Schism of Catholic
+ + +
Grievously Askew Persons --- Who Call
Themselves Catholic --- Twist the Magisterium,
Mangle Men’s Words & Unjustly Impugn Their
Motives Based on Lack of Evidence, Copious
Bias, Manifest Ignorance and, Far Too
Often, a Super-Abundance of Pride
COMPOSED & EDITED SEPTEMBER 2010.
+ + +
“That there might be no schism in the body; but the members might be mutually careful one for another. And if one member suffer anything, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27 DRC)
“Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1-2 DRC)
“Before thou inquire, blame no man: and when thou hast inquired, reprove justly… And believe not every word. There is one, that slippeth with the tongue, but not from his heart. For who is there that hath not offended with his tongue? Admonish thy neighbour before thou threaten him.” (Ecclesiasticus 11:7, 19:16-17 DRC)
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.” (Matthew 23:1-2 DRC)
“Knowledge puffeth up; but charity edifieth.” (1 Corinthians 8:1c DRC)
+ + +
Intended by the Author of This Book
for the Greater Glory of the Adorable Triune Catholic God,
Worship of the Sacred Heart of King Jesus Christ of
for the Praise of the Immaculate Heart of Queen Mary, the Blessed Ever-
Virgin Mother of God,
unto the Protection & Propagation of the Holy Roman Catholic Church &
Her Most Precious Heavenly Dogmas,
under the Euphonious Patronage of St. Cecilia, the Eloquent Patronage
Ven. Mariana de Jesus Torres, Virgins &
“Domine, non est exaltatum cor meum, neque elati sunt oculi mei. Neque ambulavi in
magnis, neque in mirabilibus super me. Si non humiliter sentiebam, sed exaltavi animam
meam; sicut ablactatus est super matre sua, ita retributio in anima
in Domino, ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.” (Psalmus CXXX,Vulgata)
St. Francis Xavier, Patron of Catholic Missioners, Ss. Catherine of Alexandria & Francis of Sales, Patrons of Catholic Philosophers & Apologists, respectively, and St. Peter of Verona, the Glorious Martyr, may you be pleased to guide this arrow to its target, either unto eternal life or eternal death! “Now thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and manifesteth the odour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one indeed the odour of death unto death: but to the others the odour of life unto life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16b DRC)
St. Francis of Assisi, Humble Seraph of the Incarnate God, and St. Dominic the Preacher, Dogged Cherub of the Triune Deity, pray for your children that they may not fail the test but suffer the malice of the wicked gladly and so gain the Crown of Life!
+ + +
A NOTE TO THE READER:
Last year I posted the book, Was Benedict XV an Antipope? In it I defended the legitimacy of Benedict the Fifteenth’s (Fifteenth, not Sixteenth!) papacy against those who dared to accuse him of heresy, rebutting their allegations in much detail. I showed that certain words of his --- which they insisted were manifestly heretical and thus sufficient to make him lose his office --- did most definitely not have to be interpreted as heresy and could be most reasonably taken as orthodox instead, and how the accusers took other words and mangled them with such gross carelessness and (sometimes) lack of logic that their vicious bias --- not to mention a flippant impatience --- came through loud & clear.
In short, I revealed that their accusation was not to be believed and that they themselves could not be trusted.
These men then pushed back their accusations to the papacy of Leo XIII and the year 1880 (Benedict XV reigned near the beginning of the 1900s). What’s more, their allegations charmed the ear of a close colleague of mine, who is Catholic.
What is their allure? It is fourfold.
First, the accusers are intelligent. More intelligent than most people. Hence, others are sometimes impressed by what they say.
Two, the accusers marshal lots of quotes from papal documents, conciliar decrees, scripture, saints and etc. Hence, their claims take on an aura of great authority, as if their conclusions couldn’t possibly be wrong.
Three, the accusers are righteously indignant toward modernism. Hence, other haters of modernism are naturally drawn to them.
Four, the accusers have little patience for necessary nuance or important details. Hence, they oversimplify (or, rather, simplify in the wrong way) and appeal to other impatient people.
How to respond?
