Doctrine vs. discipline redux…

“But let no one try to trick you by saying that ‘the controversy is not about religion but about customs,’ as the ancient schismatics did, or that the Apostolic See is not dealing with the cause of Catholic communion and faith but is simply pained by the insult of being apparently despised by its critics since the dissidents do not rest from scattering such statements as these to deceive all the simple-minded.”

— Pope St. Gelasius (r. 492-496), Ep. 18, to the bishops of Dardania, no. 6 (cited by Pius IX in Quartus Supra (1873), §50, n. 65).

“If any one saith, that the canon of the mass contains errors, and is therefore to be abrogated; let him be anathema.

“If any one saith, that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema.”

Council of Trent, Session 22, Canon VI and VII.

“Nor can we pass over in silence the audacity of those who, not enduring sound doctrine, contend that ‘without sin and without any sacrifice of the Catholic profession assent and obedience may be refused to those judgments and decrees of the Apostolic See, whose object is declared to concern the Church’s general good and her rights and discipline, so only it does not touch the dogmata of faith and morals.’ But no one can be found not clearly and distinctly to see and understand how grievously this is opposed to the Catholic dogma of the full power given from God by Christ our Lord Himself to the Roman Pontiff of feeding, ruling and guiding the Universal Church.”

— Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quanta Cura (8 December 1864), §5.

“But since discipline is the rampart of faith, the Apostolic See needed to restore discipline. It has certainly never abandoned this most serious duty even in adverse times when it could attend only to transitory needs while it awaited more the favorable times.”

— Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quartus Supra (6 January 1873), §20.

+ + +

A: “I believe the Bible teaches that believers must receive communion as bread and wine, under both ‘species’, as Catholics call them.”

B: “Well, the Church, the Catholic Church, teaches that the faithful may receive the Eucharist under only one species without sinning. In fact, denying the efficacy of one or the other single species is condemned by the Church! [cf. Council of Trent, Session 13, Canon III]”

A: “Yes, but that’s just a disciplinary matter, so the Church can’t be infallible about something like that. At least, that’s what Vatican I taught. I’ve been in lots of debates with Catholics about papal infallibility, and it always boils down to ex cathedra infallibility in matters of faith and morals only. A mere disciplinary matter like liturgical rubrics can be as fallible as my attempts to explain quantum physics.”

B: “Bravo, at least you got Vatican I right!”

A: “I try.”

B: “But that’s irrelevant in this case, because the real presence of Christ in both species, or one of them singly, is a matter of 0.”

A: “I suppose so, but it’s also a liturgical rubric–a merely disciplinary issue. Wow, speaking of quantum physics, ever hear of superposition?”

B: “Yes…?”

A: “Meaning, like, an ecclesial canon can be both disciplinary and doctrinal– both a matter of praxis and of faith.”

B: “Well, canons per se are infallible, because they are formal declarations of the Church in an extraordinary act of conciliar infallibility ratified by the Bishop of Rome. So I’d prefer to call liturgical matters ‘rubrics’ rather than ‘canons’.”

A: “I think you’re just splitting hairs. Are you saying that receiving the Eucharist under one species is a ‘mere rubric’? I thought you just said it was dogmatic!”

B: “Well, yes, everything outside of that, or the maleness of the priesthood, or the matter of the eucharistic elements, or the words of consecration, which are dogmatic–everything outside of those hard-and-fast canons are ‘mere rubrics’.”

A: “So rubrics can be fallible but canons are infallible, right?”

B: “Yes.”

A: “Sort of like, speed limits are infallible, as far as the authority of the state goes, but speedometers in citizens’ cars can be fallible?”

B: “Huh?”

A: “I mean that the rubrics help the Church conform to the dogmatic canons, even in liturgical matters, just like speedometers help citizens obey the speed limit in their cars. If the speedometers are fallible and unreliable, what good is an  infallible speed limit? The conformity of the driver with the law would vary from car to car, just as the conformity of rubrics with dogmatic worship would vary from age to age, council to council. The speedometers have to be just as reliable as the laws, even if the state (or, Church) can choose to alter their units from, say, miles per hour to kilometers per hour to 里 per hour.”

B: “What is a ‘lee per hour’? Anyway, I think you’re missing the p–”

A: “Not only that, previous councils are chock full of canons–infallible canons–that deal only with disciplinary matters. How could the Church impose those ‘disciplinary’ canons as infallible norms on the faithful, on pain of excommunication, if the Church is not infallible in disciplinary matters as well? Hang on, let me Google something…”

B: “Okay…”

A: “Yeah, that’s it… From the Council of Florence, cited at Vatican I, I quote: ‘The Roman pontiff is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to him was committed in blessed Peter, by our lord Jesus Christ, the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole church.’ [Council of Florence, session 6. S Bernard, Ep. 190 (PL 182, 1053).] Wait, wait, let me Google something else, a real doozie…”

B: “Okay…?”

A: “Naw, on second thought, it’s too long to read out loud, so let me just e-mail it to you later, yeah?”

B: “Sure.”

A: “Anyway, my point is, the Catholic Church teaches that the Roman pontiff’s full power as teacher of the whole Church coalesces with and includes ‘ruling and governing’–i.e., making rules for–the whole Church in the authority of Peter. Rules, as in disciplines. If the Pope decrees fallible, even faulty, disciplines, don’t you have a right to resist him, politely, at least?”

B: “Yes, certainly. St. Thomas teaches that clearly in his glosses on Galatians 2, when St. Paul opposed St. Peter ‘to his face,’ as the trads like to say. At times, even a layman has the duty to oppose fallible decrees of the Pope, as long as it doesn’t touch on faith and morals.”

A: “Well, I’m still not sure you’ve clarified how discipline can’t be disciplinary–or, to recall Vatican II, how doctrine can’t ‘subsist in’ discipline–, since the only way the Church honors the orthodox faith about Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist is by upholding a discipline like bread and wine of a certain rubrical stature, priests of a certain phenotypic character, and, again, of regulating for communion under one species. To flout those disciplines just is to flout the doctrine which they embody. Faulty discipline is just the smoke that rises from false doctrine, as true discipline rises from true doctrine.”

B: “Whoa, now…”

A: “Sorry, I’m not done. I kind of lost my train of thought there. Let me get back to the resistance thing. You said that, as long as you don’t oppose decrees that pertain to ‘faith and morals’, you have the right, maybe even the duty to oppose the Pope or bishops about disciplinary or ‘prudential’ matters.”

B: “Yes. That seems right. Otherwise, as one friend put it, Catholics are just mindless robots, and you can count me out.”

