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10. Returning to Fr. Boulet, we see that next he addresses the question of papal jurisdiction and heresy.
3.3. Jurisdiction of the heretic: Being cut off at the root, the jurisdiction of the heretic does not disappear automatically, but it will remains [sic] as much and as long as it is maintained by a superior authority. This will happen if the Pope maintains the jurisdiction of a heretical bishop who has not yet been punished according to Canons 2264 and 2314. But, what happens if the Pope himself falls into heresy? Who has the power to maintain him in his jurisdiction? It is not the Church, or even a group of bishops, for the Pope is always superior to the Church, and he is not bound by ecclesiastical law. According to LNM7 [7 S. Th. II-II, Q. 39, Art 3. Emphasis added.], Christ Himself could maintain, at least for a while, the jurisdiction of a heretical Pope. What would be the reason that would justify maintaining the jurisdiction of a heretical Pope? Theologians have considered different answers to that question. The most serious answer to that key question is to say that Christ would maintain the jurisdiction of a heretical Pope as long as his heresy is not notorious enough and widely publicised. Meanwhile, all the acts of jurisdiction of such a heretical Pope would be valid and, if he was to proclaim a dogmatic definition, such definition would likewise be valid. In such case, the Holy Ghost would speak through the mouth of that Pope, like He spoke through the mouth of Balaam’s ass (Numbers XXII, 28-30). Such conclusion of Xavier de Silveira is perfectly consistent with the thought of St. Robert Bellarmine. The famous Dominican Father Garrigou-Lagrange [8 Arnaldo Xavier da Silveira, op.cit.] reaches the same conclusion. Basing his reasoning on Billuart, he explains in his treatise De Verbo Incarnato (p. 232) that a heretical Pope, while no longer a member of the Church, can still be her head. For, what is impossible in the case of a physical head is possible (albeit abnormal) for a secondary moral head. The reason is that, whereas a physical head cannot influence the members without receiving the vital influx of the soul, a moral head, as is the Roman Pontiff, can exercise jurisdiction over the Church even if he does not receive from the soul of the Church any influx of interior faith or charity. In short, the Pope is constituted a member of the Church by his personal faith, which he can lose, but he is head of the visible Church by the jurisdiction and authority which he received, and these can coexist with his own heresy.
Against this, we note the following.
a) Fr. Boulet suggests, with no apparent basis, that jurisdiction is maintained in a heretical bishop by the Pope, in the case that the heretic “has not yet been punished according to Canons 2264 and 2314.” Frankly, this is a startling notion and I cannot see whence it arises, unless Fr. Boulet has also adopted the strange idea that an occult heretic loses membership in the Church, and therefore his jurisdiction with it (unless it is sustained by another power). Da Silveira does not provide any proof of this thesis, and as we have seen already, it seems to conflict with divine law as explained by St. Robert and other authorities, and with canon law (CIC 188,4). In any case, what is asserted without proof falls with a simple denial.
But there is a further point to make in relation to this claim, which is that it omits to mention the other half of the Bellarmine position, viz. that not only would a Pope who became a heretic lose his office ipso facto, but also that if a heretic claimed the papacy his claim would be null from the beginning. Would Fr. Boulet (or da Silveira) argue that Our Lord would not only sustain jurisdiction in a bishop who disappeared into heresy, but also that He would provide ordinary jurisdiction to a heretic who was somehow appointed to an episcopal office?
b) In relation to the papacy, it is alleged by Fr. Boulet that Our Lord Jesus Christ would maintain the jurisdiction of a heretic “Pope” for some period after his disappearance into heresy. He writes, “According to LNM [i.e. da Silveira], Christ Himself could maintain, at least for a while, the jurisdiction of a heretical Pope.” Once again, this is contrary to Bellarmine, and omits mention of the question of a heretic who is elected Pope. But da Silveira offers an interesting proof for it. Let’s read the entire proof and consider its validity.
We judge that the revealed major premise from which we must start is the dogma that the church is a visible and perfect society. As a minor premise, we must put the principle, drawn from nature itself, according to which the events of the public and official life of a visible and perfect society ought to be notorious and publicly divulged. Thence one would conclude that the eventual destitution of the chief of the Church would not be a juridically consummated fact as long as it did not become notorious and publicly divulged.
In scholastic form, we would be able to draw up the following sorites:
• The Church is a visible and perfect society.
• Now, the facts of the official and public life of a visible and perfect society, only become juridically consummated when they are notorious and publicly divulged.
• Now, the loss of the Papacy is a fact of the public and official life of the Church.
• Consequently, the loss of the Papacy only becomes juridically consummated when it is notorious and publicly divulged.
