by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
Everyone by now knows of the absurd strawman argument of John Salza and Robert Siscoe. It goes like this. I will mark the argument here and there with NDT, to indicate the terms which need to be defined with precision if the argument means anything at all:
The whole (NDT) Church (NDT) immediately (NDT) after the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio accepted (NDT) him as the pope.
Universal (NDT) acceptance (NDT) of a man as pope is an infallible (NDT) sign (NDT) of his legitimate election.
Therefore, it is infallibly (NDT) certain (NDT) that Bergoglio is the pope and that his election was legitimate (NDT).
There are 11 points in the argument which can be changed at any moment to avoid objections, by simply redefining terms. That, in itself, is Masonic, because it is a fundamental rule of the Lodge to speak in ambiguous terms. But let us examine how the ideological structure of their argument is also masonic.
Infallibility according to Catholic Theology is a natural property of the true God alone. No creature by nature is infallible. Infalliblity means the inability to fail. It is the characteristic of a substance as regards its action.
However, truth itself is infallible, because truth is defined by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas in a way which makes its infallibility necessary. Here I speak of truth as the truth known by the mind and expressed in a proposition, because of such truth Saint Thomas says the definition is: the adequation of a created intellect with the object known, or in other words, the right and just relationship between a knowing mind and the thing known by that mind.
Examples of infallibly true statements are 1+1 = 2, and The Sun is the star of our solar system. Infallibility pertains to all propositions which regard the natural or supernatural world, when they are true in what they affirm. This is the wonderful way in which Our Creator, Who alone is infallible, has enabled us, fallible creatures, to draw near to Him, through knowing and accepting truth.
But men by nature are not infallible. Hence men can err or fail. Nor are we infallible in the knowledge of things. We can err. We can err also in what we believe is true on the basis of what other men tell us. Thus human opinion based on things like human testimony is the most fallible of all kinds of knowledge.
But for John Salza and Robert Siscoe the universal acceptance by the Church of a man as pope is an infallible sign that his election was legitimate!
I hope you can see the ontological problem in that assertion. It moves infallibility from God and true propositions to men. And that is totally Masonic.
7 Slippery aspects of the argument
A common sense Catholic responds by saying, the Church does not teach or approve of such an absurd theory, as can easily be seen: because the Church has laws which say when and how a pope is validly elected and when and how a man elected is not legitimately such. Now the Church would be double faced if she taught a theory which said, there is no need for laws on papal elections, there is only need that everyone accept a pope. Also, Holy Mother Church recognizes as valid popes many men who were elected according to the rules but who were never universally accepted during their pontificates (e.g. the Roman Popes during the Great Western Schism). Thus the Church has never resorted to universal acceptance as a sign of a valid election.
It also does not make sense. Because if the election was legitimate, who cares if everyone accepts it or not? The truth of legitimacy is in an entirely different order of knowledge than that of popular opinion. Every Catholic can understand that. But Masons reject that. Truth for them is only at the ballot box, if even then. Moreover, the Masonic Lodge which seeks to overthrow God and all Monarchies in the name of exalting the common man and the masses would find such a trick delightful. It’s their own world view. Universal Acceptance basically is another way of knowing truth, one which the Church rejects in Canon 332 and in the Papal Law, Unversi dominici gregis. Therefore, whence comes this appeal to Universal Acceptance against or in spite of the laws and teaching of the Church? Such an appeal is Gnostic and masonic.
Second, the word universal in Latin has a proper sense of each and everyone. However, I do not think any historian has every proven that after any papal election each and every Catholic in the world accepted the man elected as the pope. John Salza and Robert Siscoe evade this obvious fault by inventing a special meaning for universal: morally universal, by which the mean, nearly everyone. This nearly can be expanded as necessary for any argument. To John Siscoe in debate yesterday, I mentioned I know 13 persons who never accepted it. Siscoe responded that absolute universality is not necessary. And he claimed their dissent was secret, so nobody knew about it. So universal, for S & S, is what they want it to mean. And as such, the theory itself means nothing, but what they say. So in effect, it means that you must accept them as infallible arbiters of who is the pope. And that is masonic.
