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.
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