St. Robert Bellarmine Speaks! Let's Let the Doctor of the Papacy Decide! Fr. Kramer Lays Out the Arguments in our 2nd Installment of Heretic Pope?
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THE FIVE OPINIONS ON A HERETICAL POPE
THE FIVE OPINIONS
The eminent canonists Wernz and Vidal outline the five opinions:
«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. »
« A second opinion holds that the Roman Pontiff forfeits his power automatically even on account of occult heresy. This opinion is rightly said 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. »
They state their own position on the question: « 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. » And conclude, « 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. »
Moynihan, in the preface of his above cited work explains, in “Wernz-Vidal, five modern-day opinions are cited regarding the procedure to be followed in the event that a pope should lapse into heresy. The first opinion denies the supposition, namely that a pope in the role of a private individual is able to preach a doctrine which is heretical. The second maintains that a pontiff who secretly professes a heretical belief is automatically deprived of the papacy. The third opinion states that even though a pope should publicly preach a heretical doctrine, he would neither be automatically deposed nor could his deposition be brought about. Those in favor of the fourth opinion say that should a pope publicly profess a heretical doctrine he would not be automatically deposed, but his deposition could be brought about by a declaratory sentence. The fifth and last opinion Wernz-Vidal regard as communior. According to this view, a pope notoriously preaching a heretical doctrine would be automatically excommunicated and deprived of the papacy. The principal argument for this last opinion is based upon the fact that a pope who by his heresy is no longer a member of the Church, is a fortiori no longer the Head of the Church. Hence this opinion would admit of a declaratory sentence, but it would have to be one that was merely declaratory and nothing more.”
Similarly, Eduardus F. Regatillo: “The Roman Pontiff ceases in office: . . . (4) Through notorious public heresy? Five answers have been given: 1. ‘The pope cannot be a heretic even as a private teacher.’ A pious thought, but essentially unfounded. 2. ‘The pope loses office even through secret heresy.’ False, because a secret heretic can be a member of the Church. 3. ‘The pope does not lose office because of public heresy.’ Objectionable. 4. ‘The pope loses office by a judicial sentence because of public heresy.’ But who would issue the sentence? The See of Peter is judged by no one (Canon 1556). 5. ‘The pope loses office ipso facto because of public heresy.’ This is the more common teaching, because a pope would not be a member of the Church, and hence far less could be its head.”
It is to be noted, that all of the Five Opinions existed historically before the lifetime of St. Robert Bellarmine; the first being the most recent, the opinion of Albert Pigghe (Albertus Pighius) who died in the same year (1542) that Bellarmine was born. Bellarmine mentions that the second opinion was held by Juan de Torquemada (1388 – 1468), but we find the origins of that opinion already in the works of the early Decretists, some of whom wrote expressly on the question of the deposition of a pope discovered to be an occult heretic. The origins of fourth opinion is already present in the writings of the earliest Decretists, writing between 1141 – 1180; and among whom are some who speak of the accusation of heresy as an exception to the rule of papal injudicability. Notably, the author of the Summa De Iure Canonico Tractaturus adopts the position that a council was superior in authority to a pope; and that the council’s sentence must be aswaited (expectanda est); and it is the council which decides whether or not the pope’s doctrine is heretical. The fifth opinion had its beginning in the Decretum itself, in which (as Moynihan explains), “Gratian had pointed out (C. xxiv, q. 1, dict. A. c. 1) that no condemnation was necessary in the case of a man who followed a heresy already condemned, for such a man was held to have willfully included himself in that previous condemnation.” On that basis the authors of the 1180s, of the Summa Reverentia sacrorum canonum, the Summa Et est sciendum, the Gloss, ecce uicit leo, applied the principle that the heretic pope, having become minor quolibet catholico, would be self condemned and would thereby lose office without any formal accusation or criminal trial. In the Summa of Huguccio, “All the arguments which had ben assembled down through the years on the question of a heretical pope were recapitulated and expanded upon in the Summa of Huguccio, the greatest of the twelfth-century commentators on the Dectetum”. Moynihan explains, “ Huguccio’s presentation is so clear that it calls fo little in the way of explanation. As in the Summa Et est sciendum and in the summa Omnis qui iuste, Huguccio seeks to unravel all the intricate problems involved in bringing a pope to trial by eliminating the need or a trial as such. Taking his cue from the authors of these earlier works as well as from Gratian, Huguccio comprehensively determined the circumstances in which a pope could be presumed guilty of heresy, and so no longer a true pope, without any trial being held. He accepted Gratian’s view that superiors could not be judged by inferiors, but in the question of a papal heretic, he reasoned that this rule was no longer valid, «cum haereticus catholico minor sit» (C. II, q. 1. C. 20) […] «Cum papa cadit in haeresim non iam maior sed minor quolibet catholico intelligitur»”
Moynihan makes the important observation that, “medieval canonists placed a great value upon arguments drawn from positive law. On the particular question of papal immunity and a heretical pope, citations from the Decretum of Gratian and the Decretals of Gregory IX and even from Justinian’s Code formed the basis of most of their statements.” The legalism is apparent in the treatment of the question of an already condemned heresy and a new heresy; as if what mattered most in a case of papal heresy was the legal question of determining the authority to condemn a heresy, rather than the obvious theological consideration that what ultimately determines a heresy is not whether or not the doctrine has been condemned, but whether or not it opposes a defined article of faith, even if the heresy has never been previously professed by anyone or condemned by the Church. In contrast, Innocent III’s exposition of his own doctrine on this point, although derived in its essential points from the doctrine of Huguccio, is entirely based on a solid doctrinal foundation and set forth with theologically coherent argumentation; and therefore understandably it became the basis for the classical formulations of Opinion No. 5 in the doctrine of Bellarmine, Ballerini, and that series of authors mentioned by Hinschius – and finally Wernz & Vidal, who in the exposition of their own position (Opinion No, 5) quote almost verbatim the words of Innocent, saying that “the heretical Pope would not be judged, but would rather be shown to have been judged.”
COMMENTARY ON THE FIVE OPINIONS
The doctrine of St. Robert Bellarmine is of the greatest importance the Church’s teaching on the papacy, since the First Vatican Council to a great extent based its doctrine on the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff on his doctrine. Pope Pius XI declared in Providentissimus Deus, «But it is an outstanding achievement of St Robert, that the rights and privileges divinely bestowed upon the Supreme Pontiff, and those also which were not yet recognised by all the children of the Church at that time, such as the infallible magisterium of the Pontiff speaking ex cathedra, he both invincibly proved and most learnedly defended against his adversaries. Moreover he appeared even up to our times as a defender of the Roman Pontiff of such authority that the Fathers of the  Vatican Council employed his writings and opinions to the greatest possible extent. » Particularly concerning the primacy of the pope, Bellarmine’s doctrine during his lifetime on the absolute injudicability of the pope while still in office had not yet been adopted by the First Vatican Council, which definitively settled and closed the question forever in a solemn decree of the extraordinary magisterium; but was still treated as an open question by theologians in Bellarmine’s day. Similarly it can also be said about his doctrine on the loss of office in specific relation to the pronouncement on the nature of heresy by Pius XII in Mystici Corporis, in which is set forth more definitively the doctrine of the universal magisterium, but not ex cathedra, that heresy suapte natura severs the heretic from the body of the Church – in both cases Bellarmine demonstrated that these not yet solemnly defined teachings were already fulfilling the criteria of de fide doctrines of the universal and ordinary magisterium (what Ballerini called “manifest dogma” of the Church as distinguished from “defined dogma” of the extraordinary magisterium). So, while the five opinions were all accorded various degrees of legitimacy by theologians in the Seventeenth Century, and were at least tolerated by the magisterium, the same can no longer be said today of the third and fourth opinions, since there have been subsequent magisterial pronouncements which render them untenable and therefore theologically antiquated. I have already explained the doctrinally problematic nature of the second opinion earlier in this work; so that leaves us with only the first and fifth opinions as theologically viable and legitimate. Thus, having given ample consideration to the fifth opinion earlier, I will focus here primarily on the first opinion, and Bellarmine’s analysis of the fourth opinion in the next section, in which he provides his theological foundation for the fifth opinion.
First to be considered is in what manner a pope can be considered to be a heretic. The question is whether a pope can properly be a heretic; that is, a formal heretic, since all, Catholics and non-Catholics, says Bellarmine in Book IV Chapter II of De Romano Pontifice, are in agreement that a pope can be materially in heresy due to ignorance: «Posse pontificem ut privatum Doctorem errare, etiam in quaestionibus juris universalibus, tam Fidei, quam morum, idque ex ignorantia, ut aliis Doctoribus interdum accidit. » The Holy Doctor then focuses on four opinions:
«Prima (sententia) est, Pontificem etiam ut Pontificem, etiamsi cum generali Concilio definiret aliquid, posse esse haereticum in se, & docere alios haeresim, & de facto ita aliquando accidisse. Haec est haereticorum omnium huius temporis, et praecipue Lutheri […] & Calvini»
This opinion, says Bellarmine, that the pope can himself be heretical and teach others heresy, even when defining with an ecumenical council, and that this has actually happened, is the opinion of all heretics, and particularly of Luther and Calvin.
«Secunda sententia est, Pontificem ut Pontificem, posse esse haereticum, & docere haeresim, si absque generali Concilio definiat, & de facto aliquando accidisse. Hanc opinionem sequitur, & tuetur Nilus in suo libro adversus primatum papae: […] & Hadrianus VI. Papa in quaest. de confirm.; qui omnes non in Pontifice, sed in Ecclesia sive in Concilio generali tantum, constituunt infallibillitatem iudicii de rebus Fidei.»
The second opinion is that the pope can be a heretic and teach heresy, if he defines without a general council, because infallibility in matters of faith and morals pertains not to the pontiff but to the Church in a general council; and he mentions that this was the opinion of Pope Adrian VI.
«Tertia sententia est in alio extremo, Pontificem non posse ullo modo esse haereticum, nec docere publice haeresim, etiamsi solus rem aliquam definiat. Ita Albertus Pighius lib. 4. Hier. Eccles. Cap. 8»
The third opinion is of the opposite extreme, that of Albert Pighius, which holds that a pope cannot in any manner be a heretic, nor teach heresy, even when defining by himself.
«Quarta sententia est quodammodo in medio. Pontificem, sive haereticus esse possit, sive non, non posse ullo modo definire aliquid haereticum a tota Ecclesia credendum: haec est comunissima opinio fere omnium Catholicorum»
The fourth opinion occupies the middle ground; the pope, regardless of whether or not he can be a heretic, cannot in any manner define something heretical for the whole Church to believe – and this opinion, says the Holy Doctor, is the most common opinion among all Catholics.
He then pronounces his verdict on each of the four opinions: «Ex his quatour opinionibus prima est haeretica; secunda non est proprie haeretica: nam adhuc videmus ab Ecclesia tolerari, qui illam sententiam sequuntur; tamen videtur omnino erronea & haeresi proxima; tertia probabilis est, non tamen certa; quarta certissima est et asserenda, ac ut ea facilius intelligi & confirmari possit, statuemus aliquot propositiones. »
The first, he says, is heretical; the second, while not properly heretical, because the Church still tolerates (i.e. in Bellarmine’s day) those who follow this opinion; but it appears to be entirely erroneous and proximate to heresy; the third is probable; the fourth is most certain and is to be held. Since the definition of Vatican I on papal infallibility, the second opinion is now to be judged as heretical, and the fourth as de fide definita.
In Book II Chapter XXX of De Romano Pontifice, Bellarmine proposes the solution to the question on whether a heretic pope can be deposed. He first states the thesis: “A Pope can be judged and deposed by the Church in the case of heresy; as is clear from Dist. 40, can. Si Papa: therefore, the Pontiff is subject to human judgment, at least in some case.” (Pontifex in casu haeresis potest ab Ecclesia judicari, et deponi, up patet distinct. 40. Can. Si Papa. Igitur, Pontifex est subjectus humano judicio, saltem in aliquot casu.); and then introduces his response, saying there are five opinions on this matter.
The Holy Doctor’s response to the first opinion is brief and plainly stated in the original Latin, and in the precise English translation of Ryan Grant: «Prima est Alberti Pighii lib. 4 cap. 8 hierarchiae Ecclesiasticae; ubi contendit, Papam non posse esse haereticum, proinde nec deponi in ullo casu; quae sententia probabilis est, & defendi potest facile, ut postea suo loco ostendemus». What he means by “in its proper place”, is Book Four Chapter Six & Seven of the same work. There Bellarmine explains: 1) «Nam Pontifex non solum non debet, nec potest haeresim praedicare, sed etiam debet veritatem semper docere, & sine dubio id faciet, cum Dominus illi jusserit confirmare fratres suos, & propterea addiderit, Rogavi pro te, ut non deficiat fides tua, idest, ut saltem non deficiat in throno tuo praedicatio verae Fidei: at quomodo, quaeso, confirmabit fratres in Fide, & veram Fidem semper praedicabit Pontifex haereticus? Potest quidem Deus ex corde haeretico extorquere verae Fidei confessionem, sicut verba posuit quondam in ore asinae Balaam: at violentum erit, & non secundum morem providentiae Dei suaviter disponentis omnia. »
The question, «at quomodo, quaeso, confirmabit fratres in Fide, & veram Fidem semper praedicabit Pontifex haereticus? » (How, I ask, will a heretical Pope confirm the brethren in faith and always preach the true faith?), is of the greatest importance, because faith, (as Bellarmine explains in Book II Ch. XXX on the fourth opinion), which is the necessary disposition to retain the form of the supreme pontificate, would be utterly lacking in a heretic, who therefore would be incapable of preserving the form of the papacy in himself, and would therefore cease to be pope straightaway. A heretic would necessarily cease to be pope because even if he were only externally a member of the Church, he would lack faith as the necessary disposition to exercise the charism of Infallibility, since Christ did not confer a magical power of infallibility on Peter (and his successors), but He conferred on him the gift of unfailing faith as the necessary disposition to exercise the charism of Infallibility. Then there is the further consideration, as, Bellarmine remarks, “Certainly God can wrench the confession of the true faith out of the heart of a heretic just as he placed the words in the mouth of Balaam’s ass. Still, this will be a great violence, and not in keeping with the providence of God that sweetly disposes all things”; but such a confession would not require, nor would proceed from unfailing faith as the disposition on which the exercise of the charism of Infallibility is based and in which it is rooted; and it would be contrary to the nature of man which is constituted of free will, and therefore would not be a human act proceeding from the soul as the principle of the operation of the exercise of a charism – the exercise of the supernatural charism of infallibly confessing the true faith, given by Christ as the free and infallible exercise of that charism hinged upon and rooted in the virtue of unfailing faith as its necessary disposition. If God were to wrench the confession of the true faith out of a heretic in whom faith is absent, that heretic would not be exercising the charism of Infallibility any more than the ass of Balaam was exercising the prophetic charism, because the act would not proceed from the soul as its principle making use of the organs of speech, exercising the faculty of speech, but God would be using the mouth of the heretical Pontiff in the same manner that He used the mouth of the ass, which did not possess the faculty of speech. (Numbers 22: 28 – 30)
Faith would be utterly unnecessary for a Pontiff to profess the faith infallibly in such a manner as that; and therefore the grace of unfailing faith, which was promised by Christ to the Pontiff precisely for the purpose of enabling him to confirm the faith of his brethren, would have been given by Christ to serve no purpose, and would be utterly superfluous if the confirmator fratrum could exercise the charism of Infallibility with no faith at all; but since Christ gave to Peter and his succors the gift of unfailing faith precisely for the purpose of confirming the faith of the brethren, faith is seen, therefore, to be the absolutely necessary disposition for the exercise of the charism of Infallibility, and hence, pertains essentially to the form of the Supreme Pontificate, and is therefore the necessary disposition for the form of the Pontificate to be conserved in the person of the Pontiff, and remain united to him.
