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[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Friday, December 9, 2016

An Exposé of the Heresy of John Salza & Robert Siscoe Part III

Defection from the Faith & the Church - Faith , Heresy, and Loss of Office - An Exposé of the Heresy of John Salza & Robert Siscoe Part III
Fr. Paul Kramer B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div., S.T.L. (Cand.) 
In addressing the question of the possibility of a heretical pope, and if possible, could such a pope be deposed or judged by the Church, one must first distinguish the various senses in which the term “heretic” has been employed by ecclesiastical writers. Giuseppe de Luca1 explains that the term «heresy» (αἴρεσις) which denotes a choice, selection, election, or a preference for one position rather than another, was a term used in classical Greek; and in Alexandrian Greek it began to be typically applied to philosophical, political, and religious doctrines. 

In Josephus Flavius, it already acquired the meaning of “sect”, although without any connotation of condemnation or disapproval. In the New Testament, the word αἴρεσις occurs nine times, and the word αίρετικός, once, and the connotation in which it is used is always one of condemnation and reproach. In 1 Cor. 11:19, there already appears to be a clear distinction between heresy and schism, and throughout the New Testament, its signification is one of heinously grievous culpability. In Acts 24:14, St. Paul rejects the Jewish attribution of the term to the nascent Christianity of the Church.
St. Irenaeus was gave the term a more widespread usage due to his work, Adversus Haereses, in which he referred to the Catholic doctrine as “orthodox”, and the Gnostic beliefs (Valentinians, Marcosians, etc.) as “heresy”. The term gained more precision during the period of the Apostolic Fathers, and was properly defined by Tertullian in Chapter VI of De Praescriptione, in which he explains the Greek origin of the term, and contrasts the self-condemnation of the heretic by his willful choice of doctrines in opposition to the teaching of the Apostles, which was not the result of their choice or preference, but was received from Christ and faithfully transmitted to the nations; and therefore, if an angel from heaven should preach a different Gospel, he would be anathematized. (haereses dictae graeca uoce ex interpretatione electionis qua quis maxime siue ad instituendas siue ad suscipiendas eas utitur. [3] Ideo et sibi damnatum dixit haereticum quia et in quo damnatur sibi elegit. Nobis uero nihil ex nostro arbitrio inducere licet sed nec eligere quod aliquis de arbitrio suo induxerit. [4] Apostolos Domini habemus auctores qui nec ipsi quicquam ex suo arbitrio quod inducerent, elegerunt, sed acceptam a Christo disciplinam fideliter nationibus adsignauerunt. [5] Itaque etiamsi angelus de caelis aliter euangelizaret, anathema diceretur a nobis.)
I have explained in Part I the Catholic teaching on heresy, and present here what is the most common definition of heresy, given by A. Michel in the Dictionnarire de théologie catholique2, where it is said of heresy that, “It is a doctrine that immediately, directly, and contradictorily opposes the truths revealed by God and authentically set forth as such by the Church.” In his above cited article, de Luca sums up the distinctions commonly made by theologians in their works, between the “internal” and “external” heretic, the former keeps the heresy within himself, the latter manifests it
to others; the external heretic is “occult” (secret) who manifests the heresy to only a few (or even to no one, but commits external acts of heresy), and “public” if the heresy is manifested to a sufficient number of persons. There is also the distinction between “formal heretic” and “material heretic”; material when one denies or doubts an article of faith without being aware of denying or doubting an article of faith, or does it without obstinacy or full consent of the will; formal when it is done with full knowledge and deliberation. De Luca, in 1932, rightly mentions that the distinction between formal and material heretics is of the maximum importance, and gave the common understanding of them. Quoting a 21st Century author, Wikipedia also defines these terms according to what is the common understanding of these terms today: «In traditional Catholic theology, the term material heresy refers to an opinion that is objectively contradictory to the teachings of the Church, and as such heretical, but which is uttered by a person without the subjective knowledge of its being so. A person who holds a material heresy may therefore not be a "heretic" in the strict sense. Material heresy is distinguished from "formal heresy", i.e. a heretical opinion proposed deliberately by a person who is aware of its being against the doctrine of the Church.»3
