Last part of our massive rebuttal of Paul Folbrecht…
Peace in the Crisis?
Catholic Family News Promotes a Dangerous Tranquility (PART 3)
by Francis del Sarto
CONTINUED FROM PART 2
This analysis is a response to the conclusion of Part II along with Part III of Paul Folbrecht’s Catholic Family News article series “Finding Peace in the Crisis”. Our response to Part I of his article can be found here and to the beginning of Part II here.
In the first two parts of this rebuttal, we looked at Mr. Folbrecht’s mish-mash of arguments defending the recognize-and-resist (R&R) position, which claims that while things are really bad for Catholics these days, with members of the hierarchy in open rebellion against Divine Revelation, there’s really nothing about which to be overly concerned — after all, there have been many previous doctrinal crises within the Church, all of which she has overcome.
It’s all right there in his opening of Part I, where he invokes the incident of Christ calming the storm at sea, after the terrified Apostles frantically roused Him from sleep as their boat seemed about to founder. Likewise, we are told just to relax and find peace, and this will all be set aright in God’s good time. Yet there’s something seriously wrong with that analogy, for the danger isn’t coming from a force of nature pummelling the boat from without, but from a psychopathic occupant inside the craft with auger in hand, boring holes in the hull with clearly malevolent intent.
“Finding Peace in the Crisis” is yet another attempt by a semi-traditionalist to make the R&R position seem not only plausible, but the only reasonable position — the prudent via media (middle way) between the extremes of Sedevacantism on the one hand and a complete, blissful submission to “Pope” Francis on the other. The latter position is adhered to not only by those unable or unwilling to grasp that he doesn’t profess the Catholic Faith, but also by those who, with eyes wide open, celebrate his regular departures from orthodoxy — such as the subversive serial plagiarist “Fr.” Thomas Rosica, who once gleefully proclaimed: “Our Church has indeed entered a new phase… [I]t is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.”
Yet, ironically, what proponents of recognize-and-resist postulate is far closer to the position of the Modernist Rosica than to a centrist view of the crisis that they think they possess. Unlike Sedevacantists, who firmly aver, based on the dictates of the Faith and sound reason, that a true Pope cannot say and do the things said and done by Bergoglio, they unreasonably insist that he is a true Pope, despite the fact that he does and says these things. And that’s what Rosica would say, as well, the only difference being that while he applauds Francis’s apostasy and hails it as ushering in a new phase for the Church, they deplore and lament his infidelities. But no matter, like it or not, for all practical purposes Mr. Folbrecht and his confreres agree with Rosica’s assertion that “Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants”, and yet remarkably, impossibly, occupies the Chair of Peter quite legitimately.
Being an advocate for R&R necessitates discrediting the sedevacantist position as unattractive, untenable, and, ultimately, un-Catholic. Sure, along the way he also rejects a non-sedevacantist viewpoint, namely the fiction that Benedict XVI’s resignation was coerced or otherwise irregular (and, therefore, null and void), so he is still the true “Pope”; but that’s just a brief, uneventful excursion down a side road for Folbrecht, before he quickly ramps up onto the anti-sedevacantist polemical superhighway.
Sporting that Michael Matt resistance look:
R&R apologist Paul Folbrecht
How Folbrecht Gets Cardinal Manning Wrong on the “Passion of the Church”
The preposterous lengths to which our recognize-and-resist writer will go in his refusal to even consider the plausibility of Sedevacantism is well illustrated in the wrong conclusion he draws from a lecture by the distinguished 19th-century British convert, Cardinal Henry Edward Manning. In that talk, His Eminence stated that the life of the Church is an analogue of Our Blessed Lord’s Life in all its stages, with the travails she is presently enduring resembling the sufferings of His Passion. Thus one can rightly speak of a “Passion of the Church” in our day, one in which her enemies will believe they have at last prevailed against her.
Here, in part, is what is cited, and it is very applicable to our times:
In like manner with His Church. Until the hour is come when the barrier shall by the Divine will be taken out of the way, no one has power to lay a hand upon it. The gates of hell may war against it; they may strive and wrestle, as they struggle now with the Vicar of our Lord; but no one has the power to move him one step, until the hour shall come when the Son of God shall permit, for a time, the powers of evil to prevail. That He will permit it for a time stands in the book of prophecy.
(Cardinal Henry Manning, quoted in Paul Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part I”, Catholic Family News, Sep. 17, 2018.)
Now, Folbrecht, noting that the notion of the Church undergoing a sort of Passion has been taught by the Fathers and other theologians through the ages, goes as far as to concede that the crisis is such that “the boundaries of what Christ will allow regarding attack from within are being tested” (italics in original). Yet it seems that all throughout his article, he insists on minimizing this very fact; in so many words, he appears to be saying that, yes, it’s a Passion of the Church, but let’s not put too much stock in the analogy. An excellent case in point is this comment from near the end of his first installment:
That a man such as Francis is the Supreme Pontiff of the Church is terribly tragic. But, the fact that we can know he is the Pope is objectively good. Our faith in the formal unity of the Church cannot be shaken; truly nothing, including the gates of hell, will ever prevail against her.
(Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part I”; italics in original.)
Returning to the fantastic premise of a renegade non-Catholic in charge of the Church: Note that Mr. Folbrecht is saying that knowing Francis is legitimately reigning as Pope, no matter the grim circumstances, is a good thing. Never mind that he breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants, we can rest easy knowing that because Bergoglio is a valid Vicar of Christ, therefore the gates of hell won’t prevail. What?! Are we seriously to take solace in the “fact” that the man trashing the Church from the most influential possible position is truly invested with Christ’s authority and not a mere charlatan, and take this as proof of the fulfillment of Our Lord’s promise?!
Maybe Folbrecht should go back and read Cardinal Manning again, because that isn’t what he said: “…the Son of God shall permit, for a time, the powers of evil to prevail”. Far from having any consolation in the “fact” that Bergoglio is a “valid Pontiff”, what’s clear is that the way he’s a character in the Passion of the Church is as one of her chief persecutors. (Remember that we are talking about the same vile joker who has dared to besmirch the Catholic Church, which from Apostolic times has been called the holy and spotless Bride of Christ, as having been “surprised in flagrant adultery”.)
A much more cogent analysis of such a mystical Passion as it applies to our times — and based on what Cardinal Manning truly proposed on the matter — was published years ago on this very web site:
Manning explicitly identifies the Vicar of Christ with the Church, just as Christ Himself is identified in Holy Scripture with His Mystical Body (see Acts 9:4; Eph 5:23; Col 1:18,24), for the Pope is the visible head of the Church. And thus His Eminence states that “the Vicar of the Son of God is renewing the Passion of his Master upon earth” — notice, the Pope himself is the one who is suffering, he is not the one inflicting the suffering! —, and he goes on to attribute that persecution of (not by!) the Pope then to the entire Church: “…even so shall it be with His [Christ’s] Church: though for a time persecuted, and, to the eyes of man, overthrown and trampled on, dethroned, despoiled, mocked, and crushed, yet in that high time of triumph the gates of hell shall not prevail”! The Pope and the Church, ever united, are both suffering persecution at the hands of their enemies. Just as the Pope suffers, so does the Church; as he is persecuted, so is she as a whole (cf. 1 Cor 12:12,26). This should not cause any astonishment, for the Pope is not only a member of the Church but, as we said, even her visible head. The two are always and necessarily united, just as Christ is always and necessarily united to His Mystical Body.
(“On that ‘Passion of the Church’ Argument”, Novus Ordo Wire, Feb. 15, 2016; italics given.)
More recently, Fr. William Jenkins echoed the same understanding of the Passion of the Church when he reflected on the Modernists’ full-scale assault on the Church thus:
They’ve banked everything on Francis, which is why when Vigano spoke up against him, they had to suppress Vigano. They had to silence him, because Francis is their point man, he’s the man they’re counting on to see Vatican II through to its murderous end, to put the true Church in the tomb, as the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes conspired to put Christ in the tomb. Now, Francis and his buddies are all conspiring to actually put the Catholic Church — the true, the historic Catholic Church — in the tomb, roll the door to the tomb, seal it, and guard it, and make sure there’s no Resurrection. He’s making strides in that direction.
(Rev. William W. Jenkins in “Francis Wants World Police Force”, YouTube, 12:46-13:32)
What Folbrecht seems to want his readers to believe is that while Francis is enthusiastically advancing the aims of the “Death to the Church!” Modernist revolutionaries, he’s somehow ignorant of what he’s doing — a dupe materially spouting the heresies they seek to advance, a pawn or useful idiot who has limited culpability in executing the evil desires of his shadowy masters, desires which, if only he were aware of their true nature, he would immediately reject!
Pertinacity Revisited: The Latest Challenge to Francis Undercuts Folbrecht
As we demonstrated in Part 2 of our response, the notion of Bergoglio lacking pertinacity is simply untenable, and it is a position that’s even being abandoned by more and more semi-traditionalists. This step towards a more realistic appraisal of the ecclesiastical landscape was most recently manifested in the “Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church” from a group of Novus Ordo clergymen and academics, in which they accused “‘Pope’ Francis of being a pertinacious heretic and asking the addressees to declare him such and thereby remove him from office.”