As I have explained, the "necessary disposition", which Bellarmine says is faith, is necessary, because, the exercise of the charism of Infallibility depends entirely on the grace of unfailing personal faith of the pope, which Pastor Aeternus declares Christ promised to Peter and his successors in order that they may fulfill the office of confirmator fratrum. The argument proving this ex ratione is based philosophically on St. Thomas' doctrine on the operation of the powers of the soul and the necessary dispositions for these operations. The application of St. Thomas' teaching on the operation of the powers of the soul to the exercise of the papal charism of Infallibility is as follows:
Distinguishing between the essence of the soul and its powers, Aquinas explains that the powers of the soul are rooted in the potentiality and act of the substance of the soul, which, in its essence as form is act, but is in potentiality as the principle of the operation of the powers of the soul. In Article 2, St. Thomas explains that a plurality of powers of the soul are necessary for the realization of a perfection, which requires the proper disposition without which it cannot be brought from potentiality to act, and therefore, is accordingly realized in degrees according to the disposition to operate the powers of the soul and thereby realize the perfection. From what is set forth in article 4 on the operation of the powers of the soul , it can be understood that in the same manner as of the purely natural operation of the powers of the soul, and accordingly as there exists an order between the powers by which one is ordered as a disposition for the operation of another, likewise when those natural powers are elevated by the supernatural grace of infused virtues, and ordered to operate in relation to their charisms – the virtue of faith as a dispositive habit is necessary as the disposition out of which is generated the charism of Infallibility, and is its substrate, the virtus and potentia required as the basis for its operation, and therefore the necessary disposition upon which the operation of the charism of Infallibility is conditioned, and to which operation it is ordered. Thus it is that the charism of Infallibility cannot exist and be exercised in a subject in which the virtue of faith as a dispositive habit is absent, due to the order of dependence of the charism on the virtue.
St. Thomas elaborates in Article 5 on the operation of the powers of the soul, distinguishing between those powers which exist in the soul as their subject, and those which have for their subject the conjoined body and soul, and therefore not proper to just the soul or the body: «philosophus dicit, non est proprium animae neque corporis, sed coniuncti. Potentia ergo sensitiva est in coniuncto sicut in subiecto. Non ergo sola anima est subiectum omnium potentiarum suarum». And he continues in the corpus of the article: «Respondeo dicendum quod illud est subiectum operativae potentiae, quod est potens operari, omne enim accidens denominat proprium subiectum. Idem autem est quod potest operari, et quod operatur. Unde oportet quod eius sit potentia sicut subiecti, cuius est operatio; ut etiam philosophus dicit, in principio de somno et vigilia. Manifestum est autem ex supra dictis quod quaedam operationes sunt animae, quae exercentur sine organo corporali, ut intelligere et velle. Unde potentiae quae sunt harum operationum principia, sunt in anima sicut in subiecto. Quaedam vero operationes sunt animae, quae exercentur per organa corporalia; sicut visio per oculum, et auditus per aurem. Et simile est de omnibus aliis operationibus nutritivae et sensitivae partis. Et ideo potentiae quae sunt talium operationum principia, sunt in coniuncto sicut in subiecto, et non in anima sola. » And finally, «Ad primum ergo dicendum quod omnes potentiae dicuntur esse animae, non sicut subiecti, sed sicut principii, quia per animam coniunctum habet quod tales operationes operari possit. »
Thus, in the manner of the purely natural operation of the powers of the soul: therefore likewise in the operation of those powers in the supernatural order of grace which presupposes and builds upon nature, and acts in conjunction with and upon the basis of nature, and in accordance with the natural powers of the soul; and therefore most necessarily the operation of the charism of Infallibility requires a subject in which is present the habit of faith as the necessary disposition in order that it be operated on the basis of faith, with the soul as the principle of the operation aided by grace – with faith acting as the supernatural disposition in the soul, by which the power of the charism is exercised as a human act, through the powers of the soul acting in the composite of body and soul. Thus it is that for the exercise of the charism of Infallibility to be properly a human act of the Pontiff, faith is the necessary disposition for the form of the supreme pontificate, to which pertains the charism of Infallibility, in which there is not just a participation in the power of the virtue of faith, but the plenitude of power (as Pope Innocent III says): the plenitude of power – in which plenitude there is unfailing faith as the basis upon which depends the operation of the charism to infallibly speak and bind in matters of faith. Thus from reason, from considering the nature of the powers of the soul, one understands the why both Pope Innocent III and St. Robert Bellarmine were correct in their belief that the Roman Pontiff cannot personally confirm the faith of others if that virtue is lacking in the Pontiff himself, because faith is necessary as a disposition of the soul and must be in the soul as its subject for the soul to be the principle of the operation of the charism of Infallibility. It is also plainly evident from the above considerations, that the merely external profession of faith of a faithless heretic, is in its very essence, entirely lacking the nature of a dispositive habit in the manner that the virtue of faith would dispose the soul of the pontiff to teach infallibly; since a false and lying profession of faith does not pertain even in the most remote and general way to faith, but to infedelity, and hence is a blasphemy against the Holy Ghost that hardens the soul in the error of infedelity and and disposes it for eternal perdition. Now it is patent that a blasphemous act of lying infidelity, such as would be a false profession of faith, cannot dispose one to profess the faith infallibly even if he would wish to do so, and thus simpliciter, it is not a disposition to preserve the form of the pontificate in a man. It follows therefore, that the merely external profession of faith of one in whom the virtue of faith is entirely absent does not suffice to preserve the form of the Supreme Pontificate in him. Hence, it is not the merely material verbal pronouncing of the articles of faith alone that disposes a man to be and remain united to the form of the Pontificate, but only that external profession, if it be elicited by means of the theological virtue of faith, disposes the soul to conserve the form of the pontificate in the person of the pope.
The “spiritual plenitude” which, according to the teaching of Innocent III is given to the Roman Pontiff is the plenitude of power which includes the charism of the fullness of faith to profess the faith infallibly. In order to teach and define the faith infallibly the pope must have the intention to exercise the power of the keys to bind the whole Church with a definition of a matter that pertains to the deposit of revelation, which is believed on divine authority. Thus, the moral object of the act of defining is the intentional defining of doctrine pertaining to the revealed truths of the deposit of faith believed on divine authority. A heretic is without faith, and rejects the authority of divine revelation, and therefore does not believe the revealed truth, but professes his own contrary errors. Thus, for so long as he remains hardened in heresy and professes contrary errors, he cannot profess the revealed truths he rejects, because he lacks the dispositive habit of faith, which, if he had faith, would dispose him not only to intend to profess the truth, but more importantly would also confer on him the capacity to profess and infallibly define revealed doctrine he believes on divine authority. And thus is answered Bellarmine’s question, “How, I ask, will a heretical Pope confirm the brethren in faith and always preach the true faith?” Indeed, how can the heretic profess the opposite of what he professes? God cannot force the pope to profess the revealed truth he rejects, but He can give him the grace to prevent him from heretically rejecting the authority of the Revealing God, and thereby dispose him to teach the revealed truth infallibly.
This entire argument is premised on the promise of Christ to Peter of the gift of unfailing faith so that he may confirm the faith of his brethren, and thus that unfailing faith is the necessary disposition for Peter's operation of the charism of Infallibility. Christ did not simply bestow infallibility on Peter to speak through Peter in such a manner as God spoke through the ass of Balaam, but He gave him the unfailing virtue of faith as the basis and necessary disposition for Peter to exercise the charism of Infallibility, thus constituting him as the confirmator fratrum; and thus it is, that the charism cannot be exercised in one in whom the virtue of faith is absent, and as a consequence, the form of the Supreme Pontificate cannot be retained in the person of a heretic Pope.
The opposing opinion was expressed already by Cardinal Enrico da Susa (a.k.a. Ostiene or Ostiense), and was explained by Cardinal Alfons Stickler, as Roberto de Mattei relates: «Professor Jamin recalls in particular Ostiene’s commenting of these words relating to the Pope, “Nec deficiat fides eius”. According to the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia: “The faith of Peter is not exclusively his “faith” meant as a personal act, but is the faith of the entire Church of which he is the spokesman and the Prince of the Apostles. Christ prays therefore, for the faith of the entire Church in persona tantum Petri, since it is the faith of the Church, professed by Peter, which never fails et propterea ecclesia non presumitur posse errare" (op. cit. p. 223). » This notion of the unfailing faith of Peter not being meant as a personal act, but is the faith of entire Church, is the basis of Opinion No. 5. De Mattei continues, « Ostiene’s thought matches that of all the great medieval canonists. The greatest scholar of these authors, Cardinal Alfonso Maria Stickler, points out that “the prerogative of infallibility of office does not impede the Pope, as an individual, from sin and thus become personally heretical (...). In the case of an obstinate and public profession of certain heresy, since it is condemned by the Church, the Pope becomes "minor quolibet catholico" (a common phrase of canonists) and ceases to be pope (...). This fact of a heretic Pope does not touch then Pontifical infallibility since it does not signify impeccability or inerrancy in the person of the Pontiff, [or] inerrancy in establishing forcefully from his office a truth of the faith or an immutable principle of Christian life (...). The canonists knew very well how to distinguish between the person of the Pope and his office. If then they declared the Pope dethroned, when certainly and obstinately heretical, they admit implicitly that from this personal fact not only is the infallibility of the office not compromised, but that it is somewhat defended and affirmed: any ‘papal’ decision whatever against a truth already decided is automatically rendered impossible” (A. M. Stickler, Sulle origini dell'infallibilità papale, "Rivista Storica della Chiesa in Italia", 28 (1974), pp. 586-587)." » This erroneous belief was founded on the commomly held but false medieval belief that only a pope in council representing the faith of the whole Church is infallible, and that therefore a council is superior to a pope in dotrinal authority, as Moynihan explains. He also demonstrates that it was this medieval belief in conciliar superiority in doctrine over a pope teaching alone, which became the basis of the even more radical opinion that a council could judge and depose a pope for heresy; and thus formed the bssis for Opinion No. 4.
The fatal defect in the notion of the unfailing faith of Peter being not the personal faith of Peter, but the faith of the entire Church represented in persona tantum Petri, is its foundation on an incomplete, and therefore defective notion of infallibility. It was not yet the common opinion duriung the time of the Decretists and Decretalists that the pope could define infallibly by himself ex cathedra. It was believed by many that a pope together with a council was superior to the pope alone in doctrinal matters; and there were some who outright denied that the pope by himself could define infallibly. It was unanimously agreed that the pope together with the bishops in an ecumenical council were infallible in professing the faith; and in this manner, the pope was recognized as the spokesmn for all the bishops, and thus the faith of the entire Church was considered to be represented in persona tantum Petri. However, papal infallibility is not a collective charism, but pertains to the one individual who teaches from the chair of Peter; and hence, when one considers the nature of the Infallibility of the Church as pertaining not only to the universal magisterium of the Church of the bishops in communion with the pope, but in a special way pertaining personally to the holder of the Petrine office as an individual, who even exercises that charism exclusively by himself when defining ex cathedra, the logical inapplicability of this notion of Infallibility as the faith of the whole Church represented in persona tantum Christi becomes manifest, since the collective faith of the entire Church is incapable of exerting any power direct or indirect on the soul of the pope, by which power he would infallibly define ex cathedra . Since the charism of Infallibility can be exercised by the pope alone, without a council, the pope therefore exercises it not as a mere spokesman and chief representative of the Church which collectively teaches infallibly; thus merely representing the faith of the whole Church in persona tantum Petri; but he defines in matters of faith by himself alone as an individual – as the singularly infallible successor of the Prince of Apostles, to whose definitions all members of the Church must give an assent of faith. With the charism of Infallibility understood in this manner, i.e. as it is defined in Pastor Aeternus, the impossibility becomes patent for the faith of the entire Church to play any role in the pope’s exercise of the charism of papal Infallibility in such a manner that the faith of the Church would merely be represented in the person of Peter through the collective charism of Infallibility; and therefore, faith must exist as a virtue in the soul of Peter as its subject, thus uniting his soul to Christ by faith, and thereby disposing the soul of the Pontiff as the principle of the operation of the charism of unfailing faith, which is the charism of Infallibility by which he by himself defines infallibly: «modus actionis sequitur dispositionem agentis, unumquodque enim quale est, talia operatur. Et ideo, cum virtus sit principium aliqualis operationis, oportet quod in operante praeexistat secundum virtutem aliqua conformis dispositio.» (1a 2æ q. 55. A. 1 ad 1) The virtus, understood as the principle of an operation cannot be operative unless there preexist in the soul of the operating subject a disposition by which it is brought into conformity with that active principle. Hence, the charism of Infallibility which consists of the fullness of the power of the virtue of faith, cannot operate in the soul where that virtue, as a dispositive habit ordered to the operation of the charism, is totally absent; and thus, the virtue of faith is the necessary disposition which must be present in the soul as its subject for that charism to be operative; and therefore, the virtue of faith existing in the soul of the pope as its subject is the necessary disposition for the preservation of the form of the supreme pontificate in the person of the pope. It follows therefore as a strict corollary that were it possible for the pope’s faith to fail, then, as Bellarmine says, «ista dispositione sublata per contrariam quae est haeresis, mox papa desinit esse; neque enim potest forma conservari sine necessariis dispositionibus. » (De Romano Pontifice lib. II Cap. XXX)
Bellarmine explains why this would be so: “either faith is a necessary disposition as one for this purpose, that someone should be Pope, or it is merely that he be a good Pope. If the first, therefore, after that disposition has been abolished through its opposite, which is heresy, and soon after the Pope ceases to be Pope: for the form cannot be preserved without its necessary dispositions. If the second, then a Pope cannot be deposed on account of heresy. On the other hand, in general, he ought to be deposed even on account of ignorance and wickedness, and other dispositions which are necessary to be a good Pope, and besides, Cajetan affirms that the Pope cannot be deposed from a defect of dispositions that are not necessary as one (non necessarium simpliciter), but merely necessary for one to be a good Pope (ad bene esse).”
Bellarmine then responds to Cajetan’s objection: “Cajetan responds that faith is a necessary disposition simply, but in part not in total, and hence with faith being absent the Pope still remains Pope, on account of another part of the disposition which is called the character, and that still remains. But on the other hand, either the total disposition which is the character and faith, is necessary as one unit, or it is not, and a partial disposition suffices. If the first, then without faith, the necessary disposition does not remain any longer as one, because the whole was necessary as one unit and now it is no longer total. If the second, then faith is not required to be good (fides non requiritur nisi ad bene esse), and hence on account of his defect, a Pope cannot be deposed. Thereupon, those things which have the final disposition to ruin (quae habent ultimam dispositionem ad interitum), soon after cease to exist, without another external force (sine alia vi externa), as is clear (ut patet); therefore, even a heretical Pope, without any deposition ceases to be Pope through himself. (Papa haereticum sine alia depositione per se desinit esse Papa.”)
Bellarmine argues here of faith as a necessary disposition for the pope to remain united to the Church as visible member by means of the public confession of faith. The logic of the argument is air tight and unassailable, and as such proves beyond legitimate dispute that if a pope were to become a public heretic, he would cease automatically to be pope. However, faith as a necessary disposition to remain in the Church as a visible member does not suffice to account for why it is that faith, not merely the material and external profession of the objective content of faith, but the virtue of faith as a principium operationis is necessary to be in the soul of person of the pope as its subject in order to receive and preserve within himself the form of the supreme pontificate. As I mentioned earlier, St. Thomas explains that, « Primum est quod per fidem anima coniungitur Deo»; and therefore, «Baptismus enim sine fide non prodest»; and thus, as Bellarmine notes, «ex B. Thoma, qui 3. part. q. 8. dicit, eos qui fide carent, non esse unitos Christo actu, sed in potentia tantum», and therefore, «secundum B. Thomam, solus character non unit actu hominem cum Christo» -- and thus not being united to Christ by faith, a heretic pope would lack the capacity to exercise the function of confirmator fratrum, being incapable of exercising the charism of Infallibility, and therefore, lacking the necessary disposition to retain the form of the papacy, in which is the fullness of power of an unfailing faith. In Bellarmine’s own words, lacking the necessary disposition to retain the form of the papacy, «Papa haereticus sine alia depositione per se desinit esse Papa»; because, «ista dispositione sublata per contrariam quae est haeresis, mox papa desinit esse; neque enim potest forma conservari sine necessariis dispositionibus. »
Simply stated, the charism of Infallibility depends on the virtue of faith as its necessary disposition, because it consists of the fullness of power of the unfailing virtue of faith; and therefore it would clearly be impossible for one to be a valid Roman Pontiff without the virtue of faith; nor would it be possible for a Pontiff who possesses the fullness of power of unfailing faith to fail in his faith and to defect from the faith by falling into heresy.
