1. As a believing and practicing, baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic, I profess that each valid successor of Saint Peter the Apostle, including:
Pius X (1903-14)
Benedict XV (1914-22)
Pius XI (1922-39)
Pius XII (1939-58)
John XXIII (1958-63)
Paul VI (1963-78)
John Paul I (1978)
John Paul II (1978-2005)
Benedict XVI (2005-2013)
Francis (2013-present day)
and all their predecessors and successors, has the full authority, given by Jesus Christ to Saint Peter, over both doctrine and discipline. And I submit my body and soul, heart and mind, to the spiritual and temporal authority of each Roman Pontiff, in accord with the teachings of the Magisterium on Church and Papal authority.
2. Each Pope is able to teach infallibly, with no possibility of error, and is able to teach non-infallibly, with a limited possibility of error, all by the help of the Holy Spirit. No Pope can ever teach heresy in any way, shape, or form. No Pope can ever fall into apostasy, or heresy, or schism, not even hidden in his heart and mind. For the indefectibility of the Church is based on the faith of Saint Peter and his successors. The Pope is the Rock on which the Church is founded (Mt 16:17-18). Jesus has prayed for each Pope so that his faith will not fail (Lk 22:32).
3. Each Pope has authority over discipline in the Church, to such an extent that, if he closes, no one can open, and if he opens, no one can close (Rev 3:7). The Pope holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever he shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven. And whatever he shall release on earth shall be released, even in heaven. (Mt 16:19). And so, even if a Pope were to make a decision on discipline which was unwise or imprudent, or which might seem to be so to us poor fallen sinners, I nevertheless acknowledge his authority to decide and to enact any such discipline. For discipline is not dogma. The disciplines of the Church are not infallible teachings, but rules, rulings, practices, and judgments of the prudential order.
4. Licit theological dissent is limited to disagreement with a theological opinion, or with the prudence of a particular decision on discipline, or, in a limited way, with a non-infallible teaching. For the faithful, if they submit to the authority of each Pope and Council and of the Magisterium as a whole, possess a limited right of responsible dissent from some few points within the body of non-infallible teachings, and then only with sufficient basis in Tradition, Scripture, and past magisterial teachings. But dissent is never licit if it constitutes or implies a rejection of any infallible teaching of a Pope, or of an Ecumenical Council, or of the ordinary and universal Magisterium, or a rejection of the body of non-infallible teachings, or a rejection of the spiritual or temporal authority of the Church.
5. “There exist in the Church a lawful freedom of inquiry and of thought and also general norms of licit dissent.” [U.S. Bishops (NCCB), Human Life in Our Day, 15 Nov. 1968, n. 49.]
“When there is question of theological dissent from non-infallible doctrine, we must recall that there is always a presumption in favor of the Magisterium. Even non-infallible authentic doctrine, though it may admit of development or call for clarification or revision, remains binding and carries with it a moral certitude, especially when it is addressed to the Universal Church, without ambiguity, in response to urgent questions bound up with faith and crucial to morals. The expression of theological dissent from the Magisterium is in order only if the reasons are serious and well-founded, if the manner of the dissent does not question or impugn the teaching authority of the Church and is such as not to give scandal.” [U.S. Bishops (NCCB), Human Life in Our Day, 15 Nov. 1968, n. 51.]
“Even responsible dissent does not excuse one from faithful presentation of the authentic doctrine of the Church when one is performing a pastoral ministry in her name.” [Human Life in Our Day, n. 53.]
6. As Pope Boniface VIII taught, and as the Fifth Lateran Council confirmed:
“But this authority, even though it may be given to a man, and exercised by a man, is not human, but rather divine, having been given by the divine mouth of Christ to Peter, and to him as well as to his successors, by Christ Himself, to him whom He had disclosed to be the firm rock, just as the Lord said to Peter himself: ‘Whatever you shall bind,’ [Matthew 16:19] etc. Therefore, whoever resists this authority, such as it has been ordain by God, resists the ordination of God. [Romans 13:2] …”
“Moreover, that every human creature is to be subject to the Roman pontiff, we declare, we state, we define, and we pronounce to be entirely from the necessity of salvation.” [Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, n. 8-9.]
7. Therefore, if any person — whether Cardinal, Bishop, priest, deacon, religious, lay leader or other lay person — were ever to reject Pope Francis or any of his valid predecessors or successors, I hereby declare before God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, all the holy saints and angels, and the entire Church on earth, that I will treat that person “like the pagan and the tax collector”, just as our Lord instructed us (Mt 18:17), and I will continue in fidelity to each Roman Pontiff. And any Catholic, of whatever rank or position, who rejects the Roman Pontiff by the grave sin of formal schism, has no authority over me.
“If anyone does not recognize these things, he should not be recognized.” (1 Cor 14:38). “If anyone does not love our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema!” (2 Cor 16:22). Whosoever rejects the Pope, rejects Christ and His Church.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic
[If you agree and declare the same, say so in the comments or on your own website linked here.]