The letter posted immediately below is so vitally important for the resolution of the present Crisis in the Church that for awhile I will not be posting new posts independently  on this blog but will instead will let readers access Abyssum by clicking on to this “Letter” post.  New Posts are added daily as an addition to this post.  To read the new posts simply press the “page down” button on your computer keyboard and scroll down rapidly to the new daily posts.
In addition I invite all who read posts on this blog to submit comments to the posts using the content block provided.  ALL POSTS ARE MODERATED AND I ATTEMPT TO RESPOND TO EACH COMMENT.  IF YOUR COMMENT IS NOT POSTED OR THE COMMENT IS NOT REPLIED TO BY ME IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT I DO NOT LOVE YOU, IT PROBABLY JUST MEANS THAT THE PHASE OF THE MOON IS OUT OF PHASE WITH THE ABYSSUM BLOG..  We are all in this crisis together and so I would like to encourage every reader to this post to send me a comment (and pray that the moon is in the right phase) and to read my reply.
+Rene Henry Gracida





Recently many educated Catholic observers, including bishops and priests, have decried the confusion in doctrinal statements about faith or morals made from the Apostolic See at Rome and by the putative Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. Some devout, faithful and thoughtful Catholics have even suggested that he be set aside as a heretic, a dangerous purveyor of error, as recently mentioned in a number of reports.

