Pope Francis Accusers Reject Magisterial Teaching on Popes

Pope Francis Accusers Reject Magisterial Teaching on Popes July 23, 2020

The pope’s teaching is indefectible and cannot be judged or “overruled” by any man (or even an ecumenical council)

The thesis of this paper is simple and easily understood:

1) Various papal bashers and critics such as Abp. Vigano, Bp. Schneider, Dr. Taylor Marshall, Phil Lawler, Henry Sire, Peter Kwasniewski, and a host of reactionary sites such as One Peter Five, The Remnant, Lifesite News, Rorate Caeli, Church Militant, and even (very sadly) an increasing number of otherwise orthodox Catholics and otherwise orthodox apostolates, claim that Pope Francis is a heretic, or that (at a minimum) he is spreading serious theological and/or moral errors that undermine the traditional Catholic faith.

2) Catholics are bound to give assent and obedience to what the magisterium requires them to accept about theology and faith, including teaching concerning the authority and indefectibility of the pope.

3) The Catholic magisterium specifically teaches that popes and the Roman See — under the special protection of the Holy Spirit — cannot and will not in fact ever defect from the faith and teach binding error, and that therefore, that the pope cannot be judged or “overruled” by any man (or, for that matter, even an ecumenical council).

I shall now proceed to detail the assertion in #3 from magisterial sources: utilizing Denzinger’s Enchiridion symbolorum (the standard source for the dogmas of the Catholic Church: 43rd edition from 2012, edited and translated in part by my good friend, Dr. Robert Fastiggi): particularly the very clear teaching from Vatican I.

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[T]he tradition of the Fathers attributed so much authority to the Apostolic See that no one dared to challenge its judgment and has always preserved it through canons and regulations . . . such great authority belongs to Us that no one could argue again with Our decision, . . . (Pope Zosimus: Letter Quamvis Patrim to the synod of Carthage, March 21, 418; pp. 81-82, D #221)

[T]here is to be no review of our judgment. In fact, it has never been licit to deliberate again on that which has once been decided by the Apostolic See. (Pope Boniface I: Letter Retro maioribus to Bishop Rufus of Thessalonica, March 11, 422; p. 85, D #232)

No one has ever boldly raised his hands against the apostolic eminence, from whose judgment it is not permissible to dissent; no one has rebelled against this who did not wish judgment to be passed upon him. (Pope Boniface I: Letter Manet beatum to Rufus and the Other Bishops in Macedonia, etc., March 11, 422; p. 86, D #235)

Neither by the emperor nor by all the clergy nor by kings minor by the people will the judge be judged [footnote: “These words are cited as those of Pope Sylvester I”] . . . “The first See will not be judged by anyone . . .” (Pope Nicholas I: Letter Proposueramus quidem to Emperor Michael, September 28, 865; p. 219, D #638)

[C]ertainly it is evident that the judgment of the Apostolic See, of whose authority there is none greater, is to be refused by no one . . . the judgment of the Roman bishop being no longer open for reconsideration . . . (Pope Nicholas I: Letter Proposueramus quidem to Emperor Michael, September 28, 865; p. 219, D #641)

[W]hether you have believed and do believe that the supreme and preeminent authority and juridical power of those who were the Roman pontiffs, We who are so, and those who will be so in the future have been, are, and will be such that they and We were not, are not, and in the future will not be able to be judged by anyone; but that they and We have been, are, and will be reserved in judgment by God alone; and that it was not possible, is not possible, and will not be possible for Our decisions and judgments to be appealed to any other judge. (Pope  Clement VI: Letter Super quibusdam to the Mekhithar (= Consolator), Catholiciso of the Armenians, September 29, 1351; p. 310, D #1056)

19. An ecclesiastic, even the roman pontiff, can legitimately be corrected, and even accused, by subjects and lay persons. (Pope Gregory XI: Errors of John Wycliffe, Condemned in the Letter Super periculosis to the Bishops of Canterbury and London, May 22, 1377; p. 318, D #1139)

