The Progression of the Current Schism

Note that not all conservatives or traditionalists are schismatics or heretics. There are faithful Catholics who are liberal, moderate, conservative, traditionalist. But anyone who rejects a Pope or a Council has departed from communion with the one true Church.

Living through a schism is eye-opening. I used to think that heresies and schisms in the Church were a result of some leader going astray. But now it seems clear that the cause of these past heresies and schisms is the people. Many of the current leaders of the schism were heretics before the time of Pope Francis, before the schism began. They have long taught error. When the conservative Catholics departed from faithfulness, in reaction to a liberal Pope, they adhered, newly, to these longtime heretical and schismatic leaders.

And as for those leaders who have newly gone astray, they do so by being led by their audience. They are teachers with itching ears, teaching people what they wish to hear. This type of teacher is like the type of follower who will adhere to whatever the current majority opinion is within the culture. Some adhere to whatever the secular culture teaches. So, for example, when same-sex marriage became legal and accepted in the culture, they accept that teaching, contrary to Church teaching. Similarly, when some of the faithful adhere to a subculture in the Church, whether liberal or conservative or traditionalist or other, they do not have the backbone to withstand any majority opinion in that culture; they accept whatever the subculture teaches, even when contrary to the Magisterium. So they are no different from those who put secular culture above magisterial teaching. And then the type of teacher to which I refer cannot withstand the majority view of his or her audience, and they will bend their teaching to fit what their audience wishes to hear. And so some of the schismatic leaders have fallen into schism in that way.

How can this happen? There is a controversy in theology. A particular leader is uncertain as to how to resolve it. And when the majority of persons in their subculture or audience prefers a particular answer, even though schismatic or heretical, this causes the leader to adopt that answer out of their original uncertainty. Maybe the answer is A, or it could be B. Even if B is what the Magisterium teaches, they will accept A if it is what their audience wishes to hear. And this process happens subconsciously, for the most part.

The Progression

The schism began with the Second Vatican Council. Conservatives in the Church did not like some of the more liberal answers to theological questions given by that Council. So they reacted in different ways. Some left the Church and became the sedevacantists. Others sought to reinterpret the Council, or ignore it, or demote its authority by saying the Council was merely pastoral. But the stage was set for conservatives to fully reject the Council at a later time, because they did not accept the Council as having the full authority of Christ and as being the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Their faith in the Council was weak, and so when put to the test, it failed. Their faith in the Council had shallow roots, and so when the plant was tested with the heat of the sun, it withered.

During the Pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II, the conservatives supported the Roman Pontiff. When he would teach a liberal answer to a theological question, they largely ignored the teaching. For example, the liberal teaching of Redemptoris Missio n. 10, which proposes salvation for non-Catholics and non-Christians, was simply ignored. And the internet was not much of a factor in the reign of John Paul II. Later, the internet helped the schism to grow more quickly.

When Pope Francis became Pope, the conservatives attempted to reconcile his teachings with their own conservative views. But they soon found this impossible. So they began to openly oppose him. They should have accepted the teachings of each and every Pope. But they had long developed the practice of subjecting the teachings of Jesus Christ through His Church to their own fallen reason and to their preferred subculture. They had long put themselves and their peer group above faith in the Church. And this longstanding error became apparent under a liberal Pope. They began to openly speak as if their own understanding were the true Catholic Faith, and as if anyone who disagrees, even a Pope or Council, must be in error.

Having rejected Pope Francis utterly by accusing him, not only of propagating heresy, but of committing formal heresy and of committing idolatry and sacrilege, they had now progressed to the point of openly standing above the Roman Pontiff. They judged and condemned the Pope. And they gained much support from like-minded persons on the internet in this rejection.

It took more than a few years for the conservative schismatics to reach this point. And what brought them more quickly to open schism was the internet. An individual Catholic would speak out against the Pope, and so receive much support from conservatives in the pews, ordinary lay Catholics who were upset with Francis. And having so much support, they were emboldened to speak out further. The likeminded leaders of the schism came together mainly over the internet. They posted documents against the Roman Pontiff, such as the various petitions accusing the Pope of propagating heresy or of committing formal heresy, and the number of signatories caused them to be more sure of themselves in their grievous errors. Without the internet, this schism would have developed more slowly, and would have had fewer followers.