Claiming heresy on the part of a man who is a supposed Pope, charging material error in statements about faith or morals by a putative Roman Pontiff, suggests and presents an intervening prior question about his authenticity in that August office of Successor of Peter as Chief of The Apostles, i.e., was this man the subject of a valid election by an authentic Conclave of The Holy Roman Church?  This is so because each Successor of Saint Peter enjoys the Gift of Infallibility. 
So, before one even begins to talk about excommunicating such a prelate, one must logically examine whether this person exhibits the uniformly good and safe fruit of Infallibility.  If he seems repeatedly to engage in material error, that first raises the question of the validity of his election because one expects an authentically-elected Roman Pontiff miraculously and uniformly to be entirely incapable of stating error in matters of faith or morals.  So to what do we look to discern the invalidity of such an election?  His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, within His massive legacy to the Church and to the World, left us with the answer to this question.  The Catholic faithful must look back for an answer to a point from where we have come—to what occurred in and around the Sistine Chapel in March 2013 and how the fruits of those events have generated such widespread concern among those people of magisterial orthodoxy about confusing and, or, erroneous doctrinal statements which emanate from The Holy See.  
His Apostolic Constitution (Universi Dominici Gregis) which governed the supposed Conclave in March 2013 contains quite clear and specific language about the invalidating effect of departures from its norms.  For example, Paragraph 76 states:  “Should the election take place in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution, or should the conditions laid down here not be observed, the election is for this very reason null and void, without any need for a declaration on the matter; consequently, it confers no right on the one elected.”  From this, many believe that there is probable cause to believe that Monsignor Jorge Mario Bergoglio was never validly elected as the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Saint Peter—he never rightly took over the office of Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and therefore he does not enjoy the charism of Infallibility.  If this is true, then the situation is dire because supposed papal acts may not be valid or such acts are clearly invalid, including supposed appointments to the college of electors itself.
Only valid cardinals can rectify our critical situation through privately (secretly) recognizing the reality of an ongoing interregnum and preparing for an opportunity to put the process aright by obedience to the legislation of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, in that Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis.  While thousands of the Catholic faithful do understand that only the cardinals who participated in the events of March 2013 within the Sistine Chapel have all the information necessary to evaluate the issue of election validity, there was public evidence sufficient for astute lay faithful to surmise with moral certainty that the March 2013 action by the College was an invalid conclave, an utter nullity.
What makes this understanding of Universi Dominici Gregis particularly cogent and plausible is the clear Promulgation Clause at the end of this Apostolic Constitution and its usage of the word “scienter” (“knowingly”).  The Papal Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis thus concludes definitively with these words:  “.   .   .   knowingly or unknowingly, in any way contrary to this Constitution.”  (“.   .   .   scienter vel inscienter contra hanc Constitutionem fuerint excogitata.”)  [Note that His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, had a somewhat similar promulgation clause at the end of his corresponding, now abrogated, Apostolic Constitution, Romano Pontifici Eligendo, but his does not use “scienter”, but rather uses “sciens” instead.  This similar term of sciens in the earlier abrogated Constitution has an entirely different legal significance than scienter.]
This word, “scienter”, is a legal term of art in Roman law, and in canon law, and in Anglo-American common law, and in each system, scienter has substantially the same significance, i.e., “guilty knowledge” or willfully knowing, criminal intent.  Thus, it clearly appears that Pope John Paul II anticipated the possibility of criminal activity in the nature of a sacrilege against a process which He intended to be purely pious, private, sacramental, secret and deeply spiritual, if not miraculous, in its nature. This contextual reality reinforced in the Promulgation Clause, combined with:  (1) the tenor of the whole document; (2) some other provisions of the document, e.g., Paragraph 76; (3) general provisions of canon law relating to interpretation, e.g., Canons 10 & 17; and, (4) the obvious manifest intention of the Legislator, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, tends to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the legal conclusion that Monsignor Bergoglio was never validly elected Roman Pontiff.
 This is so because:
1.  Communication of any kind with the outside world, e.g., communication did occur between the inside of the Sistine Chapel and anyone outside, including a television audience, before, during or even immediately after the Conclave;
2.   Any political commitment to “a candidate” and any “course of action” planned for The Church or a future pontificate, such as the extensive decade-long “pastoral” plans conceived by the Sankt Gallen hierarchs; and,
3.  Any departure from the required procedures of the conclave voting process as prescribed and known by a cardinal to have occurred:
each was made an invalidating act, and if scienter (guilty knowledge) was present, also even a crime on the part of any cardinal or other actor, but, whether criminal or not, any such act or conduct violating the norms operated absolutely, definitively and entirely against the validity of all of the supposed Conclave proceedings.
Quite apart from the apparent notorious violations of the prohibition on a cardinal promising his vote, e.g., commitments given and obtained by cardinals associated with the so-called “Sankt Gallen Mafia,” other acts destructive of conclave validity occurred.  Keeping in mind that Pope John Paul II specifically focused Universi Dominici Gregis on “the seclusion and resulting concentration which an act so vital to the whole Church requires of the electors” such that “the electors can more easily dispose themselves to accept the interior movements of the Holy Spirit,” even certain openly public media broadcasting breached this seclusion by electronic broadcasts outlawed by Universi Dominici Gregis.  These prohibitions include direct declarative statements outlawing any use of television before, during or after a conclave in any area associated with the proceedings, e.g.:  “I further confirm, by my apostolic authority, the duty of maintaining the strictest secrecy with regard to everything that directly or indirectly concerns the election process itself.”
Viewed in light of this introductory preambulary language of Universi Dominici Gregis and in light of the legislative text itself, even the EWTN camera situated far inside the Sistine Chapel was an immediately obvious non-compliant  act which became an open and notorious invalidating violation by the time when this audio-visual equipment was used to broadcast to the world the preaching after the “Extra Omnes”.  While these blatant public violations of Chapter IV of Universi Dominici Gregis actuate the invalidity and nullity of the proceedings themselves, nonetheless in His great wisdom, the Legislator did not disqualify automatically those cardinals who failed to recognize these particular offenses against sacred secrecy, or even those who, with scienter, having recognized the offenses and having had some power or voice in these matters, failed or refused to act or to object against them:  “Should any infraction whatsoever of this norm occur and be discovered, those responsible should know that they will be subject to grave penalties according to the judgment of the future Pope.”  [Universi Dominici Gregis, ¶55]   
No Pope apparently having been produced in March 2013, those otherwise valid cardinals who failed with scienter to act on violations of Chapter IV, on that account alone would nonetheless remain voting members of the College unless and until a new real Pope is elected and adjudges them.  Thus, those otherwise valid cardinals who may have been compromised by violations of secrecy can still participate validly in the “clean-up of the mess” while addressing any such secrecy violations with an eventual new Pontiff.  In contrast, the automatic excommunication of those who politicized the sacred conclave process, by obtaining illegally, commitments from cardinals to vote for a particular man, or to follow a certain course of action (even long before the vacancy of the Chair of Peter as Vicar of Christ), is established not only by the word, “scienter,” in the final enacting clause, but by a specific exception, in this case, to the general statement of invalidity which therefore reinforces the clarity of intention by Legislator that those who apply the law must interpret the general rule as truly binding.  Derived directly from Roman law, canonical jurisprudence provides this principle for construing or interpreting legislation such as this Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis.  Expressed in Latin, this canon of interpretation is:   “Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis.”  (The exception proves the rule in cases not excepted.)  In this case, an exception from invalidity for acts of simony reinforces the binding force of the general principle of nullity in cases of other violations.
Therefore, by exclusion from nullity and invalidity legislated in the case of simony:   “If — God forbid — in the election of the Roman Pontiff the crime of simony were to be perpetrated, I decree and declare that all those guilty thereof shall incur excommunication latae sententiae.  At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that — as was already established by my Predecessors — the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged.”  His Holiness made an exception for simony.  Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis.  The clear exception from nullity and invalidity for simony proves the general rule that other violations of the sacred process certainly do and did result in the nullity and invalidity of the entire conclave.

