On the Rejection of Popes and Councils

First, the claim was: “Vatican II was merely pastoral; it was only non-infallible.” On that pretext, the Council is rejected. But this rejection of one Council led to the rejection of Vatican I also. And now I read from at least a couple of authors, a rejection of Lateran V. Once you reject one Ecumenical Council, what is to prevent the rejection of any other Ecumenical Council? The excuse with Vatican II was “pastoral” or “non-infallible”. But other excuses can be devised for other Councils.

And the same attitude has prevailed with Popes. Once the rejection of Pope Francis was popular and approved by a certain subculture, so that many Catholics felt secure in the number of persons who had the same schismatic opinion, they began to judge and reject other Popes. The rejection of the canonizations of Pope Saints John 23, Paul 6, and John Paul 2 became popular. Grave accusations were multiplied against recent Popes, with some accusing the Church of going astray for the last 150 plus years due to an alleged “infiltration”. Once you reject one Pope’s authority, per se, what is to prevent you from judging and rejecting any other Pope, even many of them?

And if the authority of Popes and Councils is under the judgment of any individual or group, then what becomes of the Catholic Faith? It turns into Protestantism, with no real Magisterium of any authority. A certain subculture replaces the Magisterium and eventually replaces Christ. Some nuns at the LWRC were criticized a while back for a statement that is beyond heresy, reaching to the extent of apostasy, saying they were now post-Christ. It is the authority of Christ that is expressed in the decisions of Popes or Councils on doctrine and discipline. Once you have freed yourself from the obligation to submit to those decisions, you have become a Magisterium unto yourself. And then the far right becomes exactly like the far left in their errors. These opponents of Francis and Vatican II, these opponents of the authority of Christ and His Church are essentially “post-Christ”. There is no real Jesus Christ, our Savior, in their theology or belief. They do not submit to the Magisterium. They make themselves out to be the sole authoritative interpreters of Scripture and Tradition. And they rarely talk about Christ. The love of God and neighbor? It is replaced with an idolatry of conservative subculture and of liturgical form. It is nearly all they discuss. At the Mass, they do not worship God, but themselves, by means of their exterior adherence to details of liturgical form. Their Pharisaism is contrary to the clear teaching of Christ, and they do not care.

Not content with years of open vicious attacks on the holy Roman Pontiff Pope Francis, they have attacked the Church Herself, claiming that She has been infiltrated by an evil conspiracy. What is the goal of his conspiracy? Apparently and laughably, it is to contradict the conservative/traditionalist subculture. Every time the Church acts, in doctrine or discipline, contrary to that subculture, it is considered to be a sign of the infiltration of evil and of the Church going astray — as if the subculture were indefectible and the Church were not; as if the Church were to be judged by that subculture, which they worship instead of the one true God. And the height of the supposed 150-plus year infiltration plan is what? Supposedly, to elect Pope Francis, a Roman Pontiff considered to be holy and wise by most of the Church; a Roman Pontiff accepted by the vast majority of the body of Bishops. What a ridiculous alleged conspiracy! A 150-plus year plan, carried out by whom over those multiple generations? And the goal is just to elect a liberal Pope? The Church has always had liberal Popes from time to time. It’s not a conspiracy. Rather, it is the case that Christ did not teach conservatism, or liberalism, and God does not want the faithful worshipping a socio-political subculture instead of Christ.

The Church, the Pope, the Ecumenical Councils, and the body of Bishops as a body, are each and all indefectible. If you reject any of these, you reject Christ. I don’t care what your explanation is. Faith is above reason, especially the reason of fallen sinners.

What Are Some Possible Solutions?

These are suggestions only. The Magisterium must decide how to respond to this severe set of heresies and severe schism.

1. Perhaps to declare that the teachings of Vatican II, even if non-infallible at the time they were issued by the Council, have all become infallible under the ordinary universal Magisterium. For the body of Bishops and the successive Roman Pontiffs have accepted every teaching on faith and morals of Vatican II as one position definitively to be held. Therefore, anyone who rejects any teaching of Vatican II sins gravely against the teaching authority of the Church.