I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Not yet, at least. The principles I laid out in Was Benedict XV an Antipope? apply here, too. But the Benedict XV book is too intricate and long for most people. So I summed it up and wrote this article, which was at first part of a letter for the above-noted colleague.
Oh, and another thing. A lot of persons might wonder why I don’t try to match the accusers with tons of quotes from popes, councils and etc. Not that I never quote these things, but, admittedly, I haven’t done so near as much as they do.
First, because I don’t have the time to do so. And, secondly, because it’s not necessary.
True, lots of these kinds of quotes would impress somebody. People are like that. But I don’t have the time yet to troll through tons of documents just to do that. It’s not that I don’t respect them --- especially the solemnly infallible Magisterium --- it’s just that most people, frankly, aren’t capable of properly judging these things. They’re like conservative Protestants who distort the Bible.
That is to say, anybody can quote the Bible and make it look like it upholds his position… but is his quote actually a correct interpretation and thus logically relevant?
Similarly those who champion lots of quotes from popes, councils and etc.:
Anybody can quote the Magisterium and make it look like it upholds his position… but is his quote actually a correct interpretation and thus logically relevant?
The point is, my dear reader, a real Catholic doesn’t need to quote endlessly from the Infallible Magisterium. Understanding the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Our Father correctly --- which is the Deposit of Faith in all of its simplicity, so simple that anyone of average intelligence can comprehend it --- is all that is truly needed. Anything beyond this is gravy. Which is why I’ll sometimes quote the Magisterium… but not endlessly.
It’s like Jesus during His Ministry. He spoke with an authority that amazed the common people. It wasn’t like their Old Testament leaders of the time, the scribes and Pharisees. They relied on too many bad manmade traditions, which often hid and nullified the intent of God’s Sacred Scripture & Sacred Tradition.
Jesus cut to the chase. He understood the Saving Truth at the core of the True Religion and spoke it with simple good sense. This is my goal, too. Not that we’re talking brevity; that’s a different subject, and why my Benedict XV book isn’t short.
Rather, that endless authoritative quotes aren’t really, all by themselves, what successfully communicate the truth about something important. Too many authoritative quotes just let prejudiced minds misinterpret these quotes, since most of them were not composed for untrained people or the simple laity. They obfuscate rather than clarify when it comes to such people.
A final note, then. The identities of both the accusers and my colleague must remain hidden for now. If it becomes necessary later on to reveal them, then I shall. The text below is not the entirety of my letter to this colleague, but only a large excerpt from it, tweaked & adjusted here and there to make it fit its new context. May anything true or praiseworthy in this work be attributed to the efforts of the Holy Triune God through the Immaculate Hands of the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary. And may anything which is false or blameworthy be laid firmly in accusation at my own wayward feet.
1. ‘All-Knowing’ or ‘Never-
+++ Wrong’ People Despise Truth +++
Worldly-minded people act like they’re all-knowing or never-wrong about religious things. Maybe they don’t do this all the time, and maybe they don’t know what they’re doing --- but they act like it, nonetheless, at least some of the time.
You don’t like me calling you a ‘fundamentalist’. Fine. Choose any term you like. Because it’s not the word that counts, it’s the word’s meaning that matters. And when I say ‘fundamentalist’, I mean you’re acting like you’re all-knowing or never-wrong.
You fault me for this since apostates called you ‘fundamentalist’ years ago. Yet what of it? Your criticism only applies to me if they meant the same thing by that word and if I’m using the word wrongly about you. After all, a lot of heretics reject ‘evolution’. So am I wrong to use the same word and reject a similar idea just because they do, too?
We aren’t God, X. And we aren’t popes. So there are things about religion that we don’t know and there can be things about religion that we’re wrong about. Which means we have to use our God-given minds carefully and apply them rightly to these things.
The common dogmas of the Catholic Faith --- the Apostle’s Creed --- are simple enough that most adults can understand them. And everyday morality --- the Ten Commandments --- are also simple enough that most of us can figure it out. Profession of these things (the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments, plus the Lord’s Prayer) is the bare minimum that makes someone Catholic in the first place. But deeper dogmas? Or rarer and more challenging moral dilemmas? Ah… here is where we have to be trained properly, and where we must have great patience and take great pains to get it right.
