St. Robert Bellermine's Teaching Gives Gallican "Kick the Can Down the Road to the Next Catholic Pope" A Kick in the Backside. History Shows that Popes Cannot Infallibly Judge the Legitimacy of Other Popes.
CHRIS FERRARA RESPONDS TO ANN BARNHARDT ON BENEDICT’S ABDICATION: “THAT IS A MATTER FOR THE CHURCH TO DECIDE”
Dr. Chojnowski: To show you that we need to use our own God-given intelligence and judgment to understand and decide on our situation as Catholics in this present crisis of the Catholic Church, we give here a quote from St. Robert Bellermine's De Controversiis: On the Roman Pontiffs, to show that the Doctor of the Papacy clearly states that the popes have not been infallible when judging the legitimacy of a predecessor's reign. The typical Gallican "out" for the apostasy we see all around us is to say, "Some authority will figure it out in the future and then we will know what was happening in our own time." As St. Robert shows, when trying to judge the legitimacy of their predecessor's "reigns," they have gotten it wrong. Conclusion: If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, if it walks like a duck IT IS A DUCK.
Here is the text of St. Robert Bellermine, with thanks to Ryan Grant:
"The 27th pope is Stephen VI, who can be joined with the 28th pope accused of error, Sergius III. It is certain from Platina and others, that Stephen invalidated the acts of Pope Formosus, his predecessor, and commanded those ordained by him to be ordained again. Hence he thought that the Sacrament depended upon the virtues of the minister, which is a manifest error in faith. For that reason, Pope John IX, afterward invalidated the acts of Stephen VI and approved the acts of Formosus, and hence also of John, and approved the acts of Stephen. Necessarily, one of these popes was opposed to the others and erred, as the Centuriators diligently observed.
I [St. Robert Bellermine] respond: Stephen VI an Sergius III erred in a question of fact, not of law, and gave a bad example, not false doctrine. This is the history. Formosus, the Cardinal Bishop of Portus, was deposed by Pope John VIII, and demoted and returned to the lay state, after which he swore that he would never return to the city, or the Episcopate. A little after the death of John VII, his successor, Martin II absolved Formosus of his careless oath, and restored him to his original dignity [i.e., the episcopate]. Not long after that, Formosus was created pope. He lived for five years and died.
Stephen VI succeeded him who, being enkindled with great hatred against Formosus...decreed publicly in a Council of Bishops that Formosus was never a legitimate pope and therefore, all his acts were invalid. He compelled all those who had received orders from him to be ordained again, just as if the had received nothing. This deed displeased everyone, and therefore three popes in succession, Roman I, Theodore II, and especially John IX, after calling another Episcopal Council, judged that Formosus was a true pope and invalidated the sentence of Stephen VI. Next Sergius II succeeded him and imitated Stephen VI in all things.
The particular question was whether Formosus was a legitimate pope. We do not deny that in such questions popes can err, and Stephen and Sergius erred in fact." (St. Robert Bellermine, De Controversiis: On the Roman Pontiff, trans. Ryan Grant. Mediatrix Press, 2016, p. 527.)
Dr. Chojnowski: So if you expected someone in the distant future to clear this current ecclesiastical situation up for you, think again!