Comprehensive Reply to the Papal Accusers

The Errors

The conservative papal accusers have progressed in their grave sins: from criticizing Pope Francis’ teaching; to criticizing everything he says and does, whether doctrine, discipline, or opinion; to attacking any Cardinal or Bishop who teaches or acts contrary to their ideas; to rejecting the dogmas of the Church on papal immunity from error and the Pope’s never-failing faith; to condemning Pope Francis for formal heresy; to accusing him of being the culmination of a plan by freemasons and Satan himself to infiltrate the Church; to condemning every Pope, Council, teaching, or discipline that contradicts the conservative Catholic subculture, which they have now exalted as if it were the one true God. Thus, they have committed:

* Schism – by rejecting not only the authority per se of Pope Francis, but that of any Pope or Council they so choose. When you believe only those ideas found in your own mind, you have neither faith nor the submission of faith to Popes and Councils.

* Heresy – by rejecting the dogma that each Pope has the gift of truth (i.e. immunity from grave error) and a never-failing faith; by rejecting the dogma of the Indefectibility of the Church; and by other heresies, each one according to his own ideas.

* Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – by claiming that the Church has been infiltrated by Satan. The Church is the body of Christ, with Christ as Her head, with the Holy Spirit as Her soul. So the Church cannot be infiltrated by Satan at the level of Popes and Councils, at the level of the teaching and temporal authorities of the Church, as if Satan were now guiding the Ark of Salvation.

* Apostasy – when you reject the authority of the Church itself, and attempt to subject that authority to the conservative Catholic subculture or to your own understanding, and when you accuse the Church of having a demon, you have utterly rejected Christ and Christianity. For nothing is left of the true faith except your own ideas. And even an atheist believes whatever he himself thinks is right.

* Idolatry – after rejecting every Pope, Council, doctrine and discipline that is contrary to their own minds, they then follow, as if it were God, the conservative Catholic subculture and their own ideas. They divinize religious conservatism (even though the Pharisees rejected by Christ were conservatives) and the divinize their own minds and hearts. They have rejected the Church given authority from God, and replaced it with idols of their own choosing.

They are like Narcissus, who saw his own reflection and fell in love with it, except instead of love, it is faith. They have faith only in themselves and in those who are similar to themselves. Conservatives now openly attack any Pope or teaching or decision of the Church that differs from their own ideas.

The Reply

1. Dogma: The indefectibility of the Church

The Church can never go astray. This dogma implies necessarily that neither the papacy nor the body of Bishops can be infiltrated or controlled by Satan or by evil human persons. For then She would have defected (gone astray). The dogma also implies that the Church can never teach grave error, even non-infallibly, nor make a decision of discipline or of the temporal order which is a grave error. Nothing the Church says or does (doctrine and discipline) can lead the faithful away from the path of salvation, for the Church is the Path of Salvation. She is the Ark of Salvation. She is the Body of Christ with Christ as Her Head and the Holy Spirit as her Soul. To accuse the Church of having been infiltrated, as the level of the Pope, the body of Bishops, an Ecumenical Council, and her doctrines or her discipline is contrary to this dogma and constitutes blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Pope Saint Agatho, 680 AD: “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.” [Letter to the Sixth Ecumenical Council 680 AD]

The Pope cannot go astray because he is the head of the Church, and the Church cannot go astray. She is indefectible.

The letter was accepted by the Council, so it is of the Council’s teaching, in addition to being the magisterial teaching of a Pope-Saint.

2. Dogma: Papal Infallibility

When the Pope’s teaching meets certain conditions (taught by Vatican I and II), his teaching is infallible:

“And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith.”

And the theory is false and heretical which claims that a Pope could possibly teach heresy under Papal Infallibility, and then he would cease to be Pope and the teaching would therefore not be of Papal Infallibility. Such a gift of Papal Infallibility would be useless to the Church, as any teaching of a Pope (or Council) anyone disliked would be rejected on that basis. Then the faith would lose its surety.

So if Pope Francis or any Pope or Council or the ordinary and universal Magisterium teaches infallibly, the faithful must accept the teaching, under pain of heresy and excommunication, as the teaching cannot possibly err and is a required belief of the Catholic faith. If you profess the Catholic religion, you believe what the Catholic Church teaches. How could it be otherwise?

This dogma implies necessarily that neither the papacy nor the body of Bishops can be infiltrated or controlled by Satan or by evil human persons. For then the faculty itself to be able to teach infallibly, by Papal Infallibility, Conciliar Infallibility, or the ordinary and universal Magisterium, would be extinguished (regardless of whether or not it is exercised while the Church is supposedly taken over by evil).

3. Dogma: Papal Immunity from Grave Error

The infallible teachings of the Magisterium are free from all error on faith, morals, and salvation. But all other teachings and decisions of the Church, whether of the Roman Pontiff, or an Ecumenical Council, or the body of Bishops (led by the Pope), are non-infallible and as a result are free from all grave error. Non-infallible teachings and decisions can never err to a grave extent; they have only a limited possibility of error and reform. This teaching is a dogma of the ordinary and universal Magisterium and of the First Vatican Council.

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.… 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 680 AD]

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….”

Pope Pius XI, 1929: “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.]

