Part Two of Was Benedict XV an Antipope? (Chapters 19-36)
+ + + 19. Can It Be Orthodox? + + +
Notwithstanding, this particular accuser also impugns Benedict for the following words:
“... may the Blessed Virgin… take under her maternal care and protection Our own humble person, Our Pontificate, the Church, and the souls of all men, redeemed by the divine blood of her Son.” [Benedict XV in Ad beatissimi apostolorum, Paragraph 32, as given on 1 November 1914]
This again is almost precisely word-for-word how the accuser frames the quote, short of the bold emphasis & underlining of a phrase that he uses. Benedict the 15th scandalizes him by saying, after imploring the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary to take care of him, his papacy & the Church, that she also protect “…the souls of all men, redeemed by the divine blood of her Son.” Is this not, he implies, more universalist heresy?
My dear souls, it’s not how I would have liked him to say things. Given men’s kneejerk denial of the Salvation Dogma in modern times, then --- whether Benedict XV secretly held the heresy of universalism or not --- a statement such as his in the quote above is routinely interpreted to mean contradiction of the infallible principle, ‘no Salvation outside the Catholic Church’. All the same, we repeat the hard fact:
It doesn’t have to be interpreted heretically; it can be interpreted reasonably to comply with orthodoxy.
And so we return to the five simple points that we made earlier in regard to the first paragraph of his first encyclical in the initial half of this email. Accordingly:
1.) Before indicting Benedict XV with heresy, we must strive with a good will to ascertain that the copy we have of his words is a trustworthy copy.
2.) Before indicting Benedict XV with heresy, we must strive with a good will to ascertain that the translation we have of his words is an accurate translation.
3.) Presuming a trustworthy copy & accurate translation of what Benedict XV said, we must strive with a good will to discover a reasonable & orthodox meaning to his words.
4.) Assuming Benedict XV said something objectively heretical, we must strive with a good will to find out if it was held pertinaciously & whether he was charitably rebuked.
5.) Given that Benedict XV was pertinaciously heretical & charitably rebuked, we must strive with a good will to see if he renounced his heresy within a fair amount of time.
Points 1 & 2 would take some legwork. Point 3, which we demonstrated applied to Benedict the Fifteenth’s words in paragraph one of his first encyclical (especially since he is dead and no longer able to defend his reputation upon earth in person, requiring someone else to do it for him), applies here as well. To wit, everything hinges on interpreting “…the souls of all men, redeemed by the divine blood of her Son…” to mean that all men irregardless, whether Catholic or not, are actually redeemed --- and not just offered the opportunity, having the potential right now to be redeemed even if this chance is not seized by particular individual human beings --- and so enter Heaven at their deaths, despite not being members of the Catholic Church.
This is why the accuser thinks he can impugn Benedict XV for these words. Because he insists, due to his bias, on interpreting them the way I have explained above, assuming, out of his bias, this to be Benedict’s intent.
But wait --- what if Benedict’s words are better understood as “…the souls of all men… [who are] …redeemed by the divine blood of her Son…”? What if “all men” thus means not all souls whatsoever, but only all those souls who are actually redeemed, meaning only all those souls who are in the Church?
This actually makes a lot of sense. Because he lists four things for which he implores the Virgin Mary’s protection. First, himself personally. Then, secondly, the pontificate of his office, the papacy. Next, thirdly, the Church as a whole, which is the Body of Jesus. And, fourthly (and this is where the point is driven home), the individual souls that comprise the Body of this Church: “…and the souls of all men… [who are] …redeemed by the divine blood of her Son…”
In other words, the first two things in his list are paired together, both connected to him as the visible head of Jesus’ Body, the Church --- himself & his office. The last two things can pair together just as nicely, both linked to the visible body of Jesus on earth, the Church --- the Church & Her members.
Do you see?
There is no reason this can’t be the case, and we are duty bound before God Almighty to seek the best in a man and not the worst… particularly if we call ourselves Catholic. This is the more so when the man we examine is dead and cannot defend himself in real time before his opponents, who have no such limitation and can accuse him in real time all over the place with abandon.
Nor is it unlikely. To begin with, English grammar admits a lot of different variations and intents or interpretations. Were a man to be excessively precise (which is what we get in legal situations where the language required is so laborious as to be tedious beyond most persons’ enduring, and all so that misunderstandings do not occur), most people would fault him for being boring & unreadable. Moreover, Benedict XV composed what he wrote in Latin, not English. Hence, his Latin original might permit only one interpretation, whereas the English translation allows for at least two.
Which segues into a side note. For the translator may or may not be dependable. If dependable, he has much leeway and can freely translate into English in a variety of ways. Ways that may or may not always be as precise as the Latin can be. But if not dependable, then we have another possibility… the possibility that a modernist purposely translated as he did --- perhaps because his inclination is toward it, if not because he is consciously trying to sabotage the Church --- in order to uphold his modernist convictions.
+ + + 20. When Everyone Was Catholic --- Naïve Trust + + +
Which then leads us to a final remark concerning this juncture. Because those who call themselves Catholic nowadays, during the height of the Great Apostasy and in opposition to the false religion of the Novus Ordo Church of Vatican II, tend to see but one side of things. This is exceedingly true for those who claim to uphold ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ in its plain & orthodox sense, not allowing for loopholes all over the place. That is, metaphorically speaking, such persons have little antennae sticking out of their minds, geared to alert them at the slightest sign of modernist drivel. We are primed to suspect Salvation Heresy everywhere. And reasonably so since, to a great extent, Salvation Heresy prevails today everywhere in the world!
Yet this was not so just a few centuries ago. And in
The Catholicism of Europe may have been in its death throes by the
beginning of the twentieth century, lack of catechism and the growing disbelief
in dogmas filling men’s minds, yet the outward appearance of the
practice of Catholicism was still dominant & ubiquitous. Old
assumptions still prevailed, especially in countries relatively untouched by
Protestant heresy, such as
It’s kind of like a lifelong southerner in the
It’s in his blood.
So, too, the man baptized & raised Catholic in
Not that this fact all by itself will save his soul… although it may have tended to work for such a person’s repentance before he died, or, at least, at the moment of his death. But when confronted by this kind of Catholicity deep-rooted in the soil of people’s minds, souls, hearts & culture, it is therefore understandable why such persons, even if learned & prudent priests, even if of very good will, would, notwithstanding, say things in a way that to our ears, in the midst of the Great Apostasy fully erupted, sound careless & ambiguous.
Now, such ambiguous-sounding statements may be made by men who are
foul enemies of the
All this to say that Benedict the 15th’s words can easily be taken in an orthodox meaning, and even if we don’t think that seems very sensible nowadays. Because if Benedict XV was privately orthodox, he wouldn’t necessarily have thought his way of saying things was dangerous or ambiguous. Why should he, when he was raised in Italy where everyone was raised Catholic and the Religion of Rome permeated everything in spite of a century or two of Masonic skullduggery and the revolution of 1870 that took over the Papal Estates and the City of Rome?
But if an occult heretic, we still can’t twist his words here to hang him. Because we can’t read hearts omnisciently. We can logically infer what’s in a man’s heart by what he does & says, but if a man’s words will support a reasonable & orthodox interpretation, then we must give him the benefit of the doubt --- not pretending ourselves to be omniscient --- and go with the rational & orthodox sense. This is only just, and it is the essence of Catholic charity, i.e., the divine love of our brother in Christ.
We can logically infer what’s in a man’s heart by what he does & says, but if a man’s words will support a reasonable & orthodox interpretation, then we must give him the benefit of the doubt --- not pretending ourselves to be omniscient --- and go with the rational & orthodox sense.
End of sentence.
And so it makes a lot of sense to interpret Benedict the Fifteenth’s words about “…the souls of all men, redeemed by the divine blood of her Son…” to mean all those souls who are in the Catholic Church. That is to say, to understand him to be referring to all men who are redeemed, not to be saying that all men are redeemed.
It is fair & just to understand him to be referring to all men who are actually redeemed, not to be saying that all men are actually redeemed.
And who are those men that are redeemed, who actually seize the opportunity now available for all men to take advantage of?
Roman Catholics, of course, who constitute the Body & Church of Jesus Christ.
Which is why, then, the pairing of his last two of four things in his list --- paralleling the pairing of the first two things in his list --- makes perfect sense. Accordingly, himself & his office, the papacy (which are the first two things in the list), and then the Church & Her members, Roman Catholics (which are the second two things in his list). Because Roman Catholics constitute all souls who are redeemed by Christ, having a real hope of salvation. And did not Benedict XV uphold the Salvation Dogma by quoting article forty of the Athanasian Creed in this very encyclical, the first of his papacy?
Yes, he did. It might rub the accuser the wrong way to admit this, but you can’t justly indict a man with your prejudices. His quotation of the Athanasian Creed is a fair defense of his orthodoxy when it comes to the Salvation Dogma. However much we might not like the man or his papacy, we must permit him to defend himself and look at all sides of the case, including the side that defends him, and not just our side of things, the side that wants to condemn him.
+ + + 21. “…and who will have all men to be saved…” + + +
However, this accuser also quotes from another of Benedict’s encyclicals to impugn him:
“No other circumstance could be more opportune than this to induce Us to solicit for innocent children the charity and pity of Christians and of all who do not despair of the salvation of the human race.” [Benedict XV in Paterno iam diu, Paragraph 2, as given on 24 November 1919]
And here is where it starts to get painfully obvious, my dear souls, that the effort to convict Benedict XV of Salvation Heresy arises primarily from mere prejudice and not primarily from hard facts & irrefutable logic. Because how is not despairing “…of the salvation of the human race…” the same as saying that everyone in the human race is going to be saved, and whether or not they’re Catholic?
Think about it very carefully, putting your prejudices to the side completely. If you’re going to place yourself in the position of being Benedict the Fifteenth’s judge, claiming to be a Catholic during the Great Apostasy when no hierarchy functions to do this for us, then God requires of you that you be a just & reasonable judge, interpreting the evidence impartially without pretence of being omniscient and able to read men’s hearts directly like God Himself can do.
Ergo, you must admit all possible & rational interpretations of the evidence into your mind, not just the interpretation that impugns him, being the interpretation that you already want to believe irregardless of whether that interpretation is the correct one out of all interpretations reasonably possible.
The bottom line is the bottom line, my dear souls. Benedict XV in this quote does not say that he thinks all men are going to save their souls, or that all men are going to save their souls regardless of being Catholic.
