Now Can We Stop Arguing about Whether or Not a Pope Can be a Public Heretic? Fr. Kramer's Latest Text that Definitively Answers the Question.
Defection from the Faith & the Church - Faith, Heresy, and Loss of Office - An Exposé of the Heresy of John Salza & Robert Siscoe Part I
Fr. Paul Kramer B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div., S.T.L. (Cand.)
FAITH, HERESY & LOSS OF OFFICE
The sin of Heresy per se, like apostasy and schism, has the intrinsic effect of separating the heretic from the Church by itself, without any ecclesiastical censure or judgment; and is distinguished from other sins which do not by their very nature, separate the sinner from the body of the Church; and who, therefore, for grave offenses can only be separated from the Church by a sentence of excommunication incurred or inflicted by legitimate ecclesiastical authority. This is the infallible teaching of the universal magisterium of the Church which must be believed de fide divina et Catholica under pain of heresy, as is proven and demonstrated below.
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."; whereas those who have not left the Church by defecting, but are excluded from the Church by excommunication, are "cut off by her sentence from the number of her children and belong not to her communion until they repent.”
In order to understand how it is that heretics leave the Church by themselves -- i.e., that heresy per se, by the very nature of the transgression, separates the heretic from the body of the Church as a consequence intrinsic to the nature of the sin, (as Pius XII teaches, "suapte natura hominem ab Ecclesiae Corpore separet"); and that by the fully deliberate and obstinate act of heresy, the heretics have left the Church and separated themselves from union with the body of the Church: "a Corporis compage semetipsos misere separarunt", (as distinguished from those who for reason of a most grave fault have been cut off by the legitimate ecclesiastical authority -- "ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt" [either a jure, i.e. latæ sententiæ, or ab homine, i.e. sententia ferenda] ); it is necessary first to understand how one enters the Church as a faithful member; since it is by faith that one becomes a Christian and a member of the Church, and therefore it is by defecting from the faith into heresy or apostasy that one departs from the Church and ceases by the very nature of the sin to be a member.
It is first and foremost by faith that one is a Christian, without which, (as St. Thomas teaches), no one can be said to be a Christian: "Primum quod est necessarium Christiano, est fides, sine qua nullus dicitur fidelis Christianus." By faith, even before baptism (Acts 10:47), one can becomes united to the soul of the Church, and becomes a member not "in re" but "in voto" (as St. Robert Bellarmine teaches). This is, as St. Thomas explains, in virtue of the effects of faith: 1) It is by faith that the soul is first united to God: "Primum est quod per fidem anima coniungitur Deo: nam per fidem anima Christiana facit quasi quoddam matrimonium cum Deo"; and for that reason it is that one who is baptised must first profess the faith: "Et inde est quod quando homo baptizatur, primo confitetur fidem, cum dicitur ei, credis in Deum?". And thus it is that Baptism is first a sacrament of faith: "Quia Baptismus est primum sacramentum fidei." -- and for this reason Baptism is said to be "the door", the vitæ spiritualis ianua and the door to the other sacraments; for it is by this sacrament of faith that one enters the Church, and without faith the sacrament is of no benefit: "Baptismus enim sine fide non prodest." From there it becomes clear that in order to be a member of the Church, it is necessary, (as St. Pius X teaches), to be baptised, and to believe and profess the doctrine of Jesus Christ ("Per esser membro della Chiesa è necessario esser battezzato, credere e professare la dottrina di Gesù Cristo"); since the Church is "the congregation of all baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacraments, and the same sacrifice, under the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him" -- and therefore, "To remain a real member of the Church after Baptism a person must profess the one true faith and must not withdraw from the unity of the body of the Church in schism or heresy or be excommunicated by legitimate authority because of serious sins."
Thus, the heretic, schismatic, and apostate withdraw from unity and leave the Church, and thereby cease to be members, as St. Pius X teaches (in Question 200), Whoever would not believe in the solemn definitions of faith or would doubt them, would sin against faith; and remaining obstinate in unbelief, would no longer be a Catholic, but a heretic. ("Chi non credesse alle definizioni solenni del Papa, o anche solo ne dubitasse, peccherebbe contro la fede, e se rimanesse ostinato in questa incredulità, non sarebbe più cattolico, ma eretico.) Heretics are not only those who stubbornly doubt or deny any solemn definitions; but the same Pontiff teaches that they are heretics who refuse to believe any truth revealed by God which the Catholic Church teaches as "de fide": "Gli eretici sono i battezzati che ricusano con pertinacia di credere qualche verità rivelata da Dio e insegnata come di fede dalla Chiesa cattolica" (Q. 228).
The doctrine that not only the solemn definitions, but all that has been taught by the universal and ordinary magisterium of the Church as divinely revealed must be believed with divine and Catholic faith was set forth with precision in the Dogmatic Constitution 《Dei Filius》by the First Vatican Council: "Further, by divine and Catholic faith, all those things must be believed which are contained in the written word of God and in tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in her ordinary and universal teaching power, to be believed as divinely revealed." Thus it follows that heresy consists not only in the denial or refusal to believe solemnly defined dogmas, but any revealed truth taught by the universal magisterium that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith: "Can. 751 — Dicitur haeresis, pertinax, post receptum baptismum, alicuius veritatis divina et catholica credendae denegatio, aut de eadem pertinax dubitatio; apostasia, fidei christianae ex toto repudiatio". (Codex Iuris Canonici)
It is to be noted that in both extraordinary and ordinary Magisterium, the doctrine must either be proclaimed with a “definitive act” (extraordinary) or it is agreed that it is “to be held as defininive.” The teaching of both the extraordinary and the universal and ordinary Magisterium are defined doctrines. Any doctrine that is not defined does not pertain formally to the infallible Magisterium of the Church. The definitions of the extraordinary magisterium, as well as of the universal and ordinary magisterium are of equal authority: commenting on Canon 1323 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical University of Salamanca explains “1323 El magisterio ordinario y universal de la Iglesia es el ejercido por todos los obispos del mundo en sus diócesis bajo la dependencia del Romano Pontifice. Las enseñanzas del magisterio ordinario tienen igual valor que las cel solemne.”
Francisco Marin-Sola O.P. explains:
"The Church’s doctrinal authority or magisterium has for its proper and specific purpose the conservation and exposition of the revealed deposit. To determine or to fix infallibly the true meaning of the divine deposit is called a definition of faith by the Church ...
These two ways of exercising the magisterium on the content and the meaning of the revealed deposit are of equal dogmatic value, and both are true definitions of faith. Between them there exists only an accidental difference, to wit, that the magisterium exercised by the Ecumenical Council or by the Pope speaking ex cathedra is done with a greater solemnity and show of formulae and is easily discernible by all; on the other hand, the ordinary magisterium is exercised through the universal teaching of the Church without any special display or set formulae, and at times it is not so easy to determine its scope and signification."
Since, as Marin-Sola observes, the deinitions of he extraordinary magisterium are “done with a greater solemnity and show of formulae and is easily discernible by all”; while those of the ordinary magisterium are “without any special display or set formulae, and at times it is not so easy to determine its scope and signification”; I have included in the first endnote a brief exposition on the criteria that are used for determining whether or not a doctrine pertains to the universal and ordinary magisterium.
A precise and official formulation on Magisterium and that which must be believed de fide is to be found in Canons 749 and 750 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law: Can 749 §1. “The Supreme Pontiff, in virtue of his office, possesses infallible teaching authority when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful ... he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held as such.”
§2. “The college of bishops also possesses infallible teaching authority when the bishops exercise their teaching office gathered together in an ecumenical council when, as teachers and judges of faith and morals, they declare that for the universal Church a doctrine of faith or morals must be definitively held; they also exercise it scattered throughout the world but united in a bond of communion among themselves and with the Successor of Peter when together with that same Roman Pontiff in their capacity as authentic teachers of faith and morals they agree on an opinion to be held as definitive.”
Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.
§2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firmly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
The truths of faith taught by the Magisterium must be understood according to the mind of the Church with the same unchanging meaning: "For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed ... has been entrusted as a divine deposit to the spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding.
Therefore ... let the understanding, the knowledge, and wisdom of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progress strongly with the passage of the ages and the centuries; but let it be solely in its own genus, namely in the same dogma, with the same sense and the same understanding (St. Vincent of Lérins)." (Dei Filius)
St. Vincent of Lérins in his Commonitory lays down the rules that must be observed in order to safeguard the sacred doctrine so that its authentic meaning can be perpetually retained: "Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors."
The universality, antiquity and consensus on points of doctrine which distinguish them as being of divine origin are pre-eminently to be found where there is the unanimous consensus of the Fathers on a point of doctrine. In matters of faith and morals the true sense of sacred scripture is to be understood as the Church, which has the authority to interpret and judge, has understood and understands it; and no one may interpret them contrary to this sense; and it is permitted to no one to interpret the scriptures contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers: "Nos, . . . , hanc illius mentem esse declaramus, ut in rebus fidei et morum, ad aedificationem doctrinae Christianae pertinentium, is pro vero sensu sacrae Scripturae habendus sit, quem tenuit ac tenet Sancta Mater Ecclesia, cuius est iudicare de vero sensu et interpretatione Scripturarum sanctarum; atque ideo nemini licere contra hunc sensum, aut etiam contra unanimem consensum Patrum ipsam Scripturam sacram interpretari." [Dei Filius]
Steve Ray, in «Unanimous Consent of the Fathers», (written for the Catholic Dictionary of Apologetics and Evangelism by Ignatius Press), says, on the authority of ecclesiastical writers, "Where the Fathers speak in harmony, with one mind overall-not necessarily each and every one agreeing on every detail but by consensus and general agreement-we have 'unanimous consent'."
Unanimous consent in interpreting scripture cannot be intelligibly understood in the fundamentalistic sense of unanimous interpretation of many Fathers of individual scriptural texts and verses, (which is rare), but is understood by the Church to denote a moral unanimity of the Fathers agreeing or consenting on points of doctrine that are derived from various texts of scripture.
Thus, (Cardinal) Yves Congar writes, "In fact, a complete consensus is unnecessary: quite often, that which is appealed to as sufficient for dogmatic points does not go beyond what is encountered in the interpretation of many texts." On the consensus of the Fathers, Fr. Bernard Schid writes, "“[T]he unanimity of the Fathers (Consensus Patrum), in matters of faith and morals, begets complete certainty and commands assent, because they, as a body, bear witness to the teaching and belief of the infallible Church, representing the Church herself. So the authority of the Fathers is binding only when they all agree upon a question of faith and morals. The consensus, however, need not be absolute; a moral agreement suffices, as, for instance, when some of the greatest Fathers testify to a doctrine of the Church, and the rest, though quite aware of it, do not positively oppose it.” On this point Congar states, "As a matter of fact, a few testimonies sufficed, even that of one single man if his particular situation or the consideration accorded him by the Church were such as to give to what he said the value of coming from a quasi-personification of the whole Church at that time."  On this point of what constitutes “consensus” or “moral unanimity”, there is no disagreement among theologians. Benedict Lemeer O.P., who had been Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome for many years explained it this way in his lectures, as did Fr. De Simone, professor of Patristics in his Angelicum lectures. I mention this here, because John Salza continues with his repeated ad hominem ridicule against me for having quoted Yves Congar and Steve Ray – but never once expressing disagreement with their opinion in this matter.
The Catholic belief on heresy is stated in scripture, interpreted unanimously by the Fathers, explicated by the Doctors and theologians, defined by the universal and ordinary Magisterium of the Church, and taught by the Supreme Pontiffs to the whole Church in their ordinary magisterium.
The doctrine that, «The sin of Heresy per se, like apostasy and schism, has the intrinsic effect of separating the heretic from the Church by itself, without any ecclesiastical censures or judgment; and is distinguished from other sins which do not by their very nature, separate the sinner from the body of the Church; and who, therefore, for grave offenses can only be separated from the Church by a sentence of excommunication incurred or inflicted by legitimate ecclesiastical authority», is taught plainly and explicitly in Mystici Corporis:
"In Ecclesiae autem membris reapse ii soli annumerandi sunt, qui regenerationis lavacrum receperunt veramque fidem profitentur, neque a Corporis compage semet ipsos misere separarunt, vel ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt." and, "Siquidem non omne admissum, etsi grave scelus, eiusmodi est ut — sicut schisma, vel haeresis, vel apostasia faciunt — suapte natura hominem ab Ecclesiae Corpore separet."
The common and general meaning of the word "admissum" is defined by Lewis & Short as a "voluntary fault", and only in certain specific instances can it be understood to mean "crime", when the particular context in which it is used supports that interpretation. Salza & Siscoe gratuitously interpret the term as used in Mystici Corporis to mean "offense" as in"crime" -- a canonical delict or transgression of ecclesiastical positive law which, in the case of heresy by ecclesiastical authority incurs the penalty of excommunication latæ sententiæ. It is quite impossible, and in fact, contra rationem, for the word "admissum" to be understood as meaning only the canonical delict of heresy, schism, or apostasy suapte natura separates a man from the Church, but not the external sin, in the context that it is used in this passage of Mystici Corporis, because that would render the meaning of the passage unintelligible and entirely irrational.
Salza & Siscoe go to great lengths to insist that the words "admissa" and "admissum" mean, "crime(s)", and not "sin(s)"; but when you examine the syntax of text very carefully, it makes no difference how you translate the terms. Read the Latin text very carefully – it says: "And thus not every offense (sin, fault, crime), even a grave crime, does such – as schism, heresy, and apostasy do – by their very nature separate a man from unity of the body the Church." There it is: Others are separated from the Church "by the legitimate authority of the Church"; as opposed to those who "miserably separate themselves from union with the body" of the Church by heresy, schism, or apostasy, which separate them not by the authority of the Church, but suapte natura. It pertains to the nature of a crime that it separates one from the Church by the penalty of excommunication, incurred or inflicted by the authority of the Church. Heresy, schism and apostasy are declared by Pius XII, (in conformity with the constant teaching of the universal magisterium), to be the sole exceptions, because heretics, schismatics, or apostates are declared not to be separated from the body of the Church “by legitimate authority”, but by the very nature of the sinful act, by which they “miserably separated themselves from the unity of the Body” of the Church (a Corporis compage semet ipsos misere separarunt). Salza & Siscoe interpret this papal magisterial text by conflating it with the private opinion of John of St. Thomas, in order to support their heretical belief that the sinful act of manifest formal heresy by itself does not suapte natura separate a man from the Church unless there is pronounced a judgment of the Church for the “crime” of heresy, but "without an additional censure" – (according to them), there must be some judgment, condemnation or penal censure, but not the additional censure. i.e. a vitandus declaration. According to them, it must be a canonical delict – a penal offense judged by the Church for heresy to separate a man from the Church “suapte natura”! However, if there is any judgment or censure at all, then the heretics are separated by the "legitimate authority of the Church", and therefore not by heresy suapte natura, by which they "miserably separated themselves from the unity of the body" of the Church. One is either separated from the body of the Church by excommunication, i.e. “by legitimate authority”, or by one’s own sinful act of desertion, which according to its very nature nature separates one from the body of the Church, as St. Pius V and St. Pius X teach in their catechisms. There exists no third way out of the Church, by which one is separated from the body of the Church by some judgment, before being excommunicated or declared vitandus. Thus, their interpretation of the passage of Mystiici Corporis would render it entirely irrational.
As can be seen from the above quoted text of St. Pius V's Catechism, heretics withdraw (descisco, desciscere, descivi, descitum - withdraw, leave, revolt from, desert defect), they leave the Church on their own, as opposed to the excommunicati, who are expelled by act of authority. By the act of heresy, i.e., by the sin of defecting from the Catholic faith by an external act of manifest formal heresy, the heretic, by that act of heresy suapte natura, i.e., by the effect that is intrinsic to the nature of the act of formal heresy, leaves the Church and ceases to be a member. It is not by the force of law in virtue of a latæ sententiæ excommunication, or in any manner by means of, or after any ecclesiastical judgment, that the heretic ceases to be a member of the Church by having been expelled from the Church by the authority of ecclesiastical law (ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt), nor is it necessary for a heretic to formally declare his separation from the Church or join another religios sect or denomination, but the act of desertion itself intrinsic to formal heresy, suapte natura, separates the heretic from the body of the Church, so that any judgment or censure does not in any manner separate the heretic from the Church or dispose the heretic to be separated from the Church; but only gives juridical recognition and adds force of law to the fact of separation accomplished suapte natura by heresy, and therefore per se by the heretic entirely by himself; and therefore the censure merely gives juridical recognition to the fact and imposes the obligation of absolution from the censure as a condition for reconciliation with the Church.
If Salza's interpretation of Mystici Corporis were correct, i.e., that only the canonical delict of heresy suapte natura, but not the sin of heresy suapte natura severs the heretic from the body of the Church, then the distinction between those who depart from the Church by their own act of desertion, and those who are expelled from the Church by legitimate authority would not exist, since all sinners separated from the Church for being guilty of a delict, including heretics, would then be separated from the Church by legitimate authority -- by a judgment of guilt, or a sentence of excommunication incurred or inflicted by legitimate ecclesiastical authority; and not by the very nature of the act of desertion. It is also quite absurd to say that the crime of heresy only, but not the sin, (which is identical in essence to the sin, and defined in both Canon Law and Moral Theology in identical terms), suapte natura severs the perpetrator from the Church in some manner other than by which other crimes separate the offender from the Church, since under both aspects the crime and the sin are identical in nature except for the censure that would make the sin a crime indistinguishable in nature from any other crime.
It is patent, however, that Pius XII in the same Mystici Corporis speaks of heresy schism and apostasy suapte natura considered in themselves, and not as a canonical delict, when he says it is a matter, not of human law, but of divine law (iubente Domino) that those who refuse to hear the Church are cut off: “Sicut igitur in vero christifidelium coetu unum tantummodo habetur Corpus, unus Spiritus, unus Dominus et unum Baptisma, sic haberi non potest nisi una fides ; 18 atque adeo qui Ecclesiam audire renuerit, iubente Domino habendus est ut ethnicus et publicanus. 19 Quamobrem qui fide vel regimine invicem dividuntur, in uno eiusmodi Corpore atque uno eius divino Spiritu vivere nequeunt.” And thus he says in the following paragraph, that hence, literally, siquidem, i.e., “accordingly” not all sins as do schism, heresy, or apostasy separate a man from the body of the Church: “20 Siquidem non omne admissum, etsi grave scelus, eiusmodi est ut — sicut schisma, vel haeresis, vel apostasia faciunt — suapte natura hominem ab Ecclesiae Corpore separet.”
Finally, if Salza's opinion that only the canonical crime of heresy (but not the public sin by its very nature), severs the heretic from the Church, then the perpetual teaching of the Church, namely, that heresy per se, and not heresy considered as a canonical delict, severs the heretic from the Church, would be an error. St. Robert Bellarmine quotes St. Jerome (d. 420 AD), one of the four major Latin Fathers, who teaches with the unanimous consensus of the Fathers, "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". Bellarmine states explicitly that the heretic is cut off from the body of the Church before any sentence of excommunication comes into effect: “Yet heretics are outside the Church, even before excommunication, and deprived of all jurisdiction, for they are condemned by their own judgment, as the Apostle teaches to Titus; that is, they are cut from the body of the Church without excommunication, as Jerome expresses it.”
St. Robert Bellarmine teaches most explicitly (De Romano Pontifice, II xxx) that it is heresy by its very nature, (ex natura haeresis), which severs the heretic from the Church, and causes the immediate loss of ecclesiastical office: “Thenceforth, 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 desperately attempts to interpret the Fathers as teaching that the heretic’s severing himself from the Church and the subsequent loss of office result from an ecclesiastical censure or judgment. Bellarmine, in his refutation of the Fourth Opinion utterly destroys that argument: “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. Yet heretics are outside the Church, even before excommunication, and deprived of all jurisdiction, for they are condemned by their own judgment, as the Apostle teaches to Titus; that is, they are cut from the body of the Church without excommunication, as Jerome expresses it.” (Neque valet, quod quidam respondent, istos Patres loqui secundum antiqua jura, nunc autem ex decreto Concilii Constantiensis non amittere jurisdictionem, nisi nominatim excommunicatos, & percussores clericorum; hoc, inquam, nihil valet. Nam Patres illi cum dicunt haereticos amittere jurisdictionem, non allegant ulla jura humana, quae etiam forte tunc nulla extabant de hac re: sed argumentantur ex natura haeresis. Concilium autem Constantiense, non loquitur nisi de excommunicatis, id est, de his, qui per sententiam Ecclesiae amiserunt jurisdictionem. Haeretici autem etiam ante excummunicationem sunt extra Ecclesiam, & privati omni jurisdictione: sunt enim proprio judicio condemnati, ut docet Apostolus ad Titum3. V. II. Hoc est: praecisi a corpore Ecclesiae, sine excommunication, ut Hieronymus exponit.) Thus, St. Robert Bellarmine proves that it is the teaching of scripture, interpreted unanimously by the Fathers, that heretics are outside the Church and lose all jurisdiction by themselves before any judgment is made by the Church.
