Lecture by Fr. Gabriel Lavery, CMRI

Can Catholics resist the Pope because St. Paul resisted St. Peter?

Time and again the recognize-and-resist traditionalists — those who recognize Francis as a true Pope but resist his teachings, laws, and canonizations if they judge them not to be “in line with Tradition” — invoke the incident described in the second chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, in which the Apostle resisted Pope St. Peter “to his face”, as supposed historical precedent and divine approval for “resisting the Pope”.

In a prior blog post, we had already explained, using solid Catholic authorities, why this argument does not hold water. In the present post, we would like to share with our readers an insightful presentation Fr. Gabriel Lavery gave on the Catholic theology of submission to the Pope, at the Fatima Conference of the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (CMRI) on Oct. 13, 2022.

We apologize for the less-than-stellar quality of the video, but the original recording was done on a hand-held device, which resulted in some quality problems and a little bit of missing audio. The present clip was edited by Novus Ordo Watch to correct these problems and “clean up” the audio and video as much as possible. Furthermore, we added annotations so viewers can follow along with the quotations and look them up with the source references given.

Fr. Gabriel opens his lecture with a clip of famous traditionalist writer Michael Matt reading a declaration of resistance against Francis at the so-called Catholic Identity Conference, which had just taken place a few days prior and is an annual flagship event for The Remnant and other American recognize-and-resist trads. In the brief clip, Matt defends his resistance precisely by appealing to Galatians 2 and also the famous “it is licit to resist” quote of the Jesuit theologian Cardinal St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), Doctor of the Church. Fr. Gabriel uses the remainder of his talk to respond to both arguments at length.

In the first half of his lecture, Father explains the facts concerning St. Paul’s rebuke of St. Peter, and he shows how the Fathers and Doctors of the Church have understood it. Furthermore, he reveals that referring to Galatians 2 in support of resisting the Pope has long been a favorite tactic of heretics.

In the second half of his presentation, Fr. Gabriel presents an entertaining but also quite sobering quiz he asks everyone in the audience to participate in. Under the heading of “R&R or Heretic?”, Father gives a total of seven quotations that speak about resisting the Pope (or the Church), without naming the respective authors. The audience is asked to identify whether the words quoted are from a condemned heretic of history or from a present-day recognize-and-resist traditionalist. Not an easy task! (We are providing all links to the sources used or quoted by Fr. Gabriel at the very end of this post. Spoiler Alert: This includes the answers to the quiz!)

After the quiz, Father tackles the recognize-and-resisters’ misuse of the famous Bellarmine quote already touched upon: “Just as it is licit to resist a Pontiff who attacks the body, so also is it licit to resist him who attacks souls or destroys the civil order or above all, tries to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will. It is not licit, however, to judge him, to punish him, or to depose him, for these are acts proper to a superior.”

What may at first sight appear to be a slam-dunk for Michael Matt and his resisting friends, upon closer examination is nothing of the sort, as Father demonstrates using not only an explanation given by St. Robert himself in reply to several Venetian theologians, but also a defense of Bellarmine by Fr. Veit Erbermann (1597-1675). A Jesuit like St. Robert, Erbermann was responding to a German Lutheran theologian, who had attempted to hijack Bellarmine’s quote just the way today’s recognize-and-resisters do. (In his presentation, Fr. Gabriel mistakenly says that this explanation was given by St. Robert himself, not by Erbermann, but the error is corrected on-screen.)

Father ends his presentation with some additional “killer” quotes from St. Robert, and one from Fr. Frederick Faber, the 19th-century Oratorian Father and convert from Anglicanism.

Fr. Gabriel Lavery, CMRI

Fr. Gabriel is pastor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Sulphur Springs, Ohio. He was ordained a priest on May 31, 2003, by Bp. Mark Pivarunas in Omaha, Nebraska.

Long-time readers of this blog may recall that we have brought up Fr. Lavery several times in the past. For instance, in 2021 he explained on secular public radio why Jorge Bergoglio isn’t the Pope of the Catholic Church. At the Fatima Conference of 2011, he gave an engrossing presentation on the Ordinary Magisterium of the Pope. The audio can be downloaded/streamed at the following link:

“The Ordinary Magisterium and Devotion to the Pope”
by Fr. Gabriel Lavery, CMRI
(Click to Download or Stream / mp3 Format)

Audio recordings of all the 2022 Fatima Conference lectures, sermons, etc. can be purchased here. (Material from prior conferences is also available.)

We thank Fr. Gabriel for all his work for Catholic truth and the salvation of souls, and we are grateful to the CMRI for kindly permitting us to publish an enhanced video version of it.

LINKS TO ALL SOURCES CITED by Fr. Gabriel (spoiler alert: includes quiz answers!)

Title image source: Shutterstock (Zvonimir Atletic; cropped)
License: paid

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