Anything of that nature --- that all men will save their souls regardless of being Catholic --- is read into the text according to a man’s preconceived notions about Benedict XV, not because that’s what he actually said. And have we not previously established in this email from Sacred Scripture that it is God Himself “…who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth…” as well as that God “…delayeth not his promise [of final judgment], as some imagine, but dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance…”? (1 Timothy 2:4 & 2 Peter 3:9 DRC, all emphasis & annotation added)
Most certainly we have.
As a result, how can Benedict the 15th expressing a sentiment for the human race to be saved be heretical? Catholics are not to despair of the salvation of any human soul until after it dies plainly & publicly in the state of mortal sin, the deceased soul being either not Catholic at its death or else a bad Catholic at its death. Be this plain & public (the non-Catholicity of a soul being necessarily presumed unless its Catholicity was publicly professed prior to its death, and the bad-Catholicity of a soul being not necessarily presumed unless its mortal sin is known as a public fact and no evidence exists of contrition proper for such sin by the moment of death), then a Catholic can rightly conclude, with moral certainty provided the matter is adequately investigated, that a particular soul is tormented in Hell forevermore. Until then, all souls still living are potential converts to the dogmas & morality of the Roman Catholic Faith!
+ + + 22. Revived + + +
But this particular accuser goes on with another quote from Benedict XV:
“…to revive it once more in the minds of all... those who are undergoing distress of whatever kind, not to cast their eyes down to the earth in which we are as pilgrims, but to raise them to Heaven to which we are going: ‘For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.’” [Benedict XV in Ad beatissimi apostolorum, Paragraph 18, as given on 1 November 1914]
This is the quote precisely as the accuser gives it, with the exception of bold emphasis & underlining. However, once more it is useful to read the entire quote in context of the paragraph from it is drawn:
“Hence it is necessary, Venerable Brethren, to revive it [the supernatural teaching of charity, i.e., divine love] once more in the minds of all, for in no other way can individuals and nations attain to peace. Let us, then, bid those who are undergoing distress of whatever kind, not to cast their eyes down to the earth in which we are as pilgrims, but to raise them to Heaven to which we are going: ‘For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come’ [Hebrews 13:14] In the midst of the adversities whereby God tests their perseverance in His service, let them often think of the reward that is prepared for them if victorious in the trial: ‘For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.’ [2 Corinthians 4:17] We must strive by every possible means to revive amongst men faith in the supernatural truths, and at the same time the esteem, the desire and the hope of eternal goods. Your chief endeavours, Venerable Brethren, that of the Clergy, and of all good Catholics, in their various societies, should be to promote God’s glory and the true welfare of mankind. In proportion to the growth of this faith amongst men will be the decrease of that feverish striving after the empty goods of the world, and little by little, as brotherly love increases, social unrest and strife will cease.” [Benedict XV in Ad beatissimi apostolorum, Paragraph 18, as given on 1 November 1914, all emphasis & annotation added]
Again, my dear souls, it is very easy --- and even obvious how --- to interpret these words in an utterly reasonable & purely orthodox sense. To begin with, does Benedict XV anywhere say straight out that non-Catholic souls can enter Heaven?
Does Benedict the 15th anywhere in the paragraph quoted above say, straight out & plain, that non-Catholic souls can hope to go to Heaven in their false religion, or will certainly in their false religion enter Heaven at their deaths on earth?
The answer is pretty simple. No, he doesn’t!
To the contrary, he implies otherwise. Note the highlighting that I made to the full quote above. In the first sentence he states that the supernatural teaching of charity (to wit, divine love) must be revived in the minds of all, this being the only way nations & individuals can hope to have peace. Now, if revived, then he necessarily implies that it once was prevalent amongst these minds. Yet what supernatural teaching of charity was once held by the “minds of all”?
The Roman Catholic Faith. How so?
Either, one, Benedict was referring strictly to the setting of Europe, which was once essentially totally Catholic, or else, two, Benedict was referring broadly to the setting of the entire world, which had been, at that point, at least partially penetrated everywhere by the teachings of the Catholic Faith.
In my opinion, the first option is the more likely. Benedict XV, while bishop of the Church throughout the world as
pope, was nevertheless a man of
On the other hand, it could be that Benedict referred to the world as a whole. For, whilst the world had been at least partially penetrated by the Catholic Faith via the Church’s missions everywhere one looked, it is inarguably true that this Faith was everywhere challenged by modernism & growing disbelief despite this partial penetration of the whole world by the end of the 1800s. Consequently, this supernatural teaching needed to be revived everywhere in the world in the minds of all since, in spreading everywhere throughout the globe, every man had been influenced by the teachings of Catholicism even if not actually yet converted. That is to say, only parts of the people of various parts of the world had been converted to Catholicism, although these various parts amounted to the entire world. All the same, even those not yet converted, in those various parts of the world only partially converted, were still influenced strongly by the teachings of Catholicism.
Whatever the exact explanation, or a combination of the two, these interpretations are rational & orthodox --- and facilely so. We don’t have to bend into pretzels, or indulge warped logic, to make the step. What’s more, his terminology in the paragraph lends itself tidily to a doctrinally sound position. For he not only doesn’t say that anyone can enter Heaven regardless of religion, but makes it clear that the supernatural teaching of Catholicism must be revived in order for men to achieve real peace. Indeed, he goes so far as to say, in the boldly emphasized paragraph quoted above, “We must strive by every possible means to revive amongst men faith in the supernatural truths, and at the same time the esteem, the desire and the hope of eternal goods.”
What is this if not an utterly sensible & orthodox sentiment?
For to what “supernatural truths” is he referring as needing to be revived?
To the “supernatural truths” of the Roman Catholic Church, of course!
For what is he supposed to be?
A pope of the One & Only Catholic Church.
And to whom does he write in his encyclical?
To the other leaders of the Catholic Church throughout the world, as well as, by inference, to all Catholics everywhere.
Thus, to what “supernatural truths” could he be referring if not the “supernatural truths” of the Catholic Faith that he is supposed to oversee everywhere on earth?
To claim otherwise is to pretend to be able to know the contents of his secret mind, reading into the text what is not actually stated either at all or else plainly & clearly.
End of sentence.
And if this is still doubted, however irrationally so, then let us review his final sentence in the paragraph, which I also highlighted:
“In proportion to the growth of this faith amongst men will be the decrease of that feverish striving after the empty goods of the world, and little by little, as brotherly love increases, social unrest and strife will cease.”
This Faith is a particular Faith --- not an amorphous or indiscriminate one. And seeing as how he is supposed to be a pope, and that he’s writing to his flock, all of whom --- both he & they --- are supposed to belong to the Catholic Church, being Her visible members at that time, what Faith are we to reasonably suppose he refers to when talking about “this faith”?
Do you comprehend?
My dear souls, what Benedict XV stated in the final sentence of paragraph eighteen is sensible & pious. It is also true. For as the Catholic Faith increases in the world amongst men, so, too, will grappling after the wealth & pleasures of this world decrease. And, as those professing the Catholic Faith increase in the goodness of their practice of this Faith, so, as well, will brotherly love between Catholics increase, causing “social unrest and strife” to decrease and, eventually, if the trend continued, to “cease” altogether.
And is there any of you who would dare to say that this is not a laudable goal? Or that striving for & achieving this goal via the spread & increase of the Catholic Faith is not acceptable or pleasing to God in His Sight?
If any reader of this email answers ‘yes’ to these questions, then he is not a good Catholic… if Catholic at all.
+ + + 23. An Absurd Accusation + + +
But this particular accuser additionally lobs this quote against Benedict XV:
“Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: ‘This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.’” [Benedict XV in Ad beatissimi apostolorum, Paragraph 24, as given on 1 November 1914, citing Article 40 of the Athanasian Creed]
My dear souls, this is where it gets really ridiculous. The accuser reveals himself to be of such partial & biased sentiment against Benedict the Fifteenth that he cannot, or will not, exercise impartial & fair judgment on his behalf when at least some of the evidence is plainly & obviously on Benedict’s side!
For, in citing the quote above (which is exactly as the accuser quotes it, apart from the bold emphasis & underlining that he gave it), the accuser wishes to impugn Benedict XV for saying that Catholicism “…must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected…” This, he opines, is diabolical, since, says he, Benedict should have just said that Catholicism must be accepted as a whole and leave it at that. To say anything further as Benedict did, claims the accuser, is ‘proof’ that Benedict is planting seeds of doubt in the reader’s mind, that someone could choose to reject the Catholic Faith. As a matter of fact, the accuser says (and I quote him precisely at this point):
“One cannot reject the Catholic Faith as a whole.”
You read correctly. The accuser actually stated this. He is so determined --- or desperate --- to destroy Benedict the Fifteenth’s reputation as a real pope in his readers’ minds that, in attempting to explain away the plain & obvious evidence of Benedict’s quote of Article 40 of the Athanasian Creed, he defies reality & common sense to claim that a person of free will cannot reject the Catholic Faith as a whole.
Not ought not, or should not, but cannot.
All the while, anyone going by the title of Catholic --- but not blinded by bias --- knows perfectly well that a human being, who has free will, can indeed reject the Catholic Faith as a whole. There’s even a name for it. It’s called… ‘apostasy’.
Now, I don’t think the accuser meant his statement to sound so absurd. He very likely meant to say something to the effect that it’s not right to reject the Catholic Faith as a whole, that everyone should wholly accept it instead. He probably wrote his series of points, arguing for his allegation that Benedict XV was an antipope, with some haste. Or maybe he was caught blindsided, not having noticed the quote from the Athanasian Creed before, and hence was flustered, trying to salvage the situation by finding some way to still make Benedict look like a salvation heretic and so convince his critics --- those doubtful of the accusation that Benedict XV was an antipope --- that he was.
Whatever, I’m feel sure the accuser didn’t mean to look absurd, or to fly in the face of the reality that someone can indeed freely choose to reject the Catholic Faith as a whole. He is, as far as I can tell from his writings, a very intelligent person. Nonetheless, his statement on the face of it is precisely that…
Nor does anyone have to interpret paragraph twenty-four from Benedict’s encyclical, as quoted above, in any other way except the very plain & starkly obvious orthodox way in which it is clearly intended to be understood.
But that’s not all. Because, as the more attentive reader might remember from nearer the beginning of this email, I’ve already pointed out how paragraph twenty-four does not just quote once from the Athanasian Creed, from article forty. It also quotes from article two, indirectly, of the Athanasian Creed as well. To wit, when Benedict XV propounds that “…Catholicism… must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected…”, he is obliquely referring to the start of the Athanasian Creed, where it says:
“Whosoever wishes to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith. Which unless everyone keeps whole and undefiled, without doubt he will perish everlastingly.” [Athanasian Creed, Articles 1 & 2, emphases added]
That is, a man, to be truly Catholic and on his way to salvation, must hold the Catholic Faith whole --- not partly, not a major portion of it, or selected components, but whole, period. Anything less than holding it whole is the same as not being truly Catholic.