It is also shown by reason – by the very meaning of the words schism, heresy, apostasy suapte natura in Mystici Corporis, and and ex natura haeresis in De Romano Pontifice, that what is being spoken of is heresy in itself, in its very own nature, and not heresy considered as a violation of ecclesiastical law; because a thing considered in its nature, is considered formally as a principium motus in eo quod est. St. Thomas takes this definition straight from the Physics of Aristotle (Aristotle, Physics, III, I, 201 a 10 s.); and says, “Naturalia enim sunt quorum principium motus in ipsis est." (Sancti Thomae de Aquino, De motu cordis ad magistrum Philippum de Castro Caeli) Thus to speak of heresy suapte natura, or of heresy ex natura haeresis, refers to it as a principle of motion that is intrinsic to itself, and by which it separates the heretic from the Church, and not by any extrinsic principle such as the force of a human positive law.
Thus, as explained above, it is by faith that one is first united to God; and by the external profession of faith, and the sacrament of faith, that one enters the Church, because it pertains properly to the nature of faith that it unites one to God and to his Church; and it is by the contrary disposition of the sin of infidelity – of heresy or apostasy, by which one, with an external act, rejects faith, and leaves the Church. Such is the motion proper to each nature, as St. Thomas explains, that the natural motion of fire is upward, and of earth downward ([M]otus autem naturalis ad unam partem est, ut ignis sursum, et terrae deorsum); so likewise the motion of faith brings one into the Church, and heresy suapte natura takes one out.
Bellarmine explains that even bad Catholics are united to the Church and are members, they are united by the soul through faith, and by the body through the confession of faith and the visible participation of the sacraments. (Nam Catholici enim mali sunt uniti, & sunt membra; animo, per fidem; corpore per confessionem fidei, & visibilium Sacramentorum participationem); and secret heretics are united and are members only by external union, but a manifest heretic is not a member of the Church in any manner, by neither soul nor body, neither by internal nor external union. (haereticus manifestus, nullo modo est membrum Ecclesiae, id est, neque animo, neque corpore, sive neque unione interna, neque externa)
Applying this doctrine to the hypothetical case of a manifestly heretical pope, Bellarmine explains in what manner faith is simpliciter a necessary disposition for one to be pope; and faith being removed, by its contrary disposition, which is heresy, the pope would straightaway cease to be pope, with the necessary disposition for the form of the papacy not being able to be preserved. (ista dispositione sublata per contrariam quae est haeresis, mox papa desinit esse; neque enim potest forma conservari sine necessariis dispositionibus.) It is therefore on this theological foundation that Bellarmine judges the fifth opinion to be the “true opinion”, and according to it that Bellarmine’s explication of it must be interpreted. Thus, when Bellarmine affirms that a manifestly heretical pope can be “deposed”, it is clearly his meaning that he refers not to a pope while still in office, but one who has already ceased to be pope by himself, or; as Pope Gregory XVI expressed it of the claimant Pedro De Luna (Benedict XIII), if ever he was pope, would have already “fallen” (decaduto) from the papal throne for having attacked the dogma “unam sanctam”.
The correct understanding of the doctrine of St Robert Bellarmine, which exposes the absurdity of the Salza & Siscoe interpretation of Bellarmine’s doctrine on the question of a heretic pope, is explained by the Jesuit canonists Franz Xavier Wernz S.J. and Pedro Vidal S.J. in, Jus Canonicum (1938) Chapter VII:
“453. By heresy which is notorious and openly made known. The Roman Pontiff should he fall into it is by that very fact even before any declaratory sentence of the Church deprived of his power of jurisdiction. (Per haeresim notoriam et palam divulgatam R. Pontifex si in illam incidat, ipso facto etiam ante omnem sententiam declaratoriam Ecclesiae sua potestate iurisdictionis privatus existit) Concerning this matter there are five Opinions of which the first denies the hypothesis upon which the entire question is based, namely that a Pope even as a private doctor can fall into heresy. This opinion although pious and probable cannot be said to be certain and common. For this reason the hypothesis is to be accepted and the question resolved. [NB - The term notorious in the expression, by heresy which is notorious and openly made known, is clearly denoting the common meaning of the word in the context that the authors are using it, and not according to the restricted canonical definition of the term (as would be the case in a commentary on penal law), as some authors arbitrarily interpret it; seizing upon the word notorious, and uncritically assuming it to denote a delict that a judge has pronounced by a judicial sentence – something that is impossible in the case of a manifestly heretical pope. Thus it is manifestly evident that Wernz and Vidal do not apply the term in its canonical sense, because the authors are expounding a point of speculative theology, namely, the loss of office ex natura haeresis, as is manifestly evident from the context. What is canonically notorious is a question of law, and is therefore determined by legislation, jurisprudence, and principles of law. Although in Moral Theology, the definition of notorious heresy in the sense of not merely material heresy, but of formal heresy, would be materially equivalent to the definition of notorious heresy in the case of a delict of heresy as it is understood in its penal/canonical connotation of notoriety of fact; the moral-theological definition is nevertheless formally disgtinguished from the penal/canonical definition by the fact that it is not a question of law determined by legalities, but is determined by the moral object of the act, and according to the nature of that which constitutes the sin of heresy as a notorious act. It is in this moral-theological sense, that an act of formal heresy can be plainly seen to be notorious when the obstinately denied or doubted revealed truth of faith is: 1) a revealed truth that pertains to natural law; 2) a universally known dogma that no Catholic is ignorant of; 3) it is explicitly acknowledged by the heretic to be contrary to dogma; 4) the doubt or denial persists after correction.]
“A second opinion holds that the Roman Pontiff forfeits his power automatically even on account of occult heresy. This opinion is rightly sai d by Bellarmine to be based upon a false supposition, namely that even occult heretics are completely separated from the body of the Church... The third opinion thinks that the Roman Pontiff does not automatically forfeit his power and cannot be deprived of it by deposition even for manifest heresy. This assertion is very rightly said by Bellarmine to be ‘extremely improbable’.
“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.
“Finally, there is the fifth opinion - that of Bellarmine himself - which was expressed initially and is rightly defended by Tanner and others as the best proven and the most common. For he who is no longer a member of the body of the Church, i.e. the Church as a visible society, cannot be the head of the Universal Church. But a Pope who fell into public heresy would cease by that very fact to be a member of the Church. Therefore he would also cease by that very fact to be the head of the Church.
“Indeed, a publicly heretical Pope, who, by the commandment of Christ and the Apostle must even be avoided because of the danger to the Church, must be deprived of his power as almost all admit. But he cannot be deprived by a merely declaratory sentence... Wherefore, 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.”
Thus, the great Jesuit canonists of the Gregorian University explain that Opinion No. 5 of St. Robert Bellarmine is based on the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, who said in Sermo II: "In tantum enim fides mihi necessaria est ut cum de caeteris peccatis solum Deum judicem habeam, propter solum peccatum quod in fide commititur possem ab Ecclesia judicari. Nam qui non credit, iam iudicatus est. (Joh.3 18).", and “I say the less that he can be judged by men, but rather be shown to be already judged.” Thus it is not an exception to the principle, Apostolica Sedes a nemine iudicatur, as many had taught before the solemn definition of the universal papal primacy of jurisdiction by the First Vatican Council made such an interpretation impossible, but rather, as Paul Hinschius explained in his monumental work on Canon Law, a series of Catholic writers, and already Innocent III and St. Robert Bellarmine, see no exception to that rule, because a pope who falls into heresy would already leave the Church and forfeit the Pontificate, so that a council could no longer depose him (in the proper sense of a juridical deposition of a reigning Pontiff), but could only declare that the loss of office had taken place: «Eine Reihe katholischer Schriftsteller wollen aber darin keine Ausnahme von der gedachten Regel finden, weil der in Ketzerei verfallene Papst sich dadurch selbst von der Kirche ausscheide, damit weiter den Pontifikat verwirke und also das Konzil keine Deposition mehr verhängen könne, sondern nur die Thatsache des erfolgten Verlustes der Päpstlichen Würde zu konstatiren habe.  (Dieser Gedanke tritt schon bei Innocenz III. auf (im Sermo IV. In consecrat. pontiff. opp. Colon. 1575. 1. 197): «Potest (pontifex) ab hominibus iudicari vel potius iudicatus ostendi, si videlicet evanescat in haeresim, quoniam qui non credit, iam iudicatus est» ) Vgl. ferner Bellarmin, christ. Fidei controv. gen. III. De Romano pontifice II. 30. (ed. Ingolstadt. 1605. 1083): «Est ergo opinio quinta vera, papam haereticum manifestum per se desinere esse [papam et caput, sicut per se desinit esse] christianus et membrum corporis Ecclesiae; quare ab ecclesia posse eum iudicari et puniri. Haec est sententia omnium veterum patrum qui docent haereticos manifestos mox amittere omnem jurisdictionem»; Fagnan. comm. Ad c. 4. X. de elect. I. 6. n. 70 ff; Fragosi, regimen reipubl. Christianae lib. II. c. I. §. 2. n. 21 (Lugduni. 1648. 2, 11); Kober, Deposition. S. 585. » (see translation in Part II)
With an arrogant stupidity that nearly defies belief, Salza and Siscoe say that it is I who have not understood the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine correctly, in spite of the fact that all the great scholars, canonists, jurists and theologians of recent centuries have unanimously understood Bellarmine’s doctrine in the manner that I have explained it; yet it is on the basis of their own grotesquely inverted interpretation of Bellarmine and of Mystici Corporis that they obstinately justify their heretical doctrine, that heresy by itself does not separate the heretic from the Church without an ecclesiastical censure or judgment – whereas 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 severs one from the Church, and 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.
Salza and Siscoe still adamantly maintain, that, « As we explain in great detail in our book, Bellarmine and Suarez teach that the Pope will lose his office, ipso facto, once he is judged by the Church to be a heretic, without the additional juridical act of vitandus declaration. » Wernz and Vidal have explained that the opinion of Suarez is not that of Bellarmine, who says Opinon No. 5 is the “true opinion”, but that Suarez subscribed to Opinion No. 4. Thus, Salza and Siscoe quote Suarez to justify their errant doctrine, claiming that those who follow Bellarmine in saying that the loss of office takes place before any judgment, «have erred is 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”). This is clear from the following quotation from Suarez who wrote:
‘Therefore, others [e.g., Azorius] affirm the Church is superior to the Pope in the case of heresy, but this is difficult to say. For Christ the Lord constituted the Pope as supreme judge absolutely; even the canons indifferently and generally affirm this; and at length the Church does not validly exercise any act of jurisdiction against the Pope; nor is the power conferred to him by election, rather [the Church] merely designates a person upon whom Christ confers the power by himself; 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…’ »
Incredibly, Salza and Siscoe have interpreted Bellarmine by quoting Suarez (and John of St. Thomas)! In order to arrive at Bellarmine's meaning, it is necessary to make a critical examination of Bellarmine's own words; but Salza and Siscoe attempt to determine Bellarmine's meaning by quoting Suarez and John of St. Thomas — and these are the men who say, Fr. Kramer is an amateur! I will provide a critical commentary on St. Robert Bellarmine's teaching on this question in a later segment of this work. Since it may be necessary to devote entire articles to each of the five opinions, I will only comment on them briefly here; since Salza and Sicoe have expounded on this topic so ignorantly, that a full refutation of their errors needs to be done.
In their insolent ignorance, these mere dilettantes (Salza and Siscoe), who have no formal education in Sacred Theology or in Canon Law, and who cannot read theological works in Latin (the language of Sacred Theology), nor in Italian or German, have even gone so far as to say that the above mentioned eminent canonists of the Pontifical Gregorian University have wrongly interpreted Suarez and Bellarmine, saying that they equate the opinion of Suarez with Cajetan; whereas in reality they did no such thing. What they did say is that Suarez and Cajetan were both of Opinion No. 4. Each had his own variation of the Fourth Opinion, but both of them opined that a manifest heretic pope would not lose office until judged by the Church – according to Cajetan by deposition, and according to Suarez, the logically incoherent opinion that the heretic pope would lose office ipso facto for heresy, but only after having been judged juridically by the Church, which amounts to a form of deposition. Wernz and Vidal correctly explain Bellarmine’s Opinion No. 5, which holds that “a Pope who fell into public heresy would cease by that very fact to be a member of the Church […] he cannot be deprived by a merely declaratory sentence... Wherefore, it must be firmly stated that a heretical Roman Pontiff would by that very fact [of falling into heresy] forfeit his power.” This is exactly what Bellarmine says, to wit,that a manifest heretic pope ceases to be pope, a Christian, and a member of the Church by himself (per se), having left the Church and the pontificate by his own judgment, and not after the judgment of others: “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, “heretics are outside the Church, even before excommunication, and deprived of all jurisdiction, for they are condemned by their own judgment”. Salza & Siscoe simplistically equate the fourth opinion exclusively with the opinion of Cajetan, obvlivious of the fact that many variations of the fourth opinion had already been formulated by medieval canonists centuries before Cajetan. That opinion had achieved its classical formulation from Cajetan in the 16th Century, so in refuting Opinion No. 4, Bellarmine zeroed in on Cajetan’s formulation of it.
Opinion No. 2 differs essentially from Opinion No. 5 in that in the case of a secret heretic, the heretic has not pronounced judgment against himself, thereby ceasing by his own judgment against himself to be pope, as does the manifest heretic; and does not cease to be a visible member of the Church as does the manifest heretic. Although he would remain united to the Church by external union only; so, as a practical hypothesis, he would not cease being pope for the sin of occult heresy, because no judgment of men can be pronounced against him, nor does he resign voluntarily – and, since the heretic pope was made pope with the cooperation of men, so he will not be removed except through men. Bellarmine states explicitly, “Nam iurisdictio datur quidem Pontifici a Deo, sed hominum opera concurrente, ut patet; quia ab hominibus habet iste homo, qui ante non erat Papa, ut incipiat esse Papa; igitur non aufertur a Deo nisi per hominem, at haereticus occultus non potest ab homine iudicari; nec ipse sponte eam potestatem vult relinquere.” The reason why God cannot secretly depose a heretic pope is that it is impossible for the visible head of the Church on earth to be invisibly removed, and therefore if he is to be removed, he must be removed by men in a visible manner. In his explanation of Opinion No.No. 5 and his refutation of Opinion No. 4, Bellarmine explained how a heretic pope would be visibly removed from the Pontificate: the manifest heretic pope would cease to be pope “by himself” (per se), i.e., by his own judgment against himself and not by others, and then, having already fallen from the pontificate directly by his own actions, he could then be judged and punished by men; and he explains at some length why a pope while still in office cannot be judged and deposed by his subjects. Bellarmine’s refutation of Opinion No. 2 must be understood according to the unequivocal doctrine he sets forh in his explanation of Opinion No. 5, namely, that the manifest heretic pope would cease “by himself” to be pope, a Christian, and a member of the Church; and “for which reason” (quare) having ceased to be pope, “he may be judged and punished by the Church.” Thus, the judgment he speaks of in order to bring about the removal of the heretic from the papal throne is quite obviously a post factum declaration of the ipso facto loss of office, i.e. a declaratory sentence that the man who was pope has lost office, and not a judicial or juridical sentence, i.e. a judicial or juridical verdict of guilt on the pope while still in office, which as a dispositive cause brings about the ipso facto loss of office; because such a judgment requires the jurisdiction of a superior, and therefore is impossible to be made by non-superiors who lack jurisdiction. Since the solemn definition of the papal primacy, it is no longer permissible to hold the latter opinion, and can be seen to be heretical, that a pope while still in office can be judged by anyone on earth for any reason, because papal immunity pertains to the very essence of the judicial supremacy of the primacy as solemnly defined by the First Vatican Council, and it has been repeatedly taught by the popes that the pope cannot be judged by anyone. Nevertheless, Salza and Siscoe stubbornly hold to their heretical opinion that a heretic pope would not lose office unless judged juridically by the public judgment of the Church; an opinion which directly opposes the doctrine of the injudicability of the pope, which pertains to the essence of the dogma of the universal primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff.
As I pointed out above, the observation of Hinschius that many Catholic authors had already avoided the conflict between the problematic doctrine that a pope, by way of exception, can be judged by the Church and deposed for heresy, and the principle opposed to it, namely, Apostolica Sedes a nemine iudicatur; by advancing the opinion that the manifest heretic pope falls from office by himself before any judgment is made against him by the Church, so that a Council would not be able to depose him, but would only declare the fact that the pope had fallen from the pontificate; and he quotes Innocent III and Belarmine as holding this opinion. It remains here only to be said, that Pope Gregory XVI (quoted above) was also of this same opinion as Bellarmine, and he based his opinion on the doctrine of Ballerini, who explained it with great erudition in his work, De Potestate Ecclesiastica. Pope Gregory had said of papal claimant Benedict XIII, “So then he could be considered, as noted by Ballerini, to have been a public schismatic and heretic, and consequently to have fallen from papacy, even if he had been validly elevated to it.” Ballerini wrote of this same case saying, “For this double reason of schism and heresy Benedict XIII (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, which was not the case with John XXIII, which in the sentence passed against him was not stated. One sees 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.” Ballerini says here that if Benedict XIII had been a valid pope; by his heresy and schism he would have ipso facto of his own volition (sua voluntate) “abdicated the primacy and the pontificate” (primatu et pontificatu exauctoratus”; and for that reason the Council could rightly and correctly depose him. However, this self-deposition having taken place before any judgment or canonical warnings, (the warnings were not canonical admonitions, but were made only in charity) by the Council, the Council in its judgment declared that he had shown himself to be a schismatic and heretic, therefore, Ballerini explains, the Council did not declare that it had “deposed” him, but simply that he was deposed (depositum declaruit potius quam deposuit). Hence, the Council did not depose him but declared him deposed “as a precautionary measure” (“ad omnem cautelam”), and that he had been automatically cast out by God, and deprived of all office and ecclesiastical dignity ipso jure due to obstinate heresy and schism. Thus the council's judgment (Session 37) did not depose or in any way cause him to lose office, but merely declared it post factum: “For, how greatly he has sinned against God's church and the entire christian people, fostering, and continuing the schism and division of God's church How ardent and frequent have been the devout and humble prayers, exhortations and requests of kings, princes and prelates with which he has been warned in charity, in accordance with the teaching of the gospel, to bring peace to the church, to heal its wounds and to reconstitute its divided parts into one structure and one body, as he had sworn to do, and as for a long time it was within his power to do ! He was unwilling, however, to listen to their charitable admonitions. How many were the persons afterwards sent to attest to him! Because he did not listen at all even to these, it has been necessary, in accordance with the aforesaid evangelical teaching of Christ, to say to the church, since he has not listened even to her, that he should be treated as a heathen and a publican. All these things have been clearly proved by the articles coming from the inquiry into faith and the schism held before this present synod, regarding the above and other matters brought against him, as well as by their truth and notoriety. The proceedings have been correct and canonical, all the acts have been correctly and carefully examined and there has been mature deliberation. Therefore this same holy general synod, representing the universal church and sitting as a tribunal in the aforesaid inquiry, pronounces, decrees and declares by this definitive sentence written here, that the same Peter de Luna, called Benedict XIII as has been said, has been and is a perjurer, a cause of scandal to the universal church, a promoter and breeder of the ancient schism, that long established fission and division in God's holy church, an obstructer of the peace and unity of the said church, a schismatic disturber and a heretic, a deviator from the faith, a persistent violator of the article of the faith One holy catholic church, incorrigible, notorious and manifest in his scandal to God's church, and that he has rendered himself unworthy of every title, rank, honour and dignity, rejected and cut off by God, deprived by the law itself of every right in any way belonging to him in the papacy or pertaining to the Roman pontiff and the Roman church, and cut off from the catholic church like a withered member. This same holy synod, moreover, as a precautionary measure, since according to himself he actually holds the papacy, deprives, deposes and casts out the said Peter from the papacy and from being the supreme pontiff of the Roman church and from every title, rank, honour, dignity, benefice and office whatsoever. It forbids him to act henceforth as the pope or as the supreme and Roman pontiff. It absolves and declares to be absolved all Christ's faithful from obedience to him, and from every duty of obedience to him and from oaths and obligations in any way made to him. It forbids each and every one of Christ's faithful to obey, respond to or attend to, as if he were pope, the said Peter de Luna, who is a notorious, declared and deposed schismatic and incorrigible heretic, or to sustain or harbour him in any way contrary to the aforesaid, or to offer him help, advice or good will.”
Thus, the doctrine that a heretic pope would lose office by himself, before any sentence, judgment, or declaration, was already affirmed and applied by the Council of Constance, in the decree that cleared the way for the election of Pope Martin V. As Hinschius observed in the above cited passage, this opinion is supported by the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, expressed in the words: «Potest (pontifex) ab hominibus iudicari vel potius iudicatus ostendi, si videlicet evanescat in haeresim, quoniam qui non credit, iam iudicatus est» – that the pontiff can be judged or rather that he can be shown to be judged”; and thus Wernz and Vidal cited above, “Wherefore, 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.”
