How to Save the Church from the Papal Accusers

The Problem

The papal critics have turned into papal accusers, just as I said they would. It was the next obvious step, based on the teaching of Christ that the branch separated from the vine withers. That process of criticism began with the pride-filled decision to stand in judgment over the Roman Pontiff (any Roman Pontiff). The criticism became more and more severe, until the Pope was utterly condemned.

Papal accusers: “Let us explain to you why Pope Francis is a heretic.”
My reply: “Let me explain to you what the word ‘faith’ means.”

I don’t consider any of the papal accusers to be qualified to judge the Pope. The First See is judge by no one. But most of them have hilariously-poor credentials. Some have only been Catholic for only a short time. Some do not have a degree in theology. Some have advanced degrees, in subjects unrelated to theology. It is not that the right combination of credentials or degrees would give one the right to stand in judgment over the Pope. But many are not even qualified to judge if their pastor’s Sunday sermon contains heresy. Yet they judge and condemn the Pope.

In any case, the prevenient grace of God absolutely prevents any Pope from teaching grave error and from committing heresy:

Dogma of Vatican I: “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.”

The Relatio of Vatican I explains that the Council adopted the understanding of Doctor of the Church Saint Robert Bellarmine. Here’s an article on what Bellarmine really said, including his assertion that the Pope “cannot in any way be heretical, or publicly teach heresy”. If you think the papal accusers are world-renowned scholars, what would you call a Saint and Doctor of the Church, whose understanding was dogmatized by an Ecumenical Council? There’s a credential for you.

Bellarmine, as quoted by the Relatio of Vatican I: “It can be believed probably and piously that the supreme Pontiff is not only not able to err as Pontiff but that even as a particular person he is not able to be heretical, by pertinaciously believing something contrary to the faith.” And that is why Vatican One dogmatically taught that Popes have a never-failing faith. Yes, even liberal Popes. Even Popes who like to speak off the cuff to the press. Even Popes who don’t respond to dubia and who respond to accusations of heresy with humor. Every Pope has a never-failing faith.

Papal accusers have no such gift. Their faith fails as soon as they exalt themselves as judges over the Pope. And I don’t want to hear another pretentious pseudo-scholarly explanation as to why Pope Francis is guilty of heresy. It is the same to me as an argument that the Bible contains errors, or that humanity was created by an accident of evolution, or Jesus was merely human. Whatever is contrary to dogma, I utterly reject. And I don’t need to hear the arguments to the contrary. I have faith. Where’s yours?

Unworkable Solutions

The papal accusers, everyone who has accused Pope Francis of teaching or committing heresy along with everyone who wrote, approves, or promotes the blasphemous book “Infiltration”, are automatically excommunicated for apostasy, heresy, and schism. And they may have lost the state of grace by violating the First Commandment. The Church is the body of Christ, with Christ as her Head, with the Spirit as her Soul. Accusing the Church of being infiltrated by Satan is the same as accusing Jesus Christ of having a demon. It is a blasphemous accusation against the Holy Spirit, who enlivens the Church and guides every Pope as well as the Magisterium. The teachings of Pope Francis are the teachings of the Holy Spirit.

{16:13} But when the Spirit of truth has arrived, he will teach the whole truth to you. For he will not be speaking from himself. Instead, whatever he will hear, he will speak. And he will announce to you the things that are to come.
{16:14} He shall glorify me. For he will receive from what is mine, and he will announce it to you.

But the papal accusers claim to be Catholic, claim to be more orthodox than the Pope, claim to be faithful. They are automatically excommunicated, but they refuse to stop receiving Communion. They continue to prattle on about how the Church should be run and what the Church should be teaching. They refuse to let us worship God in humility, faith, and peace. What can be done?

A sentence from the Roman Pontiff of ferendae sententiae excommunication would not be accepted by them. They would add it to their list of complaints about him. When Church leaders take action against papal accusers, such as expelling a signatory to the Open Letter from a Pontifical University, papal critics and various conservative publications support the accuser.