A: “Well, I’m not Catholic, so don’t get me started, heheh. But here’s my point: I thought we agreed that previous councils infallibly promulgated canons and decrees, including many that pertain to disciplinary, liturgical, and even–gasp!–prudential matters. So are you saying that anyone at the close of those councils could pick and choose which canons and decrees they would accept, as long as they only rejected the disciplinary ones?”

B: “Okay, no, if you put it that way, no. But I’m talking about run of the mill discipline, like motu proprios, and bulls, and off-the-cuff homilies, things like that.”

A: “So Luther could have rightly resisted Leo X’s bull Exsurge Domine? Isn’t that what kicked off the whole Reformation, roughly speaking–that he was wrong to spurn that ‘mere’, run-of-the-mill bull?”

B: “Look, all I know is, the Pope, and therefore the Church, is infallible of matters of faith and morals only–”

A: “But he can infallibly ratify Church councils that infallibly canonize and decree matters of discipline and prudence?”

B: “Yeah, pretty much.”

A: “Gotcha.”

+ + +

“So anyway here’s that email I mentioned earlier today… It’s from Quartus Supra by Pius IX, from 1873… IOW, AFTER VATICAN I and therefore fully aware of the infallible-in-faith-and-morals distinction yet… still… pretty hardcore for ‘mere discipline’ I say… If you’re gonna follow the pope… you need to follow him, no? And if you believe Christ gave him the power to rule and govern the flock as an expression of his teaching, shouldn’t that entail obedience and compliance across the board, short of ‘mortal sin’? Just sayin’… Anyway, the quote I meant with my bolding…

Christ Himself, however, the God who “is charity,”[19] openly declared that those who do not listen to the Church should be regarded as gentiles and publicans.[20] And Our predecessor St. Gelasius answered Euphemius, Bishop of Constantinople, when he stated that “the flock ought to follow the shepherd who calls them back to safe pastures, rather than the shepherd follow the flock as it wanders off the road.”[21] For “the people must be taught, not followed: and if they do not know, we must impress on them what is permitted and not permitted, rather than give them our approval.”[22]

Definition of a Schismatic

12. But the neo-schismatics say that it was not a case of doctrine but of discipline, so the name and prerogatives of Catholics cannot be denied to those who object. Our Constitution Reversurus, published on July 12, 1867,[23] answers this objection. We do not doubt that you know well how vain and worthless this evasion is. For the Catholic Church has always regarded as schismatic those who obstinately oppose the lawful prelates of the Church and in particular, the chief shepherd of all. Schismatics avoid carrying out their orders and even deny their very rank. Since the faction from Armenia is like this, they are schismatics even if they had not yet been condemned as such by Apostolic authority. For the Church consists of the people in union with the priest, and the flock following its shepherd.[24] Consequently the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop, and whoever is not with the bishop is not in the Church. Further more, as Our predecessor Pius VI warned in his Apostolic letter condemning the civil constitution of the clergy in France,[25] discipline is often closely related to doctrine and has a great influence in preserving its purity. In fact, in many instances, the holy Councils have unhesitatingly cut off from the Church by their anathema those who have infringed its discipline.

Authority of the Holy See

13. But the neo-schismatics have gone further, since “every schism fabricates a heresy for itself to justify its withdrawal from the Church.”[26] Indeed they have even accused this Apostolic See as well, as if We had exceeded the limits of Our power in commanding that certain points of discipline were to be observed in the Patriarchate of Armenia. Nor can the Eastern Churches preserve communion and unity of faith with Us without being subject to the Apostolic power in matters of discipline. Teaching of this kind is heretical, and not just since the definition of the power and nature of the papal primacy was determined by the ecumenical Vatican Council: the Catholic Church has always considered it such and abhorred it. Thus the bishops at the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon clearly declared the supreme authority of the Apostolic See in their proceedings [IOW, to defect from the disciplinary authority of the pope is to defect from his authority as teacher, as Peter]; then they humbly requested from Our predecessor St. Leo confirmation and support for their decrees, even those which concerned discipline.

14. Indeed, “the successor of blessed Peter, by the very fact that he is such, has been assigned the whole flock of Christ, so that together with his bishopric he receives the power of universal rule. Then the other bishops must be assigned their portions of the flock so that they can rule over their flock.”[27] If the supreme authority of this assignment to blessed Peter and his successors is rejected, the very foundations and prerogatives of the patriarchal churches in particular would be shaken. “Even if Christ willed that Peter and the other leaders have something in common, the other leaders have this only through Peter.”[28] …

15. Accordingly, then, unless they abandon the unchanging and unbroken tradition of the Church which is so clearly confirmed by testimonies of the Fathers, the neo-schismatics can in no way convince themselves that they are Catholics even if they declare themselves such. If We did not thoroughly know the clever and subtle deceits of heretics, it would be incomprehensible that the Ottoman regime still regards as Catholics people it knows to be cut off from the Catholic Church by Our judgment and authority. For if the Catholic religion is to continue safe and free in the Ottoman dominion as the Emperor has decreed, then the essence of this religion should also be allowed, for instance the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff. Most men feel that the Church’s supreme head and shepherd should decide who are Catholics and who are not.

False Accusations

16. But the neo schismatics declare that they do not oppose the Catholic Church’s principles in the least. Their sole aim is to protect the [disciplinary?] rights of their churches and their nation and even the rights of their supreme Emperor; they falsely allege that We have infringed these rights. By this means, they fearlessly make us responsible for the present disorder. …

17. We do not wish to recall that after the schism succeeded, the fortunes of the Eastern Catholic Churches declined; then God overthrew the empire of the Greeks in punishment for the sundered unity of His Church. Neither do We desire to recall the energetic efforts of Our predecessors, as soon as it was possible, to call back the straying sheep to the one true flock of Christ the Lord. But even if the results did not fully match the efforts expended, still by God’s mercy some churches of the different rites did return to the truth and Catholic unity of the Church. These the Apostolic See received in its arms like newborn infants and took particular care to strengthen them in the true Catholic faith and to keep them completely free from all stain of heresy.

Also, this from Pope Zosimus:

Although the tradition of the Fathers has attributed such great authority to the Apostolic See that no one would dare to disagree wholly with its judgment, and it has always preserved this [judgment] by canons and rules, and current ecclesiastical discipline up to this time by its laws pays the reverence which is due to the name of PETER, from whom it has itself descended . . . ; since therefore PETER the head is of such great authority and he has confirmed the subsequent endeavors of all our ancestors, so that the Roman Church is fortified . . . by human as well as by divine laws, and it does not escape you that we rule its place and also hold power of the name itself, nevertheless you know, dearest brethren, and as priests you ought to know, although we have such great authority that no one can dare to retract from our decision, yet we have done nothing which we have not voluntarily referred to your notice by letters . . . not because we did not know what ought to be done, or would do anything which by going against the advantage of the Church, would be displeasing.

