A reality check for Burke, Schneider & Co.
Against the “Loyal Opposition”:
How Recognize-and-Resist Traditionalism
neutralizes the Catholic Faith
by Francis del Sarto
On May 18, 2018, during his Rome Life Forum keynote address at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome, “Cardinal” Raymond Burke declared: “We cannot fail to observe that the situation which Pope Pius XI described in 1925 has only grown worse in our time, and attempts ever more to infiltrate the life of the Church herself and to corrupt the Bride of Christ by an apostasy from the Apostolic Faith” (see video recording, 12:51ff. min mark). Now there’s a sound bite to make one sit up and take notice! Finally, it would seem, a Novus Ordo churchman with courage enough to speak out about the subversion that’s attacking the Catholic Church, a churchman doing his duty to cry wolf when the flock is in danger. And that’s exactly the take coming from Pete Baklinski, a columnist for LifeSiteNews, one of the Forum’s sponsors, when he refers to Burke as “a foremost defender of orthodoxy within the Church today….”
Burke’s appearance was one of many this year by high-profile adherents of the recognize-and-resist (R&R) position, who have been featured at public lectures, giving voice in opposition to the ultra-radical agenda of “Pope” Francis. Considering the great hoopla surrounding their appearances, one could almost imagine them being billed as the “Champions of Tradition” in 2018. However, the “championing” of Tradition and “defending” of orthodoxy by these speakers is found to be a good deal wanting in substance.
Redefining Tradition in “Light” of Vatican II
Before examining some of the remarks from these speakers, a review of one of the false principles underlying their position will be beneficial. The fallacy is illustrated by “Cardinal” Burke, who in his speech invoked not only documents from Popes St. Pius X, Leo XIII, and Pius XI, but also those of Vatican II and “Popes” (“St.”) John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as if they all somehow represented one and the same magisterial continuum.
This is one of the ways at least some of the R&R proponents show that in their minds there really isn’t a great deal they need to resist when it comes to the post-Vatican II reforms, only the “abuses” of those reforms. They appeal to the same “conservative” Benedict XVI to invoke a concept of what he called “the hermeneutic of reform” that has come to be better known as the hermeneutic of continuity. This he expounded in his 2005 Christmas address to members of the Novus Ordo Roman Curia, which corresponded with the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the so-called Second Vatican Council.
The address is an important expression of neo-Modernist thought, for therein he discusses two contrasting ways to view the Council and subsequent reforms, a dichotomy that would help define his “papacy”. Among many recognize-and-resist apologists there is a grave and fundamental misunderstanding of what he teaches that works to their great disadvantage in discerning the contours of the battlefield upon which the Church Militant finds herself.
Midway through his talk, Benedict arrives at its thematic crux and poses the following question: “Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?” And he then proposes an explanation:
Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.
(Antipope Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, Dec. 22, 2005)
Benedict first looks at what he refers to as the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”. Proponents of that position, who tend to come from the so-called progressive wing of the Novus Ordo Church and from the media, commonly invoke the “spirit of Vatican II” they say is embedded in the conciliar documents, and they read between the lines. This highly interpretive reading of them
…risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.
These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council’s deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.
By contrast, the second mode of interpretation does not involve any break with Catholic Tradition at all, but proposes that the council had merely recast the Church’s perennial truths in such a way as to help contemporary people better understand and embrace them. Or, using the parlance of our time, to rebrand those truths. Again, states Benedict:
On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.
He also cites a passage of “Pope” John XXIII’s 1962 speech inaugurating the Council on how “authentic doctrine … should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another….”
This claim of continuity with “the ancient doctrine of the deposit of the faith” ostensibly should resonate with the Society of St. Pius X and others of the R&R mindset in such a way as to get them to shift the emphasis of their concerns away from active resistance in favor of a more docile acceptance of Modernist Rome — which is precisely what can be seen with the SSPX’s own rebranding of recent years. Besides, it surely had a precedence of sorts with the assurance its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, once gave to “Pope” John Paul II when he wrote to “Cardinal” Franjo Seper, then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “…I subscribe to the phrase of the Holy Father which asks that one accept [Vatican II] ‘in the light of tradition and the constant Magisterium of the Church'” (Letter to Franjo Seper, Apr. 4, 1981; published in 30 Days, July/August 1988, p. 16). Of course this idea of reading Vatican II “in light of Tradition” is just an exercise in wishful thinking and cannot change the novel realities of the Council one iota.
What Benedict XVI then says by way of comment on the John XXIII quote is rather disturbing:
It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.
(Antipope Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, Dec. 22, 2005; emphasis added.)
There is very real reason for concern whenever someone says an ecumenical council “demands new thinking” about the truths of the Faith. It is one thing to say that the same truth is presented in a new way, which could be problematic unto itself (see Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, nn. 15-16), and entirely another to demand that Catholics rethink their Faith. This is simply Modernism being passed along to the faithful through a semantic sleight of hand. The tactic of theological subversion through subversion of language has long been a ploy of the enemies of the Church, which is one of the reasons Latin has always been favored as the lingua ecclesiae (language of the Church).
One R&R proponent who has shown that he has at least some grasp of the problem with what Benedict is trying to foist on Catholics is the Spanish writer José María Permuy. In an interview published by Rorate Caeli, he answers the question, “Why cannot this concept be accepted?”, as follows:
Because it is a half-truth, well-intentioned as it may be. It is certain that there are conciliar texts that are susceptible to two or more interpretations. There, precisely, lies the problem. If these texts were clear, there would be no room for diverse interpretations. The fundamental problem, therefore, is not the subjective interpretations that are made, but the ambiguities and the objective contradictions made in some of the affirmations of the Second Vatican Council in comparison with the Magisterium of all time.
It is true that over the years the Popes have tried to clarify doctrinal issues, such as the primacy of the Pope or the necessity of Christ and His one true Church for salvation.
It is no less certain that on other occasions, the Popes, including Benedict XVI, have promoted, in theory or in practice, conciliar ideas contrary or alien to the Tradition of the Church, such as the separation of Church and State, ecumenical and interreligious prayer meetings, the recognition of the “martyrdom” of heretics and schismatics, the translation of the Mass into the vernacular and the progressive introduction and permission for Communion in the hand, extraordinary Eucharistic ministers, altar girls, etc… Francis is doing nothing but taking these erroneous ideas to their logical conclusions.
(José María Permuy, in Adfero, “The myth of the Hermeneutic of Continuity”, Rorate Caeli, July 18, 2017)
Needless to say, Mr. Permuy is wrong to intimate that real popes could “promote” — note the vague phraseology — ideas contradicting magisterial teaching, yet he is right to assert that certain Vatican II texts do constitute “ambiguities and objective contradictions” with Tradition and therefore, implicitly, constitute rupture or discontinuity with it. Incidentally, since he mentions Francis, who is a person of interest in the present study: It may come as a surprise for some readers to learn that despite his freewheeling style, which seems light years removed from the faux conservatism of Benedict XVI, Bergoglio is on board with the “no break with Tradition” nonsense of his predecessor, as seen in this report:
- “Pope Francis echoes Pope Benedict, underlines continuity of Council of Trent, Vatican II” (Nov. 25, 2013)
Returning to Benedict’s curial address, after his assertion that Vatican II “demands new thinking” concerning the Faith, he takes this a step further, informing us that “the Council had to determine in a new way the relationship between the Church and the modern era”. What new relationship? He begins by listing a number of old conflicts, such as “during the 19th century under Pius IX, the clash between the Church’s faith and a radical liberalism and the natural sciences”, which “had elicited from the Church a bitter and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age”, that must now be discarded in favor of a new-found attitude of tolerance and understanding. In practice, this meant following John XXIII’s radical reappraisal of Communism and other movements hostile to the Church, a sugar-coated betrayal of millions of victims of cruel regimes that went like this: “…who can deny that those movements, in so far as they conform to the dictates of right reason and are interpreters of the lawful aspirations of the human person, contain elements that are positive and deserving of approval?” (Antipope John XXIII, Encyclical Pacem in Terris, n. 159).
By now, something peculiar is evident. Through some strange sub-context it would seem that this supposed continuity with Tradition is beginning to bear some of the very subjectivism manifested in the “spirit of Vatican II’s” hermeneutic of rupture. But surely such cannot be. Quite the opposite, Benedict proposes that the two are part of one process:
It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.
On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.
(Antipope Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, Dec. 22, 2005; emphasis added.)
Here Ratzinger’s commitment to Hegelian philosophy appears once again, as it would less than two years later when he applied it to the Sacred Liturgy in his “Apostolic Letter” Summorum Pontificum, as was pointed out on this web site before:
While many of Benedict’s recognize-and-resist cheerleaders were hailing Summorum Pontificum as a gift from above and were acting as though “Pope” Ratzinger had just overturned Vatican II, Novus Ordo Watch was among the unpopular few who pointed out that, contrary to the impression a superficial reading of the document might give, Summorum Pontificum was but the latest dangerous ploy of a devious antipope who has been undermining Faith and Liturgy pretty much from the beginning of his priesthood (ordained in 1951, the young Fr. Ratzinger was suspected of heresy by the Holy Office during the very same decade).
One of the most obvious blasphemies Benedict XVI’s document contains is the bold, gratuitous, and easily-disproven claim that the traditional Roman rite of Pope St. Pius V and the Modernist Novus Ordo rite of “Pope” Paul VI are but “two usages of the one Roman rite”. Not only does our response to Summorum Pontificum … refute this absurd position, it also points out that the celebrated motu proprio appears to contain one of Ratzinger’s favorite tools: Hegelian philosophy.
