“A DOUBTFUL POPE. When there is a prudent doubt about the validity of an election to any official position, there is also a similar doubt whether the person so elected really has authority or not. In such a case no one is bound to obey him, for it is an axiom that a doubtful law begets no obligation-lex dubia non obligat. But a superior whom no one is bound to obey is in reality no superior at all. Hence the saying of Bellarmine: a doubtful pope is no pope. ‘Therefore,’ continues the Cardinal, ‘if a papal election is really doubtful for any reason, the one elected should resign, so that a new election may be held. But if he refuses to resign, it becomes the duty of the bishops to adjust the matter, for although the bishops without the pope cannot define dogmas nor make laws for the universal Church, they can and ought to decide, when occasion demands, who is the legitimate pope; and if the matter be doubtful, they should provide for the Church by having a legitimate and undoubted pastor elected. That is what the Council of Constance rightly did.'”
(The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise, E. Sylvester Berry, S.T.D., p. 229)
The words above of St. Robert Bellarmine refer to the validity of a papal election. Most people in the Catholic world accept that Jorge Bergoglio was validly elected by the cardinals in 2013. This is not true, of course, as has been shown in many posts on this website. The refutation given by many Catholics against the fact the Benedict XVI is the true pope is to make gratuitous assertions without backing them up with substantial arguments. Nevertheless, for the sake argument, let us suppose that Catholics who accept Jorge Bergoglio as the true pope are correct that he was validly elected by the cardinals in 2013. There is a subgroup of these Catholics that hold that there is a doubt whether or not Jorge Bergoglio is a validly consecrated bishop. I have shown (see here) with infallible certitude that this subgroup must necessarily conclude that there is a doubt whether or not Jorge Bergoglio is a true pope. Here is the argument again:
Every true pope is a validly consecrated bishop.
But Jorge Bergoglio, elected by the cardinals in 2013, is doubtfully a validly consecrated bishop.
Therefore, Jorge Bergoglio is doubtfully a true pope.
Unfortunately, there is a subgroup of this subgroup who still call Jorge Bergoglio pope without any qualification. This second subgroup wants to have their cake and eat it too. They are motivated by emotion because they are terrified of being labelled a Sedevacantist (which is a false label anyways as I have shown here). Now, this second subgroup needs to most seriously reflect on the consequences of their illogic of at one and the same time doubting the validly of the episcopal consecration of Jorge Bergoglio and accepting him as a true pope. Even though the quote above from St. Robert Bellarmine is referring to the validly of a papal election, his saying that a doubtful pope is no pope applies to the plight of the second subgroup. Only the ground for the doubtfulness is different (doubtful election vs. doubtful consecration). This second subgroup is admitting (by their false conclusion) that Jorge Bergoglio has these powers:
- That he can define a doctrine on Faith and Morals;
- That he has supreme, full, immediate, and universal jurisdiction in the Church; and consequently:
- That he can appoint cardinals, who will elect the next Roman Pontiff;
- That he can appoint bishops to dioceses throughout the world;
- That he can, in union with the bishops throughout the world, consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
It should send chills down the spines even of those who accept that Jorge Bergoglio was validly elected and that he is a validly consecrated bishop to admit that a man such as him has these tremendous powers. Yet, the second subgroup does so based on false reasoning! Wow! No. This second subgroup must logically conclude that Jorge Bergoglio is a doubtful pope. What then prudently follows from this conclusion is that which St. Robert Bellarmine and Fr. E. Sylvester Berry state above, that is, a doubtful pope is no pope!
In the link below, Dr. Peter Chojnowski presents a quote from St. Robert Bellarmine showing how popes can err in judgment about the legitimacy of popes who came before them. This should make those think twice who today say that we need to wait for a future pope to make a judgment about who the true pope is currently. No. Never in the history of the Church has the resolution of who was the true pope when there was more than one claimant been decided by a future pope. It was always decided during the lifetime of the claimants. So, too, must the identity of the current true pope be resolved in our own time. For anybody who has eyes to see and ears to hear, they can fairly easily come to know that it is Benedict XVI.