About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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46 Responses to Doctrine vs. discipline redux…

  1. There really isn’t a problem that ABS can see. IF a discipline appears to contradict that which came before, the lay man can usually suck it up and stomach it until such time as a real pope is elected.

    T’hell is ABS missing?

    Can you even think of one discipline imposed upon us so far that would encourage you to sever one bond on Unity (Worship, Doctrine, Authority) with your local Ordinary and The Pope?

    O, and one can both maintain full communion AND petition for a change in the discipline (might even a duty to do so under Canon 212 – this is from memory, may be another canon) and that is to not even mention one might possibly secure a dispensation from a lousy discipline if one has good relations with this Ordinary (relations was the wrong word, right?)

    BTW, LOVE the Creed of Pius IV. BEST ONE. PERIOD

  2. MP says:


    I think one discipline imposed upon Catholics that DOES encourage or provoke a person to sever the bond of unity with the Pope and the Ordinary is common worship with false religions, e.g. Protestants, Jews, Muslims….

  3. MP. But you are not forced to do that, are you?

    ABS does confirm that he is constrained to assist at the Lil’ Licit Liturgy in the local Palm Beach County Florida Franchise of Dead Diocese, inc. America, but,, as bad and as weak as that Pauline Rite is, it is still Catholic.

    On the other hand, ABS does anticipate the day when a decision will be taken that grants a dispensation from the Sunday obligation to any Catholic desiring to attend services at a Synagogue because such Ecumenism encourages unity.

    No, not joking; pretty sure that is hurtling down towards us on the Indifferent Superhighway because that is how the ecumaniacs really think.

  4. MP says:


    I think the mere fact that a mother would offer her children poison is enough for one to want to sever ties with her. There is no need to wait for her to force the children to drink it.

  5. This is an issue that I struggle with, frequently, and deeply. I don’t see how one can live and pray against the manifest will of the Roman Pontiff. All I can is that one can dislike it, and grin, and bear it.

    The key is that such dislike not sever communion of faith and worship, but for those who see the New Mass as a scandal and the new plurireligion of ecumenism as an abomination, it becomes very hard to maintain such bonds with such flagrant apostates, no?

    If they speak more often, and more deeply of the “Jewish Holocaust” than THE one and only Eucharistic Holocaust, what does that make of them, and what does that make of those who succor communion with them?

    This is my struggle.

  6. MP. But if one leaves His Church, one leaves Jesus for He has aways been the head of His Church and He still is the head and He will remain the Head until the end of time despite what Bergoglio or any other worthless Vicar of His does.

    One can’t have Jesus without His Church if one is to be a Catholic.

    Rare is the man who will be blessed to come to understand WHY He is letting this happen to His One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church but it might have something to do with the way He tests us to see if we love Him (St Vincent of Lerins argument).

    Where is one to go?

    This is His Church and He established no other.

  7. MP says:

    I share the same struggle.

    My comments here argue from a Sedevacantist position but am struggling with taking a firm position. For me, the point ABS makes is only valid IF the Whore of Babylon can also be the Bride of Christ. I don’t see how people have no problem with saying the spotless and immaculate Mother is a danger to his soul. This is tantamount to denying the Immaculate Conception and perfection of the Virgin Mary via Christ. I also don’t see how one can say the Church can be in error concerning faith and morals when it is absolutely clear that the Catholic Church has always taught that She can’t when speaking universally on faith and morals and in Her laws and disciplines. Only since VII has this idea that the Universal Ordinary Magisterium can teach error and be a means of confusion and damnation. The simple fact that the Conciliar church promotes and encourages false worship proves without a doubt that the purpose of itself is not to be the salvation of all thru Jesus Christ but to lead others astray. Forget about the question of if a pope is true or not. If the church posing as the Bride of Christ does what it does today, then it can’t be the Catholic Church. This would make the vacancy of the papacy a symptom of this eclipse and not the primary issue at hand. We know the Church will endure till the end of time since the Church is crowned in heaven along with reigning on earth and Christ says that the gates of hell shall not overcome Her. I honestly don’t see this same protection for any individual man since God must honor man’s free will. If a pope commits heresy, he ipso facto loses the papacy due to loss of faith. No hearing is needed and the R&R admits this when they say the judgment of the Church does not affect the loss of office but the heresy itself does. The sedes and the R&R agree on this point and the fact that one wants to wait for public declaration rather then using the guidelines of the Church to make the same logical conclusion is odd since those making the public declaration or judgment would have had to make a personal judgment already concerning the same matter. And if no one can judge the pope, then no one can judge the pope. The public declaration, for me, is a courtesy to all the faithful who do not already know that the pope is no longer the pope due to his heresy and a procedural task that must be taken in order to start the next conclave. A man does not have to wait for a court judgment before filing charges against his neighbor for property theft nor does he need to wait for that same judgment to determine that his car was actually stolen by the neighbor whom he saw break the window of the car and drive off with it.

    The liturgy, which can’t teach or contain error, of the Conciliar church teaches that the Jews already have faith in God’s convenant but needs to grow it. This makes the church a Judaizer.

    To ABS’ question of where is one to go, the answer is no where. Those who hold to the spotless Bride of Christ simply can’t hold to the Conciliar church and must not follow her to hell. I find it better to be one stuck in a mystery (vacant chair) than one stuck in contradiction.

  8. MP. ABS never intended to indicate this was either capable of being intellectually or spiritually apprehended but simply that ABS has nowhere to go. He feels as though, for some ineffable cause, he has been given a chance to imitate Jesus Christ – alone and abandoned by the first pope and bishops who fell asleep – by being faced with having to drink the cup.

    So, ABS stays in full communion with the local ordinary and Our Pope (who is an Antichrist) and Our Cross, because ABS must drink the cup rather than flee the garden.

    Now, there are other soi distant trads who have fled the garden, thinking they’d find security and spiritual safety, but, to ABS at least, they have missed the command to drink the cup and there is no obligation on the part of ABS to accept the revolution within the form of Catholicism or to accept the doctrinal novelties; rather, ABS has a duty to keep alive the Faith once delivered in his domestic church.

    A final thought, ABS can not control Our Pope and Our Cross, or anyone else for that matter; he can only control his own self and maintaining full communion with Ordinary and Pope has always been the sine qua non of Catholicism and any putative Tradition that claims otherwise is a novel Tradition and novelty is proximate to heresy.

    O, and a confession: ABS was this close to pitching his spiritual tent amongst the sedes.