In a nutshell: The German idealist philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) held the idea that all reality is Absolute Spirit, which manifests itself in world history. History consists of and advances by means of a constant interplay of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. According to Hegel, contradictions (in his terms, a “thesis” being opposed by an “anti-thesis”) are necessary to arrive at a “higher level of truth” (the so-called “synthesis”). This triad is called the Hegelian dialectic, and it repeats itself continuously (with each synthesis becoming a new thesis, which is then opposed by its corresponding antithesis, both of which in turn generate another synthesis, etc.) until it culminates in the Absolute at the end of history. Needless to say, Hegelianism is radically incompatible with Catholicism.
(“Ratzinger, Hegel, and ‘Summorum Pontificum'”, Novus Ordo Wire, June 6, 2017)
More on the Hermeneutic of Liturgical Continuity
It’s worth looking a bit more at the practical ramifications of the Hegelian hermeneutic of Summorum Pontificum for the future worship in the Novus Ordo church, and those who seek admittance into that sect, such as the SSPX, because the ultimate goal isn’t merely a “pro-choice” option to attend one or the other of the so-called “two usages of the one Roman rite”, but bringing together the traditional Mass (thesis) and the Paul VI pseudo-Mass (anti-thesis) into a single unholy hybrid of the two (synthesis).
Just months after the issuance of Summorum Pontificum, Atila Sinke Guimarães of Tradition in Action wrote an article entitled “Heading to a Hybrid Mass.” In it, he noted that Heinz Lothar Barth, a professor of classics at the University of Bonn who is associated with the SSPX, had been sent a letter in 2003 by then-“Cardinal” Ratzinger, which reads in part: “I believe that in the long term the Roman Church must have a single Roman Rite … The Roman Rite of the future should be a single rite, celebrated in Latin or in vernacular, but standing completely in the tradition of the rite that has been handed down…” (published in The Tablet, February 16, 2008, p. 36; Dr. Barth has since confirmed the veracity of the claim that he received this letter).
And lest it be believed that perhaps the Society of St. Pius X doesn’t know what’s in store for it, should its “synthesis” with the Conciliar church be fully achieved, let’s have a quick look at part of a 2013 article found on the SSPX’s official U.S. District web site, concerning a talk “Cardinal” Kurt Koch gave regarding Summorum Pontificum, a document he strongly supports.
The title, “Koch admits: New Mass is a rupture with Tradition”, is misleading and inaccurate in a way that will be familiar to those who have followed the Society’s news releases through the years: At no point in the article, even where Koch is directly quoted, does he attack the pseudo-Mass, any more than does the document he is promoting; rather, what he is actually said to have stated was that “the post-conciliar liturgical reform is considered in large circles of the Catholic Church as a rupture with tradition and as a new creation”. For someone to say that others “consider” there to be a rupture with Tradition is quite different from saying that he agrees with that assessment, which of course he doesn’t (after all, he’s cheerleading for the false hermeneutic of continuity narrative).
Far from finding the “ordinary form of the Roman Rite” an area of concern, he brings Benedict’s “glad tidings” of the vision of a Hegelian liturgical evolution:
Cardinal Koch was even more explicit in his analysis of the ultimate goal of this initiative, namely that the traditional and new Masses will eventually evolve together into a common rite, namely, that both are to disappear:
“Benedict XVI knows well that in the long term we cannot remain with a coexistence between the ordinary and extraordinary forms in the Roman rite, but that the Church will again need in the future a common rite… However, given that a new liturgical form cannot be decided in an office, as it requires a process of growth and purification, for the time being the pope stresses above all that the two forms of use of the Roman rite can and must enrich one another mutually” [Zenit, March 17, 2011].
(“Koch admits: New Mass is a rupture with Tradition”, sspx.org, Aug. 23, 2013)
That Ratzinger would apply the same dialectic to liturgical matters that he did to doctrinal ones, resulting in a Modernist distortion of the perennial Catholic axiom lex orandi, lex credendi (loosely, “the law of prayer is the law of belief”, meaning that how we pray reflects what we believe, and vice versa), is exactly what should be expected from someone like him. As a young priest he had a postdoctoral thesis (Habilitationsschrift) about the theology of St. Bonaventure rejected and turned back to him for revision, on the grounds that it contained “a dangerous modernism that had to lead to the subjectivization of the concept of revelation” (source). Ratzinger himself mentions this incident in his autobiography Milestones: Memoirs, 1927-1977, Chapter 8. The professor assessing the dissertation was Michael Schmaus (1897-1993).
And, yes, consistent with what was noted above about Francis’s support of Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity” in general, he is on the same page with its liturgical implications, as well. Last autumn Novus Ordo Watch relayed some disturbing news that Una Voce Federation in Malta had reported on its blog:
Reliable sources close to the Holy See have indicated that sometime in the second half of 2018, the Novus Ordo Lectionary and Calendar are to be imposed upon the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Mass.
The new Roman Missal will become available on the First Sunday of Advent 2018 but the Vatican will allow a two-year period to phase it in. These changes are expected to be much more drastic than what was envisaged in Universae Ecclesiae that states:
25. New saints and certain of the new prefaces can and ought to be inserted into the 1962 Missal, according to provisions which will be indicated subsequently. (emphasis ours)
The Vatican approved societies and institutes, such as the Fraternity of Saint Peter and the Institute of Christ the King, will likely apply for exemptions, but all requests are expected to be turned down. The only exception seems to be the SSPX, which might be granted a temporary exemption, to ensure that an agreement is reached between the SSPX and Rome. However, if the exemption granted will be of a temporary nature, more SSPX priests are expected to join the so-called Resistance (formerly known as SSPX-SO) under Bishop Richard Williamson and more will go independent. This would make the traditional Catholic movement more fragmented than ever before.
(“Breaking News: Massive liturgical changes expected in 2018!”, Pro Tridentina (Malta), Oct. 8, 2017; italics and bold print given.)
Immediately, Mr. John Zuhlsdorf — “Father Z” — ridiculed Una Voce’s news by telling his readers, “No. Won’t happen. Can’t happen”. Of course, this is the same intrepid blogster who once assured his readers that Bergoglio was safe, not a Modernist, not even a liberal (see a typical example post here). How’s that working out for him now?
Of course, other naysayers have claimed Francis desires to eliminate Summorum Pontificum altogether as an option, noting his ridicule of young people attracted to the traditional Latin Mass as too “rigid” and his predilection for the Montini “Mass”, even in its craziest versions:
Yet even leftist academic, reporter, and inveterate Bergoglio apologist Massimo Faggioli conceded in a February 2018 article published in Commonweal (a journal that boasts that it “has been credited with helping prepare American Catholics for Vatican II and its aftermath”) that despite the “pontiff’s” abhorrence for the true Mass and even anything that remotely smacks of tradition in the Novus Ordo Missae (such as the presider offering it ad orientem — that is, facing East), fears of such an assault are unfounded:
Pope Francis is clearly not a liturgical traditionalist, and while he has respected the provisions made for traditionalists by his predecessor, his motu proprio Magnum Principium (September 2017) was intended to correct Rome’s recent tendency to “Latinize” and “curialize” liturgy. But while some traditionalists are worried that this pontificate is a threat to the liberties they acquired under Benedict, Francis is not about to abrogate Summorum Pontificum. That means that the two-track status quo is going to remain the status quo for a long time. Theologians often say that, at fifty years, the reception of Vatican II has just begun; one could make the same point about the movement for the “reform of the reform”: it has only just begun.
(Massimo Faggioli, “Extraordinary Divisions”, Commonweal, Feb. 21, 2018; underlining added.)
However, in the same article Faggioli links to what he calls the “untruthful statements” of “Cardinal” Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, who in 2016 publicly said Bergoglio had instructed him to look into the hybridization of the so-called “ordinary” and “extraordinary” forms of worship. The Tablet, an international ecumenical publication self-described as “committed to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council”, reported as follows:
Speaking in London yesterday at the Sacra Liturgia conference, he said the Pope had asked him “to study the question of a reform of a reform and how to enrich the two forms of the Roman rite”. The cardinal said that if the Church is to “achieve what the [Second Vatican] Council desired, this is a serious question which must be carefully studied and acted on”.
(Megan Cornwell, “Cardinal Sarah to conduct study into Ordinary and Extraordinary Mass forms”, The Tablet, July 6, 2016; italics added.)
Less than a week after this article, the same Tablet published the one Faggioli saw fit to link, reporting that a Vatican directive contradicted points made by Sarah, though it did not refute his remark that Francis had instructed him to conduct a study on the “mutual enrichment” of the two liturgies. (Faggioli seems to be picking a fight with his rhetoric, claiming that Sarah’s statements were “untruthful”, when inaccurate would have been a less emotionally charged term.)
“Cardinal” Sarah is an interesting member of the Curia under Bergoglio, for although he was appointed by Francis himself to head the Vatican office overseeing “divine worship”, he at least “talks the talk” of someone with sympathies for the traditional Mass. Almost a year to the day of his Sacra Liturgia address, Sarah was still promoting Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of liturgical continuity. Again, from The Tablet:
Cardinal Sarah, writing in French magazine La Nef to mark ten years since Summorum Pontificum, now wants to reconcile the rites with a new, shared calendar for when feast days are celebrated along with ensuring both forms of the Mass use the same scripture readings at the same time. Under Benedict XVI a committee worked for many years in this area but to no avail.
The Guinean prelate’s move is on the one hand a conciliatory move given the cardinal has been largely promoting the wishes of traditionalists during his period in office.
In his article, the cardinal calls for an end to the phrase the “reform of the reform” an idea pushed by those who want the ordinary form of the Mass to be more like the old rite.
“Reform of the reform’ has become synonymous with dominance of one clan over the other,” the cardinal writes in French. “This expression may then become inappropriate, so I prefer to speak of liturgical reconciliation. In the Church, the Christian has no opponent!”…
But while the cardinal is calling for reconciliation, he also wants the ordinary version of the Mass to take on elements from the extraordinary such as more use of Latin and encouraging priests to say certain prayers in silence. In April of this year, Cardinal Sarah denounced the “disaster, the devastation and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy” and said that the Church after Vatican II had abandoned its “Christian roots”.