This is not something that Catholic fundamentalists like to do. They want to think that everything is really simple and that they can’t possibly get it wrong. Open-and-shut case, say they. No need to take time and deliberate carefully, or to hear the other side out fully. A ‘heretic’ is always plain as day, they say. “Truth must be defended!” is their cry.
Or so they claim. In reality, they despise truth. They have no real desire to know it, and they have little patience to seek it out carefully when it is not to their personal advantage to believe it. They judge rashly and only believe what they already want to believe is true… and not the actual truth regardless of what they merely wanted to believe.
2. Charges of ‘Heresy’ Are Not
+++ Decided in Minutes, Hours or Days +++
People like you, X, and Y, have a really mixed up idea about how to determine charges of heresy. You think you just see something that sounds ‘heretical’ to your catholicized ears and that the person who said it or did it is therefore ‘guilty’.
End of story.
But God’s Law, God’s Church and the simple good sense of our God-given minds tell us something very different. A charge of heresy is the most serious accusation that anyone can ever make against someone else. It is lethal, and --- like the proverbial ‘cat out of the bag’ --- it is deviously difficult to put back in the bag once it’s been let loose. For next to one’s soul, a man’s reputation is the most precious thing on earth that he possesses.
Hence, no one should even dare to breathe such an accusation against someone else’s good reputation for orthodoxy unless he has most excellent reason to do so!
But, once breathed forth, the charge of heresy must then be considered with the gravest of minds and the most cautious of deliberation. Period. Anything less is pure moral idiocy.
When the Inquisition received accusations of heresy against someone, they sometimes had to conduct their initial investigation in secrecy to prevent enemies from attacking or running away. Yet even if a first inquiry turned up excellent reason for taking the charge seriously --- and even if the evidence seemed utterly blatant --- they still gave the accused every opportunity to defend himself thoroughly to the judges in his case!
Because mere men are not all-knowing and not never-wrong. In other words, X, we are not God and we are not popes. As a result, no matter how smart or how wise we may be, we have to be incredibly careful, incredibly thorough and incredibly patient to make sure we get it right. Part of this means hearing out fully the other side of the story before we make our judgment. Which in turn means that we have to seek out this other side of the story before we can even begin to rightly decide that the accused person is guilty!
This is not something that can be done adequately or correctly in minutes & hours or even days & weeks. It will take at least months, and sometimes years.
3. The Five Principles for
+++ Judging Heresy Retroactively +++
Five essential principles for judging heresy retroactively make it obvious why this length of time is necessary --- even when it comes to a man who is dead and is being examined solely through his writings or recorded history. Put very simply, they are as follows:
1. Make sure the man actually said what he said in the original language.
2. Make sure the man actually said what he said in our translation of it.
3. Find a rational & orthodox interpretation of his words if at all possible.
4. Find out if he was admonished for his crime before he died.
5. Find out if he had enough time to repent before he died.
You didn’t argue the first two points, so I won’t bother much with them here. You did argue the third point, though, by contending that my very orthodox interpretation of Leo XIII’s words wasn’t rational… but more on that later. Whereas you didn’t get to hear the last two points, which is what I will focus on in a moment.
Clearly, even in the era of the Internet it’s going to take more than a few minutes or hours to satisfy the first two points. It will take, at a bare minimum, many days. And the third point handled rightly with due caution & deliberation will take weeks, if not months or more. But let’s say your charge against Leo is correct. For the sake of argument, let’s assume he did speak the heresy that you claim he spoke. What then?
If a man was Catholic to begin with --- because we’re not talking about people who we have every reason to think were clearly not Catholic prior to saying something that’s heretical --- then he normally must be admonished properly before he can be called formally heretical or officially excommunicated from the Church. Why?
Because along with God’s Justice always comes God’s Mercy.
