Says Francis lost Papacy years ago…

Rev. James Altman at Canceled Priests’ Conference:
‘Bergoglio is Not a Pope’

A 40-minute lecture given by ‘Father’ James Altman (why ‘Father’?) at the Canceled Priests’ Conference in Chicago this past June has just been released on YouTube. It is sure to make waves because, apparently for the first time ever, ‘Fr.’ Altman states in public that he believes Francis is no longer a true Pope, that he lost the Papacy years ago. We will examine this in a minute.

The so-called Coalition for Canceled Priests describes itself as “a group of committed Catholic lay people and clergy who came together in 2021 after one too many instances of persecution of holy, traditional, and orthodox priests”, with a mission “to spiritually and materially supporting faithful priests who seek to return to active ministry after being unjustly canceled by their bishops”.

The theme of the June 23-24, 2023 conference was, ‘A House United’. Altman’s lecture focused on corruption and false doctrine in the church hierarchy and obeying God rather than men (cf. Acts 5:29). It was quite polemical and delivered with great passion. The word ‘damned’ appears in it more times than one can count, and the Reverend uses the word in its original meaning of being worthy of, or condemned to, hell.

Here is the full video of the presentation:

The most explosive part of Altman’s talk begins at the 32:23 minute mark, where he says that Jorge Bergoglio is not only an antipope but the worst of all antipopes so far because he makes up his own doctrines instead of defending the Catholic Faith.

Altman then refers to the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, that a heretical Pope would lose the papal office automatically on account of his own words and actions (i.e., without a church judgment). Just for the sake of accuracy and getting the complete picture, however, we will add that Bellarmine also explained that he did not believe a Pope could become a heretic, that is, he did not believe God would allow such a thing to happen (and if He did, it would only concern the Pope in his capacity as a private individual, not as the head of the Church exercising his magisterium). And indeed, in 1912 the Roman theologian Fr. Felix Capello agreed that such a scenario — that of a Pope becoming a heretic in his private capacity — was impossible because there would be no remedy for it.

So far, so good. But then, at the 33:53 minute mark, things get bizarre as Altman begins to list various ‘moments when’ Bergoglio lost the papal office:

  1. when Francis brought the sex abuser ‘Cardinal’ Theodore McCarrick back into power
  2. when Francis allowed the Pachamama figurine to be brought into St. Peter’s Basilica
  3. when Francis said we should quit “breeding like rabbits”
  4. when Francis put Martin Luther on a Vatican stamp
  5. when Francis made ‘Cardinal’ Kevin Farrell the head of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life and appointed ‘Abp.’ Vincenzo Paglia as president of the Pontifical Academy for Life
  6. when Francis attacked the Traditional Latin Mass [presumably when he issued Traditionis Custodes in 2021]
  7. when Francis attacked convents and monasteries
  8. when Francis abandoned ‘Cardinal’ Joseph Zen and allowed the Chinese Communists to appoint bishops
  9. when Francis said: “I’m a Communist because Jesus in the Gospels was a Communist”
  10. when Francis met with John Kerry to promote climate change and the overpopulation theory

According to Altman, these are all “the very moments” when Bergoglio ceased to be Pope. But that is an absurd thing to say, since if Francis already lost the Papacy when he rehabilitated McCarrick, then he cannot have lost it yet again (and again) when promulgating a decree against the Traditional Mass, when making a deal with the Chicoms, and so forth.

Secondly, most of the things Altman mentions as supposedly causing the loss of the Papacy do not actually qualify, whereas others are doubtful.

Supposing Francis to be a true Pope for a minute, restoring Theodore McCarrick to power could not possibly have caused him to lose the papal office. Neither could appointing other moral scoundrels, dealing oppressively with certain religious orders, abandoning a particular cardinal, or meeting with someone to discuss or promote an ideological agenda. That’s not how the Papacy works. Where is the Rev. Altman getting this? A Pope does not cease to be Pope by doing something horrific, evil, sinful, scandalous, or detrimental to the Church. Under the supposition that a Pope could become a heretic as a private person, yes, he would lose the Papacy automatically if his heresy became public and notorious, but not because the sin of heresy is so great or so evil but because a non-Catholic is not a member of the Church and consequently cannot be her head. As Pope Pius XII taught, “not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy” (Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 23).

