Antipope Claims: Substantial Error — Guest Post by Fr John Rickert, FSSP

Editor’s note. The sentiment, and even conviction, that Francis is an Antipope has been growing. Because these are tumultuous times and it is best not to be distracted, I asked Fr John Rickert to write a rebuttal of that notion. Ann Barnhardt, God bless her, has led the charges that Francis is an Antipope, which is why below she serves as the brief for the prosecution. Fr Rickert speaks for himself and not necessarily for his Fraternity. Permission is granted to copy this article, as long as this disclaimer accompanies copies. Please read Part I of Father Rickert’s article first.

Some readers, reluctant to accept the argument I made from the principle of Common Error, are still troubled by some arguments which they see as leading to the conclusion that Pope Benedict actually remains the real Pope and therefore Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Cdl. Bergoglio) is nothing more, in their view, than an Antipope.

In my earlier post, I explain why, from a standpoint of logic, I did not see a need to address these arguments, as focusing on this exclusively would commit the error of Denying the Antecedent. However, it may help for people to see that these arguments are faulty, so as not to be won over by them.

The Argument from Substantial Error

The argument from Substantial Error goes like this:

  1. Benedict did not fully abdicate the Papacy, but only did so partially, by expanding its role from a monarchy to a diarchy.

    Ann Barnhardt says, “Pope Benedict believed that he could fundamentally transform the office of the papacy into a collegial or synodal office by ‘partially resigning.'” Proponents of this view cite Abp. Gänswein’s speech. In that speech, the Abp. Gänswein said that Benedict, “has not abandoned the Petrine ministry.” Proponents of the position taken by Ann Barnhardt further note that Benedict has never denied this claim.

  2. As Pope, he believed he had the power to do this.
  3. But this view is erroneous, for there can be only one Pope.
  4. Given the substantial error on Pope Benedict’s part under assumptions 1 and 2 above, his resignation is invalid in virtue of Can. 188: “A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself.”
  5. Therefore, Benedict is still the Pope, and Jorge Mario Cdl. Bergoglio never was.

A response to each of these points will make it clear that this argument is flawed.

  1. There is simply no evidence for this up to and including Pope Benedict’s announcement in 2013. In fact, as will be seen below, there is strong evidence to the contrary.

    Note that Abp. Gänswein’s speech is from 2016, three years after Pope Benedict’s announcement. Whether Abp. G¨nswein’s view truly reflects that of Pope Emeritus Benedict in 2016 is actually irrelevant. Once the resignation went into effect, the Chair of St. Peter became vacant. If one reads Abp. G¨nswein’s speech all the way through, which I recommend doing, it becomes clear that he is offering his own personal thoughts and in no way claiming to speak on behalf of Pope Emeritus Benedict.

    Nothing should be inferred from Pope Emeritus Benedict’s silence. Every priest knows well that there are times when he must remain silent, even if what is said is not true. Very likely the same holds for lawyers, doctors, and counselors.

  2. Again, there is no evidence for this up to and including Pope Benedict’s announcement in 2013.

    Moreover, there are things a Pope cannot do: He cannot change the Natural Law, because he cannot change the definition of human nature. He cannot dissolve a marriage that is ratum et consummatum. And he cannot change the meaning of words. In 2013 he said: [U]t a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 20, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet et Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse.” The See of St. Peter will be vacant…and a Conclave for electing a new Pope…must be called. (Emphases added.)

  3. This point is correct, and Pope Benedict was quite well aware of it. For example, in his Wednesday audience of March 5, 2008, about Pope St. Leo the Great he says: “From this intervention in particular, but also from others made during the Christological controversy in those years, it is clear that the Pope felt with special urgency his responsibilities as Successor of Peter, whose role in the Church is unique since ‘to one Apostle alone was entrusted what was communicated to all the Apostles,’ as Leo said in one of his sermons for the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul (83, 2). And the Pontiff was able to exercise these responsibilities, in the West as in the East, intervening in various circumstances with caution, firmness and lucidity through his writings and legates. In this manner he showed how exercising the Roman Primacy was as necessary then as it is today to effectively serve communion, a characteristic of Christ’s one Church.”
  4. The quotations given from Pope Benedict show that he did not have Substantial Error as claimed. He knew the the Pope is unique (as seen in his Wednesday address) and he intended to leave the Chair of St. Peter completely (as seen in his 2013 announcement).

    But is any of this even relevant? I discuss it because it is used as a basis for the argument. The answer to the question is “No.” The pertinent canon is this:

    Can. 332 &sec;2. If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.

    Freely and properly manifested, that is it. Substantial Error does not even enter into the picture. The statement of resignation from Feb. 28, 2013, was obviously manifested, and Pope Benedict asserted his full and deliberate freedom in making this decision.

    He even had a window of opportunity to revoke this resignation:

    Can. 189 &sec;4. A resignation can be revoked by the one resigning as long as it has not taken effect; once it has taken effect it cannot be revoked, but the one who resigned can obtain the office by some other title.

    After his resignation took effect, the only way Pope Benedict could have become pope again would have been through re-election by the Roman College of Cardinals; but they chose Cdl. Bergoglio instead.

  5. Therefore, the argument is not sound.

The Argument from Title and Insignia

The Argument from Title and Insignia is more circumstantial in nature. Those who argue that Pope Benedict remains the Pope point out that he has retained the title of “Pope Emeritus,” he still wears white, and is still referred to as “Holy Father.”

First, we would have to ask who decided these things. Did Pope Francis himself insist on them? It is clear that he approves of them. If it could be shown from truly reliable evidence that Pope Benedict himself insisted on them, then the argument would carry much more weight. Otherwise, it could even be the case that the Pope Emeritus has accepted these things with humility even in spite of his own personal wishes.

As for the title of “Pope Emeritus,” and the related claim that St. John Paul II said such that a Pope Emeritus is impossible, we must note several things. One is that the statement attributed to St. John Paul II does not go beyond hearsay, and in any case has no mark whatsoever of definitiveness. Msgr. Philip Hughes, in his excellent book The Church in Crisis: A History of the Church Councils, points out that initially the term homoousios was initially regarded as suspect (he explains why), but eventually gained acceptance to the point of being officially defined.

New terms come into the Church from time to time. The New Testament speaks simply of bishops. Today we speak of auxiliary bishops, coadjutor bishops, archbishops, and patriarchs. There is an extensive nomenclature with regard to the College of Cardinals. These are all terms that have come into use over time.

In ordinary life, we understand that an emeritus is retired, e.g., a professor emeritus. Such a professor no longer holds the professorial chair, which is held by someone else. In contrast, a co-chair of a committee does share chairmanship.

Can. 185, from the 1983 Code of Canon Law says: “The title of emeritus can be conferred upon a person who loses an office by reason of age or of resignation which has been accepted.” I point out that the use of “emeritus” hereby implies that he has lost the office he held, because his resignation has been accepted.

Both in regard to the title and being referred to as “Holy Father,” it is highly significant to me that he is not commemorated in the Canon of the Mass. In the Mass, my fellow priests and I always say, “una cum Papa nostro Francisco,” though formerly we said “Benedicto” until his abdication. We all know that Francis is the Pope—and Donald Trump is the President—and our language reflects that knowledge. Whether we like the situation or not does not change the fact of the matter.