So if a man is proven to be heretical, then he must with the mercy that God expects from Catholics be given the chance to repent of his heresy. If his heresy was against a common dogma then he was automatically excommunicated, but, if truly repentant, he is forgiven and welcomed back into the arms of the Church, with no formal excommunication ever publicly announced. Whereas, if only suspected of heresy against a common dogma --- or only proven to be heretical about a deeper dogma (a dogma not included in the Apostle’s Creed) --- then, if truly repentant, he is pardoned and no excommunication is ever carried out, whether automatically or officially. In short, such a man is never a formal heretic.
This is the practice of the Catholic Church since most ancient times, X, and it was the practice of the Inquisition, too, that most ‘severe’ of legal proceedings in the opinion of modern people. God through His Holy Church expects Catholics to be given at least six months to repent after they receive their first real or official admonishment for the crime of heresy, and the repentant Catholic is never formally excommunicated for this crime and is thus never considered a formal heretic at any time whatsoever!
+++ 4. Your Charge Can’t Have Deposed Leo XIII +++
Consequently, even if Leo XIII was heretical as you say, we would have to find out if he was admonished for the crime of heresy to know if he could have lost his office. Because the whole basis of Y’s claim is that he was an antipope due to excommunication. But excommunication in this kind of case only happens in two ways, broadly speaking:
1. Heresy against a common dogma, which automatically excommunicates.
2. Heresy against a deeper dogma, which only incurs excommunication if it is admonished and which can only be inflicted officially by a higher authority.
Meanwhile, heresy against a common dogma still allows for repentance & reinstatement to the Church’s membership after a man’s automatic excommunication, which means, in a pope’s case, that we’d have to find out if he was admonished, became repentant in six months, and then reinstated and hence never formally lost his office. (The story of Pope St. Marcellinus in the 4th century is a fascinating example of this possibility.) But if we can rule this event out reasonably, then we can know, too, he fell from Peter’s Throne.
However, heresy against a deeper dogma can never result in the excommunication of a pope --- and thus the loss of his office --- unless the pope deposes himself. (The story of Marcellinus is a fascinating example of this possibility as well!) This is because heresy against deeper dogma requires that a man be admonished for his heresy to be sure he can know that he has violated this deeper dogma. This is distinct from common dogma that every Catholic must know to be Catholic to start with. Yet since no Catholic is higher in authority than the pope, then no one except a pope could punish himself for such a crime if unrepentant! Ergo, if never admonished, he can’t lose his office for this. And, even if admonished but not repentant, he still keeps his office unless he acts against himself.
Your accusation against Leo XIII, even if true, is not violating anything contained in the Apostle’s Creed. It therefore does not contradict a common dogma. To the contrary, you and Y claim it contradicts something Pius IX condemned in his Syllabus. Some theologians argue the Syllabus is not infallible. I am not of that opinion. However, it is then a deeper dogma and not a common dogma found in the Apostle’s Creed.
5. Both God’s Justice & Good Sense Demand a Rational & Orthodox
+++ Interpretation of a Catholic’s Words If At All Possible! +++
But back to the third principle. Namely, that we are duty bound before God to find a rational & orthodox interpretation of a Catholic’s words, if at all possible. For instance, let’s suppose a Catholic said the following:
“God… will have all men to be saved… For… Christ Jesus… gave himself a redemption for all… And Christ died for all… reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins…”
Sound suspiciously heretical, X? Do you suppose someone like Leo XIII, Benedict XV or Pius XII said these words? Think it’s blatantly modernist? Then think again.
Because human minds do not all talk identically and because human words are often not limited to just one --- and only one --- possible meaning. Thus, unless you get ludicrously tedious and try to anticipate every single interpretation that someone else could give to your words --- going to absurd lengths in qualifying them endlessly so that no one could ever mistake them for what you really mean --- then we must be practical and so simply say what we say, trusting that all sane, normal, intelligent, educated & fair-minded persons will understand our words as we intend them to be understood.
Or, at least, that a fair-minded person will never assume the worst possible meaning to our words without first bothering to investigate carefully --- which includes letting a man defend himself thoroughly --- and so find out for sure whether or not the worst possible meaning is what he intended to mean.