Thirdly, some of the things Altman says are simply inaccurate. We certainly don’t wish to come across as defending ‘Pope’ Francis, but our arguments must always be based on truth. Francis did not say we ought not to breed like rabbits, he said we need not: “Some think that — excuse the language — that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood” (source). That’s still offensive, but it’s not the same thing. Likewise, Francis did not say he was a Communist or that Jesus Christ was a Communist. He said: “If I see the Gospel in a sociological way only, yes, I am a communist, and so too is Jesus” (source). That’s bad enough, but this too is a different thing. Of course Bergoglio often uses hard-to-catch nuances and expressions that are bound to be misunderstood or repeated wrong, and he is certainly to blame for that, but we must nonetheless be accurate in these matters.

At 36:30, Altman concludes: “Bergoglio is not a Pope! He is a fraud. He is a fraud and an impostor, and every damned cardinal that supports him, like Cupich and McElroy and Tobin, is no more a bishop of the Church than the Dalai Lama.”

Why did Altman bring up manifestly bad (insufficient) reasons for believing Bergoglio is not a true Pope and then mix them with other, legitimate reasons? Nothing discredits a true conclusion more than giving wrong reasons to support it. To illustrate this point with an obvious example, imagine someone arguing that Francis is not a true Pope because he wears glasses, and no one who wears glasses can be a true Pope. That would simply be insane! The fact that the inference — Bergoglio is not a true Pope — happens to be factually correct is practically irrelevant there. It is akin to saying that 2+2=4 but only because today is Friday, and on Fridays 2+2=4, whereas on all other days of the week, 2+2=7. Such an argument would have to be rejected entirely, even on Fridays!

‘Fr.’ Altman ends his talk with some quotes from ‘Cardinal’ Robert Sarah, whom he praises. But this seems a bit odd, for, doesn’t Sarah also support Francis? Granted, he is no Cupich, McElroy, or Tobin, but he is on record stating, “Even though some journalists continually repeat the same nonsense, I have never opposed the Pope”, and, “Some people insinuate without reason or even being able to provide concrete and credible proof that we were enemies, it’s not true!” (source).

If truth be told, Altman’s presentation is going to be an easy target for the Novus Ordo apologist crowd. People such as Michael Lofton, Trent Horn, Dave Armstrong, Tim Staples, and perhaps Michael Voris will have a field day with it, denouncing his unsound argumentation and his passionate delivery as the rantings of a frustrated, disrespectful man who uses false ‘visceral’ theology and is blinded by anger. Altman really is making it easy for them.

Back in 2014, the sedevacantist Fr. Anthony Cekada wrote an important article explaining that it makes no sense to say that Bergoglio was elected Pope but then lost the Papacy subsequently. Rather, he was not even validly elected, for he was never an eligible candidate for the papal office on account of his manifest pertinacious adherence to heresy:

According to Catholic teaching, a scandalous or incredibly sinful Pope is possible, and this would in no wise stain his magisterium; on the other hand, a non-Catholic Pope (one who is heretical in his official magisterium) is not:

Ultimately, what proves Bergoglio to be a false pope is the fact that, were he a true Pope, he would have disproved the Catholic teaching on the Papacy, which is impossible. God Himself guarantees the truth of Catholic dogma, whereas the status of Jorge Bergoglio is merely a contingent historical circumstance! Therefore, if logic requires you to toss the one or the other, you are obliged to dump Francis and retain belief in the Papacy:

As is clear from the recording of his talk, Rev. Altman’s statement that Bergoglio has lost the Papacy received a good amount of applause, though we know it is not a position shared by many of the other speakers at that conference, such as Eric Sammons, David L. Gray, Kennedy Hall, and the ever-present Peter Kwasniewski, who has been working hard at “rethinking” the Catholic understanding of the Papacy in order to shoehorn Bergoglio into it.

We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the recognize-and-resist world reacts to ‘Fr.’ Altman’s bold positioning with regard to Jorge Bergoglio.

Image source: YouTube (screenshot)
License: fair use

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