Ballerini, However, is the most explicit in stating that the fall of a manifest heretic pope takes place without any judgment of the Church. With the Latin text of the book in front of me and the chapter on this topic before my eyes, I cite the key passage: «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. »
It is ironic and quite simply incredible, (but nevertheless true), that Salza and Siscoe quote this text in support of their opinion that a manifest heretic pope does not lose office unless he is first given official warning by the Church, and then, if he remains obstinate in heresy, he would then lose office upon being judged by the Church. Firstly, Ballerini is clearly presenting this argument against those who maintain that it is necessary in order that the Church render a judgment, such a manifest heretic pope must be judged by an ecumenical council. In Section II of Chapter IX, he asks why not resort to a simpler solution than convoking a general synod when there is the most grave and present danger of a heretic pope : «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? » And he says in the case of a pope falling into heresy there is a faster and easier remedy: «Remedium in casu haeresis, in quam Pontifex incideret, promtius & facilius suppetit. » He quotes St. Paul to Titus, saying a heretic after a first and second warning is to be avoided, and that such a one is condemned by his own judgment, and this can be done by any private person, and so it could even be done by cardinals, the Roman clergy, or even a (local) synod of bishops – and if he does not retract, but remains obstinate in his opinion either contrary to a manifest or a defined dogma, such pertinacity not being able to be excused, he declares himself openly to be a heretic, to have withdrawn from the Catholic faith by his own will, cutting himself off from the body of the Church, without any declaration or sentence being made. In support of this opinion, he quotes St. Jerome, exactly as did Bellarmine.
When I explained in an e-mail to John Salza, “The point at issue is about the loss of office without any declaration or sentence by the Church -- the public heretic ceases to be pope and member of the Church BY HIMSELF (as Bellarmine says), ‘so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would be necessary’ (as Ballerini says)”; Salza answered with the incredibly ignorant reply: “Your response proves that you don’t even understand our position. WE DO NOT HOLD THAT A DECLARATORY SENTENCE IS REQUIRED FOR LOSS OF OFFICE! And yet you continually accuse us of this falsehood! Thus, it is you who uses straw men arguments and red-herrings, and you do so either out of profound ignorance or malice, God knows. You confuse the public judgment of pertinacity with a declaratory sentence of the crime, which shows you don’t know the material. As I said in the last email, whether a declaratory sentence is required after the Church establishes the fact of public pertinacity is irrelevant.” This is not an expression of mere, blind ignorance: Salza’s explicitly stated position is that the loss of office does not take place without the public judgment of the Church; and there is no public judgment unless there is either a judicial sentence, or at least a merely declaratory sentence – So Ballerini’s words, "so that no declaration or sentence from anyone would be necessary” plainly state his position that no public judgment of the Church is necessary for the loss of office to take place; yet Salza & Siscoe adamantly and stubbornly insist that a public judgment of the Church is necessary for a heretic pope to fall from office ipso facto; and they claim that this is also the opinion of Ballerini! Salza says, “[W]hether a declaratory sentence is required after the Church establishes the fact of public pertinacity is irrelevant”, but it would only be by a declaratory sentence that the Church could make a public judgment that would juridically estsblish the fact of public pertinacity; since without the promulgation of a declaratory sentence, there would be no public judgment of the Church having any force of law! A more mendacious expression of consummate sophistry can scarcely be imagined than the explanation given by John Salza.
John Salza does not know what is a declaratory sentence: A public judgment of the Church is either a juridical act which is merely delaratory – a “declaratory sentence” which, with force of law merely declares a fact, such as that one has incurred a penalty or that one has already lost office due to manifest defection from the faith and the Church; or it is a judicial act of pronouncing a penal sentence on a subject by one who has jurisdiction over a person to declare that person guilty of a crime. Without either of these juridical acts, a declaratory sentence, or a judicial sentence of guilt, the Church makes no public judgment of pertinacity. Salza, the Doctor of Law, in the footnote on page 275 of his and Siscoe’s magnum opus most ignorantly declares: “A merely declaratory sentence of the crime is not a juridical act.” A declaratory sentence, however, since it is a clear cut example of administration of the law, to wit, a public judgment of the Church, it is a juridical act, the execution of which pertains to the administrative power. In order for it to be a valid juridical act, it must be promulgated by one who has the authority to pronounce it, and to have force of law it must be declared in such a manner so that it is validly promulgated. If any of these elements are lacking, ther is simply no valid act of official judgment of the Church. Therefore, I reply to Salza with his own words: “You are not making even the most basic, elementary distinctions. You are not capable of discussing the finer points of this theology because you don’t even know the basics.” Ballerini’s position is manifestly and indisputably this: that upon the manifestation of pertinacity of a heretic pope, the pope manifests that he has “abdicated the primacy and the pontificate”, or, (as Bellarmine says, “ceased to be pope by himself”), before any judgement by the Church; and the public judgment of the Church is merely a declaration of the fact that the loss of office has taken place. Ballerini also makes it explicitly clear in the above quoted passage, that pertinacity in formal heresy, the rejection of a dogma, is all that is required for the heretic to depart from the body of the Church, when he explained that the pope who “would maintain himself hardened in heresy”, i.e.that he “remains obstinate in his opinion either contrary to a manifest or a defined dogma” would thereby “have openly departed from the Church […] 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.”
Ballerini’s explanation of this point coincides exactly with the Church’s magisterial teaching. The Church’s definition of heresy is set forth in the Code of Canon Law: “Can. 751 — Dicitur haeresis, pertinax, post receptum baptismum, alicuius veritatis divina et catholica credendae denegatio, aut de eadem pertinax dubitatio; apostasia, fidei christianae ex toto repudiatio”. The 1917 code of Canon Law defines what a heretic is in precisely the same terms: Can. 1325 §2 — “Post receptum baptismum si quis, nomen retinens christianum, pertinaciter aliquam ex veritatibus fide divina et catholica credendis denegat aut de ea dubitat, haereticus . . . est.” The canon makes it clear that even those who still claim to be Catholic, but who pertinaciously deny or doubt any truth which must be believed with divine and Caholic faith are heretics. When the Church declares that heretics are outside the Church, she understands the term ‘heretics’ according to this definition as it has traditionally been understood, and which remains applicable even under the 1983 Code: Canon 6 § 2 — “Canones huius Codicis, quatenus ius vetus referunt, aestimandi sunt ratione etiam canonicae traditionis habita.” All who are guilty of this offense are heretics, and are therefore, if the sin is public, they are all severed from the body of the Church and cease to be members according to the very natue of heresy; and for this reason all, and every single heretic, (as well as apostates and schismatics) incur the penalty of excommunication: Can. 2314. §1 — “Omnes a christiana fide apostatae et omnes et singuli haeretici aut schismatici: 1° Incurrunt ipso facto excommunicationem”.
Salza manifests his abysmal ignorance again in his failure to understand what it means to reject the magisterium as the rule of faith. Salza, in his delusional mendacity states, «Cardinal Billot and the rest of the Church’s real theologians teach exactly the opposite of you [PK – this assertion is as gratuitous as it is false.] – that pertinacity is established only if the Pope were to renounce the Church as the RULE of faith by PUBLIC PROFESSION (sic). You explicitly reject this unanimous opinion of the theologians (sic). You say heresy is established “by a public external act,” but Cardinal Billot says heresy is NOT established “by those who indeed manifest their heresy by external signs.” » Here one may reasonably ask if heresy is not established by the heretic’s public words and actions, then how is it established – by mental telepathy? Salza utterly fails to make the critical distinction between a formal act of defection from the Church (canons 1086, § 1, 1117 and 1124), by which one formally declares oneself to have separated from the Church; and public defection from the Catholic faith (can. 171, § 1, 4°; 194, § 1, 2°; 316, § 1; 694, § 1, 1°; 1071, § 1, 4° and § 2) – which comprises the“virtual” forms of “notoriously” or “publicly” abandoning the faith that are deduced from behavior. Public defection from the faith by means of formal heresy or apostasy by their very nature (suapte natura) sever one from membership in the body of the Church and effects the ipso jure loss of ecclesiastical office; but the canonical consequences of such a defection are not as far reaching as a formal act of defection from the Church, as the cited document explains.
Salza continues his errant rant: «Again, he [Billot] also requires a renunciation of the Magisterium as the RULE of faith by PUBLIC PROFESSION. You stand alone (sic) in disagreeing with Billot. You reject Billot’s teaching by saying “it is not necessary that such a one explicitly reject the Church as the rule of faith,” even though Cardinal Billot says “heresy by its nature REQUIRES departure from the RULE of the ecclesiastical magisterium.” » On page 281 and 282 of their screed, Salza & Siscoe declare: «By referring to heretics as those who “separate themselves from the Church,” who “turn away from the Church,” and who “depart by themselves from her,” Bellarmine is referring not to those who merely profess a heretical proposition, but to those who openly leave the Church (no longer accepting the Church as the rule of faith). » As has been shown above and will be explained more at length later in this work, it pertains to the very nature of heresy as a conscious denial of an article of faith, that it is a rejection of the ecclesiastical magisterium as the rule of faith, and hence, heresy, suapte natura, separates the heretic from the body of the Church. From Bellarmine’s own words quoted above, we gather that same meaning when he says that heretics are outside the Church, and lose jurisdiction and all ecclesiastical dignity “ex natura haeresis”. Heresy in its nature is the obstinate denial or doubt of even a single dogma, and therefore, by its very nature separates the heretic from the body of the Church. If some additional qualifying act, such as explicitly rejecting the Church as the rule of faith, or formally declaring oneself separated from the Church, or joining some other denomination or sect, were to be necessary for a heretic to be separated from the body of the Church (as Salza & Siscoe claim); then heresy would not suapte natura separate one from the Church (as Pius XII teaches), but only heresy qualified by some additional act but not by its own nature would sever the heretic from membership in the Church. But the words,”heresy suapte natura”, and “ex natura haeresis” mean precisely this: that heresy itself, according to its very nature as a rejection of an article of faith, and therefore by itself, separates the heretic from membership in the Church. This is also explicitly clear in the teaching of Ballerini, quoted above. Let us consider again the cited text, paying close attention to the bolded and italicized phrases:
«He … 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. […] 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. »
Ballerini explains quite explicitly, in unison with the universal and ordinary magisterium of the Church, that all manifest heretics, by the very fact of their heresy, i.e. by remaining “obstinate in a belief contrary to a manifest or defined dogma”, without any additional qualification such as explicit rejection of the magisterium etc., are deserters who have have “openly departed from the Church”. Bellarmine and Ballerini also prove from the authority of scripture and the Fathers, that heretics, by their manifest heresy alone, leave the Church and lose office on their own, without any judgment from the Church. The Church only establishes the fact of defection from the Church and loss of office post factum, and then juridically declares the loss of office as already having happened. Salza and Siscoe base their opinion on loss of office on their heretical belief that heresy by itself does not separate the heretic from the Church by itself suapte natura, but only after authoritative judgment of the Church, explicit rejection of the teaching authority of the Church, or by joining some other religion. If that were true, then heresy would not separate the heretic from the Church suapte natura, because the nature heresy simply consists in the pertinacious rejection of an article of faith: «Hæresis est error intellectus, et pertinax contra Fidem, in eo qui Fidem sucepit». If Salza & Siscoe were correct in saying that manifest heresy by itself, without any further qualification, judgment or censure of the Church does not separate the heretic from the body of the Church, then Pius XII would be in error for teaching that heresy separates one from the Church suapte natura, and the Church would already have defected in the Fifth Century, because that is what St. Jerome and the Fathers unanimously taught (as Bellarmine demonstrated in the earlier cited text). Bellarmine is unequivocal and explicit in affirming that the pertinacity of the heretic alone expels him from the body of the Church: «Praeterea ad Tit. 3. Haereticum hominem post unam et alteram correptionem devita, sciens, quia subversus est qui ejusmodi est, et delinquit cum sit proprio judicio condemnatus. Ubi apostolus episcopi praecipit, ut haereticum vitet, quod certe non juberet, si esset intra Ecclesiam. Debet enim pastor non vitare, sed curare eos, qui ad suum gregem pertinent. Et addit rationem, quia talis pertinax haereticus est, proprio judicio condemnatus, idest (ut Hieronymus exponit) non est ejectus ab Ecclesia per excommunicationem, ut multi alii peccatores, sed ipse seipsum ab Ecclesia ejecit. » Now pertinacity is simply this, as St. Alphonsus explains: for one to consciously remain in an error against the faith after it has been sufficiently explained to him that it is contrary to the faith of the universal Church: «pertinaciter errare … est eum [errorem] retinere, postquam contrarium est sufficienter propositum: sive quando scit contrarium teneri a reliqua universali Christi in terris Ecclesia, cui suum iudicium præferat» Thus it is demonstrated to be a revealed truth of divine and Catholic faith, that the manifestly pertinacious denial of a single article of faith separates one from the body of the Church, and visibly severs the heretic from membership in the Catholic Church.
Thus it can be plainly seen that John Salza and Robert Siscoe are in heresy. Their entire doctrine on heresy and loss of office is based on their heretical proposition: «heresy alone does not sever one from the Church. » So what has been John Salza’s response on this point? All he can say is, “You haven’t addressed Cardinal Billot’s teaching, who was an adherent to Bellarmine’s Fifth Opinion on the loss of office for a heretical Pope … you are not equipped to have this debate with us. You are in way over your head.”
Since Salsa and Siscoe remain blindly adamant that I have interpreted both St. Robert Bellarmine and Don Pietro Ballerini incorrectly, an alleged misinterpretation which they maliciously attribute to diminished mental capacity and ignorance, I include here the learned opinion of Don Curzio Nitoglia on Ballerini's doctrine on a heretic pope's loss of office, and his commentary on the interpretation of Frs. Wernz & Vidal on Bellarmine's doctrine on Opinion No. 5. First, Don Nitoglia on the Wernz-Vidal interpretation of Bellarmine: «Secondo il Bellarmino (De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. 30, p. 420), siccome gli eretici manifesti, notori e pubblici perdono ipso facto la giurisdizione, ammesso e non concesso che il Papa possa cadere in eresia, in caso di eventuale eresia manifesta egli perderebbe immediatamente l’autorità papale. Questa è l’interpretazione della posizione bellarminiana data dai padri gesuiti Franz Xavier Wernz e Pedro Vidal (Jus Canonicum, Roma, Gregoriana, 1943, vol. II, p. 517> Secondo il Da Silveira (op. cit., p. 37) Francisco Suarez (De Fide, disp. X, sect. VI, n. 11, Parigi, Vivès, tomo XII, 1858, p. 319) e S. Roberto Bellarmino (De Romano Pontifice, lib. IV, cap. 7, Milano, Battezzati, vol. II, 1858) difendono la medesima tesi del Billot, ma in maniera meno rigida. Infatti il Billot (Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi, Prato, Giachetti, 1909, tomo I, pp. 617-618) la ritiene esplicitamente una “mera ipotesi, mai traducibile in atto. […]. A priori si può ritenere che Dio non lo permetterebbe mai”. Suarez e Bellarmino impiegano termini meno forti, però la sostanza della loro tesi coincide con quella del Billot, ossia secondo i due Dottori controriformistici il Papa come dottore privato può ipoteticamente e per una pura possibilità o al massimo per una probabilità e mai per una certezza teologica cadere in eresia materiale o favorire l’eresia.» [«According to Bellarmine, since the manifest, notorious and public heretics lose jurisdiction ipso facto, granted but not conceded that the pope can fall into heresy, in the case of an eventual manifest heresy, he would immediately lose all papal authority. This is the position of Bellarmine given by the Jesuit Fathers Franz Xavier Wernz and Pedro Vidal. According to Da Silveira (op. cit., p. 37) Francisco Suarez (De Fide, disp. X, sect. VI, n. 11, Parigi, Vivès, tomo XII, 1858, p. 319) and St. Robert Bellarmine (De Romano Pontifice, lib. IV, cap. 7, Milano, Battezzati, vol. II, 1858) defend the same thesis as Billot, but in a less rigid manner. In fact, Billot (Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi, Prato, Giachetti, 1909, tomo I, pp. 617-618) explicitly holds it to be a “mere hypothesis that can never become actual […] A priori one can maintain that God would never permit it”. Suarez and Bellarmine use less forceful terms, but in substance their theses coincide with that of Billot, or rather according to the two Counter-Reformation Doctors, the pope as a private doctor could fall into objective heresy or favour heresy hypothetically and as a pure possibility, or at most probably, but never as a theological certainty».]
The statement, “Suarez and Bellarmine use less forceful terms, but in substance their theses coincide with that of Billot,” does not claim that all three were of Opinion No. 5, but only that “according to the two Counter-Reformation Doctors, the pope as a private doctor could fall into objective heresy or favour heresy hypothetically and as a pure possibility, or at most probably, but never as a theological certainty”; and on this point only, “in substance their theses coincide with that of Billot”. Where Billot differed from Bellarmine and Suarez was that he only admitted as a pure hypothesis that a pope could actually fall into formal heresy. Billot, like Bellarmine, is clearly of Opinion No. 5, which holds that a manifest heretic pope would automatically fall from office by the very act of his heresy before any judgment is pronounced; whereas Suarez held that the heretic pope would only fall from office upon being judged by the Church, which is Opinion No. 4. As I will show later in this work, all of the expert canonists and theologians who expound on the five opinions are unanimous in stating that the difference between Opinion No. 4 and No. 5 is that No. 4 requires a judgment to be made by the Church before the pope falls from office, whereas No. 5 holds that the fall from office is automatic, and takes place independently of and before any judgment is made. In order to support their erroneous opinion on this point, Salza & Siscoe in Chpter 11 of their book quote the ambiguously stated opinion of Fr. Sebastian Smith (Elements of Ecclesiastical Law, p. 210. 68 Ibid., Preface, p. xi.), who wrote in 1881, “Question: Is a Pope who falls into heresy deprived, ipso jure, of the Pontificate? Answer: There are two opinions: one holds that he is by virtue of divine appointment, divested ipso facto, of the Pontificate; the other, that he is, jure divino, only removable. Both opinions agree that he must at least be declared guilty of heresy by the Church - i.e., by an ecumenical council or the College of Cardinals.” It is first to be pointed out that Fr. Smith states ambiguously that there are “two opinions” on the question (there have been five opinions, but only two which admit the removal of a manifest heretic pope); and he says, “Both opinions agree that he must at least be declared guilty of heresy by the Church”. This statement, “Both opinions agree that he must at least be declared guilty of heresy by the Church”, simply means that in the case of an ipso jure loss of office which takes place automatically before the declaration, and the case of jure divino “only removable” opinion, in which the loss of office is said to take place immediately upon the declaration: in both cases, a declaratory sentence would be required to enforce the removal and elect a new pope. Expressed in the manner that it is formulated, the statement can superficially be misinterpreted to mean, (in the manner that Salza & Siscoe opportunistically misinterpret it for their own purpose), that the declaration would be required in order for the loss of office to take place. As they do with so many authors (as will be shown later in this work), Salza & Siscoe twist the meaning of a passage to make it appear to say exactly the opposite from what a critical examination of the words demonstrates to be their authentic meaning. Smith is clearly referring to Opinion No. 5 when he says, “one holds that he is by virtue of divine appointment, divested ipso facto, of the Pontificate”; since he writes in answer to the question, “Is a Pope who falls into heresy deprived, ipso jure, of the Pontificate?” Now in Canon Law, the expression that one is deprived ipso jure means that it is automatic – it takes place ipso facto before any judgment is prounounced. This is exactly how the medieval Decretists employed the term in the earliest formulations of Opinion No. 5, and it is employed in exactly the same manner by the Council of Constance when it deposed Pedro de Luna “as a precautionary measure”, and declared that he had already fallen from every ecclesiastical dignity and had been severed from the body of the Church ipso jure before any judgment was pronounced. The term is again employed in exactly the same manner in the 1983 Code of Canon Law of Pope John Paul II. When Smith says of “the other”, i.e. “that he is, jure divino, only removable”, he is clearly speaking of Opinion No. 4 in its less radical formulation (Suarez), according to which the Church would deliberatively determine that the pope is a heretic, and upon the juridical declaration of guilt, the pope would immediately fall from office. If Smith had meant by, “Both opinions agree that he must at least be declared guilty of heresy by the Church”, that in both cases a declaration of guilt would be necessary for the fall from to take place; that would mean that there would not be two opinions on the question, but only one, namely, “that he is, jure divino, only removable”. Yet this absurd interpretation of the passage is exactly how it is understood by Salza & Siscoe in Chapter 11 of their book: «Fr. Smith expressly states that “both opinions agree” that he must at least be declared guilty of heresy by the Church. If he is not found guilty, he remains a true and valid Pope.” ». Then they state their non sequitur conclusion: «The teaching of Fr. Smith confirms John of St. Thomas’ understanding of Bellarmine and Suarez’s position, since he [John of St. Thomas] stated that “Bellarmine and Suarez” both held that a heretical Pope loses his office only if he is “declared incorrigible.” » In reality, what Fr. Smith’s teaching confirms is that John of St. Thomas as well as Salza & Siscoe have failed to correctly understand Bellarmine’s exposition on the question, as well as Opinion No. 5 generally, as it has been elaborated for more than eight centuries. In the first of the “two opinions” in which the heretic pope would lose office ipso jure (automatically) the Church would possess the jurisdiction to declare the See vacant, in the manner that the Council of Constance declared “Benedict XIII” to have already lost all ecclesiastical dignity and to have severed himself from the body of the Church, thus removing the last remaining claimant to the papal throne, and juridically establishing the sede vacante. In the second of the “two opinions”, the Church would not be able to declare the pope guilty of heresy, because an official judgment of guilt of an individual pronounced by the Church absolutely requires jurisdiction to judge that person; but neither the cardinals, nor a synod, and not even a general council possess the jurisdiction to make such an official, juridical declaration – so any judgment a council would make would not be an public juridical act of the Church, but would be a non-juridic statement of churchmen utterly devoid of any force of law or juridical value whatsoever. This is the fatal flaw in all the variations of Opinion No. 4, which holds that a heretic pope does not lose his office until he is judged by the Church. John of St. Thomas, who held this opinion, admitted himself the problematic aspect of the opinion when he wrote: “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.”