The truth of this is obvious. It is simple good sense. It is also obedience to number eight of God’s Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16 DRC, emphases added) Because to misinterpret someone else’s words is to “bear false witness against” him and thus lie about what he said, making him out to mean what he didn’t actually intend to say! As a result, we must do our utmost best to find a rational & orthodox interpretation, if at all possible… especially if we suspect a Catholic of being guilty of an intentional heresy! Both caution & charity demand it.
Oh, and by the way, who may have said the above about “all men” being saved and “the world” reconciled via Christ? Some flaming heretic who denied the Salvation Dogma, pretending humans are universally saved? A blatant modernist or evil antipope?
Or do you wish to accuse Paul of heresy? In turn making St. Peter
an antipope, since he let Paul be his auxiliary bishop at
+++ 6. Interpretation Is Everything +++
This is why, X, you can’t go off half-cocked, accusing Leo XIII of heresy. If Paul can say what he said in the Bible --- sounding superficially, in the ears of a biased person like Y, as if he denies ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ --- then a pope of later times can do similarly… and not ever mean to deny a dogma of the Catholic Church!
This is why interpretation is everything. And there are strict, charitable & supremely logical rules for interpreting correctly. Rules that God gives us, that the Church gives us, and that simple good sense itself makes clear that they must exist and that they must be followed if we are going to interpret what people say both intelligently and fairly.
You may want to find and avoid heresy, X. Fine. Just be sure to do it right.
Hanging a man with his words only because you don’t want to admit that they can rationally mean something other than a heresy is not the right way to go about it. All this does is reveal your bias, how you so badly want to fight heresy that you don’t care one bit about the reputations you destroy and the evil you commit while trying to do so.
You become a witch hunter, going berserk with a mania to find any
and all heresies without actually following the principles of a rational
& just investigation. And, just like the mostly
well-intentioned folks of
There is an excellent reason, X, that the Hierarchy put careful structures into place to investigate accusations of heresy or other wrong-doing against holy religion. And that reason has to do with maintaining justice by not wrongly hounding or convicting those who are innocent of such charges. It also has to do with avoiding the kind of mania that arises when well-intentioned but unstable men like Y go on the ‘warpath’ against heresy, destroying good reputations in the process. Or, even if he turns out to be right about a particular person, hideously wrong, nevertheless, in how he goes about it!
+++ 7. What Pius & Leo Actually Said, Interpreted Rightly +++
Meanwhile, the rational & just man, who doesn’t pretend to be all-knowing or never-wrong and first takes the time to fully hear out the other side, the side which dares to defend the accused, sees where someone like Y plainly goes wrong. For in the condemned errors that he quotes from the Syllabus, what does Pius actually say?
“The State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limits… The Church is to be separated from the state, and the state from the Church.” (Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors, Condemned Propositions #39 & 55. Emphases added in this and the next citation.)
And in the statement Y quotes from Arcanum, what does Leo XIII actually say?
“Yet, no one doubts that Jesus Christ, the Founder of the Church, willed her sacred power to be distinct from the civil power, and each power to be free and unshackled in its own sphere: with this condition, however --- a condition good for both, and of advantage to all men --- that union and concord should be maintained between them; and that on those questions which are, though in different ways, of common right and authority, the power to which secular matters have been entrusted should happily and becomingly depend on the other power which has in its charge the interests of heaven. In such arrangement and harmony is found not only the best line of action for each power, but also the… dignity of the one is exalted, and so long as religion is its guide it will never rule unjustly; while the other receives help of protection and defense for the public good of the faithful.” (Leo XIII in his Arcanum, Paragraph #36)
Now, X, does Leo anywhere in the quote right above literally & actually say that the state has no limits at all to its power? And does Leo anywhere literally & actually say that the Church is to be utterly separated from the State? No, he doesn’t!
To the contrary, Leo actually says the State’s power
is only “free and unshackled in its own sphere.”
