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Borrowing his way out of debt…

Denying the Papacy to affirm Francis is Pope:
John Salza’s Conundrum

Affirming that Jorge Bergoglio (Francis) is a legitimate and valid Roman Pontiff comes at a hefty price: One has to deny the Catholic doctrine on the Papacy in return. Our Francis Papacy Test illustrates this very well, but in this post we wish to focus specifically on something John Salza said in a live interview on YouTube that aired on November 7.

There is a lot that ought to be said about Salza’s claims in the interview, but since he merely made assertions and did not prove anything in the video, we will take the liberty of addressing only one particular issue: the Catholic’s obligation to submit to all papal teaching, not merely that which is infallible or has “always been taught.” This was squarely denied by Salza.

During the Q&A part of the interview, beginning at the 1:15:43 timestamp in the video, host Michael Lofton presented Salza with the question Novus Ordo Watch had submitted, namely:

“We hear a lot about the errors of the Vatican II ‘popes’ not being binding or authoritative. Is it permissible to adhere to these errors, though? Can one safely follow these ‘popes’?”

The point of this question was to make people aware that although Novus Ordo apologists like Salza always talk about the heresies and other errors as not being binding — as in: you don’t have to believe them — whereas their true position is really that these errors and heresies are not even permissible — as in: you’re not allowed to believe them. And that makes a huge difference. By analogy: It’s one thing to say one does not have to put money in the collection basket, and quite another to say one is not allowed to.

In any case, take a look at how Salza answers our question — the clip is cued up:

At first Salza emphasizes that the errors in question are not binding, although that was already conceded (for the sake of argument) in the question. The real issue being broached was: Are they permissible to adhere to? Is it safe to assent to these errors, even if they are not obligatory?

Salza does eventually address the issue saying that we “should not” accept the errors because they are contrary to Tradition. However, the men who Salza insists are definitely real Popes tell us that we must accept them and that they do not contradict the previous Magisterium! So, what is a Catholic supposed to do here? Follow the tax lawyer John Salza, who has no authority in the Novus Ordo Church whatsoever, or the man whom Salza tells us is the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth?

The traditional Roman Catholic doctrine — which Salza styles himself a proponent and defender of — holds that the faithful are to accept everything the Popes teach by the mere fact that they, who are the divinely-appointed teachers of all Christians, teach it. The following quotes from Pope Leo XIII’s Magisterium underscore this (all underlining added):

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.

…[I]t 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.

(Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua)

If in the difficult times in which Our lot is cast, Catholics will give ear to Us, as it behooves them to do, they will readily see what are the duties of each one in matters of opinion as well as action. As regards opinion, whatever the Roman Pontiffs have hitherto taught, or shall hereafter teach, must be held with a firm grasp of mind, and, so often as occasion requires, must be openly professed.

(Encyclical Immortale Dei, n. 41)

In defining the limits of the obedience owed to the pastors of souls, but most of all to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, it must not be supposed that it is only to be yielded in relation to dogmas of which the obstinate denial cannot be disjoined from the crime of heresy. Nay, further, it is not enough sincerely and firmly to assent to doctrines which, though not defined by any solemn pronouncement of the Church, are by her proposed to belief, as divinely revealed, in her common and universal teaching, and which the [First] Vatican Council declared are to be believed “with Catholic and divine faith.” But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the Apostolic See.

And how fitting it is that this should be so any one can easily perceive. For the things contained in the divine oracles have reference to God in part, and in part to man, and to whatever is necessary for the attainment of his eternal salvation. Now, both these, that is to say, what we are bound to believe and what we are obliged to do, are laid down, as we have stated, by the Church using her divine right, and in the Church by the supreme Pontiff.

Wherefore it belongs to the Pope to judge authoritatively what things the sacred oracles contain, as well as what doctrines are in harmony, and what in disagreement, with them; and also, for the same reason, to show forth what things are to be accepted as right, and what to be rejected as worthless; what it is necessary to do and what to avoid doing, in order to attain eternal salvation. For, otherwise, there would be no sure interpreter of the commands of God, nor would there be any safe guide showing man the way he should live.

(Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae, n. 24)

Wherefore, as appears from what has been said, Christ instituted in the Church a living, authoritative and permanent Magisterium, which by His own power He strengthened, by the Spirit of truth He taught, and by miracles confirmed. He willed and ordered, under the gravest penalties, that its teachings should be received as if they were His own.

(Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 9)

All these authoritative quotes are in direct and diametrical contradiction to the claims of John Salza.

Salza’s argument is that we ought to reject the false teachings (“novelties”) of Vatican II and the subsequent magisterium because they have been condemned by previous “higher and more authoritative teachings.” But as the quotes just presented show, the Church knows nothing of the faithful weighing rivaling magisterial pronouncements using their own private judgment against that of their lawful shepherds. Indeed, if ever there were a conflict, as Pope Leo says, the incumbent Pope would have to be obeyed, and no appeal could be made to a prior or future one.

