"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Another "Trad" Says Bergoglio Is An Antipope

 Another "Trad" Says Bergoglio Is An Antipope

Okay, I'll Say It: I Don't Think He's the Pope


 I don't think Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the Pope.

I used to until recently. I don't anymore.

By the way, as should be obvious by now, I don't care what anyone thinks of me for saying that. Nor do I have any patience with those who claim that while it may be true that he isn't the Pope, no Catholic has the right to pronounce on it, or say it, or it shouldn't be said publicly because it would cause confusion among the faithful, etc.


Confusion among the faithful.

As if believing that Bergoglio is pope, isn't confusing enough.

But enough griping and complaining. Let's get down to it.

People have made three sorts of arguments for believing Bergoglio is not the Pope (I'm not saying I agree with them all):

1. There were problems with Benedict's "abdication" that render it invalid.

2. There were problems with Bergoglio's election that render it invalid.

3. Bergoglio is a public and formal heretic and, thus, has forfeited the office.

There are many things about Benedict's abdication that are fishy, odd or questionable, and some things about Bergoglio's election that are, at least potentially, legally suspect. But I have never found these arguments against Bergoglio being pope to be especially convincing.

But I think the third argument is very strong.

Michael Davies writes about the possibility of an heretical pope in his I Am With You Always:

The problem which would face the Church if a legitimately reigning pope became an heretic has been discussed in numerous standard works of reference. the solution is provided in the 1913 edition of The Catholic Encyclopedia: "The Pope himself, if notoriously guilty of heresy, would cease to be pope because he would cease to be a member of the Church."
Davies points out that this has been the overwhelming opinion among theologians, though many, if not most of them, doubted that God would ever allow such a state of affairs.

Just as interesting is an important qualification:
A pope who, while not being guilty of formal heresy in the strict sense, has allowed heresy to undermine the Church through compromise, weakness, ambiguous or even gravely imprudent teaching remains Pope, but can be judged by his successors, and condemned as was the case with Honorius I.
Clearly, there have been other such popes, including Liberius who probably made concessions to Arianism, and of course, more recently, John XXIII, Paul VI and arguably even John Paul II who all helped to advance the cause of the Modernist heresy in a variety of ways and for a mix of motives.

There has also been at least one pope who was a material heretic - someone who transiently entertains an heretical belief while possibly not knowing it to be so. It is significant that the 14th century pope, John XXII repented of his heretical views on his deathbed, thus guaranteeing that his heresy was not formal. Davies concludes:
There has never been a case of a pope who was undoubtedly a formal heretic, and it is unlikely in the extreme that there will ever be one.
I remember finding this passage extremely reassuring when I first read it a few years ago. At that point in time the first part of it was true, and the second part appeared to be so.

No more.

Jorge Bergoglio clearly holds a number of heretical views in a variety of categories. Presenting the sum of the evidence contained in interviews, letters, homilies and other places would take (and has taken) many pages. But the most important item of evidence comes from an official document - the 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.

It is now more than clear that Jorge Bergoglio denies the infallible teachings of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage and/or on the meaning and consequences of sin. Perhaps the most notorious passages of Amoris Laetitia appear to claim that living within a "second marriage", including having full sexual relations, is not sinful and/or that resisting sin may be impossible and/or that God himself may will one to commit sin as a sort of best second choice:
Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values”, or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin (AL 301).
Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal (AL 303).
These sections were arguably neglected by some of the initial critics of Amoris Laetitia, who preferred to focus on the document's alleged ambiguity. But there is nothing ambiguous about the above passages, and they quite clearly contradict Catholic teaching, reaffirmed as recently as the near-present, by John Paul II, among others. Many soon realized this, including the authors of the dubia. Indeed, giving the Pope a chance to clarify how the sequence in AL 301 to AL 303 could possibly be in conformity with the teaching of the Church was at the heart of that letter:
3. After Amoris Laetitia (301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (Matthew 19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, “Declaration,” June 24, 2000)?
4. After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 81, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?
5. After Amoris Laetitia (303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 56, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?
It had seemed possible to some that Bergoglio did not himself believe or even fully understand what Amoris Laetitia had actually stated. After all, Amoris Laetitia was almost certainly penned by the "kissing priest," Victor Manuel Fernandez, the primary ghostwriter for many papal documents. It had also seemed possible (or at least some had argued that it was) that the document couldn't possibly mean what it appeared to mean, since such a meaning would not be in conformity with Church teaching.

However, Bergoglio's refusal to answer the dubia, and the simultaneous public attack on its authors by many of his closest aids, put these possibilities to rest. Couple this with Bergoglio's later private and then public endorsement of the "pro-communion for the remarried" interpretation of Amoris Laetitia by the Argentinian bishops, and one cannot reasonably conclude that Bergoglio believes anything other than what was in fact stated.

Equally important, while the dubia did not use the word "heresy", it officially put Bergoglio on formal notice that some of the claims made in Amoris Laetitia were not in conformity with "sacred Scripture and...the Tradition of the Church."

There were other official letters delivered to Bergoglio (I am aware of at least three of them), from or signed by prominent academics and religious, which restated and expanded on the points made in the dubia. They came to the same general conclusion - those crucial claims involving marriage and sin expressed in Amoris Laetitia and elsewhere are not in conformity with Church teachings.

