"It would seem that we have crossed a threshold in our journey towards the reign of the Antichrist. There are more "traditional" Catholics now placing their expressed hope in Donald Trump than in Our Lady of Fatima and Her Triumph."
(My previous article, Cardinal Burke: The Center Will Not Hold is now posted here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/74)
New Article Posted February 4, 2017: A Tower of Babel: The Rush to Depose a Pope
A Tower of Babel:
The Rush to Depose a Pope
Recently, I received from a reader a treatise titled On The Deposition Of The Pope, written by the Dominican theologian John of St. Thomas (1589-1644). John of St. Thomas is considered by many to be one of the most faithful interpreters of St. Thomas Aquinas, and his (John of St. Thomas’) writings on this subject are almost certainly being considered as central to any agenda which seeks a declaration of heresy and deposition from the Papacy in respect to Pope Francis.
Before beginning my analysis of John of St. Thomas’ treatise, I wish to clearly state my own position. I do not believe that a Pope can fall into formal heresy, and therefore be judged as one who has lost the Catholic Faith. Obviously, I therefore do not think he can be deposed. I strongly recommend a carefully reading of my article titled The Sifting: The Never-Failing Faith of Peter, to be found here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/44
I need add, on the other hand, that I certainly do believe that a Pope can succumb to all sorts of philosophical and theological error, which indeed can find expression in objective heresy (in forms which obviously do not constitute infallible teaching), and which certainly may find expression in all sorts of agendas and practices which are in contradiction to traditional Catholic doctrine and practice. Again, I refer to the above-mentioned article for an analysis of how this is possible, and why I think it a matter of God’s providential chastisement.
It is also important, I think, to place this present subject in a certain perspective. With the Papacy of Pope Francis, we are now faced with many attempts, from manifold perspectives, to find justification and means for deposing the Pope. Canon Law emphatically declares that “The First See is judged by no one” (#1404), and so all these attempts necessitate the spinning of casuistic complexities designed to somehow convince us that judging the Pope is not really judging at all. Most of these attempts focus on the writings of four men (their writing occurring over a span of less than 150 years): Thomas Cajetan, Robert Bellarmine, Francisco Suarez, and John of St. Thomas. Sedevacantists focus on the teaching of Bellarmine and Suarez and their teaching that a Pope who is a manifest heretic ipso facto loses his office, without a formal judgment from the Church. This obviously justifies their position that the Chair of Peter is empty, and in the minds of most sedevacantists, has been empty since the death of Pope Pius XII.
Those who are not sedevacantists, and yet also seek a means of justifying Papal deposition, quite naturally embrace the writings of Cajetan and John of St. Thomas, both of whom taught that Papal deposition could only happen through the actions of a General Council of the Bishops. It is quite obvious that this is the only option open to the SSPX, since they have all along claimed to recognize the legitimacy of Pope Francis and his immediate predecessors. But now it is also the preferred option for others who are horrified by what Pope Francis has been saying, writing, and doing.
At the present moment, a heated war is being waged between these two camps. Suffice to say that in dealing here with the position of John of St. Thomas (and also Cajetan, since their positions are very similar), I will be largely ignoring the sedevacantist position. The latter I have rightly called “The Religion of Abandonment” – after 66 years without a Pope, theirs is a position which looks to the rest of human history without a Pope, and therefore without a Church.
The position of John of St. Thomas, and that of the SSPX and others who seek the Pope’s deposition, is however, something which now poses an immense threat to the Church. It portends a descent into chaos which would make the present crisis of disunity and rebellion in the Church look like child’s-play. It is therefore well-worth examining and combating.
As we shall see, in John of St.Thomas’ agenda for deposing a Pope, the responsibility and power of such deposition comes to rest in a General Council of Bishops. It would therefore seem absolutely necessary to begin with a lucid understanding of the relationship between the Pope and all the bishops of the world.
I consider the greatest and most authoritative exposition of the relationship which must exist according to the Divine Constitution of the Church between bishops and the Pope to be Pope Leo XIII’s wonderful encyclical ,em>Satis Cognitum (On the Unity of the Church). I have never seen it quoted by any of the growing number of people now busily trying to find some justification for deposing a Pope. The following passage is crucial:
“The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms to be expected in the Church as there are priests….He alone was designated as the foundation of the Church. To him He gave the power of binding and loosing; to him alone was given the power of feeding. On the other hand, whatever authority and office the Apostles received, they received in conjunction with Peter: ‘If the divine benignity willed anything to be in common between him and the other princes, whatever He did not deny to the others He gave only through him. So that whereas Peter alone received many things, He conferred nothing on any of the rest without Peter participating in it’. (S. Leo M. sermo iv., cap.2).” [Notice that the last two sentences are quoted from Pope St. Leo the Great].
Every attempt to justify the deposition of a Pope because of heresy necessitates the building of an intellectual construct, a Tower of Babel, which ascends above the Pope, while still claiming subjection to the Papacy. All of the scourings of history – searching through the writings of Saints, Doctors, Theologians, Canonists, Councils, and Popes – in a vain attempt to find justification for, and a means towards, judging and deposing a Pope, must disguise the fact that not only does the Pope not “participate” in such construction, but that every one of these edifices is diametrically opposed to the manifest mind and will of the reigning Pope. Every such attempt, in other words, is in direct contradiction to the truth taught by Pope Leo XIII which is rendered in bold in the above quotation.
I watch these attempts proliferating in the midst of Pope Francis’ pontificate, and feel like I am in the eye of a hurricane watching the traditional Catholic world sucked down into a vortex of self-deceit. I am strongly reminded of Satan’s original temptation: “No, you shall not die the death. For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.” It is the same old temptation. We just cannot believe that God would allow us to be in a situation in which we have no recourse to any power or source of authority within ourselves, but only in Him.
But this is precisely the principle which is the foundation of the Papacy and its only ultimate defense against all the forces of Satan, especially those forces working internally in the minds and hearts of the individual pontiffs themselves which would seek to prevail over it throughout the centuries: “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm they brethren.” (Luke 22: 31-32). The extraordinary prerogatives of the Papacy, which make it the Rock against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail, can only be rooted in the promise and prayer of Christ.The defense of the institution, perpetuity, power, and nature of the Papacy does not lie in man’s recourse to any sort of natural law or human right, but in the supernatural grace and promise of God. This is the central truth of the Papacy which is at least implicitly denied in the following passage from John of St. Thomas’ treatise (and which forms the entire justification for his seeking a means of deposing a Pope):
"Now, one should not avoid one that remains in the [Sovereign] Pontificate; on the contrary, the Church should instead be united to him as her supreme head and communicate with him. Therefore, if the pope is a heretic, either the Church should communicate with him, or he must be deposed from the Pontificate.
"The first solution leads to the ,strong>obvious destruction of the Church, and has inherently a risk that the whole ecclesiastical government errs, if she has to follow a heretical head. In addition, as the heretic is an enemy of the Church, natural law provides protection against such a Pope according to the rules of self-defense, because she can defend herself against an enemy as is a heretical Pope; therefore, she can act (in justice) against him. So, in any case, it is necessary that such a Pope must be deposed.”
As we shall see by the end of our analysis, the so-called “natural right” to depose a Pope is itself immersed in self-contradiction, and represents an agenda for total chaos and disintegration within the Church.
It is well to begin by repeating this basic principle: “So that whereas Peter alone received many things, He conferred nothing on any of the rest without Peter participating in it.”
The only way in which a living Pope can participate in the loss of the Papacy is through his own voluntary resignation. The grievous error of John of St. Thomas position is therefore succinctly stated in the very first sentence of his treatise: “I affirm that the Pope can lose the pontificate in three ways: through natural death, by voluntary renunciation, and by deposition.” No matter what Jesuitical or sophistic mental gyrations one may come up with, there can be no attempt at deposition of a Pope without directly contradicting the absolutely foundational principle that “He conferred nothing on any of the rest without Peter participating in it.”
So let us begin. I wish to note here for the sake of future reference that the work of John of St. Thomas examined here was first translated into French from the Latin and annotated by Fr. Pierre-Marie O.P., and then translated from the French into English by Fr. Juan Carlos Ortiz, SSPX. Subtitles were added, and I shall employ these subtitles where I deem it appropriate.
John of St. Thomas begins with three “Arguments from authority” (subtitle) in order to try to establish some sort of authoritative precedence for his position:
The first argument is as follows:
“A specific text is found in the Decree of Gratian, Distinction 40, chapter Si Papa, where it is said: ‘On earth, no mortal should presume to reproach (redarguere) any faults to the Pontiff, because he who has to judge (judicaturus) others, should not be judged (judicandus) by anyone, unless he is found deviating from the Faith.’ (Pars I, D 40, c. 6). This exception obviously means that in case of heresy, a judgment could be made of the pope.” (please keep in mind that this last sentence is the conclusion of John of St.Thomas, and is not found in Gratian].
I have personally added bold emphasis to the word “reproach” in the above passage from the Decree of Gratian. It is clear that there is here proposed a right of judgment (which is identified with the concept of “reproach”, and nothing else) in regard to errors or deviations from the faith on the part of the Pope. This, of course, is fully incumbent upon us in our individual responsibility for retaining and defending the Faith. But there is nothing here, contrary to what John appears to say in his last sentence of the above paragraph, to identify such judgment and reproach with the right to sit in judgment of the Pope’s culpability in this regard (as being one who has lost the Catholic faith), or depose him.
This becomes fully evident if we place the above quote from Gratian in its larger context (which, in all honesty should have been done in the first place):
“If the Pope, being neglectful of his own salvation and that of his brethren, be found useless and remiss in his works, and , more than that, reluctant to do good (which harms himself and others even more), and nonetheless brings down with him innumerable throngs of people….Let no mortal man presume to rebuke him for his faults, for, it being incumbent upon him to judge all, he should be judged by no one, unless he is suddenly caught deviating from the faith.”
The word “reproach” or “rebuke”, and the “judgment” which is its requisite, is here applied across a wide spectrum of papal failures, and the passage simply instructs us that we pull back from such judgment and reproach of the Pope except in the case of his deviation from the faith – in which case we may exercise that judgment which issues forth in reproach of the Pope. To extend the word “judgment” as used here to further mean that someone has the right to formally judge the Pope as a heretic, and depose him, is indeed a perversion of this passage. Such rashness and presumption seems to speak of an agenda desirous of seeing things that are not really there.
The Second Argument from Authority, employed by John of St. Thomas, runs as follows:
“The same thing is confirmed by the letter of Hadrian II, reported in the Eighth General Council [IV Constantinople, 869-870], in the 7th session, where it is said that the Roman Pontiff is judged by no one, but the anathema was made by the Orientals against Honorius, because he was accused of heresy, the only cause for which it is lawful for inferiors to resist their superiors. (MANSI, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova collectio amplissima, Venice, 1771, vol. 16, col. 126).”
First, we rightly conclude again, and therefore in agreement with this principle as stated in the above passage, that it is the right and duty of inferiors to resist objective heresy proposed by their superiors. But the above passage does not accuse Honorius of actually being a formal heretic, nor does it say anything about the right of inferiors to judge him to be so, and certainly says nothing about the right to depose him. In other words, the above passage, in and of itself, offers no argument whatsoever justifying judgment and deposition of a Pope.
But there is more that needs to be said here.
I would consider the “case” against Pope Honorius to be probably the greatest piece of historical falsification of fact and reality in the history of the Catholic Church. I have written a rather extensive article on this subject, which was actually made into a chapter in my book The War Against the Papacy. I have now converted that chapter into an individual article, the link for which will be found at Part XXV at the bottom of the menu on the left side of this page. I have also included in this document my shorter chapters on Pope Liberius and Pope John XXII, since these Papacies have also been used to further this same agenda.
The Third Argument is the shortest, and is most easily disposed of. John of St. Thomas writes:
“Also Pope St. Clement says in his first epistle that Saint Peter taught that a heretical pope must be disposed.”
John of St. Thomas apparently picked this argument up from Cajetan. It is absolutely false. There is nothing of the kind in the First Epistle of Clement. Pope Clement I’s Letters are available in English, and anyone can check this out. I do not know how Cajetan or John of St. Thomas fell subject to this piece of historical error.
In addition, even though they are not included in John of St. Thomas’ arguments from authority, I think it is necessary here to include two other such historically based “arguments”.
The first derives from a statement made by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) in one of his sermons:
The pope should not flatter himself about his power, nor should he rashly glory in his honour and high estate, because the less he is judged by man, the more he is judged by God. Still the less can the Roman Pontiff glory, because he can be judged by men, or rather, can be shown to be already judged, if for example he should wither away into heresy, because he who does not believe is already judged. In such a case it should be said of him: ‘If salt should lose its savour, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trampled under foot by men.”
Again, we are here dealing with the question of the meaning of the word “judgment” as employed in this passage. All men should consider themselves subject to judgment, from both superiors and inferiors, if they violate God’s truth. It is a matter of great credit to Pope Innocent III that he possessed the humility to acknowledge this truth. It was he who possessed the nobility and humility to receive St. Francis’ exalted vision for his Order, a vision which was soon to be buried under the compromising legislation of future Popes (see my article St. Francis of Assisi: They Loved You So That They Might Leave You for an extensive treatment of this subject). But such “judgment” is not the same as a judgment of authority which has the power to declare a person formally to be a heretic. Nor does it posses the power and authority to institute juridical actions against him which would depose him of his office. This power only resides in a superior authority who, in the case of a Pope, is God alone.
