Should Catholics Resist Popes or Councils? No.

The following six claims are from the article “The False ‘Obedience’ of Cowardly and Confused Catholics“. This schismatic and heretical article is a good summary of some common errors among those who reject Popes and or Councils, by putting their own judgment above the Magisterium and the authority of Christ exercised by His Church. The article makes six erroneous points:

Claim: “1. True obedience is subordinate to faith and must conform to faith.”

This first claim is false because it gives each individual the ability to reject whatever a Pope, Council, or other authority in the Church decides. But this authority is from Christ and is divine. So the individual ought not to be able to say that, based on their own judgment, they will be disobedient to the Church because they think the Church has contradicted the Faith. Instead, we must believe that the Church never goes astray or leads astray, that the Pope and every Ecumenical Council approved by the Pope can never err gravely, and that no Pope can fail in faith by heresy or otherwise. These beliefs are dogma; they are the Faith. And they require our obedience to Popes and Councils, and to the Church more generally.

“2. We have no duty to ‘obey’ the evil command of a superior.
“3. Not only have we no duty to ‘obey’ the evil command of a superior, but we must refuse to ‘obey’.
“4. Not only must we refuse to ‘obey’ the evil command of a superior but we must oppose the accomplishment of that evil command.
“5. We must resist the bad command of any superior, including the pope.”

The above claims, when applied to a Pope, Council, or the body of Bishops led by the Pope, are manifest severe schism. If an individual Bishop or priest were to go against a Pope, Council, or body of Bishops, then we could resist that individual’s claims contrary to the Church. But the Church is indefectible, and so we do not have cause to refuse to obey or resist the body of Christ led by Christ and His Vicar.

On what basis does one decide that a superior is evil? And this claim might be true in sinful secular society of some superiors, if the command is truly evil and is judged by an informed conscience. But dogma teaches us that the Church is indefectible; She cannot lead us astray with an “evil command”. And since the Pope has the charism of a never-failing faith, the grace of God prevents him from ever desiring or attempting to lead us astray with evil commands under doctrine or discipline. Then every Ecumenical Council approved by the Pope is free from every grave error, including gravely erroneous doctrine or discipline (which some might call evil commands, I suppose). Thus, when we imagine that a command of the Pope or a Council is supposedly evil, we must consider that perhaps we are in error and the Pope or Council is not. And we would certainly be in error, if the only other possibility would be that the Pope or Councils has erred gravely, even in what is non-infallible.

The errors listed above have the same fault, one which is very common: the idea that one can place one’s own judgment about truth, evil, the faith, error, etc. above the decisions of proper authority in the Church. And that idea is simply not Catholic; it is not supportable by the teachings reviewed in chapters 1 to 3 of this Volume and its predecessor (Volume One).

Claim: “6. [Objection:] But shouldn’t we wait for good leaders before resisting the evil command of a superior? [Answer:] No! We must act now!”

And the above claim shows the extensive failings of this erroneous point of view. the author of the above quote admits that they would act against the commands of a superior in the Church, even a Pope or Council, without any good shepherd guiding them. And this is clear proof that this set of claims leads one astray from Christ, the Good Shepherd, and astray from the Church founded by Christ on the Rock that is Peter and his successors. For every Pope is the Vicar of Christ, and is protected by grace from leading astray, from teaching grave error, and from erring gravely in discipline as well.

Please do not fall into the above errors. We must trust the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. In addition, we must never have so much pride that we condemns as false, evil, or contrary to the true faith anything that is merely contrary to our own understanding as fallen sinners. Truly, these errors of the papal accusers are born from pride, not humility. Love the Pope and trust the work of grace in his exercise of the Keys of Saint Peter.


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1 Response to Should Catholics Resist Popes or Councils? No.

  1. Robert L Fastiggi says:

    Dear Ron,

    Thank you very much for this article. You are correct that the principle of resisting an evil command does not apply to popes and councils because of the indefectibility of the Church. There was a long discussion last week about the Coetus Internationalis Patrum at Vatican II.

    If you listen to the comments of Bishop Athansius Schneider, you’ll see that he claims ecumenical councils are only free from error when they are defining matters of faith and morals. After being told that St. Robert Bellarmine believed Divine Providence will protect the Church from papal heresy, Bishop Schneider (in his final comments) distinguishes between heresy and papal error. He then claims that that it’s undeniable that Honorius I and John XXII taught error. At one point, Bishop Schneider states that 90% of Vatican II is in accord with “Tradition.” The implication is that 10% of Vatican II needs to be corrected. Bishop Schneider’s claim that 10% of Vatican II needs to be corrected is simply his opinion. It has no binding authority whatsoever, especially since it contradicts Pope St. Paul VI who confirmed all 16 documents of Vatican II by the authority of Christ in the Holy Spirit.

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