Tag: the Pope

Pope Indispensable – II

Pope Indispensable – II posted in Eleison Comments on February 8, 2020

It is to the unfaithfulness of Catholic Authority to Catholic Truth at the Second Vatican Council that these “Comments” last week (DCLV, Feb.1) attributed the unprecedented crisis of the Catholic Church, now well over 50 years old. The logical conclusion was that the crisis will only come to an end when Catholic Authority comes back to the Truth, because the Truth does not change, and so it cannot move to rejoin the Pope and bishops who are meant to be defending it. Moreover it was stated that the Pope must restore the bishops, and that Almighty God alone can restore the Pope, and that God will put the Pope back on his feet only “when we have learned our lesson.” That is because if God lifted us back up the mud-slide too soon, we naughty human beings would profit merely to slide down once more. God cannot afford to be too generous with our perverse generation. So what lesson or lessons do we need to be taught?

Amongst others, that the world cannot do without a sane Church, and the Church to be sane must have a sane Pope, and the sane Pope must be obeyed. For example, by the time Vatican II came to an end at the end of 1965, the churchmen were in full-blooded apostasy. Yet still God gave mankind another chance. In front of Paul VI was the pressing question of artificial means of birth control, contraception for short. Conditions in modern cities were persuading a mass of bishops, priests and lay-folk that the Church’s strict and ancient condemnation had to be relaxed, that the modern city was right and that the unchanging rule of the Church, in other words God, was wrong. Paul VI too wanted to make the rule easier.

However, when the commission of experts which he had appointed to study the question made their report, he himself saw that the rule could not be relaxed. His final arguments for maintaining the rule have not the force of the old arguments based on the immutable natural law, but nevertheless Paul VI did uphold the essential law in his Encyclical “Humanae Vitae” of 1968. But when he published it, all hell promptly broke loose in the Church. And in 1969 he imposed on the entire Church the Novus Ordo Mass. Is it idle speculation that if the bishops and priests had obeyed the Pope, instead of rejecting God’s unchanging law, God might have spared them the New Mass? As it was, disobeying the Pope when he was faithful to God’s law, they all contributed to the breakdown of Authority in the Church. All bets were then off, and chaos took over inside the Church.

Here is a classic example of Truth needing Authority, of the world needing the Church and of the Church needing the Pope. Especially in today’s big city, men cannot see what is wrong with contraception, on the contrary, it seems to be mere common sense. Thus if there is no divine Authority to forbid contraception, nothing and nobody else will stand up to the human passions which drive towards it. In this way Vatican II (Gaudium et Spes # 48) suggested that in the act of marriage recreation comes before procreation, and it opened the flood-gates to divorce, adultery, pre-birth then post-birth abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, gender change, and horrors yet unknown, but all implicit in the breakdown of the subordination of recreation to procreation. Mother Church always knew that to smash the act of marriage is to smash successively marriage, the individual person, the family, society, the nation and the world. This chaos is where we are today. Such is the need of Authority.

And the most important Authority is that of the Church, to impose upon men’s erring minds God’s infallible Truth, and upon their wayward wills God’s eternal Law, so that they can get to His Heaven and avoid their Hell. And to embody that Authority and to project it before men, the Incarnate God instituted His One Catholic Church as a monarchy of which the single ruler is the Roman Pope, who alone has the mission and the grace to govern and to hold together, in the Catholic Truth, all members of the Church. It follows that when he quits the Truth, as with Vatican II, then the sheep are necessarily scattered, because nobody other than the Pope has from God the mission or the grace to unite them (cf. Lk. XXII, 32).

Kyrie eleison.

God Enlists

God Enlists posted in Eleison Comments on April 29, 2017

Fr Jean-Michel Gleize, Theology Professor at the Écône seminary of the Society of St Pius X, has written on burning problems of today two articles which throw interesting light on their solution. Firstly, can the Pope fall into formal heresy? Answer, maybe, because Popes have not always been held to be so free from error as they have been held to be in the last few centuries. And secondly, does the Papal document Amoris Laetitia show that Pope Francis has fallen into formal heresy? Answer, strictly speaking, no, but in effect, one may say so, because neo-modernism undermines doctrine while pretending to uphold it. This second question will have to wait for another issue of these “Comments,” but if Fr Gleize did not want to be caught between sedevacantism and liberalism, he had to broach the first question first.

In the first and shorter article, he says that from the Protestant “Reformation” onwards, Catholic theologians in general, notably St Robert Bellarmine, have held that the Pope cannot fall into conscious and stubborn denial of Church dogma, i.e. formal heresy. They quote Our Lord telling Peter to confirm his brethren in the Faith (Lk. XXII, 32), which presupposes that Peter cannot lose it. And they argue that never in Church history has a Pope fallen into formal heresy. On the other hand prior to the Protestant revolution, says Fr Gleize, Catholic theologians from the 12th to the 16th century generally judged that a Pope can fall into formal heresy, and this opinion has continued into modern times, albeit less commonly.

