Semi-Trads trip over the Papacy…
The Stumbling Block of the Papacy:
Why Bergoglio doesn’t fit
At the dictation of the Holy Ghost, the first Pope, St. Peter, wrote concerning his Lord and Master Jesus Christ:
…it is said in the scripture [Is 28:16]: Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious. And he that shall believe in him, shall not be confounded. To you therefore that believe, he is honour: but to them that believe not, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is made the head of the corner: And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of scandal, to them who stumble at the word, neither do believe, whereunto also they are set.
(1 Peter 2:6-8)
It is fitting that the Pope, being the Vicar of Christ, should have a share in His Lord’s attribute of being a stumbling block to those who do not believe. In our day, this truth is being accentuated with particular force, although in a way that most would, presumably, never have expected.
In a recent post entitled “A Dangerous Experiment: Taking Francis’ Claim to the Papacy Seriously”, we took the First Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Pastor Aeternus, and replaced each occurrence of the phrase “Roman Pontiff” in it with “Pope Francis”, to demonstrate what one would have to believe about Francis if he truly were the Pope of the Catholic Church. After all, to accept a man as Pope means to affirm of him whatever the Church affirms of the Papacy.
The results of this experiment were grotesque and showed that most people who call themselves “traditional Catholics” and accept Jorge Bergoglio as Pope, do not in fact believe about him what the Church teaches about the Pope. The excuses people come up with to justify their stance are endless, but they all seem to be consistently driven by one single overall motive: to avoid Sedevacantism at all costs. That price, however, is too high; because by taking an anything-but-Sedevacantism approach, they distort and thereby deny the Catholic Faith of which they imagine themselves to be loyal adherents and staunch defenders.
Put in figurative but more practical terms, the recognize-and-resist traditionalists are faced with the problem of the square peg (Bergoglio) not fitting into the round hole (Papacy). Since the two won’t fit, there are only two ways to make them fit if one insists on recognizing Francis as the Pope of the Catholic Church: either modify the peg (by spinning Bergoglio into a Catholic) or modify the hole (by changing and thus denying Catholic doctrine on the Papacy).
In the face of the undeniability of Francis’ open apostasy, more and more people who refuse to let go of the idea that the man really is the Pope, are going with the second option. That is, they would rather deny the office of the Papacy than deny that one particular man actually possesses it. Here is a brief excerpt from one of our podcasts making this very point:
This tragic phenomenon we will evaluate in this post. In particular, we will examine three recent cases of individuals who mean to be traditional Roman Catholics but have, explicitly or implicitly, denied (“stumbled over”) the Papacy as a result of their refusal to abandon the idea that Francis is a true Vicar of Christ. In other words, because they have insisted on continued use of the square peg and were determined to make it fit into the round hole, they left themselves no choice but to clumsily and forcefully adjust the shape of the hole.
The three individuals who have recently engaged in this impossible task are: Nick Donnelly, Hilary White, and George Neumayr.
We’ll begin with Nick Donnelly, a Novus Ordo permanent deacon in Lancaster, England, who owns the web site ProtectThePope.com and is active on Twitter.
For years Donnelly ran his Twitter account under the handle @ProtectThePope, yet a few days ago, on July 17, he notified his followers that he was changing his Twitter name from @ProtectThePope to @ProtectTheFaith. Take a look at his tweet announcing the change (click image to enlarge):
This change from “Pope” to “Faith” is very revealing: Donnelly had to change his handle because it became manifestly undeniable that protecting the Faith could not be accomplished by protecting (defending) Francis. As the last 4+ years have proved, “Pope” Francis is clearly not the bulwark of the Faith, is not the rock against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. But that is precisely what the Pope — a real Pope — is, according to Catholic teaching:
By the See of the chief of the Apostles, namely by the Roman Church, through the same Peter, as well as through his successors, have not the comments of all the heretics been disapproved, rejected, and overcome, and the hearts of the brethren in the faith of Peter which so far neither has failed, nor up to the end will fail, been strengthened?
(Pope St. Leo IX, Apostolic Letter In Terra Pax; Denz. 351)
This chair [of Peter] is the center of Catholic truth and unity, that is, the head, mother, and teacher of all the Churches to which all honor and obedience must be offered. Every church must agree with it because of its greater preeminence — that is, those people who are in all respects faithful….