Third, we come to Sisco and Salza’s idea of acceptance. They never really define it. Without a strict definition, their theory means nothing at all. Does it mean I do or do not like his face, his theology, his attitude, his episcopal lineage and therefore I hold that he is or is not the pope? Of if a Catholic holds that he is de facto pope but not the legitimate pope, has he accepted? Immediately upon the publication of the Declaratio by Pope Benedict scholars said it was invalid and that an antipope would be elected in the upcoming conclave. There was no acceptance, there, in any defined manner. Also, if I hear the news claim so and so was elected pope, does that mean that I accepted it. Does not acceptance mean examining the facts of law and history and then making a judgement? S & S seem to imply that acceptance has nothing to do with Canon 41 or truth, it is merely listening to the TV. But that is not a Catholic concept of acceptance, but it is very masonic. I guess the next step will be to announce that their candidate is the pope on TV and then dispense with any Conclave or Canon Law. How convenient!
Fourth, we come to Salza and Siscoe’s concept of Church. As every Catholic knows, the Church is one thing, and its members another. This touches upon the formal definition of the Church and the material definition of the Church. As you will see, Salza and Siscoe will play with these two aspects. Arguing in their major premise, regarding the principle of universal acceptance, using the formal definition, but arguing in their minor premise as regards the facts of the present case, in the material sense. I pointed this out in my article on Siscoe’s triple shell game. If you do not hold Bergoglio was the pope, then S & S will just put you outside the definition of the Church which they happen to be using at the moment. They play this game especially with dogmatic facts. A dogmatic fact regards the formal definition of the Church, but they assert human opinions which regard the material definition of the Church as dogmatic facts. And that is masonic.
Fifth, we come to S & S’s concept of immediacy. When does the vague universality of the vague acceptance need to take place. In one minute, in one day, in one week, in one month, in one year? They do not say. I think it would not be unreasonable to speculate that after every legitimate election, there is a delay even when there is canonical acceptance. It is never immediate. There are missionaries in remote regions of the past who never knew the name of the pope, because he died before the news arrived. I guess there was no infallible sign of their being the true pope, according to S & S! The level of absurdity here is manifest. They set up another criterion for true popes. And that is masonic.
Sixth, we come to S & S’s concept of certitude. This is closely allied with the concept of infallibility. We can be certain that a truth is true, because truth is of itself infallible and the assertion of truth is infallible. Certitude as quality of notion does not apply to opinion, because opinion by definition is the assertion of a thing with knowledge that its contradiction is a possibility. But human recognition of a man as the pope, when based solely on human testimony without any facts of history or law being established, is the most uncertain kind of news: it is common opinion! To say that any news in the modern world is certain, would take a very strict definition of terms, especially since journalists and news outlets are notorious for their mendacity. But to say opinion is certain is simply a contradiction of the very definition of the word. But contradiction and double speak is the very hallmark of the Freemason, who is told he can lie to everyone except a superior level mason. And that is masonic.
Seventh, we come to S & S’s concept of legitimacy. Legitimate means done in accord with a right which inheres in the subject by nature or grant. It differs from legal, in that it does not require positive law. It differs from lawful, because its measure is not in accord with the terms of any law. Of papal elections some were said to be legitimate others canonical others legal. This is because throughout history the election of popes was at the beginning done in accord with Apostolic right, as I have previously mentioned, and since there was no law or canon about how to do such things, a legitimate election was every election in which the part of the Church of Rome regarded as valid immediately, and which all of the Church of Rome, long afterwards regarded as valid, even if there were rival claimants at the time. When the Councils established canons for episcopal elections, then some papal elections were said to be canonical or uncanonical in accord with whether the canons were followed. However, of some of these elections, the Church has regarded as valid and legitimate men who were uncanonically elected. This is because the Church of Rome has never accepted any law or canon established by Councils held outside of her jurisdiction as binding on Her ability to elect the Roman Pontiff. THIS HISTORICAL FACT IS IMPORTANT, and this explains why many theologians speak of universal acceptance of a papal election despite whether it was canonical or not. Because in such a case they are not speaking of obligatory canons, just customarily observed canons. Finally, some papal elections can now be legal or illegal, because Pope John Paul II published a law on papal elections which regulates what the College of Cardinals should do in such matters. Violations of this law make an election by the Cardinals illegal and invalid. Elections in Conclave perfectly in harmony with the norms of this law make an election legal and valid. Such elections are also legitimate, when they are legal and valid, because the Cardinals have the right to act lawfully. — Thus we can see that the theory of universal acceptance, by the mere fact that it is employed by S & S now, when it arose in ages past to be applied to times when there was no papal law for elections, only canons or the lack of them, is misapplied. Its application by S & S is anachronistic, in the technical sense of the term, because it does not apply to elections governed by papal laws. This is especially true when the current Papal Law EXPRESSLY says that no election which violates it is valid regardless. The current high bar of validity and legitimacy is what is lawful, not what is accepted. To reject that is masonic, because the Freemason rejects Papal authority in principal.