Fr Gleize concludes that especially in view of the Conciliar Popes, the later theologians have not proved their point. As for Peter always being protected by Our Lord from formal heresy, faith is an act of the mind pushed by free-will, and God rarely interferes with free-will. And as for Popes in history, Honorius for example was anathematised by his successors for having favoured the Monothelite heresy. This conclusion is for sure disputable and disputed, but if one looks at the question from the historical standpoint of the Seven Ages of the Church, it does make sense.

By three Ages (Apostles 33–70, Martyrs 70–312, and Doctors 312 to about 500 AD), the Church climbed to the Fourth Age, the 1,000 year triumph of Christendom (about 500–1517). But by the late Middle Ages the Devil and original sin were eating into Christendom, and men launched into the Fifth Age of Apostasy (1517-?), whereby degenerating Christians invented one form of hypocrisy after another (Protestantism, Liberalism, Communism amongst others) to pay homage to Christian virtue and civilisation even while “liberating” themselves for the latest vice, e.g. same-sex “marriage.” Now God could have made the Middle Ages go on for ever, but He would have had to interfere with free-will. As it was, He gave to His Church a special crop of Saints to lead the Counter-Reformation, and over the next half-millennium He obtained, to vary the population of His Heaven, a harvest of post-medieval Saints. But to counter-act the corruption of post-medieval man, God chose to re-inforce authority in His Church, so that souls wishing for salvation but no longer enough so by inner virtue, could at least be directed by outer authority towards Heaven. Then of course the Devil set to work especially on churchmen in high positions of authority and after nearly half a millennium it is as though the Lord God said, “If you do not want My Church, then have your own Newchurch,” and that was Vatican II.

So now Church authority is damaged beyond all human repair, and He will use some other means to wring out of our spiritually exhausted world yet another harvest of souls. A Chastisement will ensure the initial brilliance of the Church of the Sixth Age, but the Devil and original sin will have a human nature to work on that has been weakened in depth by the Fifth Age’s liberalism, so that it should not take too long to bring on the Seventh Age of the Antichrist. But that will be an Age of some of the greatest Catholics of all Church history – a crop of especially great Saints.

Kyrie eleison.

Divinity Transcendent

Divinity Transcendent posted in Eleison Comments on April 8, 2017

If ever there is a moment of the year when it is specially fitting to contemplate the suffering and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that moment is surely today, on the eve of Palm Sunday, just before Holy Week. And that contemplation has become more necessary with each year for the last 50 years, because the suffering of Mother Church which broke out with Vatican II has become more and more scandalous, more and more mysterious. We all need to remind ourselves that God is mysterious, in other words that He goes infinitely above and beyond our little human minds. Otherwise we risk cutting Him down to size in order to fit Him into those little minds. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts” (Is. LV, 8–9).

This great lesson is taught in the fifth Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary, when at the age of 12 Our Lord allowed Himself to be lost by His Mother and St Joseph in order to remind them that He had to be about His Father’s business. His Mother could not understand – “Son, why hast thou done so to us?” He had caused three days of intense anxiety to his human parents – “Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” Our Lord replied as though they had been anxious for no reason – “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Yet so intense had been His parents’ anxiety that humanly this answer made no sense – “And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them.” However, His Mother knew better than to question her Son any further. Instead she “kept all these words in her heart” (Lk. II, 48–51), to see why God was right although she could not understand.

To the future head of the Church, Rock on which it would be built, the same lesson of God’s ways far transcending our own needed to be taught, albeit somewhat more roughly than to Our Lord’s gentle Mother. All too humanly, Peter rebukes Our Lord for daring to tell the Apostles that He is going up to Jerusalem to suffer and to die. Our Lord’s reply is stinging: “Get thee behind me, satan!,” yet the explanation is essentially the same as it was to His Mother, “because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men” (Mt. XVI, 21–23). Peter, just appointed Rock of the Church (Mt. XVI, 18–19), can least of all be allowed to think humanly instead of divinely when it will come to governing the Church.

But of course Our Lord does recognise the problem of human beings thinking too humanly when it comes to the things of God. That is why, soon after the rebuke to Peter, He took him with James and John up Mount Tabor in order by His Transfiguration to let the Godhead’s divinity shine out from within the human nature. Thus the Apostles might soon all of them be shaken to the core by the terrible deicide in Jerusalem, but three of them would be able to give witness to what they had seen with their own eyes (cf. II Peter I, 16–18), before the Passion, of the Godhead blazing from within the man crucified on Calvary.