What makes this apropos to the discussion at hand is that among the seven heresies they cite in coming to the conclusion of Francis being pertinacious, three contradict the Church’s Extraordinary Magisterium as exercised in the dogmatic canons of the Council of Trent. Also very worthy of note is that one of the signatories of the letter is none other than Brian M. McCall, Editor-in-Chief of Catholic Family News, the very publication that carried Mr. Folbrecht’s anti-pertinacity polemic. Oops!!
Incidentally, the three direct denials of dogma from the Church’s Extraordinary Magisterium the letter lists as being among the proofs of Bergoglio’s “comprehensive rejection of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexual activity, on the moral law, and on grace and the forgiveness of sins” are as follows:
I. A justified person has not the strength with God’s grace to carry out the objective demands of divine law, as though any of the commandments of God are impossible for the justified; or as meaning that God’s grace, when it produces justification in an individual, does not invariably and of its nature produce conversion from all serious sin, or is not sufficient for the conversion from all serious sin.
[Council of Trent, session 6, canon 18: “If anyone says that the commandments of God are are impossible to observe even for a man who is justified and established in grace, let him be anathema.]
II. A Christian believer can have full knowledge of a divine law and voluntarily choose to break it in a serious manner, but not be in a state of mortal sin as a result of this action.
[Council of Trent, session 6, canon 20: “If anyone says that a justified man, however perfect he may be, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and the Church but is only bound to believe, as if the Gospel were merely an absolute promise of eternal life without the condition that the commandments be observed, let him be anathema.”]
IV. Conscience can truly and rightly judge that sexual acts between persons who have contracted a civil marriage with each other, although one or both of them is sacramentally married to another person, can sometimes be morally right, or requested or even commanded by God.
[Council of Trent, session 24, canon 2: “If anyone says that it is lawful for Christians to have several wives at the same time, and that this is not forbidden by any divine law, let him be anathema.”]
(“Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church”, Easter Week, 2019, pp. 1-2)
While on the subject of pertinacity, there’s a bit more ground to cover. In the previous part of our rebuttal we demonstrated — contrary to the protestations of Folbrecht, who’s insisted Francis hasn’t been contumacious in his denial of dogmas — that precisely the opposite is the case, as has been seen in his blasé shrug that he didn’t know (or care) whether a statement he was about to make was a heresy (it was, and he said it approvingly), his non-response to the dubia, the Correctio Filialis, and other such attempted interventions, and his assertion that a heretical interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is the only proper one and constitutes “Authentic Magisterium”.
Then, with the Open Letter Francis tried a different tack than with the dubia et al. Instead of ignoring it altogether, when pressed by a reporter in a May 28, 2019 interview, he simply laughed it off, saying he’d pray for his accusers, who he claimed were wrong and manipulated. At no time, of course, did he answer the charges credibly made against him in anything remotely resembling a direct and substantial manner. Most ludicrously, he even went so far as to fashion himself a doctrinal “conservative”, declaring: “I have always defended doctrine.”
Yet, master of contradiction that he is, that interview came less than a week after he had told Caritas Internationalis in a sermon that the Church must have the “courage” to “let go” of her traditions. In a column regarding that homily, Gloria.TV observed:
Then Francis fantasized that the early Christians did not need a “pile of doctrines and traditions” but only the announcement that “God is love,” disregarding that Catholic doctrine cannot be and never was reduced to a slogan.
Francis speculated that Christ didn’t tell his disciples many things so that the Church would learn “to renounce the desire for clarity and order.”
That’s not true either: Christ promised his apostles the Holy Spirit who would teach them “everything” while confusion and disorder are signs of the devil.
(“Francis: Church Must ‘Let Go’ [of] Her Traditions”, Gloria TV, May 25, 2019)
So, following Francis’ sad excuse for logic, the best way to “defend doctrine” is to assure people that they don’t need “a pile of doctrines and traditions”. We cannot stress enough that this seeming confusedness of his is anything but mental disarray; it is calculated deviousness, as has been seen on numerous occasions — which is yet another sign of pertinacity. By appearing to be confused himself, Francis successfully confuses others!
It is in fact the same stratagem of eschewing “clarity and order” that we were warned about a little over a century ago by Pope St. Pius X:
It is one of the cleverest devices of the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement, in a scattered and disjointed manner, so as to make it appear as if their minds were in doubt or hesitation, whereas in reality they are quite fixed and steadfast.
(Pope Pius X, Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, n. 4)
It is good that the Open Letter signifies a greater concern over the destruction Francis is heading up, misguided as the concern is in many respects. But neither it, nor the dubia, nor the Correctio Filialis, nor any of the other interventions are required for him to demonstrate his pertinacity, for warnings are only needed when there is reason to believe the offender might not be aware of the heterodox nature of a given statement. The mistaken claim that the Church requires such admonitions in all cases comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of why such cautions are issued in the first place, and that’s simply to ensure that the offender is aware that his error deviates from the Magisterium. But for one who is presumed to know those teachings — for example, because he is obliged to know them by virtue of the office he holds — no such caution is necessary.
Such is the teaching of Fr. Juan de Lugo (1583-1660), a Spanish Jesuit and cardinal who is described in The Catholic Encyclopedia (s.v. “John de Lugo”) as “one of the most eminent theologians of modern times”, such that “St. Alphonsus de Ligouri does not hesitate to rank him immediately after St. Thomas Aquinas, ‘post S. Thomam facile princeps’, and Benedict XIV calls him ‘a light of the Church’”. Further, “in many dogmatic or moral questions, the opinion of de Lugo is of preponderating value”.
On the subject of pertinacity, in the following extended passage, Cardinal de Lugo thoroughly demolishes the oft-used “two warnings” argument and gives us all a deeper insight into the principles involved:
So the common and most true judgement of theologians teaches that there is no need for this warning, or for length of time or delay, for someone to become a heretic and incur the penalties of heretics, but that it is sufficient for him to embrace error with full deliberation and express what he sees to be at odds with the understanding and definition of the Church. This is taught by Suarez [reference given], Cajetan, Vasquez, Valentia and countless others quoted and followed by Sanchez [reference given] and Diana [reference given] who, on the authority of others whom he quotes, well remarks against Alciatus and others that not even in the external forum is a warning and preceding correction always required for someone to be punished as pertinacious and that this is not observed in the practice of the Holy Office. For if it be certain by some other means – for example, if the doctrine in question be well known, or if it be obvious from the kind of person and other circumstances involved – that the accused person could not have been ignorant of the opposition of his doctrine to that of the Church, he will automatically be judged a heretic. The reason he is asked in his trial whether he knew that his view was contrary to the doctrine of the Church, is that, if he admits that he did, he will already be thought sufficiently to have confessed heresy and pertinacity.
The reason for this is clear: the external warning can serve only to ensure that the erring party become aware of the opposition between his error and the doctrine of the Church. So if he knows the whole subject much better himself from books and conciliar definitions than he could from the words of anyone admonishing him, there is no reason for a warning to be necessary for him to be pertinacious against the Church. Neither is any length of time necessary for this, because the authority and mind of the Church can be known very quickly and no less quickly deliberately rejected, as takes place in the case of other sins.
Good evidence of this is adduced from the contrary act – the act of faith – which a man can elicit very quickly, reverently submitting himself to the Church and embracing her teaching. Seeing that the nature of contraries is the same, no more time is required for a man pertinaciously to withdraw from the Church than constantly and most firmly to adhere to her. Nor is this contradicted by the words of St. Paul which are alleged in opposition; on the contrary, as Suarez remarks, they imply that the individual in question is already a heretic before the warning, because he says: “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second warning avoid.” The warning is required, therefore, to justify our separating ourselves from him – his incorrigibility being established by the warning – lest we endanger ourselves and waste our efforts with no hope of recovering him. We may add that this text is addressed to Titus, who, as he was a bishop, had to seek after wandering sheep after the manner of a shepherd in order to bring them back to the fold of the Church. But to private individuals it will often be more salutary to avoid a heretic straight away if they know that he sins not through ignorance but through malice; for they must look to their own good and beware lest, wishing to heal him, they expose themselves to danger of infection. Finally, in the same sense, St. Augustine, at the place quoted above, teaches that the heresy of one who has rejected correction is sufficiently certain, because before correction he could have excused himself on the pretext of ignorance, sometimes dishonestly and sometimes truly.
(Cardinal John de Lugo, Disputationes Scholasticae et Morales, Disp. XX, De Virtute Fidei Divinæ, n. 5. Translated by John S. Daly. Excerpted in “Cardinal De Lugo On Heresy”, Romeward; italics and bold print given.)
What Cardinal de Lugo writes here is yet another and even more powerful confirmation of the grounds for pertinacity we laid out in Part 2. In summary, based on the above passage, Jorge Mario Bergoglio qualifies as not needing to be warned of his numerous public heresies, since:
- the doctrines in question are well known
- he is someone who by virtue of his position could not reasonably be presumed to be lacking such knowledge, because
- the books, conciliar documents, and other magisterial readings are readily available to him
- consequently, he would necessarily be cognizant of the deliberate opposition of his stated beliefs with the dogmas of the Church, and hence be immediately and rightly recognized as a formal heretic
So, if Mr. Folbrecht wants to adopt a true position of recognize-and-resist, it should be one that recognizes Francis for what he really is, which is a man who is not a Catholic, and, therefore, not the Pope; and that resists him tenaciously as a usurper, not worthy of even the half-hearted support seen throughout this Catholic Family News article series.