Salza and Siscoe’s Theory as applied is Masonic
In summation, I would say that John Salza and Robert Siscoe’s theory, as applied, is Masonic for the following reasons:
- It rejects the binding norms of the Papal Law of Pope John Paul II which alone determine when a man elected by the College of Cardinals in a Conclave is legitimate, legal and lawful, excluding all other things as signs or causes of the validity.
- It is founded upon badly or poorly defined terms which can be held to mean whatever you want them to mean on any occasion.
- It places infallibility in human opinion rather than in God and His words to Peter: Whatsoever you bind upon earth, shall be bound also in Heaven, words which obviously apply to all papal laws on elections.
- It ignores all facts of history and places the criterion of truth outside of historical fact, thus divorcing truth from reality.
- It is designed to force Catholics to accept whatever the Masonic Lodge in the Vatican says is true, regardless of historical facts or papal laws, and this is in accord with the Masonic principle that the higher lodges rule the lower lodges.
- It effectively makes the facts of a papal election a Gnostic deposit of knowledge which no Catholic who is not initiated has the right to examine or seek to know.
- Salza and Siscoe use the theory as Freemasons, because as I have experienced on several occasions, if you point out errors in it, they response: You do not understand what universal acceptance is and then proceed to point out how you have not the right knowledge to comprehend it, as if you were some sort of intellectual inferior or non-initiate. At times they say the sign is an effect not a cause, but they treat it as a cause not an effect. Oh, and they ignore all examination of legal doubt.
John Salza admits he joined the Lodge. He also admits that Masons do not publicly contest his writings. I do not know if Robert Sisco is a member or has been a member. I do know that it is a rule of the Lodge never to argue in public with another member. I also know that many converts from non Catholic religions never quite reject some of the errors they learned there.
I must conclude, therefore, that Sicoe and Salza’s theory of Universal Acceptance is masonic because it inverts the notions of infallibility, universality, acceptance, Church, legitimacy, and plays games with the notions of immediacy and certitude. And just as everything which is of Hell, inverts the order of things which God has established, their theory reflects a diabolic way of thinking about the papal claims of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, whose own intelligence officer admits is a Freemason. Is that the real reason that Salza and Siscoe seek so zealously to defend his claim to the papacy? To defend a brother in the Lodge?
I hope this essay of mine own, helps both John Salza and Robert Siscoe see their errors and repent of them. But also, so that all the faithful see their theory for what it is.
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a 1805 water color of a rite of initiation into the Masonic Lodge at Paris.
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9 thoughts on “Salza & Siscoe’s Theory of Universal Acceptance is Masonic”
Br. Alexis, you completely lost me in the first paragraph with the NDTs.Please explain.
Each word in front of every NDT (Not defined term) is a term which is not defined.
Beautiful round, Brother. Let’s give em’ a chance to breathe and if they don’t respond, KO!
Brilliant, concise and utterly Catholic!
You are indefatigable Brother Alexis in making the Benedict is Pope case. And you are taking a risk by doing so in addition to all the abuse This help to impart credibility to your efforts. Keep up your good work.
You knocked this one out of the park. Well done.
Wow Br. Bugnolo, well done. Thank you for this. It is really helpful in dealing with the last vestige of doubt I’ve retained concerning this matter.
The thing I find a bit funny is that my wife, who has doubted Francis’s papacy for as long as I can remember, even before she became aware of actual arguments in favor of Benedict’s ongoing papacy would dispute with me when I would tell her that we must be careful when contemplating the notion of Francis as an anti-pope. I would tell her that of course he is really bad and that there are reasons to think Benedict is still pope, BUT there is such as thing as “Universal Acceptance”. And I would give her the Salza and Sisco argument. My wife, bless her heart, is intelligent but not particularly knowledgeable in matters of theology and ecclesiastical law beyond what she needs to know to be and remain a faithful Catholic Christian. Yet, she would ask me: “Universal Acceptance?!, what does that even mean? I don’t accept him, so I guess it isn’t so universal is it?”.
You’ve just unpacked her thoughts, and much more, and done so very thoroughly. I have to give it to my wife… I may have more “book knowledge” of religion and theology than her. But her “Catholic sixth sense” never fails.
The original theory, as proposed, and without clearly defined terms, is circular: we infallibly know that Bergoglio is pope because we accepted him as pope infallibly. That is just plain stupid.
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