Sanctifying Grace – the Perfection of Free Will and Principle of Merit

Catholic Candle note:  Occasionally, we analyze the liberal statements of Bishop Richard N. Williamson.  Yet, someone could wonder:

Why mention Bishop Williamson any longer, since he is unimportant as merely one of very many compromising bishops and priests?  

It is true that a priest (or group) is of small importance when he (or the group) is merely one of the countless compromisers.  By contrast, an uncompromising and faithful priest or bishop is of great importance, even though he is only one.

However, we sometimes mention Bishop Williamson in particular for at least these five reasons, motivated by charity:

  1. New Catholic Candle readers might not be sufficiently informed of Bishop Williamson’s liberalism in order to avoid him.  Out of charity for them we occasionally provide these warnings to help those new readers appreciate the danger of the errors he spreads.
  2. Some longtime Catholic Candle readers might forget Bishop Williamson’s poison or vacillate in their resolution to stay away from him, if they never received a reminder warning about the danger inherent in his teachings.  This is like the fact that all it takes for many people to become conciliar is to never be reminded about the errors of Vatican II and the conciliar church.  Out of charity for these readers we occasionally provide these reminders lest readers “forget” to continue to avoid Bishop Williamson and his group.
  3. Bishop Williamson serves as an important study case to examine how leaving the truth often happens.  It is a warning to us all about a very common way to depart from the truth and become unfaithful.  Out of charity for ourselves, we occasionally provide these insights about becoming unfaithful by taking this common road of compromise that Bishop Williamson is taking.
  4. Over time, Bishop Williamson has provided us with a large catalogue of liberal errors.  Studying his compromises and errors along with the contrasting Traditional Catholic truth is a helpful means of studying our Faith and guarding ourselves against the principal errors of our time.  This helps us to fulfill our duty of continually studying the doctrines of our Faith.  Out of charity for ourselves, we use the occasion of Bishop Williamson’s liberalism to study our Traditional Catholic Faith better, in contrast to Bishop Williamson’s corresponding liberalism.

  1. Most so-called “bishops”, whether liberal/conciliar or sedevacantist, have doubtful consecrations and must be treated as invalid.[1]  By contrast, Bishop Williamson’s consecration is not doubtful.  Thus, if he ever were to return from his heresies, he could once again do important work for the Catholic Church, as he did years ago.

Finally, for those readers who are already resolute in their determination to completely avoid Bishop Williamson and his compromise group, they can receive just as much of the substance of this Catholic Candle article, if they substitute the phrase “a liberal could say” anytime they read “that Bishop Williamson teaches”.

Defending the Catholic Faith and Our Lady’s Perfection

Against Bishop Williamson’s Confusion and Heresies[2]


In a recent letter to his followers, Bishop Richard Williamson showed his confusion about the spiritual life when he taught that if God were to bestow grace in great enough abundance, it would:

  1. Take away a person’s free will; and
  2. Destroy the merit of prayers, virtuous acts, and good works.

These two conclusions are heresies. But this confused bishop also adds a third error:

  1. Because God wanted His elect to be able to merit, He could not avoid the world being a place where most people go to hell.

Below, we will examine each of these three errors.

  1. Bishop Williamson falsely claims that grace can take away a person’s free will.

Bishop Williamson (falsely) teaches that God would take away a person’s free will by giving that person grace in sufficiently great abundance.  Bishop Williamson says that, if God gave grace in such abundance, then “He [viz., God] would in effect be stopping human beings from exercising their free-will”.[3]

In other words, Bishop Williamson is falsely asserting that if grace is abundant enough, it takes away free will.  That is false and is heresy!

The truth is that grace always makes our will freer and less under the dominion of the wounds of original sin.  Man is not free to choose his goal (i.e., his end).  It is fixed by the nature God gave to him.  Man always seeks happiness as his end.  Man’s will is only free to choose the means to this end.  All of this is explained beautifully in Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Libertas.

God can save the most hardened sinner by enlightening his mind and strengthening his will, so that the man sees more plainly the true means to obtain his happiness. When God gives this extra light and strength, any man freely chooses these means which God clearly shows him, and thus he attains happiness (especially heaven), which is the end which God fixed for him to seek.

Thus, the souls of the saints are most-free, because they follow God and reason in all of the various aspects of their lives. They are freest from the slavery to vices, such as pride and gluttony.[4]

The consequences of Bishop Williamson’s error are especially striking because of how his error insults the Blessed Virgin Mary.  If he were correct, then Mary would be the least free of all humans, since she has the greatest grace of any human person, as shown below.[5]


Mary has the greatest grace of any human person.

Mary is full of grace, as the Archangel Gabriel proclaimed: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”  St. Luke, 1:28.  

St. Thomas Aquinas, greatest Doctor of the Church, teaches the same truth:

So full of grace was the Blessed Virgin, that it overflows onto all mankind.  It is, indeed, a great thing that any one saint has so much grace that it is conducive to the salvation of many; but it is most wondrous to have so much grace as to suffice for the salvation of all mankind. Thus, it is in Christ and in the Blessed Virgin.[6]

Indeed, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church, teaches that Mary has more grace than all of the other saints together.  Here are his words:

Let us conclude that our heavenly child [Mary], because she was appointed mediatrix of the world, as also because she was destined to be the Mother of the Redeemer, received, at the very beginning of her existence, grace exceeding in greatness that of all the saints together.[7] 

So, we see that Our Lady has the greatest grace of any human person – i.e., more than any person except Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Does this grace impede the Blessed Virgin Mary from exercising her free-will, as Bishop Williamson teaches?  Absolutely not!

Anyone who receives grace becomes freer because of the grace.  With the greatest abundance of grace, Our Lady is the freest of all.  This truth is the opposite of Bishop Williamson’s distortion of the spiritual life and his erroneous and confused teaching about grace and free will.

  1. Bishop Williamson falsely claims that abundant grace can take away a person’s opportunity to merit.

Bishop Williamson (falsely) teaches that a person’s ability to merit would be taken away if God gave him grace in sufficiently great abundance.  Bishop Williamson says that, if God gave very abundant grace, then “He [viz., God] would in effect be stopping human beings … from meriting for Heaven”.[8]

In other words, Bishop Williamson is falsely asserting that if grace is abundant enough, then a person cannot merit.  That is false and is heresy!  If he were correct, then Mary would be most greatly prevented from meriting since she has the greatest grace of any human person.  However, she has the greatest merit, as shown below.

Our Lady’s merit is greatest among all of the saints

The Blessed Virgin Mary is not only full of grace but this is the reason for the great merit she earned by every thought, word and deed.

St. Alphonsus beautifully explains this truth in these words:

If Mary, as the already destined Mother of our common Redeemer, received from the very beginning the office of mediatrix of all men, and consequently even of the saints, it was also requisite from the very beginning [that] she should have a grace exceeding that of all the saints for whom she was to intercede.  I will explain myself more clearly. If, by the means of Mary, all men were to render themselves dear to God, necessarily Mary was more holy and dearer to Him than all men together.  Otherwise, how could she have interceded for all others?  That an intercessor may obtain the favor of a prince for all his vassals, it is absolutely necessary that he should be dearer to his prince than all the other vassals.  And therefore St. Anselm concludes that Mary deserved to be made the worthy repairer of the lost world, because she was the purest of all creatures. ‘The pure sanctity of her heart, surpassing the purity and sanctity of all other creatures, merited for her that she should be made the repairer of the lost world.’[9]

St. Alphonsus further teaches:

Let us conclude that our heavenly child [Mary], because she was appointed mediatrix of the world, as also because she was destined to be the Mother of the Redeemer, received, at the very beginning of her existence, grace exceeding in greatness that of all the saints together.  Hence, how delightful a sight must the beautiful soul of this happy child have been to heaven and earth, although still enclosed in her mother’s womb!  She was the most amiable creature in the eyes of God, because she was already loaded with grace and merit. …  And she was at the same time the creature above all others that had ever appeared in the world up to that moment, who loved God the most; so much so, that had Mary been born immediately after her most pure conception, she would have come into the world richer in merits, and more holy, than all the saints united.[10] 

With the most abundant grace, Our Lady also had the most abundant merits.  Contrary to Bishop Williamson’s heresy, a greater abundance of grace does not impede merit, but rather causes it.

  1. Bishop Williamson falsely claims the world is not the most perfect world but is the best world God was able to create and still have heaven be a great place.

Bishop Williamson not only shows his confusion about grace, free will, and merit (as shown above), but also, he asserts that God did not make earth a better place than He did, because that would have made heaven a worse place.  Bishop Williamson (falsely) teaches that if God had not made a world where most people go to hell, then heaven would be worse.  This is false and is heresy.  Here are Bishop Williamson’s words:

[A]n unmerited Heaven could not have the quality of a merited Heaven, which is why we live in this “vale of tears” – God created us only for the best, even if it necessitated the “collateral damage” of a “vale of tears” in which a majority of all souls created would choose Hell.[11]

In other words, Bishop Williamson falsely asserts God made a world where most men go to hell because otherwise, He could not have made heaven as great.

The truth is that the world that God made is the best of all possible worlds.[12]  God allows evil for His greater glory and in order to bring about greater good.[13]  God allows some people to (voluntarily) sin and to damn themselves because their damnation manifests God’s Justice more clearly than if damnation had been something which never occurred but which we understood only as something that could have – but didn’t – ever happen.

Similarly, God’s Mercy and Goodness in saving the elect is more manifest in contrast to the actual damnation of other souls, since the damned very evidently manifest what could have happened to the elect, had God not chosen to save them because of His Mercy and Goodness.

Although sin itself is evil, this world which God made, in which He allows sin and damnation, is better as a whole because it manifests God’s Mercy, Goodness, and Justice better than if there had been no sin.  By better manifesting God’s perfections, the universe gives greater Glory to God.[14]  For God’s only end is His Own Glory, that is, Himself.  Any other end (less than God) is unworthy of God.[15]

Thus, we see that, for His own Glory and to manifest His perfections, God saves some persons and gives them happiness.  Likewise, for His own Glory and to manifest His perfections, God allows some persons to damn themselves and be unhappy.[16]

Thus, Bishop Williamson errs that God made the earth imperfect because, if He had made the earth better, it would have made heaven worse.  The truth is that God could have made a world where everyone received superabundant grace and where everyone went to the perfect heaven which He made.  But this would have been a less-perfect world.

Similarly, God could have made a world where everyone received superabundant grace and there were no tears and no suffering, and everyone loved Him greatly.  However, such a world would have been less perfect because it would have failed to manifest His Honor and Glory as perfectly as the world He actually made.  

Conclusion

We must be vigilant to guard against Bishop Williamson’s fundamental errors concerning the spiritual life.  In contrast to his errors, the truth is that:

  • Grace always makes a man’s will freer.  

  • Grace always increases the merits of his actions.  

  • The heaven and earth that God made are the most perfect ones possible, although most men choose sin and choose to damn themselves.

[1]          For further information about the doubtfulness of the conciliar “consecration” rite, read this analysis: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B49oPuI54eEGZVF5cmFvMGdZM0U/view?resourcekey=0-d98Ksw0xkbtafE2fYSTq8A

[2]          Heresy is an error about the Catholic Faith.  Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas explains this truth:

We are speaking of heresy now as denoting a corruption of the Christian Faith.  Now it does not imply a corruption of the Christian faith, if a man has a false opinion in matters that are not of faith, for instance, in questions of geometry and so forth, which cannot belong to the faith by any means; but only when a person has a false opinion about things belonging to the faith.

Now a thing may be of the faith in two ways, as stated above, in one way, directly and principally, e.g., the articles of faith; in another way, indirectly and secondarily, e.g., those matters, the denial of which leads to the corruption of some article of faith; and there may be heresy in either way, even as there can be faith.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.11, a.2, respondeo.

[3]          Here is the longer quote:

God is absolute Goodness because He is absolute Being, only a lack of being can be evil. It is absolutely impossible for God to cause directly moral evil. What He can do is cause it indirectly by not giving the grace or graces which would have prevented that moral evil from happening. In that case He is not acting positively, He is refraining from acting, or acting negatively, to allow the evil to happen. Those graces that would have prevented the evil, He is entirely free to give or not give, and if He always gave them, He would in effect be stopping human beings from exercising their free-will and from meriting for Heaven. But an unmerited Heaven could not have the quality of a merited Heaven, which is why we live in this “vale of tears” – God created us only for the best, even if it necessitated the “collateral damage” of a “vale of tears” in which a majority of all souls created would choose Hell (Mt. VII, 13–14).

Eleison Comments by Mgr. Williamson – Issue DCCXXXII (732) (underline emphasis in original; bold and italic emphasis added).

[5]          We must defend Our Lady against such insults to her prerogatives.  As St. Louis de Montfort teaches in his book, True Devotion to Mary, ¶265:

Finally, we must do everything for Mary.  Since we have given ourselves completely to her service, it is only right that we should do everything for her as if we were her personal servant and slave.  This does not mean that we take her for the ultimate end of our service, for Jesus alone is our ultimate end.  But we take Mary for our proximate end, our mysterious intermediary and the easiest way of reaching Him.

Like every good servant and slave, we must not remain idle, but, relying on her protection, we should undertake and carry out great things for our noble Queen.  We must defend her privileges when they are questioned and uphold her good name when it is under attack.

[6]          St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Angelic Salutation.

[7]         St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary — discourse #2 the birth of Mary (emphasis added).

[8]          Here is the longer quote:

God is absolute Goodness because He is absolute Being, only a lack of being can be evil. It is absolutely impossible for God to cause directly moral evil. What He can do is cause it indirectly by not giving the grace or graces which would have prevented that moral evil from happening. In that case He is not acting positively, He is refraining from acting, or acting negatively, to allow the evil to happen. Those graces that would have prevented the evil, He is entirely free to give or not give, and if He always gave them, He would in effect be stopping human beings from exercising their free-will and from meriting for Heaven. But an unmerited Heaven could not have the quality of a merited Heaven, which is why we live in this “vale of tears” – God created us only for the best, even if it necessitated the “collateral damage” of a “vale of tears” in which a majority of all souls created would choose Hell (Mt. VII, 13–14).

Eleison Comments by Mgr. Williamson – Issue DCCXXXII (732) (underline emphasis in original; bold and italic emphasis added).

[9]         St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary – discourse #2 the birth of Mary

 

[10]         St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary — discourse #2 the birth of Mary (emphasis added).

[11]          Here is the longer quote:

God is absolute Goodness because He is absolute Being, only a lack of being can be evil. It is absolutely impossible for God to cause directly moral evil. What He can do is cause it indirectly by not giving the grace or graces which would have prevented that moral evil from happening. In that case He is not acting positively, He is refraining from acting, or acting negatively, to allow the evil to happen. Those graces that would have prevented the evil, He is entirely free to give or not give, and if He always gave them, He would in effect be stopping human beings from exercising their free-will and from meriting for Heaven.  But an unmerited Heaven could not have the quality of a merited Heaven, which is why we live in this “vale of tears” – God created us only for the best, even if it necessitated the “collateral damage” of a “vale of tears” in which a majority of all souls created would choose Hell (Mt. VII, 13–14).

Eleison Comments by Mgr. Williamson – Issue DCCXXXII (732) (underline emphasis in original; bold and italic emphasis added).

[13]          Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas (the Greatest Doctor of the Catholic Church) explains this truth, quoting St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church:

As Augustine says (Enchiridion xi): “Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works, unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.”  This is part of the infinite goodness of God, that He should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good.

Summa, Ia, Q.2 a.3, ad 1 (emphasis added).

[14]
         Here is St. Thomas’ fuller explanation of this truth:

It is the part of the best agent to produce an effect which is best in its entirety; but this does not mean that He makes every part of the whole the best absolutely, but in proportion to the whole; in the case of an animal, for instance, its goodness would be taken away if every part of it had the dignity of an eye. Thus, therefore, God also made the universe to be best as a whole, according to the mode of a creature; whereas He did not make each single creature best, but one better than another.  And therefore, we find it said of each creature, “God saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis 1:4); and in like manner of each one of the rest.  But of all together it is said, “God saw all the things that He had made, and they were very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Summa, Ia, Q.47, a.2, ad 1 (emphasis added).

[15]
         Here is how St. Thomas explains this truth:  

[E]ach and every creature exists for the perfection of the entire universe.  Furthermore, the entire universe, with all its parts, is ordained towards God as its end, inasmuch as it imitates, as it were, and shows forth the Divine goodness, to the glory of God.

Summa, Ia, Q.65., a2, respondeo (emphasis added).

God loves mankind and the rest of creation because they are His work and He gave them whatever goodness they have.  But they are finite goods which God loves finitely as part of His infinite love for Himself.  For a fuller explanation of this truth, read this article: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/god-does-not-infinitely-love-any-creature.html

[16]
         Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas (quoting St. Paul) explains this Truth of the Catholic Faith:

Let us then consider the whole of the human race, as we consider the whole universe.  God Wills to manifest His goodness in men; in respect to those whom He predestines, by means of His mercy, as sparing them; and in respect of others, whom he reprobates, by means of His justice, in punishing them.

This is the reason why God elects some and rejects others.  To this, the Apostle refers, saying (Romans 9:22-23):

What if God, willing to show His wrath [that is, the vengeance of His justice], and to make His power known, endured [that is, permitted] with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction; that He might show the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He hath prepared unto glory;

and (2 Timothy 2:20):

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver; but also, of wood and of earth; and some, indeed, unto honor, but some unto dishonor.

Summa, Ia Q. 23 a.5, ad 3 (emphasis added).  The bracketed words (in the quotes from St. Paul) are contained in the Summa.

Our Life is a Personal Gift from God

A gift-giver has the moral right to expect the gift to be spent, used, or lived as intended by the giver.  If you inherited a large sum of money from your (traditional Catholic) parents that they worked hard all their lives to accumulate, they’d have a right to expect you to use it wisely, and above all, not to use it in an evil way, putting your salvation in greater doubt.

Most people take their gift of life for granted and live it as they see fit, without considering restrictions from God or anyone else.  WRONG!  Your life is a magnificent gift from God, and in justice, ought to be lived as He requires.  The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say about supernatural gifts:

A supernatural gift may be defined as something conferred on nature that is above all the powers of created nature.  When God created man, He was not content with bestowing upon him the essential endowments required by man’s nature.  He raised him to a higher state, adding certain gifts to which his nature had no claim.[1]

***

The absolutely supernatural gifts, which alone are the supernatural properly so called, are summed up in the Divine adoption of man to be the son and heir of God.  This expression, and the explanations given of it by the sacred writers, make it evident that the sonship is something far more than a relation founded upon the absence of sin; it is of a thoroughly intimate character, raising the creature from its naturally humble estate, and making it the object of a peculiar benevolence and complaisance on God’s part, admitting it to filial love, and enabling it to become God’s heir, i.e., a partaker of God’s own beatitude.  “God sent His Son…that He might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons.  And because you are sons, God hath sent the spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba. Father. Therefore, now he is not a servant, but a son.  And if a son, an heir also through God.”[2]

In the present world, life is not valued as the precious gift that it is.  Therefore, it is easy for people to think they have the right to use it in any way they want – ignoring God’s Ten Commandments, one (or all), and thinking they are living a fuller, more enjoyable, and happy life.

But in reality, it is a most unfulfilled life, filled with drugs and alcohol, pleasure-seeking, futilely chasing after money, success, satisfaction, and happiness. It is like one of God’s fish trying to live out of water.

Real happiness in life is based on understanding and real appreciation of God’s gift of your life, and living it according to the Giver’s intention and plan.

God picked you to receive His gift of life.  He could have chosen not to create you and to create someone else instead.

Show your appreciation by living a holy life to please Him.  This has the (intended) consequence of bringing you untold happiness.  You were created to be happy on earth and then to be perfectly happy with God forever in heaven.

