21 Sep 2016

Defection from the Faith and the Church - Faith, Heresy, and Loss of Office - An Exposé of the Heresy of John Salza and Robert Siscoe (Part I)

By Father Paul Kramer

The burning of the pantheistic Amalrician heretics in 1210, in the presence of King Philip II Augustus

The sin of Heresy per se, like apostasy and schism, has the intrinsic effect of separating the heretic from the Church by itself, without any ecclesiastical censures; and is distinguished from other sins which do not by their very nature, separate the sinner from the body of the Church; and who, therefore, for grave offences can only be separated from the Church by a sentence of excommunication incurred or inflicted by legitimate ecclesiastical authority. This is the infallible teaching of the universal magisterium of the Church which must be believed de fide divina et Catholica under pain of heresy, as is proven and demonstrated below.

St. Pius V teaches in the Roman Catechism: "Heretics and schismatics are excluded from the Church, because they have defected (desciverunt) from her and belong to her only as deserters belong to the army from which they have deserted."; whereas those who have not left the Church by defecting, but are excluded from the Church by excommunication, are "cut off by her sentence from the number of her children and belong not to her communion until they repent.”[1]

In order to understand how it is that heretics leave the Church by themselves – i.e., that heresy per se, by the very nature of the transgression, separates the heretic from the body of the Church as a consequence intrinsic to the nature of the sin, (as Pius XII teaches, "suapte natura hominem ab Ecclesiae Corpore separet"); and that by the fully deliberate and obstinate act of heresy, the heretics have left the Church and separated themselves from union with the body of the Church: "a Corporis compage semetipsos misere separarunt", (as distinguished from those who for reason of a most grave fault have been cut off by the legitimate ecclesiastical authority – "ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt" [either a jure, i.e. latæ sententiæ, or ab homine, i.e. sententia ferenda] ); it is necessary first to understand how one enters the Church as a faithful member; since it is by faith that one becomes a Christian and a member of the Church, and therefore it is by defecting from the faith into heresy or apostasy that one departs from the Church and ceases by the very nature of the sin to be a member.

It is first and foremost by faith that one is a Christian, without which, (as St. Thomas teaches), no one can be said to be a Christian: "Primum quod est necessarium Christiano, est fides, sine qua nullus dicitur fidelis Christianus."[2] By faith, even before baptism (Acts 10:40), one can become united to the soul of the Church, and become a member not "in re" but "in voto" (as St. Robert Bellarmine teaches[3]). This is, as St. Thomas explains, in virtue of the effects of faith: 1) It is by faith that the soul is first united to God: "Primum est quod per fidem anima coniungitur Deo: nam per fidem anima Christiana facit quasi quoddam matrimonium cum Deo"; [2] and for that reason it is that one who is baptised must first profess the faith: "Et inde est quod quando homo baptizatur, primo confitetur fidem, cum dicitur ei, credis in Deum?".[2] And thus it is that Baptism is first a sacrament of faith: "Quia Baptismus est primum sacramentum fidei." – and for this reason Baptism is said to be "the door", the vitæ spiritualis ianua and the door to the other sacraments[4]; for it is by this sacrament of faith that one enters the Church, and without faith the sacrament is of no benefit: "Baptismus enim sine fide non prodest." [1] From there it becomes clear that in order to be a member of the Church, it is necessary, (as St. Pius X teaches), to be baptised, and to believe and profess the doctrine of Jesus Christ ("Per esser membro della Chiesa è necessario esser battezzato, credere e professare la dottrina di Gesù Cristo")[5]; since the Church is "the congregation of all baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacraments, and the same sacrifice, under the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him" – and therefore, "To remain a real member of the Church after Baptism a person must profess the one true faith and must not withdraw from the unity of the body of the Church on schism or heresy or be excommunicated by legitimate authority because of serious sins."[6]

Thus, the heretic, schismatic, and apostate withdraw from unity and leave the Church, and thereby cease to be members, as St. Pius X teaches (in Question 200). Whoever would not believe in the solemn definitions of faith or would doubt them, would sin against faith; and remaining obstinate in unbelief, would no longer be a Catholic, but a heretic. ("Chi non credesse alle definizioni solenni del Papa, o anche solo ne dubitasse, peccherebbe contro la fede, e se rimanesse ostinato in questa incredulità, non sarebbe più cattolico, ma eretico.) Heretics are not only those who stubbornly doubt, deny any solemn definition; but the same Pontiff teaches that they are heretics who refuse to believe any truth revealed by God which the Catholic Church teaches as "de fide": "Gli eretici sono i battezzati che ricusano con pertinacia di credere qualche verità rivelata da Dio e insegnata come di fede dalla Chiesa cattolica" (Q. 228).