It’s getting old: Presenting the “Not Infallible” Red Herring yet again!
One of the most hackneyed “proofs” to which R&R proponents continue to appeal as a justification for their resistance position is that of non-infallible papal statements. In a section entitled “Infallibility and Assent” in Part II of his article series, Folbrecht insists on dusting it off once more:
In my experience, those who make the claim that “what’s happening now should not be possible” are never precise in their assertion. Rather than relying on actual Church teaching, their basis is some internal sense that the Pope “shouldn’t be allowed to say things like this.” However, such internal, subjective, emotional hunches are not what drive the reality of the Church.
First, it is good to distinguish between the possibility of error in a given statement versus the Catholic requirement to give assent to it. These are related but quite distinct.
Regarding the former, it is a tautology to say that a teaching that is not infallible can be erroneous – the charism of infallibility is exactly the protection from error.
(Paul Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part II”, Catholic Family News, Nov. 9, 2018; italics in original.)
Hoo boy, now he wants to lecture us on being precise! Is he serious? This is the same man who in the same second installment makes the totally unsubstantiated — and, in the final analysis, quite false — claim that Sedevacantists “routinely” promote the “very naïve error” that the internal sin of heresy can sever a churchman from his public office; when, in fact, we maintain the exact opposite, for along with St. Robert Bellarmine, we steadfastly assert that to lose office, it is not sufficient that said heresy be merely internal; rather it must be external and manifest (see, for example, this blog post published in 2007). This was explained at some length in Part 2 of this rebuttal series (see subheading “Folbrecht’s Misguided Excursion into the Internal Sin of Heresy Argument”). Thus, if Folbrecht wants to credibly give a lesson in precision, he ought first to look into practicing it himself.
In the above passage, the author says Sedevacantists aren’t using Church teaching to prove their case that the current situation would be impossible if Francis were a true Pope. Rather, so the accusation goes, we rely on “internal, subjective, emotional hunches”. Unfortunately, he didn’t consider it necessary to provide any documentation for his charge — we will thus return the favor by considering it equally unnecessary to rebut it. What is gratuitously asserted is gratuitously denied, after all.
In Sacred Theology, carelessness and imprecision can quickly lead to serious error, and of that the section in question is a sterling example. When discussing the Magisterium, the safest course is to begin with what the Church actually says, and only then turn to what theologians have written, since their task is to explain the magisterial teaching. Unfortunately, Mr. Folbrecht doesn’t proceed that way for his presentation of the First Vatican Council’s definition of the dogma of papal infallibility, though he does give that impression to readers who fail to check his footnote.
What he presents instead is a remark by Fr. Ludwig Ott (1906-85) about the dogma of papal infallibility, taken from his 1952 edition of Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma; yet the way he introduces it (immediately preceding it with: “The Church, of course, formally dogmatized papal infallibility at Vatican Council I”) makes it appear as though it were a direct quote from that council.
This is the quote in question:
The condition of the Infallibility is that the Pope speaks ex cathedra. For this is required: (a) That he speak as pastor and teacher of all the faithful with the full weight of his supreme apostolic authority; if he speaks as a private theologian or as the Bishop of his Diocese, he is not infallible; (b) that he have the intention of deciding finally a teaching of Faith or Morals, so that it is to be held by all the faithful. Without this intention, which must be made clear in the formulation, or by the circumstances, a decision ex cathedra is not complete. Most of the doctrinal expressions made by Popes in their Encyclicals are not decisions ex cathedra.
Readers that are well-versed in the language of official Church documents would know right away that this is not a verbatim quote from Vatican I; many others, however, might not realize that because he does not bother to mention Fr. Ott at this particular point in the body of the article, but only in a footnote that many won’t bother to consult. In any case, the initial impression given is that this is a direct quote from the council’s dogmatic constitution, rather than merely one of a total of four explanatory points made by a theologian “[f]or the proper understanding of the dogma” (p. 287; italics added).
Not that Ott’s remarks are incorrect — in fact, they convey the sense of the conciliar decree quite accurately. Rather, the problem comes from a few words not found in the original that the theologian has added, no doubt to clarify, but which have confounded Folbrecht.
Let’s inspect the exact wording that Vatican I uses in its teaching on when the Pope is protected by the charism of infallibility: “…when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when carrying out the duty of the pastor and teacher of all Christians by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church…” (Denz. 1839; Latin original reads: “…cum ex Cathedra loquitur, id est, cum omnium Christianorum Pastoris et Doctoris munere fungens, pro suprema sua Apostolica auctoritate doctrinam de fide vel moribus ab universa Ecclesia tenendam definit…”).
There is no mention of “private theologian” with which the Pope’s speaking as Supreme Pontiff and with the full weight of his authority is contrasted — though it is precisely in that dichotomy that Folbrecht’s confusion is to be found. Our R&R author extrapolates from Ott’s gloss something that isn’t there, namely, that if the Pope is not “carrying out the duty of the pastor and teacher of all Christians by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority”, he necessarily speaks only “as a private theologian”; as though there were either supreme apostolic authority or no apostolic authority at all, without anything in between. In other words, Folbrecht thinks the Pope either speaks infallibly or he doesn’t even speak as Pope at all but only as a private theologian no different in essence from your local seminary professor.
Adding to his difficulty are the additional sources Folbrecht used to arrive at his erroneous conclusion — St. Robert Bellarmine and Arnaldo Xavier da Silveira — whom he wrongly believes are supporting his case, when in reality they provide no validation for it.
Let’s first take a look at the passage of St. Robert’s in question, precisely as it is quoted in Part II of “Finding Peace in the Crisis”:
With these things being noted, all Catholics and all the heretics [non-Catholics] agree on two things. Firstly, that the Pontiff, even as Pontiff, can err in particular controversies of fact, even together with a general Council, because these depend especially on the testimonies of men. Secondly, the Pope can err as a private teacher from ignorance, even in universal questions of law concerning both faith and morals, just as what happens to other teachers.
(St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book IV, Chapter 2; qtd. in Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part II”; italics Folbrecht’s.)
This “proof text” of Mr. Folbrecht’s is rather weak for his purpose because “controversies of fact” don’t touch on dogma. And then there’s that pesky matter of the full context of the Bellarmine quotation that has conveniently been passed over, for the saint knocks over the very edifice the Catholic Family News article had sought to establish:
Next, all Catholics agree on two other things, but only amongst themselves and not with the heretics. Firstly, the Pope with a general Council cannot err when he issues decrees of faith or general precepts of morals. Secondly, the Pope, by himself or with a particular Council, while stating something in a doubtful matter, whether he could err or not, must be obediently heard by all the faithful.
(St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book IV, Chapter 2; in Ryan Grant, trans., On the Roman Pontiff, vol. II [Mediatrix Press, 2016], p. 150; underlining added.)
So, assent is required by Catholics when a legitimate Pope pronounces authoritatively on a subject — note that here St. Robert says nothing about the Pope as a mere “private teacher” — even when it is not given ex cathedra. However, this is not simply the common opinion of theologians, it is also part of the magisterial pronouncements of the Church. In his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII instructs:
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. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 20; underlining added.)
Here, His Holiness was reiterating what his predecessor, Pope Pius IX, had taught nearly one hundred years before. In his 1864 “Syllabus of Errors”, the Pope had listed the following condemned proposition:
The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church.
(Pope Pius IX, “Syllabus of Errors”, error n. 22)
The source for this condemnation is his own letter to the Archbishop of Munich and Freising (Tuas Libenter of Dec. 21, 1863), and the relevant passage will be reproduced here in full, because it forcefully demonstrates how removed from the mind of the Church is the erroneous opinion on the subject so stubbornly clung to by Folbrecht and others of his persuasion:
Indeed, We honor with due praise the men of this same convention [of a theological and philosophical society] because, rejecting, as We think, the false distinction between philosopher and philosophy, about which We have spoken in our other letter to you, they have realized and professed that all Catholics in their learned interpretations should in conscience obey the dogmatic decrees of the infallible Catholic Church.
While, in truth, We laud these men with due praise because they professed the truth which necessarily arises from their obligation to the Catholic faith, We wish to persuade Ourselves that they did not wish to confine the obligation, by which Catholic teachers and writers are absolutely bound, only to those decrees which are set forth by the infallible judgment of the Church as dogmas of faith to be believed by all. And We persuade Ourselves, also, that they did not wish to declare that that perfect adhesion to revealed truths, which they recognized as absolutely necessary to attain true progress in the sciences and to refute errors, could be obtained if faith and obedience were given only to the dogmas expressly defined by the Church. For, even if it were a matter concerning that subjection which is to be manifested by an act of divine faith, nevertheless, it would not have to be limited to those matters which have been defined by express decrees of the ecumenical Councils, or of the Roman Pontiffs and of this See, but would have to be extended also to those matters which are handed down as divinely revealed by the ordinary teaching power of the whole Church spread throughout the world, and therefore, by universal and common [Latin original says constanti, i.e. constant] consent are held by Catholic theologians to belong to faith.
But, since it is a matter of that subjection by which in conscience all those Catholics are bound who work in the speculative sciences, in order that they may bring new advantages to the Church by their writings, on that account, then, the men of that same convention should recognize that it is not sufficient for learned Catholics to accept and revere the aforesaid dogmas of the Church, but that it is also necessary to subject themselves to the decisions pertaining to doctrine which are issued by the Pontifical Congregations, and also to those forms of doctrine which are held by the common and constant consent of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions, so certain that opinions opposed to these same forms of doctrine, although they cannot be called heretical, nevertheless deserve some theological censure.
