A manifestly heretic pope and the deception of an adulterated sources:
The story begins at Avrille with the Dominicans’ publication: “A little Catechism on Sedevacantism”. The First edition of this ‘little catechism’ appeared in Le Sel de la Terra in 2001, and although many years passed since then, the arguments given in this publication formed the mindset of SSPX faithful, giving the majority of them the stable peace of mind towards the position of their Society of being with the pope while opposing him in teaching and discipline. The author of the Catechism on sedevacantism, Fr. Boulet seems to be giving a detailed investigation of all the possible arguments for and against sedevacantism. In fact, it is functioning as a stone wall against every even slight thought wondering in the area of sedevacantism. It was probably supposed to immune the people bonded with SSPX against sedevacantism, and of course to keep the immunisation valid, the text or fragments of it were propagated in various other articles, bulletins, until the key paragraphs were deeply infused into their reason and consciences.
Questions and answers used in the fashion of a catechism are to convince those who are in doubt about the “pope issue”, that a pope, although a manifest heretic, is still a pope of the Catholic Church. Most of the readers of Boulet’s Catechism… would be convinced of the presented view, because, by invoking the great theologians, he appeared to refer to Church teaching. The names of theologians served to build up irrefutable authority of the exposition of Boulet’s own opinions, of course he expressed the position of SSPX.
The simple and honest trust in Boulet’s work can be observed in the many internet forums and blog-posts, where the Catechism on sedevacantism is faithfully cited and its sentences are circulating, esteemed, and seen as nearly infallible(1). Faithfuls started to use the Boulet’s thesis themselves in their private and public debates, somehow knowing that whoever wouldn’t accept the given sentences as the tray full of wisdom, is their enemy.
The authority, which Boulet created out of the names of the true defenders of the Church teaching, to some extent, have shown its value even for the authors who clearly saw the deception of the Boulet’s writing. Polemics didn’t much touch the (supposedly) given theological references in the Catechism; the polemics were focused rather on arguing the anti-sedevacantist thesis of Rev. Boulet. Here, I mean such polemics as Fr. Ricosta (2), John Lane (3), or Steven Speray (4).
Let it be mentioned that the Dominicans’ ” Catechism” has been published on nearly all SSPX’s websites and translated into several languages. The following, revised publication appeared on 2004 (5), but there were frequent reprints, especially when a conclave was taking place. The anti-sedevacantism approach of the Dominican writing was accepted even by the new wave of “recognise and resisters”- the so-called Resistance – a movement organised by Frs. Pfeiffer, Hewko and Chazal. We can see a stable bridge between the Dominicans’ Catechism and Fr. Chazal’s Long live Emperor Nullaparte (published in main Resistance press The Recusant (6)), as Fr. Chazal referred to and copied the Dominican theologian’s references.
We will now turn to the Rev. Boulet’s text. A more detailed examination of it will be given later. For now, before even looking at the thesis of the Dominican Catechism, we will look more closely at the given proofs and references.
If the proofs are certain, we would have to follow (examine) the rhetoric and its conclusions. In his work Fr. Boulet seeks to support his anti-sedevacantism dash by referring to the well known theologians: St. Bellarmine, Billuart and Garrigou-Lagrange.
According to Fr. Boulet, these theologians promote the opinion that a manifestly heretical pope can still be a pope of the Church.
I would like the readers to examine with me the way in which Fr. Boulet “appointed” and pointed out these three theologians as guarantors of the SSPX ‘s idea of public heretics validly reigning over the Church.
(1) For example, http://decemrationis.yuku.com/topic/64/Father-GL-on-a-heretic-as-pope#.WArSj-grKM9 , http://www.fisheaters.com/forums/index.php?topic=2197126.0 – This approach is widely presented.
there were also other versions, with the same arguments and the same scheme of argumentation, but written (re-written) by different authors, for example: http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/currenterrors/sede.htm
1. Why the additional word “formal” was added to Saint Robert Bellarmine’s Argument?
In his Catechism, Rev. Boulet referred to St. Robert Bellarmine:
“St. Robert Bellarmine says that a pope who would formally and manifestly became a heretic would lose the pontificate.”(1)
In De Controversis: Concerning the Roman Pontiff we can find St. R. Bellarmine’s conclusion, pertaining to a heretic pope:
“[T]he true opinion is that a Pope who is a manifest heretic, ceases in himself to be Pope and head, just as he ceases in himself to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church.”(2)
“[T]hat a manifest heretic would be ipso facto deposed, is proven from authority and reason.”(3)
Additionally, in the Chapter Whether a Heretical Pope Can be Deposed, St. Bellarmine proved against the opinion “that the Pope is not and cannot be deposed either by (his) secret or manifest heresy”, and he concluded that “it would be the most miserable condition of the Church, if she should be compelled to recognise a wolf, manifestly prowling, for a shepherd.”(4) – this context should be especially fateful in relation to the SSPX theory of recognising a heretic as a shepherd.