I have given particular emphasis to express what is even today the commonly understood distinctions between the terms “formal heretic” and “material heretic”; as well as “internal” and “external” heresy, because the common understanding of the terms is firmly rooted in Catholic traditional usage. John Salza and Robert Siscoe have deviated from the signification of these terms as they have traditionally been understood for centuries in Catholic theology, (calling the traditional scholastic usage of the term ‘material heretic’ “perverted”), and have made use of the relatively recent and novel definition of “material heretic”; as well as inventing their own deviant and totally erroneous distinction between external and internal heresy, in order to more persuasively argue their own heretical doctrines. Most notably, as I pointed out in Part I of this article, Salza & Siscoe have used their deviant understanding of the “sin of heresy”, to make it appear that the external sin of heresy pertains to the internal forum as an “externalized internal sin”, which (according to their convoluted heretical reasoning) by itself, suapte natura, does not separate the heretic from the body of the Church, but only does so after judgment has been pronounced on the “crime of heresy” by Church authority. It is the matter and not the form which determines whether heresy is an internal or external; and it is the form or lack thereof, and not the matter which determines whether the sin is pertinacious, merely culpable but not pertinacious, or inculpable (i.e. material sin). Salza & Siscoe have totally distorted the Catholic doctrine on heresy by speaking of “the internal sin of heresy that the person manifests to many by his external actions (but actions that are not public heresy, as such […]). These external actions are what lead others to conclude that he is guilty of the sin of heresy.” The error of formal heresy is culpable and pertinacious; the error of material heresy is not pertinacious, but in both cases, it is the matter alone that determines whether the sin is internal or external. It is not the form that determines whether a sin is internal or external. Such a totally muddled notion of internal and external sin of heresy as expounded by John Salza and Robert Siscoe is worthy of the Dictionary of Voodoo Theology, but Salza and Siscoe attempt to convince their
readers that their heretically errant theological deviations are faithful to the magisterium of the Church.
So, having given what is the common understanding of heresy and the distinctions related to it, I will proceed to demonstrate that these terms as they are commonly understood, faithfully represent the doctrine of St. Thomas, St. Alphonsus, and the theologians who have followed their teaching for centuries. Only then will it be precisely understood what is meant by the terms, “manifest heretic” and “heretical pope”.
Salza, ignorantly challenging me on the definition of the term, "material heretic" wrote to me on 12 July 2014: «An ignorant Catholic is not a heretic (formal or material) because he possesses divine faith and is invincibly ignorant of his heresy through no fault of his own. A material heretic is also invincibly ignorant of his heresy, but does not possess divine faith, thus rendering him a material heretic.» Trying to express their doctrine with at least some semblance of theological coherence, Salza and Siscoe resort to the weakest of arguments, the argument from authority – not the magisterial authority of the Church, which is the strongest argument in theology, but the private authority of an “expert witness”, writing on their website:
«What we see is that Fr. Kramer understands the term “material heretic” to refer to Catholics – “faithful sons of the Church” – who err materially in good faith. He says that such persons are only material heretic (sic) since they do not “prefer their own judgment to the teaching of the Church.” But is this the correct use of the term “material heretic,” or has Fr. Kramer “entirely perverted” the “legitimate use of the expression”? We will allow Cardinal Billot to answer this question for us.
In the following citation, we will see that, according to one of the greatest Thomists of the 20th Century, a material heretic is not a Catholic who errs in good faith, but rather a non-Catholic – that is, one who has chosen something other than the Church’s Magisterium as his rule of faith (e.g., the “bible alone”, a local Protestant minister, etc.).
Here is Cardinal Billot’s definition of a material heretic and a formal heretic:
Cardinal Louis Billot S.J., De Ecclesia Christi: "Heretics are divided into formal and material. Formal heretics are those to whom the authority of the Church is sufficiently known; while material heretics are those who, being in invincible ignorance of the Church herself, in good faith choose some other guiding rule. So the heresy of material heretics is not imputable as sin and indeed it is not necessarily incompatible with that supernatural faith which is the beginning and root of all justification. For they may explicitly believe the principal articles, and believe the others, though not explicitly, yet implicitly, through their disposition of mind and good will to adhere to whatever is sufficiently proposed to them as having been revealed by God. In fact they can still belong to the body of the Church by desire and fulfill the other conditions necessary for salvation. Nonetheless, as to their [i.e., the material heretics] actual incorporation in the visible Church of Christ, which is our present subject, our thesis makes no distinction between formal and material heretics [in other words, neither material or formal heretics are members of the visible Church], understanding everything in accordance with the notion of material heresy just given, which indeed is the only true and genuine one. For, if you understand by the expression material heretic one who, while professing subjection to the Church's Magisterium in matters of faith [i.e. a professing Catholic], nevertheless still denies something defined by the Church because he did not know it was defined, or, by the same token,