Benedict XV was entirely correct in saying that the nature of the Catholic Religion cannot allow a man of God-given free will to do anything other than either, one, accept it as a whole, or else, two, reject it as a whole.
We say again:
Benedict the Fifteenth was absolutely, entirely, spot-on & dead-on accurate in stating that the nature of the Roman Catholic Religion is such that it cannot ever allow a man --- who is, by definition, created in the Image of God with a free will --- to do anything other than either, one, freely accept it as a whole, or else, two, freely reject it as a whole.
End of sentence.
Because if a man cannot be truly Catholic unless he holds the Catholic Religion “whole and undefiled,” then there is no choice except for the stark option of either accepting the whole of Catholicism or else rejecting the whole of Catholicism. A person can pick & choose his dogmas or beliefs, yet in doing so he is then not truly Catholic. And if he pretends that he is still Catholic after picking & choosing, having summarily rejected something of what Catholicism infallibly teaches, then he is a liar whether he intends to be or not. Catholicism is a whole package of dogmas & commandments, take it or leave it. You may be fooled into thinking you can pick & choose and still be Roman Catholic, yet that doesn’t change the reality. You are not Catholic if you don’t take it whole.
Hence, when Benedict XV said, “Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected…”, he was clearly not suggesting that a man ought to reject Catholicism as a whole. Rather, he was referring to Article 2 of the Athanasian Creed and making the entirely sensible point that, logically speaking, a man, having God-given free will, must therefore choose either to accept or reject Catholicism as a whole, there being no other possible options.
As a result, Benedict XV was resoundingly orthodox about the Salvation Dogma in this paragraph. If he were to have written nothing else explicitly about the Salvation Dogma other than this quote, this alone would stand as toweringly powerful evidence on behalf of his public orthodoxy regarding this particular matter.
Yet therein lies the problem. Because his accusers have already sentenced him, in their own minds, to the trash heap of manifest heretics. Consequently, this proof on Benedict’s behalf is annoying for them to confront. And hence why, then, this one particular accuser gets so absurd in refuting it. Because he must make this vivid evidence on Benedict’s behalf go away if he’s going to continue with his crusade against Benedict without any serious obstacles to make him stumble. The problem is, he’s jumped the gun. He’s judged prematurely, it seems --- and thus rashly --- before considering carefully all of the evidence, from all sides, including the side that defends Benedict’s orthodoxy.
+ + + 24. Followed by a Massive Misinterpretation + + +
This accuser is not finished, though. He continues with yet more putative ‘evidence’ of Benedict XV professing universalist heresy:
“Jerome… said only what the Christians of the East
thought in his time when he declared that ‘If anyone is outside the Ark
of Noe he will perish in the overwhelming flood.’” [Benedict XV in Spiritus paraclitus,
Paragraph 68, as given on 15 September 1920, quoting from
The citation above is almost precisely as the accuser quotes it,
again with only the exception of the bold emphasis & underlined words that
he used. And he is offended that Benedict the 15th would call
Yet is this really what Benedict’s sentence implies?
We give the context of the complete paragraph in order to make our point:
“But we rejoice --- and
My dear souls, if you read the whole paragraph above carefully with a good will, then you know very well that the accuser twisted Benedict the 15th’s words to mean something he didn’t intend them to mean. Because this is not a situation where the words, phrases or sentences of the paragraph are capable of more than one meaning regarding the issue at hand. The intent is very clear to the impartial & intelligent man, who reads carefully enough to get the whole gist of what Benedict XV was saying --- and why.
Accordingly, it is obvious that Benedict XV did not
say what he said, quoting from St. Jerome, to imply that what Catholics of the
East believed about ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ in ancient
times is something that we today no longer have to believe. Rather, he said
what he said --- and exactly the way he said it --- to uphold the
Dogma of Salvation, including the necessity of submitting to the Authority
of St. Peter’s Throne in
Benedict XV said what he said --- and the way he said it --- quoting from St. Jerome, on explicit purpose, to appeal logically to Eastern Schismatics (who consider Jerome to be a man of the East, hence one of their own, and claim to respect his writings) to heed Jerome’s warning that no one can be in the Catholic Church, and thus on the way to salvation, unless he obeys the leadership of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Visible Head of the Church, which is the One & Only Ark of Christ’s Body!
For as those who study the writings of the Early Church Fathers know, this same Jerome also said to Pope St. Damasus in the letter from which Benedict XV quoted:
“As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with
none but your blessedness, that is, with the chair of Peter. For
this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built! [Matthew
16:18] This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten.
[Exodus 12:22] This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in
it shall perish when the flood prevails… [Genesis 7:23] He that gathers
not with you scatters [Matthew 12:30]; he that is not of Christ is of Antichrist.”
The bold highlighted sentence from the citation above is the
equivalent of what Benedict XV quoted from
Moreover, Benedict the Fifteenth’s public orthodoxy is affirmed in spades. Indeed, in some ways this quote of his even more powerfully supports his public orthodoxy, when it comes to the Salvation Dogma, than paragraph twenty-four of his first encyclical which we were just examining.
For how can the fair-minded reader deform statements like, “His voice summons all the Church’s children to return to a truly Christian standard of life, to shake themselves free from a pagan type of morality which seems to have sprung to life again in these days…”, into meaning anything other than that Benedict recognizes the paganization of formerly Catholic nations during modern times, a paganization against which he invokes Jerome’s voice in order to summon “…all the Church’s children [Catholics!] to return to a truly Christian standard of life…”?
And how can the intelligent reader twist a statement like, “The voice of Jerome summons those Christian nations which have unhappily fallen away from Mother Church to turn once more to her in whom lies all hope of eternal salvation…”, to mean anything other than that Benedict recognizes --- and declares publicly --- that there is no Hope of Salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church, a Church which, by invoking Jerome’s voice, he implores all nations, whose people style themselves Christian, to return to Roman Catholicism, without which they have no hope to be saved?
Or how can the just reader wrench a statement like, “Would, too, that the Eastern Churches, so long in opposition to the See of Peter, would listen to Jerome’s voice. When he lived in the East and sat at the feet of Gregory and Didymus, he said only what the Christians of the East thought in his time when he declared that ‘If anyone is outside the Ark of Noe he will perish in the overwhelming flood…’”, to signify anything other than that Benedict XV himself professes that the Eastern Schismatics cannot save themselves outside the Ark of Noe, which is the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church centered upon the See of St. Peter in Rome --- and that they need to listen to one of their own highly respected men, St. Jerome, and believe as he believed about Church & Pope?
What’s more, how can the charitable reader warp an very simple & straightforward statement like, “Surely whatever cuts itself off from Christ must perish!”, into meaning anything other than that Benedict the 15th himself professes publicly that Eternal Salvation is found only in Christ, from whom souls are cut off if they don’t belong to His Church, which is Catholic, or submit to His Vicar, who is the Pope?
My dear souls, do you comprehend?
The accuser treats his highly edited quote from Benedict XV’s Spiritus paraclitus as strong ‘evidence’ of Benedict’s manifest heresy, when, in fact, it is actually some of the most blatant evidence ever of Benedict’s public orthodoxy when it comes to the dogma of ‘no Salvation outside the Church’! For what could be more orthodox than that he publicly insists that the Eastern Schismatics must submit to St. Peter’s Throne of the Papacy in order for them to be inside the Catholic Church and have Hope of Salvation?
Do you see?
+ + + 25. A Many Splintered Word + + +
Yet mayhap the accuser would insist that it’s a heresy --- or close to heresy, or highly indicative of heresy --- for Benedict to call “Christian” the nations that need to convert back to the Catholic Church. Doesn’t this, he might say, brand him with the odium of religious indifference, with the wretched idea that non-Catholics can save their souls outside the purview of the Catholic Church?
First off, calling non-Catholic persons, peoples or nations ‘Christian’ is not my cup of tea. I think it is especially foolish nowadays during the Great Apostasy. Even at the time of Benedict the 15th’s purported papacy, I think it an unwise thing to have done. Because most minds in the past century have not understood it in any way other than the wrong way, and it has undoubtedly been used by enemies under the guise of Catholicism to promote the Salvation Heresy.
Howsobeit, in and of itself, is it heretical?
This also involves the habit of many, who consider themselves Catholic, of referring to these so-called ‘christians’ as ‘separated brethren’ or ‘separated brothers’, depending on how contemporary is the English that they employ.
Isn’t this, think some, open-and-shut evidence of heresy?
And the rejoinder:
However foolish, careless or questionable it may seem --- and however much the majority, if not all, of the users of these terms in this fashion may have personally been heretics --- it does not make the use of these terms in this way, all by itself, automatically heretical or an irrefutable heresy.
As we observed earlier in this email, it is a hard & solid fact that words, phrases & sentences can have more than one legitimate meaning in the English language (not to mention in every other human language, too!). Such that, if the speaker or writer of the word, phrase & sentence does not get lengthy & intricate enough in his composition or speech to take all potential variations of meaning out of the realm of ‘conceivable possibility’ in the minds of his readers or listeners, then there is always a chance that at least one of those listeners or readers could interpret him to mean what the speaker or writer did not ever intend the word, phrase & sentence to mean. But when a man can reasonably expect his listeners or readers to comprehend the intended meaning of his word, phrase & sentence without getting more lengthy & intricate, then why should length & intricacy of explanation have to be resorted to?
Such is the case with ‘christian’ and ‘separated brethren’. If, by these terms, the speaker or writer means ‘someone who is not a visible member of the Roman Catholic Church but who can be saved as he is in the practice of a false religion’, then the speaker or writer has employed the terms in a heretical way, espousing heresy. Whereas if, on the other hand, the speaker or writer, by these terms, does not mean ‘someone who is not a visible member of the Roman Catholic Church but who can be saved as he is in the practice of a false religion’ --- he instead meaning ‘someone who is visibly outside the Church and who cannot save his soul in this anti-Catholic state’ --- then the speaker or writer has employed the terms in a way that is orthodox, espousing orthodoxy.
Nevertheless, what’s to worry about when you can reasonably expect your readers or listeners to comprehend your use of these terms in an orthodox way? This has been the unthought, and hence unexamined, assumption of many, if not most, users of these terms amongst Roman Catholics during the past two or three hundred years. As a result, they were not unduly alarmed at the possibility --- which seemed remote --- of someone, especially a fellow Catholic, adopting a meaning that is heretical. For instance, they might call Protestants ‘christian’, but why would anyone familiar with the term in the last few hundred years --- especially in a wholly Catholic country --- comprehend ‘christian’ to mean ‘Protestants are bound for Heaven as such’?