The final argument, which I think it is necessary to include here, involves the Council of Constance. John of St. Thomas states it quite simply:
“And in the case of the Great [Western] Schism during which there were three popes, the Council of Constance was assembled to settle the schism.”
This, again, is a falsification of history. There were not three Popes, at the time the Council of Constance, but only one – Gregory XII – who resigned from his office, sanctioned the Council itself, and also sanctioned its legitimacy in electing a new Pope. All of this has been examined very clearly and extensively in my article The Religion of Abandonment: Sedevacantism and the Heresy of Conciliarism.
Having established the lack of substance, and the extraordinary superficiality, in all these alleged arguments from authority, we might well question the benefit in proceeding any further. I think, however, that further examination of John of St. Thomas’ program for deposition of a Pope might be of value in unmasking what I have termed the “Tower of Babel” of intellectual sophistry which is now under construction by many Catholics in their attempts to ascend to power over the Papacy of Pope Francis. I will begin with a summary of his position, and afterward offer my analysis.
Deposition of the Pope
John of St. Thomas begins with the scriptural injunction to be found in Titus 3:10: “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid him”. He proceeds: “Now, one should not avoid one that remains in the [sovereign] Pontificate; on the contrary, the Church should instead be united to him as her supreme head and communicate with him. Therefore, if the pope is a heretic, either the Church should communicate with him, or he must be deposed from the Pontificate. John then opts for the second solution because, “The first solution leads to the obvious destruction of the Church....So, in any case it is necessary that such a Pope must be deposed.”
According to John, however, “heresy alone is not sufficient to depose the Pontiff”. Two other conditions must be fulfilled: 1) The heresy is not hidden, but must be “public and legally notorious”; 2) the Pope must be incorrigible and pertinacious in his heresy.
From here, John moves on to what he calls the second problem: “by what authority should the deposition of the Pope be done?” This involves two questions, and two very distinct stages: the Deposition, and the Deposition which follows: 1) “Who should pronounce the declarative sentence of the crime of heresy? And, 2) “On which authority is the Pope deposed?
In answer to the first question, John replies: “On the first point, we must say that the statement of the crime does not come from the Cardinals, but from the General Council.” In response to the second question, he answers, “In the case of deposition, this belongs to the Church, whose authority is represented by the General Council; indeed, to the cardinal is only entrusted the election, and nothing else, as can be seen in Canon Law.”
The summary of John of St. Thomas position can thus be very simply summarized as follows:
1) The Pope can fall into heresy.
2) If such heresy is “public and legally notorious”, if the Pope has been warned, and if he is “incorrigible and pertinacious” in his heresy, he can be, and should be, deposed.
3) A General Council can first declare his heresy.
4) A General Council can then declare him deposed.
Until this final declaration of deposition is made, the Pope is still Pope, and the Catholic faithful are obliged to submission to his supreme authority. The Pope does not lose his office for heresy, whether hidden (occult) or public, until this deposition is declared by the General Council.
As I have noted, John of St. Thomas’ basic program for deposition of a Pope appears relatively simple. This certainly is not true of his attempts to justify it. The complexity of his arguments employed in justifying the four-point agenda listed above is the means by which its errors are masked, and might appear to many to be made acceptable. Having already exposed the lack of substance in his arguments from authority (which were designed to support the first two points), we now move on to the absolutely crucial question as to who has theauthority to make both the declaration of heresy and the declaration of deposition (points 2 & 3).
John begins by first noting the sharp “dissension” which exists among theologians concerning this matter. He refers to Cajetan’s writings in which are enumerated four very opposing positions, two of which are designated as extremes, and two as being middle positions. The first “extreme position” he describes as postulating that “the Pope is removed without human judgment by the mere fact of being a heretic”, and that this is the position of Bellarmine and Suarez. The second extreme position is that the Pope truly has a power above him by which he can be judged. Both these positions are rejected by Cajetan and John of St. Thomas.
The first middle position posits that in the single case of heresy, the Church is above the Pope. This also is to be rejected. And, finally, there is the position of both John of St. Thomas and Cajetan that the Pope “has no superior [on earth], neither absolutely, nor in the case of heresy, but only in a ministerial way.”
I think it also valuable at this point to add Cardinal Burke’s position to this mix. In his interview with Catholic World Report (analyzed in my article Cardinal Burke: The Center Will Not Hold, which is still posted immediately below this present article), he very specifically says that the Pope would cease to be Pope by the very act of formally professing heresy, and that, further, the authority for declaring him to be in heresy belonged to the College of Cardinals. In other words, Cardinal Burke has added a fifth position to what I have called this “Tower of Babel”. Interestingly enough, among all of those who have attempted to pronounce on this issue, Cardinal Burke has held the highest legal office in the Church.
Now, let us return to John of St. Thomas’ position that the Pope “has no superior [on earth], neither absolutely, nor in the case of heresy, but only in a ministerial way.” He continues:
“Just as the Church has a ministerial power to choose the person [Pope], but not to give power, as this is done immediately by Christ, in the same manner, in the disposition, which is the destruction of the bond by which the Papacy is attached to such person in particular, the Church has the power to depose him in a ministerial manner, but it is Christ who deprives [his power] with authority.”
Expressed in somewhat simpler form, what John is saying here (and using the arguments of Cajetan to do so) is that if it is through the ministry of men (Cardinals, under current Papal legislation) that the form of the Papacy is connected (disposed) to a certain person by the power of Christ, so through the ministry of the Pope’s inferiors (a General Council in this case), the connection between the form of the Papacy and the person of a particular Pope can be dissolved by a similar ministry of men.
I would say that upon reading this passage, immediately our Catholic antennae for detecting sophistry should go up. Everything that the Church does is ministry, as is all that is done “in a Church way” by individual Popes, bishops, priests, etc. Nothing is done with a power and authority which proceeds from us, but only through us by the commission, power, and authority of Christ. But at the same time, as we have seen in the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, it is a firm matter of Catholic truth that no ministry is exercised by bishops (or a General Council of Bishops) without the Pope participating in it. To turn this 180 degrees around and declare that somehow we can have an unwilling Pope participating in a declaration of himself as being a heretic, and then also participating in his own deposition, is sophistry and casuistry of the highest order.
Further, the ministerial power by which the Cardinals choose a Pope is totally a matter of a ministry derived from Papal legislation. There is nothing in such legislation which says that either the Cardinals or a General Council of Bishops has the ministerial power to dissolve this bond and thereby depose the Pope. The legislation in place for electing a Pope is clearly according to the “manifest mind and will of the Pope”, and therefore clearly a matter of his “participation” in the process. Any attempt, on the other hand, to depose a Pope against his manifest will, and therefore without his participation, is clearly the opposite. It requires specious reasoning of the highest order in any attempt to do so.
But the reasoning of John of St. Thomas involves not only specious casuistry, but also, as I said earlier, dissolves into simple self-contradiction. As we have seen, it was the position of Robert Bellarmine that the Pope is ipso facto deposed once he becomes a manifest heretic, and this without any formal declaration or judgment by the Church. Bellarmine’s reasoning is simple: A manifest heretic is not a Catholic, and a non-Catholic cannot be Pope. Further, if we are to follow the scriptural injunction, “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid him”, then if we were obliged to consider such a man Pope until he was formally deposed through the declaration of a General Council (which might take years, or never be accomplished at all), during all that time all the faithful would be in a forced position of communicating with, and being subject, to a non-Catholic and heretical Pope.
It is precisely this trap into which John of St. Thomas falls. He writes:
“A non-Christian who is such in itself AND in relation to us (quad se et quoad nos) cannot be Pope; however, if he is not in himself a Christian, because he has lost the faith, but if in relation to us he is not legally declared being infidel or heretic, as obvious as it may appear in a private judgment, he is still in relation to us (quoad nos) a member of the Church and therefore the head.”
In other words, according to John of St. Thomas (and Cajetan), the Antichrist could be (in relation to us) a member of the Church and our “head” – all because of a “legalism” which just couldn’t seem to get it together to have him ministerially declared a heretic. This is the terrible, self-contradictory principle entailing self destruction in John of St. Thomas’ position. As discussed earlier, he says that communication with a heretical Pope “leads to the obvious destruction of the Church”. On the other, in positing the possible existence of a formally heretical Pope, and yet at the same time the necessity of him remaining our “head” for years or even decades until he is declared deposed by a General Council of the Bishops, he is placing us in subservience to “the obvious destruction of the Church”. And of course this is precisely the situation we would now face. Most of today’s bishops probably do not believe in designating anyone a heretic, even less the Pope. For them, it was a medieval thing, which is now totally inappropriate. We only need add that even for Bellarmine, who taught that a heretic Pope would only ipso facto lose his office after he was shown to be pertinacious in the face of warnings, the Antichrist could be our head if he were good enough at keeping a secret (occult heresy), or intimidating and seductive enough to prevent public warnings being issued against him.
After all, once you posit that a Pope can be a formal heretic, there are no limits to just how big of a heretic he might be.
Such is the Rock of the Deposers.
Vatican Council I stated that in the Apostolic Primacy “is found the strength and solidity of the entire Church”. To posit the possibility of a formally heretical Pope who can, and should be, deposed, is to destroy the strength and solidity of the entire Church.
It certainly can be in accord with Catholic truth and charity to believe that Christ is chastising us through the present Papacy, that Satan has infiltrated the Church is a myriad of ways, that the Pope has been severely poisoned by philosophical and theological thinking whose origin lies in an almost universal subjection to reductive science and evolutionary theory, and that he is even malicious in his attempts to impose the implicit or logical consequences of these errors on those faithful who seek to hold onto tradition. But this does not mean that we have a “natural right” to liberate the Papacy from the Pope, but rather that we need to gird our loins in combat for the liberation of the Pope (and the vast majority of Catholics) from the reductive “scientism” and evolutionary theory which hold his mind and heart captive. We need make war on Science. We need also make war on its spouse, the never-ending proliferation of technology, which is the horse that we have ridden for many centuries away from Christ and His Beatitudes, and towards the Antichrist. In having betrayed the blessing of Lady Poverty many centuries ago, we entered upon a long road towards the eventual loss of our Catholic minds.
- James Larson
Posted January 2, 2017:
The Center Will Not Hold
It would seem an unquestionable fact that Cardinal Burke is the most influential leader in the resistance to the “moral gradualism” set in motion throughout the Church by Pope Francis and his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The traditional/orthodox Catholic world now seems to hang upon his every word and action.
It began slowly. Many traditional Catholics were deeply disappointed by Cardinal Burke’s initial response to Amoris Laetitia. In his statement issued in early April, 2016, it was his position that Amoris Laetitia needed to be interpreted in terms of Catholic tradition, while it was of course the position of many traditional Catholic media commentators that it in fact directly contradicted the traditional doctrinal and practical tradition of the Church. In his initial response, Cardinal Burke stated:
“The secular media and even some Catholic media are describing the recently issued post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “Love in the Family,” as a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family.
“Such a view of the document is both a source of wonder and confusion to the faithful and potentially a source of scandal, not only for the faithful but for others of goodwill who look to Christ and his Church to teach and reflect in practice the truth regarding marriage and its fruit, family life, the first cell of the life of the Church and of every society”.
It matters little whether we interpret the words “some Catholic media” to apply to militantly liberal or traditional Catholic media venues. The fact is that both rightly saw Amoris Laetitia as being a “revolution” and “radical departure” from traditional Catholic teaching, and thus both had to fall under Cardinal Burkes deprecatory categorization of them as causing “wonder and confusion” for the faithful. Quite rightly, therefore, many traditional Catholics felt somewhat betrayed by Cardinal Burke’s assessment.
It is, however, Cardinal Burke himself who has done the most since last April to keep this “scandal”, with all its “wonder and confusion”, alive not only in the minds and hearts of the Catholic faithful, but also in the eyes of the world.
On September 19, 2016, four Cardinals (Walter Branmuller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffara, and Joachim Meisner) sent a letter to Pope Francis, along with five “Dubia” (“doubts” or “questions”) in reference to the teaching of the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and requesting that these Dubia be answered and clarified by the Pope himself.
The letter went unanswered, and thus, on November 14, these Cardinals published both the Letter and Dubia, along with a Foreword, and also an Explanatory Note which further elaborated on the five Dubia, to the general public. This composite of documents they titled Seeking Clarity. A Plea to Untie the Knots in “Amoris Laetitia”.
One day later, on November 15, in an interview with Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Burke emphatically agreed with Mr. Pentin that some of the teachings of Amoris Laetitia, “go against the law of non-contradiction” in respect to moral doctrine and the state of soul necessary to receive the sacraments, and that if there is no response (from Pope Francis) to these questions, “I would say that it would be a question of taking a formal act of correction of a serious error”, and that “It is the duty in such cases, and historically it has happened, of cardinals and bishops to make clear that the Pope is teaching error and to ask him to correct it.”