  9. MP says:


    You reference Christ being abandoned by the first Pope but Peter was not the first Pope at the time of the abandonment. Only after the resurrection was he installed as the Vicar of Christ and his imprudence concerning the matter with St. Paul was simply imprudent and not a loss of faith. Besides the fact that there are no degrees (full, partial) in communion with the Church or in faith (a novelty of VII), a problem I see is that the Ordinary is only the Ordinary because of his appointment by the Pope who you would agree is not recognized by some who believe the Pope is a heretic. Staying in communion with a heretic and his appointees has never been the sine qua non of Catholicism.

    I don’t think we can jettison logic when we come to a conclusion we are uncomfortable with. My studies have lead me to believe that no Pope can also be a heretic since the loss of faith is an immediate loss of office. St. Bellarmine seemed to hold three beliefs that I am using to form my argument. I admit that I could be wrong with Bellarmine’s positions and post them here to be critiqued.

    1) The Pope cannot be a heretic at the same time of holding the Papacy. He seemed to believe that the Pope could not even be a heretic on a personal level which he did not bind on others but was more of a pious belief.

    2) If the Pope were to ever be a formal heretic, he would lose the “pontificate” “ipso facto”. A judgment of the Church would not be needed to affect the loss of office.

    3) If one considers a Pope to be a heretic via objective means, then “ from that presumption his pontificate could rightly be abrogated. For, men are not held (or cannot be held) to thoroughly search hearts; yet when they see one who is a heretic by his external works, then they judge simply and condemn him as a heretic.” (p. 26, Papal Error).

    I also want to make the argument that a Catholic can simply not be a “material” heretic but is simply a heretic or not, and private or public. A Catholic who espouses a heresy without pertinacity or in ignorance is not a heretic at all.

    I find me either having to be the best liberal Catholic totally faithful and obedient to all the post-conciliar teachings or to reject it in total. No where in the Church history do I see where faithful and obedient Catholics considered their Pope an anti-Christ or heretic and reject his teachings while acknowledging his office. If the man holds the office of the papacy, then he deserves the same respect and honor we would give to Christ.

    I thank you for your responses. These times are certainly trying and I, like you, simply want to be pleasing to God and faithful to His Immaculate Bride, the Catholic Church.

  10. MP:

    I believe ABS will call you out on it, so I will point out that “partial” communion is not, AFAIK, a V2 novelty, but was taught in some form in the Baltimore Catechism, among others loci. However, what I think could be construed as a novelty is the claim that non-Catholics are saved BY the elements of their communion with the Church, rather than condemned for refusing to walk the bridge of partial to full communion. IOW, the novel idea after V2 is that non-Catholics are saved BECAUSE they are devout in their own traditions/communions, rather than saved DESPITE being enmeshed in such traditions/communions, which is how the Church has always seen heretics and schismatics like Protestants and Easterns.

  11. As usual, Brother Elliot is correct.

    Full and partial communion, although Mr Ferrara has convinced others that teaching is gnostic twaddle, long pre-existed V2.

    Ba;timore Catechism:

    169b. How does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body?

    A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by open and deliberate heresy, apostasy or schism.

    169c. How does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by heresy?

    A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by heresy when he openly rejects or doubts some doctrine proposed by the Catholic Church as a truth of divine-Catholic faith, though still professing himself a Christian.

    169d. When does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by apostasy?

    A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by apostasy when he openly rejects the entire Christian faith.

    169e. When does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by schism?

    A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by schism when he openly refuses obedience to the lawful authorities of the Church, particularly to the Pope.

    169f. When is a baptized person separated from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by lawful authority?

    A baptized person is separated from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by lawful authority when he incurs one of the more severe forms of excommunication.

  12. Neither ABR of Brother Elliot can defenestrate the Pope (although, would;t it be cool if we could?) and despite what the great Bellarmine taught,a Pope could be working for the Degiland still retain his authority over me and thee:

    Errors of John Wycliffe *

    [Condemned in Council and by the Bulls “Inter Cunctas”

    and “In eminentis” Feb. 22, 1418]

    581 1. In the sacrament of the altar the material substance of bread and likewise the material substance of wine remain.

    582 2. In the same sacrament the accidents of the bread do not remain without a subject. The sacrament Christ is not identically and really with His

    583 3. In the same sacrament Christ is not identically and really with His own bodily presence.

    584 4. If a bishop or priest is living in mortal sin, he does not ordain, nor consecrate, nor perform, nor baptize.

    585 5. it is not established in the Gospel that Christ arranged the Mass.

    586 6. God ought to obey the devil.

    587 7. If man is duly contrite, every exterior confession on his part is superfluous and useless.

    588 8. If the pope is foreknown and evil, and consequently a member of the devil, he does not have power over the faithful given to him by anyone, unless perchance by Caesar.

    589 9. After Urban VI no one should be received as pope, unless he live according to the customs of the Greeks under their laws.

    590 10. It is contrary to Sacred Scripture that ecclesiastical men have possessions.

    591 11. No prelate should excommunicate anyone, unless first he knows that he has been excommunicated by God; and he who so excommunicates becomes, as a result of this, a heretic or excommunicated.

    592 12. A prelate excommunicating a cleric who has appealed to the king, or to a council of the kingdom, by that very act is a traitor of the king and the kingdom.

    593 13. Those who cease to preach or to hear the word of God because of the excommunication of men, are themselves excommunicated, and in the judgment of God they will be considered traitors of Christ.

    594 14. It is permissible for any deacon or priest to preach the word of God without the authority of the Apostolic See or a Catholic bishop.

    595 15. No one is a civil master, no one a prelate, no one a bishop, as long as he is in mortal sin.

    596 16. Temporal rulers can at their will take away temporal goods from the Church, when those who have possessions habitually offend, that is, offend by habit, not only by an act.

    597 17. People can at their will correct masters who offend.

    598 18. The tithes are pure alms and parishioners can take these away at will because of the sins of their prelates.

    599 19. Special prayers applied to one person by prelates or religious are not of more benefit to that person than general (prayers), all other things being equal.

  13. MP Matt 16:16 is when Peter became Pope although it is also true that he was ignorant of not only all that entailed but he was also ignorant of what Jesus’ mission was.

  14. MP says:

    ABS, thank you again for your replies. Concerning Peter becoming Pope, Matt 16:16 in no way instills Peter as the Pope. Verses 18-19 clearly states that Christ has yet to do it and will do so at a later point. We know this future point to be when Peter confirmed his love for Christ three times and was told to feed and tend His sheep.

    17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.”

    588 8. If the pope is foreknown and evil, and consequently a member of the devil, he does not have power over the faithful given to him by anyone, unless perchance by Caesar.

    The above citation does not say anything about a Pope who does not hold to the faith. This, to me, refers to a Pope who is evil in his acts and does the devil’s bidding.