2. Perhaps to declare that Ecumenical Councils never err when teaching definitively on matters of faith and morals. This would mean that not only dogmatic definitions of Councils are infallible, but every definitive teaching. A concern with this approach is that some dissenters will claim that any teaching they dislike is non-definitive. They would then declare Vatican II to be non-definitive as it is “pastoral”. So perhaps it would be better to define that every teaching on faith and morals of every Ecumenical Council is by its nature definitive, as it is the teaching of the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops to the whole Church.

3. Certainly, it is already a dogma under the ordinary universal Magisterium that Ecumenical Council and Roman Pontiffs can never err gravely on doctrine or discipline. This is documented here. But this infallible teaching should be defined under Papal Infallibility or Conciliar Infallibility so as to remove any arguments to the contrary.

4. Perhaps the next Ecumenical Council should define what the Church has already taught many times, that: each Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith, that no Pope can ever teach or commit heresy, nor fail in faith by apostasy, heresy, schism, idolatry, sacrilege, or blasphemy, and that the Apostolic See is always unblemished by any grave error on doctrine or discipline. And this applies to every Ecumenical Council approved by the Pope and to every individual Pope without exception. Therefore, all accusations to the contrary are certainly false, as an article of faith.

5. A definition is needed on the authority of the Roman Pontiff over the form of the Mass other liturgical services, as well as his authority in all matters of discipline and worship. However, the Magisterium has already repeatedly taught that the Pope has this authority. And I am concerned about a type of Catholic who never believes anything contrary to his own mind, or his chosen subculture, unless it is a defined dogma.

6. A definition is needed that the Roman Pontiff can never be deposed, and can be removed only by death or his free resignation. This, again, is already necessarily implied by many different teachings. But when heretics deny clear teachings of the Faith, the Church often responds with a new definition of teachings that have long been taught.

7. As has been the case in past Ecumenical Councils, the heretical and schismatic leaders of today should be condemned by name, along with a condemnation of their ideas.

This will happen in some form. Those of you who reject any part of Vatican II, under any explanation, must be ready to accept the Council in its entirety. My reading of what Pope Saint Paul VI and Pope Francis have said about the Council lead me to believe that the Church will require submission to the entire Council and post-conciliar reforms, under penalty of schism.

It is not possible to be a faithful Catholic and to reject any Ecumenical Council or any Roman Pontiff. And so whenever this non-controversy is resolved by the next Council, we can expect the perennial teaching of the Church to be confirmed and all things to the contrary to be condemned.


Pius XII: “They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.”

Pope Saint Paul VI to Marcel Lefebvre: “This declaration will therefore have to affirm that you sincerely adhere to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and to all its documents — sensu obvio — which were adopted by the Council fathers and approved and promulgated by Our authority. For such an adherence has always been the rule, in the Church, since the beginning, in the matter of ecumenical councils.

“It must be clear that you equally accept the decisions that We have made since the Council in order to put it into effect, with the help of the departments of the Holy See; among other things, you must explicitly recognize the legitimacy of the reformed liturgy, notably of the Ordo Missae, and our right to require its adoption by the entirety of the Christian people.

“You must also admit the binding character of the rules of canon law now in force which, for the greater part, still correspond with the content of the Code of Canon Law of Benedict XV, without excepting the part which deals with canonical penalties.

“As far as concerns Our person, you will make a point of desisting from and retracting the grave accusations or insinuations which you have publicly leveled against Us, against the orthodoxy of Our faith and Our fidelity to Our charge as the successor of Peter, and against Our immediate collaborators.

Pope Francis: “This is magisterium: the Council [Vatican II] is the magisterium of the Church. Either you are with the Church and therefore you follow the Council, and if you do not follow the Council or you interpret it in your own way, as you wish, you are not with the Church. We must be demanding and strict on this point. The Council should not be negotiated….”

“No, the Council is as it is. And this problem that we are experiencing, of selectivity with respect to the Council, has been repeated throughout history with other Councils. It makes me think of a group of bishops who, after Vatican I, left, a group of lay people, groups, to continue the ‘true doctrine’ that was not that of Vatican I: ‘We are the true Catholics’. Today they ordain women. The strictest attitude, to guard the faith without the Magisterium of the Church, leads you to ruin. Please, no concessions to those who try to present a catechesis that does not agree with the Magisterium of the Church.”

