How the Opponents of Francis and Vatican I and II violate the Oath against Modernism

Here is the Oath against Modernism of Pope Saint Pius X. The papal accusers, those who accuse Pope Francis and other Popes, as well as multiple Ecumenical Councils, of grave errors on doctrine and discipline, contradict that Oath by their words and deeds.

“To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.

“I . . . . firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day.”

Those who reject the First Vatican Council have violated the above portion of the Oath. And though Vatican I ended in 1870, the errors it opposes continue today. The principle truths of Vatican I include not only the definition of Papal Infallibility, but the dogmatic teachings on the charism of truth and of never-failing faith of the Roman Pontiff, on the unblemished Apostolic See, and on the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff. The papal accusers oppose Vatican I, often accusing it on the pretext of a “false spirit”, because they oppose the Roman Pontiff Pope Francis and many other Popes.

Vatican I also asserted the indefectibility of the Church and Her teaching authority, which is also opposed by the papal accusers. For they reject multiple Ecumenical Councils and many different Popes of Church history. Some go so far as to name three periods of time, during which, they claim, the Church went astray in doctrine, including the current time period. Such a rejection of the Magisterium is entirely incompatible with Vatican I, which exercised the “unerring teaching authority of the Church” on multiple important points of faith.

“Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time.”

The papal accusers reject Pope Francis, having accused him, at one time or another of heresy, apostasy, or idolatry. They reject other Popes, refuse to accept that Pope Saint Paul VI and Pope Saint John Paul II are Saints, and they speak as if they have the role to judge and condemn Popes and Ecumenical Councils. Such behavior is incompatible with the “equally firm faith” — equal to faith in definitions that are inerrant — in the Roman Pontiff “and his successors for the duration of time.”

The declaration repeatedly made at OnePeterFive on three alleged periods of “pornocracy” in the Church is a direct contradiction of the Oath against Modernism, which asserts, instead, that we must have firm faith in the Church as “the guardian and teacher of the revealed word” — without exceptions for any period of time. The Oath also asserts successors of Peter, upon whom the Church is also built, for the duration of time. This formula allows no room for any periods of “pornocracy” during which the successors of Peter are to be judged, condemned, resisted, or accused of grave errors on doctrine or discipline.

“Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously.”

The papal accusers claim that the doctrine of faith handed down was changed by Vatican I and II, such that the Roman Pontiff was given a supreme teaching authority only since the 19th century. That claim is contrary to the teaching of the ordinary universal Magisterium throughout Church history, as documented here. Instead of believing the ancient and constant teaching of the Church on papal authority and the papal charisms, they falsely accuse the Church of evolving dogma, or of replacing dogma with error, when in fact that is what they are doing. They reject the papal charisms documented here.

“I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.”

What happens when a group of Catholics rejects the current Roman Pontiff and his decisions of doctrine and discipline, rejects the other recent Popes, picking and choosing which of their decisions to accept, rejects other Popes throughout Church history, and rejects Vatican I, Vatican II, and Lateran V? They have in fact replaced the divine deposit of faith, given to the Church as the Bride of Christ, entrusted SOLELY to Her and not to them. They have in fact replaced that deposit of faith with philosophical figments from conservative or traditionalist culture and with the results of their own faulty consciences and fallen faculties of reason. And they continue to develop this perverse version of the faith as time goes on, while continuing to reject the Bride of Christ and the successors of Peter.

“Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our creator and lord.”

The papal accusers assert a version of obedience that permits them to reject any teaching of a Pope or Ecumenical Council, and any decision of discipline by the Church, if it is contrary to their own understanding and judgment. In this way, they claim, they are obedient to God. But the contrary is true. The Church is the body of Christ, with Christ as Her head and the Holy Spirit as Her soul. Faith requires assent to truths “from an external source”, namely from the Church, especially from the Magisterium as the sole authoritative interpreter of Tradition and Scripture. Instead, the papal accusers propose that they are better interpreters of Tradition than the Popes and Councils, and that the Church Herself has gone astray, teaching corrupt doctrines. Such a claim is contrary to the Oath above. For the truthfulness of God dwells in the Church by the work of the Holy Spirit.

What the papal accusers propose, essentially as a substitute for the magisterial authority they reject, is just as the Oath says and condemns, “a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality.” They rely on their own sense of religion, especially sentiments they hold toward an exterior form of the Mass (the Vetus Ordo), sentiments they hold of anger and repulsion against the Roman Pontiffs and the most recent Councils, and their own understanding or misunderstanding, as the case may be, of faith and morality. That is not what the Oath proposes as the basis of faith. Instead, the Oath proposes assent to something outside oneself, not a subculture or elements of form from an ancient rite, but rather the Living Magisterium, interpreting Tradition and Scripture by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

“Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili, especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas. I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion. I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality — that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful.”

