Fr. Kramer and the Theologians --- Installment #3. AKA "How to give a Response to 'But John OF ST. THOMAS SAYS........."
Depositus» vs. «Deponendus»
St. Robert Bellarmine, in his doctrine on the question of the deposition of a manifestly heretical pope, with a tightly woven logic, gives systematic expression to the teaching of Pope Innocent III set forth in his Sermons; 1) on the point that the Roman Pontiff may be judged by no one, except for heresy, in which case he cannot be tried as pope and judged (deponendus), but, 2) he can only be shown to have already been judged – to have fallen from the Pontificate (depositus). Thus, the Church would exercise no power over the pope if it were to judge that the man occupying the cathedra had actually fallen from the pontificate by his heresy, but then the Church would only determine that the occupant of the throne, being a heretic, and thereby having fallen from the pontificate, is no longer the pope; and would therefore declare the See to be vacant, and proceed to the election of a new pope. It is in this broad sense that Bellarmine and Ballerini speak of the manner in which a heretical pope can be “deposed”.
The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that, “No canonical provisions exist regulating the authority of the College of Cardinals sede Romanâ impeditâ, i.e. in case the pope became insane, or personally a heretic; in such cases it would be necessary to consult the dictates of right reason and the teachings of history.” The teachings of history demonstrate that there is no such case in history in which a pope manifestly defected into formal heresy; and therefore it is not surprising that there do not exist any canonical provisions for such a case. Bellarmine himself stated that there has never been such a case, and (as quoted earlier) Archbishop John Purcell, who was present at the First Vatican Council, related that, «The question was also raised by a Cardinal, “What is to be done with the Pope if he becomes a heretic?” It was answered that there has never been such a case; the Council of Bishops could depose him for heresy, for from the moment he becomes a heretic he is not the head or even a member of the Church […] and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself. » It is manifestly evident that the relator’s reply to the Cardinal did not refer to an internal heretic, since he further stated, «If the Pope, for instance, were to say that the belief in God is false, […] or if he were to deny the rest of the creed, ‘I believe in Christ,’ etc. […] If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I”. »
What is particularly worthy of note, is that the reply to the Cardinal on the question of a pope who becomes a heretic, was given as a pure hypothesis, and was not considered as a serious possibility, as is evident from the relator’s words, “The supposition is injurious to the Holy Father in the very idea, but serves to show you the fullness with which the subject has been considered and the ample thought given to every possibility.” At the First Vatican Council, (as Pope Pius XI stated in the earlier cited passage of Providentissimus Deus) “the Fathers of the  Vatican Council employed his [Bellarmine’s] writings and opinions to the greatest possible extent” – and indeed they adopted his teachings to the fullest extent on the question of a heretical pope, adopting his position on Opinion No. 1; as well as hypothetically adopting his position on Opinion No. 5. Thus, the opinion of Bellarmine, Ballerini, de Liguori, and Cappellari [Gregory XVI], (that a pope who becomes a manifest heretic, 1} “ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church” [Bellarmine], 2] “by his public pertinacity which for no reason can be excused, since pertinacity properly pertains to heresy, he declares himself to be a heretic, i.e. to have withdrawn from the Catholic faith and the Church by his own will, so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would be necessary” , and would thus be said to have “abdicated the primacy and the pontificate” [Ballerini]; 3} “For the rest, if God should permit that a Pope should become a notorious and contumacious heretic, he would cease to be Pope, and the pontificate would be vacant” [St. Alphonsus de Liguori]; 4} “would be considered as a public schismatic and heretic, and in consequence, and to have fallen by himself from the pontificate, if he had been validly elevated to it”. [Gregory XVI]), was adopted by the Holy See under Pius IX at the First Vatican Council.
Ballerini applied this doctrine specifically to the case of Pedro de Luna (Benedict XIII), who, “if one believes him to have been a true pontiff, by his own will ipso facto abdicated the primacy and the pontificate, [and] rightly and legitimately was able to be deposed by the Council as a schismatic and heretic”. What is of the greatest importance to note is that the Council did not actually depose Benedict, but, as Ballerini explains, “by what means the divine providence employed the synod of Constance to end the most tenacious schism, so that that synod did not need to exercise any power of jurisdiction by its authority to depose any true, albeit unknown, actual Pontiff.” Thus, Ballerini concludes, the Council did not declare that it had “deposed” him, but simply declared him to “be deposed” (depositum declaruit potius quam deposuit); and Gregory XVI likewise, “So then he could be considered, as noted by Ballerini, to have been a public schismatic and heretic, and consequently to have fallen from the pontificate, even if he had been validly elevated to it.”
Ballerini expounded on Bellarmine’s doctrine on this point with great precision, explaining how a heretic pope would fall from the pontificate at the moment he manifests his pertinacity in heresy, and any action taken against him before that point is a work of charity – fraternal correction; but once he manifests that he is a heretic, he severs himself automatically from the body of the Church, falls from the Pontificate and ceases to be pope; and then, any judgment pronounced against him would be pronounced on one who already is no longer pope, and no longer superior to a council:
(Text highlighted in yellow has either been cut out or left out by Salza and Siscoe, and the faulty translation has been carefully crafted to falsify the authentic text of Ballerini, and to change his meaning, in order to make Ballerini as well as Bellarmine appear to be of the same opinion as Suarez.)
Latin text: (Pietro Ballerini, De Potestate Ecclesiastica. Summor. Pont. Et Conc. Gen.Cap. IX § II. pp. 128-9)
«Cur vero in praesentissimo omniumque gravissimo periculo fidei, quod ex Pontifice haeresim privato licet judicio propugnante impendens, diuturniores moras non pateretur, remedium ex generalis synodi non ita facili convocatione expectandum credatur? Nonne etiam inferiores quicumque in tanto fidei discrimine superiorem suum correctione fraterna commonere queunt, in faciem eidem resistere, atque revincere; &, si opus sit, redarguere ac ad resipiscentiam urgere? Poterunt id Cardinales, qui ipsi a consiliis adstant; poterit Romanus Clerus; Romana etiam synodus, si expedire judicetur, congregata poterit. Quemcumque vel privatum respiciunt illa Pauli ad Titum: Haereticum hominem post unam & alteram correctionem devita, sciens quia subversus est, qui ejusmodi est, & delinquit, cum sit proprio judicio condemnatus. Qui nimirum semel & bis correptus non resiscipit, sed pertinax est in sententia dogmati manifesto aut definito contraria; hac sua publica pertinacia, cum ab haeresi proprie dicta, quae pertinaciam requitur, excusari nulla ratione potest; tum vero semetipsum palam declarant haereticum, hoc est a fide catholica, & ab Ecclesia voluntate propria recississe, ita ut ad eum praecidendum a corpore Ecclesiae nulla cujusquam declaratione aut sententia necessaria sit. Perspicua hac in re est S. Hieronymi ratio in laudata Pauli verba. Propterea a semetipso dicitur esse damnatus , quia fornicator, adulter, homicida, & cetera vitia per Sacerdotes ex Ecclesia propelluntur: haeretici autem in semetipsos sententiam ferunt, suo arbitrio de Ecclesia recedentes: quae recessio propriae conscientiae videtur esse damnatio. Pontifex ergo, qui post tam solemnem et publicam Cardinalium, Romani Cleri, vel etiam synodi monitionem se se obfirmatum praeferret in haeresi, & de Ecclesia palam recessisset, juxta praeceptum Pauli esset vitandus; & ne aliis perniciem afferret, in publicum proferenda esset ejus haeresis, & contumacia, ut omnes similiter ab eo caverent, sicque sententia, quam in se ipsum tulit, toti Ecclesiae proposita, eum sua voluntate recessisse, & ab Ecclesiae corpore declararet avulsum, atque abdicasse quodammodo Pontificatum, quo nemo fruitur, nec frui potest, qui non sit in Ecclesia. Vides igitur in casu haeresis, cui Pontifex in privato sensu adhaereret, promptum & efficax remedium absque generalis synodi convocatione: qua in hypothesi quidquid contra ipsum ageretur ante declaratam ejus contumaciam & haeresim, ut ad sanum consilium adduceretur, caritatis, non jurisdictionis officium esset: postea vero manifestato ejus recessu ab Ecclesia, si quae sententia a concilio in eumdem ferretur, in eum ferretur, qui Pontifex amplius non esset, neque superior concilio. Sed haec (3) hypothesis nullo facto comprobatur; siquidem nullus vel privatus error cuipiam Pontifici adscriptus contra ullum dogma evidens aut definitum hactenus inventus est, aut futurus putatur. Quid igitur in mera hypothesi laboremus pluribus. »
My literal translation:
«But why is it to be believed, that the remedy is to be expected from the not so easily done convocation of a general synod, when a most present and gravest of all dangers for the faith, which, impending from a Pontiff espousing heresy even in his private judgment, would not be able to be endured through lengthy delays? In such a crisis for the faith, cannot even inferiors warn their superior by fraternal correction, resist him to the face, and subdue; and, if need be, refute and drive him to the recovery of his good sense? The Cardinals, who are there to advise him, will be able to do it; the Roman Clergy will be able to; even a Roman synod, if it is judged to be expedient, having been convened, will be able to. For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold: “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition avoid : knowing that he that is such an one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.” (Tit. 3, 10-11). He forsooth, who having been once or twice corrected, does not repent, but remains obstinate in a belief contrary to a manifest or defined dogma; by this his public pertinacity which for no reason can be excused, since pertinacity properly pertains to heresy, he declares himself to be a heretic, i.e. to have withdrawn from the Catholic faith and the Church by his own will, so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would be necessary. Conspicuous in this matter is the explanation of St. Jerome on the commended words of Paul. Therefore, by himself [the heretic] is said to be condemned, because the fornicator, adulterer, murderer, and those guilty of other misdeeds are driven out from the Church by the Priests: but heretics deliver the sentence upon themselves, departing from the Church by their own will: this departure is seen to be the condemnation by their own conscience. Therefore a Pontiff, who after such a solemn and public admonition from the Cardinals, Roman Clergy, or even a synod would maintain himself hardened in heresy, and have openly departed from the Church, according to the precept of Paul he would have to be avoided; and lest the ruin be brought to the rest, his heresy and contumacy, and thus his sentence which he brought upon himself, would have to be publicly pronounced, made known to the whole Church, that he by his own will departed, making known to be severed from the body of the Church, and in some manner to have abdicated the Pontificate, which no one holds or can hold, who is not in the Church. One sees in the case of heresy to which a Pontiff adhered in a private manner, an efficacious remedy without the convocation of a general synod: in which hypothesis whatever action that would be taken against him before the declaration of his contumacy and heresy, in order to bring him back to reason, would be a duty of charity and not of jurisdiction: but afterward, with his departure from the Church having been manifested, if a sentence were to be pronounced upon him by a council, it would be pronounced on him who would no longer be the Pontiff, nor superior to the council. But this (3) hypothesis is not established by any fact, since no private error ascribed to any Pontiff against any evident or defined dogma has been found, or is believed will be. Why then belabour further a mere hypothesis? »
The Salza and Siscoe version in True or False Pope:
“Is it not true that, confronted with such a danger to the faith [a Pope teaching heresy], any subject can, by fraternal correction, warn their superior, resist him to his face, refute him and, if necessary, summon him and press him to repent? The Cardinals, who are his counselors, can do this; or the Roman Clergy, or the Roman Synod, if, being met, they judge this opportune. For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold: ‘Avoid the heretic, after a first and second correction, knowing that such a man is perverted and sins, since he is condemned by his own judgment’ (Tit. 3, 10-11). For the person, who, admonished once or twice, does not repent, but continues pertinacious in an opinion contrary to a manifest or defined dogma - not being able, on account of this public pertinacity to be excused, by any means, of heresy properly so called, which requires pertinacity - this person declares himself openly a heretic. He reveals that by his own will he has turned away from the Catholic Faith and the Church, in such a way that now no declaration or sentence of anyone whatsoever is necessary to cut him from the body of the Church. Therefore the Pontiff who after such a solemn and public warning by the Cardinals, by the Roman Clergy or even by the Synod, would remain himself hardened in heresy and openly turn himself away from the Church, would have to be avoided, according to the precept of Saint Paul. So that he might not cause damage to the rest, he would have to have his heresy and contumacy publicly proclaimed, so that all might be able to be equally on guard in relation to him. Thus, the sentence which he had pronounced against himself would be made known to all the Church, making clear that by his own will he had turned away and separated himself from the body of the Church, and that in a certain way he had abdicated the Pontificate…”31 (TOFP pp. 245-6)
With such pre-eminent theologians as Pietro Ballerini and St. Alphonsus de Liguori in the 18th Century, and Bartolomeo Cappellari (Gregory XVI) in the late 18th and early 19th Century, decisively adopting Bellarmine’s doctrine of automatic papal loss of office for manifest heresy (Opinion No. 5) as their own, the death knell for the legalistically flawed and conciliaristically tainted theology, formulated in Opinion No. 4 mainly by 16th and 17th Century Counter-Reformation theologians, was already sounding. Bellarmine’s teaching, that the Pope cannot be judged, echoes the ancient teaching that the Church of Rome (which is synonymous with Prima Sedes, i.e. the Roman Pontiff) absolutely cannot be judged by anyone, (which had already been taught by Pope St. Gelasius) ; and is asserted emphatically by Innocent III, confirmed by the Fifth Lateran Council (which defined the pope’s absolute authority ovr a council) and the Council of Trent (which confirmed the status of the Roman Pontiff as the supreme judge) , and proclaimed by the first Vatican Council; so it was inevitable that the Church would eventually enshrine the doctrine of the injudicability of the Roman Pontiff in the 1917 and 1983 codes of Canon Law, declaring that that the “First See is judged by no one” (Prima sedes a nemine judicatur.); and that loss of office for defection from the faith into heresy takes place automatically as a tacit renunciation of office. So, while the Church has not solemnly defined whether or not it is possible for a pope to fall into heresy, she has already taught infallibly that the pope cannot be judged, and therefore, if a pope were to fall into manifest heresy, the Church could only judge him after he would have fallen from office by himself as a consequence of defection from the faith. This is the doctrine advocated by St Robert Bellarmine at a time when the more common opinion was the doctrine of mitigated Conciliarism, that, a heretic pope would remain in office until he would be judged to be a heretic by the Church. Bellarmine applied the teaching of the Fathers, Doctors popes and councils to prove that a heretic pope would cease by himself to be pope, ipso facto, upon falling into heresy, thereby refuting the more prevalent opinion of the day, which was based on an interpretation tainted by Conciliarism of the spurious Canon Si papa, erroneously attributed to St. Boniface.
Bellarmine states the Fourth Opinion, which in its most radical form, is that of Cajetan (as well as John of St. Thomas): “that a manifestly heretical Pope is not ipso facto deposed (non esse ipso facto depositum); but can and must to be deposed by the Church (sed posse, ac debere deponi ab ecclesia).” The distinction made by Bellarmine, as I have demonstrated above, is between a pope who simply “is deposed” (depositus) by pronouncing the judgment of heresy against himself by manifesting his obstinacy in heresy, thereby separating himself from the Church, ceasing to be a Christian, a member of the Church, and its head; and one who “can and must be deposed by the Church” (deponendus). The clear distinction between the two consists in the difference between a pope who “ceases by himself to be Pope and head, just as he ceases in himself to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church: whereby, he can [then] be judged and punished by the Church” – “quare ab Ecclesia posse eum judicari et puniri” (per se depositus), (as Bellarmine explains in Opinion No. 5), and one who “is not ipso facto deposed”; i.e., does not cease by himself to be pope as a direct consequence of his own judgment pronounced against himself; but who remains in office as pope until he is judged, and must be judged by a juridical act of Church authority before he ceases to be pope (ab ecclesia deponendus) – in Bellarmine’s own words, sed posse, ac debere deponi ab ecclesia. Thus, it is patent that according to Bellarmine, what distinguishes Opinion No. 4 from Opinion No. 5 is that according to No. 5, the heretic loses office and ceases to be pope “by himself” (“per se”) “ipso facto”, since heretics are condemned by their own self-pronounced judgment upon themselves (sunt enim proprio judicio condemnati), and for that reason he can then be judged by the Church; whereas according to Opinion No. 4, he must be judged by the Church in order to lose office, and he remains in office until he is judged by the Church. According to this distinction which Bellarmine makes between Opinion No. 4 and Opinion No. 5: all the variant opinions on this point which require the judgment of the Church as a necessary condition for the loss of office, for the very reason that they require the judgment of the Church in order for the loss of office to take place, fall under the heading of Opinion No. 4. Thus, not only Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, Billuart, Laymann – but all others without exception, including Suarez, who hold or who have held this opinion (that the judgment of the Church is required for the loss of office to take place) are of Opinion No. 4. “ Now in my judgment,” says Bellarmine, “such an opinion cannot be defended.”