    And finally, concerning degrees in faith or communion. The Baltimore Catechism only references full communion or incorporation. Nowhere does it mention a partial incorporation or eludes to it. I think you would agree that there is such a thing as full incorporation while at the same time not admitting partial communion. The word “full” is simply stressing the type of incorporation needed to be united to the Mystical Body of Christ.

    God bless.

  15. MP says:

    ABS, I will go on record saying that your use of “full communion” in your previous comment does not imply the existence of a partial communion either. I should have not made it an issue. I do appreciate your references to the Baltimore Catechism.

  16. MP says:

    Let me make clear my comments on degrees of communion with the Church.

    1- Full communion does exist.
    2- Partial communion does not exist and is a novelty of VII.
    3- No communion does exist.

    The degrees of communion with the Church are 360 or 0, admitting nothing in between.

    If there is something else I am missing, then I will be glad to modify my position to be more in mind with the Church.


  17. MP says:

    De Romano Pontifice, Book I, Chapter X, p. 83-84

    Now I respond to the objection of Illyricus, firstly with the commentary of Jerome for this chapter: when Peter was told: “Get behind me Satan” and when he denied Christ, he was not yet the foundation. Therefore, the place Christ promised him, he had intended to give to him after the resurrection. Add, that Peter did not err on the faith, but was merely ignorant of something, when he was told, “Get behind me Satan,” and he was lacking in charity, not in faith, when he denied Christ….

    —St. Robert Bellarmine, translation by Ryan Grant

  18. Dear MP. ABS would have to go back to check (company precludes doing that for several days) but he is unaware of any moral unanimity amongst the Fathers of when Peter became Pope but, off the stop of his head, ABS recalls commentary in the Catena Aurea identifying that as the moment.

    As for full and partial communion, it clearly does exist, for instance, in the Church of the schismatic heretical brethren of the east which has retained Apostolic Succession, Holy Orders, Eucharist.

    A Blessed Christmastide to you and yours

  19. Matt 16:18 Peter is established as Rock (pope) and as Pope, Peter sinned mortally in denying Christ.

    Article 12. Whether charity is lost through one mortal sin?

    Objection 1. It would seem that charity is not lost through one mortal sin. For Origen says (Peri Archon i): “When a man who has mounted to the stage of perfection, is satiated, I do not think that he will become empty or fall away suddenly; but he must needs do so gradually and by little and little.” But man falls away by losing charity. Therefore charity is not lost through only one mortal sin.

    Objection 2. Further, Pope Leo in a sermon on the Passion (60) addresses Peter thus: “Our Lord saw in thee not a conquered faith, not an averted love, but constancy shaken. Tears abounded where love never failed, and the words uttered in trepidation were washed away by the fount of charity.” From this Bernard [William of St. Thierry, De Nat. et Dig. Amoris. vi.] drew his assertion that “charity in Peter was not quenched, but cooled.”

    But Peter sinned mortally in denying Christ. Therefore charity is not lost through one mortal sin.

    Objection 3. Further, charity is stronger than an acquired virtue. Now a habit of acquired virtue is not destroyed by one contrary sinful act. Much less, therefore, is charity destroyed by one contrary mortal sin.

    Objection 4. Further, charity denotes love of God and our neighbor. Now, seemingly, one may commit a mortal sin, and yet retain the love of God and one’s neighbor; because an inordinate affection for things directed to the end, does not remove the love for the end, as stated above (Article 10). Therefore charity towards God can endure, though there be a mortal sin through an inordinate affection for some temporal good.

    Objection 5. Further, the object of a theological virtue is the last end. Now the other theological virtues, namely faith and hope, are not done away by one mortal sin, in fact they remain though lifeless. Therefore charity can remain without a form, even when a mortal sin has been committed.

    On the contrary, By mortal sin man becomes deserving of eternal death, according to Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.” On the other hand whoever has charity is deserving of eternal life, for it is written (John 14:21): “He that loveth Me, shall be loved by My Father: and I will love Him, and will manifest Myself to him,” in which manifestation everlasting life consists, according to John 17:3: “This is eternal life; that they may know Thee the . . . true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent.” Now no man can be worthy, at the same time, of eternal life and of eternal death. Therefore it is impossible for a man to have charity with a mortal sin. Therefore charity is destroyed by one mortal sin.

    I answer that, That one contrary is removed by the other contrary supervening. Now every mortal sin is contrary to charity by its very nature, which consists in man’s loving God above all things, and subjecting himself to Him entirely, by referring all that is his to God. It is therefore essential to charity that man should so love God as to wish to submit to Him in all things, and always to follow the rule of His commandments; since whatever is contrary to His commandments is manifestly contrary to charity, and therefore by its very nature is capable of destroying charity.

    If indeed charity were an acquired habit dependent on the power of its subject, it would not necessarily be removed by one mortal sin, for act is directly contrary, not to habit but to act. Now the endurance of a habit in its subject does not require the endurance of its act, so that when a contrary act supervenes the acquired habit is not at once done away. But charity, being an infused habit, depends on the action of God Who infuses it, Who stands in relation to the infusion and safekeeping of charity, as the sun does to the diffusion of light in the air, as stated above (10, Objection 3). Consequently, just as the light would cease at once in the air, were an obstacle placed to its being lit up by the sun, even so charity ceases at once to be in the soul through the placing of an obstacle to the outpouring of charity by God into the soul.

    Now it is evident that through every mortal sin which is contrary to God’s commandments, an obstacle is placed to the outpouring of charity, since from the very fact that a man chooses to prefer sin to God’s friendship, which requires that we should obey His will, it follows that the habit of charity is lost at once through one mortal sin. Hence Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. viii, 12) that “man is enlightened by God’s presence, but he is darkened at once by God’s absence, because distance from Him is effected not by change of place but by aversion of the will.”

    Reply to Objection 1. This saying of Origen may be understood, in one way, that a man who is in the state of perfection, does not suddenly go so far as to commit a mortal sin, but is disposed thereto by some previous negligence, for which reason venial sins are said to be dispositions to mortal sin, as stated above (I-II, 88, 3). Nevertheless he falls, and loses charity through the one mortal sin if he commits it.

    Since, however, he adds: “If some slight slip should occur, and he recover himself quickly he does not appear to fall altogether,” we may reply in another way, that when he speaks of a man being emptied and falling away altogether, he means one who falls so as to sin through malice; and this does not occur in a perfect man all at once.

    Reply to Objection 2. Charity may be lost in two ways; first, directly, by actual contempt, and, in this way, Peter did not lose charity. Secondly, indirectly, when a sin is committed against charity, through some passion of desire or fear; it was by sinning against charity in this way, that Peter lost charity; yet he soon recovered it.