In his Le Nef article, the cardinal also proposes the newer form of the liturgy adopt the following: communion to be received kneeling and on the tongue, the inclusion of “Prayers at the Foot of the Altar” which take place in the old rite and for the priest to ensure that after consecrating the host that the fingers which touched it remain united.
The cardinal states that those who use the old rite of the Mass to call Vatican II into question are “gravely wrong” but also states that council’s reforms did not “contradict” what had gone before.
“It would thus be wrong to consider the two different forms of liturgy as showing two opposing theologies,” he explains.
“It is a priority that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can examine through prayer and study, how to return to a common reformed rite always with this goal of a reconciliation inside the Church,” the cardinal writes. “For now, there is still violence, contempt and hurtful opposition that destroys the Church and pushes us farther [sic] away from this unity that Jesus prayed for and died on the cross for.”
To supporters of the old rite, he stresses that the liturgy is not a “museum object” but instead can be “fruitful for the Christians of today.” Cardinal Sarah also argues it is essential that those attending the extraordinary form have a form of “active participation” in the liturgy, and that the scripture readings – which are often read in Latin – are understood by people in the pews…
(Christopher Lamb, “Cardinal Sarah wants ‘liturgical reconciliation’ between old and new forms of Mass”, The Tablet, July 13, 2017; underlining added.)
The rhetoric is very telling, as he’s utilizing Hegelian language, or, more properly in the present context, Ratzingerian language. When Sarah speaks of “liturgical reconciliation”, he intimates that something that will greatly help facilitate it will be for those who use “the old rite” to finally get over criticizing Vatican II, since the reforms didn’t contradict pre-conciliar teachings. There are no “opposing theologies”, only different approaches, and “a common reformed rite” (not two forms of it) is the goal. That’s the endgame for the liturgical Modernists; but, as seen elsewhere in the passage cited, for now the short term aim is “mutual enrichment”: a shared calendar and Scripture readings, while the Novus Ordo “Mass” will adopt some traditional trappings, such as the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (or Table, as the case may be), kneeling for “Communion” and receiving on the tongue (Sarah may have a difficult time initially getting full–or even substantial–compliance for that, if it ever happens), while Latin Masses in the “extraordinary” form will need to loosen up by adding vernacular readings and more “active” participation, and become generally more comfortable with how it’s done over at “Saint” John Paul II’s parish.
This is all about moving towards an unholy confluence of the immemorial Catholic Sacrifice of the Mass with the invalid, Protestantized memorial meal of Paul VI. Again, the process leading to that confluence is the liturgical analogue to Benedict’s dialectical quote cited earlier in this analysis: “It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists.”
And so there is also this liturgical aspect to Francis’s public support for the “hermeneutic of continuity” myth developed by Ratzinger. Given that support, given the continuing presence of “Cardinal” Sarah, a vigorous proponent of “the Hybrid Mass” as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, and given Bergoglio’s desire to finally bring about the assisted suicide of the ever more compromised SSPX, it seems that the rumor set forth by Una Voce of a forthcoming standardized Roman lectionary and calendar for traditional worshippers is far more likely to become reality than the shutting down of the Ecclesia Dei Commission and Summorum Pontificum. Indeed, the liturgical reconciliation is almost surely a matter of not if, but when. Still, now that an institutional-sized can of worms has been opened through “Archbishop” Carlo Viganò’s so-called “Testimonies” since August 25, Modernist Rome may need to put its attempts at liturgical alchemy on the back burner for the time being.
Apostasy, Infiltration, and “Cardinal” Burke
Fast forward to dangerous Modernism in the Age of Bergoglio. Despite “Pope” Francis’s claim to discern a continuity between pre- and post-Vatican II teachings, if there was ever a poster boy advertising the Nouvelle Théologie’s formal rupture with the true Roman Catholic magisterium, surely it would be “Chaos Frank”. Naturally, many in the recognize-and-resist crowd will argue that Bergoglio is an anomaly, yet even that raises another important question: How can a man who has shown beyond reasonable doubt that he simply does not profess the Catholic Faith and didn’t profess it even in the years leading up to his election, be seriously regarded as a true successor to St. Peter even for a moment?
For someone to call Jorge Bergoglio a heretic would be to do him a profound injustice, not because it falsely suggests he denies a dogma of the Faith, but rather because his denial of the Faith is so pervasive that only the word apostate is adequate to express his utter contempt for all things Catholic. Indeed, it almost would be possible to construct a veritable anti-catechism drawn from his endless talks, writings, and actions. Here is a mere Forrest Gump sampler from his truly prodigious output of heterodoxy:
- Prefatory to the following is a Francis quote that encapsulates so many of his “pontifical” pronouncements: “And it comes to my mind to say something that may be foolish or perhaps a heresy, I don’t know.” (As shown in the link, he is proclaiming religious indifferentism, which is a heresy indeed.)
- Preached that “God does not exist” on one occasion, and declared that “There is no Catholic God” on another.
- Taking up the Ratzingerian/Hegelian “hermeneutic of unity in difference”, he has joked that Holy Trinity does not possess perfect unity but merely an outward show of unity, while in reality the Three Persons are constantly bickering.
- Continuing his “humorous” attack on the divinely revealed conception of the Godhead, he characterizes (or, more precisely, caricaturizes) the Holy Ghost as a “calamity” or “disaster”, and this “because He never tires of being creative!” Synonyms for “calamity” include mess, ruin, and disorder, yet Francis is supposedly speaking about the Holy Ghost’s creativity. (Who would speak in such a way? Those who think in Hegelian terms, of course, not to mention the Freemasons with their motto: Ordo ab Chao — Latin for “Order out of Chaos”.)
- To prevent this list running on for pages, here is a breakdown of some more of his seemingly bottomless pit of errors, including brazen heresies, taken from the article Anathema sit Bergoglio by Miles Christi: “the need for an ‘ecological conversion’; the call to pardon ‘gays’ for having been ‘discriminated against’ by the Church; the building of a ‘new humanity’ through a ‘culture of encounter’; the Church and Synagogue have ‘equal dignity’; Mary and the Church have ‘defects’; Luther was not mistaken on the doctrine of justification; Catholic States are incompatible with the sense of ‘History’; the Muslims are ‘children of God’; the death penalty for criminals is ‘inadmissible’; one day the human species will be extinguished; there is no Catholic God; the multiplication of loaves did not happen; God used evolution and he is not a ‘magician’; Christian marriage is only an ‘ideal’; the language of the Lutherans and the language of the Catholics concerning the Eucharist are ‘the same thing’; the Church in the past has had “inhumane behavior” but since Vatican II she has learned “respect” for other religions… The list is endless.” A more comprehensive list can be found here.
The Bergoglian assault on every phase of Catholic life is so unrelenting and seemingly inescapable that it is difficult to believe that he is simply doing this haphazardly — which speaks to the possibility that he is carrying out an agenda, that he is following orders from an unseen master.
For the past two centuries or more there have been plans carried out for the internal subversion of the Catholic Church by groups seeking to corrupt her irreparably. There are numerous proofs of this, from the revelations of ex-Communist official Bella Dodd about the goal of infiltrating seminaries to produce a generation of anti-clergy to the opening of the Verona Papers from Soviet intelligence, where it was shown that there had been successful penetration of groups such as the Holy Name Society. However, for the purpose of this study, only one such effort will be linked here, showing how Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII both ordered the publication of the Masonic “Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita”, which called for the corruption and destruction of the Church from within:
- Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked by Mgr. George F. Dillon
Could Bergoglio be part of this infiltration of the Church, either raised into it or else at some point early in his life recruited and won over to her enemies? Quite likely. Everything we know of his formative years up to the present indicates as much. What is known of his youth and young adulthood is derived in large part from his reminiscences: how he delighted in reading a Marxist publication, how one of his bosses was a “fervent Communist” whom he “owe[s] a huge amount” and whom he calls “that great woman” who “taught me so much about politics” — as reported by George Neumayr.
That this is something he’s carried into adulthood is evidenced by him:
- Receiving as gifts a blasphemous Communist hammer-and-sickle crucifix and matching medallion, the latter of which he sacrilegiously placed on an altar dedicated to Our Lady
- Sending his greetings to Marxist Gustavo Gutierrez, the “father of liberation theology”
- Frequently promoting liberation theology
- His friendship with the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro
- His acceptance of the Chinese Patriotic Association, a sock puppet “church” controlled by the Communist Party, and his simultaneous betrayal of the underground Chinese trying to be loyal Catholics despite all persecution
- The praise he’s received in People’s World, an official organ of Communist Party of the United States, more than once
- etc., etc., ad nauseam.
Then there was his infamous response to a question posed in November 2016 by the Italian atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari, where Bergoglio stated: “It it has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians” (source). (In answer to those employed 24/7 in the Francis Damage Control Unit, who have been known to say the Scalfari’s interviews aren’t trustworthy, let it be countered that the Vatican has had nearly two years to repudiate the statement if it is inaccurate, but has not done so. Therefore, it stands as written.)
With all this overwhelming evidence against Francis, a forceful response from “Cardinal” Burke in the keynote address leading off the present study would have been most appropriate. He is, after all, someone who claims to represent the interests of the Catholic Church, and LifeSiteNews titled the article accompanying the video, “Cardinal Burke: Catholics must let Christ reign as King in face of ‘apostasy’ within Church”.
But, no, nothing of the kind. All the title amounts to is so much clickbait. There’s a big clue as the word apostasy is enclosed in quotation marks, which can be taken, principally, in a couple of different ways: either to (1) highlight that this is a word actually used by Burke in his speech, it being a direct quote; or (2) to qualify the word as to suggest it isn’t being used in a literal manner. No matter how it’s meant, there is nothing in either the accompanying article or video that indicates Burke means business.