A true Catholic could have only an orthodox understanding of the meaning intended for the word ‘christian’ when calling Protestants by the term! This is what true Catholics have thought --- without actually thinking about it --- in decades or centuries past.
Yet how did the term ‘christian’ come to have more than one meaning in the first place? How did this title end up being applied to Protestants, even by Catholics?
Simple. Because people are careless in their talk, employing terms to mean something which the terms had never meant before, thereby muddying the lingual waters; or because people are desperate in their talk, employing the terms to mean something for which they have no other terms available to use, thereby also muddying the waters. Whatever, once the lingual waters have been muddied and the terms thus confused get popularized in the minds of the general population under their new meanings --- particularly after a generation or two passes by during which older people exit our world who might have noted the confusion or remembered that the confused terms used to mean something other, or less, than what they mean now --- then you get legitimate variation of the meaning of a word, phrase & sentence. ‘Legimate’ here meaning, of course, that we cannot expect ignorant people to avoid the use of terminology that they have been brought up to employ without first educating them (which could take decades of concerted effort on a gargantuan scale) to do otherwise, and that we cannot, in the meantime, presume heretical use of such a term without first studying the context in which it has been used and also investigating cautiously all of the other evidence, whether for or against, the one who used it.
+ + + 26. Christian Etymology + + +
This is the situation with the term ‘christian’. It
used to mean, way back when during the first half of the first millennium,
those who belong to the One, Holy, Roman,
Later, in the wake of the Protestant Rebellion, nations that were
once entirely Catholic became a mish mash of heresy & orthodoxy. That is to
say, heretics could end up living side by side with men who remained staunchly
Was this foolish?
I think it was. It allowed the Salvation Heresy to creep into the minds of those who should still have been Catholic, poisoning them spiritually.
Yet was it heretical, in and of itself?
No, because a Catholic could adopt the terminology of the dominating heretics around him in order to be understood by them without himself adopting their heretical teachings. And once a couple of generations of this kind of use of the term ‘christian’ went by, even were a Catholic to be disinclined to use the term in reference to Protestants, all his fellow Catholics were using the term to refer to Protestants, too, making him unable to be easily understood by them, as well, were he to stubbornly stick to employing the term only in reference to Catholics! Yet who would even think to buck this terminology when all you’re raised to know, as a Catholic, is calling Protestants by the term ‘christian’?
Such was the reality confronted by those who were Catholic in a
It is doubtful. For if we see any clearer now, during the Great Apostasy, it is because the Triune God of the Catholic Church has shed His graces upon us, allowing us to see. In the meantime, let us see all the more clearly and realize how, when using the term ‘christian’, the speaker or writer today can mean any one of the following possibilities:
1.) Anybody who claims to follow Christ, or to be raised as a ‘christian’, or to be baptized, or to have all of the sacraments available to him --- whether Catholic or not --- and who we assume to be bound for Heaven within the practice of his false religion without conversion to the Roman Catholic Faith.
This first option is heretical and consequently illegitimate.
2.) Anybody who is validly baptized in water, has all of the sacraments available to him, was raised as a ‘christian’, and claims to follow Christ, but who is visibly outside the Catholic Church and without Hope of Salvation.
3.) Anybody who is validly baptized in water, has all of the sacraments available to him, and was raised as a ‘christian’, but who is visibly outside the Catholic Church and without Hope of Salvation.
4.) Anybody who is validly baptized in water, was raised as a ‘christian’, and claims to follow Christ, but who is visibly outside the Catholic Church and without Hope of Salvation.
5.) Anybody who is validly baptized in water and was raised as a ‘christian’, but who is visibly outside the Catholic Church and without Hope of Salvation.
6.) Anybody who was raised as a ‘christian’ and claims to follow Christ, but who is visibly outside the Catholic Church and without Hope of Salvation.
7.) Anybody who was raised as a ‘christian’, but who is visibly outside the Catholic Church and without Hope of Salvation.
8.) Anybody who claims to follow Christ, but who is visibly outside the Catholic Church and without Hope of Salvation.
These latter seven options are orthodox and consequently legitimate.
Now, these are quite a few options. Notwithstanding, my dear souls, if any of us are going to deign to stand in judgment of Benedict XV, then we are going to have to be thorough & wise judges. Just because we’re Catholic laymen --- presuming we’re all truly Catholic to begin with --- does not excuse us completely. And being a thorough & wise judge entails looking at all of the evidence carefully, both pro & con, and thinking through all of the logic, both for & against, the one you are supposed to be examining, who stands before you (if only figuratively) accused of a serious crime.
Ergo, if someone is going to fault Benedict the Fifteenth for applying the word “Christian” to those nations who were no longer Catholic but in schism or heresy, then we have to examine all of the evidence carefully on his behalf (not just the evidence that we like to think makes him look guilty) and we have to think out all of the logic that exonerates him meticulously (and not just assume that the words he used are to be understood in a sense that is heretical).
Should we fail to do this then we are either not thorough (being lazy and inclined to do only that which furthers our preferred outcome) or else not wise (being foolish and inclined to believe only that which upholds our preferred outcome) --- or both.
But the facts & logic are plain. The term ‘christian’ can be fairly applied to those who are heretics, schismatics or what-have-you, without necessarily meaning by the word that such people are on the way to Heaven within the practice of false religions. The same goes for the term ‘separated brethren’. Yet if a man has any doubts about the use of these terms by someone, suspecting him of using them in a heretical manner, then only careful & patient study of the context in which they are employed, as well as careful & patient investigation of the person using them, can suffice for a wise & proper conclusion… to wit, making a right judgment.
+ + + 27. Who Is My Brother? (Part 2) + + +
Indeed, we find scriptural proof for what we are saying. For
“And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed: yet do not esteem him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 DRC, emphases added)
My dear souls, obviously
“…yet do not esteem [think of him] as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:15 DRC, all emphasis & annotation added)
What do you know? Those who fault someone like Benedict XV for calling non-Catholic nations “Christian” --- yet whose citizens are, nevertheless, most of them baptized validly --- or calling the occupants of these nations ‘separated brethren’, are themselves forced, if they are going to be logical and apply their not-quite-wholly-thought-out standard in a consistent manner, to level the same charge at St. Paul, second greatest of all the Apostles, and greatest of all the Catholic Missioners!
Those who call someone like Benedict XV a heretic for using the terms ‘christian’ or ‘separated brethren’ to describe non-Catholic nations whose inhabitants, most of them, are nevertheless baptized validly, are forced --- if they’re going to be logical and apply their not-quite-wholly-thought-out standard consistently --- to call St. Paul the same!
For is not
A “brother” who is cut off & separated, no?
And that’s the whole point of calling baptized persons who aren’t Catholic ‘separated brethren’. Baptism joined them to the Body of Christ. Excommunication severs them from this same Body, the Catholic Church, but it cannot take away the baptismal seal. And as long as the excommunicated person remains alive upon this earth, then there is always the possibility that he could come to his senses, cooperating with the graces of God to rejoin himself to that from which he was cut off. Hence, he is not only costly because he is made in the Image of God, but priceless above-and-beyond measure because he bears the Seal of Christ, Christ being God Himself in the Flesh.
Or, if this example is not enough, let us glance at another. St. Ignatius of Antioch, whose ancient cult & veneration are sadly neglected by Catholics during recent centuries, wrote what follows to the Catholics of Ephesus in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) near the turn of the 2nd century about how to treat those who are not Catholic:
“Pray continually for the rest of mankind as well, that they may
find God, for there is in them hope for repentance. Therefore allow
them to be instructed by you, at least by your deeds. In response to their
anger, be gentle; in response to their boasts, be humble; in
response to their slander, offer prayers; in response to their errors, be
steadfast in the faith; in response to their cruelty, be gentle; do
not be eager to retaliate against them. Let us show ourselves their
brothers by our forbearance, and let us be eager to be imitators of
the Lord, to see who can be the more wronged, who the more cheated, who the
more rejected, in order that no weed of the devil might be found among you,
but that with complete purity and self-control you may abide in Christ Jesus
physically and spiritually.” [St. Ignatius of
Incidentally, St. Ignatius of
“Pray continually for the rest of mankind as well…”
Ah, so no one is excluded from a Catholic’s prayers. Yet what else?
“Let us show ourselves their brothers by our forbearance…”
Astonishing. Because here we see, without any ifs, ands or buts, proof positive that a Catholic can indeed call fellow human beings his “brothers” without being guilty of the sin of heresy for doing so. Or would you deny Ignatius of Antioch the title of ‘saint’, an accolade he has borne for over one thousand years?
Notwithstanding, how could Ignatius do this without the charge of heresy being laid at his feet?
Very simple --- because words can have more than one legitimate meaning.
If by the term ‘brother’, Ignatius of Antioch had meant ‘those who are outside the Catholic Church but headed toward Heaven despite dying in the practice of a false religion’, he would have been a heretic. But he didn’t mean this by the term ‘brother’ used to describe those who are outside the Church. We can know this for, in reading all of his writings, he obviously upholds the infallible dogma of ‘no Salvation outside the Church’. We also can know this since, in according him the title of ‘saint’, the Church would never do this had he upheld a plainly heretical position!
So what did he mean by the term ‘brother’ in his letter?
He meant that all human beings are brothers by virtue of their creation by God in His Divine Image (a fact hinted at by St. Paul in his sermon to convert the Athenians in Greece, where he declared about God, “For in him we live, and move, and are; as some also of your own poets said: ‘For we are also his offspring.’” [Acts 17:28 DRC]) He also meant that all human beings are literally brothers, in the flesh & blood sense, by reason of their common physical descent from both St. Adam and St. Noe. And, finally, he meant that all human beings are a Catholic’s “brothers” because, in loving his neighbors like himself --- not to mention loving his enemies --- a man is made like his ‘brother’ due to the Catholic, by the command of God, loving that man (even if an enemy!) just as if he were literally his brother, born of the same mother, and bound by the closest ties of family, blood, charity, patience, kindness & loyalty.
In any case, this then makes us realize that someone who is Catholic cannot be rightly accused of ‘heresy’ merely because he dares to call a non-Catholic man (who is not his literal flesh-and-blood sibling) his ‘brother’, nor can he be justly accused of ‘heresy’ simply because he dares to talk about the human race, or about all nations on earth, like they are, or should act like they are, a ‘family’ in this world.
