is absolutely bizarre: Scream at the top of your lungs that Jorge Bergoglio is the Pope of the Catholic Church, but in the same breath make clear that this really doesn’t mean anything, that in fact you must refuse him submission, else you risk losing your soul.
With this kind of “theology”, which is naturally found nowhere in Catholic teaching, we are going to make another bag of popcorn as we watch Salza and Siscoe make utter fools of themselves:
While John Salza pompously claims that Sedevacantists “have lost Faith in the Church”, he is out there spouting the nonsense that the Catholic Church can teach not only doctrinal error but even heresy, in her authentic ordinary Magisterium, which the faithful must then recognize, sift out, and discard. In TRADCAST 009, we demolish Salza’s attempt to refute Sedevacantism based on his false “Passion of the Church” analogy. He claims that we sedevacantists have abandoned the Church because she is disfigured, just like Our Lord Jesus Christ was disfigured on the Cross and abandoned by most of His disciples. But of course there is a fatal flaw in the analogy: Our Lord’s Body was disfigured by His enemies, from the outside, whereas He Himself remained spotless and pure on the inside at all times. He did not cease to be the Fount and Source of all Goodness, Truth, Grace, and Holiness. But Salza does not believe that the Church is spotless in her innermost being and merely beaten and disfigured from the outside. No, the Catholic Church — according to Salza — is not the Spotless One persecuted, but is doing the persecuting, is teaching heresy and error, is giving foul discipline and sacrilegious liturgical rites, is offering false saints to the faithful for veneration and imitation. And yet Salza is claiming we have lost Faith in the Church!
Staying with this “Passion” analogy, Salza is arguing, then, not that our Lord was disfigured and mocked and beaten from the outside, but that our Lord was actually Himself the perpetrator: feeding poison to His flock, offering them damnable doctrines, leading them to false worship that is odious to God. Salza is arguing, in effect, that our Lord, instead of healing the crippled and giving sight to the blind, actually crippled the whole and blinded the seeing! In short, Salza asserts that our Blessed Lord led His people to damnation. WHAT BLASPHEMY! Obviously, such an idea is evil, heretical, blasphemous, and to be rejected with all our being, and yet that is what, by analogy, Salza says of our Lord, whose Mystical Body the Church is. So, who has lost Faith in the Church, Mr. Salza? Sedevacantists have not abandoned the disfigured Lord on the Cross, but rather, have abandoned a man who curses instead of blesses, harmsinstead of heals, and misleads instead of shepherds (cf. Mt 11:2-6). We have abandoned such a man because we know He cannot be the Messiah! And yet Salza is arguing that this abominable impostor is the Messiah, we just need to set him straight!
As you can see, Salza is teaching a most pernicious doctrine to his unsuspecting adherents, and it is for this reason, as well as a few others, that we have raised the question whether perhaps this man, who advertises himself as a former 32nd degree Freemason and expert in Masonic ritual, is perhaps still a Mason, who was simply put on a new assignment by the Lodge. No, we are not claiming he is, we are merely raising the question, which to us seems more than justified given the doctrine that he preaches, and given a few other considerations.
Ask yourself this, ladies and gentlemen: As a result of the recognize-and-resist position put forth by Messrs. Salza and Siscoe, are you led to a greater love and veneration for the Church and her Supreme Pontiff? Are you led to greater obedience and faithfulness to everything she teaches? Are you not, rather, looking upon her with great suspicion and disgust, having been led to believe that what comes from her is often tainted with damnable errors, especially Modernism, and that you must often guard yourself against the Church lest she lead you astray? Is this the Church Christ left us, the “church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15)?