In a speech lasting nearly 40 minutes, he would have had ample time to name names. After all, an assertion that the enemies of the Church today are attempting to “infiltrate the life of the Church herself and to corrupt the Bride of Christ by an apostasy from the Apostolic Faith” is a serious charge, even if he’s off by many decades concerning an infiltration that was attempted and apostasy that was introduced, but which to a large degree have succeeded.
Of course, the “Cardinal” doesn’t bother to name names, and how could he, since he only devotes a scant 25 seconds to the subject of apostasy. In fact, he gives so little time to a subject that he supposedly deems to be of great importance that it might as well be John Paul II’s “silent apostasy” to which he alludes. Most people who fashion themselves Catholics have little to no idea what has transpired, content to live their lives in blissful ignorance, so Burke could have provided them with a real wake up call, and exposed the subversive agenda, because as laudable and important as speaking on the Kingship of Christ and the Sacred Heart is, the enemies of the Church like Francis are not going to leave voluntarily, but must be routed by the Church Militant — through prayer, yes, but also by casting the bright light of truth upon these machinations of the Evil One.
It must be understood that Raymond Burke is doing nothing that hasn’t been done on any number of occasions by leaders in Modernist Rome, which is to suggest the problem, but never getting to the heart of it. Similar bold statements can be seen from Paul VI’s famous “the smoke of Satan has entered the Church” to John Paul II’s empty warning about “a silent apostasy” in the Church, when all the while they were among the chief perpetrators of both. Similarly, the late Fr. Gabriele Amorth, the chief Novus Ordo exorcist of Rome, who seems to have had somewhat traditionalist leanings (he held that Hell laughed at the so-called new rite of exorcism, as it was completely ineffectual), once declared: “The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences” (source). Yet even there he was apparently too naive to really see what was happening, or perhaps too married to the Novus Ordo establishment to fully break away, as he once ridiculously maintained that the Modernist subversive John Paul II had performed a successful exorcism in St. Peter’s Square.
So where’s “Cardinal” Burke’s version of the silent apostasy leading? At this point in time, absolutely nowhere, and perhaps that’s exactly where he wants it to be. Just who is promoting this apostasy at which he thunders? He apparently isn’t saying. It may be so much bluster simply interjected into his speech to help perpetuate his mythical “Champion of Tradition” persona. And to make it quite clear to any doubters, Burke is emphatically not pointing fingers anywhere close to Bergoglio’s direction. For verification, look no further than a Catholic World Report interview from December 19, 2016:
CWR: Just to clarify again, are you saying that Pope Francis is in heresy or is close to it?
Cardinal Burke: No, I am not saying that Pope Francis is in heresy. I have never said that. Neither have I stated that he is close to being in heresy.
(“Cardinal Burke: ‘No, I am not saying that Pope Francis is in heresy'”, Catholic World Report, Dec. 19, 2016; bold print given.)
No problem, then, for “Cardinal” Burke; clearly, he didn’t have Francis in mind when he made the remark about enemy infiltrators trying to corrupt the Church with apostasy. If more proof is needed, the September following the interview, Bergoglio appointed him to the Apostolic Signatura (this shouldn’t be lightly dismissed, as it is a curial position in the highest judicial authority of the Novus Ordo).
Far from accusing him of any such thing, on more than one occasion, Burke has gone out of his way to not only defend Francis, but even to act implicitly as a salesman for some of his departures from the Faith, including his ridiculing of Catholics for being “obsessed” with opposing abortion, birth control, and “gay rights”. In a 2014 essay reassuring conservatives that they could trust Bergoglio, the “Champion of Tradition” wrote:
The Holy Father, it seems to me, wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ’s universal call to holiness. We all know individuals who say things like: “Oh, I stopped going to Church because of the Church’s teaching on divorce”, or “I could never be Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on abortion or on homosexuality”. The Holy Father is asking them to put aside these obstacles and to welcome Christ, without any excuse, into their lives. Once they come to understand the immeasurable love of Christ, alive for us in the Church, they will be able to resolve whatever has been troubling them about the Church, His Mystical Body, and her teaching.
Surely, persons whose hearts are hardened against the truth will read something very different into the approach of Pope Francis, claiming that, in fact, he intends to abandon certain teachings of the Church which our totally secularized culture rejects. Their false praise of the Holy Father’s approach mocks the fact that he is the Successor of Saint Peter, totally grounded in the Beatitudes, and that, therefore, with humble trust in God alone, he rejects the acceptance and praise of the world.
(Greg Kandra, “Cardinal Burke: Pope Francis seeks to ‘pare back every conceivable obstacle’ to Christ”, Patheos: The Deacon’s Bench, Feb. 21, 2014)
The following April, “Cardinal” Burke was at it again, this time assuring Catholics in an interview featured at Crux that Francis “hasn’t done anything to contradict [Catholic] teaching”:
Burke complained that there are individuals who try to neutralize him by making him an enemy of the pontiff, or by claiming he’s ready to lead a schism.
“I’m not resisting Pope Francis, because he’s done nothing against doctrine,” Burke said. “I don’t see myself at all in a fight against the pope. As a cardinal, I just try to be a teacher of the faith.”
Talking about an alleged tension between doctrine and mercy, which emerged as a fault line during the last synod, Burke said any such contrast is inadmissible.
(Ines San Martin, “Cardinal Burke denies rift with pope, warns of ‘gay agenda’ for Synod”, Crux, Apr. 1, 2015)
And you say you’d like even more proof that Burke is nothing but a progressive in retro-look outfits? Okay, he has expressed support for the same subversive Hegelian dialectic “Hybrid Mass” envisioned by Benedict XVI. In 2011, his first year as a member of the Novus Ordo “College of Cardinals”, he stated as follows about his support for Ratzinger’s “reform of the reform” scheme: “It seems to me that is [sic] what he has in mind is that this mutual enrichment would seem to naturally produce a new form of the Roman rite – the ‘reform of the reform,’ if we may – all of which I would welcome and look forward to its advent” (David Kerr, “Cardinal Burke reflects on his first year in the Sacred College”, Catholic News Agency, Nov. 28, 2011).
How, then, to view Burke? He’s recognize-and-resist, but not too much of the latter. He’s the Conciliar equivalent of a High Anglican, who happens to be in a different part of the Modernist sect, but still firmly in it. To use a neologism, he and Francis can be described as frenemies (an oxymoronic portmanteau of “friends” and “enemies”), meaning they don’t always get along and have fundamental differences, but they can work together when the need arises. When this is all taken into account, Burke’s sound bite is seen as so much hot air disguised as a stirring call to arms. If you want the quintessential member of Bergoglio’s loyal opposition, there are few that can vie with Raymond Leo Burke for that most dubious of “honors”.
“Bishop” Schneider and the Cathedra of Truth
Rome was also the venue for a symposium titled “Catholic Church: Where are you heading?”, which occurred a little over a month prior to the one that featured “Cardinal” Burke. One of the principal speakers was “Bishop” Athanasius Schneider, whose address “The Apostolic See as the Cathedra of Truth”, contains some of the more provocative content to be covered here, even though he never once mentions “Pope” Francis by name either.
Before turning to his remarks, a bit of biographical background is in order to show that “Bishop” Schneider grew up on Modernism along with his mother’s milk, being all of four years old when the Second Vatican Council came to a conclusion. By the time he was ordained a “priest” in 1990, the Vatican II revolution had already been in motion for a quarter century, John Paul II had already conducted the apostate prayer meeting at Assisi, and Archbishop Lefebvre had successfully defied the future Koran kisser by consecrating four bishops.
Despite his early immersion into the tainted waters of post-conciliar theology, Schneider somehow seems to have avoided being completely consumed by the exposure and has retained a semblance of Catholicism in his thinking. Sadly, this is also compromised by his qualified embrace of the Ratzingerian “hermeneutic of continuity” wizardry. For example, he’s all for getting attendees of the “New Mass” to assume the more reverent posture of receiving the invalidly consecrated bread on their tongues while kneeling — an idea about as sensible as trying to cure a tumor by covering it with a bandage.
This “love the traditions, but don’t hate the reforms” mentality carries over into his talk and destroys much of its value, as he has no trouble invoking both Pope Leo XIII and the first “pope” of the Modernist Revolution, John XXIII, to argue his case. “Bishop” Schneider declared:
Since the mid-third century, Saint Cyprian has used the term “cathedra” to indicate the power of the Roman Church, by virtue of the Chair of Peter from which, he says, the unity of the hierarchy derives (cf. Ep. 59, 16). Saint Jerome also wrote: “I decided to consult the Chair of Peter, where is found that faith that the mouth of an Apostle has exalted; I now come to ask for nourishment for my soul there, where once I received the garment of Christ. I follow no other primacy than that of Christ; for this reason, I put myself in communion with your beatitude, that is, with the Chair of Peter. I know that on this rock is built the Church” (Letters I, 15, 1-2).
The charism of truth is entrusted by God first to Saint Peter and to his successors, the Roman Pontiffs, whose seat is consequently called the cathedra of truth par excellence. Given their ministry of truth, the Roman Pontiffs must continually be aware that they are not the owners of the cathedra of truth, but its servants and vicars.
(Athanasius Schneider, “The Apostolic See as the Cathedra of Truth”; in Diane Montagna, “Bishop Schneider: The Pope is not the ‘owner’ of truth but its ‘servant and vicar'”, Life Site, Apr. 7, 2018)
These are implicit proof texts for Sedevacantism that he supplies, as it should be obvious that Bergoglio in no way represents a cathedra (chair) of truth, but a carnival of error.
