You have heard that it’s been said that on February 14, 2022, Pope Francis let us know about his latest motu proprio, Fidem servare, by which he divided up a bit more incisively the “Holy Office” into a section, effectively, for the old Promoter of Justice crowd and another section for the old Doctrine of the Faith crowd, and that this quite complete break (though under one Prefect) weakens the punch of executive action from the doctrinal section. I’m not so sure about that. Not at all. I think it’s the other way around.
There already was a division along these lines, more or less. But now, those who are faithful are wide open to being condemned as heretics and excommunicated without much oversight. The doctrinal crowd are supposed to follow the old Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine, which fully encourages the declaration of excommunications which cannot be appealed. From my point of view, this gives the heretics more power to do damage to the faithful of the Lord’s Little Flock. I ask, from my perspective as a nothing-priest in the smallest parish of North America in the most remote area of Appalachia:
Why is it these days that believing in any and all the Catholic Creeds of old – the Apostles Creed (usually recited before the Holy Rosary), the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (often recited at Holy Mass) and the Athanasian Creed (usually recited, for instance, during exorcisms) – why is it, I ask, that believing in all the articles of Faith (Traditiones as the first dogmatic decree of the Fourth Session of the Trent called them) these days is bound to make one ♬ feel ♬ that one is oneself a heretic? Am I to ♬ feel ♬ guilty for what would, in any other time, be a basic prerequisite for being a priest, nothing special, just believing in the faith? Am I to ♬ feel ♬ guilty for upholding the integrity of the Sacraments? Am I to ♬ feel ♬ guilty for encouraging with joy and charity the following of the Commandments not as mere sometimes-suggestions but as Commandments which you do out of love of Jesus?
For me, as a priest just trying to do the right thing, this ♬ feeling ♬ of guilt comes about because so very many of my fellow priests and bishops are heretic apostates, and I, in my fallen human nature, ♬ feel ♬ left behind. I gotta tell you, that’s momentarily annoying, like for a nano-second, and is a ♬ feeling ♬ replaced instantaneously by the righteous aggression of an Elijah on Mount Carmel: If you think that the demon-idol Pachamama to whom human sacrifice is made is a demon-goddess who rules over all, then follow her; if you think that the Lord God is the one and only God, then follow Him. There is no middle ground: “Thou shalt not have strange gods before thee.”
We can multiply examples of blasphemy and heresy and apostacy and violent aggression. Should we bring up all the example of insulting Christ Jesus and His Immaculate Mother? Should we bring up the solicitation of sin in the encouragement of absolving people from sin that they don’t think is a sin and for which they are not repentant, “accompanying” them? Are we to be forced to be subject to abortion tainted “vaccines”? Are we to reject that the Sacrifice of Jesus has relevancy to the life of the parish? Etc.
Let me just speak to one example which goes to the very foundation of the Church, which to change is to reject the Church. These are just some random thoughts, incomplete, about infallibility, which are ever more necessary to express in these confusing, ambiguous times, not in any particular order:
- Infallibility is a negative expression. I’m not talking about ♬ negative vibes ♬ or ♬ negative feelings ♬. Infallibility refers to the inability to fail. That’s it.
- Now buckle your seatbelt: Infallibility does not refer to any positive inspiration or ♬ positive feelings ♬, even if much more abstractly, as if to some sort of historical movement of dialogue, in which, although plenty of mistakes are made, generally things go toward an evolutionary advancement, because, yeah, you know, like a perpetual dialogue of right and wrong but somehow right includes wrong and that’s somehow more right than just right or wrong because we’re all together in total contradiction to each other, but all together, you know, in Hegelian Rahnerianism… Right? Let’s continue. ;-)
- Infallibility only refers to Peter upon whose flesh and blood person the Church is founded by Christ Jesus.
- When Jorge Bergoglio says that everybody is infallible in believing, and says this in Latin (infallibile in credendo) as if he’s citing a maxim of the ancient Fathers of the Church, that’s actually his own heretical statement that was never ever used in the history of the Church until it came out of his own heretical mouth. Again, no one is infallible except Peter and his successors, and only when he is specifically teaching as (1) bishop of Rome, successor of Peter, (2) to the universal Church, (3) on a matter of faith and morals (especially controverted in whatever historical circumstances), and (4) pronounces that what he is saying is already revealed in Sacred Revelation (Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition), which Sacred Revelation has not been somehow more fully provided by God since the death of the last Apostle. Extremely few Popes have made an infallible pronouncement. Jorge Bergoglio has never done this.
