Eccentric recognize-and-resist theologian…

The Fanciful Theology of Fr. Gregory Hesse (1953-2006):
Some Worthwhile Observations

This article was updated on Feb. 23, 2024, replacing incorrect documentation with the proper (and even stronger) evidence. Please excuse the oversight.

The Austrian ‘Fr.’ Gregorius D. Hesse (1953-2006) was a one-of-a-kind recognize-and-resist traditionalist from Vienna. Somehow he always managed to sound convincing while he dished out unconventional theological ideas that were usually quite unique to him. He and his devoted cheerleaders considered his theology to be exemplary ‘traditional Catholicism’, of course, and his fan base ate it up (recent case in point: Kennedy Hall).

Although Hesse was popular with many Lefebvrists and SSPX-leaning trads, it is also true that not everyone in that camp appreciated his often extreme positions or the manner in which he defended them. One of his last strange ideas before his untimely death was that Vatican II was not in fact an ecumenical council at all — while at the same time insisting, of course, that John XXIII, who called the council, and Paul VI, who solemnly ratified it, had been true Popes. (The fact that he called Paul VI a heretic and referred to the Vatican II Church as a “counterfeit church”, did not make things any better.)

Some Background on Gregory Hesse

In terms of his persona, the Rev. Hesse had plenty to impress the traditionalist heart.

First and foremost, there was his educational background, together with his Vatican employment. Hesse had studied in Rome and was ordained in the doubtful Novus Ordo rite by Abp. Aurelio Sabattani (1912-2003) in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Nov. 21, 1981.

Beginning in 1986, he worked as secretary for ‘Cardinal’ Alfons Maria Stickler (1910-2007), who was the head of the Vatican Library and Secret Archive. After Stickler’s retirement in 1988, Hesse continued to work for the Vatican Secret Archive until 1991, by which time he had received doctorates in Sacred Theology and Canon Law from the Angelicum (Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas) in Rome. He then withdrew from the Vatican II Church and moved back to Vienna, where he freelanced as a translator. He also began traveling through Europe giving lectures on theological and ecclesiastical matters. (This information has been gleaned from

Secondly, there were Hesse’s attention-grabbing personal preferences and quirks: His beautiful traditional garb with all the bells and whistles, the aura of authority he exuded, his eccentric personality, his articulate rhetoric, his knowledge of Latin, his fine scholarship (at least in appearance), the fact that he held two doctorate degrees from the Angelicum… What more could one wish for? In fact, one may suspect that if Hesse hadn’t been such a colorful individual — he openly drank wine as if it were water — his ideas might never have found so much traction to begin with.

Hesse’s 1991 doctoral dissertation, “An Introduction to the Theology of Gilbert Keith Chesterton”, has just been published in book format and comes with a foreword by SSPX apologist and beard oil salesman Kennedy Hall — perhaps an indication that Hesse’s renown is about to make a comeback in the world of recognize-and-resist traditionalism, and with it, of course, his dangerous, pseudo-traditionalist theology.

For all who have been impressed by Hesse in the past, here are some sobering blog posts that refute in a general way some of the errors the Reverend adhered to or promoted:

Let’s look at some concrete examples to illustrate how absurd some of Fr. Hesse’s theological argumentation was.

The Novus Ordo Rite of Ordination — Illicit but Valid?

On Nov. 12, 2000, Hesse gave a two-hour talk entitled “Quo Primum and the Validity of the Novus Ordo Sacraments”. It can be viewed here:

Although Hesse gives a very confident presentation, many of his arguments cannot withstand critical examination, as we will now show.

In a nutshell, the position Hesse advances in the above video is that Paul VI’s 1968 Novus Ordo rite of ordination (in which he was ordained) is definitely valid because, even though the essential form used in the rite omits one of the essential words decreed by Pope Pius XII as necessary for validity (in the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis) because Pius XII was legislating the requirements for the Latin/Roman rite of ordination, and Paul VI’s ordination rite must be considered a non-Catholic/schismatic rite, even though Paul VI was a true Pope. Schismatic rites like that must be evaluated using the criteria of Pope Leo XIII’s bull Apostolicae Curae on Anglican orders, and according to those criteria, Hesse argues, the rite is valid.