Finally, as to wearing white, I will appeal to my own experience. At tonsure, I received the cassock and have worn it ever since. While only a tonsuratus, and all the way through diaconate, I was often called “Father” because people are not accustomed to seeing anyone other than a priest in a cassock. But our use of the cassock is entirely legitimate. The point is that, obviously, we are not accustomed to having a “Pope Emeritus.” I believe that we might see more of this in the future, however, and that eventually it will be customary. It was the Dominican, Pope St. Pius V, who retained his white habit upon assuming the papacy—which was a novelty in its day. Now no one thinks anything about it.


The simplest way I can put it is this. If Pope Benedict were to die while Bergoglio continues to operate as he is now (and here I am not assuming that he is the Pope), would the cardinals have a conclave? Clearly not. If Bergoglio were to die before Benedict, would the cardinals have another conclave? Clearly yes.

If one regards these answers as in error, there are serious dangers of esotericism and skepticism. Esotericism, where one regards oneself as one of the few handful of people who “know the real truth”; skepticism, where one takes the opposite tack and says, “You can’t really believe anything you see or hear.” Neither of these views, to be sure, is Catholic.

If one regards these answers as only provisional, and that the situation could change, then one makes the mistake of thinking that the papacy is only determined retroactively, at the point of death. “Pope So-and-so clearly wasn’t a heretic, and the whole world thought he was pope, so he must have been after all.” This is completely out of line with Church history.

The question about who was pope four years ago at this date was already answered then. Speculation since cannot change that. Pope Benedict vacated the See of St. Peter, which Cardinal Bergoglio then assumed, taking the name Francis.


  1. Michael Dowd

    This all seems reasonable enough. I wonder if Ann will buy it. Perhaps the conclusion of all of this is: yes, God does let bad things happen even a bad Pope. And we cannot use flawed logic to prove the bad Pope is really not the Pope.

  2. Gary

    Point #3 depends on Leo’s opinion? That’s the best evidence? Seems a huge weakness in the argument. Understandably, decision-making by a single head is more convenient, yet Prov 11:14 should not to be ignored: For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.

  3. Which part of this “Well, there really aren’t two popes, despite what you see and hear” is good for the church? Or is it just good for Ratzinger? It is one last novelty from a man who has loved them through his career. A man fully involved in Vatican II and all the resultant strife in the church. A man that could not wait, literally, to elevate his predecessor to the Altars. A man who, to give him a credit where it is due, finally said ” Sorry, didn’t mean to destroy the mass of the ages. Carry on!” He does not belong in the Vatican, shouldn’t wear white, shouldn’t be called Your Holiness, and should be living in seclusion, not giving interviews, publishing papal documents with his successor, nor blessing newly named cardinals. We are all sinners, but very few of us have the stones to tell the Almighty, “Hey, I think you made a mistake, and I’m gonna correct it for you” Good luck with that, Pope Emeritus Jonah!

  4. The point(s) you address here, are merely ancillary to the argument. Most people merely tack them on, as an afterthought, in confirmation of a judgment reached for other reasons.

    That’s what it really comes down to: we are obviously in an unprecedented crisis in the Church – the nearest approach to it, was the Arian crisis, whose circumstances were substantially different in that there were not yet 1,962 years’ worth of precise and clear Magisterial teaching on the whole scope of orthodox belief and practice. A Catholic at that time could waver: “Homoousios? Homoiousios? I don’t know; God save His Church and show us the way.” Now, the controverted truths are defined clearly and have been for a long time; it’s literally a test of whether we care enough to review them and to act decisively, or whether we will waffle so as to preserve our “respectability” and apparent moderation in a culture of universal compromise and tepidity.

    There are two main – and morally certain – arguments for Francis not being the pope. 1) The Church teaches that all public heretics (including material heretics – i.e., those who materially do not adhere to the Magisterium even if they do not do so deliberately, but only out of mere confusion or ignorance) are out of the Church automatically by Divine Law (and Canon Law); 2) The Church teaches that the Universal, Ordinary Magisterium cannot teach error, and that the Church’s more solemn expressions of teaching and practice – the Liturgy, Encyclicals, Canon Law, etc. – even if they may contain less important errors (not being protected by the Infallible charism), nevertheless are infallibly safe, are binding on the consciences of the faihtful, and could not lead Catholics into grave error on matters of Faith and morals – a Catholic could trust the Church like a child, and unhesitatingly imbibe her approved ritual, practice and teaching.

    Since Vatican II and John XXIII, every claimant to the Holy See has been a public heretic (formal? material? doesn’t matter!), and the universal, ordinary magisterium of the co-opted institutions formerly belonging to the Church, routinely teach heresies (Modernism, Ecumenism), condemned propositions (I think especially of the Liturgy, but it goes far beyond that) and grave immorality (tolerance – nay, even permission! – for communio in sacris with heretics and schismatics being incredibly being incorporated into canon law… to say nothing of the moral bedlam, generally). So, on both counts, we know the man is an anti-pope: as to 1), he is a public heretic (probably formal, but I’ll take material, since the effect is the same); as to 2), the organization which he heads is not the Catholic Church (though there may be many understandably confused Catholics in it, whom I am in no rush to condemn). He may be the boss of his church, but he is not the pope of the Catholic Church.

    Until recently, the horse of a different color in Rome, managed to maintain a minimum of respectability by still teaching Natural Law on marriage and sexuality… but we see, now, that the Modernism is so advanced that even the most basic verities – which even Jews, Pagans and other infidels clearly understand – are now subjects for debate amongst the “cardinals.” But as Catholics, the supernatural dogmata of our holy religion should concern us at least as much, and these have long since been absent, denigrated or distorted in the former institutions of Catholicism.

    JPII’s acts at Assisi went beyond heresy, to constituting a manifest proof of total apostasy from the Faith in its authentic sense; Catholicism was, for him, at best the crown jewel in a universal religion of man. It should have been the last straw for the faithful; instead, people couldn’t find it in themselves to really get bothered, until the sexy topics were controverted. On that topic: you mention the danger of “esotericism” – true, too true, in normal times. These are not normal times. If you sit down most people today and explain sexual morality – I mean the real, full, sexual morality (no sex outside marriage, no sexual acts not ordered to procreation, no divorce, no denying a request for the marital duty, etc.), most people will consider you a lunatic and a rape apologist. We are amongst the “few who know the real truth.” And that’s just on sex.

    If you sat down all the world’s Catholics and explained orthodox doctrine to them (even on the single point of Liberalism, affirming that there are no such “rights” as Free Speech or Free Exercise of Religion), 98% of those who “self-identify as catholics” would regard it as a completely different religion than the one they believe; traditionalists are amongst the very few, indeed, who “know the real truth.” Even amongst conservative Catholics, 60 years’ worth of trying to avoid any sense of “breaking with Rome,” has caused most of them to stretch and to exaggerate the limits of (in)fallibility, magisterial authority, etc., completely ignoring the very settled doctrine and discipline of the Church, that even a real pope would excommunicate himself and lose all office and jurisdiction, by Divine Law and even without a canonical process, if he became an heretic. And why do we say this is true “even of the pope,” as though it were especially daring to apply it to him? Rather, the latter-day, clear and magisterial endorsement of this doctrine, is the explicit result of applying the doctrine to the papacy, by theologians facing the Protestant/Modernist crisis, who specifically foresaw the potential for confusion in the case of an heretical co-opting of the Church and Her highest offices or institutions by this new, internal force of dissent and revolution. So, the doctrine is pre-eminently applicable to the papacy; application of the relevant doctrinal principles to the papacy was the driving force behind our clear definitions on this matter since the days of St. Robert and the Protestant apostasy.