We say again:
He cannot be rightly & justly accused of ‘heresy’ solely because of his use of the terms ‘brother’ or ‘family’ in relation to those persons or countries who are not Roman Catholic. Cannot, because we can’t know, short of omniscience (which we don’t have) or other hard evidence (which we only have if we investigate patiently, carefully & impartially) that he intended the words in a heretical sense that defies the Salvation Dogma. And where evidence is lacking, then, to be fair, we must give this Catholic the benefit of the doubt until such time as we either, one, have hard & repeated evidence that he is a heretic, or, two, have hard & repeated evidence that he is wholly orthodox.
End of sentence.
Wherefore, my dear souls, I tell you that unless you’re willing to go all the way back to the first two centuries and toss Ss. Paul & Ignatius onto the trash heap of heretics, doing the same to St. Peter who therefore tolerated Paul as such within the Catholic Church (not to mention all of those since then who have called themselves Catholic and yet read Holy Scripture and continued to accord Ss. Peter & Paul the titles of ‘Catholic’ & ‘Saint’, or read St. Ignatius’ letters and done the same), then the accusers --- as well as any who have dared to agree with them about Benedict the Fifteenth and the legitimate popes following him, without offering better facts & reasoning than the accusers have thus far offered --- need to pull back in order to think things through much more carefully. And were you willing to be so rash as to brand Ss. Peter, Paul & Ignatius of Antioch as heretics, I would still have to stand firm and charitably rebuke you, saying:
Don’t do it. You need to think it over much more carefully. Before condemning persons who go by the name of Catholic --- and who, hitherto your condemnation, all Catholics have considered certainly Catholic --- you must have all of your facts straight and all of your logic true. I have given some principles for doing this right. Howsobeit, even assuming you have the ability of mind to carry it off, you also need one thing more in copious supply… deliberative patience. Something the rash man is sorely lacking! For what is patience together with deliberation but taking enough time to think things through correctly, being in this way sure & careful of all your facts, interpretations & conclusions?
This the accusers have not yet done. And if they have, they have not presented it adequately to the public as of yet. They thus need to retract what they have alleged; or, if possessing sufficient proof & logic to lead anyone of sound & just mind to condemn him, they need to post this proof & logic immediately, including that proof & logic which works in Benedict’s defense, and not simply the proof & logic which might seem to uphold their personal vendetta against him.
+ + + 28. Another Massive Misinterpretation + + +
There is so much more that could be addressed. The accusers have raised many, many issues and referenced quite a few documents. Nevertheless, what I have done so far is more than enough to hit the truly important things. I will only mention a couple more which demonstrate the accusers’ irrational bias. That is to say, a bias that causes the accuser to operate against Benedict XV without actually thinking things through adequately or clearly enough, thereby causing him to slander the man.
For instance, one of the accusers --- not the one we have just rebutted --- faults Benedict the Fifteenth for saying the following:
“…let them consider whether it is a prudent and safe idea for governments or for states to separate themselves from the holy religion of Jesus Christ… Let them consider again and again, whether it is a measure of political wisdom to seek to divorce the teaching of the Gospel and of the Church from the ruling of a country and from the public education of the young.” [Benedict XV in Ad beatissimi apostolorum, Paragraph 11, as given on 1 November 1914]
This is precisely as the particular accuser in question gives the quote. He then proceeds to allege that Benedict XV cannot have been a real pope and said what he said in the quote above, because a real pope would have simply condemned the notion of separating government from religion and not have merely encouraged readers to “consider” it.
Now, my dear souls, I don’t know if this sounds plausible to you. Perhaps it does. If you’re going to be a judge, though, and deign to pass sentence on someone for a serious crime, then you had better be prepared to look at everything in full context and consider all of the possible interpretations of someone’s words or motives, giving the person who is accused every reasonable benefit of the doubt whilst interpreting his words & motives in the best possible light. If you aren’t prepared to do this, then you’re not a competent judge --- being tainted with personal goals that are incompatible with patience & impartiality of judgment --- and probably not a good Catholic, either, assuming that you’re Catholic in the first place.
Having said that, we therefore look at what Benedict XV said in full context, giving not only the entire paragraph from which the accuser derived the edited quote above, but also the two paragraphs prior to it:
“The second cause of the general unrest [revolutionary
“In presence of such perversity of thought and of action,
subversive of the very constitution of human society, it would not
be right for Us, to whom is divinely committed the teaching of the truth,
to keep silence: and We remind the peoples of the earth of that doctrine, which
no human opinions can change: “…there is no power but
[authority except] from God: and those that are, are ordained of God.”
[Romans 13:1b-c] Whatever power then is exercised amongst
men, whether that of the King or that of an inferior authority, it has its
origin from God. Hence St. Paul lays down the obligation of obeying
the commands of those in authority, not in any kind of way, but
religiously, that is conscientiously --- unless their commands are against
the laws of God: “Wherefore be not subject of necessity [just
because you have to], not only for wrath [only because you’re afraid of
getting punished], but also for conscience’ sake.” [Romans 13:5] In
harmony with the words of
“Let the Princes and Rulers of peoples remember this truth [what was said in the paragraph above], and let them consider [think it through clearly & logically, drawing the correct conclusion!] whether it is a prudent and safe idea for governments or for states to separate themselves from the holy religion of Jesus Christ [the answer being, obviously, no, as Benedict made absolutely stark from his previous paragraph], from which their authority receives such strength and support. Let them consider again and again [think it through carefully & rationally until you draw the correct conclusion!], whether it is a measure of political wisdom to seek to divorce the teaching of the Gospel and of the Church from the ruling of a country and from the public education of the young [the answer being again, obviously, no, as Benedict made absolutely stark in his previous paragraph]. Sad experience proves that human authority fails where religion is set aside. The fate of our first parent after the Fall is wont to come also upon nations. As in his case, no sooner had his will turned from God than his unchained passions rejected the sway of the will; so, too, when the rulers of nations despise divine authority, in their turn the people are wont to despise their human authority. There remains, of course, the expedient of using force to repress popular risings; but what is the result? Force can repress the body, but it cannot repress the souls of men.” [Benedict XV in Ad beatissimi apostolorum, Paragraphs 9-11, as given on 1 November 1914, emphases, annotations & one spelling correction added]
My dear souls, given that you actually bothered to read very carefully through the three paragraphs above quoted in full from Benedict the Fifteenth’s encyclical, then you know for a fact that he didn’t uphold or seek to propagate what the accuser so ludicrously impugns him with.
Given that you actually bothered to read carefully through the three paragraphs above quoted in full from Benedict the Fifteenth’s encyclical, then you know for a concrete fact that he did not uphold or seek to spread the nonsense that the accuser so ludicrously impugns him with upholding & spreading.
Indeed, the first three of the last five sentences in the quote from Benedict, being from Paragraph 11 itself (the same paragraph that the accuser took his highly edited quote of Benedict’s words from), prove beyond any reasonable doubt that he was upholding the very opposite to what the accuser alleges against him! We cite them once more:
“Sad experience proves that human authority fails where religion is set aside. The fate of our first parent after the Fall is wont to come also upon nations. As in his case, no sooner had his will turned from God than his unchained passions rejected the sway of the will; so, too, when the rulers of nations despise divine authority, in their turn the people are wont to despise their human authority.” [Benedict XV in Ad beatissimi apostolorum, Paragraph 11, as given on 1 November 1914, all emphasis added]
Benedict the 15th was grappling with a
Benedict XV was upholding the God-given authority of
monarchs who, however badly in the last few centuries prior to his time, had
been a bulwark of stability & protection for the Catholic Church throughout
In short, Benedict was saying the utter opposite of what his accuser alleges!
This is patently ridiculous. The accuser has either not looked closely enough at what Benedict said to understand what he really intended, or else, worse still, he is purposely ignoring what he knows Benedict to have said & intended, selectively quoting from his words so as to twist them & make Benedict look bad. Whichever, justice is not served.
We say again:
Whichever the case, justice has not been served.
+ + + 29. The Hallmark of a Just Judge + + +
This is a travesty against God’s Commandments, and highly displeasing to Him. It is at least ignorant & careless, if not malicious & heinous. It is why I have troubled writing this long email in order to defend a man that I don’t even particularly like, having a prejudice against him myself. Notwithstanding, we needn’t let our prejudices rule us!
I therefore speak up in defense of a man that has been defamed unjustly, who cannot now speak up for himself on earth since he is dead. And it just so happens that, as far as I can tell thus far, he is a man who held the Office of the Papacy. He may have held it poorly. It’s very likely, in my opinion hence far, that he was a bad pope in many ways. He even might have been an occult heretic or secret freemason! Yet as long as his heresy was hidden and his masonry not publicly revealed --- these things being determined not by prejudice but by careful, just & patient inquiry (investigation!), deliberating intelligently and giving the defendant, who can’t now defend himself, every benefit of a reasonable doubt --- then he occupied that office truly & rightly. As Sacred Scripture says:
“Inquire carefully and diligently, the truth of the thing by looking well into it…” (Deuteronomy 13:14a-b DRC, emphases added)
“Before thou inquire, blame no man: and when thou hast inquired, reprove justly…” (Ecclesiasticus 11:7 DRC, emphases added)
“And believe not every word [don’t hang someone for every questionable or bad-sounding thing that he says]. There is one, that slippeth with the tongue [says something poorly or accidentally], but not from his heart. For who is there that hath not offended with his tongue? Admonish thy neighbour before thou threaten him.” (Ecclesiasticus 19:16-17, all emphasis & annotation added)
The point is not that Benedict XV was certainly guiltless in God’s Sight. He may have been extremely guilty at the day of his personal judgment. The point is that we cannot deign to condemn him for a transgression against the Salvation Dogma when his words are not only fairly & intelligently interpretable to mean something other than a heresy, but, indeed, when he elsewhere several times upholds the Salvation Dogma rightly!
This cannot be stressed too much. The accusers may suppose themselves to have inquired “carefully and diligently” (probably honestly thinking themselves to have done so) while, in reality, they have not. They therefore “blame” Benedict the “man” without having all their ducks in a row, not have looked “well” into the matter of their suspicions against him, and consequently not reproving him “justly”.
What’s more, they have not heeded the wisdom of the sage in Ecclesiasticus where he counsels us to “…believe not every word.” That is, don’t scour the words of a man only to look for things to hold against him. This isn’t just, and it demonstrates your bias in operation --- not intelligent inquiry & investigation. Why isn’t it fair to do this to a man? Because, as the Bible says, “There is one that slippeth with the tongue, but not from his heart. For who is there that hath not offended with his tongue?” And whether this offense is real or imagined (and it is often imaginary in the minds of the accusers, as I have methodically shown), the errors of the accusers, in conjunction with their irrational prejudice against Benedict the 15th, has led them to “threaten” him before properly admonishing him. Or, to put it another way, they have denounced him as an antipope (threatened him) prior to admonishing him rightly… if, indeed, that’s what he requires.
