5 Key Points in opposition to the Filial Correction

The signatories and supporters of the Filial Correction are ignoring every theological argument and legitimate question contrary to their claims. They dare to accuse the Vicar of Christ of propagating heresy (which is no different from accusing him of teaching heresy). And they dare to suggest that perhaps he is doing so with a type and degree of awareness that would make him guilty of formal heresy. And yet, when supporters of the Pope criticize them, and raise legitimate objections to their position, they remain silent. They excoriate the Roman Pontiff for declining to reply to the Dubia. And then they themselves decline to reply to questions and objections from papal supporters.

Here are my five key points which stand in opposition to the Filial Correction.

1. Pope Saint John Paul II, citing Sacred Scripture and quoting Pope Innocent III:

“Peter, and like him all his successors and heads of the Church, has the mission of encouraging the faithful to put all their trust in Christ and the power of his grace, which Peter personally experienced. This is what Innocent III wrote in the Letter Apostolicae Sedis Primatus (November 12, 1199), citing the text of Luke 22:32 and commenting on it as follows: ‘The Lord clearly intimates that Peter’s successors will never at any time deviate from the Catholic faith, but will instead recall the others and strengthen the hesitant’ (DS 775). That medieval Pope felt that Jesus’ statement to Simon Peter was confirmed by the experience of 1,000 years.” [Peter Strengthens His Brothers in Faith]

Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Innocent III authoritatively interpret the words of Jesus Christ in Sacred Scripture as implying that the successors of Peter will “never at any time deviate from the Catholic faith.” This teaching implies that no Pope can ever teach heresy, nor commit apostasy, heresy, or schism.

2. First Vatican Council:

“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.‘ [Lk 22:32]

“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.

“But since in this very age when the salutary effectiveness of the apostolic office is most especially needed, not a few are to be found who disparage its authority, we judge it absolutely necessary to affirm solemnly the prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God was pleased to attach to the supreme pastoral office.” [Pastor Aeternus, chap. 4, n. 6-8]

The First Vatican Council taught that each successor of Peter has the “gift of truth” and the gift of a “never-failing faith,” which gifts were “divinely conferred” for the sake of the salvation of all. This teaching implies that no Pope can ever teach heresy, nor commit apostasy, heresy, or schism. It is not possible for any papal teaching to teach or imply or propagate heresy, as this would be contrary to the teaching that “this See of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error” and that the person and office of the Pope has the gift of truth and a never-failing faith.

3. Doctor of the Church, Saint Robert Bellarmine

Saint Bellarmine taught that the Pope “cannot in any way be heretical, or publicly teach heresy”, regardless of whether he is teaching alone or with an Ecumenical Council. The Saint also condemned as heresy the idea that a Pope may be a heretic and may “teach heresy”, even when he is defining a doctrine with an Ecumenical Council. And he condemned as “proximate to heresy” the idea that the Pope may be a heretic and may teach heresy, as long as he is not defining a doctrine with an Ecumenical Council. See my previous post for a complete explanation with sources.

4. The question of interpretation

Since Pope Francis never directly asserted any of the six heresies (the alleged seventh heresy is not a matter of dogma, but of judgment and discipline), the signatories and their supporters must answer the question: Why did you interpret the words, deeds, and even the omissions of Pope Francis with such exaggeration and severity? Why did you not interpret these things with the love of God and neighbor, and with faith in the work of the Holy Spirit?

5. The question of authority

After accusing Pope Francis of propagating heresy, do you submit to his authority over doctrine and discipline? Or do you hold that he is not the valid successor of Peter?

There is little chance that the signatories and supporters of the Filial Correction will reply to the above 5 points. For they reject the God-given role of Pope Francis as Supreme Judge of all the faithful and as Supreme Teacher of all Christians. If they will not accept correction and teaching from the Vicar of Christ, then they will not accept teaching from a theological argument.

{16:30} So he said: ‘No, father Abraham. But if someone were to go to them from the dead, they would repent.’
{16:31} But he said to him: ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe even if someone has resurrected from the dead.’ ”

If you do not accept teaching and correction from the Roman Pontiff, then you will not listen even to Christ, our risen Lord.

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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2 Responses to 5 Key Points in opposition to the Filial Correction

  1. Shane Hogan says:

    Thank you for this Ron, and for your other related posts. The whole situation of the Synod, Amoris Laetitia, the various interpretations of AL by bishops in different countries, the dubia and now the filial correction is very unsettling and challenging. I put this question to you in light of what you have written, and only with the purpose of clarifying my own confused mind : is it ever possibly moral to publicly correct the pope, and if so, what makes this particular public correction immoral? What I am trying to get to is this: is the problem just the phraseology, tone and perhaps implied insubordination of the authors, or is it the very fact of issuing a public correction at all. I include a link to a related article by Michael Sirilla, dated October 5th, which I find difficult to criticise.
    Shane Hogan

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