The ways in which the papal accusers contradict the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili would require another article to cover. Suffice it to say that those who exalt Pope Saint Pius X as one of the best Roman Pontiffs, do not adhere to his teaching except on whichever points please them.

As for the rest of the quote above, the papal accusers do claim that the faith held by the Church “can contradict history”. For they are constantly explaining alleged historical situations in which the Pope or an Ecumenical Council went astray from the true faith. They claim a “St. Gallen Mafia” elected Pope Francis, rather than the Holy Spirit. Some claim that the Church has been “infiltrated”, historically, starting 150 or more years ago. Then there are the three alleged pornocracies; a claim that opposes the Faith of the Church and Her Indefectibility to a distorted and perverse historical account of the Church’s corruption. They also claim that the supreme authority of the Church is not historical, but is a false teaching, “irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion” as Pope Saint Pius X describes this type of error.

Then what Pius says about the alleged conflict between history and articles of faith certainly applies to the papal accusers, who use false historical accounts of the Church or the Popes or an Ecumenical Council going astray in order to reject dogmatic teaching of the Church and substitute their own grave errors.

“Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm.”

Although the above text is directed against certain errors in the interpretation of Scripture, we can also see that Pope Saint Pius X requires adherence to “the norms of the Apostolic See”, which is something the papal accusers reject. They place their own judgment and preferences above what the Apostolic See decides, not only during the pontificate of Pope Francis, but also during those of Pope Saint Paul VI and Pope Saint John Paul II.

“Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.”

Similarly, the above quote is directed against errors in the interpretation of Sacred Scripture. But there are points which apply to the papal accusers. They reject the supernatural assistance given to the Magisterium by the Holy Spirit. They usurp the role of the Magisterium as sole the authoritative interpreter Tradition and Scripture. They reject the divine promise of continual help from Christ and the Holy Spirit to the Church. In place of these things of sacred authority, the papal accusers substitute their own judgments, principles, and fallacious claims about Church history.

“Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact — one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history — the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles.”

The position of the papal accusers is that they are maintaining Sacred Tradition and the Roman Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils are not. So while they say that Tradition is divine, their description of Tradition is as something that is not taught, guarded, and maintained by the Pope, most Bishops, and the recent Councils. Rather, they see Tradition as something that belongs to them alone, not to the leaders of the Church and not to the whole Church. In addition, Tradition as they present would not seem to be divine, as it is merely represents the understanding and preferences of a small group of laity and priests, with not even 1% of the Bishops joining them.

True Sacred Tradition is that living Tradition entrusted by Christ to the Church, especially to Peter and his successors and to the body of Bishops as the successors of the other Apostles. Then the living Magisterium is the sole authoritative interpreter of Tradition and Scripture. What guarantees that Tradition remains divine and uncorrupted is the Popes, body of Bishops, and Ecumenical Councils, all of which are rejected by the papal accusers. They only accept what a Pope or Bishop or Council teaches, if it is in agreement with their own minds, and that of the subculture which they worship (conservatism or traditionalism).

As a result, Tradition as represented by these schismatics who reject Popes and Councils is merely the ideas and practices that “a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued”, in opposition to the Church. And that is certainly a false and perverse representation of Tradition.

“I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.”

Those who say “Recognize and Resist” the Roman Pontiff, who reject Vatican I and II, who reject many Popes, who accuse the Church of teaching corrupt doctrines, of grave errors in discipline, and of being infiltrated by evil, these persons do not hold the beliefs of the Popes, Councils, Saints, Doctors, Martyrs, and Fathers of the Church. They only hold their own opinions, regardless of what the Church teaches, and so they do not possess, or at least do not exercise, the virtue of faith.

On the other hand, the Roman Pontiffs possess the charism of truth and of never-failing faith, just as has been taught so many times by the Popes, Councils, and Saints. This charism of truth is a divinely-conferred gift given to each and every Roman Pontiff, and to the body of Bishops as a body, but not as individuals or small groups. Thus, no individual Bishop can oppose the Roman Pontiff on the grounds that the Pope has erred gravely in his exercise of the Keys of Saint Peter, since the charism of truth and of never-failing faith prevents the Pope from grave errors on both doctrine and discipline, and also prevents the Pope from failing in faith by teaching or committing heresy.

So whenever a group of priests and laity, even if they are accompanied by some minority of the Bishops, opposes Popes and Councils, the former are necessarily schismatics and heretics, while the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops (whether gathered in a Council or dispersed in the world) cannot have erred gravely on doctrine or discipline, as they have this “charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles.”