You can’t make this stuff up!

If we assume for a minute that Paul VI was a true Pope, as Hesse insists he was, then his magisterial documents were legally effective, that is, they had the power to bind consciences. Then what he taught or legislated on earth was also “bound in heaven” (Mt 16:18), that is, ratified by Almighty God. That is how the Papacy works, and that by divine institution.

Therefore, if Paul VI was indeed Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff of the holy Roman Catholic Church, then the ordination rite he promulgated in 1968 was precisely what he decreed it to be, namely, a revision of the Roman ordination rite used previously and not the establishment of a new, non-Catholic (heretical/schismatic) rite:

The revision of the Roman Pontifical is prescribed in a general way by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and is also governed by the specific conciliar directive ordering the revision of “both the ceremonies and texts” of the ordination rites.

The revision of the rites for ordinations is to follow the general principles that must direct the entire reform of the Liturgy according to the decrees of Vatican Council II. But in addition a supreme criterion for that revision must be the clear teaching of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church concerning the nature and effects of the sacrament of orders.

It was necessary in the revision of the rite to add, delete, or change certain things, in order to restore the texts of the rite to the form they had in antiquity, to clarify expressions, or to bring out more clearly the effects of the sacraments. We therefore think it necessary, so as to remove all controversy and avoid perplexity of conscience, to declare what are to be held as the essentials in each revised rite.

This rite for the conferring of the orders of diaconate, presbyterate, and episcopate has been revised by the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy “with the employment of experts and with the consultation of bishops, from various parts of the world.” By our apostolic authority we approve this rite so that it may be used in the future for the conferral of these orders in place of the rite now found in the Roman Pontifical.

It is our will that these our decrees and prescriptions be firm and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors and other prescriptions, even those deserving particular mention and amendment.

(Antipope Paul VI, ‘Apostolic Constitution’ Pontificalis Romani, June 18, 1968; English translation here; underlining added.)

It does not take a genius to understand what Paul VI did in this ‘apostolic’ constitution. He took the Roman rite of ordination and revised it, with the new rubrics replacing what was in use before; even to the extent of abolishing any and all prior legislation that may go contrary to these new rubrics, and that would include Pope Pius XII’s Sacramentum Ordinis.

Therefore, if Paul VI was Pope, then his legislation had the power to accomplish exactly what he decreed. Hesse absolutely cannot argue, therefore, that Paul VI was instituting a new, non-Catholic rite, and not legislating concerning the Latin/Roman rite. No, it was the Roman rite he modified.

The same is true for the ‘new Order of Mass’ (novus Ordo Missae) Paul VI instituted in 1969. It too was a “revision of the Roman Missal” (‘Apostolic Constitution’ Missale Romanum; italics added) and not the establishment of a new, non-Catholic rite, if one were to accept Paul VI as Pope. (The fact that of course it was an evil, non-Catholic rite of Mass he instituted, can only be explained under the supposition that he was not a valid Pope. That’s the point.)

Hesse may disagree with Paul VI’s legislation, but that simply doesn’t matter. After all, the legislation of the Vicar of Christ is not subject to review or confirmation by anyone, and Paul VI’s ‘Apostolic Constitutions’ included the following solemn words giving the documents the force of law.

Here, again, is what the ‘Vicar of Christ’ declared in his document revising the ordination rites:

It is our will that these our decrees and prescriptions be firm and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors and other prescriptions, even those deserving particular mention and amendment.

(Paul VI, Pontificalis Romani)

The same kind of language was used for the institution of the ‘new Order of Mass’:

We order that the prescriptions of this Constitution go into effect November 30th of this year, the first Sunday of Advent.

We wish that these Our decrees and prescriptions may be firm and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by Our predecessors, and other prescriptions, even those deserving particular mention and derogation.