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; 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, nn. 1,7)
Indeed one simple way to keep men professing Catholic truth is to maintain their communion with and obedience to the Roman Pontiff. For it is impossible for a man ever to reject any portion of the Catholic faith without abandoning the authority of the Roman Church. In this authority, the unalterable teaching office of this faith lives on. It was set up by the divine Redeemer and, consequently, the tradition from the Apostles has always been preserved. So it has been a common characteristic both of the ancient heretics and of the more recent Protestants — whose disunity in all their other tenets is so great — to attack the authority of the Apostolic See. But never at any time were they able by any artifice or exertion to make this See tolerate even a single one of their errors.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, n. 17)
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)
In the Catholic Church Christianity is incarnate. It identifies itself with that perfect, spiritual, and, in its own order, sovereign society, which is the mystical body of Jesus Christ and which has for its visible head the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Prince of the Apostles. It is the continuation of the mission of the Saviour, the daughter and the heiress of His redemption. It has preached the Gospel, and has defended it at the price of its blood, and strong in the Divine assistance, and of that immortality which have been promised it, it makes no terms with error, but remains faithful to the commands which it has received to carry the doctrine of Jesus Christ to the uttermost limits of the world and to the end of time and to protect it in its inviolable integrity.
(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Annum Ingressi)
So the fathers of the fourth council of Constantinople, following the footsteps of their predecessors, published this solemn profession of faith: ‘The first condition of salvation is to maintain the rule of the true faith. And since that saying of our lord Jesus Christ, You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church [Mt 16:18], cannot fail of its effect, the words spoken are confirmed by their consequences. For in the apostolic see the catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished, and sacred doctrine been held in honour. Since it is our earnest desire to be in no way separated from this faith and doctrine, we hope that we may deserve to remain in that one communion which the apostolic see preaches, for in it is the whole and true strength of the christian religion.’…
To satisfy this pastoral office, our predecessors strove unwearyingly that the saving teaching of Christ should be spread among all the peoples of the world; and with equal care they made sure that it should be kept pure and uncontaminated wherever it was received. It was for this reason that the bishops of the whole world … referred to this apostolic see those dangers especially which arose in matters concerning the faith. This was to ensure that any damage suffered by the faith should be repaired in that place above all where the faith can know no failing….
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. Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this see of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Saviour to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren [Lk 22:32].
This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.
(First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 4)
As we can see here, in the Catholic Church, protecting the Pope is protecting the Faith because the Pope himself is the divinely guaranteed guardian of the Faith.
Presumably, this was also Donnelly’s own understanding at some point and the reason why he originally set up his handle as @ProtectThePope to begin with. But then Francis came and made a mess, and now Donnelly has stumbled: Instead of leaving his Twitter handle intact and rejecting Francis as Pope — which would have been compatible with Catholic principles –, he decided to retain Francis and instead change his idea about the Papacy. In other words, instead of tossing out the square peg, he decided the hole needed adjustment.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that Twitter does not allow account names longer than 15 characters, else Mr. Donnelly might have chosen @ProtectTheFaithFromThePope as his new handle, which would have illustrated the monstrous absurdity of the notion that Francis is a true Pope, even more clearly.
We must never forget that Catholic teaching on the Papacy applies to each and every Pope equally. Once he is validly elected and accepts the office, even an unfit man, an oddball, or a great sinner is no less of a Pope and is owed no less submission and obedience by Catholics than a St. Pius X or a St. Gregory the Great:
The Church, as St. Leo the Great teaches, in well-ordered love accepts Peter in the See of Peter, and sees and honors Peter in the person of his successor the Roman pontiff. Peter still maintains the concern of all pastors in guarding their flocks, and his high rank does not fail even in an unworthy heir. In Peter then, as is aptly remarked by the same holy Doctor, the courage of all is strengthened and the help of divine grace is so ordered that the constancy conferred on Peter through Christ is conferred on the apostles through Peter.