holds an opinion opposed to Catholic doctrine because he falsely thinks that the Church teaches it, it would be quite absurd to place material heretics outside the body of the true Church; but on this understanding the legitimate use of the expression would be entirely perverted. For a material sin is said to exist only when what belongs to the nature of the sin takes place materially, but without advertence or deliberate will. But the nature of heresy consists in withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium and this does not take place in the case, since this is a simple error of fact concerning what the rule dictates. And therefore there is no scope for heresy, even materially" (Cardinal Louis Billot S.J., De Ecclesia Christi). »
Firstly, Cardinal Billot, in this passage cited by Salza & Siscoe, errs on the nature of heresy by confusing the generic nature of infidelity, common to apostasy and heresy, with the specific nature of heresy. It is not that, “the nature of heresy consists in withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium”, as Billot asserts, but heresy consists in the obstinate denial or doubt of some article of faith. Following the doctrine of St. Thomas, St. Alphonsus states the definition of heresy: «Hæresis est error intellectus, et pertinax contra Fidem, in eo qui Fidem sucepit» Thus, the nature of heresy is 1) the pertinacious error of the intellect against faith, 2) in one who has received the faith. St. Alphonsus distinguishes between the matter and the form of heresy: «Hæresis est error intellectus, et pertinax contra Fidem, in eo qui Fidem sucepit. ... Unde patet, ad Hæresim, ut et Apostasiam, duo requiri, 1. Judicium erroneum, quod est ejus quasi materiale. 2. Pertinaciam; quae est quasi formale. Porro pertinaciter errare non est hic acriter, et mordicus suum errorem tueri; sed est eum retinere, postquam contrarium est sufficienter propositum: sive quando scit contrarium teneri a reliqua universali Christi in terris Ecclesia, cui suum iudicium præferat»4. Thus, the matter is the erroneous judgment, and the form is the pertinacity. Accordingly therefore, the material heretic is one who is not ignorant of the Church herself, but is one of her own who is ignorant of her teaching. None of those among the baptized who have reached the age of judgment, and who deny some article of faith, while professing some other creed or rule of faith, are, according to traditional Catholic usage, called “material heretics”, but are simply referred to as “heretics”; since, according to Canon Law and scholastic theology, they are rightly understood not to have the Catholic faith.
The opinion that there can be adult "material heretics" with faith and justifying grace, but in invincible ignorance, as members of non-Catholic sects who do not know the Church, seems scarcely believable, smacks of heresy; and is refuted by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, who explains that, "unbelievers who arrive at the use of reason, and are not converted to the Faith, cannot be excused, because though they do not receive sufficient proximate grace, still they are not deprived of remote grace, as a means of becoming converted." 5 Thus, Bishop George Hay expounds on those who say
invincible ignorance will save a man, «will bring him to salvation;" saying, "[T]hey suppose that a man may be a member of the true Church in the sight of God, though not born with her in communion, as all baptized children are, though born in heresy, at least till they come to the age of judging for themselves. Their mistake here lies in not reflecting that all adults who are in a false religion, can be members of the Church in the sight of God, in no other sense than those were of whom our Saviour says, "Other sheep I have who are not of this fold." But as he expressly declares, that it was necessary to bring even those to the communion of the Church; this evidently shows that they and all such are not members of the Church in such a way as that they can be saved in their present state without being joined in her communion. »6
Of those who deny some article of faith, but who profess themselves to be Catholics and members of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas makes the distinction between such persons, some of whom, who might be called heretics either because they err solely from ignorance, who are therefore not excommunicated; and others who, because erring through obstinacy and trying to subvert others, then fall under the excommunication latae sententiae: «Sed numquid ex hoc sunt excommunicati omnes haeretici? Videtur quod non, quia dicitur Tit. III, 10: haereticum hominem post primam et secundam correctionem devita, et cetera. Respondeo. Dicendum est, quod haereticus potest dici aliquis, vel quia simpliciter errat ex ignorantia, et ex hoc non est excommunicatus; vel quia errat ex pertinacia et alios nititur pervertere, et tunc incurrit in canonem latae sententiae.»7 Since St. Thomas speaks in this passage of canonical warnings and the ecclesiastical censure of excommunication, he is clearly not speaking of persons who are members of some non-Catholic sect who have never known the Church, but distinguishes here between Catholics who become formal heretics, and incur the excommunication; and those Catholics whom he calls “heretics”, but who err against the faith in ignorance as merely material heretics: “It is to be said that one can be called a heretic because he simply errs out of ignorance, and therefore is not excommunicated.” Such an ignorant Catholic, who errs out of ignorance, and who therefore does not incur the excommunication, is called a “heretic”, but not properly in the sense of a ‘formal heretic’, who “errs out of pertinacity and tries to pervert others”, and therefore is not properly a heretic, but is called a ‘material heretic’ in traditional Catholic usage. From this passage of the Angelic Doctor alone, one sees how far the Cardinal Billot drifted away from the doctrine of St. Thomas and St. Alphonsus on heresy.