(Antipope Paul VI, ‘Apostolic Constitution’ Missale Romanum, Apr. 3, 1969)

What Hesse is arguing, in effect, is that these words of the ‘Vicar of Christ’ are a lie, have no value, do not bind anyone, and must be rejected, apparently under pain of schism. Think about what that would mean.

It would mean that a Catholic can no longer take papal legislation and other acts of Church teaching or governance at face value but must first run everything by an obscure wandering cleric from Vienna to see if it’s any good — and, now that he’s deceased, he must find some other cleric of choice (but not, of course, the Pope!). This is absurdity on stilts! Never mind that the highest ecclesiastical position Hesse ever held was that of secretary to an archivist and librarian in the Vatican, and that many of his arguments are not shared by other theologians.

Here we see one of the Gallicanesque recognize-and-resist ideas at work: Just about anyone can trump the Pope, as long as what he says sounds convincing and gives justification to what traditionalists already believe and like to see confirmed. But that is not how Catholicism works at all:

Since the Roman pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment. The sentence of the apostolic see (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman pontiff.

So, then, if anyone says that the Roman pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.

(First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 3; underlining added.)

And this is why, when we love the Pope, we do not dispute whether he commands or requires a thing, or seek to know where the strict obligation of obedience lies, or in what matter we must obey; when we love the Pope we do not say that he has not yet spoken clearly — as if he were required to speak his will in every man’s ear, and to utter it not only by word of mouth but in letters and other public documents as well. Nor do we cast doubt on his orders, alleging the pretext which comes easily to the man who does not want to obey, that it is not the Pope who is commanding, but someone in his entourage. We do not limit the field in which he can and ought to exercise his authority; we do not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of other persons — no matter how learned — who differ from the Pope. For whatever may be their learning, they are not holy, for where there is holiness there cannot be disagreement with the Pope.

(Pope St. Pius X, Address to the Priests of the Apostolic Union, Nov. 18, 1912; in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 4 [1912], p. 695; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 752)

In connection with the canonization of Pope Pius X in 1954, Pope Pius XII addressed the assembled cardinals and reminded them of who are the lawful teachers in the Catholic Church and how they must be subject to the Pope and cannot exercise their teaching function independently of the Roman Pontiff:

Besides the lawful successors of the Apostles, namely the Roman Pontiff for the universal Church and Bishops for the faithful entrusted to their care (cf. can. 1326), there are no other teachers divinely constituted in the Church of Christ. But both the Bishops and, first of all, the Supreme Teacher and Vicar of Christ on earth, may associate others with themselves in their work of teacher, and use their advice; they delegate to them the faculty to teach, either by special grant, or by conferring an office to which the faculty is attached (cf. can. 1328). Those who are so called teach not in their own name, nor by reason of their theological knowledge, but by reason of the mandate which they have received from the lawful Teaching Authority. Their faculty always remains subject to that Authority, nor is it ever exercised in its own right or independently.

As for the laity, it is clear that they can be invited by legitimate teachers and accepted as helpers in the defense of the faith. … But all these lay apostles must be, and remain, under the authority, leadership, and watchfulness of those who by divine institution are set up as teachers of Christ’s Church. In matters involving the salvation of souls, there is no teaching authority in the Church not subject to this authority and vigilance.

(Pope Pius XII, Allocution Si Diligis, May 31, 1954; underlining added.)

There is simply no room for Hesse’s idea of declaring the (supposed) Pope’s liturgical laws to be schismatic and non-Catholic.

Alas, such was the state of recognize-and-resist traditionalism over 20 years ago, and it is no better today.

Can true Popes change the Mass?

In 1547, the Council of Trent issued a doctrinal document on the sacraments in general. It contained the following anathema, among others:

If anyone shall say that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church accustomed to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments may be disdained or omitted by the minister without sin and at pleasure, or may be changed by any pastor of the churches to other new ones: let him be anathema.

(Council of Trent, Session VII, Canon 13; Denz. 856; underlining added.)