He argues thus: “[T]hat a manifest heretic would be ipso facto deposed” (quod haereticus manifestus ipso facto depositus); and this, he says “is proven from authority and reason.” “The Authority,” he elaborates, “is of St. Paul, who commands Titus , that after two censures, that is, after he appears manifestly pertinacious, an heretic is to be shunned: and he understands this before excommunication and sentence of a judge.” He speaks of the moral obligation to avoid a heretic after two admonitions, since it is only an excommunicatus who can be declared vitandus, and no one can excommunicate a pope, so consequently, a pope cannot be declared to be vitandus. So even if the Church had the power to administer juridical warnings to a pope, and thereby establish the crime of heresy, it would serve no purpose, since the Church could not declare him to be vitandus. Yet, Bellarmine explains, even without the sentence of excommunicatus vitandus, one could not avoid a pope, because one who remains pope cannot be shunned: “Jerome comments on the same place, saying that other sinners, through a judgment of excommunication are excluded from the Church; heretics, however, leave by themselves and are cut from the body of Christ, but a Pope who remains the Pope cannot be shunned. How will we shun our Head? How will we recede from a member to whom we are joined?” Bellarmine provides the solution to the problem in the same sentence, “heretics, however, leave by themselves and are cut from the body of Christ”. Therefore, a heretic can be shunned because heretics cease to be members of the Church. “Now in regard to reason this is indeed very certain. A non-Christian cannot in any way be Pope, as Cajetan affirms in the same book , and the reason is because he cannot be the head of that which he is not a member, and he is not a member of the Church who is not a Christian. But a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as St. Cyprian and many other Fathers clearly teach . Therefore, a manifest heretic cannot be Pope.” And thus he argues, that it is proven from reason that a manifestly heretical pope is ipso facto deposed. One who is a manifest heretic simply is not pope, so a pope who would be a manifest heretic would not need to be deposed, because he ceases by himself to be pope and a member of the Church;
hence: “the fifth true opinion, is that a Pope who is a manifest heretic, ceases by himself to be Pope and head, just as he ceases in himself to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church: whereby, he can be judged and punished by the Church.” “This is the opinion,” he continues, “of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics straightaway lose all jurisdiction”. Thus he concludes, “The foundation of this opinion is that a manifest heretic, is in no way a member of the Church; that is, neither in spirit nor in body, or by internal union nor external.”
It is of the most critical importance to bear in mind that from the clear and undeniable context of his words, St. Robert Bellarmine plainly speaks of “manifest heresy” in the most proper sense of the word “manifest”, meaning that the heresy is manifest in virtue of the formal heresy being a patent and obvious fact, in a similar manner as as there would be notoriety of fact of a crime in penal law; i.e. not notorious in virtue of a judicial or declaratory sentence, but the plainly evident notoriety of the fact itself. This is proven by the simple fact that Bellarmine argues against the pope ever being judged by the bishops or the cardinals, and declares simply that “the pope cannor be judged”. If any official judgment at all were to be required for a pope to lose office for ‘manifest’ or ‘notorious’ heresy, he could never be judged for so long as he remains in office; and thus Opinion No. 5 would suffer an irresolvable dilemma which would render the loss of office impossible, and would thereby effectively result in the same outcome as Opinion No. 3. It is for this reason that Bellarmine says the manifest heretic would cease to be pope by himself, and for which reason he could then be judged and punished by the Church.
Fr. Gleize comments, “The opinion of St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), which is found in De romano pontifice, Book 2, chapter 30, and which is followed by Cardinal Billot (1846-1931) (Traité de l’Église du Christ, question 14, thesis 29, Part 2, nos. 942-946), is purely theoretical, because his real thesis is that the pope will never fall into heresy. Assuming nevertheless that, per impossibile, the pope happened to fall into public heresy, he would ipso facto lose the pontificate.” For Billot it is indeed purely theoretical, but for Bellarmine it was not considerd impossible, butt merely highly improbable. Fr Gleize continues, “As Bellarmine explains clearly, the basis for this thesis is that a notorious heretic as such is no longer a member of the Church. Now, the pope necessarily must be part of the society of which he is the head. This is why the heretical pope, no longer being a member of the Church, ceases to be her visible head.” The problem with this explanation is that nowhere does Bellarmine make any mention whatsoever of the term, ‘notorious heretic’, but he says, “a Pope who is a manifest heretic, ceases in himself to be Pope and head, just as he ceases in himself to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church”. Fr. Gleize then asks, “As of what moment can one say that the heresy is notorious, in the case of the pope?” And from there, he comments, “At the very most, it could happen that only a few periti [experts] in the Church were endowed with the necessary theological intelligence to assess the whole situation; the others (in other words almost the totality of the Church) would not be capable of understanding the whole import of the crisis, even though their virtue of faith sufficed for their personal conduct.” This leads him to the conclusion that, “The Church’s historic Canon Law (CIC 1917, canons 2264 & 2314) allows, for persons other than the pope, an intermediary situation in which, if the heresy has not been manifested sufficiently, all acts of jurisdiction in the external forum would remain valid albeit illicit. By analogy, a pope who is formally but not yet notoriously heretical could for some time remain at the head of the Church.” This is the fatally flawed argument of Billuart, which will be dealt with presently, just as soon as I finish with Fr. Gleize’s comments. His entire argument against Bellarmine’s position hinges on the word notorious – a word which Bellarmine never used in his argument in favour of Opinion No. 5, and therefore any argument against Bellarmine’s doctrine based on the problem of determining the degree of notoriety required for a pope to fall from office for manifst heresy is logically inapplicable. What suffices for the automatic ipso jure loss of office to take place is that the criteria for public defection from the Catholic faith (Canon 194) be met. The problem of what, “if the heresy has not been manifested sufficiently”, does not arise in the case of manifest heresy, because if it has not been manifested sufficiently, it is not manifest heresy. However, even if only a few periti were determine that the pope is indeed a formal heretic, that would suffice or loss of office: The Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac comments on Canon 2197, of the 1917 code: “Public defection from the faith, by formal heresy or apostasy[…] must be public, that is, generally known or liable to become so before long.” Since mere material heresy is neither pertinacious nor is it necessarily gravely imputable, it does not suffice to effect a tacit renunciation or removal due to defection from the faith, since it is precisely because the material heretic retains the formal cause of faith, that he still has the Catholic faith, and therefore cannot be said to constitute a defection from the faith. Hence, public defection from the faith can only be considered to have taken place if the matter of heresy, and its pertinacity, which is the form of heresy, are manifest. For the pertinacity of formal heresy to be manifest, it would be necessary that the conditions set forth in Canon 2197 of the 1917 code for notoriety of fact be present: “3° Notorium notorietate facti, si publice notum sit et in talibus adiunctis commissum, ut nulla tergiversatione celari nulloque iuris suffragio excusari possit”. Thus, as the above quoted commentary of the Pontifical Canon Law Faculty of Salamanca explains, for there to b notoriety of fact, two conditions are required; 1) the act and its imputability must be publicly known, and 2) it must have been committed under such circumstances that by no subterfuge can it be concealed, nor by any understanding of the law can it be excused. The same commentary, in its fairly lengthy comment on the canon under consideration, explains the sense in which the act must be publicly known, in essentially the same, but in a more detailed manner, as Ayrinhac and Beal explain it; namely, that it must be “generally known or liable to become so before long” (Ayrinhac); or “known or likely to become known” (Beal).
The case of Pedro de Luna sufficiently settles the question. Hence, the problem that, “it could happen that only a few periti [experts] in the Church were endowed with the necessary theological intelligence to assess the whole situation”, while, “the others (in other words almost the totality of the Church) would not be capable of understanding the whole import of the crisis”, would in reality not be a problem at all. The fact that the vast majority of Catholics, being uneducated, were unaware of and possibly would not have grasped the fact that de Luna’s pronouncement was not only wrong, but in fact constituted an objective and manifestly heretical act of public defection from the faith, had no bearing whatsoever on the ruling of the Council, which declared hat he had already lost all office and all ecclesiastical dignity ipso jure for his formal act of manifest heresy and schism even before the Council ruled on the case. That ruling was the basis of Bellarmine’s and Ballerini’s doctrine on loss of office for manifest heresy, which eventually became enshrined in the Codes ofCanon Law of the Church regarding loss of ecclesiastical office for public defection from the faith.
It is manifestly evident that in the clearly stated context where he speaks of warnings, that Bellarmine is not stating or implying that there is any need for canonical admonitions for a pope to lose office. It was the exponents of Opinion No. 4 who maintained that canonical admonitions are necessary for a pope to be deposed for heresy. Canonical admonitions are proper only to a superior, and are administered by a superior as the initial phase of a penal process. Bellarmine qualifies the sense of the term as he means it to be understood with the words, “that after two censures, that is, after he appears manifestly pertinacious”, thereby making it clear that the warnings are not part of a juridical procedure, but only serve the purpose of fraternal correction, and determining whether or not the pope in question “ceases by himself to be pope” by his heresy, ipso facto, and not by the ministerial instrumentality of any judgment at the conclusion of an official procedure, whereby the Church authorities would render a judgment on the supreme judge and ruler, and as a consequence of which the heretic Pontiff would only then fall from the Pontificate upon such judgment passed on him by his subjects and inferiors. Ballerini, a follower of Bellarmine’s opinion, understood perfectly that Bellarmine was not speaking of canonical admonitions being necessary in this context when he commented (in the above cited passage), “In such a crisis for the faith, cannot even inferiors warn their superior by fraternal correction [?]”; and, “For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold” – and he demonstrates that he understood well that Bellarmine’s reason for the Pontiff’s subjects to administer the warnings would not be an official act of ecclesiastical authority, but “a duty of charity and not of jurisdiction”, for the purpose only of discerning whether or not there is pertinacity, in order to determine whether or not the individual in question is properly a heretic who has fallen from the Pontificate: “having been once or twice corrected, does not repent, but remains obstinate in a belief contrary to a manifest or defined dogma; by this his public pertinacity which for no reason can be excused, since pertinacity properly pertains to heresy, he declares himself to be a heretic”.
Since Bellarmine speaks properly of an ipso facto loss of office, which is essentially a tacit renunciation of office due to defection from the faith into heresy, the warnings are not strictly necessary as they normally would be in a penal canonical process of deprivation of office, by which ecclesiastical authority establishes the fact of pertinacity and inflicts the penalty, but are only of a relative and practical necessity to determine whether the Pontiff has only erred in ignorance or negligence without pertinacity, or rather if he has obstinately and consciously hardened in heresy, thereby ceasing by himself to be pope. (papam haereticum manifestum per se desinere esse papam) Thus, in such a case when the heresy of a pope is expressed in such a manner that the pertinacity is manifested sponte sua (as was the case of Pedro de Luna “Benedict XIII”) against a manifestly evident dogma, or a defined dogma, explicitly professed by all Christians; and especially if it be one of the principal dogmas, known even to the most ignorant Catholics, or known to all men as a matter of Natural Law, then it is patent that in such a case, no warnings would be necessary, being that warnings would be superfluous under those given circumstances; and therefore the fall from office for manifest heresy would be plainly evident as a judgment against himself as Bellarmine argues in his refutation of Opinion No. 4, and therefore a tacit renunciation of office, as Ballerini understood Bellarmine’s opinion to be: that the Pope, “in some manner” would “have abdicated the Pontificate”.
Now it might be argued that such a loss of office is a matter of law, and that the provisions for tacit renunciation set forth in the 1917 Code of Canon Law are not found in the New Code of 1983; however, the provisions for loss of office due to defection from the faith, which is in its very nature, a tacit but real renunciation; which is to say, not merely implicit, and not a penalty, remain in the 1983 Code in the third section on Loss of Office under Removal, which the Code explicitly distinguishes from the penalty of Privation of Office, dealt with in the fourth section. Loss of office takes place by, 1) Renunciation, 2) Transfer, 3) Removal, and 4) Privation. The Code is explicit: Only loss of office by privation is a penalty, and is dealt with separately in the section of the Code that deals with penal law, whereas the first three sections on loss of office, under which is included Removal, are set forth in the second chapter (On the Loss of Ecclesiastical Office) of Title IX on ecclesiastical offices (De Officiis Ecclesiasticis). Nevertheless, Salza and Siscoe adamantly continue to maintain that loss of office by tacit renunciation (amotione) is a “severe vindictive penalty” which must be inflicted sententia ferenda. (!) However, not only is the Code explicit on this point, but it is manifestly patent in the very nature of the acts that effect “removal”, that such loss of office is a tacit renunciation of office – acts such as attempting to marry, losing the clerical state, and defection from the faith or from communion with the Church, are intrinsically incompatible with the essential requirements for holding of ecclesiastical office, which can only be validly held by a Catholic cleric in major orders, and therefore such acts which are incompatible with the clerical state effect the removal from office, which is not penal in nature. Thus it is, as is patently clear from the wording of the canon, that the loss of ecclesiastical office takes place ipso facto, by the very act of defection into heresy, and does not require that a judgment be pronounced by Church authority as Salza and Siscoe claim. Removal from office by means of loss of office due to tacit renunciation applies to all offices, including the papacy: The Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac taught, in his General Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law, on Loss of Ecclesiastical Offices, that such loss of office (Canons 185-191) “applies to all offices, the lowest and the highest, not excepting the Supreme Pontificate.” (p. 346)
Elsewhere I explained (to Salza/Siscoe cheerleader Paul Folbrecht), «As I have documented […], Salza & Siscoe have desperately argued against these magisterial teachings of the Church, de fidei and proxima fidei, blindly adhering to the positions of John of St. Thomas, which 1) clearly oppose the teaching of Pius XII in Mystici Corporis; and, 2) oppose the teaching enshrined in the Codes of Canon Law (1917 &1983). The unequivocally clear Canon 194 states tersely, "Can. 194 — § 1. Ipso iure ab officio ecclesiastico amovetur: [...] 2° qui a fide catholica aut a communione Ecclesiae publice defecerit". Thus, one who publicly defects from the faith is removed "ipso jure". The loss of office happens by itself, AUTOMATICALLY, i.e. "ipso jure", in exactly the manner set forth by Sess. 37 of the Council of Constance: The defector immediately ceases to hold office, "by the law itself". "Can. 194 — § 2. Amotio, de qua in nn. 2 et 3, urgeri tantum potest, si de eadem auctoritatis competentis ht)declaratione constet." ("§2. The removal mentioned in nn. 2 and 3 can be enforced only if it is established by the declaration of a competent authority.") The actual FACT of the loss of office takes place by itself -- automatically, "BY THE LAW ITSELF", as the canon states, i.e. before any judgment is pronounced. Its juridical enforcement only takes place upon an official declaration by competent authority. This is in total conformity with the ruling of the Council of Constance.
Salza & Siscoe then deftly alter the clear meaning of the canon by quoting a commentary revised by the notorious Conciliar canonist, Beal, which explains not according to the teaching of the Church and the letter of the law, according to which the fact of the loss of office "does not depend on the authority's declaration"; but incorrectly alters that meaning by stating nonsensically, "the fact on which the loss of office is based does not depend on the authority's declaration"; and "the officeholder remains in office", even after he has lost office ipso jure (!), "until the declaration or removal has been communicated to the officeholder in writing." »
No! The blatant fraud of these statements are plainly manifested in their silliness and absurdity: How can an officeholder remain in office if he has already lost office ipso jure? The statement is patently contradictory, and therefore absurd. Likewise, to say that “the fact on which the loss of office is based does not depend on the authority's declaration”, is the same as saying, “The fact of the defection, on which loss of office is based, does not depend on the authority’s declaration” – thereby falsely and absurdly implying that the actual ipso jure loss of office does depend on the authority’s declaration. This is plainly fraudulent, because the canon clearly states that the loss of office itself, (and not the fact on which it was based), being an ipso jure loss of office, deos not depend on any declaration of ecclesiastical authority. As I stated earlier, the text of the canon is plainly clear and unambiguous. Its meaning is luminously unequivocal, and is straightforwardly explained in the earlier quoted commentary of the Canon Law faculty of Navarre: “In the 2nd and 3rd cases, the act of the ecclesiastical authority is declarative, and it is necessary, not to provoke the vacating of the right of the office, but so that the removal can legally be demanded (also for the purposes of 1381 § 2), and consequently the conferral of the office to a new officeholder can be carried out (cfr. C. 154).” The officeholder does not actually remain in office after the ipso jure loss of office and all ordinary jurisdiction; but, in accordance with the canonical tradition of the Church, going back to Ad evitanda scandala of Martin V (1418), even after the ipso jure loss of office, he exercises supplied jurisdiction until the juridical declaration has been communicated. So it is that Salza & Siscoe, assisted by the Conciliar commentary on Canon Law, which they say is "highly acclaimed", but which is actually thoroughly contaminated with Conciliar-Modernist taint (as Fr. Gruner and I noticed years ago), alter the authentic meaning of the canon on loss of office.
Furthermore, as Bellarmine demonstrates from the teaching of the Fathers in his exposition on Opinion No. 4, loss of office due to heresy and schism is not a question of law: it is not the effect of any human law but, “Patres illi”, Bellarmine explains, “cum dicunt haereticos ammitere jurisdictionem, non allegant ulla jura humana, quae etiam forte tunc nulla extabant de hac re, sed argumentantur ex natura haeresis.” In a desperate and futile attempt to refute the argument of Bellarmine on this point, [which they do not attribute to Bellarmine, but to the Sedevacantists (!)], Salza and Siscoe adduce the argument of Billuart, based on the ruling of Martin V in 1418 during the Council of Constance. (Ad evitanda scandala) On this point, Bellarmine makes the very telling observation: “Nor does the response which some make avail, that these Fathers speak according to ancient laws, but now since the decree of the Council of Constance they do not lose jurisdiction, unless excommunicated by name, or if they strike clerics. I say this avails to nothing. For those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy. Moreover, the Council of Constance does not speak except on the excommunicates, that is, on these who lose jurisdiction through a judgment of the Church.” In the previous sentence, Bellarmine establishes the unanimity of the Fathers, quoting an impressive array of Fathers, saying, “the Holy Fathers teach in unison, that not only are heretics outside the Church, but they even lack all Ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity ipso facto.”