Earlier in the same speech, Schneider had unwittingly cited sources that even more definitively demonstrate the sheer untenability of the recognize-and-resist position:
The Fourth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople taught: “In the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished, and sacred doctrine been professed. … in it all true strength of the Christian religion is found” (From the formula of Pope Hormisdas, endorsed by the Fathers of the Fourth Council of Constantinople). And the First Vatican Council taught: “The See of Saint Peter remains always immune from every error by virtue of the divine promise made by the Lord, Our Savior, to the Prince of his disciples: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith might not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.’ This indefectible charism of truth and faith was therefore divinely conferred to Peter and his successors in this Chair, in order that they might exercise their exalted office for the salvation of all, so that the entire flock of Christ, taken from the poisonous pastures of error, might be nourished with the food of heavenly doctrine and that, after having eliminated what leads to schism, the entire Church might remain one and, supported on its foundation, might stand firm against the gates of hell” (Pastor aeternus, chap. 4).
With this quote alone “Bishop” Schneider has just indicted Bergoglio, whether intended or not, for the latter has shown such contempt for God’s revelation and the teachings of the Church that in a public video he’s declared in a completely off-handed way that the next words out of his own mouth “may be foolish or perhaps a heresy, I don’t know” (source)! In other words, he doesn’t care if he spouts nonsense or, worse yet, denies Catholic dogma, which shows the heretical depravity of his mind.
On a similar note, Canadian media “priest” and Bergoglio appointee “Fr.” Thomas Rosica declared: “Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is ‘free from disordered attachments.’” Note that this statement, made in late July of this year, has never been disputed or refuted by the Vatican, and neither has Rosica retracted it. And why should they, as it is in line with everything Francis has shown himself to be about.
One subject that Schneider focuses on that is worthy of special mention is the great enmity the Devil has for the Holy See. Concerning this, he notes:
Throughout the course of history Satan, the father of lies, continually attacks the Church, and especially the cathedra of truth, which is the Chair of Peter. Through the inscrutable permission of Divine Providence the attacks of Satan against the Roman cathedra have in rare cases had the effect of a temporary and limited eclipse of the Papal Magisterium, when some Roman Pontiffs have made ambiguous doctrinal statements, thereby causing a temporary situation of doctrinal confusion in the life of the Church.
Let us reiterate that the “ambiguous doctrinal statements” are primarily a phenomenon of Vatican II and the post-conciliar “popes”. Any examples prior to that have been shown to be largely resolvable, as demonstrated in our study, “The Limits to Invoking ‘Papal Lapses’ as a Justification for the Recognize-and-Resist Position: A Response to Dr. Peter Kwasniewski”, published on this site in September.
Whatever pre-Vatican II issues there may have been in a few circumstances — such as the cases of Pope Liberius or Pope Honorius I — such pale in comparison with the unbounded novelties, errors, heresies, and blasphemies from the “Holy See” of the past 50+ years. Furthermore, what has gone on in recent times in no way represents the Catholic Church and the Cathedra of Truth but are, demonstrably, manifestations of the Modernist cult and its artificial pseudo-pontiffs.
Ironically, “Bishop” Schneider follows this by bringing up Pope Leo XIII’s exorcism prayer to St. Michael, claiming that the pontiff saw Satan as stirring up a bit of “a temporary situation of doctrinal confusion”, yet this passage from that prayer shows something far more disturbing was on the Pope’s mind when he penned it:
On men depraved in mind and corrupt in heart the wicked dragon pours out like a most foul river, the poison of his villainy, a spirit of lying, impiety and blasphemy; and the deadly breath of lust and of all iniquities and vices. Her most crafty enemies have engulfed the Church, the Spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, with sorrows, they have drenched her with wormwood; on all her desirable things they have laid their wicked hands. Where the See of the Blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth have been set up for the light of the gentiles, there they have placed the throne of the abomination of their wickedness, so that, the Pastor having been struck, they may also be able to scatter the flock.
(quoted in Athanasius Schneider, “The Apostolic See as the Cathedra of Truth”)
Clearly, more than a mere skirmish was being envisioned, and while machinations of the Freemasonic enemies of the Church of that time were the direct concern of the pope, what is set forth in such a telling phrase as “a spirit of lying, impiety and blasphemy; and the deadly breath of lust and of all iniquities and vices” is also quite apropos of the Novus Ordo, all the way from its doctrinal and liturgical distortions to its child abuse, and perhaps particularly, “Pope” (“I am the devil”) Francis and all his works and pomps.
“Bishop” Schneider seems to have some traditional (or, at least, quasi-traditional) sensibilities, but it’s time for him and others of like mind to see that it is not consistent with right reason or the Catholic Faith to hold that a full-blown partisan of error such as Bergoglio can in any way legitimately occupy the cathedra of truth in which “the Catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished, and sacred doctrine been professed…” [Fourth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, quoted by the First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus; Denz. 1833].
Novus Ordo Watch has pointed out at length the absurdity of trying to squeeze the error-laden Bergoglio through the stencil of the Catholic Papacy. The result will inevitably be a distortion, either of Bergoglio or of the Papacy:
- The Stumbling Block of the Papacy: Why Bergoglio Doesn’t Fit
- A Dangerous Experiment: Taking Francis’ Claim to the Papacy Seriously
- Does this apply to Francis?
- The Ultramontanism Objection
Francis is incapable of being Pope, rendered so by divine law. One way to prove it is to assume he is Pope and then show the absurdity that follows. That’s what is done at the above links.
Catholic Family News Conference: Tell Bergoglio He’s in Error
Another conference trying to grapple with the Bergoglian “pontificate” this year was the Catholic Family News Conference held near Chicago in April. There, not only were names named, but the ringleader, one Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was denounced directly. Even the title of the conference pulled no punches: “The Weapons of Our Warfare”.
The mindset of the speakers resembled that animating the famous Dubia, something of a challenge that was being submitted in the guise of a clarification. Except this time, they stepped up the rhetoric. For example:
Christopher Ferrara, a lawyer and prolific Catholic writer, delivered a strongly worded speech emphatically urging Catholics not only to put forth the Church’s perennial teachings but to expose the problematic teachings coming from Pope Francis.
Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Ferrara said “the most effective opposition to what has to be seen now as the most wayward pontificate in the history of the papacy will have to come from the upper hierarchy.”
Such an opposition would come in the form of a public statement made by a significant number of Cardinals that would declare Pope Francis is “in error, that he’s attempting to impose error upon the Church, that his effort to pass off these errors as ‘authentic magisterium’ is a fraud…and that the faithful cannot follow this pope in his errors,” Ferrara said.
(Stephen Kokx, “Cardinals should declare Pope Francis ‘in error’: Catholic lawyer”, Life Site, Apr. 16, 2018)
There’s only one problem with this proposal by Mr. Ferrara, which was also supported by other speakers at the conference, but it’s a significant one: The premise that members of the (purported) hierarchy are empowered to resists a (purported) pope on matters of Faith or morals goes directly against the teaching of the most illustrious Catholic theologian on the subject of the Holy See, St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church. In his masterwork, De Romano Pontifice, he writes in defense of papal primacy that:
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.)
This is not only the teaching of one particular Doctor, whoever illustrious, it is also the teaching of the Catholic magisterium.
The real solution to a scenario in which a pope defects from the Faith and wanders off into heresy would, of course, be for the bishops to convene what is called an “imperfect council” (imperfect because a council requires a pope to ratify it, which in that case wouldn’t be possible) and declare that the pope had fallen into heresy and that from that moment (per St. Robert) he had by that very fact ceased to be a member of the Church and thus also her head. (Note: The imperfect council would merely be pronouncing on what had occurred by means of the pope’s lapse from orthodoxy. It would not — and could not — remove him from office; it could only declare officially that the pope has removed himself by his falling away. Whether a pope can actually defect into heresy is another matter altogether and disputed among theologians — St. Robert was treating it as merely a theoretical question.)
Other speakers at the same “Weapons of Our Warfare” conference advanced the R&Rs’ familiar erroneous “heretic pope” hypothesis:
Church historian Roberto de Mattei said “true devotion” to the Chair of St. Peter requires Catholics to speak out against “the heresies” being promoted by Pope Francis, who, despite propagating heresy, remains the pope.
Canadian Dominican priest Fr. Albert Kallio O.P. echoed de Mattei’s words. “Even if the pope is a heretic…that does not at all mean that by that very fact, ipso facto as we say in English, he would cease being pope.”
Rejecting the claim that Pope Francis has lost his office, Fr. Kallio said, “Even those who hold that a pope who is manifestly a heretic loses automatically his office [believe] that the manifestation required before the pope would lose his office takes place by a declaration declared by the authority of the Church, namely the bishops.”
It seems God is allowing “a sort of eclipse” of the Church for the moment, he concluded.
(Stephen Kokx, “Cardinals should declare Pope Francis ‘in error’: Catholic lawyer”, Life Site, Apr. 16, 2018)
Now, while an eclipse of the Church is something that is evident to anyone paying any attention at all to the post-Vatican II disaster, the reality is that it’s much closer to a total eclipse than Fr. Albert or his fellow speakers would be willing to admit.
While his “eclipse” remark is open to some interpretation, this is not the case for what he said about a properly declared “manifestation” supposedly being required for a pope to lose his office. This is incorrect on multiple counts.
“Even those who hold that a pope who is manifestly a heretic loses automatically his office…” Let’s stop there for a moment and go straight to St. Robert Bellarmine, who makes a point of stating that this very teaching can be traced back to the earliest Catholic writers of note:
…[A] manifestly heretical Pope per se ceases to be Pope and Head, just as per se he ceases to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church. Therefore he can be judged by the Church and punished. This is the opinion of all the old Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.
(St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book II, Chapter 30; translated by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., in Bellarmine, Controversies of the Christian Faith [Saddle River, NJ: Keep the Faith, Inc., 2016], p. 839. An alternate translation of the entire chapter is available online here.)