Yet how can a person admonish someone who is dead?
You can’t do so directly & normally. You can, however, if in possession of excellent proof & laudable logic of a dead man’s openly committed errors or faults, publicize the fact of these errors or faults, correcting them in the sight of others so that they don’t fall for them as well. In this manner the dead man is ‘admonished’. Not directly, obviously, and not in the normal sense of the word. But his admonishment is accomplished via the warning of others not to commit the same public error or fault as the dead man did.
The accusers have not done this. They have instead adopted, as I noted earlier, a personal vendetta against Benedict XV under the guise of a Godly stance. That is to say, they pose under the guise of a Godly boldness for the dogmas or commandments of God’s Church (and sincerely so, in my opinion --- I do not doubt, at this point, that they mean well), publicly flagellating Benedict XV for all kinds of alleged transgressions by word, without proper patience, due deliberation & necessary impartiality entering into their judgment. In a word, they commit the terrible sin of rash judgment.
Yet need we more proof of this?
+ + + 30. From God Comes All Good Things + + +
We glance at one more thing. For the accuser we have been focusing on lobs another allegation against Benedict, this one gleaned from Benedict’s predecessor, Pius X. Because one of the things this accuser dislikes about Benedict XV is the fact that he sanctioned Catholics working with each other, with the leaders of their various nations, and with essentially everybody, to achieve a political peace that would avoid another World War I. In so doing he quotes from Pius’ first encyclical:
“But to want peace without God is an absurdity, seeing that where God is absent thence too justice flies, and when justice is taken away it is vain to cherish the hope of peace. “And the work of justice shall be peace…” [Isaias 32:17a DRC] There are many, We are well aware, who, in their yearning for peace, that is, for the tranquillity of order, band themselves into societies and parties, which they style parties of order. Hope and labor lost. For there is but one party of order capable of restoring peace in the midst of all this turmoil, and that is the party of God. It is this party, therefore, that we must advance, and to it attract as many as possible, if we are really urged by the love of peace.” [Pius X in E supremi, Paragraph 7, as given on 4 October 1903, with one punctuation correction & biblical quotation adapted to the Douay Rheims Version]
The accuser cites an additional two paragraphs from Pius X in this encyclical, in immediate sequence after his partial citation from the seventh paragraph (as well as a large citation from still another encyclical of Pius X), to support his allegation, but the quote above is sufficient to demonstrate our point.
To start with, what Pius X states is correct. No wise Catholic would deny this. Yet did Benedict XV deny what Pius said? We look closely at his words, doing what the accusers should have already done --- but have not yet given any indication that they have --- in order to give Benedict the opportunity to defend his reputation by presenting evidence which works in his behalf:
“Many and various reasons could be given to explain the suddenness of this event [the cessation of hostilities between the nations involved in World War I]; but if the supreme reason be sought there is no other way but to look above to Him who rules all events. Moved to compassion by the unceasing prayers of His servants, He now lets humanity breathe again after so many trials and sorrows. While, then, all thanks are being given to the Lord for this wondrous boon, We are glad that many imposing demonstrations of piety have taken place in the Catholic world to that end. It remains now to implore of the divine mercy that the crown be put on the great gift accorded us. Soon the delegates of the various nations will meet in solemn congress to give the world a just and lasting peace; no human assembly has ever had before it such serious and complex determinations as they will have to take.
“Words, then, are not required to show how great need they have of being illuminated from on high that they may carry out their great task well. And, as their decisions will be of supreme interest to all humanity, there is no doubt that Catholics, for whom the support of order and civil progress is a duty of conscience, must invoke Divine assistance for all who take part in the peace conference. We desire that that duty be brought before all Catholics. Therefore, Venerable Brothers, in order that there may come from the Congress shortly to be held that great gift of heaven, true peace founded on the Christian principles of justice, that enlightenment from the Heavenly father may descend on them, it shall be your care to order public prayers in each parish of your dioceses in the way you may think most convenient. As for Us, representing, however unworthily, Jesus Christ, King of Peace, We shall exert all the influence of Our Apostolic Ministry that the decisions which are to be taken to ensure for ever in the world the tranquility of order and concord be willingly accepted and faithfully carried out by Catholics everywhere.” [Benedict XV in Quod iam diu, Paragraphs 1-2, as given on 1 December 1918, all emphasis & annotation added]
To begin, Benedict XV acknowledges that God is in control of
everything, that it is He to Whom the world should
give its thanks for the cessation of hostilities between the nations at war
during World War I. Hence, Benedict does not pretend that nations establish
peace on their own, without God’s permission & assistance. Moreover,
Benedict admonishes his readers, members of the Catholic Church, “to
implore of the divine mercy” that this peace after the Great War be made
a lasting peace. So again Benedict does not pretend that peace between nations
can be gotten hold of without God’s sanction & help. Too, Benedicts
notes how, for a Catholic, “…the support of order and civil
progress is a duty of conscience…” This is a principle so plain
that there is no need to cite biblical verses or pore through papal & conciliar documents to uphold it. A simple reflection
suffices. Viz., what man who is truly Catholic thinks that he should pray for
anarchy & chaos, or that he should become an anarchist, or that he should
not obey the rulers placed over him --- pagan or non-Catholic though they may
be --- in everything except sin? What Catholic supposes that he should not pray
for those in positions of authority --- whether they be Catholic or not --- and
ask God to assist them in their duties, that they might govern wisely? As
“I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: for kings, and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 DRC, emphases added)
+ + + 31. Praying & Laboring for the Welfare of Nations + + +
But do we doubt that Roman Catholics have always understood this apostolic
“And everywhere we, more readily than all men, endeavour to pay to those appointed by you the taxes both ordinary and extraordinary, as we have been taught by Him; for at that time some came to Him and asked Him, if one ought to pay tribute to Caesar; and He answered, ‘Tell Me, whose image does the coin bear?’ And they said, ‘Caesar’s.’ And again He answered them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ [Matthew 22:17-21] Whence to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging you as kings and rulers of men, and praying that with your kingly power you be found to possess also sound judgment.” [St. Justin Martyr’s First Apology, partial excerpt from Chapter 17, all emphasis added]
And let us also glance at what St. Clement of Rome, a pope of the first century, had to say to the Triune God of the Catholic Church, via an admonishing letter to the Corinthian Catholics, about his pleas on behalf of a pagan Roman Empire and, indeed, for a still heathen world as well:
“You, Lord, created the earth… Do not take into account every sin of your servants and slave girls [members of the Catholic Church, who are servants & slaves of their God], but cleanse us with the cleansing of your truth, and direct our steps to walk in holiness and righteousness and purity of heart, and to do what is good and pleasing in your sight and in the sight of our rulers. Yes, Lord, let your face shine upon us in peace for our good that we may be sheltered by your mighty hand and delivered from every sin by your uplifted arm; deliver us as well from those who hate us unjustly. Give harmony and peace to us and to all who dwell on the earth, just as you did to our fathers when they reverently called upon you in faith and truth, that we may be saved, while we render obedience to your almighty and most excellent name, and to our rulers and governors on earth.
“You, Master, have given them the power of sovereignty through your majestic and inexpressible might, so that we, acknowledging the glory and honor which you have given them, may be subject to them, resisting your will in nothing. Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, harmony, and stability, that they may blamelessly administer the government which you have given them. For you, heavenly Master, King of the ages, give to the sons of men glory and honor and authority over those upon the earth. Lord, direct their plans according to what is good and pleasing in your sight, so that by devoutly administering in peace and gentleness the authority which you have given them they may experience your mercy…
“We have written enough to you, brothers, about the things
which pertain to our religion and are particularly helpful for a virtuous life,
at least for those who wish to guide their steps in holiness and righteousness.
For we have touched upon every subject --- faith, repentance, genuine charity,
self-control, sobriety, and patience --- and have reminded you that you must
reverently please almighty God in righteousness and truth and steadfastness, living
in harmony without bearing malice, in charity and peace with constant
gentleness, just as our fathers, of whom we spoke of earlier, pleased him, by
being humble toward the Father and God and Creator and toward all men.”
[Pope St. Clement of
We could go on with innumerable quotes from the ancient Church Fathers, revealing the same thing --- that Catholics have always labored for the peace & tranquillity of the lands in which they lived, if only by their prayers & sacrifices, a part of which is, necessarily, the peace of their country with other countries. Furthermore, if the most ancient of Catholics did this while living in pagan & heathen nations, then how can a man who claims to be Roman Catholic then dispute that it is an acceptable goal --- even a good & urgent goal --- to work as a Catholic for the cessation of hostilities between various nations of the earth, non-Catholic though they may be?
We say once again:
It is not intrinsically evil to wish for, pray for, or even actively work for, the peace of nations on earth politically, striving that they may avoid the spectre of international war & violent bloodshed. Such a thing, such an endeavor, is not evil in-and-of itself.
The evil of such endeavors in modern times comes from the fact of these nations, gathered together in an international union, working to attack the Catholic Church in all things and to suppress Her dogmatic truths & moral commandments everywhere they can, even to the point of viciously persecuting those who oppose them.
Consequently, Benedict XV cannot be rightly faulted or
justly accused merely for the fact that he encouraged Catholics to take part
in the international cooperation of countries in order to avoid another Great
War like the one that devastated
End of sentence.
Personal biases against Benedict whilst interpreting his statements or actions in the worst possible light when other, more innocent, interpretations are rationally possible, does not constitute this kind of proof. And yet barring this kind of evidence & testimony, the kind that actually is sufficient, then we must interpret his efforts in the best possible light, presuming him to have been sincerely striving to avoid another hideous war --- and nothing more --- there being no hard proof or corroborating testimony of which I am aware that he harbored more pernicious aims like the destruction of Catholicity & the spread of iniquity. And the avoidance of war is not a sinful goal, whether or not the nations in question are Catholic or not.
Notwithstanding, we continue on, examining some more the long quotation we garnered from Benedict XV’s encyclical, Quod iam diu, several paragraphs previous. Because in acknowledging that, logically & morally speaking, “…the support of order and civil progress…” really “…is a duty of conscience…” for all Catholics just as Benedict remarked, we then realize how he really was justified, also, in telling the Catholics of his era that they “…must invoke Divine assistance for all who take part in the peace conference.”