Salza and Siscoe quote Billuart (who quotes Martin V’s Ad evitanda scandala) in a futile attempt to refute Bellarmine and the unanimous teaching of the Fathers:
«I say that manifest heretics, unless they are denounced by name, or themselves depart from the Church, retain their jurisdiction and validly absolve. This is proved by the Bull of Martin V, Ad evitanda scandala, [which reads thus]:
“To avoid the scandals and the many perils that can befall timorous consciences, we mercifully grant to the faithful of Christ, by the force of this decree (tenore praesentium), that henceforth no one will be obliged, under the pretext of any sentence or ecclesiastical censure generally promulgated by law or by man, to avoid the communion of any person, in the administration or reception of the Sacraments, or in any other matters sacred or profane, or to eschew the person, or to observe any ecclesiastical interdict, unless a sentence or censure of this kind shall have been published by a judge, and denounced specially and expressly, whether against a person, or a college, or university, or church, or a certain place or territory. Neither the Apostolic Constitutions, nor any other laws remain in force to the contrary.”
Then [the Bull] lists, as the only exception, those who are notorious for having inflicted violence on the clergy. From these lines, we argue that the Church is granting permission to the faithful to receive the sacraments from heretics who have not yet been expressly denounced by name; and, therefore, that she allows the latter to retain their jurisdiction for the valid administration of the sacraments, since otherwise the concession granted to the faithful would mean nothing.
Our argument is confirmed by the current praxis of the entire Church; for no one today ... avoids his pastor, even for the reception of the sacraments, as long as he is allowed to remain in his benefice, even if the man is, in the judgment of all or at least of the majority, a manifest Jansenist, and rebellious against the definitions of the Church; and so on with the rest. »
Billuart’s error consists in his failure to make a critical distinction between those who lose their jurisdiction as a result of excommunication, and those who lose it ex natura haeresis, as a consequence of defecting from the faith and the Church, and thereby losing office and jurisdiction. Bellarmine points out that the decree only applies to excommunicates. Conlon, in the above cited article, observes: “As was previously noted Pope Martin V's Constitution "Ad Evitanda Scandala" of 1418 introduced the distinction between the tolerati and vitandi. Though it may sound redundant, these laws regarding excommunicates, applies to all excommunicates, even heretics. This is selfevident from the fact that the Church made no exceptions in regard to heretics when promulgating these laws concerning communication with excommunicates.” He quotes Suarez, “This new law established by the Council of Constance also extends to heretics and the words of Extrav.[Ad evitanda] prove this, which are both general and add an exception to confirm the rule towards everybody else.” He then makes the very crucial point that the heretics to be considered vitandi must be excommunicates, and have been declared such: “Cardinal De Lugo, another eminent Catholic theologian, also affirms that the strict obligation to avoid a heretic depends on whether the Church has declared them, by name, as an excommunicate that is to be avoided.” He quotes The Irish Ecclesiastical Record of 1886: “...according to the unanimous teaching of theologians the Constitution Ad evitanda includes heretics (excipiendis exceptis) equally with all other excommunicate in its provisions of toleration, so that, ex vi illius Constitutionis, as full communication with all heretics in quibuscumque divinis as with the rest of the excommunicate is granted to the faithful. Theologians make practically no distinction whatever on this point. (Livius, p.38)” Conlon then quotes De Lugo again, mentioning the extremely important point that under certain circumstances, sacraments may be received from such excommunicates, even heretics: “Cardinal De Lugo further teaches, in the same previously mentioned work of his, that communication with undeclared heretics is, in certain cases, also permitted in sacred matters”.
The reason why Billuart’s failure to distinguish between those who lose their jurisdiction as a result of excommunication, and those who lose it ex natura haeresis, is of such great consequence, is that the ordinary and habitual jurisdiction of the officeholder is lost upon loss of office due to tacit resignation; but the excommunicates were provided with supplied jurisdiction in virtue of Ad evitanda scandala, and by the subsequent legislation that later replaced its provisions. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, it is explained: “We may now proceed to enumerate the immediate effects of excommunication. They are summed up in the two well known verses: Res sacræ, ritus, communio, crypta, potestas, prædia sacra, forum, civilia jura vetantur, i.e. loss of the sacraments, public services and prayers of the Church, ecclesiastical burial, jurisdiction, benefices, canonical rights, and social intercourse. Potestas signifies ecclesiastical jurisdiction . . .” The Encyclopedia then explains why the habitual and ordinary faculties and jurisdiction that are lost by excommunicati tolerati are replaced with supplied jurisdiction and faculties in virtue of the law itself: “It is easy to understand that the Church cannot leave her jurisdiction in the hands of those whom she excludes from her society. In principle, therefore, excommunication entails the loss of jurisdiction both in foro externo and in foro interno and renders null all acts accomplished without the necessary jurisdiction. However, for the general good of society, the Church maintains jurisdiction, despite occult excommunication, and supplies it for acts performed by the tolerati. But as the vitandi are known to be such, this merciful remedy cannot be applied to them except in certain cases of extreme necessity, when jurisdiction is said to be "supplied" by the Church.” Thus, Billuart erroneously deduced that “heretics retain their jurisdiction”, whereas all jurisdiction is lost by heretics, ex natura haeresis; but since heretics incur excommunication latae sententiae, jurisdiction was supplied by the decree Ad evitanda scandala.
Billuart’s failure to distinguish between retaining jurisdiction and receiving supplied jurisdiction in virtue of the law itself led him into error on the question of loss of jurisdiction of a heretic pope. Salza and Siscoe quote Billuart further: “the law and praxis of the Church require that a heretic be denounced before he loses his jurisdiction, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit and tranquility of the faithful. But the Church does not require a denunciation for someone to be considered a public sinner, or to be repelled from Communion, because the welfare and tranquility of the faithful do not require that. Also, it is not the business of the faithful to pass judgment on the jurisdiction of their ministers, and often it is impossible for them to do so; but this pertains to the superiors who grant the ministers their jurisdiction. It pertains to the ministers, however, to pass judgment on those who receive the sacraments. ...”; and, “The pope… does not have his jurisdiction from the Church, but from Christ. Nowhere has it been declared that Christ would continue to give jurisdiction to a manifestly heretical Pope, since his heresy could become known to the Church, and the Church could provide another pastor for herself. Nevertheless, the more common opinion (sententia communior) holds that Christ, by a special dispensation, for the common good and tranquility of the Church, will continue to give jurisdiction even to a manifestly heretical pope, until he has been declared a manifest heretic by the Church.” Billuart’s argues that since heretics retain jurisdiction “for the benefit and tranquility of the faithful”, therefore similarly, “Christ, by a special dispensation, for the common good and tranquility of the Church, will continue to give jurisdiction even to a manifestly heretical pope, until he has been declared a manifest heretic by the Church.” Bellarmine’s words crush Billuart’s thesis: “I say this avails to nothing. For those Fathers, when they say that heretics lose jurisdiction, do not allege any human laws which maybe did not exist then on this matter; rather, they argued from the nature of heresy.” Hence, there can be no exception for any “special dispensation” from a loss of jurisdiction that results from the very nature of heresy. Heretics do not retain their jurisdiction: Jurisdiction is supplied to latae sententiae excommunicated heretics who not only lose all jurisdiction, by their excommunication, but ex natura haersis. Billuart correctly notes that “The pope… does not have his jurisdiction from the Church, but from Christ”, but the pope would cease to be a member of the Church and lose all jurisdiction from Christ if he fell into manifest heresy; and since the pope cannot incur excommunication, he could not receive supplied jurisdiction from such legislation as Ad evitanda scandala unless he were to fall from the Pontificate by tacit renunciation of office. Only then could he then incur excommunication latae sententiae, and straightaway receive supplied jurisdiction until his loss of office could be enforced by a declaratory sentence – but he would already have ceased to be pope.
Another huge error they make in their book is that, “‘public heresy’ and ‘public defection from the faith’ are two different things, and that the old 1917 Code of Canon Law taught that in the extreme case in which a prelate publicly defects from the Faith by joining a non-Catholic sect, he is deposed without the need of a declaratory sentence.” On page 139 of The Renunciation of an Ecclesiastical Office, Fr. Gerald McDevitt writes: “The defection of faith must be public. It is to be noted immediately that adherence to or inscription in a non-catholic sect is not required to constitute the publicity that the canon demands.” In the above quoted passage of the Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac, it is pointed out that public defection from the faith canonically consists in: “formal heresy or apostasy, with or without affiliation with another religious society.” Nor is it required that one formally declare oneself to have left the Church. This point is underscored by the very wording of Can. 2314. §1 — 3°, which explicitly upholds the prescription of can. 188, n. 4, in mentioning that clerics who join a non-Catholic sect are ipso facto infamous; and are to be degraded to the lay state if warnings go unheeded. This is all that is required for loss of office to take place: the external act of defection that is public or liable to become public, before any judgment, and without any judgment pronounced by the Church. Any confusion that there may have been on this point is entirely cleared up in the 1983 Code, which speaks not only of defection from the faith as effecting loss of office, but of defection from communion with the Church (a communione Ecclesiae), which takes place by an act of heresy, schism or apostasy. Penal sanctions, such as privation of office deposition, mentioned in the above cited canon (Can. 2314. §1 —2°), have never been considered applicable in a case of tacit renunciation of office, beause they are applicable only as penal sanctions for canonical delicts, and so are dealt with separately in the section of penal law, i.e. “secundum praescripta canonum de iure poenali” (Canon 196 — § 2 1983 CIC) As I mentioned on page one of this work, “St. Pius V teaches in the Roman Catechism: ‘Heretics and schismatics are excluded from the Church, because they have defected (desciverunt) from her and belong to her only as deserters belong to the army from which they have deserted.’” Defection from the faith is intrinsic to the act of heresy, which consists in the obstinate denial of some revealed truth of faith which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith; and therefore, defection from the faith cannot be understood to take place only when one joins some other sect or denomination; or when one openly declares oneself explicitly to have left the Church. Ecclesiastical laws must be understood according to the proper signification of the terms considered in their text and context (Can. 17). Thus, the expression, ‘defection from the faith’ must be understood as the Church defines it, and not according to the arbitrary whims of fundamentalists such as Salza and Siscoe, who gratuitously define the terms themselves in such a manner to make them appear to confirm the errant legalism of their heretical doctrines.
It must also be borne in mind that what is set forth in Canon Law on the nature of defection from the faith or from communion with the Church, and on the consequent loss of office resulting from such a defection, is not a matter of “merely ecclesiastical law” (as mere provisions of purely human positive law in the Code are referred to in Canon 11), but pertain to divine law revealed by God, and that these precepts of divine law are merely enshrined in the provisions of Canon Law that treat of loss of ecclesiastical office due to defection from the faith. That heresy, apostasy, and schism (as demonstrated in Part I) according to their very nature constitute defection from the faith, and sever a man from the body of the Church by themselves, apart from any human law, and therefore without any judgment or censure by ecclesiastical authority, must be believed with divine and Catholic faith. It is plainly set forth and proven by Bellarmine that it is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers interpreting scripture, that heresy in its very nature not only severs one from the Church, but also directly brings about the loss of ecclesiastical office before and even without any judgment of the Church; and being the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, it must be believed de fide. This has also been demonstrated in Part I of this work. Thus, the commentaries of the canonists which explain that defection from the faith takes place by acts of heresy, even without joining some other sect, and that the consequent loss of office takes place ipso facto (as an act of tacit renunciation of office), and does not per se, (as a matter of fact determined by doctrine and not by law), require any sentence or declaration by ecclesiastical authority to take place, do not express mere opinions on these points, but truths of faith which require an assent of faith. John Salza and Robert Siscoe have explicitly denied these truths of faith in their articles, in their interviews, and in their book, True Or False Pope.
True or False Pope website: “After explaining the bonds that unite man to the true Church, the authors explain the distinction between heresy and lesser errors, and how the sin of heresy alone does not sever one from the Church.”
Fr. Kramer (quoted by Salza & Siscoe): “With or without the law, the heretic by the very nature of the sin of heresy ceases to be a Catholic and is incapable of holding office. Bellarmine explains this in De Romano Pontifice.” The judgment of Salza and Siscoe: “with this utterly erroneous assertion it does not seem possible that he has even read Bellarmine’s De Romano Pontifice.”
John Salza on 8 Sept 2016, "There are so many errors, omissions and question-begging in this analysis [...] it is difficult to believe that Fr. Kramer has done any real study of St. Bellarmine [...] Fr. Kramer's analysis is one of the more shallow and superficial interpretations of Bellarmine that we have seen".
SALZA & SISCOE ON THE FIVE OPINIONS
In their oversized screed, Salza & Siscoe explain, “The well-read Brazilian scholar Arnaldo Xavier da Silveira, in his book ‘La Nouvelle Messe de Paul VI: Qu'en penser,’ and Fr. Dominique Boulet, of the Society of St. Pius X, categorized various authors according to the five opinions laid out by Bellarmine.” The reason why they limit themselves to these two authors, and leave out the eminent theologian/canonists I have quoted will presently become apparent. The tax lawyer and his businessman sidekick then continue:
«The Five Opinions, and the categorization of those holding the various opinions by these two authors, are as follows:
• First Opinion: The Pope can never fall into heresy (e.g., Bellarmine, Billot). • Second Opinion: The Pope loses his office ipso facto for occult heresy (e.g., Torquemada). This opinion “has been completely abandoned by the theologians.” • Third Opinion: The Pope never loses his office for manifest heresy (Bouix). • Fourth Opinion: “The manifestly heretical Pope is not ipso facto deposed, but can and must be deposed by the Church.” (e.g., Cajetan, Suarez91) • Fifth Opinion: “The Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head… and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church.” (e.g., Bellarmine, Billot). »
Concerning the First Opinion, one notices the conspicuous absence of the names of eminent theologians from their list: Francisco Suarez, Melchior Cano, Domingo Soto, John of St. Thomas, Juan de Torquemada, Joachim Salaverri, A. Maria Vellico, Charles Journet, and Cajetan. This is no accident. Salza & Siscoe want their readers to think that Opinion No. One is held only by a miniscule minority of theologians; because they fraudulently claim that the contrary opinion, namely, that a pope can become a formal heretic, is the common opinion. As has been proven above, the opinio communissima is the contrary opinion to theirs, i.e. the First Opinion. In their faulty analysis of Bellarmine’s exposition on the Second Opinion, Salza & Siscoe conclude with a non sequitur that Bellarmine’s doctrine holds that even a manifest heretic pope would not lose office unless he is first judged by the Church. As I have demonstrated, Bellarmine says nothing of the kind, but only that an occult heretic pope would first have to be convicted of heresy before losing office; and that the opposite is true regarding a manifest heretic, who would automatically cease by himself to be pope ipso facto, without first being judged. Their characterization of the Third Opinion, “The Pope never loses his office for manifest heresy (Bouix)”, is worded in such a manner that it leaves out the critical distinction made by Bellarmine, Ballerini, and Billot: that of depositus and deponendus. In his description of the Third Opinion, Bellarmine (as does Ballerini) makes that crucial distinction: “The third opinion is on another extreme, that the Pope is not deposed (esse depositus) and cannot be deposed (deponi potest) either by secret or manifest heresy.” Salza & Siscoe leave this distinction out because they will falsely explain that according to Bellarmine, a manifestly heretical pope can be deposed by his subjects. They quote Bellarmine, who says, “Firstly, because, that a heretical Pope can be judged is expressly held in the Canon, Si Papa, dist. 40, and with Innocent.” However, by leaving out the critical distinction between depositus and deponendus, they facilitate their own fraudulent interpretation of Bellarmine, saying that contrary to what they stupidly claim is the “sedevacantist interpretation” of Bellarmine: “the Doctor explicitly rejects the Sedevacantist thesis by teaching that heretical bishops must be deposed by the Church”, and, “Bellarmine himself defended the opinion that a heretical Pope can be judged by a council, which eviscerates the Sedevacantist argument altogether, and further proves they have not understood Bellarmine’s position.” Indeed, Bellarmine held correctly that the penal deprivation from office, i.e. deposition of a bishop (or any cleric), can only be done by ecclesiastical superiors, and therefore he argued that neither the bishops nor the cardinals had the power to judge and depose a pope; but that loss of office takes place ipso facto for heresy, and not by any human law, but ex natura haeresis. So it is clear that Salza & Siscoe left out all mention of that distinction precisely in order to obscure the qualified sense according to which Bellarmine says, “that a heretical Pope can be judged”, while upholding the principle of the absolute injudicability of the pope; and thus he explains that in his exposition of the Fourth and Fifth Opinion, that the bishops cannot judge and depose a pope because, “for one to be deposed from the pontificate against his will is without a doubt a penalty; therefore, the Church deposing a Pope against his will, without a doubt punished him; but to punish is for a superior and a judge”; and the cardinals cannot depose a pope, because, “when Cardinals create the Pontiff, they exercise their authority not over the Pontiff, because he does not yet exist; but over the matter, that is, over the person whom they dispose in a certain measure through election, that he might receive the form of the pontificate from God; but if they depose the Pope, they necessarily exercise authority over the composite, that is, over the person provided with pontifical dignity, which is to say, over the Pontiff.” He then concludes that since it is precisely for the reason that the pope cannot be judged by the bishops or the cardinals that a pope cannot be deposed (deponi posse) by the Church; that “therefore”, the Fifth Opinion is the true opinion: “Est ergo opinio quinta vera”— and according to that opinion, the manifest heretic “ceases by himself to be Pope and head, just as he ceases by himself to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church: for which reason, he can be judged and punished by the Church.”
Their characterization of the Fourth Opinion, “The manifestly heretical Pope is not ipso facto deposed, but can and must be deposed by the Church”, is expressed in such a manner according to which it can only be interpreted that a pope can be judicially deprived of his office for heresy, but not that he can be judged by the Church in such a manner that his fall from office ipso facto would follow his having been judged for the crime of heresy; because according to them, this latter opinion would be the Fifth Opinion! However, in his refutation of the Fourth Opinion, Bellarmine categorically excludes that a pope can ever be judged by the bishops or the cadinals; and thus rejecting this opinion, it cannot be understood to be the “fifth and true opinion” according to Bellarmine (as Salza & Siscoe would have us believe). Hence, the more clear description of the Fourth Opinion is that given by the eminent canonist/theologians of the Pontifical Gregorian University I quoted earlier: 1) Wernz-Vidal «The fourth opinion, with Suarez, Cajetan and others, contends that a Pope is not automatically deposed even for manifest heresy, but that he can and must be deposed by at least a declaratory sentence of the crime, "Which opinion in my judgment is indefensible" as Bellarmine teaches. » Likewise, 2) Moynihan: «Those in favor of the fourth opinion say that should a pope publicly profess a heretical doctrine he would not be automatically deposed, but his deposition could be brought about by a declaratory sentence. » What these eminent scholars are pointing out is that the Fourth Opinion requires the judgment of the Church for the manifest heretic pope to fall from office, as opposed to the Fifth Opinion, according to which the manifest heretic pope would fall from office automatically, without the judgment o the Church: «a Pope who fell into public heresy would cease by that very fact to be a member of the Church […]it must be firmly stated that a heretical Roman Pontiff would by that very fact forfeit his power. Although a declaratory sentence of the crime which is not to be rejected in so far as it is merely declaratory would be such, that the heretical Pope would not be judged, but would rather be shown to have been judged. » (Wedrnz-Vidal). And Moynihan: «The fifth and last opinion Wernz-Vidal regard as communior. According to this view, a pope notoriously preaching a heretical doctrine would be automatically excommunicated and deprived of the papacy. The principal argument for this last opinion is based upon the fact that a pope who by his heresy is no longer a member of the Church, is a fortiori no longer the Head of the Church. Hence this opinion would admit of a declaratory sentence, but it would have to be one that was merely declaratory and nothing more.” »
Incredibly, in their Fairyland interpretation of the Fourth and Fifth Opinions, the amateur armchair theologians, Salza & Siscoe, judge that the eminent scholars of the pontifical universities are wrong. The two pompous comedians declare, “We note that the treatises of all four theologians are highly complex. It is therefore understandable that Suarez could have mistakenly been included as holding the Fourth Opinion. In fact, Wernz-Vidal also mistakenly placed Suarez in the same camp as Cajetan.” (!) Da Silveria and Boulet simply follow the sound and unanimous interpretations of the eminent theologian/canonists, as Salza & Siscoe note, «Silveira and Boulet presumably include Suarez as holding the Fourth Opinion because Suarez says: “I affirm: if he were a heretic and incorrigible, the Pope would cease to be Pope just when a sentence was passed against him for his crime, by the legitimate jurisdiction of the Church.” » Suarez understood perfectly well that there is no judgment of the Church unless there is at least a sentence juridically passed by those who possess the jurisdiction to pronounce that sentence. This point is entirely lost on Salza & Siscoe, who, as we have seen, hold that even a merely declaratory sentence, which according to them is not a juridical act, is not necessary; but all that is needed for there to be a public judgment of the Church, is that the Church establish the crime; but the establishment of the crime in the manner described by Salza & siscoe is manifestly not a public judgment of the Church. This is, in fact, how they interpret Bellarmine’s explanation of the Fifth Opinion: “Pope loses his office ipso facto after crime established”, but the need a declaratory sentence for Bellarmine is (according to them) “probable”. Salza & Siscoe seem to be incapable of grasping that the very notion of a public judgment of the Church establishing the crime without at least a declaratory sentence pronounced by a competent tribunal is self-contradictory. Thus, (they say), “The Church declares that the Pope has lost his office due to heresy. This merely confirms that the loss of office has already taken place.” (That is, by the mere fact that the crime has been established without any sentence being pronounced.) However, according to Bellarmine, and according to all the eminent theologian/canonists, the Fifth Opinion does not involve any judgment of the Church establishing the crime as a condition for the loss of office to take place, but the manifest commission of manifest heresy by itself suffices for the loss of office to take place (which is why Bellarmine says the manifest heretic ceases to be pope “by himself”); whereas, according to the Fourth Opinion, the loss of office does not take place without the judgment of the Church.
This point is entirely lost upon the simplistic fundamentalist minds of Salza & Siscoe who say, “The problem, which we have not seen addressed before, is that the Silveira/Boulet classification of Suarez as sharing the opinion of Cajetan (listed as the Fourth Opinion) is not correct.” Suarez and Cajetan definitely agreed that the loss of office cannot take place without the juridical judgment of the heretic pope for the crime of heresy. This is Opinion No. 4, refuted by Bellarmine. However, Salza & Siscoe explain, “Suarez did not agree with Cajetan, but instead held that a heretical Pope loses his office ipso facto (being deposed immediately by Christ), which is the Fifth Opinion.” No. While it is true that Suarez did not agree with Cajetan’s opinion, Suarez does not merely say “that a heretical Pope loses his office ipso facto” (Opinion No. 5); but, he says, “I affirm: if he were a heretic and incorrigible, the Pope would cease to be Pope just when a sentence was passed against him for his crime, by the legitimate jurisdiction of the Church.” (Opinion No. 4) Salza & Siscoe fraudulently and deceptively argue that that the uninamous opinion is that a heretic pope does not lose office until he is judged by the Church. The evidence proving the contrary has already been presented earlier in this work. The unanimous opinion of canonists and theologians who admit at least the hypothesis of a heretical pope, since the time of Wernz, holds that a manifest heretic pope would be automatically deprived of the papacy without any judgment pronounced by the Church.
According to Salza & Siscoe, the eminent scholars are all wrong in their interpretation of Opinion No. 5, “by interpreting the ipso facto loss of office to be similar to an ‘ipso facto’ latae sententiæ excommunication, which occurs automatically (or ipso facto), when one commits an offense that carries the penalty, without requiring an antecedent judgment by the Church. But this is not at all what Bellarmine and Suarez meant by the ipso facto loss of office. What they meant is that the ipso facto loss of office occurs after the Church judges the Pope to be a heretic and before any additional juridical sentence or excommunication (which differs from Cajetan’s opinion). In other words, after the Church establishes ‘the fact’ that the Pope is a manifest heretic, he, according to this opinion, is deemed to lose his office ipso facto (‘by the fact’).” Incredibly, in support of their belief that the fifth opinion holds that the Church must judge a manifestly heretical pope before he can lose office, they cite this segment text of Bellarmine’s refutation of Opinion No. 4:
«The fourth opinion is that of Cajetan, for whom (de auctor. papae et con., cap. 20 et 21) the manifestly heretical Pope is not “ipso facto” deposed, but can and must be deposed by the Church. To my judgment, this opinion cannot be defended. For, in the first place, it is proven with arguments from authority and from reason that the manifest heretic is “ipso facto” deposed. The argument from authority is based on St. Paul (Titus, c. 3), who orders that the heretic be avoided after two warnings, that is, after showing himself to be manifestly obstinate — which means before any excommunication or judicial sentence. (…)»
«Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction…»
In the cited text, Bellarmine makes absolutely no mention of any need for the Church to juridically “establish the crime” or “judge”; but on the contrary, he says only “that the manifest heretic is ipso facto deposed . . . after showing himself to be manifestly obstinate”. They go on to explain what they think Bellarmine means: “What Bellarmine means is that the ipso facto loss of office occurs when the Church judges him to be a heretic, and before the vitandus declaration. This is evident from the fact that he is attempting to refute Cajetan’s opinion, which maintains that the fall is not ipso facto after he is judged by the Church, but only follows the juridical sentence of the vitandus declaration (which, again, directly separates the Church from the Pope, not the Pope from the Church). The reason Kramer and the Sedes have misunderstood Bellarmine is because they have misunderstood Cajetan’s opinion, and therefore did not know what Bellarmine was trying to refute.” This interpretation is manifestly nonsensical in view of the fact that that in refuting Cajetan, Bellarmine argues that the fall from office must be ipso facto because neither the bishops nor the cardinals can judge a pope; and “Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church.” As on so many other points, Salza & Siscoe have completely inverted the teaching of the popes, Doctors, and Fathers of the Church.
CONCLUSION OF PART III
“a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a Fide devius”
In his earlier cited Fundamentaltheologie, Albert Lang points out that in the time of the Apostolic Fathers, there was no formulated theology of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, but he demonstrates that the exercise of the primacy of the Church Rome was already recognized and accepted by the other churches in the first Century, when St. Clement of Rome intervened and ruled in the affairs of the Church of Corinth. St. Irenaeus of Lyon asserted the Church’s doctrine on the universal authority of the magisterium of the Church of Rome, but in the early centuries there existed no developed formulation of legal principles clearly outlining the papal prerogatives and powers. Pope St. Damasus I is the first to refer to the See of Rome as the Sedes Apostolica. Pope St. Zozimus in Quamvis Patrum teaches that the authority of the Fathers attributes such authority to the Apostolic See, that no one would dare to dispute its judgment which is set forth in canons, regulations, and ecclesiastical laws. Pope St. Gelasius, (as noted earlier) set forth the canons which declared the See of Rome to be the judge over the whole Church, which is judged by none, and against whose judgment there can be no appeal. During the pontificate of Leo I the plenitudo potestatis is first spoken of; and primacy of Rome was forcefully stated at Chalcedon and accepted by the Patriarch of Constantinople. Pope Innocent III set forth and theologically elaborated the doctrine of the primacy in terms of the plenitudo potestatis in his letter to the Patriarch John of Constantinople. Laetentur Caeli (Florence) then defines the papal primacy over the whole world and the “full power” of the Roman Pontiff for “ruling and governing the church”. But in spite of that “full power”, there has always been the belief in the Church that if the pope were to fall into heresy he can be judged for heresy, or rather,” as Innocent III qualifies it, he “can be shown to be already judged.” Hinschius points out the early example of such a case at the sixth general Council (Third Council of Constantinople), where the posthumous condemnation for heresy of Pope Honorius I was confirmed by Pope Leo II, and several popes subsequently upheld the admissibility of such a judgment. Nevertheless, he was never proven to have been a formal heretic, and he was not judged by his inferiors during his lifetime, nor was he deposed. In a passage I quoted in Part I of this work, Hinschius pointed out that there has been a series of Catholic writers, and in particular St. Robert Bellarmine, who find no exception in such a case to the rule that the pope is judged by no one, because the pope who falls into heresy would thereby sever himself from the Church and forfeit the Pontificate by himself in such a manner that the Church would not be able to impose a deposition, but would only be able to establish the loss of the papal dignity that has already taken place; and that this line of thought is already found in Pope Innocent III’s Sermo IV. In consecrat. pontiff.
It is certainly not surprising that Innocent III taught that if a pope would “wither away into heresy”, he would automatically cease to be pope; and it is no mystery from whom he learned that doctrine. The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages (under Uguccio) relates, “Uguccio (Hugh of Pisa) studied theology and probably canon law at Bologna, before teaching there; among his pupils was the future Pope Innocent III.” The Catholic Encyclopedia adds, “Among his pupils was Lothario de' Conti, afterwards Innocent III, who held him in high esteem as is shown by the important cases which the pontiff submitted to him, traces of which still remain in the "Corpus Juris" (c. Coram, 34, X, I, 29). Two letters addressed by Innocent III to Huguccio were inserted in the Decretals of Gregory IX (c. Quanto, 7, X, IV, 19; c. In quadam, 8, X,III,41). Besides a book, "Liber derivationum", dealing with etymologies, he wrote a "Summa" on the "Decretum" of Gratian, concluded according to some in 1187, according to others after 1190, the most extensive and perhaps the most authoritative commentary of that time.” It was in his Summa that, “Huguccio argued, in a widely known opinion, that a pope who fell into heresy automatically lost his see, without the necessity of a formal judgment.” Thus, we find the doctrine, (which Salza and Siscoe claim is an invention of the Sedevacantists), that a pope who would become a heretic, would lose office automatically; being taught in Bologna in the 12th Century by the most eminent canonist of that century, Huguccio of Pisa, whose student, Lothair de Conti, as Pope Innocent III taught that same doctrine in his sermons. St. Robert Bellarmine and Don Pietro Ballerini theologically explicated that doctrine, which was eventually adopted by the first Vatican Council. The doctrine that all who defect from the faith into heresy or apostasy lose ecclesiastical office automatically was then incorporated into the 1917 and 1983 Codes of Canon Law. It is on this solid doctrinal basis that the inescapable conclusion rests, namely, that the only doctrinally orthodox opinions that are possible today on the question of a manifestly heretical pope are Opinion No. 1, and Opinion No. 5 considered as a pure hypothesis.
I have already pointed out in Section II of this Part, the fatal defect in the opinion that it is even possible for a pope to become a heretic, given the divine promise to Peter and his successors of unfailing faith. The opinion, explained by Cardinal Stickler in the article I quoted seems to have originated from the early Decretists of the French school, and as then more sysgematically elaborated by Huguccio, and was taken up in modified form by Ostiense and others. The New Catholic Encyclopedia (under Conciliarism) explains, «Huguccio also considered the question of how the possibility of a pope erring in faith, which he admitted, could be reconciled with the ancient doctrine that the true faith would always live on in the Roman Church. His answer was based on a distinction between the local Roman Church and the universal Roman Church. "The Roman Church is said to have never erred in faith… but I say that the whole Catholic Church which has never erred in toto is called the Roman Church." And again, "Wherever there are good faithful men there is the Roman Church." This distinction between the proneness to error of a pope and the indefectibility of the whole Church became a most important element in later conciliar theories. » The defect of Huguccio’s notion of the “Roman Church” is so patent, that it needs only to be pointed out without further elucidation, except to say; that the sense which Huguccio gives to the term is entirely alien to the sense according to which it was used in the canons of St. Gelasius, which is its proper sense, and is the way it has always been generally understood since the doctrinal pre-eminence of the Roman Church was first explained by St. Irenaeus. The reason why so many of the medieval canonists formulated such errant theories on their understanding of the term “Roman Church” is ultimately that there was at that time an inadequate understanding of the doctrine of papal Infallibility. “Not only,” explains Moynihan, “was there no adequate formulation in the twelfth century of the distinction between a pope’s private opinions and his public teaching as Head of the Church, but quite obviously the doctrine of papal infallibility had not yet systematically been developed.”
The Encyclopedia continues, «Huguccio's views were repeated with various modifications by the canonists of the early 13th century. Some taught that a pope could be condemned only for heresy, not for notorious crimes in general. Others held that he could be deposed for professing a new heresy and not for only adhering to an old one. All agreed that a doctrinal definition of a general council, that is of pope and bishops acting together, possessed a higher authority than the bare word of a pope alone. A few accepted the more radical view that a decision of the fathers of a council acting in concert against the pope should be preferred to the pope's decision. Sometimes the language employed was ambiguous, and perhaps deliberately so. The Glossa Ordinaria to the Decretum of Joannes Teutonicus, a work used as a standard text in canon law schools throughout the Middle Ages, declared simply, "Where a matter of faith is involved a council is greater than a pope." » “This assertion,” comments Moynihan, “that a pope-in-council, as it were, is superior to a pope acting alone is consonant with twelfth century thinking.” The doctrine of Johannes Teutonicus, written around 1217, was a yet more radical formulation of conciliar supremacy. “It was pointed out,” says Moynihan, “… that the doctrine of conciliar supremacy had been asserted in unambiguous terms by the author of the Summa De iure canonico tractaturus toward the close of the twelfth century, and more clearly still by the English canonist Alanus at the beginning of the thirteenth. […] The nucleus of the conciliar doctrine consisted in the belief that a general council could sit in judgment on a pope and depose him, and that decisions of a general council were preferable to those of a pope – at least at least as far as articles of faith were concerned.”
It is precisely this idea, "where a matter of faith is involved a council is greater than a pope," which is the basis of the Conciliarist Argument, which is Opinion No. 4. It is the foundation of the argument which holds that a council can canonically admonish a pope, and if he remains obstinate in heresy, can then pronounce judgment upon him so that he then falls from office; and according to some, a council would even need to pronounce a vitandus sentence upon the heretic pope for him to fall from office – a sentence which presumes the power to excommunicate the heretic Pontiff, because as explained earlier, only an excommunicatus can be pronounced “vitandus”.
St. Robert Bellarmine, in the following segment of De Romano Ponifice (Book II Chapter XXX) on Opinion No. 4 (precisely and accurately translated by Ryan Grant) destroyed this argument that a pope can be judged by the Church, by explaining that neither the bishops nor the cardinals have any power over a pope, (and to pronounce official judgment on a pope is to exercise power of jurisdiction over a pope):
Next, what Cajetan says in the second place, that a heretical Pope who is truly Pope can be deposed by the Church, and from its authority seems no less false than the first. For, if the Church deposes a Pope against his will, certainly it is over the Pope. Yet the same Cajetan defends the opposite in the very same treatise. But he answers; the Church, in the very matter, when it deposes the Pope, does not have authority over the Pope, but only on that union of the person with the pontificate. As the Church can join the pontificate to such a person, and still it is not said on that account to be above the Pontiff; so it can separate the pontificate from such a person in the case of heresy, and still it will not be said to be above the Pope.
On the other hand, from the very fact that the Pope deposes bishops, they deduce that the Pope is above all bishops, and still the Pope deposing a bishop does not destroy the Episcopacy; but only separates it from that person. Secondly, for one to be deposed from the pontificate against his will is without a doubt a penalty; therefore, the Church deposing a Pope against his will, without a doubt punished him; but to punish is for a superior and a judge. Thirdly, because according to Cajetan and the other Thomists, in reality they are the same, the whole and the parts are taken up together. Therefore, he who has so great an authority over the parts taken up together, such that he can also separate them, also has it over the whole, which arises from those parts.
Furthermore, the example of Cajetan does not avail on electors, who have the power of applying the pontificate to a certain person, and still does not have power over the Pope. For while a thing is made, the action is exercised over the matter of the thing that is going to be, not over a composite which does not yet exist, but while a thing is destroyed, the action is exercised over a composite; as is certain from natural things. Therefore, when Cardinals create the Pontiff, they exercise their authority not over the Pontiff, because he does not yet exist; but over the matter, that is, over the person whom they dispose in a certain measure through election, that he might receive the form of the pontificate from God; but if they depose the Pope, they necessarily exercise authority over the composite, that is, over the person provided with pontifical dignity, which is to say, over the Pontiff.
The belief that a reigning Pontiff, by way of exception, can be juridically judged for heresy by his inferiors, has neither a basis in scripture nor in the doctrinal tradition of the Church. It was a theory of law developed by canonists, based on the spurious Canon Si papa, and on a defective notion of papal infallibility. It gained momentum under the influence of Conciliarism, and later became the more common opinion of theologians during the Counter-Reformation period. Its remote origin was the spurious Canon Si papa, which was not written by St. Boniface, but was authored by Cardinal Humbert in the 11th Century, as both Vacca (cited above) and Moynihan explain. Its demise was the result of the influence of the doctrine of St. Robert Bellarmine on the theologians of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. By the late 19th Century the opinion was already entirely abandoned, and only in its mitigated form, which admits only of a declarative sentence after a merely deliberative examination of the case, had survived among a very few theologians. Among those who admit the possibility of a heretic pope, it is now a unanimous majority who endorse Opinion No. 5 which holds that a manifest heretic pope falls automatically from office ipso facto before any judgment is made by the Chuch. With the injudicability of the Romn Pontiff established by Vatican I, and with the principle, “Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur” enshrined as a universal statute of Canon Law, and unanimously interpreted in such a manner that no exception can be considered admissible, Opinion No. 4 in its classical formulation, which advocated either a juridical deposition of a reigning heretic pope or a juridical judgment of heresy on the pope followed by an ipso facto fall from office, and which had been promoted by so many canonists and theologians of the Counter-Reformation period and for about a century thereafter in the Dominican school, experienced its demise already in the 19th Century, having been universally abandoned by theologians. Since the late 19th Century it has been the common opinion that a heretic falls from office automatically, BEFORE any judgment is passed; and the post factum declaration would only give formal juridical recognition to the fact. Sydney F. Smith S.J. wrote in 1895 (and published in book form in 1896):
"[I]t has been generally held that, given the possibility of a personally heretical Pope, he would ipso facto cease to be Pope by ceasing to be a member of the Church. The Church in that case, as represented by the Cardinals or otherwise, could on due information of the fact pass a declaratory sentence on one who being no longer Pope was no longer its superior, and then take measures to remove him from the see in which he had become an intruder." (Dr. Littledale's Theory of the Disappearance of the Papacy - Sydney F. Smith S.J. Catholic Truth Society, London, 1896.)
In spite of the antiquity and unequivocal nature of the principle that the first See is judged by no one, it is contrasted by the historical fact of depositions of popes, and a tradition of some canonists which held that a pope could be judged by a general council. On this point of the injudicability of the Roman Pontiff, Hinschius makes a poignant observation and asks, ”But with this theory [the injudicability of the pope] there stands in contrast the undeniable fact several times during the course of the earlier centuries, depositions of popes had taken place, which brings up the question whether these depositions were only blameworthy violations of a principle of law indisputably held in the Catholic Church from the beginning, or was it not rather that this principle became fixed only later in the course of its development?” His answer to the question is emphatic and unequivocal: “A detached consideration without presuppositions of the particular occurrences that enter into the question would appear to justify the latter conception. During the time of the Roman Empire and throughout the greater part of the Middle Ages, in which the opposition between the Pontificate and the Episcopacy was not yet the driving factor of the development, rather the bishops for the most part, and only in part joined with the secular power, we encounter only cases, where the secular rulers, took part in the depositions at councils, while toward the end of the Middle Ages, as the downtrodden Episcopacy, by means of the earlier conception, raised its head and sought to decrease the papal prerogatives, bringing practically into effect the claimed supremacy over the popes by means of depositions.”
Don Curzio Nitoglia quotes Fr. Salvatorre Vacca, who elaborates on his point of the two conflicting canonical traditions that were simultaneously present in the Church: “Gratian, in order to establish the principle of the injudicability of the pope, as opposed to the previous canonical tradition […] left the principle Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur unshaken. However, he partially transcribed the Fragmentum A (174-178) of Umberto di Silva Candida. He thus gathered into his Decretum the two conflicting juridical traditions which were present together in the Church: the first, maintained by the Symmachian Apocrypha [Pope St. Symmachus (498 – 514) put under the judgment of the particular council known as the Synod ad Palmaria in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican by the Emperor Theodoric in 501. During the course of the controversy, numerous polemical writings were drafted, among them the Symmachian Apocrypha, put together by the supporters of Pope Symmachus, which stated the axiom Summa Sedes a nemine iudicatur Ed] affirms that the Pope cannot be judged by anyone; the second holds, that in the case of heresy the Pope can be caught on heresy. So, this conception was passed down until the 12th Century […].”
So, even long after the principle Apostolica sedes a nemine judicatur had established the absolute injudicability of the pope, and had become firmly entrenched in the canonical tradition of the Church, the “earlier conception” was still resorted to by the Episcopacy, not only to counterbalance the supreme authority of the pope, but even to challenge papal supremacy and exert supremacy over the pope. The New Catholic Encyclopedia elaborates: «The circumstances in which a pope's pronouncements could be regarded as infallible had been neither defined nor much discussed. It was generally accepted that a pope could err in faith and it seemed intolerable that the whole Church should be thrown into confusion as a result. There was a need then to find norms that might set proper limits to the powers even of a pope. In seeking such norms the canonists turned to the general councils of the past and it became commonplace around 1200 to assert that the pope was bound by the canons of councils "in matters touching the faith and the general state of the Church."
This raised the problem of how to deal with a pope who offended against such canons. The most eminent canonist of the age, Huguccio, discussed the problem at length. He concluded that a pope who publicly professed his adherence to a known heresy could be deposed by the Church and, further, that a pope who contumaciously persisted in notorious crime could likewise be deposed since "to scandalize the Church is like committing heresy." »
This raised the problem of how to deal with a pope who offended against such canons. The most eminent canonist of the age, Huguccio, discussed the problem at length. He concluded that a pope who publicly professed his adherence to a known heresy could be deposed by the Church and, further, that a pope who contumaciously persisted in notorious crime could likewise be deposed since "to scandalize the Church is like committing heresy." »
Pope Innocent III affirmed in his ordinary magisterium that the Roman Pontiff cannot be judged by men for any crime, but if he were to fall into heresy, he could be “shown to be already judged”. Enrico da Susa, known as “l'Ostiense”, came after Innocent III, and accordingly, «believed that while the pope should follow positive law he was not bound by it. Thus the pope could not be tried for any crime, except that of heresy, in which case “the pope could be subject to the 'ecclesia' (the Church)." For any other violation of law the pope could be judged by no one save God. » The fact that the pope could be tried at all for heresy was premised on the principle that as a heretic, he would have ceased to be pope and become minor quolibet catholico; but whether the heresy would be considered as the basis for an accusatio, necessitating a trial, or an exceptio, whereby case could be decided administratively, thereby avoiding the necessity of a trial, remained unresolved in Blessed Henry’s doctrine. There was no unanimity among canonists of the 13th Century. Moynihan observes, “Pope Innocent III (1198 – 1216) had forcefully proclaimed the doctrine of papal monarchy, and that doctrine had gained considerable support among several Decretalists writers such as Tancreed and Bernard of Parma. Since an exceptio in cases of heresy would not involve a trial strictly speaking, but only a declaration that a pope, because of his heresy, had never been validly elected, it is understandable that a papal monarchist like Bernard would have favored such a view. Hostiensis was of the opinion that acusation of heresy as well as exceptions could be brought against the pope, and Innocent IV, while admitting both, favored accusations.”
As the passage from Cardinal Stickler which I quoted in the previous section, explains, «In the case of an obstinate and public profession of certain heresy, since it is condemned by the Church, the Pope becomes "minor quolibet catholico" (a common phrase of canonists) and ceases to be pope (...).» Although not solemnly defined, this doctrine is clearly the doctrine of the Catholic Church in respect to all offices in the Church, being enshrined in both the 1917 and 1983 codes of Canon Law, in the canons on Tacit Loss of Office (1917), and Removal (1983); and therefore, if it were possible for a pope to become a formal heretic, he could be deposed only in the qualified sense that he could be shown to be already judged – judged to have already fallen from office. Hence, any opinion or theory which postulates any exception to the principle, Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur, and accordingly therefore that a pope can be judged by the Church for heresy before he falls from office on the basis of a literal application of the principle cunctos ipse iudicaturus a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a fide devius, is contrary to the Catholic faith.
This is manifestly evident in view of the fact that not only did St. Robert Bellarmine demonstrate that the Fathers teach unanimously that heretics cease to be members of the Church automatically by their heresy (as St. Pius V teaches in the Roman Catechism, and Pius XII in Mystici Corporis), and by the very nature of heresy (ex natura haeresis) lose office and all jurisdiction; but ultimately because the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff defined by Vatican I is the plenitudo potestatis taught by Innocent III, the potestas absoluta taught by Ostiense, and the plena potestas defined at Florence; to which essentially pertains the power of the supreme judge (as constantly taught by the Church and in the decrees of the Council of Trent and in Pastor Aeternus), whose judgment may be questioned by no one (Quamvis Patrum, Pastor Aeternus, etc.), and who absolutely cannot be judged by anyone.
Although the Counter-Reformation canonists were understandably phobic about the impetus such a doctrine as that of automatic loss of the papal office for heresy without the judgment of the Church might provide for the abusive application of the Protestant principle of Private Judgment against the Papacy, the ancient principle of law remains ever valid, that the abuse of a right does not nullify the right to its legitimate exercise. Their understandable concern for the possibility and even the likelihood that private individuals could seize upon the right to judge privately as a matter of conscience, and abuse it in the manner that it was abused by Luther to pronounce the pope a heretic, led them to adopt the opposite extreme, equally harmful and heterodox, according to which even a manifestly heretical pope remains in office and retains jurisdiction until the Church, by a juridical act pronounces judgment on him; and that private individuals may not avail themselves of their God-given right and last means of defense against the ravenous wolf, to form an opinion to acknowledge the defection and loss of office of resulting from even the most manifest and patent public rejection of the Catholic faith by a heretic pope; and as a consequence to be compelled to remain subject to him, and be in communion with the public enemy of the Church for months, years or even decades, until the Church, by some miracle of providence, can finally be able to pronounce a judgment which effectively results in the heretic’s deposition.
The word “manifest” means, “clear or obvious to the eye or mind”. If not only the matter of heresy is clearly manifest, but the conscious and willful profession of “a doctrine that immediately, directly, and contradictorily opposes the truths revealed by God and authentically set forth as such by the Church,” is patently obvious to the mind, then the person who professes it may be judged by others to be a heretic, even without a judicial pronouncement of the Church, since no one needs any official declaration to be made in order to form a judgment of opinion on a matter that by its very nature is already “clear or obvious to the eye or mind”. The proposition that one is not a manifest heretic until an ecclesiastical judge pronounces that one is a manifest heretic is absurd on its face, since by the very fact that the heresy is manifest, it is already “clear or obvious to the eye or mind” before any judgment is pronounced; yet this is precisely the silliness that John Salza and Robert Siscoe maintain in their rabid legalism. However, it is clearly the doctrine of the Catholic faith that if a person is a manifest heretic, then it is manifest that heresy has suapte natura severed that one from the body of the Church, and if he is a holder of ecclesiastical office, he has automatically lost office and all habitual or ordinary jurisdiction ex natura haeresis, before any sentence is pronounced by the Church.
It is plainly evident that the Counter-Reformation theologians and canonists who subscribed to Opinion No. 4 theorized a hypothetical scenario of a pope who falls into manifest heresy, in which the rest of the hierarchy, or at least the vast majority of it would still be orthodox in their faith, and who would administer correction to an errant Pontiff, and pronounce judgment upon him if he were to remain obstinate in heresy. However, when a sizable portion of the hierarchy is already in heresy, and the vast majority is to some degree infected by the heresy, one can easily understand how such a manifestly heretical “pope” would be tolerated and even fully accepted as a legitimate pope by the majority of bishops and cardinals. In his Dialogue Against the Luciferians, St. Jerome remarked, “The whole world groaned and was astonished to find itself Arian.” In Chaper 4 of his Commonitory, St. Vincent of Lérins says, “when the Arian poison had infected not an insignificant portion of the Church but almost the whole world, so that a sort of blindness had fallen upon almost all the bishops of the Latin tongue, circumvented partly by force partly by fraud, and was preventing them from seeing what was most expedient to be done in the midst of so much confusion”.
It is plainly evident that in our own time, a sort of blindness has fallen upon almost all the bishops of the Latin Church. With a prophetic insight, more than 1,500 years ago St. Vincent described the present condition of the Church today: “if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole”. Under such circumstances, the clergy and faithful cannot reasonably be expected to suspend judgment on manifest heresy until the Church pronounces officially, and remain subject to a ravenous wolf and destroyer of souls – quod esset miserrima conditio Ecclesiæ, si lupum manifeste grassantem, pro pastore agnoscere cogeretur. (Bellarminus)
THE DEPOSITION OF A POPE FOR HERESY
Of the Five Opinions on this question, No. One and No. 3 stand at the opposite extremes, neither allowing for the deposition of a pope for heresy: No. One, because it does not admit the possibility that a pope can become a heretic, and, No. 3., because it holds that even if the pope were to be a manifest and notorious heretic, he could not be removed; neither could he be deposed nor declared to have fallen from the Pontificate. Opinion No. 3 remains today among those theologically semi-literate writers who claim that only a future pope or council can declare with authority that a manifestly hertical pope was indeed a heretic and therfore was not a legitimate pope. Opinion No. One is the most common today, while No. 3 has rightly been universally abandoned by theologians; since, as both Bellarmine and Cajetan maintain correctly, a heretic is not a Christian, and therefore, Bellarmine judges, a heretic, being a non-Christian, simply cannot be pope. Since such a one would be visibly severed from the body of the Church, as Mystici Corporis teaches, he would no longer be a member of the Church, and therefore no longer its head. No. 2 is also an abandoned theory due to its problematic nature which I explained earlier. Opinion No. 4, which holds that a heretic pope can be deposed by a juridical sentence passed by a synod or universal council, was refuted by St. Robert Bellarmine, who explained its deficiencies and thus concluded the fifth Opinion to be the true one, according to which the manifest heretic pope would fall from office automatically by his own actions, by which he departs from the Church, ceases to be a member of the Church, and falls by himself from the Pontificate; and then can be judged and punished by the Church.
Fr. Gleize explains in his above cied article, “The common opinion of Medieval theologians is that a heretical pope in the external (and not just internal) forum must and can be deposed by a human authority, since there is (they claimed) here on earth a power above his. This authority is superior to the pope by way of exception, in the case of heresy. This could be the authority of the college of cardinals or possibly of an Ecumenical Council.” In the Counter-Reformation period and for roughly a century afterward, this opinion, listed by Bellarmine as the Fourth Opinion, was mainly represented by Cajetan, Suarez, John of St.Thomas, Laymann, Billuart, and Bañez, and was the more common opinion of the period.
While Opinion No. 4 was the more common opinion in the 17th Century and at least part of the 18th Century, its theological deficiencies became obvious after the rigorous critique of it was made by St. Robert Bellarmine, who exposed its fatal flaws and argued in favour of the Fifth Opinion. As I explained earlier, the two points on which Opinion No. 4 falls are, 1) that a pope, while still in office can be judged; and 2) that a pope who is a manifest heretic (i.e. manifestly guilty of formal heresy), remains in office as a member of the Church until he is deposed, or at least judged guilty of heresy by the Church. Since Vatican I (Pastor Aeternus), the question of whether a pope can ever be judged while in office is forever closed; and likewise, since Mystici Corporis and the 1917 Codex Juris Canonici: that a manifest heretic defects from the faith, and is therefore cut off from the body of the Church by the act of his own defection and not by the authority of the Church, ceases by himself to be a member of the Church; and as a consequence of the defection, falls from office ipso facto, is likewise a closed question, settled forever by the universal and ordinary magisterium of the Church. John Salza and Robert Siscoe have attempted to resurrect this defunct opinion which has been universally abandoned, and can now be seen to be theologically erroneous at the very least, haeresi proxima; but in attempting to resurrect the defunct theory, they have succeeded only in exhuming a corpse. All of the adherents of opinion No. 4 suffer the fatal defect of appealing to the spurious Canon Si papa of Gratian’s Decretals as the basis and justification or their opinion that the Church possesses the power to judge a reigning pope for heresy. On this point, don Nitoglia observes that according to this opinion, “The Church or an imperfect council does not act juridically on the pope, who is superior to the Church, but, in the hypothetical case of heresy, only dissolves the conjunction of the accidental form (of being pope) from the physical person or second matter canonically elected: Jorge Bergoglio. However, the two doctors [Cajetan and John of St. Thomas] base themselves on the Decretals of Gratian (pars I, dist. 40, canon 6 ‘Si Papa’) which has been demonstrated to be spurious, and today, no canonist accepts it any more as a proof of authority.” Yet, the very notion of the exception, “nisi deprehendatur a Fide devius”, is founded on this spurious canon, and is therefore without basis.
While this opinion in some of its variations claims not to properly depose the pope by an act of jurisdiction, yet in order to be a judgment of the Church, and not a private judgment of churchmen, the authors who advocate this opinion insist that the act of judgment must be a juridical act by which the pope is judged to be a heretic. However, such an act by its very nature requires jurisdiction: “The very idea of the trial of a person supposes that the court conducting the trial has jurisdiction over the person, but the Pope has no superior, wherefore no court has power to subject him to judicial trial.” Hence, Bellarmine says, “For, if the Church deposes a Pope against his will, certainly it is over the Pope”, and therefore, “Being supreme head of the Church, he cannot be judged by any other ecclesiastical power”. This opinion of Bellarmine is therefore clearly seen to be dogmatized by the First Vatican Council, which solemnly taught and declared that the Roman Pontiff “divino jure, presides over the universal Church as the supreme judge over the all the faithful”, “and all cases pertaining to ecclesiastical scrutiny are referable to him”; and “whose judgment may be refused by no one, nor is it licit for anyone to judge his judgment” – and hence, the stake through the heart of the Conciliarist Opinion No. 4 of Cajetan, Suarez, John of St. Thomas, Billuart, Laymann, et al.: “Quare a recto veritatis tramite aberrant, qui affirmant, licere ab iudiciis Romanorum Pontificum ad oecumenicum Concilium tamquam ad auctoritatem Romano Pontifice superiorem appellare.” The proponents of Opinion No. 4 protest that the exceptional judgment on a heretic pope by a council would either not constitute an exercise of jurisdiction over the pope, or exercise a superior power over the pope; but according to its very nature, such a judgment presumes an authority to judge the pope; and without such an authority, the judgment would be a mere nullity. Hence, whether its advocates wish to admit it or not, they who subscribe to Opinion No. Four heretically ascribe to the Church a power to judge the pope which directly opposes the dogma of the pope’s universal primacy of jurisdiction.
Thus, the thesis that a pope can be judged juridically by the Church with a sentence that is not an act of jurisdiction, can be seen to be absurd on its face; since in order to act on the conjunction between the man and the office so as to effect a separation of the two, a competent juridical sentence must be pronounced on the person of the Pontiff, who is the supreme head and judge, and who is subject to the judgment of no one. Since such an act is made without jurisdiction, it is bereft of all juridical force; and therefore, there is no rational basis – no sufficient reason to suppose that Christ would comply with that act and depose the heretic pope ipso facto upon the pronouncement of a judgment of heresy on the pope, or after a vitandus sentence would have been pronounced (and which can only be pronounced on the excommunicated by those who possess the jurisdiction to excommunicate).
In this part of the present work (IV), I will present a critical commentary of Opinion No. 4, as proposed by Suarez and John of St. Thomas; and expose the sophistry employed by Salza and Siscoe to defend, what is at this at this point, already an extinct opinion. First, Cajetan:
In this part of the present work (IV), I will present a critical commentary of Opinion No. 4, as proposed by Suarez and John of St. Thomas; and expose the sophistry employed by Salza and Siscoe to defend, what is at this at this point, already an extinct opinion. First, Cajetan:
In his above cited article, Fr. Gleize accurately sums up the position of Cajetan, which I simply quote, and for which no commentary is necessary:
«Cajetan (1469-1534), in chapters 20-21 of his 1511 treatise, De Comparatione auctoritatis papae et concilii, holds that there is an authority that can undo the investiture, in other words, cause the existence of the pontifical authority and the pope’s possession of it to cease. But Cajetan tries to differentiate his view from that of the theologians of the previous period by maintaining in principle that on earth there can be no authority superior to the pope, not even in the case of heresy. Indeed, the authority that is required to cause the investiture to cease would be exercised not on the pope but on the connection that exists between the person of the pope and the papacy.
Cajetan’s thesis is adopted by Domenico Báñez (1528-1604) (Commentary on the Summa theologiae II-II, q. 1, art. 10, conclusio 2, folios 194-196 of the 1587 Venice edition) and by John of Saint Thomas (1589-1644) (Cursus theologicus, 5:258-264: De fide, commenting on II-II, q. 1, art. 10, disputatio 2, art. 3, §§17-29). More recently, Cardinal Charles Journet (1891-1975) considered the argument “penetrating” (The Church of the Incarnate Word, vol. 1, Excursus 4). It is made up of two aspects.
First, in De comparatione, chap. 20, §§280 and 281, Cajetan states an authentic principle: the solution to the problem raised must be rooted in the sources of revelation. Now, divine law is content to say that, if the pope becomes heretical, the Church must avoid him. In fact, we can cite at least six passages of Scripture in which God commands His people not to relate to a formal, public heretic.
Passages cited by Cajetan in §280 include Num 16:26: “Depart from...these wicked men”; Gal 1:8: “Let him be anathema,” in other words, separate yourselves from him; 2 Thess 3:6: “Withdraw yourselves from [him]”; and 2 Jn 10: “Receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you.” The most eloquent passage (which Cajetan moreover cites constantly rather than the five others) is the one from the Epistle of Saint Paul to Titus 3:10: “Hominem haereticum post unam et secundam correptionem devita.” [“A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid.”] Consequently, divine revelation teaches us no more and no less than this: the Church must avoid any dealings with the heretical pope. »
Fr. Gleize then comments on Cajetan’s doctrine:
«Cajetan then proceeds to justify his own theory. He says that there is only one means of avoiding having anything to do with the heretical pope, in keeping with the requirement of divinely revealed law. This means the exercise of a ministerial power that is not a power of jurisdiction strictly speaking, the use of which implies no superiority over the pope. Indeed, this power is none other than the very power that the Church uses to establish the pope in his ministry: its precise object is not the person of the man who receives the papacy, nor the papacy (in other words the pope as such), but the connection between the two, in other words the relation that exists between the person who receives the papacy and the papacy itself (see De comparatione, chapter 20, §§282-297).
This power can be exercised in two directions: both to undo the connection as well as to make it. To illustrate this idea, Cajetan turns to an example. The generation or the corruption of a man is caused by an agent that has power over the union between a matter and a form, inasmuch as it disposes the matter, without thereby having power over the form. Similarly, the Church has the power to give the papacy to the person who receives it or to take it away from the one who loses it, inasmuch as she disposes this person, without thereby having power over the papacy. »
Fr. Gleize then points out what he considers the fatal flaw in Cajetan’s doctrine:
«Cajetan’s explanation suffers from a weakness that it without a doubt fatal to it. For it begs the question, supposing that the authentic meaning of Titus 3:10 (and of other similar passages in Scripture) is the sense required in order to be able to prove the alleged interpretation. Now this supposition is purely gratuitous. St. Paul says that it is necessary to avoid a notorious heretic, no more and no less. »
Fr. Gleize then concludes:
«On the basis of that, nothing proves that a notoriously heretical pope is dismissed from his office, because nothing says that the situation of someone who must be avoided by the faithful is incompatible with the title of the papacy. »
Bellarmine’s answer to this objection is that St. Paul orders that the heretic is to be avoided, which he would not order if the heretic were still in the Church; since a pastor should not avoid but look after those who belong to his flock. In his refutation of Cajetan (see quotation below) he argues that even Cajetan admits that a non-Christian cannot be pope, and that a manifest heretic is not a Christian, and therefore not a member of the Church, as the Fathers teach; and not being a member of the Church, the heretic cannot be its head. Therefore, a manifest heretic cannot be Pope. Since the heretic would already be outside the Church at the time if the vitandus order, he would already have ceased to be pope, because one who is not a member of the Church cannot be its head. Thus, the “situation of one who must be avoided” because of heresy is the situation of one who is not a member of the Church, and therefore not its head. It is precisely on this point that the theories of Cajetan and John of St. Thomas fail, since the vitandus order would not dispose the pope to fall from office, because it can only be made after the fall from office would already have taken place, for the reason that already, ex natura haeresis, “the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church.” (De Romano Pontifice, Book II ch. xxx) Thus Bellarmine proves that in the case of manifest heresy, the situation of someone who must be avoided by the faithful is indeed incompatible with the title of the papacy.
Now, here is Salza’s summation on Cajetan’s teaching:
«3. Cajetan’s opinion, which was defended by John of St. Thomas, is that a Pope, who has been judged and declared a heretic by the Church, is then deposed by a separate act of the Church. This separate act is a vitandus declaration which commands that the faithful avoid the Pope who has been declared a heretic by the Church. Cajetan bases his teaching on Divine law, which commands that a heretic, after the first and second warning, must be avoided.
Therefore, if the Church warns the Pope twice that he is holding a heretical doctrine, and if he does not recant his heresy, the Church can declare him a heretic and then, according to Divine law, legally command the faithful that he must be avoided. Now, because a Pope who must be avoided can no longer function as the head of the Church, this vitandus declaration renders his authority impotent. It is at this point, according to Cajetan (and John of St. Thomas), that God Himself authoritatively deposes the Pope by severing the bond that units the man to the office. »
Therefore, if the Church warns the Pope twice that he is holding a heretical doctrine, and if he does not recant his heresy, the Church can declare him a heretic and then, according to Divine law, legally command the faithful that he must be avoided. Now, because a Pope who must be avoided can no longer function as the head of the Church, this vitandus declaration renders his authority impotent. It is at this point, according to Cajetan (and John of St. Thomas), that God Himself authoritatively deposes the Pope by severing the bond that units the man to the office. »
This opinion was refuted by Bellarmine in his presentation on the Fourth Opinion. As has been shown above from the verbatim text of Bellarmine’s argument against the Fourth Opinion, the foundation of Bellarmine’s argument is quite simply the principle of absolute injudicability of a pope while in office; because, as Don Curzio succinctly explains, that Bellarmine teaches that when the cardinals elect the pope, or designate a person upon whom Christ confers the papal authority, they do not exercise a true and proper juridical selection of the Roman Pontiff, who does not yet exist in act, but they exercise upon the physical person of the pope in potentia; who, if he accepts the canonical election, receives the Pontificate in actu, otherwise he would not pass from being a pope in potentiality to an actual pope; and Bellarmine’s conclusion is that the cardinals or the bishops cannot juridically depose the pope because they would be exercising jurisdiction over the pope, and not merely on a person who potentially could bcome pope, but an actual pope who would be superior to all human and ecclesiastical powers, including the cardinals and the bishops. Hence, Salza’s commentary on what Salza & Siscoe refer to on their website as Bellarmine’s “attempted refutation” of Cajetan’s position can be plainly seen to be utterly errant, and without any rational basis whatsoever:
«What Bellarmine means is that the ipso facto loss of office occurs when the Church judges him to be a heretic, and before the vitandus declaration. This is evident from the fact that he is attempting to refute Cajetan’s opinion, which maintains that the fall is not ipso facto after he is judged by the Church, but only follows the juridical sentence of the vitandus declaration (which, again, directly separates the Church from the Pope, not the Pope from the Church). The reason Kramer and the Sedes have misunderstood Bellarmine is because they have misunderstood Cajetan’s opinion, and therefore did not know what Bellarmine was trying to refute. »
The Salza/Siscoe critique of my exposition crosses the boundary of the real world and enters the irrational realm of Fairyland:
«Notwithstanding all of his self-proclaimed erudition, Kramer does not understand Bellarmine’s position. And his misunderstanding means he actually disagrees with Bellarmine. The reason is due to a misinterpretation of what Bellarmine wrote in the Fourth and Fifth opinions. »
So, then Salza & Siscoe quote Bellarmine’s summation of Cajetan’s position: «The fourth opinion is that of Cajetan, for whom (de auctor. papae et con., cap. 20 et 21) the manifestly heretical Pope is not “ipso facto” deposed, but can and must be deposed by the Church. To my judgment, this opinion cannot be defended. For, in the first place, it is proven with arguments from authority and from reason that the manifest heretic is “ipso facto” deposed. The argument from authority is based on St. Paul (Titus, c. 3), who orders that the heretic be avoided after two warnings, that is, after showing himself to be manifestly obstinate — which means before any excommunication or judicial sentence. (…) Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction…»
The first thing to be noticed is that Bellarmine plainly states that in his judgment, the opinion which holds that the manifestly heretical pope is not ipso facto deposed, but must be deposed by the Church, “cannot be defended”. The argument from authority, presented by Bellarmine (and quoted by Salza & Siscoe) is based on the authority of scripture, which says that after the heretic has shown himself to be manifestly obstinate, he must br avoided, “before any excommunication or sentence of a judge”. Note that Bellarmine does not say the manifest heretic is to be avoided before a vitandus declaration, but after having been judged to be pertinacious; but rather, he, upon having manifested his pertinacity, is to be avoided before any judgment at all: “before any excommunication or sentence of a judge”. Now, ‘before any sentence of a judge’ means that once the heretic has manifested his pertinacity, he is to be avoided straightaway, before any judgment is pronounced, whether it be a penal, judicial sentence, or a merely declaratory sentence, or a judgment expressed as vitandus declaration. What is most conspicuous is the ellipsis in parentheses “(…)” which leaves out the text in which Bellarmine explains that the fact that the heretic must be avoided before any judgment is pronounced proves that the heretic is already outside the Church and no longer its head: heretics “are severed from the body of Christ, but a Pope who remains the Pope cannot be shunned. How will we shun our Head? How will we recede from a member to whom we are joined?” Bellarmine does not say that the heretic falls from the Pontificate once he has been judged incorrigible but before a vitandus declaration; but he states quite the contrary: that the heretic pope simply falls from office ipso facto “after he appears manifestly pertinacious”, because “heretics […] leave by themselves and are severed from the body of Christ”.
By means of the ellipsis Salza & Siscoe also leave out Bellarmine’s strongest argument – his argument from reason: «Now in regard to reason this is indeed very certain. A non-Christian cannot in any way be Pope, as Cajetan affirms in the same book, and the reason is because he cannot be the head of that which he is not a member, and he is not a member of the Church who is not a Christian. But a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as St. Cyprian and many other Fathers clearly teach. » Bellarmine explains further, «the Holy Fathers teach in unison, that not only are heretics outside the Church, but they even lack all Ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity ipso facto. Cyprian says: “We say that all heretics and schismatics have not power and right” » He then points out that the Fathers teach in unison that heretics do not lose office by means of judgment according to any human law, but they lose all jurisdiction and ecclesiastical dignity ex natura haeresis. Thus, St. Robert demonstrates irrefutably that a manifestly heretical pope would by himself (“per se”) cease to be pope ipso facto, without any judgment by the Church, because, “Being supreme head of the Church, he cannot be judged by any other ecclesiastical power”.
The failure of Salza & Siscoe to understand Bellarmine’s refutation of the Fourth Opinion is rootd in their misinterpretation of Bellarmine’s exposition on the Second and Third Opinions:
«Now, let’s compare Kramer’s interpretation of Bellarmine's Fifth Opinion to what Bellarmine himself wrote in the Second and Third Opinions:
Kramer: “While he holds office, the pope can be judged by no one.”
Bellarimine: “That a heretical Pope can be judged is expressly held in the Canon, Si Papa, dist. 40, and with Innocent. … heresy, the only reason where it is lawful for inferiors [the Church] to judge superiors [the pope]. (…) in the case of heresy, a Roman Pontiff can be judged.”
Kramer: “the loss of office which takes place ipso facto and without any judgment or declaration.”
Bellarmine: “For Jurisdiction is certainly given to the Pontiff by God, but with the agreement of men [those who elect him], as is obvious; because this man, who beforehand was not Pope, has from men that he would begin to be Pope, therefore, he is not removed by God unless it is through men. But a secret heretic cannot be judged by men...” »
As I explained above, Salza & Siscoe have totally failed to grasp the significance of the distinction in Bellarmine’s doctrine between depositus and deponendus, which he made in his commentary on the Third Opinion; and according to which a manifestly heretical pope would not be able to be deposed (deponi posse) by the Church, but would already “by himself” (per se), ipso facto “be deposed” (esse depositus), by means of his manifest heresy. Likewise, as I explained above, they have failed to take into account Bellarmine’s distinction between the procedures he prescribes to be followed in the case of one accused as an occult heretic pope in his rejection of the Second Opinion in De Ecclesia Militante, and that to be followed in the case a manifestly heretical pope in De Romano Pontifice. According to Bellarmine, in the case of the occult heretic, the accusation must first be proven, so that he can be judged to have fallen from office before he can be removed; whereas in the case of the manifest heretic pope, he is condemned and falls from the Pontificate entirely by his own judgment, and therefore, having fallen from office, can be judged and punished by the Church.
- “Therefore on deposing a heretical Pope, the Church would not act as superior to him, but juridically and by the consent of Christ she would declare him a heretic and therefore unworthy of Pontifical honors; he would THEN ipso facto and immediately be deposed by Christ…”
To juridically pronounce judgment on a person, as has been shown, is properly the act of a superior which requires jurisdiction. If the Church would not act as superior to the pope, it would need to refrain from such an act of pronouncing judgment on him that is strictly proper to a superior, and for which it lacks jurisdiction. Bellarmine and Ballerini solved this dilemma by explaining and demonstrating that a manifest heretic, (in accordance with the Church’s teaching on defection from the faith and loss of office), first ceases to be a Christian and a member of the Church, ceases to be pope by from office by himself; and therefore can then be judged and punished by the Church. As explained earlier, it is the magisterial teaching and canonical position of the Church that those who publicly defect from the faith into heresy lose office automatically, and the Church then declares and enforces the loss post factum.
- “If an external but occult heretic can still be Pope, then by the same reasoning he can continue to be such even if his delict becomes known, as long as no sentence is pronounced against him—both because no one incurs a penalty, except either ipso facto or by a [judicial] sentence; and also because even greater problems would follow: for we would fall into doubt about exactly how great the degree of infamy ought to be for the Pope to be reputed to have fallen from his dignity; thence would arise schisms, and everything would become perplexing, especially if the Pope, after becoming infamous, would keep possession of his See by force or other means and exercise many acts of his office.”
An external but occult heretic would still be a member of the Church, unlike the manifest heretic who by his defection from the faith would cease to be a member of the Church; and would lose office as a result of removal, which is not a penalty, but is the natural and canonical consequence of defection from the faith. As far as the “greater problems that would follow”, those problems (as great as they would be) would be as nothing compared to the universal ruin that would result if the hierarchy would continue to tolerate a manifest heretic Pontiff – “quod esset miserrima conditio Ecclesiæ, si lupum manifeste grassantem, pro pastore agnoscere cogeretur.” (Bellarminus)
- “Against this opinion I say, in the second place, that in no case—even that of heresy—is the Pontiff deprived of his dignity and power immediately by God, without the foregoing judgement and sentence of men. Such is the common opinion today: Cajetan (de Auctoritate Papae, c. 18 et 19), Soto (4 d. 22 q. 2 art. 2), Cano (4 de Locis, c. ult., ad 12), Corduba (lib. 4, q. 11).”
Such was the more common opinion at that time, but is no more, having been refuted by Bellarmine and Ballerini. I repeat, as explained above, it is now the explicit magisterial teaching and canonical position of the Church that those who publicly defect from the faith into heresy lose office automatically. It was not the clear magisterial teaching, nor was it yet set forth in Canon Law in Suarez’s day. After Opinion No One, Opinion No. 5, at least as a hypothesis, is now the more common opinion, while Opinion no. 4 is not proposed by any serious theologian today – it is dead.
- “Later on, when we treat of the penalties for heretics, we will explain and universally show that no one is deprived by Divine Law of their ecclesiastical dignity and jurisdiction because they are guilty of heresy. For the time being, however, we briefly give the reasoning a priori. For, since this is the most grave of penalties, in order for it to be incurred ipso facto, the penalty must be spelled out in Divine Law; but no law can be found stating the same, whether of heretics in general, or specifically of bishops, or most specifically of the Pope; nor is there any certain tradition to the same effect.”
Here Suarez makes the mistake of treating loss of office as if it were a penalty, which it is not. Bellarmine already proved the contrary by demonstrating in his refutation of Opinion No. 4 that the contrary opinion is unanimously held by the Fathers. The provision for tacit resignation of office 1917 Code of Canon Law forever lays this objection to rest.
- “Nor can any human law cause the Pontiff to fall ipso facto from his dignity, for the law would have been passed either by an inferior (namely, a Council) or by an equal (namely, a previous Pope); but neither of these can have coercive force, to be able to punish the Pontiff, who is either equal or superior; therefore, etc.”
It is not only a matter of divine law, as Bellarmine proved, but also has since become a matter of ecclesiastical law, as has already been explained above. Suarez makes the error of thinking of a law that would effect an ipso facto loss of office as a punishment, whereas in Canon Law, it is not a punishment, but the natural consequence of defecting in to heresy, which the law acknowledges.
- “But you will say, there can be a law that is interpretive of Divine Law. But this is mere imagination—for no such Divine Law has been brought to light; and so far no law has been passed by the Councils or the Pontiffs which would interpret that Divine Law. This is confirmed by the fact that such a law would endanger the Church, wherefore it is not credible that Christ would have instituted it; and the antecedent is proved thus: If the Pope were an occult heretic and fell ipso jure from his dignity, all of his acts would be invalid.”
Since the codification of Canon Law in the 20th Century, there is precisely that, “law that is interpretive of Divine Law” – the canons on tacit renunciation of office and removal. Suarez imagines that “such a law would endanger the Church”; but unfortunately, he did not imagine how a heretic pope would endanger the Church if he were to remain in office until the Church officials would finally get their act together and judge the heretical miscreant. The problem would not even arise if the pope were an occult heretic, and did nothing to disturb the general state of the Church, or against the teaching of the Church that would raise suspicions about his personal orthodoxy. If he were to manifest his heresy by his actions, then it would no longer be a question of a merely occult heretic, but of manifest heresy.
- “Secondly, there is another reason which presses us to hold this opinion: for, if the Pope were to become an external but occult heretic, and afterwards should come to his senses and really repent, he would find himself in a real dilemma; for, if he has fallen from his dignity by his heresy, he ought entirely to renounce the pontificate—which is a very serious thing, and almost contrary to Natural Law, for it amounts to revealing his sin; but he cannot retain his episcopate, since that would be intrinsically evil. Hence, even the authors who hold the contrary opinion acknowledge that in such a case he could retain his episcopate, and therefore truly be Pope; and this is the common opinion of canonists, following the gloss, c. Nunc autem, d. 21.”
This argument is a most valid objection against Opinion No. 2, but is patently inapplicable to Opinion No. 5, which is a matter of manifest heresy, which constitutes an act of tacit abdication – not implicit but (as explained earlier) a true but tacit act of abdication.
- “Finally, faith is not absolutely necessary for a man to be capable of spiritual and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and a man without faith can exercise true acts that require such jurisdiction; therefore, etc. The antecedent is evidently true, for in extreme necessity a heretical priest can give absolution, as is taught in the material on penance and censures; but absolution is not given without jurisdiction. And from this the contrary opinion collapses; for, just as faith is not a necessary foundation for the power of orders, which is more excellent in its own way, so neither is it a necessary foundation for jurisdiction; and no author (as I believe) will say in response with even a shadow of probability that the papal dignity is lost through purely interior heresy—although it is certain that faith is lost by that.”
However, while “faith is not absolutely necessary for a man to be capable of spiritual and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and a man without faith can exercise true acts that require such jurisdiction”; nevertheless. (as explained earlier): faith is absolutely necessary for a man to exercise the charism of Infallibility and perform the function of confirmator fratrum, and therefore, without faith, the necessary disposition for the preservation of the form of the Pontificate would be absent, and the heretic would necessarily fall from the Pontificate as Bellarmine explained. However, it is impossible for a pope to become a heretic, as Bellarmine explained, “the Pope by his own nature can fall into heresy, but not when we posit the singular assistance of God which Christ asked for him by his prayer.” Thus, Bellarmine’s argument does not support Opinion No. 2, but rather underscores the validity of Opinion No. One. Finally, while it is true that the argument that “faith is not a necessary foundation for the power of orders, which is more excellent in its own way, so neither is it a necessary foundation for jurisdiction” is valid regarding the retaining of jurisdiction of the occult heretic, and the exercise of supplied jurisdiction by the public heretic; it is not applicable to the case of public defection from the faith into heresy, which entails an ipso facto loss of office and of ordinary jurisdiction, due to withdrawal from communion and cessation of membership in the Church.
- “[T]he Church cannot exercise any act of jurisdiction over the Pope, nor does she confer upon him his power when she elects him; rather, she designates the person upon whom Christ confers the power by his own act [per se]. Therefore, when the Church deposes a heretical Pope, she does not do it as if she were his superior; rather, by the consent of Christ the Lord, she juridically declares him to be a heretic, and therefore completely unworthy of the dignity of Pontiff; and then, by that very fact [ipso facto], he is immediately deposed by Christ; and, being now deposed, he is in the condition of an inferior and can be punished.”
The Church, “ juridically declares him to be a heretic”, according to Suarez, but to juridically declare him to be a heretic, is to pronounce a judgment on him; and to do this, they who judge must possess jurisdiction over him and act as a superior, otherwise the judgment is not juridical, and lacks all authority. The claim that the judgment would be pronounced, “by the consent of Christ the Lord”, is a premise that is utterly lacking any foundation (except for the spurious Canon Si papa) – it is a mere conjecture; as is, therefore, also the conclusion, “by that very fact [ipso facto], he is immediately deposed by Christ”. The argument that the Church does not “confer upon him his power when she elects him; rather, she designates the person upon whom Christ confers the power by his own act […] therefore, when the Church deposes a heretical Pope, she does not do it as if she were his superior”, is a fallacious argument which is essentially the argument of Cajetan which Bellarmine refuted: “For while a thing is made, the action is exercised over the matter of the thing that is going to be, not over a composite which does not yet exist, but while a thing is destroyed, the action is exercised over a composite; as is certain from natural things.” A juridical act of deposition is an act of judgment over the composite (as Bellarmine explains), which is essentially distinct in its nature from the ministerial act which (says Suarez) “designates the person upon whom Christ confers the power by his own act”. Bellarmine explains the distinction, which is, that: “when Cardinals create the Pontiff, they exercise their authority not over the Pontiff, because he does not yet exist; but over the matter, that is, over the person whom they dispose in a certain measure through election, that he might receive the form of the pontificate from God; but if they depose the Pope, they necessarily exercise authority over the composite, that is, over the person provided with pontifical dignity, which is to say, over the Pontiff.”
According to Suarez, “by that very fact”, i.e. that the CHURCH, “juridically declares him to be a heretic”, “he is immediately deposed by Christ”; (clearly an act of deposition which falls under Opinion No. 4), and NOT, (as Salza and Siscoe fraudulently claim), the opinion of Bellarmine and Ballerini (No. 5), according to which, the fact by which the heretic pope ceases to be pope ipso facto is HIS OWN JUDGMENT pronounced against himself, and thereby ceases to be pope “by himself” (per se). For Suarez (Opinion No. 4), the “fact” by which he is deposed ipso facto for heresy by Christ is the judgment of the Church; whereas for Bellarmine (Opinion No.5), the “fact” by which he ceases to be pope by himself (per se) is his own judgment against himself, since heretics are judged by their own condemnation (sunt enim proprio judicio condemnati).
- “The heretical Pope is not a member of the Church, if we consider the substance and form that constitutes the members of the Church; nevertheless, he is the head, if we consider his office and the influx that he exercises; and this is not to be wondered at, for the Pope is not the first and principal head, as if he channeled his own power into the Church; but he is something instrumental, and a vicar of the primary head, Who is able to send a spiritual influx to the members even through a head of bronze.“
If the heretical pope is not a member of the Church (and a manifest heretic is not a member), then he cannot be the head, since the head is a member. The pope is not a bronze statue, but a man endowed with a free will, and therefore, respecting the nature He created, God cannot force a heretic pope to confirm the faith of the bishops if the heretic is unwilling to do so – hence, Bellarmine rightly rejects this idea saying, “this will be a great violence, and not in keeping with the providence of God that sweetly disposes all things.”
- “In the third place, I say that, if a Pope is heretical and incorrigible, he ceases to be Pope as soon as a declaratory sentence of the crime is brought against him through the legitimate jurisdiction of the Church. This is the common opinion of the Doctors, and is gathered from [Pope] Clement I, in his first epistle, where he says that Peter taught that a heretical Pope should be deposed. Now, the foundation is this: It would harm the Church in the gravest way to have such a pastor; nor could she help herself in so grave a peril; besides, it would be contrary to the dignity of the Church to make her remain subject to a heretical Pope, such that she is unable to repel him from her; for the people generally take after their prince and their priest.”
This opinion has already been sufficiently dealt with and refuted. Ballerini explains why no declaratory sentence is needed in order that the heretic cease to be pope. To the statement that it “is gathered from [Pope] Clement I, in his first epistle, where he says that Peter taught that a heretical Pope should be deposed”, Michael Davies answers:
«On this subject Suarez’s credibility is open to serious question, for his contemporary St. Robert Bellarmine, who was thoroughly familiar with the whole of patristic literature, assures us in his own consideration of this subject [De Romano Pontifice] that “the Fathers are unanimous in teaching, not only that heretics are outside the Church, but also that they are ‘ipso facto’ deprived of all jurisdiction and ecclesiastical rank.” Certainly the single instance adduced by Suarez in support of his statement shortly after the words quoted above does nothing to weaken St. Robert’s assurance, for Suarez’s claim that some Fathers differed from the view he rightly attributes to SS. Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, etc., is, he says, gathered from the first epistle of Clement I […] which says, according to Suarez, that St. Peter taught that a heretical pope is to be deposed (rather than automatically deposed). And yet the fact is that St. Clement nowhere represents St. Peter as having said anything of the kind, as readers can confirm by reference to any of the translations of this epistle available in good libraries. The nearest Clement approaches to the subject is his statement that “our Apostles” i.e. SS. Peter and Paul, “knew that there would be contention concerning the name of the episcopacy” and consequently left instructions “in what manner, when they [bishops and deacons] should die, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry (Chapter 44).” It is of little consequence whether Suarez was trusting an unreliable secondary source, or a corrupt primary text, or whether he has just made a mistake, what cannot be denied is that his position is based on a misrepresentation of the teaching of the Fathers. »
- “But there are a number of things to be explained concerning this conclusion. Firstly, who ought to pass this sort of sentence. For some say that it should be passed by the Cardinals; indeed, the Church could commit this matter to them, especially if it were so established by the consent or determination of the supreme Pontiffs, as has been done on the matter of Papal election; but so far we do not read that this judgment has been entrusted to them. Therefore, we must say that it pertains per se to all the bishops of the Church; for, since they are the ordinary pastors and the columns of the Church, we are to believe that this matter pertains to them; and, since no reason can be drawn from Divine Law why it should pertain more to these bishops than to those, and nothing has been established concerning this in human law, of necessity we have to say that it pertains to all the bishops, and therefore to a general Council—and this is the common opinion of the Doctors. On this topic one can consult Cardinal Albanus’s work de Cardinalibus, question 35 (it is among the treatises of the edition published in the year 1584, in the thirteenth volume, page 2); he treats of this point amply enough.”
This opinion has been amply refuted by Bellarmine and Ballerini in the texts I quoted earlier.
- “If you ask what gives us certainty that, by Divine Law, a Pontiff is deposed as soon as a sentence is pronounced by the Church: I respond, in the first place, that I have already produced the testimony of [Pope] Clement, which is from the mouth of Peter; in the second place, the Scriptural passages that command us to avoid heretics are a sufficient indication; in the third place, it is the common consensus of the Church and the Pontiffs; in the fourth place, natural reason teaches thus; for it is not credible that Christ left the Church destitute of any remedy for so great a peril; but the remedy that I have adduced seems to be perfectly adapted to the case that is being disputed.”
There is no such testimony of St. Clement of any such words from the mouth of St, Peter. The scriptural passages that command us to avoid heretics can just as easily be observed if the heretic fell from office automatically; there is nothing in the scriptural passages in question that would necessitate that a sentence be passed (which would be impossible) before the heretic could cease to be pope, in order that the scriptural injunction be observed, since a declaratory sentence can just as easily be pronounced (and in fact could only be validly pronounced) post factum to the loss of office. Therefore, the “remedy for so great a peril” that Christ gave to the Church, was not the power to depose a heretic pope, but to bestow upon the pope the grace of an unfailing faith, which prevents the pope from ever becoming a formal heretic; and if it be possible for a pope to fall into manifest heresy, there would be remedy that heresy would effect the ipso facto fall from the Pontificate, so that there could then follow the declaration of removal from office upon the pope’s public defection from the faith into heresy, which the Church would need only declare after the fact.
Fr. Gleize summarizes the doctrine of Suarez:
«Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), in his De Fide, disputatio 10 De Summo Pontifice, section 6, §§3-13. Opera omnia, 12:316-318, states, like Cajetan, that the pope does not lose his pontificate by reason of his heresy itself, whether it be occult or even notorious. He then presents what in his opinion is the common explanation of the theologians. A publicly and incorrigibly heretical (i.e. pertinacious) pope loses the pontificate when the Church declares his crime. This declaration constitutes a legitimate act of jurisdiction, but it is not a jurisdiction that exercises a superior power over the pope. In this case the Church is represented not by the cardinals but by the Ecumenical Council: the latter can be convoked by someone other than the pope since it does not meet to define faith and morals.
Suarez then explains the essential point of his thesis: he refuses to say that in this exceptional case the Church possesses a true power of jurisdiction over the pope. The Church does nothing but declare in the name of Christ the pope’s heresy, which amounts to declaring that the pope has become unworthy of the papacy. And by means of this declaration of the Church, Christ immediately takes the papacy back from the pope.
In a third logical moment, the pope who has fallen from his office becomes inferior to the Church and she can punish him. The thesis therefore is based entirely on one truth. This truth is that the previous declaration of the Church that notes the pope’s heresy is the necessary and sufficient condition for Christ to withdraw the papacy from the pope. And Suarez proves this truth by saying that it is spelled out in the divine law of revelation. In support of this, Suarez also cites Titus 3:10 along with a passage from the First Epistle of St. Clement of Rome which allegedly says that “Petrum docuisse haereticum papam esse deponendum.” »
Fr. Gleize then comments:
« ‘Suarez’ explanation (see Part 6a) is original. In fact it can be likened neither to Cajetan’s nor to St. Robert Bellarmine’s. For Cajetan, the Church alone causes the pope’s dethronement; for Saint Robert Bellarmine it is Christ alone. For Suarez it is Christ and the Church at the same time. We should note in passing that this way of viewing the problem is characteristic of his eclecticism. Suarez has a lot of erudition but little genius. He does not synthesize. He always has trouble deciding among opposing authorities, and his tendency is to reconcile them is a sort of middle-of-the-road solution.
In acting this way, he weakens the principles: this, incidentally, is the main reason why Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange disapproves of Suarez. For example in De Christo salvatore, pp. 108-109, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrant writes:
In this question, Suarez, as is often the case with his eclecticism, refutes Scotus by relying on Saint Thomas and Saint Thomas by relying on Scotus. But this intermediate position is very difficult to hold, and it is not at all easy to preserve its equilibrium or stability, and this is why it is not uncommon for Suarez, when he sets forth his theses, to waver or oscillate between Saint Thomas and Scotus without finding a firm position.” »
JOHN OF ST. THOMAS
Thesis of John of St. Thomas:
“It cannot be held that the Pope, by the very fact of being a heretic, would cease to be pope antecedently to [before] a declaration of the Church. (…) What is truly a matter of debate is whether the Pope, after he is declared by the Church to be a heretic, is deposed ipso facto by Christ the Lord, or if the Church ought to depose him. In any case, as long as the Church has not issued a juridical declaration, he must always be considered the Pope.” (Cursus Theologicus, Tome 6. Questions 1-7 on Faith. Disputation 8., Article 2)
John of St. Thomas on the Deposition of a Heretical Pope
“De Auctoritate Summi Pontificis” Disputatio III, Articulus II
XVII De Depositione Papae & Seq.
“De Auctoritate Summi Pontificis” Disputatio III, Articulus II
XVII De Depositione Papae & Seq.
KEY TEXTS AND COMMENTARY
- “It cannot be held that the Pope, by the very fact of being a heretic, would cease to be pope antecedently to a declaration of the Church.”
He argues: “The pope does not cease to be the pope before any ecclesial trial sentence by the fact itself of heresy, and before he is proposed as to be avoided. Neither is Jerome, when he says that the heretic walks out per se from the Body of Christ, excluding him from the judgment of the Church, especially in a thing so grave as the deposition of a pope, but she judges the quality of the crime that excludes from the Church without any over added censure, as long as it is declared by the Church.”
I respond saying that ecclesiastical office is lost ex natura haeresis by the very fact of public defection from the faith into formal heresy, as has been demonstrated and explained. As has been amply demonstrated, it pertains to the nature of heresy, that according to the doctrine of the Catholic faith, the public heretic, without any other qualifying circumstances, ceases to be a member of the Church and loses office ipso facto, by the public act of formal heresy. To the objection, “Neither is Jerome, when he says that the heretic walks out per se from the Body of Christ, excluding him from the judgment of the Church”, I reply: The words of St. Jerome are self-explanatory, explicitly stating that the heretic condemns himself, because other sinners are expelled from the Church by the priests, but heretics pronounce the sentence upon themselves: “Propterea a semetipso dicitur esse damnatus, quia fornicator, adulter, homicida, et cetera vitia per sacerdotes ex Ecclesia propelluntur: haeretici autem in semetipsis sententiam ferunt, suo arbitrio de Ecclesia recedentes: quae recessio propriae conscientiae videtur esse damnatio.”
John of St. Thomas destroys the distinction between heretics, who, Jerome says, “condemn themselves” by “withdrawing” from the Church; and other sinners who are “driven out by the priests”; since, if the official judgment of the Church were to be involved in the process of that withdrawal and separation, then the heretics also would be driven out of the Church by the priests, and they would therefore not walk out by themselves; nor would they have, “miserably separated themselves from union with the Church” (a Corporis compage semetipsos misere separarunt), as Pius XII teaches in Mystici Corporis and thereby distinguish themselves in any way from other sinners who are cut off by Church authority, "ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt”. St. Jerome made this distinction, the Roman Catechism made this distinction, St. Robert Bellarmine made this distinction, but John of St. Thomas just didn’t quite get it. Finally, Pope Pius XII explained this distinction again, even more explicitly, saying that it pertains to the very nature of schism, heresy, and apostasy, that by them one is cut off from the body of the Church by them (suapte natura), and NOT by any ecclesiastical censure, which is to say, unlike any other sin (omne admissum) which, “even if a grave crime” (etsi grave scelus), does NOT separate one from the Church by its very nature, but by ecclesiastical censure, i.e. by the “legitimate authority of the Church” (ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt) – and they, as St. Pius V teaches in the Roman Catechism, who are cut off from the Church by legitimate authority, are the “excommunicati”.
So finally, as far as the assertion of John of St. Thomas, that the Church, “judges the quality of the crime that excludes from the Church without any over added censure, as long as it is declared by the Church”, is concerned: if there is any censure at all (upon which no additional censure need be added), then heretics would not “miserably separate themselves” (Mystici Corporis) from the Church by their own defection from the Church, by heresy “suapte natura”, as Pius XII teaches; but would be severed from the Church by something else which does not pertain to the nature of heresy, to wit, an ecclesiastical censure, i.e. “by the legitimate ecclesiastical authority” (Mystici Corporis), which would place them not among those who according to the Roman Catechism have defected (desciverunt) by themselves, but among the excommunicati, who have been expelled by Church authority. Thus it is that this doctrine of John of St. Thomas which received its coup de grace from Mystici Corporis, destroys this essential distinction which pertains to the very essence of a de fide doctrine of the Church. John Salza and Robert Siscoe, failing to see the gaping hole made by the stake which Pius XII drove through the heart of this heretical doctrine, have exhumed and attempted to revive the corpse of this errant doctrine, which, in the light of Mystici Corporis, the unanimity of the Fathers, and the constant teaching of the universal magisterium of the Church set forth in the Roman Catechism, can be plainly seen to be heretical.
- “Despite being separated per se from the Church, quo ad nos, [as far as we are concerned], such a separation is not understood to take place without such declaration. And in the same way do we reply to the argument that says that the non Christian who neither per se, nor quo ad nos is a Christian, cannot be the pope, for in himself he has ceased to be a Christian because he has lost the faith. But for us [quo ad nos] he is not yet declared infidel or heretic, no matter how much he may be manifest [heretic] according to private judgment. He is still a member of the Church for us [quo ad nos], and consequently its head.”
This question has been settled, and is now closed. I have demonstrated beyond all shadow of doubt is that the Church teaching is: 1) that those who defect from the faith by manifest formal heresy, according to the very nature of heresy, sever themselves from the body of the Church and cease to be members of it; as opposed to all others who are cut off from membership by the legitimate authority of the Church, by means of excommunication (de fide teaching of the universal & ordinary magisterium); and, 2) those who publicly defect from the faith by an act of formal heresy, by that very act automatically lose office and all ecclesiastical dignity (de fide teaching of the universal & ordinary magisterium). As a strict logical consequence of these de fide premises, it follows necessarily and is thus theologice certum that a manifestly heretical pope would cease by himself to be a member of the Church, and therefore would cease entirely by himself to be pope, in the manner explained by Bellarmine, Ballerini, and Gregory XVI.
Bellarmine understood the doctrine on loss of office for heresy exactly in the manner set forth in Session 37 of Constance before him, as did Ballerini after him. Bellarmine demonstrated that the ancient Fathers teach in unison that the loss of office takes place automatically, ex natura hæresis, and not by any human law (and therefore entirely independent of any judgment by the Church). Thus, automatic loss of office for public heresy before any judgment by the Church is a a point of magisterial doctrine, which was applied by the Ecumenical Council of Constance in the case of Pedro de Luna; and secondly, this doctrine is acknowledged in the canonical tradition of the Church, and is enshrined and applied in the Code of Canon Law (Can. 194).
The Very Rev. H. A. Ayrinhac comments on Canon 2197, that public defection from the faith means: “Public defection from the faith, by formal heresy or apostasy, with or without affiliation with another religious society. The offense must be public, that is, generally known or liable to become so before long.” The New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law explains, “A formal act is not required for the defection in canon 194; the only requirement is that it be public (known or likely to become known).114 Neither is it required that the officeholder join another religion, although this could be an objective indication of defection. [114 Socha, in Münster Com, 194/2—3; Urrutia, n. 925, confuses this with “notorious”.]” This is all that is required for loss of office to take place according to the law and teaching of the Church as it is understood by the magisterium: the external act of defection that is public or liable to become public, before any judgment, and without any judgment pronounced by the Church. Thus, quo ad nos, the public heretic whose heresy may not be known to all may be erroneously considered by some, or even by many, to still retain his office; nevertheless, since he has ceased per se to be a member of the Church by manifest formal heresy, he will have already in fact fallen from office automatically ipso jure (Can. 194 § 1), and that loss of office would only need to be declared by the Church in order to be enforced (Canon 194 § 2), but is not required as a condition for the actual loss office to take place.
- “Therefore the judgment of the Church is required by which he is declared as a non-Christian, to be avoided, and then he ceases to be a pope to us [quo ad nos] and before then he did not desist, even per se, because all he was doing was valid per se.”
Ex supradictis it can plainly be seen that the proposition is demonstrated to be false: the heretic loses office per se; and anything he does that is juridically valid would only be valid in virtue of supplied faculties granted to excommunicates ipso jure; since even the heretic pope would immediately incur a latae sententiae excommunication upon falling from office and ceasing to be pope.
Since the proposition, “It cannot be held that the Pope, by the very fact of being a heretic, would cease to be pope antecedently to a declaration of the Church”, is demonstrated to be false, the proposition that logically hinges upon it, “What is truly a matter of debate is whether the Pope, after he is declared by the Church to be a heretic, is deposed ipso facto by Christ the Lord, or if the Church ought to depose him. In any case, as long as the Church has not issued a juridical declaration, he must always be considered the Pope”, is therefore patently and necessarily false.
Likewise, the objection that, “The first point of Cajetan is manifest from the above and cannot be attacked legitimately by Bellarmine. Its truth is obvious: either because the pope no matter how much he is truly and publicly a heretic, if he is ready to be corrected, cannot be deposed”, fails to take into consideration the fact that Bellarmine explicitly taught that a pope who is manifestly pertinacious in heresy, “ceases by himself to be pope”; and as noted earlier, a pope who is not pertinacious in heresy, but errs out of ignorance, would remain in office as pope. Bellarmine made it explicitly clear that when he spoke of a pope who is a manifest heretic, he spoke of one who is manifestly an obstinate formal heretic.
- “Secondly it is objected that the Church has no power over the conjunction between the pontiff and the person, unless she has power on the pontificate itself, and the pope does nothing more, when he deposes a bishop, than destroying his link with the episcopate, for he does not destroy the episcopate itself. Therefore if the Church has power in the conjunction of the pontificate with the person, consequently it can or has power over the pontificate and the person of the pope. What confirms it is that the pope is deposed unwillingly; and therefore is punished by such a deposition. To punish is the act of a superior and a judge; therefore the Church that deposes, or punishes by the punishment of deposition has a superiority over the person of the pope. Lastly he who has power over both parts or over their conjunction, has power over the whole simpliciter; just like the one who generates a man has power simpliciter over the whole man himself. Therefore if the Church has power over the conjunction of the pontificate with the person, she has power over the pope simpliciter, something that Cajetan denies.” John of St. Thomas then answers this objection:
- “It is answered that the pope deposes a bishop in a different way than the Church deposes a pope. For the pontiff deprives him as one deprives a subordinate and someone subjected to him and having a power subordinate and dependent that can be limited and constrained. Hence whereas it takes the episcopate from the person and does not destroy the episcopate, nevertheless he remove it by the superiority that he has over that person, concerning also the power subordinated to himself by the person of which he removes it from the person, and not just the person from it [the power]. The Church takes away the pontificate not out of a superiority to the power itself, but a ministerial and dispositive power by which it can induce a disposition incompatible with the pontificate as we said.”
- “To confirm this we answer that the pope can be disposed against his will ministerially and dispositively by the Church, authoritatively by Christ the Lord, hence, properly speaking, he is punished by Christ, not by the Church.”
- “And to the last point we say that the one who has power in the conjunction of the parts has power in the whole simpliciter, but not if this is done ministerially only and dispositively over such a conjunction.”
The opinion that the Church can depose a heretical pope is premised on the argument that, “The Church takes away the pontificate not out of a superiority to the power [over the conjunction] itself, but a ministerial and dispositive power by which it can induce a disposition incompatible with the pontificate”, and is founded on the principle that, “The Church has a right to separate itself from a heretical pope in virtue of divine right, and as a result can take all the means necessary for such a separation.” The defect of this argument is, 1) its failure to recognize that it is according to the nature of heresy, that a manifest heretic separates himself from the Church, by pronouncing the sentence of condemnation upon himself and falls from office by himself; and therefore, no deposition is even possible, and thus, all that would be needed is a simple declaration of loss of office by competent ecclesiastical authority (Canon 194 § 2); 2) and, (as Bellarmine said) “if they depose the Pope, they necessarily exercise authority over the composite”, which is to say, over the pope. However so much as one may claim that the Church would only act ministerially and dispositively by inducing a “disposition incompatible with the pontificate”, the pronouncing of a sentence on the pope and declaring him deposed would not be a ministerial and dispositive act, but would be an exercise of powee over the pope. Therefore, regardless of whether it be claimed that power would be exercised simpliciter, or if it would be alleged to be exercised ministerially and dispositively, in either case, as Bellarmine says, “if they depose the Pope, they necessarily exercise authority over the composite”, and that is a power that neither the bishops as a whole nor the cardinals possess, as Bellarmine proved in his refutation of Opinion No. 4, and the First Vatican Council confirmed; and 3) the foundation of the belief that the Church possesses the power to dissolve the conjunction between the Pontiff and the Pontificate is the spurious Canon Si papa, and has no basis in either sacred scripture or sacred tradition. HENCE: The following propositions are seen to be false:
- “we see that this power to deal with the causes of the pontiffs, and what belongs to their deposition, do not pertain to the cardinals. It remains in the deposition of the Church, whose authority is represented by a general council”
- The necessary means is that per se that such a crime be evidenced juridically, and it cannot be evidenced juridically unless a competent judgment is formed, and such a competent judgment cannot be in such a grave matter except by a general council, because it is dealing about the universal head of the Church, which make it the object of the judgment of the universal Church, which is a general council.
- “this council can be convoked by the authority of the Church, which is over the bishops or their biggest portion.”
- “Hence the pope cannot annul or recuse such council, because he is a part, and the Church can convoke it by divine right for that purpose, because she has the right to separate herself from heretics.”
- “Concerning the second point, namely by whose authority the declaration and deposition is to be made, there is dissent among theologians, and it does not appear by whom such a deposition is to be made, because it is an act of judgment, and jurisdiction, which can be exercised by no one over the pope.”
John of St. Thomas was correct on one point in this matter, namely, “it does not appear by whom such a deposition is to be made”, since such a deposition can be made by no one: He explicitly teaches that a “general council” can depose a pope, by an “act of judgment” and “jurisdiction”, which directly opposes the doctrine of the Fifth Lateran Council: “[I]t is clearly established that the Roman Pontiff alone, possessing as it were authority over all Councils, has full right and power of proclaiming Councils, or transferring and dissolving them, not only according to the testimony of Sacred Scripture, from the words of the holy Fathers and even of other Roman Pontiffs, of our predecessors, and from the decrees of the holy canons . . .”, as well as the solemn dogma of the universal primacy of jurisdiction defined by the First Vatican Council – “Quare a recto veritatis tramite aberrant, qui affirmant, licere ab iudiciis Romanorum Pontificum ad oecumenicum Concilium tamquam ad auctoritatem Romano Pontifice superiorem appellare.”
ANY JUDGMENT WHATSOEVER PRONOUNCED BY A COUNCIL ON A REIGNING PONTIFF DIRECTLY OPPOSES THE INJUDICABILITY OF THE POPE, AND THE AUTHORITY TO DISSOLVE ALL COUNCILS INHERENT IN THE SUPREME AND UNIVERSAL PRIMACY OF JURISDICTION OF THE ROMAN PONTIFF.