The doctrine that not only the solemn definitions, but all that has been taught by the universal and ordinary magisterium of the Church as divinely revealed must be believed with divine and Catholic faith was set forth with precision in the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filiusby the First Vatican Council: "Further, by divine and Catholic faith, all those things must be believed which are contained in the written word of God and in tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in her ordinary and universal teaching power, to be believed as divinely revealed."[7] Thus it follows that heresy consists not only in the denial or refusal to believe solemnly defined dogmas, but any revealed truth taught by the universal magisterium that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith: "Can. 751 — Dicitur haeresis, pertinax, post receptum baptismum, alicuius veritatis divina et catholica credendae denegatio, aut de eadem pertinax dubitatio; apostasia, fidei christianae ex toto repudiatio". (Codex Iuris Canonici).

It is to be noted that in both extraordinary and ordinary Magisterium, the doctrine must either be proclaimed with a “definitive act” (extraordinary) or it is agreed that it is “to be held as definitive.” The teaching of both the extraordinary and the universal and ordinary Magisterium are defined doctrines. Any doctrine that is not defined does not pertain to the infallible Magisterium of the Church.

Francisco Marin-Sola O.P. explains:

"The Church’s doctrinal authority or magisterium has for its proper and specific purpose the conservation and exposition of the revealed deposit. To determine or to fix infallibly the true meaning of the divine deposit is called a definition of faith by the Church ...These two ways of exercising the magisterium on the content and the meaning of the revealed deposit are of equal dogmatic value, and both are true definitions of faith. Between them there exists only an accidental difference, to wit, that the magisterium exercised by the Ecumenical Council or by the Pope speaking ex cathedra is done with a greater solemnity and show of formulae and is easily discernible by all; on the other hand, the ordinary magisterium is exercised through the universal teaching of the Church without any special display or set formulae, and at times it is not so easy to determine its scope and signification."[8]

A precise and official formulation on Magisterium and that which must be believed de fide is to be found in Canons 749 and 750 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law: Can 749 §1. “The Supreme Pontiff, in virtue of his office, possesses infallible teaching authority when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful ... he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held as such.”

§2. “The college of bishops also possesses infallible teaching authority when the bishops exercise their teaching office gathered together in an ecumenical council when, as teachers and judges of faith and morals, they declare that for the universal Church a doctrine of faith or morals must be definitively held; they also exercise it scattered throughout the world but united in a bond of communion among themselves and with the Successor of Peter when together with that same Roman Pontiff in their capacity as authentic teachers of faith and morals they agree on an opinion to be held as definitive.”

Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

§2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firm-ly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church. [9]

The truths of faith taught by the Magisterium must be understood according to the mind of the Church with the same unchanging meaning: "For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed ... has been entrusted as a divine deposit to the spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding. Therefore ... let the understanding, the knowledge, and wisdom of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progress strongly with the passage of the ages and the centuries; but let it be solely in its own genus, namely in the same dogma, with the same sense and the same understanding (St. Vincent of Lérins)." (Dei Filius) [10]

St. Vincent of Lerins in his Commonitory lays down the rules that must be observed in order to safeguard the sacred doctrine so that its authentic meaning can be perpetually retained:

 "Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors."

The universality, antiquity and consent on points of doctrine which distinguish them as being of divine origin are pre-eminently to be found where there is the unanimous consent of the Fathers on a point of doctrine. In matters of faith and morals the true sense of sacred scripture is to be understood as the Church, which has the authority to interpret and judge, has understood and understands it; and no one may interpret them contrary to this sense; and it is permitted to no one to interpret the scriptures contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers: "Nos, . . . , hanc illius mentem esse declaramus, ut in rebus fidei et morum, ad aedificationem doctrinae Christianae pertinentium, is pro vero sensu sacrae Scripturae habendus sit, quem tenuit ac tenet Sancta Mater Ecclesia, cuius est iudicare de vero sensu et interpretatione Scripturarum sanctarum; atque ideo nemini licere contra hunc sensum, aut etiam contra unanimem consensum Patrum ipsam Scripturam sacram interpretari."