After all, what are Catholics supposed to do… pray that God
would send another blistering conflagration between the nations of
We observe again:
Unless these Catholics could know for a morally certain fact that
the “peace conference” was not merely for peace, but, in the
long run, was for the express purpose of destroying Catholicity and promoting
iniquity, then they could not reject out of hand the efforts of this
“peace conference” simply because some of the nations involved were
not Catholic, or because many of the nations involved --- whilst ostensibly
Catholic --- were ruled by bad & weak Catholics, or by men who were Masonic
or hostile to the Catholic Faith. The Roman Empire of old, too, was not
Catholic, and persecuted the
+ + + 32. Temporal Peace vs. Lasting Peace + + +
Were such ancient Catholics then disregarding Pius X’
statement that “…to want peace without God is an absurdity, seeing
that where God is absent thence too justice flies…”? [Pius X in E
supremi, Paragraph 7, as given on 4 October 1903]
Or were they flying in the face of his declaration elsewhere that it
“…is to be firmly held ‘that nobody can rightly govern in
earthly things, unless he knows how to treat divine things, and that the peace
of States depends upon the universal peace of the Church…’ [quoting from one of
No, they were not. Nor was Benedict the 15th guilty of such sin simply because he strove to establish a temporal peace between countries by means of internationally cooperative efforts. Again… words, phrases & sentences in the English language (not to mention all other human languages!) can have more than one legitimate meaning. Hence, it is unjust to presume, as if you are omniscient, that you somehow ‘know’ the intended meaning of someone’s words is bad without enough reiterative evidence & corroborating testimony that it is literally impossible to rationally interpret the words in a good sense, and it is flat-out wrong to assume that recognizing how words can have more than one possible meaning is in-and-of itself an evil thing to do.
Because words do often have more than one legitimate meaning and the only way for a person to have morally certain knowledge of a bad intended meaning, in a disputable or doubtful case, is to have the aforesaid reiterative evidence (proof of a sufficiently serious nature that is not limited to merely one or two occasions and hence unable to be plausibly written off as a fluke or unintentional) & corroborating testimony (testimony that comes from at least two reliable eyewitnesses examined apart from one another to avoid the chance of wicked collusion between them in order to wrongly convict the defendant). Anything less than this strict standard of justice --- a standard upheld by God in Sacred Scripture, by the way --- is to pretend to be all-knowing or infallible, divining the secrets of someone’s heart despite not being God. Truly, anything less than this strict standard will lead, sooner or later, to so-called ‘witch hunts’. For while witches are real and must needs be rooted out and either converted or destroyed in a Catholic country, it is the unfortunate fact that people can become so caught up in irrational passion or bungled thinking that they fail to apply good logic & solid facts to men accused of committing a crime. What’s more, a mob frenzy can lead many frightened or unscrupulous persons to denounce those who are not actually guilty, and for which there is not even any reasonable evidence in the first place to bring them under suspicion of guilt.
So what is the word at issue here in Benedict’s text, and what are the word’s legitimate meanings?
Broadly speaking from a Catholic perspective, ‘peace’ can either mean a peace which is temporal and not destined to last, or it can mean a peace which is eternal and so endures indefinitely. The former is of this earth solely and encompasses the possibility of non-Catholic nations, or non-Catholic nations in company with Catholic nations, seeking a cessation or avoidance of hostilities. Such an endeavor is not intrinsically evil but cannot, of course, without conversion of the non-Catholic nations into Catholic nations, or without the Catholic nations involved being truly good Catholic nations, guarantee peace indefinitely. Whereas the latter is of Heaven and embraces the possibility of Catholic nations entering into a concord that --- for as long as all of the participants maintain their status as good Catholic nations --- can endure indefinitely, ushering in the Kingship of Christ on earth.
Hence, when Pius X deprecated the attempts of those here on earth to build peace between nations, he was deprecating them because such men obviously intended to do so without the Catholic Religion, imagining that they could achieve something lasting & significant as a result. Whereas (and this is an entirely fair & rational assumption, giving Benedict XV every benefit of the doubt) when Benedict the Fifteenth exhorted Catholics to support attempts of those on earth to build peace between nations, he was exhorting them because World War I (the Great War, the war so harsh, hideous & huge that it would end all wars as people were fond of saying back then) was so unprecedentedly brutal & murderous that even a temporal peace was better than nothing, and greatly to be desired… not that this peace could last, or achieve anything truly significant in the long run, without conversion (or reconversion) of the nations involved to the Catholic Faith.
And, in fact, when we continue to look closely at Benedict’s writings, we find that his words support this understanding of the word “peace” in his document. For what is the very next salient & highlighted thing in the long quote we made from his encyclical, Quod iam diu, that we have been examining?
“Therefore, Venerable Brothers, in order that there may come from the Congress [conference of various nations to find ways to avoid another war and ensure peace] shortly to be held that great gift of heaven, true peace founded on the Christian principles of justice, that enlightenment from the Heavenly father may descend on them, it shall be your care to order public prayers in each parish of your dioceses in the way you may think most convenient.” [Benedict XV in Quod iam diu, Paragraph 2, as given on 1 December 1918, emphases & annotation added]
My dear souls, this alone is adequate to exonerate Benedict from the last accusation that we have been considering. Because he implicitly acknowledges, both by his words in this sentence and in his sentences previous from this very brief encyclical, that the peace they now have is very tentative. Further, his qualification of the term “peace” in this sentence with the adjective “true”, followed immediately by the phrase “founded on the Christian principles of justice,” demonstrates that he also realized that real peace --- peace in the eternal sense and not in the temporal view void of the Catholic Religion --- cannot be had without being “founded” (i.e., established upon a foundation) with “Christian principles of justice…”
Now I ask you:
What are “Christian principles of justice,” if not obedience to God’s Ten Commandments, which necessarily entails conformity to the dogmas & morals of the Roman Catholic Faith?
In other words, what was Benedict XV saying, if not that the nations involved need to be Catholic in order for their “peace” to be a “true peace” and not a “peace” only destined to last for a short time, imperfectly?
+ + + 33. Humiliy in Judgment + + +
My dear souls, you don’t have to like this interpretation. If you hate Benedict XV, then you’re sure to despise my defense of him here. Howsobeit, you aren’t omniscient.
You aren’t omniscient.
Nor are you infallible. As a result, you don’t know what was in Benedict’s heart here when he wrote or sanctioned these words as his own, apart from the testimony of his own words and the testimony of other reliable eyewitnesses. Mere prejudices do not qualify as omniscience or infallibility; that is to say, just because you may hate him or not like him is not equivalent to you knowing for sure, with no doubt, the intent of his heart in saying these words. Ergo, we must give him the benefit of the doubt and take his statements in good trust, imparting to them the best interpretation that is rationally possible. And the interpretation that I have given is rationally possible.
That said, it bears noting that I don’t like his use of the phrases “lasting peace” and “…to ensure for ever in the world the tranquility of order and concord…” in reference to the (at that time) upcoming “peace conference.” They are, at best, giddy hyperbole at the prospect of a gruesome war coming to an end. They are also, very likely, genuine fear of the destructive powers unleashed by modern warfare (poison gases, mammoth bombs, metal tanks, lethal submarines, ruthless machine guns, widespread annihilation of structures or human beings) which take all of the joy or nobility out of war and make soldiers into walking corpses and civilians into ‘legitimate targets’ to eliminate inadvertently or indiscriminately.
At worst, it really is a little peek into a Masonic --- or at least masonized --- mind. As I said at the beginning of this email, I am naturally suspicious of Benedict XV. But as I have said, too, several times, suspicion, prejudice & animosity are not an adequate basis for patient, just & accurate adjudication. Accordingly, to judge rightly, we must be patient (not hasty in our decisions), just (hearing all sides of the matter) & accurate (making sure our facts & interpretations are straight).
Benedict XV may have been a manifest heretic. Yet if so, then the accusers have not done their job sufficiently to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. They have given no indication that they have considered anything in defense of Benedict, seeking to find testimony & explanations that support him against their charges. Worse still, they have sometimes taken things that he said and twisted them into ludicrous interpretations that fly in the face of the evidence that we have from his own purported words, revealing the biases that enslave them. Showing that this is the case, and that I have not spoken idly, has consumed a large portion of this email. Yet why should we trust accusers who so obviously warp a man’s words to mean what the context shows they cannot mean?
Or Benedict XV may have been an occult heretic. This is still my instinctual hunch. Notwithstanding, instinctual hunches, like emotional biases, are no substitute for hard proof & rock solid logic. It’s easy to cast stones, shattering the glass of a window. It is much harder to pick up the hundreds of pieces and put them back together again --- which is why this email is so long in response to the charges and ‘evidence’ that they have publicly brought against Benedict.
Or Benedict XV may have just been a bad pope. This is entirely possible, although some who I know will think it ridiculous. It doesn’t matter. Thinking something is ridiculous is not the same as omniscience or infallibility… or, for that matter, as due deliberation & moral certainty. Again --- prejudices & sentiment are no substitute for hard evidence or correct logic. And when it comes to determining the reality or nature of heresy, very demanding rules must be in place to ensure that justice is done. It is not a Catholic’s fault if a heretic remains hidden in the bowels of the Church. It is, however, a Catholic’s fault if, in his zeal for rooting out hidden heretics, he either impugns real heretics for less-than-sufficient reasons or else slanders innocent Catholics for the same less-than-sufficient reasons. Whichever, God is not pleased and the accuser or judge (in our cases, the roles are identical) will answer severely for his offenses against truth & charity.
+ + + 34. A Very Public Private Revelation + + +
There thus remains but one last thing to present. Because the accusers note, almost in passing near the end of everything that they charge, how the conclusion that Benedict XV is an antipope (for if a manifest heretic, then necessarily an antipope) must then mean, as well, that Our Lady of Fatima is a false apparition.
Now, the relation of Our Lady of Fatima to the nature of Benedict the 15th’s purported papacy, not to mention the supposed papacies of Pius XI & Pius XII, is circumstantial and therefore indirect. However, it is incredibly powerful circumstantial evidence.
And this should give the accusers pause. Perhaps it did give them pause before they made their decision to come out publicly against Benedict XV. I don’t know. I do know that it is not wise to oppose the Queen of Highest Heaven --- something the accusers are most definitely doing provided that Our Lady of Fatima is a true apparition of the Most Holy & Blessed Virgin. May God forgive them their temerity against the greatest of all His creatures, for they know not what they do. May the Seat of Wisdom obtain for them --- and for all who seek the truth necessary to save one’s soul --- by Her intercessory prayers mercy & contrition for our sins.
At this juncture, though, many will be tempted to say, “Ah, but apparitions --- even apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary --- are private revelations. No Catholic is required to believe in them, even if sanctioned by the Church.”