Salza & Siscoe then carry the absurdity even further: « Because the “two opinions” agree that a heretical Pope “must at least be declared guilty of the crime of heresy by the Church,” there are actually three opinions to be noted, which, for the sake of simplicity and easy recall, could be classified as follows: 1) the “Jesuit” opinion (of Bellarmine/Suarez), 2) the “Dominican” opinion (of Cajetan/John of St. Thomas), and 3) the unanimous opinion. The Jesuit opinion is that a heretical Pope falls from office after the crime of heresy has been established by the Church. The Dominican opinion is that a heretical Pope falls from office only after the Church commands the faithful to avoid him. But the unanimous opinion is that “he must at least be declared guilty by the Church.” » The belief that there was a single “Jesuit opinion” is the result of an uncritical failure to distinguish between two of the oldest opinions on the question of the deposition or removal of a heretic pope. As Moynihan demonstrates, among the early Decretists there were those, who maintained that a heretic pope would remain in office until judged guilty of heresy by the Church; and others, mainly of the French school of canonists who advocated the opinion that a heretic pope would by his very heresy automatically lose office by himself, ipso jure. It was among the early Decretists that these opinions, enumerated by Bellarmine as No. 4 and No. 5 originated. Bellarmine argued in favour of the fifth opinion which held that a heretic pope would automatically fall from office ipso facto or (as the Decretists would say), ipso jure; while Suarez followed the fourth opinion, which held that the heretic would remain in office until judged guilty of heresy by the Church. By the late 19th Century, the fourth opinion had been universally abandoned; and since then, the fifth opinion (as will be shown below), has been the unanimous opinion among theologians who admit, at least hypothetically, that a pope can become a heretic. Salza & Siscoe have totally inverted the truth in this matter, hysterically claiming that those who follow what is now the unanimous Opinion among those theologians who admit at least as a hypothesis, that a pope can become a heretic, (No. 5), (in the manner that it is explained by all of the eminent scholars who have examined each of the five opinions), ‘nonsensically reject the unanimous opinion’ one cannot hold the Jesuit opinion (the Pope loses his office ipso facto), without also holding the unanimous opinion (the Pope must at least be declared guilty of the crime of heresy by the Church).” They then conclude against what has been established and is held with a unanimous consensus of scholars that the “rejection of [what is according to them] the unanimous opinion is clearly not the fruit of sound, scholarly research of the question, but rather a rash and superficial judgment based, in many cases, on snippets read on the internet”. (!)
Bellarmine explained that the manifest heretic pope would cease “by himself” to be pope, a Christian, and a member of the Church; and “for which reason” (quare) having ceased to be pope, “he may be judged and punished by the Church.” It is unmistakeably clear from the explicit wording of the text that Bellarmine is saying that the manifest heretic pope, completely by himself, i.e. by his own act of defection from the faith, ceases to be pope, a Christian and a member of the Church; and precisely because he would cease to be pope, he, having fallen from office, could then be judged and punished by the Church. Ballerini, following Bellamine, is more explicit in saying that the heretic pope, upon manifesting his pertinacity, would have “abdicated the primacy and the pontificate”, ceasing automatically to be pope, without any judgment, but explains the pastoral reason why a declaratory sentence would need to be made. Pope Gregory XVI endorsed Ballerini’s opinion. A declaratory sentence is absolutely necessary not only for the pastoral reason given by Ballerini, (so that the faithful may be warned about the heretic), but more importantly, as Bellarmine explains in his refutation of Opinion No. 2, it is necessary that a heretic not be invisibly deposed, but visibly removed, and this can only be done by the judgment of men, (i.e. by the post factum judgment expressed in a declaratory sentence stating the fact that the pope fell from office by himself upon his manifest defection from the faith into heresy); otherwise not only would the Church defect by being be subject to the governance of a counterfeit pope, as in the case of a secret heretic according to Opinion No. 2; (and in the case of a manifest heretic, a great number would follow him into heresy if he were to be allowed to continue to usurp the papal throne without being declaed a heretic); but until and unless the heretic intruder be visibly and juridically declared to have fallen from office and removed, a manifestly and certainly valid pope could not be elected and universally accepted by the whole Church while the intruder carries on with his imposture.
As they do with the passage of Fr. Sebastian Smith, similarly Salza & Siscoe twist the words of Bellarmine and Ballerini, even falsifying the text of the latter (as is shown later in this work) to fit their own meaning, All three of these authors mentioned in the previous paragraph (Bellarmine, Ballerini and Gregory XVI), were following the ruling of the Council of Constance, which declared that Pedro de Luna had already lost all office and ecclesiastical dignity by himself, prior to his being judged by the Council. By the late 19th Century, Fr. Sydney Smith SJ (in 1895) testified that it had already become the common opinion that a manifestly heretical pope would cease automatically to be pope, and that in such a case the Cardinals, being duely informed, would only need to issue a declaratory sentence on the one who was no longer pope. (This is also the explicitly stated opinion of Cardinal Raymond Burke). Thus, it would seem highly unlikely that Fr. Sebastian Smith would have been so ignorant as to mean by saying, “Both opinions agree that he must at least be declared guilty of heresy by the Church”, that both opinions held that the fall from office would only take place upon judgment by the Church, as Salza & Siscoe maintain. What his words clearly indicate, if one examines them critically, is that whether the pope would be “divested ipso facto, of the Pontificate” (Opinion No. 5), or, “that he is, jure divino, only removable” (Opinion No. 4), a declaratory sentence would be necessary in order to enforce the loss of office and facilitate the election of a new pope in the former case; and at least a declaratory sentence as opposed to judicial judgment and deposition by a tribunal, would be necessary to effect the removal of the heretic pope from office in the latter. Thus, Smith uses the term “removable” in the same manner as it is used in By Bellarmine in his refutation of Opinion No. 2, rather than that a reigning pope could be juridically judged and deposed from office. What this shows, is that Sebastian Smith is testifying that in his day (1881), the classical position of Opinion No.4 formulated during the Counter-Reformation, which held in favour of a juridical deposition of a heretical pope, had already been universally abandoned, and was replaced by a less radical version of the opinion; which held, contrary to the vast majority who favoured Opinion No. 5, that a heretic pope would fall from office upon the issuance of a merely declaratory sentence after a merely deliberative inquiry. The flaw in this theory is that a mere declaration pronounced on actually reigning pontiff by his subjects would lack all jurisdiction, and would therefore not be an official judgment of the Church, because so long as he is pope, the pontiff, who is solemnly defined to be the supreme and final judge in all cases, is the only one who has the authority to judge his own case. Without jurisdiction to pronounce judgment on the pope, a council’s judgment would not be a judgment of the Church, but a mere opinion of men, who would invalidly presume to convene in a council and pronounce a judgment they are juridically incompetent to make. The belief that the Cardinals, or even an ecumenical council would be competent to judge a pope juridically is a heresy that directly offends against the judicial supremacy and injudicability of the Roman Pontiff, solemnly defined in Pastor Aeternus; the repeated declarations of the popes teaching that the pope cannot be judgd by anyone, as well as the solemn pronouncement of the fifth Lateran Council that the pope has absolute authority over a council. Bellarmine refuted this opinion in his exposition on Opinion No. 4 destroying the argument, 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. Wernz and Vidal most conclusively refute and utterly demolish the theory that a council could even pronounce a merely declaratory sentence on a reigning pope:
«Finally there is the fifth view of Bellarmine which was expressed at the outset in the assertion [above] and which is rightly defended by Tanner and others as being more approved and more common. For he who is no longer a member of the body of the Church, that is, of the Church as a visible body, cannot be the head of the universal Church. But a pope who falls into public heresy would by that fact cease to be a member of the Church; therefore he would also, upon that fact, cease to be the head of Church.
So, a publicly heretical pope, who by the mandate of Christ and of the Apostle should be avoided because of danger to the Church, must be deprived of his power, as nearly everyone admits. But he cannot be deprived of his power by a merely declaratory sentence.
For every judicial sentence of privation supposes a superior jurisdiction over him against whom the sentence is laid. But a general council, in the opinion of adversaries, does not have a higher jurisdiction than does a heretical pope. For he, by their supposition, before the declaratory sentence of a general council, retains his papal jurisdiction; therefore a general council cannot pass a declaratory sentence by which a Roman Pontiff is actually deprived of his power; for that would be a sentence laid by an inferior against the true Roman Pontiff. In sum, it needs to be said clearly that a [publicly] heretical Roman Pontiff loses his power upon the very fact. Meanwhile a declaratory criminal sentence, although it is merely declaratory, should not be disregarded, for it brings it about, not that a pope is “judged” to be a heretic, but rather, that he is shown to have been found heretical, that is, a general council declares the fact of the crime by which a pope has separated himself from the Church and has lost his rank. »
Following the doctrine of Innocent III, who taught that the pope, as pope, cannot be judged; Bellarmine says in Book Four, Chapter Seven of De Romano Pontifice, “the Pope cannot be judged”, but only upon having fallen from office ”by himself” (he explains in Book Two Chapter Thirty) he could then be judged and punished by the Church. It suffices to say that if even a council may not judge a pope, then a fortiori neither can any other group or individual which would be less than a council, judge a pope, but could only declare in such a manner that he may be “shown to be already judged” (Innocent III), to have already fallen, to alredy have lost any office and all ecclesiastical dignity ipso jure (Council of Constance) to have “abdicated the primacy and the pontificate” (Ballerini), and to have “fallen from the pontificate” (Gregory XVI). Ballerini states in the most explicit of terms that, a general council has no power to judge a pope, since the pope receives his power not from his electors or from the Church, but immediately from God; by which he is the Pontiff over the whole Church, and superior over general councils, and therefore is entirely removed from the jurisdiction of all others who are inferior to him, and precisely for this reason, the machinations of Basel against Eugenius IV ended up in open schism:
“ . . . contra certum Pontificium jus nulla vel generalis concilii potestas est: cum ob idem jus non ab electoribus, nec ab Ecclesia, sed a Deo immediate tributum, verus Pontifex toti Ecclesiae, & generalibus quoque synodis (ut probavimus) superior, ab aliorum omnium sibi inferiorum jurisdictione subtrahatur. Hac quidem de causa Basileensium molimina & gesta contra Eugenium IV. unicum certumque Pontificem illegitima & inania nihil potuerunt ad ipsum deponendum, & in apertum schisma deflexerunt.”
Peters attests to the fact that the opinion that a heretic pope would remain in office until even a merely declaratory sentence would effect his removal as a dispositive casuse for his fall from office has been entirely abandoned in his article where he says, «I know of no author coming after Wernz who disputes this analysis [of Wernz and Vidal]. See, e.g., Ayrinhac, CONSTITUTION (1930) 33; Sipos, ENCHIRIDION (1954) 156; Regatillo, INSTITUTIONES I (1961) 299; Palazzini, DMC III (1966) 573; and Wrenn (2001) above. As for the lack of detailed canonical examination of the mechanics for assessing possible papal heresy, Cocchi, COMMENTARIUM II/2 (1931) n. 155, ascribes it to the fact that law provides for common cases and adapts for rarer; may I say again, heretical popes are about as rare as rare can be and yet still be. In sum, and while additional important points could be offered on this matter, in the view of modern canonists from Wernz to Wrenn, however remote is the possibility of a pope actually falling into heresy and however difficult it might be to determine whether a pope has so fallen, such a catastrophe, Deus vetet, would result in the loss of papal office. » Incredibly, Salza & Siscoe adamantly and delusionally insist that the common opinion today is that a manifest heretic pope would not fall from office until he is judged by the Church; and, according to them, the opinion which was originated by the Decretists of the early 1180s, namely, the Fifth Opinion which holds that a manifest heretic pope would automatically fall from office ipso facto by the act of formal heresy itself before any judgment by the Church, is nothing but an opinion of sedevacantists who do not understand Bellarmine! As I just quoted Peters, “I know of no author coming after Wernz who disputes this analysis [of Wernz and Vidal]”; yet the two armchair theologians – the tax lawyer and the businessman, who have no formal education in Canon Law or Theology presume to differ with the unanimous opinion of canonists and theologians on papal loss of office, and their learned understanding of Opinion No. 5.
On the opinion of Ballerini, Don Curzio comments, «In breve ciò che don Pietro Ballerini mantiene come certissimo è che il Papa nel definire non errerà mai; infine come ipotesi investigativa “ammesso e non concesso” che il Papa cada in errore contrario alla fede, dovrebbe essere ammonito e corretto e dopo due ammonizioni, se si ostina nell’errore, si dichiara da se stesso eretico e decaduto dal Pontificato, ma tutto ciò deve essere opera non di giurisdizione bensì di carità (De Potestate ecclesiastica Summorum Pontificum et Conciliorum generalium, Verona, 1765, cap. 9, nn. 3-8; cap. 15, n. 21; cfr. T. Facchini, Il Papato principio di unità e Pietro Ballerini di Verona, Padova, Il Messaggero di S Antonio, 1950, pp. 126-128). (De Potestate ecclesiastica Summorum Pontificum et Conciliorum generalium, Verona, 1765, cap. 9, nn. 3-8; cap. 15, n. 21; cfr. T. Facchini, Il Papato principio di unità e Pietro Ballerini di Verona, Padova, Il Messaggero di S Antonio, 1950, pp. 126-128). »
[«Briefly, that which Don Pietro Ballerini maintains as most certain is that in defining the pope will never err; finally as an investigative hypothesis, "granted but not conceded" that should the pope fall into error against the faith, he ought to be warned and corrected, and after two warnings, and if he remains obstinate in error, he declares himself to be a heretic and fallen from the pontificate, but this must not be an act of jurisdiction but a work of charity. »]
Thus Don Curzio Nitoglia explains the doctrine of Ballerini exactly as I have: there is not even a hint made that the heretic pope would be officially warned by "the Church", but by individuals as an act of charity, not acting in an official capacity (which requires the authority of a superior), and not pronouncing a judicial verdict or even a declaratory sentence while the pope remains in office (which requires jurisdiction). The judgment of condemnation is pronounced by the self-judging heretic, who falls from the pontificate by his own self condemnation before any juridical post factum judgment is made by the Church. This is precisely what the Council of Constance explicitly declared to have taken place in the case of Pedro de Luna (Benedict XIII).
The proposition stated explicitly by Salza and Siscoe on their website, purportedly refuting my "erroneous" interpretation of Bellarmine, in which they assert that the Church may judge a pope for heresy while still in office, directly opposes the dogma of the universal papal primacy of jurisdiction defined by Vatican I, and which declares most solemnly that no one on earth may judge the pope. Don Nitoglia points out that this is the defined article of faith that the pope cannot be judged by anyone:
«Ma il Concilio Vaticano I (IV sessione, 18 luglio 1870, Costituzione dogmatica Pastor aeternus) ha stabilito la definizione dogmatica circa il principio della ingiudicabilità del Papa: “Insegniamo e dichiariamo che secondo il diritto divino del primato papale, il Romano Pontefice è il giudice supremo di tutti i fedeli […]" (DS, 3063-3064). Il CIC del 1917 al canone 1556 riprendendo la definizione dogmatica del Vaticano I ha stabilito il principio: “Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur”, ripreso tale e quale dal CIC del 1983, canone 1404.»
[“But the First Vatican Council (Session IV, 18 July 1870, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor aeternus) has established the dogmatic definition on the principle of the injudicability of the pope: ‘We teach and declare that according to divine right of the papal primacy, the Roman Pontiff is the supreme judge of all the faithful [...]’. (DS, 3063- 3064). The CIC of 1917 in Canon 1556 reiterating the dogmatic definition of Vatican I established the principle: ‘Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur’, repeated exactly the same in the CIC of 1983, Canon 1404.”]
The doctrine that the Apostolic See may never be judged by anyone was already proclaimed in the Fifth Century by Pope St. Gelasius. Hinschius observes: «Schon im fünften Jahrhundert, in welchem die Stellung des Römischen Bischofs sich zu einer wirchlichen Obergewalt umzubilden anfängt, wird indessen aus der demselben beigelegten höchsten Jurisdiction über die Kirche von Papst Gelasius I. der Satz hergeleitet, dass die Römische Kirche dem Gerichte Niemandes unterstehe. 
 c. 16 (Gelasius I. a. 493) C. IX. qu. 3 : “Ipsi sunt canones qui appellationes totius ecclesiae ad huius sedis examen voluere deferri. Ab ipsa vero nusquam prorsus appellari debere sanxerunt ac per hoc illam de tota ecclesia iudicare, ipsam ad nullius commeare iudicium nec de eius unquam praeceperunt iudicio iudicari”; c. 17 (idem a. 498) ead. : “Cuncta per mundum novit ecclesia, quod sacrosancta Romana ecclesia fas de omnibus habet iudicandi neque cuiquam de eius liceat iudicare iudicio.” »
 c. 16 (Gelasius I. a. 493) C. IX. qu. 3 : “Ipsi sunt canones qui appellationes totius ecclesiae ad huius sedis examen voluere deferri. Ab ipsa vero nusquam prorsus appellari debere sanxerunt ac per hoc illam de tota ecclesia iudicare, ipsam ad nullius commeare iudicium nec de eius unquam praeceperunt iudicio iudicari”; c. 17 (idem a. 498) ead. : “Cuncta per mundum novit ecclesia, quod sacrosancta Romana ecclesia fas de omnibus habet iudicandi neque cuiquam de eius liceat iudicare iudicio.” »
In the phrase, «ipsam ad nullius commeare iudicium », the injudicability of the Roman Pontiff is declared, a principle which is restated by Pope St. Gregory VII around the year 1075 in Dictatus 19 of his Dictatus Papae: «Quod a nemine ipse (the pope) iudicari debeat», and again Paul IV in 1559 declared that the Roman Pontiff, «omnesque iudicat, a nemine in hoc saeculo iudicandus.» This injudicability pertains essentially to the very nature of the judicial supremacy of the primacy, as Moynihan explains, “This doctrine of papal immunity is incontrovertible […] the authority of the pope is supreme, and by virtue of his own primacy of jurisdiction, no one else is competent to be his judge.” Hence, it is a proposition against the very nature of the primacy to assert that the pope can ever be judged by anyone, even for the crime of heresy; unless “judging the pope” be understood in a qualified sense, according to which, the manifestly heretical pope would, by the very act of his heresy, cease by himself straightaway to be pope and a member of the Church; and for that reason, (as Bellarmine states) he could then be judged and punished by the Church, i.e. shown to be already judged. Thus it is according to the same qualification and meaning, as both Hinschius observes (in the above cited passage), and Moynihan explains (citing the same passage as Hinschius), that Innocent III teaches, if the pope were to fall into heresy, he could be “judged by men”; but only in the qualified sense that he “can be shown to be already judged”. “Innocent, [Moynihan explains], in this passage is making a veiled reference to the principle elaborated by his teacher, Huguccio of Pisa, who wrote, «Cum papa cadit in heresim, non iam maior sed minor quolibet catholico intelligitur »”. According to this principle as elaborated by Huguccio, a heretic pope would automatically cease to be pope, and would therefore no longer be greater than any Catholic, but less than any Catholic.This principle had already been elaborated less systematically earlier by the authors of the Summa Et est sciendum and the Gloss Ecce uicit leo. According to this principle elaborated by these early Decretists, a pope who becomes a heretic ceases automatically to be pope (ipso jure) and a member of the Church; and no longer a member of the Church, (excommunicated ipso iure as the author of the Gloss Ecce uicit leo states) he is no longer greater than any Catholic, but is less than any Catholic. Hence, he can, as Innocent III teaches, be “shown to be already judged”, and “cast out and trampled underfoot by men” – “deposed”, as I explain in Part II of this work. So, explains Moynihan, “In this connection [i.e. on the automatic fall from office for heresy] it is interesting to note the difference of opinion on this question between Huguccio and Innocent III (1198 – 1216). The latter had been a pupil of Huguccio’s at Bologna. […] he could not agree with Huguccio that a pope could be deposed for notorious crimes, but rather only for heresy. There is a veiled attempt at avoiding a papal trial in the following words: «Romanus Pontifex … potest ab hominibus judicari, vel potius judicatus ostendi». […] (Sermo IV).”