Steve Ray, inUnanimous Consent of the Fathers, (written for the Catholic Dictionary of Apologetics and Evangelism by Ignatius Press), says, on the authority of ecclesiastical writers, "Where the Fathers speak in harmony, with one mind overall — not necessarily each and every one agreeing on every detail but by consensus and general agreement — we have 'unanimous consent'."

Unanimous consent in interpreting scripture cannot be intelligibly understood in the fundamentalistic sense of unanimous interpretation of many Fathers of individual scriptural texts and verses, (which is rare), but is understood by the Church to denote a moral unanimity of the Fathers agreeing or consenting on points of doctrine that are derived from various texts of scripture.

Thus, (Cardinal) Yves Congar writes, "In fact, a complete consensus is unnecessary: quite often, that which is appealed to as sufficient for dogmatic points does not go beyond what is encountered in the interpretation of many texts." [11] On the consensus of the Fathers, Fr. Bernard Schid writes, "“[T]he unanimity of the Fathers (Consensus Patrum), in matters of faith and morals, begets complete certainty and commands assent, because they, as a body, bear witness to the teaching and belief of the infallible Church, representing the Church herself. So the authority of the Fathers is binding only when they all agree upon a question of faith and morals. The consensus, however, need not be absolute; a moral agreement suffices, as, for instance, when some of the greatest Fathers testify to a doctrine of the Church, and the rest, though quite aware of it, do not positively oppose it.” [12] On this point Congar states, "As a matter of fact, a few testimonies sufficed, even that of one single man if his particular situation or the consideration accorded him by the Church were such as to give to what he said the value of coming from a quasi-personification of the whole Church at that time." [11]

The Catholic belief on heresy is stated in scripture, interpreted unanimously by the Fathers, explicated by the Doctors and theologians, and defined by the universal and ordinary Magisteriun of the Church, and taught by the Supreme Pontiffs to the whole Church in their ordinary magisterium.

The doctrine that, The sin of Heresy per se, like apostasy and schism, has the intrinsic effect of separating the heretic from the Church by itself, without any ecclesiastical censures; and is distinguished from other sins which do not by their very nature, separate the sinner from the body of the Church; and who, therefore, for grave offences can only be separated from the Church by a sentence of excommunication incurred or inflicted by legitimate ecclesiastical authority, is taught plainly and explicitly in Mystici Corporis:

"In Ecclesiae autem membris reapse ii soli annumerandi sunt, qui regenerationis lavacrum receperunt veramque fidem profitentur, neque a Corporis compage semet ipsos misere separarunt, vel ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt." and, "Siquidem non omne admissum, etsi grave scelus, eiusmodi est ut — sicut schisma, vel haeresis, vel apostasia faciunt — suapte natura hominem ab Ecclesiae Corpore separet."

The common and general meaning of the word "admissum" is defined by Lewis & Short as a "voluntary fault", and only in certain specific instances can it be understood to mean "crime", when the particular context in which it is used supports that interpretation. Salza and Siscoe gratuitously interpret the term as used in Mystici Corporis to mean "offence" as in "crime" – a canonical delict or transgression of ecclesiastical positive law which, in the case of heresy by ecclesiastical authority incurs the penalty of excommunication latæ sententiæ. It is quite impossible, and in fact, contra rationem, for the word "admissum" to be understood as denoting a canonical delict in the context that it is used in this passage of Mystici Corporis, because that would render its meaning unintelligible and entirely irrational.

As can be seen from the above quoted text of St. Pius V's Catechism, heretics withdraw (descisco, desciscere, descivi, descitum – withdraw, leave, revolt from, desert, defect), they LEAVE the Church on their own. By the act of heresy, i.e., by the SIN of defecting from the Catholic faith by an external act, the heretic, by the act of heresy suapte natura [13], i.e., by the effect that is intrinsic to the nature of heresy, leaves the Church and ceases to be a member. It is not by the force of law in virtue of a latæ sententiæ excommunication, that the heretic ceases to be a member of the Church by having been expelled from the Church by the authority of ecclesiastical law (ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt), but the act of desertion itself, suapte natura, separates the heretic from the body of the Church, so that the censure does not in any manner separate the heretic from the Church, but only gives juridical recognition and adds force of law to the fact of separation; and imposes the obligation of absolution from the censure as a condition for reconciliation with the Church.