The virtue of faith as the absolutely necessary disposition for a man to validly receive and preserve the form of the Supreme Pontificate can also clearly be seen to be the basis of the teaching of Paul IV in Cum ex apostolatus officio, which, although not dogmatically defined, was the basis of disciplinary canonical provisions set forth in that decree which clearly remained in force until 1983 (and some of which can be argued to remain in force even after the 1983 code), and as a doctrine founded on divine law remains perpetually valid. The doctrine expressed in that decree teaches that if one who has been elected pope is discovered to have been a heretic before his election, that election would be invalid. This teaching was already found in the writings of some of the early Decretists. The problematic aspect of its teaching would only be its applicability, insofar as it appears to be unenforceable, and remaining unenforced, it would result, in some cases, in a defection of the Church if it were not ever to be found out that that the man elected was an occult heretic. As a pure hypothesis, the same doctrine would seem to constitute a valid basis for Opinion No. 2 (but in fact it is not), according to which even a pope who is a secret heretic would cease to be pope, but not because he would thereby cease altogether to be a member of the Church (which is the foundation of Opinion No. 2), but more correctly because the heretic can neither receive nor conserve the form of the papacy. However, since a secret heretic could neither be pope, nor could it be known and judged that he is not a valid pope, and therefore he could not be removed by men, (as Bellarmine points out), the papacy would cease to be a visible institution, because it could not ever be known whether or not the pope is a true and visible head of the Church, or if he is secretly a counterfeit heretic impostor. There would also be the further problem of a defection of the Church from its divine constitution, in so far as the Church is constituted of the faithful of the world under the governance of the pope; and that constitution would be destroyed if the whole Church were to fall under the governance of an impostor. Thus, the necessity of personal faith as the premise and doctrinal basis of the teaching in Cum ex apostolatus officio on heresy as a criterion for valid disqualification of a papal candidate from valid election, would only superficially appear to provide a theological basis for opinion no. 2; whereas in reality, it underscores and confirms the validity of Opinion No. One, and manifests the irresolvable problematic aspect of Opinion No. 2, which plainly demonstrates it to be utterly inapplicable in reality, and thus, logically incoherent even as a practical hypothesis, since the pope is by definition the visible head of the Church, and that visibility would not exist in the papacy if a man who is not the pope would visibly govern the Church. Hence, it is clear that Opinion No. One, and not Opinion No. 2 (which only superficially appears to be), was the basis for Paul IV’s doctrine in that decree, which defines that even one who would be duely elected pope would not be a valid pope if it were to be later found out that the man in question was a heretic. The question of a true and valid pope falling into heresy is not even considered as a possibility in Cum ex apostolatus officio, which simply declares that the pope is judged by no one and presumes that he is not a heretic – and thus the doctrinal basis of its teaching is clearly Opinion No. One.
In Cum ex apostolatus officio, Paul IV solemnly declares the injudicability of the Roman Pontiff, “who is the representative upon earth of God and our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fullness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith.” He may be refuted and contradicted for material heresy but can be judged by no one if he is a true and valid pope; but one who was already a (formal) heretic before election may be removed if it is discovered that he had been a heretic before his election, because that election would be invalid: “if ever at any time it shall appear that […]the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy: (i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless; (ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation; (iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way; (iv) to any so promoted to be […] Roman Pontiff, no authority shall have been granted, nor shall it be considered to have been so granted either in the spiritual or the temporal domain; (v) each and all of their words, deeds, actions and enactments, howsoever made, and anything whatsoever to which these may give rise, shall be without force and shall grant no stability whatsoever nor any right to anyone; (vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power.” Thus the doctrine on which the legislation of the decree is based is set forth in the decree itself: a heretic cannot validly become pope; but a true and valid pope cannot be judged by anyone. One who is discovered to already have been a heretic before election is declared incapable of validly assuming the papacy, yet a pope cannot be judged by anyone. This leaves only two possibilities: 1) that a pope cannot become a heretic (Opinion No. One); or, 2) that a pope who falls into manifest heresy, because he cannot ever be judged by anyone as pope; can only be judged as one who has already fallen from office automatically, ipso jure, as a result of the suapte natura consequence of his manifest heresy, by which he separated himself from the body of the Church, and “for which reason he may be judged and punished by the Church” (Bellarmine); and for which reason Innocent III teaches, “I say the less he can be judged by men, but rather can be shown to be already judged.” The premise upon which both of these propositions are based is that a heretic cannot be pope, and the pope cannot be a heretic, because a heretic is incapable of assuming the form of the Supreme Pontificate or of conserving it.
2) «Secundo probatur ab eventu; nam hactenus nullus fuit haereticus, vel certe de nullo probari potest, quod haereticus fuerit; ergo signum est, non posse esse. »
Dr. Edward Peters, in A Canon Lawyer’s Blog notes, «Beste, (Introductio (1961) 242), “In history no example of this can be found.” And the great Felix Cappello, Summa Iuris I (1949) n. 309, thought that the possibility of a pope falling into public heresy should be “entirely dismissed given the special love of God for the Church of Christ [lest] the Church fall into the greatest danger.” » Not only does St. Robert Bellarmine affirm that no pope has ever fallen into heresy, but Innocent III and Pope St. Agatho had already stated the same: «Et ideo fides apostolicae sedis in nulla nunquam turbatione defecit, sed integra semper et illibata permansit: ut Petri privilegium persisteret inconcussum. » ; and, Pope St. Agatho in his response to Sergius: “Let your clemency therefore consider that the Lord and Saviour of all, to whom faith belongs, who promised that the faith of Peter should not fail, admonished him to strengthen his brethren; and it is known to all men that the apostolic pontiffs, the predecessors of my littleness, have always done this with confidence...”
Citing the work of Da Silveira, Don Curzio Nitoglia explains that the first opinion, that a pope cannot be a heretic, is the one that is most commonly taught as the most probable by the majority of theologians and Doctors: Bellarmine, Francisco Suarez, Melchior Cano, Domingo Soto, John of St. Thomas, Juan de Torquemada, Louis Billot, Joachim Salaverri, A. Maria Vellico, Charles Journet (and Cajetan who is not cited by Da Silveira, but is demonstrated by Msgr. Vittorio Mondello in La dottrina del Gaetano sul Romano Pontefice, Messina, Istituto Arti Grafiche di Sicilia, 1965, cap. V, pp. 163-194 e cap. VI, pp. 195-224) and that the pope as pope cannot fall into formal heresy, whereas he can favour heresy or fall into material heresy as a private doctor or also as pope, but only in the non defining magisterium, which in neither infallible nor binding.
Commenting on Ballerini, Don Curzio explains, “If one studies well the thought of don Pietro Ballerini, one sees that according to him, the pope is obligated to place himself under supernatural faith, and the natural moral law as well as the divine law; there is no human authority over him, but his power is limited to that which God has given to him who is his vicar on earth, which is only when he defines and infallibly binds; but when expressing opinions on manners not yet defined, he can err; and in an eventual and possible case of external heresy, Ballerini is not opposed to the possibility that the pope could fall, not dealing with definitions, but he maintains that it has never happened in all the history of the Church and will never happen.”
For a long time opinions have been divided among eminent theologians and canonists between opinion no 1 that a pope simply cannot fall into heresy, and the opinion that a pope could fall into heresy. Peters, observes, « Wrenn, writing in the CLSA NEW COMM (2001) at 1618 states: “Canon 1404 is not a statement of personal impeccability or inerrancy of the Holy Father. Should, indeed, the pope fall into heresy, it is understood that he would lose his office. To fall from Peter’s faith is to fall from his chair.” » An earlier edition of that same commentary says, “Communion becomes a real issue when it is threatened or even lost. This occurs especially through heresy, apostasy and schism. Classical canonists discussed the question whether a pope, in his private or personal opinions, could go into heresy, apostasy or schism.” The footnote refers to S. Sipos, Enchiridion Iuris Canonici, 7th ed. (Rome: Herder, 1960), who “cites Bellarmine and Wernz in support of this position; this view, however, is termed ‘antiquated’ by F. Cappello, Summa Iuris Canonici (Rome: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, 1961), 297.” The Commentary continues, “If he were to do so in a notoriously and widely publicised manner, he would break communion and, according to an accepted opinion, lose his office ipso facto (c. 194 par. 1, n. 2). Since no one can judge the pope (c. 1404) no one could depose a pope for such crimes, and the authors are divided as to how his loss of office would be declared in such a way that a vacancy could then be filled by a new election.” – (James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, Donald E. Heintschel; , p. 272) Bellarmine states in his comment on opinion no. one, that he accepted this opinion (no.5) as a hypothesis, but considered opinion no 1 one as the more probable: “Still, because it is not certain, and the common opinion is to the contrary, it will be worthwhile to see what the response should be if the Pope could be a heretic.”
I have already quoted above, Cardinal Stickler (“the prerogative of infallibility of office does not impede the Pope, as an individual, from sin and thus become personally heretical”), and most recently, Cardinal Raymond Burke, “If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope. It’s automatic. And so, that could happen.”
Dominic Prummer openly doubts that it can be possible for a pope to become a heretic: “The power of the Roman Pontiff is lost. . . (c) By his perpetual insanity or by formal heresy. And this at least probably. . . . The Authors indeed commonly teach that a pope loses his power through certain and notorious heresy, but whether this case is really possible is rightly doubted.”
Matthaeus Conte a Coronata clearly believes it is posibble, but based his judgment of this opinion on statements of Innocent III which do not actually admit that a pope could in fact become a heretic, but admit of the possibility as a hypothesis (as I have shown in Part II): “2. Loss of office of the Roman Pontiff. This can occur in various ways: . . . c) Notorious heresy. Certain authors deny the supposition that the Roman Pontiff can become a heretic. It cannot be proven however that the Roman Pontiff, as a private teacher, cannot become a heretic – if, for example, he would contumaciously deny a previously defined dogma. Such impeccability was never promised by God. Indeed, Pope Innocent III expressly admits such a case is possible. If indeed such a situation would happen, he would, by divine law, fall from office without any sentence, indeed, without even a declaratory one. He who openly professes heresy places himself outside the Church, and it is not likely that Christ would preserve the Primacy of His Church in one so unworthy. Wherefore, if the Roman Pontiff were to profess heresy, before any condemnatory sentence (which would be impossible anyway) he would lose his authority.”
The contrary opinion is expressed by St. Robert Bellarmine, who first states the argument: “Many canons teach that the Pope cannot be judged unless he may be discovered to have deviated from the faith, therefore he can deviate from the faith. Otherwise these canons would be to no effect. It is clear from the preceding canon, Si Papa, dist. 40, from the 5th Council under Symachus, from the Eighth general council, act 7, from the third epistle of Anacletus, the second epistle of Eusebius, and from Innocent III .” He then tersely refutes it: “Therein it is gathered correctly that the Pope by his own nature can fall into heresy, but not when we posit the singular assistance of God which Christ asked for him by his prayer. Furthermore, Christ prayed lest his faith would fail, not lest he would fall into vice.” Thus, Bellarmine answers the impeccability objection.
Not only does St. Robert Bellarmine argue that there has never been any pope proven to have been a heretic, but it was the position of the First Vatican Council under Pope Pius IX, as Archbishop Purcell testified (in the earlier cited passage on the query of a cardinal on a heretic pope), “It was answered that there has never been such a case”. St. Robert also argues that it cannot be gathered from those canons that a pope can in fact become a heretic, but (says Bellarmine in the same chapter VII), “I say those canons do not mean the Pope can err as a private person but only that the Pope cannot be judged; it is still not altogether certain whether the Pontiff could be a heretic or not. Thus, they add the condition ‘if he might become a heretic’ for greater caution.” These words of the Holy Doctor, «sed tantum non posse Pontificem judicari», provide a key for understanding the distinctions he makes in refuting opinion no. 3 and 4, and the basis of opinion no. 5.
Needless to say, St. Robert Bellarmine’s declaration that “the Pope cannot be judged”, directly refutes the interpretation of John Salza and Robert Siscoe, who say that according to Bellarmine, a heretical pope would not lose office unless he would be judged to be a heretic by the Church. In their hysterical article, RESPONDING TO FR. KRAMER'S ERRONEOUS INTERPRETATION OF BELLARMINE , Salza & Co. quote my statement: “Bellarmine does not refute the argument that a pope who is a manifest heretic loses office [by himself] – he is speaking specifically of removal of the pope when he says the judgment of men is required to remove him. The fact of loss of office occurs ipso facto, but the heretic “pope” must be removed by the judgment of the Church.” (Non aufertur a Deo nisi per hominem) Salza & Siscoe then comment, “Fr. Kramer says that the heretical Pope is only ‘judged by men,’ after he has fallen from office. In other words, according to Fr. Kramer, Bellarmine teaches that Christ secretly deposes the Pope (removes him from office) and then the man who is ‘judged’ is no longer the Pope. The ‘judgment of men,’ he claims, simply concerns the Church’s physical removal of the former Pope from office.” I have already explained in the first part of this work, the manner in which the loss of office would take place in the case of a heretical pope, as set forth by Bellarmine, Ballerini, and Pope Gregory XVI; and nowhere have I ever even remotely suggested that “Christ secretly deposes the Pope”, but that according to their doctrine, the heretic pope would by the very act of heresy fall from office “by himself”, having pronounced judgment upon himself; and the fall from office would take place without any judgment by the Church, as Ballerini explicitly states. Thus the only question of law would not be concerned with how the loss of office would come about, (since that question is already definitively settled), but with the means and procedures by which the Church would declare the heretic’s fall from office to have taken place, so that the vacancy could be filled.
Salza and Siscoe also write most stupidly in their magnum opus of, “Pope Honorius, who has been declared a heretic by the Church (albeit after his death)!” The Church has never judged Pope Honorius to have actually been guilty of the crime of heresy. Salza in particular most ignorantly pontificates that there have been several historical examples of popes who were formal heretics, claiming that there have been “several historical examples”.
Bellarmine deals with the question of judging a pope, and of Pope Honorius in particular in his commentary on the third opinion:
“The third opinion is on another extreme, that the Pope is not and cannot be deposed either by secret or manifest heresy. Turrecremata in the aforementioned citation relates and refutes this opinion, and rightly so, for it is exceedingly improbable. Firstly, because that a heretical Pope can be judged is expressly held in the Canon, Si Papa, dist. 40, and with Innocent . And what is more, in the Fourth Council of Constantinople, Act 7, the acts of the Roman Council under Hadrian are recited, and in those it was contained that Pope Honorius appeared to be legally anathematized, because he had been convicted of heresy, the only reason where it is lawful for inferiors to judge superiors. Here the fact must be remarked upon that, although it is probable that Honorius was not a heretic, and that Pope Hadrian II was deceived by corrupted copies of the Sixth Council, which falsely reckoned Honorius was a heretic, we still cannot deny that Hadrian, with the Roman Council, and the whole Eighth Synod sensed that in the case of heresy, a Roman Pontiff can be judged. Add, that it would be the most miserable condition of the Church, if she should be compelled to recognize a wolf, manifestly prowling, for a shepherd.”
A fundamentalistic interpretation of Bellarmine’s refutation of Opinion No. 3, (such as that of Salza and Siscoe), simplistically applies the Canon Si papa like a blunt instrument, with a total disregard for the subtly nuanced understanding of the canon as it was understood by Medieval canonists and interpreted by Bellarmine. Siscoe most ignorantly states, in his Remnant article, replying to those who would «object by saying, since a pope cannot be judged by a council, Bellarmine could not have meant that a council would depose a heretical Pope. They will then insist that this is why Bellarmine taught that a heretical pope loses his office automatically. But this is clearly not the case, since Bellarmine himself defended the opinion that a heretical Pope can be judged by a council. He wrote: “Firstly, that a heretical Pope can be judged is expressly held in Can. Si Papa dist. 40, and by Innocent III (Serm. II de Consec. Pontif.) Furthermore, in the 8th Council, (act. 7) the acts of the Roman Council under Pope Hadrian are recited, in which one finds that Pope Honorius appears to be justly anathematized, because he had been convicted of heresy, which is the only case in which inferiors are permitted to judge superiors.” (79) » . Indeed, if Bellarmine were invoking that canon as a justification for a pope’s inferiors to judge a reigning Pontiff for heresy, then he would have involved himself in an irreconcilable contradiction, having stated in Book IV that “the pope cannot be judged”; as well as having explained in his refutation of Opinion No. 4 that neither the cardinals nor the bishops have the power to judge the pope. Salza and Siscoe completely overlook the critical distinction between deponendus and depositus that Bellarmine and Ballerini make, as I have already pointed out earlier, and as Don Curzio also explains: «the third opinion has been taken into consideration by only one French theologian of the Nineteenth Century (D. Bouix, Tractatus de Papa, Parigi/Lione, Lecoffre, 1869) out of 137 authors, according to which if the pope, as a hypothesis, falls into heresy he retains the pontificate, but the faithful must not remain passive, but should manifest the error to the pope so that he may be corrected, without, however, being able to declare him “depositus” or to be deposed “deponendus” (cfr. A. X. Da Silveira, Qual è l’autorità dottrinale dei documenti pontifici e conciliari?, “Cristianità”, n. 9, 1975; Id., È lecita la resistenza a decisioni dell’Autorità ecclesiastica?, “Cristianità”, n. 10, 1975; Id., Può esservi l’errore nei documenti del Magistero ecclesiastico?, “Cristianità”, n. 13, 1975) This third opinion is not shared by any “approved” theologians”.» Accordingly Bellarmine presents the third opinion thus, “Papam neque per haeresim occultam, neque per manifestam, esse depositum aut deponi posse”. Thus Bellarmine rejects this opinion not on the basis of a pope being able to be judged and deposed by the Church, but to be judged as having fallen from office and to simply “be deposed” by his own actions, and thus not deposed by the Church, but per se to have fallen from office. Don Curzio concludes, «In reality, Bellarmine treats of the pure hypothesis of a heretic pope, “admitted but not conceded”, but holding speculatively, as an investigative hypothesis – that the pope would be deposed ipso facto (“depositus”) and not to be deposed (“deponendus”) after a declaration of the bishops or the Sacred College of Cardinals»
One of the great medieval canonists was Pope Innocent III, whose sermons strongly support Opinion No. One, but who at least hypothetically admitted Opinion No. 5 as well. It is absolutely clear from Innocent’s teaching that, so long as the pope holds office, he cannot be judged by anyone, and no judgment of the Church pronounced on the pope would be of any effect: «Petrus ligare potest cæteros, sed ligari non potest a cæteris. Tu, inquit, vocaberis Cephas (Joan. 1), quod exponitur caput; quia sicut in capite consistit omnium sensuum plenitudo, in cæteris autem membris pars est aliqua plenitudinis: ita cæteri vocati sunt in partem sollicitudinis, solus autem Petrus assumptus est in plenitudinem potestatis. Jam ergo videtis quis iste servus, qui super familiam constituitur, profecto vicarius Jesu Christi, successor Petri, Christus Domini, Deus Pharaonis: inter Deum et hominem medius constitutus, citra Deum, sed ultra hominem: minor Deo, sed major homine: qui de omnibus judicat, et a nemine judicatur: Apostoli voce pronuntians, qui me judicat, Dominus est (ICor. iv).» The Pope is the divine pharaoh, he is less than God but more than man, who pronounces with the voice of the Apostle, He who judges me is the Lord. (1 Cor. 4) Being “minor Deo sed major homine”, he is judged by no one – ”a nemine judicatur”.
