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.)
THE FIVE OPINIONS ON A HERETICAL POPE
St. Robert Bellarmine’s Treatment of the Five Opinions
I have presented St. Robert Bellarmine’s exposition on the First Opinion, that a pope cannot be a heretic, in the previous section, and also presented my own argument proving this opinion to be the correct one. Bellarmine says of this opinion, “such an opinion is probable, and can easily be defended”, but, he adds, “it is not certain”. As has been pointed out already, the then more common belief that a pope could fall into heresy had its origin in the spurious Canon Si papa, which heavily influenced the medieval canonists and even held sway among the majority of theologians and canonists in Bellarmine’s day.
That this canon was the basis for that opinion is clear from the manner that Bellarmine presents the topic for discussion: “The tenth argument. A Pope can be judged and deposed by the Church in the case of heresy; as is clear from Dist. 40, can. Si Papa: therefore, the Pontiff is subject to human judgment, at least in some case.” One must bear in mind that here, Bellarmine is only presenting the argument, and not stating his own opinion in the matter. This is obvious enough from the context, since he then says, “I respond: there are five opinions on this matter.” The reason I mention this here is because Salza and Siscoe very deceptively quote this passage, in which Bellarmine merely presents the argument to be discussed, as evidence that this argument represented Bellarmine’s own opinion.1 Bellarmine’s own opinion was that a pope cannot fall into heresy and cannot be judged; and that hypothetically, if a pope could fall into heresy, he would ceased to be pope by that very fall, and only then could he be judged by the Church. I quoted the passage earlier, where he said, “I say those canons do not mean the Pope can err as a private person but only that the Pope cannot be judged; it is still not altogether certain whether the Pontiff could be a heretic or not. Thus, they add the condition ‘if he might become a heretic’ for greater caution”; and then the passage in which he most emphatically he declares, “the Pope by his own nature can fall into heresy, but not when we posit the singular assistance of God which Christ asked for him by his prayer. Furthermore, Christ prayed lest his faith would fail”. It is clear that for St. Robert Bellarmine, the pope cannot be judged for heresy because he cannot become a heretic. Nevertheless, he says, “it is still not altogether certain whether the Pontiff could be a heretic or not.” Although St. Robert knew the teaching of Innocent III, that the grace of unfailing faith pertains essentially to the Petrine office, he did not yet have the solemn dogma of Infallibility pronounced by the First Vatican Council, which established the promise of unfailing faith of the Pontiff as the premise and basis, and therefore the necessary disposition for Papal Infallibility: Quorum quidem apostolicam doctrinam omnes venerabiles Patres amplexi et sancti Doctores orthodoxi venerati atque secuti sunt; plenissime scientes, hanc sancti Petri Sedem ab omni semper errore illibatam
1 This matter will be dealt with in its proper place.
permanere, secundum Domini Salvatoris nostri divinam pollicitationem discipulorum suorum principi factam: Ego rogavi pro te, ut non deficiat fides tua, et tu aliquando conversus confirma fratres tuos.2 So, while the Vatican Council did not define papal inerrancy, or that a pope cannot fall into heresy; nevertheless, the Council did magisterially establish that the infallibility of the See of Peter is premised on the basis of the unfailing personal faith of the Pontiff. Thus, without such a clear magisterial pronouncement in his day, Bellarmine did not consider his own opinion to be altogether certain, and therefore says, “it will be worthwhile to see what the response should be if the Pope could be a heretic.”
Proceeding to the Second Opinion, Bellarmine states that opinion: “Thus, the second opinion is that the Pope, in the very instant in which he falls into heresy, even if it is only interior, is outside the Church and deposed by God, for which reason he can be judged by the Church.” The glaring defect in this opinion is that according to it, the one who falls into interior heresy can be judged by the Church; since the Church authorities could not possibly know that he is a secret heretic, and that he has been deposed by God, and therefore there would be no way they could judge and remove him, as Bellarmine notes, “But a secret heretic cannot be judged by men”. Thus it would be quite impossible for him to be “declared [by the Church] deposed by divine law, and deposed de facto, if he still refused to yield”. If such a heretic pope were to be deposed by God, he would be deposed invisibly, and that would be to no avail, because no one would know he had fallen from the pontificate, and he would therefore remain illegitimately in power as a usurper, in such a manner that he could not be removed. Hence, Bellarmine says, “For Jurisdiction is certainly given to the Pontiff by God, but with the agreement of men, as is obvious; because this man, who beforehand was not Pope, has from men that he would begin to be Pope, therefore, he is not removed by God unless it is through men.” It is clear therefore, that for a pope to be removed by some act other than death (or permanent insanity which is equivalent to death), he must be removed by men, and such a process of removal is first accomplished by the renunciation of the papacy either expressly or tacitly, which effects the loss of office. It is only by such visible actions as acts of manifest heresy, which constitute a visible defection from the faith and the Church, that bring about the automatic loss of office, that the pope can be judged to have left office by himself, as Bellarmine puts it; or, as Ballerini says, to have “ipso facto by his own will abdicated the primacy and the pontificate”.3 Thus it is that a pope can be judged by men to have tacitly abdicated by defecting into heresy, and as a public heretic, (and not as a secret heretic as Torquemada maintained), be “judged by the Church, that is, he is declared deposed by divine law, and deposed de facto, if he still refused to yield.” Thus the heretic who loses office by himself can be judged to have lost office and be effectively removed by men. Such automatic loss of office, according to Bellarmine, would only take place in the case of a manifestly heretical pope (Opinion No. 5); and not in the case of a pope who falls into internal heresy (Opinion No. 2). However, in either case, the “necessary disposition” to preserve the form of the pontificate, which is faith (as Bellarmine explains in his refutation of Opinion No. 4), would be lost; but while in the case of a manifest heretic, Bellarmine says by the removal of that
2 Pastor Aeternus
3 ipso facto sua voluntate primatu & pontificatu exauctoratus
necessary disposition the heretic would straightaway cease to be pope; but in the case of an internal heretic pope, he would not cease to be pope.
At first glance, it might appear that the Holy Doctor had contradicted himself, but it was not Bellarmine who asserted a contradictory position on the question, but rather Bellarmine himself was only too aware of the intrinsically contradictory nature of Opinion No. 2, and the irresolvable paradox it creates. St. Robert Bellarmine demonstrated conclusively, that in accordance with divine revelation, external acts of manifest heresy bring about an automatic loss of office; and therefore if a pope were to fall into manifest heresy, according to “the fifth and true opinion”, he would immediately cease to be pope and could be judged by the Church; but in the case of internal heresy, “it is not proven to me”, because such an impostor as a counterfeit heretic pope could not be judged and removed from the throne he usurps, and, he adds, “that the foundation of this opinion is that secret heretics are outside the Church, which is false, and we will amply demonstrate this in our tract de Ecclesia.” Quite rightly, Bellarmine expressed his belief and presented proofs (which he judged not to be altogether certain), that such a thing as a heretic pope is impossible; and this is especially borne out by the fact that an internal heretic pope could not confirm the faith of his brethren (as Bellarmine himself believed), being cut off (internally) from the unity of the Church4, and therefore incapable of exercising the charism of Infallibility and carrying out his munus of confirmator fratrum, he would, (lacking the necessary disposition to preserve the form of the papacy), necessarily cease to be pope; while at the same time, remaining a visible but atrophied member of the Church by a merely external and material union, he would necessarily remain pope as the visible head, (because he could not be visibly removed by men), but incapable of exercising his munus. However, since the dogma of Infallibility had not yet been defined, Bellarmine was clearly not disposed to declare the opinion as certain on the sole basis of the ex ratione argument of loss of papal office due to the removal of the necessary disposition (faith) to preserve the form of the pontificate in the person of the pope, since that disposition is necessary to preserve the form of the Pontificate in the person of the Pontiff precisely because it is the necessary disposition to exercise the charism of Infallibility – and thus the proof would not have been certain until the certain existence of the charism itself had been defined. The contradiction, and the irresolvable paradox that Opinion No. 2 creates, demonstrates that a heretic pope is impossible, since, if a pope could be a manifest heretic, then he could also be a secret heretic; and in either case, the “necessary disposition” would be lost – and therefore, even Opinion No. 5, can only be considered valid as a pure hypothesis.
4 Ineffabilis Deus: Quapropter si qui secus ac a Nobis definitum est, quod Deus avertat, prassumpserint corde sentire, ii noverint, ac porro sciant, se proprio judicio condemnatos, naufragium circa fidem passos esse, et ab unitate Ecclesiæ defecisse, ac præterea facto ipso suo semet pœnis a jure statutis subjicere si quod corde sentiunt, verbo aut scripto, vel alio quovis externo modo significare ausi fuerint.
