By Br. Alexis Bugnolo
I have watched Steve Skojek’s argumentation over the last 14 months go from straw man arguments, to unreasoning blather, to insults and vicious invective against almost anyone who would point out the unreasonableness of his approach to the problems with the Declaratio of Pope Benedict XVI and its consequences in the Church.
And I have kept silent about it, except for a passing comment here and there, here at FromRome.Info, because I am not concerned with nit picking the sophistries of immature people who do not have the intellectual or moral integrity to discuss something honestly as an adult. I am concerned with the truth of history in this matter, not in the sense of what people might write about it now or in the future, but in the sense of what really did happen, and what it really does mean in canonical and theological terms.
But as Skojec’s private magisterium has become a personal superstition and grows daily among some minds as a cult of superstition, I consider it necessary to say something, because I want every one to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. And for this, error must be refuted, by all who can ably refute it.
So I will broach this topic by commenting on some twitter conversations, the screen shots I was given. Here Steve comments on two groups, as he calls them, the Sedevacantists and the Bennyvacantists. Steve says he did not invent the latter term, but he keeps using it as a 13 yr old petulant school-boy uses a phrase he thinks is cool, but which makes him appear in reality stupid. Because by the term, Steve thinks he is referring to those who hold that Pope Benedict is still the pope, but the term obviously refers to those who think that Benedict vacated the see. So the term really refers to himself. The other term, for those who do not know, refers to those who think there have been no popes since Pius XII. — So of these 2 groups, Steve says:
Steve, if my sources are correct, has admitted to taking one introductory course to Canon Law at Steubenville, where he graduated. My sources tell me that Steve also cannot read the Code of Canon Law, because he does not read Latin. So he reads it, when he does, in the English translation, which, as I have mentioned many times, is both not authoritative and full of errors. As far as I know, also, Steve has never tried to investigate the matter further than his limit of knowledge and has not gone to Rome to speak with anyone about the questions of law or fact. — I have it that he corresponds or at least knows Ryan Grant, whom I showed the other day does not know the basic principles of Canon Law. Ryan, himself, though he is a published translator, is not a very good one. The passages I have examined in his translation of Saint Alphonsus have more than one error in every sentence, and hence I conclude they are worthless for anyone to use.
For this reason, I think that Steve’s first tweet, above, is very honest. I do not think he has the intellectual preparation to see the differences or appreciate them. Even if he knew what they are. Sedevacantists are a group of individuals who do not care about the Church in the least. They only care about condemning others so that like Jansenists they can revel in a being better than everyone else kind of spirit. Catholics, on the other hand, when they encounter schism and heresy, do something about it, by either trying to reconcile the parties involved or seeking their canonical solutions, because their love is for the Church and for the salvation of souls.
That is why, if you love the Church, you can probably see the difference between Sedevacantists and Catholics. It is not just an argument over what was said by so and so and whether that is heretical or not. Though, Sedes nearly always get this wrong, because they have an animus to find fault where not as much fault is found as they would want, in order to continually justify themselves as better than everyone else.
Catholics, concerned about the canonical problems in the Declaratio of Pope Benedict XVI, are obviously not interested at all in themselves, they are interested solely in the good of the entire Church and solving the problems at the root. To deny that is merely a glib ad hominem of a person who cares nothing for the Church and has no consideration for the possibility that his fellow man might actually care for the common good of the Church. His desire, rather, is always to put him down, because that is the only way to prove his superiority.
In his next, tweet Steve recites his straw man argument, which he brings out and dangles about like a shaman does with the bones of a dead man, before reciting an incantation on cue. Steve has been shown by many interlocutors over the past year that the opinion of John of Saint Thomas about universal acceptance refers to a canonical election, not to a doubtful or uncanonical election — taking doubt here in the objective positive sense. — So his continued appeal to universal acceptance is simply dishonest. And his continued use of it as a dogma is superstition.
At this point A. J. Baalman shares a series of tweets, drawing on the commentary on Canons 332, 187 and 188 made by Cathy Caridi on her blog, Canon Law Made Easy, which I reviewed yesterday. A. J. says:
Notice how Steve brings out his straw man, again, and rattles it in the air, as if by such an incantation you can participate in a rational argument. He omits the word “canonical” in front of “papal” once again, to make it seem more supportive of his position. But here he goes one step further. There can be no question of an problematic papal election so long as it was accepted. No need to investigate. — I do not know what others might thing about such a line of reasoning, but it sounds to me the kind of thing a canon lawyer working for the Lavender Mafia might use, because it really aids and abets almost any possible course of corruption and interference in a papal election, as to defy rational explanation. No honest man can reason thus.