    The Reply to the Third Objection is evident from what has been said.

    Reply to Objection 4. Not every inordinate affection for things directed to the end, i.e., for created goods, constitutes a mortal sin, but only such as is directly contrary to the Divine will; and then the inordinate affection is contrary to charity, as stated.

    Reply to Objection 5. Charity denotes union with God, whereas faith and hope do not. Now every mortal sin consists in aversion from God, as stated above (Gen. ad lit. viii, 12). Consequently every moral sin is contrary to charity, but not to faith and hope, but only certain determinate sins, which destroy the habit of faith or of hope, even as charity is destroyed by every moral sin. Hence it is evident that charity cannot remain lifeless, since it is itself the ultimate form regarding God under the aspect of last end as stated above (Question 23, Article 8).

  20. 18 *And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    19 *And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. **And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

    Haddock Commentary

     Kago. And I say to thee, and tell thee why I before declared, (John i. 42.) that thou shouldst be called Peter, for thou art constituted the rock upon which, as a foundation, I will build my Church, and that so firmly, as not to suffer the gates (i.e. the powers) of hell to prevail against its foundation; because if they overturn its foundation, (i.e. thee and thy successors) they will overturn also the Church that rests upon it. Christ therefore here promises to Peter, that he and his successors should be to the end, as long as the Church should last, its supreme pastors and princes. (Tirinus) — In the Syriac tongue, which is that which Jesus Christ spoke, there is no difference of genders, as there is in Latin, between petra, a rock, and Petrus, Peter; hence, in the original language, the allusion was both more natural and more simple. (Bible de Vence) — Thou art Peter;[2] and upon this (i.e. upon thee, according to the literal and general exposition of the ancient Fathers) I will build my church. It is true St. Augustine, in one or two places, thus expounds these words, and upon this rock, (i.e. upon myself:) or upon this rock, which Peter hath confessed: yet he owns that he had also given the other interpretation, by which Peter himself was the rock. Some Fathers have also expounded it, upon the faith, which Peter confessed; but then they take not faith, as separated from the person of Peter, but on Peter, as holding the true faith. No one questions but that Christ himself is the great foundation-stone, the chief corner-stone, as St. Paul tells the Ephesians; (Chap. ii, ver. 20.) but it is also certain, that all the apostles may be called foundation-stones of the Church, as represented Apocalypse xxi. 14. In the mean time, St. Peter (called therefore Cephas, a rock) was the first and chief foundation-stone among the apostles, on whom Christ promised to build his Church. (Witham) — Thou art Peter, &c. As St. Peter, by divine revelation, here made a solemn profession of his faith of the divinity of Christ, so in recompense of this faith and profession, our Lord here declares to him the dignity to which he is pleased to raise him: viz. that he, to whom he had already given the name of Peter, signifying a rock, (John i. 42.) should be a rock indeed, of invincible strength, for the support of the building of the church; in which building he should be next to Christ himself, the chief foundation-stone, in quality of chief pastor, ruler, and governor; and should have accordingly all fulness of ecclesiastical power, signified by the keys of the kingdom of heaven. — Upon this rock, &c. The words of Christ to Peter, spoken in the vulgar language of the Jews, which our Lord made use of, were the same as if he had said in English, Thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my church. So that, by the plain course of the words, Peter is here declared to be the rock, upon which the church was to be built; Christ himself being both the principal foundation and founder of the same. Where also note, that Christ by building his house, that is, his Church, upon a rock, has thereby secured it against all storms and floods, like the wise builder. (Matthew vii. 24, 25.) — The gates of hell, &c. That is, the powers of darkness, and whatever Satan can do, either by himself or his agents. For as the Church is here likened to a house, or fortress, built on a rock; so the adverse powers are likened to a contrary house or fortress, the gates of which, i.e. the whole strength, and all the efforts it can make, will never be able to prevail over the city or Church of Christ. By this promise we are fully assured, that neither idolatry, heresy, nor any pernicious error whatsoever shall at any time prevail over the Church of Christ. (Challoner) — The gates, in the Oriental style, signify the powers; thus, to this day, we designate the Ottoman or Turkish empire by the Ottoman port. The princes were wont to hold their courts at the gates of the city. (Bible de Vence)

    It seems clear to ABS that Jesus did established Peter as the Rock/Pope foundation upon which He built His church, or, did he established that foundation at some later point?

  21. MP says:


    Merry Christmas to you, also.

    Please provide a teaching of the Church prior to Vatican II where the word “partial”, or any word meaning the same, is used to define any schismatic or heretic when referencing their union with the Church of Christ. I honestly don’t remember ever seeing the word used in anything I have read thus far. I admit to not reading everything so I can certainly be missing something.
    St. Bellarmine said Peter was lacking in faith, not that he lost it. “Lacking” something can be the absence of it or an insufficient or imperfect amount of it.
    St. Peter was called “rock” and was promised to be the foundation Christ’s Church would be built on. Yes, he was declared that foundation, but construction happened later. Also, the authority of Christ was given to Peter as the first Pope at the handing over of the “keys”. This was when he became Pope and no sooner.
    St. Bellarmine defended all the Popes up to his time. He went to great lengths and almost to absurdity in doing so. I imagine he would do his best these days to do the same, but I certainly cannot see him calling any reigning Pope a heretic. He would either be pulling a Jimmy Akin on a daily basis or would claim the chair is empty ipso facto due to the heresy coming from the seat. I honestly don’t see him having his pope and beating him too.


  22. MP says:

    Vatican I

    “And upon Simon Peter alone Jesus after His resurrection conferred the jurisdiction of the highest pastor and rector over his entire fold, saying: ‘Feed my lambs,’ ‘Feed my sheep’ [Jn 21:15ff.]” (Denz. 1822).

  23. MP I referenced the Baltimore Catechism already re full and partial communion and you reflexively gainsaid so why ask fro that which you are likely to do the same with?

  24. Wasn’t it the great Saint Bellarmine who provided the impetus for Pope Saint Liberius’ defenestration?

  25. MP. Isn’t it of Tradition that all the Apostles were infallible and had universal jurisdiction up until the death of each of the Apostles?

  26. MP says:


    I apologize if my comments appear to be contrary or confrontational. I simply want to know who to cast my lot with. You are the first non-modernist I have come across who defends “partial” communion and I honestly don’t see where the Church teachings it when it concerns membership in the Mystical Body of Christ. It seems you are drawing a conclusion that seems impossible.