That’s the limitation on the State, X --- “its own sphere.” Beyond that sphere of activity, the
State is to be circumscribed and not
“free and unshackled” to do whatever it wants. Yet did Leo say
they’re to be utterly separate? Not so. Leo actually says “…union and concord should be maintained between
Moreover, Leo says the secular power “should happily and becomingly depend” on the Church’s power. He upholds the supremacy of the Church over the State! Then, to top it all off, he describes the proper relation between the two. To wit, the State should have “religion” as “its guide” so that “it will never rule unjustly;” while the Church “receives help of protection and defense for the public good of the faithful” from the State.
+++ 8. Distinct But Harmonious Spheres of Responsibility +++
The point is, both Church and State have their own particular duties & responsibilities on earth. The State ought not to dictate to the Church what bishops to appoint or religious decisions She decrees, nor should the Church bother to micromanage the day-to-day affairs of the State, etc. Y even admits as much at his website:
“Please understand that nobody is arguing the Church hierarchy must decide every or even the majority of decisions in civil affairs. No, that would be silly. We recognize that the civil power has the responsibility --- and therefore the authority -- to manage the day-to-day operations of the state. The Church has more important matters to decide on than whether a green light means go or a red light means stop.” [Y’s Condemnation of Leo XIII as an Antipope, Paragragh 17, retrieved during August of 2010. All emphases added.]
And this is precisely what Leo meant when describing the distinct but harmonious duties & responsibilities for Church & State as “…each power… free and unshackled in its own sphere...” It is sheer prejudice on the part of the accuser to claim otherwise, as if there is no rational way Leo could have meant by his words this very simple & orthodox point. The sphere of the Church entails matters of Faith & Morals, as well as the operation of Her Ecclesial Body. The sphere of the State entails matters of Law & Commerce, as well as the operation of Her Civil Body. Both must be “free and unshackled” to accomplish their own respective duties without silly or unjust meddling by the other power.
However, the Church is superior to the State in Her Power, and must sometimes intrude on affairs of State when the State imposes on matters of Faith & Morals. This is why Leo mentions “…the power to which secular matters have been entrusted should happily and becomingly depend on the other power which has in its charge the interests of heaven.” In other words, the State ought to be inferior to the Church, deferring to Her Judgment. Y, though, impugns Leo for saying the State should be ‘dependent’ on the Church, claiming the State should be in ‘subjection’, not ‘dependent’.
His rebuke is nonsense. Never has the Church, to my knowledge, definitively ruled that a Catholic has to say ‘subjection’ instead of ‘dependent’ when it comes to talking about the relation of State to Church. And any intelligent, fair-minded person knows that the word ‘dependent’ can easily mean that State is to be subject to Church. Again, only prejudice dares say otherwise, as if the accuser is all-knowing and never-wrong in his judgments.
9. Fundamentalists Pretend to
+++ Know What They Don’t Know +++
But this is the problem with Catholic fundamentalism, X. Because just as Protestant fundamentalists pretend to always know the meaning of the Bible infallibly, so, too, do Catholic fundamentalists pretend to always know the meaning of the Magisterium infallibly. And hence why Y claims absurdly that the word ‘dependent’ couldn’t possibly be used in a legitimate & orthodox way in Leo’s Arcanum, pretending to know infallibly that the Magisterium elsewhere has definitively ruled out this option and decreed that the term ‘subjection’ be used rather than ‘dependent’ about relations between Church & State.
Not only that, but just as Protestant fundamentalists pretend to be never wrong about the intentions of those people they don’t like, so, too, do Catholic fundamentalists pretend to be never wrong about the intentions of those people that they don’t like. This is why he blasts Leo by saying, “But like any evil heretic, Leo XIII tried to cover his heresy up by teaching that the Church and the civil power should have ‘union’ and ‘concord’ and be on ‘friendly terms’, with the state ‘happily and becomingly depend[ing]’ on the Church.” [Y’s Condemnation of Leo XIII as an Antipope, Paragraph 14. Annotation added by Y.]
