The Anti-Francis Crowd has no ground on which to stand

As time has passed during the Pontificate of Pope Francis, more and more conservative leaders have betrayed the Church by turning against the Vicar of Christ, appointed by God to lead the Church.

Each valid Roman Pontiff is chosen by the grace and providence of God to lead the Church. The Cardinals have not thwarted the will of God. They are all under the providence of God, which is inescapable. And His prevenient grace protects the Church without requiring cooperation from free will. (See this post: Does God Choose the Pope? by Francisco Figueroa.)

Since the Church is indefectible, any Pope accepted by the body of Bishops must be the valid Roman Pontiff. Otherwise, the Church would have been led astray by accepting an imposter. Antipopes have harassed the Church from her earliest days. But they have never been accepted by the body of Bishops. In order that the Church be indefectible, the Pope and the body of Bishops both have a type of indefectibility.

Pope Francis has been accepted by the body of Bishops, and so he must be the valid Pope. And according to the dogma of the First Vatican Council, each Pope has the gift of truth and a never-failing faith. This implies that no Pope can teach heresy, nor commit apostasy, heresy, or schism. And it further implies that certain other types of errors and mortal sins are also prevented by the grace of God. A Pope cannot teach grave errors on faith and morals, not even those that fall short of heresy. A Pope cannot have any evil intentions or purposes contrary to the Church, the Faith, or the salvation of souls. A Pope cannot teach heresy inadvertently, nor can he propagate heresy with or without awareness of that sin. All these things are contrary to the gift of truth and a never-failing faith, and contrary to the indefectibility of the Church.

So the papal accusers have no ground on which to stand. They can claim that the Pope erred to a limited extent in personal theological opinion or in non-infallible teachings. They can claim that he made imprudent decisions under discipline. I suppose they could accuse him of grave personal sins that are not related to the Church. But nothing else is permitted by the grace of God in any valid Pope.

So we can conclude, even without examining the accusations being made, that Pope Francis is not guilty of any of the offenses which God does not permit in the Roman Pontiff. This is a matter of faith.

The papal critics like to present arguments, explaining at length why they are right and the Pope is wrong. But all such arguments are contrary to the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church, and the dogma of the First Vatican Council on the Roman Pontiff. And they never address this argument.

The same thing happens with persons who disagree with Church teaching on contraception, on sexual ethics, on any topic at all. They present their own reasonings, which seem persuasive in their own eyes. And they want someone to explain how the Church could instead be right. But the only explanations they will accept are those with the same erroneous premises and assumptions as they have unwittingly adopted. There is no way to argue them into a state of faith, and it is pointless to try.

Instead, they should be told that faith is the path to salvation. Do not review every teaching and decision of the Church, and pass judgment as if you were above the Church. Accept what the Church teaches with faith. Then the reasonableness of Her teachings will gradually become clear.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

Advertisements
Gallery | This entry was posted in commentary, Pope Francis. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Anti-Francis Crowd has no ground on which to stand

  1. Christine says:

    Thank you for being a defender of our Faith and of Pope Francis.
    I wish you a very Blessed Christmas!
    Sincerely, Christine

  2. sircliges says:

    I remember we discuss earlier this topic. I have to say that you are wrong because the meaning of the infallibility teached by Vatican I (see the speech of Gasser) is not the impossibility of these sins for a Pope:

    «the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff is restricted by reason of the subject, that is when the Pope, constituted in the chair of Peter, the center of the Church, speaks as universal teacher and supreme judge: it is restricted by reason of the object, i.e., when treating of matters of faith and morals; and by reason of the act itself, i.e., when the Pope defines what must be believed or rejected by all the faithful.»

    Furthermore, Gasser denies that the opinion of Albert Pighius is elevated to dogma.

    I respect your opinions but please don’t present them like they were mandatory.

    • Ron Conte says:

      You err by presenting Gasser’s opinion as mandatory. The First Vatican Council did in fact teach just as I said, and that is dogma. Also, the quote you gave refers to papal infallibility, which is a separate teaching.

  3. sircliges says:

    «Central to all the discussions on the meaning of papal infallibility as Vatican I defined it has been the official presentation, the July 11, 1870, relatio, made by Bishop Vincent Ferrer Gasser to the general congregation of bishops of Vatican I. Dom Cuthbert Butler, whose two-volume work The Vatican Council: The Story from Inside in Bishop Ullathorne’s Letters, although long out of print, remains the most complete history of the First Vatican Council in English, wrote: “Msgr. Vincent Gasser, Prince-Bishop of Brixen, Austrian Tyrol, stands out as the most prominent theologian of the Council.” History has confirmed that judgment. So important is the relatio of Gasser that it has itself become a theological source; it is cited in innumerable manuals and theological treatments and serves even in our own times as a key element in the renewed theological discussions about infallibility. Indeed the Second Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, cites Gasser’s relatio four times in its important chapter on the Magisterium, or teaching office of Pope and bishops. That chapter (no. 25) has approximately only fifty-five lines of text and eight official footnotes. Thus, half of the citations in that key chapter of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium are to Gasser’s relatio.»

    “The Gift Of Infallibility (English Edition)” Rev. James T. O’Connor, James T. O’Connor.

    http://amzn.eu/4RCKNaA

    The speech of Gasser is much more authoritative than yours.

  4. sircliges says:

    Quote from the relatio of Bishop Gasser, official secretary of the Council Vatican 1:

    «Now before I end this general relatio, I should respond to the most grave objection that has been made from this podium, viz., that we wish to make the extreme opinion of a certain school of theology a dogma of Catholic faith …
    As far as the doctrine set forth in the Draft goes, the deputation is unjustly accused of wanting to raise an extreme opinion, viz., that of Albert Pighius, to the dignity of a dogma. For the opinion of Albert Pighius, which Bellarmine indeed calls pious and probable, was that the Pope, as an individual person or a private teacher, was able to err from a type of ignorance but was never able to fall into heresy or teach heresy.