Ecumenical Councils:

Lateran IV: “He dictated a letter, which he signed with his own hand, in which he firmly confesses that he holds the faith held by the Roman Church, which is by God’s plan the Mother and Mistress of all the faithful.”

Lateran IV: “the Roman church, which through the Lord’s disposition has a primacy of ordinary power over all other churches inasmuch as it is the mother and mistress of all Christ’s faithful”

Lateran IV on the Greeks: “conform themselves like obedient sons to the holy Roman church, their mother, so that there may be one flock and one shepherd.”

Lateran IV on the Patriarchal Sees: “In all the provinces subject to their jurisdiction let appeal be made to them, when it is necessary, except for appeals made to the Apostolic See, to which all must humbly defer.”

First Council of Lyons: “The Son of God, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of the human race, descended from the height of heaven to the lowest part of the world and underwent a temporal death. But when, after his Resurrection, he was about to ascend to His Father, that he might not leave the flock redeemed by his glorious blood without a shepherd, he entrusted its care to the blessed Apostle Peter, so that by the firmness of his own faith he might strengthen others in the Christian religion and kindle their minds with the ardor of devotion to the works of their salvation. Hence we who, by the will of our Lord, though without merit of our own, have been made successors of this Apostle and hold on earth, though unworthy, the place of our Redeemer, should always be careful and vigilant in the guarding of that flock and be forced to direct our thoughts continuously to the salvation of souls by removing what is harmful and doing what is profitable.”

Lyons I: “this privilege which our Lord Jesus Christ handed to Peter and in him to his successors, namely, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, in which assuredly consists the authority and power of the Roman church….”

The Second Council of Lyons: “If questions will have arisen on faith, they ought to be decided by his [i.e. the Roman Pontiff’s] judgment”.

The Council of Florence, 1438: “the most illustrious profession of the Roman Church about the truth of the faith, which has always been pure from all stain of error.”

Florence: “We also define that the holy Apostolic See and the Roman pontiff holds the primacy over the whole world and the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, and that he is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church and the father and teacher of all Christians, and to him was committed in blessed Peter the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole Church, as is contained also in the acts of Ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons.”

Lateran V: “It arises from the necessity of salvation that all the faithful of Christ are to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

Lateran V: “the person who abandons the teaching of the Roman pontiff cannot be within the Church….”

Lateran Council of 649 (not Ecumenical): “If anyone does not, following the holy Fathers, confess properly and truly, in word and mind, to the last point, all that has been handed down and proclaimed to the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of God by the holy Fathers and by the five venerable ecumenical councils, let him be condemned.”

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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3 Responses to On the Rejection of Popes and Councils

  1. Robert L Fastiggi says:

    Dear Ron,
    Thank you for this very fine article. Dr. Robert Moynihan of “Inside the Vatican” has tried to dowplay the authority of Vatican II because he says it was only a pastoral council. In a Dec. 2, 2011 article in “L’Osservatore Romano,” Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz of Opus Dei addressed this false dichotomy between the pastoral and the doctrinal. In a letter to “Inside the Vatican,” I referred to this article by Msgr. Ocáriz, but my letter has yet to be published.

    Dr. Moynihan is a bright man, but he has posted a series of 18 video interviews with Archbishop Vigano` in which the Italian prelate links Pope Francis to a new world order that is trying to usher in the reign of the Anti-Christ. Archbishop Vigano` also refers to the Covid-19 vaccine as a “Satanic baptism” and the “mark of the Beast.” Dr. Moynihan does not challenge any of these assertions of Archbishop Vigano`. I have difficulty understanding how Catholics can take the hyperbolic assertions of Archbishop Vigano` seriously.

  2. Todd Voss says:

    Thank you Ron. I would say that perhaps the pope (or counsel) needs to explicitly “define” the teaching of the theological notes especially the note of “ordinary magisterium” (preferably “authentic magisterium though not infallible) and the required asset of “religious submission of will and intellect”. Submission means exactly that and is “binding” in the particular sense. This seems widely ignored. This would be a more conservative “definition” rather than saying all V2 teachings are infallible.

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