That is to say, Y admits that Leo spoke indisputable orthodoxy about relations between Church & State in each sentence of Paragraph 36 of Arcanum after the first sentence. It’s simply that he somehow magically ‘knows’ the private mind of Leo, that Leo intended the first sentence to mean something ‘heretical’ --- and even though the first sentence does not at all have to be taken by an honest man to mean something heretical and can be interpreted in a perfectly innocent & orthodox fashion --- and hence, insists Y, Leo’s indisputably orthodox statements a little further on don’t count.
Yet how does Y know that his allegation is true? He just does --- so don’t dare to ask any more impertinent questions or else you’re a heretic, too, buddy!
+++ 10. Natural Ambiguity vs. Logical Ambiguity +++
How’s that for stacking the deck against someone? God alone knows omnisciently the secret mind of someone. We can only know a person’s mind by his objective speech & actions. Yet if a word or deed allows at least two different rational interpretations, one of which is orthodox while the other may be heretical, then guess what? We aren’t God and don’t know the secret intent of the person, so we have to take it in the orthodox sense until such time as we have ironclad & inarguable proof to the contrary. Natural ambiguity of words or deeds does not constitute such ironclad & inarguable proof.
(This, by the way, presumes that Leo’s first sentence in Paragraph 36 of Arcanum can be interpreted reasonably to mean something heretical. In reality, it cannot and thus is not. It takes a terribly prejudiced soul to begin with --- not to mention a certain degree of ignorance --- to think it can. This is why no one until now, 130 years later, has ever publicly opined that they could see real hint of heresy where there obviously is none.)
Natural ambiguity is the unavoidable variation in meaning that occurs with human languages. For instance, the word ‘bark’ can mean the sound a dog makes, the stuff that covers trees on the outside, or --- in a definition that’s become very old-fashioned --- a small sailing boat. Now suppose we talk about the necessity of being in the ‘bark of St. Peter’ to save one’s soul. What do we mean by our words?
Don’t think it’s a pertinent question, X? Then you don’t truly understand language. Because, in view of the three different meanings of ‘bark’ in English, we could mean any one of three different things, conceivably. We could mean we have to be in the barking sound that St. Peter makes. Or we could mean we have to be in the tree bark that belongs to St. Peter. Or we could mean we have to be in the sailing ship that belongs to St. Peter. And the last option is hazy… after all, it’s only a metaphor, isn’t it? Peter doesn’t literally have, in Heaven, a small sailing ship that we have to get into in order to save our souls.
So --- have we spoke ‘heresy’ just because we used words that can be thought of as ambiguous? Have we somehow denied, perverted or mocked the Salvation Dogma just because our words can have more than one conceivable interpretation of their meaning?
Obviously not. As a result, all sane, normal, intelligent, educated & fair-minded men will know what we’re trying to say (although the old-fashioned meaning of ‘bark’ as a small sailing ship will puzzle most people now, who aren’t trained in Catholic terminology). These persons will see the difference between natural ambiguity and logical ambiguity.
Natural ambiguity is the ambiguity inherent to human language and only avoided with great difficulty, usually involving a tedious excess of words to explain exactly what you mean. Whereas logical ambiguity is the ambiguity that comes from saying what is of only one meaning and inarguably one meaning alone --- it not being possible to interpret it rationally to mean anything else --- and which in turn directly contradicts another saying of yours that also is of only one meaning and inarguably one meaning alone.
For instance, let’s suppose you write in a book that there is ‘absolutely no Salvation outside the Catholic Church, no exceptions admitted’. That’s inarguably of one meaning, isn’t it? But then let’s suppose, a little later in the book, you write that ‘someone can find Salvation despite not being inside the Catholic Church, occasionally’. Well, again, that seems pretty inarguably of one meaning, doesn’t it? But then we have a problem, don’t we? Because which inarguably-of-one-meaning-and-one-meaning-alone meaning do you intend to say is true, that you believe? Is it the ‘absolutely no Salvation outside the Church’ position or the ‘someone not in the Church can be saved’ position?
That’s logical ambiguity. And while what Pius VI wrote in Auctorem fidei was not infallible, it’s the kind of ambiguity he had to be warning about if he’s as smart as I think he was. Yet whether he was or not, that’s the kind of ambiguity a Catholic logically must be looking for if he’s searching for real & hard evidence of something heretical.
