I have been given permission to share the following response from a friend about the article:
Here are some comments I wrote to somebody the other day about the Siscoe article - wanted to share with you:
To his credit, Siscoe's article is nicely written. It is not a disaster like John Salza's was.
Now, I believe that most things he talks about have been addressed and refuted in the article "The Chair Is Still Empty" athttp://www.novusordowatch.org/the_chair_is_still_empty.htm
In particular, the argument that sedevacantist clergy and people are usurping ecclesiastical authority is refuted there (Siscoe fails to distinguish discerning a matter of fact from making a legal declaration on a matter of Church law). This is basically an "old" argument, so I am surprised he merely repeats it without so much as seeking to address the refutation.
Next, a few things I would like to point out:
(1) What Siscoe writes regarding the body and soul of the Church is, as far as I can tell, accurate and orthodox. However, I think it was unnecessary for him to point this out, because it is not needed for his thesis on sedevacantism. It would have been sufficient to distinguish the sin of heresy (against the Faith) with the crime of heresy (against Church law), and further to distinguish the sin as public vs. occult (hidden).
(2) It is true that an occult heretic does not cease to be a member of the Church. If this were false, we would have chaos, since no one could ever know who's a member of the Church and who isn't. This is not really a disputed question.
(3) Siscoe talks about what renders a man suspect of heresy and then enumerates the penalties, but he leaves out of account that the loss of office that comes with PUBLIC defection from the Faith is not a penalty and, in fact, is mentioned in a canon that has nothing whatsoever to do with penalties but with loss of office due to a crime being INCOMPATIBLE with holding an office. So, for example, the canons on heresy (secret) and penalties are 2314 ff., whereas the canon that speaks about what actions are incompatible with holding an office and therefore results in immediate loss of office (not as a penalty but as a consequence of the incomaptibility) is canon 188. So, you can see, these are in completely different sections of the Code of Canon Law. John Salza makes the same mistake. See the above-linked essay, section (12): "Misfiring more Can(n)ons".
(4) Considering that Siscoe admits that someone who has been suspect of heresy for more than 6 months then is considered a heretic, and considering that Siscoe thinks that inferiors can issue a warning to the Pope, it would seem he has to agree that the V2 Popes are indeed heretics, because Paul VI and John Paul II WERE warned by an inferior -- the Abbe de Nantes. He delivered his books of accusation of heresy and schism to Paul VI in person (he handed it to him personally, which Paul VI immediately let go of as soon as he realized what it was), and likewise did the same, or attempted to, with JPII, and the author of the New Catechism (Schonborn/Ratzinger). See section (13) "Warning Me, Warning You."
(5) Siscoe's idea that the Pope can be warned or judged by an inferior is ridiculous, and also heretical (the "judging" part at least). The Pope has no superior on earth and is not subject to anyone's judgment (canon law says so, can't remember the canon right now). Vatican I declared this as well. So, while it is conceivable that an inferior might "warn" the Pope about some error or heresy, this warning would not be binding, because the Pope has the right to judge his inferior and command him. In fact, the Pope could even silence his inferior, having the authority to do so. Just imagine this absurd situation. "Holy Father, you are in error. This is heresy." - "No, it's not, and I am the final arbiter of the matter. My judgment is that it is not and you have no right to appeal my judgment." End of story.
(6) The historical cases Siscoe cites bear some thorough investigation. But this would require some research. I cannot imagine that Pope Pius IX considered a man who was publicly snubbing his own warnings against heresy to be a valid and legitimate holder of the office of archbishop. This seems very odd. However, this case actually does not help Siscoe at all, because Siscoe argues that a public manifest heretic DOES fall from office, if he has been warned. Well, Darboy HAD been warned by Pius IX, but then still remained Archbishop? Something is amiss here. Either the errors weren't heretical, or there was no publicly manifest pertinacity, or something. Besides, Siscoe does not explain how this case squares with Catholic teaching that manifest public defection from the Faith causes loss of office (Canon 188.4), and this canon explicitly states "no declaration being necessary." So, I think Siscoe may have proven a bit too much here.
(7) Siscoe quotes Canon Gregory Hesse (d. 2006) as an authority - not a good idea. Hesse was a traditionalist ordained to the priesthood by JPII and who strictly acknowledged JPII as Pope. He was Novus Ordo and held an SSPX-type resistance position. Hesse was no older than 50 years or so when he died .Why in the world would you choose someone like this as an authority on heresy? Siscoe has to use traditional Catholic authorities, not Novus Ordo authorities. Regardless, Hesse's statement that "a formal heretic in the external forum is a declared heretic" is false, absolutely false. The essay "The Chair is still Empty" should also address that.
