"But They are Material Heretics!" Theological Stun Gun: Are Material Heretics IN the Catholic Church Anyways? No, They Are Not. Lest the Church become one of heretics and not of believers! Read the Theological Proof Here.

Are you shut down every time that you insist upon adherence to the Catholic Faith as being a necessary condition for being a member of the Catholic Church? Does intelligent discussion of who is in and who is outside the Church get shut down be the "stun gun" of the cry "ONLY MATERIAL HERESY"? What exactly is "material heresy" and is it still the public heresy that separates you from the Catholic Church? Or is the "Material Heresy" card a "Get out of Defection" free card? Since I don't want to make up my own answer to this question, I will post here answers to those questions as has been sent to me by a friend.

I will embolden the parts of these articles which directly refute some commonly held theological misconceptions. Big Ones!

Here are the passages:

Dogmatic Theology
volume II
Christ’s Church
Msgr. G. Van Noort

Chapter II
The Members of the Church
Scholion 1. Who are not members of the Church?

“The following classes of men are definitely not members of the Church
  1. The non baptized;  (b) public heretics;*  (c) public schismatics; total excommunicates.

  • A heretic is one who denies a truth of divine and Catholic faith: i.e.k, a truth which has been revealed by God and proposed by the Church for our belief.  Heretics are classified as “public” or “occult,” “formal” or “material”A public (notorious) heretic is one whose heresy is known to a large number of people, even if he has not formally joined the ranks of a heretical church; an occult heretic is one whose errors in faith are either totally unknown, or known only to a few.  A formal heretic is one who stubbornly and guiltily adheres to heresy; a material heretic is one who innocently and in good faith subscribes to some heretical doctrine. [ 152 pg. 239]

b. Public heretics (and a fortiori, apostates) are not members of the Church.  They are not members of the Church because they separate themselves from the unity of Catholic faith and from the external profession of that faith.  Obviously, therefore, they lack one of the three factors—baptism, profession of the same faith, union with the hierarchy—pointed out by Pius XII as requisite for membership in the Church…The same pontiff has explicitly pointed out that unlike other sins, heresy, schism, and apostasy automatically sever a man from the Church….By the term public heretics at this point we mean all who externally deny a truth (for example Mary’s Divine Maternity), or several truths of divine and Catholic faith, regardless of whether the one denying does so ignorantly and innocently (a merely material heretic), or willfully and guiltily (a formal heretic).  [153, pg. 241]

The Church of Christ
An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise
E. Sylvester Berry, STD

Chapter VI
Members of the Church

Article III.  Persons Excluded From Membership

  1. Manifest Heretics and Schismatics [pg. 128]
A heretic is usually defined as a Christian, i.e. a baptized person, who holds a doctrine contrary to revealed truth; but this definition is inaccurate, since it would make heretics of the large portion of the faithful…A person who submits to the authority of the Church and wishes to accept all her teachings, is not a heretic, even if he professes heretical doctrines through ignorance of what the Church really teaches; he implicitly accepts the true doctrine in his general intention to accept all that the Church teaches…

Excluded from Membership.  Manifest heretics…are excluded from membership in the Church….So far as exclusion from the Church is concerned, it matters not whether the heresy or schism is formal or material.

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
Dr. Ludwig Ott

Chapter 5
The Necessity of the Church

[Section 19] Membership of the Church

3. Inference
b) Open apostates and heretics.  Public heretics, even those who err in good faith (material heretics), do not belong to the body of the Church, that is to the legal commonwealth of the Church….[pg. 311]

The American Ecclesiastical Review
Vol. CXII. No. 4             April, 1945

Theological Evaluation of the Congar-White Theory

Despite the manifest learning and ability of some of the writers who teach that material heretics are members of the Church, the consensus of Scholastic theology is definitely opposed to this position….the great theologian, Emil Dorsch, writes that “you can take it as certain that these manifest material heretics do not belong to the Catholic Churchthe famous Fr. Van Noort holds that public heretics, whether in good faith or in bad faith, are not members of the Church.  The Jesuit, Jean Vincent Bainvel, teaches that manifest heretics and schismatics, even those who are only materially such, are outside the true Church…The same teaching is found in the manuals of Brunsman-Preuss and Cardinal Louis Billot.  The distinguished American theologian, Dr. E. Sylvester Berry, states explicitly that manifest heretics are not members of the Church.  This holds true whether their heresy is formal or only material. [pg. 300: Msgr. Fenton cites the manuals and page numbers from which each theologian is quoted.]

Here again is the citation from Paster Aeturnus that clearly shows that Pope Pius IX is stating "infallibly" the consequences of disobeying a Pope in the proper discharge of his duty to govern the Church.  

Chapter 3 of Pastor Aeturnus states the following:  
“Hence we teach and declare that by the appointment of our Lord the Roman Church possesses a sovereignty of ordinary power over all other Churches, and that this power of jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff, which is truly episcopal, is immediate; to which all, of what¬soever rite and dignity, are bound, by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters which belong to faith and morals, but also in those that appertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world; so that the Church of Christ may be one flock under one supreme pastor, through the preservation of unity, both of communion and of profession of the same faith, with the Roman pontiff. This is the teaching of Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and salvation.

Pretty clear, no?


  1. Anyone who believes Bergoglio is an isolated heretic that sort of dropped out of the sky must disabuse himself of this false notion. Evidence for the continuity of post Vatican 2 neo modernism can be found in their writings. Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Ratzinger. a work that does not include a single reference to Aquinas. If you can't get through the whole modernist work at least read "Two Major Questions posed by the Articles on the Spirit and the Church'. Question 1, The Holy Catholic Church wherein the author argues the Church is not Holy. All the anti church, and openly pro Lutheran "theology" of Bergoglio is right here in what must be a favorite mentor, Ratzinger. Reading this is like reading Bergoglio. No question they are connected in their anti Catholic views. 6 months ago I considered Ratzinger to be that crafted image of the moderately conservative/traditional catholic prelate. He was and is not. He and Bergoglio are one, Ratzinger just being a far more subtle poison of neo Modernism.

  2. "Pretty clear, no?"

    Depends... why don't the majority of Catholics obey the 1600s Papacies who used their full authority to suppress Galileo and Copernicus and via canonical trials formally defined and declared Galileo and Copernicus' propositions as being FORMALLY HERETICAL?

    The Science certainly backs up the Church, Popes and Holy Inquisitors.

    But for a long time now the vast majority of the world rejects this Church teaching, coming from Scripture and the Infallible Consensus of the Fathers.

    And this is largely through no fault of their own. Have we then to say that these material heretics are all outside the Church, including Popes as far back as the 1800s?

    Let us recall that the Miracle of Fatima has a Sun dancing in the sky against a fixed Earth, in line with the teachings of the 1600-1700 Popes and the Holy Inquisition who condemned Galileo as a heretic for holding what he did. And if Fatima came to warn us about a bad council and a bad mass, then how peculiar that Benedict XVI noted that Vatican II was convened over the Galileo affair where the Church then needed to get right with the modern world.

    So this whole Pope or not thing is not "pretty clear", though I'll give Francis credit for going out of his way to make it as clear as possible that he is in fact an obstinate manifest heretic. So if there's a chance of seeing with our own eyes a guy who'll cease to be Pope by virtue of ceasing to be Catholic, it's this one. Though that begs the question as to whether Francis was ever Pope at all... and that Benedict XVI's abdication was somehow erroneous and therefore void.


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