(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Tuas Libenter; Denz. 1682-1684; underlining added.)
No one should make the mistaken assumption that the obligations spelled out here by His Holiness pertain only to “learned” Catholics. He singles them out in this case only because certain academics of the age were rebelling against the authority of the Vatican. Pope Pius says elsewhere in the letter that “Catholics of this sort are unhappily deceived, and often agree with those who decry and protest against the decrees of this Apostolic See…” (Denz. 1679). But there is no point in belaboring what should be obvious: All Catholics are bound by the same requirement of “subjection … in conscience” to the Church’s authority, such that they not only “accept and revere the … dogmas of the Church” but also “subject themselves to the decisions pertaining to doctrine which are issued by the Pontifical Congregations, and also to those forms of doctrine which are held by the common and constant consent of Catholics as theological truths and conclusions…”.
In true Catholicism, the faithful have no business scrutinizing what comes from the Holy See to determine if it’s in conflict with the Creed, as Pope Pius XII reminded the Jesuits: “…let there be no room for that ‘free examination’ more fitting to the heterodox mentality than to the pride of the Christian, and according to which no one hesitates to summon before the tribunal of his own judgment even those things which have their origin in the Apostolic See” (Allocution of Sept. 10, 1957; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 1483). This is no problem because with a true Pope in office, doctrinal safety — not necessarily infallibility — is always guaranteed.
Theoretically, then, if Bergoglio were a valid pontiff, such official (not private) documents as Amoris Laetitia, though not infallible in nature, could nonetheless be counted on in the highest degree to be consonant with prior dogmatic teachings, and accepted as such without the slightest hesitation by Catholics. In fact, such acceptance would be obligatory. Likewise, when he declared an interpretation of it to be the only correct one and had it added to his own “Authentic Magisterium”, that, too, would be a pledge of orthodoxy, an assurance to end any lingering doubts.
The very fact that Amoris Laetitia has met with such strenuous opposition on doctrinal grounds as clearly deviating from the Faith, even by many in the recognize-and-resist camp, ought to give Folbrecht considerable pause before continuing to advance such an untenable, self-defeating position.
Next, our R&R author quotes from The Theological Hypothesis of a Heretical Pope, a book by the Brazilian jurist Arnaldo da Silveira, published originally in Portuguese in 1970 and recently released in English:
On studying the question of a Pope heretic, both the ancients as well as the moderns have considered only two kinds of Papal acts: the infallible pronouncements, and the private ones. The official but not infallible documents do not appear to exist.
(Arnaldo Xavier da Silveira; qtd. in Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part II”; italics Folbrecht’s. The recently-published English edition has this quote on p. 165; the manuscript Folbrecht used has it on p. 197.)
Yet here again, as with the Bellarmine quote, following over to the next paragraph puts this in a somewhat different light than the one presented above:
Note the argument of [Dominicus] Soto: The Pope cannot err as Pope, that is, on defining an article of faith, because the Holy Spirit will not permit it; but he can err as a private person. – The great Dominican did not consider the third hypothesis: that of the Pope who makes a pronouncement as Pope, but without defining an article of faith.
That there is a third category of papal teaching — non-infallible but official and not private — is very much acknowledged by da Silveira. Thus, in the passage cited by Folbrecht, he isn’t asserting that official but fallible papal documents don’t exist, which seems to be inferred in the article, but only that they “do not appear to exist” — a preliminary conclusion he proceeds to qualify a few paragraphs later, when he says: “Undoubtedly, one would not be able to admit that the theologians in general have purely and simply left out the existence of official non-infallible Pontifical documents. Nor is this the affirmation which we make“; and he points out that “even the writings which have the gap pointed out [i.e. which do not address the topic of such non-infallible but official documents] admit somewhere the existence of official non-infallible Pontifical documents” (Can a Pope be a Heretic? The Theological Hypothesis of a Heretical Pope [Portugal: Caminhos Romanos, 2018], p. 168; italics added; the manuscript Folbrecht used has this on p. 199).
Besides, non-infallible but nevertheless quite official (and not private) papal teachings are what Pope Pius XII refers to in Humani Generis when he speaks of those writings in which “the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority” (n. 20).
From his false premise Mr. Folbrecht argues that everything — and we do mean everything — that comes from Novus Ordo “Popes” (and by extension, real Popes, too) that isn’t solemnly defining a dogma or condemning an error definitively, may be dismissed by the faithful as they see fit:
So, the Pope is a “private teacher” in the theological sense any time he is not defining a doctrine – this, as noted above, puts all of Pope Francis’ documents and statements in that category.
It is certainly apparent that there is no Church teaching that Catholics must give unqualified assent to all papal statements. Such a teaching would do great violence to basic logic, given that is it [sic — he seems to have meant “it is”] acknowledged that not all such statements are protected from error.
(Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part II”; italics given.)
To defend his recognize-and-reject stand of refusing to accept those parts of Francis’s Novus Ordo “Magisterium” that don’t suit him, Folbrecht invokes Fr. Ott again to show that full assent isn’t always required to be given to ecclesiastical teachings, namely: “By way of exception the obligation of inner agreement may cease if a competent expert, after a renewed scientific investigation of all grounds, arrives with a positive conviction that the decision rests on an error” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 10; underlining added).
Although that may sound like a justification of the R&R position at first, it is no such thing, and for two reasons: First, because the exception applies only to competent theological experts who have rigorously studied the subject, and not to Folbrecht and his brigade of self-appointed internet apologists, much less their mere followers; and secondly, because whereas inner agreement may be suspended for a time until the Holy See has settled the matter, nevertheless an outward submission — or at least a respectful silence — must still be given. Does any R&R traditionalist outwardly adhere to the errors of the Vatican II Church? Hardly.
Perhaps Folbrecht should also have consulted the dogmatic theologian Mgr. Gerard van Noort, who speaks about this very subject at some length:
In fact, it can even happen that some expert in the field might have reasons so very serious and solid to the contrary that it would be licit for him to suspend all assent until infallible authority makes its intervention, meanwhile keeping a reverential silence. But this case, though possible, is certainly extremely rare….
(Mgr. G. van Noort, Dogmatic Theology III: The Sources of Revelation / Divine Faith [Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1961], n. 254; p. 275; italics given; underlining added.)
Is Folbrecht, master theologian that he is, “keeping a reverential silence” in the face of Novus Ordo teachings he disagrees with? To ask the question is to answer it.
So, let’s summarize: Whereas Folbrecht and his recognize-and-resist friends advocate an external and public resistance to non-infallible “papal” teachings that is not only permissible for anyone who considers himself a Catholic but even obligatory in many cases, the true pre-Vatican II teaching is that only competent doctrinal experts are sometimes (rarely!) merely permitted to withhold internal assent while outwardly at least not contradicting the teaching. What a difference attention to detail can make!
Next, our recognize-and-resist writer enlists the Benedictine Dom Paul Nau’s 1956 study The Ordinary Magisterium of the Church Theologically Considered in support of his R&R position:
Dom Paul Nau, O.S.B, summarizing the teaching of many authorities, describes the proper attitude of Catholics towards ecclesiastical teachings as “that of inward assent, not as of faith, but as of prudence, the refusal of which could not escape the mark of temerity, unless the doctrine rejected was an actual novelty of involved a manifest discordance between the pontifical affirmation and the doctrine which had hitherto been taught.”
(Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part II”; italics Folbrecht’s.)
Here, again, what we’re not being told is greater than what we are being told, for by no means did Nau mean to suggest that non-infallible papal teaching is to be subjected to each believer’s personal “Tradition test” to see if it passes for Catholicism — and if he finds it wanting, to reject it (such a position is sometimes quite appropriately referred to as “Denzinger Protestantism”).
First, let’s take a close look at what Nau is — and isn’t — actually saying. He is merely stating that the refusal of inward assent to a non-infallible Church teaching would not be temerarious if such a teaching were “an actual novelty” such that it “involved a manifest discordance” with what had been taught before. That’s all.
In a footnote he remarks that he does not believe such a scenario can be ruled out a priori because “it does not concern a formal definition”, though he adds that he is in agreement with the 17th-century Gallican theologian Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, who said that in his opinion such a thing “does not happen more than twice or thrice in a thousand years”. Then Nau proceeds to warn that the Pope’s teaching “always has the right to claim the benefit of any doubt”. All this can be reviewed in the Society of St. Pius X’s reprint of Nau’s study, cited below, on p. 29.
On this point the Benedictine’s argumentation appears to be quite weak and, judging from the fact that Nau seems to be the only pre-Vatican II theologian R&R apologists ever quote who explicitly posits the possibility of non-infallible papal teaching containing novelty that manifestly contradicts prior doctrine, perhaps unique to him. And in that case, what should prevent us from rejecting one theologian’s teaching on account of it being a novelty that contradicts Tradition?
In any case, further on Nau makes a point that flies squarely in Folbrecht’s face:
The most serious danger is not that of “overestimating the teachings of the Magisterium” but rather that of disturbing the confidence and adhesion of the faithful. It would be particularly dangerous to contrast the solemn Magisterium with the ordinary one, according to the too indiscriminating categories of fallible and infallible; so forgetting the wise warning which the Faculty of Paris gave in 1682:
Whatever opinion one may profess on the infallibility of the pope, it is just as disrespectful to proclaim publicly that he can be wrong, as to say to children: your parents may be lying to you.
