On using the term “Pornocracy” to attack the Church

This article is a commentary and refutation of a very sick article at OnePeterFive: The Third Pornocracy: What We Are Living Through. Calling the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff, along with the Bishops who lead the Church with him, a pornocracy is schismatic and blasphemous. It is blasphemous because of the teaching that “Christ and His Vicar constitute one only head” of the one Church [Pope Pius XII, Mystical Body of Christ, 40, citing Unam Sanctam as the constant teaching of the Church]. These claims against the Vicars of Christ fall upon Christ.

Persecution of the Church by Catholics

Saul persecuted the Church. So Jesus said to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Today, a certain group of schismatic and heretical Catholics have gathered together, on different websites and sometimes by signing petitions, or meeting at conferences, to persecute many different Popes and multiple Councils. They are persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ. Their attacks on the Popes, Councils, and the Church are blasphemous, heretical, and schismatic. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Why are they persecuting Jesus?

[Acts of the Apostles 9]
{9:1} Now Saul, still breathing threats and beatings against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,
{9:2} and he petitioned him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that, if he found any men or women belonging to this Way, he could lead them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
{9:3} And as he made the journey, it happened that he was approaching Damascus. And suddenly, a light from heaven shone around him.
{9:4} And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
{9:5} And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”
{9:6} And he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
{9:7} And the Lord said to him, “Rise up and go into the city, and there you will be told what you ought to do.” Now the men who were accompanying him were standing stupefied, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no one.
{9:8} Then Saul rose up from the ground. And upon opening his eyes, he saw nothing. So leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.

Saul was blinded by God for three days, and then healed. He was spiritually blind, as he was persecuting the leaders of the Church, thereby persecuting Jesus. So God gave him physical blindness, and both types of blindness were healed on the third day.

Those who accuse Popes and Councils, who say “Recognize and Resist”, and who use the term “Pornocracy” to attack the Church since Vatican II, are persecuting the Church, which is the body of Christ, and so they are persecuting the Lord Jesus. All salvation comes through Christ. So it is a particularly bad decision in the spiritual life to persecute Christ by attacking Popes and Councils, and by accusing the Apostolic See of being a “pornocracy”.

At OnePeterFive, Timothy Flanders, editor in chief, has written and published an article: The Third Pornocracy: What We Are Living Through. The “obscure age” (saeculum obscurum) was a period of time in Church history when a number of Popes ruled who may or may not have been valid, and a number of valid Popes ruled who were personally sinful. See this article and this list of Popes.

I argue that some of these Popes were actually antipopes. For example, Sergius III marched on Rome with troops, killed the Roman Pontiff and an prominent antipope, and installed himself as Pope. That is not a valid election. What would the accusers of Pope Francis say, if he had obtained the papacy in that manner?! They would say he is not a valid Pope. But at the same time, these hypocrites are happy to point out any failings in the alleged pontificate of Sergius III, as a way to undermine the dogma that subjection to the Roman Pontiff is from the necessity of salvation. So they treat Popes who may not have been valid, as if they were certainly Roman Pontiff, so as to use their pontificate to undermine Pope Francis and the recent Popes since Vatican II. Now, it is for the Magisterium to decide, perhaps in a future Ecumenical Council, which past Popes were invalid. But it seems clear that at least a few of the alleged “worst popes” were actually antipopes.

Then some of the Popes during that time period, not all, are claimed to have been particularly sinful. Perhaps some made imprudent decisions in running the Church. But the reason for saying “saeculum obscurum” is certainly not that any of these Popes were heretics. None apostatized. None failed in faith. None harmed the Faith by teaching grave errors on doctrine. None harmed the Church by grave errors on Church discipline. If any Roman Pontiff did fail in faith or teach grave errors on doctrine or discipline, then either the accusations against him are false or the person was an antipope, not a valid Roman Pontiff. Dogma on the Roman Pontiff requires that one or the other conclusion be true.