A. J., counters and insists on an investigation, and Steve responds:
Steve says an investigation should be done, but it won’t be completed in the life time of the Pope or of Bergoglio. That is a very bold claim coming from someone who is not an investigator and who has shown no inclination to examine the facts already presented in the historical record. It is also another attempt at gaslighting, because it takes about 5 seconds to see the Renunciation is invalid.
Because all you have to do is 1) see that the Latin of Canon 332 §2 says munus, and that the Latin of the Declaratio says ministerium, and 2) recognize that what you do not renounce, you keep.
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by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
A good number of laymen who never studied theology, or studied it at B rated institutions are at it again on social media, over the question of whether a heretical pope is still the pope.
So let us make some distinctions, so as not to get lost in the fog of controversy.
Saint Robert Bellarmine classifies the true and Catholic position as the 5th opinion, namely that a formal heretic loses all office in the Church ipso facto, that is, by the very adhesion to heresy. This is the position of all the ancient Fathers. And it is the only Catholic position. It is enshrined in Canon 1364 of Pope John Paul II’s Code of Canon Law of 1983.
Remember, heresy is both a false proposition in of itself, an erroneous judgement in the mind and a deviant profession of the mouth.
- It is a false proposition, whether written down or comprehended in the mind. And example of this is: Jesus Christ is not God.
- It is an erroneous judgment of the mind as if when you were to think: I judge that Jesus Christ is not God.
- It is a deviant profession of the mouth, as if you were to write or say aloud: Jesus Christ is not God.
As a canonical crime, however, one deals only with the external profession. Thus no one can be judged by the Church to be a heretic without an external profession of heresy. The profession must be witnessed or recorded on paper or other medium.
If you know anything about Church History, however, you know that very few men have been condemned by name as heretics in the entire history of the Church. Why is this? Because the Church, which was founded to save souls, recognizes that every deviant profession might not come forth from a mind which adheres to error. It might come forth from a mind which is ignorant, or from a will which wants to offend others. So not every deviant profession represents formal heresy (of the kind which is a sin, though canon law presumes that such deviant profession is presumed to be imputable, until proven otherwise in a due process). Nor does every deviant profession represent pertinacity. Pertinacity is the quality of adhesion to the error such that even when shown that it contradicts revealed truth, the one holding the error remains steadfast in its profession.
Pertinacity is determined canonically after 3 reproofs before witnesses. In the great Councils of the Church even notorious public and certainly pertinacious heretics were asked 3 times to recant.
But if the Church has a process for deposing heretics from their offices, does not that mean that St. Robert Bellarmine was wrong when he said the 5th opinion was the true thesis?
Here we must remember that there is a distinction between what is true in itself and what is true inasmuch as the Church can know it. As soon as one commits the sin of heresy, even in secret, you lose the gift of faith and commit a mortal sin. You are separted from God. This is true whether any man ever knows of your sin or not, before the General Judgement on the Last Day.
However, in the Church, since some men have a better ability and some a worse ability to detect heresy, there has to be a public process for determining who is a formal pertinacious heretic, so as to officially deprive them from office. For otherwise, there would be chaos in the Church. Here the Church has recourse to the teaching of Jesus about fraternal correction, first in private, then with witnesses, and finally before the whole Church. This also confirms the principles of the cessation of power is not presumed. You cannot therefor presume a heretic has lost his office on the basis of your personal discernment. You are not infallible and you cannot know hearts.
In the case of notorious professions, which are made in public and spread on social media, every Catholic has the right to condemn the profession as heretical. You need not go to the person in private or correspond with him in private. His Bishop should and his superiors should. But not everyone has to. Because the common good requires that every public heretical profession be immediately confuted by a public orthodox profession.
At the same time, none of this denies that by the Catholic Faith each of us is capable of discerning heresy which is formal, even if in the person it may not be pertinacious. This ability is simply the application of comparing revealed truth with the perverse profession to manifest that it is perverse and deviant.