What more reliable teacher could one put forward to those who wish to possess the exact doctrine of Christ than the one to whom the Master has affirmed: He who listens to you, listens to Me; on whom also He has built His Church so that it may remain unshaken till the end of time?
(Dom Paul Nau, “The Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church“, in Pope or Church? [Kansas City, MO: Angelus Press, 1998], pp. 36-37; underlining added.)
How come Folbrecht didn’t quote that portion from Nau?
Thus we reach the same conclusion as before: If Bergoglio were a true Pope, then a would-be magisterial-level document such as the “Apostolic Exhortation” Amoris Laetitia would require the submission of the faithful, that is, their true internal assent and not mere lip service. Although it would not be guaranteed to be free from all error, it would be guaranteed to be a safe guide for Catholics to follow and thus could not contain any heresies or anything that would lead Catholics into sin.
And therein lies the recognize-and-resist lobby’s crisis of faith in a nutshell, for the facts force them to acknowledge that Amoris Laetitia not only contains novelties but outright heresy and blasphemy, such that resistance to is not merely permissible internally but obligatory externally — and yet somehow all this is still considered to be the work of a legitimate Roman Pontiff.
It’s that overworked “it’s not infallible, so we don’t need to give assent” red herring that R&R apologists continue to drag along, despite the fact that Francis makes it all the more ludicrous an argument. If the Church could preach for 1,900 years that adultery is always a mortal sin and then suddenly declare that that may not be true in all cases, not only would such a church not be infallible, she would not even be credible. Any merely human institution could do better than that!
To conclude this section, to Mr. Folbrecht’s claim that “there is no Church teaching that Catholics must give unqualified assent to all papal statements”, we emphatically counter with the direct words of Pope Pius XII, who declared: “Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent…. 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]” (Humani Generis, n. 20).
Fruitless Appeals to Church Visibility and Union with her Leaders
We will pass over the concluding three sections of Part II of “Finding Peace in the Crisis” rather quickly, as they are brief and somewhat interlinked in thought. As should be evident by now, much of what the article presents is merely a recitation of the same tired old R&R argumentation that’s been refuted time and again.
In the first instance, the author attempts to smear Sedevacantists by portraying us as essentially modern-day versions of the Protestant “Reformers”:
Ott notes that the Council of Trent teaches “a visible sacrifice” and “a visible and external priesthood” in the Church, and that St. Peter was the “visible foundation” of the Church. He notes that, “[t]he visibility of the Church was denied by the Spiritualistic Sects of the Middle Ages, by Huss and the Reformers. According to Huss, the Church consists of the communion of the predestined. Calvin had held the same view. Luther taught that the Church is ‘the assembly of the saints’ (= the faithful) in which the Gospel is properly taught and the Sacraments are properly administered.”
In other words, the notion of an invisible Church is a (Protestant) heresy. He goes on to note that, “[t]he rejection of the hierarchy evidently led to the doctrine of the invisible Church.”
It is interesting that the Sedevacantists’ formal rejection of the present hierarchy has led them to the same material heresy.
(Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part II”. All quotes are from Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 301.)
True to form, at no point does Folbrecht cite any writings by Sedevacantists that deny Trent or Vatican I, the latter of which he quotes as teaching that in order to aid men in persevering in the true Faith and so reach eternal life, “God has instituted the Church through His only begotten Son, and has bestowed on it the manifest marks of that institution, that it may be recognized by all men as the Guardian and Teacher of the revealed Word” (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, Chapter 3; Denz. 1793; emphasis Folbrecht’s). Indeed, it would be difficult — nay, impossible — for him to cite such positions, since Sedevacantists obviously hold very much to the dogmas of those great councils (indeed, in the present article, we’ve cited both of them as obligatory for Catholics and foundational to our position).
For there to be a temporary eclipsing of the Church’s visibility before the Second Coming of Christ is in no way “material heresy”, as he would have his readers believe, but consistent with the teaching of the Church from her earliest days. And incredibly, this comes from one of the very sources to which Mr. Folbrecht appeals, to wit, Cardinal Manning, who wrote the following concerning the Passion of the Church:
Then, the Church shall be scattered, driven into the wilderness, and shall be for a time, as it was in the beginning, invisible, hidden in catacombs, in dens, in mountains, in lurking-places; for a time it shall be swept, as it were, from the face of the earth. Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers of the early centuries.
(Cardinal Henry E. Manning, The Present Crisis of the Holy See Tested by Prophecy [London: Burns & Lambert, 1861], p. 79; reprinted as The Pope & the Antichrist [Tradibooks, 2007], p. 74. Underlining added.)
What Fathers might His Eminence have had in mind? He does not specify; but since he references their “universal testimony”, he must mean that they are morally unanimous on the issue, meaning that virtually all of them give the same witness.
One of the four great Latin Fathers of the Church was Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604). In Book XXXIV, par. 7 of his Morals on the Book of Job, this great sainted Pope speaks not only of the possibility of a temporary eclipse of sound teaching, but of the absolute certainty that such a calamity will befall the Church during the end times. The particular context is seen in the book’s subtitle, “…chiefly with reference to the pride of the Devil, and the most cruel persecutions of Antichrist against the Saints”:
For by the awful course of the secret dispensation, before this Leviathan appears in that accursed man whom he assumes, signs of power are withdrawn from Holy Church. For prophecy is hidden, the grace of healings is taken away, the power of longer abstinence is weakened, the words of doctrine are silent, the prodigies of miracles are removed. And though the heavenly dispensation does not entirely withdraw them, yet it does not manifest them openly and in manifold ways as in former times.
So, are we to understand Mr. Folbrecht as likewise accusing Cardinal Manning and the Church Fathers of being crypto-Protestants, because like us Sedevacantists they postulated that the Church would be effectively “invisible” in a certain sense and that her “words of doctrine [would be] silent”, though only “for a time”? Note here that Cardinal Manning isn’t saying, nor are we, that the obscurity would be complete. Rather, we are talking about an eclipse similar to — though still considerably worse than — that of the Apostolic Age (“in the beginning”), when the light of the Church was greatly diminished by retreating to the catacombs and the wilderness, yet never fully extinguished — nor could it be, given Our Lord’s promise that the Church would perdure to the end of time. Surely, Folbrecht must know that what he’s saying is ridiculous.
Equally ridiculous is his implicit claim that the Vatican II religion currently headed by “Pope” Francis displays “the manifest marks” of the Church as noted by the First Vatican Council. In fact, none of those marks — one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic — would seem to apply to it. Rather, it far more resembles the heretico-schimatic Church of England with its three distinct and even contradictory beliefs and forms of worship — Anglo-Catholics (or High Church), Evangelicals (or Low Church), and Modernists (or Broad Church) — than it does the Roman Catholic Church that it unconvincingly pretends to be. Here are just three examples to prove the point. In the “Catholic Church” of Paul Folbrecht:
- One may attend the 1962 version of the Traditional Latin Mass (if the local “bishop” doesn’t object), a well-mannered Paul VI “Mass”, or a free-wheeling, openly irreverent spectacle, such as a “priest” dressed like a cowboy riding a bull down the center aisle of a church! (And, no, this isn’t so-called liturgical abuse, because after fifty years of such outrages unregulated and unpunished — a very lengthy article would be required to even begin to cite examples, including Bergoglio’s infamous “Tango Mass” — it’s clear that in the Counterfeit Church this “anything goes” mentality is systemic from the top down.)
- One is free to believe in the Catholic dogma of Transubstantiation, or in the heretical Mullerite idea of “Transcommunication”, or in the heretical Lutheran doctrine of Consubstantiation, as espoused by “Pope” Francis, despite the latter being anathematized in Canon 2 of the 13th session of the Council of Trent. (In terms of positions held in the Vatican II religion, the actual Catholic dogma is a minority position! That means most “Catholics” today are holding a view that was definitively condemned as heretical by the Church over 400 years ago, but in the Anglican-mimicking, pseudo-Catholic Novus Ordo Church, churchgoers are apparently free to choose their beliefs from a veritable Smörgåsbord of Doctrines table without fear of incurring even the slightest censure.)
- One is permitted to take either side on moral issues that don’t allow for any deviation from Church teaching, such as defending the life of the unborn versus supporting abortion “rights” or promoting/ funding the reprehensible practice as public policy. The latter is usually committed by politicians whose local ordinary doesn’t object too strenuously (if at all), and certainly no such politician is refused “Holy Communion”, still less is he ever excommunicated. Thus one must infer that one can simultaneously be a member in good standing in the Folbrecht “Catholic Church” and an enabler of abortionists. Yet more overt mockery of the true Faith!
We’d be interested in hearing Folbrecht explain our obligation to be in union with Bergoglio and the other leaders of the “Anglicanism Lite” sect he defends. Perhaps he can demonstrate how the facts about his oh-so visible church can be reconciled with the teachings of Trent and Vatican I or, for that matter, with Pope Leo XIII’s 1896 encyclical Satis Cognitum, where he quotes Saint Augustine: “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held” (n. 13).