Surprisingly, Fr. Boulet didn’t touch this ground of St. Bellarmine’s lecture, didn’t mentioned and investigate it at all.
Boulet’s near-quote from the Saint is “enriched”, in comparison to the original. In Boulet’s text to St. Bellarmine’s “manifest heretic”, an additional condition is added – “formal”, it says about “formal and manifest heretic”. It changes nothing, we can say, but then we would start to think. It is obvious that St. Bellarmine in his statement didn’t mean a material heretic, based on invincible ignorance. Anyway, manifestation of a heresy in case of a heretic would be the sufficient condition for St. Bellarmine to recognise a heretic as the heretic. He didn’t set down any more condition, like an internal degree of awareness, nor an internal reason of the manifest heretic – “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, and condemn him as a heretic.”(5) External act, as something visible and manifest, is sufficient for us to judge a heretic. Contrary to that, SSPX publication, while using the opinion of St. Bellarmine in the affirmative, stated:
“But if John Paul II (It would be Francis today) often enough makes heretical affirmations or statements that lead to heresy, it cannot easily be shown that he is aware of rejecting any dogma of the Church. And as long as there is no sure proof, then it is more prudent to refrain from judging.”
Seemingly “A little Catechism of the Sedevacantism” is making its point basing on the authority of St. Robert Bellarmine, in fact the opinion of the Saint is only falsely used in need of an high authority to proof own position. By adding the word “formal”, the SSPX author wanted to deprive us of the right certitude of our external judgement, which should be “pure and simple”.
(1) We can find out that Rev. Boulet referred to De Controversis: Concerning the Roman Pontiff, Book II, Chapter XXX (The Last Argument is Answered Wherein the Argument is Taken up, Whether a Heretical Pope Can be Deposed).
(2) St. R. Bellarmine, De Controversis On the Roman Pontiff, translated from the Latin by R. Grant, Mediatrix Press, 2015, page 309
(3) op.cit., page 305
(4) op.cit., page 305, underlined added
(5) St. R. Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, lib, IV, c. 9, no. 15
2. The “quote” taken out of the hat. Charles-Rene Billuart’s Argument.
Readers of the “A little Catechism…” are confronted with the question:
“If a Catholic were convinced that John Paul II (Francis) is a formal, manifest heretic, should he then conclude that he is no longer a pope?”
To answer this, and to oppose St. Bellarmine teaching that we should judge a heretic by his external acts, another theologian was needed, Fr. Charles-Rene Billuart. Here we have the most astounding opinion:
“According to the more common opinion, Christ, by a particular providence, for the common good and the tranquility of the Church, continues to give jurisdiction to an even manifestly heretical pontiff until such time as he be declared a manifest heretic by the Church.”
The footnote at the above sentence is directing us to Billuart, De Fide (Diss.V, A.III,No.3,obj.2).
Although this sentence is given without quotation marks, in later publications it will have such. It would be significant, if the quotation was true. Let’s open “De Fide”, to check the source of the quotation carefully: Dissertatio V (De Vittis Fidei Oppositis), Articulus III (De Apostasia):
Qui ab Ordine Sacro fine legitima dispensatione retrocedit ad statum Seacularem, est apostata & peccat mortaliter; quia deserit statum cui per Ecclesiam erat solemniter mancipatus, quem deserere vetant plures Canones, poenis impositis contra transgressores.(1)
In English translation it is:
One who leaves Holy Orders without a legitimate dispensation [in order] to return to a secular state, is an apostate and sins mortally; because to quit the religious state, in which one was solemnly enrolled by the Church, is forbidden by several Canons, which impose penalties against transgressors.
The relevance of the sentence from “A little Catechism…” to the source given in the footnote is null. As it was already said, this “quotation” of Billuart, which is false and fabricated, has been spread wide and far. We might even suppose that every SSPX district printed it in its own bulletin and since 2001 nobody dared to check the comparability of the “quoted” sentence with the given source! We can assume that this infamous sentence is just a summary (a precise one, at that) of the SSPX attitude regarding post Vatican II Council heretical popes. Let’s look at it again: “[C]hrist, by a particular providence, for the common good and the tranquility of the Church, continues to give jurisdiction to even manifestly heretical pontiff” – this is utterly unheard and opposite to the Church teaching. How astonishing that it was “cited” as Billuart’s work! SSPX theologians must have been desperate to have the “quotation” to support themselves and to give us confirmation of their own philosophy.
Isn’t it a blasphemy to say that “Christ continues to give jurisdiction of His Church to a manifestly heretical pontiff”? Would Christ “by a particular providence” put His Church in the hands of the destroyer and betray His Mystical Body? Would He change His Mystical Body into a Harlot?
We must not doubt that Fr. Boulet’s idea – and all the other apologetics of this idea that a manifest heretic is still, by God’s providence, a pope – would turn the Truth into deception and the way of salvation into damnation. Would those who despise have jurisdiction and power over these who gather with Christ – would dammed be chosen to govern (in the sense of the the authority of teaching, codifying the moral law and the way of worshiping God) over the just and faithful?