When it comes to generosity, God is never outdone.  In reality, you take far more than you give, whereas God gives and gives, wants your love, and waits for you to love Him in return.

So, realize Who is the Giver, and who is the one always taking.  Your life will be happier if you make a real effort to live your gift of life by standing up for Him in this sea of evil called “the civilized world”.

Don’t worry.  He knows of your love and appreciation of His gifts. He can read your heart.  Oh, what a gift!

 

          



[1]           The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909, Vol. 6, Page 553, article: Gifts, Supernatural.


[2]           The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909, Vol. 6, Page 553, article: Gifts, Supernatural.

Making “Relic Water” in the Catacombs

Catholic Candle note: Below is an article from a reader.  This reader describes a tool his family finds helpful and we publish his article here for the use of any other families who might choose to use this tool too.  We welcome any readers to submit articles, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

 

 

During the current Great Apostasy, we have little access to the sacraments and sacramentals.

God has not abandoned His children!  Although – for now – He has willed to take away most of the Sacraments from most faithful and informed Traditional Catholics.[1]  In God’s ineffable Providence, this is for our good.  We know infallibly that “all things work together unto the good, for those who love God.” Romans, 8:28.

So, when God takes away most sacraments, He gives us other means and gives those means greater efficacy than ever before.  So, e.g., God greatly increased the power of the Holy Rosary during our times.[2]

God understands that we cannot do the impossible, nor does He expect us to do so.  He neither expects, nor wants us to receive the Sacraments or to attend Mass when they are not available without compromise.  Compromise Masses and Sacraments don’t help us and they offend Him![3]

Our family has used up the holy water supply we had from priests who were previously uncompromising (and who we had been able to support and from whom we had been able to obtain spiritual help, including the sacraments and sacramentals).

More recently, however, those same priests have compromised and our family does not currently have any priests to help us because those who would now be available to us are compromising.  Of course, we will not seek additional holy water from priests who are now compromising, just like we would not seek the sacraments from them until such time, if ever, that they reject their compromises. 

Receiving holy water from compromising priests would be a scandal and God does not want us to spiritually-connect ourselves with those priests who are working against Him with their compromised lives and/or teaching. 

So, we are now gladly and contentedly without a priest[4] – for as long as God wills this – because this is presently His Will for us.  We know that the current unavailability of sacramentals (e.g., holy water) works for our good, if we love God. 

God will provide the means for us to use!  Because we are without holy water out of love for Him, He surely will bless us greatly without that sacramental.  It might be that God wants us to simply leave our holy water fonts dry for now, making Signs of the Cross without holy water.  That would be fine. 

On the other hand, God desires that we do what we can during these times of great apostasy.  Perhaps this also involves making and using (what our family calls) “relic water” (discussed below).  This “relic water” is named in honor of the saints we invoke, as we will explain.  This is merely our family’s attempt to do our best, to do what we can do in our present circumstances without a priest. 

We make “relic water” without any pretense that we are a priest.  (This is like our much greater reliance now, compared to the past, on making Spiritual Communions as fervently as we can.) 

In making “relic water”, we are merely doing what we can do by invoking the saints of God and using the sacramentals we do have.  Perhaps God will choose to treat this “relic water” as if it were holy water, knowing we are doing what we can in the circumstances in which He lovingly placed us.  Whatever He wants is what we want!


How to make “relic water”

Our family does not bless the “relic water”.  We ask the saints whose relics we have, to bless it.  For example, we have a first-class relic of Pope St. Pius X.  In a water-tight bag, we submerge the relic into the basin of water, praying:

Through thy holy relic, O Pope St. Pius X, please bless this water for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Our family has many other first-class relics (i.e., parts of the bodies) of many other saints.  One-by-one, we submerge that saint’s relic into the water, while invoking him (or her) in the manner described above.  

We do the same thing with a crucifix, St. Benedict medal, Miraculous Medal, Agnus Dei wax, a piece of blessed palm, a blessed candle, second-class relics, etc., slightly modifying the prayer.  For example, when submerging the bottom of the crucifix, we pray:

Through Thy holy crucifix, O Lord, please bless this water for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

After finishing with all of the relics and other holy objects, we then recite the Saint Michael the Archangel prayer.

Lastly, we have some salt blessed by a priest.  We use a little of this which we sprinkle into the water in the form of a cross.  Any blessed salt could be used.  However, ours was blessed by the uncompromising Catholic priest-stigmatist, Fr. Leo McNamara, from St. Adrian’s Church in Chicago.  If anyone wants a little of this blessed salt (enough for one or two batches of “relic water”), we would gladly give him some if he mails us a self-addressed, postpaid envelope.  He could contact Catholic Candle about where to mail his request (catholiccandle@gmail.com).


The spirit behind making “relic water” – Faith, Hope, and Charity

In making “relic water”, we think that it is not essential that we use some particular holy item, such as a first-class relic.  The central point is for us to do what we can do with the holy items God has given us, and then leave the rest to Him.  He has put us sweetly in this time and He will not be outdone in generosity!

In the current Great Apostasy, the choice which uncompromising Catholics make is not between “regular” holy water and “relic water”.  Regular holy water is not an option for most faithful and informed Catholics because their supply has run out and there are no uncompromising priests (that they know of) from whom to get it.  Rather, their choice is between dry holy water fonts and doing the best they can with something such as “relic water”.  If some families think it is better to leave their holy water fonts dry, that is fine.  We are just explaining how we do what we can do.

We should be completely content without “regular” holy water, just as we should be completely content without the Mass, as long as God Wills that we have no uncompromising priest.


What if I have no relics?

We understand that not every family has first or even second-class relics.  Again, the spirit here is not one of legalism, but the spirit of Faith, Hope, and Charity.  Thus, even if you have any objects blessed in the past by good, uncompromising, and certainly-valid priests, then use them.   Even barring that, one might use a holy picture submerged in the plastic bag.  God provides.

Whether you and your family decide to use “relic water” or not, let us live with hearts full of love and gratitude that we can serve God and work out our salvation during these times in the catacombs!

 

 

 



[1]           Read this article about how God provides during our times of great apostasy, for uncompromising Catholics who have no priest: https://catholiccandle.org/2021/04/02/rome-has-the-churches-but-traditional-catholics-have-the-faith/

 

[2]               Sister Lucy, seer at Fatima, revealed this truth in the following words addressed to Fr. Fuentes:

 

God is giving two last remedies to the world: the Holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  …  Prayer and sacrifice are the two means to save the world.  As for the Holy Rosary, Father, in these last times in which we are living, the Blessed Virgin has given a new efficacy to the praying of the Holy Rosary.  This in such a way that there is no problem that cannot be resolved by praying the Rosary, no matter how difficult it is – be it temporal or above all spiritual ….

 

Words of Sister Lucy, seer at Fatima, from her December 26, 1957 interview by Fr. Augustin Fuentes, vice-postulator of the cause of beatification for Francisco and Jacinta.  (Emphasis added.)  This interview can be found at: http://radtradthomist.chojnowski.me/2019/03/is-this-interview-that-caused-her.html

Sanctifying Grace – the “Companion” of Charity

Catholic Candle note: We should study the Catholic Faith our whole life.  Part of this duty is to understand more fully the truths of the Faith we already learned as children.  Thus, for example, concerning the question “Who is God?”, we know from our First Communion Catechism that “God is the Supreme Being Who made all things.”  During our life, we should learn more about God, as best we can, little-by-little, using the opportunities we have.

The article below is an aid to help us “peering a little more deeply” into a few related truths of the Faith which we already learned in our catechism as children.  The article below is merely one more step in the journey of learning our Faith better.


What is Charity, and How does it relate to Sanctifying Grace?

Charity is friendship with God.[1] 

Without charity, a man is an enemy of God, since every man is at enmity with God through Original Sin[2] (and mortal sin), unless (and until) he becomes His friend through the friendship of charity[3], which is only acquired with Sanctifying Grace.[4] 

Sanctifying Grace is God’s Life within us[5] and makes us holy and pleasing to God.[6]

Let us summarize what we covered so far:  God’s life is to know and love Himself, and that life is pure and perfect bliss; He is the only worthy object of His love and knowledge.[7]

Yet the astounding fact is this:  When we possess charity and Sanctifying Grace, we also participate in that very life of God – His love and knowledge for Himself!  We know and love God in a way similar to the way that He Himself knows and love Himself.  Note that we said “in a way similar to how He knows and loves Himself” – but not to the same extent. 

This qualification of “in a way similar to” is very important.  Perhaps an example might help: let us suppose a very bright philosopher who knows and can prove many truths about God, yet who lacks Sanctifying Grace.  This man might be able to explain many natural truths about God (truths knowable by the human intellect without Revelation) which many or even most Catholics cannot prove because of a lack of education.  Yet this bright man is not able to know God in the way that the simplest peasant can know Him when he has Sanctifying Grace. 

What is the way the bright man knows God?   He can prove things about God from a distant and cold perspective, in a dry, academic way.  For example, he can prove there must be a God, because of such-and-such human reasoning.  He can prove that this God must be eternal, and can prove many other truths.  This is all good, but yet it is a “far cry” from what Sanctifying Grace does for the soul. 

Let us now contrast:  What can the peasant in the state of grace do which the bright philosopher in the state of mortal sin cannot do?  The peasant is able to know God as a loving Father – a personal God Who cares about each of us deeply, Who was born and died for us, Who is always looking out for us, guiding us, showering us with gifts, and Who longs to have us with Him forever in heavenly bliss.  But love requires knowledge of the thing loved.  Thus, because the peasant is able to know God in this way, he is also able to love God in a way that bright philosopher is simply not able to.

The “Companionship” of Sanctifying Grace and Charity: Sanctifying Grace and Charity always come into a soul together[8] and increase together (and they leave together, in any soul that has the great tragedy of committing a mortal sin).[9]

Thus, we can see that Sanctifying Grace and charity are inseparable “companions” in the supernatural life.  Here is how God’s Life and His Love for Himself are reflected in our possessing Sanctifying Grace and charity:

  God is His Own Divine Life; Sanctifying Grace is God’s Life in us by participation.

 

  God has one act, which is to love Himself.[10]  By charity, we love God in a similar way.


Without Charity and Sanctifying Grace, we cannot merit.

What is merit?

To “merit” means “to be worthy of or entitled or liable to earn”.[11]

Merit is a right to a reward.   For example, let us suppose a man who is in mortal sin discovers a plot to kill and overthrow the king.  The man informs the king.  This deed deserves praise and reward, because perhaps it not only saved the king himself, but also the whole kingdom.  Thus, the king – if he is a just man – might say to the man, “Well done!  You have merited a reward and my gratitude.”  In that case, the man merited a natural reward from a mere man. 


Merit can be natural or supernatural.

But what if the man did the same thing, but this time possessed Sanctifying Grace and charity?   When in the state of grace, the motive behind our actions can be that of love of God, and thus take on a supernatural dimension.   In such case, not only would the man gain natural merit from the human king, but also supernatural merit.  God, Who is Justice itself, might well give him natural gifts (e.g., good health, success), but also supernatural gifts (e.g., a right to a higher place in heaven, an increase of virtue and grace).

But without Sanctifying Grace, we cannot merit anything from God.[12]

This is not surprising, since those without Sanctifying Grace are God’s enemies.[13]  How could God’s enemies ever merit from Him while remaining His enemies and remaining in mortal sin – with their wills turned against Him?[14]

Let us “unpack” the consequences a little further, of the truth that without Sanctifying Grace, a person can merit absolutely nothing from God.  This means that:

  A man in the state of mortal sin who builds orphanages, schools, or monasteries (which are good works) does not merit even the slightest thing from God, by doing so.[15]

  A man in the state of mortal sin who teaches the Catholic Faith, does not merit even the slightest thing from God, by doing so. [16]

 

  A man in the state of mortal sin who dedicates his life to fighting communism or disease, or who dies trying to rescue a child in a burning building, does not earn anything at all from God, by doing so.[17]

This is true even if the man’s work was an instrument to save many other souls and brought about much good in other ways.  Persons without Sanctifying Grace never merit from God by the good works they do.  On the other hand, though, those persons are able to commit further evil.  By choosing to commit more sins, they offend God further and deserve further punishment.

This does not mean that a man in mortal sin never does anything good and that he cannot have any natural virtues.  When the man teaches the truth or constructs a building, those are truly natural good works and this fact is not “taken away” by the man’s inability to merit from God for those works.[18]  Again, a man might merit natural rewards, such as from the human king, as explained in the above example.

Natural virtue is not a source of supernatural merit, when a man is in mortal sin.[19]  For example, a Satanist (or other enemy of God) could possibly have the habit of being patient with his neighbor or be habitually generous to a crippled child.  These habits (patience and generosity) would be natural virtues.  What is impossible is for such a man to merit supernaturally from God, by his (natural) good acts and virtues.

We ordinary Catholics, who are unaccustomed to the ways of God, might tend to falsify the truths (above) by supposing that there is a way “through the back door” for a man in mortal sin to merit in some way.  For example, although we know that a man in mortal sin cannot merit from God, we might suppose that, when God sees the man’s (human) good works or (natural) virtues, God might decide to give that man grace on that basis, i.e., for this reason.  But our supposition (viz., that God might act this way) would contradict the truth that a man in mortal sin never merits from God by anything he does.  In other words:

Nothing done by a person without Sanctifying Grace inclines God to give him any blessing or good.

Remember the explanation above: to “merit” is to be a cause of good or to earn good in some way.  If a man in mortal sin were to influence God favorably toward him in any way, through the good works that man did, so that God gave him something which the man would not have otherwise received, then that man has merited while in mortal sin.  In other words, that man’s good works would have been a cause of the good he received from God.  This is impossible.[20]  Thus, God never gives any good to a man because of that man’s good works while he is in mortal sin, because that man cannot merit anything by his works.

However, this truth certainly does not mean that God could never (or would never) give grace to a man in mortal sin.  Rather, the Sanctifying Grace and other good things which God gives to a man in mortal sin are in no way merited by him.  They are given as a free, undeserved gift of God, not based on anything he did.

In a future article, we will look at how someone can merit supernatural good in some way (called “condignly”), when he is already in the state of Sanctifying Grace.


Conclusion

A man in mortal sin cannot merit Sanctifying Grace or any other good from God, by the (human) good works he does or by the (natural) virtues he has.  Sanctifying Grace is a free gift of God, not merited in any way by the man in mortal sin.



[1]           Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas, greatest Doctor of the Church, explains this truth:

It is written (John 15:15): “I will not now call you servants . . . but My friends.”  Now this was said to them by reason of nothing else than charity. Therefore, charity is friendship.  …

According to the Philosopher (Ethic. viii, 2,3) not every love has the character of friendship, but that love which is together with benevolence, when, to wit, we love someone so as to wish good to him.  If, however, we do not wish good to what we love, but wish its good for ourselves, (thus we are said to love wine, or a horse, or the like), it is love not of friendship, but of a kind of concupiscence. For it would be absurd to speak of having friendship for wine or for a horse.

Yet neither does well-wishing suffice for friendship, for a certain mutual love is requisite, since friendship is between friend and friend: and this well-wishing is founded on some kind of communication.

Accordingly, since there is a communication between man and God, inasmuch as He communicates His happiness to us, some kind of friendship must needs be based on this same communication, of which it is written (1 Corinthians 1:9): “God is faithful: by Whom you are called unto the fellowship of His Son."  The love which is based on this communication, is charity: wherefore it is evident that charity is the friendship of man for God.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.23, a.1, sed contra and respondeo (emphasis added).

[2]           As the psalmist teaches, concerning everyone being born with Original Sin: “I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.”  Psalm, 50:7.  St. Paul teaches that, because of Original Sin, we are all “by nature children of wrath”.  Ephesians, 2:3. 

[3]           Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this truth, following and quoting St. Augustine: “whosoever has not charity is wicked, because ‘this gift alone of the Holy Ghost distinguishes the children of the kingdom from the children of perdition’”.  Summa, IIa IIae, Q.178, a.2, sed contra, quoting St. Augustine’s treatise on the Blessed Trinity, De Trinitate, bk.15, ch.18.

St. Paul teaches: “the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.”  Romans, 5:5.

[4]           Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this truth, quoting St. Augustine:

Sanctifying Grace is given chiefly in order that man’s soul may be united to God by charity.  Wherefore Augustine says (De Trin. xv, 18): “A man is not transferred from the left side to the right, unless he receives the Holy Ghost, by Whom he is made a lover of God and of his neighbor.”

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.172, a.4, respondeo.

[5]           Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this truth:

[T]he light of grace which is a participation of the Divine Nature is something besides the infused virtues which are derived from and are ordained to this light ….

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.110, a.3, respondeo

See also, St. John of the Cross, the Mystical Doctor of the Church, where he teaches the same truth: Spiritual Canticle, Stanza 38, §4.

St. Peter refers to Sanctifying Grace as making us “partakers of the Divine Nature”.  2 Peter, 1:4.

[6]           Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this truth:

Even as when a man is said to be in another’s good graces, it is understood that there is something in him pleasing to the other; so also, when anyone is said to have God’s grace – with this difference, that what is pleasing to a man in another is presupposed to his love, but whatever is pleasing to God in a man is caused by the Divine love, as was said above.

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.110, a.1, ad 1.

A little below these words of St. Thomas, he says “we speak of grace inasmuch as it makes man pleasing to God”.

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.110, a.3, respondeo (emphasis added).

Here is how the Baltimore Catechism #3 explains this truth:

Q. 461. What is sanctifying grace?

A. Sanctifying grace is that grace which makes the soul holy and pleasing to God.

[7]               The only way God knows creatures is through knowing Himself and knowing us as His works.  Summa, Ia, Q.14, a.7, respondeo; Ia, Q.16, a.7, respondeo.  The reason why God loves us creatures is because we are His works and He loves His works and the good He put into us.  Summa, Ia, Q.14, a.5; Ia, Q.20, a.2.

[8]           Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this truth:

Sanctifying Grace is given chiefly in order that man’s soul may be united to God by charity.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.172, a.4, respondeo.

[9]           Mortal sin deprives a man of sanctifying grace.  Summa, Ia IIae, Q.109, a.7, respondeo.  Mortal sin deprives a man of charity.  Summa, Ia IIae, Q.88, a.1, respondeo.

[10]         This same one act of loving Himself is also an act of knowing Himself.  It is hard for us to understand this, but God is wholly simple and has only one act, which is to know and to love Himself.  Summa, Ia, Q.3; Ia, Q.16, a.5, ad 1.

[11]         https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/merit (definition of the transitive verb, “merit”).

 

[12]         Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this truth, referring to Sanctifying Grace using its other name, i.e., “habitual grace”, since Sanctifying Grace remains in (inhabits) those in the state of grace:

The preparation of the human will for good is twofold: the first, whereby it is prepared to operate rightly and to enjoy God; and this preparation of the will cannot take place without the habitual gift of grace, which is the principle of meritorious works ….

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.109, a.6, respondeo (emphasis added).

Here is how the Catechism of St. Pius X teaches this truth:

5 Q. Why do not those who are in mortal sin participate in these goods [shared in the Communion of Saints]?

A. Because that which unites the faithful with God, and with Jesus Christ as His living members, rendering them capable of performing meritorious works for life eternal, is the grace of God which is the supernatural life of the soul; and hence as those who are in mortal sin are without the grace of God, they are excluded from perfect communion in spiritual goods, nor can they accomplish works meritorious towards life eternal.

Catechism of St. Pius X, section, Ninth Article of the Creed, subsection, Communion of Saints (bracketed words added to the question, to show the context).

Here is how the Baltimore Catechism #3 teaches this truth:

Q. 141. Why then do we say a soul is dead while in a state of mortal sin?

A. We say a soul is dead while in a state of mortal sin, because in that state it is as helpless as a dead body, and can merit nothing for itself.