    We know that heresy and schism deprives a person of full and complete membership in the Church since faith is lost and one must profess the Catholic faith to be in the Mystical Body of Christ. This has been taught by the Church in many ways throughout history. The catechism cannot say differently so we must conclude that “full incorporation” does not admit of a partial incorporation when heresy, apostasy or schism is present. This forces us to understand the questions 169a-f as meaning “how does a baptized person fully separate himself from the Mystical Body” or, in other words, “separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body”. I believe this is proven by the answer in 169f when it says “more severe forms of excommunication”. It is my understanding that a person can be excommunicated (less severely) while still retaining full membership in the Mystical Body of Christ, depending on the nature of the excommunication. The more severe forms of excommunication are administered because of the presence of heresy. A person who is excommunicated for less severe reasons is not partially incorporated but is still fully incorporated in the Mystical Body of Christ, just as a person who desires to be visibly united to the Body of Christ is fully incorporated into the Body of Christ even though they are not visible united.

    Back to question 169a, we see “full sense” being used rather than “full incorporation”. This is simply because we being humans can only judge externals and the full “sense” of membership is measured by what we see or know via the senses. The full sense of membership then contains all the conditions visible or proven to us: baptism, profession of the Catholic faith, and no exclusion by heresy, apostasy, schism or by lawful authority. A person can be “fully incorporated” into the Body of Christ while not in the full sense. We understand this to be the case in those who are “fully incorporated” into the Body of Christ by desire yet not visible to us. Again, no partial communion or incorporation is ever admitted.

    No schismatic or heretical church or sect is united with the Body of Christ in any degree. There may be some people in these sects who are by desire, but the church or sect is not. A valid priesthood or other Sacraments do not make it so and have nothing to do with membership in the Church. Satan himself can baptize a person if he fails to make a positive contrary intention against doing what the Church does, and I am sure you will agree that he is in no way a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.

    Concerning Pope Liberius, Bellarmine clearly stands against the idea that he was a heretic, as you know. Bellarmine, in my understanding or opinion, was making a case for exonerating those who objectively observed Liberius to be a heretic. This was all before the doctrine of papal infallibility was defined, so they were not dissenting from a teaching of the Church. Today, we know this doctrine and are not at liberty to accuse a sitting pontiff to be a heretic since it is an article of faith and is impossible. A Pope is either the Pope and not a heretic or a heretic and not the Pope. The two cannot coexist and at this point in my studies, I strongly believe Bellarmine would not be sitting on the fence with the R&R.

    Lastly, I do not know the relevance of your last question concerning the infallibility of the Apostles. I have not studied this particular issue but would certainly agree with the Church’s Tradition.

    I hope you enjoyed or are enjoying your company and do not wish to take you away from that time with them.


  27. MP

    No apologies are ever needed when you are having an exchange with ABS.

    That aside, ABS thinks you err in your interpretation of Baltimore Catechism re full an partial incorporation for its use of full incorporation clearly implies a partial one.

    But, you have set your intellect against that like flint, so….

    ABS thinks you are making a mistake but he understands he is ill-equipped to explain to you why that is such a bad idea.

    Sure, ABS could post many blogs/sites that limn the captious and dire consequences of such a decision but, you are already there and are here writing/thinking out loud and you have convinced me you are already at the city limit of sedeville.

    ABS can only pray you do not enter that city for that means leaving the church and severing one of the bonds of unity (authority) that is the sine qua non of catholicism and from sedeville, it is only a short skip and a hop hop to the beginning of an attack against the church for teaching heresy, having invalid sacraments and mass etc.

  28. MP says:

    ABS, I read the link you posted the other day and simply do not agree with it since it makes the promise of Christ to Peter empty. The Church has never had a true heretic Pope and never will. They may appear to be a heretic to some, due to teaching material heresy but they can’t be heretics.

  29. MP says:

    ABS, I need to read the article in the below link a few more times but wanted to share the link with you. It takes the opposite opinion of what I have put forward here. I appreciate your responses and thank you.

    God bless,

  30. Dear MP. ABS truly appreciates your predicament as he was there not so long ago (as Brother Elliot can attest) and Franciscus, whom ABS considers an AntiChrist, is a joke but the nut tough to crack is whether he is a material or formal heretic and what consequences flow from that if it is ever factually established.

    That is not an easy question but the fact we have to think about it exposes the captious condition of Catholicism owing to the revolution within the form of Catholicism before,during, and after V2.

    The New Theologians/revolutionaries must be given their due; they scrapped teaching/language/theology which omitted of very little shade and established a perplexing praxis that has left us a Shadow Church (one lacking visible substance) and what ABS really thinks is far worse and involves a shit ton of cursing.

    Pax tecum, MP.

    We may each go our own way for ABS has not yet been faced with a disciplinary decision that would cause him to sin – The Lord blessed him to be a lay man – and, thus force him out of visible full communion but ABS will pray for you and he asks your prayers in return for this forlorn man is flummoxed almost to the point of confessional catatonia.

  31. ABS and MP:

    Regarding “partial communion”, we must distinguish. There is a traditional, orthodox teaching about partial communion, but it applies to INDIVIDUALS who are officially, visibly separated from the Church but are joined to her soul, interiorly, by grace, a) in virtue of a perfect act of contrition for all recognized mortal sins and b) have the (implicit) desire to be joined to the Body of the Church if given the explicit chance.

    In contrast, the Conciliar Regime of New teaches that heretical COMMUNIONS THEMSELVES (including non-Christian religions) enjoy varying degrees of communion with “the People of God”.

    By analogy, V2 teaches that the USA “subsists in” D.C., but is also truly present in the particular states of the federal union. It is an Americanist vision of federal collaboration, not the traditional teaching that the Mystical Body of Christ is EXCLUSIVELY IDENTIFIED with the Roman Catholic Church, sustained and recognized by actual unity in creed (faith), cult (worship), and code (hierarchy).

  32. MP says:


    I agree with the distinction you have articulated here. I tried to express the same thing when I mentioned earlier: [No schismatic or heretical church or sect is united with the Body of Christ in any degree. There may be some people in these sects who are by desire, but the church or sect is not….] My contentious replies likely caused it to be overlooked or not taken the way I wanted.

    One thing I wanted to mention about material and formal heretics, and I can dig up the source later and post it, is that only non-Catholic “Christians” can be considered material heretics. I am not talking about ex-Catholics but those born into heretical sects. A Catholic who teaches heresy by misspeaking or in ignorance teaches material heresy but is not considered a material heretic The same Catholic who displays pertinacity becomes a heretic, a formal heretic. I don’t think this changes anything we have discussed here but wanted to mention it. The tough nut to crack, as ABS put it so elegantly, still exists regardless of the VII era Popes being material heretics or not since being a formal heretic is the big play maker.

    I just tried looking for the source where I thought it was but could not find it. I must have read it elsewhere. I will have to look for it more tomorrow.

