What about the Vatican II popes?
FAQs from "Vatican II, the Pope and the Mass" by Rev. Donald J. Sanborn
1. If what you are saying is true, what does it say about the Vatican II popes?
It says that it is impossible that they be true Catholic popes.
2. Why can they not be true Catholic popes and true Catholic bishops?
They cannot be true Catholic popes because it is impossible that the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, which is Christ's authority, give to the universal Church false doctrines, false liturgical practices, and false disciplines.
3. Why cannot the authority of the Roman Catholic Church give to the universal Church false doctrines, false liturgical practices, and false disciplines?
Precisely because it is the authority of Christ. The Pope is assisted by the Holy Ghost in the promulgation of dogma and morals, and in the enactment of liturgical laws and pastoral disciplines. In the same way that it is unimaginable that Christ could promulgate these errors or enact these sinful disciplines, so it is unimaginable that the assistance which He gives to the Church through the Holy Ghost could permit such things. Hence, the fact that the Vatican II popes have done these things is a certain sign that they have do not have the authority of Christ. The teachings of Vatican II and the reforms which proceed from it are contrary to the Faith and ruinous of our eternal salvation. But since the Church is both indefectible and infallible, it cannot give to the faithful doctrines, laws, liturgy, and disciplines which are contrary to the Faith and ruinous of our eternal salvation. We must therefore conclude that this Council and these reforms do not proceed from the Church, that is, the Holy Ghost, but from an evil influence within the Church. From this it follows that those who have promulgated this evil Council and these evil reforms have not promulgated them with the authority of the Church, which is the authority of Christ. From this we rightfully conclude that their claim to have this authority is false, despite whatever appearance they may have, even despite an apparently valid election to the papacy.
4. Do we have the authority to say that these Vatican II popes are not true popes?
We do not have the authority to legally declare it. But on the other hand, as Catholics, we have the obligation of comparing what is taught by Vatican II with the teaching of the Catholic Church. The virtue of faith demands that we do so, since the faith is supernatural wisdom and consequently demands that everything be in conformity with it. If we did not make this comparison, we would not have the virtue of faith. If we find that the teachings of Vatican II are not in conformity with the teaching of the Catholic Faith, we are bound to reject Vatican II, and bound to conclude that those who promulgate it do not have the authority of Christ. Otherwise our adherence to the error which is contrary to faith would ruin the virtue in us, and we would become heretics. Similarly, if we would entertain the thought that the Catholic Church were capable of promulgating false doctrines and evil worship and discipline, we would be heretics. So privately to conclude that John Paul II is a heretic, indeed an apostate from the Faith, is not to "judge" the pope in the sense that it is meant by canonists and theologians. In fact, if we could not even think of the possibility of the pope being a heretic, then why do so many theologians speak about this possibility, and about the consequences of his being a heretic?
5. But why can't we "sift" what the pope does and says, and accept what is Catholic, and reject what is non-Catholic?
Because if John Paul II is the pope, we must obey him. Even to admit the possibility that he can promulgate false doctrines and enact universal disciplines which are evil is itself a heresy against the teaching that the Catholic Church is infallible in these matters. It is inconceivable that, in following the universal teachings of the Church or her universal disciplines, you could be led astray and go to Hell. If this were possible, one would have to conclude that the Roman Catholic Church is not the true Church, but a human institution like any other false church. Furthermore, to sift the teachings of the Church is to set yourself up as the pope, for your adherence to these teachings would not be based on the authority of the Church, but rather your own "sifting" of these teachings.
6. But if your father tells you to do something wrong, you must disobey him. But he still remains your father.
First of all, being someone's natural father can never change because it is based on physical generation. But being someone's spiritual father can change because it is based on a spiritual generation. Hence a pope could resign and no longer be the spiritual father of Catholics. So the analogy does not apply.
But more importantly, this argument which is frequently used by the Society of Saint Pius X and others, does not hold water for another reason. If a pope gave to a particular person a particular command which was evil (e.g., to desecrate a crucifix), the argument would apply. For in such a case the pope would not be engaging the whole practice of the Church, and therefore would not involve the indefectibility of the Church. But if he were to make a general law that all Catholics ought to desecrate crucifixes, then the very indefectibility of the Church is at stake. For how could the Church of Christ make such a law? Would it then not be leading all souls to Hell? The fact that John Paul II has made general laws which prescribe or even permit evil is a violation of the Church's indefectibility.
Hence the Society's argument cannot be applied to the present crisis in the Church.
7. But what if we are not sure if Vatican II is erroneous, and if John Paul II is a true pope or not?
In such a doubt you must give the superior the benefit of the doubt. In such a case you would have to embrace all the teachings of Vatican II, the new liturgy, and the new disciplines. You would also be obliged to recognize John Paul II as a true Catholic pope.
8. Isn't the question of John Paul's papacy a mere matter of opinion?
Absolutely not. Our eternal salvation depends upon our submission to the Roman Pontiff. Therefore the question of John Paul's papacy is of supreme importance, and we must resolve our consciences about it one way or the other. If we conclude that Vatican II contradicts the teaching of the Church, then we must reject John Paul II as a true pope.
If we conclude that Vatican II is not a substantial alteration of the Catholic Faith, then we must accept him as a true pope, and follow what he commands us to do.
A Catholic who is indifferent as to whether he is the pope or not is no Catholic at all. Rather he has the spirit of schism and of repudiation of authority.
In the Great Western Schism, in which there were three claimants to the papal throne, St. Vincent Ferrer condemned those who were indifferent as to who was the true Pope.
9. Were there any parallel cases in history?
The Catholic Patriarch of Constantinople in 428 A.D. espoused the heresy that Our Lady was not the Mother of God. After he preached this from the pulpit, the Catholic people would have nothing to do with him, would not attend his Masses, and said, "We have an Emperor, but no bishop." And this was before he was officially excommunicated by the Church.
While this case concerns a bishop and not a pope, the principle is the same: the promulgation of heresy is incompatible with the possession of the authority of Christ over the flock. If it was true for this bishop Nestorius, it is all the more true for him who has the care of the whole flock.
10. Did any Pope ever warn us about a heretic on the throne of Peter?
Pope Paul IV in 1559, fearful lest a Protestant be elected to the papal throne, decreed in Cum ex Apostolatus Officio [see Heresy and loss of authority ] that if the person elected the Pope should have deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into any heresy, his election shall be considered null, legally invalid, and void. He furthermore decreed that such a person must not be considered the pope, even if he took possession of the office, was enthroned, and received the veneration and obedience of all the faithful.