(Pope Leo XII, Encyclical Ubi Primum, n. 22)
All who defend the faith should aim to implant deeply in your faithful people the virtues of piety, veneration, and respect for this supreme See of Peter. Let the faithful recall the fact that Peter, Prince of Apostles is alive here and rules in his successors, and that his office does not fail even in an unworthy heir. Let them recall that Christ the Lord placed the impregnable foundation of his Church on this See of Peter [Mt 16:18] and gave to Peter himself the keys of the kingdom of Heaven [Mt 16:19]. Christ then prayed that his faith would not fail, and commanded Peter to strengthen his brothers in the faith [Lk 22:32]. Consequently the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, holds a primacy over the whole world and is the true Vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christians.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, n. 16)
…the Church has received from on high a promise which guarantees her against every human weakness. What does it matter that the helm of the symbolic barque has been entrusted to feeble hands, when the Divine Pilot stands on the bridge, where, though invisible, He is watching and ruling? Blessed be the strength of his arm and the multitude of his mercies!
(Pope Leo XIII, Allocution to Cardinals, March 20, 1900; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 349; underlining added.)
Not only is this the dogmatic teaching of the Church, it is also verified in ecclesiastical history, as we can see, for example, in the case of the notoriously sinful and unfit Pope John XII:
Nothing in his life marked him for this office, and everything should have kept him from it. He was rarely seen in church. His days and nights were spent in the company of young men and of disreputable women, in the pleasures of the table and of amusements and of the hunt, or in even more sinful sensual enjoyments. It is related that sometimes, in the midst of dissolute revelry, the prince had been seen to drink to the health of the devil. Raised to the papal office, Octavian changed his name and took the name of John XII. He was the first pope thus to assume a new name. But his new dignity brought about no change in his morals, and merely added the guilt of sacrilege.
Divine providence, watching over the Church, miraculously preserved the deposit of faith, of which this young voluptuary was the guardian. This Pope’s life was a monstrous scandal, but his bullarium is faultless. We cannot sufficiently admire this prodigy. There is not a heretic or a schismatic who has not endeavored to legitimate his own conduct dogmatically: Photius tried to justify his pride, Luther his sensual passions, Calvin his cold cruelty. Neither Sergius III nor John XII nor Benedict IX nor Alexander VI, supreme pontiffs, definers of the faith, certain of being heard and obeyed by the whole Church, uttered, from the height of their apostolic pulpit, a single word that could be an approval of their disorders.
At times John XII even became the defender of the threatened social order, of offended canon law, and of the religious life exposed to danger.
(Rev. Fernand Mourret, A History of the Catholic Church, Vol. 3 [St. Louis, MO: Herder Book Co., 1946], pp. 510-511)
Let no one, therefore, say that Francis is a “bad Pope”. He is not. He is a non-Pope. A bad man who is a Catholic can be Pope, but a non-Catholic man cannot. (This is explained further here.)
Next, we turn to another recent Papacy stumbler, the semi-traditionalist blogger and Remnant contributor Hilary White. On July 16, she sent this tweet:
Notice that Miss White is questioning Vatican I, not Vatican II. Talk about stumbling over the Papacy!
But then, what should keep her from it, given the “recognize-and-resist” position she espouses? After all, if we can resist one legitimate church council, why not the others as well? This is simply the logical conclusion of the resistance position, where each individual Catholic is ultimately the judge over which magisterial pronouncements to accept and reject, and where each believer determines for himself when the Pope is to be submitted to and when he must be resisted. The end result? Absolute chaos, with no possibility of resolution even in principle, since the Pope has been rejected as the ultimate Catholic authority that can bind consciences and move wills. The Pope is reduced to a figurehead who is “followed” only whenever what he decrees is already in agreement with the personal conviction of each believer. (We elaborate a bit more on this in our response to SSPX-resistance priest Fr. Francois Chazal.)
So now White has simply extended her resistance to Vatican I as well. And for what reason? Because it seemed better to her to throw out Vatican I than to give up the idea that Francis is Pope. (Once again, modifying the round hole was preferred to junking the square peg.) We had warned about this back in April in our response to Steve Skojec’s preposterous recommendation of a “practical Sedevacantism”, the idea that we must say Francis is Pope but act like he’s not:
Thus, while “practical sedevacantists” may very well think of themselves as retaining the traditional Catholic faith, the truth is that they have long rejected it — keeping in mind that rejecting even one dogma rejects the Faith entirely, since the Faith exists only as a whole and not in parts or degrees….