Further, in an interview with Catholic Action for Faith and Family, Cardinal Burke flatly stated his opinion that Amoris Laetitia was not magisterial because it “contains serious ambiguities” [which, if they “go against the law of non-contradiction”, are obviously heretical) that “confuse people and can lead them into error and grave sin.” He further stated that “we [the four Cardinals] are hoping to make this a discussion for all Catholics, especially our fellow bishops.”
Cardinal Burke, in other words, has contradicted his own original position that Amoris Laetitia could be interpreted in line with Tradition, and has placed himself in the forefront of those who propose that its teachings entail a “radical departure” from tradition. He cannot any longer maintain the posture that he and the other Cardinals are only seeking “clarification”. Having publicly stated that Amoris Laetitia contains teachings which “go against the law of non-contradiction” in regard to traditional moral doctrine, he is necessarily identifying these teachings as heretical. Further, in declaring that “we are hoping to make this a discussion for all Catholics, especially our fellow bishops”, he shows that he is committed to taking what he formerly labeled as “potentially a form of scandal” to the highest level of public awareness where it will indeed create the most “wonder and confusion” among the faithful. And, obviously, he plans to use the public media to do so.
But he has now gone much further.
In a December 19 interview with LifeSiteNews, and in response to the question as to what a “formal correction would look like”, and when such an action would take place, Cardinal Burke replied:
“Well the dubia have to have a response because they have to do with the very foundations of the moral life and of the Church’s constant teaching with regard to good and evil, with regard to various sacred realities like marriage and Holy Communion and so forth. What format it would take is very simple; namely it would be direct, even as the dubia are, only in this case there would no longer be raising questions, but confronting the confusing statements in Amoris Laetitia with what has been the Church’s constant teaching and practice, and thereby correcting Amoris Laetitia. It’s an old institute in the Church, the correction of the pope. This has not happened in recent centuries, but there are examples and it’s carried out with the absolute respect for the office of the Successor of Saint Peter, in fact, the correction of the pope is actually a way of safeguarding that office and its exercise. When will it take place? Now of course we are in the last days, days of strong grace, before the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, and then we have the Octave of the Solemnity and the celebrations at the beginning of the New Year - the whole mystery of Our Lord’s Birth and His Epiphany - so it would probably take place sometime after that.”
But far more significant are his words to be found in an exclusive interview published the same day, December 19, in Catholic World Report, and dealing specifically with Amoris Laetitia and the Letter of the Four Cardinals to Pope Francis containing the five Dubia. Cardinal Burke here says things which are bound to not only cause confusion, but also send people over the edge into sedevacantism and other excesses. The following exchanges are excerpted from that interview:
CWR: Some people are saying that the pope could separate himself from communion with the Church. Can the pope legitimately be declared in schism or heresy?
Cardinal Burke: If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope. It’s automatic. And so, that could happen.
CWR: That could happen.
Cardinal Burke: Yes.
And a little further on in the interview:
CWR: Back to this question about the Pope committing heresy. What happens then, if the Pope commits heresy and is no longer Pope? Is there a new conclave? Who’s in charge of the Church? Or do we just not even want to go there to start figuring that stuff out?
Cardinal Burke: There is already in place the discipline to be followed when the Pope ceases from his office, even as happened when Pope Benedict XVI abdicated his office. The Church continued to be governed in the interim between the effective date of his abdication and the inauguration of the papal ministry of Pope Francis.
CWR: Who is competent to declare him to be in heresy?
Cardinal Burke: It would have to be members of the College of Cardinals.
CWR: Just to clarify again, are you saying that Pope Francis is in heresy or is close to it?
Cardinal Burke: No, I am not saying that Pope Francis is in heresy. I have never said that. Neither have I stated that he is close to being in heresy.
First of all, it is virtually impossible to believe that Cardinal Burke is not saying that Pope Francis is at least “close to heresy “(despite the fact that he has never actually said it). You cannot say that a particular teaching contradicts Catholic doctrine without at the same time thoroughly coloring that teaching with the charge of being objectively heretical.
Secondly, Cardinal Burke in the above interview (devoted almost exclusively to an examination of the “contradictory” teachings of Amoris Laetitia) allows himself to be drawn into a rather detailed discussion concerning the possibility of a heretical Pope, the mechanics by which he would thus cease to be Pope, and who would be qualified to declare such things. And he gives very specific answers. It is therefore impossible to believe that Cardinal Burke does not consider Pope Francis to be at least “close to heresy”. And certainly a great majority of the faithful would consider his very public words and actions during the past one and one-half months to be almost certain evidence that this is indeed his position.
All of this of course leads to the edge of a precipice which hovers over a situation in which the Church would descend into virtual total chaos. But Cardinal Burke does not stop short at the edge of this precipice. In what seems to be almost a nonchalant manner (how else are we to describe the following enormously grave statement made in an interview), he steps off the edge:
CWR: Who is competent to declare him to be in heresy?
Cardinal Burke: It would have to be members of the College of Cardinals.
Unlike the Papacy and the office of Bishop, the College of Cardinals is not of Divine institution. Throughout history, many Cardinals have not been bishops or even priests. There are actually three classes of Cardinals – Cardinal-bishops, Cardinal-priests, and Cardinal-deacons. Any unique authority a Cardinal might possess at any given point in history stems solely from the juridical authority of the Pope. The office has a long and complicated history of development, and Cardinals did not become the exclusive electors of the Pope until 1059. Current Papal legislation states that only Cardinals under the age of 80 may participate in the election of a new Pope. No Cardinal, or group of Cardinals, however, have ever been given the authority to declare that a Pope is a heretic, and that he has consequently been deposed from his Office.
What Cardinal Burke has proposed is therefore an objective heresy. It is somewhat similar to what is called the Conciliarist heresy – the false doctrine that a General Council is empowered to judge and declare a Pope deposed – a pernicious heresy which has been a recurring evil ever since the Council of Constance. It is in fact the Council of Constance which most Conciliarists attempt to subvert in order to promote their agenda. The folly of such an effort has been fully exposed in my article The Religion of Abandonment: Sedevacantism and the Heresy of Conciliarism.
In his marvelous encyclical On The Unity of the Church (Satis Cognitum), Pope Leo XIII quotes Saint Jerome concerning the relations which exist between the Pope and the bishops (and of course Cardinals) “according to the divine constitution of the Church”:
“The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms to be expected in the Church as there are priests.”
And he concludes this same paragraph (#14) with the following:
‘He alone was designated as the foundation of the Church. To him He gave the power of binding and loosing; to him alone was given the power of feeding. On the other hand, whatever authority and office the Apostles received, they received in conjunction with Peter. ‘If the divine benignity willed anything to be in common between him and the other princes, whatever He did not deny to the others He gave only through him. So that whereas Peter alone received many things, He conferred nothing on any of the rest without Peter participating in it.” (S. Leo M. sermo iv., cap.2).
In other words a Pope can only lose the Papacy through his own willful participation in that loss, which simply means that he must freely resign. Anything else would entail violation of the Divine Constitution of the Church, necessarily resulting in massive chaos and anarchy within the Church. The “safety of the Church” would be shattered.
The ensuing crisis would make the Great Western Schism, which indeed did produce chaos and decay in every facet of the life of the Church and Christian civilization, look like child’s-play. The divisions now existing within the College of Cardinals are not, as was the case at the time of the Great Western Schism, concerned with the relatively simple issue of two or three Papal claimants, but rather concern the very lifeblood of the Church – her doctrine. Cardinal Burke, in his interview with Catholic World Report, stated, “If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope”. It is certainly a matter of faith that the Pope, in accord with Christ’s promises, could not formally change the infallible magisterium, and Pope Francis has quite specifically said that he believes in all of Catholic doctrine. So what would constitute “formal” heresy on the part of Pope Francis? Is an interview with Anthony Spadaro sufficient? Are errors or “ambiguities” to be found in an Apostolic Constitution or Encyclical grounds for such automatic loss of the Papacy? It is absolutely absurd to believe that the Cardinals could ever agree on declaring the Pope to be in formal heresy. They would not even be able to agree about what constitutes “formal” heresy.
Very likely, a great many do not even believe in the legitimacy of the charge of heresy, since they now possess an evolutionary view of man’s spiritual growth which allows for no such black/white distinctions. The formal charge of heresy would be to them a “Medieval thing”, not suitable to our modern ecumenical understanding. After all, if the Pope can be a heretic, so also must be Lutherans or the Eastern Orthodox. And how many Cardinals are ready to go there!
If we add to these considerations the fact that approximately 40% of the 120 Cardinals eligible to vote in a Conclave have been personally elevated to that position by Pope Francis, and that there has been very little doctrinal backbone evident in those elevated to this position before his pontificate, Cardinal Burke’s proposal for rectifying this crisis is indeed a chimera. .
Most important, the designation of someone is a “formal heretic” has always required much more than just teaching objective error. It requires pertinaciousness and contumaciousness – in other words, persistent and willful disobedience in the face of correction from superior authority within the Church. How can this be possible in respect of the Pope if, as Canon Law states: “The First See is judged by no one” (canon 1404), and if the Pope is subject to no human superior authority within the Church? It has been claimed that the deposition of a Pope would not require judgment of him being a heretic, but only a “declaration” of the fact that he is a formal heretic and therefore that he has “automatically” lost the Papacy. Such sophistry totally ignores the conditions, other than objective error, which must be present in order for there to be that culpability present which merits the judgment that someone has lost the Catholic Faith. In other words, declaration demands judgment, and there is no one within the Church who possesses the authority from God to judge the Pope.
Finally, as I have already pointed out, why should it be the Cardinals who have the right to judge a Pope? – why not a General Council of all the Bishops? Why not opt for the real old-fashioned heresy of Conciliarism? At least with a General Counsel you have some sort of participation in the Church’s charism of Infallibility. Of course, such participation is entirely dependent upon the Pope’s ratification, but at least there is something there that might serve to disguise insufficiency in this regard. On the other hand, with the College of Cardinals, and any claim they might put forward as to their right and authority to judge heresy on the part of a Pope, or declare his deposition, there is only an embarrassing nakedness.
Of one thing we may be virtually certain. Cardinal Burke’s words, even if they are not followed by the enormously self-destructive course of action which he has suggested, will be an inspiration for many towards sedevacantism. After over 50 years of relative obscurity, the Sedevacantists are now able to finally say that “one of them” has finally admitted the licitness of the basic principles of their own position: namely, that a Pope can lose the faith, be declared a heretic, and be judged to have done so by his inferiors. At this point we have descended from a divinely-instituted monarchy to aristocracy (Cardinals or Bishops, as it may be), and the total chaos of Democracy is just around the corner. We best look forward and ask ourselves now: “On that day, how will we stand against the winds that will blow out of Hell?”
I would suggest, therefore, that we have only two recourses in the present crisis. The first is prayer for the direct intervention of God and His efficacious grace. The second is simply taking refuge in Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart and speaking the Word of Truth, and be fully willing to suffer whatever crosses may ensue as a result of such witness. Let us not presume to violate the Divine Constitution of the Church in order to end the pain which is the fruit of our own prostitution to the world, and which has merited this chastisement from God. Let us walk the narrow road of the Cross.
I offer the following two articles as being complementary to this article:
What Really Is At Stake: The Letter of Four Cardinals to Pope Francis Concerning Amoris Laetitia to be found here:
The Antichrist, and the Papacy of Pope Francis, linked here:
- James Larson
New Article, Posted December 20, 2016:
Truth Shall Be Cast Down on the Ground
Christ’s Advent Blasphemed
“And strength was given him [the Antichrist] against the continual sacrifice, because of sins: and truth shall be cast down on the ground….” (Dan 8: 12)
It is extremely difficult to convince people of the depth of the crisis which we now face.
It has been standard fare among orthodox and traditional Catholics to see Pope Francis as some sort of singular aberration, and to hunger for a return to what is thought to have been the relative Catholic “sanity” of a papacy such as that of Pope Benedict XVI. As a consequence of this position, it is also a prevalent attitude that it is now just a matter of “getting beyond” Francis in order for things to return to some sort of normal.
This is a delusion. The “excesses” of Pope Francis are the fruition of a philosophy and theology which has been long in preparation, has poisoned the thinking of virtually all members of the Catholic hierarchy, and which found its most succinct and influential formulations in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. There can be no “return” to Catholic sanity until the sources of these errors are confronted, engaged in battle, and defeated.
I have therefore compiled below a series of quotations from Joseph Ratzinger’s works. I request that the reader meditate on these passages, ask themselves whether there is any truly Catholic context in which they could be considered acceptable, and then go on to read my articles in which these passages (and many others) are more closely examined. At the end of these quotations I have also linked the most relevant articles.
Before listing these quotations I also offer, in the following two paragraphs, a general synopsis of the depths of this crisis:
The “new” theology, in all its varieties, must be seen as being primarily due to the eviscerating effect of reductive science upon the minds and hearts of Catholic theologians and philosophers. It begins with the denial of substantial being as constituting the root concept of all philosophy and theology. Since all physical reality is now wrongly thought to be entirely reducible to atoms (and quantum mechanics), and since such phenomena are constantly subject to change, then all of created reality has come to be viewed in terms of the constantly changing and evolving relationships between these phenomena.
