Already, some conservatives have entered into a state of formal schism by rejecting Pope Francis. This rejection takes various forms. Some accuse him of teaching heresy. Others openly declare that the must oppose him. Still others harshly judge his every word and deed, as if they were above him in authority and in their understanding of the faith. All these persons are in a state of formal schism. For they refuse to be subject to the Roman Pontiff. Instead, they speak as if he were subject to them, as if someone appointed them to teach and correct the Pope, and to be a judge over his every word and deed.
“It arises from the necessity of salvation that all the faithful of Christ are to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” — Fifth Lateran Council
“schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him” — Canon 751
In addition, I notice that many other Catholic leaders — theologians, priests, bloggers and others — have, for a long time now, been speaking as if their understanding of the Faith were the Faith itself. They have not accepted teaching or correction from the Magisterium at all, for many years. Instead, they distort the teachings of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium to make it seem as if the Church’s teaching agrees with their own mind and heart. They promote a radical revision of Catholic doctrine, distorted to the point of heresy, along with the false claim that this is merely a correct understanding of Church teaching.
Such persons are in a state of formal heresy. And as Saints Aquinas and Jerome have truly said, everyone who is a heretic is also a schismatic. For by rejecting the teaching of the Church, they are rejecting the authority of the Church and the authority of Her chief teacher: the Roman Pontiff.
Persons of this ilk often do not realize that they are in a state of heresy and schism. For they are so filled with pride that they have deluded themselves into thinking that their own understanding is infallible.
So it is that the conservative schism has begun, and the path for its continued journey is level and paved. These pride-filled teachers will eventually realize that their own understanding of Catholicism is incompatible with the teaching of the Church, and they will depart. Most of those popular Catholic bloggers, authors, and speakers, who have long been considered bastions of faithfulness (but I don’t see why) will join the schism. In truth, they departed from faithfulness long ago, but the faithful are so poorly catechized and so filled with pride and other sins, that few noticed.
How bad will the conservative schism be? Most prominent Catholic teachers will reject Pope Francis and depart from communion with the one true Church. Some Cardinals, more than a few Bishops, and a good portion of the traditionalist and more conservative priests will also join in the schism. Traditionalist will mostly reject Pope Francis; few will remain faithful.
And what will happen under the next Pontificate, after Pope Francis resigns? The next Pope will be very conservative. And his teaching will enrage the liberal Catholics. So in the next phase of the great schism, many liberal Catholics will depart from communion with the Pope. The result of this two-phase schism will be that many Cardinals and Bishops and priests, along with many whole parishes and diocese, will break communion with the Pope and try to continue on their own, as if they could still be Catholic without submission to the Roman Pontiff.
As for the common believer in the pews, by the time both phases of the schism have unfolded, most will no longer attend Mass, many will no longer even call themselves Catholic. For the great schism leads to the great apostasy, in which most Catholics worldwide depart from the Church and no longer consider themselves to be Roman Catholic, or even Christian.
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