This is a misleading statement since it is only partly true. Theological thinking on this subject, the nature of private revelation in distinction from the public revelation of God through His One & Only Roman Catholic Church, is apparently not fully developed yet. Either that, or else enemies of the Catholic Faith have purposely muddied the waters of the subject in order to lessen devotion of good Catholics to the ecclesially-sanctioned & well-evidenced appearances of the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mother of God to Her children on earth, speaking to them --- and through them to the rest of Her children in Her Son’s Catholic Body on earth --- the consoling or needful words of Heaven to those who still run their race against the flesh, the world & the Devil in this perilous existence.
Hence why I say that the truth is more complex when it comes to Marian apparitions, or any appearance of a saint or angel. To wit, well-attested apparitions of the Virgin Mary (and especially Church-approved appearances of the Celestial Queen) are not simply ‘private revelations’ that a Catholic is permitted to either embrace or disregard, subject to the whim of his free will in the matter. The public revelation of the Catholic Church, Her Precious Deposit of Faith, may be surely known by the infallible guarantee of the Pillar & Ground of Jesus’ Catholic Body, nonetheless, this does not then mean, conversely, that all other knowledge is ultimately or utterly uncertain, and thereby subject to the mere whim, passion or prejudice of a man as he decides to either accept it or reject it.
Or does a man who claims to be Catholic presume that he can accept or reject the appearance of a man in a court of law before dozens of witnesses, along with the words that he spoke officially in that court, as a mere ‘private’ matter that he is free to accept or reject according to his whim, passion & prejudice? Or can this Catholic, if involved in a lawsuit, rationally claim that he doesn’t have to believe that the man appeared in this court, giving testimony relevant to his case? Can he reasonably tell others that this subject is a matter of ‘private revelation’, and not necessary to believe?
Obviously not. There are things that are beyond reasonable dispute. There are matters that a reasonable person is not ‘free’ to reject. There are some things that are important enough and well-attested enough that they are morally certain for any intelligent man who dares to examine them, something the man must do in order to be just. Unless, of course, he is willing to take the intelligent examination of others on trust, which is permissible when the matter has become widely known & believed.
In either case, we are not free to believe or disbelieve something simply because it is not an infallible dogma derived from the public revelation of God via His Church. This kind of revelation is guaranteed infallibility because all men everywhere from the time of the Day of Pentecost must know, believe & profess these dogmas in order to save their souls. Without such infallibility then no man could be sure that he was believing & professing the right dogmas, and every man’s salvation would be in doubt due to uncertainty regarding what to do in the first place in order to be sure to save his soul.
Such is not the case, however, with so-called ‘private revelation’. This kind of revelation is not necessary for all men everywhere from the time of Pentecost to know, believe & profess. It is therefore not guaranteed with infallibility.
Notwithstanding, a merely fallible guarantee is not the same as saying that the guarantee is certainly wrong, or that no man has to believe in the thing only fallibly guaranteed. Not by far. To the extreme contrary, a thing can still be known with a very firm moral certainty, and this thing can still be of such importance --- even if not as important as the infallible dogmas of the Church --- that some, and maybe even many, men must know about it so as to be able to do what they must do.
The point is, heavenly denizens can appear to men on earth. And if they do so, giving a message or showing a wonder that is meant for others to hear & see, then there must be a very important reason for this celestial action. It is not to be taken lightly. Moreover, if attested by at least several reliable eyewitnesses --- or substantiated by indisputable miracles --- then, if not contradicting infallible dogmas, it is something Heaven intends many men to know & believe and Catholics can have most excellent & trustworthy moral certainty that the messages or events are real & significant. The court of law in this case is the public forum of human eyewitness, and Heaven, in such cases, demonstrates its evidence & testimony with such impressive skill that no intelligent Catholic is excused for disbelieving in its existence or validity merely because it’s a ‘private revelation’.
Indeed, this is where the theological terminology falls short and why I say that theological thinking has apparently not developed fully yet in these matters of celestial apparitions. Because, plainly, if Heaven intends a message to get out to the general Catholic public, or displays a mighty wonder or works many miracles to substantiate an apparition, then the revelation can’t merely be ‘private’… can it?
If Heaven via an apparition intends for a message to spread to the general Catholic public, or displays a mighty wonder or works many miracles to authenticate this apparition, then the revelation cannot be merely ‘private’… can it?
Ergo, using the phrase ‘private revelations’ for heavenly apparitions can be a serious misnomer. And while I don’t claim to have a firm candidate in mind yet which would better describe such things, I can say this:
The difference between public & private revelation lies in the need for everyone to know, as opposed to the need for simply a few, some or many to know. Everyone is required to know public revelation since it is the only way for everyone to save his soul. Hence the charism of infallibility, that everyone may be guaranteed to find (assuming he searches) what is absolutely necessary to have. Whereas in contradistinction, only a few, some or many are required to know private revelation since it is significant to the spiritual welfare of those few, some or many souls and not everyone else.
+ + + 35. The Wonder of
Which brings us full bore into the Apparitions of Fatima. It is impossible to find a more significant & publicly-displayed wonder in recent times, indeed, since apostolic times in my opinion. The Miracle of the Sun was witnessed by 70,000 people. It was astonishing and unprecedented. Other supernatural phenomena were seen, too. Nor am I aware of any violation of Catholic dogma by the apparition or its seers during the initial few decades after its occurrence.
Granted, some will fault the Fatima Prayer for seeming to uphold universalist heresy (“Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy”). Yet this is easily interpretable to mean that we wish all souls to be saved, not that all souls will be saved. Further, while I have not been able to personally verify it to my fullest satisfaction, an apparently reliable source has assured me that this sentence is a modernist fabrication. That is to say, a book from the early 1920s is said to report the final sentence of the prayer as “Relieve the suffering souls in purgatory, especially those most in need” and not “Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.”
Or some will fault the behaviour of Sister Lucy following the Vatican II Pseudo-Council. Yet this neglects several considerations:
First, who is to say that Sister Lucy had to remain loyal to the Catholic Faith till the end of her life? Solomon of old was greatly blessed, many of his words being inspired by the Holy Ghost and part of Sacred Scripture, and nevertheless fell from piety toward the end of his earthly life.
Second, who is to say that Sister Lucy could not be blinded in ignorance for a time as so many were during Vatican II and the decades immediately following? There was a period where Catholics could not yet have been aware of what the Pseudo-Council or conciliar antipopes were teaching & doing, and hence not liable for submitting to such men as if they were really Catholic.
Third, who is to say that Sister Lucy was not murdered or imprisoned by modernist henchmen prior to the Vatican II debacle? In such a case her public appearances after 1960 might have been performed by an imposter. This may seem absurd to some, but it is not outside the realm of possibility. It would explain a good deal that is mysterious about Sister Lucy after her segregation in the nunnery with practically no visitors allowed.
Other complaints can be fielded. None of them, though, are
And then, of course, there is the so-called ‘Third
Secret’ of Fatima, which, as those who keep track of these things know,
has still not been released --- or fully released --- by the Novus Ordo
In short, we have an apparition that seems worthy of devotion --- backed by the most incredible miracle of recent times, perhaps since apostolic times --- and a big huge riddle centering around the Third Secret of Fatima that does not seem explainable by anything apart from wicked suppression of a divine message of cataclysmic proportions.
Think about it, my dear souls. If
Ergo, the Miracle of the Sun can’t have anything directly to do with the Antichrist.
Furthermore, if Fatima was the work of the Devil, then why would
the servants of the Devil --- those in control of a false church via the
What’s the point?
My dear souls, this doesn’t add up. The leaders of the
Now you tell me… how does this stack up with the claim that Benedict XV and his immediate successors were antipopes from the get-go?
Not that this by itself proves the accusers wrong. Rather, that it is as I said:
Powerful circumstantial evidence against the notion that Benedict XV was an antipope.
+ + + 36. Conclusion + + +
My dear souls, I have written at great length concerning this matter. This is because, in spite of my misgivings about Benedict’s reign, I cannot abide injustice, no matter who it afflicts. And to slander a dead man’s name is injustice of the worst sort. If I don’t defend him, who will? Perchance there is someone out there who can do it and will do it, but it would seem not. In any case, I can and I have. Not because I want to. I don’t. I don’t like Benedict the Fifteenth’s reign. I consider him at least a bad pope, and very possibly a snake in disguise, being an occult heretic or even a secret freemason.
No, I do so because it is my duty as a Catholic, who has the capability, to uphold what is true and what is right.
As I type these closing words, it is the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He was the founder of the Jesuits, those mighty warriors of recent centuries (till suppressed by a weak & bad pope near the end of the 18th century) who defended the Papacy and served the popes with bravery & distinction. I am not worthy of their company. I am a poor, feeble, wicked & ignorant man. Nevertheless, I am truly Catholic. I therefore issue this call to the accusers and any who will hear my voice:
“Come to the vineyard. There is work to be done. Dear souls, cease your tilting against windmills and join the fight that matters, the taming of the flesh through mortification & the cultivation of meekness through humiliation. This is a marvelous chance to do both. In admitting that you have been hasty to judge, you will not only undo the injustice that you have perpetrated against Benedict XV, not to mention against God Himself via the breaking of His Commandments, but you will do violence to yourself & humble your souls in contrition for your sin. It is clear you have skills & intelligence. Yet those things are worthless if they are not used rightly on behalf of God’s Kingdom. By means of your pride the Devil has a chokehold on your lives. Perhaps you are not Catholic. If not, then you have a chance to learn the Faith whole & undefiled. Or perhaps you are Catholic; I cannot know without careful investigation. I do know this, though --- God is summoning you to join the fight against the hideous darkness that is arrayed against us. His Mother beckons. Heed Her merciful gaze and beg Her to let you become but the sole of Her Celestial Foot in striking against the Ancient Serpent!”
May the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary, Queen of Highest Heaven & Vanquisher of All Heresies & False Religions, procure for you the graces of Her Divine Son to accomplish this in your lives. May all the precious souls who receive this email & read it be assisted by Her merciful prayers. If truly Catholic, may you receive the graces necessary to work out your salvation with fear & trembling, dying a good death. If not yet truly Catholic, may you receive the graces to convert to the One, Holy, Roman, Catholic & Apostolic Church, the Singular Body of Jesus Christ outside of which no man can ever have any hope of being saved.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of Conquistadora, Our Lady of La Salette, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Good Success, and Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
In the Charity of Christ’s Eucharistic & Sacred Heart for your immortal souls,
+ + +
Part One of Was Benedict XV an Antipope? (Chapters 1-18)
+ + +
Pilate’s query met:
if you have come to this webpage directly from a search
engine or other website, then, when done viewing this webpage
--- and assuming you wish to view more of this website’s pages ---
please type the website’s address (as given above right before this
note) into the address bar at the top of your browser and hit the
‘enter’ button on the keyboard of your computer.
Please go here about use of the writings
on this website.
© 2009 by Paul Doughton.
All rights reserved.