“Wherefore if any persons should have the presumption, which God forbid, of thinking in their hearts contrary to what has been in this respect defined by us, let them be made aware, and let them further know, that they are by their own decision condemned; that they have suffered shipwreck of the faith, and have fallen away from the unity of the Church, and that moreover, by their own act itself, they subject themselves to the penalties imposed by the law, if they should either by word written or oral, or by any other external sign, attempt to give outward expression to the erroneous views they form in their hearts.”
Bellarmine presents the Third Opinion as the opposite extreme (to the extreme opinion that not only a manifest heretic pope would lose office by the very act of manifest heresy [Opinion No. 5], but even an internal heretic would lose office and could be judged [Opinion No. 2]); according to which, “The third opinion is on another extreme, that the Pope is not and cannot be deposed either by secret or manifest heresy.” (“Papam neque per haeresim occultam, neque per manifestam, esse depositum aut deponi posse”.) I have explained in the previous section that Bellarmine rejects this opinion not on the basis of a pope being able to be judged and deposed by the Church for heresy (Opinion No. 4), but to be judged as having fallen from office by himself and therefore to simply “be deposed” (esse depositum) by his own actions, and thus not deposed, i.e. deponendus by the Church (deponi posse), but per se to have fallen from office (Opinion No. 5).
The basis for Bellarmine’s opinion which refutes Opinion No. 3, is set forth in his refutation of Opinion No. 4, and in his explication of the Fifth Opinion: that a manifest heretic ceases to be pope, because he ceases to be a member of the Church by the very act of manifest heresy, which is an act of manifest defection from the Catholic faith, which, by its very nature and thus intrinsic to the act of heresy, severs a member from the body of the Church, and as a direct consequence of that defection, results automatically in the ipso facto loss of office. Bellarmine cites the unanimous teaching of the Fathers in support of his position, and particularly St. Jerome, saying “Jerome comments on the same place, saying that other sinners, through a judgment of excommunication are excluded from the Church; heretics, however, leave by themselves and are cut from the body of Christ”. Ballerini follows Bellarmine on this point exactly, and quotes St. Jerome verbatim: «Perspicua hac in re est S. Hieronimi ratio in laudata Pauli verba, Propterea a semetipso dicitur esse damnatus, quia fornicator, adulter, homicida, et cetera vitia per sacerdotes ex Ecclesia propelluntur: haeretici autem in semetipsis sententiam ferunt, suo arbitrio de Ecclesia recedentes: quae recessio propriae conscientiae videtur esse damnatio. » Both Bellarmine and Ballerini were certainly aware that their position on this point was firmly supported by the teaching of St. Pius V in the Roman Catechism: “"Heretics and schismatics are excluded from the Church, because they have defected (desciverunt) from her and belong to her only as deserters belong to the army from which they have deserted.” Therefore, Bellarmine declares: “this is indeed very certain. A non-Christian cannot in any way be Pope, as Cajetan affirms in the same book , and the reason is because he cannot be the head of that which he is not a member, and he is not a member of the Church who is not a Christian. But a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as St. Cyprian and many other Fathers clearly teach . Therefore, a manifest heretic cannot be Pope.” Thus, according to Bellarmine, if a pope were to fall into manifest heresy, by the very nature of his act of defection, he would by himself (per se), sever himself from the body of the Church and bring about his immediate fall from office, which Ballerini describes as an act of abdication (ipso facto sua voluntate primatu & pontificatu exauctoratus). This opinion was summed up by Gregory XVI, who wrote (on the case of Pedro de Luna), “So then he
could be considered, as noted by Ballerini, to have been a public schismatic and heretic, and consequently to have fallen from papacy, even if he had been validly elevated to it.”5
In his own words Bellarmine explains, “The foundation of this opinion is that a manifest heretic, is in no way a member of the Church; that is, neither in spirit nor in body, or by internal union nor external.” A heretic pope would cease to be pope, because by the very act of defection from the faith, he would cease to be a member of the Church; and this is so because heresy, in its nature is an act of defection from the faith, which suapte natura and not by authority of the Church, severs the heretic from the body of the Church. On this solid doctrinal foundation Bellarmine concludes: “Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.” And, “Thenceforth, the Holy Fathers teach in unison, that not only are heretics outside the Church, but they even lack all Ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity ipso facto.” And further, “those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy.”
Bellarmine is clear and explicit on this general point: that the separation from the body of the Church, as well as loss of office and all jurisdiction, are effected by the very act of heresy, ex natura haeresis, and are not by the authority of the Church as a penalty for an ecclesiastical delict. This sententia is de fide regarding the separation from the Church, in virtue of the unanimity of the Fathers, the teaching of the universal magisterium set forth in the Roman Catechism, and the teaching of Pius XII in Mystici Corporis; and is de fide regarding the loss of office and jurisdiction, because of the unanimity of the Fathers on this point which Bellarmine amply demonstrates (in his refutation of Opinion No. 4), which, therefore, qualifies it as a doctrine pertaining to the universal and ordinary magisterium. Thus, it is not a question of law, but of settled magisterial doctrine that heretics and schismatics are separated from the Church by their own actions, apart from any ecclesiastical law; and the consequent loss of office and jurisdiction is not the result of any penal sanction or any judgment pronounced by the Church, but is the direct effect of the defection from the Church which, apart from any human law, ex natura haeresis or ex natura schismatis, takes place as a direct result of tacit renunciation of office.
The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century exponents of Opinion No. 4, (which holds that a manifest heretic pope must either be deposed by the Church, or at least declared deposed by the Church before the loss of office takes place), can perhaps be excused for having held this errant legalistic opinion, but there is no longer any excusing circumstance to justify adherence to it now. The doctrine of Bellarmine and Ballerini on this point was advocated by Pope Gregory XVI, and adopted by the First Vatican Council; and was then formally incorporated into the 1917 Code of Canon Law as the doctrinal basis for Canon 188 §4, and in the 1983 (Canon 194 §2). Since the loss of office and jurisdiction takes place not as a penalty for the ecclesiastical crime of heresy, but is the intrinsic
5 «Ond’è che poteasi, come osserva il Ballerini, considerarlo quale pubblico scismatico e eretico, ed in conseguenza per se decaduto dal pontificato, se anche ad esso fosse stato validamente inalzato. » (Il trionfo della santa sede e della chiesa contro gli assatti dei novatori, p. 47)
consequence of the manifest sin of formal heresy6 ex natura haeresis, apart from any human law, there can be no exception for a pope.
Clearly, the mind of the Church on the question of loss of office for defection from the faith into heresy has been magisterially expressed as a tacit renunciation from office, which brings about the automatic removal from office ex natura haeresis, as Bellarmine taught, and not as a punishment for the canonical delict of heresy, a penal deprivation of office which must be pronounced as an official judgment of Church authority on a reigning Pontiff; but as a loss of office that takes place ipso facto by the act of heresy per se, and which is then enforced by a declaratory sentence so that the loss of office can be officially recognized, the heretic removed, and the vacancy filled. “Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church.”
The distinction made by Bellarmine and Ballerini between a manifestly heretical pope to be judged as having fallen from office by himself and therefore to simply “be deposed” (esse depositum) by his own actions (Opinion No. 5), as opposed to one who is to be tried and deposed (deponendus), i.e. deprived of office either by a juridical pronouncement, or merely ipso facto deposed upon a juridical declaration, as a punishment for a penal canonical delict of heresy (Opinion No. 4), has either been studiously ignored by Salza and Siscoe, or else they have simply been obliviously unaware of it staring them in the face in Book II Chapter XXX of De Romano Pontifice. Whether their oversight is due to deliberate sophistry or oblivious incompetence, in either case, they have interpreted St. Robert Bellarmine’s rejection of Opinion No. 3 to be an endorsement of the opinion that the Church has the authority to judge a reigning pontiff for heresy, and ministerially bring about his deposition from office (Opinion No. 4). In view of all that has been stated above, the heterodoxy of that opinion is patent.
«Depositus» vs. «Deponendus»
St. Robert Bellarmine, in his doctrine on the question of the deposition of a manifestly heretical pope, with a tightly woven logic, gives systematic expression to the teaching of Pope Innocent III set forth in his Sermons; 1) on the point that the Roman Pontiff may be judged by no one, except for heresy, in which case he cannot be tried as pope and judged (deponendus), but, 2) he can only be shown to have already been judged – to have fallen from the Pontificate (depositus). Thus, the Church would exercise no power over the pope if it were to judge that the man occupying the cathedra had actually fallen from the pontificate by his heresy, but then the Church would only determine that the occupant of the throne, being a heretic, and thereby having fallen from the pontificate, is no longer the pope; and would therefore declare the See to be vacant, and proceed to the election of a new pope. It is in this broad sense that Bellarmine and Ballerini speak of the manner in which a heretical pope can be “deposed”.