However, if a pope were to become a heretic, he would, according to some Medieval canonists, (as Cardinal Stickler explains), “cease to be pope”, and thus would no longer be major homine, but as a heretic who is no longer a member of the Church would become minor quolibet catholico: from being more than man, he would become less than any Catholic, since (as Bellarmine would later explain) he would no longer be pope, a Christian, or a member of the Church. Having fallen from office – from the highest position to the lowest, i.e., minor quolibet catholico, he can be shown to be already judged, (as Innocent III says) and having been already judged by God and having ceased to be pope, he can then be judged and punished by the Church (as Bellarmine says). Don Curzio Nitoglia writes, “Monsignor Vittorio Mondello (La dottrina del Gaetano sul Romano Pontefice, cit., pp. 163-194) explains that the hypothesis of the possibility of a heretic pope derives from the Decree of Gratian (dist. XL, cap. 6, col. 146) written between 1140 and 1150, in which is found a fragment erroneously believed to be of St. Boniface, († 5 June 754), a Benedictine monk of Exeter in England sent by Pope Gregory II to evangelize Germany, consecrated Archbishop of Mainz, and martyred in Freising, who is considered to be the apostle of Germany, and whose body rests in Fulda.” “This fragment,” continues Don Curzio, “has the title, ‘Si Papa’, and expresses the doctrine according to which [the pope] ‘a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a Fide devius, cannot be judged by any human authority, except if he has fallen into heresy’.” “Basing themselves on this spurious decree erroneously attributed to St. Boniface and accepted at face value by Gratian,” continues Don Curzio, “the Medieval and Counter-Reformation theologians maintained as possible the hypothesis but not the certitude of the possibility of a heretic pope. At this point they are divided in how to resolve the question of a pope who eventually falls into heresy as a private person (cfr. A. M. Vellico, De Ecclesia Christi, Roma, 1940, p. 395, n. 557, in footnote 560 there is an ample bibliography). Cardinal Charles Journet (L’Eglise du Verbe Incarné, Bruges, Desclée, II ed., 1995, vol. I, p. 626) maintains that the opinion according to which the pope cannot fall into heresy ‘is gaining ascendency above all due to the progress of historical studies. Bellarmine (De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. 30) was one of the supporters of this thesis. The opinion that admits of the possibility of papal heresy has its remote origin from the already cited Decree of Gratian, which brings up again a spurious text attributed to St. Boniface’ (cited in V. Mondello, op. cit., p. 164).”
“Now the eventual condemnation of a pope in the sole case of heresy by an imperfect Council (of bishops only),” continues Don Curzio, “is the thesis of mitigated Conciliarism, condemned as heretical and the child of radical Conciliarism, which holds that the Council is always superior to the pope, and which has been condemned per se as heretical. Msgr. Antonio Piolante writes, ‘Conciliarism is an ecclesiological error, according to which an ecumenical Council is superior to the pope. The remote origin of Conciliarism is found in the juridical principle of the Decree of Gratian (dist. XL, cap. 6) according to which the pope can be judged by the Church (the bishops or the cardinals) in case of heresy. […] this error was condemned by the Council of Trent and received its coup de grâce from the First Vatican Council’ (Dizionario di teologia dommatica, Roma, Studium, IV ed., 1957, pp. 82-84, voce Conciliarismo).” I have already quoted verbatim the relevant texts of Trent and Vatican I earlier in this work.
In spite of their protestations that they refrain from holding a position in these matters which (according to them) have not been decided by the ecclesiastical magisterium, Salza and Siscoe have emphatically stated and elaborated their heretical position on the question of a heretical pope. In their Gloria TV interview, Salza and Siscoe emphatically declare (proximate to heresy) in response to the question, “So, are you saying that heresy itself would not cause a Pope to fall from office?”: (Salza and Siscoe) - “Yes, that is correct. In the book, we use the metaphysics of Thomas to explain why it is that heresy does not directly cause a Pope to fall from the pontificate.” Robert J. Siscoe states with unequivocal clarity his heretical mitigated Conciliarist opinion in his Remnant article (Nov. 18, 2014): “The Church must render a judgment before the pope loses his office. Private judgment of the laity in this matter does not suffice.” — Robert J. Siscoe
Clueless Robert Siscoe still cannot grasp the simple notion of an automatic loss of office that does not take place by either private judgment, or official judgment by the Church, but by the act of heresy itself, independently of the judgment of others, but pronounced as a judgment by the heretic upon himself, so that he loses office “straightaway”, as Bellarmine teaches: “by himself” (per se), and ipso facto, which means “by the very act itself”, and therefore “immediately”, “automatically” or “straightaway”, as Bellarmine states with the word “mox”. Cardinal Raymond Burke, unlike John Salza and Robert Siscoe, does not suffer from the hang-up about automatic loss of office for heresy (which Salza & Siscoe repeatedly declare to be “sedevacantist theology” and a “misinterpretation” and “distortion” of the teaching of St Robert Bellarmine), but understands the clear and unequivocal teaching of St. Bellarmine in his presentation of opinion no. 5, so Cardinal Burke simply states, “If a Pope would formally profess heresy he would cease, by that act, to be the Pope. It’s automatic. And so, that could happen.” In such a case, the judgment declared by the Church would confer juridical enforcement to the loss of office that would have already taken place ipso jure.
Salza & Siscoe have become so desperately obsessed with their heretical mitigated Conciliarist belief that a pope who falls into heresy must first be judged by the Church, that they have resorted to a plainly irrational argument against the plainly expressed position of Bellarmine, which I have interpreted and understood in the manner of Cardinal Burke and all the expert commentators of the recent centuries. Here is Salza & Siscoe’s moronic argument against what is universally understood as Opinion No. 5:
«Suffice it to say that not a single theologian has ever taught the laity, or individual priest, are permitted render such a judgment or make such public declarations on their own authority. Before a person can conclude that a Pope has lost his office for heresy, it requires an antecedent (prior) judgment that he has, in fact, fallen into heresy. The antecedent judgment must be rendered by the Church before the consequent judgment can be declared. And if the antecedent judgment is forbidden, as Kramer now argues ("a Pope cannot be judged, even for heresy") how could the consequent judgment (that he lost his office for heresy) ever be determined? If the Church was not permitted to render a judgment of heresy concerning a pope, it would be equally forbidden to declare that a Pope had lost his office for heresy. This explains why the famous axiom "the first see is judged by no one" has been understood to include the exception "unless he is accused of heresy." But only the Church possesses the authority to render such a judgment and make any consequent declarations. »
First, to the statement, “that not a single theologian has ever taught the laity, or individual priest, are permitted render such a judgment or make such public declarations on their own authority.” St. Robert Bellarmine says: “For although Liberius was not a heretic, nevertheless he was considered one, on account of the peace he made with the Arians, […] for men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.” No authority is required to express an opinion on a notorious fact. That is a basic right of natural law. Now here is the Salza/Siscoe lunacy: “Before a person can conclude that a Pope has lost his office for heresy, it requires an antecedent (prior) judgment that he has, in fact, fallen into heresy. The antecedent judgment must be rendered by the Church before the consequent judgment can be declared. And if the antecedent judgment is forbidden, as Kramer now argues ("a Pope cannot be judged, even for heresy") how could the consequent judgment (that he lost his office for heresy) ever be determined?” [As Kramer now argues? What a load of codswallop!]
Salza & Siscoe speak of those (i.e. “sedevacantists”) who “have misunderstood (and abused) the quote from St. Robert Bellarmine, who said ‘the manifest heretic is ipso facto deposed,’ as if Bellarmine actually meant that a cleric or Pope automatically loses his office when a person privately judges him to be a heretic.” In fact it is Salza and Siscoe who crudely misinterpret Bellarmine, who does not say that a heretic pope loses office ipso facto “when a person privately judges him” to be a heretic, but says he loses office “straightaway”, “by himself”, when he publicly pronounces judgment upon himself. It is at this point when, as Bellarmine says, “men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.” As both Bellarmine and Ballerini have plainly stated in the quotations I have cited earlier in this work, the loss of office would take place automatically and independently of anyone else’s judgment when the heretic would pronounce judgment upon himself; and the judgment of the Church and that of private individuals would take place after the ipso facto loss of office. All of the decrees and canons (such as Canon 10 of the Fourth Council of Constantinople) cited by Salza and Siscoe, which forbid subjects to depose their prelates, are clearly not applicable, and were not intended to be applied to such a case as would take place when a holder of ecclesiastical office publicly defects from the Catholic faith by manifest heresy. This is most evident from the clear wording of that Canon 10 of Constantinople, which says, “As divine scripture clearly proclaims, ‘Do not find fault before you investigate, and understand first and then find fault’. And does our law judge a person without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?’” This text clearly does not refer to a person who pronounces a public judgment of heresy upon himself, and is not to be found among the canons dealing with heresy, but is in a different section dealing with other crimes. The Church did not excommunicate those who refused to be in communion with Nestorius, but vindicated them by declaring their excommunications to have been null and void. What it means can be clearly understood from the words of Christopher A. Ferrara, “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.”
It is one thing for a subject to presume to judge his superior, but it is quite another, and there has always been the belief in the Church that subjects have the right to judge in conscience, and in the case of heresy, to withdraw straightaway their alliegance from their superiors, even from a pope, if the superiors manifest themselves to be heretics. Moynihan mentions that there was such “a tradition already prevalent as far back as the seventh century.” Moynihan elaborates that at the time when rumors were circulating against the orthodoxy of Pope Boniface IV (608 – 615), St. Columban wrote to him, assuring him that he believed none of it, but the saint was careful to add: “Si enim haec certa magis quam fabulosa sunt, versa vice filii vestri in caput conversi sunt, vos vero in caudam (Deut. 28, 44); quod etiam dici dolor est: ideo et vestri erunt judices qui semper orthodoxam fidem servaverunt, quicumque illi fuerint, etiamsi juniores vestri videantur. Ipsi autem orthodoxi et veri catholici, qui neque haereticos neque suspectos aliquos aliquando receperunt neque defenderunt, sed in zelo verae fidei permanserunt.” With the words, ”neque haereticos neque suspectos aliquos”; the saint makes it clear that the subjects have the right in conscience to judge and reject (literally to not receive) not only superiors who are notoriously manifest heretics, but also those who positively manifest themselves to be reasonably considered suspected heretics. In the latter case, the pontiff would no longer enjoy the status of a certainly valid pope, but would have become a papa dubius, and thus there would be positive doubt as to whether the papal cathedra was occupied or vacant. In the case of a papa dubius, no one is bound to be subject to him, be in communion with him, or to accept him as a valid pope. In unison with all the eminent commentators on Canon Law, Wernz & Vidal explain, “Finally one cannot consider as schismatics those who refuse to obey the Roman Pontiff because they would hold his person suspect or, because of widespread rumors, doubtfully elected (as happened after the election of Urban VI) …” Under such circumstances, therefore, it would be licit for one to consider the Apostolic See to be vacant.
Siscoe also makes an errant application of Bellarmine’s words in his Remnant article when he says, «St. Bellarmine himself explained that a heretical bishop must be deposed by the proper authorities. After explaining how a false prophet (meaning heretical pastor) can be spotted, he wrote:“…if the pastor is a bishop, they [the faithful] cannot depose him and put another in his place. For Our Lord and the Apostles only lay down that false prophets are not to be listened to by the people, and not that they depose them. And it is certain that the practice of the Church has always been that heretical bishops be deposed by bishop’s councils, or by the Sovereign Pontiff.” » It is patent from the explicitly expressed doctrine of Bellarmine in this text, that he is not treating of matters of opinion, but of acts of jurisdiction – jurisdiction which the faithful do not possess. One has the natural right in conscience to judge as a matter of opinion that a manifest heretic who openly rejects dogma has lost office; but private individuals do not have the right to juridically enforce their private opinions, but the loss of office can only be enforced by proper authority upon declaration by ecclesiastical authority. (Canon 194 § 2)
The position of Pope Pius IX at the First Vatican Council was quite different from that of Salza and Siscoe, and did not concern private judgment of a heretical pope, but the plainly evident fact of manifest heresy, as Archbishop Purcell related: “If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I”. No ‘antecedent judgment’ is required or even possible, because by the very fact of public heresy, the heretic would have already fallen from office, and thus there can be no antecedent judgment. An individual person or the Church can only understand and judge that a manifest heretic, who openly denies the faith, is in fact a heretic after the fact of the manifest formal heresy and the immediately consequent fall from office. The Church must declare the fact officially, in order to fill the vacancy, and to protect the souls of the faithful from the heretical wolf, but there is no reason why men would be morally forbidden from forming their own opinions in the matter before the Church makes its official pronouncement: “men are not bound or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.”
Salza and Siscoe say, The antecedent judgment must be rendered by the Church before the consequent judgment can be declared. Really? But there is no antecedent judgment made before the fall from office – it is impossible, because the pope remains in office so long as he is not a heretic, and cannot be judged. According to Bellarmine, and all who hold to Opinion No. 5, the first judgment is pronounced by the heretic upon himself, who automatically falls from office without any judgment by the Church. This is patently manifest in Bellarmine’s own words:
“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.”
It is at this point, that, after the fall from office, that, as Bellarmine says, “when they [men] see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple, and condemn him as a heretic.” The Church judges after the fact, and therefore after the fall, and thus judges juridically and punishes the heretic who by his heresy defected from the faith and the Church and became “minor quolibet catholico”. Individuals also judge according to their own private opinion, according to an informed conscience, but the private judgment of individuals does not have the juridical effect of authorizing a new papal election.
As Gregory XVI (quoted earlier) explained, such a one would have “fallen” from office “by himself” (per se decaduto dal pontificato). Similarly, St. Alphonsus: “After all, if God were to permit that a pope would be notoriously heretical and contumacious, he would cease to be pope, and the pontificate would be vacant.” And again in the same work, “The same (i.e. “the See would be considered vacant”) would be in the case, if the pope were to fall notoriously and pertinaciously in some heresy. Since then, … the pope would not be deprived by the Council … but would be immediately stripped by Christ, having in fact become an incapable subject, and fallen from his office.” Thus, the very justification for the Church to convene in a Council to judge the heretic pope would be the fact that the See would have already been considered to be having been vacated by a heretic pope, who would have become an incapable subject to retain the papacy, and would have already fallen from office. The proposition that one is morally bound not to acknowledge such a fact, and to believe the falsehood that a heretic is still the pope until the Church will have declared otherwise, is absurd on its face, and is a perverted belief. No one can ever be bound to believe a falsehood until the Church declares it is false; and that would also leave the wolf free to prowl and destroy souls for however so long it would take for the Church to finally get its act together and render a judgment – quod esset miserrima conditio Ecclesiæ, si lupum manifeste grassantem, pro pastore agnoscere cogeretur. (Bellarminus)
As I have already explained earlier, an ipso facto loss of office takes place immediately by the very act itself, by that fact alone, otherwise it is not ipso facto. If such a fall does not take place immediately by the fact itself, but only after judgment by the Church, then it is not ipso facto, because ipso facto means “by the fact itself”, and if the fact of heresy has already taken place in reality but the heretic does not yet fall from office by that fact alone, i.e., “by himself”, THEN IT IS NOT IPSO FACTO. The notion of an ipso facto fall from office that does not take place immediately by the very fact of heresy alone, by itself, but only after the judgment of the Church, is a self-contradictory notion. This is how the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine is explained by all ecclesiastical scholars who comment on the Five Opinions – that the ipso facto fall from office is automatic, and is not in any way dependent on a judgment by the Church.