This manipulation of the minds of the faithful by Fr. Boulet himself and SSPX as a publisher of his work is an abuse, deception and a scandal. Rev. Boulet clothed his own (That of SSPX) statement into authority of Billuart.
(1) Compare: http://reader.digitale-sammlungen.de/en/fs1/object/display/bsb10397664_00069.html , page 68-69
3. Omission of the word – “secret” – and its (diabolical) consequences. Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s Argument.
Apart from the false Billuart reference, another authority was also employed to support the position of SSPX. The author of “A little Catechisme…” supported his opinions on “De Verbo Incarnato” by Fr. R. Garrigou-Lagrange and wrote:
“The Dominican Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, basing his reasoning on Billuart, explains in his treatise “De Verbo Incarnato” (p.232) that an heretical pope, while no longer a member of the Church, can still be Her head.”
Although only the page (p.232) from “De Verbo Incarnato” was given, it is obvious that we were directed to the Chapter X, Christ Grace as Head of the Church, of Fr. Lagrange work. In the Third Article of this chapter, when expounding the dogmatic definition of the Church (Denz.no. 430) as a “congregation of the faithful”, Fr. Lagrange continued: “ The Church is defined as ‘the congregation of faithful”, inasmuch as faith is the foundation and beginning of the supernatural life.”. He wrote the obvious conclusion that “the baptized formal heretic is not an actual member of the Church”. The last argument on this point – disputing that a baptismal character isn’t enough for a membership of the Church – was that “otherwise Christ would be the head of the baptized who are damned.”(page 319)
In that way he came up to his “St. Robert Bellarmine’s objection”, who taught that secret heretics are external members of the Church, and – while saying “external members”, St. Bellarmine still included them into members of the Church. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange opposed this, stating the conclusion that “occult (secret) heretics are only apparent members of the Church”.
What Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange defined is the headship of Christ, as participation in Grace. He considered the internal permanent bond with Christ constituted by Faith. That is why he excluded secret heretics from the Church, although he admitted that “they externally and visibly profess the Church as to be the true Church”. Nevertheless, overcoming this difficulty he said:
“This condition is quite abnormal (…), namely, that the pope becoming secretly a heretic would no longer be an actual member of the Church (…), but would still retain his jurisdiction by which he would influence the Church in ruling it. Thus he would still be nominally the head of the Church, which he would still rule as head, though he would no longer be a member of Christ, the invisible and primary head.”(319)
Anyway, Fr. Lagrange couldn’t avoid including the secret heretics into visible union of the Church – “The Church will always consist in the visible union of its members with its visible head (…), although some, who externally seem to be members of the Church, may be private heretics.”
Concluding at this point, we can summarise that Fr. Lagrange:
- defined the membership of the Church as, depended on the faith, permanent union (perfect or imperfect union) with Christ;
- opposing St. Bellarmine, excluded secret heretics from the membership of the Church;
- referring to the possibility of a Pope being a secret heretic, stated that “the pope is constituted a member of the Church by his personal faith, which he can lose, and his headship of the visible Church by jurisdiction and power is compatible with private heresy.”;
- defined the visible union in which the Church consist, including secret heretics.
Contradiction, which he comprehended – non-members, but participants into visible union – lead him into the doubt-feeding point(1), which was later on misused by Boulet. This is the point, which the author of “A little Catechism…” (unlawfully) used: he took the part of this contradiction – non-member – out of its context. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange spoke of non-members of the Church being sustained in visible unity of the Church only in relation to secret heretics, who are “apparent members of the Church, which they externally and visibly profess to be the true Church”. We can repeat to stress this substantial condition again: secret heretics are heretics in their hearts or thoughts only, but by their words and actions they profess the Church. In the other words, we wouldn’t be able to notice any difference between the actual and apparent member of the Church. If we could see the difference, in words or actions, the heresy would be manifest, not secret any more.
In the text of “A little Catechism…” an omission of the adjective “private” (secret) as an attribute of the heretic has been made. Additionally the text imputes that the given version is taken from the teaching of this well- known and respected theologian. The author didn’t enclose the change in Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange “quote”and substituted those who externally and visibly profess the true Church by those who act and speak in manifestly heretical way.
We might say that the “little” omission has caused the big mess- up of Church teaching.
(1) Probably assuming that jurisdiction and power are not “personal” (as the faith is), but that jurisdiction and power are delegated (by Christ) and – as long as externally are wielded in accordance of the profession of the Church – are compatible with a secret heresy.
SSPX and the Resistance position on the heretical pope being still a pope isn’t supported by any of pre-Vatican II teaching. Fr. Boulet made the long lasting manipulation pointing the highly respected theologian’s works on the account to show the orthodox roots of the idea of a destroyer being a true shepherd. “A little Catechism of the Sedevacantism” served as an incantation of the mind of the people of SSPX and of its branches.
The reality is that the common good and the tranquility of the Church requires the preservation of the main purpose of the Church, the faithfulness to God.