The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that, “No canonical provisions exist regulating the authority of the College of Cardinals sede Romanâ impeditâ, i.e. in case the pope became insane, or personally a
6 (which also happens to be a canonical delict)
heretic; in such cases it would be necessary to consult the dictates of right reason and the teachings of history.” The teachings of history demonstrate that there is no such case in history in which a pope manifestly defected into formal heresy; and therefore it is not surprising that there do not exist any canonical provisions for such a case. Bellarmine himself stated that there has never been such a case, and (as quoted earlier) Archbishop John Purcell, who was present at the First Vatican Council, related that, «The question was also raised by a Cardinal, “What is to be done with the Pope if he becomes a heretic?” It was answered that there has never been such a case; the Council of Bishops could depose him for heresy, for from the moment he becomes a heretic he is not the head or even a member of the Church […] and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself. » It is manifestly evident that the relator’s reply to the Cardinal did not refer to an internal heretic, since he further stated, «If the Pope, for instance, were to say that the belief in God is false, […] or if he were to deny the rest of the creed, ‘I believe in Christ,’ etc. […] If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I”. »
What is particularly worthy of note, is that the reply to the Cardinal on the question of a pope who becomes a heretic, was given as a pure hypothesis, and was not considered as a serious possibility, as is evident from the relator’s words, “The supposition is injurious to the Holy Father in the very idea, but serves to show you the fullness with which the subject has been considered and the ample thought given to every possibility.” At the First Vatican Council, (as Pope Pius XI stated in the earlier cited passage of Providentissimus Deus) “the Fathers of the  Vatican Council employed his [Bellarmine’s] writings and opinions to the greatest possible extent” – and indeed they adopted his teachings to the fullest extent on the question of a heretical pope, adopting his position on Opinion No. 1; as well as hypothetically adopting his position on Opinion No. 5. Thus, the opinion of Bellarmine, Ballerini, de Liguori, and Cappellari [Gregory XVI], (that a pope who becomes a manifest heretic, 1} “ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church” [Bellarmine]7, 2] “by his public pertinacity which for no reason can be excused, since pertinacity properly pertains to heresy, he declares himself to be a heretic, i.e. to have withdrawn from the Catholic faith and the Church by his own will, so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would be necessary” 8, and would thus be said to have “abdicated the primacy and the pontificate”9 [Ballerini]; 3} “For the rest, if God should permit that a Pope should become a notorious and contumacious heretic, he would cease to be Pope, and the pontificate would be vacant” [St. Alphonsus de Liguori]10; 4} “would be considered as a public schismatic and heretic, and in consequence, and to have fallen by himself from the pontificate, if he had been
7 «papam haereticum manifestum per se desinere esse papam et caput, sicut per se desinit esse christianus et membrum corporis Ecclesiae; quare ab, Ecclesia posse eum judicari et puniri »
8 «hac sua publica pertinacia, cum ab haeresi proprie dicta, quae pertinaciam requirit, excusari nulla ratione potest; tum vero semetipsum palam declarat haereticum, hoc est a fide catholica, & ab Ecclesia voluntate propria recessisse, ita ut ad eum praecidendum a corpore Eccleaiae nulla cujusquam declaratio aut sententia necessaria sit»
9 «primatu et pontificatu exauctoratus» 10 “Del resto, si Dio permettesse che un papa fosse notoriamente eretico e contumace, egli cesserebbe d'essere papa, e vacherebbe il pontificato.” (Verita della Fede, part 3, ch. 8, no. 10. In: Opere dommatiche di S. Alfonso de Liguori, Torino, G. Marietti, 1848, p. 720; Opere di S. Alfonso Maria de Liguori, v. 8)
validly elevated to it”. [Gregory XVI]11), was adopted by the Holy See under Pius IX at the First Vatican Council.
Ballerini applied this doctrine specifically to the case of Pedro de Luna (Benedict XIII), who, “if one believes him to have been a true pontiff, by his own will ipso facto abdicated the primacy and the pontificate, [and] rightly and legitimately was able to be deposed by the Council as a schismatic and heretic”.12 What is of the greatest importance to note is that the Council did not actually depose Benedict, but, as Ballerini explains, “by what means the divine providence employed the synod of Constance to end the most tenacious schism, so that that synod did not need to exercise any power of jurisdiction by its authority to depose any true, albeit unknown, actual Pontiff.” 13 Thus, Ballerini concludes, the Council did not declare that it had “deposed” him, but simply declared him to “be deposed” (depositum declaruit potius quam deposuit); and Gregory XVI likewise, “So then he could be considered, as noted by Ballerini, to have been a public schismatic and heretic, and consequently to have fallen from the pontificate, even if he had been validly elevated to it.” 14
Ballerini expounded on Bellarmine’s doctrine on this point with great precision, explaining how a heretic pope would fall from the pontificate at the moment he manifests his pertinacity in heresy, and any action taken against him before that point is a work of charity – fraternal correction; but once he manifests that he is a heretic, he severs himself automatically from the body of the Church, falls from the Pontificate and ceases to be pope; and then, any judgment pronounced against him would be pronounced on one who already is no longer pope, and no longer superior to a council:
(Text highlighted in yellow has either been cut out or left out by Salza and Siscoe, and the faulty translation has been carefully crafted to falsify the authentic text of Ballerini, and to change his meaning, in order to make Ballerini as well as Bellarmine appear to be of the same opinion as Suarez.)15
Latin text: (Pietro Ballerini, De Potestate Ecclesiastica. Summor. Pont. Et Conc. Gen.Cap. IX § II. pp. 128-9)
«Cur vero in praesentissimo omniumque gravissimo periculo fidei, quod ex Pontifice haeresim privato licet judicio propugnante impendens, diuturniores moras non pateretur, remedium ex generalis synodi non ita facili convocatione expectandum credatur? Nonne etiam inferiores quicumque in tanto fidei discrimine superiorem suum correctione fraterna commonere queunt, in faciem eidem resistere, atque revincere; &, si opus sit, redarguere ac ad resipiscentiam urgere? Poterunt id Cardinales, qui ipsi a consiliis adstant; poterit Romanus Clerus; Romana etiam synodus, si
11 «considerarlo quale pubblico scismatico e eretico, ed in conseguenza per se decaduto dal pontificato, se anche ad esso fosse stato validamente inalzato. »
12 «Benedictus XIII. , (si verum Pontificem fuisse existimes) ipso facto sua voluntate primatu & pontificatu exauctoratus, rite ac legitime deponi potuit a Concilio tamquam schismaticus & haereticus; quod non congrueret Joanni XXIII, in sententia contra hunc edita declaratum non legitur. »
13 «Vides interim, quibus modis divina providentia usa est ad abolendum per Constantiensem synudum pertinacissimam schisma, ut ne opus esset eamdem synodum quiquam juris exercere ad deponendum sua auctoritate quempiam verum, licet ignotum, actualem Pontificem. »
14 «Ond’è che poteasi, come osserva il Ballerini, considerarlo quale pubblico scismatico e eretico, ed in conseguenza per se decaduto dal pontificato, se anche ad esso fosse stato validamente inalzato. » (Il trionfo della santa sede e della chiesa contro gli assatti dei novatori, p. 47)