Limitations on the Sins of Popes

On the other hand, a Roman Pontiff who is valid can certainly be a very sinful person, with the exception that the prevenient grace of God keeps every valid Pope from certain types of personal sins:
1. grave failings of faith, such as apostasy, heresy, schism, and idolatry
2. desiring or attempting to corrupt the faith or harm the Church — which is contrary to a never-failing faith and the indefectibility of the Church
3. any other personal sins that are incompatible with the promises of Christ to Peter and his successors and to the Church

Popes can commit a wide range of personal grave sins. But they cannot sin in such a way that the doctrine or discipline of the Church would be corrupted, or so as to cause the indefectible Church defect, nor can they fail in faith.

False accusations against Popes

We see today many clearly false accusations against Pope Francis. This informs us that at least some of the accusations against past Popes are false. Pope Honorius I is often falsely accused of teaching or committing heresy. But it is a dogmatic fact, based on the dogma of the charism of truth and of never-failing faith, that Honorius was innocent. John XII was accused by a “Council” of many grave sins…but, the so-called council was led by the emperor Otto, who found out John was gathering an alliance against him. The accusations were made by anyone and everyone who was willing to accuse John of any grave sin, in order to please or appease the emperor — either out of a desire to gain his favor or out of fear of his wrath. It was clearly not an impartial investigation into his alleged sins. Yet those who oppose Pope Francis speak as if every accusation against John XII were true, and as if he were certainly a valid Pope.

Similarly, in other pontificates, especially because Roman Pontiffs have often had substantial influence over politics and society, those who oppose a Pope on religious, political, or other grounds will be disposed to make exaggerated or false accusations, to repeat unsubstantiated malicious rumors, and to severely and badly misinterpret any situation. It is unlikely in the extreme that every accusation of personal sin against every so-called “bad pope” is actually true. And yet that is what is claimed by those who attack as many Popes as they can, in order to undermine the papacy of Pope Francis and the two most recent Ecumenical Councils.

Then the council called by emperor Otto against John XII claimed to be able to depose him, which is contrary to doctrine. Popes have authority over emperors and over all the clergy and faithful:

Pope Saint Nicholas I: “Neither by the emperor, nor by all the clergy, nor by kings, nor by the people will the judge be judged…. The first See will not be judged by anyone….”

Pope Saint Nicholas I, Letter to the Emperor: “Furthermore, if you do not listen to Us, it necessarily follows that for Us you are to be considered, as our Lord Jesus Christ commands, as those who refuse to listen to the Church of God, especially since the privileges of the Roman Church, built upon blessed Peter by the word of Christ, deposited in the Church herself, observed in ancient times and celebrated by the sacred universal councils and venerated jointly by the entire Church, can by no means be diminished, by no means infringed upon, by no means changed: for the foundation that God has established, no human effort has the power to destroy, and what God has determined remains firm and strong…. These privileges, therefore, which were given to this holy Church by Christ, not by the councils, but only celebrated and venerated [by them] thereafter… constrain and compel Us ‘to have solicitude for all of the churches of God’ [cf. 2 Cor 11:28]….” [Source]

And Popes have authority over every Council or synod of every type, even Ecumenical Councils:

Pope Leo XIII: “It has ever been unquestionably the office of the Roman Pontiffs to ratify or to reject the decrees of Councils. [Pope Saint] Leo the great [I] rescinded the acts of the Conciliabulum of Ephesus [the so-called robber council of Ephesus in 449; not the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431]. [Pope Saint] Damasus [I] rejected those of Rimini [Council of Ariminum], and [Pope] Adrian I, those of Constantinople [Council of Constantinople (692), also called Trullo or Quinisext Council; Council of Constantinople (754), also called the Council of Hieria]. The 28th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon, by the very fact that it lacks the assent and approval of the Apostolic See, is admitted by all to be worthless. Rightly, therefore, has Leo X laid down in the 5th council of Lateran ‘that the Roman Pontiff alone, as having authority over all Councils, has full jurisdiction and power to summon, to transfer, to dissolve Councils, as is clear, not only from the testimony of Holy Writ, from the teaching of the Fathers and of the Roman Pontiffs, and from the decrees of the sacred canons, but from the teaching of the very Councils themselves.’ ” [Satis Cognitum 15]

So while I consider that Pope John XII and some of the other Popes from the saeculum obscurum may have been invalid, I must also consider that not every accusation of personal sin against a Pope should be believed, and that God both permits Popes to sin personally AND yet absolutely prevents them from certain types of sins, in order to preserve the indefectibility of the Church.