It is one thing to say that the Church is not infallible in every single utterance of her Magisterium, and hence some things taught by the authentic ordinary Magisterium could technically still undergo revision in the future — yet it is quite another thing to claim, as Salza does, that the Church can teach heresy and contradict her very own doctrine. Such an institution would not be credible, and most certainly not divine! Ask yourself: Can you, as a traditional Catholic (right?), agree with the late great Fr. Frederick Faber, who taught:
But we may forget, and sometimes do forget, that it is not only not enough to love the Church, but that it is not possible to love the Church rightly, unless we also fear and reverence it. Our forgetfulness of this arises from our not having laid sufficiently deeply in our minds the conviction of the divine character of the Church… The very amount of human grandeur which there is round the Church causes us to forget occasionally that it is not a human institution.
Hence comes that wrong kind of criticism which is forgetful or regardless of the divine character of the Church. Hence comes our setting up our own minds and our own views as criteria of truth, as standards for the Church’s conduct. Hence comes sitting in judgment on the government and policy of Popes. Hence comes that unfilial and unsage carefulness to separate in all matters of the Church and Papacy what we consider to be divine from what we claim to be human. Hence comes the disrespectful fretfulness to distinguish between what we must concede to the Church and what we need not concede to the Church. Hence comes that irritable anxiety to see that the supernatural is kept well subordinated to the natural, as if we really believed we ought just now to strain every nerve lest a too credulous world should be falling a victim to excessive priestcraft and ultramontanism [“papolatry”?].
…Only let us once really master the truth that the Church is a divine institution, and then we shall see that such criticism is not simply a baseness and a disloyalty, but an impertinence and a sin.
(Rev. Frederick W. Faber, Devotion to the Church [London: Richardson & Son, 1861], pp. 23-24; italics in original; pragraph breaks added.)
BAM! So here we see just who is the traditional Catholic! Is Fr. Faber not precisely describing our semi-traditionalists? (As you can see, there is a reason why we call them semi-traditionalists!) Michael Matt in particular always likes to play the supposed “human element” of the Church card when he needs to justify his resistance to a public apostate, yet here Fr. Faber sets him straight. The true Catholic Church does not need a theological babysitter. Her teachings, laws, decisions, liturgical rites or canonizations are not subject to review by a bishop from Switzerland or lawyers and journalists from the United States, as Pope Leo XIII also made clear. This goes to show that the resistance traditionalists really do not have Faith in the Church at all, but consider her a merely human institution, which can fail as much as any other human society and which is therefore in need of criticism and human assistance lest she go under. That, at least, is exactly how they behave.
We have said it before: The reason why so many people who mean to be traditional Catholics can easily accept Francis as Pope, or can take a position that “it doesn’t matter” whether he is Pope, is that they do not submit to him anyway. Refusal of submission to the Pope, however, constitutes schism, and, if it is denied that a Catholic must submit to the Pope, then it is heresy as well (see Denz. 1831). If you are not sure what you believe on this matter, you can do a quick self-test. Watch the brief video below and see if you can, in good conscience, assent to the pre-Vatican II Catholic teachings quoted there and reconcile them with the idea that Jorge Bergoglio or his five predecessors are valid Popes. Good luck!
By the way, John Salza has — finally! — removed the heresy about Eastern Orthodoxy from his web site, albeit quietly (background here).
Our Blessed Lord is putting us to the test. Do we really believe in Him and His Church and His promises? Or do we seek to figure everything out with merely human wisdom? Do we doubt as soon as we discover a difficulty? Do we mistake a mere human conviction for true Faith? True Faith, we must remember, is a supernatural gift of God: It is “a supernatural virtue by which we, with the aid and inspiration of the grace of God, believe that the things revealed by Him are true, not because the intrinsic truth of the revealed things has been perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived” (First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, Ch. 3; Denz. 1789).
It makes sense that in these distressing times, surely close to the end, our Lord should demand nothing less than a genuine, mature, and exceptionally strong Faith, one that eliminates all doubt and overcomes all difficulty. In this battle, it is all or nothing — as it always has been, but as perhaps has often been masked by the “human grandeur” of the Church, as described by Fr. Faber. Thus will be separated the wheat from the chaff (cf. Mt 13:24-30), the true Catholics from those who only went by externals, by appearance, by a “traditional Mass” without, however, the traditional Faith.