15 This point will be fully elaborated in its proper place, on Salza’& Siscoe’s treatment of the Five Opinions.
expedire judicetur, congregata poterit. Quemcumque vel privatum respiciunt illa Pauli ad Titum: Haereticum hominem post unam & alteram correctionem devita, sciens quia subversus est, qui ejusmodi est, & delinquit, cum sit proprio judicio condemnatus. Qui nimirum semel & bis correptus non resiscipit, sed pertinax est in sententia dogmati manifesto aut definito contraria; hac sua publica pertinacia, cum ab haeresi proprie dicta, quae pertinaciam requitur, excusari nulla ratione potest; tum vero semetipsum palam declarant haereticum, hoc est a fide catholica, & ab Ecclesia voluntate propria recississe, ita ut ad eum praecidendum a corpore Ecclesiae nulla cujusquam declaratione aut sententia necessaria sit. Perspicua hac in re est S. Hieronymi ratio in laudata Pauli verba. Propterea a semetipso dicitur esse damnatus , quia fornicator, adulter, homicida, & cetera vitia per Sacerdotes ex Ecclesia propelluntur: haeretici autem in semetipsos sententiam ferunt, suo arbitrio de Ecclesia recedentes: quae recessio propriae conscientiae videtur esse damnatio. Pontifex ergo, qui post tam solemnem et publicam Cardinalium, Romani Cleri, vel etiam synodi monitionem se se obfirmatum praeferret in haeresi, & de Ecclesia palam recessisset, juxta praeceptum Pauli esset vitandus; & ne aliis perniciem afferret, in publicum proferenda esset ejus haeresis, & contumacia, ut omnes similiter ab eo caverent, sicque sententia, quam in se ipsum tulit, toti Ecclesiae proposita, eum sua voluntate recessisse, & ab Ecclesiae corpore declararet avulsum, atque abdicasse quodammodo Pontificatum, quo nemo fruitur, nec frui potest, qui non sit in Ecclesia. Vides igitur in casu haeresis, cui Pontifex in privato sensu adhaereret, promptum & efficax remedium absque generalis synodi convocatione: qua in hypothesi quidquid contra ipsum ageretur ante declaratam ejus contumaciam & haeresim, ut ad sanum consilium adduceretur, caritatis, non jurisdictionis officium esset: postea vero manifestato ejus recessu ab Ecclesia, si quae sententia a concilio in eumdem ferretur, in eum ferretur, qui Pontifex amplius non esset, neque superior concilio. Sed haec (3) hypothesis nullo facto comprobatur; siquidem nullus vel privatus error cuipiam Pontifici adscriptus contra ullum dogma evidens aut definitum hactenus inventus est, aut futurus putatur. Quid igitur in mera hypothesi laboremus pluribus. »16
My literal translation:
«But why is it to be believed, that the remedy is to be expected from the not so easily done convocation of a general synod, when a most present and gravest of all dangers for the faith, which, impending from a Pontiff espousing heresy even in his private judgment, would not be able to be endured through lengthy delays? In such a crisis for the faith, cannot even inferiors warn their superior by fraternal correction, resist him to the face, and subdue; and, if need be, refute and drive him to the recovery of his good sense? The Cardinals, who are there to advise him, will be able to do it; the Roman Clergy will be able to; even a Roman synod, if it is judged to be expedient, having been convened, will be able to. For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold: “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition avoid : knowing that he that is such an one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.” (Tit. 3, 10-11). He forsooth, who having been once or twice corrected, does not repent, but remains obstinate in a belief contrary to a manifest or defined dogma; by this his public pertinacity which for no reason can be excused, since pertinacity properly pertains to heresy, he declares himself to be a heretic, i.e. to
16 https://books.google.ie/books?id=saaqPWkUgKEC&pg=PA151&lpg=PA151&dq=Una+cum+vindiciis+auctoritati s+pontificiae+contra+opus+Justini+Febroni&source=bl&ots=HNlPiupSCa&sig=_ZvBpEY_djDCtKQ5MDJ3dI0VkA&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
have withdrawn from the Catholic faith and the Church by his own will, so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would be necessary. Conspicuous in this matter is the explanation of St. Jerome on the commended words of Paul. Therefore, by himself [the heretic] is said to be condemned, because the fornicator, adulterer, murderer, and those guilty of other misdeeds are driven out from the Church by the Priests: but heretics deliver the sentence upon themselves, departing from the Church by their own will: this departure is seen to be the condemnation by their own conscience. Therefore a Pontiff, who after such a solemn and public admonition from the Cardinals, Roman Clergy, or even a synod would maintain himself hardened in heresy, and have openly departed from the Church, according to the precept of Paul he would have to be avoided; and lest the ruin be brought to the rest, his heresy and contumacy, and thus his sentence which he brought upon himself, would have to be publicly pronounced, made known to the whole Church, that he by his own will departed, making known to be severed from the body of the Church, and in some manner to have abdicated the Pontificate, which no one holds or can hold, who is not in the Church. One sees in the case of heresy to which a Pontiff adhered in a private manner, an efficacious remedy without the convocation of a general synod: in which hypothesis whatever action that would be taken against him before the declaration of his contumacy and heresy, in order to bring him back to reason, would be a duty of charity and not of jurisdiction: but afterward, with his departure from the Church having been manifested, if a sentence were to be pronounced upon him by a council, it would be pronounced on him who would no longer be the Pontiff, nor superior to the council. But this (3) hypothesis is not established by any fact, since no private error ascribed to any Pontiff against any evident or defined dogma has been found, or is believed will be. Why then belabour further a mere hypothesis? »
The Salza and Siscoe version in True or False Pope:
“Is it not true that, confronted with such a danger to the faith [a Pope teaching heresy], any subject can, by fraternal correction, warn their superior, resist him to his face, refute him and, if necessary, summon him and press him to repent? The Cardinals, who are his counselors, can do this; or the Roman Clergy, or the Roman Synod, if, being met, they judge this opportune. For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold: ‘Avoid the heretic, after a first and second correction, knowing that such a man is perverted and sins, since he is condemned by his own judgment’ (Tit. 3, 10-11). For the person, who, admonished once or twice, does not repent, but continues pertinacious in an opinion contrary to a manifest or defined dogma - not being able, on account of this public pertinacity to be excused, by any means, of heresy properly so called, which requires pertinacity - this person declares himself openly a heretic. He reveals that by his own will he has turned away from the Catholic Faith and the Church, in such a way that now no declaration or sentence of anyone whatsoever is necessary to cut him from the body of the Church. Therefore the Pontiff who after such a solemn and public warning by the Cardinals, by the Roman Clergy or even by the Synod, would remain himself hardened in heresy and openly turn himself away from the Church, would have to be avoided, according to the precept of Saint Paul. So that he might not cause damage to the rest, he would have to have his heresy and contumacy publicly proclaimed, so that all might be able to be equally on guard in relation to him. Thus, the sentence which he had pronounced against himself would be made known to all the Church, making clear that by his own will he had turned away and separated himself from the body of the Church, and that in a certain way he had abdicated the Pontificate…”31 (TOFP pp. 245-6)
With such pre-eminent theologians as Pietro Ballerini and St. Alphonsus de Liguori in the 18th Century, and Bartolomeo Cappellari (Gregory XVI) in the late 18th and early 19th Century, decisively adopting Bellarmine’s doctrine of automatic papal loss of office for manifest heresy (Opinion No. 5) as their own, the death knell for the legalistically flawed and conciliaristically tainted theology, formulated in Opinion No. 4 mainly by 16th and 17th Century Counter-Reformation theologians, was already sounding. Bellarmine’s teaching, that the Pope cannot be judged, echoes the ancient teaching that the Church of Rome (which is synonymous with Prima Sedes, i.e. the Roman Pontiff) absolutely cannot be judged by anyone, (which had already been taught by Pope St. Gelasius) ; and is asserted emphatically by Innocent III, confirmed by the fifth Lateran Council and the Council of Trent (which confirmed the status of the Roman Pontiff as the supreme judge) , and proclaimed by the first Vatican Council; so it was inevitable that the Church would eventually enshrine the doctrine of the injudicability of the Roman Pontiff in the 1917 and 1983 codes of Canon Law, declaring that that the “First See is judged by no one” (Prima sedes a nemine judicatur.)17; and that loss of office for defection from the faith into heresy takes place automatically as a tacit renunciation of office. So, while the Church has not solemnly defined whether or not it is possible for a pope to fall into heresy, she has already taught infallibly that the pope cannot be judged, and therefore, if a pope were to fall into manifest heresy, the Church could only judge him after he would have fallen from office by himself as a consequence of defection from the faith. This is the doctrine advocated by St Robert Bellarmine at a time when the more common opinion was the doctrine of mitigated Conciliarism, that, a heretic pope would remain in office until he would be judged to be a heretic by the Church. Bellarmine applied the teaching of the Fathers, Doctors popes and councils to prove that a heretic pope would cease by himself to be pope, ipso facto, upon falling into heresy, thereby refuting the more prevalent opinion of the day, which was based on an interpretation tainted by Conciliarism of the spurious Canon Si papa, erroneously attributed to St. Boniface.
Bellarmine states the Fourth Opinion, which in its most radical form, is that of Cajetan (as well as John of St. Thomas): “that a manifestly heretical Pope is not ipso facto deposed (non esse ipso facto depositum); but can and must to be deposed by the Church (sed posse, ac debere deponi ab ecclesia).” The distinction made by Bellarmine, as I have demonstrated above, is between a pope who simply “is deposed” (depositus) by pronouncing the judgment of heresy against himself by manifesting his obstinacy in heresy, thereby separating himself from the Church, ceasing to be a Christian, a member of the Church, and its head; and one who “can and must be deposed by the Church” (deponendus). The clear distinction between the two consists in the difference between a pope who “ceases by himself to be Pope and head, just as he ceases in himself to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church: whereby, he can [then] be judged and punished by the Church” – “quare ab Ecclesia posse eum judicari et puniri” (per se depositus), (as Bellarmine explains in Opinion No. 5), and one who “is not ipso facto deposed”; i.e., does not cease by himself to be pope as a direct consequence of his own judgment pronounced against himself; but who remains in office as pope until he is judged, and must be judged by a juridical act of the authority of Church before he ceases to be pope (ab ecclesia deponendus) – in Bellarmine’s own words, sed posse, ac debere
17 This doctrine expressed in these terms, apostolica sedes a nemine iudicatur, dates back to the 4th Century pontificate of Pope St. Damasus.
deponi ab ecclesia. Thus, it is patent that according to Bellarmine, what distinguishes Opinion No. 4 from Opinion No. 5 is that according to No. 5, the heretic loses office and ceases to be pope “by himself” (“per se”) “ipso facto”, since heretics are condemned by their own self-pronounced judgment upon themselves (sunt enim proprio judicio condemnati)18, and for that reason he can then be judged by the Church; whereas according to Opinion No. 4, he must be judged by the Church in order to lose office, and he remains in office until he is judged by the Church. According to this distinction which Bellarmine makes between Opinion No. 4 and Opinion No. 5: all the variant opinions on this point which require the judgment of the Church as a necessary condition for the loss of office, for the very reason that they require the judgment of the Church in order for the loss of office to take place, fall under the heading of Opinion No. 4. Thus, not only Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, Billuart, Layman – but all others without exception, including Suarez, who hold or who have held this opinion (that the judgment of the Church is required for the loss of office to take place) are of Opinion No. 4. 19 “ Now in my judgment,” says Bellarmine, “such an opinion cannot be defended.”
