SSPX: Pope Sets Impossible Conditions

For the record: Cardinal Müller’s letter to Bishop Fellay on the necessary conditions for “full re-establishment of communion” with the SSPX

Last weekend, as rumors swirled of Cardinal Müller’s imminent dismissal from his post as Prefect of the CDF, the French website Medias-Presse.Info published what it claimed to be an excerpt from an important letter sent by the Cardinal to Bishop Bernard Fellay regarding the conditions for an accord between the Vatican and the SSPX. Today the Remnant published an English translation of this excerpt; we reproduce the entire Remnant article below, followed by a note on the 1988 Professio Fidei mentioned in it.  

Rorate’s own sources have confirmed the authenticity of this text. 

Cardinal Müller’s Letter to Bishop Fellay 

From http://www.medias-presse.info comes the following excerpt of a letter from Cardinal Müller to Bishop Bernard Fellay. According to http://www.medias-presse.info, Cardinal Müller’s letter was communicated to all SSPX members by the SSPX General House. 

Excerpt from Cardinal Müller’s letter: 

“As you know, Pope Francis has many a time manifested his benevolence towards your Priestly Society, granting, in particular, to all priest members the faculty of confessing the faithful validly and by authorizing local Ordinaries to grant licences for the celebration of the marriages of the faithful who follow the pastoral activity in your Society. Furthermore, discussions are continuing concerning questions relative to the full re-establishment of the communion of your Society with the Catholic Church. 

In relation to this, with the approbation of the Sovereign Pontiff, I judged it necessary to submit to the Ordinary Session of our Congregation (which met on May 10 last) the text of the doctrinal Declaration which was transmitted to you during the meeting of June 13, 2016, as the necessary condition in view of the full re-establishment of communion. Here are the unanimous decisions of all the members of our Dicastery in this regard: 

1) It is necessary to require the adhesion of the members of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X to the new formula of the Professio Fidei dating from 1988 (c.f. annexe). Consequently, it is not sufficient to ask them to express the Professio Fidei of 1962. 

2) The new text of the doctrinal Declaration must contain a paragraph in which the signatories declare in an explicit manner their acceptance of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and those of the post-conciliar period, by granting to said doctrinal affirmations the degree of adhesion which is due to them. 

3) The members of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X must recognize not only the validity, but also the legitimacy of the Rite of the Holy Mass and of the Sacraments, according to the liturgical books promulgated after the Second Vatican Council.” 

www.medias-presse.info adds that Cardinal Müller concluded the letter saying that “during the Audience granted to the Cardinal Prefect on May 20 2017, the Sovereign Pontiff approved these decisions”. The French website also adds that in his accompanying letter to SSPX priests, Father Christian Thouvenot, Secretary General of the SSPX, recalled the words of Bishop Fellay after the meeting of the major superiors in Anzère, Switzerland, on June 28 2016: 

“The Society of Saint Pius X does not seek primarily a canonical recognition, to which it has a right because it is Catholic. The solution is not simply juridical. It pertains to a doctrinal position which it is imperative to manifest […] Divine Providence will not abandon Its Church whose head is the Pope, Vicar of Jesus Christ. That is why an incontestable sign of this restoration will reside in the signified will of the Sovereign Pontiff to grant the means for re-establishing the order of the Priesthood, the Faith and Tradition – a sign which will be, furthermore, the guarantor of the necessary unity of the family of Tradition”.  Source – Rorate Caeli

Comment:

This news is as disappointing as it is worrying.  A one-liner comment on an American blog sums up the problem of the schismatic mentality which has become rooted in the souls of some SSPX affiliates who rejoice each time a “deal” falls through:  A deal breaker.  Thank God!  wrote one USA blogger. 

Clearly, Bishop Fellay cannot compromise – that’s a given.  But that there seems no end in sight (humanly speaking) to the irregular situation in which the crisis in the Church has placed the SSPX, is surely no cause for rejoicing – is it?

Pope Francis: Merciful or Authoritarian?

My own research has shown that this incident occurred at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and that it was Cardinal Gerhard Müller himself who now has to obey these peremptory new orders. Additionally, I was able to discover that the three priests involved are, respectively, of a Slovakian-American, French, and Mexican nationality. (One of my sources is a friend of one of these three theologians.) However, the last of these three might now, after all, be able to remain a little longer in his current position at the Congregation.