- Popes can be personally heretical and even publicly manifest their personal heretical opinions. This is really bad and evil on their part, but it does not offend against infallibility. They are just being jerks. They cannot do this and fulfill all the conditions for an infallible pronouncement listed just above. Thus:
- A Pope cannot make an incorrect infallible statement. Many even saintly people said/say that a Pope can infallibly fail. Um… any saint who has said such a thing was not canonized for saying such a thing, but rather for their personal holiness. Thank God that also people who just don’t get it on some things can still be great saints that we all respect.
- People are simply too soft these days, and think Christ Jesus was a wimp, and couldn’t possibly have meant what He said, namely, in an actual translation of the inspired Greek which NO ONE wants to translate literally: Whatever you bind or loose on earth already perfectly continues to stand and will perfectly continue to stand that way for all eternity in heaven, since before the foundation of the world onward. In other words, mind you, the very person of Peter is expendable before the eternal unmanipulatable unchangeable Truth: before he can fail in an infallible pronouncement he will die, be incapacitated, be martyred, whatever. It simply will not come to pass, ever, that Peter or his successors will be able to fail in an infallible pronouncement.
- Just because a Pope is personally, manifestly, a total heretic, day and day out, to the scandal of the entire Church and the world, does not mean that he is no longer Pope. It matters not that he does this as Successor of Peter, bishop of Rome, on a matter of faith and morals and to the universal Church. It would be guaranteed that he has not pronounced his heresy as being also already that which is manifest in Sacred Revelation itself. It just cannot happen.
- It’s not a matter of “Oooh! The pope has failed in his infallibility and so ipso facto he is no longer Pope.” That is to say, by definition, that the pope is not infallible. That’s heresy. But so many hold that today, you know, just because of their unreasoned ♬ feelings ♬. I get that. Scandal makes us angry. Rightly so. But don’t let anger make you into a heretic. He just said something heretical, but not infallibly because he didn’t fulfill all the conditions for infallibility. Right? Yep. That’s exactly right. It’s really annoying, and scandalous, and odious to the salvation of souls, but non-infallible heretical opinions of whatever pope are not infallible. Get it?
- Just because any pope is personally, manifestly a heretic doesn’t mean that there is any legitimate mechanism by which to remove him, not a bunch of good-guy cardinals holding a meeting, not a trial by all the bishops of the world. Nope. That would be to say that everybody is infallible when the Pope is not. And that’s the very heresy for which such as Jorge Bergoglio would be removed by such a fake mechanism. Right? Don’t be so upset that you become cynical and become a heretic, being condemned to hell for that which you condemn. Irony. More on that below. But it’s a fact: people easily fall into the very heresy that they are combatting. Be careful. A lot of people are not careful. They give into their entitlement to ♬ negative feelings ♬, not because they are right – and they are right – because merely because they are entitled wusses and they gotta throw hissy fits. Dang. Be right, but don’t become what you condemn. Just be crucified with our Lord Jesus by Peter who denies you to your face. As the Master so the disciple. And if Paul should reprimand Peter because Peter thinks he is infallible in his non-infallible opinions about the faith (Galatians 2:11), know that Peter, although having stood condemned, converted and because a saint. Desire the conversion of the apostate heretic.
So, any objection?
- “But Father George! Father George! You give too much weight to Matthew 16! You should take a look at the verbatim passage in Matthew 18 which is like everyone is infallible! Pope Francis is right! And you’re a fraud, Father George!”
Calm down, calm down. Matthew 18 merely has it that everyone may know the faith as exactly as Peter may know the faith, or even better than Peter knows the faith. But it doesn’t say they are infallible or infallible in their believing. In fact, it speaks of their being fallible, fallen human beings that we are, so that when we’re wrong, we’re to bring that disagreement to Peter, who alone is infallible. Yep.
But what if:
- But what if Jorge published some statement of what he himself calls a mere dialogue (Amoris laetitia), isn’t that infallible and can’t we throw an entitled tantrum and say he’s not the Pope anymore? Well, you can, and many have, and will continue to do so, wearing themselves out as they pound sand and kick rocks, but that’s just being butt-hurt. Nothing more. It’s just some stupid dialogue. It’s scandalous. It hurts souls. It’s really bad and evil. But that’s it. It hasn’t offended against infallibility.
- Alright, alright, but what if Pope Francis actually makes an upcoming infallible statement with all the conditions above being met that the church is now different, a dialogue church, in which all truth and morality and liturgy are up for grabs according to historical circumstance where might makes right because everyone is infallible and it’s all about the tyranny of relativism by majority rule (or really the rule of the tyrannical dictator? So glad you asked: As said above, he will firstly die, or be incapacitated or martyred. Get it?