    It appears that the doctrine in the proposed chapter is not that of Albert Pighius or the extreme opinion of any school.»

    Sorry, but I presume Gasser understood the meaning of the dogma better than you.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Here’s the full quote:
      “These things are said about the opinion of Bellarmine. As far as the doctrine set forth in the Draft goes, the Deputation is unjustly accused of wanting to raise an extreme opinion, viz., that of Albert Pighius, to the dignity of a dogma. For the opinion of Albert Pighius, which Bellarmine indeed calls pious and probable, was that the Pope, as an individual person or a private teacher, was able to err from a type of ignorance but was never able to fall into heresy or teach heresy. To say nothing of the other points, let me say that this is clear from the very words of Bellarmine, both in the citation made by the reverend speaker and also from Bellarmine himself who, in book 4, chapter VI, pronounces on the opinion of Pighius in the following words: “It can be believed probably and piously that the supreme Pontiff is not only not able to err as Pontiff but that even as a particular person he is not able to be heretical, by pertinaciously believing something contrary to the faith.” From this, it appears that the doctrine in the proposed chapter is not that of Albert Pighius or the extreme opinion of any school, but rather that it is one and the same which Bellarmine teaches in the place cited by the reverend speaker and which Bellarmine adduces in the fourth place and calls most certain and assured, or rather, correcting himself, the most common and certain opinion.”

      Bellarmine said a Pope cannot err and that he could not be a heretic even as a private person. The Council adopted Bellarmine’s position as dogma.

      In addition, let me say that never is any dogma of the Magisterium controlled by the commentary of any one person, whether Gasser or Ratzinger (commenting on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and Ad Tuendam Fidem) or myself. The dogma of Vatican I is exactly what the Holy Spirit guided the Pope and the Bishops to teach. And it may well be that the Magisterium will later clarify that this dogma of Vatican I is more extensive than Bellarmine taught. My own writings on this topic present the opinion that the correct understanding of this dogma is more extensive, as I’ve stated in a number of posts. However, the dogma certainly includes the fact that no Pope is permitted by God to teach heresy, nor to commit apostasy, heresy, or schism. Otherwise, he could not be said to have the gift of truth and a never-failing faith.

  5. sircliges says:

    Uhm, you are confusing the concepts.

    The doctrine of Bellarmine, about which Gasser is talking, is that the Pope cannot err “when he defines doctrine of faith or morals for the entire Church”

    • Ron Conte says:

      Not at all what the text says. See the bold print above from the Relatio which you yourself rely on for your position. Also, you are ignoring the text of Vatican I: “This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all…” A never-failing faith, as Bellarmine ALSO teaches cannot teach or commit heresy, not even as a private person.

  6. cool says:

    I have a question, which is unrelated to the article.

    (1) You believe the non-infallible ordinary magisterium is protected from heresy.

    (2) You also believe that bishops legitimately exercise the ordinary magisterium every time they give a sermon/teach publicly.

    (3) There is ample evidence of heretical bishops.

    (4) Therefore, the non-infallible ordinary magisterium is not protected from heresy.

    The only way to to get around this is by claiming that heresy causes one to lose their office ipso facto, and hence, you are bound to adopt the sedevacantist heresy.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Only the papal non-infallible ordinary magisterium is protected from heresy. If a Bishop teaches heresy, his teaching is not of the magisterium. A Bishop does not exercise the magisterium by a sermon.

  7. sircliges says:

    Then why does Gasser wrote “it appears that the doctrine in the proposed chapter is not that of Albert Pighius or the extreme opinion of any school” ?

  8. sircliges says:

    Then, let us read the full quote of Gasser:

    «the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff is RESTRICTED by reason of the subject, that is when the Pope, constituted in the chair of Peter, the center of the Church, speaks as universal teacher and supreme judge: it is RESTRICTED by reason of the object, i.e., when treating of matters of faith and morals; and by reason of the act itself, i.e., when the Pope defines what must be believed or rejected by all the faithful.
    Nevertheless, some of the most reverend Fathers, not content with these conditions, go farther and even want to put into this constitution conditions which are found in different ways in different theological treatises and which concern the good faith and diligence of the Pontiff in searching out and enunciating the truth. However, these things, since they concern the conscience of the Pontiff rather than his relation [to the Church], must be considered as touching on the moral order rather than the dogmatic order.
    For with great care Our Lord Jesus Christ willed that the charism of truth depend not on the conscience of the Pontiff, which is private—even most private—to each person, and known to God alone, but rather on the public relation of the Pontiff to the universal Church.»

    It appears pretty clear, doesn’t it?

  9. cool says:

    “If a Bishop teaches heresy, his teaching is not of the magisterium.”

    Why is it not of the magisterium?

    “A Bishop does not exercise the magisterium by a sermon.”

    When does a bishop exercise the ordinary magisterium?

    “Only the papal non-infallible ordinary magisterium is protected from heresy.”

    Papal infallibility, as defined by Vatican I, only extends to certain conditions.

    https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/a-canonical-primer-on-popes-and-heresy/

    • Ron Conte says:

      Infallibility means no possibility of error, which of course also excludes heresy. The ordinary papal magisterium can err, but not to the extent of heresy. A bishop exercises the magisterium when he teaches, formally, from tradition and scripture. If he teaches heresy, that teaching does not fall under the magisterium, since it is contrary to tradition and scripture (and teachings of the magisterium).

Comments are closed.