“According to Bellarmine,” explains Don Curzio Nitoglia, “(De Romano Pontifice lib. II. Cap. 30, p. 420), since notorious and public manifest heretics lose jurisdiction ipso facto, granted but not conceded that the pope can fall into heresy, in the eventual case of manifest heresy, he would immediately lose the papal authority. This is the interpretation of the Bellarminian position given by the Jesuit Fathers Franz Xavier Wernz and Pedro Vidal (Jus Canonicum), Rome, Gregorian, 1943, vol. II, p. 517)” Then Don Curzio points out that the same interpretation is given by other eminent authorities as well: “(cfr. also L. Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi, Prato, Giachetti, 1909, tomo II, p. 617; J. Salaverri, De Ecclesia Christi, Madrid, BAC, 1958, p. 879, n. 1047).”
Against this unanimous interpretation of commentators on Bellarmine made by all eminent theologians and canonists who have expounded on the Five Opinions in recent centuries, Salza and Siscoe most stupidly declare:
«Bellarmine and Suarez (two Jesuits) disagree with the opinion of Cajetan and John of St. Thomas (the Dominicans). 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. » (emphasis added)
And then they explain what (according to them) is the “erroneous interpretation of Bellarmine” which they characterize as the “sedevacantist interpretation of Bellarmine”, which,(they say), Fr. Kramer has swallowed “hook, line and sinker” (!!!):
«Where the Sedevacantists 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: . . . »
It is unanimously explained by expert canonists and theologians that Opinion No. 4 holds that a judgment must be made by the Church for the heretic pope to fall from office; and Opinion No 5 holds that the heretic pope falls automatically by himself from the pontificate by the very act itself of manifest formal heresy, without any judgment being pronounced by the Church. Both of these opinions were already expressed by canonists in the early 1180s, as Moynihan shows in his earlier cited work. It was clearly understood by theologians and canonists in Bellarmine’s day what were the Five Opinions. It simply beggars belief that anyone would seriously claim that all of the eminent scholars who have written on this question are wrong – that they have misinterpreted Bellarmine, and they have not understood Opinion No. 5 correctly. This is exactly what Salza & Siscoe do when they say that Suarez and Bellarmine are both of Opinion No. 5, which according to them, requires the judgment of the Church for the loss of office to take place. It is quite simply inconceivable that Bellarmine would have been ignorant of the opinion which holds that the heretic pope falls automatically by himself from the pontificate by the very act itself of manifest formal heresy, without any judgment being pronounced by the Church; and that he would have not included it as one of the five opinions. Either Salza & Siscoe do not understand Opinion No. 5, or Bellarmine did not understand it correctly; and that would mean that all of the expert commentators on the Five Opinions have not correctly understood it either!
Incredibly, Salza and Siscoe would attempt to interpret the meaning of Bellarmine, (who said opinion no. 5 is the true opinion), not by analyzing Bellarmine’s own words, but by quoting Suarez, who, according to all the expert canonists and theologians subscribed to opinion no. 4. Salza & Siscoe say they are all wrong, and that Suarez followed opinion no. 5! Don Curzio comments, “The fourth opinion, studied above all by Cardinal Tommaso de Vio ‘Cajetan’, by John of St. Thomas, (De aucttoritate Summi Pontificis, Quebec, Laval University, 1947) and also by Francisco Suarez (who examines the first and the fourth, but maintains the first more probable than the fourth); according to the fourth opinion there must be a declaration of heresy of the pope by the bishops or the College of Cardinals.” All commentators, whether theologians or canonists, distinguish between Opinion No. 4 and no. 5 on the basis that in Opinion No. 4 a judgment of the Church is necessary for a manifest heretic pope to fall from office, and in Opinion No. 5 the fall is automatic, without any judgment by the Church. This is the opinion of Cardinal Burke, whom I have quoted earlier saying the fall would be “automatic”. According to Salza & Siscoe, they are all wrong, and their interpretation of Opinion No. 5 is “sedevacantist theology”— and they ignorantly insist that both Suarez and Bellarmine were of Opinion No. 5, which they interpret to mean that the heretic pope would fall from office after a judgment by the Church.
It is by this fraudulent and grotesquely distorted misinterpretation of Bellarmine, that Salza and Siscoe attempt to make it appear that Bellarmine, Cajetan, Suarez, John of St. Thomas, Billuart, Laymann (and others) were all in agreement that a judgment of the Church would first be necessary before a heretic pope would fall from office, and they fraudulently maintain that this universally abandoned opinion is the common opinion today! The opinion that a manifestly and formally heretical pope would remain in office and retain jurisdiction until judged by the Church is proximate to heresy, because it opposes the teaching of the universal magisterium that a heretic is severed from the body of the Church by the public act of formal heresy; and it is also contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, as Bellarmine plainly demonstrates. The opinion also professes against the explicit declaration of Pope St. Gregory VII («Quod a nemine ipse (the pope) iudicari debeat») the heresy that a pope can be judged by the Church while still in office, which denies the judicial supremacy and injudicability of the Roman Pontiff. Salza and Siscoe make a desperate attempt to salvage their heretical doctrine by appealing to the teaching of Billuart, who misapplies the provisions of Ad evitanda scandala (Martin V) to the case of a heretic pope. This topic will be dealt with in the next section.
St. Robert Bellarmine’s Treatment of the Five Opinions
I have presented St. Robert Bellarmine’s exposition on the First Opinion, that a pope cannot be a heretic, in the previous section, and also presented my own argument proving this opinion to be the correct one. Bellarmine says of this opinion, “such an opinion is probable, and can easily be defended”, but, he adds, “it is not certain”. As has been pointed out already, the then more common belief that a pope could fall into heresy had its origin in the spurious Canon Si papa, which heavily influenced the medieval canonists and even held sway among the majority of theologians and canonists in Bellarmine’s day. That this canon was the basis for that opinion is clear from the manner that Bellarmine presents the topic for discussion: “The tenth argument. A Pope can be judged and deposed by the Church in the case of heresy; as is clear from Dist. 40, can. Si Papa: therefore, the Pontiff is subject to human judgment, at least in some case.” One must bear in mind that here, Bellarmine is only presenting the argument, and not stating his own opinion in the matter. This is obvious enough from the context, since he then says, “I respond: there are five opinions on this matter.” The reason I mention this here is because Salza and Siscoe very deceptively quote this passage, in which Bellarmine merely presents the argument to be discussed, as evidence that this argument represented Bellarmine’s own opinion. Bellarmine’s own opinion was that a pope cannot fall into heresy and cannot be judged; and that hypothetically, if a pope could fall into heresy, he would ceased to be pope by that very fall, and only then could he be judged by the Church. I quoted the passage earlier, where he said, “I say those canons do not mean the Pope can err as a private person but only that the Pope cannot be judged; it is still not altogether certain whether the Pontiff could be a heretic or not. Thus, they add the condition ‘if he might become a heretic’ for greater caution”; and then the passage in which he most emphatically declares, “the Pope by his own nature can fall into heresy, but not when we posit the singular assistance of God which Christ asked for him by his prayer. Furthermore, Christ prayed lest his faith would fail”. It is clear that for St. Robert Bellarmine, the pope cannot be judged for heresy because he cannot become a heretic. Nevertheless, he says, “it is still not altogether certain whether the Pontiff could be a heretic or not.” Although St. Robert knew the teaching of Innocent III, that the grace of unfailing faith pertains essentially to the holder of the Petrine office, he did not yet have the solemn dogma of Infallibility pronounced by the First Vatican Council, which established the promise of unfailing faith of the Pontiff as the premise and basis, and therefore the necessary disposition for Papal Infallibility: Quorum quidem apostolicam doctrinam omnes venerabiles Patres amplexi et sancti Doctores orthodoxi venerati atque secuti sunt; plenissime scientes, hanc sancti Petri Sedem ab omni semper errore illibatam permanere, secundum Domini Salvatoris nostri divinam pollicitationem discipulorum suorum principi factam: Ego rogavi pro te, ut non deficiat fides tua, et tu aliquando conversus confirma fratres tuos. So, while the Vatican Council did not define papal inerrancy, or that a pope cannot fall into heresy; nevertheless, the Council did magisterially establish that the infallibility of the See of Peter is premised on the basis of the promised grace of unfailing personal faith of the Pontiff. Fr. Gleize’s observations in his article on Papal Heresy, 1) “that the facts of history are undeniable. There have been in the Church one or two popes who favored heresy, and there are today, since Vatican II, popes who have caused serious problems for the conscience of Catholics, who are rightly perplexed”; and, 2) “it is clear that since Vatican II, Popes Paul VI, John Paul II. and Benedict XVI have taught—and Pope Francis still teaches—theological opinions that would be difficult to reconcile with the substance of Catholic dogma”, have absolutely no bearing on the question of whether or not a pope can fall into formal heresy, because these observations merely make note of the material fact of heresy, and therefore do not even constitute a probable argument in favour of the opinion that a pope could become a formal heretic. Fr. Gleize concludes, “the first opinion that regards as improbable the fall of a pope into heresy is itself improbable. In other words, the arguments from theological authority along the lines of a negative answer to the question posed are insufficient to win adherence. It must still be shown, therefore, how right reason, enlightened by faith, could justify an affirmative answer.” I believe I have sufficiently, and even more than adequately demonstrated how right reason enlightened by faith does indeed jusify an afffimative answer. However, without a clear magisterial pronouncement in his day establishing the unfailing faith of the Pontiff as a necessary premise for the exercise of the charism of papal Infallibility, Bellarmine did not consider his own opinion to be altogether certain, and therefore says, “it will be worthwhile to see what the response should be if the Pope could be a heretic.”
Proceeding to the Second Opinion, Bellarmine states that opinion: “Thus, the second opinion is that the Pope, in the very instant in which he falls into heresy, even if it is only interior, is outside the Church and deposed by God, for which reason he can be judged by the Church.” The glaring defect in this opinion is that according to it, the one who falls into interior heresy can be judged by the Church; since the Church authorities could not possibly know that he is a secret heretic, and that he has been deposed by God, and therefore there would be no way they could judge and remove him, as Bellarmine notes, “But a secret heretic cannot be judged by men”. Thus it would be quite impossible for him to be “declared [by the Church] deposed by divine law, and deposed de facto, if he still refused to yield”. If such a heretic pope were to be deposed by God, he would be deposed invisibly, and that would be to no avail, because no one would know he had fallen from the pontificate, and he would therefore remain illegitimately in power as a usurper, in such a manner that he could not be removed. Hence, Bellarmine says, “For Jurisdiction is certainly given to the Pontiff by God, but with the agreement of men, as is obvious; because this man, who beforehand was not Pope, has from men that he would begin to be Pope, therefore, he is not removed by God unless it is through men.” It is clear therefore, that for a pope to be removed by some act other than death (or permanent insanity which is equivalent to death), he must be removed by men, and such a process of removal is first accomplished by the renunciation of the papacy either expressly or tacitly, which effects the loss of office. In the case of tacit loss of office, it is only by such visible actions as acts of manifest heresy, which constitute a visible and obvious defection from the faith and the Church, that bring about the automatic loss of office, so that the pope can be judged to have left office by himself, as Bellarmine puts it; or, as Ballerini says, to have “ipso facto by his own will abdicated the primacy and the pontificate”. Thus it is that a pope can be judged by men to have tacitly abdicated by defecting into heresy, and as a public heretic, (and not as a secret heretic as Torquemada maintained), be “judged by the Church, that is, he is declared deposed by divine law, and deposed de facto, if he still refused to yield.” Thus the heretic who loses office by himself can be judged to have lost office and be effectively removed by men. Such automatic loss of office, according to Bellarmine, would only take place in the case of a manifestly heretical pope (Opinion No. 5); and not in the case of a pope who falls into internal heresy (Opinion No. 2). However, in either case, the “necessary disposition” to preserve the form of the pontificate, which is faith (as Bellarmine explains in his refutation of Opinion No. 4), would be lost; but while in the case of a manifest heretic, Bellarmine says by the removal of that necessary disposition the heretic would straightaway cease to be pope; but in the case of an internal heretic pope, he would not cease to be pope.
At first glance, it might appear that the Holy Doctor had contradicted himself, but it was not Bellarmine who asserted a contradictory position on the question, but rather Bellarmine himself was only too aware of the intrinsically problematic nature of Opinion No. 2, and the irresolvable paradox its refutation creates. St. Robert Bellarmine demonstrated conclusively, that in accordance with divine revelation, external acts of manifest heresy bring about an automatic loss of office; and therefore if a pope were to fall into manifest heresy, according to “the fifth and true opinion”, he would immediately cease to be pope and could be judged by the Church; but in the case of internal heresy, “it is not proven to me”, because such an impostor as a counterfeit heretic pope could not be judged and removed from the throne he usurps, and, he adds, “that the foundation of this opinion is that secret heretics are outside the Church, which is false, and we will amply demonstrate this in our tract de Ecclesia.” Quite rightly, Bellarmine expressed his belief and presented proofs (which he judged not to be altogether certain), that such a thing as a heretic pope is impossible; and this is especially borne out by the fact that an internal heretic pope could not confirm the faith of his brethren (as Bellarmine himself believed), being cut off (internally) from the unity of the Church, and therefore incapable of exercising the charism of Infallibility and carrying out his munus of confirmator fratrum, he would, (lacking the necessary disposition to preserve the form of the papacy), necessarily cease to be pope; while at the same time, remaining a visible but atrophied member of the Church by a merely external and material union, he would necessarily remain pope as the visible head, (because he could not be visibly removed by men), but incapable of exercising his munus. However, since the dogma of Infallibility had not yet been defined, Bellarmine was clearly not disposed to declare the opinion as certain on the sole basis of the ex ratione argument of loss of papal office due to the removal of the necessary disposition (faith) to preserve the form of the pontificate in the person of the pope, since that disposition is necessary to preserve the form of the Pontificate in the person of the Pontiff precisely because it is the necessary disposition to exercise the charism of Infallibility – and thus the proof would not have been certain until the certain existence of the charism itself had been infallibly defined. The contradiction implicit in its premise, and the irresolvable paradox that the refutation of Opinion No. 2 creates, demonstrates that a heretic pope is impossible, since, if a pope could be a manifest heretic, then he could also be a secret heretic; and in either case, the “necessary disposition” would be lost – and therefore, even Opinion No. 5, can only be considered valid as a pure hypothesis.
Elsewhere, (in my e-mail reply to the rabid Salza cheerleader, Folbrecht), I wrote: Unlike Opinion No 5, Opinion No. 2, which holds that even an occult heretic would automatically cease to be pope is not even valid as a hypothesis, because the refutation of its foundational principle (that an occult heretic would not be a member of the Church), results in an outcome consisting of logically opposed effects. Bellarmine refutes the opinion by pointing out that, contrary to Torquemada's argument, an occult heretic cannot be judged and removed by the Church. The reason why the heretic would need to be judged and removed, is NOT (as Salza & Siscoe believe) because the loss of office cannot take place without judgment (Bellarmine, as quoted above, explains that the pope cannot be judged, but precisely because the manifest heretic pope falls fom office by himsef, he may then be judged); but precisely because the fall from office of a secret heretic could not be known, he would thus cease to be pope without tbe possibility of being removed, and for this reason, the papacy would cease as a visible institution of the Church, and the whole Church would defect by being subject to a false Pontiff. Thus, the secret heretic cannot be judged and removed by men, and therefore cannot secretly cease to be pope without causing a defection from the divine constitution of the Church; since it would appear that the fallen secret heretic pope would still remain in office after his fall from office, and for that reason the Church, against its divine constitution, would no longer be governed by the Roman Pontiff, [but by an impostor]. Hence, the only possible solution to the problematic Opinion No. 2, is not that the secret heretic would either cease to be pope or remain validly in the Pontificate, but that the pope cannot become a heretic in the first place: OPINION NO. 1 -- Bellarmine's opinion, and the most common opinion today.
