Response to the Protest against Idolatry part 2

The name of the document is Contra Recentia Sacrilegia (Protest against Pope Francis’s sacrilegious acts). The accusation is essentially idolatry, not merely or only the lesser but still grave offense of sacrilege. This article responds to the claims. This is part two. The first part of the article is here.

quoted from the Protest: “St. Paul taught the early Church that the sacrifice offered to pagan idols was not offered to God but rather to the demons when he said in his First Letter to the Corinthians:

“What then? Do I say, that what is offered in sacrifice to idols, is any thing? Or, that the idol is any thing? But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God. And I would not that you should be made partakers with demons. You cannot drink the chalice of the Lord, and the chalice of demons: you cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons.”
(1 Cor. 10:19-21)

We all know that idolatry is gravely immoral. The question is whether Pope Francis committed idolatry. The Protest document accuses the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ, the Successor to Peter of this very grave sin without proof. The authors and signatories merely assume that he is guilty, based on appearances, an exaggerated interpretation of events. They seem to have a desire to accuse the Pope of anything they are able.

Now I will remind the reader of the dogma of Vatican I (which the Council based on Lk 22:32 and on the very words of Jesus himself) that each Pope has the gift of “truth and a never-failing faith divinely-conferred”. This gift is given to all the Successors of Peter, which the Protest document admits Pope Francis is. They call him “Successor of Peter”. Since his faith cannot fail, it is a dogmatic fact that Pope Francis is not guilty of heresy, apostasy, or idolatry. The teaching is dogma. Its application to a particular case is a dogmatic fact.

Cardinal Ratzinger, commenting as the prefect of the CDF on the Profession of Faith of Pope Saint John Paul II, states that divinely-revealed doctrines confirmed by the solemn judgment of an Ecumenical Council are irreformable and infallible. Then he states:

“These doctrines require the assent of theological faith by all members of the faithful. Thus, whoever obstinately places them in doubt or denies them falls under the censure of heresy, as indicated by the respective canons of the Codes of Canon Law.”

By accusing Pope Francis of heresy, apostasy, schism, or idolatry, any of the faithful would then be guilty of at least material heresy, for they imply necessarily that the faith of a Pope can fail, contrary to dogma. Then, as Canon law states, they would be automatically excommunicated (for formal heresy, not mere material heresy). Then to take such an accusation, which is contrary to the dogma of Vatican I, make it public, and encourage others to sign it, adds the sin of very grave scandal and does grave harm to the Church.

Please understand that Vatican I did not only teach that the Pope’s teaching is infallible when it meets certain criteria (Papal Infallibility). The Council also taught that the Pope has a comprehensive gift of truth and never failing faith, which applies at all times, not only when teaching infallibly. And this teaching is in accord with past magisterial teachings, thus proving that I have not misinterpreted the Council’s teaching. A few examples of those teachings follow. More are here.

Pope Saint Agatho, 680 AD: “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….
“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….”

Pope Saint Leo IX, 1053 AD: “the faith of Peter — which so far neither has failed, nor up to the end will fail”

Pope Boniface VIII: “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, 1302; Fifth Lateran Council, 1512-1517]

Vatican I: “this See of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error”

Pope Pius XI, 1929: “Upon this Magisterium, Christ the Lord conferred immunity from error, together with the command to teach His doctrine to all….”

Now let’s continue reading the Protest document to discern its errors.

Protest document: By these actions Pope Francis has incurred the reproach uttered by the Second Council of Nicaea: “Many pastors have destroyed my vine, they have defiled my portion. For they followed unholy men and trusting to their own frenzies they calumniated the holy Church, which Christ our God has espoused to himself, and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols.”

Now the Second Council of Nicaea made no such accusation against any Roman Pontiff. So the application to Pope Francis is not fitting. And still we find no real theological argument, proving that Pope Francis is guilty. It is as if an defendant finds himself in a court of law, with many judges; the charges are read, and the judges then declare him guilty. No trial ensues, and no evidence is presented.

Those who, like myself, have defended the Pope in posts and articles are ignored by the papal accusers. They pretend that no defense has been presented, when in fact it has. They ignore the doctrines and dogmas cited above. They give themselves the role of God himself to judge all things, and they judge unjustly.

