The Pope In The Age Of Madness
How can, it might be asked in these disgraceful times, the Church be true and Francis the Pope?
My answer is another question:
How can the Church be true and allow us to choose who is Pope?
Bad as this crisis is, one thing is sure: we cannot put an end to it with our own private decisions. Not only is this fully un-Catholic, it also leads to absurd consequences.
So I and several thousands Mundaborists decide that Francis is an illegitimate Pope. Three weeks later he proceeds to appoint nine Cardinals. Are they legitimate Cardinals? Obviously not. Then other seven Cardinals are appointed, and after that eleven more. In the meantime, hundreds of dioceses, including a dozen of major world capitals, have illegitimate bishops.
A Conclave follows: how can anyone who questioned Benedict’s abdication, much less anyone who denied Francis’ legitimacy, accept the new Pope as legitimately elected, and be he Pius XIII? And at this point, what happens? This Pope will elect new Cardinals, and the problem will become inextricable.
Now, if we had a formally heretical Pope the matter would be simpler: with God’s grace, the See would be declared vacant and however many Bishops and Cardinals are available to side with Christ would proceed to convocate an imperfect Council, declare the Pope self-deposed, and elect a legitimate one. But again it would be them, not us, who do it. It would be up to them, not to us, to decide that the Pope has deposed himself. There is simply no mechanism within the Church based on which laymen decide who is Pope. If it were so, we would be all Protestants.
The reality is sad, but part of the sadness is this: that we will have to live with obscenely bad Popes for as long as the Lord decides that it is fitting for us to be punished with them. And when the Lord in His Goodness has decided that it is time to put an end to this, then he will let us know through signs that are in conformity with what the Church teaches: for example, the SSPX declaring the Pope a formal heretic and calling for an Imperfect council, which then – by God’s grace – also happens and leads to the Pope’s deposition.
To decide that the Pope is not legitimate and then unavoidably deny legitimacy to everything that happens later is like stabbing the Church in the heart to cure Her (admittedly, very bad) fever. It is, as I have written already, Sedevacantism on instalments. It is just not the way the Catholic Church and the Catholic mind work.
Take Francis as a penance and use this time to pray the Lord that He may, in His Goodness, pave a way out of it; a way which, as we all know as Catholics, will invariably be a Catholic one.
Posted on March 7, 2018, in Bad Shepherds, Conservative Catholicism, Dissent, Good Shepherds, Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
I appreciate your reasoned and fair arguments that I assume were at least in part directed at a post I put up yesterday on my own blog. But I want to take issue with one of your claims:
“So I and several thousands Mundaborists decide that Francis is an illegitimate Pope. Three weeks later he proceeds to appoint nine Cardinals. Are they legitimate Cardinals? Obviously not.”
You then sketch out an admittedly horrid scenario where lack of legitimate jurisdiction creates a sort of chain reaction where no Catholic could be sure of anything. Indeed, if you add the possibility of other “occult” (secret) heretics among the hierarchy into the mix (who would consequently have technically lost their office, though this fact would be known only to God), the chaos and confusion would be unimaginable. The Church would simply not be able to function.
The Catholic theologians who formulated their theories on heresy and authority were well aware of this problem. And the answer is a simple one. While an occult heretic (or, (presumably, a public heretic who had not yet been officially declared such by a council) would have technically brought upon himself a sentence of excommunication and thus placed himself outside of the Church, he would retain his powers of jurisdiction, at the least, unless or until he was given a formal canonical sentence by a legitimate authoritative body.
So, yes, in the scenario you describe, the cardinals appointed by “the pope” would still be legitimate cardinals, even if the Mundaborists were correct that “the pope” was (as a result of being a heretic) an illegitimate pope.
Could those cardinals then be removed from the cardinalate (because they were the false-pope’s cronies or whatever)? I would assume so.
Hi, I admit of reading the title only! 😉 I then decided to write a post because the argument is one my commenters have often made and which I try to constantly counter.
I think there is a problem of definition here. As long as the Pope remains in charge I think it can safely be said that we do have a Pope etc. No “Mundaborism”, no Sedevacantism, no “Benedictism” and so on.
Until the fact that the Pope is a heretic *does not lead to the faithful deciding who is Pope* then we are on exactly the same page. However, I think it is more appropriate in this case to say that we have a heretical Pope rather than to say that the Pope is no Pope (again, this argument was made by several of my commenters) but retains his power of jurisdiction. That this Pop ein unworthy of his office and manly Bishops and Cardinals would denounce his heresies and demand that he recants of is declared deposed by an imperfect council there can be no doubt.
I have no doubt that, when a new Age of Sanity comes back, this Pope and possibly several others (and, not unlikely, most of V II Popes before Francis) will be condemned by the Church and by future Popes.
Also (and to end) yes, every Pope could remove from the Cardinalate all the Cardinals he wants to remove, as he can demote, or even defrock, as many of them as necessary at least with charges of heresy or (if only removing the red hat) merely because he thinks they aren’t worthy of being his main advisers.
But my constant worry is to avoid that any of my readers, faced with the horrid days we are living, may decide who is and who is not Pope.
Mundabor, this is where I must agree with you. Perhaps in the past, as now, there were people who thought, maybe only in their own circles, that one pope or another was not really the pope. However, the only way we know of the official non-pope conviction is history. So for the past thirty years I have realized that I believe, (and tell my sons!) that the Church does not fail but people fail; that we must side with Tradition and the only government that has withstood the test of time.(The Holy Catholic Church.) We have a very long history of miracles, from the parting of the sea, to David, until the birth of the Savior, up until our time. In a world where a crucial requirement of God is that part of our salvation is that we accept things on faith, I believe that all of the proofs are actually miraculous. They are more than we could ever expect from any other being who claimed to be a god. We believe or we don’t. I believe.
Yes, one might be tempted to think the issue is almost semantic – a heretical pope who will/must be repudiated at some later date, OR someone who ISN’T the pope but that still has legitimate jurisdiction, and that thus one should obey (unless he explicitly orders us one do something contrary to Church teaching).
But I think it’s more than just semantic (as I assume you agree or else you wouldn’t be arguing about it). And in my view each possibility has a strong negative. You are correct to identify the first negative as one of a sort of anarchy, where everyone gets to make up their own mind on the question and to heck with what the Church (as it actually exists now) says. But I have highlighted the other negative where Catholics are asked to believe that the Church can’t fail (because our Lord said so) and yet are faced with a heretic (not just a bad man but a heretic who denies Church teachings) at the head – legitimately in very way – of that Church. To me, that may lead to a crisis of faith among some. To you, the first seems worse; to me, it’s the second. But I think we can agree that both are bad.
All I can tell you is that I got a huge amount of positive response, and very little pushback or criticism. And the people responding weren’t sedes or sede-wanabees who are ready to march out of their parish and hold Mass at a gas station or whatever, but “normal” Catholics who hunger for someone to say what so many are in some way thinking. I’m not saying that makes me right, but I think it does suggest that people really want relief from the obvious cognitive dissonance of the situation, even if it’s only a quick Tuesday afternoon post from a small-time blogger. Just saying “he’s a bad pope, suck it up, it will all work out in the end” (an unfair caricature of your view, but still) just isn’t doing it for them.
One of the criteria for identifying a “true pope” is if virtually all members of the Church perceive him as such. You would think that Bergoglio would at least have that going for him. But believe me, there are many many people without a sede bone in their body who are now saying “he couldn’t be” under their breath.
The main issue is that Anglo-Saxons, and particularly converts, have put too much assets on the orthodoxy of the Pope. Italians, who have always known things of Pope that would have horrified many Catholics before PF, know better than that.