    For most people, the details of the arguments are too complex. For them, Francis’ overt hostility to Catholicism, his attempted canonizations and beatifications of problematic figures, the odd circumstances of BXVI’s resignation, etc., are all just events that confirm a general unease rooted in many, profounder disturbances: 1) the Church’s interior life is utterly changed from a century ago, now being devoid of sanctity and beauty, and instead replete with compromise and blasphemy; 2) the Church’s public life of worship has been banalized and radically altered to reflect the sympathies of heretics, Masons and syncretists; 3) the social doctrine of the Church has been overturned, from a most radical opposition to modern errors into an almost leading role in their propagation; 4) one could almost wish that the “popes” were mere heretics, obsessively fixated on a distortion of one or two points of doctrine – instead, their complete embrace of Modernism amounts to an integral apostasy from authentic Christianity despite the retention of many Christian terms (much like Mormons will talk about Jesus, only later to reveal that Mormon Jesus is a space alien who travels the galaxy teaching Fremasonic handshakes when he’s not busy with the harem); 5) in the midst of this crisis, rather than doing anything to reverse or ameliorate it, there is a doubling-down… we are even pretending to beatify and to canonize the men who have presided over the most effective persecution and destruction of the Church in all of her history – and I say “presided over,” because in many cases the policies of the abolition of the Church were authored and approved by them, rather than resisted by them; 6) so, yes, to people with the gift of Faith, all of this looks as though it is that Great Apostasy and “great delusion, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect,” which were long ago foretold in Holy Writ by our Lord, and thus…

    …BXVI running around in a white cassock, with an emeritus title, resigning under suspicious circumstances, with a “successor” who appears manifestly to be a non-Catholic, is just a bit of icing on the cake. It is not the main thrust of the argument; it is simply one more corroborating symptom, giving the physician confidence in his diagnosis.

  5. The “Antipope” thing is just a desperate argument from conservative Catholics who do not like this new Pope. This dislike comes from a combination of misunderstandings of his positions and actions, and some arguments with the positions and actions canonically. It can be said he hasn’t really said or done anything canonically new, but rather expressed and focused it in a new way, a way more approachable for more people. It can’t be said he’s doing anything to hurt the Church, but it is true he’s bothering some of it’s more politically conservative members.

    He’s trying to build-up a Church that’s been suffering a lot from lapsing, conversions, rejection, and many Catholics simply ignoring many doctrines that do not conform to their modern sensibilities (he’s not changing the doctrines, though, but rather clarifying them and and being more forgiving of them). Many of his detractors seem like they’d rather let the Church wither for the sake of their political ideologies. I admit, this may seem a little modern-mainstream-Protestant, but he seems to be amenable to the Church dealing with rapid modern change in a more open and embracing way, without changing the intrinsic character of the Church. He certainly doesn’t want to see the church go the way of the Anglicans. If change is resisted too much, for too long, to the point where sides become ideologically entrenched, identified, defined – schism always comes next, then schism, then schism, then… What is the Anglican Church anymore?

    I have a huge soft-spot in my heart for the Catholic Church. I am Irish, Italian, and Portuguese. Culturally, I am Catholic to the 3rd power. I have a deep respect and admiration for the Papacy. I don’t want to see the church become politically divided. Politics are like Money-Changers in the Temple of Rome. The church has done a good job of depoliticizing itself after a very difficult history of it. Another round of that could split it again, could kill it.

    This “AntiPope” stuff is political, and should be exposed as such as well. I’m glad to Briggs address the accusation itself, exposing it as false by direct evidence and explanation of Canon Law. It’s inarguable.


  6. Michael Dowd

    Thanks Aurelius Moner for your comprehensive summary of the apostasy of Rome since Vatican II. We can talk all we want about the legitimacy of Pope Francis and Benedict XVI. But what difference does it make when the devil is really in charge.

  7. Ye Olde Statistician

    The mass of the ages? Would that be one in which the language is that originally used by the Lord, stemming from the City in which his followers were first called Christians:

    Or perhaps this one, where their bishop was first called Pope?

    Or perhaps going back to St. Thomas?

    Or do people mean by “mass of the ages” liturgical practices dating only to 19th century Europe? Or perhaps, like the Last Gospel, only to 1570?

  8. Peter Lamb

    “…a manifestly heretical Pope per se ceases to be Pope and Head, just as per se he ceases to be a Christian and member of the body of the Church. Therefore he can be judged by the Church and punished. This is the opinion of all the old Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.”
    (St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book II, Ch. 30; in Controversies of the Christian Faith, trans. by Fr. Kenneth Baker [Keep the Faith, 2016], p. 839.

    Public heresy precludes one from membership in the Church altogether: “Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith… For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy…” (Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, nn. 22-23).

    But if someone is not even capable of being a member of the Church on account of public heresy, then much less could he be the head of the Church! This stands to reason, for “it is absurd to imagine that he who is outside can command in the Church” (Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 15.

    The topic of a pope becoming a heretic was addressed at the First Vatican Council by Archbishop Purcell, of Cincinnati, Ohio: “The question was also raised by a Cardinal, ‘What is to be done with the Pope if he becomes a heretic?’ It was answered that THERE HAS NEVER BEEN SUCH A CASE; the Council of Bishops could depose him for heresy, for FROM THE MOMENT HE BECOMES A HERETIC he is not the head, or even a member of the Church. The Church would not be, for a moment, obliged to listen to him when he begins to teach a doctrine the Church knows to be a false doctrine, and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself.”
    (Vatican I examined 40 cases of possibly heretical Popes and found that there had never been a single one in the history of the Church.) So speaks an infallible Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church!

    Controversiarum De Summo Pontifice, Liber Quartus, De Potestate Spirituali is the tome in which St. Robert Bellarmine carefully examined all the cases of every true pope who had ever been accused of heresy, up to his own time. He proved conclusively that such a thing had never, ever, in fact occurred and goes even further in chapter 6 to say, “Since IT CAN BE PROVEN that no true pope has ever become an heretic, THIS IS A SIGN FROM HEAVEN THAT IT CAN NEVER OCCUR.” So speaks a Doctor of the Catholic Church!

    Roncalli to bergoglio are proven notorius heretics. Therefore, they are anti-popes who lead a false, non-Catholic, masonic, New World Order church of satan, the ape of the Catholic Church, which has eclipsed the Catholic Church as foretold by Our Lady.

  9. Ye Olde Statistician

    I see the Pharisees are out in force.

    If St. John Paul II or Benedict XVI were notorious heretics, it should not be too hard to describe the heresies in question. Or are we to be satisfied with vague hand-waving.

  10. Maria

    I am surprised that Father doesn’t treat the possibility that Pope Benedict was in grave fear and forced out of office. Nor does he take up the question of the relationship of papal inffalibility to the many heresies that have already been proclaimed by Bergoglio.

  11. Peter Lamb

    Catholic Magisterium = Pharisees?

