Siscoe’s Triple shell game


Recently at One Peter Five, a website which is subtitled, “Rebuilding Catholic Culture. Restoring Catholic Tradition”, Robert Siscoe has published an article to quell the raging doubts Catholics have about the legitimacy of Bergoglio’s claim to the papacy: the first part of which is entitled: “Dogmatic Fact, the One Doctrine which proves Francis is Pope“, and the second part of which is entitled, “For Each Objection, an answer why Francis is Pope“.

There is nothing much to be said for his article other than it’s a lawyer-esque attempt to convince his audience using 3 different shell games.  As you may know, a shell game is where you put a ball under one shell and then quickly shuffle the shells on a table top so that the onlooker loses track of which of the shells contains the ball, and then you ask the onlooker to guess under which shell the ball is.  In American popular discourse, a shell game, therefore, is a trick whereby you pretend that something is one thing at one time, when it really is not.

Here are Siscoe’s 3 Shell games:

The Church

In Siscoe’s mouth the verbal expression “The Church” has two distinct meanings: the Church founded by Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, AND the mass of those who uncritically accept that the resignation of Benedict XVI is valid because they never examined its conformity to Canon 332 §2.

The Shell Game that Siscoe plays with these 2 senses can be reduced to a simple Sophistic argument (i.e. invalid syllogism), thus:

Major: The Chuch (founded by Jesus Christ) cannot be deceived about who is the Pope.

Minor: The Church (of all those who have not examined the resignation of Benedict) accept Bergoglio as Pope Francis.

Conclusion: Therefore, The Church (founded by Jesus Christ) accepts Bergoglio as Pope Francis.

This kind of argumentation is a false illation, because the term “The Church” has not the same signification in both the major and minor premises of the syllogism.  Aristotle calls this the Sophism of the undistributed middle term, or the equivocation.

Fallible Private Opinion

In Siscoe’s mouth, the phrase “Fallible Private Opinion” has two senses:  in one sense its a judgement about something wherein the judgement may or may not be correct, because its not based on objective reality but on an interpretation of reality.  In the other sense, its any fact of objective reality which he wants to ignore for the sake of his argument.

The Shell Game that Siscoe plays with these 2 senses can be reduced to a simple Sophistic argument (i.e. invalid syllogism), thus:

Major: No merely infallible private opinion about dogmatic facts can assert itself as more authoritative than the judgement of the majority of men and women in the Church, since the Church’s sensus fidelium and Her indefectibility protects Her from error.

Minor: That Benedict’s act of renunciation regards the ministerium and not the munus, is a fallible private opinion.

Conclusion: Therefore, no one has the right to sustain that Benedict’s resignation is invalid against the vast majority of the members of the Church.

The error of this illation is found chiefly in the Minor. Because, that Benedict said ministerio not muneri in his act of renunciation is NOT a private opinion, but a fact of history.

Siscoe may not know it, but the Science of Logic teaches that the verity of premises flows down to their conclusions in valid illations.  Thus:

Major: That Benedict renounced his ministerium, is a fact of history.

Minor: That canon 332 §2 requires the renunciation of munus, is not a fallible private opinion, but a fact of law, being the very text of the Law.

Conclusion: That Benedict’s act of resignation is not in conformity with canon 332 is a fact of history.

Siscoe might want to ignore canon 38, which says that any Motu Proprio which runs counter to the terms of the law, EVEN IN THE CASE IN WHICH the one positing the act is IGNORANT of the law, is invalid UNLESS there is an express derogation from the law by the competent authority (in this case by the Pope), but Canon 38 is there and Catholics cannot ignore to apply it to this case.  Thus the conclusion infallibly follows, since the act of resignation contained no derogation from canon 38 or 332, that:

Benedict did not validly resign.

Peaceful and Universal Acceptance

These words mean two things in the mouth of Siscoe: in one sense they mean universal and peaceful and CANONICAL acceptance by the Church (see last quotation in part II). In the other sense they mean peaceful and universal acceptance CANONICAL OR NOT by the Church (see the citation of Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori).

So Siscoe’s usage of both terms can be reduced to this syllogism:

Major: The acceptance (Canonical) by the Church of of a man as Pope requires that all accept him as validly elected.

Minor: Bergoglio has been accepted (even if it be unCanonically).

Conclusion: Bergoglio must be accepted by all the Church as validly elected.

Siscoe’s illation is false because he is using 2 different senses of accepted. If he used the ancient reflex principle in its proper context, as he cites it in the final citation of that article, and did so AT THE BEGINNING of his article it would be obvious that he is beating against the air, because since the controversy regards whether Benedict canonically resigned, the key quality to be examined in the resignation is its conformity to canon law.

In Conclusion

Siscoe misunderstands the notion of infallibility.  Infallibility as a quality is the natural property of God alone as Infinite Truth. Infallibility as a charism of grace is vouchsafed to only a validly elected successor of Saint Peter. But infallibility is a quality of every true proposition, on account of truth being per se infallible, even if the thing asserted be asserted by a non infallible created person without any gift of grace.