While it is not necessary to look outside Universi Dominici Gregis in order to construe or to interpret its plain meaning, the first source to which one would look is the immediately prior constitution which Universi Dominici Gregis abrogated or replaced.  Pope John Paul II replaced entirely what Pope Paul VI had legislated in the immediately previous Constitution on conclaves, Romano Pontfici Eligendo, but in so doing, Pope John Paul II used Romano Pontfici Eligendo as the format or pattern for His new constitution on conclaves.  Making obvious changes, nonetheless, Pope John Paul II utilized the content and structure of his predecessor’s constitution to organize and outline Universi Dominici Gregis.  Therefore, while it is not legally necessary to look outside Universi Dominici Gregis, the primary reference to an extraneous source of construction would entail an examination of Romano Pontfici Eligendo, and that exercise (bolsterd by the use of the key word “scienter” in the Promulgation Clause) would reinforce the broad principle of invalidity.

Comparing what Pope John Paul II wrote in His Constitution on conclaves with the Constitution which His replaced, you can see that, with the exception of simony, invalidity became universal. In the corresponding paragraph of what Pope Paul VI wrote, he specifically confined the provision declaring conclave invalidity to three (3) circumstances described in previous paragraphs within His constitution, Romano Pontfici Eligendo.  No such limitation exists in Universi Dominici Gregis.  See the comparison both in English and Latin below:
Romano Pontfici Eligendo, 77. Should the election be conducted in a manner different from the three procedures described above (cf. no. 63 ff.) or without the conditions laid down for each of the same, it is for this very reason null and void (cf. no. 62), without the need for any declaration, and gives no right to him who has been thus elected. [Romano Pontfici Eligendo, 77:  “Quodsi electio aliter celebrata fuerit, quam uno e tribus modis, qui supra sunt dicti (cfr. nn. 63 sqq.), aut non servatis condicionibus pro unoquoque illorum praescriptis, electio eo ipso est nulla et invalida (cfr. n. 62) absque ulla declaratione, et ita electo nullum ius tribuit .”] as compared with:
Universi Dominici Gregis, 76:  “Should the election take place in a way other than that prescribed in the present Constitution, or should the conditions laid down here not be observed, the election is for this very reason null and void, without any need for a declaration on the matter; consequently, it confers no right on the one elected.”  [Universi Dominici Gregis, 76:  “Quodsi electio aliter celebrata fuerit, quam haec Constitutio statuit, aut non servatis condicionibus pariter hic praescriptis, electio eo ipso est nulla et invalida absque ulla declaratione, ideoque electo nullum ius tribuit.”]