This does not present a problem in the real Catholic Church, for she is guided by the Holy Ghost, and no reigning Pontiff could possibly teach any heresy or other error that would jeopardize souls. It is always safe to follow the Pope:

For the teaching authority of the Church, which in the divine wisdom was constituted on earth in order that revealed doctrines might remain intact for ever, and that they might be brought with ease and security to the knowledge of men, and which is daily exercised through the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops who are in communion with him, has also the office of defining, when it sees fit, any truth with solemn rites and decrees, whenever this is necessary either to oppose the errors or the attacks of heretics, or more clearly and in greater detail to stamp the minds of the faithful with the articles of sacred doctrine which have been explained.

(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 9)

Salza argues that the “higher and more authoritative teachings” in light of which we are to judge the Novus Ordo magisterium are truths which the Church has “always taught.” But this is misleading, for in the church he believes in, it is not true to say that the “Church has always taught” those things. To be straightforward and consistent, he ought to say that his church used to teach those things — but of course that would show the glaring absurdity of his position.

A church that no longer teaches the truth is not the Catholic Church, for, as Pope Pius IX taught, “in that Church truth must always continue firm and ever inaccessible to all change, as a deposit given to that Church to be guarded in its integrity, for the guardianship of which the presence and aid of the Holy Ghost have been promised to the Church for ever” (Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes). Likewise, Pope Leo XIII emphasized that “[t]his truth [God] communicates to His Church, guarding her by His all powerful help from ever falling into error…” (Encyclical Divinum Illud, n. 5). And Pope Pius XII made clear that the entire Truth of Christ is forever safeguarded by all legitimate Popes:

Mother Church, Catholic, Roman, which has remained faithful to the constitution received from her Divine Founder, which still stands firm today on the solidity of the rock on which his will erected her, possesses in the primacy of Peter and of his legitimate successors the assurance, guaranteed by the divine promises, of keeping and transmitting inviolate and in all its integrity through centuries and millennia to the very end of time, the entire sum of truth and grace contained in the redemptive mission of Christ.

(Allocution to the Consistory, June 2, 1944)

The Novus Ordo institution Salza calls the Catholic Church is a defected church and therefore a pseudo-church. It is an apostate sect. That is Salza’s church, not the Catholic Church we sedevacantists believe in.

In his response to our question, Salza gives the impression that Vatican II simply offered a bunch of doctrinal suggestions that the faithful are supposed to judge — and then reject — in light of Catholic dogma, as though it were the faithful’s job to evaluate an ecumenical council for errors rather than submit to its teachings and decrees. The very “Pope” Paul VI Salza invokes in support of his position said:

In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium which must be accepted with docility according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document.

(Paul VI, General Audience, Jan. 12, 1966; trans. by John S. Daly; underlining added.)

For more information on the binding nature of Vatican II (had it been promulgated by a true Pope), as well as the “pastoral council” red herring, please see John Daly’s article, “Did Vatican II Teach Infallibly? The Ordinary and Universal Magisterium”.

At another point in the video interview, Salza expressed his conviction that if sedevacantists are right, then there’s no clear answer on how we would ever recover the Chair of St. Peter. But this argument, too, cannot help him any, for if a public apostate like Francis can be Pope, then we don’t need a Chair of St. Peter. In fact, then the Papacy is one of the greatest dangers to Faith and morals facing Catholics. If in the end all of the faithful need to ensure the Pope does not mislead them but teaches “in accord with Tradition”, then instead of having a Pope, we should just have Tradition; instead of having one man at the top who can be a heretic, it would be safer to just have the orthodox “correcting cardinals” instead.

As Bp. Donald Sanborn wrote recently, the recognize-and-resist traditionalists are destroying the Papacy in order to save Francis. Their position is theological poison:

At bottom, this error does not differ from Protestantism, for it appeals to an authority — Tradition — over and above that of the pope. It differs from Protestantism only inasmuch as they appeal to Sacred Scripture over and above the pope. But just as the Church is the supreme interpreter of Sacred Scripture, so it is the supreme interpreter of Tradition. There would be no Tradition to appeal to if the Church, through its magisterium, had not proposed to us what the handed down word of God is.

(Most Rev. Donald J. Sanborn, “Destroying the papacy in order to save Bergoglio”, In Veritate, Oct. 27, 2019; italics given.)

There is another problem for Salza that he has apparently never considered: If Francis being a manifest heretic (and thus no longer Pope) is dependent on bishops and/or cardinals declaring him one, what happens if some bishops/cardinals declare him to be a heretic and say he has lost his pontificate, whereas other bishops/cardinals insist he is orthodox and still Pope? Are the faithful then to follow their own private judgment in determing which group of bishops/cardinals to follow?

And finally, even if all bishops/cardinals should be unanimous in their decision and declaration that Francis is pertinacious in his heresy and therefore no longer Pope, what would happen if they are all, well, wrong?

No matter how you slice it, John Salza’s attempted refutation of Sedevacantism is a theological disaster. He is trying to defend traditional Catholicism by denying traditional Catholicism, and in that he will be as successful as in borrowing his way out of debt.

Exit John Salza.

Image source: youtube.com (screenshot)
License: fair use