As a result of such reductive science, every concept involving a “fixed” substantial nature has been cast aside, and is replaced by the concept of ongoing and ever-changing relationships. Evolution thus becomes the necessary mistress of all human thought and spirituality. Under the influence of such thinking, it is impossible to believe in an original nature of man created in sanctifying grace; there can be no Fall from such a nature through original sin; there can be no restoration of such a nature to innocence through sanctifying grace (thus destroying the traditional doctrine concerning Baptism); and there can be no real distinction between mortal and venial sin. There can therefore be no judgment in regard to the present state of the soul of any individual person (or whether he or she is in the proper state of grace to receive Holy Communion), but only an ongoing pastoral approach of universal mercy. Also, since there is no such thing as fixed substance, and certainly no ontological distinction between substance and accidens, there can be no change of the entire substance of bread into the substance of Christ’s Body, or the entire substance of wine into the substance of His Blood. Finally, God Himself must also be seen entirely in terms of relationship, as also must His Revelation to man. Thus, all of Catholic doctrine and dogma is destroyed of any absoluteness or permanence, and must also be seen as evolving phenomena. In other words, the entire Catholic Faith is substantially destroyed.
The following 25 quotations are placed in a somewhat loose order, which will hopefully help penetrate to the interconnectedness of the heresies enumerated above. I have numbered them for easy referencing. I remind the reader again that they are all from the works or statements of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI.
Concerning Substance & Transubstantiation:
1: "Jumping over all the other affirmations of the Patristic age, that present obstacles to us today, let us take but a single example from medieval dogma, one that recently has aroused much interest: the doctrine of transubstantiation, of the essential change of the eucharistic offerings. As it is, the subtle meaning of this definition can be represented by the ordinary intellect only in a rough and ready manner, so that what is indicated is bound to seem for ever unattainable, especially as there is the additional difficulty, that the medieval concept of substance has long since become inaccessible to us. In so far as we use the concept of substance at all today we understand thereby the ultimate particles of matter, and the chemically complex mixture that is bread certainly does not fall into that category." (Faith and the Future, p. 14).
Concerning Evolution in General
2: “…the pre-Darwinian idea of the invariability of the species had been justified in terms of the idea of creation [and, of course, by taking the Bible seriously]; it regarded every individual species as a datum of creation that had existed since the beginning of the world through God’s creative work as something unique and different alongside the other species. It is clear that this form of belief in creation contradicts the idea of evolution and that this expression of the faith has become untenable today.”(Credo for Today, p. 34)
3: “We have established that the first aspect, that is, the concrete form which the idea of creation had taken in practice, has been abolished by the idea of evolution; here the believer must allow himself to be taught by science that the way in which he had imagined creation was part of a pre-scientific world view that has become untenable.”(Credo for Today, p.36)
4: “This would then lead to the insight that spirit does not enter the picture as something foreign, as a second substance, in addition to matter: the appearance of spirit, according to the previous discussion, means rather that an advancing movement arrives at the goal that has been set for it….The clay became man at that moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought ‘God.’ The first ‘thou’ that – however stammeringly – was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed.” (Credo for Today, p. 46-47).
Concerning Original Sin, the Fall, and Baptism:
5: “In the story that we are considering [Ch. 3 of Genesis], still a further characteristic of sin is described. Sin is not spoken of in general as an abstract possibility but as a deed, as the sin of a particular person, Adam, who stands at the origin of humankind and with whom the history of sin begins. The account tells us that sin begets sin, and that therefore all the sins of history are interlinked. Theology refers to this state of affairs by the certainly misleading and imprecise term ‘original sin’. What does this mean? Nothing seems to us today to be stranger or, indeed, more absurd than to insist upon original sin, since, according to our way of thinking, guilt can only be something very personal, and since God does not run a concentration camp, in which one’s relative are imprisoned because he is a liberating God of love, who calls each one by name.” (In the Beginning….A Catholic Understanding of Creation and the Fall, p. 71).
6: “The question of what it means to say that baptism is necessary for salvation has become ever more hotly debated in modern times. The Second Vatican Council said on this point that men who are seeking for God and who are inwardly striving toward that which constitutes baptism will also receive salvation. That is to say that a seeking after God already represents an inward participation in baptism, in the Church, in Christ.
“To that extent, the question concerning the necessity of baptism for salvation seems to have been answered, but the question about children who could not be baptized because they were aborted then presses upon us that much more urgently.
“Earlier ages had devised a teaching that seems to me rather unenlightened. They said that baptism endows us, by means of sanctifying grace, with the capacity to gaze upon God. Now, certainly, the state of original sin, from which we are freed by baptism, consists in a lack of sanctifying grace [the reader is reminded at this point that Cardinal Ratzinger is here summarizing the “unenlightened” view which has prevailed in the past – this is not his view; as we have seen, he considers the traditional view of original sin ‘misleading’ and ‘imprecise’]. Children who die in this way are indeed without any personal sin, so they cannot be sent to hell, but, on the other hand, they lack sanctifying grace and thus the potential for beholding God that this bestows. They will simply enjoy a state of natural blessedness, in which they will be happy. This state people called limbo.
“In the course of our century, that has gradually come to seem problematic to us. This was one way in which people sought to justify the necessity of baptizing infants as early as possible, but the solution is itself questionable. Finally, the Pope made a decisive turn in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, a change already anticipated by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, when he expressed the simple hope that God is powerful enough to draw to himself all those who were unable to receive the sacrament (God and the World, p.401-402).”
Concerning Teilhardian Evolution:
7: “The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host.” – Pope Benedict XVI – Homily at Aosta
8: “In the background is the idea that in the cosmos, alongside the two orders or classes of the infinitely small and the infinitely big, there is a third order, which determines the real drift of evolution, namely, the order of the infinitely complex. It is the real goal of the ascending process of growth and becoming….” (Introduction to Christianity, p. 237)
9: “But let us return to man, He is so far the maximum in complexity. But even he as mere man-monad cannot represent an end; his growth itself demands a further advance in complexity.” (Ibid.)
10: “From here it is possible to understand the final aim of the whole movement as Teilhard sees it: the cosmic drift moves ‘in the direction of an incredible ‘mono-molecular’ state, so to speak, in which…each ego is destined to attain in climax in a sort of mysterious superego’.” (Introduction to Christianity, p. 238).
11: “From here onward faith in Christ will see the beginning of a movement in which dismembered humanity is gathered together more and more into the being of one single Adam, one single ‘body’ the man to come.”(Introduction to Christianity, p. 239).
12: “From this perspective the belief in the second coming of Jesus Christ and in the consummation of the world in that event could be explained as the conviction that our history is advancing to an ‘omega’ point, at which it will become finally and unmistakably clear that the element of stability that seems to us to be the supporting ground of reality, so to speak, is not mere unconscious matter; that, on the contrary, the real, firm ground is mind. Mind holds being together , gives it reality, indeed is reality: it is not from below but from above that being receives its capacity to subsist. That there is such a thing as this process of ‘complexification’ of material being through spirit, and from the latter its concentration into a new kind of unity can already be seen in the remodeling of the world through technology.” (Introduction to Christianity, p. 32).
13: “We left the question of the materiality of the resurrection at the point to which Thomas Aquinas had brought it. The fundamental insight to which Thomas broke through [the real unity of soul and body) was given a new twist by Rahner when he noted that in death the soul becomes not acosmic [having nothing to do with the physical world] but all-cosmic. This means that its essential ordination to the material world remains, not in the mode of giving form to an organism as its entelechy [thus, out the window goes the teaching of the Council of Vienne that the soul is the substantial form – the entelechy – of the body], but in that of an ordering to this world as such and as a whole. It is not difficult to connect up this thought to ideas formulated by Teilhard de Chardin. For it might be said in this regard that relation to the cosmos is necessarily also relation to the temporality of the universe, which knows being only in the form of becoming [this is possibly the most defining statement of the New Evolutionary Theology], has a certain direction, disclosed in the gradual construction of ‘biosphere’ and ‘noosphere’ from out of physical building blocks which it then proceeds to transcend. Above all it is a progress to ever more complex unities. This is why it calls for a total complexity: a unity which will embrace all previously existing unities….The search reaches the point of integration of all in all, where each thing becomes completely itself precisely by being completely in the other. In such integration, matter belongs to spirit in a wholly new and different way, and spirit is utterly one with matter. The pancosmic existence, which death opens up would lead, then, to universal exchange and openness, and so to the overcoming of all alienation. Only where creation realizes such unity can it be true that ‘God is all in all.”(Eschatology, Death and Eternal Life, p. 191-192).
14: “Certainly one can debate the details in this formulation [of a passage from Teilhard de Chardin’s writing]; yet the decisive point seems to me to be grasped quite accurately: the alternative: materialism [the view that “spirit” and consciousness are ultimately only an accidental phenomenon of matter] or a spiritually defined world view, chance or meaning, is presented to us today in the form of the question of whether one regards spirit and life in its ascending forms as an incidental mold on the surface of the material world…or whether one regards spirit as the goal of the process and, conversely matter as the prehistory of the spirit. If one chooses the second alternative, it is clear that spirit is not a random product of material developments, but rather that matter signifies a moment in the history of spirit.” (Credo for Today, p. 45).
15: “The impetus given by Teilhard de Chardin exerted a wide influence. With daring vision it incorporated the historical movement of Christianity into the great cosmic process of evolution from Alpha to Omega: since the noogenesis, since the formation of consciousness in the event by which man became man, this process of evolution has continued to unfold as the building of the noosphere above the biosphere.” (Principles of Catholic Theologyp, p. 334).
Revelation as an Evolutionary Phenomenon
16. “At this time the idea of salvation history had moved to the focus of inquiry posed by Catholic theology and this had cast new light on the notion of revelation, which neoscholasticism had kept too confined to the intellectual realm. Revelation now appeared no longer simply as a communication of truths to the intellect but as a historical action of God in which truth becomes gradually unveiled. Therefore, I was to try to discover whether in Bonaventure there was anything corresponding to the concept of salvation history, and whether this motif – if it should exist – had any relationship with the idea of revelation.”(Milestones, p.104).
17: “I had ascertained that in Bonaventure (as well as in theologians of the thirteenth century) there was nothing corresponding to our conception of 'revelation', by which we are normally in the habit of referring to all the revealed contents of the faith: it has even become a part of linguistic usage to refer to Sacred Scripture simply as 'revelation'. Such an identification would have been unthinkable in the language of the High Middle Ages. Here, 'revelation' is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act [read “Dogma”]. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of 'revelation'.” (Milestones, p. 107)
18: “Our consideration of the history of the Apostles' Creed has led us to the recognition that here, in the baptismal formulary, Christian doctrine stands before us in its original shape and, thus, also in its primitive form, what we today call “dogma.” Originally there was no such thing as a series of doctrinal propositions that could be enumerated one after another and entered in a book as a well-defined body of dogmas. Such a notion, which today may be difficult to resist, would have to be described as a misconception of the nature of the Christian assent to the God revealed in Christ [out the window goes the Baltimore Catechism, not to mention the Dogmatic Decrees of the Council of Trent]. The content of the Christian faith has its inalienable place in the context of the profession of faith, which is, as we saw, in the form of assent and renunciation, a conversion, an about-turn of human existence into a new direction of life. In other words, Christian doctrine does not exist in the form of discrete propositions but in the unity of the symbolum, as the ancient Church called the baptismal profession of faith. This is probably the moment to look rather more closely at the meaning of this word. Symbolum comes from symballein, meaning in English: to come together, to throw together. The background to the word's etymology is an ancient usage: two corresponding halves of a ring, a staff, or a tablet were used as tokens of identity for guests, messengers, or partners to a treaty. Possession of the corresponding piece entitled the holder to receive a thing or simply to hospitality. A symbolum is something that points to its complementary other half and thus creates mutual recognition and unity. It is the expression and means of unity.
“Thus in the description of the creed or profession of faith as the symbolum we have at the same time a profound interpretation of its true nature. For in fact this is just what the original meaning or aim of dogmatic formulations in the Church was: to facilitate a common profession of faith in God, common worship of him. As sym-bolum, it points to the other person, the unity of spirit in the one Word. To this extent, dogma (or symbol, respectively) is also always, as Rahner has rightly pointed out, an arrangement of words that from a purely intellectual point of view could have been quite different yet, precisely as a form of words, has its own significance – that of uniting people in the community of the confessing word. It is not a piece of doctrine standing isolated in and for itself but is the form of our worship of God....'This discovery also points, it is true, in another direction: even the Church herself, as a whole, still holds the faith only as a symbolum, as a broken half, which signifies truth only in its endless reference to something beyond itself, to the entirely Other. It is only through the infinitely broken nature of the symbol that faith presses forward as man's continual effort to go beyond himself and reach up to God.” (Introduction to Christianity, p. 96-98)
Faith Subjected to Science:
The following quotations demonstrate the profound degree to which Joseph Ratzinger has subjected his Faith to reductive “Science” – this being the fundamental error which, according to Pope Pius X in his encyclical on Modernism, defines the Modernist heresy:
19: “The intellectual approach of modern physics may offer us more help here than Aristotelian philosophy was able to give. Physicists know today that one can only talk about the structure of matter by approaching the subject from various angles. They know that the position of the observer at any one time affects the result of his investigation of nature. Why should we not be able to understand afresh, on this basis, that in the question of God we must not look, in the Aristotelian fashion [and, obviously, criticism of St. Thomas is also here intended], for an ultimate concept encompassing the whole but must be prepared to find a multitude of aspects that depend on the position of the observer and that we can no longer survey as a whole but only accept alongside each other, without being able to say the final word on the subject? We meet here the hidden interplay of faith and modern thought. That present-day physicists are stepping outside the structure of Aristotelian logic and thinking in this way is surely an effect already of the new dimension that Christian theology has opened up, of its need to think in 'complementarities', [which, as Fr. Ratzinger had already noted, are often contrary to one another and are therefore also “contradictories”].
