21 Aug 2016

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


By Father Paul Kramer

John Salza
"Os autem impiorum iniquitatem operit" (Prov. 10:6).

In their "Replies to Father Paul Kramer -- One Error at a Time", John Salza and Robert Siscoe manifest a nearly unfathomable incapacity to understand Catholic doctrine according to the mind of the magisterium of the Church, along with a self serving and sacrilegious contempt for the Catholic priesthood. The Salza/Siscoe falsifying fundamentalist hermeneutic is so skilfully, systematically and pervasively applied in both their interpretation of doctrine as well as their fraudulent analysis of their opponents' arguments; that one reasonably suspects it is not theological incompetence and critical ineptitude, but rather the conscious intention to distort, falsify and deceive, which has accomplished with an almost admirable perfection their work of the total inversion of truth – "Os autem impiorum iniquitatem operit".

Salza/Siscoe make the errant claim that it is "Fr. Kramer’s scholarship that is lacking, especially in regard to the theology concerning a heretical Pope." Everything I have written on the topic of a heretical pope has been taken from approved theological works, some of which are eminent authorities; whereas the Salza/Siscoe doctrine grossly distorts Catholic teaching and rests on heretical premises. Their doctrine, which they mendaciously claim is the teaching of the Church, is not the teaching of the Church, but is their own, which they prefer over the teaching of the Church – "Os autem impiorum iniquitatem operit".
What I say, however, is simply an application of the clearly set forth doctrine of the popes, Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Salza/Siscoe reject their teaching by distorting it to mean the opposite of what it says; while guilefully claiming to adhere to it: "Os autem impiorum iniquitatem operit".

Here is the opinion I expressed on a heretical pope, which Salza/Siscoe perversely judge to be unorthodox:

I absolutely do not fear in any way the opinions of those who argue against reason. St. Alphonsus de Liguori, whose works were declared free of doctrinal error by Pope Gregory XVI, taught that a pope who falls into heresy immediately falls from the pontificate. St. Robert Bellarmine, basing himself on the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, explains why that is so.

Salza's gross misinterpretation of Bellarmine's teaching collapses when one understands how he legalistically attempts to force the strict canonical meaning of "manifest heretic" to fit into a context that plainly does not intend to use the word in that canonical sense, but in the meaning of the term as it is commonly understood. If interpreted in that arbitrarily imposed canonical sense, Bellarmine's teaching becomes logically incoherent and unintelligible. His text cannot be understood that way – it is out of context. The main thrust of Bellarmines argument is that a pope who in FACT becomes a manifest heretic, ceases to be a pope, a Christian, and member of the Church. It is precisely due the FACT of loss of office that he may be judged and punished by the Church. For so long as he holds office, a pope may not be judged by anyone. This is exactly what Innocent III taught: the pope may be judged by no one – except if "he withers away into heresy" – then he can "be judged by men, or rather", "he may be shown to be already judged" because "the unbeliever is already judged [by God]".

Bellarmine EXPLICITLY rejects the argument that the pope holds office even as a heretic, until the Church pronounces judgment. If he still holds office as a heretic, then he may not be judged by anyone on earth. How can Salza possibly believe that Bellarmine proposes a position that he expressly rejects?

Furthermore, the legalistic argument is against reason and natural law; since, one cannot ever be morally or canonically bound to withhold assent to a truth that is known with certitude. When a person rejects the dogmas of faith in such a crass and obstinate manner that constitutes manifest heresy, it is a fact that is immediately evident with certitude. One cannot be bound by any law in heaven or earth to believe a falsehood, or withhold assent to a known truth, BECAUSE THAT IS AGAINST NATURAL LAW. If it is KNOWN with certitude that a "pope" is a manifest heretic, then he is KNOWN CERTAINLY to not be the visible head, nor even a member of the Church. It is an utterly perverse opinion to say that one can be bound morally to profess a falsehood – that a manifest infidel is a valid pope."

Now, let us see where this doctrine comes from:

“If ever a pope, as a private person, should fall into heresy, he would at once fall from the pontificate.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori, Opera Omnia 9:232.

Pope Innocent III in Sermo 4:

"The Roman Pontiff has no superior but God. Who, therefore, (should a pope ‘lose his savour’) could cast him out or trample him under foot — since of the pope it is said ‘gather thy flock into thy fold’? Truly, he should not flatter himself about his power, nor should he rashly glory in his honour and high estate, because the less he is judged by man, the more he is judged by God. Still the less can the Roman Pontiff glory because he can be judged by men, or rather, can be shown to be already judged, if for example he should wither away into heresy; because he who does not believe is already judged. In such a case it should be said of him: “If salt should lose its savour, it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trampled under foot by men.”

Thus, if it is a publicly known fact that a "pope" is a manifest heretic, he is "already judged" – he has by his unbelief visibly severed himself from communion with the body of the Church, since the first bond of communion is faith, without which one is not in communion with the Church. Hence:

St. Robert Bellarmine:

“A Pope who is a manifest heretic automatically ceases to be pope and head, just as he ceases automatically to be a Christian and a member of the Church. Where fore, he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the teaching of all the ancient Fathers who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.”  (De Romano Pontifice, II.30).

In this passage Bellarmine expresses the same doctrine as St. Alphonsus Liguori, that a pope who becomes a heretic immediately loses office and all jurisdiction; and having lost the papal office and jurisdiction, he may be judged and punished by the Church.