He argues thus: “[T]hat a manifest heretic would be ipso facto deposed” (quod haereticus manifestus ipso facto depositus); and this, he says “is proven from authority and reason.” “The Authority,” he elaborates, “is of St. Paul, who commands Titus , that after two censures, that is, after he appears manifestly pertinacious, an heretic is to be shunned: and he understands this before excommunication and sentence of a judge.” He speaks of the moral obligation to avoid a heretic after two admonitions, since it is only an excommunicatus who can be declared vitandus, and no one can excommunicate a pope, so consequently, a pope cannot be declared to be vitandus. So even if the Church had the power to administer juridical warnings to a pope, and thereby establish the crime of heresy, it would serve no purpose, since the Church could not declare him to be vitandus. Yet, Bellarmine explains, even without the sentence of excommunicatus vitandus, one could not avoid a pope, because one who remains pope cannot be shunned: “Jerome comments on the same place, saying that other sinners, through a judgment of excommunication are excluded from the Church; heretics, however, leave by themselves and are cut from the body of Christ, but a Pope who remains the Pope cannot be shunned. How will we shun our Head? How will we recede from a member to whom we are joined?” Bellarmine provides the solution to the problem in the same sentence, “heretics, however, leave by themselves and are cut from the body of Christ”. Therefore, a heretic can be shunned because heretics cease to be members of the Church. “Now in regard to reason this is indeed very certain. A non-Christian cannot in any way be Pope, as Cajetan affirms in the same book , and the reason is because he cannot be the head of that which he is not a member, and he is not a member of the Church who is not a Christian. But a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as St. Cyprian and many other Fathers clearly teach . Therefore, a manifest heretic cannot be Pope.” And thus he argues, that it is proven from reason that a manifestly heretical pope is ipso facto deposed. One who is a manifest heretic simply is not pope, so a pope
18 “Yet heretics are outside the Church, even before excommunication, and deprived of all jurisdiction, for they are condemned by their own judgment, as the Apostle teaches to Titus; that is, they are cut from the body of the Church without excommunication, as Jerome expresses it.”
19 This point is simply lost on Salza and Siscoe, who in all their writings insist that Suarez was of Opinion No. 5 (!), and that Suarez and Bellarmine were of the same opinion on this point! By means of this sophistry they then claim that all the great theologians were of the opinion that the loss of office does not take place until it has been officially judged to be so by the Church, and that this opinion has always been the common opinion of theologians!
who would be a manifest heretic would not need to be deposed, because he ceases by himself to be pope and a member of the Church;
hence: “the fifth true opinion, is that a Pope who is a manifest heretic, ceases by himself to be Pope and head, just as he ceases in himself to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church: whereby, he can be judged and punished by the Church.” “This is the opinion,” he continues, “of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics straightaway lose all jurisdiction”. Thus he concludes, “The foundation of this opinion is that a manifest heretic, is in no way a member of the Church; that is, neither in spirit nor in body, or by internal union nor external.”
It is manifestly evident that in the clearly stated context where he speaks of warnings, that Bellarmine is not stating or implying that there is any need for canonical admonitions for a pope to lose office. It was the exponents of Opinion No. 4 who maintained that canonical admonitions are necessary for a pope to be deposed for heresy. Canonical admonitions are proper only to a superior, and are administered by a superior as the initial phase of a penal processi. Bellarmine qualifies the sense of the term as he means it to be understood with the words, “that after two censures, that is, after he appears manifestly pertinacious”, thereby making it clear that the warnings are not part of a juridical procedure, but only serve the purpose of fraternal correction, and determining whether or not the pope in question “ceases by himself to be pope” by his heresy, ipso facto, and not by the ministerial instrumentality of any judgment at the conclusion of an official procedure, whereby the Church authorities would render a judgment on the supreme judge and ruler, and as a consequence of which the heretic Pontiff would only then fall from the Pontificate upon such judgment passed on him by his subjects and inferiors. Ballerini, a follower of Bellarmine’s opinion, understood perfectly that Bellarmine was not speaking of canonical admonitions being necessary in this context when he commented (in the above cited passage), “In such a crisis for the faith, cannot even inferiors warn their superior by fraternal correction [?]”; and, “For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold” – and he demonstrates that he understood well that Bellarmine’s reason for the Pontiff’s subjects to administer the warnings would not be an official act of ecclesiastical authority, but “a duty of charity and not of jurisdiction”, for the purpose only of discerning whether or not there is pertinacity, in order to determine whether or not the individual in question is properly a heretic who has fallen from the Pontificate: “having been once or twice corrected, does not repent, but remains obstinate in a belief contrary to a manifest or defined dogma; by this his public pertinacity which for no reason can be excused, since pertinacity properly pertains to heresy, he declares himself to be a heretic”.
Since Bellarmine speaks properly of an ipso facto loss of office, which essentially a tacit renunciation of office due to defection from the faith into heresy, the warnings are not strictly necessary as they normally would be in a penal canonical process of deprivation of office20, by which
20 Canonical admonitions are not always necessary: “Neither is it always demanded in the external forum that there be a warning and a reprimand as described above for somebody to be punished as heretical and pertinacious, and such a requirement is by no means always admitted in practice by the Holy Office” (De Lugo, disp. XX, sect. IV, n. l57-158. De Lugo elaborates further in his continuation of the passage: “For if it could be established in some other way, given that the
ecclesiastical authority establishes the fact of pertinacity and inflicts the penalty, but are only of a relative and practical necessity to determine whether the Pontiff has only erred in ignorance or negligence without pertinacity, or rather if he has obstinately and consciously hardened in heresy, thereby ceasing by himself to be pope. (papam haereticum manifestum per se desinere esse papam) Thus, in such a case when the heresy of a pope is expressed in such a manner that the pertinacity is manifested sponte sua (as was the case of Pedro de Luna “Benedict XIII”21) against a manifestly evident dogma, or a defined dogma, explicitly professed by all Christians; and especially if it be one of the principal dogmas, known even to the most ignorant Catholics, or known to all men as a matter of Natural Law, then it is patent that in such a case, no warnings would be necessary, being that warnings would be superfluous under those given circumstances; and therefore the fall from office for manifest heresy would be plainly evident as a judgment against himself as Bellarmine argues in his refutation of Opinion No. 4, and therefore a tacit renunciation of office, as Ballerini understood Bellarmine’s opinion to be: that the Pope, “in some manner” would “have abdicated the Pontificate”.
Now it might be argued that such a loss of office is a matter of law, and that the provisions for tacit renunciation set forth in the 1917 Code of Canon Law are not found in the New Code of 1983; however, the provisions for loss of office due to defection from the faith, which is in its very nature, a tacit but real renunciation; which is to say, not merely implicit, and not a penalty, remain in the 1983 Code in the third section on Loss of Office under Removal, which the Code explicitly distinguishes from the penalty of Privation of Office, dealt with in the fourth section.22 Loss of office takes place by, 1) Renunciation, 2) Transfer, 3) Removal, and 4) Privation. The Code is explicit: Only loss of office by privation is a penalty23, and is dealt with separately in the section of the Code that deals with penal law, whereas the first three sections on loss of office, under which is included Removal, are set forth in the second chapter (On the Loss of Ecclesiastical Office) of Title IX on
doctrine is well known, given the kind of person involved and given the other circumstances, that the accused could not have been unaware that his thesis was opposed to the Church, he would be considered as a heretic from this fact […] The reason for this is clear because the exterior warning can serve only to ensure that someone who has erred understands the opposition which exists between his error and the teaching of the Church. If he knew the subject through books and conciliar definitions much better than he could know it by the declarations of someone admonishing him then there would be no reason to insist on a further warning for him to become pertinacious against the Church.”