[13]         Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this truth, following and quoting St. Augustine: “whosoever has not charity is wicked, because ‘this gift alone of the Holy Ghost distinguishes the children of the kingdom from the children of perdition’”.  Summa, IIa IIae, Q.178, a.2, Sed contra, quoting St. Augustine’s treatise, De Trinitate, bk.15, ch.18.

As the psalmist teaches: “I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.”  Psalm, 50:7.  St. Paul teaches that, because of Original Sin, we are all “by nature children of wrath”.  Ephesians, 2:3. 

[14]         Concerning three ways that all sin is an infinite offense against Almighty God and concerning a fourth way in which mortal sin is an infinite offense against God, read this article: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/the-infinite-evil-of-sin.html

[15]         We already implicitly know this truth, since we know what St. Paul teaches regarding the importance of Charity, which is the inseparable “companion” of Sanctifying Grace:

And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, … and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.     

1 Corinthians, 13:3.

[16]         We already implicitly know this truth, since we know what St. Paul teaches regarding the importance of Charity, which is the inseparable “companion” of Sanctifying Grace:

If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  …  And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

1 Corinthians, 13:1-2.

[17]         We already implicitly know this truth, since we know what St. Paul teaches regarding the importance of Charity, which is the inseparable “companion” of Sanctifying Grace:

If I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

1 Corinthians, 13:3.

[18]         Here is one way St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this truth:

Yet because human nature is not altogether corrupted by sin, so as to be shorn of every natural good, even in the state of corrupted nature it can, by virtue of its natural endowments, work some particular good, as to build dwellings, plant vineyards, and the like ….

Summa, Ia IIae, Q. 109, a.2, respondeo.

[19]         Here is one way St. Thomas Aquinas teaches this truth:

[W]ithout grace man cannot merit everlasting life; yet he can perform works conducing to a good which is natural to man, as "to toil in the fields, to drink, to eat, or to have friends," and the like, as Augustine says.  …

Summa, Ia IIae, Q. 109, a.5, respondeo.

[20]         St. Thomas teaches that: “Man by himself can no wise rise from sin without the help of grace.”  Summa, Ia IIae, Q.109, a.7, respondeo.

St. Thomas teaches that a man in mortal sin is as unable to merit return to grace, as a dead man is unable to cause his soul to return to his body.  Here are St. Thomas’s words:

[M]an cannot be restored by himself; but he requires the light of grace to be poured upon him anew, as if the soul were infused into a dead body for its resurrection.

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.109, a.7, ad 2.

Here is how the Catechism of St. Pius X teaches this truth:

5 Q. Why do not those who are in mortal sin participate in these goods?

A. Because that which unites the faithful with God, and with Jesus Christ as His living members, rendering them capable of performing meritorious works for life eternal, is the grace of God which is the supernatural life of the soul; and hence as those who are in mortal sin are without the grace of God, they are excluded from perfect communion in spiritual goods, nor can they accomplish works meritorious towards life eternal.


Catechism of St. Pius X, section, Ninth Article of the Creed, subsection, Communion of Saints.

 

The Human Element of the Catholic Church Has Been Trending Liberal

Yes, it has been trending liberal to a degree that after three visits to earth by the Blessed Mother, requesting that the faithful return to religious fervor, penance, and a greater focus on the Traditional Catholic Faith, she has been almost completely ignored.

The first appearance of the Blessed Mother was in La Salette, France, on Sept. 19, 1846, 174 years ago.  Our Lady warned that Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the anti-Christ.  This warning was ignored, and Rome has lost the Faith, as demonstrated by the results of the evil Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

VC II gave us the anti-Catholic Novus Ordo mass which does not give grace.  Without grace one loses the Faith and the ability to avoid sin.  The leaders in Rome (i.e., Masons and their servants) were not satisfied with the liberal Benedict XVI.  Thus, yielding to their pressure, he abdicated and they elected the more liberal Pope Francis.  This present pope has been as liberal as possible without exposing the end plan of destruction of the Church’s human element, especially in the matter of papal authority.  The Masons are not far from completely achieving their goal of solidifying their power in Rome, the seat of the Anti-Christ.[1] 

The second and third apparitions by God and His Mother – to save souls and recall Catholics from their straying path – were at Lourdes in 1858, and at Fatima in 1917.  At Fatima, she spoke of Three Secrets (or three parts to a Secret) to the three small children.  The first was a vision of hell to emphasize how many souls go to hell forever.

The second Secret was how the pope and all the bishops of the world could save souls and ensure peace in the world by a very easy and simple plan to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Simple and easy if they all still had the Faith.  But without the Faith, that request of the Blessed Mother has yet to be fulfilled in the 103 years since Fatima.

The third part of the Message remained secret at the request of the Blessed Mother.  However, she directed it to be revealed no later than 1960.  Several popes read that Secret, as written down by Lucy at the request of her spiritual adviser.  The popes never disclosed its content because it predicted that Rome would lose the Faith.[2]  As stated above, it was to have been revealed in 1960, which appears to be an effort to stop the Second Vatican Council, which took place in the early ‘60s and which resulted in the anti-Catholic conciliar church.  All three appearances were to urge sacrifice and prayers for the salvation of souls and the return of Rome’s focus to the traditional Catholic Faith.

Her appearances were almost completely ignored, bringing on a religious crisis and the consequent loss of many, many souls.  We should have expected this because we were warned by our heavenly Mother.  I believe the worst of the great chastisement is yet to come. 

What can we do now to help save souls?  Although no longer urged by the human element of the Catholic Church, we can do what Our Lady told us to do at Fatima and at La Salette: spread her instructions and warnings, far and wide, as listed below:

At Fatima:

1.    Fashions: “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend My Son very much!”  (Our Lady said this in 1917!) 

 

2.    Hell: “More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason!”  (Sins against the 6th Commandment)

 

3.    Bad marriages: “Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God.”

 

4.    Punishment of the world: The Blessed Mother can no longer restrain the Hand of Her Divine Son from striking the world with just punishment for its many crimes.

 

5.    Five warnings: “If my requests are not granted, Russia will scatter her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and persecutions of the Church.  The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be destroyed!”  (Remember, Our Lady told us this in 1917!)

 

6.    Amend: “I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins.  They must not continue to offend Our Lord Who is already deeply offended.”

 

7.    Rosary: “Say the Rosary every day, to obtain peace for the world.  Add after each decade the following prayer: ‘Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.’”

 

8.    Pray: “Pray, pray a great deal, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because they have no one to make sacrifices and pray for them.”

 

9.    Immaculate Heart devotion: “God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to My Immaculate Heart.  If people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”

 

10. World peace: “Tell everybody that God gives graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Tell them to ask graces from her, and that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be venerated together with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the Lord has confided the peace of the world to her.”

 

11. War: “War is a punishment from God for sins!”

 

12. Final peace: “In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace!”

 

13. First Saturday devotion: “I promise to help at the hour of death, with graces needed for salvation, whoever, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess and receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes, while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary with the intention of making reparation to My Immaculate Heart.”

 

14. Sacrifice:  Our Lord appeared to Lucy in 1943.  He complained bitterly and sorrowfully that there are so few souls fulfilling Our Lady’s requests, saying: “The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My Laws!  This is the penance I now seek and require!”

 

15. St. Joseph:  The only saint who appeared at Fatima besides Our Lady.  St. Joseph held the Child Jesus in his arms and blessed the 70,000 people three times.  It is he of whom it has been said: “The sound of victory will be heard when the faithful recognize the sanctity of St. Joseph.”

 

16. Brown scapular:  On October 13, 1917, at the last apparition, Our Blessed Mother appeared, dressed as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  Silently she held out to the world the brown scapular – the sign of personal consecration – the sign of eternal salvation.  Lucy of Fatima explained: “The scapular and the Rosary are inseparable.”

 

17. Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: Our Lady of Fatima asked for reparation.  The Angel of Fatima showed the children how to make reparation by adoring Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  (Making Holy Hours, or half hour, or 15-minute visits in Church (when an uncompromising one is available[3]) during the week is fulfilling the adoration request.       

 
The Causes of Mary’s Tears at La Salette; Our Resolutions to Console her:

1.    Revolt against God and His Church, sins of impiety and obstinacy.  Resolution:  Submission to God, cooperation with Divine grace.

 

2.    Profanation of the Lord’s Day.  Resolution:  Sanctification of this Holy Day through works of piety and charity.

 

3.    Taking the Lord’s name in vain, cursing and swearing.  Resolution: To honor and bless the name of the Lord, especially when it is blasphemed.

 

4.    Missing Mass on Sundays or Holy Days (when one is available).  Resolution: To assist at Mass faithfully and respectfully.

 

5.    Violation of the laws of fasting and abstinence.  Resolution: Faithful observance of these laws; spirit of mortification.

 

6.    Neglect of prayer.  Resolution:  Fidelity to morning and evening prayer; family Rosary.

 

7.    Indifference and ingratitude towards Our Heavenly Mother herself.  Resolution: Childlike confidence in Mary; zeal to spread the teachings of her merciful apparition.

Above, Our Lady spoke of bad marriages.  It is much worse now, with so many couples living together without benefit of marriage.  It has come to the point that they wear this mortal sin as a badge of dubious “honor.”  There is also no shame when the children are born, nor do people have any concept of sin and morality.

We are in a battle for souls.  The battle is against:

1.    Atheistic communism

 

2.    The efforts to destroy the Catholic Church’s human element

 

3.    International Masonry

 

4.    Modernism

 

5.    Liberalism

 

6.    Pervasive evil pop culture

 

7.    The devil’s efforts put forward through the conciliar church

We can no longer rely on the clergy of the Catholic Church.  They seem to be the first to accept the anti-Catholic changes from Vatican II.  It was said in Traditionalist circles, during the ’70s, that the Church would be destroyed from the “Top” and restored by the few good priests and laymen from the “Bottom.”  The liberal N-SSPX will not help to solve the problems of the crisis in the Church because they are part of the problem.

Because we are not listening to Our Lady, God has left us on our own, on the path to destruction.  Unquestionably, we are a long way down that path, to a point that we can almost see the future climax of the current great chastisement.  There is hope, though, with the coming supreme confrontation between the City of God and the Synagogue of Satan, (i.e., the decisive battle between the Virgin and the devil.[4]  The Virgin will crush the head of Satan and there will be peace, and the Church will triumph again.  We can help by following her Fatima 17-point Plan, and the 7-point Plan of La Salette.

 

 

 



[1]           Shortly after Pope Francis’ election, the Masons declared that he was a plan (i.e., “a design”) fulfilled.  Here are the words of Nicola Spinello, Adjunct-Vicar Grand Master of the Masons of Piazza del Gesù:

 

I believe that this pope [viz., Francis] is the realization of a design that has long wanted to be adopted.

 

Quoted in the book, Vaticano massone. Logge, denaro e poteri occulti: il lato segreto della Chiesa di papa Francesco, by Giacomo GALEAZZI – Ferruccio PINOTTI, Edizioni Piemme, Milano 2013, p.83, as quoted here: https://onepeterfive.com/freemasons-love-pope-francis/#_ftn23 (bracketed word added to show the context).

[2]           The Whole Truth About Fatima, by Frere Michel de la Sainte Trinite,

    Vol. III, Ch.3, p.676.

 

[3]           Concerning why we should never enter a compromise church in order to pray, read this article: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/evil-praying-conciliar-church.html

 

[4]           Ibid, p. 745.

The Evil of Comfortably Tolerating Heresy

The Apostolic Fathers Rebuke the Conduct of Bishop Williamson’s Followers

Bishop Williamson continually increases his “collection” of heresies he promotes, as shown regularly in Catholic Candle

note

Read Bishop Williamson’s own words on many issues on which he teaches heresy (cited to his own sources) on our website.

and elsewhere. For example, Bishop Williamson promotes the heresies that:

Maybe Bishop Williamson’s followers disagree with his heresies. But they maintain a cowardly

note

Catholics must judge words and deeds objectively. But we must never judge a person’s interior, subjective culpability for sins, because that would be the sin of rash judgment. Read the explanation found here: Against sedevacantism

A person might have the superficial opinion that it is a sin of rash judgment for us to call “cowardly” the silence of Bishop Williamson’s followers. However, that opinion would be wrong.

The word, “cowardly” means:

being, resembling, or befitting a coward, e.g., a cowardly retreat.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cowardly (emphasis added).

Thus, “cowardly” is a fair description of the silence of Bishop Williamson’s followers, when he teaches heresy and scandal, because their silence resembles and befits a coward (since they fail in their objective duty to stand up for the true Catholic Faith). But we don’t judge their internal, subjective culpability for these objective mortal sins of silent betrayal of the Catholic Faith.

silence and cordial relations with him. This is un-Catholic!

The Rule of St. Paul

Faithful Catholics must avoid teachers of heresy. Here is what St. Paul commands us to do:

Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such, serve not Christ our Lord, but their own belly; and by pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent.

note

Romans, 16:17-18 (emphasis added).

Faithful Catholics boldly and openly oppose teachers of heresy. Here is how St. Irenaeus summarizes the Catholic attitude:

Such caution did the apostles and their disciples exercise that they might not even converse with any of those who perverted the truth; as [St.] Paul also said, “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11).

note

St. Irenaeus teaches this in his book Against Heresies, Book III, quoted in Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Penguin Classics, p.116-117.

 

The Example of St. John the Evangelist

Here is how St. John treated teachers of heresy:

[St.] John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe in Ephesus and seeing [the heretic] Cerinthus within, ran out of the bathhouse without bathing, crying, “Let us flee, lest even the bathhouse fall, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.”

note

St. Irenaeus gives this account in his book Against Heresies, Book III, quoted in Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Penguin Classics, p.116-117.

 

Bishop Williamson’s followers do the opposite! They lavishly praise him and comfortably tolerate his heresies.

Bishop Williamson’s followers banquet with him. They laugh when he scoffs at St. John Chrysostom’s warnings about hell.

note

Read Bishop Williamson’s own words, cited to his own sources, here: Bishop Williamson Scoffs at St. John Chrysostom’s Frightening Warning about Going to Hell

See, e.g., this frame from a video of Bishop Zendejas’s consecration banquet, showing Bishops Faure and Zendejas smiling while Bishop Williamson mocks St. John Chrysostom. Id.

Where are the soldiers of Christ among Bishop Williamson’s followers? Did even one of them imitate St. John the Evangelist, crying out when he saw Bishop Williamson in the banquet hall:

Let us flee this banquet hall (the “bath house”) lest it fall, because Williamson the enemy of the truth, is within!

The Example of St. Polycarp

Here is how St. Polycarp treated teachers of heresy:

[St.] Polycarp himself, when [the heretic] Marcion once met him and said, “Knowest thou us?”, replied, “I know the first born of Satan.”

note

St. Irenaeus gives this account in his book Against Heresies, Book III, quoted in Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Penguin Classics, p.116-117.

 

How many of Bishop Williamson’s followers rebuked him as St. Polycarp rebuked other teachers of heresy? Did even one follower call this heresy-spewing bishop a “first born of Satan”?

The Fake Resistance’s Pattern of Lacking Zeal for the Faith

The Fake Resistance lacks zeal for the true Faith. Bishop Williamson tells his followers not be “too concerned” to convert souls to the Catholic Faith.

note

Read Bishop Williamson’s own words, cited to his own sources, here: Faithful Catholics Have a Missionary Spirit; Bishop Williamson Tries to Destroy this Spirit.

His followers respond by not being “too concerned” to bring their own leader to the truth.

Conclusion

Let us pray for Bishop Williamson’s weak followers, that they begin to faithfully and boldly stand up for the Truth, without human respect for Bishop Williamson!

Human respect will not help Bishop Williamson. Praying for him and boldly opposing his errors, will help him convert.


Gaining Plenary Indulgences

Catholic Candle note:  Sedevacantism is wrong and is schism.  Catholic Candle is not sedevacantist.  On the contrary, we published a series of articles showing that sedevacantism is false (and also showing that former Pope Benedict is not still the pope).  Read the articles here: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/against-sedevacantism.html 

A reader would be mistaken to believe that the article below gives any support to sedevacantism.  The article simply shows that we must be careful to not cooperate with (or pray for the success of) the evil intentions of a pope or any other superior.

 

Gaining Plenary Indulgences

In our Times of Great Apostasy


We need all of the help we can get to save our souls.  One help available to Catholics is obtaining plenary indulgences (i.e., complete remission of all temporal punishment due for sins).  But to obtain plenary indulgences, we usually must pray for the intentions of the pope.  How can we do that, without compromise, when the pope has many bad intentions?


The pope’s official intentions are often evil

The Vatican publishes the monthly prayer intentions of Pope Francis and many of them are evil and they often promote political correctness.  For example, Pope Francis uses his monthly prayer intentions to promote his Politically-Correct climate-alarmism, which is a basis for his promotion of a one-world government to regulate the ecology of the world and of the oceans in particular.[1]

To ensure that his climate-alarmism stays in the news, Pope Francis published this politically-correct, ecological prayer intention for September 2019:

 

The Protection of the Oceans

That politicians, scientists, and economists work together to protect the world’s seas and oceans.[2]

Pope Francis uses his prayer intentions to promote many other evils of the conciliar church.  For example, Pope Francis published this ecumenical prayer intention promoting inter-religious dialogue, as his November 2019 prayer intention:


Dialogue and Reconciliation in the Near East

That a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation emerge in the Near East, where diverse religious communities share their lives together.[3]

 

However, despite Pope Francis’s own bad intentions, there are some good intentions which are always included in the intentions of the pope.  Here is how The Raccolta[4] explains this:


PRAYER ACCORDING TO THE POPE’S INTENTION

The Pope’s intention always includes the following objects:

                     i.        The progress of the Faith and triumph of the Church.

                    ii.        Peace and union among Christian Princes and Rulers.

                  iii.        The conversion of sinners.

                  iv.        The uprooting of heresy.[5]

God wants us to pray for these Traditional Catholic intentions of the pope, but of course, not pray for any evil intentions.

We suggest that you make your intent explicit – for yourself and for others – by stating that you are praying for the Traditional intentions of the pope, thereby reminding yourself and others that you reject his evil and radical intentions.[6]

Further, Traditional Catholics are not sedevacantists.  Thus, we suggest you remind yourself and others of this fact by praying “for the Traditional intentions of Pope Francis” by name, rather than merely for the “intentions of the pope”.

Finally, we suggest you refer to the purpose of those prayers for the pope: “for the purpose of fulfilling a requirement for obtaining a plenary indulgence”.

 

Conclusion of this section

To gain plenary indulgences during these times of Great Apostasy, we suggest you pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be:

for the Traditional intentions of Pope Francis, for the purpose of gaining a plenary indulgence.

 

How can we gain a plenary indulgence without access to uncompromising priests and sacraments?

As we see above, it is a good thing to pray for the pope’s Traditional intentions in order to obtain a plenary indulgence.  But how can we gain a plenary indulgence without access to uncompromising priests and sacraments?

Should uncompromising Traditional Catholics “bother” praying for the Traditional intentions of the pope to obtain a plenary indulgence, when, in our times of Great Apostasy, there is little or no opportunity to fulfill the other usual conditions for gaining a plenary indulgence, viz., going to confession and receiving Holy Communion?

The answer is “yes”!

God has not abandoned His children!  Although He has – for now – willed to take away most of the Sacraments from most uncompromising Traditional Catholics, in God’s ineffable Providence, this is for our good.  We know infallibly that “all things work together unto the good, for those who love God.”[7]

So, when God takes away most sacraments, He gives us other means and gives those means greater efficacy.  So, e.g., God greatly increased the power of the Holy Rosary during our times.[8]

God understands that we cannot do the impossible, nor does He expect us to do it.  He does not expect, or want us to receive the Sacraments or go to Mass when it is not available without compromise.  Compromise Masses and Sacraments don’t help us and they offend Him![9]

Thus, because we know that the current unavailability of the Sacraments works for our good, if we love God, our inability to fulfill those conditions for a plenary indulgence also works for our good and does not harm us.  God will provide! 