Is this type of search tiresome and challenging? It can be.
That’s why the
+++ 11. Only One Example of Heresy Still Doesn’t Cut It +++
A lot more can be said, X. Nonetheless, this is enough to show that I am serious and that I know what I am talking about… because I have studied it, I have pondered it, and I have prayed about it doggedly. The bottom line is, you need to read my book about Benedict XV. This gives the Godly principles very clearly and meticulously, showing how Catholics are to rightly judge cases of suspected heresy. These principles apply to Leo as well, being how the Church always judges these cases. It also displays the ludicrous lengths to which Y goes in his attacks, becoming illogical and mangling evidence --- sometimes in the most absurd way --- to support his position.
Yet we’ve not even touched on one key principle. Viz., that even if you have one inarguable example of heresy, the Church still doesn’t formally excommunicate a Catholic for that one single example. Why? Because, as Sacred Scripture says, “Before thou inquire, blame no man: and when thou hast inquired, reprove justly… And believe not every word. [Don’t jump all over someone for every little thing that he says or for what someone else claims that he says.] There is one [a man], that slippeth with the tongue [speaks accidentally], but not from his heart. For who is there that hath not offended with his tongue? [Who hasn’t said something stupid or wrong?] Admonish thy neighbour before thou threaten him.” (Ecclesiasticus 11:7, 19:16-17 DRC. All emphases & annotation added.)
In other words, even if Leo XIII were to have written one thing that is inarguably heretical, that still couldn’t have made him lose his office all by itself. The Church demands, normally, that a Catholic have committed at least two inarguably heretical statements or deeds of the same kind prior to considering this Catholic certainly a heretic. Which is why a heresy must not merely be notorious (inarguably known) but also pertinacious (committed repeatedly). At most, one inarguable heretical example can cause a Catholic to be suspected of heresy… but not formally charged with it.
Incidentally, Pius IX is the closest possible case of this that I know in recent times. In Singulari quidem he came perilously near to (at least in our English version of his words), if not actually guilty of, denying the Salvation Dogma. There is one --- and only one --- possible rational interpretation of his words that exculpates him from this transgression. But assuming he actually said these words in the original Latin, it is an admittedly unlikely-seeming orthodox interpretation, however rationally possible.
And… guess what? There’s already a tiny group of persons going by the name of Catholic who condemn Pius IX for this apparent fault, considering him a formal heretic and thus an antipope because of it!
And that’s where your stance is leading, too, X, as I warned you face-to-face last week. Maybe you, personally, won’t lead the charge to yet an earlier pope, deposing him from his office by accusing him of being a heretic and thus an antipope. But Pandora’s Box has now been opened. The fundamentalist and schismatic mentality that both you and Y share is now unleashed upon the world of present day Catholics.
Sooner or later --- mark my words --- another person going by the
name of Catholic will push the accusations back further. They’ll find
something they don’t like about Pius VI or Pius VII because they
didn’t oppose the French Revolution or Napoleon properly. Or
they’ll go back to the 1700s and find some pope then who they’ll
condemn because he went soft on usury or heliocentrism. Or they’ll skip
back to the 1500s and condemn a pope because he didn’t stand up to
Protestantism adequately. Or they’ll jaunt into the 1400s and condemn a
pope since he failed to battle against impure art and scandalous statues right
The potential sequence is endless. It is the logical outcome when men who call themselves Catholic don’t actually know how to judge cases of suspected heresy properly. These men appear to have the best of all motives. They seem to be totally sincere in their efforts. They only want to uphold religious truth, you would think; they only want to guard against heresy within the Sanctuary of the Church.
They instead cause schism and wind up in heresy on their own as a result, eventually.
+ + +
Still skeptical after reading this, my dear reader? Still want to think that Leo XIII or Benedict XV are antipopes and hence all of the legitimate popes following them, too? Then you are duty bound in conscience before God Almighty to read my book, Was Benedict XV an Antipope? It can be found in the Books & Articles section of this website and goes into much greater detail.
+ + +
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