“In this connection I should like to mention briefly two other aids to thought provided by physics. E. Schrõdinger has defined the structure of matter as 'parcels of waves' and thereby hit upon the idea of a being that has no substance but is purely actual, whose apparent 'substantiality' really results only from the pattern of movement of superimposed waves. In the realm of matter such a suggestion may well be physically, and in any case philosophically, highly contestable. But it remains an exciting simile for the actualitas divina, for the idea that God is absolutely 'in act' (and not 'in potency'), and for the idea that the densest being – God – can subsist only in a multitude of relations, which are not substances but simply 'waves', and therein form a perfect unity and also the fullness of being....” (Introduction to Christianity, p. 176-77)
20: “We know today that in a physical experiment the observer himself enters into the experiment and only by doing so can arrive at a physical experience. This means that there is no such thing as pure objectivity even in physics, that even here the result of the experiment, nature's answer, depends on the question put to it. In the answer there is always a bit of the question and a bit of the questioner himself; it reflects not only nature in itself, in its pure objectivity, but also gives back something of man, of what is characteristically ours, a bit of the human subject. This too, mutatis mutandis, is true of the question of God. There is no such thing as pure objectivity. One can even say that the higher an object stands in human terms, the more it penetrates the center of individuality; and the more it engages the beholders individuality, then the smaller the possibility of the mere distancing involved in pure objectivity." [and since God is infinitely “higher”, there can consequently be no objectivity whatsoever in our knowledge of Him]. (Introduction to Christianity, p. 175).
Faith Emptied of its Certainty, Absoluteness, Objectivity, and Consistency
21:“The text [of the document titled Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1990, and signed by its Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] also presents the various forms of binding authority which correspond to the grades of the Magisterium. It states – perhaps for the first time with such candor – that there are magisterial decisions which cannot be the final word on a given matter as such but, despite the permanent value of their principles, are chiefly also a signal for pastoral prudence, a sort of provisional policy. Their kernel remains valid, but the particulars determined by circumstances can stand in need of correction. In this connection, one will probably call to mind both the pontifical statements of the last century regarding freedom of religion and the anti-Modernist decisions of the beginning of this century, especially the decisions of the then Biblical Commission....with respect to particular aspects of their content, they were superseded after having fulfilled their pastoral function in the situation of the time.” (The Nature and Mission of Theology, p.106).
22: "The basic form of Christian faith is not: I believe something [particular content or doctrine], but I believe you. Faith is a disclosure of reality that is granted only to him who trusts, loves, and acts as a human being; and as such it is not a derivative of knowledge, but is sui generis, like knowledge, although it is indeed more basic and more central to our authentically human nature than knowledge is.
"This insight has important consequences; and these can be liberating, if taken seriously. For this means that faith is not primarily a colossal edifice of numerous supernatural facts [I believe that we can only understand this demeaning phrase to refer to the Deposit of Faith], standing like a curious second order of knowledge alongside the realm of science, but an assent to God who gives us hope and confidence. Obviously this assent to God is not without content: it is confidence in the fact that he has revealed himself in Christ and that we may now live safe in the assurance that God is like Jesus of Nazareth, in the certainty, that is, that God is looking after the world – and me in it. We will have to consider this definition of content more closely in the next chapter. It is already clear, however, that the content is not comparable with a system of knowledge, but represents the form of our trust." (Faith and the Future, p. 20-21).
23: "A man remains a Christian as long as he makes the effort to give the central assent, as long as he tries to utter the fundamental Yes of trust, even if he is unable to fit in or resolve many of the details [which, of course, are constituted by the Church's infallible teachings on faith and morals]….As long as this core remains in place, a man is living by faith, even if for the moment he finds many of the details of faith obscure and impracticable." [this, of course, would seem to apply to the civilly divorced and remarried who are living in the objective sin of adultery]. (Faith and the Future, p. 24-25).
24: "As things are, faith cannot count on a bundle of philosophical certainties [thus Thomism is sent entirely packing) which lead up to faith and support it. It will be compelled, rather, to prove its own legitimacy in advance by reflecting on its own inner reasonableness and by presenting itself as a reasonable whole, which can be offered to men as a possible and responsible choice. To say this is to imply that faith must clearly adjust itself to an intellectual pluralism that cannot ever be reversed, and within this intellectual climate must present itself as a comprehensible offer of meaning, even if it can find no prolegomena in a commonly accepted philosophical system. That means, in the end, that the meaning which man needs becomes accessible in any case only through a decision for a meaningful structure. It may not be proved, but can be seen as meaningful." (Faith and the Future, p. 74-75).
The “New, Evolutionary Theology” of Joseph Ratzinger documented above has come to fruition in the pastoral approach of Pope Francis which, while “casting truth to the ground”, promotes an unconditional and unmerited mercy. It is most succinctly encapsulated in his oft-repeated mantra: “Time is greater than Space.”
The Murder of the Meaning of Advent and Christmas
It is of course elementary Catholic doctrine that Christ’s Advent and Sacrifice effected a radical change in regard to the “new man” created in Christ, and in human history. All of this is denied if spiritual evolution is embraced. Since this article is being published during Advent, I think it only appropriate therefore to conclude with the following words of Joseph Ratzinger:
"This week we celebrate with the Church the beginning of Advent. If we think back to what we learned as children about Advent and its significance, we will remember being told that the Advent wreath, with its candles, is a reminder of the thousands of years (perhaps thousands of centuries) of the history of mankind before Christ. It reminds all of us of the time when an unredeemed mankind awaited salvation. It brings to our minds the darkness of an as yet unredeemed history in which the light of hope was only slowly kindled until, in the end, Christ, the light of the world, came and freed mankind from the darkness of condemnation. We learned also that those thousands of years before Christ were a time of condemnation because of original sin, while the centuries after the birth of our Lord are 'anni salutis reparatae,' years of restored salvation. And finally, we will remember being told that, in Advent, besides thinking back on the past to the period of condemnation and expectation of mankind, the Church also fixes her attention on the multitude of people who have not yet been baptized, and for whom it is still Advent, since they wait and live in the darkness of the absence of salvation.
“If we look at the ideas we learned as children through the eyes of contemporary man and with the experiences of our age, we will see that we can hardly accept them. The idea that the years after Christ, compared with those before, are years of salvation will seem to be a cruel irony if we remember such dates as 1914, 1918, 1933, 1939, 1945; dates which mark periods of world war in which millions of men lost their lives, often in terrifying circumstances; dates which bring back the memory of atrocities such as humanity has never before experienced. One date (1933) reminds us of the beginning of a regime which achieved the most cruel perfection in the practice of mass murder; and finally, we remember that year in which the first atomic bomb exploded on an inhabited city, hiding in its dazzling brilliance a new possibility of darkness for the world. [Joseph Ratzinger here misses the entire meaning of such atrocities – they occurred precisely because of mankind’s free rejection of the Incarnation and the graces earned through Christ’s redemptive Sacrifice].
"If we think about these things, we will have difficulty in distinguishing between a period of salvation and one of condemnation. And, extending our vision even further, if we contemplate the works of destruction and barbarity perpetrated in this and the preceding centuries by Christians (that is to say by us who call ourselves 'redeemed'), we will be unable to divide the nations of the world into the redeemed and the condemned.
“If we are sincere, we will no longer build up a theory which divides history and geography into zones of redeemed and zones of condemned. Rather, we will see the whole of history as a gray mass in which it is always possible to perceive the shining of a goodness which has not completely disappeared, in which there can always be found in men the desire to do good, but also in which breakdownBeing Christian).
For an alleged Christian to pronounce judgment that the “whole of history” since the Incarnation of Our Lord is a gray mass in which we can distinguish nothing that differentiates it from what was present before the Incarnation, or that there is no real historical evidence differentiating true Christianity (and Christians) from the rest of the world after the Incarnation, represents an incredible testimony to the death of true Christianity in the mind and heart of such a person. It comes from a defeated heart, which in effect has declared that Jesus Christ was born and died for nothing.
Virtually all of my articles are related to the subjects explored above. I offer the following as possibly being most relevant:
For a General Introduction: The War Against Being: Science And The Philosophy of Deceit: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/parti-article1
On Original Sin and Baptism: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/parti-article5
On Evolution: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/parti-article12
The intellectual “liberation” of the Catholic hierarchy can only be accomplished through a return to the theology and metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas. The following article is addressed specifically to this cause; http://www.waragainstbeing.com/partix
None of what I have written is in any way to be considered an attack on Pope Benedict or Pope Francis, but rather an act of charity in pursuit of the liberation of their minds and hearts from the grievous errors of Modernism. I consider both of their Papacies to be God’s chastisement for our infidelities, especially in relation to our failure to live the Beatitudes. Pope Francis is right in one very important respect: Christ sent us out to be the Church “of the poor and for the poor”, and we have largely come to rest in our own concupiscence’s and prostitutions to the world. This is also a subject which I have covered in a number of articles on my website. I especially recommend my rather long articles: The Return to God, and also St. Francis of Assisi: They Pretended to Love You So That They Might Leave You.
- James Larson
New Article (Posted December 1, 2016)
What Really Is At Stake?
The Letter of Four Cardinals to Pope Francis Concerning Amoris Laetitia
On November 14, 2016, four Cardinals (Walter Branmuller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffara, and Joachim Meisner) released a letter which they sent to Pope Francis on September 19, along with five “Dubia” (“doubts” or “questions”) in reference to the teaching of the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and requesting that these dubia be answered and clarified by the Pope himself.
The letter went unanswered, and thus these Cardinals decided to publish both the letter and Dubia, along with a Foreword, and also an Explanatory Note which further elaborated on the five dubia, to the general public. This composite of documents they titled Seeking Clarity. A Plea to Untie the Knots in “Amoris Laetitia”.
The four Cardinals introduce their analysis and explanation of the five dubia with the following words:
“Let’s get to what is concretely at stake”.
It is my contention that, while the dubia and the analysis presented by the four Cardinals are indeed perceptive and true as far as they go, they do not at all reach to the true depths of “what is concretely at stake”.
Let us first look at these five dubia:
The first dubium deals directly with the issue of those married persons who have obtained a civil divorce and are now living in sin with a second partner. It asks “whether, following the affirmations of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ (nn. 300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person ‘more uxorio’ (in a marital way) without fulfilling the condition provided for by ‘Familiaris Consortio’, n. 84 and subsequently reaffirmed by ‘Reconciliatio et Paenitentia’ n. 34 and ‘Sacramentum Caritatis’ n. 29. Can the expression ‘in certain cases’ found in note 351 (n. 305) of the exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live ‘more uxorio’?
Dubia two, three, four, and five, on the other hand “are about fundamental issues regarding the moral life”
The second asks whether, after the teaching of Amoris Laetitia, there are still “absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?”
The third asks whether, after Amoris Laetitia, it is still true “that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery, finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin?”
The fourth asks whether, after Amoris Laetitia, the Church still needs to regard as valid the teaching “according to which ‘circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?
And the fifth dubium asks whether, after Amoris Laetitia, the Church’s teaching still “excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?”
All of these questions are being asked, of course, simply because Amoris Laetitia does indeed appear to contradict the perennial teachings of the Church (and of Holy Scripture) in regard to these issues. As the Explanatory Note of the four Cardinals puts it (very mildly, I think), “the interpretation of the document also implies different, contrasting approaches to the Christian way of life”.
But it is much more than a “way of life” that is at stake here. It is, rather, the entire structure of our understanding of Christian Revelation – of Who God is, and of who man is – which is being denied by Amoris Laetitia. And if this be true, then the entire brunt of the Cardinals’ letter to the Pope, which consists of requests for clarification in regard to these dubia, noble and courageous as it certainly is, is an exercise in futility. The fact is that, in the minds and hearts of such men as Jorge Bergoglio and Joseph Ratzinger, the entire philosophical and theological structure of the faith has necessarily undergone a radical alteration which necessitates this contrasting approach to the Christian way of life. In other words, there can be no clarification because Pope Francis fully believes he must do what he is doing. From his perspective, the dubia of these four Cardinals is equivalent to the death cries of theological dinosaurs destined for evolutionary extinction. They therefore must be ignored.