In other words, this is the common Catholic teaching, which the Church regards as theologically certain and which is at least implied in Vatican I’s Pastor Aeternus and subsequent theology. It is no surprise, in fact, that when this council was asked what would happen if a Pope were to become a heretic, the answer given was that he would immediately cease to be Pope. Abp. John Purcell of Cincinnati, Ohio, once related the anecdote:
The question was also raised by a Cardinal, “What is to be done with the Pope if he becomes a heretic?” It was answered that there has never been such a case; the Council of Bishops could depose him for heresy, for from the moment he becomes a heretic he is not the head or even a member of the Church. The Church would not be, for a moment, obliged to listen to him when he begins to teach a doctrine the Church knows to be a false doctrine, and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself.
If the Pope, for instance, were to say that the belief in God is false, you would not be obliged to believe him, or if he were to deny the rest of the creed, “I believe in Christ,” etc. The supposition is injurious to the Holy Father in the very idea, but serves to show you the fullness with which the subject has been considered and the ample thought given to every possibility. If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I; and so in this respect the dogma of infallibility amounts to nothing as an article of temporal government or cover for heresy.
(Abp. John B. Purcell, quoted in Rev. James J. McGovern, Life and Life Work of Pope Leo XIII [Chicago, IL: Allied Printing, 1903], p. 241; imprimatur by Abp. James Quigley of Chicago; underlining added. See also our commentary on this anecdote here and here.)
So yes, we sedevacantists are very comfortable aligning ourselves with this safest of positions, which is unquestionably orthodox.
In the second half of his sentence, Fr. Albert claims that even those who believe a manifestly heretical pope would ipso facto lose the office agree “that the manifestation required before the pope would lose his office takes place by a declaration declared by the authority of the Church, namely the bishops”. But this is simply not true, at least not if he’s talking about real Catholic theologians and canonists from before Vatican II. It’s rather astounding that Fr. Albert would make such an elementary mistake in theology, particularly since it required him to mix two contradictory opinions on the “heretical pope” question; but perhaps it’s understandable given his training with Society of St. Pius X-affiliated Dominicans based in Avrillé, France.
Still, it remains to be seen whether his learning would be so lacking as not to know the meaning of “by that very fact” (ipso facto), “automatically”, and “manifest”. No additional “manifestation” of a declaration by bishops is required for the pope to lose his office, as it’s already been lost as an automatic ipso facto consequence of the manifest heresy. Heresy is manifest when it is openly divulged and there is no circumstance that could reasonably excuse it, such as a temporary loss of reason through drunkenness (regarding other excusing factors, see Rev. Anthony Cekada, “Sedevacantism and Mr. Ferrara’s Cardboard Pope”, 10.C). Canon Edward Mahoney, an expert on moral, canonical, and liturgical matters before Vatican II, underscored that no legal declaration is required for something that is already manifest:
Occasionally, when a fact may sometimes be uncertain, ecclesiastical authority issues a statement affirming that certain groups of persons have, in fact, committed a delict…. Laws, however, must regard what usually happens and the common estimation of men, and when a fact is manifest it would be absurd to expect some authority to affirm what is already well known.
(Canon E.J. Mahoney, Priests’ Problems [New York, NY: Benziger Brothers, Inc., 1958], p. 441)
Thus, in the case of a pope who is a manifest heretic, no declaration would be necessary for him to lose the pontificate, which is also what is stated verbatim in Canon 188, n. 4: “Any office becomes vacant upon the fact and without any declaration by tacit resignation recognized by the law itself if a cleric publicly defects from the Catholic faith” (Peters translation; underlining added). This is not to say that such a declaration wouldn’t be useful, only that it wouldn’t be necessary in order for him to forfeit his office, which, again, happens ipso facto and automatically. If this were not so, the bishops would not be able to assemble in an imperfect council to begin with (which the pope could just declare null), nor would they be authorized to issue a declaration against him, since the pope would then still be their superior requiring their full submission, and he would certainly not allow them to declare him a public heretic.
In other words, as long as it is manifest that the Pope has committed heresy in a public way (“public” as defined in Canon 2197, n. 1), and as long as there is no reasonable excusing factor present, he is no longer Pope. It is the openly divulged deed itself which makes the fall from office factually notorious, as canonists would say. The legal declaration by the bishops would merely add to it what is called legal notoriety (see Canon 2197, nn. 2-3) and would trigger the convening of a conclave.
That our position on this is correct is easily verified simply by consulting some of the relevant books from before Vatican II. For example:
A pope cannot be deposed from his office. An heretical pope necessarily ceases to be head of the Church, for by his heresy he is no longer a member thereof; in the event of his still claiming the Roman see a general council, improperly so called because without the pope, could remove him. But this is not deposition, since by his own act he is no longer pope.
(Donald Attwater, ed., A Catholic Dictionary, 3rd ed. [New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1958]; underlining added.)
It sounds like Fr. Albert and those who agree with him are desperately trying to make “by the fact itself” and “by his own act” mean “the act of bishops deciding that the pope committed this act”. But this is entirely contrived and presumably custom-tailored to avoid the sedevacantist conclusion. It is also not in harmony with what Pope St. Celestine I declared with regard to the point in time when the manifest heretic Nestorius lost his office, namely, at the moment he began preaching heresy (not the moment he was officially declared to be a heretic by the proper authority), as demonstrated here.
Another point to note is that if Fr. Albert were correct in his position, then it would follow that until that bishops’ declaration comes (what if the bishops disagree amongst each other, by the way?), all the pope’s pronouncements and other official acts would still be valid and binding on Catholics — including any heretical statements he would make. Does Fr. Albert submit to Francis’ false teachings contained in Amoris Laetitia and his countless addresses? Of course not. The truth is that Fr. Albert and his R&R confreres are able to be so generous in accepting Francis’ claim to the papacy because they reserve the right to be the final arbiters on whether or to what extent they will allow Francis to govern and teach them — which is hardly the orthodox Catholic attitude towards the papacy, as can be seen here.
Professor de Mattei Plays Theological Darts while Blindfolded
For our final example of the ridiculous lengths to which these recognize-and-resist speakers will go to avoid drawing the logical conclusions about Bergoglio, we turn to the well-known Italian academic, Roberto de Mattei, Associate Professor at the European University of Rome and one of those who addressed the Catholic Family News Conference in April.
The title of his lecture was, “Tu es Petrus: True devotion to the Chair of Saint Peter”, and were one to extract a single sentence from it to encapsulate his main idea, it might as well be this one: “True devotion to the Papacy expresses itself in an attitude of filial resistance, as happened in the Filial Correction addresses to Pope Francis in 2017.” Selecting the Filial Correction as an example of true devotion to the papacy is a dart off-target right out of the gate for him; in reality, it’s just the opposite of true devotion, because it’s a document that shows an abject ignorance of what that requires. As Novus Ordo Watch pointed out:
There is so much to be said about this Filial Correction and the signatories’ idea that a Pope need not be a Catholic to be Pope, that the papal magisterium can be corrected by inferiors, and that Francis may not be culpable for teaching these seven heresies they are solemnly condemning in this document.
(“Bergoglio takes a Blow: ‘Filial Correction’ accuses Francis of Heresy”, Novus Ordo Wire, Sep. 24, 2017. A more detailed follow-up on the Filial Correction and its aftermath can be found here.)
So, for de Mattei, this posture of “filial resistance” or loyal opposition is the proper approach to the crisis at hand. And this, of course, is the essence of the R&Rs’ absolute refusal to acknowledge any attempt to call into question the rightful authority of Francis as Vicar of Christ, which can in a sense also be called defend-and-deny as they fiercely defend his legitimacy against solid evidence to the contrary, while simultaneously denying anyone else the right to challenge the dubious claim, sometimes even to the point of vilification.
Thankfully, Professor de Mattei is fairly sober in his estimation regarding the vacant see position, though he raises a major issue he has with its ecclesiology, while implicitly appealing to Ratzinger’s “hermeneutic of continuity” as his go-to proof:
Today, there is a modernist infiltration inside the Church, but there are not two churches. This is the reason why Fr. Gleize judges speaking of the “Conciliar Church,” as inaccurate, affirming that two churches, the Roman and the Conciliar, do not exist [Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, SSPX, “Angelus”, July 2013]. And this is also the reason for which we need to be careful of speaking of the “Bergoglian church,” or of “the new Church.” The Church today is occupied by churchmen who betray or deform the message of Christ, but it has not been substituted by another church. There is only one Catholic Church, in which today cohabitate in a confused and fragmentary way, different and counterpoised theologies and philosophies. It is more correct to speak of a Bergoglian theology, of a Bergoglian philosophy, and, if one wishes, of a Bergoglian religion (or irreligion!), without coming to the point of defining Pope Bergoglio, the cardinals, the Curia and the bishops of the whole world as a “Bergoglian church.” Because, if we were to imagine that the Pope, the cardinals, the Curia, the world’s bishops comprise as a whole, a new Church, we would have to legitimately ask ourselves: “where is the Church of Christ? Where is her social and supernatural visibility?
And this is the principal argument against sedevacantism. But it’s also an argument against that inflated traditionalism, which while not declaring the vacancy of the Seat of Peter, thinks itself able to kick out of the Church the Pope, cardinals and bishops, and de facto reduces the Mystical Body of Christ to a purely-spiritual and invisible reality.
(Roberto de Mattei, “Tu es Petrus: True Devotion to the Chair of Saint Peter”, Rorate Caeli, Apr. 10, 2018. Note: The Fr. Gleize mentioned is Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, professor of theology at the Society of Saint Pius X’s seminary in Écône, Switzerland.)
Where is the Catholic Church? Prof. de Mattei is not wrong to ask the question, but the answer is most definitely not found in the Vatican II church, in which one can be as Modernist as Hans Kung and Richard Rohr or as traditionalist as Athanasius Schneider and Atila S. Guimaraes, and still be considered a member of the same religion. Where is the visible unity of Faith in that religion?