And in our own day? Catholics know that the life of the Catholic Church is the continuation on earth of the Incarnate life of Christ on earth, so that in principle they know that as Christ’s 33 years ended in His Passion and Death, so the Church may finish its time on earth by bleeding from all wounds until it is virtually extinguished. Nevertheless to see it in practice, happening under one’s eyes, can shake the faith of many a good man – “How is it possible that these Popes, these Cardinals and these Bishops are the carriers of God’s authority in the structure of His one true Church?” Of course they are not in general its faithful carriers, but where else are its structural carriers? Patience. God was still there, being dragged to Calvary, so He is still there, being dragged into the New World Order. But He has not said His last word!

Kyrie eleison.

Benevolent Ally?

Benevolent Ally? posted in Eleison Comments on January 28, 2017

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, originally from Germany but now a Bishop of Astana in Kazakhstan, has made himself known to Traditionalists in recent years for his many statements at least apparently sympathetic to Catholic Tradition. For instance last year he associated himself publicly with the four Cardinals’ questioning of Pope Francis’ doctrine in the papal document, Amoris Laetitia. When he himself does so much to criticize the Church swinging “left,” he may not understand or appreciate coming under attack from the “right,” but it is the Truth which is at stake, not our little personalities. Your Excellency, thank you for much truth that you have had the courage openly to defend, but do understand that the full Truth is much stronger, and more demanding, than you think. You gave recently an interview to Adelante la Fe. Please do not take it personally if I quote (in italics) a few of your answers and criticize them:—

I am convinced that in the present circumstances, Msgr. Lefebvre would accept Rome’s canonical proposal of a Personal Prelature without hesitation. Your Excellency, that is impossible. Archbishop Lefebvre believed, and proved by argument from Church theology and history, that Vatican II was an unprecedented betrayal, by the highest authorities in the Church, of 1900 years of unchangeable Church doctrine. But official Rome is still following that objectively treacherous Council. Therefore to put the SSPX under this Rome will be to put the fox in charge of the hen-coop. The Archbishop always hoped Rome would come right. It has still not done so.

Msgr. Lefebvre was a man with a deep”sensus ecclesiae,” or sense of the Church. That is true, because above all he had a deep and clear grasp of Catholic doctrine, or teaching, which is at the heart of the Church. “Going, TEACH all nations,” was Jesus’ last instruction to his Apostles (Mt.XXVIII, 20). Vatican II betrayed Catholic doctrine, so the Archbishop’s very sense of the Church made him repudiate that Council. Today’s Conciliarists in Rome can never rebuild the Church.

He consecrated four bishops in 1988 because he was convinced that there was a real state of necessity. It was the objective crisis that gave rise to the subjective conviction, and not the other way round. Our modern world is mentally sick with subjectivism. The Archbishop was an objectivist.

If the SSPX remains canonically independent for too long, its members and followers will lose their sense of the need to be subject to the Pope, and they will end up ceasing to be Catholic. The Pope is Pope in order to “confirm his brethren” in the Faith. See Luke XXII, 32. If he is a Conciliar Pope with his faith corrupted by Vatican II, he can no longer give what he has not got. It is by being subject to Conciliar Popes that countless Catholics since the Council have lost the true Faith.

No Catholic can pick and choose which Popes he will or will not be subject to. God guides His Church. The present crisis in the Church is unprecedented because never before in Church history has there been a series of Popes out of line with the true Faith as we have seen since Vatican II. This means that Catholics must – exceptionally – judge their Popes, bishops and priests. By this crisis God is purifying His Church, and when the purification is complete, He will grant to His Church a great and truly Catholic Pope.

I have told Bishop Fellay, we in Rome need the SSPX in today’s great battle for the purity of the Faith. Your Excellency, do believe that Conciliar Rome will do its best to complete the SSPX’s corruption of the Faith. Already the official SSPX has slidden far from the Archbishop’s objective Faith.

Kyrie eleison.

Church’s Infallibility

<u>Church’s</u> Infallibility posted in Eleison Comments on September 17, 2016

From earth to Heaven go up problems. From heaven to earth come down solutions. Many a Catholic problem needs only to be taken on high to become rather less problematic. A classic example might be the problem of the Conciliar Popes, a problem with which we have been confronted since 2013 as never before, at least so brutally. There is in any case a mystery involved, but if we do not climb high enough, we fall easily prey to one of the two classic temptations: either he is the Pope so I must obey, or I cannot obey so he cannot be Pope. But if I climb above the humanity of the Pope to the divinity of the Church, then I realise that so-called Papal infallibility is actually Church infallibility, which leaves much more room for this or that Pope, or even a series of Popes, to be rather less than satisfactory. Let us go straight to the 1870 definition of infallibility, itself infallible. Here is the text, with some words highlighted, and figures inserted:—

We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra , that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, 1 by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he 2 defines 3 a doctrine regarding faith or morals 4 to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable. —?Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, Chapter iv.