In his video lecture, Hesse claims that this canon binds even the Pope, and thus Paul VI’s novus Ordo Missae was invalid because he acted contrary to this infallible decree of Trent.

But does “any pastor of the churches” include the Pope himself? It does not, of course:

the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification. Bishops, for their part, have the right and duty carefully to watch over the exact observance of the prescriptions of the sacred canons respecting divine worship. Private individuals, therefore, even though they be clerics, may not be left to decide for themselves in these holy and venerable matters, involving as they do the religious life of Christian society along with the exercise of the priesthood of Jesus Christ and worship of God; concerned as they are with the honor due to the Blessed Trinity, the Word Incarnate and His august mother and the other saints, and with the salvation of souls as well. For the same reason no private person has any authority to regulate external practices of this kind, which are intimately bound up with Church discipline and with the order, unity and concord of the Mystical Body and frequently even with the integrity of Catholic faith itself.

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mediator Dei, n. 58; underlining added.)

The Pope, of course, is not simply “any” pastor “of the churches” but the Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church, and there is really no reason why the Pope should not be able, allowed, or sufficiently competent to make changes to the liturgical rites of the Church. The divine assistance for the Papacy guarantees that such changes will never be in themselves harmful, dangerous, heretical, or somehow impious — the contrary was condemned by Pope Pius VI in his bull Auctorem Fidei (see Denz. 1578; see also Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 66). Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion is that Paul VI could not have been a true Pope.

Hesse claims that the Latin word used for “any [pastor whatsoever]” by Trent is quiscumque, but not only is this factually incorrect — the word used by Trent is quemcumque, which anyone can verify here –, the word quiscumque does not even exist in the Latin language at all (a similar word, quicumque, does; perhaps that is what he meant). Nor is Hesse’s contention true that the word used by Trent has only one single possible translation. (We checked with an expert on ecclesiastical Latin on all that.) So, regarding Trent Hesse is not just wrong once but wrong in triplicate.

The American theologian Mgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton (1906-1969), a staunch anti-Modernist, was also unaware that Trent supposedly forbade even the Pope from changing liturgical rites, because he wrote just before the beginning of Vatican II that the council “can change much of the ritual of the Mass” (“The Virtue of Prudence and the Success of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council”American Ecclesiastical Review 147 [Oct. 1962], p. 263).

Hesse tries to bolster his argument that not even a Pope could change what is today known as the Traditional Latin (‘Tridentine’) Mass because Pope St. Pius V in his bull Quo Primum, issued in 1570, decreed his legislation to be binding “in perpetuity”:

Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force notwithstanding the previous constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, as well as any general or special constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the practice and custom of the aforesaid churches, established by long and immemorial prescription – except, however, if more than two hundred years’ standing.

…Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Would anyone, however, presume to commit such an act, he should know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

(Pope Pius V, Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum, July 14, 1570; underlining added.)

This argument based on Quo Primum is still very popular in our day, but it is demonstrably false.

In papal legislation of a disciplinary character, the phrase “in perpetuity” simply means that the law being imposed has no “expiration date”, so to speak — it does not mean that it can never be changed or rescinded by the competent authority, that is, by another (or even the same) Pope. In the case of Quo Primum, the “in perpetuity” clause simply means that the constitution has effect until a future Pope changes it.

This differs essentially from a definition of a dogma, which cannot be changed or abrogated by any Pope after it has been made; but dogma refers to what must be believed, whereas discipline refers to what must be done. And yes, the sacred liturgy falls under the category of discipline (see Pius XII, Mediator Dei, nn. 53, 124).

To prove this further, let’s look at a concrete example from Church history when something was papally decreed to be valid “in perpetuity”, only to be changed a few decades later: the suppression of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit order).

When Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuits in 1773, he issued a decree in which he declared that this suppression was to be “perpetually valid” (perpetuoque validas) and ordered that it be “inviolably observed by each and every man whom it concerns and by anyone whomsoever it will concern in the future” (Pope Clement XIV, Bull Dominus Ac Redemptor, p. xxix).