We are therefore inexorably led to the following conclusion. Unless this radically different philosophy and theology is publicly confronted and combated at its source, and unless Pope Francis, Benedict XVI and other members of the hierarchy are spiritually and intellectually liberated from its stranglehold, any attempt to uphold traditional moral values is tied to a posture or agenda which will necessarily face failure.
I have written many detailed and documented articles concerning the philosophical-theological agenda which is at the source of this present crisis. Immediately below, I offer a simpler approach, which will hopefully provide easier access to the concepts involved.
God created man in His own image with a very specific substantial nature. The form, or essence, of this nature is the human soul. From the beginning, God added to this human nature the supernatural gift of Charity (Sanctifying Grace), which is very simply defined by Holy Scripture and the Church as the supernatural grace of Friendship with God.
When man sinned against God, and violated this Friendship with God in the depth of his being, he lost the supernatural gift of Charity. Although he also certainly lost the preternatural gifts (such as the gift of immortality and the absence of concupiscence) which had accompanied Charity, he did not lose his basic human nature, or the form of his individual being – which is a particular soul created in the image of God. Man, therefore, still retained that same substantial nature to which supernatural Charity could once again be super-added (the term used by St. Thomas). The life, death, and resurrection of Our Lord merited for all men the possible restoration of Charity to their souls. This restoration is made a reality through baptism, and may again be restored (if lost by subsequent sin) through the confession of sins.
For all of the above to be perceived as being true, it is absolutely necessary that one philosophical truth be indeed accepted by the human heart and mind: there must be such a thing as a substantive human nature, common to all men of all times, and for which all men since the beginning of time are responsible before God. In other words, human nature has not substantially changed at all. Adam possessed the same human nature as does the child conceived in his mother’s womb at this very moment. Cultures – and all sorts of other things in man’s environment which accidentally affect his emotional, intellectual, and spiritual makeup – have changed, but human nature and its obligations before God has not changed.
It is all this that is denied in the philosophy and theology of such men as Jorge Bergoglio and Joseph Ratzinger. Having succumbed to reductive atomic and quantum science, the concept of substantial being (in the words of Joseph Ratzinger) “has become inaccessible to modern man”. According to this new, “scientific” philosophy, the nature of man can only be seen in term of evolving relationships. In the recurring phrase of Pope Francis,”time is greater than space” – in other words, man’s becoming is greater than his being. It is only logical, therefore, that spiritual evolution trumps fixed dogma and doctrine, and that everything must be subjected to a false mercy simply because there is no way to judge a human nature which is defined solely in terms of an evolutionary progression towards some future omega point.
All of this takes us back to the Catholic concept of Charity. In traditional catholic theology, the possession of Charity (Sanctifying Grace) defines a state of the human soul which is necessary in order for a person to be in friendship with God. If the human soul is now to be defined solely in terms of evolving relationships, there can be no such state. There can be no such thing as a fixed human nature created in a state of original justice. There can be no Fall from such a nature, and consequently there can be no restoration to such a state of Charity and Friendship with God. Salvation can only be viewed as an evolutionary progression towards fulfillment in some future Omega Point. The Catholic concepts of Charity and Sanctifying Grace, in other words, are destroyed.
What has been missed in almost all of the critiques of Amoris Laetitia is that it is indeed constituted as a direct attack on the concept of Charity and Sanctifying Grace. I have explored this in my four-part series on Amoris Laetitia, but it is necessary to repeat it here.
The relevant passage is found in paragraph 296:
“The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart… For true charity is always un-merited, unconditional and gratuitous.”
From the context of Amoris Laetitia, it is clear that Pope Francis is here speaking of the state of a person’s soul which qualifies him or her to receive Holy Communion. As I pointed out in my articles, the supernatural gift of Charity is indeed a totally gratuitous gift of God, as is the gift by which a soul can merit such a gift. But it remains, as being absolutely central to the Catholic doctrine of Justification, that such a person must indeed freely merit this gift of charity through both faith and works. The Council of Trent defines the act of Justification in the following words:
“For, although no one can be just but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those that are justified and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in Whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity.”
Charity, as applied to the human soul, is in other words a state of being in which the soul is restored to friendship with God, and it is this state which is absolutely necessary for the reception of Holy Communion.
Further, the Council of Trent, in the following two passages, defines what is necessary for a person to both possess and retain this gift of Charity:
“But no one, how much soever justified ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments, no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema, that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou art able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able; whose commandments are not heavy, whose yoke is sweet, and whose burden light. For whoso are the sons of God love Christ; but they who love Him keep His commandments, as Himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do.” (Chapter XI)
“In opposition also to the subtle wits of certain men who, by pleasing speeches and good works, seduce the hearts of the innocent, it is to be maintained that the received grace of justification is lost not only by infidelity [loss of faith], whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever, though faith be not lost; thus defending the doctrine of the divine law, which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelieving, but the faithful also (who are) fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liars with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins; from which, with the help of divine grace, they can refrain, and on account of which they are separated from the grace of Christ.” (Chapter XV).
The possession of Charity, while being a totally gratuitous gift of God, is therefore also the most freely merited thing in a person’s life. This, of course, is why St. Paul writes:
“Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord….But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
In other words, Pope Francis statement that "true charity is always unmerited, unconditional…" is a heresy which falsifies not only the entire Catholic understanding of Justification, but all the doctrines (as enumerated above) which are integral to this central dogma of our faith. It simply destroys the entirety of Catholic Faith.
This grievous heresy, as I have said, is rooted in a denial –thought to be made necessary by the findings of modern reductive science – of the substantial nature of the human soul. As Joseph Ratzinger wrote in his book, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life:
“The challenge to traditional theology today lies in the negation of an autonomous, ‘substantial’ soul with a built-in immortality in favor of that positive view which regards God’s decision and activity as the real foundation of a continuing human existence.” (p.150).
What this entails is that the soul, instead of being defined in terms of substantiality, is now to be defined entirely in terms of ongoing, evolutionary relationship:
"'The soul’ is our term for that in us which offers a foothold for this relation [with the eternal]. Soul is nothing other than man’s capacity for relatedness with truth, with love eternal." (p.259).
This statement – that “Soul is nothing other than man’s capacity for relatedness with truth, with etermal love” – can be seen as the definitive statement of that new theology (and anthropology) which is destroying the Church. It redefines man and his soul entirely in terms of evolutionary becoming. And, of course, Pope Francis’ recurring statement that “time is greater than space” is simply another way of expressing this very same heresy.
The irony, of course, is that in negating the substantial nature of the soul, and redefining it in terms of evolutionary relationship, both Benedict and Francis have entirely falsified man’s relationship to God. Such is the subtlety of satanically inspired philosophy and theology.
There can therefore be no “clarification” of the errors of Amoris Laetitia,and no true defense of marriage, of the Holy Eucharist, or of the entire Catholic Faith, unless open warfare be now declared against reductive modern science and its profoundly destructive effect upon human thought and belief in regard to every area of man’s existence. Only thus can human souls be freed once again to believe rightly in God. The souls of Benedict and Francis depend just as much upon this liberating war as does the soul of a young person first encountering evolutionary theory or the eviscerating effect of atomic reductionism.
As a primer for engaging in this war, I recommend my article Science: Original and Final Sin, to be found here:
Victory over reductive science can only be achieved through a complete return to Thomistic Theology and Metaphysics. In pursuit of this goal, I offer the following article: The Restoration of the Supernatural, In Accord With the Teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is found here:
Note (Nov 6, 2016): The following is a very temporary post. I do not believe that focusing on politics offers any solution to our present crisis.
If I voted for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, I would emerge from the polling booth feeling violated and corrupted in the deepest recesses of my Catholic being.
Democracy has come home to roost. I remember reading about two fundamental principles or methodologies of “illuminized” Freemasonry integral to its ultimate goal, which is the total destruction of the Catholic Church and Christian civilization. The first principle consists of unceasing efforts towards complete corruption of the moral sense of the populace. The second: the promotion of the universal right and obligation to vote. In this election, the marriage of these two principles is consummated. I believe that the collective act of voting for either of these two major candidates might constitute the single most spiritually corrupting event in the history of this nation.
Note (Nov 3, 2016):
Lund: Truth Exiled
There is no need to conjecture as to the primary goal of Pope Francis’ recent ecumenical visit to Lund, Sweden. It is explicitly stated in the Joint Statement on the Occasion of the Joint Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation to be found on the Vatican website. It reads:
“Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table, as the concrete expression of full unity. We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God’s redeeming presence at the Eucharistic table. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ. We long for this wound in the Body to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavours, which we wish to advance, also by renewing our commitment to theological dialogue.”
Nor are we left without a very specific agenda as to how this is to be accomplished – with the aid of compliant, heterodox theologians, and especially I think, with the compliance of the radically restructured Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. This methodology is very succinctly stated in the Common Ecumenical Prayer at the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund, which is also found on the Vatican website. It reads:
“Certainly, there was a sincere will on the part of both sides to profess and uphold the faith, but at the same time we realize that we closed in on ourselves out of fear or bias with regard to the faith which others profess with a different accent and language…With this new look at the past, we do not claim to realize an impracticable correction of what took place, but “to tell that history differently”.
The document From Conflict to Communion, upon which the entire Lund ecumenical event was based, has largely accomplished the “telling of history differently” through employing liberal theologians to simply lie about both Catholic and Lutheran doctrine, and by confining the condemnations of the Council of Trent to the dustbins - thus reducing any former conflicts to “different accent and language”. For a comprehensive understanding of these lies, I highly recommend a careful reading of my two articles linked below.
There is an additional, very important, methodology which is being used to complement this perversion of history and doctrine. It is succinctly stated in an interview conducted by Ulf Jonsson, S.J. (editor of the Swedish journal Signum) with Pope Francis just one week prior to the latter’s journey to Sweden, and published in La Civilita Catholic just three days before the Pope's journey. This very disturbing passage reads:
“I have asked Patriarch Bartholomew if what was told about Patriarch Athenagoras was true, what he said to Paul VI: 'Let the two of us go ahead and we will put the theologians on an island to discuss among themselves'. He told me that it was a true remark. But, yes, theological dialogue must continue, even if it will not be easy. Personally, I believe that enthusiasm must shift towards common prayer and the works of mercy….There is a policy we should have clear in every case: to proselytize in the ecclesial field is a sin. Benedict XVI told us that the Church does not grow by proselytism, but by attraction. Proselytism is a sinful attitude.”
In other words, it is not theologians across-the-board who are to be exiled to an island, but rather the primacy of Truth itself that is to be exiled, and of course the theologians who hold to such a primacy. It is quite clear from what has been said above, and especially clear from the tissue of lies which constitute the long document From Conflict to Communion, that heterodox theologians will not at all be exiled, but will have a pre-eminent place at the Pope’s table.It is in the light of this agenda that we may view the unprecedented total recasting of the membership of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
What all of this entails, as very clearly stated and examined in my articles, is the militant promotion of silence in regard to doctrinal differences, and instead, simply moving forward with the pastoral implementation of this agenda - just as the Pope earlier had instructed the Lutheran lady (who asked about the possibility of receiving Holy Communion with her Catholic husband) at an ecumenical service in Rome’s Evangelical Lutheran Church,: “One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord, and then go forward”.
What is demanded of us therefore is that we do everything possible to escape the island prepared for us, and clearly speak the Word:
“But men that speak truth shall be found with her [Wisdom], and shall advance, even till they come to the sight of God. Praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner. For wisdom came forth from God: for praise shall be with the wisdom of God, and shall abound in a faithful mouth….(Ecclesiasticus 15:19-20)
And leave the rest to God, with peace and joy in our hearts, rooted in the certain knowledge that He shall triumph.
No event in the history of the Papacy and the Church ever constituted the depth of prostitution of the Church to the spirit and forces of Antichrist as does Pope Francis’ journey to Lund Sweden on October 31 in order to inaugurate the year-long commemoration of Martin Luther’s revolt. The two articles linked below provide an analysis of this abomination and the document From Conflict to Communion which constitute the nuptial bed for this adulterous affair.
The Dream of Nabuchodonosor:
Slouching Towards Lund To Be Conceived:
The article immediately below, The Antichrist and The Papacy of Pope Francis, was written in order to place these events in perspective. We are suffering nothing that is not enclosed within the providential love and embrace of God.
And the Papacy of Pope Francis
“But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21: 28)
The above-quoted words of Our Lord were spoken after He had enumerated many of the evils that can befall his faithful followers – both at the end of time, and all those situations and foreshadowings which will prefigure the final confrontation between Christ and Antichrist, and between the City of God and the City of this world.
Jesus begins, appropriately, with a warning against following any of the many false messiahs who will precede His Second Coming: “Take heed you be not seduced; for many will come in my name, saying, I am he; and the time is at hand: go ye not therefore after them.” He then proceeds to enumerate a host of other evils which might indeed, on the natural level, force us to cast our heads downwards in despair and loss of faith: wars between nations and kingdoms; earthquakes, famines, and pestilences; terrors from heaven and other great signs; persecutions; delivering up “to the synagogues and into the prisons”, “dragging before kings and governors”; betrayal by parents, brethren, kinsmen, and friends; being put to death; being hated by all men for His name’s sake. A similar list is offered in Matthew 24.