Of course, this is not the only feature of the Constitution or aspect of the matter which tends to establish the breadth of invalidity.  Faithful must hope and pray that only those cardinals whose status as a valid member of the College remains intact will ascertain the identity of each other and move with the utmost charity and discretion in order to effectuate The Divine Will in these matters. The valid cardinals, then, must act according to that clear, manifest, obvious and unambiguous mind and intention of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, so evident in Universi Dominici Gregis, a law which finally established binding and self-actuating conditions of validity on the College for any papal conclave, a reality now made so apparent by the bad fruit of doctrinal confusion and plain error.

        It would seem then that praying and working in a discreet and prudent manner to encourage only those true cardinals inclined to accept a reality of conclave invalidity, would be a most charitable and logical course of action in the light of Universi Dominici Gregis, and out of our high personal regard for the clear and obvious intention of its Legislator, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.  Even a relatively small number of valid cardinals could act decisively and work to restore a functioning Apostolic See through the declaration of an interregnum government.  The need is clear for the College to convene a General Congregation in order to declare, to administer, and soon to end the Interregnum which has persisted since March 2013.
Finally, it is important to understand that the sheer number of putative counterfeit cardinals will eventually, sooner or later, result in a situation in which The Church will have no normal means validly ever again to elect a Vicar of Christ.  After that time, it will become even more difficult, if not humanly impossible, for the College of Cardinals to rectify the current disastrous situation and conduct a proper and valid Conclave such that The Church may once again both have the benefit of a real Supreme Pontiff, and enjoy the great gift of a truly infallible Vicar of Christ.  It seems that some good cardinals know that the conclave was invalid, but really cannot envision what to do about it; we must pray, if it is the Will of God, that they see declaring the invalidity and administering an Interregnum through a new valid conclave is what they must do. Without such action or without a great miracle, The Church is in a perilous situation.  Once the last validly appointed cardinal reaches age 80, or before that age, dies, the process for electing a real Pope ends with no apparent legal means to replace it. Absent a miracle then, The Church would no longer have an infallible Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.  Roman Catholics would be no different than Orthodox Christians.
In this regard, all of the true cardinals may wish to consider what Holy Mother Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶675, ¶676 and ¶677 about “The Church’s Ultimate Trial”.  But, the fact that “The Church .   .   .  will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection” does not justify inaction by the good cardinals, even if there are only a minimal number sufficient to carry out Chapter II of Universi Dominici Gregis and operate the Interregnum.
This Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis, which was clearly applicable to the acts and conduct of the College of Cardinals in March 2013, is manifestly and obviously among those “invalidating” laws “which expressly establish that an act is null or that a person is effected” as stated in Canon 10 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.  And, there is nothing remotely “doubtful or obscure” (Canon 17) about this Apostolic Constitution as clearly promulgated by Pope John Paul II.  The tenor of the whole document expressly establishes that the issue of invalidity was always at stake.  This Apostolic Constitution conclusively establishes, through its
Promulgation Clause [which makes “anything done (i.e., any act or conduct) by any person  .   .   .   in any way contrary to this Constitution,”]  the invalidity of the entire supposed Conclave, rendering it “completely null and void”.
So, what happens if a group of Cardinals who undoubtedly did not knowingly and wilfully initiate or intentionally participate in any acts of disobedience against Universi Dominici Gregis were to meet, confer and declare that, pursuant to Universi Dominici Gregis, Monsignor Bergoglio is most certainly not a valid Roman Pontiff.  Like any action on this matter, including the initial finding of invalidity, that would be left to the valid members of the college of cardinals.  They could declare the Chair of Peter vacant and proceed to a new and proper conclave.  They could meet with His Holiness, Benedict XVI, and discern whether His resignation and retirement was made under duress, or based on some mistake or fraud, or otherwise not done in a legally effective manner, which could invalidate that resignation.  Given the demeanor of His Holiness, Benedict XVI, and the tenor of His few public statements since his departure from the Chair of Peter, this recognition of validity in Benedict XVI seems unlikely.
In fact, even before a righteous group of good and authentic cardinals might decide on the validity of the March 2013 supposed conclave, they must face what may be an even more complicated discernment and decide which men are most likely not valid cardinals.  If a man was made a cardinal by the supposed Pope who is, in fact, not a Pope (but merely Monsignor Bergoglio), no such man is in reality a true member of the College of Cardinals.  In addition, those men appointed by Pope John Paul II or by Pope Benedict XVI as cardinals, but who openly violated Universi Dominici Gregis by illegal acts or conduct causing the invalidation of the last attempted conclave, would no longer have voting rights in the College of Cardinals either.  (Thus, the actual valid members in the College of Cardinals may be quite smaller in number than those on the current official Vatican list of supposed cardinals.)
In any event, the entire problem is above the level of anyone else in Holy Mother Church who is below the rank of Cardinal.  So, we must pray that The Divine Will of The Most Holy Trinity, through the intercession of Our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces and Saint Michael, Prince of Mercy, very soon rectifies the confusion in Holy Mother Church through action by those valid Cardinals who still comprise an authentic College of Electors.  Only certainly valid Cardinals can address the open and notorious evidence which points to the probable invalidity of the last supposed conclave and only those cardinals can definitively answer the questions posed here.  May only the good Cardinals unite and if they recognize an ongoing Interregnum, albeit dormant, may they end this Interregnum by activating perfectly a functioning Interregnum government of The Holy See and a renewed process for a true Conclave, one which is purely pious, private, sacramental, secret and deeply spiritual.  If we do not have a real Pontiff, then may the good Cardinals, doing their appointed work “in view of the sacredness of the act of election”  “accept the interior movements of the Holy Spirit” and provide Holy Mother Church with a real Vicar of Christ as the Successor of Saint Peter.  
May these thoughts comport with the synderetic considerations of those who read them and may their presentation here please both Our Immaculate Virgin Mother, Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and The Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
N. de Plume
Un ami des Papes