Siscoe’s latest reply to this argumentation consists in a mendcious obfuscation; by making it appear that I have contradicted myself:
Siscoe says: «[Y]ou accuse us of being dishonest and misrepresenting your position when everything we have “accused” you of is backed up by what you are on record as holding? Here is one example. You wrote:
Fr. Kramer: “the Salza/Siscoe long and convoluted argument is of no avail in its attempt, by means of fraudulent sophistry, to make me falsely appear to contradict myself; and to deceive their readers into falsely believing that I hold the Opinion No. 2 which Bellarmine (and I too) have refuted.”
What is Opinion No. 2? It is this: in the hypotheses of a pope falling into heresy and losing “the virtue of faith,” he would automatically lose his office. That is Opinion No. 2. Here’s your position in your own words:
Fr. Kramer: “Finally, and for the record, I do indeed hold that hypothetically, losing the virtue of faith, the pope would lose office.”
Fr. Kramer: “the virtue of faith existing in the soul of the pope as its subject is the necessary disposition for the preservation of the form of the supreme pontificate in the person of the pope. (…) Faith, not merely the material and external profession of the objective content of faith, but the virtue of faith as a principium operationis is necessary to be in the soul of person of the pope as its subject in order toreceive and preserve within himself the form of the supreme pontificate (…) it would clearly be impossible for one to be a valid Roman Pontiff without the virtue of faith.” (…) A heretic would necessarily cease to be pope because even if he were only externally a member of the Church, he would lack [the virtue of] faith.”
No matter how you try to spin in, you cannot escape the fact that what you wrote above is identical to Opinion No. 2.
And as evidence that I did not use “fraudulent sophistry” to twist your position, I provided the quotations in which you directly contradict yourself and gave you multiple opportunities to clarify your position. Instead of even trying to do so, you responded by calling us “FRAUDS, CON ARTISTS, LIARS” etc. Was your outburst a diversionary tactic, or, what seems more likely, were you projecting your own guilt on others? There is nothing “fraudulent” or in any way dishonest about asking you to clarify direct contradictions in your own public position. »
Nothing fraudulent? Siscoe truncates my words in mid-sentence in order to make it appear (as he and Salza repeatedly claim), that I hold Opinion No. 2, and that it is I who contradict myself:
«Finally, and for the record, I do indeed hold that hypothetically, losing the virtue of faith, the pope would lose office ….»
What I plainly expressed in my words is that, the very notion upon which Opinion No. 2 is founded, inexorably leads to an irresolvable logical opposition, and therefore the major premise of Opinion No. 2 involves itself in a contradiction. Here is what I actually wrote:
"Finally, and for the record, I do indeed hold that hypothetically [as a purely abstract hypothesis without any practical applicability] , losing the virtue of faith, the pope would lose office, but due to Christ's efficacious prayer for the unfailing faith of the Pontiff, it is impossible for the pope's faith to fail. [Therefore a pope cannot become a formal heretic.] Salza attempts to make my opinion appear eccentric and bizarre, but I have more than adequately demonstrated, with copious quotations from the original Latin texts of St. Robert Bellarmine and other authors, that my position on this point is exactly that of the Holy Doctor [i.e. that without faith as the necessary disposition to conserve the form of the Pontificate in the person of the pope, he would straightaway cease to be pope]; and that the pope cannot become a formal heretic (Opinion No. 1) ], which is today, and was for most of the 20th Century, the opinio communior".
It is to no avail that Siscoe quotes Bellarmine:
«Bellarmine: “It is certain, whatever one or another might think, a secret heretic, if he might be a Bishop, or even the Supreme Pontiff, does not lose jurisdiction, nor dignity, or the name of the head in the Church, until either he separates himself publicly from the Church (i.e., openly leaves the Church), or being convicted of heresy, is separated against his will” (Bellarmine, On the Church Militant, ch X). »
This is only half of Bellarmine's position. Bellarmine speaks of the hypothetical case of a secret heretic pope as a practical hypothesis, but does not admit that such a case is really possible (as I have amply documented). Bellarmine argues that the preservation of the form of the Pontificate in the person of the pope requires faith as the necessary disposition; and therefore without this necessary disposition, "he would straightaway cease to be pope"; thus, considered per se as a purely abstract hypothesis without any practical applicability, Bellarmine concludes that a heretic pope would simply cease to be pope. I have provided the philosophical & theological basis for this proposition and its demonstration. Since its certitude ultimately hinges on Papal Infallibility, Bellarmine was not able to avail himself of such a demonstration, because (as I have explained), the dogma of Papal Infallibility had not yet been defined. Nevertheless, he argued that without faith, as a purely abstract hypothesis, the pope would cease to be pope simpliciter; while also arguing that as a practical hypothesis with hypothetical applicability to a real situation (if it were possible) the secret heretic pope would remain pope until convicted of heresy because he would still be a member of the Church. In stating this opinon, Bellarmine does not contradict his position on Opinion No. 5, according to which a manifest heretic would cease to be pope straightaway without first being judged and convicted. One notices the careful wording Bellarmine employs, saying the secret heretic, “does not lose jurisdiction, nor dignity, or the name of the head in the Church, until either he separates himself publicly from the Church [by an act of manifest heresy], or being convicted of heresy, is separated against his will”. Here he is following a doctrinal/canonical tradition that goes back to the early Decretists, which logically and correctly reasoned that as a public heretic, the pope would lose office ipso jure without trial, whereas an occult heretic would have to be tried and convicted in order to be proven guilty and thus considered to have lost office. The procedure would be similar to a trial, in the manner of those medieval canonists who reasoned that an accusatio could be brought against a pope for occult heresy, who because of his heresy would already be considered minor quolibet catholico; whereas a public heretic could be dealt with by an exceptio, thereby eliminating the need for a trial. In either case, once the heresy is made manifest, the heretic would necessarily fall from office and be judged, removed and punished; but the loss of office would not be the result of a trial and deposition by the judgment of the Church, but by the fact of the heresy being made manifest he would fall from office and then be judged and removed by men; and in this manner “he is separated against his will”. This is why Bellarmine says that in the case of a secret heretic, he would not cease to be pope unless he is judged by men; whereas in the case of a manifest heretic, he would lose office ipso facto by professing himself a heretic and thereby pronouncing upon himself the judgment of self condemnation: It would be by means similar to the juridical process of a trial that the heresy would be made manifest in the case of an occult heretic, and the now manifest heretic would thereby lose office ipso jure. Since no individual and no body (neither the bishops nor the cardinals as Bellarmine argues in his refutation of Opinion No. 4), and therefore not even a general council may judge a pope, one grasps why Bellamine says the occult heretic pope must be “judged by men”, but not “judged by the Church”, since there exists no jurisdiction in the Church to subject a pope to trial and pass judgment on him. Once a deliberative inquest exercising no jurisdiction over the suspected pope would merely ascertain the certain fact of heresy (which is not a matter of jurisdiction but of strict justice – the God-given right of the subjects to know when there is positive doubt, whether or not the pope is their legitimate superior, or a heretic, and therefore neither a pope nor their superior), the heresy and the loss of office would thereby be made manifest before any official judgment of the Church would be made. At this point, with the formerly occult but now manifest heretic falling from office by himself ipso facto by his formal heresy having been made manifest, he could then be judged (i.e. convicted) and punished by the Church, as Bellarmine explains. Hence, it cannot be maintained that according to Bellarmine, an occult heretic pope would have to be juridically convicted of the crime of heresy in order for him to fall from office; while a manifest heretic would fall automatically without any judgment of the Church, since in both cases, there would be no juridical deposition and no judgment of the Church before the fall from office, but the heretic pope would be “shown to be already judged”, and therefore, Bellarmine says he would need only to be “removed” as one who is already depositus, rather than “deposed” as would be a pope who is deponendus.
The reason why such a trial, or more accurately such an inquest can be conducted in the manner above described in such a case when there is prima facie evidence sufficient to establish probable cause of guilt of a suspected pope accused of occult heresy, or in the case of a papa dubius whose material heresy is publicly known, is firstly because the Church possesses by divine law the right to know, and therefore the right to judge whether or not a man is their visible head and supreme judge and legislator to whom they must be subject; and secondly, because in matters of faith, it is manifestly a divinely revealed truth of the universal magisterium that one is strictly bound to profess the faith without any mental reservation when the demand is reasonably made concerning the faith. Thus, without any jurisdiction over the pope, an inquest would have to be conducted by those who would have the jurisdiction to determine and judge if the see is vacant, and to juridically declare it to be so were it to become manifestly evident that the pope has defected from the faith and lost office ipso jure. That jurisdiction lies preeminently within the competence of the Cardinals of the Roman Church; i.e. within the competence of those members of the Sacred College who are themselves not suspected heretics or manifest heretics themselves; since it is a cardinal – the Cardinal Camerlengo who officially declares the see to be vacant when he pronounces officially that “the pope is truly dead”, and above all, because the responsibilities for detemining and dealing with the vacancy of the See of Rome and electing a new pontiff pertain particularly to the Cardinals of the Roman Church. It is for this reason, therefore, that Ballerini says in the first place it is the “cardinals”, and then the “Roman clergy”, or a “Roman synod” that would conduct the inquest; and this would be done first by means of warnings. Hence, the need for presenting the dubia, and then by a solemn and public correction (not the canonical admonitions of a superior). By this means, they would thereby determine whether the pope is innocent and still the legitimate pope occupying the chair (sede plena), or whether he has “hardened in his heresy”, and thus, “in some manner to have abdicated the Pontificate” (sede vacante). In this manner, they would not be exercising any power over a pope, but merely detrmining whether the papal cathedra is occupied or vacant; and in the event of the latter, they would declare it juridically. Hence, says Ballerini, “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”.
The manifestation of pertinacity in heresy can be manifested by explicitly affirming the heretical proposition after the correction, or by refusing to answer, either by silence or evasive, non responsive equivocations which amout silence. The rule of tacit admission is rooted in an ancient principle of law: “Silence gives consent.” In a 1967 article it is explained, “So runs an ancient maxim of common law, and from that maxim flows a widely applied legal principle: the rule of tacit admission. On the theory that an innocent man would loudly deny a serious charge, the rule holds that a suspect silent in the face of an accusation has tacitly admitted the crime. And such silence can later be introduced at his trial as an indicator of guilt.” In an article entitled, Admission by silence Law and Legal Definition, U.S. Legal explains, 《Admission by silence means the failure by a party, in whose presence, hearing, or observation of an act or declaration is made, to assert that such act or declaration is untrue. Admission by silence is based upon the principle that when the act or declaration is such as naturally to call for action or comment if not true, the party against whom such act or declaration is made must assert it as untrue if it is proper and possible for him/her to do so.
In order to take an admission as admission by silence it must appear:
(1)that the party heard and understood the act or declaration;
(2) that the party was at a liberty to make a denial of such act or declaration;
(3)that the act or declaration was in respect to some matter affecting the party's rights, to which s/he had interest, and which naturally calls for an answer;
(4)that the facts were within the party's knowledge; and
(5) that the inference to be drawn from the party's silence would be material to the issue.
In People v. Cihak, 169 Ill. App. 3d 606 (Ill. App. Ct. 1988), the court observed that “to qualify as an admission by silence or an implied admission, it is essential that the accused heard the incriminating statement and that it was made under circumstances which allowed an opportunity for the accused to reply, and where a man similarly situated would ordinarily have denied the accusation”. 》
Admission by Silence is also a principle of divine law. Which will be applied by the supreme Judge on the last day at the General Judgment:
“11 intravit autem rex ut videret discumbentes et vidit ibi hominem non vestitum veste nuptiali
12 et ait illi amice quomodo huc intrasti non habens vestem nuptialem at ille obmutuit”. (Matthaeus 22, 11-12)
Thus it can be seen that only as a purely abstract hypothesis, a secret heretic would automatically cease to be pope, having lost the necessary disposition to conserve within himself the form of the Pontificate; while as a practical hypothesis, if it were possible for a pope to become an occult heretic, he would necessarily retain the papal name and dignity until discovered and proven guilty of heresy. This last consideration sufficiently refutes Opinion No. 2 if the case of an occult heretic were to be considered hypothetically as a really possible. Both Bellarmine and I adhere to this position, which does not end in a contradiction, which, therefore, is not a contradiction in Bellarmine's thinking, (nor in my thinking as Salza & Siscoe mendaciously state), but this contradiction is inherent to the explication of the notion of an occult heretic pope, rendering logically impossible the major premise of Opinion No. 2; namely, that a pope can actually be an occult heretic. Furthermore, there is no logical contradiction in this position, as Siscoe claims (appealing to the principle of non-contradiction), because Siscoe forgets that the principle is only applicable to that which is contradicted simultaneously, in the same sense and in the same respect. Opinion No. 2 is false, because it is impossible for a secret heretic pope to lose office, but the contrary is also impossible, because it is impossible for the any formal heretic to be a valid pope; as Paul IV taught by strict implication in Cum ex apostolatus officio, and thereore did not even consider such a thing as worthy of mention in the document; and as Bellarmine, and finally, I have demonstrated theologically. The only logically possible solution to the dilemma of Opinion No. 2 is Opinion No.1, which categorically rejects the possibility that the pope can be a heretic, and thereby resolves the dilemma of the irreconcilable contradiction into which the premise of Opinion No. 2 leads. Opinion No. 1 is Bellarmine's and my own, as well as the fifth opinion considered as a hypothesis. Salza & Siscoe most stupidly claim that I hold to Opinion No. 2! They cannot be so stupid as that. Their argument in this matter, as in so many others, is a deliberate fraud.
Robert J. Siscoe: “Fr. Kramer cannot get around the fact that he simultaneously holds two contradictory positions, which is irrational, being contrary to the principle of non contradiction.”
Elsewhere I wrote: In my work on Faith, Heresy and Loss of Office, I have elaborated and commeted on the Five Opinions on the deposition of a heretic pope that emerged from the writings of theologians over the centuries. The doctrine I present is clear enough; but instead of presenting objectively its content and commenting honestly on it, Siscoe has again embarked on his habitual devious path of deception by means of distortion > misrepresentation > falsification; creating a grotesque caricature of my argument for the purpose of refuting the caricature of his own making. So a few words are in order to debunk the fraudulent reply he is preparing, and in which he says he will refute the contradiction which he says he will attribute to me.
Siscoe produces a selective partial quotation:
《Fr. Kramer: I also wrote, "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..."》
Then, […], he continues:
《I would also note that you just said a pope who is a secret heretic has not ceased "by his own judgment against himself to be Pope;" yet, you have also said, repeatedly, that a pope who is a secret heretic does automatically ceases to be pope, since he lacks the virtue of faith. No need to comment on how a pope who is a secret heretic does not cease to be pope, and how, at the same time, he does ...》
By means of selectively producing truncated segments of my words and dishonestly commenting on them, Siscoe attempts to deceive his readers into thinking that it is my position that is contradictory: that a secret heretic would both cease and not cease to be pope. Siscoe craftily spins this absurdity, and then attributes it to me. Fraud is clearly what he is best at!
As I said before, it is not my position, but is the absurd conclusion that Opinion No. 2 logically leads to. According to that opinion (No. 2), a heretic pope would cease automatically to be pope upon falling into heresy, because he would cease (according to the holders of that opinion) to be a member of the Church. However, Bellarmine explains that by external union only, the secret heretic pope would still be a member of the Church, and therefore, the basis of Opinion No. 2 is a false premise that Bellarmine easily refutes; ergo: The heretic pope would not cease to be pope according to the argument advanced by the theologians holding to Opinion No. 2.
However, there is an additional problem with Opinion No 2: As I explained, Bellarmine teaches that faith is the necesssry disposition to preserve the form of the Pontificate in the person of the pope. So in reality, according to Bellarmine (i.e. according to the explicit doctrine set forth in his writings, which I quoted in his original Latin), the pope would, HYPOTHETICALLY cease to be pope if he were to become a formal heretic; but, (he says), it is impossible for the pope to become a formal heretic, given the fact that Christ Our Lord prayed that the Pontiff's faith not fail.