And while the papal accusers claim to be maintaining and protecting dogma, it is dogma that the Church is indefectible, that the Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith, and that only the Pope and body of Bishops has the authority and the sure assistance of the Holy Spirit in declaring and defending dogma. Even when exercising the Keys non-infallibly, the Pope cannot err gravely in this role of defending dogma. Therefore, when a group rejects Popes and Councils, and tries to convince the sheep that the Shepherds and the Chief Shepherd of the Church are leading them astray, it is truly that group and not the true Shepherds who have the authority of apostolic succession who are in error.

The conservative and traditionalist subcultures have turned against the Popes and Councils, so that these cultures would have more power. It is these subcultures which are attempting “according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age” and according to their own minds and hearts, to tailor dogma, to distort dogma, and to invent new dogmas — in direct opposition to the successors of Peter and the successors of the other Apostles. It could not be more clear that they are schismatics and heretics, since they constantly attack the Popes, body of Bishops, and Ecumenical Councils, instead declaring themselves to be the only certain and pure source of truth and of the dogmas of faith. But Christ never entrusted the charism of truth and of never-failing faith to priests or laity, nor even to individual Bishops, but only to the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops as a body.

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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4 Responses to How the Opponents of Francis and Vatican I and II violate the Oath against Modernism

  1. ignacy says:

    Mr Conte, if you are right that no one can in general judge the pronouncements of a Pope as heretical (as opposed to the Pope himself as the person or office) except the Popes themselves, then what follows is that heresy is not possible at all. This is because if I can’t judge a pronouncement – even in context – as false (or incongruent with other known revealed or natural truths), I can’t give my willful assent to falsehood at all (because I can’t really recognize falsehood on my own, apart from a particular pronouncement of the Church). Consequently, I can’t also say that I can judge them as true – I can only obey what Church orders or not. Is this what you claim?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I can’t understand what you are saying. My understanding of Church teaching is that Popes can never fail in faith by heresy, apostasy, or idolatry. Popes also are the ones who decide if a position is heresy or doctrine. Sometimes they decide this with an Ecumenical Council. No Pope can teach or commit heresy, by the grace of God and the promises of Christ.

  2. ignacy says:

    I appreciate the reply. Let me explain.

    Let’s say there’s a doctrine A, so far consistently proclaimed by the Magisterium of the popes, while not-A being at least once officially condemned, and from time to time had been made a condition of unity with the Church when accepting heretic or schismatic communities (including once in the 21st century). If, let’s say, my friend claims A is false, it seems that I can (and arguably often should) warn him that what he says is heresy and he puts his soul in grave danger.

    What if the currently reigning pope in his sermons condemns A at least twice in no uncertain terms reserved for categorical moral pronouncements, and his official decrees at least very strongly imply that not-A is Church doctrine, all while failing to proclaim A, and at the same time referring to his explicit sermons?

    We have the following options:
    1) the above situation is factually impossible – a pope could never proclaim not-A,
    2) the above situation is formally impossible – if pope proclaims not-A, we either misunderstood him or misunderstood A,
    3) the above situation is formally impossible – the pope loses his office, was never a pope, or whatever other legal trick is applied,
    4) the above situation is possible but we cannot say that pope proclaimed heresy until another pope passes judgement on that,
    5) the above situation is possible but pope’s pronouncements do not bind in conscience on this,
    6) the above situation is possible and somehow this is fine, nothing to see here, move along.

    Are there any other options apart from the above? I don’t see any that are not reducible to one of the above, but I’m happy to hear otherwise.

    So, what do these options imply? Option (2) and (4) imply that while we can understand a friend, we somehow can’t understand the pope, or we can’t understand anything at all on our own – this is what I referred to in my previous comment. It also implies that our friend cannot be a heretic, as since we can’t understand the pope when he seemingly says something contrary to faith, why our friend has to be reprimanded for not understanding the pope when the pope says something in agreement with faith?

    Option (3) reduces the “unfailing charism” to a tautology, and option (5) requires private judgement of almost every papal pronouncement. The remaining are (1) and (6)…. or there is another option.

    Which option most accurately represents your views?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Your comment is somewhat incoherent. My understanding of Catholic dogma, of the ancient and constant teaching of Popes, Councils, Saints, Fathers, and Doctors, is that no Pope can ever teach or commit heresy, fail in faith in any other grave way, or err gravely in the exercise of the Keys of Saint Peter over doctrine and discipline. If it seems that a Pope has erred gravely in doctrine or discipline, then it merely seems that way. And the same is true for Scripture. Many Catholics claim that Scripture is filled with errors and contradictions, but by faith we must believe Scripture to be entirely inspired and so entirely inerrant. Now Popes can err in what is non-infallible, but never to a grave extent. However, the opinions of Popes can err to a greater extent than his teachings and his decisions of discipline, and Popes can sin gravely in personal matters.

      Please see this list of teachings:

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