The next step in the progression is typified by the book “Infiltration” by Taylor Marshall. The book accuses every Pope from Pope Pius XII to Pope Francis of being a part of a plant to corrupt the Church and Her teachings — a successful plan. Having placed themselves above one Pope, Francis, to judge and condemn him, they went on to place themselves above every Pope. John Paul II, who was formerly praised by conservatives, is now condemned by them. Just as they originally portrayed John Paul II as a conservative (though some of his answers are liberal), they now portray him as a liberal and as a part of the alleged defection of the Church from the true Faith.

In addition to condemning the recent Popes, there were many who began to reject a variety of Popes from the distant past, especially Honorius and John 22 and others. And so it reached the point where no teaching of any Pope would be accepted, not even of Peter himself, unless it was in agreement with their own mind and the majority opinion of their chosen subculture. They in effect are worshiping themselves and worshipping the conservative or traditionalist subculture, thereby abandoning Christ and His Church.

After condemning Pope after Pope, what would happen next? They returned to their rejection of Vatican II, and they revised that rejection, from ignoring or misinterpreting or denigrating the Council to rejection “en bloc” as a whole. And this rejection received much support from the nameless faceless internet masses, who drive the schism by their support for any teachers who please them.

Rejecting one Pope, Francis, led to a rejection of any Pope whosoever. Rejecting one Council, Vatican II, quickly led to a rejection of any Council whatsoever. They began to denigrate Vatican I, which occurred under Pius IX. They began to reject other Councils, as I’ve discussed in recent posts. So that, at the present time, they have now put themselves above every Pope and Council to reject any teaching that they dislike, accepting nothing other than what they themselves believe to be correct. And that is not faith.

The true test of faith is when you believe something contrary to your own understanding. These persons have no faith. They lack the theological virtue of faith. And having no infused virtue of faith necessarily implies that they lack the other two infused virtues, love and hope. And their lack of love shows in their utter contempt for the Vicar of Christ and for anyone who supports the Roman Pontiff. Their lack of hope shows in their adherence to conspiracy theories, which propose that evil and hatred controls the Church and the world. You cannot have love and hope unless you also have faith. And while an atheist can have faith implicitly, and so can have love and hope, those Catholic schismatics who utterly reject the Popes and Councils, and who hate their enemies, have no love, no faith, and no hope. They treat atheists with contempt and condemnation, yet atheists are getting into the kingdom of heaven ahead of them.

Some schismatics could be in the state of grace. They could err with a sincere but mistaken conscience, and so still have the state of grace. And that means their faith would be, in a sense, partially implicit. For they mistakenly reject the Magisterium, having been led astray by a subculture of erring Catholics and by false shepherds. So not all of the schismatics lack faith. But they are all sinning against faith by rejecting Popes and Councils. Is it possible that they all are in this state, having love, faith, hope but sinning gravely with a sincere but mistaken conscience? No, not really. The rejection of Popes and Councils by those well-catechized in the Faith leaves them no room for such a sincere error.

{9:40} And certain Pharisees, who were with him, heard this, and they said to him, “Are we also blind?”
{9:41} Jesus said to them: “If you were blind, you would not have sin. Yet now you say, ‘We see.’ So your sin persists.”

I’m not judging souls here. Rather, I am taking these schismatic leaders at their word. They say “We see”, and so I believe them. They see what the Church teaches on the Magisterium, and yet they reject that teaching.

What Is Next?

What happens next, after you have put yourself and your subculture above Popes and Councils? The inevitable next step, unless they repent, is to depart from the Church formally and form their own false Church, just as the sedevacantists have done. They cannot continue to claim that Pope Francis is a true valid Roman Pontiff and reject his authority, nor can they continue to be in communion with the body of Bishops, who teach from Vatican II and from the recent Popes. They are currently held to the Church by mere threads, and will soon fall away.

All that is needed is a final test of their failing or non-existent faith, such as a new definition of doctrine by Pope Francis on a controversial matter. They will depart from the Church altogether.

The internet is a factor in this schism because it allows those who murmur against the Pope to join with like-minded murmurers, and so be strengthened in their faithlessness. But another factor is the pandemic, called Coronavirus. The pandemic has caused many persons to no longer attend Mass at their local parish, but instead attend online. And of course, human nature being weak, many persons have simply stopped going to Mass and do not attend online or by watching a Mass on TV. This means they are less attached to their local parish than ever before, and so they more easily fall away from the Church.