Let us now consider some of the specific details of what Marco Tosatti himself has perceptively gathered for us. He starts his article with a reference to Pope Francis’ usual rebuke of the Roman Curia at his Christmas address to the Curia and detects the pope’s obvious anger in his words and gestures. When looking over to the Curia itself, however, Tosatti perceives something else than a reciprocal anger to be present among the curial members: “It is not about their resistance, but about their fear, their discontent, and a kind of feeling that belongs to another context altogether.”

Tosatti then refers to a credible source who told him several recent episodes occurring at the Vatican. Two of them appear to be of great importance and might also give us some additional glimpses into Pope Francis’ own authoritarian methods as well as his somewhat indirect way of ruling the Church. But, we should now first concentrate on the new personnel matter at the Congregation for Doctrine, which Tosatti himself says is “decisively sadder.” Here is Tosatti’s report:

“The head of a dicastery has received the order to remove three of his employees (all of whom have worked there for a long time), and it was without any explanation. He [the Prefect] received these official letters: “….I request that you please dismiss ….” The order was: send him [each of them] back into his diocese of origin or to the Religious Family to which he belongs. He [the Prefect of the Congregation] was very perplexed because it was about three excellent priests who are among the most capable professionally. He first avoided obeying and several times asked for an audience with the pope. He had to wait because that meeting was postponed several times. Finally, he was received in an audience. And he said: “Your Holiness, I have received these letters, but I did not do anything because these persons are among the best of my dicastery… what did they do?” The answer was, as follows: “And I am the pope, I do not need to give reasons for any of my decisions. I have decided that they have to leave and they have to leave.” He got up and stretched out his hand in order to indicate that the audience was at an end. On 31 December, two of the three [men] will leave the dicastery in which they have worked for years, and without knowing the why. For the third, there seems to be a certain delay. But then, there is another implication which, if true, would be even more unpleasant. One of the two had freely spoken about certain decisions of the pope – perhaps a little bit too much. A certain person – a friend of a close collaborator of the pope – heard this disclosure and passed it on. The victim received then a very harsh telephone call from Number One [i.e., the pope]. And then soon came the dismissal.” [emphasis added]

In this passage, Tosatti piercingly speaks about an “autocratic fever that seems to have broken out in the Vatican.” [my emphasis] And he concludes his report with the following words:

“Thus it is not so astonishing when the atmosphere behind the walls and in the palaces is not really serene. And one may now ask oneself what kind of credit this fact gives altogether to all the elaborate and sustained fanfare about mercy.” [my emphasis]

Thus Tosatti adds another piece of the puzzle concerning Pope Francis’ manner and methods of governance through which he seemingly aims at removing – or marginalizing – orthodox prelates, priests, and laymen from positions of formative influence in the Vatican.

Moreover, with specific regard of the Congregation for Doctrine, another source had told me the following, more than a month ago:

“One source in Rome says that all those who work for the Holy See are afraid to talk about anything for fear of being chopped because of the presence of informants everywhere. He compared it to Stalinist Russia. He said two priest friends of his, good men, have been fired from the CDF because they were accused of being critical of Pope Francis.”

This same Rome source, who is personally very honest and well informed, reports that these two priests here mentioned (who do not seem to be the same ones who are involved in the recent three personnel cases) fear that they will not be the only ones to be removed. They see their own removal to be just the beginning of a “massive overhaul” [my emphasis] within the Doctrine Congregation, “not unlike what happened recently to Cardinal Sarah’s Divine Worship Congregation.” (Here we might be reminded of the fact that it was Marco Tosatti himself who had earlier called these recent changes at the Congregation for Divine Worship a “Purge.”)

We have also recently reported about the pope’s earlier decision to remove the members of the Pontifical Academy of Life, which is widely known for its strong stance in defense of human life. Here is what one well-informed source had reported to me then about this incident:

“At the end of 2016 the Pontifical Academy for Life was closed and all its members dismissed. The Academy will be reconstituted in 2017 with new statutes and the Academy will be repopulated. The process for naming new members of the Academy is not known.”

We also have repeatedly reported on the atmosphere of fear that now increasingly permeates the Vatican, as did a recent report from the co-founder of LifeSiteNews.