We agree that pertinacity has to be manifest as well for someone to be considered a manifest heretic. But the bar is not as high as Siscoe makes it seem to be. All that is required is reasonable evidence that the person in question knows better and wills to go against the known teaching. That happens in Ratzinger's case all the time. In fact, JPII even said in "Ecclesia Dei" in 1988 that the reason why some teachings of V2 have not yet been understood by all in the Church is "perhaps because they are new." No kidding!
(9) As to what sources Siscoe cites regarding the idea that the Pope can be warned, or judged, the sources are either mistaken (some of those things may not have been clarified by the Church until after their lives), or out of context (for example, they might be speaking of occult heresy vs. public heresy), etc.
(10) In his response to the SSPX book on sedevacantism, John Lane takes apart the argument that a heretical Pope losing his office without a declaration is merely "one opinion" among many. Not so. (See the PDF file here: http://www.novusordowatch.org/sspx_dossier_sede.pdf
(11) The idea that a heretical Pope's loss of office would be "harmful" to the Church is ridiculous. On the contrary, it PROTECTS the Church from a charlatan imposing all sorts of wickedness and impiety, error and heresy on the Church. Look at what happens when the charlatan remains "Pope": The last 60 years in the Novus Ordo are the proof in the pudding - look at their "protected" Church!
(12) John Lane recently penned some of the most important lines summarizing the predicament and showing how "dangerous" not sedevacantism is but the idea that these men were valid Popes: "The entire force of the Conciliar revolt comes from the fact that it has apparently been imposed by the authority of the Church. How many bishops, priests, religious, and laymen, would have swallowed the lies of the heretics if they had not believed themselves bound to do so by the voice of Christ’s Vicar on earth? Questioning the authority of these men renders their revolution of doubtful authenticity. This is enormously helpful to souls..."
(13) The cases of Popes Liberius and Honorius have long been addressed by St. Robert Bellarmine and Vatican I. No one conceded these men were heretics.
(14) The constitution on the election of the Pope of Pope Pius XII is an ancient argument, easily refuted. Pius XII isn't saying that heresy isn't an obstacle to a papal election. Addressed in "The Chair Is Still Empty" under "Salza Error #4".
(15) Ah, the "bad fruits" of sedevacantism. Several things on that. If we want to compare fruits, we can look at the fruits of acknowledging the V2 Popes as valid Popes, versus the fruits of denying their claim to the papacy. Do we really want to compare those fruits? I didn't think so.... Secondly, the "bad stuff" in sedevacantism is merely the practical outcome of the fact that there appears to be no one to rule the Church. It is not a refutation of the sedevacantist position but simply an extension of what it means that there is no Pope. In fact, if anything, the disarray merely proves that we are all in agreement - that there is no Pope! It would be a scary thing if the church could be run just as well without a Pope as she could be with a Pope. In that case, who would need a Pope? Lastly, Siscoe's predicament is infinitely worse than ours, because in our case, all it takes is a legitimate Pope, and all will be well. Everything will be clarified, decided, judged. Done. In Siscoe's case, though, having a real and valid Pope still means nothing - you still have factions, disagreements, schisms, "filtered" teaching, etc. But what, then, will the remedy be for Siscoe? In our case, we need simply a valid Pope. But what does he need, since he's already got one??
(16) My last point is this: Siscoe seems to think that all he needs to do is show that a public heretic can still be Pope, and all is well. Ah, that doesn't suffice to justify his position, because his position is that, DESPITE his being a valid Pope, Ratzinger must still be resisted and contradicted in what he teaches, promulgates, decrees, and permits! His encyclicals, canonizations, disciplinary laws, speeches, judgments, etc. -- they are all subject to revision by the SSPX and Robert Siscoe! No, Mr. Siscoe, that's not how it works: If it is true, as you say, that Ratzinger is the Pope, then he really IS the Pope -- with all that entails. Then you must submit, like a child does to his father, and not sift, warn, contradict, reject, relativize, minimize, etc.
For Siscoe and the SSPX, the Pope has been reduced in authority to that of a Protestant pastor: "He is to be followed when he's right." In that case, you might as well submit to ME - just follow me when I'm right! ;-)