Such a conclusion, flowing from a revealed truth and a premise evident to the natural reason, expresses the sure will of Our Lord. It would not be a formally revealed truth, but a virtually revealed truth, a theological conclusion.
Jesus Christ Himself, therefore, would sustain the jurisdiction of a heretical Pope up to the moment in which his defection in the faith became “notorious and publicly divulged”.11 [11 Da Silveira, op. cit.]
Da Silveira’s major is accepted as is. But his minor is at best ambiguous, simply false in one sense, and of no use in his syllogism in its other possible sense, and unfounded on any authority anyway.
Let’s examine this in detail. I say that his minor is ambiguous, because, at least as it is given to us in English, it only states what ought to happen, not what must of necessity happen. If it was meant in this relative sense, and not as an expression of a metaphysical necessity, then it is of no assistance to the syllogism. If, on the other hand, it was meant in the absolute sense, that only those events and facts which are notorious and publicly divulged have effects in “the public and official life” of the Church, then it is plainly false.
• The Code, for example, says that all offices are lost if a delinquent is guilty of merely “public” heresy. “Public” and “notorious” are distinct and mutually opposed categories in the Code – cf. CIC 2197.
• Bellarmine says that a “manifest” heretic could not become or remain Pope (or indeed hold any office). The technical term “notorious” as a degree of publicity was in common use in his time and he chose not to use it in this place.
• A Pope who dies leaves the Holy See vacant the moment he passes from this world, even if nobody is present.
• A cardinal who accepts election to the papacy is Pope from the moment he accepts, before anybody outside the conclave is informed.
Numerous other proofs could be given, for this “principle” laid down by da Silveira conflicts with reality.
Da Silveira makes his point even more clearly when he presents it in formal terms, viz. “Now, the facts of the official and public life of a visible and perfect society, only become juridically consummated when they are notorious and publicly divulged.” Which is, as we have already seen, a complete invention for which no authority is cited and for which none could be cited.
And as if this weren’t sufficiently clear, da Silveira provides his own final nail, so to speak, by admitting that he differs with the only authorities he has referred to in the course of his tortuous and unsuccessful argument that Our Lord Jesus Christ would sustain the jurisdiction of a Pope who disappeared into heresy. He writes, “Note that the argumentation of which we avail ourselves is not the same as that of Saint Robert Bellarmine, taken up again by Wernz-Vidal. They start from the principle that he who is not, in any way, a member of the Church, cannot be its head. Such argument appears true to us, provided that one adds a clause to it according to which Our Lord would sustain the jurisdiction of a Pope heretic as long as his heresy had not become notorious and publicly divulged. However even formulated thus, this argument raises another question, very much disputed: that of the exact moment when a heretic ceases to be a member of the Church. According to what we think, whatever be that moment, the Pope eventually heretic would only effectively fall from the Pontificate when his defection in the faith turned notorious and publicly divulged.” (Some emphasis added.)
Here we have a complete admission that da Silveira is not presenting and defending the position of Bellarmine (or Wernz-Vidal), and further, that he has developed his own position – if you like, a “sixth opinion” in this long-standing discussion. He even goes so far as to contrast his own argument with the Bellarmine and Wernz-Vidal approach, which rests solidly on the cause and effect stated above – that is, that a non-member of the Church cannot possess habitual jurisdiction. Da Silveira is so far from basing his own argument on that same truth, that he brings in the irrelevant discussion about the exact degree of publicity which suffices to strip a man of membership in the Church. It is certain that a public (or “manifest”) heretic is not a member. That is all that this particular discussion needs, which is why Bellarmine, who was certainly familiar with the degrees of publicity of crimes, did not bring it in. The same observation can be made concerning the greatest of modern canonists Wernz and Vidal, so that one could not argue that since Bellarmine’s time this particular question developed any differently.
Interestingly, Fr. Boulet states that da Silveira’s theory is “perfectly consistent with the thought of St. Robert Bellarmine.” I don’t see how he could have concluded such a thing. When Fr. Boulet adds that “Father Garrigou-Lagrange reaches the same conclusion,” and proceeds to outline briefly the theory of the saintly Dominican, which is entirely contrary to Bellarmine’s, we must part company completely. Garrigou-Lagrange teaches that a heretic Pope would remain Pope; Bellarmine teaches that he would lose the papacy ipso facto by operation of divine law. The two theories are diametrically opposed.
"I receive Thee, redeeming Prince of my soul. Out of love for Thee have I studied, watched through many nights, and exerted myself: Thee did I preach and teach. I have never said aught against Thee. Nor do I persist stubbornly in my views. If I have ever expressed myself erroneously on this Sacrament, I submit to the judgement of the Holy Roman Church, in obedience of which I now part from this world." Saint Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian in the history of the Church
|Posted Jul 27, 2012, 5:34 pm
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