    Assisi X 4 – not heresy?

  12. Ye Olde Statistician

    Ah, yes. Vague hand-waving. Are we speaking of Catharism or Arianism?

  13. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP

    Maria —

    I did address the argument from duress in Part I (see link near the top of the current post).

    “Heresy” is a technical term with a careful definition in Canon Law. It is obstinate doubt or obstinate denial after baptism of a truth that must be believed with Catholic Faith. Obstinacy is an essential element. Thus, a seminarian who makes a mistake on a theology exam would not for that reason be a heretic. There would have to be pertinacity in refusing to be corrected, and it would have to concern a matter that truly is de fide.

    Salvador Abascal, a great Thomist and scholar, did a very extensive study of the question of “papal heresy,” and the title of his book says it all: “El Papa nunca ha sido ni será hereje.” — The Pope never has been and never will be a heretic. Published by Editorial Tradición. Although I have not read this book, I think a person who wants to avoid committing a grave sin of rash judgment really ought to find out what he has to say. And of course, James 1:26 should also be kept in mind.

  14. Rod Halvorsen

    Good job, Father. Well done.

    The funny thing to me is that the main public proponent of the anti-Pope assertion proclaims denial of same to be an effeminate act. I see it 180 degrees opposite. I see her assertion to be the quintessential act of pure effeminacy and affectation, for the assertion that “Bergoglio is an anti-Pope” is merely an attempt to take what is unarguably an horrific crisis for the Church and find an emotive solution to it. It “feels good” but just isn’t true. No, things are far worse than that.

    As a convert with an advanced degree in theology, admittedly from a Protestant theological seminary, I find many other issues in the Catholic Church to be far more serious than even the possibility of a Pope who is an heretic or a Pope who has been ousted from his rightful place by an anti-Pope. To be frank, looking at the Catholic Church today, I see very few functional, pastoral or cultural differences from the perspective of a man looking in than I see within Anglicanism, liberal Lutheranism and United Methodism. It is hard to tell the difference between any of them.

    I find the widescale and indisputable denial of Catholic dogma by “Catholics” so disturbing I really do not know quite what to make of it. To simply sweep the last 50 years of Popes aside as heretics would be the easy way out. The reality is that at least in the developed world, a new, syncretistic religion seems to exist within the Church. It is roughly neo-Lutheranism. As an ex-Lutheran, I think I could make a very sound case for that suggestion. And I’m not just speaking of the Pope setting up an idol to the arch-heresiarch himself in the Vatican tho such an abomination of desolation certainly doesn’t argue against my point…

    I and my wife are members of a wonderful FSSP parish, but the way my wife puts it when we worship at a novus ordo parish is this: “Rod, it’s like a different religion”. And that isn’t just because of the liturgy, but the entire culture: preaching AND worship and lifestyles of the parishioners. Those that deny this need only take a gander at the average family size in pretty much any Ordinary Form parish to get some idea of the scope of the problem. And that’s just the beginning. Reality is far more unsettling to me than is the false idea that an anti-Pope is pretending to be Pope.

    I believe things have collapsed so low that there is no human solution to the problems that plague the Church today. No Pope can fix the ingrained heresy that permeates the Church at all levels. And Father, I really don’t care what the canonical definition of heresy is. I’m satisfied with Websters as far as my points are concerned.

    Possibly God is simply letting it all go down so He can in some miraculous way demonstrate His power without any human person or institution, group or association taking the credit for it. As a convert who came to the Catholic faith due to my study of the bible and then subsequently the documents of the Church, I see the water in the pot roiling regardless what the frogs bobbing around in it say.

    May God bring revival and holiness to the Catholic Church so the world can actually know what the Catholic Church is.

  15. Michael Dowd

    Well said Rod. It does appear that the purpose of Vatican II was to make the Catholic Church protestant and acceptable to the New World Order. And this was all predicted by Our Lady on several occasions.

  16. Margarita

    In other words, that idiot Abp. Ganswein’s idiotic theory of “two-popes-in-one,” or a “new-institution-of- an-expanded-papal-ministry” or an active-Martha-pope- and-a-contemplative-Mary-pope-rolled- up-in-one is truly idiotic.

    Ganswein is supposed to be a well-respected theologian and the closest person ever to serve two popes at the same time. No one person in history had ever been in such a unique position, so why shouldn’t we be alarmed at his idiotic abhorrent thinking?

    He would have been the most logical person to explain that Francis is indeed the true pope and Benedict is no more. But instead, Ganswein gave this unsolicited convoluted idiocy of a new institution in the Church, which even Our Lord Himself never foresaw when He gave Peter the Key. Does the idiot Ganswein think he’s smarter than Our Lord?

    The Ganswein idiotic theory is so disgusting and upsetting and dangerous to the faith that perhaps Ganswein himself should be censured if not excommunicated. What an idiot!

  17. Peter Lamb

    Vatican I declared: “For the fathers of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, following closely in the footsteps of their predecessors, made this solemn profession:

    “The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true Faith. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Who said, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ (Matt. 16:18), should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied, and its teaching kept holy.’ …for they fully realized that this See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Savior made to the prince of his disciples, ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou has turned again, strengthen thy brethren’ (Luke 22:32)
    So, this gift of truth and a never failing faith was divinely conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair, that they might administer their high duty for the salvation of all; that the entire flock of Christ, turned away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished on the sustenance of heavenly doctrine, that with the occasion of schism removed the whole Church might be saved as one, and relying on her foundation might stay firm against the gates of hell.” [Gates of hell = heresy/heretics.]

    Does the conciliar church keep the Faith unsullied?
    Does the conciliar church keep the See of St. Peter unimpaired from error?
    Does the conciliar church teach the immutable Faith the Catholic Church?
    Saint Paul told us that, if even an Angel, taught us a doctrine different from that taught by him, we were to let them be anathema!

  18. Bogus Nomen

    All this discussion over irrelevancies. Anti-pope? What difference does it make? He’s a public heretic (almost daily). He isn’t any kind of pope, real or pretender. Benedict was forced out, it now appears clear. That makes his resignation invalid. Guess he’s still pope. But feel free to keep rearranging the deck chairs on this post-VII Titanic. What foolishness while what appears to be the Church sinks into the sea of modernity…and how many million souls are lost?

  19. Ye Olde Statistician

    make the Catholic Church protestant

    Such as by what? Protesting against the Popes? Protesting against the ecumenical councils?

    Perhaps you can point out what articles in the Council established subordination of the church to the state (as in the Church of England or the Church of Sweden), consubstantiation (as in Lutheranism), predestination (as in Calvinism), or any of the sundry doctrines of the various protestant sects. My wife’s grandmother was a God-shouting Holy-Roller, though her aunt was a rather more sedate Presbyterian. But what drew my wife and her grandmother into the Catholic Church was not that it resembled Protestantism but was precisely that it did not.

  20. Rod Halvorsen

    Ye Olde:

    Since my post was quoted, I’d like to clarify my view. My personal concern with Vatican 2 documents is not that they clearly teach heresy, which they do not. But what they do teach is at times ambiguous, and that ambiguity is very easily and one might even say rationally interpreted by many in the Church to take the teaching of the Church away from that which has been consistently held in the past.