Thus, it is the constant teaching of the Church going back to the explicit formulations of Pope St. Gelasius, that for so long as the pope is still the validly reigning pope, he is the supreme judge in all cases – including his own, as Pope Innocent III teaches (see Part II); and cannot be judged by anyone. He can only be judged by his inferiors if he were to consent to being judged, as Pope Hadrian II taught. The only “exception” is not an exception at all, but only if a pope were to cease to be a member of the Church because of heresy, Schism or apostasy, he would by that very act, publicly defect from communion with the Church, cease to be a member of the Church; and therefore, according to the prescription of Canon 194 (Canon 188 §4 in the 1917 Code); he would lose office automatically (ipso jure); and the loss of office would then be enforced juridically by a merely declaratory sentence (Canon 194 §2). On this point, the canon is absolutely clear and unequivocal: “Can. 194 §1. The following are removed from an ecclesiastical office by the law itself: […] 2° a person who has publicly defected from the Catholic faith or from the communion of the Church; […]§2. The removal mentioned in nn. 2 and 3 can be enforced only if it is established by the declaration of a competent authority.” In the commentary on the Code of Canon Law composed by the Canon Law faculty of the University of Navarre, it is explained: “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).” Since the loss of office takes place ipso jure, it does not depend in any way on the subsequent declaration which merely enforces it; and for this reason, as the quoted canon of the 1917 Code explains, the actual loss of office by tacit renunciation takes place ipso facto without any declaration (“Ob tacitam renuntiationem ab ipso iure admissam quaelibet officia vacant ipso facto et sine ulla declaratione”). The Canon Law commentary of the Pontifical Faculty of Canon Law of the University of Salamanca explains that the sole necessary condition for such a loss of office to take place, is that the act be freely committed, and then the loss of office follow necessarily: “El hecho por el que se presupone la renuncia debe ser puesto voluntariamente, a tenor del canon 185; pero, cumplida esta condición, la perdida del oficio se produce necesariamente.” That the canon is applicable to all ecclesiastical offices is stated explicitly with the words, “quaelibet officia vacant ipso facto” – and therefore necessarily includes the office of the Supeme Pontiff.
There exists only one case in the entire history of the Church that a papal claimant has been validly and legitimately deposed by ecclesiastical authority, and that was the deposition of Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna) by the Council of Constance (Sess. 37), which followed the same procedure as rhat which is prescribed in the canons in force at present. The Council did not presume to remove him by any judicial act of judgment, but rather, it followed and applied the teaching of Innocent III, and declared him to have already lost all office and ecclesiastical dignity by himself ipso jure; and thus, having already been reduced to the state of minor quolibet catholico by his own actions, the Council then deposed him “as a precautionary measure” (ad omnem cautelam privat et deponit et abiicit).
The subsequent developments brought it about, that the Conciliaristic tendency on the part of the hierarchy to attempt to limit papal power by means of creating exceptions to immunity were overcome, so that, (as Hinschius observed already in 1869), “The course of the further development, however, has, as is known, eliminated episcopalism in the Catholic Church, and the principle, apostolica sedes a nemine iudicatur is now in full force.” Based on the foundation of the doctrine of Pope Innocent III and its application by the Council of Constance, St. Robert Bellarmine formulated his exposition on doctrine on the automatic loss of office of a manifest heretic pope, which he briefly stated in De Romano Pontifice II xxx as Opinion No. 5. Pietro Ballerini elaborated the same opinion more systematically, basing it explicitly on the firm foundation of the ruling of the Council of Constance; and Pope Gregory XVI explicitly endorsed Ballerini’s doctrine on the question of a heretic pope in his book, saying such a heretic would have “fallen from the pontificate by himself”. After the First Vatican Council infallibly defined the dogma of papal primacy, thus giving dogmatic force to the principle of papal injudicability, the principle “Prima sedes a nemine judicatur” was incorporated into the Code of Canon Law; and has been interpreted according to the mind of the Church, and in conformity with the constant teaching of the ordinary magisterium, by the officially approved commentaries on Canon Law, to admit no exceptions.
After all my lengthy argumentation and copious documentation, Salza & Siscoe remain entrenched in their position. Salza's chronic and habitual dishonesty comes to the fore in his most recent piece of sophistry, an e-mail message which blindly ignores the arguments which expose his fallacious (and fraudulent) reasoning, and simply re-affirms his thoroughly refuted, errant propositions:
《Every apologist for the Sedevacantist sect asserts that it is the “nature” of heresy, and not any declaration from Church authorities, that severs one from the Church.》
This is a glaring red-herring argument. I have amply demonstrated in this work, from the most explicit magisterial pronouncements and the texts of the popes, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, that it is in the nature of manifest heresy that it is per se a defection from the faith and the Church; and that therefore, by the very act of manifest formal heresy, one ceases to be a member of the Church. This is the clear and explicit teaching of Pius XII in Mystici Corporis. Salza & Siscoe falsify the teaching of that encyclical, modifying and changing it by adding their own qualifications to the teaching which do not pertain to simple and unqualified doctrine expressed in that document.
Salza quotes his faulty translation of Pius XII, and misinterprets the passage with a gramatically flawed and logically impossible hermeneutic: 《For not every offense, although it may be a grave evil, is such as by its very own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.》
Salza gratuitously interprets the word "admissum" strictly to mean "crime" in the canonical sense of a delict, and then, against the rules of grammar, attempts to qualify the phrase later on in the sentence with that strict modification, whereby the words "schisma, vel heresis, vel apostasia faciunt suapte natura" are no longer understood according to their clear and proper signification; but are errantly and gratuitously qualified to designate these sins only in so far as they are canonical delicts, i.e. according to their nature as crimes, but not according to their nature as sins. Schism, heresy and apostasy are not canonical offenses according to their nature, but are crimes only in virtue of legislation, which is extrinsic to their nature. Thus it is not in the nature of crimes, that by their very nature they sever a man from the Church, as do schism, heresy or apostasy, but only by the authority of the Church do they sever one from the body of the Church; whereas according to the nature of schism, heresy and apostasy, i.e. according to the intrinsic nature of the sin as a manifest external act, it is an act of defection from the Church, that by itself visibly severs one from the body of the Church apart from anyone else's judgment, or any act or judgment of ecclesiastical authority; and without any further need of explicit rejection of the Church as the rule of faith, or joining another religion, because the act of heresy is in its very nature, a rejection of the authority of the Church, as St. Thomas explains in the above cited passage. I have already sufficiently explained this point and exposed the sophistry employed by Salza as the basis of his bogus interpretation of Mystici Corporis . Pius XII clearly and explicitly distinguishes between the sins which by themselves, according to their very nature (suapte natura) cut one off from the body of the Church, and all other sins, which only sever one from the body of the Church "by the legitimate authority of the Church", i.e. by excommunication because they are penal offenses, and do not sever one from the Church suapte natura. If one interprets the words, "schism, heresy, and apostasy -- suapte natura" to denote these sins according to the errantly qualified sense under their formal aspect of their nature as crimes, then the distinction made by Pius XII in that paragraph between the sins which by themselves separate one from the Church, and sins which separate one by legitimate ecclesiastical authority is destroyed, thereby making irrational nonsense of Pacelli's magisterium on this point. Thus, Salza & Siscoe do violence to the teaching of the Church on the nature of heresy; and against the clear pronouncement of the Supreme Magisterium, Salza appeals to a previously expressed contrary opinion of Cardinal Billot and John of St. Thomas. The opinion of John of St. Thomas, which holds that even for heresy, the judgment of the Church is required for the heretic to be severed from the body of the Church is explicitly contrary to the teaching of Pius XII, who explained in Mystici Corporis, that according to its very nature, heresy by itself separates one from the body of the Church, so that while those guilty of other crimes are severed from the body of the Church, by legitimate authority, heretics, according to the nature of heresy (suapte natura), miserably separate themselves from the unity of the body. The idea advanced by John of St. Thomas and advocated by Salza & Siscoe, namely, that the judgment of authority is required for the heretic to be separated from the body of the Church, is diametrically opposed to the teaching of Mystici Corporis, which explicitly excludes that the separation takes place by authority, and hence, the Salza/Siscoe doctrine is patently opposed to this clearly expressed papal doctrine which pertains to the universal and ordinary magisterium. The proposition affirmed by Salza & Siscoe, 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 plainly contrary to the explicitly stated doctrine of Pius XII in Mystici Corporis.
In the above cited texts, I have quoted the verbatim translations (of the passage of Mystici Corporis), and the commentaries of two of Salza's favorite authors, Msgrs. Van Noort and Fenton, both eminent theologians who translate and interpret the passage of Mystici Corporis exactly as I do; yet Salza blindly and obstinately insists that such an interpretation is a sedevacantist "abuse" of a faulty translation of Mystici Corporis (which would mean that Salza, who does not know Latin, translated the passage correctly, and Fenton, Van Noort and the official website of the Apostolic See translated it wrongly) Thus, Salza is not only wrong, but is plainly blind and obstinate against the mind of the Church.
It is the act of manifest formal heresy by itself, i.e. the manifestation of pertinacity, without any additional qualifications or conditions, and without any censure or judgment of authority, which separates the manifest heretic from the body of the Church, and takes place according to the very nature of heresy (suapte natura), and hence, by the operation of the law itself (as I have amply explained and documented), and therefore severs both the spiritual and visible bond with the Church.
Siscoe likewise remains entrenched in heresy, "I applied the Thomistic distinction of quoad se/quoad nos to show that, just because heresy of its nature severs a person from the Church (spiritually), does not mean heresy, of its nature, causes a person to cease being a member of the Church (legally). And I quoted the great John of St. Thomas who explained it exactly the way I did." Siscoe elaborates: “Did you even read John Salza’s recent article that prompted this e-mail exchange? John and I both contributed to that article so it represents both of our opinions. We both affirm that the sin of heresy, of its nature, separates a person from the Church quoad se (of itself), but the sin of heresy, of its nature, does not result in a separation from the Church quoad nos (according to us), nor does it result in the loss of office. […] As long as a person remains a member of the Church quoad nos – even if he has committed the sin of heresy and has lost the faith - he remains a legal member of the Church; and if the person in question is a bishop or Pope, he retains his office until the crime has been legally established by the proper authorities.” Then he quotes John of St. Thomas:
“[J]ust as the Church, by designating the man, proposed him juridically to all as the elected Pope, so too, it is necessary that she depose him by declaring him a heretic and proposing him as vitandus (one to be avoided). Hence, we see from the practice of the Church that this is how it has been done; for, in the case of the deposition of a Pope, his cause was handled in a general Council before he was considered not to be Pope, as we have related above. It is not true, then, that the Pope ceases to be Pope by the very fact [ipso facto] that he is a heretic, even a public one, before any sentence of the Church and before she proposes him to the faithful as one who is to be avoided. Nor does Jerome exclude the judgment of the Church (especially in so grave a matter as the deposition of a Pope) when he says that a heretic departs from the body of Christ of his own accord; rather, he is judging the quality of the crime, which of its very nature excludes one from the Church—provided that the crime is declared by the Church—without the need for any superadded censure; for, although heresy separates one from the Church by its very nature, nevertheless, this separation is not thought to have been made, as far as we are concerned [quoad nos], without that declaration.”
Siscoe then comments, “Before continuing, notice the point he makes about heresy, of its nature, severing a person from the Church without the need for any additional censure. This is how heresy, schism and apostasy differ from other mortal sins, which, of their nature, deprive a person from sanctifying grace, but do not separate them from the Church. It requires an additional censure for other sins to sever a person from the Church. For example, abortion severs a person from the Church, not by the nature of the sin, but due to the censure of excommunication that has been attached to it by the Church.” Siscoe is simply saying that other sins require the additional censure of excommunication for one to be cut off from membership in the Church, but or heresy, schism and apostasy, excommunication is not necessary, but only the judgment of the Church by which one is declared a heretic. He again quotes John of St. Thomas:
“Likewise, we respond to his reasoning in this way: one who is not a Christian, both in himself (quoad se) and in relation to us (quoad nos), cannot be Pope; however, if in himself he is not a Christian (because he has lost the faith) but in relation to us has not yet been juridically declared as an infidel or heretic (no matter how manifestly heretical he is according to private judgment), he is still a member of the Church as far as we are concerned (quoad nos); and consequently he is its head. It is necessary, therefore, to have the judgment of the Church, by which he is proposed to us as someone who is not a Christian, and who is to be avoided; and at that point he ceases to be Pope in relation to us (quoad nos); and we further conclude that he had not ceased to be Pope before [the declaration], even in himself, since all of his acts were valid in themselves.”
Siscoe concludes: “If you disagree with the great John of St. Thomas - who was known, even in his own day as the second Thomas’ - explain why he is wrong.” It is not difficult to explain why he is wrong: John of St. Thomas teaches that the manifest heretic remains a member of the Church, who “has not yet been juridically declared as an infidel or heretic” and, he is still a member of the Church as far as we are concerned (quoad nos)”, since “It is necessary, therefore, to have the judgment of the Church, by which he is proposed to us as someone who is not a Christian”. Thus, John of St. Thomas teaches that even heretics are severed from the body of the Church and cease to be members, but not without the authority of the Church. Pius XII teaches in unison with the universal and ordinary magisterium that all other sins, which separate one from the body of the Church, do so “by legitimate authority”, but heresy, schism and apostasy do not separate one from the body of the Church by legitimate authority, but do so suapte natura, and by divine law (Deo jubente) heretics “miserably separate themselves” from the body of the Church.
Thus it is that Salza and Siscoe have also fallen into heresy in their formerly tolerated but now no longer permissible opinion that holds that a heretic remains a member of the Church until he is juridically judged to be a heretic; and in their belief that a pope while in office, can be judged by the Church for the crime of heresy, since these opinions oppose the doctrine of the primacy of the pope as the supreme judge in all cases:
Constitutio Dogmatica «Pastor Aeternus» Concilii Vaticani I: Et quoniam divino Apostolici primatus iure Romanus Pontifex universae Ecclesiae praeest, docemus etiam et declaramus, eum esse iudicem supremum fidelium (Pii PP. VI Breve, Super soliditate d. 28 Nov. 1786), et in omnibus causis ad examen ecclesiasticum spectantibus ad ipsius posse iudicium recurri (Concil. Oecum. Lugdun. II); Sedis vero Apostolicae, cuius auctoritate maior non est, iudicium a nemine fore retractandum, neque cuiquam de eius licere iudicare iudicio (Ep. Nicolai 1 ad Michaelem Imporatorem). Quare a recto veritatis tramite aberrant, qui affirmant, licere ab iudiciis Romanorum Pontificum ad oecumenicum Concilium tamquam ad auctoritatem Romano Pontifice superiorem appellare.
That, however, will be the topic of the next installment of this series of articles.
EX SUPRADICTIS PATET:
Sententia hæretica - «the sin of heresy alone does not sever one from the Church. »
John Salza on 13 09 2016: «Mystici Corporis on the nature of heresy, which severs one from the Church without an additional ecclesiastical censure (sic). »
Sententia hæretica - That not the sin of heresy alone committed with an external act (heresy as such), but heresy after judgment is pronounced by the Church is required to sever the heretic from the Church:
«Again, Pope Pius XII is referring to the “offense” or CRIME (not SIN) [sic] of heresy, which severs one from the Body of the Church, after the formal and material elements have been proven by the Church (sic). After the crime has been established (sic), the heretic is automatically severed from the BODY (not SOUL) of the Church without further declaration (although most theologians maintain that the Church must also issue a declaration of deprivation) » [sic]
N.B. - Besides the heretical belief that the sin of heresy by itself and without any censure or judgment, publicly committed, does not separate one from the Church, there are here in John Salza's proposition additional errors, 1) that Pius XII in the cited passage of Mystici Corporis refers to the canonical delict of heresy and not the public sin per se; 2) that the heretic is separated from the Church only after the fact has been proven by the Church (Heresy suapte natura severs one from the Church when the sin is committed, not when it is judged post factum by the Church; and all public crimes committed with a latæ sententiæ excommunication immediately separate one from the Church); 3) that the one guilty of the crime of heresy is separated from the body, but not the soul of the Church. In fact, one who is guilty of public formal heresy is united neither internally nor externally to the Church; and is severed from both the body and the soul of the Church (As St. Robert Bellarmine explains at the end of Ch. XXX of De Romano Pontifice.).
Sententia hæretica - «The sin of heresy alone does NOT ‘sever the person from the Body of the Church’ because sin is a matter of the internal forum»; and «the sin of heresy alone does not “automatically expel” one from the body of the Church»; «The correct interpretation of Pope Pius XII’s teaching is not that he was referring to the internal sin of heresy alone, but to the public offense (the crime) of heresy, which, of its nature, severs a person from the Body of the Church with no further censure attached to the offense. » [It is de fide that the sin of heresy alone, committed as an external, public act severs the person from the body of the Church, without any Church judgment or any canonical censure, and would have the effect of severing the heretic even if there were no canonical penalty attached to the sin.] Salza & Siscoe manifest a profound ignorance of Fundamental Moral Theology in this proposition:
«In other words, the sin of heresy disposes a person to be separated from the visible Church (sic), but the actual separation does not take place until the Church itself renders a judgment [sic] (unless, of course, the person himself rendered the judgment by openly leaving the Church ). Because the Church, itself, does not judge internals [sic] (de internis ecclesia non judica [sic]), for the sin to be judged, it must be public; and needless to say the judgment of the public sin must proceed from the proper authorities (sic), not from the individual Catholic in the pew».
Sententia haeretica: «The sin of heresy alone does not cause the loss of office» (Contrary to the doctrine of the Universal and Ordinary Magisterium)
Sententia hæresi proxima: Siscoe/Salza: «Yes, that is correct. […] heresy does not directly cause a Pope to fall from the pontificate. »
«The sin of heresy alone, which has not been judged and declared by the Church, does not result in the loss of ecclesiastical office for a cleric. The loss of office for a cleric is a vindictive penalty, and there is a process in Church law which must precede vindictive penalties….
«This also means that the loss of office for a cleric must be imposed (ferendae sententiae) by Church authority  which makes the loss of office a “vindictive penalty.” Footnote 70 – In the old 1917 Code, there was an exception to this rule for the more severe vindictive penalty (canon 188, §4). This topic will be discussed at the end of this chapter. » (True or False Pope – Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors, p. 260)
First, Salza & Siscoe manifest a profound confusion on the distinction between internal and external sin throughout their writings. Their heretical proposition that «the sin of heresy alone does not sever one from the Church», is founded on the heterodox belief that it pertains to the distinction between sin and crime that sin is a matter of the internal forum. They attempt to justify their indefensible position by appealing to the canonical distinction between an act that is materially and formally public, and an act that is materially public but formally occult. On the basis of this distinction, they errantly judge that a sin which is materially public, but formally occult, is an internal sin; and therefore beyond the scope of Canon Law, because “the Church does not judge internals”. On this utterly spurious foundation, Salza & Siscoe errantly declare that one who flagrantly professes even the most blatant and inexcusable heresy cannot be considered to have defected from the faith, or fallen from office, or ceased to be a member of he Church unless he explicitly admits that his docrine is heretical, or explicitly rejects the Church as the rule of faith. Their crude misinterpretation of the canonical distinction becomes manifestly apparent when one considers the manner in which it is explained and applied in the canons of the Church. Canon 1321 § 1 of the 1983 Code describes a canonical crime as an “externa legis vel praecepti violatio”, which is “graviter imputabilis ex dolo vel ex culpa”; and the 1917 Code likewise defines a canonical delict: «Can. 2195. §1. Nomine delicti, iure ecclesiastico, intelligitur externa et moraliter imputabilis legis violatio cui addita sit sanctio canonica saltem indeterminata. » The 1983 Code on the nature of canonical crime essentially repeats, with minor alteration, the canons of the 1917 Code, and therefore, as set forth in the above quoted Canon 6 of the 1983 Code, it must on these points be understood according to canonical tradition, which is enshrined in the definitions given in the 1917 Code. The above quoted commentary of the Canon Law Faculty of Navarre also points out that one of the general principles applied in the revision of the Code of Canon Law was the elimination of all the definitions that were given in the 1917 Code, since they pertain to canonical doctrine rather than legislation; and thus remain applicable for the interpretation of the canons of the 1983 Code.
