Taylor Marshall was a Catholic for 13 years. Then he left the Church

UPDATED 5/14/19 to add: Taylor Marshall was an Episcopalian priest until May of 2006, when he left the Episcopalian priestly ministry to become Catholic. Unfortunately, he ceased to be Catholic in 2019, when he committed public formal schism by saying, about Pope Francis: “I resist him to his face”. He also committed heresy by rejecting the dogma that each Pope has the gift of immunity from error (the gift of truth) and the gift of a never-failing faith. Could his heresy on these teachings be merely material? Maybe, but his schism is not. He has very thoroughly rejected the magisterial authority of the Pope, to such an extent that whenever the Pope teaches anything contrary to Marshall’s own thinking, he immediately assumes the Pope is wrong (see below), and he does not accept Pope Francis as Teacher and Shepherd. Therefore, he has chosen to depart from the Catholic Church. For the penalty for formal schism is automatic excommunication, making him also unworthy to receive Communion. Taylor Marshall is a schismatic and a heretic, and therefore is not properly called a Catholic. He was a Catholic for about 13 years. Sorry to see him go, but pride goeth before a fall. He exalted himself above the Pope, rather than humbling himself before Christ.
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Now let’s review the teaching of the Church on the subject of the papal gifts of immunity from error and a never-failing faith.

Dogma

Under the dogma of the First Vatican Council, no valid Pope can possibly teach heresy or grave error, nor fail in faith. The relatio of Vatican I makes it clear that the Fathers of the Council intended to assert as dogma the teaching of Doctor of the Church Saint Robert Bellarmine that the Pope “cannot in any way be heretical, or publicly teach heresy”. Bellarmine also condemned as “proximate to heresy”, the position that Vatican I made into heresy itself, that the Pope may be a heretic or may teach heresy.

* What Saint Bellarmine really said about Popes and Heresy

(1) No Pope can teach heresy or grave error.
(2) No Pope can commit apostasy, heresy, or schism, for then his faith would have failed. (3) And this teaching, which is also a Law of the Church: The First See is judged by no one (Canon 1404).

The above three dogmas are well-established in Church teaching. See this list of magisterial teachings.

Pope St. Leo IX: “By passing a preceding judgment on the great See, concerning which it is not permitted any man to pass judgment, you have received anathema from all the Fathers of all the venerable Councils….”
[In Terra Pax Hominibus; Denzinger 351-353.]

Anyone who accuses any Pope of teaching material heresy, or committing heresy is guilty of heresy, for rejecting the dogma that Popes cannot teach or commit heresy, and is guilty of schism, for refusing submission to the Pope. No one who considers the Pope to be a heretic also submits their mind and heart to the teaching of that same Pope.

Then, too, anyone who stands in judgment over the Pope, violating the teaching and law that no one may judge the Pope, commits the sin of schism. Then the penalty for heresy and schism is automatic excommunication.

Canon 1364, n. 1: “an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication”

Do not be deceived, my fellow Catholics. The example shown by so many conservative Catholics is gravely immoral. You may not stand in judgment over the Pope. You may not accuse the Pope of heresy. You may not prefer your own understanding of the Faith over the teaching of the Papal Magisterium. Submit your mind and heart to the Vicar of Christ, as to Christ himself. Or admit that you have fallen into grave sin out of pride in the brightness of your own thoughts.

Taylor R Marshall

In this video, Pope Francis Accused of 7 Counts of Heresy by 19 Scholars, Taylor Marshall and Timothy Gordon discuss the Open Letter accusing Pope Francis of heresy. In the course of the discussion, Marshall commits public heresy and schism. Do not imitate him.

Gordon: “not material heresy. What they’re talking about here…is formal heresy.”

Yes, the Open Letter accuses Pope Francis of committing formal heresy, which carries the penalty, under the eternal moral law and Canon law, of automatic excommunication.

Marshall: “they’re accusing him of the canonical delict of heresy. Now they haven’t judged him, obviously no one can do that. That’s the problem. We bring that up over and over on TNT. But if you’re saying that he’s a heretic, which they say in his opening line, an heretical Pope, my ecclesiastical sense says, you also have to say: ‘And therefore I am not in communion with him.’ And that is something that I, Taylor Marshall, on this date, cannot say. It’s practically sedevacantist.”

Yes, Taylor Marshall, anyone who accuses the Pope of heresy necessarily also commits the sin of schism by refusal of submission as well as communion with the Pope. And since Marshall does accuse Pope Francis of heresy, later in the video, he is not in submission or communion with the Pope. It is not submission to acknowledge that Pope Francis is the Pope. Even an atheist will acknowledge that. To fulfill the positive precepts required of Catholics, we must submit our minds and hearts to the teachings of the Magisterium, including non-infallible teachings of the Pope. And we must accept the Pope, not merely as someone who holds an office, but truly as our very own Teacher and Shepherd. Catholics who refuse to do so, deliberately and obstinately, are guilty of schism.

Marshall then objects to the phrase in the Open Letter “heretical Pope”. Marshall: “I think they should have said ‘the situation of a Pope espousing in individual cases things deemed to be heresy.’ ”

So Marshall believes that Pope Francis has espoused particular heretical ideas. And he states this again, more specifically later in the video. But right here, that’s a judgment and accusation against the Pope of teaching material heresy. And it is contrary to the above discussed dogma that no Pope can teach heresy or grave error, i.e. that every Pope has immunity from error by the gift of God, divinely-conferred. And since this gift is of prevenient grace, it admits of no exception.

Marshall: “I just don’t see where anyone on earth can judge the Supreme Pontiff.”

Yeah, right. Marshall goes on to make the judgment that Pope Francis has taught heresy and grave error, contrary to dogma. He judges the Supreme Pontiff to be guilty of teaching heresy on multiple serious points of doctrine. It is sheer blatant hypocrisy for him to also say that no one can judge the Pope.

As they go through the seven accusations, Marshall and Gordon essentially assume that Francis does teach these seven alleged errors. Most are errors that Pope Francis does not teach. The last is not a heresy, but also not what Pope Francis taught. He specifically said that the plurality of religion is due to the permissive will of God.

When they reach the seventh accusation against Pope Francis, Marshall again accuses the Pope of heresy. The “statement” in question is the false allegation that Francis said God positively wills a plurality of religions.

Marshall: “Honestly, Tim, I think I’ve said this before, this statement bothers me more, I think it’s more heretical, more grievous than anything in Amoris Laetitia…. This is contrary to the first Commandment of the Ten Commandments, ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’ ”

Marshall then goes on to say that God just wills the Catholic religion. Whether you agree with Marshall or not, Francis publicly stated that the diversity of religions falls under the permissive will of God. So it is not Pope Francis’ teaching that God positively wills many religions.

Pope Francis: “But some might ask themselves: but why is the Pope going to the Muslims and not just to Catholics? Because there are many religions, and why are there many religions? Along with the Muslims, we are the descendants of the same Father, Abraham: why does God allow many religions? God wanted to allow this: Scolastica theologians used to refer to God’s ‘voluntas permissiva‘. He wanted to allow this reality: there are many religions. Some are born from culture, but they always look to heaven; they look to God. But what God wants is fraternity among us and in a special way, this was the reason for the trip, with our brothers, Abraham’s children like us, the Muslims. We must not fear differences. God allowed this. We should be afraid were we to fail to work fraternally to walk together in life.”

When Pope Francis issued the early statement on many religions, some theologians complained saying that God only permits many religions. And Francis gave the above statement, essentially as a reply, saying, Yes, it is God’s permissive will. It is not that God wishes many persons to be in religions which lack the fullness of truth. So the seventh accusation is patently false. And yet his accusers ignore his statements which agree with their point of view! And they pretend that he said the opposite.

Now, back to what Taylor Marshall said: “this statement bothers me more, I think it’s more heretical, more grievous than anything in Amoris Laetitia…. This is contrary to the first Commandment of the Ten Commandments….” Marshall is publicly accusing Pope Francis of heresy on the plurality of religions, and of violating one of the Ten Commandments. Yet he also says that no one may judge the Pope. Hypocrite is the right word here.

And when Marshall says “more heretical…than anything in Amoris Laetitia”, he implies a further accusation, that Amoris Laetitia contains heresy. So Taylor Marshall is publicly accusing Pope Francis of teaching multiple heresies. And since the DOGMA of the First Vatican Council teaches us that no Pope can teach or commit heresy, Marshall’s accusation is itself heretical. The signatories to the Open Letter have committed heresy, and so has Taylor Marshall, by rejecting the teaching of the Council that no Pope can teach or commit heresy.

Now, recall (above) when Taylor Marshall said that if you accuse the Pope of heresy you also have to say: ‘And therefore I am not in communion with him.’ Well, he is accusing the Pope of heresy, so he is not in communion with him. And he makes this absolutely clear later in the video:

Marshall: “It’s like Paul in Galatians, he could resist Peter to his face, but he couldn’t depose Peter. And so that’s the situation that we’re in. That’s my ecclesiastical position. I recognize Pope Francis as the Pope. I resist him to his face.”

There is no clearly statement of the public sin of schism than for a Catholic to say, “I resist him to his face.” You are not absolved of schism by stating that you recognize he is the Pope. Even atheists recognize that fact. Catholics become schismatics when they reject the Pope as Teacher and Shepherd, when they reject his authority over doctrine and discipline. Taylor Marshall is a heretic and a schismatic.

Marshall: “I look at this and I say: You are wrong on Luther. You are wrong on Justification. You are wrong on cohabitation. You are wrong on divorce and remarriage, and absolution and Communion for people living in objective sin. You are wrong on all of these things. It’s contrary to the Councils, Tradition, Fathers.”

Hypocrite. You are living in objective sin and leading others into that sin, by your heresy and schism. And yet you complain that the divorced and remarried may receive Communion despite their objectively grave sins. All the while, Marshall continues to receive Communion, despite rejecting the Roman Pontiff.

The other hypocrisy here is that Marshall said no one may judge the Pope, and they he says, to the Pope, “You are wrong on…” a long series of subjects. He is putting himself above the Pope, to judge his teachings to be gravely erroneous. He is refusing to be taught by Pope Francis.

Marshall: “I honestly think that the safest position… is this is the Pope we have right now. We patiently wait, endure, and we resist.”

Oh, really? And what will happen after the Pontificate of Francis, if a conservative Pope is elected? Do you think that your enthusiasm for the new Pope erases your sins of heresy and schism? It will not. No matter how many conservative Popes follow, if Taylor Marshall does not repent of his sin of rejecting the teachings and authority of Pope Francis, he remains a heretic and a schismatic, who sins anew every time he receives holy Communion. Any Catholics who says about the Pope: “I resist him to his face” is a schismatic.

In another video, Taylor Marshall says this: “I think the Pope has said heretical things. We’ve said this over and over on TnT” (TnT is his video series with Timothy Gordon.) Accusing the Pope of speaking, teaching, or believing heretical things is heresy, as the Pope is protected by the prevenient grace of God from teaching or being a heretic in any way. It is also a schismatic statement, since no one submits their minds and hearts to a Pope whom they think has said heretical things.

Plurality of Religions

Any position whatever on this topic cannot be heresy, as the Magisterium has not infallibly defined the answer. Pope Francis taught the view of conservative theologians that God merely permits a plurality of religions.

My position is that, before the fact of our sinfulness, God wills that everyone know the fullness of truth, and so He wills everyone to be Catholic. But after the fact of our sinfulness, our fallenness, our brokenness, given that many persons are weak in many ways, and so cannot bring themselves to accept the Catholic religion, God permits them other paths to salvation, which are nevertheless always through Christ and His Church (even though they may not realize this). Certainly, God gives sufficient grace to everyone to avoid all grave sin and to do His whole will. But we are fallen sinners, and God is merciful. So he wills that there should be, by divine permission, other religions through which the Holy Spirit works, to bring more souls to Him.

The Spirit also works with unbelievers, such as atheists and agnostics, so that they might find salvation by loving their neighbor, and thereby may implicitly know and love God.

Of course, some so-called religions have no substantial good in them. They do not teach the love of God, nor the love of neighbor. They are expressions of imagination and wishful thinking. Their many gods are a reflection of human failings. These types of religions hinder the path of salvation, and are will by God only in the sense that He wills to permit sin because of free will.

So God wills first and foremost that all human persons come to the Catholic religion, to find the fullness of truth. Then, given our sinfulness and brokenness, God positively wills that there be other religions, such as the Christian denominations, present-day Judaism, and moderate peaceful Islam, so as to bring more souls to Him.

Finally, God wills to permit unbelief and highly-flawed religions, under His permissive will, because He respects our free will. And God is always trying to bring everyone to salvation, in whatever way they are willing to respond.

by
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 Taylor Marshall was a Catholic for 13 years. Then he left the Church

  1. Jay says:

    Ron I know under Canon law the pope can resign, but does The conclave then examine the resignation to see if it meets Canon law and was freely done?

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