An Unintentional Debate

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Pope Michael | 1 comment

Someone asked an honest question in regard to Siscoe and Salza’s book True or False Pope.  I ended up verifying their position on a matter, and have published a new page in regard to this.  The questions continued to come in from this person, and I realized that I was being drug into a debate with Siscoe and Salza, which I believe to be a waste of time.  They are set on their position and are ignoring the plain meaning of words in Ecclesiastical Law.  I cut off the debate last night, and would like to quote two things from our last two emails:

I wrote: “I wish people would get this infallibility idea out of their head.  To become a heretic, you do not have to attempt to declare your false doctrine in an infallible manner.  If you did, then only the Pope or someone claiming to be Pope could become a heretic.”

This person answered: “Please present an infallible law stating that a pope is infallible in every command. I only know that there is an infallible law stating that we must not believe a pope is infallible in everything, and that it is heretical to believe he is. (That does not mean one is a heretic who believes such.)”

Apparently the recognize and resist crowd believe that to become a heretic a Pope must attempt to infallibly define heresy as doctrine, which we know is impossible.

One Comment

  1. I am the person DB is referring to. I listened to both sides. I even read a huge book written by DB. I debated with DB my conclusions and at times the proof required was supplied by Robert Siscoe and his references. For example:

    The legitimacy of a pope whose election is not at once contested, or whose election is at first contested, but who is later acknowledged as pope by the entire Church (at least by a moral unanimity of professing Catholics), is infallibly certain.

    His legitimacy falls into the category of a “dogmatic fact” which is a secondary object of the Church’s infallibility. That explains why Cardinal Billot (and all the other theologians) teach that we have “infallible certitude” that a man who is recognized as pope by the Church is, in fact, the true and legitimate Pope. Every one of the Popes after Pius XII met the requirements necessary for their legitimacy to be infallibly certain.

    The following from Fr. E. Sylvester Berry’s celebrated book, Christ’s Church, explains this doctrine:
    “The extent of infallibility refers to the truths that may be defined by the Church with infallible authority. Some truths are directly subject to the infallible authority of the Church by their very nature [i.e truths revealed by God and contained within the sources of Revelation – Scripture and Tradition]; others only indirectly because of their connection with the former. The one set of truths constitutes the primary, the other secondary extent of infallibility.” (…) This secondary or indirect extent of infallibility includes especially (a) theological conclusions, (b) truths of the natural order, (c) dogmatic facts, and (d) general disciplinary matters (…)

    “DOGMATIC FACTS. A dogmatic fact is one that has not been revealed, yet is so intimately connected with a doctrine of faith that without certain knowledge of the fact there can be no certain knowledge of the doctrine. For example, was the [First] Vatican Council truly ecumenical? Was Pius IX a legitimate pope? Was the election of Pius XI valid? Such questions must be decided with certainty before decrees issued by any council or pope can be accepted as infallibly true or binding on the Church. It is evident, then, that the Church must be infallible in judging of such facts, and since the Church is infallible in believing as well as in teaching, it follows that thepractically unanimous consent of the bishops and faithful in accepting a council as ecumenical, or a Roman Pontiff as legitimately elected, gives absolute and infallible certainty of the fact.[1]

    Msgr. Van Noort offers similar commentary concerning the same point. He also notes that the infallibility of dogmatic facts is qualified as “theologically certain,” the denial of which is at least a mortal sin indirectly against Faith, if not heresy (as we will see in a moment):

    “Assertion 2: The Church’s infallibility extends to dogmatic facts. This proposition is theologically certain. A dogmatic fact is a fact not contained in the sources of revelation, [but] on the admission of which depends the knowledge or certainty of a dogma or of a revealed truth. The following questions are concerned with dogmatic facts: ‘Was the [First] Vatican Council a legitimate ecumenical council? Is the Latin Vulgate a substantially faithful translation of the original books of the Bible? Was Pius XII legitimately elected Bishop of Rome? One can readily see that on these facts hang the questions of whether the decrees of the [First] Vatican Council are infallible, whether the Vulgate is truly Sacred Scripture, whether Pius XII is to be recognized as supreme ruler of the universal Church.[2]

    In another place, Van Noort addresses the same doctrine from the perspective of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium (OUM). In other words, if the man is recognized theoretically and practically as Pope by all the Bishops alone (the OUM), we have infallible certitude that he is the Pope – which certainly applies to all the recent Popes. He explains:

    Meantime, notice that the Church possesses infallibility not only when she is defining some matters in solemn fashion, but also when she is exercising the full weight of her authority through her ordinary and universal teaching. Consequently, we must hold with an absolute assent, which we call ‘ecclesiastical faith,’ the following theological truths: (a) those which the Magisterium has infallibly defined in solemn fashion; (b) those which the ordinary magisterium dispersed throughout the world unmistakably proposes to its members as something to be held (tenendas). So, for example, one must give an absolute assent to the proposition: ‘Pius XII is the legitimate successor of St. Peter’; similarly … one must give an absolute assent to the proposition: ‘Pius XII possesses the primacy of jurisdiction over the entire Church.’ For — skipping the question of how it begins to be proven infallibly for the first time that this individual was legitimately elected to take St. Peter’s place — when someone has been constantly acting as Pope and has theoretically and practically been recognized as such by the bishops and by the universal Church, it is clear that the ordinary and universal magisterium is giving an utterly clear-cut witness to the legitimacy of his succession.[3]

    If one denies the legitimacy of a Pope, who is accepted as such by the Church, they are either guilty of a mortal sin indirectly against faith (one opinion), or outright heresy (second opinion). John of St. Thomas holds to the latter opinion, since the infallible certitude of a Pope is doctrine that was made explicit by a definition of Martin V (which I will be happy to provide you with). He wrote:

    “Whoever would deny that a particular man is Pope after he has been peacefully and canonically accepted, would not only be a schismatic, but also a heretic; for, not only would he rend the unity of the Church… but he would also add to this a perverse doctrine, by denying that the man accepted by the Church is to be regarded as the Pope and the rule of faith. Pertinent here is the teaching of St. Jerome (Commentary on Titus, chapter 3) and of St. Thomas (IIa IIae Q. 39 A. 1 ad 3), that every schism concocts some heresy for itself, in order to justify its withdrawal from the Church. Thus, although schism is distinct from heresy, in most cases it is accompanied by the latter, and prepares the way for it. In the case at hand,whoever would deny the proposition just stated would not be a pure schismatic, but also a heretic, as Suarez also reckons (above, in the solution to the fourth objection).”[4]

    So, as I have shown, the question of the legitimacy of a Pope does indeed pertain to infallibility, and the rejection of a pope who has been accepted as such by the Church will, in and of itself, send a person in hell.

    I will end with a Question and Answer that was, quite Providentially, included in the December 1965 issue of the American Ecclesiastical Review (the very month that Paul VI ratified Vatican II). Fr. Francis J. Connell applied this teaching we have discussed to the Papacy of Paul VI in order to prove that he was the true and legitimate Pope.

    “Question: What certainty have we that the reigning Pontiff is actually the primate of the universal Church – that is, that he became a member of the Church through valid baptism, and that he was validly elected Pope?

    “Answer: Of course, we have human moral certainty that the reigning Pontiff was validly elected in conclave and accepted the office of Bishop of Rome, thus becoming head of the universal Church. The unanimous consensus of a large group of Cardinals composing the electoral body gave us this assurance. And we also have human moral certainty that the reigning Pontiff was validly baptized, since there is a record to that effect in the baptismal register of the church in which the sacrament was administered. We have the same type of certainty that any bishop is the true spiritual head of the particular See over which he presides. This type of certainty excludes every prudent fear of the opposite.

    But in the case of the Pope we have a higher grade of certainty – a certainty that excludes not merely the prudent fear of the opposite, but even the possible fear of the opposite. In other words, we have infallible certainty that the present Sovereign Pontiff [Paul VI] has been incorporated into the Church by a valid baptism and has been validly elected head of the universal Church. For if we did not have infallible assurance that the ruling Pontiff is truly in the eyes of God the chief teacher of the Church of Christ, how could we accept as infallibly true his solemn pronouncements? This is an example of a fact that is not contained in the deposit of revelation but is so intimately connected with revelation that it must be within the scope of the Church’s magisterial authority to declare it infallibly. The whole Church, teaching and believing, declares and believes this fact, and from this it follows that this fact isinfallibly true. We accept it with ecclesiastical – not divine – faith, based on the authority of the infallible Church.[5]

    You should meditate on this doctrine, since it entirely refutes your claim and proves – with infallible certitude – that your explanation for the current crisis is entirely false.

    [1] The Church of Christ, pp. 288, 289, 290.

    [2] Christ’s Church, p. 112 (emphasis added).

    [3] Sources of Revelation, p. 265 (emphasis added).

    [4] Ibid

    [5] American Ecclesiastical Review, vol. 153, Dec. 1965, p. 422 (emphasis added).

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