Siscoe also seems to not know the distinction between an opinion and a fact. One can have an opinion about whether there is life on Mars, because we yet do not know if there is or is not. But one cannot have an opinion of whether there is life on Earth, since that is a fact.  An opinion can be had when both sides, pro and con, are possibles. But when there can be no truth on one side of the judgement, an opinion is impossible.

NOTE WELL: In this controversy, there is a fallible private opinion which is being asserted by some as superior to truth, reality and law, and it is this: that the renunciation of ministerium effects a renunciation of munus. Those who hold this opinion have yet to prove it, and the only valid proof must be in accord with the norm of Canon 17.

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14 thoughts on “Siscoe’s Triple shell game”

  1. How disappointing that One Peter Five saw fit to publish this piece of garbage apologia. I had thought better of that website.

  2. The light of logic in dark, murky places. Not many are gifted with that flashlight. Thank you for sharing yours with the rest of us.

    And as usual, once the light of logic is switched on, its quite simple. Truth is always a head-slapper, (“of course!”).

  3. Well done — thank you very much!

    May your cogent analysis assist many, perhaps even Siscoe himself, to appreciate the sophistry he has perpetrated in a frantic attempt to prop the status quo. No few are likely to be taken in by it, bamboozled as they are by the name-dropping he invokes.

    (Thanks, too, for the vocabulary lesson: all those years of phil/theo courses & many years passed besides, & not till now do I learn the word “illation”!)

  4. I posted this on 1P5, plus several tweets from Veri Catholici which addressed Siscoe’s two articles on 1P5, but they (Skojec?) deleted them and banned me from commenting. What a surprise. 🙂 Keep up your invaluable work. This is all-out spiritual warfare; a seemingly unrelenting battle by way of numerous enemies within, who, for whatever reason, continue on in their attempts to convince the faithful to follow Bergoglio, the heretic-antipope, into apostasy. Please be assured of my prayers and support for your apostolate.

  5. Yesterday I was banned from commenting on Church Militant for asserting “BiP” logic. Perhaps it will turn out to be a blessing as I have promised to refraining from “BiPping” in their comment thread until they change their position AND I took the opportunity to suggest that they allow for a review of submitted summaries to someone on their staff. I explained that the fine investigative journalism that is being done by Br. Bugnolo and others regarding the non-munerial resignation should be examined. For it seems obvious that the clergy (for whatever reasons) are not stepping up to the plate and I reason that since Abp. Sheen said that the laity will save the Church, lay organizations like Church Militant should at least examine the evidence. Fiat.

    As Aqua, Paul, and Charmaine have already said, “Thank you, Br. Bugnolo, for lighting the way!”

  6. @ Islam_Is Islam

    I am reading everything possible by Archbishop Sheen these days. God gave us prophets in the last century in anticipation of what was about to occur. He is obviously one. Currently reading “Go To Heaven”. Amazing! I live in reference to the Communion Of Saints. The current leadership is disconnected. I will not allow them to turn me, right or left.

    Here’s another helpful quote from a prior Age’s Saint, St. Basil to the Monks oppressed by the Arians (Letter 257, ~ 376):

    “We urge you not to be faint hearted in your adflictions, but to renew yourselves in your love for God and daily to increase your zeal, being conscious that in you ought to be preserved the remains of true religion which, when the Lord comes, He will find upon the earth. And, if Bishops have been driven from their churches, let this not cause you to waver, or, if traitors have sprung up among the clergy themselves, let this not weaken your confidence in God. The names are not the things which save us, but our motives and our sincere love for Him who created us.”

    The line of Saints all say and do same or similar things. Innovation is unheard of. Straight.And.Narrow. I am in complete confidence taking the side of Saints in Sacred Tradition against the Modernist innovators who have given us two Popes. All they have to do is justify Emeritus in Sacred Tradition or Scripture. Draw from the limitless well of Truth and teach, magisterially, why Emeritus is grounded in the Faith passed down through every generation and that Jesus Christ meant this when He established Rock.

    Pope Francis’ heresy is not relevant to me. At all. Address Pope Benedict, the “Emeritus” Pope. Address the failed election that followed the failed abdication. All that came later is utterly predictable, given that we have an anti-Pope. We will *never* have a valid Pope again, until this is addressed and resolved (in penance and sorrow) before God..

    The Seat is not vacant now. It will be with the passing of Pope Benedict XVI. Someone must, in the Holy Name Of God, act soon before then.

  7. @Editor: I believe BiP was coined by Mr O’Reilly at Roma Locuta Est. It is the acronym for Benedict is Pope (BiP).

  8. Thank you, Aqua, for the enheartening quote from St. Basil and for your suggestions which I find most encouraging.

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