    What the Catholic Church has on paper is thus not necessarily what is found being taught “on the street”. In that sense “teaching has changed”. Even ex-Pope Benedict has said the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus was “abandoned” after Vatican 2.

    And we could go on to Gaudium et Spes 24 and Bergoglio’s horrific furtherance in paragraph 161 of Evangelii Gaudium where he clearly misquotes Jesus and replaces God with man. Or his disgusting praise of “Mother Earth” when even if he doesn’t, Catholics should know straight up who our Blessed Mother is. Or his vile suggestions that Jesus sinned. Or….the list goes on. Taking the vague from the past and piling it on making it clearly WORSE today.

    This same exact pattern of having doctrines on paper with nobody around to defend them to the death is part and parcel of mainline Protestantism and THAT is easy to see in the culture of Catholicism today. Indeed, the Pope himself when celebrating the Great Divorce of the Church chose not Lutherans who at least have similarities in moral teaching with the Catholic Church but rather hand-selected the most diabolical collection of sexual deviants and perverts to stand shoulder-to-should with in his search for ‘full communion”, Lutherans that even many Lutherans condemn for their demonic immorality! Who squealed?


    That the Church will not wholly apostatize I have no doubt, but assurances about the inability of the gates of hell to prevail don’t apply to individuals or nations and should never be taken as a guarantee that the members of the Church in every place and region will remain true to the faith.

    Look what happened after the Great Schism. or in north Africa after the triumph of Islam. Or what happened in England after Henry. Or what is going on right now in many places in the world.

    We have today a Pope who condemns the spread of the Catholic faith, promotes the theological goodness of Lutheranism and sharply criticizes those who seek to obey the moral teaching of Jesus Christ and the Ten Commandments.

    Not so bad if he were an aberrant freak, but unfortunately, it appears he is all too frequently simply preaching to a cheering choir…

  21. Michael Dowd

    A majority of Catholics believe these protestant ideas:

    —Personal interpretation of morality, e.g., contraception, confession, homosexuality.

    —Jesus was not God.

    —The Eucharist is not the transubstantiation of the body of Christ.

    —Bible is largely myth.

    —Novus Ordo Mass very similar to Protestant version.

    —Tendency to consider Catholicism not the one true faith.

  22. Rod Halvorsen

    Michael Dowd, I actually chuckled as I have a copy/paste of beliefs that are commonly taught in ways that diverge from traditional interpretations and the list is strikingly similar to yours!

    Hell, Islam, Marriage/Divorce/Remarriage, Communion, Other Religions/Religious Indifferentism, Universalism, Freemasonry, Socialism/Communism, EENS, Capital Punishment, Just War, the status of homosexuals and the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture

    Pope John XXIII gave us the recipe for disaster in his opening address to V2 when he said the Church would go a new direction and no longer condemn the bad, but simply emphasize the good.

    What a crock. What a disaster that has proven to be!

    And funny it hasn’t stopped Jorge Bergoglio from condemning lots of stuff…most of it Catholic…

    We need actual MEN who are ordained who are willing to fight for the faith and condemn to their faces the frauds and heretics that seek Her destruction.

  23. Michael Dowd

    Thanks Rod. I am reading some old critiques of Vatican II both by Dietrich von Hildebrand: ‘The Trojan Horse in the City of God’ published soon after Vatican II in 1967 and ‘The Devaastated Vineyard’ published in 1973. More recent books on the Vatican II disaster I’ve read are ‘The Second Vatican Council’ by Roberto de Mattei (2012) and Iota Unum’ by Romano Amerio (1996).

    I wonder if Ye Olde Statistician will be satisfied. Perhaps might like to study this disaster himself.

  24. Ye Olde Statistician

    A majority of Catholics believe these protestant ideas:

    That is a failure of catechesis at the parish level. Hardly the fault of the new Pope. Or even of the Council: it was to combat these trends that the Council was called. The Adult Abdication of the Fifties fruited in the Youth Rebellion of the Sixties. Discipline across society relaxed after WWII and this affected the Church. Priests and nuns began leaving orders, often to marry one another. One of the uglier manifestations was the acting out of priests with unnatural sexual appetites. Personally, I think relaxing Church discipline to make worship “easier” was the wrong way to go, but ymmv.

    None of the items you mention are being taught by the Pope. (In fact, many of them are not taught by Protestants. Try telling Baptists that the Bible is mostly myth!* Or Lutherans that Jesus is not God. They are suffering from the same secular maladies that hit Western Society after the mutual suicide pact of 1914-1945, only perhaps more so.) The New Order Mass is not similar to the Protestant mass for the excellent reason that the Protestants for the most part do not have the mass. (The major exception being the Anglican communion and its spin-offs.)
    (*myth: a charge often made by folks with no understanding of the nature and role of myth in a society.)

    the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus

    God saves who he wishes. St. Augustine compared it to men who seek a city across a field. Some, who have the Way, have the direct path, and can find their destination easily and swiftly. But those who cut across the field may also find their way there — but their path is more doubtful and prone to error and they can more easily go astray. The medievals knew of the “virtuous pagans” and the “naturally Christian men” who, as St. Paul wrote in Romans 2, have the Law “written in their hearts” even though they did not know the Law. I for one am disinclined to tell St. Paul that he was full of it.
    A “copy/paste” is of no value unless one knows from where it was copied. It is of still less value when it is merely a list of topics with no hint as to actual content and context. It is a favorite tactic of the MSM: e.g., the Regensburg Address.

    Even for such a matter as “inerrancy of Sacred Scripture,” there are those who would like to push us toward a more Protestant understanding of inerrancy in the historico-literal sense. Again, as St. Augustine noted in Against Felix the Manichaean, a millennium and a half ago, even before Vatican II (indeed, before the Bishop of Rome shifted his palace to Vatican Hill), “In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.’ The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature.” That the Bible is inerrant on matters of faith and morals does not mean that it is inerrant on matters of physics and history. To assume so is to misunderstand why the Bible was revealed to us in the first place.
    None of the things you say are “commonly taught differently” have I heard taught differently. Certainly not in any sermons at Mass, or in conversations with monsignor. In fact, I have noticed that the younger priests coming up seem even more attuned to tradition; so who knows. The hippie generation may be passing away. Soon we may get rid of that awful music, too.

  25. Rod Halvorsen

    Ye Olde, the copy/paste was mine, as in, one I simply keep handy because it references so much of what has commonly been accepted by herds of Catholics today. and dont be silly. Ech and every one doesn’t apply to each and every Catholic and the Protestantism of which we speak is as variable as is…the believes and unity of the Catholic Church these days!

    One thing I’ve observed as a Catholic is that “everybody is orthodox” as far as the prelates are concerned in that they mostly {…} don’t run around denying dogmas of the faith.



    And blaming individual parishes goes only so far. It is true and I agree with you, but what support does a priest get who denies communion for example in the simple exercise of Canon 915?

    And how many refuse anyolehow?

    Such as…we have an “orthodox” priest here locally that has no trouble communing Freemasons. “It’s not that big of a deal” says he. Why, at the monastery, they used to rent the place out for the annual Masonic fundraiser! And what would the bishop say if he DID deny communion as he should? Well…who knows. But we SHOULD KNOW!