Eccles and Bosco is saved

The Pope’s letter to the People of God

Posted: 20 Aug 2018 12:42 PM PDT

Most people will be unaware of this – I only found out today when Spadaro accidentally let the cat out of the bag – but there have been one or two complaints about our bishops and clergy recently.


Well, not me of course. As has been observed by that nice man Stephen Walford who dusts my piano, and that little gnome chap Austen Ivereigh, I am INFALLIBLE, which means that nothing is ever my fault. I’m happy to clear that up for you.

Wuerl on St Peter's

Endangered Creatures like this are almost extinct!

I was hoping to meet my dear friend Donna Wuerl in Dublin so that I could find out what’s going on, but he’s sent me a telegram: “I regret that I have suddenly died. Sorry.” My agents tell me that in fact he has not died, but has gone into hiding with some other handsome priests. I do hope he is not avoiding me.

Anyway, let’s try again with that headline.


Especially the laity. Well, it would be scandalous to blame the clergy. Even more scandalous to blame the bishops. So PLEASE do not de-bag your bishop and push him into the river. Even if it’s Farrell, or Tobin, or Cupich. Resist the temptation!

My top adviser Fr James Martin SJ assures me that it’s nothing to do with “gay” clergy either. After all, he says that he wants our clergy to be celibate, and none of the “Friends of Jimmy” shows any inclination whatsoever to get married. Well, not to a woman. Quod Erat Demonstrandum, as it says in the Latin Missal.

bad vestments

New vestments from “Maison Jimmy” of New York!

So that’s everything sorted, isn’t it? Now, let’s look at some of the more serious problems facing the Church. Climate Change – isn’t that the real cause of all our problems? Or maybe plastic straws.

Perhaps the biggest question you’re all asking is: should a black person play the role of Pope? “The name’s Francis, Pope Francis.” With a Licence to Kill the Magisterium. Can you imagine a black person – like Robert Sarah – taking the role? Of course not. The next actor to portray the Pope should be someone like Cardinal Wuerl. If only we can work out where he’s hiding…

Pope emoji

I feel your pain!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Why 1P5’s Skojec appears to be Wrong about Bp. Gracida’s Legally Crafted Open Letter against Francis