21 “Now such harassment she, the Church received from Benedict, who obstinately with the fact attacked the article unam, sancatm? He fulminated these most terrible anathemas against the Council, and against adherents to other Pontiffs, and made the more precipitous attacks in order to keep himself on the illegitimately occupied throne; claiming that the Church of Jesus Christ to have perished in all other parts of the world, and that it was restricted only in Paniscola, as he said to the legates of the Council: ‘That is not a Church, but in Paniscola, I say, is the true Church,. . This is Noah's Ark’. So then be could be considered, as noted by Ballerini, to have been a public schismatic and heretic, and consequently to have fallen from papacy, even if he had been validly elevated to it.” (Gregorio XVI: Il trionfo della santa sede e della chiesa contro gli assatti dei novatori, p. 47)
22 Can. 192 — Ab officio quis amovetur sive decreto ab auctoritate competenti legitime edito, servatis quidem iuribus forte ex contractu quaesitis, sive ipso iure ad normam can. 194
Can. 194 — § 1. Ipso iure ab ecclesiastico amovetur: 2° qui a fide catholica aut a communione Ecclesiae publice defecerit;
23 Can. 196 — § 1. Privatio ab officio, in poenam scilicet delicti, ad normam iuris tantummodo fieri potest.§ 2. Privatio effectum sortitur secundum praescripta canonum de iure poenali.
ecclesiastical offices (De Officiis Ecclesiasticis). Nevertheless, Salza and Siscoe adamantly continue to maintain that loss of office by tacit renunciation (amotione) is a “severe vindictive penalty” which must be inflicted sententia ferenda.24 (!) However, not only is the Code explicit on this point, but it is manifestly patent in the very nature of the acts that effect “removal”, that such loss of office is a tacit renunciation of office – acts such as attempting to marry, losing the clerical state, and defection from the faith or from communion with the Church, are intrinsically incompatible with the essential requirements for holding of ecclesiastical office, which can only be validly held by a Catholic cleric in major orders, and therefore such acts which are incompatible with the clerical state effect the removal from office, which is not penal in nature. Thus it is, as is patently clear from the wording of the canon, that the loss of ecclesiastical office takes place ipso facto, by the very act of defection into heresy, and does not require that a judgment be pronounced by Church authority as Salza and Siscoe claim25. Removal from office by means of loss of office due to tacit renunciation applies to all offices, including the papacy: The Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac taught, in his General Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law, on Loss of Ecclesiastical Offices, that such loss of office (Canons 185-191) “applies to all offices, the lowest and the highest, not excepting the Supreme Pontificate.” (p. 346)
Furthermore, as Bellarmine demonstrates from the teaching of the Fathers in his exposition on Opinion No. 4, loss of office due to heresy and schism is not a question of law: it is not the effect of any human law but, “Patres illi”, Bellarmine explains, “cum dicunt haereticos ammitere jurisdictionem, non allegant ulla jura humana, quae etiam forte tunc nulla extabant de hac re, sed argumentantur ex natura haeresis.”26 In a desperate and futile attempt to refute the argument of Bellarmine on this point, [which they do not attribute to Bellarmine, but to the Sedevacantists (!)], Salza and Siscoe adduce the argument of Billuart, based on the ruling of Martin V in 1418 during the Council of Constance. (Ad evitanda scandala) On this point, Bellarmine makes the very telling observation: “Nor does the response which some make avail, that these Fathers speak according to ancient laws, but now since the decree of the Council of Constance they do not lose jurisdiction, unless excommunicated by name, or if they strike clerics. I say this avails to nothing. For those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy. Moreover, the Council of Constance does not speak except on the excommunicates, that is, on these who lose jurisdiction through a judgment of the Church.” In the previous sentence, Bellarmine establishes the unanimity of the Fathers, quoting an impressive array of Fathers, saying, “the Holy Fathers teach in unison, that not only are heretics outside the Church, but they even lack all Ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity ipso facto.”
24 “The sin of heresy alone, which has not been judged and declared by the Church, does not result in the loss of ecclesiastical office for a cleric. The loss of office for a cleric is a vindictive penalty, and there is a process in Church law which must precede vindictive penalties” (TOFP p. 260)
25 Salza and Siscoe deceptively interpret Section 2 of Canon 194 (§ 2. Amotio, de qua in nn. 2 et 3, urgeri tantum potest, si de eadem auctoritatis competentis declaratione constet.), to make it appear that the loss of office does not take place until it has been declared by the competent ecclesiastical authority. The canon states explicitly (§ 1) that the loss of office takes place by the operation of the law itself (ipso jure), and therefore automatically; and § 2 states that the loss of office, which as a fact took place ipso jure, “can be enforced only if it is established by the declaration of a competent authority.” Thus, § 2 only specifies that the post factum enforcement of the loss of office (that has already taken place ipso jure) can only be carried out after having been confirmed by declaration of Church authority.
26 “For those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy.”
Salza and Siscoe quote Billuart (who quotes Martin V’s Ad evitanda scandala) in a futile attempt to refute Bellarmine and the unanimous teaching of the Fathers:
«I say that manifest heretics, unless they are denounced by name, or themselves depart from the Church, retain their jurisdiction and validly absolve. This is proved by the Bull of Martin V, Ad evitanda scandala, [which reads thus]:
“To avoid the scandals and the many perils that can befall timorous consciences, we mercifully grant to the faithful of Christ, by the force of this decree (tenore praesentium), that henceforth no one will be obliged, under the pretext of any sentence or ecclesiastical censure generally promulgated by law or by man, to avoid the communion of any person, in the administration or reception of the Sacraments, or in any other matters sacred or profane, or to eschew the person, or to observe any ecclesiastical interdict, unless a sentence or censure of this kind shall have been published by a judge, and denounced specially and expressly, whether against a person, or a college, or university, or church, or a certain place or territory. Neither the Apostolic Constitutions, nor any other laws remain in force to the contrary.”
Then [the Bull] lists, as the only exception, those who are notorious for having inflicted violence on the clergy. From these lines, we argue that the Church is granting permission to the faithful to receive the sacraments from heretics who have not yet been expressly denounced by name; and, therefore, that she allows the latter to retain their jurisdiction for the valid administration of the sacraments, since otherwise the concession granted to the faithful would mean nothing.
