This article was published in Vatican Insider last November. Traditional Catholics should be familiar with its assumptions and arguments. It is unfortunate but true that many traditional Catholics share the same assumptions and consequently have a problem with addressing the conclusions. My husband has been in an exchange with the author, Mr. Emmett O'Regan on his blog site. I think the arguments are good and would like to share them with the members of CathInfo and invite others to offer their objections to Mr. O'Regan. This argument is used by the defenders of Pope Francis making him their Rule of Faith so it is important that they be challenged. Unlike most, Mr. O'Regan is fair enough to let critical comments concerning his articles to be posted on his blog.The Heretical Pope Fallacy The Official Relatio of Vatican I on the Dogmatization of St. Bellarmine’s “Fourth Opinion”Vatican Insider | Emmett O'Regan | November 12, 2017Original Article: http://www.lastampa.it/2017/12/11/vaticaninsider/eng/comment/the-heretical-pope-fallacy-HSbi69IW7szxYdqPR1bHmO/pagina.html Emmett O'Regan blog posting: http://unveilingtheapocalypse.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-heretical-pope-fallacy.html Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve:
What about the case of Pope Honorius? I found this info about him.
Honorius I was the only pope to have been formally condemned for heresy. In the early decades of the 7th century, in the context of the controversy over the two wills of Christ. Honorius upheld the doctrine of the one will in Christ, or “monothelitism”, which was however later declared to be in contrast with the dogma of the two natures, divine and human, a doctrine solidly founded on biblical revelation and solemnly decreed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451.
Here is the text with which, in 681, after his death, the third ecumenical Council of Constantinople, the sixth ecumenical council, condemned him together with Patriarch Sergius:
“Having examined the dogmatic letters written by Sergius, in his time the patriarch of this imperial city. . . and the letter with which Honorius responded to Sergius, and having seen that they are not in keeping with the apostolic teachings and with the definitions of the holy councils and of all the illustrious holy Fathers, and that on the contrary they follow the false doctrines of the heretics, we reject them and execrate them as corruptive.”
It seems pretty clear that Honorius did teach heresy in some way. Did Bellarmine say anything about that case?
19 December 2017 at 00:59 Emmett O'Regan:
Yes Sr. Lorraine, Pope Honorius is a favourite for Protestants to undermine the dogma of papal infallibility. If we have ever had a pope who defected from the Faith, then obviously Christ's prayer for the never-failing faith of Peter and his Successors was futile. If a pope could ever defect from the faith, then papal infallibility would obviously be completely illogical. Pope Honorius never held to formal heresy in a public capacity though, and his case simply falls into the category of ignorance before a teaching is fully defined by the Church. Remember that St. Thomas Aquinas did not believe in the Immaculate Conception. Should he be considered to be an heretic as well as Honorius? Bellarmine devotes the whole of Book 4 of De Controversiis to show that no pope has ever fell into formal heresy, which is a gift presented to the Apostolic See alone. Pastor Aeternus completely and definitively rules out the idea of an heretical pope. If we believe that a pope can fall into formal heresy, then we deny the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church. D. M. Drew:
There are a number of problems with your reply to Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve on December 20.
Firstly, no Church father or doctor or magisterial document has ever claimed that each individual pope possessed a "never-failing faith." St. Thomas and Rev. Haydock do not even address the question in their commentaries. Rev. Cornelius a Lapide in his great Commentary specifically addresses this question and says that the "never-failing faith" was a personal grace granted to St. Peter alone
. The promise to his successors was that they would never engage the Church's attribute of infallibility to teach error. Pope Honorius was declared a heretic by at the Sixth Ecumenical Council that was approved by the Pope Leo II. It matters not whether his heresy was formal or only material except to Honorius himself. If the pope is taken as the rule of faith, then he must be preserved from even material heresy because for the faithful following his example it would make no difference.
Furthermore, there is not logical contradiction between Infallibility and a pope being a heretic and more than the heretic, Caiaphas being the high priest, who was a Sadducee and denied the doctrine of the resurrection, prophesized being the High Priest, that Christ should die for the nation. Even Balaam's Ass can be used by God to teach the truth.
St. Thomas' denying the Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with this argument. St. Robert Bellarmine may or may be correct that a pope has never fallen into formal heresy but the point is moot. Again, it makes no difference whatsoever, except to the pope himself, whether or not the heresy is formal or merely material. Pasto Aeternus
does not rule out the possibility of a heretical pope. The claim is absurd since we known that Pope Honorius was a heretic. It is the rather the contrary. The narrative in defending the dogmatic declaration specifically references the scriptural passage regarding the never-failing faith, but the dogmatic definition limits this grace to specific conditions when the pope can and does engage the attribute of infallibility Christ endowed His Church. Outside of these specific conditions, the pope, teaching by his grace of state can and has taught error.
Lastly, your understanding of the indefectibility of the Church is nothing more than a common theological opinion which does not hold up under close examination. St. Pius X in Pascendi says that the Church has three functions: to govern, to teach, and to offer worship (to sanctify). These three actions correspond to the three attributes of the Church: Authority, Infallibility, and Indefectibility. The attributes of the Church are only secondarily and accidentally attributes of any individual pope. The attribute of Indefectibility relates primarily to worship and the sacraments to sanctify the faithful. A pope falling into heresy would not overturn the indefectibility of the Church unless all faithful followed him in his heresy. The proof of the indefectibility of the Church is not that Honorius was not a "formal" heretic. It is that the all the faithful of the Church did not follow him in his heresy.