It matters little whether we choose to apply Our Lord’s words to the Apostles themselves, to the times of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., or to the time immediately preceding the Final Judgment. Each of these applications is legitimate because the essential truths enumerated herein apply to all generations of Christians: the world necessarily hates Christ and His followers, and will wage unceasing and accelerating war against them until the final confrontation between the Antichrist and Christ.
But it is not necessarily this list of evils, to which the Christian life is subject, which is difficult for us to accept. If we have any knowledge of the Gospel, we must know these things to be inevitable. Rather, it is the “lifting up of our heads” while we are suffering such trials that provides the greatest challenge. Every manifestation of the spirit of Antichrist performs its unique seduction upon the faithful of that particular period in human history. It can be easy for us now to place things in perspective that occurred in the past – “How could Judas have been so blind?” – but it can be nigh unto impossible to possess such perspective when a new form of the outpouring of evil is upon us. It can overwhelm us with the sense that what we are now seeing is something entirely new which presents an unsolvable dilemma, that our faith is a chimera, that the Church has failed, and that Christ’s promises have failed Such is the real work of the spirit of Antichrist down through history, and thus the enormous importance of Our Lord’s words of warning and preparation.
The seduction of this spirit of Antichrist which we now face would seem the most poisonous and insidious in all of Christian history, and therefore presents an enormous temptation not only to despair, but to profound bitterness, loss of charity, schism, and sedevacantism. The following is written, hopefully, as a contribution to strengthening our faith, that we might lift our heads in the midst of the present crisis and rejoice in the promises of Christ and Our Lady.
In my article The War Against the Soul, which was written towards the beginning of the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, I wrote the following (I have made slight changes):
< Possibly the most mysterious passage of the New Testament is to be found in St. Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, in which he discusses the coming of the Antichrist. It reads as follows:
“And now you know what withholdeth [the coming of the Antichrist], that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way”(2 Thess 2:6-7).
Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian, Hippolytus, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. John of Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Augustine of Hippo all agreed in seeing “he who now holdeth” to be the Roman Empire and the Caesars who ruled this empire. The Roman Empire represented the force of law (despite all its tyrannies, injustices, and immoralities) which prevented the “man of lawlessness” from ascending to power.
The pagan Roman Empire fell in 476 AD. However, the restraining force of the Roman Empire against “the man of lawlessness” did not cease. This principle of continuity in the history of the Roman Empire was delineated with perspicuity by Pope Pius IX in his encyclical Cum Catholica Ecclesia:
“It is therefore, by a particular decree of Divine Providence that, at the fall of the Roman Empire and its partition into separate kingdoms, the Roman Pontiff, whom Christ made the head and center of his entire Church, acquired civil power. Certainly, it was by a most wise design of God Himself that in the midst of so great a multitude and variety of temporal princes, the Sovereign Pontiff enjoyed political liberty, which is so necessary for him to exercise his spiritual power, his authority, and his jurisdiction over the whole world.”
In other words, the “bottom line” behind the rule of law and social order now passed from the realm of physical force into the spiritual realm – the rule of Christian Truth and Charity. This is what built Christian Civilization. And since all of this is a gift of God through His Church, which is built upon the rock of the Papacy, it is the Roman Pontiff who must be seen as the one who “witholdeth” the rise of the Antichrist.
We might be tempted to conclude that such a “taking out of the way” of the Pope should be interpreted physically, but I believe this to be an inadequate explanation. Quite a number of Popes have been taken away from Rome and/or held prisoner by precursors of the Antichrist, and yet the moral force necessary to restrain the ascension of Antichrist remained intact.
Nor can this “taking away” be meant to signify that for a period of time the Chair of Peter is unoccupied. The world has already experienced extended Papal interregnums, and these have not provided the conditions necessary for the ascension of Antichrist.
All of this should tell us that what we are dealing with here is the possibility of the interior intellectual and moral force of the Papacy being eliminated or diminished in such a way as to create a sufficiently pervasive spiritual vacuum into which the Antichrist will be able to gain entrance and ascend to power. It is this spiritual vacuum which I have detailed in all my articles concerning the philosophy and theology of Joseph Ratzinger. I do not intend to rehash all that here. But there is one quote from Joseph Ratzinger early writings which I believe epitomizes the extent to which the once absolutely certain intellectual and moral force of the Church and the Papacy has been reduced to a small, timid, and virtually inconsequential voice:
“To say this is to imply that faith must clearly adjust itself to an intellectual pluralism that cannot ever be reversed, and within this intellectual climate must present itself as a comprehensible offer of meaning, even if it can find no prolegomena in a commonly accepted philosophical system. That means, in the end, that the meaning which man needs becomes accessible in any case only through a decision for a meaningful structure. It may not be proved, but can be seen as meaningful." (Faith and the Future, p. 74-75)”
Can we even begin to imagine any Pope from the time of Peter up until Vatican Council II conceivably making a statement which so reeked of spiritual castration? If this was still the position of Pope Benedict XVI, then it gives ample testimony to a Papacy that was very close to being in that position of philosophical, theological, and moral bankruptcy as to constitute its having been “taken out of the way”. >
This bankruptcy has been dramatically accentuated during the Papacy of Francis, not because his philosophical and theological orientation and ideas are much more radical than that of Benedict, but because Francis, unlike Benedict, is a troubadour loudly and crudely acting out these heresies and demonic errors upon the world’s stage. And, contrary to the fantasies of many Traditionalists, it is clear that Benedict approves. At the recent ceremony (June 28, 2016) featuring Pope Francis honoring Benedict on the 65th anniversary of his priesthood, Benedict stated, “Thank you, Holy Father, for your goodness, which from the first moment of your election has struck me every day of my life. We hope that you can go forward with all of us on this path of divine mercy, showing us the path of Jesus, toward Jesus, toward God.” As I have clearly delineated in other articles, Pope Francis’ “path of mercy” is constituted by a silence towards Christ’s Truth, which facilitates an inclusiveness towards evil. Pope Benedict’s fulsome embrace of this agenda is proof-positive that his “hermeneutics of continuity” ultimately devolves into a simple prostitution to the evils of this world.
Concerning the “leaven” of the Pharisees, Our Lord said, “For whatsoever things you have spoken in darkness, shall be published in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in the chambers, shall be preached on the housetops.” The consequences of what was spoken in the darkness of Joseph Ratzinger’s philosophy and theology are now being shouted, through the words and actions of Pope Francis, from every headline, and carried on every wave of the media. It is a spiritual miasma which penetrates everywhere, and receives from a jubilant world the exclamation, “He is one of us!” - “He has been taken away!”
It is important to admit to ourselves that our present situation is without precedent in the history of the Papacy. The Church has certainly had Popes who were profoundly immoral. It has had Popes who have been wrong in their personal views in regard to some point of doctrine, or who made horrendously bad juridical decisions. But never has it had a Pope who believed that Divine Revelation was itself an evolutionary phenomenon (as does Benedict and, apparently, Francis), and who believes that a bogus mercy trumps Catholic doctrine (as Francis has explicitly expressed), and who loudly and triumphantly proclaims this to be so. We are therefore faced with a situation, which seems to have never been anticipated in all of the sermons and writings of the early Church Fathers (and others down through history) concerning the subject of the Antichrist and his rise to power – that a Pope himself could become so interiorly corrupted, philosophically and theologically, as to become the cause of his own being “taken away” as the effective intellectual and moral force which prevents the rise of Antichrist.
I wish to be quite clear in stating here that none of this means that I am predicting the immediate rise of the Antichrist. It has always been acceptable in Christian tradition to view the Second Coming of Christ as immanent, but has always been folly to claim its immediacy. Our Lady of Fatima prophesied the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart would come first. But it is also true that St. John spoke of “many antichrists” preceding the final “man of lawlessness”, that the spirit of Antichrist has increasingly poisoned and contaminated what might loosely be called the collective and historical consciousness of humanity over the centuries, and that this present infection amounts to a huge step “forward” towards this eventual unfolding of apocalyptic prophesy.
Recently, I read Cardinal Henry Edward Manning’s series of four lectures titled The Present Crisis of the Holy See: A Warning About Antichrist. While Cardinal Manning did not at to all seem to anticipate the present interior crisis of the Papacy (or that such a crisis was possible), he did indeed understand that the “one who holdeth” was the Pope:
“We have now come nearly to a solution of that which I stated in the beginning, namely, how it is that the power which hinders the revelation of the lawless one is not only a person but a system, and not only a system but a person. In one word, it is Christendom and its head; and therefore, in the person of the Vicar of Christ, and in that twofold authority with which, by Divine Providence he has been invested, we see the direct antagonist to the principle of disorder. The lawless one, who knows no law, human or divine, nor obeys any but his own will, has no antagonist on earth more direct that the Vicar of Jesus Christ….”
Cardinal Manning also offers the following remarkable analysis and metaphor for this process of the historical unfolding of the spirit of Antichrist:
“I shall hope to show hereafter that the antagonism between two persons [between Antichrist and Christ, with the Pope as the latter’s Vicar] is an antagonism also between two societies, and that as our Divine Lord is the Head and Representative of all the truth and justice of the world from the beginning, so Antichrist, be he who or what he may, will be the head and representative of all the falsehood and wrong, which has been accumulating for these 1800 years, in the heresies, schisms, spiritual seditions, intellectual infidelities, social disorders and political revolutions of the anti-Catholic movement of the world".
“Such is the great deep upon which the Christian society of the world is resting. From time to time it has lifted itself up with preternatural power, and has made the Christian order of Europe vibrate and reel. Then again it has seemed to subside into a calm. But no one with any discernment can fail to see that it is deeper, mightier, and more widely spread now [Manning writes this in the year 1861) than ever. That this antichristian power will one day find its head, and for a time prevail in this world, is certain from prophecy. But this cannot be until ‘he who holdeth [the Pope] shall be taken out of the way….”
“But such is the state of the world, and to this end we are rapidly advancing. We are told that Etna has one hundred and sixty craters, besides the two vast mouths which, joined together, form the immense crater commonly so called; on all its sides it is perforated and honeycombed by channels and by mouths, from which in centuries past the lava has, from time to time burst forth. I can find no better illustration of the state of Christendom at this moment. The Church of God rests upon the basis of natural society, on the foundations of the old Roman Empire, on the civilization of the heathen nations of the world, which for a time has be consecrated, consolidated, preserved, raised, sanctified; but beneath the Church is working continually the mystery of iniquity which already wrought in the Apostles’ time, and is culminating at this moment to its strength, and gaining the ascendency. What, I ask, was the French revolution of 1789, with all its bloodshed, blasphemy, impiety, and cruelty, in all its masquerade of horror and of mockery – what was it but an outbreak of the anti-christian spirit – the lava font beneath the mountain? And what was the outbreak in 1830 and 1848 but precisely the same principle of Antichrist working beneath Christian society, forcing its way upward? In the year 1848 it opened simultaneously [in Revolutions} its many mouths in Berlin, in Vienna, in Turin, in Florence, in Naples, and in Rome itself. In London it heaved and struggled, but its time was not yet. What is all this but the spirit of lawlessness lifting itself against God and man, - the principle of schism, heresy, and infidelity running fused into one mass, and pouring itself forth wherever it can force its way, making craters for its stream wherever the Christian society becomes weak? And this, as it has gone on for centuries, so it will go on until the time shall come when ‘that which holds’ shall be taken out of the way’.”
Cardinal Manning was convinced in 1861 (155 years ago) that Christian Society, the Church, and the Papacy were experiencing attacks by the forces of Antichrist greater than ever before. In the above quote he attributes the intensity of this attack to the Church’s weakness, a weakness which he sees as mainly deriving from depriving the Pope of his temporal sovereignty, and therefore correlating to attacks from without. Cardinal Manning did not seem to anticipate the extraordinary degree to which the Church interiorly would, in the future, be found lying down in spiritual fornication with its enemies, and thus be the source of its own weakness. We need only compare the Papacy of Pius IX to that of Francis in order to understand the difference. But I think we might also conclude that, had he been living in our own time, he would have very likely perceived the providential meaning of what is now occurring with the Papacy of Pope Francis. The “lava” of Antichrist has increased geometrically precisely because the spirit of Antichrist has invaded the thinking and actions of the Pope himself. The same may of course be said of a great many others – clergy, religious, and laity – within the Church. However, there is no greater chastisement which could befall the Church than for God to allow a man to be Pope who, while prevented by God from compromising the indelible Marks of the Church, is yet primarily a natural man – seeped in philosophical and theological error, redolent with the hubris of his own agenda, rejoicing in “making a mess”, contemptuous of those who hold firmly to absolute truth and defined dogma, enamored of a false mercy, oblivious to the primacy of the concept of God’s Rule, masquerading a false humility, and rejoicing in his own role as a game-changer.
“Truth Shall Be Cast Down on the Ground”
It is clearly taught in Holy Scriptures and confirmed by the unanimous teaching of the early Church Fathers that the Antichrist at the apex of his power will prevail over, and crush (Daniel 7:25), the Church, even to the point of the total suppression of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In Daniel 8: 12, we read:
“And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice, because of sins: and truth shall be cast down on the ground….”