The traditional sense of that formula is that to be regarded as holding to “the true Catholic Faith”, one must teach the necessity of holding “the Faith of Rome”. And what, precisely, is meant by the Faith of Rome? What could it be but the Holy See’s body of magisterial doctrines, the purity of which are principally maintained and guarded by the visible head of the Church, the Roman Pontiff?
Here is where there is an off-the-rails disconnect between what’s just been quoted, and the extreme credulity exhibited by Mr. Folbrecht, who seems to unquestioningly accept Modernists as validly representing the hierarchy by mere physical possession of church titles. If Catholics are to adhere to the Faith of Rome, where is that to be found?
Pointing to one of the examples just mentioned, is the Faith of Rome something that has changed from insisting, under pain of mortal sin and loss of Church membership, that the faithful believe in solemnly-defined dogmas, such as Transubstantiation, to making said belief merely optional, and one that even the “Pope” of Rome himself does not hold?
Hearing Folbrecht defend the apostate Vatican as the true Catholic Church and Francis as the true Pope is quite embarrassing, particularly this portion:
Unfortunately, the notion of an exemplary, orthodox Catholic who rejects formal union with the Pope is a contradiction in terms. “No Peter, No Church” – don’t recognize him and you’re not part of it, whether or not it is pleasant to do so. This is the Church Christ has given us, and today we have the Pope He has allowed us (no doubt as a punishment for decades of apostasy), like it or not.
(Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part II”)
This is a classic case of begging the question: Yes, of course Catholics must be in union with the Pope, but of course only insofar as there is a valid one reigning. Has this R&R master apologist not understood yet that we Sedevacantists refuse to be in communion with Bergoglio precisely because we are convinced — and can demonstrate — that he is not the Pope? As much as Catholics must submit to a true Pope, they have an equally grave obligation to refuse to accept a false one.
In addition to begging the question, Folbrecht is also misrepresenting the issue to an extent. He makes it appear as though “formal union with the Pope” consisted of nothing more than recognizing the man as the legitimate Vicar of Christ, no matter whether one accepts his teachings and laws or not. But of course this is nonsense. As Pope Pius XI taught, “in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors” (Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 11; underlining added); and St. Robert Bellarmine explained in De Romano Pontifice that “[t]hePope 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” (Book IV, Chapter 3; Grant translation).
Thus it is clear that with regard to the real meaning of the Catholic requirement of submission to the Pope, it is Folbrecht who doesn’t meet the requirements. We Sedevacantists, on the other hand, act quite in harmony with Catholic dogma, for we merely refuse submission to a man we say cannot be a legitimate Pope. Even those who are in disagreement with us about Francis’ status must agree that our course of action makes sense and is entirely consistent.
Telling people to recognize a man as Pope who is obviously hell-bent on snuffing out Faith, hope, and charity in souls, does not put Folbrecht in a good or safe place, however deludedly he may think otherwise. Faith and reason tell us that Francis is not a valid Pope, and he isn’t even convincing in the role. At least Benedict XVI went through some of the motions as he retained his core Modernism.
One of the most outrageous things Folbrecht writes in Part II is his claim that “[t]his is the Church Christ has given us”, as though the abominable Vatican II Sect were the holy Catholic Church instituted by Christ but being punished with Bergoglio “for decades of apostasy”! Well, who made sure there would be apostasy to begin with, an apostasy whose most ripened fruit is now the Francis reign of (t)error? Wasn’t that the “Popes” preceding him, especially “Saints” John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II?
Does Folbrecht ever listen to himself? How can an institution that’s been mired in decades of apostasy be the Catholic Church?! If the Faith has been lost for decades in the very organization that exists to preserve it, what does that say about the gates of hell prevailing? How could such a monstrosity be that church which Pope Leo XIII taught “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” (Apostolic Letter Annum Ingressi; underlining added).
Francis’s War on which Magisterium: Ordinary or Extraordinary?
Finally, we come to Mr. Folbrecht’s last installment, Part III of his article series “Finding Peace in the Crisis”. He opens it with “Ordinary Magisterium Violated?”, where he seriously maintains that whether or not Bergoglio is pertinacious in his heresies is something open to debate — an issue we covered near the end of Part 2 of our rebuttal series, and earlier in the present installment. The author writes:
An argument sometimes put forth is that this or that statement of the Pope constitutes heresy per a violation of some dogma of the Church’s Ordinary Universal Magisterium.
First, of course, whether or not a material heresy is actually formal (pertinacious – the sin of heresy) is another question, as is the Church’s judgement concerning pertinacity, as discussed in Part II of this series.
Furthermore, it should be noted that, apart from these things, determining the body of the infallible content of the OUM is not as easy as might be thought. The Catholic Encyclopedia makes this point regarding the OUM as an organ of infallibility:
“…while for subsequent ages down to our own day it continues to be theoretically true that the Church may, by the exercise of this ordinary teaching authority arrive at a final and infallible decision regarding doctrinal questions, it is true at the same time that in practice it may be impossible to prove conclusively that such unanimity as may exist has a strictly definitive value in any particular case, unless it has been embodied in a decree of an ecumenical council, or in the ex cathedra teaching of the pope, or, at least, in some definite formula such as the Athanasian Creed. Hence, for practical purposes and in so far as the special question of infallibility is concerned, we may neglect the so-called magisterium ordinarium (‘ordinary magisterium’) and confine our attention to ecumenical councils and the pope.” (Emphasis added)
The OUM, by definition, is universal across both time and space. For a doctrine to belong to this infallible organ, it must be demonstrable that it has been taught essentially “always and everywhere.”
(Paul Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part III”, Catholic Family News, Dec. 27, 2018; formatting given.)
So the Catholic Encyclopedia article states there may be times when it is impossible to reach unanimity on precisely whether this or that particular doctrine has strict definitive value (i.e., is infallible).
All well and good, but so what? Is Folbrecht trying to argue that the permanent validity of the Sixth Commandment, for example, which Francis denies in Amoris Laetitia, may not make the cut for “Ordinary Universal Magisterium”? The mere fact that it may sometimes be difficult to establish whether a certain doctrine meets all the requirements for OUM is irrelevant when we know Francis has denied doctrines that do meet the requirements — not to mention his continual denial of dogmas defined by the Church’s Extraordinary Magisterium (EM), something recognized, we recall, even by the non-sedevacantist signatories of the recent Open Letter denouncing Francis to the world’s Novus Ordo bishops for heresy.
It is curious that Folbrecht has apparently decided not to bother with the argument based on a violation of the Church’s EM (also called her Solemn Magisterium). Is it because that’s the real lockdown argument for which he has no comeback?
The EM is exercised in papal pronouncements given ex cathedra and in the dogmatic teachings of ecumenical councils approved by the Pope. Those doctrines do have a strict definitive value, as marked by those catchy, attention-getting little phrases like anathema sit (“let him be anathema”). Denial or even mere doubt of such teaching is punishable by excommunication. The wiggle room Folbrecht is quick to invoke with regard to the Ordinary Universal Magisterium, simply isn’t there for him to appeal to with the Extraordinary Magisterium.
Of course, at Novus Ordo Watch we don’t needlessly restrict our argument; in fact, while not dismissing the value of Francis’s attacks on other Church teaching, we usually go right to the EM, precisely because it is where the clear and definitive “Rome has spoken, the case is closed” dogmatic pronouncements are always to be found.
Care for some samples?
- HERESY: Francis says Martin Luther did not err on Justification
- HERESY: Francis directly contradicts Council of Trent again
- HERESY: Francis claims the Baptized cannot lose their Status as Children of God
- HERESY: Francis claims Jesus Christ had authority not because of Who He is but because of what He did!
- HERESY: Francis preaches “Ecumenism of Blood”
- Francis’ Subtle Heresy: Who is a True Christian?
- “God cannot be God without Man” – Francis’ Latest Heresy
- More “Papal” Heresy: Francis the Lutheran denies Catholic Dogma on Merit
- “Jesus becomes Bread”, “God contained in a Piece of Bread”: Francis’ Lutheran Corpus Christi
We will leave aside any lenghty discussion of Folbrecht’s claim that the OUM “by definition, is universal across both time and space“, which is not true — at least not in the sense in which he and his fellow-resisters mean it. It has been ably refuted by Cardinal Johann Franzelin:
- Deflating Another ‘Resistance’ Myth: Can we reject Magisterial Teaching if it wasn’t believed “always, everywhere, and by all”?
But, alas, there are still more errors in Part III that require our attention.
Folbrecht’s Novel Takes on Indefectibility and the Nature of the Papacy
The final two sections of Folbrecht’s article are “Perpetually Indefectible” and “The Key to Peace – A Properly Informed Intellect”. Of the first, we’ve dealt with the basic premise throughout our rebuttal but will touch on it just a bit more.
The author contends that despite all the issues,
…there is no doubt that, today, the Church’s supernatural nature is materially obscured. The sins of churchmen, the proliferation of novel, vague, and/or contradictory teachings, and the dilution and corruption of her liturgy serve to turn the face of the Church into something abhorrent, just as the Savior’s perfect countenance was horribly disfigured during His Passion.
But these things are unrelated to the Church’s formal reality, as the Church’s body of doctrine has not been disturbed, and the hierarchy is intact. The Church is visible via these things, especially the former, wherein her immutable beauty is and will always be unperturbed.
So, the Church remains indefectible, and as visible, formally, as ever.
(Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part III”)
Once again, he has to minimize left and right in order to keep the absurdity of his position from being too obvious:
- “novel, vague and/or contradictory teachings”? — Try heresies.
- “the dilution and corruption of her liturgy”? — Try the introduction of a non-Catholic, sacrilegious, blasphemous liturgy.
- “the Church’s body of doctrine has not been disturbed”? — Try post-Vatican II theology often involves a radical departure from pre-conciliar teachings, sometimes even to the point of apostasy.
- “the hierarchy is intact”? — Try a hierarchy that professes a different religion, and most of whom aren’t even sacramentally valid since Paul VI monkeyed around with the rite of episcopal consecration.
In short, how is any of this demonstrating indefectibility? Answer: Not very well.
But instead of citing Folbrecht further on this, let’s take a look at two magisterial teachings on the subject of indefectibility that were brought up by “Bishop” Athanasius Schneider last year, followed by our response:
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).
[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; italics given.]
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.
(“Against the ‘Loyal Opposition’: How Recognize-and-Resist Traditionalism neutralizes the Catholic Faith”, Novus Ordo Wire, Oct. 25, 2018; italics given.)
Again, Mr. Folbrecht, where are we supposed to see the Church’s indefectibility demonstrated in any of this? You follow a “Pope” — when it suits you — who doesn’t profess the Catholic Faith (or maybe he does in your version of “indefectibility” — you know, close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and the parts of the Creed that Bergoglio might in some way, sort of believe).
More seriously though, how is habitually refusing submission to the man you call “Holy Father” the proper behavior for a Catholic? And we’re not even talking about mere permission to refuse submission, which would be outrageous enough; no, we’re talking about an obligation to refuse submission, lest one be tainted with the man’s heresies and other errors and risk ending up — oh, the irony! — outside the Catholic Church!
To insist that Bergoglio is Pope but then deny him what Catholic doctrine affirms of the Papacy, is not only utter madness but also doctrinal poison — it is heresy!
If Francis is Pope, then you, Paul Folbrecht, are morally obliged to assent to any and all exercises of his Magisterium — fallible and infallible alike. And don’t think that a quote from Dom Paul Nau can free you from this obligation — if the Pope’s teaching doesn’t have to be submitted to, then neither does that of Dom Nau.
We recall the dogmatic pronouncement of Pope Boniface VIII in 1302: “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Bull Unam Sanctam).
And we can never forget the exhortation of Pope Leo XIII in 1885:
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. In this subordination and dependence lie the order and life of the Church; in it is to be found the indispensable condition of well-being and good government. On the contrary, if it should happen that those who have no right to do so should attribute authority to themselves, if they presume to become judges and teachers, if inferiors in the government of the universal Church attempt or try to exert an influence different from that of the supreme authority, there follows a reversal of the true order, many minds are thrown into confusion, and souls leave the right path.
Similarly, it is to give proof of a submission which is far from sincere to set up some kind of opposition between one Pontiff and another. Those who, faced with two differing directives, reject the present one to hold to the past, are not giving proof of obedience to the authority which has the right and duty to guide them; and in some ways they resemble those who, on receiving a condemnation, would wish to appeal to a future council, or to a Pope who is better informed.
(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua)
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the recognize-and-resist position!
The “Propely Informed Intellect” according to Folbrecht
But Folbrecht saves what is arguably his most spectacular jaw-drop moment for last, as he mentors his readers on how to have a properly informed [R&R] intellect. That section attempts to explain why we have nothing to fear from “Pope” Francis, nothing at all. To buttress his case, he quotes from Vatican I’s dogmatic constitution Pastor Aeternus in the same place as did “Bishop” Schneider in the passage cited above on how “[t]he See of Saint Peter remains always immune from every error…” (see Denz. 1836). But don’t let the appeal to such a lofty magisterial document fool you, because in no way is it going to be able to forestall the train wreck of an argument looming on the tracks straight ahead.
Prepare to be “properly informed”:
A large part of the key to maintaining peace today is to simply understand Church doctrine well enough to know that Pope Francis is not threatening the Church, formally, which is and will remain intact. Those who lack peace in the present crisis are largely those who lament, “This is not possible,” and despair because they believe the Church should not be able to suffer like this. Yet it is possible, and a full and proper understanding of what the Church teaches about her nature makes this clear.
Yet, the current Pope’s closest advisors brag that he not only fails to guard and expound the Deposit of Faith (Scripture and Tradition), but ignores it, preferring the novelty of his own “God of surprises” instead. Novelty has always been the mark of the heterodox, and thus it can be safely ignored.
In short, in terms of teaching, this Pope can be safely ignored in practice, personally, and resisted, publicly. We must acknowledge him as the formal head of the Body, but resist the heterodox interpretations of Amoris Laetitia, ignore the vague nonsense of Laudato Si, and the rest of his non-binding, non-Catholic novelty.
Instead of being driven to madness over the latest papal utterance that has no real bearing on the Faith, we must immerse ourselves in the traditional liturgy, the massive body of spiritual works of the great saints and mystics, and an intense prayer life.
Love for the Church compels us to oppose the Pope, materially, and love for the Church compels us to defend him, formally.
(Folbrecht, “Finding Peace in the Crisis, Part III”; italics given.)
To begin, we’ve already established beyond serious debate that Bergoglio is by every reasonable measure a pertinacious heretic, so he most emphatically does represent a formal threat to the Church. Folbrecht completely sidesteps this, focusing, rather, on him being a heterodox devotee of the “God of surprises”. Apparently, the evident fact that Francis does nothing to “guard and expound the Deposit of Faith” is only a minor annoyance for him, as are the “non-binding, non-Catholic novelty” items such as Laudato Si’ (“encyclical”) and Amoris Laetitia (“apostolic exhortation”).
Again, we’ve already addressed this fundamental misunderstanding of Church teaching that Folbrecht insists upon: If any of these documents had really come from a valid Roman Pontiff, they certainly would qualify as official papal documents constituting part of the Magisterium, and hence, would be binding on the faithful, who would be obliged to give them true internal assent, not blow them off with an R&R shrug as being just “the latest papal utterance that has no real bearing on the Faith”.
A large part of maintaining peace in today’s crisis, says the R&R apologist, is “to simply understand Church doctrine”. Well, that’s something he sadly doesn’t understand, for, to repeat the words of Pope Leo XIII: “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….” (Epistola Tua; italics added).
The thrust of Folbrecht’s conclusion is the standard recognize-and-resist fare; namely, that as grim as the situation is for today’s Catholics, it’s not without historical precedent and even has been warned about by the Church in ages past — in other words, there is no reason to panic. Rather, it is imperative that Catholics be firm in their commitment to uphold the legitimacy of Francis’s “papacy”, as nothing he has said or done changes that fact that he is a valid Pontiff, and, objectively speaking, it is a mortal sin for the faithful to say otherwise about him.
Surely this nonsense does not require further refutation.
“Peace, peace: when there was no peace”! (Jer 8:11)
“Fear not!” These familiar words were addressed by the Archangel Gabriel to allay any possible uneasiness on the part of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the time of the Annunciation (see Lk 1:30). And in the present context its borrowed sense sounds a lot like Paul Folbrecht’s appeal to find peace in the crisis.
Coincidentally, it is this accommodated sense that Dr. Peter Chojnowski, in the course of his ongoing stalwart work in proving that Fatima seer Sister Lúcia (Lucy) had been replaced by a double by the 1960s, uses in his remarks about “Pope Saint” John Paul II’s 1994 book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope:
The ironic handwritten message on this book, which I reviewed back in the 90s but have picked up again, says BE NOT AFRAID! Unfortunately that is EXACTLY what we are when we read anything from JPII! Here we find out that he himself endorses the view that, well Fatima was about him and his own “efforts” “against” Soviet Russia — and the “conversion” of Russia meant — I suppose turning it into a weak, democratic, liberal, secular state, like it was under Boris Yeltsin of infamous drunken memory.
(Peter Chojnowski, “In His Own Words: John Paul II Wrote that The Consecration and Conversion of Russia Had Already Happened, the Immaculate Heart Had Triumphed already and Fatima was About Him and His Papacy and the Assassination Attempt Against Him — All the Way Back in 1994!”, RadTrad Thomist, June 28, 2019)
Yes, Dr. Chojnowski gets it exactly right. Considering the tremendous harm for which John Paul II was responsible, his use of “Be not afraid!” is darkly ironic. Indeed, his attacks against the Faith are easily on par with those of Bergoglio. Here are a handful of his heresies and apostasies, from a much, much larger list that could be assembled:
- At Vatican II he said the Church ought not to teach the world but “seek in common” with it
- In Catechesi Tradendae he said God uses false religions as “means of salvation”
- His revised Code of Canon Law errs on marriage and sacraments for non-Catholics
- At his 1986 World Day of Prayer for Peace at Assisi, the prayers of all religions were held as equal
- His Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “the Old Covenant was never revoked”
- In 1999, he infamously kissed the Muslim Koran, which contains blasphemy against the Holy Trinity
For details, please see the Novus Ordo Watch topical page:
These are just some of the many grievous errors from the man that many absurdly revere as “the Great”. But, of course, there’s a wide divergence of opinion in the Counterfeit Church as to whether John Paul II even qualifies as a saint at all. In fact, according to a certain faction within R&R, no one is obliged (or permitted?) to accept his canonization, given the “fallible” nature of such a pronouncement, as well as irregularities in the reformed vetting process for the causes of saints — a reform, by the way, that was set in motion by none other than the Koran-kissing “saint” himself in the “Apostolic Constitution” Divinus Perfectionis Magister from 1983.