Here’s what I suggest to those who think any pope can change the truth: Get over yourselves with all your pope-worship or across-the-mountain-ism, however you want to define those terms, and just be Catholic? The Truth is not the mean between two poles. The Truth is living. God is Truth. Jesus said: “I am the Truth.” The Truth doesn’t have to dance around between two poles of right and left made up of out-of-control-gyroscopes so that the Truth has to move way to the left of what was the center or way to the right of what was center to keep – ooh! – exactly between those poles that are simply in reaction to one another in all historical vicissitudes. No. Instead:
- Crux stat dum volvitur orbis. [The Truth of the] Cross remains steadfast while the world spins madly.
And you know I’m going to say this: the only way people are not going to be cynical is by also praying for the conversion of heretics, and that includes the Pope.
By the way. There are heaps of really excellent arguments on both sides that Jorge Bergoglio is the Pope or is not the Pope. I wasn’t there. I don’t know. The Lord knows how to handle our prayers.
I do have some intense experience with the Sankt Gallen mafia, both in Rome (being dragged to the actual politicking session at the Irish College), and almost right to the campus of Sankt Gallen with one of the engineers of same), and being praised and defended by the highest powers that be of…. cough cough… giving a retreat to… gag… gag… but ending the career of… cough cough… I had better stop. What I know is that “Francis”, a close friend of many close friends, might well not be Pope. I don’t know. I wasn’t at particular sessions, certainly I was not present in the conclaves… although… dang… I gotta stop. My point in this post is just to clear up some matters on infallibility.
- “Dang it Father George! You can’t do that! What about if Jorge is not actually the Pope. That means in theory he could make a fallible infallible pronouncement, as it were, so to speak, right? He could check all the prerequisites you listed above and pronounce, say, on Easter Sunday, 2023, that we have an everyone-is-infallible different church, no longer founded on the person of Peter by the Son of the Living God, but on the notion that everyone is infallible, right, Father George, isn’t that right?!”
Yes, that’s true. But here’s my thought on that. Even though that wouldn’t offend against infallibility because, after all, he’s not actually the Pope in that scenario, I don’t think our Lord will block the angels from taking the imposter out on the spot, seconds before he does that. It’s just too scandalous, too confusing. Our Lord says the time will be shortened, otherwise not even one of the elect would be saved. Let that sink in for a moment. It would be just too much. The time will be shortened to the second before Jorge could do such a thing. I’m quite sure that will be dramatic, like another lightning bolt out of the heavens. :-) But we pray for conversion. Right? Come on… Hail Mary…
P.S. I was once told that I write this blog not to have more clarity in my own thinking (the primary reason of this blog), nor for any apostolate in helping others in the Church and in the world have greater clarity regarding the faith (though I attempt to take this as deadly seriously, however weakly, as Christ Jesus took us deadly seriously, laying down His life for us, Innocent for guilty, on the Cross)… No… I was told that I write this blog for the exclusive motivation of producing admiratio, the vice of drawing attention to oneself simply to draw attention to oneself, that my efforts have nothing to do with a priestly desire to brings souls to the Sacraments, to Jesus, with all the honesty and integrity that demands of all of us.
My answer to is to say that, of course, absolutely, I’m full of pride, and would go to hell for my pride, diabolical as my pride would be if not for the mercy and forgiveness of my dark and wretched soul by Mary Immaculate’s dear Divine Son, Jesus.
But, here’s the deal: I might stand out like a sore thumb because those who are supposed to teach the faith do not teach the faith, and they are terribly offended by my incredibly mediocre efforts. As inept as they are, my own little writings show them up, not because my writings are any good, but they don’t make any effort at all. It’s like on a scale of 1-100, I’ve gone from zero to one, but they’ve remained at zero. My tiny effort looks out of the ordinary because they make no effort at all. In any other time, everyone else would be high up the scale and I would terribly pitied for being so unlearned in the faith. But these are terribly dark times. Amazingly, my little candle flame seems to shine with the force of the sun. Those who should be doing more do not. And they are upset. They are stunned by the mere statement of truth.
Two literary bits to keep in mind:
“To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul.” [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]
And “The Donkey” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton:
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
I don’t ♬ feel ♬ guilty in the least for putting up a post like this. It’s my obligation as a priest. I don’t bring on malicious division because of this. No, this is a sword of holy division – even divisiveness – however much I’ve made it dull, the sword which Christ Jesus came to bring. I’m happy to wield this sword, no matter how awkwardly, no matter how ineptly. Simply put: I’m happy to be a priest, even if there are those who think I’m a heretic for believing the faith with the kindness of Galatians 2:11.