Scripture and Tradition are the remote rule of faith. The proximate rule of faith is DOGMA. The pope is not the rule of faith. The pope is only the efficient and accidental cause of DOGMA. God is the formal and final cause of DOGMA. DOGMA is the formal object of divine and Catholic faith. When a pope departs from DOGMA those that make him their rule of faith will follow him into heresy. But by the Indefectibility of the Church, God will prevent him from being followed by all the faithful of the Church in his heresy. And by the Infallibility of the Church, God will not permit the pope to engage the Extra-ordinary or the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Church to teach his heresy.
Drew Emmett O'Regan:
Drew, the Church Doctor St. Robert Bellarmine clearly shows in De Controversiis Book 4 Chap III that the tradition that each pope has a never-failing faith is very ancient indeed, and is part of the ordinary and universal Magisterium, which is again quite clearly stipulated in Pastor Aeternus. It simply cannot be proven that Pope Honorius was a formal heretic (no matter how much sedes and Protestants insist), and indeed the indefectibility of the Church excludes this possibility. If a pope was able to defect from the Faith, then the Apostolic See is not indefectible. If you insist that Pope Honorius was an heretic (or Pope Francis, for that matter), then you are denying a dogma of the Faith, since the indefectibility of the Church was given to the office of St. Peter alone, and not to the Church as a whole. D. M. Drew:
Again, it makes no difference whatsoever (except for the pope himself), if the pope is a formal or merely material heretic. The effect is the same. If the purpose of the "never-failing faith" is "that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine" (Pastor Aeternus), it is immaterial to the faithful if the person leading them into error is malicious or not. The effect is the same!
Again, you assume that your common understanding of the Church's attribute of Indefectibility is whatever you say. Not so. The indefectibility of the Church was not that Pope Honorius was only a 'material heretic.' The indefectibility of the Church is manifest by the fact that all the faithful did not follow him in his heresy.
If St. Robert Bellarmine believed that every pope possessed a 'never-failing faith', then it would be heresy to entertain the contrary which he did entertain.
Drew Emmett O'Regan:
Again, I reiterate, there can be no other interpretation of Pastor Aeternus than that the gift of never-failing faith was conferred on the Successors of St. Peter. This teaching is crystal clear:
"This gift of truth and *never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See* so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole Church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell." Pastor Aeternus Chap IV par. 7 D. M. Drew:
What you affirm as "crystal clear" is in fact absurd. Your interpretation is only possible if you hold that the pope as your rule of faith and not DOGMA. Big mistake.
Your claim is not even addressed by St. Thomas or Rev. George Haydock in their scriptural commentaries. Their silence on this pretend doctrine should tell you everything a faithful Catholic needs to know. Rev. Cornelius a Lapide specifically addresses and directly denies this claim in his Great Commentary written during the height of the Protestant reformation. Much of the commentary of Lapide is directed against the Protestant corruption of Holy Scripture and this is one of them. It is a Protestant absurd characterization of papal authority which you are repeating. If there were a single Church father who held that every pope personally possessed a "never-failing faith," it would have been cited by these authorities. There is not one, not one who ever held this novelty. Further, it would be heresy to even hold the possibility of a pope every being merely a material heretic and yet the possibility is freely discussed by many theologians and saints.
Pastor Aeternus specifically references Luke 22:32 as its scriptural authority for the dogmatic definition of papal infallibility. Therefore, the dogma itself, the formal object of divine and Catholic faith, provides the proper understanding of the narrative text. The "never-failing faith" of St. Peter's successors means that the Chair of Peter, either in the Extra-ordinary or the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, when teaching on matters of faith and/or morals, engaging the attribute of Infallibility that Christ has endowed His Church, will teach without the possibility of error so that, "This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole Church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell." Pastor Aeternus Chap IV par.
You have turned the decree on its head. The only part of Pastor Aeternus that is infallible is the specific definition of the doctrine on papal infallibility. That is the DOGMA. It is the DOGMA, the formal object of divine and Catholic faith, that determines the proper understanding of the narrative and not the narrative that gives license to interpret the DOGMA in a non-literal sense. The DOGMA does not say that the pope is infallible whenever he speaks on any question of faith or morals in any capacity whatsoever because his personal faith is the rule of faith for all Catholics. You have turned the pope into a divine oracle. His duty is no longer to defend the deposit of revealed truth but rather he becomes the revealer. This is historically absurd. An ecumenical council, affirmed by Pope Leo II, has already declared Pope Honorius a heretic. You end up with an infallible-infallible magisterium and a non-infallible infallible magisterium and therefore, a pope who is infallible in all that he says and does because every human act has a moral dimension without exception.
It should be remembered that the famous dictum of St. Augustine that 'Rome has spoken, the case is finished,' was initially indirectly addressed to the reigning pope who was deviating from the decrees of his predecessors in the See of Peter regarding the Pelagian heresy. The pope is subject to dogmatic truth as much as every other Catholic.