The Crypto-Schismatic Position called “Recognize and Resist”

The term crypto-schismatic is adapted from the term crypto-modernist, which refers to someone accused of modernist errors, who claims not to adhere to that type of error. A crypto-schismatic, then, is someone who adamantly insists that he is not a schismatic, and who claims to recognized the validity of the Roman Pontiff, and yet he also refuses to submit to the authority of the Roman Pontiff over doctrine and discipline.

The phrase “Recognize and Resist” is a certain position taken regarding Pope Francis. The “Recognize” part means that the individual recognizes that Pope Francis is the valid Roman Pontiff. An opposing position would be those who do not believe that Pope Francis is the valid Pope, but that Benedict is still the Roman Pontiff. They are sometimes called “Benevacantists” by comparison with sedevacantists.

The “Resist” part of the term is that these individuals are resisting Pope Francis. They do not submit their will and mind to the teachings of Pope Francis, nor to his decisions under the temporal authority, such as decisions over liturgical form. They believe nothing that Pope Francis teaches, unless it is an idea they already believed to be true based on their own understanding.

For the sake of convenience, I will call the individuals who take this Recognize and Resist position: R and R’s … or maybe I should call them … Recognizers? Resistors? ReRes? Recogists? No, I think RandR’s will do.

Anyway, there are serious problems with this position.

1. The public assertion that one will resist the Pope is inherently schismatic. Schism by definition is as follows, from canon law.

“Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Schism is refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff. It also consists in refusing to be in communion with the Pope’s subjects. It often happens that schismatic groups separate themselves from Catholics faithful to the Pope. Although not mentioned in canon law, it is also schism to refuse submission to the body of Bishops who remain in communion with the Pope, and/or to refuse communion with them as members of the Church subject to the Pope. Therefore, it is a schismatic act to reject the authority of any Ecumenical Council. For the Council expresses the authority of the Pope and the body of Bishops over the Church.

It is not enough to accept that Francis is the valid Roman Pontiff. You do not avoid schism by making merely that bare assertion. Even an atheist accepts that Francis is the Pope. To avoid schism, you must submit your mind and will to his authority over doctrine and discipline. For Peter holds two keys, his authority over spiritual and temporal matters, and we must accept his authority over both areas.

“Recognize and Resist” is an openly schismatic position because the individual is saying, in effect, “I know that this man is the valid Roman Pontiff, but I will resist him anyway.” That is formal schism. It is formal because the individual knows that Francis is the valid Pope, and yet deliberately and knowingly chooses to resist his authority.

And as we know from the words and actions of RandRs, they resist the Pope vehemently and in all matters pertaining to papal authority. Some accuse him of heresy, of idolatry, of blasphemy, of sacrilege, and even of apostasy. In the article, “Is Archbishop Vigano in Schism?” Dr. Robert Fastiggi notes that Vigano seems, quite openly, to accuse Pope Francis of being an apostate. Fastiggi is a defender of the orthodoxy of Pope Francis, while Vigano has made many serious accusations against the Pope.

So the meaning of “Resist” is quite severe. If your position regarding any Roman Pontiff is that you will resist him in his authority as Roman Pontiff, that is schismatic. But many RandRs take their position further than the name would imply. And this presents a problem for them as Recognizers. They claim to believe that Pope Francis is the valid Roman Pontiff. But how can he be, if he is guilty of formal heresy, as the signatories of the “Open Letter” claim? Or how can the Roman Pontiff be an idolater or an apostate, without the Church losing Her indefectibility?

In such a case, either the RandR implicitly rejects the indefectibility of the Church, or they have to explain how it would be possible for the Pope to commit such grave errors, with the body of Bishops following after him, without harm to the indefectibility of the Church. A rejection of the dogma of indefectibility is heresy. But it is intellectually untenable to make such very severe accusations against an admittedly valid Pope, and also say that the Church has not defected. Their position crumbles in the face of this conflict.

The fathers and doctors of the Church agree that a Pope cannot be heretic. It is not possible at one and the same time for a person to be both the valid Roman Pontiff and a heretic. I don’t believe that a valid Pope becomes invalid by teaching or committing heresy, as was thought to be possible prior to Vatican I. Rather, the Pope is kept secure in truth and in faith by a special grace from God for the sake of the indefectibility of the Church and our salvation. But those who reject that teaching need to explain this:

How can you recognize that Pope Francis is valid, and yet accuse him of apostasy, heresy, and idolatry? Those two things are incompatible, and yet they are the two things asserted in the name of the position. Recognize means validity and Resist accuses him of things contrary to validity. So which is it, RandRs? Is Pope Francis still valid? Then how can he be guilty of grave errors against truth and grave sins against faith? He cannot. That is to say, not if you believe what Vatican I taught. Not if you believe the words of our Lord.