Do not misunderstand my argument. If Bergoglio is a formal heretic, it is not because he was implicitly judged to be so by the authors of the dubia or the other letters. Rather, it is at least partly because he was given every chance to clarify or renounce his views - after being reminded of their nature - and chose not to do so, while elsewhere confirming that these were in fact views he solidly held. Such can be part of the process where mere material heresy becomes known as formal.

Bergoglio's views on marriage and sin are just one area where he manifestly dissents from Church teaching. We have chosen to focus on these here, partly because they involve and appear in an official document. We should note, however, that the concept of formal heresy does not require the heretic to state his views in an official context. Pope John XXII made known his heretical views primarily in homilies, both before and after he became pope, and he explicitly chose not to give them any sort of official backing. Yet if he had not in the end renounced them (or had not died before being given enough time to renounce them), his repeated endorsement of those views, even after he had been warned that they were manifestly in contradiction to Church teaching, would probably have constituted formal heresy. It goes without saying that in the modern context, the same considerations would apply not only to homilies but also interviews and the like.

At the beginning of this post I referred to three possible specific arguments, and rejected the first two in favor of the third: Bergoglio is a formal heretic and has thus ceased to be Pope (if he ever was one) for that reason alone.

But here is a more general argument: How can Catholicism be true and at the same time Jorge Mario Bergoglio be the head of the Church?

One of the most important tenets of our faith as Catholics is that the Church is indefectible - it cannot fail because God promised it would not. Jesus said to St. Peter, "Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mt. 16:18).

It's obvious that Christ did not mean that the Church would never contain bad men, nor even that the head of the church could not be "bad" in some way.

We all know that there have been bad popes in the private sense - popes who were notorious sinners in terms of violence, corruption or sexual morality. We also know that there have even been many bad popes in their official capacities - popes who harmed the church, often severely, through papal action or inaction, whether out of cowardice, selfishness, vanity or other reasons.

There have even been popes who have explicitly betrayed Christ, in "real-time," as it were. The first pope did it three times, and he was, arguably, the best one we ever had.

But we have never had a pope who almost certainly disagrees with and opposes many of the central teachings of the Church, and as a result, has focused his papacy on doing as much as possible to alter those teachings and, thus (it cannot fairly be said otherwise) destroy the Church as we know it.

Did God allow the ascension of Bergoglio as some sort of punishment for us, or (slightly better) as a test of our faith? Those options seem more than possible. But are we now also to believe that Christ's promise does not really apply here, or that Bergoglio is, forgive me for saying it, a sort of unexpected loophole - a technical exception or a crossed-fingered, gotcha from God?
I never said the Church wouldn't be ever be led by a formal heretic bent on destroying her. All I said was that the gates of hell would not prevail. Sheesh, you read too much into My words.
Do not laugh. If you believe Bergoglio is Pope, you must in essence agree with that silly take. Or try this one:
Punishing you or testing you are two instances where I get to break My promises.
Again, do not misunderstand, I'm not arguing with God, here. If I am "arguing," it is with those who do not see how problematic the claim that Bergoglio is pope is - problematic, not in a, so to speak, material sense (that he's a bad pope doing bad things, which is bad) but in the sense of seemingly being at odds with the indefectibility of the Church.

I'm aware that the opposite position is also problematic. Clearly if given the present state of affairs, if we believe our Lord's promise prevents an heretical pope, it does not prevent a heretic from appearing to be pope, while (it follows) at the same time there either isn't any pope, or the true pope is not widely known or acknowledged.

My main problem with sedevacantism has always been that it is inconceivable to me that our Lord's promise is consistent with the Chair of St. Peter being empty for forty, fifty or (now) almost sixty years. Those quasi-sedes such as the handful of followers of "Pope Michael" of Kansas, must contend with an almost equally difficult claim - that the identity of the true pope would be unknown to virtually all Catholics for generations.

Of course, in the present case, there is a new factor in play. Another man in Vatican City, living just a few hundred yards from Jorge Bergoglio, also wears the papal white. Can it really be a coincidence that the first pope in six-hundred years to resign and, as far as I know, the only pope to ever do so and continue to dwell on the Vatican grounds, remains alive at the same time that the Chair of St. Peter is occupied de facto, at least, by its first public and formal heretic?

Am I certain that Bergoglio is not the pope? Of course not. And I'm definitely not going to condemn people (which would be most people) who take another view. Nor am I about to stop attending Mass because "the Pope" (named or not) is prayed for, or any such thing. All faithful Catholics are trying to work this damn thing out, and none of the answers are very pleasant. But I actually think this answer, the one I tried to argue for, above, makes more sense than many of the others. And I did not come to it lightly.

As always, I could be wrong.

And if you think I'm wrong, I want you to tell me why. It just might make me feel better.

What happens next? What if Benedict dies soon (as seems unfortunately more and more likely) and a false pope (if that is what he is) reigns for many more years? What if another heretic - one, God save us, even more destructive than Bergoglio - is elected after that?

Would God allow this? Is it possible? I hope not. But, in fairness, I didn't think Francis was possible.

What then would we make of our Lord's promise?

I do not know.