[note: translations of the following come from Wikisource: ecclesiastically approved translation by Henry Edward Cardinal ManningOccasional alternate translations from Denzinger, 43rd edition will be interjected in brackets and blue font, with Denzinger reference numbers. What follows is from the First Dogmatic Constitution Pastor aeternus on the Church of Christ: Session 4: July 18, 1870: the same magisterial proclamation that declared papal infallibility to be a dogma on the highest level: i.e., unable to be dissented against by any Catholic. Bolding is my own, in order to highlight the most significant portions]

[Prologue]  And in order that the Episcopate also might be one and undivided, and that by means of a closely united priesthood the multitude of the faithful might be kept secure in the oneness of faith and communion, He set Blessed Peter over the rest of the Apostles, and fixed in him the abiding principle of this twofold unity and its visible foundation, in the strength of which the everlasting temple should arise, and the Church in the firmness of that faith should lift her majestic front to heaven. And seeing that the gates of hell with daily increase of hatred are gathering their strength on every side to upheave the foundation laid by God’s own hand, and so, if that might be, to overthrow the Church: We, therefore, for the preservation, safe keeping, and increase of the Catholic flock, with the approval of the Sacred Council, do judge it to be necessary to propose to the belief and acceptance of all the faithful, in accordance with the ancient and constant faith of the universal Church, the doctrine touching the institution, perpetuity and nature of the sacred Apostolic Primacy, in which is found the strength and solidity of the entire Church; and at the same time to proscribe and condemn the contrary errors so hurtful to the flock of Christ. [“proscribe with sentence of condemnation the contrary erroneous opinions so detrimental to the Lord’s flock”: p. 610: D #3052]

[Chapter 3] And since, by the divine right of apostolic primacy, one Roman Pontiff is placed over the universal Church, We further teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all causes the decision of which belongs to the Church recourse may be had to his tribunal, but that none may reopen the judgement of the Apostolic See, than whose authority there is no greater, nor can any lawfully review its judgement. [“the judgment of the Apostolic See, whose authority is unsurpassed, is not subject to review by anyone; nor is anyone allowed to pass judgment on its decision”: p. 613: D #3063]

Wherefore they err from the right path of truth who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgements of the Roman Pontiffs to an Œcumenical Council, as to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff.

[Chapter 4] And because the sentence of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be passed by, who said, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church,’ these things which have been said are proved by events, because in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept undefiled, and her well-known doctrine has been kept holy. [“. . . has always been preserved immaculate  and sacred doctrine honored”: p. 614: D #3066] Desiring, therefore, not to be in the least degree separated from the faith and doctrine of this See, we hope that we may deserve to be in the one communion, which the Apostolic See preaches, in which is the entire and true solidity of the Christian religion. . . . 

To satisfy this pastoral duty, our predecessors ever made unwearied efforts that the salutary doctrine of Christ might be propagated among all the nations of the earth, and with equal care watched that it might be preserved genuine and pure where it had been received. Therefore the bishops of the whole world, now singly, now assembled in synod, following the long established custom of Churches and the form of the ancient rule, sent word to this Apostolic See of those dangers especially which sprang up in matters of faith, that there the losses of faith might be most effectually repaired where the faith cannot fail. [“where the faith cannot suffer impairment, the injuries to the faith might be repaired”: p. 615: D #3069] . . . 

For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter, that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith delivered through the Apostles. And indeed all the venerable Fathers have embraced and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed their apostolic doctrine; knowing most fully that this See of Saint Peter remains ever free from all blemish of error, according to the divine promise of the Lord our Saviour made to the Prince of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren.” [“this See of Peter always remains untainted by any error . . .”: p. 615: D #3070]

This gift, then, of truth and never-failing faith was conferred by heaven upon Peter and his successors in this Chair, that they might perform their high office for the salvation of all; that the whole flock of Christ, kept away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished with the pasture of heavenly doctrine; that, the occasion of schism being removed, the whole Church might be kept one, and resting in its foundation, might stand firm against the gates of hell.

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The choice is yours: dear reader (those of you who seek to follow Holy Mother Church; the One True Church established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: the Holy Catholic Church, headed by Pope Francis, and popes in perpetuity and succession). Do you wish to follow mere men, who clearly lack the faith to accept the crystal-clear declarations above: that the pope is singularly guided by the Holy Spirit and will in fact remain free — in his official teachings — from all doctrinal and moral error, and cannot and must not be judged or overruled by anyone whatever? 