During this forthcoming year of 2017 – the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima – may the Blessed Mother increasingly be our help and our trustworthy refuge. May she help us with those graces we shall need to defend the truth more fully and to manifest Christ’s love, as well, even in the face of fear.  Source

Comments invited… 

American Editors Accuse Pope Francis

Your Holiness:

The following narrative, written in our desperation as lowly members of the laity, is what we must call an accusation concerning your pontificate, which has been a calamity for the Church in proportion to which it delights the powers of this world. The culminating event that impelled us to take this step was the revelation of your “confidential” letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires authorizing them, solely on the basis of your own views as expressed in Amoris Laetitia, to admit certain public adulterers in “second marriages” to the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion without any firm purpose of amending their lives by ceasing their adulterous sexual relations.  PopeFrancispensivecropped

You have thus defied the very words of Our Lord Himself condemning divorce and “remarriage” as adultery per se without exception, the admonition of Saint Paul on the divine penalty for unworthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament, the teaching of your two immediate predecessors in line with the bi-millenial moral doctrine and Eucharistic discipline of the Church rooted in divine revelation, the Code of Canon Law and all of Tradition. [from Part 1]

Click here to read all three parts of the Letter & Liber of Accusation at Catholic Family News. The page opens at Part III, with links to Parts 1 & 11.

 

Comments invited   

 

Priest: Police Doctrinal Integrity of Bishops, Priests & Theologians…

August 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – In his book Magisterial Authority, Fr. Chad Ripperger, PhD, says “the Church will not climb out of this tumultuous period” without reversing the “practice since the Second Vatican Council onward not to police the doctrinal integrity” among bishops, priests and theologians. The crucial observation comes at the end of nearly fifty years of destructive leniency, which has in the Francis pontificate taken on new dimensions.  Read more hereVaticanIIdocs


Comment

The examples in the Lifesitenews report of an ongoing – and growing – attitude of dissent among bishops, gives Fr Ripperger’s warning a stark urgency. But is his suggestion to police doctrinal integrity a practical one?  Any attempt, for example, to reinstate the anti-Modernist oath would be likely to result in outright rebellion.  So, how to police those who are supposed to be policing the Faith is the key topic of this thread.  Share your thoughts…

Of Mice & Men: Cardinal Sarah & Co.

Cardinal Robert SarahTUESDAY, JULY 05, 2016

Cardinal Sarah’s Inaugural Address at Sacra Liturgia UK

Extract…

Continued study and criticism of the reformed rites is necessary: to what extent do the post-conciliar liturgical reforms reflect the zeitgeist of the 1960s and 1970s, rather than continuity with the tradition of the Church (contra SC 23)? With regard to this particular question, Cardinal Sarah said that:

We cannot dismiss the possibility of an official reform of the liturgical reform.

[Cardinal Sarah] then gave some (unexpected) news that Pope Francis had asked him to study the question of the reform of the reform and the mutual enrichment of the OF and EF that Pope Benedict XVI spoke of in the letter that accompanied Summorum Pontificum (see also Universae Ecclesiae 25):

When I was received in audience by the Holy Father last April, Pope Francis asked me to study the question of a reform of a reform and of how to enrich the two forms of the Roman rite. This will be a delicate work and I ask for your patience and prayers. But if we are to implement Sacrosanctum Concilium more faithfully, if we are to achieve what the Council desired, this is a serious question which must be carefully studied and acted on with the necessary clarity and prudence…

Cardinal Sarah ended with an appeal to all priests, which will be familiar to those who have read his recent articles and interviews in L’Osservatore Romano and Famille Chrétienne: it is very important that as soon as possible we return to a common orientation of priest and people eastwards in those parts of the liturgy where we are addressing God. This is a very important step to ensure that, in our celebration of the sacred liturgy, God rather than man is at the centre of it. The Cardinal implored all priests to implement this with suitable catechesis, and confidence. He suggested that the 1st Sunday of Advent this year would be a good time to start!  Read entire report here

Comment: 

Cardinal Sarah suggested that the 1st Sunday in Advent would be a good time for priests to start to (or more accurately, return to) offering the [new] Mass facing east…

Well, to be honest, to those of us who have long since outed ourselves as having no intention of ever attending a novus ordo Mass again, family occasions possibly being necessary exceptions for some of us,  it is neither here nor there if priests the world over choose to accept or ignore the Cardinal’s suggestion.  Already, Cardinal Nichols has urged his priests to ignore it

Clearly, Cardinal Sarah is unlikely to enforce his suggestion. That might lead to “disunity” and, of course, we can’t have that… We must have the appearance of unity, at all costs. 