Salza & Siscoe are quite unaware of the fact that it is precisely because the material heretic retains the formal cause of faith, that he still has the Catholic faith, and is not one who is ignorant of the Church. The material heretic believes in revelation on divine authority, and does not reject the
formal cause of faith -- "supernaturalis enim virtus fidei causam formalem habet, Dei revelantis auctoritatem” (Pius XI - Mortalium Animos).
The material heretic believes in the authority of the Church, accepts the authority of the revealing God, professes the Creed, and thus does not reject the formal object of faith, but, errs ignorantly on some matter of faith, being unaware that his opinion materially opposes some truth of revelation. Such a one still adheres to the formal object of faith, but it is the formal heretic who rejects the infallible rule of faith: “Formale autem obiectum fidei est veritas prima secundum quod manifestatur in Scripturis sacris et doctrinae Ecclesiæ. Unde quicumque non inhæret, sicut infallibili et divinæ regulæ, doctrinæ Ecclesiæ, quæ procedit ex veritate prima in Scripturis sacris manifestata, ille non habet habitum fidei, sed ea quae sunt fidei alio modo tenet quam per fidem.”8 The material heretic adheres formally to the doctrine of the Church as an infallible and divine rule, assenting on divine authority to the divinely revealed truths, but errs objectively in ignorance regarding the matter of some article(s) of faith. “[W]hoever does not adhere to the doctrine of the Church, as an infallible and divine rule does not have the habit of faith, but holds to matters of faith in some other manner than by faith.”
The material heretic retains the formal cause of the virtue of faith, because the form of heresy which is contrary to that virtue is absent in material heretics, who do not err out of pertinacity, but out of simplicity or ignorance, as Reiffenstuel explains, "Hæretici materiales (qui autem iuxta S. Augustinum . . . nequaquam sunt inter hæreticos deputandi) dicuntur illi, qui non ex malo animo aut pertinacia, sed ex simplicitate, aut defectu debitæ informationis, errant circa Fidem."9 Hence, as Abbé F.X. de Feller states, material heretics remain faithful sons of the Church: "Gli eretici materiali sono figliuoli della chiesa."10
Those who because of simplicity and ignorance err materially do not deliberately prefer their own judgment to the teaching of the Church, in which consists the sin of infidelity and the form of heresy, as St. Alphonsus explains: "Porro pertinaciter errare (quæ est formale) . . . est eum [errorem] retinere, postquam contrarium est sufficienter propositum: sive quando scit contrarium teneri a reliqua universali Christi in terris Ecclesia, cui suum iudicium præferat”. Therefore it is only the formal heretic who is properly called a heretic because he has defected from the faith by refusing to believe what he knows to be the faith of the universal Church, and thus no longer has the virtue of faith -- but the material heretic still has divine and Catholic faith but errs out of ignorance. Material heresy is properly a “material sin”. The term, "material sin" is defined by St. Alphonsus de Liguori as an action that would be matter of sin but without the knowledge of the law, and therefore inculpable: "il peccato materiale non è altro, che un'azione che sarebbe materia di peccato, se vi fosse la cognizione della legge, ma essendo la legge invincibilmente ignota . . . la trasgressione non è colpevole."11 Hence, "material heresy" is the inculpable, or at least not gravely culpable act of heresy, because of ignorance, and thus “material heretics” accordingly defined and distinguished from “formal heretics” by theologians: "Qui cum sua culpa veritatem de fide negant, formales
haeretici vocantur, qui id sine sua culpa faciunt, materiales haeretici dicuntur."12 (Those who culpably deny a truth of faith are called formal heretics, those who do so without fault are said to be material heretics.)
The error of material heresy is not always entirely inculpable, but can be culpable and vincible, but without pertinacity, as moral theologian, Patrick Sporer explains the three degrees of material heresy: "Et quia illa ignorantia, vel error potest esse, aut inculpabilis, aut culpabilis & vincibilis, eaque vel levis, vel lata, crassa, supina, vel denique etiam affectata, & directe voluntaria, ideo triplicis gradus distingui possunt hæretici materiales." 13
Thus, with a clear understanding of heresy as understood according to the mind of the Church, we can safely proceed to the exposition of the five opinions on the question of the deposition of a heretic pope.