One way that God is able to provide for us is to give us a plenary indulgence when we piously and diligently fulfill the conditions for a plenary indulgence as closely as we can.[10]  God can treat this as if it were literal compliance with the usual conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence.  Thus,

  When confession is not available without compromise, then God expects us to make an Act of Contrition as perfectly as we can. 

  When we cannot receive Holy Communion without compromise, He expects us to make as fervent a Spiritual Communion as we can. 

Along with fulfilling these conditions as closely as we can, we also pray “for the Traditional intentions of Pope Francis”.


Conclusion to the entire article

Let us have a strong heart and complete confidence in God.  Let us always have complete confidence that God is providing perfectly for us. 

Let us continue to fulfill the conditions for obtaining plenary indulgences to the extent that we are able, knowing that God provides for us.



[1]           Here are Pope Francis’s words, citing and quoting (former) Pope Benedict XVI and (supposed) “saint” Pope John XXIII:

 

¶174. Let us also mention the system of governance of the oceans.  International and regional conventions do exist, but fragmentation and the lack of strict mechanisms of regulation, control, and penalization end up undermining these efforts.  The growing problem of marine waste and the protection of the open seas represent particular challenges.  What is needed, in effect, is an agreement on systems of governance for the whole range of so-called “global commons”.

 

¶175. The same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty.  A more responsible overall approach is needed to deal with both problems: the reduction of pollution and the development of poorer countries and regions.  The twenty-first century, while maintaining systems of governance inherited from the past, is witnessing a weakening of the power of nation states, chiefly because the economic and financial sectors, being transnational, tend to prevail over the political. Given this situation, it is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions.  As Benedict XVI has affirmed in continuity with the social teaching of the Church: “To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security, and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago”.

 

Laudato Si, ¶¶ 174-5 (emphasis added).

 

[4]           A raccolta is a book which collects prayers and other acts of piety, for which specific indulgences were granted by the pre-conciliar popes.

[5]           The Raccolta, translated by Ambrose St. John, Benzinger Bros., New York, 1910 edition, quoted from the preface, page xiii (emphasis added).

 

[6]           Pope Francis’s conciliar intentions reflect and promote conciliar novelties.  These new doctrines are so foreign to Catholicism that St. Thomas Aquinas defines heretics as follows: A heretic is someone who devises or follows false or new opinions. Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, Q.11, a.1 Sed contra (emphasis added). Notice St. Thomas does not say “false and new opinions”. The newness of a doctrine is already sufficient reason to reject it.

[7]           Romans, 8:28. 

 

[8]           Sister Lucy, seer at Fatima, revealed to Fr. Fuentes:

 

God is giving two last remedies to the world: the Holy Rosary and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  …  Prayer and sacrifice are the two means to save the world.  As for the Holy Rosary, Father, in these last times in which we are living, the Blessed Virgin has given a new efficacy to the praying of the Holy Rosary.  This in such a way that there is no problem that cannot be resolved by praying the Rosary, no matter how difficult it is – be it temporal or above all spiritual ….

 

Words of Sister Lucy seer at Fatima, from her December 26, 1957 interview by Fr. Augustin Fuentes, vice-postulator of the cause of beatification for Francisco and Jacinta.  (Emphasis added.)  This interview can be found at: http://radtradthomist.chojnowski.me/2019/03/is-this-interview-that-caused-her.html

 

[9]           Read these articles showing that compromise masses and sacraments offend God and do not give grace:

 

·         https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/new-mass-never-grace.html

 

·         https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/priests/williamson-least-contaminated-mass.html

 

·         https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/priests/williamson-contradicts-archbishop-lefebvre.html

 

[10]         Just as God bountifully gives graces to us without expecting the impossible, likewise the Catholic Church bountifully grants indulgences without expecting the impossible.  For this reason, Pope Pius IX granted:

 

to all the faithful who are habitually prevented by chronic illness or permanent physical inability of any kind, from leaving their dwellings – excepting those who live in religious communities – the privilege of gaining each and all of the plenary indulgences already granted, or which may be hereafter granted by the Sovereign Pontiffs; provided that, being truly penitent and having confessed their sins and fulfilled the other conditions prescribed, they perform faithfully, in place of receiving Holy Communion, some pious work enjoined by their confessors.

 

Quoted from The New Raccolta, published in 1898 by order of His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII, Peter F. Cunningham & Son, Philadelphia, English edition ©1900, quoted from the section On Holy Indulgences, pp.21-22.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Co-Redemptrix of the World

Catholic Candle note:  The article below pertains to another scandalous error of Pope Francis.  However, a reader would be mistaken if he assumed that Pope Francis’s grave error somehow means that he is not the pope.

Sedevacantism is wrong and is (material or formal) schism.  Catholic Candle is not sedevacantist.  On the contrary, we published a series of articles showing that sedevacantism is false (and also showing that former Pope Benedict is not still the pope).  Read the articles here: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/against-sedevacantism.html 

Here is what St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church, teaches concerning the need to recognize and respect the authority of a superior – such as the pope – even when he is very bad:

Even should the life of any superior be so notoriously wicked as to admit of no excuse or dissimulation, nevertheless, for God’s sake, Who is the source of all power, we are bound to honor such a one, not on account of his personal merits, which are non-existent, but because of the divine ordination and the dignity of his office.[1]

However, even while recognizing the pope’s authority and our duty to obey him when we are able, we know we must resist the evil he says and does.  Read more about this principle here: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/against-sedevacantism.html#section-7

 

Defending the pre-Vatican II teaching against Pope Francis’s Scoffing

What the title “Co-Redemptrix” means

God caused the universe to be the best possible one for His own greater honor and glory.[2]  “The Lord hath made all things for Himself”.  Proverbs, 16:4.  No other motive would be worthy of Him.

God could have caused the universe to be different than it is.  Two ways God could have caused the universe to be different, is not to redeem man after his fall, or not to use the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in redeeming man.  However, God did redeem man and did use the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary because God does all things in the best possible way.[3] 

One way God used the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary is to have God the Son become Man through her Divine maternity.  Another way God chose to use the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary is to employ her as an integral part of His redemption of mankind, as Co-Redemptrix. 

Here is how Dom Guéranger explained this truth in The Liturgical Year:

Our Lady’s co-operation in the redemption of the world gives us a fresh view of her magnificence.  Neither the Immaculate Conception nor the Assumption will give us a higher idea of Mary’s exaltation than the title of co-redemptress.  Her dolors were not necessary for the redemption of the world, but, in the counsels of God, they were inseparable from it.  They belong to the integrity of the divine plan.[4]

Again, God could have redeemed man in a different way, without the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  But He chose the best way for His own glory and this way involved using her unique and integral help.

 

The Feminine Suffix of the word “Redemptress” (and of the word “Redemptrix”)

The Divine Law and the Natural Law[5] require that men and women have different roles in our life on earth.[6]  The differences between the sexes are naturally (and traditionally) manifest in countless visible ways, e.g., in clothing, as Sacred Scripture commands:

A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel, neither shall a man use woman’s apparel: for he that doth these things is abominable before God.

Deuteronomy, 22:5.

God and Nature require these distinctions in dress not only for modesty’s sake but also because such exterior manifestations reinforce these truths in our thoughts, help us to live them, and to oppose the errors and corruptions of the world around us.

Another important way in which the natural distinction between the sexes is (and should be) manifest in everyday life, is in grammatical differences in our speech, which reinforce this distinction between the sexes.  For example, we use feminine pronouns for women and girls and male pronouns for men and boys.  Likewise, in a wholesome society, parents don’t give their children unisex names or (even worse) names of the other gender.  Parents give feminine names to girls and masculine names to boys. 

The destruction of these wholesome customs is perverse and corrupts society.  The enemies of Our Lord have advanced far in trying to destroy these good practices.  Minimizing the outward signs which show the differences in gender leads to blurring the distinction between the sexes.  Gender-blurring is designed to minimize our understanding of the differences between the sexes.  The eventual goal is to promote gender confusion (a lunacy we see today).  This whole corrupting process has its roots in the centuries-old apostasy from the Catholic Faith.[7]

Among many other wholesome grammatical distinctions between the sexes, is using sex-specific endings to indicate the gender of a person who has a certain role.  For example, a man who delivers food to the tables in a restaurant is called a “waiter” and a woman who does this is called a “waitress”.  This “-tress” ending feminizes the word.  There are countless words with such feminized endings, e.g., empress and shepherdess.

A similar Latinized feminine ending to words is “-trix” (instead of “-tress”).  Thus:

  a female executor of a person’s will is called an “executrix”.[8]
 

  likewise, Our Lady is called the “Mediatrix of all Graces”.

Because we make these wholesome grammatical distinctions between the sexes, a female redeemer is called a “redemptrix” or a “redemptress”.  Thus, the Blessed Virgin Mary is called the “Co-Redemptrix” because she co-redeems man with her Son.

 

Comparison of Our Lady’s titles, “Co-Redemptrix” and “Mediatrix of all Graces”

To better understand the Blessed Virgin Mary’s title “Co-Redemptrix”, let us compare it to her title “Mediatrix of all Graces”.  These two titles correspond to her two unique roles helping her Son, in meriting and distributing all Graces.

Her title “Co-Redemptrix” refers to her unique role (and privilege) assisting her Son in His Redemption of the world, through which she assisted Him in meriting forgiveness and grace for sinners, in a fitting way (as explained below).  By contrast, her title “Mediatrix of all Graces” refers to her unique role (and privilege) assisting her Son in distributing all those Graces to sinners.

Our Lady’s assistance to her Son in the works of redemption and salvation is analogous to a nurse playing a uniquely important role in both helping a physician prepare a lifesaving medicine and also distribute the medicine for him to his patients.  Our Lady uniquely aided her Son although she is not Divine and although she herself depends on her Son, just as the nurse is not a physician but can be a unique aid in his work.

 

Pre-Vatican II teaching that Mary is Co-Redemptrix of the world


Pope St. Pius X

Pope St. Pius X taught that, in the work of redemption, the Blessed Virgin Mary merited in a way of fittingness, what her Son merited strictly speaking.  Here are St. Pius X’s words:

We are then, it will be seen, very far from attributing to the Mother of God a productive power of grace – a power which belongs to God alone.  Yet, since Mary surpasses all in holiness and union with Jesus Christ, and has been associated by Jesus Christ in the work of redemption, she merits for us “de congruo,” [i.e., according to fittingness] in the language of theologians, what Jesus Christ merits for us “de condigno,” [i.e., according to strict deserving] .…[9]

Also, St. Pius X’s Holy Office (viz., his guardian of the Catholic Faith) approved the orthodoxy of a prayer praising Our Lady as “Co-Redemptrix”.  Here is a portion of this prayer:

I praise thine exalted privilege of being truly Mother of God, ever Virgin, conceived without stain of sin, Co-Redemptrix of the human race.[10]

 

Pope Benedict XV 

Pope Benedict XV taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary redeemed the world, along with Christ.  Here are his words:

As the Blessed Virgin Mary does not seem to participate in the public life of Jesus Christ, and then, suddenly appears at the stations of his cross, she is not there without divine intention.  She suffers with her suffering and dying Son, almost as if she would have died herself.  For the salvation of mankind, she gave up her rights as the mother of her Son and, in a sense, offered Christ’s sacrifice to God the Father as far as she was permitted to do.  Therefore, one can justly say that she together with Christ has redeemed the human race.[11]

 

Pope Pius XI

Pope Pius XI called the Blessed Mother the Co-Redemptrix.  Here are his words:

By necessity, the Redeemer could not but associate [non poteva, per necessità di cose, non associare] his Mother in His work.  For this reason, we invoke her under the title of Co-Redemptrix.  She gave us the Savior, she accompanied Him in the work of Redemption as far as the Cross itself, sharing with Him the sorrows and the agony and in the death in which Jesus consummated the Redemption of mankind.[12]

 

Honoring Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix, in the devotional life of the Church

Before Vatican II, not only did the popes teach that Our Lady is Co-Redemptrix, but she was also honored under this title in Catholic devotion.  For example, Dom Guéranger quotes and promotes a 600-year-old liturgical sequence and hymn, praising Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix.  Here is this sequence:

Come, sovereign Lady,

Mary, do thou visit us,

illumine our sickly souls,

by the example of thy

duties performed in life.

 

Come, Co-Redemptrix of the world,

take away the filth of sin,

by visiting thy people,

remove their peril of chastisement.

 

Come, Queen of nations,

extinguish the flames of the guilty,

rectify whatsoever is wrong,

give us to live innocently.

 

Come, and visit the sick,

Mary, fortify the strong with

the vigor of thy holy impetuosity,

so that brave courage droop not.

 

Come, thou Star, O thou

Light of the ocean waves,

shed thy ray of peace upon us,

let the heart of John exult with

joy before the Lord.[13]

Similarly, traditional devotional books contemplate Mary’s role as Co-Redemptrix.[14]

 

Pope Francis scoffs at Our Lady’s title and privilege of being Co-Redemptrix

On December 12, 2019, the great feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis scoffed at Our Lady’s title and her privilege of being “Co-Redemptrix”.  Here are his words, as quoted in a news report:

“She never wanted for herself something that was of her son,” Francis said. “She never introduced herself as co-redemptrix.  No.  Disciple,” he said, meaning that Mary saw herself as a disciple of Jesus.

Mary, the pope insisted, “never stole[15] for herself anything that was of her son,” …

When they come to us with the story of declaring her this or making that dogma, let’s not get lost in foolishness [in Spanish, tonteras],” he said.[16]

Pope Francis then showed his contempt not only for Our Lady’s title and privilege of being Co-Redemptrix, but also his contempt for all of her titles which show her unique glory and which show how Our Lord has honored His Mother through the Church.  Here are Pope Francis’s words of contempt for all of her glorious titles:

“Mary woman, Mary mother, without any other essential title,” Francis insisted.[17]

 

Pope Francis’s words are merely part of Vatican II’s and the conciliar church’s blasphemous minimization of the Glorious Mother of God

Pope Francis’s words (above) are among the countless conciliar attempts to “pull down” Our Lady from her unique, exalted position, and to put her on the level of everyone else.  According to him, she is merely “woman” and “mother”.

In his scandalous minimizing of Our Lady’s glory, Pope Francis reflects the teaching of Vatican II.  For example, Lumen Gentium says the Blessed Virgin Mary is only one of many examples of persons cooperating with Our Lord.[18] 

In his words (above), Pope Francis merely follows Vatican II’s warning not to “exaggerate” devotion to our Heavenly Mother.[19]  Here is Vatican II’s admonition:

[The council] exhorts theologians and preachers of the divine word to abstain zealously both from all gross exaggerations as well as from petty narrow-mindedness in considering the singular dignity of the Mother of God.

Lumen Gentium §67 (emphasis added).

 

Conclusion

One of the hallmarks of the conciliar revolution is its continual efforts to minimize the Glorious Mother of God.

One of the ways we must be counter-revolutionary is by devoting ourselves to her and honoring her at every opportunity, including as Co-Redemptrix! 

Let us continually pray to her and for Pope Francis!



[1]           Quoted from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Third Sermon for Advent, entitled: On the Three Advents of the Lord and the Seven Pillars which we ought to erect within us.


[2]          
Here is how St. Thomas explains this truth: 

 

[E]ach and every creature exists for the perfection of the entire universe. Furthermore, the entire universe, with all its parts, is ordained towards God as its end, inasmuch as it imitates, as it were, and shows forth the Divine goodness, to the glory of God.

 

Summa, Ia, Q.65., a2, respondeo.


[3]          
Here is St. Thomas’ fuller explanation of this truth:

 

It is the part of the best agent to produce an effect which is best in its entirety; but this does not mean that He makes every part of the whole the best absolutely, but in proportion to the whole; in the case of an animal, for instance, its goodness would be taken away if every part of it had the dignity of an eye. Thus, therefore, God also made the universe to be best as a whole, according to the mode of a creature; whereas He did not make each single creature best, but one better than another.  And therefore, we find it said of each creature, “God saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis, 1:4); and in like manner, each one of the rest.  But of all together it is said, “God saw all the things that He had made, and they were very good” (Genesis, 1:31).

 

Summa, Ia, Q.47, a.2, ad 1 (emphasis added).

 

[4]           The Liturgical Year, by Dom Guéranger, volume 14, (also called volume 5 for the Time After Pentecost) New York, Benziger Bros., 1910, p. 212 (emphasis added).

 

[5]           The Natural Law is what we know we must do by the light of the natural reason God gave us.  One example of the Natural Law is that we must never tell a lie.  We naturally know this because we know that the purpose of speech is to convey the truth and so we naturally know that telling a lie is abusing the purpose of speech. 

 

Here is how St. Thomas explains what the Natural Law is:

 

[L]aw, being a rule and measure, can be in a person in two ways: in one way, as in him that rules and measures; in another way, as in that which is ruled and measured, since a thing is ruled and measured, in so far as it partakes of the rule or measure.  Wherefore, since all things subject to Divine providence are ruled and measured by the eternal law, as was stated above [in Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.1]; it is evident that all things partake somewhat of the eternal law, in so far as, namely, from its being imprinted on them, they derive their respective inclinations to their proper acts and ends. 

 

Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident both for itself and for others.  Wherefore it has a share of the Eternal Reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end: and this participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is called the natural law.  Hence the Psalmist after saying (Psalm 4:6): “Offer up the sacrifice of justice,” as though someone asked what the works of justice are, adds: “Many say, Who showeth us good things?” in answer to which question he says: “The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us”: thus implying that the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the Divine light.  It is therefore evident that the natural law is nothing else than the rational creature’s participation of the eternal law.

 

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.2, respondeo (emphasis added).

[7]           For further analysis of this issue, read the article The Direct Road from Apostasy to Gender Confusion, published in the December 2019 Catholic Candle.

[9]           Ad diem illum laetissimum (On the Immaculate Conception), Pope St. Pius X, February 2, 1904, §14 (emphasis added; bracketed words added for clarity).


[10]         January 22, 1914 decree of the Holy Office, taken from The Raccolta, Benziger Bros., 1957, pp. 228-229.  This prayer was indulgenced by the Vatican office of indulgences, which is part of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, on Dec. 4, 1934.


[11]         Pope Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Inter soldalica, March 22, 1918 (emphasis added), cited and quoted in The Church Teaches, John F. Clarkson, S.J., et al. (translators), Herder & Co., St. Louis, © 1955, pp. 210-211.

 

[12]         Pope Pius XI, Allocution to Pilgrims from Vicenza, Italy (a city west of Venice), November 30, 1933 (quoted in L’Osservatore Romano, December 1, 1933, p. 1; emphasis added.)

 

[13]         The Liturgical Year, by Dom Guéranger, volume 12, (also called volume 3 for the Time After Pentecost) James Duffy, Dublin, 1890, pp. 523-524 (emphasis added).

[14]         For example, this title is used in a meditation given in Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day of the Liturgical Year, By Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, TAN Books, Rockford, contained in the meditation for February Second – The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

[15]         Pope Francis insultingly suggests that the way Our Lady would receive a title or an honor is by “stealing” it from her Son.  On the contrary, her Divine Son is the One who Wills that these honors be given to her.  For example, in 1929, Our Lady of Fatima revealed God’s Will that she be honored through Russia being consecrated to her Immaculate Heart and that Russia would be saved by this means.  Here are her words to Sister Lucy of Fatima:

 

The moment has come when God asks the Holy Father to make, in union with all the bishops of the world, the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.…

 

The Whole Truth About Fatima, Frére Michel de la Sainte Trinité, translator John Collorafi, vol. II, Immaculate Heart Publications, Buffalo, NY, © 1989 for English translation, p.464 (emphasis added).


[18]         The council says Our Lady is one of many [“manifold”] ways of cooperating with her Son just like ministers and laymen have various ways of cooperating with Christ’s priesthood.  Here are the council’s words concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the section of Lumen Gentium pertaining to her:

 

[T]he Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix .  This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.