This is illustrative of what’s been discussed throughout our article, for John Paul II induced a very dangerous tranquility into the minds of his adherents, as he substituted for the true Faith a new set of ersatz beliefs that he and other Modernist change agents had been developing during and after the disastrous Second Vatican Council.
Folbrecht and his co-religionists cannot even reach consensus as to whether they should: (1) venerate the man’s lifework as a brave affirmation of how the Church should work to coexist with the modern world in the spirit of that other “saint”, John XXIII; (2) decry it for representing a radical departure from Tradition; or (3) claim it belongs in a hitherto unknown middle ground category that’s somehow both Catholic and non-Catholic at the same time — as exemplified, for example, in the SSPX’s simultaneous acceptance and rejection of John Paul II’s revised Code of Canon Law: “We must … be ready not to accept all its ‘laws,’ but only those which do not evidently compromise Catholic teaching on faith or morals”.
This dilemma of theirs is still further evidence that the Vatican II Church is not Catholic, but rather a quasi-Anglican construct that, like its prototype, that of King Henry VIII’s 16th-century breakaway sect, is given to wild disparity on central points of doctrine, law, and worship that would be beyond debate in the real Roman Catholic Church.
In the SSPX’s quizzical and equivocal stand on the Novus Ordo Code of Canon Law we must note that it’s an example of a recognize-and-resist group inventing its own novel “solution” of synthesizing opposites by effectively devising a new designation of sorts, as they consider the John Paul II Code “semi-orthodox” — Catholic in some places, while heretical or at least erroneous in others, as though mixing orthodoxy with heresy would not yield heresy but “half-orthodoxy”, in contradiction to the clear teaching of Pope Benedict XV that the Faith does not exist in elements: “Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected…” (Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 24).
Furthermore, flowing directly from this confused muddle is the equally scandalous conclusion that this new Code of Canon Law, which was promulgated to the universal church by John Paul II “with the supreme authority with which I am vested”, contains laws that are harmful to souls. That is a denial of the Church’s indefectibility — if we believe that the man was a true Pope and his heretical club the Roman Catholic Church.
As noted already, it will be recalled that at the beginning of Part I of “Finding Peace in the Crisis” Paul Folbrecht used the incident of Our Lord Jesus Christ calming a great tempest at sea, as recounted in Mt 8:23-26, as an analogy for how Catholics should turn to God for peace in the Church’s current travails. While there’s some validity to using it, Folbrecht misses the extent of the crisis by his insistence on taking a rose-colored-glasses approach that minimizes (and thereby necessarily distorts) exactly what’s going on.
He consistently approaches the situation as though everything in the Church were the way it’s always been, and that there hasn’t been a hostile takeover by the enemies of Christ. Sure, he brings it up in passing but conveniently views the antagonists as merely being in “material heresy”, so not to worry. Yet this pooh-poohing shows him to be missing the true nature and severity of the situation, for far more apropos to our time is the following passage from the Old Testament on the impenitence of the Jews:
How do you say: We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Indeed the lying pen of the scribes hath wrought falsehood. The wise men are confounded, they are dismayed, and taken: for they have cast away the word of the Lord, and there is no wisdom in them. Therefore I will give their women to strangers, their fields to others for an inheritance: because from the least even to the greatest all follow covetousness: from the prophet even to the priest, all deal deceitfully. And they healed the breach of the daughter of my people disgracefully, saying Peace, peace: when there was no peace.
We are living in a time when the lying pens of scribes bring falsehoods such as Amoris Laetitia, the Word of the Lord has been cast away for fables, and deceitful dealing is coming from people who appear to be those in whom the faithful ought to be able to place their trust. Rather than imagining peace in the crisis, as Folbrecht would have it, timidity and resignation are not the answer, for “there is no peace”! The Church Militant must continually do battle “against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Eph 6:12), always on guard against “false apostles [who] are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2 Cor 11:13).
The present crisis isn’t merely of a greater degree of severity than those of ages past, but fundamentally different in kind. Unlike prior doctrinal assaults, this time the enemies of Christ have — through a centuries-old campaign of internal subversion — succeeded in seizing the hierarchical superstructure of the Church, not stopping until they reached the very dome of St. Peter’s Basilica itself. Then, once it was secure in their grasp, they proceeded to lay waste to one sacred tradition after another. If this isn’t the Great Apostasy foretold in Sacred Scripture, it will surely do until that apostasy gets here. Perhaps it’s the real thing, or perhaps it’s the dress rehearsal, but the present calamity dwarfs all the Church’s others, including Arianism, Photius’s schism, and the Protestant revolt taken together.
We know that Our Lord Jesus Christ has promised that His Church will remain until the very end of time: “…behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Mt 28:20); but we also know that He warned us that a time would come when that same Church would have dwindled in size and influence: “But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). That doesn’t sound like the scenario that Mr. Folbrecht believes is unfolding — you know, “just another crisis.” He fails to see that the Rome of the martyrs has been set afire once again, and like Emperor Nero of old, Francis is conducting the conflagration as he fiddles, all the while taking exceedingly great pleasure in the chaos and destruction he’s unleashing — except that this time around, the arsonist in Rome claims to be a friend of the Catholics he’s persecuting.
And just as Nero ordered the crucifixion of Saint Peter, Bergoglio — to top off his many betrayals of the Petrine office — now, in a move described by some as an “ominous gesture”, gives relics of the first Pope to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, head of the “Orthodox” Church, the schismatic religion that broke from the Church by denying the primacy of St. Peter and his successors!
It’s time to look beyond Montini’s mere “smoke of Satan” and discover his flames as well — the very flames of Modernism that have gutted Catholicism from souls much in the way fire burned away the roof and interior of Notre Dame Cathedral during Holy Week earlier this year.
Paul Folbrecht is wrong to call for tranquility at this time, save for tranquility of soul (which is to be maintained at all times), just as he’s wrong about Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He and other recognize-and-resist adherents are making the Passion of the Church so much worse by their refusal to recognize the man for what he is and isn’t: He is a wolf and not the shepherd (cf. Jn 10:11-14,27).
Through the centuries Holy Mother Church has continued the use of that apt metaphor originally introduced by our Blessed Lord Himself. St. Francis de Sales noted: “It is a work of charity to shout: ‘Here is the wolf!’ when it enters the flock or anywhere else” (Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III, Chapter 29). St. Robert Bellarmine, precisely in the context of a heretic posing as Pope, declared: “…it would be the most miserable condition of the Church, if she should be compelled to recognize a wolf, manifestly prowling, for a shepherd” (De Romano Pontifice, Book II, Chapter 30; Grant translation). Pope Clement XIII exhorted his bishops: “Reveal to the faithful the wolves which are demolishing the Lord’s vineyard” (Encyclical Christianae Reipublicae). And the great Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany defended the use of this terminology, noting that “the wolf has always been called the wolf; and in so calling it, no one ever has believed that wrong was done to the flock and the shepherd” (Liberalism is a Sin, Chapter 20).
If anyone has left a trail of clues ten miles long to show that there is significant reason to reject, or at the very least, to have grave doubts about his claim to the Papacy, it’s the apostate from Buenos Aires. How much more manifest do Bergoglio’s prowls have to be? Once one gets past the white vestments and place of abode, the real puzzler isn’t how anyone could question him as Pope, but rather how anyone could even for a moment remotely imagine that he could be one! That he is held by so many to be the Pope is more evidence that Christ’s musing about whether He would find Faith on earth fits the present very precisely, and explains why He would also warn that the deception would be so great “as to deceive (if possible) even the elect” (Mt 24:24; cf. 2 Thess 2:10-11).
Far from the sit-back-and-do-nothing “solution” proposed by Folbrecht (“Don’t worry, Christ will take care of it!”), now is the time for all Catholics worthy of the name to redouble their prayers, sacrifices, and efforts to expose Francis and the pseudo-Catholic sect he leads. This is spiritual warfare, and it is myopic to believe otherwise. The sedevacantist position, as it turns out, is the true “recognize-and-resist” stand, as it were, because we recognize these charlatans for what they truly are and therefore resist them in the only manner that is truly effective and, even more importantly, truly in harmony with Catholic principles regarding submission to lawful Church authority.
“Unmasking the Modernist Vatican II Church” is the battle cry of Novus Ordo Watch. It encapsulates the firm conviction that the novel religion that has its theological foundation in the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) is an abominable counterfeit, Catholic in name alone. It is only when enough people start seeing that we’re dealing with a diabolical parasite that mimics its host, one that must be resisted — truly resisted — every step of the way, that the Church will be able to cast off her oppressor and awaken from this decades-long nightmare.
This can and will be achieved by drawing closer to our Blessed Lord through the patronage of His (and our) Blessed Mother, the Vanquisher of All Heresies, and by means of unceasing efforts to expose “Pope” Francis, his five predecessors, and the apostate Vatican II religion they have created and maintained.
We shall find our strength by ever recalling that as the Church is now following her Lord in His holy Passion, so she will likewise follow Him in His glorious Resurrection!
THIS CONCLUDES THE SERIES.
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