Thank you, Ambrose, for your response to my earlier questions.
In reading your response, I do have more questions. Some are for understanding your definitions and some are for clarity in what you had written.
I hope it is ok with you, that as I was responding to you, this post developed into more of my thoughts. So I will actually write two posts to respond. First, this one can be a general part of our conversation, and a second, in specific to the contents of what you had written for some clarity on your thoughts.
In progressing with our good exchange, I think it is important to draw on the same Catholic footing of common understanding; in which, the biggest question here for the whole Church in this unprecedented crisis, is: “Is the Pope the Pope, or not”
? And, “Is the Chair vacant, or not”
? These two questions are in the height of this overall crisis -for the obvious reasons- it causes massive separation in the whole Church -“When the Shepherd is struck, the sheep are scattered
”. These two questions are essentially two separate questions that have their own meanings; yet, they are also relational when it applies to “heresy” in the same person of a residing Pope.
In addition, I know that within this particular crisis, there may be one, or both, of these above questions that arises to a possible “sedevacantism” in this Pope and may be in the other past Popes.
With that said, there presently exists different groups in this crisis of the Catholic Church; some Catholics that claim the “chair is already vacant” (sedevacant); some Catholics who do not believe it to be yet; some Catholics who just go along with it; and the rest of the Catholics are in apathy.
In respect to our conversation, and this era’s crisis, that with the proposed tenants of these different secevacantist groups who claim that the “chair is already vacant”, there is one common premise that all of them share, and is built on: “The pope is teaching contrary to the Faith → the Pope is a heretic → he is not the Pope → one cannot follow him → therefore, the chair is vacant (sedevacant)
.” In this common premise (with 5-parts) within these groups, each group emphasis one, or more, of these parts in a formulation of thesis, and then carry it out into an existence; sometimes without intent; sometimes with intent. In other words, there are very honest individuals who seek out the truth and are led down different roads, and there are some individuals, to say bluntly, who seek out a “lifestyle” of independence to do what they want…
In reading your posts with others, I sense that you are an individual who is seeking out the truth. That is why I am happy to converse with you on this very important subject within this terrible crisis of the Faith.
What continues to guide us in the Catholic Faith, and to discern these particular matters: is Her Wisdom, Doctrine, Saints, Tradition, Canon Law, etc.. In all, Her teaching gives us the balanced answer to this particular situation. Specifically, to discern the allegation that this Pope (and his present Bishops) are teaching things contrary to the Faith, and therefore, is a “heretic” that dismisses his function within his office as a residing Pope.
As there are so many treatises available over the internet that disposes arguments from each group, and proves that Benedict XVI, JPII, and JPVI are heretics, that for the sake of this conversation, I will approach this a little more simply.
Firstly, I very much agree with you that these Vatican II Popes (Cardinals and Bishops) are teaching -Modernism- which is contrary to the deposit of the Faith; In their erroneous teachings, it is very much validated with numerous proofs and in their own writings, that they are deserving in the least to be: “Reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine
” (2 Timothy 4:2). And if in their persistence, a most needed ecclesiastical court of trial, as the Holiness of the Church has always done in the historical past.
We know what heresy is, and what a heretic is, we now need to know: “what is the Church’s teaching on the difference between Material and Formal heretics”
? And, “How does the Church judge on this matter
There are many “word” expressions of defining the difference between MATERIAL and FORMAL heretics. Here is a simple one I copied off of the internet: “The Catholic Church expressly distinguishes between ‘material’ and ‘formal’ heretics. A ‘MATERIAL’ heretic is one who externally denies a truth (for example Mary's Divine Maternity), or several truths of the Catholic faith, regardless of whether the one denying does so ignorantly and innocently, from lack of knowledge, being influenced by false prejudice, or by an anti-Catholic upbringing. A ‘FORMAL’ heretic rejects the Church and its teaching absolutely, and with full deliberation, willfully and guiltily.”
So now, “How does the Church judge on this matter
Again using a simple “word” expression: “If a baptized Catholic, in defined by the Church, as a “Material” heretic, the one who is in concern does not cease to be part of the Church, rather he must be properly “Reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). If there is ‘Pertinacity’ in his or her error, then in Justice for the soul, for the common good, and for the fairness of the judgment -it must be tried in an ecclesiastical court to determine if in fact the one in error is a “formal” heretic. When judged if it is certain that he or she is a ‘FORMAL’ heretic. The one is severed from the Church membership; while none the less, still remaining Catholic by the mark of Baptism, but severed from the salvation of the Church.”
The history of the Catholic Church has many examples of these ecclesiastical court judgments. Martin Luther for one, a Catholic priest, erred in “material” heresy, and then judged in an ecclesiastical court as a “Formal” heretic. And so on…
To apply this to a Pope, history shows the Catholic Church resolved this in God’s providence with another ecclesiastical court -with Pope Honorius- he was condemned and excommunicated by the sixth general council in the year 680. And so on… There have also been many other bad Popes in the Church’s history. God’s providence supplied the means and dealt with them when it was “ripe” in his providence for the particular cause God was meeting out to his people. Here is a website I just found with “Top 10 Most Wicked Popes” from the [Catholic Encyclopedia] http://listverse.com/2007/08/17/top-10-most-wicked-popes/
So the BIG question here is: “what kind of heretic is the Pope(s) -Material or Formal”?
To answer that, in the present difficulty for us on how to “deal” with a RESIDING Pope, is a real problem. We must remember, however, when attempting to accuse the Pope of “FORMAL” heresy, one must keep in mind that it can only be done in the Catholic Church, through the competent authority alone, who alone can issue an ecclesiastical judgment on a “Formal” heretic. And the only authority competent to judge the successor of Peter -is another Pope- or a General Council! Hence, God showed in his providence many times, that He waited until after the “accused” was dead in his obstinacy. Like others in Church history, and in the secular, Pharaoh, Diocletian, etc..
The “trial” for us in this time of having a RISIDING Pope, who is at least a “material” heretic, is waiting on God’s manifest providence. In other words, at every point when God showed He was “ready” to act: it was pronounced, clear, decisive, and complete. The only “Head” above “Peter” is Christ Himself. He certainly does know what He is doing. Do we push it before it is His time? Where is the Providence to convene a General Council to condemn these errors?
Our Lady in La Salette, in God’s providence, manifested: “that Rome will lose the Faith”. The question in our time is, how long will God continue the crisis of “Rome losing the Faith”, then, like in the Old Testament, God moved with a swift mighty hand? It is His Church…
In another meditation, as Jesus Christ Himself went through His Passion and “disfigurement” on the Cross. So too, as it is said, His Bride the Catholic Church will also go through a passion and “disfigurement” of a Cross –and unto a resurrection. It is that time is here in God’s providence to resurrect Her? Or is it in His providence to go through more “disfigurement” of a cross? Did our Lady of Fatima Reign in Her Peace with the consecration of Russia –with a valid residing Pope?
These are good questions; however, it is paramount that we first understand that it is GOD’S Church. It is He who Governs it. Not us! Archbishop Lefebvre always has said: “Do not go ahead of Providence”.
The character of the Pope is still Pope; albeit a very bad Pope. He is still in “office” until God removes him. Like the character of a father of a family who has “sinned”, or is a “material” heretic, he is still in “office” of a Father until God removes him. We, especially laymen, have no right to judge a higher authority. That belongs to God on His time; and for us to avoid sin.
So what else is in the Church’s Wisdom, Doctrine, Saints, Tradition, Canon Law, etc.. Is it to do nothing? Absolutely not! The answer comes under the Highest Law of the Church –for the salvation of souls. It is under her Law of “Supplied Jurisdiction”. I repeat, it is under Supplied Jurisdiction! It is a Law God put into His Church for the Baptized to use in such times of confusion. In other words, this Highest Church Law of “Supplied Jurisdiction” -for the salvation of souls- was made for souls to be protected, and not the other way around, to burden them under false “obedience”!
As this subject of “Supplied Jurisdiction” is well written, and can be found on the internet, I will not need to duplicate it here. However, I have written on it in a “practical” way against the present Neo-SSPX in their desire to “make a deal” with Modernist Rome. http://www.cathinfo.com/catholic.php?a=topic&t=21334&min=0&num=5
In brief, Supplied Jurisdiction is a “right” of all baptized souls to receive the Faith and Sacraments of the Catholic Church -unobstructed and unadulterated- bypassing any “jurisdiction” to acquire the “means” of salvation.
Supplied Jurisdiction is the answer for all baptized in a day to day, practical measure, to endure what God had allowed -“Rome will lose the Faith”- until he is ready to restore the Glory of His Church.
Supplied Jurisdiction is the very answer that Archbishop Lefebvre used in the Wisdom of the Church’s Law that gave him the “right”, nay, the “duty” to do what he needed to do.
We do live in unprecedented times. Keep the Faith my friend. Trust in God’s Providence. In the human drama of “original sin”, He knows the hour…it is up to us to stay sanctified all the while embracing His will…Thy will be done.