And the schismatics will claim that they are the true Church, while the institutional Church has gone astray. But their followers will not be sustained in this imitation of the Faith for long. The schismatics cannot offer true spiritual nourishment, so their followers will wither. Having separated from the Vine that is Christ and His Church, they will become dry and turn to dust. Apostasy will result. This is part of the great apostasy of the first part of the tribulation, when the followers of the schismatic and heretical leaders fall away from Christianity altogether.

The Next Conservative Pope

I believe that Pope Francis will resign, and then the next Pope will be conservative. But the rejoicing of the schismatics will soon turn to anger, as the new conservative Pope will not reject Pope Francis, nor Vatican II. He will excommunicate the antipapal anticonciliar schismatics. He will not reject the teachings of Pope Francis, nor invalidate his reign. And so the schismatics will remain separated from the Church. They are too filled with pride to repent and accept Pope Francis and Vatican II. But that is the only way they can be reunited with the Church.


I know that most of my readers are faithful to the Magisterium, and they do not reject Pope Francis or Vatican II. You can be conservative or traditionalist and remain faithful. But be careful whom you accept as a teacher. In the coming days, many popular conservative priests, speakers, and authors will reject Pope Francis and fall away from the true Faith. Do not join them. Put faith above your own reason.

We will all be put to the test. Sufferings are ahead, worse than the pandemic. And spiritual sufferings will also be severe. Trust in the true Magisterium. Trust in the teaching of the Church that each Pope as well as the body of Bishops in communion with the Pope have the gift of truth and never failing faith. Stand in the shadow of the ancient oak tree which is the Roman Pontiff, and you will be safe from the spiritual storm approaching.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Thomas in the Summa Theologica: “Now this Head is Christ Himself, Whose viceregent in the Church is the Sovereign Pontiff. Wherefore schismatics are those who refuse to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to hold communion with those members of the Church who acknowledge his supremacy.”

The schismatics today are easily identified. They refuse to submit to the teaching ability and the teaching authority of Pope Francis. And every Pope has both, not merely authority, but the help of the Holy Spirit to teach ably, to teach well. And the schismatics also treat with contempt anyone who supports Pope Francis, thereby refusing communion with the members who acknowledge his supremacy. That word, supremacy, says it all. If you do not see Pope Francis as supreme over the whole Church on earth, and his teaching as supreme over that of every other teacher on earth, then you are a schismatic.

Saint Thomas Aquinas on Jerome: “For heresy is essentially opposed to faith, while schism is essentially opposed to the unity of ecclesiastical charity. Wherefore just as faith and charity are different virtues, although whoever lacks faith lacks charity, so too schism and heresy are different vices, although whoever is a heretic is also a schismatic, but not conversely. This is what Jerome says in his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians [In Ep. ad Tit. iii, 10]: “I consider the difference between schism and heresy to be that heresy holds false doctrine while schism severs a man from the Church.” Nevertheless, just as the loss of charity is the road to the loss of faith, according to 1 Timothy 1:6: “From which things,” i.e. charity and the like, “some going astray, are turned aside into vain babbling,” so too, schism is the road to heresy. Wherefore Jerome adds (In Ep. ad Tit. iii, 10) that “at the outset it is possible, in a certain respect, to find a difference between schism and heresy: yet there is no schism that does not devise some heresy for itself, that it may appear to have had a reason for separating from the Church.” ‘ Summa Theologica

So one of the next steps that we will see in the progression of the schism is new discipline and new doctrine being proposed by the schismatics. For having rejected Popes and Councils, they need a source for discipline and doctrine, which source can only be themselves, for that is all they will accept. Thus, as Jerome says, there is no schism which does not devise heresy for itself. Once they separate from the teaching authority, they quickly begin to teach error.

Saint Thomas Aquinas then speaks of heresy: “Accordingly there are two ways in which a man may deviate from the rectitude of the Christian faith. First, because he is unwilling to assent to Christ: and such a man has an evil will, so to say, in respect of the very end. This belongs to the species of unbelief in pagans and Jews. Secondly, because, though he intends to assent to Christ, yet he fails in his choice of those things wherein he assents to Christ, because he chooses not what Christ really taught, but the suggestions of his own mind.” Summa Theologica

The current schismatics and heretics are aptly described by Thomas. They do not choose what Christ really taught, but only the suggestions of their own mind and the majority opinion of the minds of other schismatics and heretics.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
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