Certainly, the “practical sedevacantist” may perhaps pay lipservice to the traditional Catholic teaching while contradicting it in practice, but such a course of action would not only be dishonest and hypocritical, it would also amount to cognitive dissonance, a state in which one’s actions deny — or at least do not match — one’s thoughts or stated beliefs. Such a state cannot last long for a sane human being. The discrepancy between one’s thoughts and one’s actions will quickly resolve itself into either changing one’s actions to align with the thoughts, or changing one’s thoughts to correspond with the actions.
Since he refuses to abandon the belief that Francis is a true Pope, no matter the consequences, the “practical sedevacantist” thus forces himself to either submit to Francis and become Novus Ordo, or else deny the traditional Catholic teaching on the Papacy. We are reminded of these words of St. Jerome: “…every schism fabricates a heresy for itself to justify its withdrawal from the Church” (qtd. by Pope Pius IX, Encylical Quartus Supra, n. 13).
(“Anything but Sedevacantism! Analysis of a curious Phenomenon”, Novus Ordo Wire, Apr. 25, 2017)
Tragically, White has proven our analysis correct: No longer able to bear the obvious conflict between the teaching of the First Vatican Council on the Papacy and the known facts about Jorge Bergoglio, White is now toying with the idea of abandoning belief in the Papacy altogether. This corroborates the warnings we’ve issued on this blog and in some of our podcasts, namely, that acceptance of Francis as Pope is dangerous and destructive of the very Faith one means to uphold.
Lastly, we will examine some ideas recently put forth by George Neumayr, who writes for The American Spectator and just published the highly informative work The Political Pope: How Pope Francis Is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives (New York, NY: Center Street, 2017).
On July 14, Mr. Neumayr appeared as a guest on the Tom Woods Show (episode no. 952) to discuss his new book, meaning he spoke in detail about the apostasy of “Pope” Francis. Toward the end of the program, Woods asked Neumayr what he would, ideally, like to see happen in the church now with regard to the “Pope”. Neumayr’s response was explosive and telling: “This might sound glib but the best-case scenario that I could envision would be if the Pope converted to Catholicism” (31:25 min mark)!
Yes, wouldn’t it be helpful if the Pope were also a Catholic? If the head of the Catholic Church were also a member of the Catholic Church? Wouldn’t that make the Catholic teaching on the Papacy — especially Vatican I — so much easier and more meaningful?
As we saw above, the simple fact of the matter is that Catholic doctrine does not allow for the idea of a non-Catholic Pope. It’s impossible, nay absurd. For Neumayr to state something so outrageous shows that he does not know — or, at any rate, does not adhere to — Catholic teaching on the Papacy. How could the Pope be the rock on which rests the foundation of the Church and which the gates of hell cannot overthrow, if he himself denies the very Faith his office is divinely guaranteed to protect?
Neumayr elaborates on his answer and goes on to describe various other possible scenarios he envisions. Although we cannot transcribe everything here, you can listen to the entire podcast at this link. There is, however, one more comment he makes that we cannot pass over in silence (beginning at the audio’s 32:28 min mark):
Catholics are going to have to decide whether they [audio unclear] the Faith over papolatry; whether preserving the integrity of the faith is more important to them than maintaining a sort of phony appearance of unity. The cardinals are going to have to decide whether they’re really defenders of the faith or not. And if they do make that decision, then they have only one choice, and that is to declare to the faithful that the current Pope is a bad Pope, and he must be resisted, for the good of the faith.
Now that’s a new one: The Novus Ordo cardinals are to get together and declare, not that Francis isn’t a Pope, or that they will remove him from office (which they couldn’t do if he were a true Pope, but this had been suggested by semi-trads before), but that he is a bad Pope and ought to be resisted!? Precisely where in Catholic doctrine does Mr. Neumayr find such an idea? Is he making it up as he goes along?
This shows that people have lost all sense of what the Papacy is, even those people who think themselves defenders of the Faith. And no wonder, for if you continually make yourself believe that a square peg can go through a round hole, it is not surprising if after a while you start thinking of the hole as having corners itself.
