What is the theological position of the Francis critics? They accuse Pope Francis of heresy, apostasy, and idolatry. They have accused many other Popes of similar sins. They have accused Vatican II and other Councils of grave errors. So what do they themselves believe to be true? What do they propose as the basis for the truths of the Catholic Faith? I’ll tell you what they believe, and note that this list is of errors, not truths.
The Errors of the Francis Critics:
1. A valid Roman Pontiff can err to any extent, under his non-infallible papal Magisterium, even to the extent of teaching manifest heresy.
2. A valid Roman Pontiff can commit apostasy, heresy, and/or idolatry.
3. Many past Popes have been heretics; some have been apostates or idolaters.
4. A Pope who is a manifest apostate, heretic, schismatic, or idolater remains a member of the Church and remains the valid Pope.
5. The faithful have the duty and right to judge whether a teaching of a Pope or Council is a grave error, and whether a Pope has publicly taught or committed apostasy, heresy, or idolatry, and to oppose him in these errors.
6. A Pope accepted by the body of Bishops as the Roman Pontiff can still possibly be an invalid Pope or antipope.
7. An imperfect Ecumenical Council (a gathering of Bishops, representing the body of Bishops in the world, but without the Pope as their head) can declare that a Pope is a manifest heretic and can depose a Pope.
8. Even though the First See is judged by no one but God, the faithful can recognize that the valid Pope is teaching or committing heresy and can resist him.
9. A teaching of the Pope that seems to meet the conditions for Papal Infallibility can still be heresy, and the faithful can recognize that it is heresy and reject that teaching; such a teaching is not really of Papal Infallibility, as the Pope, in attempting to teach heresy under Papal Infallibility loses his authority to teach infallibly.
10. A teaching of an Ecumenical Council, approved by the Roman Pontiff, can still be heretical or gravely erroneous.
11. An Ecumenical Council approved by the Roman Pontiff can be later nullified and its teachings can become null and void, and can be corrected or revised by a later Pope or Council.
12. The faithful are not obligated to believe any non-infallible teaching of a Pope or Council which they understand to be a grave error, especially when many priests and theologians, who are manifestly holy and faithful, agree with the faithful that these teachings are grave errors.
13. Any teaching which is manifestly heretical to the minds of the faithful cannot be considered to have been taught under Papal Infallibility, Conciliar Infallibility, or the ordinary universal Magisterium; heresy cannot be taught infallibly because the authority to teach infallibly is lost by the attempt to teach heresy under any form of magisterial infallibility.
14. Each member of the faithful has the duty and right to judge which teachings of Pope, of Ecumenical Councils, and of the body of Bishops to reject as grave errors and to accept as truths of Sacred Tradition and the true Catholic Faith.
15. Decisions of the Roman Pontiff or of an Ecumenical Council approved by the Roman Pontiff on matters of discipline and prudential judgment can be so gravely contrary to the true Faith as to harm the path of salvation of the faithful and so as to lead the Church astray; therefore, the faithful may reject any an all such harmful and imprudent decisions, especially when they have the effect of leading to apostasy, heresy, schism, or idolatry.
The above 15 assertions are each and all gravely contrary to the true teachings of the Catholic Faith.
I will take some time in future posts to explain why each assertion is a grave error. But for now, I will explain why, as a set, the teachings destroy the true Faith.
IF the Popes, and the body of Bishops led by the Pope, and any Ecumenical Council could err gravely on doctrine or discipline, and if it were left to the faithful to judge every decision on faith, morals, and discipline, we would have no guidance. The faithful would lose their unity. Each teaching would be accepted or rejected by various individuals and small groups, shattering the Church into thousands of small pieces. We would be like the Protestants, who believe whatever they each think is true, and cannot agree among themselves on anything. How would we be taught by the Holy Spirit, if every magisterial teaching could be in error? How would we decide that Pope Francis is a heretic (as these critics claim), if there are no past teachings of the Magisterium which have certitude? No past teaching of any Pope or Ecumenical Council could be trusted, if any Pope or Council could err gravely. The papal accusers have proposed rejecting several of the 21 Councils, and they have made grave accusations against the teaching and the faith of many different past Popes.
So the Church is, in their estimation, not founded on the Rock that is Peter and his successors, but is instead founded on the majority opinion of the conservative Catholic subculture. And this is implicit in all these accusations against Popes and Councils. The Shepherds appointed by Christ over the Church have dared to teach and act contrary to the opinions of the traditionalist or the conservative subculture, and it is really for that reason they are accused of grave errors and grave failures of faith. But that subculture is sand, not rock. It is many different persons, filled with pride in their own alleged holiness and wisdom, crying out against the Rock for not teaching what they wish the Church would teach.
To be continued….
Ronald L. Conte Jr.