So far, the “conservative” Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider  have failed to stand the test of what little time has passed since they spoke out to defend Catholic marriage during the notorious Synod of the Family in Rome. They have effectively taken a vow of silence; and now Cardinal Sarah, widely hailed as the latest “traditional leaning” member of the hierarchy, is proving to be monumental disappointment, seeking a “reform of the reform” by suggestion with no sign of measures to end the imposition of the new Mass and restore the Church’s ancient Liturgy. He’s a nice cardinal, undoubtedly well meaning, but nothing more, as far as we can see at the present time. Ditto the other “conservatives” and ditto the alleged “traditionalists” who seem determined to wait until there’s no crisis any more before getting down to the serious work of restoring the Faith in the wider Church.

For some reason, the title of John Steinbeck’s famous novel keeps popping into my head: Of Mice And Men.  And so, I make no apology for wondering if there are any real men left in the hierarchy, that is, men with some of the best of the masculine virtues in their soul, let alone men who have a grasp of what it means to be a Confirmed Catholic Soldier of Christ.

All clergy and hierarchy living through this unprecedented crisis, would do well to ponder the words with which Archbishop Lefebvre concludes his Open Letter to Concerned CatholicsIf you wish to know the real reason for my persistence, it is this: At the hour of my death, when Our Lord asks me: “What have you done with your episcopate, what have you done with your episcopal and priestly grace?” I do not want to hear from His lips the terrible words “You have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them.”

Comments invited… 

Theological Terrorism: Hierarchy Turning Christ’s Church Upside Down

From now on, says [Cardinal] Schönborn, all the previous magisterial texts concerning marriage and the family “have to be read in the light of Amoris Laetitia. [AL]” Read more here

But, hang on… The Church has always tested the authenticity, the veracity of teachings by examining them in the light of Catholic Tradition: that which has been believed always, everywhere, by all.  (Commonitory ch. II, §6; NPNF Series II Vol. XI p. 132)(ch. 2)   The author of the Commonitory used the pseudonym “Peregrinus” – he was later identified as St Vincent of Lérins. 

Nothing can be binding doctrine that does not pass that key test. If it’s new, if it has not been part of Christian belief from the beginning, then it cannot, by definition, be binding. Any elementary theology student of Christianity ought to be able to explain that, never mind a Cardinal or ten of the Catholic Church.

St Vincent of Lérins: We know true teachings because they have been believed everywhere, always, by all.

St Vincent of Lérins: We know true teachings because they have been believed everywhere, always, by all.

We speak often enough about the diabolical disorientation – the turning away from the right path – predicted by Our Lady at Fatima, but it is now crystal clear that the enemies within the Church are determined to literally turn the Church and Christ’s teaching upside down.  No longer do we apply the litmus test of judging beliefs against what has always been believed in the Church, always, everywhere and by all, but we must put those traditional teachings under scrutiny to see if they comply with the New Morality.

For how long will the few faithful priests and teachers who are still among us,  be able to go along with this new religion? It’s especially difficult for lay teachers with responsibility to pay the mortgage and feed their families. They’re in a minority within the Catholic teaching profession: the apostasy is widespread now, and I hear stories regularly of scandalous goings-on in Catholic schools, with the extra-curricular behaviour of Catholic teachers being no better (and often worse) than their secular colleagues. So there’s no use suggesting that they band together to form some kind of organisation. We’ve been there, done that, and found so few available candidates that we decided not to waste money printing the T shirts. And the traditional leaning clergy, generally speaking, seem to be doing their best in the circumstances in which they are living and working, but are, naturally enough,  not very keen to raise their heads too far above the parapet.  Misbehaving clergy are not considered a problem; they’re often found giving talks to the Glasgow Glitterati, and invariably enjoy promotions, but a priest who is suspected of being a tad too traditional-leaning is looking at early retirement (best scenario) or possibly even a new career.