So regarding the saeculum obscurum — which I would suggest no faithful Catholic should call a pornocracy — there were popes who were probably or possibly antipopes, and valid popes who were certainly sinful. But the Church never lost Her indefectibility, no valid successor of Peter lost his indefectibility, and neither did the body of Bishops. Obscure age is a good term for a time when we today are not sure which accusations against certain popes are true and which are false, and not sure which popes were valid or invalid.

But the term “pornocracy” alleges that the very government of the Church, led by the Popes, and the body of Bishops, was so corrupt as to be fittingly compared to prostitution. If that were true, it would imply that the gates of Hell had prevailed over the Church, contrary to the promise and teaching of Christ. If the Apostolic See were a pornocracy, then the dogmas of Vatican I — which are the ancient and constant teaching of the Church — on the unblemished Apostolic See and the charism of truth and of never-failing faith of every Pope, would be false. Since those dogmas cannot be false, during no period of time is any valid Roman Pontiff or his Apostolic See accurately or faithfully called a pornocracy.

The claimed second and third pornocracies

Some persons have called the Saeculum Obscurum a pornocracy. But no one before the present-day papal accusers, to my knowledge, has ever called two other periods by the same term (pornocracy).

At OnePeterFive, Timothy Flanders wrote the article: The Third Pornocracy: What We Are Living Through. This article adds, to the saeculum obscurum, two other alleged pornocracies: the second from 1471-1563, and the third, which is claimed by Flanders to occur from 1965 to the present. Then Flanders goes on to claim that perhaps the “third pornocracy” began with Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) or even in 1903, when Pope Saint Pius X was elected, and Cardinal Rampolla was not elected, Pope. The purpose of these accusations is to attack the Roman Catholic Church, undermine the faith of the laity and clergy in the Church, and cause them to refuse submission to any Pope or Council, especially Vatican II and Pope Francis.

Note that the claim that Cardinal Rampolla was elected Pope and then vetoed is factually and historically false. Rampolla was a possible candidate for Pope, but during the conclave a secular leader, Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I, expressed his disapproval for Rampolla. The emperor (of the rather limited in size Austrian empire) claimed to have a power of veto over election of the Pope. But such a claim is not compatible with doctrine. In the past, kings and emperors and even local rulers in Rome tried to choose the Pope. But they have no such authority; any such attempt is contrary to divine law and is instead an attempted unjust interference in the Church. The attempted veto did not occur after the election; Rampolla was never elected. It is said that this attempt by the emperor may have swayed the Cardinal electors to elect the future Pope Saint Pius X over Rampolla. But it is not clear that Rampolla would have won. Neither does it make any sense at all to mark the term pornocracy as including the reign of Pius XI (Casti Connubii) or as including the failure of Rampolla to be elected.

The papal accusers often claim that they can’t lose, and their opponents in the Vatican can’t win. But I will point out to my readers that every heretical group and every schismatic group has failed, been rejected by the Church, and has passed away as a group. Those who reject Vatican I and II will fail. No group which has rejected an Ecumenical Council has ever succeeded. God is not on their side. He is on the side of the Church. Those who reject Pope Francis will fail. The Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Christ, with Christ himself always at his side.

Notice that the second “pornocracy” includes the time period of Lateran V and the Council of Trent, and the third includes either the time of Vatican II or at least its implementation. Then the third claimed period of pornocracy includes the reigns of Pope Saint John Paul II, Blessed Pope John Paul I, Pope Saint Paul VI, and then, for the longer version of that period, also Pope Saint John XXIII, Venerable Pope Pius XII, Pope Pius XI, and the election of Pope Saint Pius X.

These claims about the alleged second and third pornocracy are schismatic. They attack and persecute the Holy See, even during times when Ecumenical Councils were held and approved by the Roman Pontiffs, and even during times when the Roman Pontiffs were Saints or Blesseds. There is no basis for comparing those two latter time periods with the Saeculum Obscurum. The papacies of those time periods are not in doubt as to their validity. And valid Ecumenical Councils were held or approved during those times. Calling those time periods pornocracies is an attack on the validity of those Popes and Councils, an attack on their teachings, and an attack on the many Roman Pontiffs during those periods of time.