This rather clear and forceful language did not stop Clement’s successor, Pope Pius VII, from rescinding the suppression and reinstating the Jesuit order on August 7, 1814, declaring that whosoever would dare to contravene his decree would “incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul” (see Pope Pius VII, Decree Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, p. 14). In the case of the Jesuits, then, “perpetuity” lasted only about 41 years.

Thus we can see that Hesse’s argument that all true Popes are bound forever by St. Pius V’s Quo Primum is simply false. For more on this topic, see the following post by the late Fr. Anthony Cekada:

It is actually not difficult to ascertain how wrong Hesse’s claim is about the Pope allegedly not being allowed to change sacramental rites. All that is required is that one bother to actually look it up. That is a lot easier nowadays than it was decades ago, but that is hardly relevant to the issue.

In the popular manual Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Fr. Ludwig Ott observes:

To be distinguished from the essential rites of the Sacraments based on Divine ordinance are the accidental rites, ceremonies and prayers, which, in the course of time, became current by custom or by the positive prescription of the Church, and which have the purpose of symbolically representing the sacramental operation of grace, of expressing the dignity and sublimity of the Sacraments, of satisfying man’s need for external forms of worship and of preparing him for the reception of grace.

(Rev. Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma [1954; reprinted by TAN Books, 1974], p. 338)

With this distinction in mind, we can turn to the very Council of Trent Hesse enlisted in support of his aberrant thesis:

It [the Council] declares furthermore that this power has always been in the Church, that in the administration of the sacraments, preserving their substance, she may determine or change whatever she may judge to be more expedient for the benefit of those who receive them or for the veneration of the sacraments, according to the variety of circumstances, times, and places. Moreover, the Apostle seems to have intimated this in no obscure manner, when he said: “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God” [1 Cor. 4:1]; and that he himself used this power is quite manifest in this sacrament as well as in many other things, not only in this sacrament itself, but also in some things set down with regard to its use, he says: “The rest I will set in order when I come” [1 Cor. 11:23].

(Council of Trent, Session XXI, Chapter 2; Denz. 931; underlining added.)

No matter how authoritative or convincing he may have sounded, upon close examination, Hesse’s argumentation collapses.

Unfortunately for ‘Fr.’ Hesse, all this evidence, which includes a thorough refutation of his idea that the Council of Trent and Pope St. Pius V bound all future Popes to refrain from making any (except for the most minor) changes to the sacramental and liturgical rites of the Church, destroys the entire basis for his contention that the new ordination rite of 1968 is a schismatic, non-Catholic rite given by a true Pope. But this, in turn, was the essential support for Hesse’s claim that his own 1981 ordination was valid on the grounds that Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis, which would render it doubtful (see PDF here), only applied to Catholic, not schismatic, rites.

Concluding Remarks

There are a few other inanities Hesse brings up in the above video that we cannot leave uncommented.

For instance, the exceptional Austrian scholar claims, “A priest sometimes can feel his priesthood…”, adding that some of the saints said this also. Unfortunately he provides no proof of this amusing assertion (and if any saint did say such a thing, he was definitely not saying it to prove the validity of his ordination).

In fact, although Hesse spoke for two hours, in virtually no instance does he give chapter-and-verse documentation to prove his points. Thus it all remains on the level of, “Fr. Hesse said…”, which is exactly the approach Kennedy Hall uses in his recent video about the validity of Novus Ordo sacraments (refuted in our latest podcast, TRADCAST EXPRESS 186).

Hesse also blunders on a number of other things during his talk. He points to Vatican I’s dogmatic teaching that “the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles” (Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 4).

However, he interprets the doctrine normatively rather than descriptively. That is, he believes it means that if the Pope does proclaim novelty, then the faithful must reject it since that is not the reason why the Pope has the assistance of the Holy Ghost. When read in context, however, it becomes clear that what Vatican I actually meant is that the Pope will not teach novelty precisely because the assistance of the Holy Ghost would not allow it.