Do you wish to follow what this outrageous, unCatholic dissent is in essence: mere arbitrary traditions of men?:

Matthew 15:3, 6 (RSV) He answered them, “And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? . . . [6] So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. (cf. Mk 7:9, 13)

Do you choose to abide by the long, fabled, diabolical tradition of “itching ears” and following our own private inclinations, rather than apostolic tradition?:

2 Timothy 3:4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

Do you desire to reject the plain, obvious example given by St. Paul as to how the Catholic is to regard and approach spiritual authority? He acted in this way in relation to the Jewish high priest. How much more ought we to give deference to the Supreme Head of the Catholic Church: the pope?:

Acts 23:1-5 And Paul, looking intently at the council, said, “Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day.” [2] And the high priest Anani’as commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. [3] Then Paul said to him, “God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” [4] Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” [5] And Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, `You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'”

Do you want to discount and ignore the clear example of King David, before he was king: expressing extreme deference to King Saul, who never repented of his sins and apostasy, and was running around trying to kill David, who refused to kill him when he had the chance? David was soulmates with Saul’s son Jonathan, too. How did David react when Saul essentially killed himself after a failed battle, after he had fallen into deep rebellion against God?:

2 Samuel 1:17-19, 23-24 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, . . . [18] . . . He said: [19] “Thy glory, O Israel, is slain upon thy high places! How are the mighty fallen! . . . [23] “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. [24] “Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, . . .”

2 Samuel 2:5-6 David sent messengers to the men of Ja’besh-gil’ead, and said to them, “May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord, and buried him! [6] Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you! And I will do good to you because you have done this thing.

David acted in this was simply because Saul was “the LORD’s anointed”:

1 Samuel 24:5-7, 10 And afterward David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. [6] He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’S anointed.” [7] So David persuaded his men with these words, and did not permit them to attack Saul. . . . [10] . . . `I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed.’ (cf. 26:9, 11, 16, 23; 2 Sam 1:14, 16). A

He was acting according to what his son Solomon expressed: “Even in your thought, do not curse the king” (Ecc 10:20).

All of this for a king who had fallen into apostasy and who rejected God. . . . In other words, even if Pope Francis were supposedly wicked or a heretic, the Bible still gives no basis whatever for treating him as he has been by these impious, loudmouthed critics.

But the fact is that he is not a heretic; has not taught any heresy at all, and would not ever be allowed to do so, by the virtue of the Holy Spirit’s protection, as expressed in binding dogma in Catholic magisterial documents (see above). These men who are doing this are, therefore,

1) lying and bearing false witness (mortal sins),

2) lacking in faith that the Catholic Church, especially in the Roman See, is indefectible (and flat-out rejecting the proclamations that assert this),

3) Disobeying crystal-clear magisterial injunctions as to how the pope is never to be judged in his teaching by any man,

4) Failing to express the reverence due to not only the pope in particular, and above all, but that which is due to all spiritual superiors in the Church. St. Peter, the first pope, wrote: “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor [at that time, Nero!]” (1 Pet 2:17). St. Paul added, “in humility count others better than yourselves” (Phil 2:3). And these men dare to treat a pope in this manner?

These actions and thoughts are — without question — unCatholic, schismatic in spirit (if not yet canonically), outrageous, scandalous, slanderous, impious, catachetically and theologically ignorant and groundless, and so ought to therefore cease at once, for the sake of their own souls and those with itching ears who tragically follow them into these damnable errors.

Again, dear [Catholic] reader, the choice is yours. I gain little by telling you the truth. Most of the “big money” and exposure and “fame” is currently on the side of the papal bashers. They’re getting “all” the “hits” in their pathetic videos and articles and talks. I’m just a poor apologist, following my calling and doing what I’ve always done: defending Christianity and specifically Holy Mother Church and her teachings. I tell you this wholly because it’s true and out of love for you and desire for your salvation.

If you want to learn more about how the charges against Pope Francis are systematically false, see these two collections, with over 400 articles:

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Photo credit: Church fathers altar (Kirchenväteraltar): Saint Augustine and the devil (bet. 1471-1475), by Michael Pacher (1435-1498) [public domain / Wikipedia]

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