“With immense sorrow and deep love for the Chair of Peter, we beg Almighty God to spare the guilty members of His Church on earth the punishment that they deserve for these terrible sins.”

I respectfully state that I have seen many Catholics speaking against Pope Francis online with great contempt, ridicule, malice, and rage. I do not see any sign of “immense sorrow” nor of “deep love”. And notice that they cannot even bring themselves to apply these claims to Pope Francis himself. They claim to love “the Chair of Peter” rather than the person.

Then the Protest document pretends to beg Almighty God on behalf of persons whom they unjustly accuse of very grave sins in contradiction to the teaching of God through the Church. The persons so accused are Pope Francis and those who participated with him in a tree planting ceremony and in a Mass in which some symbols of the Amazon region were used. Despite the use of the plural, the main accusation is against the Pope. So they are begging God while accusing the Pope of a sin he could not have committed according to the truths God himself teaches through the Church about the Roman Pontiffs. To make this accusation worse, they assume the guilt of those they accuse, including prominently the Pope, and then they assume that God finds them to be guilty also.

This expression which uses the name of God to falsely accuse the Roman Pontiff, assumes his guilt before God without any substantial evidence or theological argument (which if properly presented would exonerate the Pope), and assumes that God finds him guilty and would punish the Pope and those who follow him. The arrogance of this expression is astonishing. And it is literally direct blasphemy.

By the way, treating any Roman Pontiff with contempt, ridicule, malice, and hatred, especially due to his decisions of doctrine and discipline which, according to dogma, are protected from grave error, is indirect blasphemy, as is accusing the Church Herself of having been infiltrated at the highest levels by Satan.

“We respectfully ask Pope Francis to repent publicly and unambiguously of these objectively grave sins and of all the public offences that he has committed against God and the true religion, and to make reparation for these offences.

“We respectfully ask all the bishops of the Catholic Church to offer fraternal correction to Pope Francis for these scandals, and to warn their flocks that according to the divinely revealed teaching of the Catholic faith, they will risk eternal damnation if they follow his example of offending against the First Commandment.”

Using the word “respectfully” does not make a false accusation contrary to dogma respectful. Again, they assume the guilt of the Roman Pontiff. And they place themselves in the role of God, not only by judging the Roman Pontiff, when Unam Sanctam (confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council) infallibly teaches that only God may judge the Pope, but also by pretending they can require the Pope to repent, can require public repentance, can judge him guilty of other offenses, and can require reparations. They have no such authority. To pretend to have the authority of God is a very grave sin and a type of blasphemy.

Then the Protest document authors speak to all the Bishops as if they had the role of the Pope, to direct the body of Bishops. The document then speaks to the body of Bishops as if Pope Francis were guilty, without evidence or argument. And then the document asks the Bishops to speak to all the faithful, to repeat the accusation to them. So the document seeks to accuse Pope Francis to the body of Bishops and the body of the faithful. Speaking in this way usurps the role of the Pope as Supreme Shepherd and Supreme Judge of all the faithful.

It is as if the papal accusers, as a body, have become a type of corporate anti-pope. For they usurp the role of the Roman Pontiff, his gifts, his authority over doctrine and discipline, and his authority over the body of Bishops and all the faithful. That is the behavior of an anti-pope. Some have accused Pope Francis of being an anti-pope, but the accusers are guilty of that accusation themselves.

The wording here is clever. They ask the Bishops, to speak to the faithful, to tell them they “risk eternal damnation if they follow his example”, i.e. the example of Pope Francis. So they are accusing Pope Francis of not being in a state of grace. For the lack of the state of grace is the only path to Hell. And as for objective mortal sin, they openly commit many such sins in this document.

Note: In reply to the claim that Peter sinned or erred, as described in the Gospel — as when Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan” or when Peter denied Christ three times — those events occurred before Peter became Pope. His papal reign begins when Christ ascends to Heaven, and ended 33 years and 6 weeks later with Peter’s death.

The third part of this analysis of the Protest against Francis will be on the Human Fraternity document.

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.’ ” [Epistle: In Terra Pax Hominibus, 1053]

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

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2 Responses to Response to the Protest against Idolatry part 2

  1. Anthony says:

    Hey Ron, I was wondering what happened to your post supporting the throwing of the idols( your term if I remember) out of the church?

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