{16:18} And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.
{16:19} And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven. And whatever you shall release on earth shall be released, even in heaven.”

{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 RandRs say that Popes and Councils can err to any extent when they are not teaching infallibly. But this is not the teaching of the Magisterium. It is not true that, when the Pope is teaching on faith and morals, but without using infallibility, that he can err gravely, even to the extent of heresy. What kind of idiotic plan for an organization would that be? The Pope leads you toward Heaven, except when he is leading you toward Hell? You can trust your salvation, your mind, heart, and very soul to the Popes and Councils, when infallible — but when not infallible they will cause grave harm to the same? That is not the plan of God. And I’ll tell you exactly why that is not the plan of God: it’s stupid.

The truth about the teaching authority of the Church is that when the Pope is exercising the Magisterium, non-infallibly, he is protected from all grave error by the Holy Spirit; only errors less than grave are permitted — and never to the extent of leading the faithful away from salvation. The faithful are required to submit to the non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium precisely because these cannot err to the extent of harming our path of salvation.

“Can. 752 Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.”

The religious submission of the intellect and the will are required of all the teachings of the Roman Pontiff, except his infallible teachings which require more, the full assent of faith. The religious assent is ordinary; it is the usual and hopefully automatic submission to magisterial teaching. The full assent of faith is sacred; it is of the infused gift of theological faith given at baptism. And the two types of assent are closely related.

Therefore, the claim of RandRs like Taylor Marshall, that Popes and Councils can err to any extent when not teaching infallibly is false. Non-infallible teachings are free from all grave error; infallible teachings are free from all error whatsoever.

But can Ecumenical Councils err at all? If an Ecumenical Council teaches infallibly, then the Council can err, but not to a grave extent. However, I think that Ecumenical Councils always teach on faith and morals infallibly. The reason is that not only solemn definitions fall under infallibility, but also teachings which, while not solemnly defined, are nevertheless the definitive teaching of the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops to the whole Church. Thus, such teachings are infallible, even when solemn definitions in Canons with attached anathemas are not used. So I conclude that all the teachings of all the Ecumenical Councils are infallible, including the Second Vatican Council.

Though the fathers of Vatican II decided not to use solemn definitions, they nevertheless chose to teach the whole Church on faith and morals definitively. And so these definitive teachings of the Pope and the body of Bishops do require the full assent of faith, which means they are infallible.

These two points, that non-infallible teachings require assent because they cannot err gravely, and that Ecumenical Councils always teach infallibly on faith and morals, absolutely crushes the claims of the RandRs. The only thing they can resist is very limited errors. They cannot accuse the Roman Pontiff of heresy or apostasy or idolatry because he has the charism of truth and never failing faith. And they cannot resist his authority while claiming to recognize him as valid Pope.

Eventually, all the RandRs will have to claim that Pope Francis is not the valid Roman Pontiff. It is simply not working for them to claim he is valid, and then openly accuse him of things contrary to validity. They will have to claim that all the recent Popes are invalid, along with Vatican II. And so their position will become “Deny (the validity of Popes and Councils) and Depart”. For they cannot remain in the Church while rejecting so many Popes and a Council.

Deny and Depart. Away from me you evildoers, I have never known you!


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4 Responses to The Crypto-Schismatic Position called “Recognize and Resist”

  1. Thomas Mazanec says:

    So they will become identical to the Sedevacantists?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I believe they are headed in that direction. They went from criticizing Pope Francis, to fighting him at every turn, to accusing the resent Popes of grave errors also, to talking about nullifying Vatican II. What is left to distinguish them from sedevacantists? Only their claim to recognize that the recent Popes are valid. But that claim contradicts their accusations and the longstanding idea that popes cannot be heretical.

  2. Coby says:

    I am a Protestant (I guess), and so I will submit that the authority of the Pope is not something fully agreed upon by Christians in every place and time. I certainly believe that what you think of Jesus is a much more secure determiner of your place in the Body than what you think of the Pope. But having said that, it makes me sad to see Catholics disagreeing about whether or not to submit to the acknowledged leader of their church. Has he done something wrong? Is he leading the church in a wrong direction? It seems to me there are more productive ways of dealing with that than saying he is an illegitimate pope. The rest of us “separated brethren” don’t have that option. We have to make do with the leaders God gives us. My point, if there is a point, is that I grieve with you over this quarrel, and I hope that people will cleave to the best and the highest standard of Christian virtue as they decide what they believe and do. We are all in this together, especially in these times, and our attitude and our treatment of one another may be what matters most in the end. Thanks for posting this and keep up the good fight.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Excellent contribution to the discussion. Keep up the good work. But the way, the parable of the good Samaritan is about Catholics and Protestants. And Jesus rebukes the Catholics and praises the Protestant.

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