 

For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer.  Just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by the ministers and by the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to His creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.

 

Lumen Gentium, §62 (emphasis added).

 

[19]         This pulling down of the Blessed Virgin Mary is like the conciliar church minimizing Our Lord Jesus Christ.  For example, he is called a “superstar” in a blasphemous (so-called) “rock opera”. 

 

To take only one more example of gross disrespect for Our Lord, the conciliar church has named many (of the relatively few) churches built after Vatican II, with the blasphemous title Christ the Servant Church.  (Do an internet search for the websites of the many conciliar churches given that name.)

 

Faithful Catholics honor the greatness of Our Lord’s Divinity and His Kingship, as well as the unique and sublime role of the holy Mother of God.  By contrast, the revolutionaries emphasize Our Lady being a “normal” woman and her Son being a servant.

 

New doctrines are not Catholic. They are heresy.

Catholic Candle note: Sedevacantism is wrong and Catholic Candle is not sedevacantist. In fact, we published a nine-part series setting out the errors of sedevacantism (and also why it is wrong to believe that former Pope Benedict XVI continues to be pope).

A reader would be mistaken to believe that the article below gives any support to sedevacantism. This article simply shows that Vatican II’s teachings, because they are new, cannot be Catholic and must be rejected. In this way, Vatican II’s teachings are like any other erroneous teachings of a pope or bishops. See, e.g., Pope John XXII’s denial (in the 14th century) of a doctrine that the Church has always taught infallibly (although this denial did not prevent him from being pope).

The First Vatican Council infallibly teaches that new teachings are not the proper subject matter for the guidance of the Holy Ghost:

For the Holy Ghost was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Apostles.

Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, Sess. 4, ch.4, #6 (emphasis added).

The Council of Trent Catechism teaches:

[The Catholic Church’s] doctrines are neither novel nor of recent origin, but were delivered, of old, by the Apostles, and disseminated throughout the world. Hence, no one can, for a moment, doubt that the impious opinions which heresy invents, opposed, as they are, to the doctrines taught by the Church from the days of the Apostles to the present time, are very different from the faith of the true Church.

Council of Trent Catechism, under Creed: Apostolicity (emphasis added).

New doctrines are so foreign to Catholicism that St. Thomas Aquinas defines heretics as follows: A heretic is someone who devises or follows false or new opinions. Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, Q.11, a.1 Sed contra (emphasis added). Notice St. Thomas does not say “false and new opinions”. The newness of a doctrine is already sufficient reason to reject it.

The Second Council of Nicea, in 787 AD, condemned doctrinal innovators and rejected all innovations, with these words:

[W]e declare that we defend free from any innovations all the written and unwritten ecclesiastical traditions that have been entrusted to us. … Therefore, all those who … devise innovations or who spurn anything entrusted to the Church …, we order that they be suspended if they are bishops or clerics, and excommunicated if they are monks or lay people.

Emphasis added.

Pope St. Pius X describes modernists in terms of their break with tradition and their embrace of novel doctrines:

[T]hey pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true meaning of religion; in introducing a new system in which they are seen to be under the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty, thinking not at all of finding some solid foundation of truth, but despising the Holy and Apostolic Traditions.

Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, ¶13, quoting from the encyclical Singulari nos of Pope Gregory XVI, June 25, 1834 (emphasis added).

Summary

It is clear that the Holy Ghost is not promised as a guide for the teaching of new doctrines. Further, the Catholic Church has always taught that Her doctrines are not new. Rather, the Catholic Church condemns new doctrines and considers them heresy.

As Admitted by the Conciliar Revolutionaries, Vatican II’s Teachings Are New, Which shows that Those Teachings are False.

Having seen above that the Catholic Church rejects new doctrines and certainly does not teach them infallibly, we next look at whether Vatican II’s teachings are new. If they are, then they cannot be infallible and must be rejected. Below, we set forth the testimony of the hierarchy that the teachings of Vatican II are new. (This is merely one “level” of proof among many, showing that we must reject the teachings of Vatican II.)

The testimony of Pope John Paul II:

[W]hat constitutes the substantial “novelty” of the Second Vatican Council, in line with the legislative tradition of the Church, especially in regard to ecclesiology, constitutes likewise the “novelty” of the new Code [of canon law].

Among the elements which characterize the true and genuine image of the Church, we should emphasize especially the following: the doctrine in which the Church is presented as the People of God (cf. Lumen Gentium, no. 2), and authority as a service (cf. ibid., no. 3); the doctrine in which the Church is seen as a “communion”, and which, therefore, determines the relations which should exist between the particular Churches and the universal Church, and between collegiality and the primacy; the doctrine, moreover, according to which all the members of the People of God, in the way suited to each of them, participate in the threefold office of Christ: priestly, prophetic and kingly. With this teaching there is also linked that which concerns the duties and rights of the faithful, and particularly of the laity; and finally, the Church’s commitment to ecumenism. …

[T]he Second Vatican Council has … elements both old and new, and the new consists precisely in the elements which we have enumerated ….

Pope John Paul II, Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, January 25, 1983 (emphasis added).

As quoted above, Pope John Paul II specifically identified key doctrines of Vatican II as novelties. Among the chief novel teachings of Vatican II (and which are contained in the 1983 code of canon law), he lists: the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation [meaning everyone goes to heaven] is shown to be the People of God and its hierarchical constitution to be founded on the College of Bishops together with its head. Pope John Paul II, Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, January 25, 1983.

We have other warnings that the conciliar doctrines are novelties, (for which the Holy Ghost was not promised). Pope John Paul II admitted the council’s novelties in these words:

Indeed, the extent and depth of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council call for a renewed commitment to deeper study in order to reveal clearly the Council’s continuity with Tradition, especially in points of doctrine which, perhaps because they are new, have not yet been well understood by some sections of the Church.

Ecclesia Dei, (1988), ¶5b.

The pope is calling for deeper study because 23 years after the council, he acknowledges that Vatican II’s continuity with Sacred Tradition is still not shown (nor can it be)!

The testimony of Pope Benedict XVI:

In the first year of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI said:

[W]ith the Second Vatican Council, the time came when broad new thinking was required.

December 22, 2005 Christmas address (emphasis added).

Before he became pope, Cardinal Ratzinger taught:

If it is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the text [of the Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes] as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of countersyllabus. … Let us be content to say that the text serves as a countersyllabus and, as such, represents, on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789 [by the Masonic French Revolution].

Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, translator, Sr. Mary Frances McCarthy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press 1987), pp. 381-382; French edition: Les Principes de la Theologie Catholique – Esquisse et Materiaux, Paris: Tequi, 1982, pp. 426-427 (emphasis added; bracketed words added; parenthetical words are in the original).

Note: Obviously, whatever is the opposite (that is, the “countersyllabus”) of the Catholic Church’s prior teaching, must be a novel teaching which the Church did not previously teach. Yet this is how Pope Benedict XVI described some of the main teachings of Vatican II! Thus, clearly, Vatican II’s teachings contain novelties (which are therefore false).

The testimony of Pope Paul VI:

The new position adopted by the Church with regard to the realities of this earth is henceforth well known by everyone …. [T]he Church agrees to recognize the new principle to be put into practice …. [T]he Church agrees to recognize the world as ‘self-sufficient’; she does not seek to make the world an instrument for her religious ends ….

August 24, 1969 Declaration of Pope Paul VI, L’Osservatore Romano; (emphasis added).

Further, Pope Paul VI also referred to the “newness” of the doctrine of the Second Vatican Council, in a general audience on January 12, 1966.

Statements Made by other Members of the Hierarchy

Other members of the hierarchy have also made clear statements concerning the novelty and rupture of the teachings of Vatican II.

Near the close of the council, Cardinal Congar stated:

What is new in this teaching [regarding religious liberty] in relation to the doctrine of Leo XIII and even of Pius XII, although the movement was already beginning to make itself felt, is the determination of the basis peculiar to this liberty, which is sought not in the objective truth of moral or religious good, but in the ontological quality of the human person.

Congar, in the Bulletin Etudes et Documents of June 15, 1965, as quoted in I Accuse the Council, Archbishop Lefebvre, p. 27, Angelus Press, 2009 (emphasis added; bracketed words added).

Yves Cardinal Congar was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in recognition for Cardinal Congar’s lifelong dedication to the conciliar revolution. Cardinal Congar likened Vatican II to the triumph of the communists in Russia, calling Vatican II the “October Revolution” in the Church. Yves Congar, The Council Day by Day: Second Session p. 215, (1964).

By this parallel, Cardinal Congar is telling us that Vatican II was an overthrow of the established order in the Catholic Church. Note that, by making this particular comparison, Cardinal Congar saw fit to compare Vatican II to the triumph of the anti-God communists in Russia!

Cardinal Suenens compared Vatican II to a different anti-God revolution. He made the same parallel as Cardinal Ratzinger did (quoted above), comparing Vatican II to the anti-God, Masonic French Revolution, saying that Vatican II was the “1789” in the Church. Quoted in the Catechism of the Crisis in the Church, Pt., 5, by Fr. M. Gaudron, SSPX.

In all three of the cardinals’ comparisons of Vatican II with a communist or Masonic revolution, it is clear that they are stating that Vatican II’s teaching is revolutionary, and thus it is new and false.

Conclusion Regarding the Non-Infallibility (and Falsity) of Vatican II’s Teachings based on their Newness (Novelty)

We have seen that the Holy Ghost is not promised for the teaching of new doctrines. Further, the Catholic Church has always taught that Her doctrines are not new and cannot change. Rather, the Catholic Church condemns new doctrines and considers them heresy.

We have also seen that Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI (as well as some cardinals), have all stated that Vatican II’s doctrines are new. Therefore, Vatican II’s teachings cannot be infallible (and further, they must be rejected because they are new and heretical).

A pope who taught heresy in the past

In this article

  1. The Catholic Church will always have a pope
  2. The Catholic Church is not in an interregnum
  3. The Catholic Church will always be visible and will always have a pope who is visible to all
  4. The man whom the whole Church accepts as pope, is the pope
  5. Rash judgment: concluding the pope is a formal heretic
  6. Sedevacantism is un-Catholic because it is revolutionary
  7. Our Catholic duty: resist the harm done by a bad pope but (of course) recognize his authority
  8. Judging the pope’s words and deeds according to Catholic tradition
  9. An example of a pope teaching heresy before his election and during his reign
  10. A Man Need not be Consecrated a Bishop or Ordained a Priest to be a Valid Pope
  11. The Revelations to Sister Lucy of Fatima Show That the Catholic Church has a Pope

Sedevacantists’ questions answered

1. The Catholic Church Will Always Have a Pope

Because the conciliar popes regularly commit shocking scandals, a Catholic might be tempted to the visceral reaction that there is no pope. However, that reaction is an error. The Catholic Church teaches that She will always have a pope, until the very end of the world:
  1. Vatican I infallibly teaches us: If anyone says that it is not by the institution of Christ the Lord Himself (that is to say, by Divine Law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of Blessed Peter in this primacy, let him be anathema. Vatican I, Session 4, Ch. 2 (bold emphasis and parenthetical words are in the original, italic emphasis added).
  2. The great Doctor of the Church, Saint Francis de Sales, teaches us: St. Peter has had successors, has them in these days, and will have them even to the end of the ages. Catholic Controversy, part 2, art. 6, ch. 9.

  3. Pope Pius XII teaches us: If ever one day . . . material Rome were to crumble, . . . even then the Church would not crumble or crack, Christ’s promise to Peter would always remain true, the Papacy, the one and indestructible Church founded on the Pope alive at the moment, would always endure. January 30, 1949, Address to the Students of Rome, Quoted from The Pope Speaks, Pantheon Books, New York, 1957 (emphasis added).

2. The Catholic Church is not in an Interregnum

Sedevacantists generally hold that Pope Pius XII has had no successors, during the last 57 years. In an attempt to avoid the contradiction between Vatican I’s infallible teaching and their own theory, the sedevacantists simply label the last 57 years as a “papal interregnum”.
But if a sedevacantist would examine his position objectively, he would see that the supposed “facts” he asserts would not constitute a real interregnum but rather would be in an interruption in papal succession. The sedevacantists assert that there will be a pope in some future time. But their theory (viz., no pope now, but there will be a future pope) really supposes there would be (what historians call) a restoration of the (papal) monarchy. See, the history of monarchy in various countries in which the monarchy has been restored, e.g., England and France.

The difference between papal interregnums and the sedevacantist theory.

Throughout Church history, no pope was ever elected until the previous pope dies (or abdicates). Thus, there is always a short interregnum, during which the electors promptly begin the process of choosing a new pope and they continue their task until a new pope is chosen.
Choosing a new pope has often taken only days. But the sedevacantists try to liken the 57-year (supposed) papal interregnum which they assert, to the very extreme and unusual interregnum which ended in Pope Gregory X’s election. This interregnum was 2¾ years and is the longest in Church history. The Primacy of the Apostolic See Vindicated, Bishop Francis Kenrick, 3rd ed., Dunigan & Bro., New York, 1848, p.288.
The election of Pope Gregory X took 2¾ years because the Cardinal electors had a profound disagreement which caused those Cardinals to labor that long electing a new pope. But they kept trying until they succeeded in electing a new pope.
This interregnum (before Pope Gregory X’s election) is very different from the supposed interregnum asserted by the sedevacantists, for five reasons:
  1. The sedevacantists assert an interregnum which is over 20 times longer than the Church’s longest interregnum (ending in the election of Pope Gregory X).
  2. Taking into account the speed of communication of particular times throughout history, never in Church history did virtually every Catholic think we had a pope when we had no pope. By contrast, the tiny sedevacantist “elite” thinks that the Chair of St. Peter is vacant and only this “elite” “knows” it.
  3. In the case of any anti-pope in history, it has never happened that virtually every Catholic throughout the world, has been deceived into believing that an anti-pope was the true pope. In fact, it would be impossible for this to happen, as shown in Section 4 below. But the tiny sedevacantist “elite” wrongly thinks this has occurred today and that only their tiny “elite” “knows” the truth.
  4. In every interregnum beginning with St. Peter’s death, the papal electors promptly set about the task of choosing a new pope. Even in the most extreme case of laboring 2¾ years to choose a new pope, the electors began promptly and did not stop trying until they succeeded.
    By contrast, the sedevacantists assert there has been no attempt to even begin electing a new pope during this 57-year (supposed) interregnum, because the sedevacantists assert that no Cardinal electors remain to elect a new pope because they are all disqualified by (supposedly) ceasing to be Catholic.
  5. During papal interregnums, the Church’s Unified Government continues operating without interruption. But that is not true under the sedevacantist interregnum theory, which results in a concrete denial of Catholic teaching that Unity of Government is an element of the Church’s Mark of Unity. See the discussion below.

The sedevacantist interregnum theory contradicts Catholic Teaching that the Church’s Unity of Government, is part of the Church’s Mark of Unity.

It is basic catechism that the Catholic Church has a Unified, Monarchic Government. See, e.g., Summa Suppl., Q.26, a.3, Respondeo. This Government makes the Church one throughout the world. Summa Supp. Q.40, a.6, Respondeo. This central government is an element of the Church’s Mark of Unity. See, Council of Trent Catechism, article: Marks of the Church, section: Unity, subsection: Unity in Government.
One large Catholic Dictionary explained the need for the Church’s unity of government, by setting forth the contrast to the disunited German States of the early 19th Century, which were united under a common language, beliefs and practice, but were not one country:

The Catholic Roman Church … is one because all her members are united under one visible head …. Some years ago a great deal was said about the unity of Germany, which was eagerly desired by many. Germans had many points in common: they all spoke the same language; the same blood flowed in their veins; they were proud of the same literature; they were bound together by many ennobling recollections, and, in some measure, by common aspirations. But the German States were not one, because they were not under one government.

Catholic Dictionary, Addis & Arnold, Catholic Publication Society, 3rd ed., New York, 1884, article: Church of Christ, page 174.
For the Catholic Church to lose Her Unity of Government, even temporarily, would be to lose an element of the Mark of Unity, at least temporarily. Id. If there were times when the Church did not have this element of the Mark of Unity, then this element would never be part of the Mark, because the Marks of the Church are inseparable from the Church and are signs by which we can always discern the true Church. 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, article: Unity (as a Mark of the Church); Catechism of St. Pius X, section: Ninth Article of the Creed, Q.13.
Just as the Church is always unified in Faith, She is always unified in Government. Thus, when a pope dies, if the Church’s central Government ceased to function, the Church’s Unity of Government would also cease. That does not happen. Even during papal interregnums, the Church’s central Government continues to function, although under somewhat different rules.
Important Pontifical matters which are not urgent, are deferred until the election of the new pope. See, e.g., St. Pius X’s Constitution Vacante Apostolica Sede, December 25, 1904, title 1, ch. 1, §1. Urgent Pontifical matters are handled by majority decision of the cardinals. See, e.g., Id., §5. Sacred Congregations continue to handle routine matters. Id., title 1, ch. 4. We could give a lot more details about the continuation of the Church’s central Government. See, e.g., Id., title 1, ch. 3, §12, regarding the continued functioning of the offices of Camerlengo and the Grand Penitentiary. In summary, the Church’s central Government always continues functioning and the Church maintains Her Mark of Unity in Her Government even during a papal interregnum.
Above, we use as an example, Pope St. Pius X’s 1904 revision of the rules for the operation of the Church’s central Government during a papal interregnum. But this revision is only one of the various versions of the rules over the centuries. The rules have also been tweaked by Pope Pius IV, Pope Gregory XV, Pope Clement XII and other popes. But regardless of the details, the Church’s central Government always continues to function even during an interregnum (although under somewhat different rules than when a pope is alive).
Because sedevacantists assert that not only the pope but everyone else in the Church’s government (Cardinals, Chamberlains, etc.) is outside the Catholic Church, the sedevacantists’ interregnum theory results in the (supposed) destruction of the Unity and the Continuity of the Church’s central Government, for 57 years now. This results in a concrete denial of Catholic teaching that Unity of Government is an element of the Church’s Mark of Unity, since the Church’s Marks are never lost, even temporarily.

Conclusion

The past 57 years are much different than a papal interregnum and the sedevacantist theory destroys the Unity and Continuity of the Church’s Government, which is an element of the Mark of Unity.
The truth is, that the Catholic Church will always have Unity and Continuity in Her central Government even during a papal interregnum, but this does not mean that She will always be governed well.
Whoever the pope is (which is a different question), we must have a pope because St. Peter will have perpetual successors, he has them in these days and there is a pope who is alive at the moment. (Quoted from Section 1 above.)

3. The Catholic Church Will Always Be Visible And Will Always Have a Pope Who is Visible to All

Knowing that we must have a pope, there are a few tiny dispersed groups who so despise the pope in the Vatican, that they concoct theories that there is a hidden pope, whom only their tiny “elite” “knows” about.
These tiny “elite” groups are disunited in their views about who the hidden “pope” is. Some hold that he lives in a farmhouse in Kansas, others that the “pope” is in Montana, Croatia, Argentina, Kenya, Spain or elsewhere. Each of these “popes” is “known” and recognized only by his own tiny group.

The Catholic Church is visible and will always be visible.

But we know from our catechism that the Catholic Church will always be visible. This is why Pope Pius XI declared that the one true Church of Christ is visible to all. Mortalium Animos, January 6, 1928. ¶10.

Pope Leo XIII identified the cause of this visibility: the Church is visible because she is a body. Satis Cognitum, ¶3.

Pope Pius XII affirmed this same truth, quoting these words of Pope Leo XIII. Mystici Corporis Christi §14.
St. Francis de Sales replied to his adversaries who would maintain that the Church is invisible and unperceivable that he consider[ed] that this is the extreme of absurdity, and that immediately beyond this abide frenzy and madness. He then proceeds to discuss at length eight clear proofs that the Church is always visible. Catholic Controversy, Part 1, ch. 5.
Thus, because the Catholic Church will always be a body, she will always be visible.

This visible Church will always have a visible government with a visible head.

Because the Church will always be visible, and because Unity of Government is an element of the Mark of Unity by which the Church can always be known, the Church will always have a visible government, so that the true Church can be recognized by this Mark of Unity of Government. See, Section 2 above.

Because the Church’s government is visible and monarchical, the Church, being a visible body, must have a visible head and centre of unity. Catholic Dictionary, Addis & Arnold, Catholic Publication Society, 3rd ed., New York, 1884, article: Church of Christ, page 176.
This is obviously true. For the Church is not one, with a visible government, if it is unknown “who is in charge”. In fact, governing authority is the efficient cause giving unity as one body, to any society of men. Summa Supp., Q.40, a.6, Respondeo. For there is not one visible society if it consists of men united only by ideas and not by one, visible government. That is why even basic catechisms teach us that the Catholic Church is under one visible head. See, e.g., Baltimore Catechism #4, Q.115.
Such a visible head has always been necessary but even more evidently so, as the Catholic Church spread throughout the world. A Full Catechism of the Catholic Church Joseph Deharbe, S.J., Catholic Publication Society, New York, 1889, p.132.
That is why Pope Pius XII sums up Catholic teaching by declaring that it is absolutely necessary that the Supreme Head, that is, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, be visible to the eyes of all. Mystici Corporis, ¶69.

Conclusion

We have no assurance that the pope will be holy or will govern well. However, we do know that the Catholic Church is a visible body and that her head, the pope, is visible to all. Thus, the pope is not living unknown and hidden from the attention of the world, in some Kansas farmhouse or similar place.
Further, it is clear that the pope is also not someone such as Cardinal Siri (who a tiny group had supposed to have been a secret pope). Such supposed “pontificate” was not visible. In other words, he was not the pope who is visible to the eyes of all. Mystici Corporis, ¶69.
Thus, we have a pope who is visible to all.

4. The Man Whom the Whole Church Accepts as Pope, Is the Pope

Because the pope must be visible, a necessary corollary of this truth is that whoever is accepted as the pope by virtually all Catholics, we know must be the pope by that very fact, since the pope must be visible to the Church as the pope. This is true because, if virtually all Catholics accepted the legitimacy of an anti-pope, then the true pope would be “invisible”, i.e., unknown to the Church. Thus, because the pope must be visible to all, whoever is accepted as pope by virtually all Catholics, we know must be the pope.
St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church, explained this truth as follows:

It is of no importance that in past centuries some Pontiff was illegitimately elected or took possession of the Pontificate by fraud. It is enough that he was accepted afterwards by the whole Church as Pope, since by such an acceptance he would become the True Pontiff.

Verità della Fede Part 3, Ch.8, §9, emphasis added.

This entire work of St. Alphonsus is available in an online library, for free, in Italian.

Here is the original Italian version, of the sentences quoted above: Niente ancora importa che ne’ secoli passati alcun pontefice sia stato illegittimamente eletto, o fraudolentemente siasi intruso nel pontificato; basta che poi sia stato accettato da tutta la chiesa come papa, attesoché per tale accettazione già si è renduto legittimo e vero pontefice.

When teaching this same truth, Cardinal Louis Billot identified the cause of this truth, viz., the indefectibility of the Church:

Beyond all doubt, it ought to be firmly held, that the adhesion of the universal Church would, in itself, always be an infallible sign of the legitimacy of a particular pope, and even for the existence of all conditions which are required for his legitimacy as pope. Nor does it take long to identify the reason for this fact. For the reason is taken directly from the infallible promise of Christ and from Providence: The gates of hell shall not prevail against Her [the Church]. And again: Behold, I am with you all days, which is equivalent.

Cardinal Billot, Tractus De Ecclesia Christi, Book 1, Q.14, De Romano Pontifice, Thesis 29, §3; emphasis added.
When discussing the invalidity of simoniacal elections to the papacy, Bishop Kenrick teaches that the Church’s acceptance of a pope cures any defect in his election but that the pope nonetheless has a moral duty to resign:

Should the contemplated case unfortunately occur, the guilty individual must know that he cannot conscientiously exercise the papal power. . . . [T]he acquiescence of the Church heals the defect as far as the faithful are concerned, although it does not relieve the delinquent from the necessity of abdicating the high office which he sacrilegiously assumed.

Bishop Francis Kenrick, The Primacy of the Apostolic See Vindicated 3rd Ed., 1848, Dunigan & Bro., New York, pp. 287-8.

There are Five Consequences of the Fact that Whoever the Whole Church Accepts as Pope, is the Pope.

  1. Pope Francis is the pope now.
    Virtually all 1.2 billion Catholics accept Pope Francis as pope. Thus, we know that Pope Francis is the pope currently.
  2. Pope Benedict XVI is no longer pope.
    The fact that Catholics universally accept Pope Francis as pope, is one of many reasons why it is wrong to suppose that Pope Benedict XVI did not “really” resign, and is still pope (instead of Pope Francis). Virtually the whole Church accepts Pope Francis as pope, and the whole Church could never accept an anti-pope.
  3. Each of the other post-conciliar popes was pope, in his turn.
    Over the last 57 years, the whole Church accepted each of the other post-conciliar popes, as pope, in his turn. Thus, we know each was the pope.
  4. This is a further reason we know Cardinal Siri was not pope.
    It is clear that Cardinal Siri was not pope (as a tiny group supposes). Not only was his supposed “pontificate” invisible, but it would have opposed the pontificate of the pope universally accepted by Catholics.

  5. This further shows the impossibility of the Church being now in a papal interregnum.
    The Church accepts Pope Francis as pope and accepted each of his post-conciliar predecessors. This is one of many compelling reasons why we know the Church is not in a papal interregnum because, when the Church accepted each post-conciliar pope in his turn, each one became the true pope (if he wasn’t pope already). St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Verità della Fede Part 3, Ch.8, §9.

5. Rash Judgment: Concluding the Pope is a Formal Heretic

Trying to escape the fact that the pope in the Vatican is visible to all and is accepted as pope by virtually all Catholics, a tiny group holds that no “real” Catholics exist besides the members of their own tiny group. Thus, they assert that the pope in the Vatican is not the “real” pope because he is not accepted as pope by the “real” Catholics (who are exclusively members of their own tiny group). Or alternatively, they assert that their own “pope” (accepted only by their own tiny group) is visible to “all” Catholics and accepted by “all” Catholics, because their tiny group is the only group of “true” Catholics.
Therefore, in order to reach the result they seek, this tiny group judges the 1.2 billion people who profess to be Catholic. This tiny group decides that the Faith and morals of those 1.2 billion people show they are not “real” Catholics. Similarly, this tiny group also judges the pope in the Vatican and decides that his Faith (and morals) show he is not “really” the pope.

The distinction between material heresy and formal heresy.

It is true that many people who profess to be Catholics, hold objective errors against the Catholic Faith. This problem occurred in past centuries also, even if it is more common today than in (at least some) past centuries. For example, a child might believe that God has a body. Or an adult might profess the Pelagian heresy (about grace and free will).
But we would not be forced to conclude that such a person (who professed himself Catholic but has always held the Pelagian heresy), has never really been Catholic. For a person ceases to be Catholic when he holds a position against the Catholic Faith which he knows to be incompatible with what he must believe in order to be Catholic.
If a man held the Pelagian heresy, but wrongly believed that he held the Catholic Faith (concerning matters of grace and free will), then that man would be a material heretic. That is, the man would hold the “material” of heresy (i.e., a heretical opinion) not knowing it was heresy. But this man would not be a formal heretic because he would not know his position was against the teaching of the Catholic Church (and God).

A formal heretic denies the formal aspect of Faith, which is the authority of God. The material heretic denies only the material aspect of Faith. Here is how St. Thomas explains this distinction between the Faith’s formal and material aspects:

If we consider, in the Faith, the formal aspect of the object, it is nothing else than the First Truth. For the Faith of which we are speaking, does not assent to anything, except because it is revealed by God. Hence, the mean [i.e., the middle term of the syllogism] on which Faith is based is the Divine Truth [i.e., God’s authority].

If, however, we consider materially the things to which Faith assents, they include not only God but also many other things ….

Summa, III, Q.1, a.1, Respondeo (emphasis and bracketed words added).

In other words, the formal aspect of the Faith is God alone, because God is the infallible authority of revealed Faith. The material aspect includes many other things, e.g., our Lady’s Assumption into heaven, because the material aspect of the Faith includes all the various revealed truths of our Faith.

Definitions—In summary:

  • A person is a formal heretic if he denies any part of the Catholic Faith in its formal aspect, i.e., if he denies any statement which he knows is revealed by the infallible teaching authority of the Church (God). Such denial involves rejecting the Church’s (God’s) infallible authority itself.
  • A person is a material heretic only, if he denies a part of the Catholic Faith in its material aspect only. In other words, a material heretic is a person who denies a statement of the Catholic Faith without knowing the Church (God) teaches that this statement is infallibly true. Such material heretic’s denial does not involve rejection of the Church’s (God’s) infallible authority, because he errs about what the Church (God) teaches.
Thus, a material heretic can be a Catholic. However, a formal heretic cannot be Catholic, because he rejects the Church’s (God’s) authority by denying part of the Faith, knowing the Church (God) teaches it.
Holding formal heresy always places a person into the state of mortal sin and outside the Church, even if no one else knows of the formal heresy. By contrast, holding material heresy neither places a person in mortal sin nor outside the Church because the person holds the error against the Faith blamelessly, i.e., without knowing his opinion is against the Faith.
Material heresy does not exclude someone from the Church, no matter how public the heresy is, no matter how much harm the heresy causes, and no matter how unshakably he professes it. Thus, the very fact that a person professes a heretical opinion does not, in itself, tell us if he is interiorly culpable for a sin against the Faith. In other words, professing heresy does not, in itself, tell us if the person is a formal heretic or if he is Catholic.
This distinction between formal heresy and material heresy, is a matter of common sense and is the same type of distinction we make in everyday life, between an objectively sinful act and interior culpability for the sinful act.
When leaving a restaurant, suppose a man takes an umbrella which does not belong to him but which he innocently believes to be his own. He has committed an objectively sinful act of theft (i.e., wrongfully taking someone else’s property), but interiorly he has not sinned.

Here is how the Summa Theologica explains that ignorance can excuse a person from culpability for an act which is objectively sinful:

An act is said to be excused … on the part of the agent, so that although the act be evil, it is not imputed as sin to the agent, or [in the case of an agent who had some culpable negligence] at least not as so grave a sin. Thus, ignorance is said to excuse [interior culpability for] a sin wholly or partly.

Summa Supp., Q.49, a.4, Respondeo (emphasis and bracketed words added).

There is no sin of theft on the man’s soul (i.e., no interior culpability) because taking the umbrella was an innocent mistake.

This man is like the material heretic, who innocently believes a statement which is objectively false (i.e., heresy). Thus, the material heretic is objectively wrong but interiorly blameless for the sin of heresy. By contrast, the formal heretic knows he believes something contrary to the Church’s (God’s) teaching, like a person who takes someone else’s umbrella knowing it is not his own. The formal heretic is interiorly culpable for his heretical opinion.
Thus, people who profess heresy could be material heretics only, or they could be formal heretics. If they profess themselves to be Catholics and are material heretics only, their clinging (however tightly and publicly) to objective heresy does not put them outside the Church, since they do not deny the Church’s teaching, knowing the Church (God) teaches the statement infallibly. Such material heretics are merely Catholics who are mistaken about some aspect of the Faith.
By contrast, a person is outside the Church (and is a formal heretic) who rejects a statement of the Faith in its formal aspect, knowing the Church (God) teaches the statement infallibly. This rejection is a rejection of the Church’s (God’s) authority.
If we were to judge someone to be a formal heretic (which always brings interior culpability for mortal sin), we would be judging the sin on his soul, not merely judging that he made an objective error against the Faith (which might be blameless). Judging someone to be a formal heretic is to conclude that such a person really “knows” he denies what the Church (God) teaches, but he won’t admit this “fact”.

We are not discussing the case of a non-Catholic (e.g., a Lutheran) who denies a truth of the Catholic Faith and tells us (by his very adherence to Lutheranism) that he is not Catholic and does not believe everything the Catholic Church teaches. Instead, we are treating of a man who professes to be a Catholic but denies part of the Catholic Faith.

It is Rash Judgment to Judge a Person’s Interior Culpability

God wills men to know the unchanging truth especially of the Faith, and this knowledge perfects our intellects. In other words, truth makes our intellects good. In seeking the truth, we should strive to be completely objective in knowing things exactly as they are.

Here is how St. Thomas explains this principle:

[W]hen we judge of things … there is question of the good of the person who judges [viz., the good of his intellect], if he judge truly, and of his evil [viz., of his intellect] if he judge falsely, because the true is the good of the intellect, and the false is its evil, as stated in [Aristotle’s] Ethics, bk.6, ch.2. Wherefore everyone should strive to make his judgment accord with things as they are.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.4, ad 2 (emphasis and bracketed words added).

For this reason, when determining whether a particular statement is against the Catholic Faith, we should judge the statement with complete objectivity.

By contrast, when we judge the motives or culpability of persons, we must judge in the best possible light, not with complete “even-handed objectivity”. This is true even if we were usually wrong about such a person’s culpability. Judgments about the culpability of our neighbor are singular, contingent facts (in contrast to eternal, universal truth) and such singular facts do not perfect our intellect. It is better to be usually wrong making too-favorable a judgment about a person’s culpability than to be wrong even occasionally, making too negative a judgment.

Here is how St. Thomas explains this important point:

It is one thing to judge of things and another to judge of men. … [W]hen we judge of men, the good and evil in our judgment is considered chiefly on the part of the person about whom judgment is being formed. For he is deemed worthy of honor from the very fact that he is judged to be good, and deserving of contempt if he is judged to be evil. For this reason we ought, in this kind of judgment, to aim at judging a man good, unless the contrary is proven.[We] may happen to be deceived more often than not. Yet it is better to err frequently through thinking well of a wicked man, than to err less frequently through having an evil opinion of a good man, because in the latter case an injury is inflicted, but not in the former. … And though we may judge falsely, our judgment in thinking well of another pertains to our goodwill toward him and not to the evil of the intellect, even as neither does it pertain to the intellect’s perfection to know the truth of contingent singular facts in themselves.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.4, ad 1-2 (emphasis added).

Such an unproven, negative judgment about a person’s culpability is called rash judgment. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.2, Respondeo.

For this reason, when determining whether a person is blamable for holding a heretical opinion, we should not judge his interior culpability with complete objectivity but rather, in the best possible light (if we judge at all). For, as St. Thomas explains: Our Lord forbids rash judgment, which is about the inward intention or other uncertain things, as Augustine states (De Serm. Dom. in Monte ii, 18). Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.2, ad 1.
If a man says he is a Catholic and that he believes that a Catholic is permitted to hold the opinions he does, we should judge him in the best possible light and not assume he “knows” his position is contrary to the Catholic Faith, but won’t admit the “fact”. Nor should we assume that, just because we are unsuccessful in changing his opinion, that this means the man “knows” his position is contrary to what he must believe in order to be Catholic.
Thus, it is good to judge objectively the errors themselves, taught by Pope Francis (or others), because the truth of statements should be judged objectively. But it is rash to judge Pope Francis’s culpability with objective “even-handedness” and assume he certainly “knows” that he holds heresy and thus, is not “really” Catholic (and pope).
To the extent we judge Pope Francis’ interior culpability at all, we must judge in the best possible light. Thus, we would judge him to be a material heretic (not a formal heretic) and judge him to still be Catholic (as he professes he is) and to still be the pope (as he professes to be).
Similarly, whatever objective heresies are held by the 1.2 billion people who profess to be Catholic, we should judge their interior culpability in the best possible light (if we judge at all). We should not conclude they are formal heretics and are not “real” Catholics. Thus, their acceptance of Pope Francis is an alternate way to prove he is the pope. See, section 4 above.

When can We Conclude Someone is a Formal Heretic?

We could conclude Pope Francis was a formal heretic if he told us that he did not believe what the Church (God) teaches, that a Catholic must believe now. We would not be judging him rashly because we would merely believe what he tells us about himself.
However, it is rash to judge the interior culpability of Pope Francis (or anyone else) and conclude he is a formal heretic simply because he is a material heretic, i.e., has heretical opinions and refuses to be corrected by traditional Catholics.

Protecting Ourselves from Evil without Judging Interior Culpability

Of course, even when we judge someone not be a formal heretic (if we judge him at all), this does not mean we should accept him as our child’s catechism teacher. For our child would be harmed by his errors, however interiorly blameless the man might be for professing his heresy.
Without judging someone’s interior culpability, we should take into account the person’s wrong-doing (which we must judge objectively). For, when a man is prone to take other people’s umbrellas, we should keep a close eye on our own umbrella (when he is present) even if he innocently took the other umbrellas in the past.
Likewise, we should warn people not to attend sermons of a particular priest who professes errors against the Faith, even if he teaches these errors innocently. We should be wary and warn others, simply based on the priest’s proneness to teach error, whether he is culpable or not.
Judging any person to be interiorly culpable for his sinful act only results in concluding his soul is lower with regards to our own soul, than would be true if he were not culpable. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.4, ad 2. But our rashly judging his interior culpability does not allow us to protect ourselves any better than if we didn’t judge him.

But isn’t it “Obvious” that Pope Francis is a Formal Heretic?

But “rash judgers” will exclaim that it is “obvious” that the man (in the example above) knows he is taking someone else’s umbrella (and is interiorly culpable), because his own umbrella is a different color or because he did not bring his own umbrella with him today, etc. Notice the hidden assumptions in the “rash judger’s” conclusion. He assumes that the “umbrella thief” remembers which umbrella he brought today, etc. St. Thomas replies about such rash judgment: “it is better to err frequently through thinking well of a wicked man, than to err less frequently through having an evil opinion of a good man”. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.4, ad 1.
Similarly, “rash judgers” say the pope is “obviously” a formal heretic. They say he “must” know he denies Church teaching because he was trained in the Catholic Faith before Vatican II or that his errors have been pointed out to him, etc. Notice the hidden assumptions in the “rash judger’s” conclusion. He assumes that the “heretic” had a good (or at least an average) Catholic education, etc. St. Thomas replies to these “rash judgers” that we must not judge based on such probabilities and assumptions. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.4, ad 1.
We are not obliged to search for an explanation of how the pope (or anyone else) might not be blamable for whatever objective heresy he holds. The members of the post-Vatican II hierarchy are not stupid, but they received an extremely bad philosophical formation, including the principle (which is at the root of modernism) that all truth evolves. By contrast, all correct reasoning (and the Catholic Faith) rely on the philosophical principle that there is eternal, unchanging truth.
In his masterful treatment of modernism, St. Pius X explained that modernists profess that all truth changes:
[T]hey have reached that pitch of folly at which they pervert the eternal concept of truth …. [They say] dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. … Thus far, Venerable Brethren, We have considered the Modernist as a philosopher.
Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Pope St. Pius X, September 8, 1907, §§13-14.
Thus, because of bad philosophy, modernists think a dogma used to be true (and used to be taught by the Church) but is no longer true or taught by the Church. This explains why the present hierarchy treats the Church’s past teaching, not as false at the previous time, but as “obsolete” or no longer binding. For example, Cardinal Ratzinger treated the (truly infallible) teachings in the syllabi of Pope Pius IX and Pope St. Pius X as if they were now-outdated and no longer true. He says that:
[T]here are decisions of the Magisterium that cannot be a last word on the matter as such, but are, in a substantial fixation of the problem, above all an expression of pastoral prudence, a kind of provisional disposition. Its nucleus remains valid, but the particulars, which the circumstances of the times have influenced, may need further ramifications. In this regard, one may think of the declarations of popes in the last century about religious liberty, as well as the anti-Modernist decisions at the beginning of this century, above all, the decisions of the Biblical Commission of the time. As a cry of alarm in the face of hasty and superficial adaptations, they will remain fully justified. A personage such as Johann Baptist Metz said, for example, that the Church’s anti-Modernist decisions render the great service of preserving her from immersion in the liberal-bourgeois world. But in the details of the determinations they contain, they become obsolete after having fulfilled their pastoral mission at the proper moment.
Cardinal Ratzinger, June 27 1990 L’Osservatore Romano, p.6 (emphasis added).
Again, we are not obliged to search for an explanation of how post-Vatican II Catholics (including the pope) avoid being formal heretics. It suffices that we judge them (if at all) in the most favorable light. Even if a modernist were absolutely clear in denying a dogma (such as our Lady’s Assumption), it would not necessarily mean he was a formal heretic and he ceased to be Catholic. This is true even assuming that he knows the Church defined the Assumption as a dogma. For a modernist could think the particular dogma had been true and Catholics used to be required to believe it, but that this particular truth has changed.
Such changeability of truth is a philosophical error underlying modernism. However, the unchangeability of truth is not itself a dogma of the Faith. Of course, the philosophical principle that truth does not change, underlies Church dogma and all natural truth. A person who holds a (materially) heretical position does not become a formal heretic unless he knows that the Catholic Church not only used to teach a particular dogma, but still teaches it and that we must believe it now, in order to be Catholic now.
A modernist could think that Catholics of a past age would have been required to be martyred rather than deny a particular dogma even though that “former” dogma is now no longer even true. The false philosophy underlying modernism corrodes the mind but can be one of many reasons why various modernists are material heretics but not formal heretics. For us, though, it is better to err frequently through thinking well of a wicked man, than to err less frequently through having an evil opinion of a good man. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.4, ad 1.

A Superior who Punishes his Subordinate in the External Forum, for the Good of the Community, is not thereby Judging Rashly

Civil and ecclesiastical authorities cannot read the interior souls of their subordinates any more than parents can read the souls of their children. But because these authorities have a special duty to care for the community over which they have charge, they have a duty to punish the wrong-doing of their subordinates, for the good of the whole community.

Here is how St. Thomas explains this principle:

[J]ust as a law cannot be made save by public authority, so neither can a judgment be pronounced except by public authority, which extends over those who are subject to the community [i.e., subject to the particular public authority]. Wherefore, even as it would be unjust for one man to force another to observe a law that was not approved by public authority, so too it is unjust, if a man compels another to submit to a judgment that is pronounced by anyone other than the public authority.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.6, respondeo.

They must use their best efforts to administer justice, although they could be wrong in their particular judgments. God will judge them according to their efforts.

Thus, a civil judge has a duty to punish murderers (and other criminals), although it is possible for him to be mistaken in his judgment. The judge is judging outwardly, i.e., in the external forum. He must do the best he can, and judges based on the evidence in front of him.
Similarly, Church authorities have a duty to protect the community over which they have been placed, although they could be mistaken in their judgments. These authorities must punish persons who spread heresy even though these authorities could be mistaken, just as a civil judge could be mistaken. Among other punishments, a superior can separate from the flock (excommunicate) the person who spreads heresy. Of course, the easiest way for a superior to protect his flock, is often to try to convince the material heretic that he is wrong, rather than inflict punishment.
Here is how St. Pius X explains the duty of ecclesiastical superiors to judge in the external forum and punish their subordinates’ evil deeds, even though the subordinate might not be interiorly culpable for any sin:
Although they [the Modernists] express their astonishment that We should number them amongst the enemies of the Church, no one will be reasonably surprised that We should do so, if, leaving out of account the internal disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge, he considers their doctrines, their manner of speech, and their actions [which are the outward, objective criteria upon which a man judges in the external forum].
Pascendi, St. Pope Pius X, §3 (emphasis and bracketed words added).
Thus, as St. Pius X explains, a superior might be mistaken about the internal disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge but nonetheless, the superior must protect the community over which he has authority, by judging the outward conduct of wrong-doers under him (and punishing, where necessary).

Sedevacantism is Schism

Schismatics are those who refuse to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to hold communion with those members of the Church who acknowledge his supremacy. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.39, a.1, respondeo. That is what sedevacantists do, viz., they refuse to submit to the current pope, asserting that he has no authority over them because he is not “really” the pope.
We should not confuse the sin of schism (which is refusing submission to the authority of the current pope), with the sin of heresy, viz., rejecting as a matter of principle the authority possessed by the papal office (e.g., that a pope is infallible when speaking ex cathedra).

Here is how St. Thomas explains this distinction:

Heresy and schism are distinguished in respect of those things to which each is opposed essentially and directly. For heresy is essentially opposed to faith, while schism is essentially opposed to the unity of ecclesiastical charity. Wherefore, just as faith and charity are different virtues, although whoever lacks faith lacks charity, so too schism and heresy are different vices, although whoever is a heretic is also a schismatic, but not conversely. This is what Jerome says in his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians: I consider the difference between schism and heresy to be that heresy holds false doctrine while schism severs a man from the Church.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.39, a.1, ad 3.

In contrast to the course taken by sedevacantists, traditional Catholics have a duty to recognize that the current pope has authority over us. Even though we frequently cannot do what the pope commands us, we must acknowledge his supremacy, as St. Thomas teaches we must. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.39, a.1, Respondeo. We do what the pope commands us to do, if we can do so in good conscience. Thus, for example, if Pope Francis commanded Catholics to recite at least five decades of the rosary each day, under pain of sin, we would be bound in conscience to do this, under pain of sin.

Incidentally, Pope Francis professes to recite 15 decades per day.

Thus, schism severs a man from the Church. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.39, a.1, ad 3 (quoting St. Jerome). But when a man holds this false position that we have no pope, he does so either culpably (i.e., he “knows better”) or it is an innocent error. If the sedevacantist is blameless for his error, then he has no interior culpability (no sin on his soul), like the man who commits the objective act of theft by innocently (although wrongfully) taking someone else’s umbrella.
So sedevacantism is always an act of schism. But it is material schism only, if the particular sedevacantist is not interiorly culpable for his false opinion that we have no pope. By contrast, the sedevacantist is a formal schismatic, if he has interior culpability because he truly “knows better”. This distinction (between material and formal schism) is analogous to the distinction between material and formal heresy.
For the reasons set forth above (concerning the sin of rash judgment), we must not judge particular sedevacantists to be formal schismatics, unless they tell us they are schismatics (in which case, we would merely believe them). But, if we judge individual sedevacantists at all, we must judge them in the best possible light, even if we would err frequently through thinking well of them. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.4, ad 1.

The Common Root of Schism and Rash Judgment, is not an Accident

As St. Thomas teaches, schism is a sin against charity. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.39, a.1, ad 3, (quoted above).
Rash judgment also, is a sin against charity. One way to see this is true, is that we would want our neighbor to judge us (if at all) in the best possible light. If we do not judge our neighbor this same way, we fail to “do unto others”, as we would have them “do unto” us. Matt. 7:12. Thus, we are not loving and treating our neighbor as ourselves, as required by the Second Great Commandment. Matt. 22:39.
Further, our judgments should always be made with a habit of charity. Summa, Q.60, a.4, respondeo & a.2, ad 1. We must judge our neighbor (if at all) according to our goodwill toward him, ready to believe the best of him. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.4, ad 2. For charity believeth all things. 1 Cor. 13: 7. Our Lord forbids judgment which proceeds not from benevolence but from bitterness of heart. Summa, Q.60, a.2, ad 1.
Although we do not judge the interior culpability of particular sedevacantists, it is not by chance that schism and rash judgment are both, at their root, sins against charity. This connection is no more by chance than the fact that gluttons tend to commit other kinds of sins connected to gluttony, such as pampering their flesh through inordinate attachment to bodily comfort. (These connections between sins are objectively true, regardless of a particular person’s culpability.)

Summary

A person could profess heresy but still be Catholic, if he were a material heretic only. We must not judge a man’s interior culpability. Therefore we must not judge a man to be a formal heretic if he professes to be Catholic and says he believes what a Catholic must believe now, in order to be Catholic now. We must judge in the most favorable light (if at all) the interior culpability of the pope or the 1.2 billion people who profess to be Catholic. We must not judge they are not “real” Catholics.
Thus, we must judge Pope Francis to be a material heretic, not a formal heretic, and that he is the pope. We must judge (if at all) that the 1.2 billion people who profess to be Catholic, are material heretics. Thus, their acceptance of Pope Francis is a further proof he is pope. See, section 4 above.
Finally, sedevacantists are in schism—material or formal—depending on whether they are culpable for their error.

6. Sedevacantism is Un-Catholic because it is Revolutionary

When someone in authority commands something evil, it is one thing to refuse to consent to that superior’s command, but it is a further step to use that evil command as a basis for rejecting the ruler’s authority as such. This further step is to revolt.
For example, the American revolutionaries considered it evil that King George III imposed taxes on them without their consent and did many other things to which they objected. But the American revolutionaries not only refused such commands of King George but also used the commands as a (purported) justification for revolution.
In their Declaration of Independence, the revolutionaries objected to many things such as their king quartering large bodies of armed troops among us; imposing taxes on us without our consent; and depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury.
After listing their grievances, the American revolutionaries then did what all revolutionaries do: they said that their ruler was to blame for their own revolution because his conduct caused him to lose his status as their king. The American revolutionaries declared that King George III whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
The American revolutionaries then did something else which revolutionaries always do: they declared that it was their right (or duty) to revolt:
[W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations … evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is [the colonies’] right, it is their duty, to throw off such government.
Finally, the American revolutionaries did more that revolutionaries always do: they declared that their ruler has lost all authority over them:
[T]hese United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.
This is what it is for a person to be a revolutionary: to reject not just particular (perhaps evil) commands but to also reject the very authority of his ruler.
The American revolutionaries followed the same pattern as countless other revolutionaries, e.g., in France, Russia, Latin America, and by the Protestant revolutionaries. In all human history—civil as well as religious—there is not even one revolution which the Catholic Church recognizes to have been praiseworthy and not sinful.

Generally, political revolt is called by the name “sedition” and revolt against the Church, by the name “schism”. But at the root of all such revolts, there is the same “non serviam!” which echoes that of Satan, the father of all revolutionaries.
In summary, revolutionaries follow a common pattern:
  1. they assert that their ruler committed wrongs (actual or merely imagined); and then
  2. they use such wrongs as a basis to declare that their ruler’s own conduct has resulted in his losing his authority to rule them.

The Cristeros were Not Revolutionaries

On a superficial level, a person might have the false impression that the Mexican Cristeros were revolutionaries because they took up arms against their government. But the Cristeros’ goal was to defend their priests, their churches and the Catholicism of their families. The Cristeros resisted the many wrongs committed by their anti-Catholic government. But unlike revolutionaries, the Cristeros did not use such wrongs as a basis to declare that their government had lost all authority over them.

Sedevacantists are Revolutionaries

Unlike the Cristeros, sedevacantists are revolutionaries. Sedevacantists correctly recognize that the pope has committed many wrongs. Instead of resisting only the wrongs committed by the pope, they follow the pattern of other revolutionaries by using these wrongs as a basis for rejecting the pope’s authority as such. Like other revolutionaries, they blame the pope for their own revolt, saying that his words and actions have caused him to lose his authority over them.
Some sedevacantists vainly attempt to avoid their status as revolutionaries, by saying they are not revolting against any ruler (the pope) because his conduct makes him not their real ruler (pope). But they fail to see how they beg the question, just like any American revolutionaries who might have said they are not revolting against their ruler (King George) because his conduct makes him not their real ruler. Such circular “reasoning” merely assumes their conclusion as a premise for their “argument” that they are not revolutionaries. In other words, they claim that they do not deny the authority of the ruler over them because they deny he has the authority of the ruler over them.
Of course, the Church is several rulers (popes) past the beginning of the sedevacantist revolution. Having revolted against Pope John XXIII, sedevacantists now take as a “matter of course” the rejection of the current pope’s authority, just as the American Revolutionaries took as a “matter of course” that King George III’s successors had no authority over them.
A person might wrongly believe that sedevacantists are not revolutionaries, based on the superficial supposition that revolution must involve physical fighting. But what is essential to revolution is for persons to declare that their ruler has lost his authority to rule them. A revolution need not involve physical fighting. For example, the Hawaiian Revolution of 1893 did not involve any physical fighting. Likewise, any physical fighting was not essential to the Protestant Revolution against the Catholic Church.
Also, a person might wrongly believe sedevacantism is not revolutionary, based on the superficial supposition that revolution must involve deposing a ruler from his throne or office. However, what is essential to revolution is the rejection of a ruler’s authority, but this might pertain to only certain persons or places. For example, in the American Revolution, the colonists did not cause King George III to lose his throne entirely. They succeeded merely in revolting against his authority in the thirteen American colonies. Similarly, the Protestant Revolution did not depose the pope from his throne but the Protestant revolutionaries merely rejected his authority among certain persons or places.

Revolution is Always Wrong

It is un-Catholic to be a revolutionary. All authority comes from God, regardless of the method by which a ruler is chosen to wield civil or religious power. St. Paul taught:
[T]here is no power but from God: and those [powers] that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. … For [the ruler] is God’s minister. … Wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for [the ruler’s] wrath, but also for conscience’s sake.
Romans, 13:1-2, 4-5 (emphasis added).
Pope Pius IX faithfully echoed St. Paul:
[A]ll authority comes from God. Whoever resists authority resists the ordering made by God Himself, consequently achieving his own condemnation; disobeying authority is always sinful except when an order is given which is opposed to the laws of God and the Church.
Qui Pluribus, November 9, 1846, §22.
Pope Pius IX taught this same doctrine in his infallible condemnation of the following proposition:

It is permissible to refuse obedience to legitimate rulers, and even to revolt against them.

Quanta Cura, proposition #63 (emphasis added).

Pope Pius IX used his ex cathedra (infallible) authority to condemn this error as part of a list of errors contained in the syllabus of Quanta Cura. Regarding these condemnations, the pope said:

We, truly mindful of Our Apostolic duty, and especially solicitous about our most holy religion, about sound doctrine and the salvation of souls divinely entrusted to Us, and about the good of human society itself, have decided to lift our voice again. And so all and each evil opinion and doctrine individually mentioned in this letter, by Our Apostolic authority We reject, proscribe and condemn; and We wish and command that they be considered as absolutely rejected, proscribed and condemned by all the sons of the Catholic Church.

Thus, Pope Pius IX’s condemnation fulfills the conditions for infallibility set out in Vatican I’s document, Pastor Aeternus, because the pope was: 1) carrying out his duty as pastor and teacher of all Christians; 2) in accordance with his supreme apostolic authority; 3) on a matter of faith or morals; 4) to be held by the universal Church.

Pope Leo XIII taught the same doctrine as St. Paul and Pope Pius IX:
If, however, it should ever happen that public power is exercised by rulers rashly and beyond measure, the doctrine of the Catholic Church does not permit rising up against them on one’s own terms, lest quiet and order be more and more disturbed, or lest society receive greater harm therefrom.
Encyclical, Quod Apostolici muneris, December 28, 1878, §7 (emphasis added).
Because it is sinful to even willfully desire to sin, Pope Leo XIII taught that even the “desire for revolution” is a “vice”. Auspicato Concessu, §24.
Although revolution is forbidden, Pope Leo XIII gave us the remedies of patience, prayer and resistance to the particular evil commands of a bad ruler:
Whenever matters have come to such a pass that no other hope of a solution is evident, [the doctrine of the Catholic Church] teaches that a remedy is to be hastened through the merits of Christian patience, and by urgent prayers to God.
But if the decisions of legislators and rulers should sanction or order something that is contrary to divine and natural law, the dignity and duty of the Christian name and the opinion of the apostles urge that we ought to obey God, rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Quod Apostolici muneris, December 28, 1878, §7 (bracketed words added).
St. Thomas offers the same remedy to persons who suffer the evil of a bad ruler:
[S]ometimes God permits evil rulers to afflict good men. This affliction is for the good of such good men, as St. Paul says above (Rom. 8:28): All things work for the good, for those who love God.
Commentary on Romans, ch.13, lect.1.

The Example of the Saints shows Revolution is Wrong

Look at the example of Catholics, including great saints like St. Sebastian, who served bravely and faithfully even in the army of the pagan emperors of Rome. They did not revolt, even when their emperor openly sought to kill all Catholics.
Here is Pope Gregory XVI’s praise for the Catholics of the Roman Empire, who were faithful to God first but also to their emperor (whenever the emperor’s commands were not themselves evil):
[T]he early Christians … deserved well of the emperors and of the safety of the state even while persecution raged. This they proved splendidly by their fidelity in performing perfectly and promptly whatever they were commanded which was not opposed to their religion, and even more by their constancy and the shedding of their blood in battle. Christian soldiers, says St. Augustine, served an infidel emperor. When the issue of Christ was raised, they acknowledged no one but the One who is in heaven. They distinguished the eternal Lord from the temporal lord, but were also subject to the temporal lord for the sake of the eternal Lord.
St. Mauritius, the unconquered martyr and leader of the Theban legion had this in mind when, as St. Eucharius reports, he answered the emperor in these words: We are your soldiers, Emperor, but also servants of God, and this we confess freely . . . and now this final necessity of life has not driven us into rebellion.
Indeed the faith of the early Christians shines more brightly, if we consider with Tertullian, that since the Christians were not lacking in numbers and in troops, they could have acted as foreign enemies. We are but of yesterday, he says, yet we have filled all your cities, islands, fortresses, municipalities, assembly places, the camps themselves, the tribes, the divisions, the palace, the senate, the forum. … For what war should we not have been fit and ready even if unequal in forces—we who are so glad to be cut to pieces—were it not, of course, that in our doctrine we would have been permitted more to be killed rather than to kill? … [Y]ou have fewer enemies because of the multitude of Christians.
These beautiful examples of the unchanging subjection to the rulers necessarily proceeded from the most holy precepts of the Christian religion.
Encyclical Mirari Vos, August 15, 1832, §§ 18-19 (emphasis added), quoting and relying on the teaching of St. Augustine (Doctor and Father of the Church), as well as St. Mauritius and Tertullian (Father of the Church).

Prohibition against All Revolution, Especially Forbids Rebellion against the Pope’s Authority as such

Since the Catholic Church’s ruler, above all others, has authority from God, the sin of revolution most especially applies to revolt against the pope’s authority, as such.
Thus, St. Robert Bellarmine explains that it is licit to resist the Pontiff who … tries to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will; it is not licit, however, to judge him, to punish him, or depose him, for these are acts proper to a superior. De Summo pontifice Book II, ch. 29 (emphasis added).

Sedevacantism is an Oversimplification

Addis & Arnold characterize the traits of revolutionaries in this way:
The methods of the Gospel are not revolutionary; they do not deal in those sweeping general assertions which fuller experience always shows to be but half truths.
A Catholic Dictionary, Addis & Arnold, The Catholic Publication Society, New York, 1884, pp.767-68 (emphasis added).
The sedevacantist exhibits such revolutionary traits. He “leaps” from the truth that the pope has done much evil, to the declaration that we have no pope. Thus, the sedevacantist oversimplifies the truth through sweeping general assertion and half-truth about his ruler.

Conclusion

Without judging sedevacantists’ interior culpability, it is nonetheless plain that sedevacantists follow the objectively sinful pattern of revolutionaries. They assert that the wrongs committed by their ruler are (purported) justification for declaring their ruler has lost his authority to rule them.