Now, let us consider the Salza/Siscoe doctrine, which has already been adequately refuted by another author (Steven Speray), who, (unlike myself) has endured the somewhat penitential work of reading through the entire 700 page book. I have read enough excerpts to gain an adequate understanding of the errant Salza/Siscoe arguments. One does not need to jump into a refuse bin and asphyxiate on the putrid fumes to recognize its contents – a couple of sniffs suffice for the olfactory apparatus to make its determination. Likewise, it is not necessary for one to read through an entire work to recognize by the stink of their errors that the authors of the work are theologically incompetent, as are Salza and Siscoe.

Speray quotes Salza/Siscoe directly:

"The sin of heresy alone, which has not been judged and declared by the Church, does not result in the loss of ecclesiastical office for a cleric. The loss of office for a cleric is a vindictive penalty, and there is a process in Church law which must precede vindictive penalties….

“This also means that the loss of office for a cleric must be imposed (ferendae sententiae) by Church authority [70] which makes the loss of office a “vindictive penalty.” Footnote 70 – In the old 1917 Code, there was an exception to this rule for the more severe vindictive penalty (canon 188, §4). This topic will be discussed at the end of this chapter. (True or False Pope – Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors, p. 260, emphasis mine.)"

Speray presents a more than adequate refutation of this nonsensical Salza/Siscoe argument which contains multiple errors, conflicts with the explicit teaching of Pope St. Celestine I, the two greatest post-Tridentine Doctors of the Church, as well as the learned and unanimous opinions of expert canonists – and is based on unstated heretical premises. Speray's entire refutation can be read here: (https:/stevensperay.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/canon-188-4-and-defection-of-faith-why-john-salza-and-robert-siscoe-get-it-wrong-part-iii/ )

First off, Speray makes a very telling observation: "Salza/Siscoe’s main argument hinges on how the loss of office occurs. Canon law defines it. Not once in 700 pages did Salza/Siscoe present an expert’s commentary on canon 188.4 because no canonist supports them. Salza/Siscoe use their private judgment on how the canons are to be interpreted."

Speray presents lengthy quotations from eminent authorities which refute the Salza/Siscoe grotesquely absurd interpretation of Canon Law: Loss of office is not a penalty, but is the direct result of the act of publicly defecting from the Catholic faith into heresy or apostasy. That the loss of office is the direct consequence of the defecting into heresy is demonstrated by Fr. Geeald McDevitt: " And in a letter to the clergy of Constantinople, Pope St. Celestine I says: The authority of Our Apostolic See has determined that the bishop, cleric, or simple Christian who had been deposed or excommunicated by Nestorius or his followers, after the latter began to preach heresy shall not be considered deposed or excommunicated. For he who had defected from the faith with such preachings, cannot depose or remove anyone whatsoever."

In order to justify their error, Salza/Siscoe propose yet another error which would distinguish between the crime and the sin of heresy; and only the crime after having been declared by the Church results in loss of office. Speray mentions that Salza/Siscoe simply repeat an older Salza error on this point: " “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 "; and, " Again, Pope Pius XII is referring to the “offense” or CRIME (not SIN) of heresy, which severs one from the Body of the Church, after the formal and material elements have been proven by the Church. After the crime has been established, the heretic is automatically severed from the BODY (not SOUL) of the Church without further declaration (although most theologians maintain that the Church must also issue a declaration of deprivation)."
The quotation Salza refers to is: "Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (# 23), June 29, 1943" : “For not every offense, although it may be a grave evil, is such as by its very own nature [suapte natura] to sever a man from the Body of the Church [ab Ecclesiae Corpore], as does schism or heresy or apostasy.” "

Salza’s nearly gnostic interpretation of Pius XII's teaching resorts to an esoteric understanding of a plainly expressed and universally taught doctrine, that the act of heresy by its very nature separates one from the Church. He does this by uncritically and falsely interpreting the word "admissum" too strictly to mean "crime" as opposed to "sin". Both the proper understanding of the word "admissum" and the Catholic doctrine on heresy refute this bogus distinction as formulated by Salza.

We consider first the moral theological definition of the sin of heresy: "Hæresis est error intellectus, et pertinax contra Fidem, in eo qui Fidem sucepit. ... Unde patet, ad Hæresim, ut et Apostasiam, duo requiri, 1. Judicium erroneum, quod est ejus quasi materiale. 2. Pertinaciam; quae est quasi formale. Porro pertinaciter errare non est hic acriter, et mordicus suum errorem tueri; sed est eum retinere, postquam contrarium est sufficienter propositum: sive quando scit contrarium teneri a reliqua universali Christi in terris Ecclesia, cui suum iudicium præferat” – St. Alphonsus M. De Liguori, Lib. II. Tract. I. De præcepto Fidei. Dubium III. Now the canonical crime of heresy (and apostasy): "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". They are exactly the same; only St. Alphonsus also explains the distinction between the matter and the form of heresy.

The key phrase of Mystici Corporis which Salza interprets against the mind of the Church is: “Siquidem non omne admissum”. Salza claims that the word "admissum" means "crime" as opposed to "sin". Lewis & Short do not limit the word to mean "crime", but define it as, "a voluntary fault, a trespass, a crime". Speray points out that most translations, including the Vatican's own website translate the word as "sin"; but Salza says it does not mean sin but "crime". This is either extreme incompetence or extreme dishonesty on the part of John Salza.

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