Calling All Church Historians
Just as a way of I do not want to say “preparation for the worse”, but rather “exploration of our past”, I would be very grateful for credible sources and links concerning what exactly happened during (not after) the Pontificates of Popes like Liberius, Honorius, Formosus, or John XXII.
Let me explain: though we all know that Liberius lost face and Honorius was declared heretic in the end, and after their death, that Formosus was also rather spectacularly condemned after death, and that John XXII renounced to his error the day before he died, I am rather curious to know more about the day-to-day dealing of the clergy and the the faithful when these Popes were still alive and in power.
Take John XXII.
Chappy goes around saying that there is no beatific Vision before the Universal Judgment. He says he is minded to proclaim this as dogma. His attempt is thwarted (methinks, some Dominican managed to let the stake appear to him a very real possibility; but that’s just me…) and he renounces to the proclamation of the dogma; but at this point, the world still has a Pope who is as officially heretical as can be; a formal heretic so attached to his error as to continue to defend it for almost the rest of his life in front of the brutal opposition of his own Church; one whose theology denies all the edifice of the Communion of saints, make a good part of the Mass senseless, et cetera, and still keeps saying he is right and Church Tradition and Mass are wrong.
How did the bishops deal with him? Did they deny him obedience in everything? Or only in that which pertained directly to his heretical thinking? If he issued encyclical letters, what value did they have? I know that the Sea was not declared vacant in the proper sense (say: with the large majority of Cardinals and Bishops declaring the Sea empty for manifest and persistent heresy; this is, in my understanding, the concept that St. Robert Bellarmine developed later), but do we know of bishops and cardinals who simply declared that they would deny obedience to such a Pope, without denying that he is Pope? What happens of the cardinals and bishops appointed by a Pope in manifest heresy? What of his letters, bulls, etc? What of his administrative orders, disciplinary measures,and such? They may be changed, of course. But were they valid?
It’s even more complicated for Formosus; because whilst we – AFAIK – know that many of his administrative acts were declared at least formally invalid after his death – I have little doubt many will have been validated by his successor anyway – there is a thick fog as to what happened whilst Formosus was alive and in charge. Formosus remained Pope for around five years. This is a long, long time for the wrong kind of Pope. But then again it would appear the Sea was not declared vacant: not during his Pontificate, and not even retroactively after his condemnation in the famous “Cadaver Synod”. May his acts have been annulled, this does not make a Pontificate null. Nor does it answer the question whether his acts were obeyed at the time they were issued.
If Francis throws himself and the Church (or better: those member of her who will be reckless enough to follow him) in the abyss of blasphemy and heresy, it will be very important to have clear historical coordinates about what exactly happened in the past in at least comparable circumstances.
Ideally, from places like the SSPX a clear guidance should come before hand: how to behave in scenarios a, b, or c; what conditions must exactly be fulfilled for the Sea to be declared vacant; in which ways the SSPX would examine the matter and make it public, etc.
Mind, not only I do not think in the least that the Sedevacantist position is justified as I write this. I do not even think that Francis will ever be so stupid as to push things in that direction, because as I have already written it seems to me that when he had to show if he has the balls to plunge the Church into chaos he showed no balls whatsoever, but abundant Jesuitism instead.
But it is true that we are at the brink of a precipice, irrespective of how optimistic we may be concerning vast sectors of the Church ever falling into it.
I am grateful for usable historical material.
What times are we living in.
Ah? Uh? No?