In this text we see clearly the famous four conditions for the Pope to be speaking infallibly, but we see also immediately following the two words here highlighted which seem to be not often noticed, but which make very clear where the Pope’s infallibility comes from: it comes not from himself but from the Church. Let us draw a familiar comparison from modern life, from a housewife plugging her electric iron into a socket in the wall. For the iron to be heated, she must plug it into the socket, but the electricity which will then heat her iron comes obviously not from herself but from the local power station.

For a Papal definition to be infallible, the Pope must plug the four conditions into the Church, so to speak, and he is the one and only person on earth that can do that, which is why it is called “Papal infallibility,” but the infallible protection from error which he then obtains comes not from himself but from the Holy Ghost through the Church, somewhat as the electricity comes not from the housewife but from the power station through the socket. And so just as the housewife may have all kinds of personal qualities or defects, but just so long as she puts the plug into the socket, they make no difference to her iron being heated or not, similarly the Pope may be a Saint or much less than a saint, but if he is the duly appointed or elected Pope, then from the moment that he engages the four conditions, his definition will be necessarily free from error.

What this means is that whenever the Pope does not engage those four conditions, strictly speaking he can talk nonsense just like the rest of us, without the Church ceasing to be infallible. And in fact her Ordinary Infallibility is much more important than this Extraordinary Infallibility of Papal definitions, as previous issues of these “Comments” sought to illustrate with another familiar comparison, that between a mountain and its snowcap (see ECs 343 and 344, Feb 8 and 15 of 2014). The snowcap may provide greater visibility, but to be visible where it is seen it totally depends on the mountain’s bulk beneath it. So once we take the problem on high, it is not so important for the Church if the Conciliar Popes are out of their minds. We may suffer here below from fallible Popes, but Mother Church remains serenely infallible.

Kyrie eleison.

Vacancy Sense – II

Vacancy Sense – II posted in Eleison Comments on May 2, 2015

Concerning the deposition of a heretical Pope, the Traditional Dominicans of Avrillé in France have done us a great favour by publishing not only the classic considerations of John of St Thomas (cf. EC 405), but also those of other outstanding theologians. In brief, the best minds of the Church teach that a simple and popular argument today, namely that a heretical Pope cannot be a member of the Church and therefore all the less its head, is a little too simple. In brief, there is more to the Pope than just the individual Catholic who by falling into heresy loses the faith and with it his membership of the Church. For the Church, the Pope is much more than just an individual Catholic.

For clarity, let us present these theologians’ arguments in the form of question and answer:—

First of all, is it possible for a Pope to fall into heresy?

If he engages all four conditions of his Extraordinary Magisterium, he cannot teach heresy, but that he can personally fall into heresy is the more probable opinion at least of older theologians.

Then if he does fall into heresy, does that not make him cease to be a member of the Church?

As an individual Catholic person, yes, but as Pope, not necessarily, because the Pope is much more than just an individual Catholic. As Augustine said, the priest is Catholic for himself, but he is priest for others. The Pope is Pope for the entire Church.

But supposing that the great majority of Catholics can see that he is a heretic, because it is obvious. Would not his heresy in that case make it impossible for him to be Pope any longer?

No, because even if his heresy were obvious, still many Catholics might deny it, for instance out of “piety” towards the Pope, and therefore to prevent confusion from arising throughout the Church, an official declaration of the Pope’s heresy would be necessary to bind Catholics to stay united. Such a declaration would have to come from a Church Council, assembled for that purpose.

But if the heresy were public and obvious, surely that would be enough to depose him?

No, because firstly every heretic must be officially warned before being deposed, in case he would retract his heresy. And secondly, in Church or State every high official is serving the common good, and for the common good he must stay in office until he is officially deposed. So just as a bishop stays in office until he is deposed by the Pope, so the Pope stays in office until the official declaration of his heresy by a Church Council enables Christ to depose him (cf. EC 405).

But if a heretic is not a member of the Church, how can he be its head, the most important member?

Because his personal membership is a different thing from his official headship. By his personal membership he receives sanctification from the Church. By his official headship he gives official government to the Church. So by falling into heresy, he ceases to be a living member of the Church, that is true, but he does not thereby cease being able, even as a dead member, to govern the Church. His membership of the Church by faith and charity is incompatible with heresy, but his governing of the Church by his official jurisdiction, not requiring faith or charity, is compatible with heresy.

But by his heresy a former Pope has thrown away his Papacy!

Personally and in private that is true, but that is not true officially and in public until a Church Council has made not only public but also official his heresy. Until then the Pope must be treated as Pope, because for the Church’s tranquillity and common good, Christ maintains his jurisdiction.

Kyrie eleison.