The alleged second pornocracy includes Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503), who sinned gravely in personal matters during his life, but who is well-known to have repented in tears on his death bed, and to have received the Last Rites of the Church, Confession, Communion, and Extreme Unction. He may well have died in the state of grace. So then, why does Timothy Flanders suggest that Alexander may have been the worst Pope? Does Flanders think that all Popes go to Heaven? And then, in one of the footnotes, Flanders contradicts the body of the text by noting this: “It should be noted however that some scholars question the common, negative view of Alexander VI as another anti-Spanish black legend.” So he’s the “worst pope of this period”, but maybe not. What a flimsy basis for persecuting the Church.

Then the second period includes Lateran V, which taught:

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….”

Perhaps that is why Flanders is attacking the Church by calling the time period of Lateran V and the Council of Trent a pornocracy, the dogmatic teaching that the faithful must be subject to the Roman Pontiffs and their teachings. The whole point of the article by Flanders is that the Church cannot be trusted in Her Teachings and Disciplines, so much so that Her divine government should be compared to prostitution and Her Popes and Councils should be considered to be either corrupt or corruptible to the point of never being entirely trustworthy.

And who has the authority to condemn multiple long periods of time of Church history by claiming that the Apostolic See was so corrupt as to be fittingly compared to prostitution? Flanders runs a website that regularly attacks Popes and Councils, and which openly opposes Pope Francis. He is a manifest schismatic, as are more than a few of his authors. The purpose of this condemnation of many Popes and Councils, the purpose of this condemnation of the Apostolic See during multiple long periods of time, is to cause the faithful to listen to Flanders and his ilk, rather than to listen to Popes and Councils. The purpose is to gather a group who will be led by these schismatics away from the Church Herself.

Whom should the faithful trust to guide them during this alleged terrible period of a third “pornocracy”, when the Church has been governed by one Pope Saint after another?!! OnePeterFive and related websites seems to be the answer. 1P5 has viciously attacked Pope after Popes and Council after Council, proposing that the faithful must not obey or believe the leaders of the Church, and at the same time proposing to the faithful OnePeterFive’s own claims about doctrine and discipline.

Note that Peter Kwasniewski has attacked Vatican I, II, Lateran V, Lyons I “and other councils you’ve never heard of” as well as attacking a long list of Roman Pontiffs, including Pope Saint Peter, the prince of the Apostles. Kwasniewski is a major contributor to OnePeterFive, and his views are in agreement with those of Flanders: the Church is not to be trusted in the teachings and disciplines of Her Popes and Councils. Instead, the faithful should — hilariously — be led by a group blog that regularly publishes heretical and schismatic material.

The Saeculum Obscurum is one time period. It is not correctly called a pornocracy. There are not two other similar time periods.

The teachings of every Ecumenical Council must be accepted by the faithful. Every Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith, and the Apostolic See is always unblemished by any error. Every valid Roman Pontiff is indefectible in the faith, as is the body of Bishops in every age. Proof is here.

Flanders and Kwasniewski and others are openly rejecting the teaching of Christ, that the gates of Hell will never prevail over the Church; that this Church is founded on Peter, as on a Rock; that Peter and his successors are the Vicars of Christ and visible head of the Church; and that each Pope has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith (Mt 16:18; Lk 22:32). These teachings are confirmed by the ancient and unchanging teaching of the Church. Therefore, at no time has the Apostolic See deserved to be called a pornocracy. If a Pope sins personally, he will be judged by God. But whoever refuses to submit to the Roman Pontiff, regardless of the excuse, endangers his own salvation.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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5 Responses to On using the term “Pornocracy” to attack the Church

  1. Louis says:

    At least one thing the bishops are wrong, which is not to alert the faithful to the dangers, the lies and the blasphemies of accursed onepeterfive website.

  2. M. Jean-Paul Benoist says:

    My dear Friend’
    It’s absolutely ignominious!
    Sincerely yours,
    Yours faithfully,
    I’m praying for you and your Mother.
    Courage, God shall wins!
    Merry Christmas for you and your family.
    Fatima, the Holy Rosary!

  3. Daniel says:

    Has Kwasniewski really attacked Saint Peter too? Do you have the source for that?

Comments are closed.