But not all conservatives or traditionalists have fallen into error. Consider, for example, Fr. Z.’s post rebuking a reader who said: “I UTTERLY reject Jorge Bergoglio as a false prophet of the devil”. He tells her she is in danger of going to Hell for rejecting the indefectibility of the Church. (He should have added that each Pope has the gift of truth and a never-failing faith. But otherwise, his answer was pretty good.)
Common errors of the papal accusers and some others on the right, in no particular order:
1. Feeneyism or mitigated Feeneyism, where salvation is said to be rare or non-existent outside of Christianity or Catholicism.
This idea is heresy or at least proximate to heresy (in its milder form). The universal salvific will of God is a dogma of the ordinary and universal Magisterium, and the most recent magisterial teachings on salvation make it clear that paths to salvation are available to everyone, despite the objectively grave sin of rejecting Christianity (which is often not actual mortal sin).
2. The idea that a Pope can err gravely on doctrine or discipline, or that a Pope can fail in faith by sins of apostasy, heresy, or schism, or by idolatry, blasphemy, or sacrilege.
This claim is contrary to the dogma of the First Vatican Council and the ordinary and universal Magisterium through the centuries.
3. The idea that an invalid Pope or antipope can be accepted by the body of Bishops. This claim is contrary to the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church.
4. The idea that the body of Bishops, whether gathered in an Ecumenical Council or dispersed in the world, in any case led by the Roman Pontiff, can err gravely on doctrine or discipline or can fail in faith. This claim is contrary to the words of Jesus in Luke 22:32, that the Pope’s faith, having been confirmed by the grace of God by Jesus’ prayer and promise, will then confirm his brethren the Bishops — implying that they cannot err gravely or fail in faith as well.
5. The rejection of the Second Vatican Council. No Council can err gravely in doctrine or discipline, and no Council can lack authority or be rejected by the faithful. Whoever rejects any Ecumenical Council, rejects the Church and rejects Christ.
6. Standing in judgment over the decisions of Popes and Councils, as if they were above the Magisterium.
7. Ignoring the three fonts of morality on matters of ethics. This is one of the most stunning rejections of magisterial teaching in modern times. The Church is quite clear in teaching that each knowing deliberate choice must have three good fonts to be moral. Rarely does any article or book of ethics on the Right or Left mention this teaching, and few theologians are basing their work in ethics on this doctrine.
8. The rejection of the Novus Ordo Mass, and the exaltation of the Latin Mass. This error accompanies that of rejecting Vatican II. The Church cannot err gravely even in matters of discipline. Her decisions in such matters as liturgical form are therefore non-infallible, and never able to lead the faithful away from the path of salvation. Yet the vernacular Mass is portrayed by some on the right as a danger to salvation, and as the work of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
9. The rejection of a number of reputable theologians as if they were apostates, including Henri de Lubac, Teilhard de Chardin, Rahner, Schillebeeckx, etc. Similarly, the work of the Protestant Reformers, which has long been considered to contain useful theological insights, is rejected as if it were the work of the devil.
10. That reminds me of the next error: Treating all who disagree and all contrary ideas as if these were the work of the devil. The view that opposing ideas are of the devil prevents these persons from accepting correction from a theological argument, or even from Church authority.
11. The above error is taken to an extreme by those who claim that the Church Herself has been infiltrated at the highest levels by Satan. Thus, any attempt to correct them from Church teaching or authority is rejected prima facie , as if from the devil. This claim of “Infiltration” is tantamount to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, as it prevents correction, repentance, and conversion by the Spirit through the Church. Moreover, the Church has the Spirit as Her soul, so the claim is a wicked accusation against the Spirit of God. These decisions of the Church on doctrine and discipline, which are attributed to infiltration are really the work of the Spirit.
12. The eschatological claim that either the Antichrist or the false prophet will be a Pope or antipope. My extensive work in eschatology rejects this idea. The Antichrist will not be born for at least a few hundred years. And never does he wish to be Roman Pontiff, but instead he wishes to be regarded as if God or the Son of God. The Antichrist hates the Catholic Church, so his false prophet certainly will not be a Pope or antipope either. (Thus, this claim cannot be used to discredit or accuse Pope Francis.)
13. The claim that it is already dogma that women can never be ordained as deacons. This is an open question, and no one even proposes any direct assertion by the Magisterium as having closed this question. Only the idea of women as priests or bishops has been authoritatively decided.
14. The refusal to oppose grave doctrinal errors, including abject heresy, if proposed by a conservative Catholic speaker, author, theologian, scholar, or popular blogger. So at the same time that they are accusing the Roman Pontiff of heresy (contrary to the dogma of Vatican I), they utterly ignore heresy and other very grave errors by conservative leaders. See my past posts for examples of such errors by those leaders.
15. The exaltation of the majority opinion of the conservative Catholic subculture above the Magisterium.
16. The idea that if a Catholic or other Christian errs, supposedly gravely, this justifies treating that person with ridicule, contempt, and unadulterated malice. The papal accusers have over-simplified the Faith, so that they can pretend to understand it all; they have dogmatized this over-simplification, along with many errors and mere opinions; and they villainize anyone who disagrees.
— Don’t forget to join me in the Rosa Mystica devotion starting this Sunday, Dec. 1st. —
Ronald L. Conte Jr.