Ironically, at the very same conference at which de Mattei spoke, Fr. Albert stated, as noted above, that God was presently allowing “a sort of eclipse” of the Church, while “Bishop” Schneider spoke of “a temporary and limited eclipse”. Again, this may be open to different interpretations, but what is not open to interpretation is the basic definition of the word eclipse, which is the obscuring the visibility of an object by the presence of another that interferes with it.
That there would be an obscuring of the Church and the Papacy of some kind is clear from Sacred Tradition, as demonstrated in the following posts:
- Fr. Berry on the Persecution of the Church in the Last Days (Part 1): Satan will Attack the Papacy
- Fr. Berry on the Persecution of the Church in the Last Days (Part 2): A False Church to imitate the True Church
- Fr. Berry on the Persecution of the Church in the Last Days (Part 3): A False Pope and a Vacant Holy See
- The Papacy & the Passion of the Church
- The Pope and the Antichrist: The Great Apostasy Foretold
Although different interpretations of the Church’s eclipse have been advanced, the most appropriate one would be analogous to a solar eclipse, where the Moon overshadows the Sun. This is particularly appropriate in the context of the crisis of faith now occurring, for we see the life-giving light and warmth of the spiritual Sun (the true Roman Catholic Church; cf. Apoc 12:1) temporarily giving way to the darkness and frigidity of a life-denying Moon (the “Conciliar Church” of the Modernists).
The first sentence in the passage from Professor de Mattei just cited is indicative of why this section’s heading alludes to blindfold darts: “Today, there is a modernist infiltration inside the Church,” he states, “but there are not two churches.” Again and again in his talk, he will make a point that is right on target, only to negate its effect by following it with something way off the mark. Yes, there has been a Modernist infiltration, according to de Mattei, yet somehow this doesn’t constitute a Modernist takeover of the external apparatus of the Church to form a counterfeit “Catholic Church”, it doesn’t constitute the predicted “counterchurch” (Mgr. Fulton Sheen), the “Church of Darkness” (Ven. Anne C. Emmerich).
Ironically, at last year’s Rome Life Forum sponsored by Voice of the Family, it was the Vatican II Sect’s own “Fr.” Linus Clovis who spoke of an “Anti-Church” that “is now attempting to pass itself off as the true Church”, and that Bergoglio’s infernal exhortation Amoris Laetitia has “prompted the anti-Church to emerge from the shadows in clear view of all the faithful.” What puts the icing on the cake is that Prof. de Mattei himself was present at this conference as one of the speakers. It looks like he and “Fr.” Clovis need to have a chat!
In any case, de Mattei attempts to explain this novel ecclesiology as follows:
The Church today is occupied by churchmen who betray or deform the message of Christ, but it has not been substituted by another church. There is only one Catholic Church, in which today cohabitate in a confused and fragmentary way, different and counterpoised theologies and philosophies.
In other words, there hasn’t been an eclipse of the true Church by a false church, but “only one Catholic Church, in which today cohabitate in a confused and fragmentary way, different and counterpoised theologies and philosophies” when Catholics must hold that the true Church “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)? How can an institution that issues heresies and other false and impious teachings be the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church “in which the Catholic religion has always been preserved untainted, and holy doctrine celebrated” (Vatican I; Denz. 1833)?
It can’t, of course, and therein lies the dilemma of Prof. de Mattei and others who adhere to such a fanciful ecclesiology. The fundamental flaw in their reasoning was exposed by another academic, Mr. John Daly, in 2002:
Saying that there’s “a modernist infiltration inside the Church” isn’t exactly worthy of a news headline, because it’s been the state of affairs that has bedeviled her for over a century, and aside from a brief successful counterattack by the Vatican during the reign of Pope St. Pius X, it has been a malignancy that subsequently enjoyed a more or less continual secret growth until it emerged a fully formed and formidable antagonist whose commanders successfully wrest the reins of power from truly Catholic churchmen at the election of John XXIII and especially the so-called Second Vatican Council, gleefully proclaimed by arch-Modernist “Cardinal” Leo Suenens as “the French Revolution of the Church”. (Suenens’ name appeared on a list of 120 high-ranking Church officials who purportedly were secretly members of Freemasonry, and he definitely fit the bill.)
What was the French Revolution but the Jacobin overthrow of the legitimate Catholic government under King Louis XVI, and it’s replacement by an illegitimate one drawn up in the haunts of atheistic secret societies, and, just like ecclesiastical radicals of Vatican II and its aftermath, dedicated to the Cult of Man? Archbishop Lefebvre quoted Suenens further regarding the relationship:
“One cannot understand the French or the Russian revolutions unless one knows something of the old regimes which they brought to an end… It is the same in church affairs: a reaction can only be judged in relation to the state of things that preceded it”. What preceded, and what he considered due for abolition, was that wonderful hierarchical construction culminating in the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth. He continued: “The Second Vatican Council marked the end of an epoch; and if we stand back from it a little more we see it marked the end of a series of epochs, the end of an age”.
(Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, An Open Letter to Confused Catholics, Ch. 14)
Suenens is clearly drawing the parallel of Vatican II with two violent ungodly upheavals — the French and Russian Revolutions — and asserting that the “old regime” — that is, the Church — had to be abolished: That which God established, man would now tear asunder! This is why we see some peculiar terms coming out of the council, such as the “new Pentecost” of John XXIII and, of course, the “new springtime” of John Paul II (a glance at the venomous fruits of which reveals not so much as a vestige of the venerable Church of past epochs).
Perhaps an illustration on a smaller scale will help show the limitation of de Mattei’s position. Suppose a covert Modernist was able to secure a position as a seminary professor, and, initially mixing his theological poison under the appearance of sound doctrine, was able not only to maintain his post, but gaining some prominence, used his tenure so as to bring others of his ilk to the school. So, the infiltration of that seminary had begun in earnest.
Still, the vast majority of the faculty were true Catholics, and voiced concern to the rector, who also was orthodox in his thinking, but lax in governing the school. This laxity soon allowed the subversive element begin to turn the tide, and soon Modernist professors had significantly gained in number. The seminary was still Catholic, but in a weakened way. Eventually, a new rector took over — a Modernist rector — and he began to systematically remove the true Catholic professors and replace them with apostates, until the death grip was complete. All the new faculty had to accept the principal new order teachings — some did so wholeheartedly, others grudgingly, but all fell into line: At that point, the seminary and its rector were Catholic in name only.
This is precisely the situation we see with the Vatican II sect. The days of the initial infiltration have long passed, and the outward structures of the Church are now completely in the hands of Modernists. Their false council is the line of demarcation, the litmus test all members of their hierarchy must accept, the grain of incense offered to Paul VI’s “cult of man”. Therein we see the “old school Modernists” like Burke, Ratzinger, Sarah, and Schneider, who either feign Tradition by dressing up in the garb of “continuity” or have gullibly bought into that false hermeneutic, whereas Bergoglio and his bloc are in blatant search-and-destroy mode against all things Catholic, no apologies offered! What the Bolsheviks were a century ago, or what Antifa is today in the secular world, the Francinistas are when it comes to the things of God — a breed of brutal spiritual terrorists.
Returning to Professor de Mattei’s follies, we’re confronted with this:
Limiting ourselves, then, to a generic denunciation of the errors which oppose the Tradition of the Church, isn’t enough. It is for us to call out by name, all those who inside the Church profess a theology, a philosophy, a morality, a spirituality, in contrast with the perennial Magisterium of the Church, no matter what office they may occupy. And today we must admit that the Pope himself promotes and propagates errors and heresies in the Church. We need to have the courage to say this, with all the veneration which is due to the Pope. True devotion to the Papacy expresses itself in an attitude of filial resistance, as happened in the Filial Correction addresses to Pope Francis in 2017.
But there isn’t only a tempus loquendi (a time to speak). There is also a modus loquendi (way to speak), a way with which the Catholic expresses himself. The correction has to be filial, as it was, respectful, devout, without sarcasm, without irreverence, without contempt, without bitter zeal, without gratification, without pride, with a profound spirit of charity, which is love for God and love for the Church.
In the crisis of our days, every profession of faith and declaration of fidelity which disregards the responsibility of Pope Francis, lacks strength, clarity and sincerity. We need to have the courage to say: Holy Father, you are the first one responsible for the confusion which exists today in the Church; Holy Father, you are the first one responsible for the heresies which are circulating in the Church today.
The responsibility, finally, cannot not involve the cardinals who keep quiet, and who remaining silent, do not perform their duty as counselors and collaborators of the Pope.
(Roberto de Mattei, “Tu es Petrus: True Devotion to the Chair of Saint Peter”, Rorate Caeli, Apr. 10, 2018; italics given.)
This is perhaps the most important passage from his entire lecture to fully appreciate the foolishness of the “filial resistance” stand, because while it superficially appears to accurately address the issue, in truth it is neither consistent with the Magisterium nor does it face the reality of the crisis.
In the first instance, he’s maintaining that “the Pope himself promotes and propagates errors and heresies”, and that the proper thing to do is to tell Bergoglio that “you are the first one responsible for the confusion which exists today in the Church; Holy Father, you are the first one responsible for the heresies which are circulating in the Church today.”
If only Novus Ordo Watch could get a 300 days’ indulgence for every time this erroneous R&R claim is made (i.e., a pope can lead the entire Church into error and that he can/must then be “corrected” by his inferiors), they’d be racking up years of temporal punishment remitted by now! As a matter of fact, it was already refuted earlier in this article by St. Robert Bellarmine, and we also recommend people have a look at Bp. Donald Sanborn’s assessment of this common error:
A “correction” implies two obvious problems: (1) that we cannot trust the teaching of the pope; (2) that we should trust the teaching of the correctors.
What is the purpose of a pope if he is subject to correction by a self-appointed Board of Correctors? Who assists the Board of Correctors? The Holy Ghost? Where in Sacred Scripture or Tradition is a Board of Correctors mentioned?