Next to be considered is the meaning of “externa et moraliter imputabilis legis violatio”. First, as the above cited Salamanca commentary explains, the violation must be external: which means the act must be perceivable by the senses, so that if someone were present, they would be able to perceive it. The merely internal violation of the law is never a crime because it cannot disturb the juridico-social order of the Church. However, the external violation must not be confused with the public violation of the law: there can be a crime even if the criminal act were to take place in a most hidden manner, even if no one were present, and there did not exist the possibility that anyone could come into knowledge of it. Second, the violation must be morally imputable. Canon 1321 § 3 sets forth that if an external violation has been committed, the violation is presumed to be “graviter imputabilis ex dolo vel ex culpa” (§ 1) unless it appears otherwise: «Posita externa violatione, imputabilitas praesumitur, nisi aliud appareat. » By the term dolus, is meant the deliberate will to violate the law, as is defined in the 1917 Code: “deliberata voluntas violandi legem” (Can 2200); and the same canon, states that dolus is presumed until the contrary is proven: “Posita externa legis violatione, dolus in foro externo praesumitur, donec contrarium probetur.” The Salamanca commentary explains on page 787, that there are two elements which constitute dolus: 1) on the part of the understanding the knowledge of the law is required, and the obligation it imposes; and 2) on the part of the will, the positive intention to commit an act that is known to b opposed to the law, or to the rights which the law protects. For this it suffices that the said intention has for its direct object the commission or omission of an act that is either prohibited or mandated by the law; so that it is not necessary that thee be the formal intention of breaking the law as such. The 1983 Code states explicitly that the moral imputaility resulting from culpability or dolus is presumed; so if an ecclesiastical officeholder of any rank whatsoever were to publicly commit an external act of manifest heresy, in which not only the matter of the sin is explicitly expressed, but the pertinacity is unmistakably obvious, then defection from the faith into heresy and its consequent loss of office ipso jure would be presumed according to the law.
Salza & Siscoe again manifest this profound confusion of theirs on the distinction between internal and external sin in a passage on their website:
«Not wishing to be pinned down, he carefully avoids defining his concocted terminology, but it is clear that by the “public sin” of heresy, he essentially means the internal sin of heresy that the person manifests to many by his external actions (but actions that are not public heresy, as such, as we will explain later). These external actions are what lead others to conclude that he is guilty of the sin of heresy, which, Cekada claims, places the perpetrator outside the Church.»
These two ignorant dilettantes have obviously never properly studied Fundamental Moral Theology. I studied Philosophy and Theology at the Angelicum in Rome under the old Dominican Thomist professors in the 70s, and I have 14 well read volumes of Moral Theology in my personal library. Salza & Siscoe fail to understand the basic distinction between an internal sin and an external sin. An internal sin is a sin of thought, as opposed to an external sin which is a sin of words or deeds. An external sin is occult if the sin is not known by anyone, or only by very few individuals. An external sin is public if was done in public, and is sufficiently widely known so that it is considered to be a public sin.
It is the matter and not the form which determines whether a sin is internal or external; and it is the form or lack thereof, and not the matter which determines whether the sin is pertinacious, merely culpable but not pertinacious, or inculpable (i.e. material sin*). The error of material heresy can be inculpable; or culpable and vincible, but without pertinacity: "Et quia illa ignorantia, vel error potest esse, aut inculpabilis, aut culpabilis & vincibilis, eaque vel levis, vel lata, crassa, supina, vel denique etiam affectata, & directe voluntaria, ideo triplicis gradus distingui possunt hæretici materiales." (Patritius Sporer, Theologia Moralis Super Decalogum, Salzburg, 1722, p. 175) The error of formal heresy is culpable and pertinacious; the error of material heresy is not pertinacious, but in both cases, it is the matter alone that determines whether the sin is internal or external.
So, when Salza says that Fr. Cekada, “avoids defining his concocted terminology, but it is clear that by the 'public sin' of heresy, he essentially means the internal sin of heresy that the person manifests to many by his external actions”; Salza is saying that an external sin is only an internal sin if the form of the sin is not externally visible. He does not understand that one who sins internally commits an internal act of thought, and that one who sins externally commits an external act of word or deed.
Fr. Cekada employs in this cited instance, the accepted usage of theological terms; so it is ironic, and even comical in a pathetic way, that Salza accuses Fr. Cekada of manufacturing "concocted terminology".
A public sin, if it is a crime, is notorious by fact if the act and its moral imputability is manifest beyond any reasonable doubt; and therefore, the notoriety of the fact by itself suffices for a private individuals to judge the matter by way of personal opinion without any official pronouncement by ecclesiastical authority. By the public sin of heresy, the heretic does indeed pronounce judgment on himself by leaving the Church, as Bellarmine explains in his refutation of the Fourth Opinion; and since this is taught unanimously by the Fathers, as Bellarmine points out, and it is taught by the universal magisterium, and is taught in scripture, (as Ballerini demonstrates in the above cited passage), it is a revealed truth that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith. When Salza & Siscoe quote St. Thomas against private individuals making judgment, they err, not grasping from the plainly worded text that St. Thomas is not treating on the question of private judgment of opinion, but of private individuals usurping the public judicial function. Thus they crudely misinterpreted the moral teaching of St Thomas. If the heresy and its pertinacity are manifest, then private individuals have the right to judge privately and state their private opinions in public but as private individuals they may not presume to judge in any official capacity. As Christopher Ferrara explains in Fatima Perspectives, “It is an axiom of our religion that no person on earth can judge the Pope in the sense of a penal sentence with juridical effect.”
The main problem with Salza and Siscoe is that they have attempted to teach Catholic theology without first having learned it properly by means of a disciplined academic formation. If my memory doesn't betray me, I believe it was Herbert Thurston SJ who said of the Modernist, George Tyrell, that he needed to have first learned doctrine before teaching it. Salza and Siscoe err in the same manner. There are many more grave errors in their various presentations that will be dealt with in the upcoming continuation of this series of articles. Salza & Siscoe have reacted to this article in a manner that reveals their total spiritual blindness, what St. Thomas calls insipientia. When I sent a copy of the first revision to them, this is the response of Salza: “Robert, I am laughing out loud right now, at how easy it will be to refute this desperate novus ordo priest's attempt at theology, classic petitio principii, which we have already refuted. Lets have some fun with this.” Whenever Salza is totally refuted, he clumsily constructs a case of petitio principii which he builds on the foundation of his own distorted caricature of his adversary's argument. Like a mindless talking bird, Salza replies with those two words in order to deflect attention away from the fact that his argument has been demolished. Anyone with a sane mind can grasp easily enough that there is no “question begging” in the arguments I have presented. Salza certainly knows that too, but his desperate hope is to get his readers to believe it. As they say in baseball, he has thrown that pitch too many times. Like Salza, Siscoe also manifests a total disregard for truth, even divine truth. They both subscribe to the same creed: “No Salvation Outside of My Opinion”. It was Siscoe who wrote, “for the sin to be judged, it must be public; and needless to say the judgment of the public sin must proceed from the proper authorities, not from the individual Catholic in the pew”. He does not believe in his own doctrine. This was his reply to me, his reaction to this article, shortly after I sent it to him: “Due to your heretical ecclesiology, you are now a sworn enemy of the Church, and that is how you will be treated.” Thus speaks the man who says the Church must judge, and not the individual Catholic.
* "il peccato materiale non è altro, che un'azione che sarebbe materia di peccato, se vi fosse la cognizione della legge, ma essendo la legge invincibilmente ignota (poichè nel contrasto di due probabili non è nota la legge, ma solamente il dubbio della legge), pertanto la trasgressione non è colpevole." (Alfonso Maria de Liguori; Opere Morali, volume decimosesto, Torino 1829, pp. 66-7)
JOHN SALZA AND ROBERT SISCOE ARE IN HERESY.
In addressing the question of the possibility of a heretical pope, and if possible, could such a pope be deposed or judged by the Church, one must first distinguish the various senses in which the term “heretic” has been employed by ecclesiastical writers. Giuseppe de Luca explains that the term «heresy» (αἴρεσις) which denotes a choice, selection, election, or a preference for one position rather than another, was a term used in classical Greek; and in Alexandrian Greek it began to be typically applied to philosophical, political, and religious doctrines. In Josephus Flavius, it already acquired the meaning of “sect”, although without any connotation of condemnation or disapproval. In the New Testament, the word αἴρεσις occurs nine times, and the word αίρετικός, once, and the connotation in which it is used is always one of condemnation and reproach. In 1 Cor. 11:19, there already appears to be a clear distinction between heresy and schism, and throughout the New Testament, its signification is one of heinously grievous culpability. In Acts 24:14, St. Paul rejects the Jewish attribution of the term to the nascent Christianity of the Church.
St. Irenaeus gave the term a more widespread usage due to his work, Adversus Haereses, in which he referred to the Catholic doctrine as “orthodox”, and the Gnostic beliefs (Valentinians, Marcosians, etc.) as “heresy”. The term gained more precision during the period of the Apostolic Fathers, and was properly defined by Tertullian in Chapter VI of De Praescriptione, in which he explains the Greek origin of the term, and contrasts the self-condemnation of the heretic by his willful choice of doctrines in opposition to the teaching of the Apostles, which was not the result of their choice or preference, but was received from Christ and faithfully transmitted to the nations; and therefore, if an angel from heaven should preach a different Gospel, he would be anathematized. (haereses dictae graeca uoce ex interpretatione electionis qua quis maxime siue ad instituendas siue ad suscipiendas eas utitur.  Ideo et sibi damnatum dixit haereticum quia et in quo damnatur sibi elegit. Nobis uero nihil ex nostro arbitrio inducere licet sed nec eligere quod aliquis de arbitrio suo induxerit.  Apostolos Domini habemus auctores qui nec ipsi quicquam ex suo arbitrio quod inducerent, elegerunt, sed acceptam a Christo disciplinam fideliter nationibus adsignauerunt.  Itaque etiamsi angelus de caelis aliter euangelizaret, anathema diceretur a nobis.)
I have explained in Part I the Catholic teaching on heresy, and present here what is the most common definition of heresy, given by A. Michel in the Dictionnarire de théologie catholique, where it is said of heresy that, “It is a doctrine that immediately, directly, and contradictorily opposes the truths revealed by God and authentically set forth as such by the Church.” In his above cited article, de Luca sums up the distinctions commonly made by theologians in their works, between the “internal” and “external” heretic, the former keeps the heresy within himself, the latter manifests it to others; the external heretic is “occult” (secret) who manifests the heresy to only a few (or even to no one, but commits external acts of heresy), and “public” if the heresy is manifested to a sufficient number of persons. There is also the distinction between “formal heretic” and “material heretic”; material when one denies or doubts an article of faith without being aware of denying or doubting an article of faith, or does it without obstinacy or full consent of the will; formal when it is done with full knowledge and deliberation. De Luca, in 1932, rightly mentions that the distinction between formal and material heretics is of the maximum importance, and gave the common understanding of them. Quoting a 21st Century author, Wikipedia also defines these terms according to what is the common understanding of these terms today: «In traditional Catholic theology, the term material heresy refers to an opinion that is objectively contradictory to the teachings of the Church, and as such heretical, but which is uttered by a person without the subjective knowledge of its being so. A person who holds a material heresy may therefore not be a "heretic" in the strict sense. Material heresy is distinguished from "formal heresy", i.e. a heretical opinion proposed deliberately by a person who is aware of its being against the doctrine of the Church.»
I have given particular emphasis to express what is even today the commonly understood distinctions between the terms “formal heretic” and “material heretic”; as well as “internal” and “external” heresy, because the common understanding of the terms is firmly rooted in Catholic traditional usage. John Salza and Robert Siscoe have deviated from the signification of these terms as they have traditionally been understood for centuries in Catholic theology, (calling the traditional scholastic usage of the term ‘material heretic’ “perverted”), and have made use of the relatively recent and novel definition of “material heretic”; as well as inventing their own deviant and totally erroneous distinction between external and internal heresy, in order to more persuasively argue their own heretical doctrines. Most notably, as I pointed out in Part I of this article, Salza & Siscoe have used their deviant understanding of the “sin of heresy”, to make it appear that the external sin of heresy pertains to the internal forum as an “externalized internal sin”, which (according to their convoluted heretical reasoning) by itself, suapte natura, does not separate the heretic from the body of the Church, but only does so after judgment has been pronounced on the “crime of heresy” by Church authority. It is the matter and not the form which determines whether heresy is an internal or external; and it is the form or lack thereof, and not the matter which determines whether the sin is pertincious, merely culpable but not pertinacious, or inculpable (i.e. material sin). Salza & Siscoe have totally distorted the Catholic doctrine on heresy by speaking of “the internal sin of heresy that the person manifests to many by his external actions (but actions that are not public heresy, as such […]). These external actions are what lead others to conclude that he is guilty of the sin of heresy.” The error of formal heresy is culpable and pertinacius; the error of material heresy is not pertinacious, but in both cases, it is the matter alone that determines whether the sin is internal or external. It is not the form that determines whether a sin is internal or external. Such a totally muddled notion of internal and external sin of heresy as expounded by John Salza and Robert Siscoe is worthy of the Dictionary of Voodoo Theology, but Salza and Siscoe attempt to convince their readers that their heretically errant theological deviations are faithful to the magisterium of the Church.
So, having given what is the common understanding of heresy and the distinctions related to it, I will proceed to demonstrate that these terms as they are commonly understood, faithfully represent the doctrine of St. Thomas, St. Alphonsus, and the theologians who have followed their teaching for centuries. Only then will it be precisely understood what is meant by the terms, “manifest heretic” and “heretical pope”.
Salza, ignorantly challenging me on the definition of the term, "material heretic" wrote to me on 12 July 2014: «An ignorant Catholic is not a heretic (formal or material) because he possesses divine faith and is invincibly ignorant of his heresy through no fault of his own. A material heretic is also invincibly ignorant of his heresy, but does not possess divine faith, thus rendering him a material heretic.» Trying to express their doctrine with at least some semblance of theological coherence, Salza and Siscoe resort to the weakest of arguments, the argument from authority – not the magisterial authority of the Church, which is the strongest argument in theology, but the private authority of an “expert witness”, writing on their website:
«What we see is that Fr. Kramer understands the term “material heretic” to refer to Catholics – “faithful sons of the Church” – who err materially in good faith. He says that such persons are only material heretic (sic) since they do not “prefer their own judgment to the teaching of the Church.” But is this the correct use of the term “material heretic,” or has Fr. Kramer “entirely perverted” the “legitimate use of the expression”? We will allow Cardinal Billot to answer this question for us.
In the following citation, we will see that, according to one of the greatest Thomists of the 20th Century, a material heretic is not a Catholic who errs in good faith, but rather a non-Catholic – that is, one who has chosen something other than the Church’s Magisterium as his rule of faith (e.g., the “bible alone”, a local Protestant minister, etc.).
Here is Cardinal Billot’s definition of a material heretic and a formal heretic:
Cardinal Louis Billot S.J., De Ecclesia Christi: "Heretics are divided into formal and material. Formal heretics are those to whom the authority of the Church is sufficiently known; while material heretics are those who, being in invincible ignorance of the Church herself, in good faith choose some other guiding rule. So the heresy of material heretics is not imputable as sin and indeed it is not necessarily incompatible with that supernatural faith which is the beginning and root of all justification. For they may explicitly believe the principal articles, and believe the others, though not explicitly, yet implicitly, through their disposition of mind and good will to adhere to whatever is sufficiently proposed to them as having been revealed by God. In fact they can still belong to the body of the Church by desire and fulfill the other conditions necessary for salvation. Nonetheless, as to their [i.e., the material heretics] actual incorporation in the visible Church of Christ, which is our present subject, our thesis makes no distinction between formal and material heretics [in other words, neither material or formal heretics are members of the visible Church], understanding everything in accordance with the notion of material heresy just given, which indeed is the only true and genuine one. For, if you understand by the expression material heretic one who, while professing subjection to the Church's Magisterium in matters of faith [i.e. a professing Catholic], nevertheless still denies something defined by the Church because he did not know it was defined, or, by the same token, holds an opinion opposed to Catholic doctrine because he falsely thinks that the Church teaches it, it would be quite absurd to place material heretics outside the body of the true Church; but on this understanding the legitimate use of the expression would be entirely perverted. For a material sin is said to exist only when what belongs to the nature of the sin takes place materially, but without advertence or deliberate will. But the nature of heresy consists in withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium and this does not take place in the case, since this is a simple error of fact concerning what the rule dictates. And therefore there is no scope for heresy, even materially" (Cardinal Louis Billot S.J., De Ecclesia Christi). »
Firstly, Cardinal Billot, in this passage cited by Salza & Siscoe, errs on the nature of heresy by confusing the generic nature of infidelity, common to apostasy and heresy, with the specific nature of heresy. It is not that, “the nature of heresy consists in withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium”, as Billot asserts, but heresy consists in the obstinate denial or doubt of some article of faith. Following the doctrine of St. Thomas, St. Alphonsus states the definition of heresy: «Hæresis est error intellectus, et pertinax contra Fidem, in eo qui Fidem sucepit» Thus, the nature of heresy is 1) the pertinacious error of the intellect against faith, 2) in one who has received the faith. St. Alphonsus distinguishes between the matter and the form of heresy: «Hæresis est error intellectus, et pertinax contra Fidem, in eo qui Fidem sucepit. ... Unde patet, ad Hæresim, ut et Apostasiam, duo requiri, 1. Judicium erroneum, quod est ejus quasi materiale. 2. Pertinaciam; quae est quasi formale. Porro pertinaciter errare non est hic acriter, et mordicus suum errorem tueri; sed est eum retinere, postquam contrarium est sufficienter propositum: sive quando scit contrarium teneri a reliqua universali Christi in terris Ecclesia, cui suum iudicium præferat». Thus, the matter is the erroneous judgment, and the form is the pertinacity. Accordingly therefore, the material heretic is one who is not ignorant of the Church herself, but is one of her own who is ignorant of her teaching. None of those among the baptized who have reached the age of judgment, and who deny some article of faith, while professing some other creed or rule of faith, are, according to traditional Catholic usage, called “material heretics”, but are simply referred to as “heretics”; since, according to Canon Law and scholastic theology, they are rightly understood not to have the Catholic faith.
The opinion that there can be adult "material heretics" with faith and justifying grace, but in invincible ignorance, as members of non-Catholic sects who do not know the Church, seems scarcely believable, smacks of heresy; and is refuted by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, who explains that, "unbelievers who arrive at the use of reason, and are not converted to the Faith, cannot be excused, because though they do not receive sufficient proximate grace, still they are not deprived of remote grace, as a means of becoming converted." Thus, Bishop George Hay expounds on those who say invincible ignorance will save a man, «will bring him to salvation;" saying, "[T]hey suppose that a man may be a member of the true Church in the sight of God, though not born with her in communion, as all baptised children are, though born in heresy, at least till they come to the age of judging for themselves. Their mistake here lies in not reflecting that all adults who are in a false religion, can be members of the Church in the sight of God, in no other sense than those were of whom our Saviour says, "Other sheep I have who are not of this fold." But as he expressly declares, that it was necessary to bring even those to the communion of the Church; this evidently shows that they and all such are not members of the Church in such a way as that they can be saved in their present state without being joined in her communion. »
Of those who deny some article of faith, but who profess themselves to be Catholics and members of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas makes the distinction between such persons, some of whom, who might be called heretics either because they err solely from ignorance, who are therefore not excommunicated; and others who, because erring through obstinacy and trying to subvert others, then fall under the excommunication latae sententiae: «Sed numquid ex hoc sunt excommunicati omnes haeretici? Videtur quod non, quia dicitur Tit. III, 10: haereticum hominem post primam et secundam correctionem devita, et cetera. Respondeo. Dicendum est, quod haereticus potest dici aliquis, vel quia simpliciter errat ex ignorantia, et ex hoc non est excommunicatus; vel quia errat ex pertinacia et alios nititur pervertere, et tunc incurrit in canonem latae sententiae.» Since St. Thomas speaks in this passage of canonical warnings and the ecclesiastical censure of excommunication, he is clearly not speaking of persons who are members of some non-Catholic sect who have never known the Church, but distinguishes here between Catholics who become formal heretics, and incur the excommunication; and those Catholics whom he calls “heretics”, but who err against the faith in ignorance as merely material heretics: “It is to be said that one can be called a heretic because he simply errs out of ignorance, and therefore is not excommunicated.” Such an ignorant Catholic, who errs out of ignorance, and who therefore does not incur the excommunication, is called a “heretic”, but not properly in the sense of a ‘formal heretic’, who “errs out of pertinacity and tries to pervert others”, and therefore is not properly a heretic, but is called a ‘material heretic’ in traditional Catholic usage. From this passage of the Angelic Doctor alone, one sees how far the Cardinal Billot drifted away from the doctrine of St. Thomas and St. Alphonsus on heresy.
Salza & Siscoe are quite unaware of the fact that it is precisely because the material heretic retains the formal cause of faith, that he still has the Catholic faith, and is not one who is ignorant of the Church. The material heretic believes in revelation on divine authority, and does not reject the formal cause of faith -- "supernaturalis enim virtus fidei causam formalem habet, Dei revelantis auctoritatem” (Pius XI - Mortalium Animos).