While the Archbishop of Glasgow is busily preparing courses for his priests and teachers to learn how best to spread the immoral teachings found in AL, it might be worth reflecting on the fact that while there’s plenty of talk in the blogosphere about whether or not it is possible to depose a pope (notably Pope Francis) nobody seems to have considered the possibility of removing a bishop. There is a process, but, of course, it’s unlikely to happen these days. Still, making the necessary noises might be useful. Is there any point in pursuing this possibility – or is there really nothing  we can do for the foreseeable future to end the theological terrorism of a particular bishop? 

Comments invited… 

Francis: Anti-Christ? Only God knows…

Steve Skojec, at the blog One Peter Five (IP5) writes:  

Over the weekend, noteworthy Catholic blogger Ann Barnhardt published an essay in which she states that she believes “Jorge Bergoglio, ‘Francis’ to be an Antipope, never having been canonically elected, and that Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI is still the Roman Pontiff.” She goes further, asserting that

The sheer quantity of evidence, and the diversity of the confluent evidence sets, is now so utterly overwhelming that I believe that a person, fully informed of the dataset, would have to engage in the willful suspension of disbelief to continue to acknowledge Bergoglio as Roman Pontiff.

The same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication, lightning struck the Vatican twice.

The same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication, lightning struck the Vatican twice.

I am friendly with Ann. We’ve done a couple of podcasts together, and we correspond occasionally. When she’s right, she’s a rhetorical weapon of mass destruction, and one that can be a wonder to behold. That said, I don’t always agree that she’s completely dialed in (or needs to go to 11). And in this case, to be honest, I find her argument significantly less persuasive than she does. Nevertheless, I’m beginning to see it referenced in our comment box, as well as in other places online. This makes it difficult to ignore – in particular since opinions along this spectrum have, in the wake of one papal scandal after another, been showing up with increasing frequency in online Catholic discourse.

I’m not going to devote the time and research necessary to write a deeply substantive critique of Ann’s theory. Briefly, though, I do want to address some issues I have with her argument.

To begin with, three of the five prophecies she cites are of questionable provenance. The St. Francis of Assisi prophecy is the most significant of these, since to read it one feels as though it is meant for our present time. Nonetheless, it is considered apocryphal by scholars of Catholic prophecy like Desmond Birch and Emmett O’Reagan (among others). No one has traced this prophecy back to St. Francis himself — it does not appear in his existing works. The prophecy as Ann cites it comes from the 1882 book, Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis Of Assisi, by R. Washbourne. The introduction to this book itself states that it is a translation “made from the edition of the ‘Works of St. Francis’ published at Cologne in the year 1848. As the work is intended to be a practical and devotional one, no critical notes have been introduced, nor references to the authors from whom Wadding made his collection.” The Wadding in question was the 17th century Franciscan Friar Luke Wadding, whose own work is considered by some scholars to include spurious texts. In the editor’s introduction to a 1906 edition of Wadding’s text, now available online, we read that

Wadding’s edition of the Opuscula differs mainly from all preceding collections in this, that whereas the latter contained only those pieces which as regards both matter and form were the handiwork of St. Francis, Wadding felt justified in including among St. Francis’ writings many dicta of the Saint found in the early Legends.  […]

Thus it comes to pass that in Wadding’s edition, side by side with the undisputed writings of St. Francis, we find doubtful, even spurious, extracts from different sources attributed to the Seraphic Father. It must ever remain a matter of regret that Wadding, instead of following the oldest MSS. that he had at hand, was content to transcribe the incomplete and often interpolated parts of them he found in second-hand compilations, like that of Mark of Lisbon. His work from our standpoint is vitiated by imperfect research and unreliable criticism.

This 1906 edition, in fact, had many of these questionable writings removed by the Friars Minor of Quaracchi, including “all the colloquies, prophecies, parables, etc…”

The message of La Salette concerning Rome becoming “the seat of the Antichrist” bears some merit according to the Church’s prophetic understanding of that figure, but this section of the otherwise-approved La Salette apparitions has been in dispute for some time as a possible later invention of the seer Mélanie Mathieu, who was struggling with cloistered life at the time. Many scholars do not therefore consider this portion of the messages authentic. In any case Francis is most certainly not the Antichrist, though one could argue that he is a type thereof.