Pastor Æternus teaches explicitly that the Lord's prayer was for the Roman Pontiff, that his faith may not fail. His faith does not fail if he errs in ignorance and falls into material heresy, because his faith remains operative in his soul, and that faith which cannot be extinguished in the Roman Pontiff is the necessary disposition to conserve the form of the pontificate in the person of the pope so that he may infallibly profess the faith and confirm his brethren. However, even if by some absurd miracle a faithless heretic pope were to only externally profess the faith infallibly, while not assenting to it interiorly; that would not change the fact that his faith would have actually failed; and therefore, Christ’s prayer that the Pontiff’s faith not fail would have been superfluous; serving no purpose, since, the pope would be able to exercise the charism by some other means than by the grace of unfailing faith. But it was precisely in order that the pontiff may confirm the faith of of the whole Church that Christ prayed that his faith not fail. Pastor Æternus applies this teaching as a premise to its definition of Papal Infallibility. It does not apply it to the question of whether or not the pope can personally become a heretic, because; as Gasser explained, it was the intention of the Council only to define the point of the infallibility of the pope's definitions, and NOT to define on the question of whether or not the pope could become a heretic. So, although the Council did not define on this latter point, it follows by strict logical implication, that since the Council taught that the efficacious prayer of Christ to His Father that Peter's faith not fail was also for Peter's successors, like Peter, THEIR FAITH CANNOT FAIL, and THEREFORE, they cannot fail in their faith and fall into formal heresy. Since this point was not defined, it is not de fide, but since it is strictly implied by the Council's teaching, it is proxima fidei. The Salza/Siscoe belief that a pope can become a formal heretic is, therefore, proximate to heresy.
Having already been demonstrated to be in heresy on two points, Siscoe becomes indignant about his opinion on the question at hand to be classified as haeresi proxima; so he attempts to refute the charge by first resorting to a red herring argument: “This argument is a perfect example of what one finds constantly in Sedevacantist writings: private interpretation of doctrine (backed up by nothing), followed by accusations of heresy (or ‘proximate to heresy’) for contradicting what they think the doctrine means.” First of all, I am not aware of such an argument being found in any sedevacantist writings, (which I do not ordinarily read); but that is a matter of no importance. If some sedevacantists do argue the point in this manner, that fact would not prove the opinion wrong, but would merely illustrate the fact that some sedevacantists are more competent in theology than Robert Siscoe. Siscoe resorts to the same tactic further on, when he says, “Fr. Kramer gives us his private interpretation of what ‘the unfailing faith of Peter’ means, which, coincidentally, is the same private interpretation as a certain Sedevacantist apologist”. Siscoe then lies (as I will prove), saying, I did not “provided a single authoritative source to back up” what he dismissively refers to as my “private interpretation”. (I quoted Bellarmine and Lang.) His obvious motive, as will be seen, is to falsely make it appear that my opinion is merely a gratuitously stated assertion. The truculent Siscoe then says, “I’ll break down Fr. Kramer’s argument, leading to his false accusation, one step at a time.” What he means by “break down” is that he will ‘spin’ my argument by means of his habitual and chronic distortions in order to twist my meaning into something else that he can refute. The paragraph he quotes consists of only twelve lines of straightforward exposition which is easily understood as is, so it is hardly in need of being ‘broken down’ in order to be understood. Siscoe continues, “He then admits that Vatican I did not define whether or not a Pope could lose his personal faith – i.e., become a formal heretic. That is also correct. What this proves is that the Council did not define ‘the unfailing faith of Peter’ as meaning a pope cannot lose his personal faith.” Our “learned” commentator is becoming repetitive at this point, since he just quoted the passage in which I say precisely that the Council did not define this point, but he repeats exactly the same thing, namely, that what it proves is that the Council did no define this point! Where is all this obfuscation leading? Right here: “Finally, based on the unproven assumption of what the phrase means, Fr. Kramer claims that because Vatican I taught that the efficacious prayer of Christ to His Father (that Peter’s faith fail not) applies by extension to Peter's successors, ‘it follows by strict logical implication’ that a Pope ‘cannot … fall into formal heresy’.” Siscoe’s convoluted verbal peregrination finally approaches the dubious point he fecklessly intends to demonstrate: “what Fr. Kramer did not mention is that Bishop Gasser, who was charged with providing to the council Fathers the official interpretation of the document, referred to the opinion that a Pope could not lose the faith (i.e., Bellarmine’s Opinion #1) as an ‘extreme opinion’.” He continues, “But this would have made no sense if the opinion (that a Pope cannot fall into formal heresy) really ‘followed by a strict logical implication’ from what the council taught, as Kramer gratuitously claims.” (Since when is basing my position on the argument of a Doctor of the Church a “gratuitous claim”?) Now this is what Siscoe is getting at: “Rather than being an extreme opinion, it would have been qualified as theologically certain. And this is precisely why Fr. Kramer said denying it was proximate to heresy. What this obviously shows is that Bishop Gasser did not believe that ‘the unfailing faith of Peter’ meant that a Pope could not become a formal heretic. To the contrary, Bishop Gasser and the council Fathers recognized that a Pope could fall into formal heresy without compromising Christ’s promise of infallibility, which was not only the common opinion at the time of Bellarmine, but also during the First Vatican Council, as indicated by the fact that Gasser referred to the contrary opinion as ‘extreme’.” This passage is replete with non sequiturs and false premises: 1) it assumes that an “extreme” opinion is uncertain or even improbable; 2) it does not show “that Bishop Gasser did not believe that ‘the unfailing faith of Peter’ meant that a Pope could not become a formal heretic”, but it merely shows that Bishop Gasser intended to make it clear that the Council did not intend to define on this point; 3) nor does it show that “the council Fathers recognized that a Pope could fall into formal heresy without compromising Christ’s promise of infallibility, which was not only the common opinion at the time of Bellarmine, but also during the First Vatican Council, as indicated by the fact that Gasser referred to the contrary opinion as ‘extreme’” – but it does show again only that the Council fathers did not intend to teach on this point of doctrine.
Siscoe’s error is rooted in his fundamentalistic understanding of the term “extreme” (and his uncritically rigid fundamentalist understanding of theological notes) which construes the meaning of the term to exclude the possibility that the extreme opinion could also be theologically certain, or nearly theologically certain. However, the certitude of a theological opinion does not depend on whether or not it is said to be “extreme”, but on its directly hinging on a revealed truth. Furthermore, to be haeresi proxima, a proposition need not be opposed to a doctrine that is theologically certain, but it suffices that it would be “proximate to heresy when its opposition to a revealed and defined dogma is not certain, or chiefly when the truth it contradicts, though commonly accepted as revealed, has yet never been the object of a definition (proxima fidei)” Opinion No. 1 is founded on the words of Chist Himself who prayed that the Pontiff’s faith not fail. Pope Innocent III and St. Robert Bellarmine based their teaching that the pope cannot become a heretic on the foundation of that scripture passage. Since Vatican I taught on the basis of that passage that the grace is given to the pope that his faith cannot fail precisely so that he may be able to define infallibly; the First Opinion, namely, that the pope cannot fall into formal heresy, has become “commonly taught as the most probable”, as Don Curzio attests. Fr Gleize states (in his above cited article) on the question, “Can a pope fall into heresy?”: “In fact, the negative answer to this question is the common opinion of theologians of the modern era.” This sufficiently establishes the doctrine of the First Opinion as proximate to faith, and its denial as haeresi proxima. However, in order to deceive their readers into believing that their contrary opinion represents the mind of the Church, and seduce them into thinking the opposite opinion is the common opinion, Salza & Siscoe falsely state on page 191 of their screed: “It is the common opinion among theologians that a Pope can fall into personal heresy (internally), and even public and notorious heresy (externally).” Salza & Siscoe then attempt to convince their readers that they sin if they disagree with what they falsely claim is common opinion. On page 274, they declare: “departing from the ‘common opinion’ of the theologians is, at minimum, an act of imprudence and possibly a mortal sin.” This is absurd. If that were true, then St. Thomas Aquinas would have sinned against prudence for believing against the unanimous opinion, that the rational soul is the substantial form of the human body. It was St. Thomas’ opinion that was later infallibly defined to be the true belief. Unfortunately, the deception doesn’t stop there – they go on to make the false and very misleading statement: “Cartechini explains that opinions held in common by all theologians are theologically certain, the denial of which constitutes, usually, a mortal sin of temerity.” Fr. Sisto Cartechini said no such thing. This matter will be dealt with in its proper place in this work; in Part V on Salza’s and Siscoe’s Fraud and Sophistry. It will suffice to point out here the distinction between the notes of commune, and commune et certum; and to be considered a mortal sin of temerity, it would not suffice that the denied opinion be merely a common opinion of theologians but would have to be common and certain. The doctrine denied would have to be common and certain, and thus, certain, either in the strict sense of theologically certain, which would be, as the New Catholic Encyclopedia explains, “a certain theological conclusion from one premise that is revealed and from another that is not revealed but is naturally certain” (which would strictly require an internal assent); or less certain, such as Catholic Doctrine: “whatever the supreme magisterium wishes to teach expressly, without proposing it for belief, such as the chief ideas of encyclicals, propositions contrary to those that have been condemned, what is contained in the chapters of general councils without being certainly defined or what is easily deduced from these chapters, doctrinal decrees of the Roman pontiff or of Roman congregations if these have been approved and confirmed by the pope”. These latter require a religious assent, but since these pronouncements are not infallible, it is commonly taught that the obligation for assent is not absolute; so that the assent may be suspended when there is sufficient positive doubt about the truth of such a doctrine. Hence, the Salza/Siscoe proposition, “that opinions held in common by all theologians are theologically certain, the denial of which constitutes, usually, a mortal sin of temerity” is plainly false, and is contrary to Catholic Moral Theology.
To say that an opinion is “extreme” means only that the opinion stands at one extreme of the spectrum of opinions, such as Opinion No. 2 and Opinion No. 3. Accoring to the second, even a secret heretic pope would automatically lose office for heresy, and the third stands at the opposite extreme, holding that even a manifest heretic pope does not lose office and cannot be deposed. In the middle, between the two extremes were the fourth and fifth opinions. Similarly, the three opinions on the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary had at one extreme, the Protestant belief that the Blessed Virgin was conceived in sin like everyone else, and at the other extreme, that She was conceived from the first instant of Her Conception utterly Immaculate and without ever having any stain of sin whatsoever on Her soul. The middle position was held by the Thomist opinion, according to which She was immediately cleansed from original sin at the first instant of Her Conception. It was not the moderate opinion, i.e. the Thomist opinion occupying the middle that was solemnly defined as a dogma of faith, but the extreme opinion of the Scotists that was dogmatically defined. Thus, it is absolutely a non sequitur to say, as Siscoe does, that Gasser’s charachterization of the first opinion as “extreme” demonstrates that, “Bishop Gasser and the council Fathers recognized that a Pope could fall into formal heresy”. Bellarmine himself admitted that in his day, his opinion on this point was against the common opinion, yet he says it is “probable” and “easily defended”, but is not entirely certain. Likewise, he explained that the doctrine of papal infallibility was the opinio communissima among all Catholics, but the contrary opinion, namely, that the pope can be a heretic and teach heresy, if he defines without a general council, which was the opinion of Pope Adrian VI; was at that time, according to the Holy Doctor, not properly heretical, because the Church still tolerated it, but, he explained, it “appears to be entirely erroneous and proximate to heresy.” Using the same criteria as the Doctor of the Church in judging Adrian VI’s opinion to be proximate to heresy, I similarly conclude, as I explained above, that Siscoe’s opinion on the point at issue, is proximate to heresy.
The teaching of Vatican I, therefore, vindicates and underscores Bellarmines argument that the pope cannot become a formal heretic. I have provided the systematic philosophical and theological basis of Bellarmine teahing on this point in Part III of my work, which Siscoe blindly attacks as "disastrous". First, as I pointed out, Siscoe misrepresented Gasser on the Vatican Council's teaching. Siscoe also objected, most stupidly claiming that my quotations of St. Thomas, have "nothing to do" with the question. I explaind that since virtues are of the nature of habit and disposition, it is necessary to understand the rôle of dispositve habits in the operation of the powers of the soul, in order to understand why Bellarmine says that faith is the NECESSARY DISPOSITION FOR PRESERVING THE FORM OF THE PONTIFICATE IN THE PERSON OF THE POPE. Siscoe then blindly objects that those passages of St. Thomas have nothing to do with infallibility, and that I quoted them in Latin in order to hide this from the readers and thereby deceive them. It is painfully evident, that Siscoe & Salza are incapable of understanding theological arguments that have a philosophical basis; and thus cannot grasp the connection between St. Thomas' teaching on the operation of the powers of the soul, and Bellarmine's doctrine that faith is the necessary disposition for a man to have the form of the Pontificate preserved in his person. I even bolded the key phrases to make clear the logical nexus between the general doctrine of St Thomas on the operations of the soul and the rôle of dispositions, and its particular application to the point of Bellarmine on faith as a necessary disposition for the operation of the charism of Infallibility. What I have explained is precisely why faith is the necessary disposition; and I explained exactly why Bellarmine, before Vatican I, could not qualify his opinion on this point as "certain", but only "probable". All of this was simply impenetrable to the obtuse fundamentalist minds of Salza & Siscoe. Predictably, Siscoe attempts to entirely distort my theologically clear and systematic argumentation; and attack it with distorted objections based on deceptively fallacious interpretations of Church teaching, as I have amply demonstrated. (Siscoe's treatment of the doctrine of minor quolibet catholico is also a prime example of the fundamentalist's incapacity to grasp a synthetic application of a principle, but more on that later)
Siscoe says, "I'll respond with one final e-mail later next week and bring this to a close." We've heard this before from Salza & Siscoe, but they eventually rant on an on, demonstrating their own theological ineptitude. Indeed, he will, "bring this to a close", but in a manner that he is too blind to even suspect. I will make short shrift of his response.
On my explication of Bellarmines doctrine of faith as a necessary disposition to preserve the form of the pontificate in the person of the pope, Siscoe then repeats his hysterical objection, “You then cite a quotation from St. Thomas that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand, and you cite it in Latin (when it would have been just as easy to quote it in English), thereby preventing the average lay reader, whom you are deceiving, from realizing it.” Apparently Siscoe is incapable of understanding how the philosophical doctrine on the operation of the powers of the soul in general is validly applied as the basis of the particular operation of the power of the soul in the case of exercising the charism of Infallibility. There is a logical nexus, but he is too obtuse to grasp it. Siscoe then replies, “I understand it perfectly and it has absolutely nothing to do with infallibility, since there is no ‘logical nexus’ between the power and act of the soul and the ‘exercise of the charism of infallibility’. You would know this if you thought of the basic distinction that I keep alluding to, but which I am not going to tell you now. You can find it addressed in our book and in the writings of traditional theologians.”
Siscoe refuses to grasp that virtues are dispositive habits that are necessary for the performance of certain operations of the soul. It is precisely that since in the exercise of the powers of the soul, dispositions are required for the performance of certain operations, virtues are required as dispositve habits in order to perform virtuous actions. If faith were not required as a necessary disposition for the pontiff to infallibly profess the faith and thereby confirm the faith of his brethren, then Christ would not have prayed that Peter’s faith not fail, since faith would not be needed for Peter to perform that operation; but it was precisely in order that Peter be disposed to infallibly profess the faith, that Christ prayed that his faith not fail. Siscoe then declares that I did not provide “a single authoritative source to back up” my argument, (which he dismisses as merely my “private interpretation”) and that I “just assume that ‘the unfailing faith of Peter’ means that a pope cannot lose the virtue of faith”. No single authoritative source to back up my "private interpretation" of what the unfailing faith of Peter means? I do not provide "a single authoritative source"? Siscoe is lying: 1) I quoted Bellarmine - “Therein it is gathered correctly that the Pope by his own nature can fall into heresy, but not when we posit the singular assistance of God which Christ asked for him by his prayer." 2) I quoted Lang: 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 granted to the Apostle, but was a singular grace given to Peter to enable him to fulfill his official duty of exercising the chasrism to infallibly and thereby 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, the unfailing faith of the Pontiff is a dispositive habit which pertains essentially to the Petrine office in order that he be equiped to confirm the faith of the Church by means of the exercise of the charism of Infallibility.