    The bishop {an “orthodox one”} allowed an Indian to dance a circle around the altar before the consecration at an open-air outdoor Mass. The local deacon is divorced and remarried civilly and teaches innuendo-filled homilies supporting homosexuality and teaches that “Christianity is about finding common ground” with others. The priest in the next town over taught that “the Catholic religion is one of the most important religions in the world”. Why THAT’S good to know! At least we aren’t one of the LEAST important…and in context, I wondered…

    My son’s RCIA director was a universalist. The deacon at my daughter’s confirmation {I led my entire adult family to the Catholic faith} prayed the Our Father “Protestant-style” cuz, I suppose…there were so many Protestants there.

    All of these and myriad others are small things that add up. Just like adding enough bricks to the hold of the bassboat brings water over the gunwales. And this is a very “orthodox” area. I myself and my wife finally ceased going to the novus ordo parishes and now drive 1 1/2 hours to an FSSP parish. Why? Because I love Latin?


    Because that parish is simply Catholic while the rest of the locals seem intent on being as Lutheran as possible. And yes, as an ex-Lutheran I see Lutheranism ALL over the place. And as a fellow holding a Masters in theology I think I have some idea what I am talking about.

    Disheveled, absolutely slobbish and irreverent “taking” of communion really proves belief in the Real presence, doesn’t it? You think artificial contraception is a mortal sin? How would a Catholic these days even know? The Funny Fat Man Dolan said it himself; Priests don’t even preach on such matters anymore.

    I appreciate your attempts to put as good a face on all this as possible. I do. But we have very, very serious problems and pretending things are better than they are doesn’t solve the problem. It exacerbates it.

    You know that priest who doesn’t mind communing Freemasons? Well God bless him, one day before Mass after my SIL and I were as usual the only ones having visited the confessional, he waltzed into the nave and yelled out “I’m back here waiting. I KNOW you people are sinners and can’t all be ready for communion, so come back and confess!”

    Even HE finally lost it with the “Lutherans”!

    And ya’know what happened?

    One old lady rose from her seat and took him up on it. Praise God for the priest…that day.

  26. Rod Halvorsen

    PS: The young priests ARE different, at least the ones I have met. Some are really awesome.

    And I am not even talking about our FSSP parish. They are trust-worthily Catholic. I mean to say that even the young Ordinary form fellows seem to be sound. One told me he hopes Bergoglio doesn’t damage that trend as Bergoglio was a vocations destroyer in BA

    Get this: our FSSP parish has, since its inception about 10 years ago, produced more vocations than the entire diocese in that time.


    Simple, because Lutherans don’t produce priests! 😉 LOL

  27. Antigon

    Again wish profoundly to express appreciation to Fr. Rickert for struggling with the validity of Pope Benedict’s abdication, not least as so many simply flee from it; as also very much for his granting the email discussion we engaged in its regard.
    Further thanks too for presenting central arguments against the validity of Benedict’s abdication justly at the beginning of his post, before then challenging them. Yet though those challenges were arguably more focused this round than the previous effort, they alas still continue to avoid this matter’s most salient aspects.
    A particularly striking example of this is Fr. Rickert’s proposition that in the prestigious setting of no less than the Gregorian, assertions from His Holiness’s private secretary (both prior to Benedict’s Papacy as well as during & since), which despite their striking claims Benedict has refused to dispute, may be ignored as in no way reflecting the Pontiff’s views; but instead must somehow be considered but a bizarre invention of Archbishop Ganswein’s alone.
    Despite acknowledging in our exchange the generally valid principle – & in this crucial matter surely manifest – that silence implies consent, here Fr. Rickert insists ‘nothing should be inferred’ from Ganswein’s detailed expression of Pope Benedict’s thought; that notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence His Holiness holds & encouraged their arresting assertions, there must be some amorphous reason Benedict refuses to correct them. Whether or not the faithful find such an argument persuasive, they are at any rate free to hold the obvious: that our sovereign Pontiff believes what his friend & secretary claims he does.
    And particularly, as Fr. Rickert notes, the key declaration that Benedict XVI ‘has not abandoned the Petrine ministry.’
    Perhaps recognizing the want of strength in maintaining Ganswein merely invented what his lecture claimed, Fr. Rickert cuts more to the chase by claiming it ‘irrelevant’ even if His Holiness hasn’t abandoned the Papal Office; yet the bulk of Fr. Rickert’s arguments are based on the *presupposition* that he has – ‘once the resignation went into effect, the Chair of Peter became vacant’ – rather than addressing the abundant evidence said resignation never took effect.
    For instance, Father argues there is no evidence His Holiness only intended partially to resign in 2013, whereas the Gregorian lecture provides precisely that evidence. There too is the evidence not that Benedict was challenging natural law or the meaning of words, but instead that he believed he was free to create a papal diarchy by abdicating only the active & administrative aspect of the papacy, while still holding the Office through a contemplative expression.
    His Holiness’s earlier assertion that Peter’s ‘role in the Church is unique,’ if or rather since that’s true, is thus precisely, though not solely, persuasive indication his abdication was invalid due to the ‘substantial error’ of concluding instead he could make the Papacy a diarchy. Really, though Fr. Rickert asserts sans corroboration otherwise, his argument here in fact upholds the abdication’s invalidity.
    And the arguments that follow it simply ignore Benedict’s declaration through Ganswein that he had never ‘abandoned the Petrine ministry;’ which both Father & I agree can be held by only one living man at a time.
    If I may, Fr. Rickert’s arguably strained exploration of Benedict’s maintenance of Papal prerogatives – title, dress, residence, & the like – whatever else they may be, are no contradiction of His Holiness’s claim not to have abandoned the Papal Office.
    Father’s point about ‘Papa Francesco’ being the object or prayers at Mass would meanwhile be a strong one, leaving aside their apparent want of effect, were it not that the real Pope has plenipotentiary power – such as holding his office, though not of bifurcating it – independent of whatever the rest of priesthood or for that matter the faithful might otherwise erroneously think true.
    This also somewhat addresses the hypothetical of a conclave following the death either of Pope Benedict or Padre Bergoglio. No doubt Father Rickert’s suppositions are right were either of these men to die tomorrow, but whether that will still be true once the matter of the abdication’s validity is genuinely faced, is no less a legitimate hypothetical.
    In that regard, were what is already apparent to many – that the abdication was invalid & thus Benedict is still the sole Pontiff of the Catholic Faith – to become so throughout the Church, this would not mean the provisional circumstance Fr. Rickert suggests, but simply that the faithful had come to recognize what had always been true.
    Nor is there anything remotely esoteric or unCatholic – though if granting an antipapacy, arguably on some levels dangerous – about thinking that if a Pope believes he hasn’t abandoned the Petrine Ministry, this means he hasn’t; & so remains the faithful’s Pontiff, even if he is failing, as men will do, to meet the vocation’s obligations.
    And thus despite Father’s believably honest efforts, the reality remains: Benedict sought only partially to abdicate the Papacy, which of itself rendered the abdication invalid since by keeping part of it, all of it was maintained; & that his hope to create a diarchy was accordingly & in addition the ‘substantial error’ Canon 188 addresses that sustains what was & is already true: that Benedict XVI remains the sole reigning Pontiff of the Catholic Faith.
    Two closing points also to consider: that the tumultuous history of the Papacy has had not a few strange expressions comparable to that of our current inactive Pontiff; & that while the Faith has had Pontiffs who flirted with & even embraced heresies, what She has never had is a Pontiff determined to impose these, while regularly attacking both the Faith & the faithful. Thus Benedict’s invalid abdication is clearly in accord with Church history in a manner vivid, when compared to an alternative possessed of neither precedent, sense or sanity.