7. Our Catholic Duty: Resist the Harm Done by a Bad Pope But (Of Course) Recognize His Authority

Two different mortal sins prevent an informed Catholic from being a sedevacantist:
  1. If we rashly judge the pope to be a formal heretic because he is a material heretic, this is a mortal sin (because it is the sin of rash judgment on a grave matter). See, Section 5 above.
  2. If we revolt against the pope’s authority as such, this is a mortal sin of revolution. See, Section 6 above.
Therefore, because Catholics must neither be rash-judgers nor revolutionaries, we must recognize the authority of the pope who is in the Vatican.

Although Recognizing the Pope’s Authority, We must also Recognize His Evil Conduct

When judging a person’s interior culpability, it must be done (if at all) in the most favorable light. By contrast, we judge a person’s statements and actions objectively and we must resist objective evil and error, however blameless its proponent might be. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.60, a.4, ad 2.
Thus, we assume the best (if we assume anything) about the pope’s interior, subjective culpability, but we also must recognize that the current pope’s words and deeds are often objectively evil.

True Obedience is Subordinate to Faith and Must Conform to Faith

The virtue of obedience is a subordinate virtue under the Cardinal Virtue of Justice. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.104. a2. Faith and Charity are superior. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.4 a.7 sed cont. & ad 3; IIa IIae, Q.23 a.6.
Because obedience is subordinate to Faith, the Apostles told the Jews that we ought to obey God, rather than men. Acts, 5:29.
Pope Leo XIII faithfully echoed the Apostles in teaching this truth:
[W]here a law is enacted contrary to reason, or to the eternal law, or to some ordinance of God, obedience is unlawful, lest, while obeying man, we become disobedient to God.
Libertas Praestantissimum, §§ 11 & 13.
For this reason, anyone who obeys the sinful command of his superior, commits the sin of disobedience to God’s law. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.33, a.7, ad.5 (…ipse peccaret praecipiens, et ei obediens, quasi contra praeceptum Domini agens…).

But What Should We Do, While the Pope Harms the Church (in Her Human Element)?

When a superior (e.g., the pope) commands that we do something wrong (including the instruction to believe something false), the Catholic response is: We resist! This is why Pope St. Gregory the Great taught:
Know that evil ought never to be done through obedience, though sometimes something good, which is being done, ought to be discontinued out of obedience.
De Moral., bk. XXXV, §29 (emphasis added).
When we resist a superior’s sinful conduct (or command), we do not thereby reject the superior’s authority as such, but only his evil conduct (or command). St. Thomas made this crucial distinction when he discussed St. Paul resisting St. Peter, the first pope, to his face. Galatians, 2:11. St. Thomas explained that the Apostle opposed Peter in the exercise of authority, not in his authority of ruling. Super Epistulas S. Pauli, Ad Galatas, ch.2 lectio III (emphasis added).

The Duty to Resist a Pope’s Abuse of Authority, Pertains to Matters of Faith and Morals as well

The principle of resisting any superior’s evil command, applies to any evil command—whether to do something, to say something or to believe something.
Thus, a pope might command us to believe his errors on matters of Faith. The pope can make such errors whenever he is not speaking ex cathedra. The First Vatican Council carefully listed the conditions for papal infallibility, because only when the pope fulfills all of the conditions, is he infallibly prevented from erring on matters of Faith or morals. At any other time, the pope might err on those matters, triggering a Catholic’s duty to resist the error.
In A Catholic Dictionary, Addis & Arnold explain:
Even when he [viz., the pope] speaks with Apostolic Authority [which is only one of the conditions for papal infallibility], he may err. The Vatican Council only requires us to believe that God protects him from error in definitions on faith or morals when he imposes a belief on the Universal Church.
A Catholic Dictionary, under the topic “Pope”, Addis & Arnold, The Catholic Publication Society, New York, 1884, pp.767-68 (bracketed comments added).
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that, when St. Paul resisted St. Peter to the face [Galatians, 2:11], the impending danger of scandal St. Peter caused, was with respect to the Faith. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.33, a.4, ad 2.
Pope Paul IV tells us we are right to resist the pope whenever he deviates from the Faith:
[T]he Roman Pontiff, who is the representative upon earth of our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fullness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith.
Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, §1 (emphasis added).
Likewise, St. Robert Bellarmine assures us that we are right to resist a pope who uses his office to attack souls (whether through false doctrine or bad morals):
Just as it is licit to resist a Pontiff who attacks the body, so also is it licit to resist him who attacks souls or destroys the civil order or above all, tries to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by impeding the execution of his will. It is not licit, however, to judge, to punish, or to depose him, for these are acts proper to a superior.
De Romano Pontifice, St. Robert Bellarmine, Bk.2, ch.29 (emphasis added).
St. Thomas explains the reason for this distinction St. Robert Bellarmine makes, viz., that we are right to resist (correct) the pope or other superior, but we cannot punish or depose him:
A subordinate is not competent to administer to his prelate the correction which is an act of justice through the coercive nature of punishment. But the fraternal correction which is an act of charity is within the competency of everyone in respect of any person towards whom he is bound by charity, provided there be something in that person which requires correction.
Summa, IIa IIae, Q.33, a. 4, respondeo.
Juan Cardinal de Torquemada (revered medieval theologian responsible for the formulation of the doctrines that were defined at the Council of Florence) teaches:
It is necessary to obey God rather than men. Therefore, where the Pope would command something contrary to Sacred Scripture, or to an article of Faith, or to the truth of the Sacraments, or to a command of the Natural Law or of the Divine Law, he ought not to be obeyed, but such command ought to be despised.
Summa de Ecclesia, bk.2, ch.49, p.163B.

Conclusion

Because Catholics must not be rash-judgers or revolutionaries, we recognize the authority of the pope. But because we must obey God rather than men when they abuse their authority, we must resist a bad pope when he does harm.

8. Judging the Pope’s Words & Deeds According to Catholic Tradition

It is (objectively) a mortal sin of rash judgment for a person to decide that the pope is a formal heretic. See Section 5 above. It is (objectively) a mortal sin of revolution for a person to declare the pope has lost his authority as such. See Section 6 above.
On the other hand, it is also clear that we have a duty to resist the pope’s errors and the harm he causes. See Section 7 above.
However, we are not Church Doctors or popes. How do we know what is true (and what to believe), unless we simply believe whatever the pope teaches us? But on the other hand, if we do not decide for ourselves what to believe, then how do we know when we have a duty to resist what the pope says or does?
One false argument many sedevacantists use, is to present the following false alternatives:
  • Either you must deny the authority of the pope in the Vatican (as they do);

  • Or you must accept everything he does and says. Because (these sedevacantists say), if he were pope and you pick and choose what you accept from him, then (they say) it shows you have a protestant mentality (of picking and choosing).
This sedevacantist “argument” relies on a false understanding of papal infallibility.

The pope’s ex cathedra infallibility

We know the pope’s words are infallible (viz., from the very fact that he utters them), only when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when:

  1. in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians,
  2. in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority,
  3. he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals,
  4. to be held by the whole church.
Dogmatic definition quoted from Vatican I, Session 4, ch.4. (We will treat elsewhere concerning the teachings of a Church Council.)
Here is an example of Pope Pius IX speaking ex cathedra, fulfilling these conditions, in Quanta Cura (with its syllabus of errors):

We, truly mindful of Our Apostolic duty, and especially solicitous about our most holy religion, about sound doctrine and the salvation of souls divinely entrusted to Us, and about the good of human society itself, have decided to lift our voice again. And so all and each evil opinion and doctrine individually mentioned in this letter, by Our Apostolic authority, We reject, proscribe and condemn; and We wish and command that they be considered as absolutely rejected, proscribed and condemned by all the sons of the Catholic Church.

The post-conciliar popes have taught nothing false which fulfills these rigid conditions for ex cathedra infallibility.

Popes can err in all other teachings

Popes can err in any other teachings, unless those teachings are themselves a faithful repetition of truth contained in infallible Catholic Tradition. No pope (or anyone else) can err when faithfully repeating the teachings of Catholic Tradition.
But popes cannot teach any new doctrine infallibly. As the First Vatican Council declared: the Holy Ghost was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine. Vatican I, Session 4, ch.4 (emphasis added).

We must measure all doctrine according to its fidelity to Catholic Tradition

Catholic catechisms distinguish between the pope’s infallible and non-infallible teachings because infallible teachings cannot conflict with the Catholic Faith (but rather, are part of it), whereas non-infallible teachings might conflict with the Catholic Faith. This distinction warns Catholics to accept all infallible teachings without possibility of error, but to accept the non-infallible ones only provided that they do not conflict with Catholic Tradition, i.e., the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church through the ages.
This distinction (between the pope’s infallible and non-infallible teachings) also shows that Catholics must both understand their Faith and measure other teachings against that standard (viz., infallible Catholic Tradition).
This is why St. Paul instructed his flock to hold fast to the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle. 2 Thess., 2:14. St. Paul is telling Catholics to measure all doctrine according to Catholic Tradition.
St. Paul further warned his flock to reject all new or different doctrines, which do not fit with the Tradition he taught them: If anyone preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. Galatians, 1:9.
In the year 434, St. Vincent Lerins, gave this same rule to all Catholics: viz., to adhere to Catholic Tradition and reject what is contrary:

[I]n the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense “Catholic” …. [I]f some new contagion were to try to poison no longer a small part of the Church, but all of the Church at the same time, then [a Catholic] will take the greatest care to attach himself to antiquity which, obviously, can no longer be seduced by any lying novelty.

Commonitorium, ch. 2 & 3 (emphasis added).

St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church and Patriarch of Alexandria, told his flock that faithful adherence to Tradition shows who is Catholic: Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ. St. Athanasius’ letter to his flock (emphasis added).
This Catholic duty to judge all doctrines according to Catholic Tradition, is described in Liberalism is a Sin:

[B]y use of their reason[,] the faithful are enabled to suspect and measure the orthodoxy of any new doctrine presented to them, by comparing it with a doctrine already defined. If it be not in accord, … they can lawfully hold it as perverse and declare it such, warn others against it, raise the cry of alarm and strike the first blow against it. The faithful layman can do all this, and has done it at all times, with the applause of the Church.

Liberalism is a Sin, by Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany, 1886, ch.32.

Not only does the Church instruct us to measure new doctrines according to Catholic Tradition, but even the way God made the human mind requires this measurement. When we understand a truth of our Faith, we understand there is a connection between the particular subject and predicate which form that truth. For example, we understand that our Faith teaches us there is the link between “God” and “omnipotent”, so that we profess that “God is omnipotent”. For this reason, we know the opposite statement (i.e., de-linking this subject and predicate) must be false, viz., that “God is not omnipotent”.
If a person wrongly supposes that a Catholic is forbidden to compare current conciliar teachings, with Catholic Tradition, this position would forbid a Catholic from understanding what he is saying (and believing) when he is professing his Faith. (In the above example, it would forbid a Catholic from noting that “God is omnipotent” is the opposite of “God is not omnipotent”.) Similarly, by knowing what the Church has always taught and knowing the conciliar church’s teaching, a Catholic cannot help but notice these teachings are often opposites.
To say that a Catholic is forbidden to notice this opposition would be simply to say that Catholics are forbidden to understand, and must simply memorize the sounds of words without understanding their meaning. In other words, Catholic Tradition judges the conciliar church’s teachings. Faithful Catholics merely notice this fact.
In contrast to our duty to measure all doctrines according to Catholic Tradition, Protestants wrongly set their own private judgment as the measure and rule of all faith. So a Protestant chooses what he wants to believe (i.e., either the new or the old teaching). But God chooses what Catholics must believe (Catholic Tradition) and we must measure everything according to this standard.

Catholics do not have a “cut off” date, after which they ignore papal teaching.

Because sedevacantists deny the post-conciliar popes’ authority as such, they ignore all papal words and deeds after the “cut off” date they choose based on when they (wrongly) decide that the Church last had a pope. Beginning on that date, they ignore what the pope says, regardless of what he says. This sedevacantists’ attitude is what makes them schismatic (at least materially). See Section 6 above.
The post-conciliar popes—like all popes—have the duty to teach the Faith. If the present pope were to teach doctrine with all of the conditions of ex cathedra infallibility (as set forth in Vatican I), then this teaching would be infallible.
Further, if a post-conciliar pope teaches without fulfilling the conditions for ex cathedra infallibility, then what he teaches might be wrong. Traditional Catholics would have to carefully consider what the pope taught, to measure the pope’s teaching according to Catholic Tradition. So Traditional Catholics (unlike sedevacantists) do not have a “cut off” date for papal teachings, after which they automatically ignore such teachings.
It is true that traditional Catholics approach a post-conciliar pope’s teaching with much greater wariness than they do the teaching of Pope St. Pius X. There is good reason for this wariness. It is not that a post-conciliar pope is not pope. But faithful Catholics approach his teachings warily, like a child would approach his own father who in the past has attempted to lead the child into sin. The father has not ceased to be the child’s father (with a father’s authority), but it is good and reasonable for the child to be more wary about his father who has attempted to lead the child into sin in the past, as compared to the lack of such reserve in the child who has a saintly father.
So a true Catholic does not refuse submission to the pope’s authority but must refuse to “obey” the pope’s abuse of his authority. If the pope is bad enough, it might appear that there is hardly anything in which the pope should be obeyed. In this way, there might be the superficial appearance that faithful Catholics and sedevacantists have the same position. But this appearance is wrong. Faithful Catholics do not forget the pope is their superior, even when they cannot follow what he teaches or does. By contrast, sedevacantists revolt against the pope’s authority as such, judge his interior culpability, and declare he is not Christ’s vicar. This contrast is the difference between Catholicism on the one hand, and revolution and (at least material) schism on the other hand.
We Catholics (and that child, in the above example) must hold ourselves ready to obey our superior whenever we can. So, e.g., if the bad father told the child to add an extra Hail Mary to his night prayers, the child must obey. Likewise, if a post-conciliar pope told us to begin abstaining from meat on an additional day of the week (e.g., Wednesday), we would have to obey.

Conclusion

Catholics must measure the pope’s words and deeds against the standard of Catholic Tradition. We must accept what conforms to Tradition and reject what conflicts with Tradition. Thus, sedevacantists are wrong that, just because Catholics recognize the authority of the pope, we must accept everything he says and does.

9. An Example of a Pope Teaching Heresy Before His Election and During His Reign

We know that it is (objectively) a mortal sin of rash judgment for a person to decide that the pope is a formal heretic (and thus is no longer the pope). See, Section 5 above. But although we recognize the pope’s authority, we know that we have a duty to resist his errors and the harm he causes. See, Section 7 above. We know it is possible for a pope to teach heresy if he is not speaking ex cathedra. (This is the whole reason Vatican I listed the conditions for the pope’s ex cathedra infallibility because, by fulfillment of those conditions, Catholics know that a particular papal teaching must be true and cannot be heresy.)
But a person could wonder if any pope before Vatican II ever really denied a doctrine of the Catholic Faith and publicly taught heresy—or had such possibility merely been theoretical? If such a pre-Vatican II pope did publicly teach heresy, then did that pope remain pope or did he somehow lose his papal office by teaching heresy? The answer is that prior popes have publicly taught heresy and did retain their papal office. The case of Pope John XXII (1316-34) is a useful example.
It is a dogma of the Catholic Faith that the saints see the Beatific Vision immediately after they die (and after they have been purged in Purgatory, if necessary). Council of Florence, Pope Eugene IV, Bull Laetentur coeli, 1439; Pope Benedict XII Benedictus Deus, 1336, Denz. #530-531.
Pope John XXII lived before this dogma was defined by the Church’s Extraordinary Magisterium. He publicly denied that the saints immediately see the Beatific Vision after they die, i.e., before the General Judgment. Catholic Encyclopedia, entry: “Pope John XXII”.

Before Pope John XXII became pope, he wrote a book publicly denying this doctrine of the Catholic Faith (viz., that the saints see the Beatific Vision immediately after they die (and after they have been purged in Purgatory, if necessary). Id. Instead, he taught the opposite heresy. Id. Yet both before and after this doctrine was defined, the Church has always recognized the validity of Pope John XXII’s election as pope. Id.; see also, the Annuario Pontificio editions 1939, 1942 & 1959. In other words, his public teaching of this heresy did not prevent his election as pope.
During Pope John XXII’s papal reign, he caused a great commotion by denying this same doctrine of the Catholic Faith on several occasions and again publicly teaching the opposite heresy. Catholic Encyclopedia, entry: “Pope John XXII”. Yet he reigned as pope until his death. Id.; see also, the Annuario Pontificio editions 1939, 1942 & 1959.
We know that any dogma which was defined by the Church’s Extraordinary Magisterium was already true and was always a doctrine of the Faith, even before the dogma was defined. In other words, the Church’s extraordinary definition does not “make” a doctrine true (and part of the Faith).
An extraordinary definition of a doctrine of Faith merely gives certitude to anyone in doubt concerning a truth which was already a doctrine of the Catholic Faith. This is why the First Vatican Council declared: the Holy Ghost was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine. Vatican I, Session 4, ch.4 (emphasis added).
Thus, we know that the dogma Pope John XXII denied was always true and was a doctrine of the Faith at the time he denied this doctrine.
When the Church gives an extraordinary definition of a truth of Faith, the doctrine is not thereby made “more true” than it was before then. However, it is less likely that Catholics (including the pope) could deny the doctrine without knowing they are denying something they are required to believe in order to be Catholic. The Church’s extraordinary definition of a dogma gives Catholic teachers a strong tool to convince doubters and gives ecclesiastical superiors a powerful tool to judge in the external forum whether it is likely they will succeed in correcting a subordinate who denies the particular doctrine of the Faith. See, Section 5 above.
However, a Catholic might possibly deny a dogma (defined by the Church) without becoming a formal heretic. For example, suppose this Catholic denies the doctrine because he has the philosophical confusion causing him to believe that truth changes and that the dogma had been true but is no longer true. This is the error Pope St. Pius X ascribes to modernists. Id.
As shown in Section 5 above, we must judge things and statements objectively without giving any “benefit of the doubt”. Id. Thus, in the case of Pope John XXII, we judge his error objectively and know he taught heresy and denied a doctrine which has always been part of the Catholic Faith.
But we would commit the sin of rash judgment if we judge that Pope John XXII is subjectively (i.e., interiorly) culpable for teaching this heresy and conclude that Pope John XXII “knew better” and had the sin of heresy on his soul. Id. To avoid rash judgment, we must judge his subjective (i.e., interior) culpability for teaching heresy in the best possible light (if we judge his culpability at all) and so we do not conclude that he was a formal heretic and that he ceased to be Catholic and ceased to be pope. Id. In fact, despite publicly promoting heresy, the Church identifies him as the pope reigning from 1316 till his death in 1334. See, the Annuario Pontificio editions 1939, 1942 & 1959.
In other words, we should say about Pope John XXII what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about Pope Honorius (a different pope who committed serious doctrinal error): He was a heretic, not in intention [i.e., knowingly, subjectively or formally], but in fact [i.e., objectively and materially]. Catholic Encyclopedia, article: “Pope Honorius” (bracketed comments added).
As scandalous as it was for Pope John XXII to publicly teach heresy, he was elected pope and reigned as pope while professing this heresy. In contrast to what is really known about Pope John XXII, if (hypothetically) he had actually known that the doctrine he denied was one he was required to believe in order to be Catholic, then his denial would have caused him to cease to be Catholic. See, Section 5 above.
But Pope John XXII never admitted that he denied a doctrine he knew he was required to believe in order to be Catholic. So if we judge him at all, we judge he was pope and was a material heretic (and not a formal heretic). Id.
Likewise, the post-conciliar popes have never admitted that they denied any doctrine that they knew they were required to believe at that time in order to be Catholic. So if we judge them at all, we judge that each was pope in his turn and not a formal heretic.

10. A Man Need not be Consecrated a Bishop or Ordained a Priest to be a Valid Pope

An Explanation How the Catholic Church Continues to Possess A Full Hierarchy even in these Times of Great Apostasy Against the Sedevacantist Argument that only a Valid Bishop Can Be Pope because He is Bishop of Rome