Onepeterfive’s Steve Skojec on May 7 apparently rejected Bishop René Gracida’s call for the cardinals to judge if Francis’s election to the papacy was valid calling the validity question itself a “potentially dangerous rabbit hole.”
(Onepeterfive, “Cardinal Eijk References End Times Prophecy in Intercommunion,” May 7, 2018)At the time Skojec referred back to his September 26, 2017 post where he said:”JPII has removed the election-nullifying consequences of simony… nowhere else in the following paragraphs is nullity of the election even implied.”
(Onepeterfive, “A Brief note on the Question of a Legally Valid Election,” September 26, 2017)Bishop Gracida shows that Skojec is wrong in his legally crafted Open Letter quoting Pope John Paul II’s Universi Dominici Gregis’ introductory perambulary and paragraph 76:-“I further confirm, by my Apostlic authority, the duty of maintaining the strictest secrecy with regard to everything that directly or indirectly concerns the election process.”
(Introductory perambulary)-“Should the election take place in a way other than laid down here not to be observed, the election is for this very reason null and void.”
(Paragraph 76)Gracida’s Open Letter, moreover, shows that Skojec is wrong above:”The clear exception from nullity and invalidity for simony proves the general rule that other violations of the sacred process certainly do and did result in the nullity and invalidity of the entire conclave.”On top of all that, Skojec ignores paragraph 5 and contrary to what canon lawyer Edward Peters has said about Universi Dominici Gregis when he suggests canon lawyers have a role in interpreting the John Paul II document. The document says:”Should doubts arise concerning the prescriptions contained in this Constitution, or concerning the manner of putting them into effect. I [Pope John Paul II] Decree that all power of issuing a judgment of this in this regard to the College of Cardinals, to which I grant the faculty of interpreting doubtful or controverted points.”
(Universi Dominici Gregis, paragraph 5)Later in the paragraph it says “except the act of the election,” which can be intercepted in a number of ways.The point is, as Bishop Gracida says and Universi Dominici Gregis said, only the cardinals can interpret its meaning, not Skojec or canon lawyers.The Bishop is saying what the document says: only the cardinals can interpret it.He, also, says put pressure on the cardinals to act and interpret it which both Skojec and Peters appear to prefer to ignore.Moreover, Bishop Gracida’s Open Letter and Pope John Paul II’s document make a number of points which neither Skojec, Peters or anyone else to my knowledge have even brought up or offered any counter argument against.I have great respect for both Skojec and Peters, but unless Gracida’s Open Letter is squarely responded to my respect for them will greatly diminish for they will be neglecting their responsibility to God and His Church.They are both wrong if they ignore this important Open Letter of Bishop Gracida.Pray an Our Father for the restoration of the Church.


Benedict XVI: Prophet

Note: Fr. Imbelli tells us he was reading along in some works by Pope Benedict XVI and was moved to extract several passages that seemed to speak powerfully to the multiple scandals in which we find ourselves. We agree, and thought you would like to see them as well. – Robert Royal

During his last trip to Germany, at Freiburg im Breisgau, on September 24thand 25th2011, Benedict XVI gave two addresses to German bishops, clergy, and lay leaders. Reports at the time indicated they were not well received by the audience. From the vantage of the present crisis, however, they appear prescient. Here follow extended excerpts from the two discourses:

“We live at a time that is broadly characterized by a subliminal relativism that penetrates every area of life. Sometimes this relativism becomes aggressive, when it opposes those who say that they know where the truth or meaning of life is to be found.”

“And we observe that this relativism exerts more and more influence on human relationships and on society. This is reflected, among other things, in the inconstancy and fragmentation of many people’s lives and in an exaggerated individualism. Many no longer seem capable of any form of self-denial or of making a sacrifice for others. Even the altruistic commitment to the common good, in the social and cultural sphere or on behalf of the needy, is in decline. Others are now quite incapable of committing themselves unreservedly to a single partner. People can hardly find the courage now to promise to be faithful for a whole lifetime; the courage to make a decision and say: now I belong entirely to you, or to take a firm stand for fidelity and truthfulness and sincerely to seek a solution to their problems.”