If Salza's interpretation of Mystici Corporis were correct,[14] i.e., that only the canonical delict of heresy suapte natura, but not the sin of heresy severs the heretic from the body of the Church, then the distinction between those who depart from the Church by their own act of desertion, and those who are expelled from the Church by legitimate authority would not exist, since all sinners, including heretics, would then be separated from the Church by authority – by a sentence of excommunication incurred or inflicted by legitimate ecclesiastical authority, and not by the very nature of the act of desertion. It is also quite absurd to say that the crime of heresy only, but not the sin, (which is identical in essence to the sin, and defined in both Canon Law and Moral Theology in identical terms), suapte natura severs the perpetrator from the Church, since under both aspects the crime and the sin are identical in nature.

Finally, if Salza's opinion that only the canonical crime of heresy but not the sin, severs the heretic from the Church, then the perpetual teaching of the Church, namely, that heresy per se, and not heresy considered as a canonical delict, severs the heretic from the Church, would be an error. St. Robert Bellarmine quote St. Jerome (d. 420 AD), one of the four major Latin Fathers says with the unanimous consensus of the Fathers, "Jerome comments on the same place, saying that other sinners, through a judgment of excommunication are excluded from the Church; heretics, however, leave by themselves and are cut from the body of Christ". If Salza and Siscoe are correct, then the Church already defected in the Fifth Century. If the Church is indeed Infallible and Indefectible, (and it is), then John Salza and Robert Siscoe are in heresy. EX SUORADICTIS PATET:

Sententia hæreticathe sin of heresy alone does not sever one from the Church.

Sententia hæretica – That not the sin alone, but a canonical censure in addition to the sin of heresy committed with an external act is required to sever the heretic from the Church.

Sententia hæretica - “The sin of heresy alone does NOT ‘sever the person from the Body of the Church’ because sin is a matter of the internal forum". [It is de fide that the sin of heresy alone, committed as an external, public act alone severs the person from the body of the Church, without any canonical censure, and would have the effect of severing the heretic even if there were no canonical penalty attached to the sin.]



[1] Catechismus Romanus, Cap. 10,9: "Ex quo fit ut tria tantummodo hominum genera ab ea excludantur: primo infideles, deinde haeretici et schismatici, postremo excommunicati. Ethnici quidem, quod in Ecclesia numquam fuerunt, neque eam umquam cognoverunt, nec ullius sacramenti participes in populi christiani societate facti sunt. Haeretici vero atque schismatici, quia ab Ecclesia desciverunt, neque enim illi magis ad Ecclesiam spectant quam transfugae ad exercitum pertineant a quo defecerunt; non negandum tamen quin in Ecclesiae potestate sint, ut qui ab ea in iudicium vocentur, puniantur et anathemate damnentur. Postremo etiam excommunicati, quod Ecclesiae iudicio ab ea exclusi ad illius communionem non pertineant donec resipiscant."

Pope Clement XIII declared the Roman Catechism to be far removed from all danger of error, and that it sets forth the common doctrine of the Church: "Nam et illuc eam doctrinam contulerunt, quae communis est in Ecclesia, et procul abest ab omni periculo erroris; et hanc palam populo tradendam disertissimis verbis proposuerunt" – thus, in matters of faith and morals it presents the teaching of the universal magisterium, promulgated with the authority equivalent to the authority of a dogmatic encyclical.

Doctor John Hagan, [Vice Rector & Rector of the Irish College in Rome, 1904 - 1930) writes thus: "The Roman Catechism is a work of exceptional authority. At the very least it has the same authority as a dogmatic Encyclical, -- it is an authoritative exposition of Catholic doctrine given forth, and guaranteed to be orthodox by the Catholic Church and her supreme head on earth. (cf. AUTHORITY AND EXCELLENCE OF THE ROMAN CATECHISM, 

[2] Sancti Thomae de Aquino Expositio in Symbolum Apostolorum, PROOEMIUM

[3] De Ecclesia Militante, Lib. III, Cap. 3 - "there are those who belong to the soul and not the body, as catechumens or the excommunicated, if indeed they have charity, which can happen." -- and, "Catechumens however if not in re at least in voto are in the Church and are therefore able to be saved."

[4] "Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), [Council of Florence: DS 1314: vitae spiritualis ianua], and the door which gives access to the other sacraments." – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1213.