The material heretic believes in the authority of the Church, accepts the authority of the revealing God, professes the Creed, and thus does not reject the formal object of faith, but, errs ignorantly on some matter of faith, being unaware that his opinion materially opposes some truth of revelation. Such a one still adheres to the formal object of faith, but it is the formal heretic who rejects the infallible rule of faith: “Formale autem obiectum fidei est veritas prima secundum quod manifestatur in Scripturis sacris et doctrinae Ecclesiæ. Unde quicumque non inhæret, sicut infallibili et divinæ regulæ, doctrinæ Ecclesiæ, quæ procedit ex veritate prima in Scripturis sacris manifestata, ille non habet habitum fidei, sed ea quae sunt fidei alio modo tenet quam per fidem.” The material heretic adheres formally to the doctrine of the Church as an infallible and divine rule, assenting on divine authority to the divinely revealed truths, but errs objectively in ignorance regarding the matter of some article(s) of faith. “[W]hoever does not adhere to the doctrine of the Church, as an infallible and divine rule does not have the habit of faith, but holds to matters of faith in some other manner than by faith.”
The material heretic retains the formal cause of the virtue of faith, because the form of heresy which is contrary to that virtue is absent in material heretics, who do not err out of pertinacity, but out of simplicity or ignorance, as Reiffenstuel explains, "Hæretici materiales (qui autem iuxta S. Augustinum . . . nequaquam sunt inter hæreticos deputandi) dicuntur illi, qui non ex malo animo aut pertinacia, sed ex simplicitate, aut defectu debitæ informationis, errant circa Fidem." Hence, as Abbé F.X. de Feller states, material heretics remain faithful sons of the Church: "Gli eretici materiali sono figliuoli della chiesa."
Those who because of simplicity and ignorance err materially do not deliberately prefer their own judgment to the teaching of the Church, in which consists the sin of infidelity and the form of heresy, as St. Alphonsus explains: "Porro pertinaciter errare (quæ est formale) . . . est eum [errorem] retinere, postquam contrarium est sufficienter propositum: sive quando scit contrarium teneri a reliqua universali Christi in terris Ecclesia, cui suum iudicium præferat”. Therefore it is only the formal heretic who is properly called a heretic because he has defected from the faith by refusing to believe what he knows to be the faith of the universal Church, and thus no longer has the virtue of faith -- but the material heretic still has divine and Catholic faith but errs out of ignorance. Material heresy is properly a “material sin”. The term, "material sin" is defined by St. Alphonsus de Liguori as an action that would be matter of sin but without the knowledge of the law, and therefore inculpable: "il peccato materiale non è altro, che un'azione che sarebbe materia di peccato, se vi fosse la cognizione della legge, ma essendo la legge invincibilmente ignota . . . la trasgressione non è colpevole." Hence, "material heresy" is the inculpable, or at least not gravely culpable act of heresy, because of ignorance, and thus “material heretics” accordingly defined and distinguished from “formal heretics” by theologians: "Qui cum sua culpa veritatem de fide negant, formales haeretici vocantur, qui id sine sua culpa faciunt, materiales haeretici dicuntur." (Those who culpably deny a truth of faith are called formal heretics, those who do so without fault are said to be material heretics.) As is plainly self evident, this definition of the term ‘material heretic’ specifies with precise determination the generic essence of what it is for one to be a ‘material heretic’. Those who fall under this heading can be members of the Church, in the manner of those ‘heretics’ described in the above passage of St. Thomas, who err out of ignorance and are not excommunicated; and those who have been innocently led astry and brought into the congregations of heretics, and are therefore not members of the Church, but, as St. Augustine (quoted below) teaches, are not to be reckoned as heretics (nequaquam sunt inter haereticos deputandi).
The error of material heresy is not always entirely inculpable, but can be culpable and vincible, but without pertinacity, as moral theologian, Patrick Sporer explains the three degrees of material heresy: "Et quia illa ignorantia, vel error potest esse, aut inculpabilis, aut culpabilis & vincibilis, eaque vel levis, vel lata, crassa, supina, vel denique etiam affectata, & directe voluntaria, ideo triplicis gradus distingui possunt hæretici materiales." Those described in the third category of ignorance directly willed, can hardly be considered excusable of grave sin, even if not pertinacious, and therefore cannot be saved if they die in that state. However, those in the second category, i.e. only slightly culpable of supine ignorance, if the degree of ignorance is such that they are not sufficiently conscious of being in the state of supine ignorance, so that they would be morally capable of overcoming the obstacle of ignorance, would still have to be considered invincibly ignorant; at least until they become sufficiently conscious of the defective nature of their own sect, and thus of their moral obligation to seek instruction in the faith of the true Church. Nevertheless, since the degree of culpability for material heresy is strictly an internal matter, the Church has judged members of non-Catholic denominations in general to be formal heretics, according to their external profession of heresy, as is patent in the earlier quoted passage of St. Pius X: “Gli eretici sono i battezzati che ricusano con pertinacia di credere qualche verità rivelata da Dio e insegnata come di fede dalla Chiesa cattolica, per esempio gli ariani, I nestoriani, e le varie sette dei protestanti.” Exceptions are judged on an individual basis, when the bona fides of the individual is manifested.
Salza & Siscoe uncritically and gratuitously assert that their definition of “material heretic”, which became popular among some early 20th Century theologians, is the correct one, and that the traditional definition of the term is “perverted”. As their authority, they quote a text of Cardinal Billot which offers no argumentation on the point, but merely asserts his own gratuitously stated belief that the traditional definition of the term, “material heretic”, is “perverted”. Cardinal Billot and the other early 20th Century theologians who restricted the attribution of the term ‘material heretics’ exclusively to those outside the Church, have never sufficiently explained why, in their opinion, only those in material heresy who are not members of the Catholic Church should be called ‘material heretics’, and those Catholics who are in material heresy, should not be called ‘material heretics’. The explanation he provides is plainly deficient and erroneous, since he errs on the nature of heresy when he says, “But the nature of heresy consists in withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium and this does not take place in the case, since this is a simple error of fact concerning what the rule dictates. And therefore there is no scope for heresy, even materially”. Billot, as I explained above, does not properly specify the nature of heresy; which is not the withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium, but is the erroneous judgment, as St. Alphonsus defines, the nature of heresy as the pertinacious error intellectus contra fidem, and the matter is the Judicium erroneum, quod est ejus quasi materiale. However, the traditional usage of the term as I understand and employ it, which, unlike Billot’s usage of it, is based on the proper definition of heresy, is still commonly employed by theologians of the late 20th and 21st Centuries. In the pontifical universities where I studied in the 80s and 90s, it was commonplace to hear the term used as I use it. In his series of articles, Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, Professor of Theology at the SSPX seminary in Econe employs the term precisely according to the same traditional usage as I employ it: “At first glance it would seem that this is an improbable thesis [i.e. that a pope can become a formal heretic]. In fact, the negative answer to this question is the common opinion of theologians of the modern era. They say, in effect, that the pope could not become a formal, obstinate heretic, in other words a deliberate, culpable heretic, although he could become a material heretic, through non-culpable ignorance or because of a simple error and not by reason of ill will.” Salza & Siscoe say on their website, “Cardinal Billot declares Fr. Kramer’s use of the term material heretic to be ‘perverted’”. Salza & Siscoe seem to be totally unconcerned with the hypocrisy they manifest by saying only that Fr. Kramer’s use of the term is perverted, but not Fr. Gleize’s identical use of the same.
Having examined the question as to whether there can even be adult "material heretics" with faith and justifying grace, but in invincible ignorance, as members of non-Catholic sects; there remains the question as to whether or not there can be adult members of non-Catholic sects, who, although not invincibly ignorant, would still qualify as material heretics who would nevertheless belong to the Church because their culpable ignorance would not be gravely culpable, and not amount to pertinacity; and thus would in some manner belong to the Church, without being formally incorporated as visible members of the Church. According to Sebestiano Fraghi, in his 1937 Angelicum doctoral dissertation, De Membris Ecclesiæ (p. 85 ff.), there are two opinions, and there is not a consensus among theologians whether such material heretics are or are not members of the Church: “Some deny they are members of the Church;¹ others, however, affirm they are, and Suarez is also among them, as a result of his general principle regarding the nature of a member of the Church;² others distinguish, affirming them to be members of the Church in the internal forum and by the judgment of God, but in the external forum and by the judgement of the Church they are presumed heretics³”. Belonging to the latter catgegory was notably Cardinal Franzelin.
Fraghi himself considered the first to be more probable, “Nos ut probabiliorem primam sententiam tenemus.” First, he considers the usage of the term “heretics” by the Fathers: “When the Fathers speak of heretics, generally they intend to speak of formal and pertinacious heretics; sometimes, however, some of them are seen to excuse those who bona fide are outside the Church.” And he quotes St. Augustine: “Those who maintain their own opinion, however false and perverted, without obstinate ill will, especially those who have not originated their own error by bold presumption, but have received it from parents who had been led astray and had lapsed, those who seek truth with careful industry, ready to be corrected when they have found it, are not to be rated among heretics (nequaquam sunt inter haereticos deputandi). Therefore, if I did not believe you to be such, I would probably not send you any letters.” Fraghi then makes the observation that all heretics who entered into the bad congregations of the heresiarchs are “outside the Church”: “But also the Fathers often teach that even material heretics are turned outside the Church (etiam haereticos materiales versari extra Ecclesiam). For they explicitly say that all heretics, even those seduced by heresiarchs who entered into their bad congregations, do not pertain to the mystical body of Christ (non pertinere ad corpus Christi mysticum), putting no distinction between them who voluntarily and them who bona fide participate in their errors.”
It would somewhat extreme to say that those not gravely inculpable ignorant material heretics who belong to the congregatiunculae of the heretics do not pertain in any way to the mystical body of Christ, and are thus totally outside the Church (and that certainly does not appear to be Fraghi’s meaning), because they, as St. Augustine says, “seek truth with careful industry, ready to be corrected when they have found it”(quaerunt autem cauta sollicitudine veritatem, corrigi parati cum invenerint); and therefore they can be said to belong to the soul of the Church in the manner described by Pope St Pius X. St Robert Bellarmine explained the doctrine of the soul of the Church taught by St. Augustine who explained that the Church is a living body, and therefore is comprised of a body and a soul: “Notandum autem est ex Augistino in breviculo collationis. Collat. 3. Ecclesiam esse corpus vivum, in quo est anima et corpus, et quidem anima sunt interna dona Spiritus sancti, fides, spes, charitas etc. Corpus sunt externa professio fidei, et communicatio sacramentorum. Ex quo fit, ut quidam sint de anima et de corpore Ecclesiae, et proinde uniti Christo capiti interius et exterius; sunt enim quasi membra viva in corpore […] Rursum aliqua sint de anima, et non de corpore, ut catechumeni, vel excommunicati, si fidem et charitatem habeant, quod fieri potest.” This is precisely the same teaching which St. Pius X teaches magisterially in his Catechismo Maggiore, that in the Church there is body and soul: “La Chiesa di Gesù Cristo è costituita come una vera e perfetta società; ed in essa, come in una persona morale possiamo distinguere l'anima e il corpo.” He likewise defines the soul of the Church in identical terms: “L'anima della Chiesa consiste in ciò che essa ha d'interno e spirituale, cioè la fede, la speranza, la carità, i doni della grazia e dello Spirito Santo e tutti i celesti tesori che le sono derivati pei meriti di Cristo Redentore e dei Santi.” Following St. Augustine and St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Pius X teaches that the soul of the Church consists of faith, hope and charity, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and all the heavenly treasures. St. Pius X then asks if one who is outside the church can be saved: “Chi è fuori della Chiesa si salva?” He then makes the critical distinction between those who die outside the Church unrepentant, and those who find themselves materially outside without fault and spiritually in the Church; living the life of sanctifying grace which unites them to God, and spiritually also to the Church, i.e. to the ‘soul of the Church’: “Chi è fuori della Chiesa per propria colpa e muore senza dolore perfetto, non si salva; ma chi ci si trovi senza propria colpa e viva bene, può salvarsi con l'amor di carità, che unisce a Dio, e, in spirito, anche alla Chiesa, cioè all'anima di lei.”
Thus it is that those who are only material heretics but not united to the Church by visible, external union can be united to the Church by internal union; i.e. by faith and sanctifying grace, and therefoe can be said to belong to the Church, and be in the Church, although not incorporated as members by external union. They can therefore be said to be in the Church not as members in actu, but in potentia, as St. Robert Bellarmine explains, and can therefore be saved for the same reason as the catechumens who die in the state of grace, who, not having ben sacramentally baptized with water, are not actual members of the Church, but are members in voto: “si non re, saltem voto sunt in Ecclesia, ideo salvari possunt”. This is the dotrine of the Council of Trent, which defined that the grace of justification can be received by the sacraments or the resolve (votum) for them; and in accordance with the manifest dogma of the universal Church, in Chapter fourteen of the Decree on Justification, it is defined that whoever dies in the justified state enters eternal life.
From the above considerations, it can be properly understood in what manner material heretics, who are not visible members of the Church (in re), can be properly said to be members of the Church in a qualified sense (in voto). Cardinal Franzelin, as noted above, affirmed them to be members of the Church in the internal forum and by the judgment of God, but in the external forum and by the judgement of the Church they are presumed and held to be heretics. Fraghi notes the objection of Ludovicus De San, who said, “This cannot be said […] for in the judgement of God, which is infallible, material heretics and schismatics cannot in actuality be but what they truly are; if they in the judgement of God be members of the Church, it follows they are true members of the Church, which appears to be most false”. It is scarcely conceivable that a theologian of such preeminence as Johannes Baptiste Franzelin SJ would have fallen into such a crude contradiction as De San attributes to him. Franzelin was a vastly learned Jesuit theologian, who would have obviously intended the expression “members of the Church in the internal forum and by the judgment of God” to denote membership in the qualified sense of internal union with the soul of the Church, elaborated by that other vastly learned Jesuit theologian, St. Robert Bellarmine SJ; thus denoting that qualified sense of membership in voto, and denying them membership in the proper sense of the term in re by saying, “in the external forum they are presumed and held by the Church to be heretics”. Nor can it be deemed improper on the part of the Church’s judgment to presume those to be heretics who might invisibly belong to the Church by internal union only; but who inculpably profess heresy externally, and, being ignorant of the fact of the divinely constituted authority of the Roman Church, do not submit to the judgment of the ecclesiastical magisterium of that Church with the assent required by the law of Christ. God, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth”, (1 Tim. 2:4), provides sufficient grace to all men to come into the revealed truths of the Catholic faith in order that they may be saved. So, while God gives the grace to all, each one is free to cooperate or resist that grace, and hence, St. Augustine says: “He who made thee without thy help, does not justify thee without thy help”. For so long as the grace, even the remote grace, is given but resisted, the soul distances itself from God and his Church, and thus the grace is gradually withdrawn: “he that contemneth small things, shall fall by little and little” – the soul falls away little by little, until it becomes hardened in heresy.
Thus, with a clear understanding of heresy as understood according to the mind of the Church, we can safely proceed to the exposition on papal heresy and the five opinions on the question of the deposition of a heretic pope.
THE FIRST PAPAL TEACHING ON A HERETIC POPE’S LOSS OF OFFICE
The virtue of faith, as I explained in the first part of this article, is essential to the office of the Supreme Pontificate; thus, as St. Robert Bellarmine explains; faith is simpliciter a necessary disposition for one to be pope; and faith being removed, by its contrary disposition, which is heresy, the pope would straightaway cease to be pope, since the necessary dispositions for the form of the papacy could no longer be preserved: “ista dispositione sublata per contrariam quae est haeresis, mox papa desinit esse; neque enim potest forma conservari sine necessariis dispositionibus”. Bellarmine’s doctrine that faith is a necessary disposition for the papal office is based on the teaching of Pope Innocent III; that faith pertains so essentially to the Petrine office that Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors in that office, the grace of unfailing faith: “...Unless I am grounded in faith, how can I make others firm in faith? It is certain that faith belongs especially to my office. The Lord publicly proclaimed it: ‘I’, he said, ‘have prayed for you Peter that your faith may not fail, and you, once being converted, must confirm your brothers’... For this reason the Faith of the Apostolic See has never failed even during turbulent times, but has remained whole and unharmed, so that the privilege of Peter continues to be unshaken..
Thus, Pope Innocent teaches that the prayer of Christ for the grace that the faith of Peter not fail, does not limit itself to a personal charism of Simon Peter that is not passed on to his successors, but that charism pertains essentially to the exercise of the Petrine office, and therefore is a gratia gratis data given to every holder of that office. That the prayer of Christ for the charism of unfailing faith refers to the holder of the Petrine Primacy, and most specifically to his duty of office to confirm his brethren in the Catholic faith, is clearly established in the words of the same Innocent III again in his letter: “Deus homo, Christus Jesus (1 Tim. II), apostolocæ sedis primatum in Beato Petro apostolorum principe stabilivit, qui et ante passionem inquit ad ipsum: Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram ædificabo Ecclesiam meam, et quodcumque ligaveris super terram erit ligatum et in cœlis, et quodcumque solveris super terram, erit solutum et in cœlis (Matth. XVI). Et circa passionem suam dixit eidem: Simon, expetivit vos ut cribraret sicut triticum; sed ego pro te rogavi ut non deficiat fides tua, et tu aliquando conversus confirma fratres tuos (Luc. XXII) Et post passionem suam, vocabulo tertio repetito præcepit Simon Joannis, diliges me plus his? Pasce oves meas (Joan. XXI); non distinguens inter has oves et illas; ut ab ovile Christi se sciat esse penitus alienum, qui beatum Petrum recusat habere pastorem, et qui claves ejus contemnit, ipse sibi regni cœlestis januam intercludit, nec Satanæ potest cribrum effugere, qui per eum renuit in fide catholica confirmari.” Hence, Innocent concludes in Sermo III, that he would not easily believe that God would permit the Roman Pontiff to err in faith (Ego tamen facile non crederim, ut Deus permitteret Romanum pontificem contra fidem errare), for whom He spiritually prayed in Peter, I have prayed for thee Peter, etc. (Luke 22), Therefore, he who has the bride, is the bridegroom, and this bride did not wed vacuously, but granted him [the pope] the priceless dowry of spiritual plenitude. Others are called to a partial share in the solicitude, but only Peter was taken up into the fullness of power (solus autem Petrus assumptus est in plenitudinem potestatis). Thus, Innocent III teaches that Faith is necessary for the exercise the munus of the Petrine office, and therefore it seems unlikely that God would permit the Roman Pontiff to defect from the faith.
In the first chapter of the second volume of his Fundamentaltheologie, Prof. Dr. Albert Lang observes, that the grace of unfailing faith was not a personal privilege for the Apostle, but was given to equip him for the fulfillment of his official duty to confirm the faith of his brethren: ”Das soll nicht ein persönliches Privileg für den Apostel sein, sondern eine Ausrüstung für sein Amt, die ihn verpflichtet, nun seinerseits die Brüder im Glauben zu stärken.” Christ’s prayer was an efficacious prayer that to Peter, to whom was given the task of leading the Church through all dangers, was also given the assurance that his faith would not fail: ”Dem Petrus hat er die Aufgabe zugedacht, die Kirche sicher durch alle Fährnisse zu leiten. In der Abschiedsstunde gibt er ihm den Auftrag, in den Zeiten der Gefahr die Brüder im Glauben zu stärken, gibt ihm aber auch die Versicherung, daß ihm sein Beistand bei der Erfüllung dieser Aufgabe nicht fehlen werde. Durch sein Gebet, das hier nur als ein wirksames Gebet verstanden werden kann, hat Jesus erreicht, daß der Glaube des Petrus nicht wanken wird.” Thus, faith pertains essentially to the Petrine office.
With the removal of that necessary disposition of faith, which belongs essentially to the exercise of papal office, Bellarmine, applying the principke set forth by Innocent III, concludes as a pure hypothesis, that if it be possible for that essential disposition which is faith, to be lost, then the pope would straightaway cease to be pope (mox Papa desinit esse). If he were to publicly defect from the faith by professing heresy, then, as a theoretically possible hypothesis with real pracical applicability; the pope, having already pronounced judgment upon himself and thus having been judged by God and having fallen from the supreme pontificate “by himself”, he could then be judged and punished by the Church. This proposition of the Holy Doctor is an explicit restatement and concise application of the teaching of Pope Innocent III, who teaches that the pope has no superior but God (post Deum alium superiorem non habet [Sermo III]) to judge him; thus, “Vir autem iste [Romanus Pontifex] alligatus uxori, [Ecclesiae Romanae] […] non deponitur; nam « suo domino aut stat, aut cadit » (Rom. XIV). – «Qui autem judicat, dominus est» (I Cor. IV).” And again: “The Roman Pontiff has no superior but God. Who, therefore, should a pope ‘lose his savour’, could cast him out or trample him under foot — since of the pope it is said ‘gather thy case (causa) into thy fold’ [fold of the toga over the breast]? Truly, he should not flatter himself about his power, nor should he rashly glory in his honour and high estate, because the less he is judged by man, the more he is judged by God. I say less, because he can be judged by men, or rather, can be shown to be already judged, if for example he should wither away into heresy; because he who does not believe is already judged. In such a case it should be said of him: If salt should lose its savour, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trampled under-foot by men.”