The following link contains a video in which Fr. Paul Kramer explains why the identity of the current true pope must be resolved today.
Don Minutella honours Archbishop Lefebvre in the segment of the video below. He says, rightly, that the Archbishop will one day be canonized a saint. He shows the picture of St. Padre Pio kissing the ring of the Archbishop. I do apologize to the non-Italian speakers.
It is good to see a priest excommunicated from the Conciliar Church honour the saintly Archbishop, especially one who accepts Benedict XVI as the true pope. Priests like Don Minutella put the Resistance to shame on the matter of who is the current true pope. I wonder when one of the Archbishop’s own spiritual sons will break from the “Jorge Bergoglio is the pope” party line. Let us pray that the day will come soon!
“You have no authority to judge that this man is a heretic. You are only a layman. You have to wait for the Church to make a judgment.”
How many times we heard this in Catholic circles. Some have even erroneously pointed to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as saying something similar. The idea that one cannot form a private judgment on the status of the Catholicity of another before the Church’s judgment is simply false! Of course, one needs to be careful that he is not being trigger-happy with the term “heretic”, but abuses of the term do not justify eliminating or restricting one’s right to use it when certain conditions exist, which include:1
- The accused must deny or doubt a doctrine that must be believed with Catholic and Divine Faith.
- One must have moral certitude that the accused is aware that he is denying or doubting a doctrine that must be believed with Catholic and Divine Faith.2
- The one forming the judgment must understand that he is making a judgment of conscience and not a juridical judgment. Therefore, the judgment does not oblige on the conscience of another.
Now there is a book titled “Liberalism Is a Sin” (original title is “What is Liberalism?”) written by Fr. Felix Sarda Y Salvany in which he heavily condemned Liberalism and Liberals, so much so that the Sacred Congregation of the Index was asked to ban it! However, in a letter by the Sacred Congregation dated January 10, 1887, part of its response was the following:
“Wherefore the Sacred Congregation has carefully examined both works (the second work was a criticism of Fr. Sarda’s book), and decided as follows: In the first not only is nothing found contrary to sound doctrine, but its author, D. Felix Sarda merits great praise for his exposition and defense of the sound doctrine therein set forth with solidity, order and lucidity, and without personal offense to anyone.”
In his book, Fr. Sarda condemned Liberalism as a heresy (see Chapter 3). Furthermore, he wrote that it is rare to find a Liberal in good faith (see Chapter 15).3 Then in Chapter 32 titled “Liberalism and Authority in Particular Cases”, he states the following regarding private judgment (emphasis mine):
“How is one to tell on his own authority who or what is Liberal, without having recourse to a definitive decision of the teaching Church? When a good Catholic accuses anyone of Liberalism or attacks and unmasks Liberal sophisms, the accused immediately seeks refuge in a challenge of the accuser’s authority: ‘And pray who are you, to charge me and my journal with Liberalism? Who made you a Master in Israel to declare who is or who is not a good Catholic? And is it from you that I must take out a patent of Catholicity?’ Such is the last resort of the tainted Catholic on finding himself pushed to the wall. How then are we to answer this opposition? Is the theology of Liberal Catholics sound upon this point? That we may accuse any person or writing of Liberalism, is it necessary to have recourse to a special judgement of the church upon this particular person or this particular writing? By no means. If this Liberal paradox were true, it would furnish Liberals with a very efficacious weapon with which to practically annul all the Church’s condemnations of Liberalism. The Church alone possesses supreme doctrinal magistery in fact and in right, juris et facti; her sovereign authority is personified in the Pope. To him alone belongs the right of pronouncing the final, decisive and solemn sentence. But this does not exclude other judgments, less authoritative but very weighty, which cannot be despised and even ought to bind the Christian conscience. Of this kind are:
1. Judgments of the Bishops in their respective dioceses.
2. Judgments of pastors in their parishes.
3. Judgments of directors of consciences.
4. Judgments of theologians consulted by the lay faithful.
“These judgments are of course not infallible, but they are entitled to great consideration and ought to be binding in proportion to the authority of those who give them, in the gradation we have mentioned. But it is not against judgments of this character that Liberals hurl the peremptory challenge we wish particularly to consider. There is another factor in this matter entitled to respect and that is:
5. The judgment of simple human reason duly enlightened.
“Yes, human reason, to speak after the manner of theologians, has a theological place in matters of religion. Faith dominates reason, which ought to be subordinated to faith in everything. But it is altogether false to pretend that reason can do nothing, that it has no function at all in matters of faith; it is false to pretend that the inferior light, illuminated by God in the human understanding, cannot shine at all, because it does not shine as powerfully or as clearly as the superior light. Yes the faithful are permitted and even commanded to give a reason for their faith, to draw out its consequences, to make applications of it, to deduce parallels and analogies from it. It is thus by use of their reason that 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 combat it as bad and justly stigmatize as bad the book or journal which sustains it. They cannot of course define it ex cathedra, but 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. Nor in so doing does he make himself the pastor of the flock, nor even its humblest attendant; he simply serves it as a watchdog who gives the alarm. Oportet allatrare canes. ‘It behooves watchdogs to bark’ very opportunely said a great Spanish Bishop in reference to such occasions.
“Is not perchance the part played by human reason so understood by those zealous prelates, who on a thousand occasions exhort the faithful to refrain from the reading of bad journals and works without specially pointing them out? Thus do they show their conviction that this natural criterion, illuminated by faith, is sufficient to enable the faithful to apply well known doctrines to such matters.
“Does the Index itself give the title of every forbidden book? Do we not find under the rubric of General Rules of the Index certain principles according to which good Catholics should guide themselves in forming their judgement upon books not mentioned in the Index, but which each reader is expected to apply at his own discretion? Of what use would be the rule of faith and morals, if in every particular case the faithful cannot of themselves make the immediate application; if they were constantly obliged to consult the Pope or the diocesan pastor? Just as the general rule of morality is the law, in accordance with which each one squares his own conscience, dictamen practicum, in making particular applications of this general rule, subject to correction if erroneous; so the general rule of faith, which is the infallible authority of the Church, is and ought to be in consonance with every particular judgment formed in making concrete applications, subject of course to correction and retraction in the event of mistake in so applying it. It would be rendering the superior rule of faith useless, absurd and impossible to require the supreme authority of the Church to make its special and immediate application in every case upon every occasion, which calls it forth. This would be a species of brutal and satanic Jansenism like that of the followers of the unhappy Bishop of Ypres, when they exacted, for the reception of the sacraments, such dispositions as would make it impossible for men to profit by that which was plainly intended and instituted for them by Jesus Christ Himself.
“The legal rigorism invoked by the Liberalists, in matters pertaining to faith, is as absurd as the ascetic rigorism once preached at Port Royal; it would result even more disastrously. If you doubt this look around you. The greatest rigorists on this point are the most hardened sectaries of the Liberal school. But how explain this apparent contradiction? It is easily explained, if we only reflect that nothing could be more convenient for Liberalism than to put this legal muzzle upon the lips and the pens of their most determined adversaries. It would be in truth a great triumph for them, under the pretext that no one except the Pope and the Bishops could speak with the least authority, to this impose silence upon the lay champions of the faith, such as were DeMaistre, Cortes, Veuillot, Ward, Lucas, McMaster, who once bore, and others, who now bear, the banner of the faith so boldly and unflinchingly against its most insidious foes. Liberalism would like to see such crusaders disarmed, and would prefer, above all, if they could succeed in getting the Church herself to do the disarming.”