24 Aug 2016

A Reply to John Salza and Robert Siscoe III (continued)

By Father Paul Kramer

John Salza
There exists only one word that adequately describes the method of argumentation of Salza & Siscoe in their misrepresentation of my theological arguments, and their falsification and inversion of Catholic teaching; and that word is FRAUD.

Their silly claim that I have made a "procedural error" is a falsehood. I did not have access to the Latin text of the St. Athanasius letter, so I had to make do with three versions of the passage in question in modern languages that I was able to find. All the translations were identical, and had the identical reference. The page numbers in the reference in English, Spanish and French were "p. 411-412". Somewhere along the line of transmission, a typographical error occurred, which Salza & Co. gratuitously and maliciously assume is a "procedural error".

It was only afterwards, when I had learned that the letter begins with the words, "Deus quidem vos consoletur", that I was able to locate sources containing the letter, and verify the fact that the passage in question is indeed spurious. However, Salza/Siscoe state falsely that, "Fr. Kramer simply pulled the quotation from an internet source without checking the reference to see if it was authentic". In fact, long before the internet became available to the general public, I had to rely on the word of the SSPX in one of their publications concerning the passage in question, since I did not have an adequate library at my disposal to verify the authenticity of the passage.

The much more grave error of Salza & Siscoe is their claim that, "Fr. Kramer errs by confusing the predictions of an underground Church during the end times, with a farcical reduction of the number of faithful to only a handful, and ends by denying the mark of catholicity." As I have already stated, I have never said that the number of faithful will actually be reduced to a handful – this claim is a malicious invention of Salza & Siscoe.

What I have said is that the Church will be reduced to a small number during the great persecution foretold in the book of the Apocalypse; and not only does this opinion not deny the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church by destroying its catholicity or its visibility, but is in fact the doctrine of scripture as interpreted by the ancient Fathers, as is therefore at the very least proxima fidei.

In the above cited work of Cardinal Manning, it is stated that, "The writers of the Church tell us that in the latter days the City of Rome will probably become apostate from the Church and the Vicar of Jesus Christ; and that Rome will again be punished, for he will depart from it, and the judgment of God will fall on the place from which he once ruled over the nations of the world." (p.87) Fr. E. Sylvester Berry, in his work on The Apocalypse of St. John says, "After the destruction of Rome in the days of Antichrist, it shall forever remain a heap of ruins and the haunt of filthy animals; "that great city shall be found no more at all." (p.193)

At the beginning of Chapter XX, Fr. Berry explains, "[P]ractically all interpreters who accept these conclusions (that Antichrist must be a definite individual and . . . that he has not yet made his appearance in the world) take the reign of Antichrist as a prelude to the last judgment end of the world. Then contrary to the plain sense of Holy Scripture, they place the universal reign of Christ before the reign of Antichrist." (p.189)

"A careful reading of the Apocalypse," Fr. Berry explains, "shows clearly that Antichrist will appear long centuries before the last judgment and the end of the world. In fact his reign will be but the final attempt of Satan to prevent the universal reign of Christ in the world." (p. 189-90) This opinion of Fr. Berry is supported by the prophecy of St. John Eudes (which I read about 25 years ago), who foretold that the triumph of the Heart of Mary will be a triumph over the Antichrist. I mention this here only in order to dispel the false interpretations that conclude that the great tribulation of the time of Antichrist cannot happen in the very near future; and also to provide a general context for the events that are foretold in scripture and by ecclesiastical writers, when the Church will be persecuted to near extinction, but will, by divine intervention, rise in triumph from her apparent defeat.

In this context one can place the future events spoken of by Cardinal Manning, who wrote, "And therefore the writers of the Church tell us that the City of Rome has no prerogative except only that the Vicar of Christ is there; and if it becomes unfaithful, the same judgments which fell on Jerusalem, hallowed though it was by the presence of the Son of God, of the Master, and not the disciple only, shall fall likewise upon Rome." (p.88) Manning cites multiple authorities, including St. Robert Bellarmine: "In the time of Antichrist, Rome shall be desolated and burnt, as we shall learn from the sixteenth verse of the seventeenth chapter of the Apocalypse." (p.89)

Manning continues, "Finally, Cornelius à Lapide sums up what may be said to be the common interpretation of theologians . . . 'These things are to be understood of the city of Rome, not that which is, nor that which was, but that which shall be at the end of the world. . . For from Christian it shall again become heathen. It shall cast out the Christian Pontiff, and the faithful who adhere to him. It shall persecute and slay them . . . '". (p.90)

Thus we have the context of Cardinal Manning's words quoted earlier:

“The apostasy of the city of Rome from the vicar of Christ and its destruction by Antichrist may be thoughts very new to many Catholics, that I think it well to recite the text of theologians of greatest repute. First Malvenda, who writes expressly on the subject, states as the opinion of Ribera, Gaspar Melus, Biegas, Suarrez, Bellarmine and Bosius that Rome shall apostatize from the Faith, drive away the Vicar of Christ and return to its ancient paganism. ...Then the Church shall be scattered, driven into the wilderness, and shall be for a time, as it was in the beginning, invisible; hidden in catacombs, in dens, in mountains, in lurking places; for a time it shall be swept, as it were from the face of the earth. Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers of the early Church.”

"Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers," says Manning, the Church "will be as it was in the beginning" – "invisible, hidden . . . swept, as it were from the face of the earth"; and this is "the universal testimony of the Fathers"; but according to Salza & Siscoe, this is an opinion that denies the essential mark of the catholicity of the Church.

In the great commentary of Cornelius à Lapide, explanation is given of the meaning of the words spoken by Christ in the 12th chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, where the Lord describes His church as a "pusillus grex", a "little flock". And the first reason given why the Lord refers to the Church as a "little flock" is: "PUSILLUS GREX, id est parvus, Primo, quia tum pauci erant fideles" – at the beginning the number of faithful was small; and also is small in comparison with the great number of the infidels and the wicked (pusillus est grex fidelium si comparatur cum maxima multitudine infidelium, & impiorum); and he cites the opinion of Bede, according to whom the flock is small in comparison to the number of reprobates (ad comparationem majoris numeri reproborum).

The Church will be comprised of a small number of faithful especially during the persecution of Antichrist for all the reasons given above, because, as ecclesiastical writers explain, that during that exceptional persecution, by the disposition of the divine will, the Church will revert for a time to the state it was in during the early persecutions. This is explained by Cardinal Manning not as merely his own personal opinion, but, as he says in his own words, “In treating of this subject, I shall not venture upon any conjectures of my own, but shall deliver simply what I find either in the Fathers of the Church, or in such theologians as the Church has recognised, namely, Bellarmine, Lessius, Malvenda, Viegas, Suarez, Ribera, and others”. 

"The history of the Church," says Cardinal Manning, "and the history of Our Lord on earth, run as it were in parallel. For three-and-thirty years the Son of God incarnate was in the world, and no man could lay hand upon Him. No man could take Him, because His "hour was not yet come." There was an hour foreordained when the Son of God would be delivered into the hand of sinners. He foreknew it; He foretold it."

In like manner with His Church. Until the hour is come when the barrier shall, by the Divine will, be taken out of the way, no one has power to lay a hand upon it. The gates of hell may war against it; they may strive and wrestle, as they struggle now with the Vicar of Our Lord; but no one has the power to move Him one step, until the hour shall come when the Son of God shall permit, for a time, the powers of evil to prevail. That He will permit it for a time stands in the book of prophecy. When the hindrance is taken away, the man of sin will be revealed; then will come the persecution of three years and a half, short, but terrible, during which the Church of God will return into its state of suffering, as in the beginning; and the imperishable Church of God, by its inextinguishable life derived from the pierced side of Jesus, which for three hundred years lived on through blood, will live on still through the fires of the times of Antichrist." (pp. 55-6)

"THE CHURCH OF GOD WILL RETURN INTO ITS STATE OF SUFFERING, AS IN THE BEGINNING" – when it was a "pusillus grex" (Luke 12:32); a "little flock", small in number.

Cardinal Louis Edoard Pie, a contemporary of Cardinal Manning, wrote, "The Church, though still a visible society, will be increasingly reduced to individual and domestic proportions." . . . "Surrounded on all sides, as the other centuries have made her great, so the last will strive to crush her. And finally the Church on earth will undergo a true defeat: . . . 'and it was given unto him [the Antichrist] to make war with the saints and to overcome them.'" (Apocalypse 13:7)

Hillaire Belloc, honoured by Pius XI with the title, "Defender of the Faith", expresses the same opinion, (which Salza claims to be heretical), namely, that the Church during the great tribulation will be severely reduced in numbers. In The Great Heresies, (which I read multiple times and of which I have multiple copies, including an original edition), Belloc says, "The Church will not disappear, for the Church is not made of mortal stuff; it is the only institution among men not subject to the universal law of mortality. Therefore we say, that the Church may not be wiped out, but that it may be reduced to a small band almost forgotten amid the vast numbers of its opponents and their contempt of the defeated thing."

This conviction, which Salza & Siscoe say is heretical, has been voiced also by the future Pope Benedict XVI in a radio address on Hessisscer Rundfunk in Germany in 1969:

“It [the Church] will become small and will have to start pretty much all over again. It will no longer have use of the structures it built in its years of prosperity. The reduction in the number of faithful will lead to it losing an important part of its social privileges.”

(To be continued).

See also: A Reply to John Salza and Robert Siscoe (Part I)

A Reply to John Salza and Robert Siscoe (Part II)       
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