    God bless,

  33. Brother Elliot. Do you think the schismatic heretics of the East are in partial communion with the One True Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church owing to their taking with them, as it were, Apostolic Succession, Holy Orders, Eucharist, Sacraments as they walked off in a huff?

  34. No, I think they walked off with Catholic booty and have been living illictly off the dividends ever since. If a man (representing an ecclesial body) steals my family’s car (representing Catholic sacraments, teachings, Scriptures, etc.), we’re not in partial communion. If a woman wears the same hat and dress as my wife, it doesn’t mean I’m in communion with her as I am with my wife. The fact is, fully cognizant (Protestant and Orthodox) assemblies of baptized adults reject Catholic teaching and refuse to submit to the Holy See. If union with Rome and adherence to the full faith are not NORMATIVE requirements for salvation, why should I even remain Catholic?

  35. However, there could be many Protestant and Orthodox INDIVIDUALS who are in “partial” communion with the Church, owing to their interior dispositions and varying degrees of non-culpable ignorance. All that those elements of holiness in non-Catholic bodies do, is make their members that much more LIABLE for not walking across the rope bridge, as it were, of those Catholic vestiges.

  36. MP says:

    I would like to mention here that Apostolic Succession (my understanding of it) requires both material and formal succession, meaning valid ordinations back to the original Apostles and proper jurisdiction to minister the Sacraments. So the “Orthodox” are not Apostolic due to their lack of jurisdiction and cannot licitly offer the Sacraments. I do not know of the Church conferring jurisdiction on them at any time and if the VII era did, then it automatically comes into question.

    See Bellarmine’s mark of Apostolicity in his Marks of the Church.

  37. Thanks, Elliot. Very helpful to ol’ flummoxed ABS

  38. Copied from Remnant Blog. Some good advice re sedevacantism:

    Paul Folbrecht Tony • 2 days ago
    Actually that’s a gross oversimplification. People on all sides are aware of the teachings you are referring to. But you fail to consider the following critical nuances:

    All theogolians who ever taught on the issue (yes, including Bellarmine) taught that, as pertains to public loss of office (the Body of the Church), a formal declaration from the Church is required. It is the external forum (the Body) that concerns ecclesiastical office, and a public heretic in the external forum is one only who has either been declared so by the Church OR who has persisted in his false belief after two warnings. This is Bellarmine.

    Yes, this includes the pope, who judges himself via his heresy, which must still be declared by the Church or made manifest by him ignoring two warnings (per St. Paul).

    The theologians differed on whether or not a formally heretical pontiff loses his office by way of the heresy itself or by the declaration of the Church, but, either way, there is no doubt that a public, formal action by the Church is necessary at some point.

    In short, you make no distinction between the Body and the Soul of the Church, what manifest heresy means in one forum vs. the other, etc. For the good of the faithful – to prevent anarchy – God does not sever the bond to the Body ipso facto.

    The sedevacantist position is bourne out of honest searching in this terribly confusing time in the Church, but it is based on oversimplification and lack of understanding of Chuch teaching. It leads immediately to just the type of bitterness and division we see in the sedevacantist communities.

    The Holy Ghost never intended that individual Catholics be required (or allowed) to decide that a prelate is a public, formal heretic and (separate issue) that said prelate has lost his public office. If this were the case no one could ever be sure if a validly-elected pope was really the pope, and same for any bishop, anywhere, actually.

    Regarding pontiffs in the past who openly preached heresy – such as John XXII – there is absolutely no record of any contemporary theologians or prelates declaring an automatic loss of office to have occurred. That’s because those people understand that it takes an act of the Church both to declare formal heresy and to depose in the public sphere.

    As a matter of fact, an ecumenical Council of the Church (Constantinople IV) anathematized anyone who would declare a validly-elected bishop to be deposed of his office before and outside of a formal judgment by the Church.

    So, please take an honest look at what I referred you to. Go to the website (trueorfalsepope) and check out the Articles section. Your mystification over why none of the leaders of the Traditionalist movement are sedes can be laid to rest.

    None of this changes the fact that Pope Francis is, clearly, a material heretic. I believe it is highly likely his heresy is formal, but my private judgment means nil, which is why the Vatican doesn’t return my calls.
    3 • Reply•Share ›

  39. I will probably read the new Salza/Rao book. But I have a strange equanimity about “going sede”. Given our options–hemlock or arsenic–I suppose it’s just a question of which mortification one prefers. Sigh.

  40. MP says:

    I highly recommend reading Chapter 11 starting at p. 482.


    Click to access michael-davies-evaluation.pdf

    I recommend the whole book in order to gain another perspective, different from the Davies Camp of R&Rs.


  41. MP says:

    I found the source I was looking for when I said previously: One thing I wanted to mention about material and formal heretics, and I can dig up the source later and post it, is that only non-Catholic “Christians” can be considered material heretics. I am not talking about ex-Catholics but those born into heretical sects. …


  42. MP says:

    Elliot, in the book on Davies I referenced and you mentioned to have read some parts, page 531 speaks of an improper way of claiming one is united to the soul of the Church and not its body. You mentioned the union with only the soul of the Church in a previous comment and I think you may benefit from reading it, as I did.


  43. Well, the Diamon Bros say that Daly is a heretic and not a catholic and they outnumber him

    Writing just for his own self, ABS has read quite a bit about sedevacantism from many sources, and most of those sources are sites/blogs which represent just the personal opinions of other trad autodidacts who have read works by this or that Saint or Pope which have been translated by others.

    ABS was on the train to Sedesvile but got off at a stop outside the city limits and took up the Cross of trusting in the One Truly Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and ABS knows he will have to wait on the Lord to set things right.

    One can never go wrong staying in Communion with his local Bishop and the Pope for that has always been the sine qua non of Catholicism during the entirety of Tradition and the novel idea that sedevacanstim is the way to true Faith can not be true for it has never been true in Tradition – in addition to all of the many other problems it creates.

    Name one – just one – Saint who was a sedevacantist.

    The Church herself will have to set right what is wrong and sedepacantsim is not an answer at all and, sin the meantime, ABS waits on the Lord.

  44. Charles says:

    I think the best one can do in these circumstances is to read the late medieval debates over the possibility of a pope being a heretic. Sedevacantists always use Bellarmine, but there are many other eminent theologians who gave different evaluations. I think Banez’ reasoning is more compelling than Bellarmine’s, for instance. Also, the notion that a pope cannot become a formal heretic was a novelty proposed by Torquemada (the uncle of the famous Torquemada, who was also an important Dominican theologian). I partially translated Banez’ treatment:, but all these texts are available on (if you read Latin). God bless!

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