The Pope is sovereign and supreme. No one can judge him; no one can punish him; no one can even subject him to a trial, and all must submit to him under pain of eternal damnation. We have laid out all this in some detail at the following links:
- The Impossibility of Judging or Deposing a True Pope
- Response to Mundabor on the Papacy
- Pope Leo XIII condemns the “Recognize-and-Resist” Position
There is a lot more in the Neumayr podcast audio that we could take issue with here — such as his claim that if Francis doesn’t answer the dubia, there is no way to know whether he is a formal heretic or not — but this will suffice to make our point: Once again an attempt is being made to “defend the Faith” by people denying that Faith. We have no reason to doubt Mr. Neumayr’s sincerity and good will, but that is irrelevant to the cold hard fact that he cannot defend a Faith that he himself does not hold. It is absolutely astonishing to see to what lengths people will go in order to avoid the conclusion that Francis is not a valid Pope. There really does seem to be a veritable “Sedevacantophobia”.
Answering a Common Objection
At this point, someone may argue that there is no danger in accepting Francis as Pope, as long as we reject whatever he teaches that is false. We can simply “take what is good” from him and “reject what is bad”, can’t we?
The short answer is no, we can’t. The longer answer is given by St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church. In his magnificent treatise On the Roman Pontiff, he refutes precisely this very argument:
The Pope is the Teacher and Shepherd of the whole Church, thus, the whole Church is so bound to hear and follow him that if he would err, the whole Church would err.
Now our adversaries respond that the Church ought to hear him so long as he teaches correctly, for God must be heard more than men.
On the other hand, who will judge whether the Pope has taught rightly or not? For it is not for the sheep to judge whether the shepherd wanders off, not even and especially in those matters which are truly doubtful. Nor do Christian sheep have any greater judge or teacher to whom they might have recourse. As we showed above, from the whole Church one can appeal to the Pope yet, from him no one is able to appeal; therefore necessarily the whole Church will err if the Pontiff would err.
(St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book IV, Chapter 3; translated by Ryan Grant as On the Roman Pontiff [Mediatrix Press, 2016], vol. 2, p. 160; underlining added.)
Again we see that the true Catholic teaching on the Papacy is all but forgotten in our day. If submission to the Pope consisted in nothing more than a “take what is good, reject what is bad” approach — in which each individual believer has to decide for himself what is good and what is bad, of course –, what would be the difference between a Pope and a Protestant minister? Could we not say the same about “Pastor Fred” at Rainbow Bible Fellowship down the street — take from him what is good and reject what is bad? Is the Papacy essentially the same, then, as the pseudo-offices of heretics? Is the Vicar of Christ and Sovereign Pontiff of the Bride of Christ really just another “Pastor Fred”?
Obviously not. But it is precisely to this that the recognize-and-resisters, especially the Society of St. Pius X, have reduced the Papacy in their stubborn refusal to abandon the idea that an apostate like Jorge Bergoglio could be the head of the Catholic Church. Apparently it is just so much easier to rework that round hole than to throw away the square peg and insist on one that will fit.
But can’t we just “leave all this to God”?
All these considerations likewise refute the so-called “Opinionists”, that is, those who maintain that it is entirely legitimate to accept Francis as Pope, as long as we don’t submit to him. But this would only be a tenable position if submission to the Pope were not required by Catholic doctrine — yet it is, under pain of heresy and under pain of schism. And this makes perfect sense, for it would be absurd to say that the Church could have a faith different from that of her head.
Still, some people sincerely wonder: “Can’t we just keep the Faith and simply not worry about the Pope issue? Whether Francis is Pope or not, we know what we have to believe and how to practice our religion. So can’t we just do that and leave the rest to God?”
At first sight, this might seem like a reasonable position to take, and one can sympathize with those of good will who hold it. There is so much turmoil, so much struggle in souls over everything that has happened, and one cannot help but feel a certain compassion for people who seek refuge in such a “let’s just be Catholic and leave this to God” approach.
However, while those who struggle deserve our sympathy and compassion indeed, this does not make the truth about the matter somehow relative or optional. In a nutshell: The reason why we cannot just “keep the Faith” and ignore the Pope question is that Catholic teaching on papal authority and submission to the Pope is part of the very Faith we need to keep and defend.
You cannot simply cut out a portion of the Faith and decide to only “keep the rest”. If you toss out the Papacy, you are not keeping the Faith, no matter how many other dogmas you embrace. Of course we understand that it takes people some time to “sort things out”, so to speak, and that is entirely legitimate. We do not condemn people who are searching for doing what they need to do: search, investigate, assess. But this does not take away from the fact that there is only one conclusion at which ultimately to arrive.