Our argument is confirmed by the current praxis of the entire Church; for no one today ... avoids his pastor, even for the reception of the sacraments, as long as he is allowed to remain in his benefice, even if the man is, in the judgment of all or at least of the majority, a manifest Jansenist, and rebellious against the definitions of the Church; and so on with the rest. »
Billuart’s error consists in his failure to make a critical distinction between those who lose their jurisdiction as a result of excommunication, and those who lose it ex natura haeresis, as a consequence of defecting from the faith and the Church, and thereby losing office and jurisdiction. Bellarmine points out that the decree only applies to excommunicates. Conlon, in the above cited article, observes: “As was previously noted Pope Martin V's Constitution "Ad Evitanda Scandala" of 1418 introduced the distinction between the tolerati and vitandi. Though it may sound redundant, these laws regarding excommunicates, applies to all excommunicates, even heretics. This is selfevident from the fact that the Church made no exceptions in regard to heretics when promulgating these laws concerning communication with excommunicates.” He quotes Suarez, “This new law established by the Council of Constance also extends to heretics and the words of Extrav.[Ad evitanda] prove this, which are both general and add an exception to confirm the rule towards everybody else.”27 He then makes the very crucial point that the heretics to be considered vitandi must be excommunicates, and have been declared such: “Cardinal De Lugo, another eminent Catholic theologian, also affirms that the strict obligation to avoid a heretic depends on
27 Suarez, Francisco, S.J. De Fide: Disputatio XXI, Sectio 3.1621
whether the Church has declared them, by name, as an excommunicate that is to be avoided.”28 He quotes The Irish Ecclesiastical Record of 1886: “...according to the unanimous teaching of theologians the Constitution Ad evitanda includes heretics (excipiendis exceptis) equally with all other excommunicate in its provisions of toleration, so that, ex vi illius Constitutionis, as full communication with all heretics in quibuscumque divinis as with the rest of the excommunicate is granted to the faithful. Theologians make practically no distinction whatever on this point. (Livius, p.38)” Conlan then quotes De Lugo again, mentioning the extremely important point that under certain circumstances, sacrament s may be received from such excommunicates, even heretics: “Cardinal De Lugo further teaches, in the same previously mentioned work of his, that communication with undeclared heretics is, in certain cases, also permitted in sacred matters”.29
The reason why Billuart’s failure to distinguish between those who lose their jurisdiction as a result of excommunication, and those who lose it ex natura haeresis, is of such great consequence, is that the ordinary and habitual jurisdiction of the officeholder is lost upon loss of office due to tacit resignation; but the excommunicates were provided with supplied jurisdiction in virtue of Ad evitanda scandala, and by the subsequent legislation that later replaced its provisions. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, it is explained: “We may now proceed to enumerate the immediate effects of excommunication. They are summed up in the two well known verses: Res sacræ, ritus, communio, crypta, potestas, prædia sacra, forum, civilia jura vetantur, i.e. loss of the sacraments, public services and prayers of the Church, ecclesiastical burial, jurisdiction, benefices, canonical rights, and social intercourse. Potestas signifies ecclesiastical jurisdiction . . .” The Encyclopedia then explains why the habitual and ordinary faculties and jurisdiction that are lost by excommunicati tolerati are replaced with supplied jurisdiction and faculties in virtue of the law itself: “It is easy to understand that the Church cannot leave her jurisdiction in the hands of those whom she excludes from her society. In principle, therefore, excommunication entails the loss of jurisdiction both in foro externo and in foro interno and renders null all acts accomplished without the necessary jurisdiction. However, for the general good of society, the Church maintains jurisdiction, despite occult excommunication, and supplies it for acts performed by the tolerati. But as the vitandi are known to be such, this merciful remedy cannot be applied to them except in certain cases of extreme necessity, when jurisdiction is said to be "supplied" by the Church.” Thus, Billuart erroneously deduced that “heretics retain their jurisdiction”, whereas all jurisdiction is lost by
28 “The first opinion teaches, as often as it is evident that someone is a heretic, the very fact makes communication with him forbidden. Thus, Soto 4. Dist.25. Quast.1 art.1 & 3. & dist. 20. Quast.1. art.5. conclus. 2. The common opinion, however, denies this, in as much as they are not legally declared a heretic, & denounced; because the Council of Constance granted all the faithful in general, as to permit communication with all the excommunicated, except those denounced by name, & those notorious for striking a cleric, with no given exception of heretics: therefore, there is no reason by which that permission does not extend to communicate with them [heretics]. Thus teach Toetus, Ugolinus, Suarez, Azor, & others, whom I have reported, & followed by Thomas Sanchez lib.2. in Decal.cap.9.n.3 Hurtado in prasenti, disp.76&4. & others in common, which I’ve always embraced in other places.” (Tractatus de Virtute Fidei Divinae: Disputatio XXII, Sectio.1. 1646)
29 “So as these heretics are not declared excommunicates or notoriously guilty of striking a cleric, there is no reason why we should be prevented from receiving the sacraments from them because of their excommunication, although on other grounds this may often be illicit unless necessity excuse as I have explained in the said places.” (Tractatus de Virtute Fidei Divinae: Disputatio XXII, Sectio.1. 1646)
heretics, ex natura haeresis; but since heretics incur excommunication latae sententiae, jurisdiction was supplied by the decree Ad evitanda scandala.
Billuart’s failure to distinguish between retaining jurisdiction and receiving supplied jurisdiction in virtue of the law itself led him into error on the question of loss of jurisdiction of a heretic pope. Salza and Siscoe quote Billuart further: “the law and praxis of the Church require that a heretic be denounced before he loses his jurisdiction, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit and tranquility of the faithful. But the Church does not require a denunciation for someone to be considered a public sinner, or to be repelled from Communion, because the welfare and tranquility of the faithful do not require that. Also, it is not the business of the faithful to pass judgment on the jurisdiction of their ministers, and often it is impossible for them to do so; but this pertains to the superiors who grant the ministers their jurisdiction. It pertains to the ministers, however, to pass judgment on those who receive the sacraments. ...”; and, “The pope… does not have his jurisdiction from the Church, but from Christ. Nowhere has it been declared that Christ would continue to give jurisdiction to a manifestly heretical Pope, since his heresy could become known to the Church, and the Church could provide another pastor for herself. Nevertheless, the more common opinion (sententia communior)30 holds that Christ, by a special dispensation, for the common good and tranquility of the Church, will continue to give jurisdiction even to a manifestly heretical pope, until he has been declared a manifest heretic by the Church.” Billuart’s argues that since heretics retain jurisdiction “for the benefit and tranquility of the faithful”, therefore similarly, “Christ, by a special dispensation, for the common good and tranquility of the Church, will continue to give jurisdiction even to a manifestly heretical pope, until he has been declared a manifest heretic by the Church.” Bellarmine’s words crush Billuart’s thesis: “I say this avails to nothing. For those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy.” Hence, there can be no exception for any “special dispensation” from a loss of jurisdiction that results from the very nature of heresy. Heretics do not retain their jurisdiction: Jurisdiction is supplied to latae sententiae excommunicated heretics who not only lose all jurisdiction, by their excommunication, but ex natura haersis. Billuart correctly notes that “The pope… does not have his jurisdiction from the Church, but from Christ”, but the pope would cease to be a member of the Church and lose all jurisdiction from Christ if he fell into manifest heresy; and since the pope cannot incur excommunication, he could not receive supplied jurisdiction from such legislation as Ad evitanda scandala unless he were to fall from the Pontificate by tacit renunciation of office. Only then could he then incur excommunication latae sententiae, and straightaway receive supplied jurisdiction until his loss of office could be enforced by a declaratory sentence – but he would already have ceased to be pope.
Another huge error they make in their book is that, “‘public heresy’ and ‘public defection from the faith’ are two different things, and that the old 1917 Code of Canon Law taught that in the extreme case in which a prelate publicly defects from the Faith by joining a non-Catholic sect, he is deposed without the need of a declaratory sentence.” On page 139 of The Renunciation of an Ecclesiastical Office, Fr. Gerald McDevitt writes: “The defection of faith must be public. It is to be noted immediately that adherence to or inscription in a non-catholic sect is not required to constitute the publicity that the canon demands.” In the above cited work, The Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac comments on Canon 2197, that public defection from the faith means: “Public defection from the faith, by
30 It was the sententia communior in Billuart’s day, but is no longer.
formal heresy or apostasy, with or without affiliation with another religious society. The offense must be public, that is, generally known or liable to become so before long.” This is all that is required for loss of office to take place: the external act of defection that is public or liable to become public, before any judgment, and without any judgment pronounced by the Church. Any confusion that there may have been on this point is entirely cleared up in the 1983 Code, which speaks not only of defection from the faith as effecting loss of office, but of defection from communion with the Church (a communione Ecclesiae), which takes place by an act of heresy, schism or apostasy. As I mentioned on page one of this work, “St. Pius V teaches in the Roman Catechism: ‘Heretics and schismatics are excluded from the Church, because they have defected (desciverunt) from her and belong to her only as deserters belong to the army from which they have deserted.’” Defection from the faith is intrinsic to the act of heresy, which consists in the obstinate denial of some revealed truth of faith which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith; and therefore, defection from the faith cannot be understood to take place only when one joins some other sect or denomination; or when one openly declares oneself explicitly to have left the Church. Ecclesiastical laws must be understood according to the proper signification of the terms considered in their text and context31 (Can. 17). Thus, the expression, ‘defection from the faith’ must be understood as the Church defines it, and not according to the arbitrary whims of fundamentalists such as Salza and Siscoe, who gratuitously define the terms themselves in such a manner to make them appear to confirm the errant legalism of their heretical doctrines.
It must also be borne in mind that what is set forth in Canon Law on the nature of defection from the faith or from communion with the Church, and on the consequent loss of office resulting from such a defection, is not a matter of “merely ecclesiastical law” (as mere provisions of purely human positive law in the Code are referred to in Canon 11), but pertain to divine law revealed by God, and that these precepts of divine law are merely enshrined in the provisions of Canon Law that treat of loss of ecclesiastical office due to defection from the faith. That heresy, apostasy, and schism (as demonstrated in Part I) according to their very nature constitute defection from the faith, and sever a man from the body of the Church by themselves, apart from any human law, and therefore without any judgment or censure by ecclesiastical authority, must be believed with divine and Catholic faith. It is plainly set forth and proven by Bellarmine that it is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers interpreting scripture, that heresy in its very nature not only severs one from the Church, but also directly brings about the loss of ecclesiastical office before and even without any judgment of the Church; and being the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, it must be believed de fide. This has also been demonstrated in Part I of this work. Thus, the commentaries of the canonists which explain that defection from the faith takes place by acts of heresy, even without joining some other sect, and that the consequent loss of office takes place ipso facto (as an act of tacit renunciation of office), and does not per se, (as a matter of fact determined by doctrine and not by law), require any sentence or declaration by ecclesiastical authority to take place, do not express mere opinions on these points, but truths of faith which require an assent of faith. John Salza and Robert Siscoe have explicitly denied these truths of faith in their articles, in their interviews, and in their book, True Or False Pope.32
31 Can. 17 — Leges ecclesiasticae intellegendae sunt secundum propriam verborum significationem in textu et contextu consideratam; quae si dubia et obscura manserit, ad locos parallelos, si qui sint, ad legis finem ac circumstantias et ad mentem legislatoris est recurrendum. 32 This point will be amply demonstrated in its proper place.