Finally, the Fatima message Ann cites is part of a rumored text, not part of any of the officially released secrets of Fatima. Fr. Paul Kramer — himself also of the same opinion as Ann about Benedict being the true pope — attributed this quote to a paraphrase of Cardinal Oattaviani concerning an unrevealed Fatima secret in May of this year. With no official documentation of this language, it serves as a point of interest, but cannot be relied upon for accuracy until the full texts of those messages is finally published.

Moving on to the question of Pope Benedict’s resignation, Archbishop Gänswein’s statements about an expanded papal ministry, though newsworthy because of his closeness to both popes, are still technically nothing but his own theorizing. Similarly, the idea that Pope Benedict’s abdication falls under the canonical invalidity of “substantial error” is, as far as any outside observer is concerned, tenuous at best. We don’t know that he actually believed that he could expand the Petrine Ministry into a diarchy (and in fact he has flatly denied the theories that there was some defect in his resignation) regardless of what Gänswein theorizes. Recall the letter that the Pope Emeritus sent to Andrea Tornielli in 2014:

“There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry” and the “speculations” surrounding it are “simply absurd”.

Joseph Ratzinger was not forced to resign, he was not pressured into it and he did not fall victim to a conspiracy: his resignation was genuine and valid and there is no “diarchy” (dual government) in the Church today. There is a reigning Pope, Francis, who leads the Catholic Church and an Emeritus Pope whose “only purpose” is to pray for his successor.

I understand why people question this, but barring something concrete from Benedict himself, it remains within the realm of conjecture, not certitude, to assert that his abdication took place under different circumstances than he himself has admitted.

The questions surrounding the election of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio are, I think, somewhat more meritorious, inasmuch as we have the admission of the members of the so-called “St. Gallen Mafia” of a conspiracy to put Bergoglio on the Petrine throne. That said, we do not know that Bergoglio himself colluded with them, and if he did not, even their offenses would not invalidate his election (though they should, if Universi Dominici Gregis is to be believed, result in the automatic excommunication of those involved.)

Ann goes on to list “Bergoglio’s Litany of Heresies,” and she’ll get no argument from me that these are all deeply troubling. Are they all manifestly heretical, though? Are they obdurately and formally so? Again, this is where certitude fails. And if they did amount to material heresy, theologians remain uncertain about whether the Bellarmine/Suarez hypothesis really plays out as hypothesized.

The rest of Ann’s nearly 5,000 word essay deals mostly with her own competence to make such claims, and rebuttals to anticipated responses. Her argument, such as it is, is expended in the first half of her piece. In fact, if one removes her introductory statement and the sections on prophecy, Bergoglian heresies, her authority to make such statements, and anticipated objections/rebuttals, one is left with less than a thousand words of actual argumentation about the improper resignation of Benedict and the invalid election of Francis.

And I find neither section persuasive, for the reasons I’ve already stated.

Is it possible that Ann is correct? Yes, it is, but we can’t know it with certainty until the Church makes a declaration as such. Is it possible that she’s wrong? Yes, and I find this to be more likely. Not that it improves things — it’s a much harder situation to deal with if Francis is a validly elected pope than if he isn’t; in the latter case, he can simply be dismissed, and his works undone. In the former case, we have to contend with the reality of the most theologically destructive pope in Church history, and the fallout of that is most likely going to take generations to set right.

But again: I think arguments like these waste valuable time. Someone wrote to me a few weeks ago to get my opinion on another article along the lines of Ann’s essay. My response was as follows:

Frankly, I tend to stay away from these kinds of arguments. They can be interesting, but they can also tempt us to try to ascertain with some degree of certitude what can only be known by an authoritative judgment from the Church.

Is it possible that Francis was invalidly elected or that Benedict invalidly resigned? Yes. It’s possible. Will attempting to reach these conclusions on our own give us any peace of mind, or even a form of actionable certainty? Nope.

For my part, I trust that while Christ may be asleep in the boat as the storm worsens, He can quiet the waves with a word. He is asking us to simply be faithful enough to trust that He will do so when the time comes.

Eventually, this will all get sorted out. Whether Francis is an antipope or a valid pope, his papacy will undoubtedly be condemned by future generations. The charisms of indefectibility and infallibility still apply, and Francis will not be able to unmake them. Instead, he’s forced to go around them. And that means being sneaky and underhanded, which is what we’re all picking up on. He will lead many souls astray, but  Our Lord predicted that there would be such false teachers and prophets, and St. Paul said (Acts 20, IIRC) that there would be wolves who would enter in amongst the shepherds.

We’ll get through it. The way I see it, we all have enough headaches without trying to sort out a juridical mess that might just require divine guidance. And nobody wants to be a sedevacantist. They’re about as much fun as lemonjuice at a papercut party.

Ann is NOT a sedevacantist, as she makes clear. She just thinks we still have the same pope we had in February, 2013. Is she right? Not my call. Does it matter? On an objective level, of course it does. To know the true pope from the false one is better than not to know it. But we can’t know that with the certitude of an ecclesiastical judgment. Not yet.

Trying to figure out whether a man who claims to be pope is or is not the pope by reading things on the Internet and drawing conclusions from them is like trying to diagnose your own ailment by Googling your symptoms: the odds are you’re going to convince yourself you have some rare or incurable condition instead of whatever ordinary malady you’re actually suffering from; but even if you get it right and it’s something just awful, what are you going to do about it? You still have to go to the doctor to get it taken care of. You can’t just treat yourself.

Ann herself admits, practically speaking, that her conclusion really changes nothing for the average Catholic in the pews:

First and foremost: Masses in which an antipope is commemorated in the Canon by the priest offering the Holy Sacrifice IS A VALID MASS.  The Eucharist is confected, the Holy Sacrifice is offered.   

Further, I have been assured in the strongest possible terms that for me to receive Holy Communion in a Mass in which I know that Bergoglio has been commemorated as Pope is NOT an act of hypocrisy on my part. I know that the Mass is valid.  I know that the Eucharist was confected. I know that Our Lord is desirous to come to me and I to Him in the Sacrament of the Altar, provided I am in a state of grace.

If my position on Bergoglio is correct, which I obviously believe that it is, what this means is that the commemoration of him as Pope in the Canon is either ILLICIT, or MISTAKEN.  We have a clear historical precedent for this.  During the Great Western Schism, due purely to political intrigue and NOT any questions of heresy, there were three men simultaneously claiming to be pope.  One of these men was the True Pope, and the other two were antipopes.  These antipopes were not blaspheming heretics like Bergoglio.  Again, the entire situation was due purely to POLITICAL INTRIGUE.  And so, two giants of the Church – both saints and one a Doctor of the Church, backed different “popes”.  What this means is that one of these saints was wrong, and one was right.  Who was the saint that backed the True Pope?  It was St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, and laywoman. Did you know that St. Catherine was NOT a professed nun?  She was a Dominican tertiary (third order) who was given permission to wear the Dominican habit.  She was a laywoman.

And who was the saint, one of the true intellectual giants of the Church, who was wrong and backed an antipope?  It was St. Vincent Ferrer, who was a priest, and thus offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass many, many times having commemorated an antipope in the Canon.

Here is an interesting precision: St. Vincent Ferrer’s commemoration of an antipope is not even called “illicit” – it is called “mistaken”.

My suggestion is this: rather than worry about which one of the two popes in Rome is the real one — something the Church will resolve in time, without our help — I believe we should focus our efforts on combating the errors that Francis is promoting and Benedict is doing nothing to stop. And we should do so by promoting authentic Catholic teaching as an antidote. Coming to a better understanding of that teaching, and finding new and effective ways to disseminate it, is far more efficacious than idle speculation over something we can’t determine definitively and will never have the power to remedy.

Comment: 

The position taken by the author of the above article at One Peter Five is exactly that of Catholic Truth, as regular readers and bloggers here will know.  Steve’s excellent research work, especially with regard to the quotes offered to substantiate the theory that Pope Francis is the “anti-Christ”  (notably the quote popularly attributed to St Francis) makes the above article a singularly important contribution to the debate about this pontificate;  comments are invited which will, I’m sure, largely merely endorse the thrust of Steve’s argument that it is really pointless to speculate on the status of Pope Francis’ pontificate, because only God knows the answer to the “anti-Christ” question.  We have no authority or power to pronounce on this.  If necessary, the Church will do so in due course.  Our task is simple: we recognise Francis as Pope but resist his errors – as we resisted the errors of his modernist predecessors elected since the Second Vatican Council.