So, what is this esoteric “basic distinction” that Siscoe only alludes to but refuses to reveal, which supposedly proves that there is no logical connection between the doctrine on the operation of the powers of the soul and the exercise of a particular power of the soul, to wit, the power to infallibly profess the faith? Siscoe does provide an answer: «What, then does “the unfailing Faith of Peter” mean? I could cite multiple authorities (from before and after Vatican I) who explain the meaning of the phrase, but I will limit myself to the explanation of John of St. Thomas […]:
The authority of the papacy is not founded upon the personal faith of any individual, inasmuch as any one person can express it according to his own understanding; rather, it is founded upon the common faith of the whole Church. The fact that the Pope cannot fail in this faith means that, even if he were personally a heretic, yet insofar as he teaches ex cathedra he cannot teach anything contrary to the faith. It is in this faith, therefore—which is the faith of the papacy, and not of the person, and which was the faith of Peter and his confession—in this alone the papacy is founded, and not in the personal faith even of the very person of the Pope. »
Papal infallibility indeed is not founded on the personal faith of an individual man, but on the supernatural power given to the pope so that he can profess the faith infallibly; but the exercise of that supernatural power requires an unfailing faith as its necessary dispositive habit. On the basis of a defective medieval doctrine of infallibility, John of St. Thomas bases his theory of the infallible authority of the pope on the infallibility of the common faith of the whole Church. From this, Siscoe concludes, “As we see, “the unfailing faith of Peter” means that a Pope cannot err when he defines a doctrine, ex cathedra”. What nonsense: The unfailing faith of Peter means that his faith cannot fail, and because his faith cannot fail, he is able to confirm the faith of the Church by defining doctrine infallibly. Papal Infallibility is not "founded upon the common faith of the whole Church" so that "It is in this faith, therefore—which is the faith of the papacy, and not of the person, and which was the faith of Peter and his confession—in this alone the papacy is founded, and not in the personal faith even of the very person of the Pope." If that were so, there would be no need for the pope to have any faith at all to teach infallibly – he could do it even if his faith were to totally fail. In that case then, it would not be the pope who confirms the faith of the Church, but it would be the faith of the whole Church which would confirm only in a purely external manner, the failing faith of the pope, and prevent him from defining false dogmas. Peter would not be confirming the faith of his brethren, but the brethren would be confirming Peter’s external profession of faith. And if that were so, then it would be the common faith of the whole Church which would confirm the common faith of the whole Church (a patent absurdity); and there would be no need for Peter's faith not to fail for the faith of the Church to be confirmed, since the faith of the whole Church would confirm Peter’s merely external profession faith, and would not depend in any manner on Peter's faith not failing. But Peter's profession of faith was not the product of the common faith of the Church, but was his profession, and that profession of the divinity of Christ and His divine Sonship was the result of the revelation made to Peter directly and personally by the Father: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven."
Faith would be utterly unnecessary for a Pontiff to profess the faith infallibly in such a manner as would a faithless pope exercising the charism of Infallibility by speaking like the ass of Balaam; and therefore the grace of unfailing faith, which was promised by Christ to the Pontiff precisely for the purpose of enabling him to confirm the faith of his brethren, would have been given by Christ to serve no purpose, and would be utterly superfluous if the confirmator fratrum could exercise the charism of Infallibility with no faith at all; but since Christ gave to Peter and his successors the gift of unfailing faith precisely for the purpose of confirming the faith of the brethren, faith is seen, therefore, to be the absolutely necessary disposition for the exercise of the charism of Infallibility, and hence, pertains essentially to the form of the Supreme Pontificate, and is therefore the necessary disposition for the form of the Pontificate to be conserved in the person of the Pontiff, and remain united to him. I have explained this point at length, quoting authoritative sources. The virtue of faith is the necessary disposition for the exercise of the charism of Infallibility, and for that reason, Christ prayed that the Pontiff's faith not fail: «Nam Pontifex non solum non debet, nec potest haeresim praedicare, sed etiam debet veritatem semper docere, & sine dubio id faciet, cum Dominus illi jusserit confirmare fratres suos, & propterea addiderit, Rogavi pro te, ut non deficiat fides tua, idest, ut saltem non deficiat in throno tuo praedicatio verae Fidei: at quomodo, quaeso, confirmabit fratres in Fide, & veram Fidem semper praedicabit Pontifex haereticus? Potest quidem Deus ex corde haeretico extorquere verae Fidei confessionem, sicut verba posuit quondam in ore asinae Balaam: at violentum erit, & non secundum morem providentiae Dei suaviter disponentis omnia. » (S. Robertus Bellarminus)
The last response I got from Siscoe:
《A traditional priest and author, who is probably the best theologian I know, refuted Fr. Kramer’s central argument in a private e-mail to me. I sent him my own refutation of Fr Kramer’s error to review. He responded by agreeing entirely with everything I wrote, and then added another refutation of his own that I had not thought of. 》And to anotherperson he wrote:
《A traditional priest and author, who is probably the best theologian I know, refuted Fr. Kramer’s central argument in a private e-mail to me.》
Siscoe says that an anonymous priest refuted my "central argument"! Who is this anonymous priest, and where is the direct refutation of my "central argument"? What, according to this anonymous priest, is alleged to be my "central argument"? If he really believed that he has the refutation of my “central argument”, then why does he guard it like a state secret? Robert Siscoe, says "a traditional priest" (anonymous), "refuted" what he claims to be my "central argument" – but Siscoe does not say what (according to him) is my "central argument" (!) So, the anonymous priest also allegedly "agrees" with Siscoe's unstated "refutation" of my unspecified "central argument"; and all this clownery which says absolutely nothing proves that my unspecified "central argument" is an error!
Siscoe, has said nothing -- yet he expects people to believe on blind faith that his unstated argument refutes my unspecified "central argument". Siscoe is plainly hysterical. What I have written on the Five Opinions is in agreement with the unanimous consensus of expert scholars. Salza & Siscoe have Interpreted Opinion No. 5 according to their crudely simplistic interpretation of Bellarmine’s reutation of Opinion No. 2 and Opinion No. 3. They simply have not understood Bellarmine’s refutation of those opinions, nor have they understood Opinion No. 5 or Bellarmine’s presentation on it, which they confuse with Opinion No. 4. Opinion No. 5 is valid in its practical application to the hypothetical case of a manifest heretic pope. Opinion No. 2 has no valid application. As a hypothesis, it its validity exists only in the realm of the purely abstract.
Bellarmine presents the Third Opinion as the opposite extreme (to the extreme opinion that not only a manifest heretic pope would lose office by the very act of manifest heresy [Opinion No. 5], but even an internal heretic would lose office and could be judged [Opinion No. 2]); according to which, “The third opinion is on another extreme, that the Pope is not and cannot be deposed either by secret or manifest heresy.” (“Papam neque per haeresim occultam, neque per manifestam, esse depositum aut deponi posse”.) I have explained in the previous section that Bellarmine rejects this opinion not on the basis of a pope being able to be judged and deposed by the Church for heresy (Opinion No. 4), but to be judged as having fallen from office by himself and therefore to simply “be deposed” (esse depositum) by his own actions, and thus not to be deposed, i.e. deponendus by the Church (deponi posse), but per se to have fallen from office (Opinion No. 5).
The basis for Bellarmine’s opinion which refutes Opinion No. 3, is set forth in his refutation of Opinion No. 4, and in his explication of the Fifth Opinion: that a manifest heretic ceases to be pope, because he ceases to be a member of the Church by the very act of manifest heresy, which is an act of manifest defection from the Catholic faith, which, by its very nature and thus intrinsic to the act of heresy, severs a member from the body of the Church, and as a direct consequence of that defection, results automatically in the ipso facto loss of office. Bellarmine cites the unanimous teaching of the Fathers in support of his position, and particularly St. Jerome, saying “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”. Ballerini follows Bellarmine on this point exactly, and quotes St. Jerome verbatim: «Perspicua hac in re est S. Hieronimi ratio in laudata Pauli verba, Propterea a semetipso dicitur esse damnatus, quia fornicator, adulter, homicida, et cetera vitia per sacerdotes ex Ecclesia propelluntur: haeretici autem in semetipsis sententiam ferunt, suo arbitrio de Ecclesia recedentes: quae recessio propriae conscientiae videtur esse damnatio. » Both Bellarmine and Ballerini were certainly aware that their position on this point was firmly supported by the teaching of St. Pius V 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.” Therefore, Bellarmine declares: “this is indeed very certain. A non-Christian cannot in any way be Pope, as Cajetan affirms in the same book , and the reason is because he cannot be the head of that which he is not a member, and he is not a member of the Church who is not a Christian. But a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as St. Cyprian and many other Fathers clearly teach . Therefore, a manifest heretic cannot be Pope.” Thus, according to Bellarmine, if a pope were to fall into manifest heresy, by the very nature of his act of defection, he would by himself (per se), sever himself from the body of the Church and bring about his immediate fall from office, which Ballerini describes as an act of abdication (ipso facto sua voluntate primatu & pontificatu exauctoratus). This opinion was summed up by Gregory XVI, who wrote (on the case of Pedro de Luna), “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.”
In his own words Bellarmine explains, “The foundation of this [fifth] opinion is that a manifest heretic, is in no way a member of the Church; that is, neither in spirit nor in body, or by internal union nor external.” A heretic pope would cease to be pope, because by the very act of defection from the faith, he would cease to be a member of the Church; and this is so because heresy, in its nature is an act of defection from the faith, which suapte natura and not by authority of the Church, severs the heretic from the body of the Church. On this solid doctrinal foundation Bellarmine concludes: “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.” And, “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.” And further, “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.”
Bellarmine is clear and explicit on this general point: that the separation from the body of the Church, as well as loss of office and all jurisdiction, are effected by the very act of heresy, ex natura haeresis, and are not by the authority of the Church as a penalty for an ecclesiastical delict. This sententia is de fide regarding the separation from the Church, in virtue of the unanimity of the Fathers, the teaching of the universal magisterium set forth in the Roman Catechism, and the teaching of Pius XII in Mystici Corporis; and is de fide regarding the loss of office and jurisdiction, because of the unanimity of the Fathers on this point which Bellarmine amply demonstrates (in his refutation of Opinion No. 4), which, therefore, qualifies it as a doctrine pertaining to the universal and ordinary magisterium. Thus, it is not a question of law, but of settled magisterial doctrine that heretics and schismatics are separated from the Church by their own actions, apart from any ecclesiastical law; and the consequent loss of office and jurisdiction is not the result of any penal sanction or any judgment pronounced by the Church, but is the direct effect of the defection from the Church which, apart from any human law, ex natura haeresis or ex natura schismatis, takes place as a direct result of tacit renunciation of office.
The Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Century exponents of Opinion No. 4, (which holds that a manifest heretic pope must either be deposed by the Church, or at least declared deposed by the Church before the loss of office takes place), can perhaps be excused for having held this errant legalistic opinion, but there is no longer any excusing circumstance to justify adherence to it now. The doctrine of Bellarmine and Ballerini on this point was advocated by Pope Gregory XVI, and adopted by the First Vatican Council; and was then formally incorporated into the 1917 Code of Canon Law as the doctrinal basis for Canon 188 §4, and in the 1983 (Canon 194 §2). Since the loss of office and jurisdiction takes place not as a penalty for the ecclesiastical crime of heresy, but is the intrinsic consequence of the manifest sin of formal heresy (which also happens to be a canonical delict) ex natura haeresis, apart from any human law, there can be no exception for a pope.
Clearly, the mind of the Church on the question of loss of office for defection from the faith into heresy has been magisterially expressed as a tacit renunciation from office, which brings about the automatic removal from office ex natura haeresis, as Bellarmine taught. Loss of office is not a divine punishment for the canonical delict of heresy resulting from a declarative sentence by Church authority; nor is it a penal deprivation of office which would have to be pronounced as an official judgment of Church authority by a tribunal exercising jurisdiction, and pronouncing a judicial sentence on a reigning Pontiff; but as a loss of office that takes place ipso facto by the act of heresy per se, and which is then enforced by a declaratory sentence so that the loss of office can be officially recognized, the heretic removed, and the vacancy filled. “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.”
The distinction made by Bellarmine and Ballerini between a manifestly heretical pope to be judged as having fallen from office by himself and therefore to simply “be deposed” (esse depositum) by his own actions (Opinion No. 5), as opposed to one who is to be tried and deposed (deponendus), i.e. deprived of office either by a juridical pronouncement, or merely ipso facto deposed upon a juridical declaration, as a punishment for a penal canonical delict of heresy (Opinion No. 4), has either been studiously ignored by Salza and Siscoe, or else they have simply been obliviously unaware of it staring them in the face in Book II Chapter XXX of De Romano Pontifice. Whether their oversight is due to deliberate sophistry or oblivious incompetence, in either case, they have interpreted St. Robert Bellarmine’s rejection of Opinion No. 3 to be an endorsement of the opinion that the Church has the authority to judge a reigning pontiff for heresy, and ministerially bring about his deposition from office (Opinion No. 4). In view of all that has been stated above, the heterodoxy of that opinion is patent.
The unanimous opinion of modern theologians since the First Vatican Council is that a manifest heretic pope is not deponendus, but depositus. If the pope were to say, "There is no Blessed Trinity; God is not Triune"; that is manifest formal heresy. He would clearly not be pope, or even a member of the Church, regardless of whether or not he had ever been a valid pope; but certainly in either case, he would not be a valid pope if he were to profess a heresy so manifest as this. Clearly then, such a pope would be a manifest heretic who therefore, by his manifest heresy, would have severed himself from the body of the Church, ceased to be pope and a member of the Church; and therefore, having cast himself outside of the Church, he would no longer be capable of holding office inside the Church. He would therefore lose rank, and, as a consequence thereof, would thus become minor quolibet catholico, and would then be able to be judged and punished by the Church, as Bellarmine explains.
But what if he were to profess a new heresy not yet condemned – something clearly against a doctrine of divine faith that has not yet been defined, or a doctrine not immediately and directly opposed to a definition, but opposed to Catholic Doctrine and the unanimous opinion of theologians on the proper meaning of a defined dogma? If his heresy would be against a manifest dogma of divine faith as it is and has been unanimously, universally, and perpetually professed and understood by Catholics; then, as was in the case of Arius, he could be licitly rejected by Catholics and shunned as an infidel even on a point that had not yet been solemnly defined. However, if it is not patent that he rejects defined dogma or a manifest dogma universally professed as a doctrine of divine faith, such as if he were to profess a doctrine opposed to Catholic Doctrine and the unanimous opinion of theologians, or opposed to the meaning of a defined dogma as it is more commonly understood by theologians, he would not be a formal heretic in the strict sense of one who rejects a manifest dogma professed by the whole Church; and therefore, there would seem to be a canonical dilemma regarding his removal – either he is in heresy or they are in heresy, and only divine providence would be able to definitively settle the matter. A council would certainly lack jurisdiction to judge in such a case, so its judgment would be tamquam non existens. The pope, for so long as he remains certainly a valid pope, who has not professed material heresy, would retain his jurisdiction and his power to judge infallibly. But if a pope were to profess material heresy, aided and abetted by a cowardly hierarchy that refuses to fraternally admonish and correct him, then in such an eventuality, he would become a papa dubius, a “doubtful pope”, and the harm to souls and the damage to the Church resulting from the situation would be a direct consequence of the negligence of the upper hierarchy of the Church, and not the private judgment of the abandoned faithful, who would be left to fend for themselves only with their own conscience to judge.
If the pope were to merely oppose the common opinion of theologians, he would be able to settle the question by means of an ex cathedra definition, in the manner that Alexander III defined against the common opinion on the question of the human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church interprets the meaning of its own dogmatic pronouncements; and the pope is the supreme judge. If the theologians say he is in heresy, he can judge that they are in heresy. If a council judges him to be in heresy, and pertinacious; he can judge that they are in heresy – and he can define ex cathedra that his opinion is dogma. Therefore, there is no way that a pope who is not a manifest heretic can be judged. If the pope could be judged by his inferiors, then he is not the supreme judge. If they judge him a heretic, he, as the supreme judge, can overturn their judgment and define the contrary, and declare them heretics, since he is infallibly defined to be the final judge of appeal in all cases. If the final authority does not rest in the pope, then there can be no final judgment of a supreme judge; because a council is defined to be subordinate to the authority of the pope. Hence, it is manifest that the opinion that one who is certainly the pope can be judged in matters of doctrine, is false and heretical.
If the judgment of the Church is required to determine that the pope is a heretic, then only he possesses the final jurisdiction to define what the judgment of the Church is on whether or not the proposition he professes is heretical. Therefore, it is patent, as St. Robert Bellarmine says (repeating the dictum of Pope St. Gregory VII): "The pope cannot be judged".
If the self-appointed council fathers declare the pope to be in heresy, he can infallibly define that they are in heresy; or he can infallibly judge that they are right; and retract his heresy. But for so long as he is pope, he is the final and infallible judge in doctrine; so there exists no tribunal on earth that can judge the pope. There exists a supreme and final judge in matters of faith and morals, who is infallible in his ex cathedra judgments in these matters – the Roman Pontiff. If a ‘council’ declares the pope to be a heretic, but the pope solemnly defines his doctrine to be de fide credenda, then his judgment is infallible, and theirs is heresy. Thus it is patent that no one may judge the pope juridically; but only if he manifestly and indisputably defects from the faith of the Church into manifest heresy, he can be shown to be already judged, i.e. as one who has already fallen from the pontificate.