Cardinal Manning, commenting on the prophecies of Daniel, concludes:
“The holy Fathers who have written upon the subject of Antichrist, and of these prophecies of Daniel, without a single exception, as far as I know, and they are Fathers both of the East and of the West, the Greek and the Latin Church – all of them unanimously – say that in the latter end of the world, during the reign of Antichrist, the holy sacrifice of the altar will cease.”
We may certainly therefore conclude that at this point the Pope is “taken away” even in the physical sense. But it is equally clear from the words of St. Paul in 2 Thess 2:3-11 that there is a uniquely different sort of “taking away” of the Pope, which precedes the final triumph of the Antichrist over the Church, and enables his rise to power;
“And we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him: that you be not easily moved from your sense, nor be terrified, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle, as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.”
I have purposely rendered the words “And then” in bold in the above passage. There is a sequence of events depicted here in which we must clearly perceive that there is a taking away of “he who now holdeth” preceding the Antichrist’s actual ascent to worldwide dominion. And, especially relevant to our present subject, there is a specific delineation of what constitutes the working of the “mystery of iniquity” that leads to this “weakening” and betrayal of the power of the Papacy which heretofore had prevented the rise to power of Antichrist:
“And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.”
It is “love of truth” which is here clearly proposed as the fundamental passion of the human soul which restrains the Antichrist. Jesus Christ is the Word of Truth Who is generated eternally from the Father, and therefore it only makes perfect sense that the path to Anti-Christ should be paved with betrayal of, or silence in regard to, Truth. It is this silence of Pope Francis– this interior “casting down of truth” in the name of a false mercy and inclusiveness – which now facilitates the rise of the man of lawlessness.
This does not mean that the papacy of Francis will lead directly into the reign of Antichrist. Our Lady has promised that her triumph will precede this final chastisement. But it is also true that there is a kind of collective consciousness involved in human history – especially entrenched in the memory and accumulated knowledge of humanity – which has been most profoundly poisoned over the centuries by the hubris of reductive scientific thinking, avarice, and technological progress, and which has grown like a massive cancer within the human heart, choking off any real possibility of returning to the full Truth of Christ and the integral living of the Beatitudes. This “lava” of iniquity will rise again to the surface shortly after Our Lady’s Triumph, and constitute the final blasphemy and betrayal of the greatest gift of God since Our Lord’s Incarnation – the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
There will then be no recourse left except the direct intervention and victory of Christ. In regard to the present oppression and weakness of the Church, Cardinal Manning writes the following:
“There is in store for the Church of God a resurrection and an ascension, a royalty and dominion, a recompense of glory for all it has endured. Like Jesus, it needs must suffer on the way to its crown; yet crowned it shall be with Him eternally. Let no one, then, be scandalized if the prophecy speak of sufferings to come. We are fond of imagining triumphs and glories for the Church on earth – that the Gospel is to be preached to all nations, and the world to be converted, and all enemies subdued, and I know not what, - until some ears are impatient of hearing that there is in store for the Church a time of terrible trial: and so we do as the Jews of old, who looked for a conqueror, a king, and for prosperity; and when their Messiah came in humility and in passion, they did not know Him.”
We must understand, however, that the treachery of the Jews – which it is now our unfortunate role to imitate – was something much more than merely looking for a triumphant and worldly God and kingdom. More deeply, it was rooted in an hypocrisy and betrayal by which God and His Gifts (including Faith itself) were seen as “monuments” to be possessed, rather than passionately and militantly believed and lived. Much of our modern “triumphalism” and Pharisaism, especially in the centuries preceding Vatican II, has been nourished by a mushrooming infidelity to the teachings of Christ (especially the Beatitudes), including the teachings of the great Popes whose absence we now lament. God gave us these men (these gifts), we largely “consumed them and their teachings in our concupiscences”, and continued to prostitute ourselves ever more deeply to the world. And God has largely now taken the moral force of the Papacy away in chastisement of our infidelities and prostitutions. At a certain point, this will devolve upon a situation in which the Church is apparently totally crushed and defeated, and then the victory will be seen as Christ’s alone. Again, in the words of Cardinal Manning:
“And from whence, I ask, is deliverance to come? Is there on earth any power to intervene? Is there any king, prince, or potentate, that has the power to interpose either his will or his sword for the protection of the Church? Not one; and it is foretold it should be so. Neither need we desire it, for the will of God seems to be otherwise. But there is One Power which will destroy all antagonists; there is One Person who will break down and smite small as the dust of the summer threshing-floor all the enemies of the Church, for it is He who will consume His enemies ‘with the Spirit of His mouth’, and destroy them ‘with the brightness of His coming’. It seems as if the Son of God were jealous lest any one should vindicate His authority. He has claimed the battle to Himself; He has taken up the gage which has been cast down against Him; and prophecy is plain and explicit that the last overthrow of evil will be His; that it will be wrought by no man, but by the Son of God; that all the nations of the world may know that He, and He alone, is King, and that He, and He alone, is God.”
It would seem necessary to add that the “jealousy” of God is not the same as our jealousy and that, had His Bride been faithful, there would have been no such jealousy or necessary chastisement, but rather blessing and triumph. It would also therefore seem appropriate to say (as theologically incorrect as it may first appear) that God will have no other choice. In the final day, the world, having consumed even the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in its concupiscences and double-mindedness, the victory will belong entirely to Jesus Christ, and to those who, having been stripped of all else, possess the Word alone.
Lift Up Your Heads
We therefore lower our heads in despair and fear only to the extent that we place our hopes in the gifts of Christ rather than in Christ Himself. Christ’s victory is certain, and all that we experience now is only testimony to its immanence. It matters little whether or not this immanence is accomplished during our own lives, just as it was of little consequence to St. Peter or Paul. In all things we need to lift our hearts and minds in rejoicing that God is All in All, and will achieve the final total victory. This, after all, is the bottom line of the “nakedness” of the Christian life, a nakedness which, as we have seen, can reach even to the cessation of the Holy Sacrifice of the altar. We rejoice in the coming victory of Our Lord, and it is this joy which is the final testimony of our faith, and to the life of charity which is its supernatural expression. This is the ultimate test as to whether we possess the Heart of Jesus – as to whether we lift up our heads, or cover them and seek refuge in the caves of self-despair and loss of faith. It is this test which Judas failed, and which hopefully we shall not.
War Against the Papacy
Now in print, and available from Cruachan Hill Press
This book contains additional material to the work on my website bearing the same title. Following is an excerpt from the new Preface:
There is no more justification for the SSPX position during the pontificate of Pope Francis than there was during the reign of any previous Pope. Unquestionably, however, many who are “bent” towards an SSPX mentality, or even towards sedevacantism, find more excuses under the pontificate of Francis for such a move than under that of John Paul II.
I think it profitable, therefore, to speculate as to what would be the position of Archbishop Lefebvre himself towards such a pontificate as that of Francis. In an address to seminarians in 1986, Archbishop Lefebvre offered the following
“Now I don't know if the time has come to say that the Pope is a heretic; I don't know if it is the time to say that. You know, for some time many people, the sedevacantists, have been saying "there is no more Pope," but I think that for me it was not yet the time to say that, because it was not sure, it was not evident, it was very difficult to say that the Pope is a heretic, the Pope is apostate. But I recognize that slowly, very slowly, by the deeds and acts of the Pope himself we begin to be very anxious…. What conclusion must we draw in a few months if we are confronted by these repeated acts of partaking in false worship? I don't know. I wonder. But I think the Pope can do nothing worse than call together a meeting of all religions, when we know there is only one true religion and all other religions belong to the devil. So perhaps after this famous meeting of Assisi, perhaps we must say that the Pope is a heretic, is apostate. Now I don't wish yet to say it formally and solemnly, but it seems at first sight that it is impossible for a Pope to be publicly and formally heretical. Our Lord has promised to be with him, to keep his faith, to keep him in the Faith - how can he at the same time be a public heretic and virtually apostatize? So it is possible we may be obliged to believe this pope is not pope.”
If Archbishop Lefebvre could propose such a thing during the pontificate of John Paul II (and even before Assisi), then it would not seem unreasonable to speculate that the pontificate of Pope Francis might very well have carried him over into sedevacantism. No one, of course, can be sure as to what his course of action might have been. But the interesting point for consideration is that each person who is an adherent of the SSPX’s position is now not only in the position of subjectively judging the Papacy (through defying Papal jurisdiction), but also finds himself necessarily forced into subjectivity in regard to what would be the position of the one man since the Council whom they most seek to emulate and follow – a subjectivity which has enormous consequences in terms of their own personal faith and their belief in regard to wherein the Catholic Church itself subsists.
Available from Cruachan Hill Press
”He who eats the Pope dies”
– German proverb
“A Voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great
mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would
not be comforted, because they are not.”
All of the following is written in a spirit of charity. It is also written in a spirit of deep caution, and even trepidation. I sent many of my writings to Pope Benedict XVI ( in September, 2007), along with a personal letter. In the spirit of obedience, I publicly state that at his simple request, or that of his successor Pope Francis, I would cease writing and prevent the further spread of my writings as much as morally possible.
I believe that the Papacy is wounded and suffering and that this suffering has profoundly affected the philosophical-theological orientation of recent Popes. While leaving intact the prerogatives established by Christ for all times upon Peter and his successors, this philosophical and theological disorientation has affected virtually everything else, to the detriment of the Church and the salvation of souls
The reader will note that a number of my articles are deeply critical of the writings and statements of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. I wish to state that I can make no final or absolute judgment about the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI. However,a fair number of my articles critical of his statements and writings were written after his ascension to the Papacy. They give evidence as to the continuity of his present thought with that of his past writings, but pretend to make no absolute judgment. I must add that I have seen no evidence on the part of Joseph Ratzinger of any renunciation of his previous thought and that, on the contrary, he has asserted the essential continuity of his thought up to, and even after, his elevation. As with any author, he would fall under the strong moral imperative to correct any serious errors in his past writings of which he became conscious. I am aware of no efforts on his part to do so.
I must also now add that in April of 2005, two weeks before the election of Benedict XVI, I sent my manuscript of The War Against Being and The Return to God" to then Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, along with a letter stating that I believed he might be elected Pope. I received no reply. There are now two articles (Part I, Articles 24, 26) which contain analysis of Pope Francis' thinking and actions.
I call the reader’s attention to the two quotes which I have placed at the beginning of this short introduction. The first encapsulates in a startling manner the sense of caution, and even fear, which any person in the Church should feel in undertaking criticism of a person who has become Pope. The presence of this fear is always necessary in order to generate and maintain that charity towards the Holy Father which is always integral to the Catholic Spirit, no matter what personal faults the personality and thought of a particular occupant of the Chair of Peter might present as an impediment to the natural expression of this charity.
The second quote simply represents the reality which is the present moment in the life of the Church. We are faced with a holocaust of the spiritual life and well-being of children which is directly attributable to the chaos in religious instruction, sacramental life, and morality which has been the inheritance of post-Vatican II life in the Church. And this chaos in all things Catholic is directly attributable to the philosophical-theological orientation of members of the Catholic hierarchy, especially to the Popes who have reigned during and since the Council.
In this situation the tension between one’s natural Catholic love and respect for the Pope and the knowledge of what recent Popes have perpetrated, or allowed to be perpetrated, upon innocent children becomes almost unbearable. Ultimately the question as to whether to criticize or not comes down to the question of being a man. In the Old Testament the Lord says that “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” he shall send Elias the prophet to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema.” (Malachias 4: 6). Surely, if we are men, and are to retain our manhood, then our hearts must turn to the defense of our children.
I think it is only at this point – once our hearts have truly turned to militancy in defense of our children – that our eyes become opened to perceive the extent to which the Papacy itself is really suffering, that this suffering must be a visitation upon us by God in chastisement for our sins and infidelities, and that charity for all – for Christ, for the Pope, for our children and our own souls – demands the full revelation of certain truths which are, indeed, very painful for us to face. If we remain silent the darkness can only deepen, and our cowardice and emasculation only become more pronounced.
Finally, I wish to state that I do not support in any way either the sedevacantist position, or that of the SSPX or any individual or group that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church. I have written a small book on this subject which is now available as Part X on this website. I wish also to state that many of my articles have appeared in Christian Order Magazine, the website of which is www.christianorder.com.
On the Use or Publication of these Articles:
I desire the widest possible dissemination of the articles on this website, but wish it to be done with integrity, and in accord with the following stipulations.
First, I emphatically state that I accept both Benedict XVI and his successor Francis I as legitimate Popes, and that I am not a sedevacantist and also do not support any group, especially the SSPX, that has defied the Pope in his discipline and government of the Church.
Second, I do not permit any critical analysis of any article using a technique to insert comments within the body of the article itself. I believe that any well-written article is a whole greater than the sum of its individual parts, that continuity in reading it is necessary in order to be able to understand the whole force of the argument or position, and that therefore such a technique does unjust violence to the integrity of the work. An honest critical analysis therefore demands a separate article or treatment. This, of course, does not preclude the use of individual quotations, as long as they are taken in context.
I also wish to recommend that Article 1 of Part 1 be read first, as it contains an analysis of philosophical and theological principles necessary for the understanding of the rest.
Authored by: James Larson
Continue to Article 1