Consider this analogy: A Protestant man is having some doubts about his religion and is starting to research to see if Catholicism is true. This is difficult for him because he does not have a lot of Catholic apologetics material at his disposal, he has to work a lot of hours to support his wife and eight children, and he is a slow reader. Besides, because of how he was raised, he has a difficult time accepting the Catholic veneration of saints and in particular Catholic teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Do we sympathize with this man’s struggle? Of course we do. Do we recognize his good will, pray for him, try to help him, and wish him well? Naturally. But none of this means that the truth of the Catholic religion is therefore a matter of opinion, that it is not that important, that he can just “accept Christ, try to live a holy life, and leave the rest to God.”
The mere fact that people struggle to come to understand certain things does not do away with the fact that there is something to be understood. And that something is certain and not optional.
“But you have no Authority!”
The same goes for the objection that sedevacantists have “no authority” to require anyone else to be a sedevacantist. Of course we don’t. But then, we do not invoke any pretended authority to begin with. To return to the analogy we just used, Catholics also don’t have any authority to require a Protestant to be a Catholic. But it’s not a matter of authority: Catholicism is true because it is the religion founded by Jesus Christ, not because Catholics “authoritatively” declare it to be true. And just as this lack of authority on the part of individual Catholics with regard to converting Protestants does not render Catholicism optional, doubtful, or reduce it to an opinion, neither does a sedevacantist’s lack of authority make Sedevacantism optional or doubtful, nor does it make Francis’ status into an opinion.
The lack of authority is not a genuine difficulty because it simply does not require authority to point out that the peg is square, the hole is round, and the two don’t fit — and you’re not allowed to change the shape of either.
For those who would like to investigate this whole issue about opinion and authority further, we recommend the following:
- Is Francis a valid Pope? Why it does matter
- Comedy Hour at The Remnant: Response to Hilary White
- Opinionism: Is the Pope Question just an Opinion? by Bp. Donald Sanborn
These articles will help you rediscover the true Catholic teaching on the Papacy.
Believe in the Papacy, not in Francis
The Papacy is not the problem — anti-Catholic usurpers of the papal throne are. And unless we firmly reject their false claims to the Papacy, we will be led into serious error by them, either directly (by embracing their false teaching) or indirectly (by rejecting their false teaching but then, by necessary implication, denying the Catholic doctrine on the Papacy, which requires that we submit to papal teaching).
The Catholic teaching on the Pope is true, and it is immensely beautiful and consoling: “To you therefore that believe, he is honour” (1 Pet 2:7). At the same time, it is also quite terrible, becase the rock of St. Peter, which perdures in all of his legitimate successors (see Denz. 1824 and our post on Perpetual Successors), “to them that believe not” becomes, like Christ, “the stone which the builders rejected, … the head of the corner: a stone of stumbling, and a rock of scandal, to them who stumble at the word, neither do believe, whereunto also they are set” (1 Pet 2:7-8). We must take great care, therefore, that we do not stumble: “And whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder” (Mt 21:44).
The people we have criticized in this post, we have criticized in charity. We do not want to see them ground to powder, so to speak. They have stumbled and fallen, and we want to help them get up. We exhort them, therefore: “Do not believe in Francis at the expense of the Papacy! Rather, believe in the Papacy at the expense of Francis!”
Doubting or denying Catholic doctrine on the Papacy is a very serious sin, even heresy with regard to those teachings that are dogmatic. To all those who are more willing to doubt the Papacy than the legitimacy of the world’s greatest apostate, we say: Why? Why do you let Bergoglio do this to your soul? Why do you let him steal your faith? If Bergoglio causes you thus to sin against the Faith, cut him off! For it is better for you to enter Eternal Life without a Pope than to go to eternal damnation with (a putative) one (cf. Mt 5:29-30).
If this makes you uneasy and the prospect of having no Pope frightens you, this is understandable. However, do not let this be an excuse not to heed the admonitions of our Lord: “Fear not, only believe” (Mk 5:36); and, “…be not faithless, but believing” (Jn 20:27). It is okay to be frightened, but it is not okay not to believe: “…he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mk 16:16); “Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” (2 Jn 9).
And thus we believe.
We believe in the Papacy and therefore not in “Pope” Francis.
Image sources: composite with elements from shutterstock.com and istockphoto.com