Likewise, since the salvation of souls is the greatest law, every Catholic has the right to separate himself from heretics, whether by avoiding them at all times or avoiding them in their Churches. So no one can be forced to receive the Sacraments from someone they know has made a deviant profession. And in this, the individual cannot be coerced, and the Church has never coerced them in such matters, because it has happened that heretics have been men who once occupied offices of power in the Church before.
Nor are you obliged to obey your superior in anything when his heretical spirit becomes manifest. Canon 41 gives you this right broadly. So the right to resist illegitimate commands is sufficient, in the law, to defend the rights of the faithful from a superior, who is heretical, before he is condemned as such by the Church and declared to have lost his office.
For this reason, IT IS THE GRAVE DUTY OF EVERY CATHOLIC to publicly denounce deviant professions, whether they be made by laymen, clergy or even those they think are the pope. Without the public denunciation, the faith is not guarded, the consciences of the faithful are not stirred to action, and souls are put in danger, because without the true Faith it is impossible for anyone to be saved — though admittedly God requires the faith that is willing to believe Him in everything (the perfect kind formally), more than the faith which knows every revealed truth and accepts all of them (the perfect kind formally and materially)
Therefore, there is an absolute necessity to call Synods and Councils to condemn the most notorious heretics and heresies. And if the man whom you think is the pope is one whom you consider a heretic, then you should not be silent, you should urge a council. And a council of Bishops, anywhere on the planet, has the Apostolic right and duty to hear the case, because if he is a heretic, he is no longer the pope, but it remains the duty of Bishops to discern and judge that fact.
Finally, if you take pleasure condemning others for heresy, because it suits your fancy, you probably do not have right discernment and you surely risk damnation for risking the mortal sin of falsely or rashly judging others, not to mention damaging or destroying their reputations. Likewise, if you know a man is a heretic and refuse to correct him, when he shows an ability to be corrected, you sin against charity. If he is harming souls and you remain silent, then you are complicit in that harm. And if you think you do not have to seek a canonical condemnation of a heretic, because you judge all in authority heretics, then you might be committing all those sins I just mentioned. This is what distinguishes Catholics from sedevacantists. We believe that the Church will never be overcome by any single or by every heresy together, because there will always be at lest one Bishop willing to condemn them. And to him we turn for their condemnation.
CREDITS: The Featured Image is of an ancient Greek Icon, depicting the Saints who defended the Creed of Nicaea, which is written in Greek on the scroll they are holding in hand.
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by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
In my many years, since college, I have rarely come upon a book written by a modern author, of which I can say, that its value will endure long after I am dead. There are books which are very well written and even those which refute current errors, but of few of them can it be said that they will have anything other than a timely usefulness. But of this new book by John Salza and Robert Siscoe, which deals not only with a timely issue — the moral and doctrinal error of Sedevacantism: the error of judging by one’s self, who is or is not a legitimate pope today — but does so in a perennial manner (by searching out the founts of Catholic Theology and Canon Law and applying them not only to the specific problems presented by the Sedevacantists, but by addressing the Catholic solution to those problems, in the same manner that Catholics have done for 2016 years), one can truly proclaim: “It shall endure the ages as a monument of Catholic Theology and be sought out by Catholic Librarians for centuries to come,” — so well written, researched and organized it is.
For this reason, “True or False Pope?” is a book which I believe merits to be on the bookshelves of every Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Priest, Deacon, Religious, Theologian, and learned Layman, not just in the hands of those afflicted or attacked by, or tempted to the error of Sedevacantism and its adherents.
But even more so, due to the present crisis brought on the Church by Team Bergoglio and the Kasperian thesis it has intentionally, deceitfully and maliciously promoted in all its actions, “True or False Pope?” is a book which needs to be read by all Catholics and the perennial Catholic teaching which it contains, put into practice: not only by those who confront Sedevacantists, or who are tempted by that error, but by every Theologian, Religious, Deacon, Priest, yes even Bishop and Cardinal, who has a duty to represent, though in different manners, the true teaching of the Faith and the right praxis of it, on questions of “Can the Pope be a heretic or schismatic?” and “What the Church and Bishops ought to do about it, if it should happen.”
For this reason, I wholeheartedly recommend each Catholic buy this book and give as many copies of it as a present to other Catholics, as they can, as its good effect in all the Church is something which we can not only expect in our present age, but be certain of through the generations to come which have the blessing to find a copy.
To order a copy and/or read more about this Book, go to: http://www.trueorfalsepope.com/