i Christopher Conlon quotes multiple authorities in his excellent article, On the Admonitions of Titus 3:10: An analysis of Catholic history, laws, and teachings which illustrate the true nature of the "admonitions" referenced in Titus 3:10:“A man that is a heretic after, the first and second admonition avoid” (pp. 4 -7)
«These admonitions or correptions must be given to such as err, by our spiritual governors and pastors, to whom if they yield not, Christian men must avoid them. (Rheims New Testament, p.549)
According to the original annotations of the Rheims NT, in St. Paul’s Epistle to Titus, “he instructeth him, and in him all Bishops” (p.545), affirming that the purpose of the Epistle to Titus is to instruct the Church hierarchy. Then, in the specific annotation for Titus 3:10, it is explained that the admonitions mentioned therein are given by our “spiritual governors and pastors”. If, after these admonitions, the heretic does not yield to our spiritual governors and pastors, then the faithful must avoid the heretic. Though a layman might attempt to admonish or instruct a heretic in some way, the Rheims New Testament annotation shows that the admonitions that could effectively result in having to avoid, or shun, a heretic are those that come from the authorities in the Church. The layman’s admonition is obviously not the same as the admonitions of Church officials mentioned in Titus 3:10. Those admonitions of a layman, therefore, have no bearing on the instruction of Titus 3:10and who ought to be avoided. Though there may be other reasons to avoid a heretic, the instruction of Titus 3:10 does not oblige the faithful to avoid anyone if only a laymen has admonished them, since the passage is referring to authoritative, or official, admonitions. These official admonitions in Titus 3:10 are, in other words, canonical admonitions.
The only article of the Catholic Encyclopedia with the word “admonition” in the title, the 1907 article, Canonical Admonitions, defines these as, "A preliminary means used by the Church towards a suspected person, as a preventive of harm or a remedy of evil" (Burtsell). According to this article, an Instruction directed by Pope Leo XIII states that, "Among the preservative measures are chiefly to be reckoned the spiritual retreat, admonitions, and injunc-tions." This Instruction also says, "the canonical admonitions may be made in a paternal and private manner (even by letter or by an intermediary person), or in legal form, but always in such a way that proof of their having been made shall remain on record." It is then explained that these admonitions are founded, “after an investigation to be made by one having due authority, with the result of establishing a reasonable basis for the suspicion.” The first admonition is a paternal admonition, by which “the prelate either personally or through a confidential delegate informs the suspected person of what has been said about him, without mentioning the source of information, and without threat, but urges amendment.” If the paternal admonition, and other measures, are ineffective; then a legal admonition is resorted to, and this is, “to a great extent akin to the summons to judgment.”
Canon 2143 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law prescribes the way in which admonitions are to be administered.
Admonitions, if necessary, may be made orally or in writing. If they are administered orally, this must be done by the Ordinary in the presence of the chancellor, or some other of-ficial of the diocesan court, or two witnesses. If by letter, the latter should be registered and receipted by the post office…
(Augustine, p.405. 1921)
That the admonitions mentioned in Titus 3:10 are canonical admonitions is obvious from the fact that, as was previously shown, St. Paul’s Epistle to Titus, including the instruction in verse 3:10, was addressed to him in his capacity as a Church official. The 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia article on heresy also explains that this instruction to Titus was an early piece of legislation in regards to the way the Church dealt with and excommunicated heretics.The spirit which animates the dealings of the Church with heresy and heretics is one of extreme severity. St. Paul writes to Titus: "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: knowing that he, that is such a one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment" (Titus 3:10-11). This early piece of legislation reproduces the still earlier teaching of Christ: ‘And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican’ (Matthew 18:17); it also inspires all subsequent antiheretical legislation. The sentence on the obstinate heretic is invariably excommunication. He is separated from the company of the faithful, delivered up ‘to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 5:5).
Affirming what the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia article said above and further showing that the admonitions in Titus 3:10 are what would be called canonical admonitions, the 1932 book,The Delict of Heresy, by Rev. MacKenzie, states that St. Paul’s order to Titus in this verse indicates part of a “more or less formal process of trial.”
Paul’s orders to Titus have already been quoted, requiring that there be a first and second warning, and then avoidance of the heretic. He also wrote to Timothy decreeing that there must be two witnesses before certain punishments be inflicted, and this text has been thought to indicate a more or less formal process of trial even in these earliest days of ecclesiastical organization.
(MacKenzie, p.4. 1932)
The following quotes also illustrate that the Church officials are those that determine, by their admonitions, who is to be avoided.
“A fortiori, therefore, must the faithful have been obliged to shun the company of those whom the Apostles found necessary to separate from the communion of the faithful.”
(Excommunication. Francis Hyland, J.C.L., p.36. 1928)
“Those who voluntarily separate themselves from the Church are (a) heretics, i.e., those who profess a doctrine declared as heretical by the Church, and infidels, who entirely reject the Church’s teaching. Fore whosoever publicly departs form the unity of the faith thereby ceases both inwardly and outwardly to belong to the Church. Therefore St. Paul admonishes the pastors of the Church: “A man that is a heretic after the first or second admonition, avoid” (Tit. iii. 10). If such a man still belonged to the fold the Apostle would not admonish the pastors to shun him."
(Handbook of the Christian Religion. Wilmers, Wilhelm,S.J., p.381. 1891)
“The heretic, St. Paul instructs Titus, shall be admonished a first and a second time of the grave character of his offense; if he will not heed, he must be avoided by Christians as a man in evident bad faith, who stands self-condemned… a heretic was a person who deliberately taught a doctrine he knew to be false, in contradiction of the infallible teaching of the Church. Heretics were consequently cut off from all association with the faithful, who must hold no relations with them so long as they obstinately refuse to heed the official remonstrances of the Church authorities.”
(The American Catholic Quarterly Review, vol.24. “Church and State in the Fourth Century.” Rev.
Maurice M. Hassett, pp.301-302. 1909)
“The external enforcement of laws against heretics as heretics, always involves some judicial process. This process may have various stages, marked by the judicial sentences imposed: a declaratory sentence that excommunication has been incurred by a delict of heresy; a sentence of juridical infamy; deprivation of offices, benefices, etc.; deposition and degradation. The issuance of any of these sentences (save the declaratory sentence), requires canonical warnings and trials, with full observance of the criminal code in all details of the process.”
(The Delict of Heresy. Rev. Eric MacKenzie, A.M., S.T.L., J.C.L., p.98. 1932)
“And in matters spiritual, a bishop, by virtue of his office, is an inquisitor of the same kind. It is his duty, laid down in the plainest language of Holy Writ, to watch over those who are entrusted to his charge; and where he sees any going astray, to "reprove," to "rebuke sharply," and "with all authority," and if necessary, "after the first and second admonition to reject," that is, to cut off from the society of the church, or in other words, to excommunicate (2 Tim. iv, 2. Titus i, 13. ii, 15. iii, 10). This, I say, is contained in the very idea of a bishop, or overseer "of God's flock. He is bound to maintain the integrity of the faith, and to keep his people from being corrupted by teachers of false doctrines; and he has authority given him for this special purpose.”
(The Catholic Missionary, “The Inquisition.” Andrew Kim (first Korean-born Catholic priest), Martyred, p.5. 1853)
“Moreover, so far from wishing to tolerate such persons in the Church, St. Paul warns the faithful to avoid them (Romans 16:17), calls upon those who are set over Churches to cast out the recalcitrant heretic, as one who is "subverted and self-condemned" (Titus 3:10-11), and, in a particular instance,
tells St. Timothy that he has "delivered" two such heretics "to Satan" — that is, cast them out of the Church — "that they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:20).”
(The Catholic Encyclopedia. “Union of Christendom”. Sydney Smith, S.J. 1912)
“Moreover, we determine to subject to excommunication believers who receive, defend or support heretics… If however, he is a cleric, let him be deposed from every office and benefice, so that the greater the fault the greater the punishment. If any refuse to avoid such persons after they have been pointed out by the Church [postquam ab ecclesia denotati fuerint], let them be punished with the sentence of excommunication until they make suitable satisfaction. Clerics should not, of course, give the sacraments of the Church to such pestilent persons nor give them a Christian burial…”
(Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 3, On Heretics. Pope Innocent III. 1215)
The admonitions that Titus is instructed to give are clearly official admonitions, or those that come from a Church authority; and they relate to the Church’s official process of excommunicating and separating heretics from the faithful. This fact is also drawn from the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. » (The author then presents the exposition of St. Thomas.)