  28. Rod Halvorsen

    I want to take this moment to tell all of the readers that if they don’t have an FSSP parish nearby, and many don’t, beg and plead to get one!!

    I love the FSSP and I praise God every day for them.


  29. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP


    A very brief reply to Antigon:

    Corriden, Beale, and Green says that Cann. 188-189 give general guidelines but that the Pope is not actually bound to them. Can. 332 is more pertinent in that it expresses what the Pope intends to do should he wish to retire.

    Given that a Pope Emeritus has unique knowledge and experience, it is entirely fitting that the one and only current Pope, Francis, draw on these. Pope Emeritus Benedict can therefore serve as a “papal peritus.” Thus, it is true to say that he has not abandoned the Petrine ministry, even though he and Pope Francis know that Pope Francis is the Pope, and Benedict no longer is.

  30. Michael Dowd

    Thanks for all your good remarks. Rather than continue this factual dispute let us look at the results on the Church since Vatican II.

    I agree that most of the time local parishes do not teach heresy per se. They do however create an atmosphere that turns Christ into a happy face politician who emphasizes superficial love, do-goodism, and attachment to the Democrat agenda. The Mass has become a sharing of meal not a sacrifice. Confession is hardly ever mentioned, available less than an hour per week, and attended by very few. Divorce and re-marriage among Catholics is about the same as national averages. Young people for the most part have abandoned the Church. And about Pope Francis? What has he done to change any of these disastrous trends? It would seem that his efforts are to make sure those who break the 6th Commandment no longer need to harbor guilt and amend their ways. Indeed, we are in dark times. Our Lady informed us on a number of occasions that this was going to happen. Let us hope the many excellent young priests you mention will be able to modify the current trends.

  31. Peter Lamb

    If only the “prelates” didn’t run around denying the Dogmas of Faith!

    Here is just one example from the current “chief prelate”:

    Dogmas of the Catholic Church:
    1. The souls of those who die in the condition of personal grievous sin enter Hell.
    2. The punishment of Hell lasts for all eternity.

    That is Catholic; This is bergoglio:
    1. “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” Amoris Laetitia 297.
    2. March 2015, interview with Repubblica: “What happens to that lost soul? Will it be punished? And how? The response of Francis is distinct and clear: “There is no punishment, but the annihilation of that soul. All the others will participate in the beatitude of living in the presence of the Father. The souls that are annihilated will not take part in that banquet; with the death of the body their journey is finished.”
    Heresy most foul! Liar! Anti-pope!

    Select Scripture Verses on the Reality of Everlasting Damnation in Hell:
    “And many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake: some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see it always.” (Dan 12:2)

    “The Son of man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 13:41-42)

    “Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels…. And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.” (Mt 25:41,46)

    “And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.” (Mk 9:42-43)

    “And to you who are troubled, rest with us when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with the angels of his power: In a flame of fire, giving vengeance to them who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (2 Thess 1:7-9)

    “And the angels who kept not their principality, but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day. As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire. In like manner these men also defile the flesh, and despise dominion, and blaspheme majesty…. Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own confusion; wandering stars, to whom the storm of darkness is reserved for ever.” (Jude 6-8,13)

    “And the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever: neither have they rest day nor night, who have adored the beast, and his image, and whoever receiveth the character of his name.” (Apoc 14:11)

    “And there came down fire from God out of heaven, and devoured them; and the devil, who seduced them, was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where both the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever…. And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire.” (Apoc 20:9-10,14-15)

    “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Apoc 21:8)

  32. Ye Olde Statistician

    let us look at the results on the Church since Vatican II.

    Drop an anvil from the top of a ten-story building. Then, “let us look at the results since the anvil passed the fifth floor.” It is hardly the fault of the fifth floor, even if the fifth floor “didn’t help the situation any.” The problem is with Western Civilization at large. It took a possibly mortal wound in the trenches of France in 1914 and a far more severe wound under the carpet bombs and in the camps. Then it was Nellie-bar-the-door during the Roaring 20s in the Intermission and the Soaring Sixties. Eat, drink, and be merry and all that. Since the Church recruits its people from the culture, it’s no wonder that the bitter and disillusioned relicts of the war-to-end-all-wars and the half-sovietized, shell-shocked survivors of Round Two should have a different ‘tude than the triumpalist 19th century ethnics of their predecessors.

    There was a reason why the Democratic Party was called “the secular arm of the Catholic Church” and was seen as implementing the Church’s social teachings by political means. But you whippersnappers got it all backwards. It was less that the Church fell apart than that the Democratic Party fell apart and turned into a maniacal confederation of bizarro interests for whom control trumped justice. It is certainly not the Party that I once knew. Some of the older churchmen (and politicians!) were slow to catch on. Habits die hard.

  33. Ye Olde Statistician

    And… a fire-and-brimstone Protestant!

    Of course, eternity is not the same thing as forever. ‘Forever’ is an endless span of time, but ‘eternity’ does not exist in time. Lucifer fell long ago, is falling right now, and will be falling. Or as we say in another context: “was, is now, and ever more will be,” saecula saeculorum We poor time-bound creatures are hard-pressed to express the concept of timelessness and must fall back on analogies.

  34. Michael Dowd

    Thanks Ye Olde Numbers Guy. I’m happy to be considered a whippersnapper at 82. Have a good day and say a prayer for the Church and that rascal, Pope Francis.

  35. Antigon

    The problem with Canon 332’s applicability here is precisely the issue: whether Benedict fully abdicated or, as through Ganswein he says, only partially. And while Canon 188 still seems relevant to the part of the papacy Benedict hoped to resign, even were it not, Benedict’s failure wholly to abdicate surely renders the entire attempt invalid.
    Am meantime surprised Father Rickerts is now proposing, contrary to his previous acknowledgement that Peter’s ‘role in the Church is unique’ that instead the Petrine Ministry can be exercised by more than one living man – & would thus necessarily have no definitive limit as to how many.
    In consequence, cannot but suspect such strained efforts to escape the obvious – that Benedict’s refusal wholly to abandon the Petrine Ministry means it’s his alone – indicates the legitimate insecurity of the final two clauses in his brief reply above.

  36. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP


    Antigon —

    Your description of what I think is not accurate. I do not impute any malice in this regard, but I will definitely say it is not accurate.

    There is and can only be one Pope at any given time, except during an interregnum, when there is none.

    A former Pope can help serve the one and only current Pope in the capacity of a peritus. A legal analogy to this would be a jurisconsult, a role that was known in ancient Rome. The point here being that there is nothing novel in this concept; it’s been around for a long time. That would mean the current Pope remains one and only one Pope, but that he draws on a former one, especially in regard to his knowledge and experience.

    Benedict did indeed fully abdicate in February of 2013. A statement three years later — and that only came up three years later — by a third party cannot change that fact.