Even if Pope Francis were to issue a teaching under Papal Infallibility, they would not accept it. They don’t accept the decisions of a Synod. They don’t accept the decisions of the body of Bishops dispersed in the world. The book Infiltration accuses Vatican II of being part of the conspiracy for Satan to infiltrate the Church, so they would not accept an Ecumenical Council led by Pope Francis.

What can be done? We can’t allow these papal accusers to continue accusing the Church Herself of being demonic, while pretending that their decisions on doctrine and discipline are Divine, and the decisions of the Pope, the Bishops, and the Magisterium are Satanic.

A Novel Solution

Ordain women deacons in every diocese and parish. The papal accusers will not be part of a diocese or parish that has ordained female deacons. They will finally depart and leave the true Church in peace.

I believe that the Church does have the authority to ordain women as deacons. And though the Church does not have the authority to ordain women as priests, when Christ returns, He may give the Church that authority (Rev 20:6). Deacons do not stand in persona Christi. Their primary role is one of service. So it is a substantially different type of role from priest or bishop.

Pope Francis will have to use Papal Infallibility to decide this question, otherwise the papal accusers will just add it to the list of alleged heresies. If he uses Papal Infallibility, they are stuck for an explanation, as no Pope can teach error under Papal Infallibility. They will have to claim that Pope Francis is not the valid Pope, and that will exclude them from dioceses, parishes, and Catholic organizations. They will finally depart from the Church that they have already rejected.

Are You Catholic?

If you reject the Roman Pontiff, you are not a Catholic. If you accuse the Pope of apostasy, heresy, schism, or teaching grave error, you are not a Catholic.

For “it arises from the necessity of salvation that all the faithful of Christ are to be subject to the Roman Pontiff”. [Fifth Lateran Council]

“Moreover, that every human creature is to be subject to the Roman pontiff, we declare, we state, we define, and we pronounce to be entirely from the necessity of salvation.” [Unam Sanctam]

By standing in judgment over the Pope, you are not subject to him, but him to you. By accusing him of apostasy, heresy, or schism, you imply that you will not be subject to his teachings and his authority. Accusing the Pope of heresy is a schismatic act.

Magisterial Teaching on the Roman Pontiff

Vatican I: “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.”

Pope Saint Leo IX: “By the See of the Chief of the Apostles, namely by the Roman Church, through the same Peter, as well as through his successors, have not the comments of all the heretics been disapproved, rejected, and overcome, and the hearts of the brethren in the faith of Peter — which so far neither has failed, nor up to the end will fail — been strengthened?” [In Terra Pax Hominibus, September 2, 1053; Denz. 351.]

Pope Pius XI: “Upon this Magisterium, Christ the Lord conferred immunity from error, together with the command to teach His doctrine to all….” [Divini illius magistri, December 31, 1929; Denz. 2204.]

Pope Saint Agatho: “For Peter himself received from the Redeemer of all, by three commendations, the duty of feeding the spiritual sheep of the Church. Under his protecting shield, this Apostolic Church of his has never turned away from the path of truth in any direction of error.”

“And his authority, as that of the Prince of all the Apostles, the whole Catholic Church and the Ecumenical Synods have faithfully embraced and followed in all things.”

“but from the beginning she has received the Christian faith from her founders, the princes of the Apostles of Christ, and remains undefiled unto the end….”

“…the evangelical and apostolic uprightness of the orthodox faith, which has been established upon the firm rock of this Church of blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, which by his grace and guardianship remains free from all error….” [Letter to the Sixth Ecumenical Council]

Pope St. Nicholas I: “If anyone condemns dogmas, mandates, interdicts, sanctions, or decrees, promulgated by the one presiding in the Apostolic See, for the Catholic faith, for the correction of the faithful, for the emendation of criminals, either by an interdict of threatening or of future ills, let him be anathema.” [Roman Council 860 and 863; Denzinger 326]

First Vatican Council: “Since the Roman Pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole Church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment. The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff.”

Canon Law 1404: “The First See is judged by no one”

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….”

“As the hinge while remaining immovable opens and closes the door, so Peter and his successors have free judgment over all the Church, since no one should remove their status because ‘the highest See is judged by no one.’ ” [In Terra Pax Hominibus; Denzinger 351-353.]

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

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