To set up a system of “correction” of heretical “popes,” done by self-appointed “correctors,” implies that it is quite possible that a Catholic pope promulgate heresy to the entire Church, and quite normal that self-appointed “correctors” come to the rescue.
It means that the infallibility of the Church rests with a board of self-appointed correctors.
In such a case, why do we need a pope? Why not just have the Board of Correctors?
(Bp. Donald Sanborn, “Correctio Filialis”, In Veritate, Oct. 18, 2017)
Above and beyond Bp. Sanborn’s simple application of reason and St. Robert’s authority as the Doctor of the Papacy, however, de Mattei and his kindred spirits have a far greater barrier to surmount with the following magisterial teachings of genuine Roman pontiffs:
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)
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)
If Professor de Mattei is really interested in showing filial devotion to the man he mistakenly believes to be the pope, then he must also show it towards those who unquestionably were successors to St. Peter, and to their solemn pronouncements on the unwavering fidelity due by Catholics to the supreme pontiff. In particular, St. Pius X was absolutely unequivocal on the topic of the proper attitude of the sons of the Church with respect to the Vicar of Christ when he stated: “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…” and “…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” (emphases added). In other words, one does not do what the recognize-and-resist adherents are advancing as a “solution” to the Francis conundrum.
Of course, we can now hear de Mattei directly level criticism at Novus Ordo Watch and others who are harsh in the way they speak of “Pope” Francis, as not being in line with the modus loquendi [way to speak] he maintains is proper for Catholics addressing or talking about the “pontiff”, as has been seen by those who produced 2017’s Filial Correction: “The correction has to be filial, as it was, respectful, devout, without sarcasm, without irreverence, without contempt, without bitter zeal, without gratification, without pride, with a profound spirit of charity, which is love for God and love for the Church.”
Here he tosses out a number of darts, and a few do indeed find the target, yet by accident. Yes, critics of Francis should be without pride (anyone always should be) and bitter zeal (but still zealous for the truth), without gratification (save the satisfaction of standing up for the Faith), without irreverence (towards those who deserve reverence, i.e. excluding false shepherds), and operate from a spirit of charity, which we ought to do in all things at all times.
But why should one show the least bit of respect to a Judas posing as a St. Peter (cf. 2 Cor 11:13 )?! To be reverent to such a one is to be irreverent to Christ and to every legitimate pope who ever lived. To be truly devout is to stand up against the traitor and not to kneel before the reprobate, kiss his ring, and look for his worthless “blessing”. And it is not wrong per se to use sarcasm (a biting form of irony) in such a case, so long as it is done with care and prudence (concerning this matter, see also “True vs. False Charity” and “Can we only attack an Argument and never a Person?”).
Keep in mind, we are not talking about a doctrinally wayward pope supposedly needing to have his magisterium corrected (as shown, a theological impossibility) but a false pope promoting Modernism, and in such a case it is instructive to once again turn to St. Pius X, that implacable foe of that vile cesspool, “the synthesis of all heresies”, which, as he said, seeks to “lay the ax not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibers” (Encyclical Pascendi, n. 3).
Did St. Pius say we should be respectful to Modernists like Bergoglio, and perhaps even reverence them, as the recognize-and-resisters urge their followers to do? Hardly. To Cardinal Andrew Ferrari of Milan he declared: “These miserable wretches, whom by the command of the apostle St. John we should refuse even to greet, for the apostle St. John says that we should not greet these who are heretics” (source). Although the same pontiff was well-known for being meek and mild-mannered — he was a saint! –, he shocked listeners with this response to those seeking him to take a conciliatory policy towards the Modernists:
Kindness is for fools. They want them to be treated with oil, soap and caresses, but they should be beaten with fists! In a duel, you don’t count or measure the blows, you strike as you can! War is not made with charity, it is a struggle, a duel. If our Lord were not terrible, he would not have given an example in this too. See how he treated the Philistines, the sowers of error, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the traitors in the temple. He scourged them with whips!
(source; these quotes were reportedly collected from the St. Pius X beatification/canonization proceedings)
As long as Professor de Mattei and others of like mind continue to wear their blindfolds marked “Bergoglio is the Pope” and “The Novus Ordo Sect is the Catholic Church”, as long as they ignore St. Pius X foretelling Francis and the leaders of the post-Vatican II as “the sowers of error, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the traitors in the temple”, they are doomed to repeatedly miss the bullseye — even if they hit the target from time to time.
De Mattei engages in some measured language throughout. There’s a “modernist infiltration”, but he never calls Bergoglio a Modernist. (Even the “great negotiator”, the SSPX’s Bishop Bernard Fellay, once donned his Captain Obvious cape to describe him as a “genuine Modernist” — still the pope [sic], mind you, but of the rare genuine Modernist variety — wink, wink!)
Similarly, he says Francis “propagates errors and heresies” and is “responsible for … heresies”, but like Burke and others in the R&R fraternity, he can’t quite bring himself to actually call the renegade from Argentina what he is: a heretic, if not an outright apostate. Call it plausible deniability, call it wiggle room, call it hedging your bets; but whatever you call it, Professor de Mattei doesn’t seem in any hurry to connect the dots. He speaks of a “Bergoglian theology”, “Bergoglian philosophy”, and “if one wishes, of a Bergoglian religion (or irreligion!)”, but not following his own logic, refuses to speak of a “Bergoglian church”, because it puts him into the uncomfortable position of conceding that a counter-church exists in opposition to the true Church, and he knows Bergoglio cannot be the head of both.
It would be a good idea for R&R stalwarts (and sedevacantists, too, for that matter) to take a refresher course in St. Pius X’s documents related to Modernists, as at no time in history have those miscreants gained so much power: Pascendi Dominici Gregis (the encyclical delving deeply into the heretics’ doctrines), Lamentabili Sane (a syllabus of their principal errors), and the Oath Against Modernism (required to be sworn by clerics and seminarians before “Pope” Paul VI treacherously eliminated it to usher in that “New Springtime”).
Those three decrees are known to all Catholics conversant with the subject of Modernism, but there is a fourth one with which the faithful tend to be less familiar, but which is also of vital importance: the motu proprio Praestantia Scripturae, “On the Bible against the Modernists”. Praestantia begins by reviewing of how the Pontifical Commission on the Bible was established by his predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, in 1902 to be a bulwark of orthodoxy to defend Scripture against the buffeting of Modernist novelties, and concludes with a call to vigilance on how books smacking of Modernism must be removed from seminaries and publishing houses. But it is in the middle section that we find the the teeth in Pius’s anti-Modernist policy that people sometimes overlook:
Moreover, in order to check the daily increasing audacity of many modernists who are endeavoring by all kinds of sophistry and devices to detract from the force and efficacy not only of the decree “Lamentabili sane exitu” (the so-called Syllabus), issued by our order by the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition on July 3 of the present year, but also of our encyclical letters “Pascendi dominici gregis” given on September 8 of this same year, we do by our apostolic authority repeat and confirm both that decree of the Supreme Sacred Congregation and those encyclical letters of ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against their contradictors, and this we declare and decree that should anybody, which may God forbid, be so rash as to defend any one of the propositions, opinions or teachings condemned in these documents he falls, ipso facto, under the censure contained under the chapter “Docentes” of the constitution “Apostolicae Sedis,” which is the first among the excommunications latae sententiae, simply reserved to the Roman Pontiff. This excommunication is to be understood as salvis poenis, which may be incurred by those who have violated in any way the said documents, as propagators and defenders of heresies, when their propositions, opinions and teachings are heretical, as has happened more than once in the case of the adversaries of both these documents, especially when they advocate the errors of the modernists that is, the synthesis of all heresies.
(St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Praestantia Scripturae; underlining added.)
Noting the underlined parts, a strong case can be made that St. Pius X’s condemnation of Modernism involved papal infallibility, at least to an extent, and certainly hurled the most serious penalties from the Church’s highest authority against these “partisans of error” (Pascendi, n. 2). Modernists, no less than other apostates, are automatically outside the Church. When Professor de Mattei makes his point about Modernist infiltration but misses — or simply refuses to acknowledge — the vital point that those responsible for such an ongoing infiltration, such as Bergoglio, are cut off from the Church, his analysis misses the reality of today’s crisis by a mile. It’s time he finally removed the blindfold so that he will be able to point others in the right direction as well.
Out on a Limb: “Loyal Opposition” and Its Shaky Allegiance to Tradition
Shifting metaphors, what we’ve seen with these speakers is something akin to a man sitting in a tree with saw in hand. He begins to saw at the limb he’s on, oblivious to the fact that he’s on the outside portion of the limb, and continued sawing will lead to him plummeting to the ground.
For them, the limb is filial resistance, which seems to be a secure approach, since they want to maintain their loyalty to “the Holy Father”, all the while not seeing that the tree trunk is the Catholic Faith — Sacred Tradition — and the saw represents the divider between sound and unsound doctrine. Their resistance toward one who “breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants” is well founded, but what places them on the wrong side of the saw is a double fallacy: (a) a misunderstood devotion misdirected towards a false pope; and (b) the idea that they are in a position to read the ecclesial riot act to a valid Roman pontiff, as they believe Francis to be. Such an approach gets the man in the tree nowhere but to the hospital, if he’s lucky; and it gets the “loyal opposition” nowhere but to a cul-de-sac of an unresolved problem that is not going to go away by itself.
If any of the R&R apologists honestly think Bergoglio is concerned with dubias, filial corrections, or petition drives begging him to resign or stop this or that synod, their level of self-delusion is colossal. He is on a mission to destroy, and until they realize the Modernist paradigm for what it is, they will continue their futile attempts to the barely concealed delight of the Argentinian apostate.
Pope St. Pius X, pray for them!
Image source: Shutterstock