  37. Antigon

    Dearest Padre Rickerts:

    To be sure no malice towards you of any kind, & again wish to note appreciation of your effort to address this crucial matter, not to say your absence of malice towards Miss Barnhardt & others, very much including myself, in doing so.
    Nonetheless, still find your above observation that ‘it is true to say that [Benedict] has not abandoned the Petrine ministry’ contradicts the idea that Peter’s ‘role in the Church is unique.’ Will add that given His Holiness’s own contradictory remarks in this regard, & then about resigning but not quite, such contradictions are not unique.
    As regards your final paragraph, seems fair to suggest that too is contradicted, by the revelation – tho indeed three years later from an extraordinarily reliable source – that Benedict at the time of his public declaration in ’13 did not consider it other than a partial abdication of his Pontificate.

  38. Mike Malone

    Fr. Rickert’s article is excellent. Though after reading it I still have some dubia. Let me begin by with a few statements:
    1. I accept that Pope Emeritus Benedict resigned voluntarily.
    2. I do not believe the Chair of Peter is vacant.
    3. I believe that Pope Francis is a valid pope.
    4. I don’t believe that Pope Francis has committed formal heresy. It is my understanding if he were to do so he would cease being pope immediately.

    Have said this I do believe that Pope Francis is dancing on the very edge of heresy. I think the best way to illustrate this would be some discussion of Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 8. This paragraph has sparked tremendous discussion and conflict amongst the faithful. I am hardly alone in asking questions about its meaning and impact on doctrine. So I am anxiously awaiting the pope’s answer to the Cardinals dubia. I really don’t understand why he hasn’t answered these simple yes or no questions.

    School is still out as to who is in error but I think paragraph 8 of AM undermines the Christ’s teaching on marriage and the Church’s doctrine on marriage. In Mt. 5:32 it says “But I (Jesus) say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery.”! In Mt. 19:8 it says, “He (Jesus) saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”

    AM offers a long narrative in paragraph 8 that, based upon mercy, says that people in irregular situations, driven to divorce by poverty, divorced and remarried and appears to be successful in the new marriage, people who cohabitate need to be received and accompanied back into the Church. They can talk to their priest to discuss their situation and if the priest approves can go to confession and receive communion….back in the Church.

    How is this not a return to the practice of marriage according to Moses which allowed people to divorce? Clearly not what Christ said or God intended.

    So I think the 4 Cardinals that put forth the dubia deserve and answer to. I think the faithful deserve an answer. I think the world deserves an answer.

    So I pray that the Pope will realize the confusion reigning amongst the faithful and clarify it. Already, in many parts of the world this is already being implemented. It seems to me that the Sacrament of Marriage has been corrupted. The idea that a couple living in adultery can go to their priest and get absolution (if he agrees with their problem) yet plan to continue to live in adultery. Does this not make a mockery of confession? What about receiving the Eucharist?

    With all respect!

  39. Raymond

    Hi everyone!

    This is a subject most dear to my heart and I do undoubtedly find myself sympathizing with what Ann Barnhardt et al. have to say on the matter, although I personally have a plethora of reservations, and feel that Father Rickert here does a good job of defending the core truth of the matter.

    One thing I think persons of the “Bergoglio is antipope” position ignore over the course of history considering how well formed the individual pope is even on matters of faith and morals is how what they believed and would suggest at a casual level has only much more recently in Church history been able to go viral thanks to mass media and the internet. To think how news outlets would have handled situations in the past wherein popes had mistresses for crying out loud! And of course there is a LOT of mess (and indeed I sympathize with those crying “antipope!” and call upon almost daily particular instances of Pope Francis’ statements that are factual heresies. Some are indeed cited among the comments here, including the business about the souls of the would-be damned are not actually punished for all eternity, but rather are annihilated; and many other horribly wrong statements.

    As Father here posits, the Holy Spirit has proven to protect, even in this papacy, Francis from factually teaching as a matter of doctrine by virtue of his apostolic authority as the Vicar of Christ. It will never come to that. Inasmuch as Pope Francis’ ad lib comments may now and for the rest of his life make the orthodox among us cringe with disgust at how WRONG he is, we can rest assured that so long as his opinion goes against all of Sacred Tradition that has been known since the beginning, it is not remotely binding in conscience to believe it, and is simply error, just as a past pope had taught for example that no one enjoys the beatific vision after their particular judgment but they are waiting among the other righteous souls until the general judgment, and only then will all of these righteous go to heaven at the end of time. Doctrinal heresy once thought by a pope long long ago, and indeed, taught openly for a while before he recanted is true of our Church’s history. Notice however, that for the time he taught this, it would not eject that pope from the chair of Saint Peter for believing and even teaching heresy any more than Francis would be removed from the chair of Saint Peter every time he states even moral and theological errors. Christ’s promise that the jaws of Hell will never prevail against the Church specifically means when he speaks formally and by virtue of his apostolic authority (i.e. “ex cathedra”) as I believe Father explained in the first article.

    I like to think that if that pope in times past was able to recant, our efforts among the faithful are to pray that Pope Francis recant of all of the errors he believes and teaches that are misleading the faithful in so many terrible ways.

    I also think those of the “antipope Bergoglio” position are sadly missing out on some really great breakthroughs among acknowledged members of the Church Triumphant which means a great deal to us thanks to the Communion of Saints. I for one have found and continue to find an immeasurable amount of inspiration as one who just in August of last year found my vocation to marriage and we are expecting our first child in the middle of July. Among the saints, there are few I like to converse with and pray for their intercession more than Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, the pious and incredible parents of many daughters, ALL of who grew up (God willing that they survived childhood illnesses, and many of them did not make it to adulthood) consecrated themselves to Jesus Christ as nuns, including St. Therese of Lisieux. We can and should thank Pope Francis for the canonization of her extraordinary parents.

    And I’m sure all orthodox Catholics can agree the 100th anniversary of Fatima is an incredible time, and those Marian apparitions were among the greatest of graces God gave to the human race, including nothing short of the very bold and in your face miracle of the sun which even the politically communist media couldn’t help but report as factual news because it was so empirically obvious to everyone around. Like you couldn’t miss it. We can thank Pope Francis for the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the shepherd children who conversed with Mary and shared their private revelations for the good of our souls in a manner so selflessly that they were ridiculed and persecuted for doing so and it did not dissuade them from doing what was right. I can’t help but feel sorry for those in the anti-pope position who feel the man “Bergoglio” is not the holy father and lacks the authority to honor these incredible souls with canonization. They seem to selectively look at ONLY the bad things (which I’ll concede are many) coming from Pope Francis and pass over all of the good things thanks to him with embarrassed silence. At least give credit where it is due. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to serve as the Vicar of Christ. The man needs our prayers. Badly.

  40. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP, Ph.D.

    This is a much-delayed response to my great friend Mike Malone, for whom I have utmost respect. In no way do I intend to undermine what I say in the article, (actually both articles), which I have just read and still stand by. My brief response is: Good points. I stare (so to speak) at two contrary books on my shelves which I still need to read: El Papa Nunca Ha Sido y Nunca Será Hereje (The Pope Has Never Been And Never Will Be a Heretic) by the very learned Mexican Thomist, Salvador Abascal, and Do Papa Herético by the very learned Brazilian Thomist, Carlos Nougué. ¡Caramba! What to think? It’s a difficult time for all of us. The very fact that Pope Francis fully affirmed the continued operation of the FSSP without restrictions signifies to me that the rock upon the Rock still remains, as Our Lord promised.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *