Did I not tell you they would accuse the Pope of heresy?

And now they have done so. To accuse any Pope of propagating heresy, by means of a papal document (Amoris Laetitia) and in many other ways, is equivalent to accusing the Pope of teaching heresy. It is a distinction without a difference. The papal critics have accused the Pope of heresy, falsely, just as I said they would. For I saw their extreme pride and self-exaltation. And, absent repentance, no other outcome was at all likely.

But what do you think would happen if any Catholic priest or theologian contacted his Bishop, by a private letter later made public, and accused the Bishop of propagating heresy? Do you think that the priest or theologian would be considered in good standing in the diocese? Would the Bishop not immediately suspend that priest and forbid that theologian from working for the diocese?

It is in no way “filial” to make such an accusation against the Roman Pontiff. Whoever does so is cut off from the Church by the very nature of their offense, which is an act of formal schism. All the signatories and subsequent supporters of the Filial Correction are automatically excommunicated and are now schismatics.

And they are forbidden from receiving holy Communion. I have been saying this would happen for many months. And now it is here. Over a dispute on whether the divorced and remarried may receive Communion, the papal critics have made themselves unworthy to receive Communion. The divorced and remarried are not excommunicated by their sins, and the signatories to the Correction are excommunicated.

I’m using the term “Filial Correction” because that is the name given to the document. But in truth, there exists in the Church no authority which can issue a formal correction to the Roman Pontiff. To say otherwise is to contradict the infallible teaching of Unam Sanctam [n. 7-8], which teaching was confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council. And note well that the initial signatories included zero Cardinals and zero Bishops — except schismatic Bishops from the SSPX. How is it “filial” to side with schismatic and heretical Bishops against the Pope!? But the signatories are now themselves schismatics, so the saying is true: birds of a feather flock together.

The 1333 dispute over a personal theological opinion of Pope John XXII included no such “formal correction”. It was an on-going discussion and debate over an open question in theology, which was not infallibly decided by the Magisterium until 1336 — after the death of Pope John XXII. So there is no historically-established mechanism for “correcting” the Supreme Teacher in the Church when he teaches a doctrine that some Catholics think is wrong. Neither Tradition nor Scripture establishes any authority which can formally correct a Pope. However, a subsequent Pope or Council can decide an open question definitively, in contradiction to a past opinion or non-infallible teaching of a Pope.

The example of Paul rebuking Peter does not apply here. Paul did not accuse Peter of heresy. Paul was an Apostle. He was essentially the equivalent today of a Patriarch. Paul was not a mere lay theologian or a mere priest, who got together with others of his lowly station to presume to correct the Supreme Pontiff. And the matter of dispute between Paul and Peter was one of personal behavior, and not a teaching on faith or morals.

It Will Get Worse

I was absolutely right that the papal critics would accuse Pope Francis of heresy. And I’m pretty darn sure I’m right about what will happen next. Pope Francis will not stand corrected. And he will continue to make decisions on doctrine and discipline which his critics reject. I think it is likely he will approve of the ordination of women deacons. And it is also likely that he will teach on salvation, that non-Christian believers and unbelievers can be saved without converting to Catholicism, or Christianity, or belief in God. And then the schism will reach its summit, with a large number of conservative Catholics openly accusing the Pope of heresy and publicly rejecting his authority.

But the schism has already begun. And as the days pass, every Catholic who approves of the Filial Correction becomes himself a schismatic.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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13 Responses to Did I not tell you they would accuse the Pope of heresy?

  1. Guest says:

    31 And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

    32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren.

    17 And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father, who is in heaven.

    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.

    The gift of indefectibility plainly does not guarantee each several part of the Church against heresy or apostasy. The promise is made to the corporate body. Individual Churches may become corrupt in morals, may fall into heresy, may even apostatize. Thus at the time of the Mohammedan conquests, whole populations renounced their faith; and the Church suffered similar losses in the sixteenth century. But the defection of isolated branches does not alter the character of the main stem. The society of Jesus Christ remains endowed with all the prerogatives bestowed on it by its Founder. Only to One particular Church is indefectibility assured, viz. to the See of Rome. To Peter, and in him to all his successors in the chief pastorate, Christ committed the task of confirming his brethren in the Faith (Luke 22:32); and thus, to the Roman Church, as Cyprian says, “faithlessness cannot gain access” (Epistle 54).

    B. The other dogmatic Constitution is of equal, if not greater, importance; it is the first on the Church of Christ, or, as it is also called in reference to its contents, on the Pope of Rome. “The introduction to the Constitution says that the primacy of the Roman pontiff, on which the unity, strength, and stability of the entire Church rests, has always been, and is especially now, the object of violent attacks by the enemies of the Church. Therefore the doctrine of its origin, constant permanence, and nature must be clearly set forth and established, above all on account of the opposing errors. Thus the first chapter treats of the establishment of the Apostolic primacy in the popes of Rome. Each chapter closes with a canon against the opposing dogmatic opinion. The most important matter of the Constitution is the last two chapters. In the third chapter the meaning and nature of the primacy are set forth in clear words. The primacy of the Pope of Rome is no mere precedence of honour. On the contrary, the pope possesses the primacy of regularly constituted power over all other Churches, and the true, direct, episcopal power of jurisdiction, in respect to which the clergy and faithful of every rite and rank are bound to true obedience. The immediate power of jurisdiction of the individual bishops in their dioceses, therefore, is not impaired by the primacy, but only strengthened and defended. By virtue of his primacy the pope has the right to have direct and free relations with the clergy and laity of the entire Church. No one is permitted to interfere with this intercourse. It is false and to be rejected to say that the decrees issued by the pope for the guidance of the Church are not valid unless confirmed by the placet of the secular power. The pope is also the supreme judge of all the faithful, to whose decision all matters under examination by the Church can be appealed. On the other hand, no further appeal, not even to an ecumenical council, can be made from the supreme decision of the pope. Consequently the canon appended to the third chapter says: “When, therefore, anyone says that the Pope of Rome has only the office of supervision or of guidance, and not the complete and highest power of jurisdiction over the entire Church not merely in matters of faith and morals, but also in matters which concern the discipline and administration of the Church throughout the entire world, or that the pope has only the chief share, but not the entire fullness of this highest power, or that this his power is not actual and immediate either over all and individual Churches, or over all and individual clergy and faithful, let him be anathema.”

    1. That which our lord Jesus Christ, the prince of shepherds and great shepherd of the sheep, established in the blessed apostle Peter, for the continual salvation and permanent benefit of the Church, must of necessity remain for ever, by Christ’s authority, in the Church which, founded as it is upon a rock, will stand firm until the end of time [45].

    2. For “no one can be in doubt, indeed it was known in every age that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, the pillar of faith and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our lord Jesus Christ, the savior and redeemer of the human race, and that to this day and for ever he lives” and presides and “exercises judgment in his successors” the bishops of the Holy Roman See, which he founded and consecrated with his blood [46].

    3. Therefore whoever succeeds to the chair of Peter obtains by the institution of Christ himself, the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. “So what the truth has ordained stands firm, and blessed Peter perseveres in the rock-like strength he was granted, and does not abandon that guidance of the Church which he once received” [47].

    4. For this reason it has always been necessary “for every Church–that is to say the faithful throughout the world–to be in agreement with [the Roman Church] because of its pre-eminent authority.” In consequence of being joined, as members to head, with that see, from which “the rights of sacred communion” flow to all, they will grow together into the structure of a single body [48].

    6. For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles. Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this See of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Savior to the prince of his disciples: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”[60]

    7. This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole Church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.

    16 *He that heareth you, heareth me: and he that despiseth you, despiseth me. And he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.

  2. Francisco says:

    Yes, sadly, the schism is unfolding before our eyes. Pope John 22 was not a “heretic” either for, as you explained, the issue was an open question at the time. It would be like accusing the Saint and Doctor of the Church Thomas Aquinas of teaching “heresy” when his theological opinion, BEFORE it was defined, was that the Virgin Mary was removed from original sin somewhat after her conception. To hold that position (which turned out to be wrong) today, is heresy, AFTER the Dogmatic teaching of the Immaculate Conception.

  3. Matt says:

    4,525 – Message of Our Lady Queen of Peace – Pedro Regis, transmitted on 09/12/2017 Google translation

    Dear children, I am your Sorrowful Mother and I suffer for what comes to you. Bend your knees in prayer. The devil’s great plan to depart from the truth is to attack the Church through doctrine causing great confusion. The tares are mingling with the wheat and so My poor children walk like blind men to guide other blind people. Stay tuned. Love and defend the truth. Accept the Gospel of my Jesus and witness your faith everywhere. Do not retreat. The Lord expects much from you. Do not fold your arms. I am your Mother and I am by your side. Forward without fear. Stand firm in the way that I pointed you. Do not forget: In God there is no half truth. This is the message I am sending you today in the name of the Most Holy Trinity. Thank You for allowing Me to meet you here one more time. I bless you, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Be at peace.

  4. Alessandro Arsuffi says:

    Dear Ron,
    I have a question for you. Like you and many others, I recognize the full authority of Pope Francis as the true Vicar of Christ. My problem is: if a schism happens (and I’m sure it will), how will we recognize the next legitimate Pope? For example, if a schism happens before the conclave and two different conclaves are summoned by the “veiled” heretics and by the faithful cardinals, how do we recognize the legitimate Pope? It is my understanding that God will not permit confusion to spread on this concept. For example, the heretic cardinals may refuse to recognize the new Pope and summon immediately a pseudo-conclave? Or maybe the two conclaves are simultaneous, but the true Pope will recognize his predecessor Pope Francis, while the anti-pope will excommunicate his predecessor or say that he was illegitimate? This is an issue that I can’t determine from the prophecies I have read so far.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The true Pope is elected by the Church leaders who remained faithful to each consecutive Pope. So if a schismatic group tries to elect a Pope, that would not be valid.

      My speculative eschatology is that Pope Francis will eventually resign. His successor’s election will not be in dispute; he will be a conservative. Then the liberal schismatics (years from now) will attempt to elect the next Pope (the second Pope after Francis). But there will also be a valid Pope at that time. The valid Pope is elected by those who remained faithful to each Pope.

      I don’t think the conservative schismatics will attempt an election. It’s the (future) liberal schismatics who choose an antipope to lead them.

  5. Guest says:

    Do you find it ironic that about 500 years Catholics rebelled against the Church, disregarding its hierarchy, for perceived abuses and false doctrines? They became known as Protestants.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Exactly. It’s the same process, and the same root cause (pride). And they don’t see how similar that are to the Protestant reformers. They also don’t see how similar they are to the Pharisees.

  6. Dora says:

    Ron, it is a privilege to read this blog, watch your predictions unfold, and despite the turmoil, to anticipate Our Lord’s certain victory.

  7. Thomas M. Hughes says:

    You have quoted Unam Sanctam “If the highest [power] goes astray, it will not be able to be judged by man, but by God alone.” You’ve indicated that this proves that Pope Francis cannot be corrected by Cardinal Burke or anyone else but the following quote is from a commentary you wrote in 2009 on the same line from Unam Sanctam: “The statement that the highest power cannot be judged by man is not to be interpreted such that a Bishop or Pope cannot be corrected by a lesser authority, by means of an argument based on faith and reason.”

    Rather, this statement means that the highest power in the Church, the infallible teaching authority, is not subject to judgment by man” So, according to your 2009 commentary, the highest power is not the Pope but the infallible teaching authority of the Church and Cardinal burke, as a lesser authority would have the right to correct Pope Francis. You have the right to change your position but are being very harsh towards someone whom only a few years ago you would have conceded was acting within his rights. The fact that so many people in the Church’s history, including Popes and doctors of the Church, have also seen such a right to correct a Pope would seem to argue that your former interpretation of Unam was the same one that they took as well. In light of this, would it not be more charitable for you to say that you now disagree with what Cardinal burke is doing, rather than dogmatically stating that he is in a state of schism?

    • Ron Conte says:

      So my position has changed, but not entirely. A Pope can err in personal theological opinions, in a decision of discipline, or, to a limited extent, in a non-infallible teaching. In such a case, a Pope can be corrected by a theological argument, though without any authority.

      However, the current situation with the Filial Correction is different. Even under my former position, it would not be acceptable to accuse any Pope of teaching heresy (or “propagating heresy”), nor would it be acceptable to infer (by saying that they can’t judge what degree of awareness the Pope might have) that the Pope might be guilty of formal heresy. Such a judgment is not given to anyone on earth, neither to judge the teaching of the Pope to be heresy, nor to infer that the person of the Pope might possibly be guilty of formal heresy.

      Is Cardinal Burke submissive to the teaching authority and temporal authority of Pope Francis? No, I don’t think he is. By his repeated public words, he has set himself up as the judge over the teachings of the Pope, and he is demanding that the Pope submit to his understanding of the Faith. These are public acts of clear refusal to submit to the Pope’s authority. A theological argument by itself would be fine. But to publicly rebuke the Pope, and to speak as if the four Cardinals and other papal critics cannot possibly have erred, is pride and is, in my opinion, schismatic.

  8. Thomas M. Hughes says:

    I should have noted that my remarks pertained solely to Cardinal Burke and were not intended to include the “Filial Correction.” How is Cardinal Burke making himself the judge of Pope Francis’ teachings when he has largely quoted the settled teaching of the Church enunciated, for example, by Pope St. John Paul 2? Your position implies that quoting the authoritative teaching of a previous Pope, even when that teaching was a strong affirmation and re-statement of what the Church had taught on a subject for 2,000 years, and declaring one’s submission to it is a schismatic act and prideful under certain circumstances.

    Only time will tell but I think Cardinal Burke will be fully vindicated in the not-too-distant future. However, this is your blog and I don’t want to be a pest so this is my last word. Perhaps we could agree to pray for one another? I’m not being glib. I pray almost 4 hours every week outside of an abortion mill and believe that it changes hearts and minds so maybe either my mind or yours would be changed if we prayed for one another.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I disagree that Cardinal Burke’s understanding of the theological questions is simply identical to definitive Church teaching. He clearly assumes that his own understanding is not able to err. But he fails to distinguish between objective mortal sin and actual mortal sin. And he uncharitably interprets the Pope’s position as if it contradicts definitive Church teaching (e.g. on intrinsic evil). I wrote a detailed commentary on AL. I see no such contradictions, as long as the interpretation is charitable and precise.

      Cardinal Burke’s demand that the Pope reply to the dubia, and his implied demand that the Pope accept correction and change papal teaching, or else Cardinal Burke (with a few others) will issue a formal correction is schismatic. He has no such authority or role. He assumes that his own understanding is not in error. He does not accept the teaching or decisions on discipline of the Pope. So, that is schismatic.

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