To say otherwise would reduce this beautiful and consoling conciliar teaching to little more than a superficial banality: It would then simply mean that the Pope isn’t supposed to make new doctrines, but nevertheless quite capable of doing so. That much is true of anyone, though, not just of the Pope alone. In fact, any Protestant would agree that his own parish pastor isn’t supposed to teach strange new doctrines. That’s hardly a profound insight to be taught by a Catholic ecumenical council about the Pope!

Furthermore, notice that the council’s document says that “the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine…” (italics added). If Hesse’s understanding of this passage were correct, it would mean that the Pope is not supposed to proclaim new doctrines that are nevertheless revealed to him by the Holy Ghost — a blasphemous and grotesque thing for a Catholic ecumenical council to teach.

It is manifest, therefore, that Vatican I teaches, not that the Pope ought not to teach new (or false) doctrine, but that he actually does not. That is the significance of the special assistance of the Holy Ghost for the Pope. That is what is meant by saying that the council’s doctrine about the Holy Ghost’s assistance for the Pope is descriptive — it describes a truth about the Papacy — and not merely normative — establishing a norm the Pope is expected to follow. The Holy Ghost acts a prioribefore the Pope does anything, by preventing him from teaching or legislating grave errors such as heresy — not a posteriori, by means of the Pope’s inferiors correcting his magisterium after the fact.

In his talk Hesse also mentions that at the time of Vatican I, the bishop of Brixen (Bp. Vinzenz Gasser) asked Pope Pius IX what would have to be done if a Pope ever taught heresy. According to Hesse — with absolutely no evidence provided — Pius IX responded with a carefree, “Well, you just don’t follow him!” — as if that solved the problem. In actual fact, it would overthrow Pius IX’s own teaching about the Papacy:

Anyone who is familiar with the teaching of Pope Pius IX, therefore, knows that that anecdote cannot be true. That is not to say that Hesse made it up. Far from it. No, probably he got something mixed up. In fact, it would seem that the following story related by Abp. John Purcell of Cincinnati, who was also present at the council, relates what really happened:

The question was also raised by a Cardinal, “What is to be done with the Pope if he becomes a heretic?” It was answered that there has never been such a case; the Council of Bishops could depose him for heresy, for from the moment he becomes a heretic he is not the head or even a member of the Church. The Church would not be, for a moment, obliged to listen to him when he begins to teach a doctrine the Church knows to be a false doctrine, and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself.

If the Pope, for instance, were to say that the belief in God is false, you would not be obliged to believe him, or if he were to deny the rest of the creed, “I believe in Christ,” etc. The supposition is injurious to the Holy Father in the very idea, but serves to show you the fullness with which the subject has been considered and the ample thought given to every possibility. If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I; and so in this respect the dogma of infallibility amounts to nothing as an article of temporal government or cover for heresy.

(Abp. John B. Purcell, quoted in Rev. James J. McGovern, Life and Life Work of Pope Leo XIII [Chicago, IL: Allied Printing, 1903], p. 241; imprimatur by Abp. James Quigley of Chicago; underlining added.)

For more on that issue, please see:

Interestingly enough, Hesse was adamant that Sedevacantism is false. “Who am I to say he’s not the Pope?” he asked in reference to John Paul II, then reigning in Rome, but by extension to any of the ‘Popes’ after Pius XII. Perhaps his own conviction that the man in Rome had ratified a heretical council, instituted a schismatic rite of Mass, etc., should have been a pretty good indicator.

So when it came to drawing logically necessary conclusions, Hesse suddenly discovered his lack of authority. On the other hand, a humble awareness of his own incompetence never occurred to him when it came to declaring Paul VI’s rite of Mass schismatic, or labeling the Vatican II Church a “neo-Gnostic sect”.

Obviously, we pray and hope that the Rev. Gregorius D. Hesse was in the state of sanctifying grace when God called him to judgment on Jan. 25, 2006.

But his insane anti-Catholic theology we must anathematize over and over again.

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