[5] San Pio X, Catechismo Maggiore

[6] Baltimore Catechism No. 3, 1949, Official Revised Edition, p. 78; annotated by Rev. Francis J. Connell C.ss.R., S.T.D.

[7] "Porro fide divina et catholica ea omnia credenda sunt, quae in verbo Dei scripto vel tradito continentur, et ab Ecclesia sive solemni iudicio sive ordinario et universali magisterio tamquam divinitus revelata credenda proponuntur."

[8] Francisco Marin-Sola, O.P., The Homogeneous Evolution of Catholic
Dogma, Manila, 1988, p. 288.

[9] Can. 749 — § 1. Infallibiitate in magisterio, vi muneris sui gaudet Summus Pontifex quando ut supremus omnium christifidelium Pastor et Doctor, cuius est fratres suos in fide confirmare, doctrinam de fide vel de moribus tenendam definitivo actus proclamat.
§ 2. Infallibiitate in magisterio pollet quoque Collegium Episcoporum quando magisterium exercent Episcopi in Concilio Oecumenico coadunati, qui, ut fidei et morum doctores et iudices, pro universa Ecclesia doctrinam de fide vel de moribus definitive tenendam declarant aut quando per orbem dispersi, communionis nexum inter se et cum Petri successore servantes, una cum eodem Romano Pontifice authentice res fidei vel morum docentes, in unam sententiam tamquam definitive tenendam conveniunt.

Can. 750 — § 1. Fide divina et catholica ea omnia credenda sunt quae verbo Dei scripto vel tradito, uno scilicet fidei deposito Ecclesiae commisso, continentur, et insimul ut divinitus revelata proponuntur sive ab Ecclesiae magisterio sollemni, sive ab eius magisterio ordinario et universali, quod quidem communi adhaesione christifidelium sub ductu sacri magisterii manifestatur; tenentur igitur omnes quascumque devitare doctrinas iisdem contrarias.
§ 2. Firmiter etiam amplectenda ac retinenda sunt omnia et singula quae circa doctrinam de fide vel moribus ab Ecclesiae magisterio definitive proponuntur, scilicet quae ad idem fidei depositum sancte custodiendum et fideliter exponendum requiruntur; ideoque doctrinae Ecclesiae catholicae adversatur qui easdem propositiones definitive tenendas recusat.
[10] Neque enim fidei doctrina, quam Deus revelavit, velut philosophicum inventum proposita est humanis ingeniis perficienda, sed tamquam divinum depositum Christi Sponsae tradita, fideliter custodienda et infallibiliter declaranda. Hinc sacrorum quoque dogmatum is sensus perpetuo est retinendus, quem semel declaravit Sancta Mater Ecclesia, nec umquam ab eo sensu, altior intelligentiae specie et nomine, recedendum. Crescat igitur et multum vehementerque proficiat, tam singulorum, quam omnium, tam unius hominis, quam totius Ecclesiae, aetatum ac saeculorum gradibus, intelligentia, scientia, sapientia; sed in suo dumtaxat genere, in eodem scilicet dogmate, eodem sensu, eademque sententia (Vine. Lir. Common, n. 28).

[11] Yves Congar on the “Unanimous Consent of the Fathers” in, Tradition and Traditions; McMillan Company, New York, 1966.

[12] Manual of Patrology, by Rev. Bernard Schid, O.S. B, Herder Book Co., 1917, Pg. 31.

[13] The term "suapte natura" simply means "by or of its own nature". The meaning in law is identical: "Lat. In its own nature. Suapte natura sterilis, barren in its own nature and quality; intrinsically barren." - Black's Law Dictionary (online)

[14] The Salza/Siscoe interpretation of Mystici Corporis is not shared by any academically qualified theologian in the world. Mons. Van Noort wrote:

"b. Public heretics (and a fortiori, apostates) are not members of the Church. They are not members because they separate themselves from the unity of Catholic faith and from the external profession of that faith. Obviously, therefore, they lack one of three factors—baptism, profession of the same faith, union with the hierarchy—pointed out by Pius XII as requisite for membership in the Church. The same pontiff has explicitly pointed out that, unlike other sins, heresy, schism, and apostasy automatically sever a man from the Church. 'For not every sin, however grave and enormous it be, is such as to sever a man automatically from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy'.

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