By “cast out”, Innocent means “deposed”, and by “trampled underfoot by men, “despised by the people”: (mittatur foras, id est ab officio deponatur: et concucetur ab hominibus, id est a populo contemnatur). He clearly teaches that the pope as pope cannot be judged by men, since the servant is judged by his own superior, and the Roman Pontiff has no superior but God: “Servus enim, secundum Apostolum, «suo domino stat aut cadit (Rom. xiv). » Propter quod idem Apostolus ait; «Tu quis es, qui judicas alienum servum?» (lbid.) Unde cum Romanus pontifex non habeat alium dominum nisi Deum, quantumlibet evanescat, quis potest eum foras mittere, aut pedibus conculcare?” So, the pope asks, “Since the Roman Pontiff has no superior but God, if he were to lapse, who can cast him out and trample him underfoot?”
The answer he gives explains, quoting St. John, that as a heretic, he is already judged (quoniam «qui non credit, jam judicatus est » (Joan. iii).), and therefore, for reason of fornication, not carnal but the error of infidelity, the Roman Church can divorce the Roman Pontiff; since the matrimony can only exist between legitimate persons (solus consensus inter legitimas personas efficit matrimonium). By the sin of infidelity, the necessary disposition for the spiritual matrimonial union between the Roman Pontiff and the Church ceases to exist; and thus the heretic, no longer a legitimate spouse, would cease to be pope, and could then be judged by men. This is what St. Robert Bellarmine teaches in De Romano Pontifice II xxx: “Est ergo quinta opinio vera, papam haereticum manifestum per se desinere esse papam et caput, sicut per se desinit esse christianus et membrum corporis Ecclesiae; quare ab Ecclesia posse eum judicari et puniri. Haec est sententia omnium veterum Patrum, qui docent, haereticos manifestos mox amittere omnem jurisdictionem.”
“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 this manner, the pope, who has no judge but God, can be judged by men upon having ceased to be pope:
Fundamentum hujus sententiae est quoniam haereticus manifestus nullo modo est membrum Ecclesiae, idest, neque animo neque corpore, sive neque unione interna, neque externa.
"The foundation of this argument is that the manifest heretic is not in any way a member of the Church, that is, neither spiritually nor corporally, which signifies that he is not such by internal union nor by external union.”
In order to attack this doctrine, which they ignorantly dismiss as a “sedevacantist argument”, John Salza and Robert Siscoe have blindly declared that my exposition on Bellarmine’s doctrine proves that I have never even read Bellarmine (!); and in their attempt to refute the argument, as I already explained, they have fallen into two heresies: 1) They have denied a revealed truth of the universal magisterium pertaining to the divine constitution of the Church regarding heresy, apostasy and schism; and 2) They have denied the injudicability of the Roman Pontiff, which pertains essentially to the dogma of papal primacy.
The heretical doctrine of Salza and Siscoe, that a pope while still in office can be judged by the Church is founded on and entirely hinges on their heretical interpretation of the doctrine on the nature of heresy, apostasy and schism taught by Pius XII in Mystici Corporis. Salza & Siscoe speak of my, “erroneous opinion”, which according to them is based on, “a misreading/misapplication of Pope Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis Christi […] in which the Pope says ‘For not every offense (admissum), although it may be a grave evil, is such as by its very own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.’” According to them, the teaching in this passage is that “Pope Pius XII is referring to the ’offense’ or CRIME (not SIN) of heresy, which severs one from the Body of the Church, after the formal and material elements have been proven by the Church.” It is their explicitly stated position that, “the nature of the crime of heresy requires no additional censure to sever one from the Body. But this does not nullify the necessity of the Church - who alone has the authority to judge whether a person is guilty of the crime of heresy - rendering a judgment, and most certainly in the case of a person who continues to present himself as a Catholic (as opposed to one who openly left the Church).”
What Salza and Siscoe are saying here quite explicitly is that heresy as such does not suapte natura sever the heretic from the body of the Church by itself without the judgment of the Church, but only the canonical crime of heresy according to ecclesiastical law, severs the heretic from the body of the Church, after the Church has judged, without any additional censure. Notwithstanding that in the first part of this article, I have demonstrated the absurdity of this heretical interpretation of the doctrine on the nature of heresy; and that this teaching of Pius XII pertains not to ecclesiastical law but to divine law (Deo iubente), Salza and Siscoe remain entrenched in their heretical belief. However, even without the explanation I have given, it should already have been obvious enough to Salza and Siscoe just from reading the opening words of the encyclical; that, in the passage in question, Pius XII would not be expounding a distinction on a point of ecclesiastical law concerning the delict of heresy in a dogmatic encyclical on the divine constitution of the Church. Those opening words are: “LITTERAE ENCYCLICAE AD VENERABILES FRATRES PATRIARCHAS, PRIMATES, ARCHIEPISCOPOS, EPISCOPOS ALIOSQUE LOCORUM ORDINARIOS PACEM ET COMMUNIONEM CUM APOSTOLICA SEDE HABENTES : DE MYSTICO IESU CHRISTI CORPORE DEQUE NOSTRA IN EO CUM CHRISTO CONIUNCTIONE.” Thus it is clear that this is a doctrinal encyclical addressed to all the bishops of the universal Church, on the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and our union with Him in IT. In that encyclical Pius XII explains, what has already been a manifest dogma of the universal magisterium, that there are two ways that a person can be separated from the body of the church; 1) excommunication by the authority of the Church, and; 2) heresy, apostasy or schism, which by themselves, suapte natura, sever one from the body of the Church. For all other sins and offenses, one is severed from the body of the Church only upon being excommunicated by legitimate ecclesiastical authority. Heresy, schism and apostasy by the very nature of the sin, effect the separation of the culprit from the body of the Church, without any penalty, censure or judgment of the ecclesiastical authority. Msgr. Van Noort comments:
“b. Public heretics (and a fortiori, apostates) are not members of the Church. They are not members because they separate themselves from the unity of Catholic faith and from the external profession of that faith. Obviously, therefore, they lack one of three factors—baptism, profession of the same faith, union with the hierarchy—pointed out by Pius XII as requisite for membership in the Church. The same pontiff has explicitly pointed out that, unlike other sins, heresy, schism, and apostasy automatically sever a man from the Church. 'For not every sin, however grave and enormous it be, is such as to sever a man automatically from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy'.”
John Salza and Robert J. Siscoe, (as their own words state quite plainly), categorically, adamantly, and explicitly reject this doctrine of the universal and ordinary magisterium of the Church; and, according to their convoluted reasoning, they have professed a third way for sinners to be separated from the Church: by, 1) openly leaving the Church (such as one who joins another sect or religion); or, 2) by being excommunicated by the authority of the Church; and also, 3) by heresy, schism or apostasy, by which they are severed from the body of the Church only when the Church will have established the crime in its judgment, and not before. On the basis of their heretical interpretation of Mystici Corporis, and the legalistic fundamentalism of their interpretation of the Canon Si papa (Decretum Gratiani), (which has never had any statutory force nor has ever been officially recognized), they have resurrected the universally abandoned opinions which held that a manifestly heretical pope would remain in office until he would have been judged by the Church, by proper Church authorities; and only upon being judged by the Church, he would fall from office. Since the solemn definition of the primacy in Pastor Æternus, those opinions had to be abandoned because they directly conflicted with the doctrine of the injudicability of the Roman Pontiff set forth and solemnly declared in that dogmatic constitution.
It pertains to the very nature of heresy that by professing heresy, one ceases to be a Christian and a member of the Church; and, as I have explained, heresy as a species of infidelity, in its nature takes one out of the Church. One is a Christian by faith, united to God by belief, and to the Church by the external profession of faith. This is the nature of heresy, that it takes one out of the Church, and as such, does not admit of exceptions, any more than man, having the nature of a rational animal, could be a dog; or that a dog, according to its nature an irrational animal, could be a rational man.
Hence, it is contrary to the nature of Christian belief that a heretic can be pope, because a Christian is a professing believer in Christ, and a heretic is an unbelieving infidel dog (Matth. 7:6, 15:26; Mark 7:27; Philip. 3:2; Apoc. 22:15); and an infidel dog can no more be the head of the Church – the highest and chief member of the Church, than a dog could be king over a nation of humans; because by nature a dog is not a man, and a heretic is not a member of the Church.
Thus it is that a pope who falls into manifest heresy ceases by that very fall to be a member of the Church, because the natural motion of heresy removes one from the body of the Church. Hence, Bellarmine, Ballerini, and Gregory XVI teach that such a pope would pronounce judgment upon himself, cease per se to be pope, and of his own volition would have abdicated.
Thus, no longer a pope or member of the Church, the manifest heretic would be already deposed, and could therefore be so declared by the Church to "be deposed" (esse depositum) and not that he can be deposed (deponi posse) by the Church. This critical distinction between esse depositum and deponi posse is made by Bellarmine in his exposition of the third opinion, and by Ballerini in the earlier quoted passage on the deposition of Benedict XIII: “depositum declaruit potius quam deposuit”. Hence, Salza and Siscoe err in saying that according to Bellarmine, a pope who is a manifest heretic can be deposed by the Church. Such a pope, in the doctrine of Bellarmine, would be like the king who renounces his royalty, yet refuses to give up the throne. By renouncing his royalty, he becomes a commoner and ceases to be king; and therefore the State has the authority to remove him from the throne if he is unwilling to give it up. As king, he was the head of state, and none in his realm would have the authority to remove him. Likewise, a pope who becomes a manifest heretic renounces his membership in the royal priesthood of Christ; and loses all claim to any prerogative pertaining to it. Having abdicated his membership in the royal family of God's household, he thereby forfeits all claim to the throne of Christ's Vicar, and becomes a mere usurper who must be evicted.
All of the adherents of the variations of Opinion No. 4 argue against the nature of heresy as taught in Mystici Corporis; by saying that the manifest heretic pope remains in office until he is judged by the Church; since heresy, suapte natura, would sever him from membership in the Church; and as a necessary logical corollary, ex natura hæresis, would effect the immediate loss of office ipso facto, as is taught by the Fathers. They also argue against the dogma of the Primacy which defines the pope is the supreme judge who is judged by no one. The pope is the monarch who cannot be judged by his subjects, any more than a secular king of an absolute monarchy can be judged by his subjects. The subjects do not possess the authority. There is no office or institution possessed of the authority to judge a pope, so it is absurd to maintain that any individual or body can officially warn or judge the pope. Only if the pope has forfeited his office and ceased to be pope, can he be judged by those who were his subjects, but now have authority over him. This will be demonstrated in my exposition on Bellarmine’s explication of the five opinions. All variations of Opinion No. 4, whether of Cajetan, Suarez, John of St. Thomas, Billuart, Laymann, etc., morally can no longer be permissibly held, because they offend against the doctrine of Mystici Corporis on the nature of heresy severing one suapte natura from the Church; and offend against the injudicability of the pope defined in Pastor Æternus.
The same can be said of Opinion No. 3, that it cannot be considered permissible to subscribe to that opinion, because it professes that a manifest heretic would remain in office, as the visible head of the Church, and thus conflicts with the doctrine that heretics are cut off from membership in the Church according to the very nature of heresy; and as Bellarmine demonstrates, the unanimous teaching of the Fathers is that heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction, not by any human law, but ex natura haeresis.
Opinion No. 2 has been universally abandoned, because it is untenable: It is founded on the erroneous belief that even a secret heretic ceases entirely to be a member of the Church. If that were the case, then there would never be any way of knowing whether the pope was a true pope, or a counterfeit heretic who has fallen from the pontificate, and the Church would thereby be deprived of the certitude of having a visible head. It would also bring about a defection of the Church because it pertains to the divine constitution of the Church that it is under the governance of the pope, and therefore it would be a defection if the whole Church would fall under the power of a heretical impostor. Thus, it is either impossible altogether for a pope to be a heretic, or if he is a secret heretic, he would remain in office. The opinion, therefore, is objectionable, although it was the opinion of Cardinal Juan de Torquemada, the theologian of Pope Eugenius IV and of the Council of Florence; and appears at first glance also to have been the opinion of Pope Paul IV (but in fact it was not).
In my judgment, Opinion No. 5 is, as a hypothesis, the true opinion, that a pope who is a manifest heretic would immediately lose office by himself. Any public sin or crime is known to the public as a notorious fact if the form of the sin is unmistakably manifest; and therefore, the opinion that the Church authorities would have to first “establish” the fact of the crime before the heretic would lose office is nonsensical, since the heretic manifestly pronounces the judgment against himself. Salza & Siscoe have distorted the Catholic doctrine on the nature of heresy in order to make it appear to conform with their heretical doctrine that holds that the public sin of heresy, committed as an external act, is a matter pertaining to the internal forum; and that the “crime” of heresy needs to be “established” by the judgment of ecclesiastical authority before the manifest heretic is cut off from the body of the Church. According to Salza and Siscoe, «for a Pope to lose his office for heresy, the Church first judges him a heretic, and then God removes him from office (and in the “Third Opinion,” Bellarmine explicitly says that a heretical pope “can be judged by the Church”).»
Against the heresy that the pope can be judged by anyone, Fr. E. Sylvester Berry quotes St. Robert Bellarmine: «The Roman Pontiff is not subject to any power on earth whether civil or ecclesiastical. This follows of necessity from his position as supreme head of the Church, which is subject to no authority save that of Christ alone. “Being supreme head of the Church, he cannot be judged by any other ecclesiastical power, and as the Church is a spiritual society superior to any temporal power whatever, he cannot be judged by any temporal ruler. Therefore, the supreme head of the Church can direct and judge the rulers of temporal powers, but he can neither be directed nor judged by them without a perversion of due order founded in the very nature of things” [St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book 2, Ch. 26]. This doctrine is taught by the Fathers and incorporated in the canons of the Church: “The first See is judged by no one” [Canon 1556]. A synod of bishops held in Rome in 503, to investigate charges against Pope Symmachus, declared that “God wished the causes of other men to be decided by men, but He reserved to His own tribunal, without question, the ruler of this See.” »
Likewise, Rev. Charles Augustine: «The first or primatial see is subject to no one’s judgment. This proposition must be taken in the fullest extent, not only with regard to the object of infallibility. For in matters of faith and morals it was always customary to receive the final sentence from the Apostolic See, whose judgment no one dared to dispute, as the tradition of the Fathers demonstrates. Neither was it ever allowed to reconsider questions or controversies once settled by the Holy See. But even the person of the Supreme Pontiff was ever considered as unamenable to human judgment, he being responsible and answerable to God alone, even though accused of personal misdeeds and crimes. A remarkable instance is that of Pope Symmachus (498-514). He, indeed, submitted to the convocation of a council (the Synodus Palmaris, 502), because he deemed it his duty to see to it that no stain was inflicted upon his character, but that synod itself is a splendid vindication of our canon. The synod adopted the Apology of Ennodius of Pavia, in which occurs the noteworthy sentence: “God wished the causes of other men to be decided by men; but He has reserved to His own tribunal, without question, the ruler of this see.” No further argument for the traditional view is required. A general council could not judge the Pope, because, unless convoked or ratified by him, it could not render a valid sentence. Hence nothing is left but an appeal to God, who will take care of His Church and its head.»
Similarly Fr. Stanislaus Woywod: «The Primatial See can be judged by no one (Canon 1556). The Supreme Pontiff has the highest legislative, administrative and judicial power in the Church. The Code states that the Roman Pontiff cannot be brought to trial by anyone. 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.»
Thus, the expert commentaries on Canon Law provide us with a certain understanding of the doctrine defined at the First Vatican Council: «And since the Roman Pontiff is at the head of the universal Church by the divine right of apostolic primacy, We teach and declare also that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases pertaining to ecclesiastical examination recourse can be had to his judgment; moreover, that the judgment of the Apostolic See, whose authority is not surpassed, is to be disclaimed by no one, nor is anyone permitted to pass judgment on its judgment. Therefore, they stray from the straight path of truth who affirm that it is permitted to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an ecumenical Council, as to an authority higher than the Roman Pontiff.» THE POPE, WHILE IN OFFICE, MAY NEVER BE JUDGED BY ANYONE ON EARTH:
«The Roman Pontiff has received from Christ supreme authority over the whole Church, and it follows from this very fact that he, in the direction of the faithful to eternal salvation, possesses full jurisdiction and all its attributes. He alone, or together with a Council called by him, can make laws for the universal Church, abrogate them or derogate from them, grant privileges, appoint, depose, judge or punish Bishops. He is the supreme judge by whom all causes are to be tried; he is the supreme judge whom no one may try.
…It is not becoming that the supreme legislator [i.e. the Pope] should be subject to other laws, except to those which emanate from the Sovereign Pontificate; it is not becoming that he who constitutes the tribunal of appeal for all men, rulers as well as subjects, should be judged by his inferiors….
The divine law upon which rests pontifical immunity in spiritual things, is also the foundation upon which is built the ecclesiastical law in things partly spiritual and partly temporal. That the Apostolic See is subject to no judgment is affirmed by Boniface VIII in these terms, “The superiority of the Church and ecclesiastical power over the State and civil power is verified by the prophecy of Jeremias, ‘I have set thee this day over the nations, and over kingdoms to root up, and to pull down, and to waste, and to destroy, and to build, and to plant’ [Jer 1:10]. Therefore, if the earthly power shall go astray, it shall be judged by the spiritual; and if a lesser spiritual power shall go astray, by its superior: but if the supreme power shall go astray, he can be judged by God alone, not by man, according to the Apostle, ‘The spiritual man judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man’” [Bull Unam Sanctam]. »
«The Roman Pontiff is declared to be free from subjection to any forum or tribunal by the first Canon in De Fore Competente. “Prima Sedes a nemine judicatur” [Canon 1556]. By the Prima Sedes is meant the Roman Pontiff, as is apparent from the nature of the thing [cf. Canon 7]. The Sacred Congregations, Tribunals and Offices by means of which the Pope is wont to transact the affairs of the Church are not included in this immunity, and their members may be judged by the Pope himself or by his delegate. The reason why the Pope can be judged by no one is evident. No one can be judged by another unless he is subject to that person, at least with respect to the subject matter of the trial. Now, the Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Jesus Christ, who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and to him has been entrusted the commission to feed His lambs and His sheep. In no way, therefore, can he be subjected to any man or to any forum, but is entirely immune from any human judgment. This principle, whether taken juridically or dogmatically suffers no exception. »
The supreme judicial authority of the pope, to whom particularly grave crimes are reserved for judgment, is already clearly set forth by the Council of Trent: «Magnopere vero ad christiani populi disciplinam pertinere sanctissimis patribus nostris visum est ut atrociora quaedam et graviora crimina non a quibusvis sed a summis dumtaxat sacerdotibus absolverentur unde merito pontifices maximi pro suprema potestate sibi in Ecclesia universa tradita causas aliquas criminum graviores suo potuerunt peculiari iudicio reservare. » The more grave criminal cases against bishops, including heresy, are reserved for judgment by the pope alone: «Causae criminales graviores contra episcopos etiam haeresis (quod absit) quae depositione aut privatione dignae sunt: ab ipso tantum summo Romano Pontifice cognoscantur et terminentur. »
I have already quoted the canons of Pope St. Gelasius which state starkly that the Roman Church judges all, and is judged by no one, and Pope St. Gregory VII who declared that the pope cannot be judged by anyone; so, (as Pope Innocent III asked), who could cast out the pope and trample him underfoot? The answer provided by Innocent III, and by Bellarmine in opinion no. 5, was also endorsed by the First Vatican Council under Pope Pius IX. On this point, we have the testimony of Archbishop John Purcell who was present at that Council:
«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. The Church would not be, for a moment, obliged to listen to him when he begins to teach a doctrine the Church knows to be a false doctrine, and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself.
«If the Pope, for instance, were to say that the belief in God is false, you would not be obliged to believe him, or if he were to deny the rest of the creed, “I believe in Christ,” etc. 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. If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I; and so in this respect the dogma of infallibility amounts to nothing as an article of temporal government or cover for heresy. »
Thus, the official position of the First Vatican Council on the question of a heretic pope was Bellarmine’s Opinion No. 5, exactly as I have explained it, but which John Salza and Robert Siscoe dismiss as a sedevacantists’ misinterpretation of Bellarmine! The controversy between myself and Salza began when I wrote, “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.” With an almost unfathomable stupidity, Salza replied: “with this utterly erroneous assertion it does not seem possible that he has even read Bellarmine’s De Romano Pontifice.”
Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914, v.7, p.261: “The pope himself, if notoriously guilty of heresy, would cease to be pope because he would cease to be a member of the Church.”