The Pope is the head of the Magisterium, and in him the charism of the Magisterium is individually present. Thus, he cannot err to the extent of teaching material heresy, nor of teaching any other grave error, nor can he err gravely in decisions of temporal authority. Since the Pope is immune from every type of grave error (an error which would gravely harm the Church, the faith, or the souls of the faithful), he also cannot possibly err by propagating heresy.

And, in case you are wondering: Pope Honorius I was never convicted by the Sixth Ecumenical Council of heresy, nor could he possibly commit heresy: In Defense of Pope Honorius.

4. The Never-Failing Faith of the Roman Pontiff

The faith of each and every valid Roman Pontiff can never fail to a grave extent. The three types of grave failures of faith are apostasy, heresy, and schism. Therefore, no Pope can commit formal heresy, formal schism (by separating himself from the body of Bishops), or apostasy. This teaching is a dogma of the ordinary and universal Magisterium and of the First Vatican Council.

Pope Saint Leo IX: “the faith of Peter, which so far neither has failed, nor up to the end will fail”.

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….”

{22:32} But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.”

The prayer of Jesus preserves not only Peter himself, but every successor of Peter from failure of faith by the prevenient grace of God. And Jesus also says that this grace strengthens Peter in order to strengthen his brethren, i.e. the Bishops. Therefore, the body of Bishops also has the gift, as a body not as individuals, of a never-failing faith.

Neither the Pope nor the body of Bishops can possibly commit apostasy, heresy, or schism. The prevenient grace of God absolutely prevents it. But this is not contrary to free will. First, it is ordinary for prevenient grace to act prior to and apart from free will. But the Pope freely takes up his office, and he can freely lay it down; and each Bishop also freely takes up and can freely relinquish his office. So this gift does not violate free will.

This gift of a never-failing faith is of the Pope’s person and protects him not only when he is teaching as an act of the Magisterium, but also in his private theology and personal opinions. He cannot commit heresy, neither personally, nor by his official teachings and decisions. For the Roman Pontiff is not merely an office, but a person who represents Christ. Can Christ fail in faith? No. Then neither can His Vicar fail in faith.

5. Any Roman Pontiff accepted by the body of Bishops is a valid Roman Pontiff.

As a way to attack any Pope whom the unfaithful dislike, they sometimes claim that a Pope can commit heresy and thereby lose his office. That claim is refuted above. The other means of attack is to claim that the conclave was deeply flawed, and therefore the Pope is not valid. But since the Church is indefectible, God would never permit any invalid Pope (i.e. an antipope) to be accepted by the body of Bishops. For the Pope is the head of the Church; if he defects, then the Church is not indefectible. And the body of Bishops have a never-failing faith, therefore they cannot adhere to an antipope, or else they would be guilty of schism. Thus, each and every Bishop accepted by the body of Bishops as Roman Pontiff is in fact and by law, in truth and by authority, the valid successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, and the Roman Pontiff of the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

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

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4 Responses to Comprehensive Reply to the Papal Accusers

  1. dom64verona88chrysostomos says:

    O, mon très cher Ami,
    En tant que théologien autudidacte, il ne s’agit pas de critiques, vous commencez certainement à me connaître, je suis thomiste comme vous, mais d’hypothèes théologiques émises déjà depuis la plus haute Antiquité. Il en va de même pour le Papa que pour nous autres, nous ne sommes tous que de pauvres pécheurs, n’ayant même pas le droit de nous juger nous-mêmes! L’examen de conscience quotidien doit être pour chacun de nous une étude sur nous-même, le juge unique étant Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ, pour le Pape aussi. Puis-je humblement vous faire remarquer que tous nous disposons de confesseurs personnels et privés, le Pape aussi! Ne pas trop aller plus loin, n’est-ce pas? Très humblement vôtre, le pauvre pécheur que je suis.

  2. What about “wolves in sheep’s clothing”?

    • Ron Conte says:

      It is not possible for a Pope or Council, nor for the body of Bishops to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. A Cardinal or Bishop (e.g. Burke and Athanasius Schneider) can go astray and take the role of Judas, but no Pope can do so. Priests, deacons, religious, and the laity can also go astray.

  3. Alex says:

    I agree the papal accusers blindly wage war against anything the pope says or does. They do not seek the reasonable discussion, they seek fabricated proof for their war. The difference with their predecessors is, the fabricated proof back then was the magic cat for the which to be burned. If you have the experience of talking with them in forums, or in private, you will be astounded how much energy they throw at you. As if their theology and eternal salvation depends on whether they “convince” you. Not to convince you with the strength of their reasons, but to attack you including personally, and ultimately to destroy both your position and your prestige, if they could. They don’t stop before anything. Including personal and family bonds. For them you are an enemy, because you like pope Francis. or because you are alarmed by the global warming. or because…anything they do not like. For them the world is black and white, and they arbitrarily take the white side accusing everyone not in line with their fanaticism to be of the black side, together with the abortionists etc.

    Fanaticism is the worst evil on earth, regardless of the color and name. Those people would kill Jesus again if He would walk among them. His Love has no place in them. When the events predicted by Our Lady transpire, those people will reject also the Divine intervention, the Great Sign, as Jacov said. Because they do not love, neither their neighbor nor God. They have become worse than pagans, because the pagans have the natural love and normal human conversations. Those people think they hold the hand of God, while actually they have become servants of Satan in the name of casting out demons. Unfortunately, some of them still hold important positions in the church and society.

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