“The Church in Germany is superbly organized. But behind the structures, is there also a corresponding spiritual strength, the strength of faith in the living God? We must honestly admit that we have more than enough by way of structure but not enough by way of Spirit. I would add: the real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith. If we do not find a way of genuinely renewing our faith, all structural reform will remain ineffective.”

“If the Church, in Pope Paul VI’s words, is now struggling ‘to model itself on Christ’s ideal,’ this ‘can only result in its acting and thinking quite differently from the world around it, which it is nevertheless striving to influence.’ (Ecclesiam Suam, 58) In order to accomplish her mission, she will need again and again to set herself apart from her surroundings, to become in a certain sense ‘unworldly’.”

Freiburg im Breisgau, September 25, 2011

“In the concrete history of the Church, however, a contrary tendency is also manifested, namely that the Church becomes self-satisfied, settles down in this world, becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world. Not infrequently, she gives greater weight to organization and institutionalization than to her vocation to openness towards God, her vocation to opening up the world towards the other.”

“In order to accomplish her true task adequately, the Church must constantly renew the effort to detach herself from her tendency towards worldliness and once again to become open towards God. In this she follows the words of Jesus: ‘They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world’ (Jn 17:16), and in precisely this way Jesus gives himself to the world. One could almost say that history comes to the aid of the Church here through the various periods of secularization, which have contributed significantly to her purification and inner reform.”

“Secularizing trends – whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like – have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she, as it were, sets aside her worldly wealth and once again completely embraces her worldly poverty.”

“History has shown that, when the Church becomes less worldly, her missionary witness shines more brightly. Once liberated from material and political burdens and privileges, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world. She can live more freely her vocation to the ministry of divine worship and service of neighbor.”

“It is not a question here of finding a new strategy to re-launch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency, not bracketing or ignoring anything from the truth of our present situation, but living the faith fully here and now in the utterly sober light of day, appropriating it completely, and stripping away from it anything that only seems to belong to faith, but in truth is mere convention or habit.”

“To put it another way: for people of every era, and not just our own, the Christian faith is a scandal. That the eternal God should know us and care about us, that the intangible should at a particular moment have become tangible, that he who is immortal should have suffered and died on the Cross, that we who are mortal should be given the promise of resurrection and eternal life – for people of any era, to believe all this is a bold claim.”

“This scandal, which cannot be eliminated unless one were to eliminate Christianity itself, has unfortunately been overshadowed in recent times by other painful scandals on the part of the preachers of the faith. A dangerous situation arises when these scandals take the place of the primary skandalon of the Cross and in so doing they put it beyond reach, concealing the true demands of the Christian Gospel behind the unworthiness of those who proclaim it.”

Fr. Robert P. Imbelli

Fr. Robert P. Imbelli

Robert Imbelli, a Priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College. He is the author of Rekindling the Christic Imagination: Theological Meditations for the New Evangelization.



Lessons from Church History: A Brief Review of Papal Lapses

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article was first published at OnePeterFive in October 2015 under the pen name “Benedict Constable.” Due to some controversy (the nature of which need not be gone into here), the article was taken down, but not before it had reached a large number of readers and received praise as one of the most helpful responses yet penned to the present crisis in Church authority. The author has extensively revised the article for republication, benefiting from the feedback of a number of readers, including church historians and dogmatic theologians. It is also being published under the author’s proper name.

There are those in the Church who cannot bear to see a pope criticized for any reason – as if the whole Catholic Faith would come tumbling down were we to show that a particular successor of Peter was a scoundrel, murderer, fornicator, coward, compromiser, ambiguator, espouser of heresy, or promoter of faulty discipline. But it is quite false that the Faith would come tumbling down; it is far stronger, stabler, and sounder than that, because it does not depend on any particular incumbent of the papal office. Rather, it precedes these incumbents; outlasts them; and, in fact, judges them as to whether they have been good or bad vicars of Christ.  The Faith is entrusted to the popes, as it is to the bishops, but it is not subject to their control.

The Catholic Faith comes to us from God, from Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church, its immovable cornerstone, its permanent guarantee of truth and holiness [1]. The content of that Faith is not determined by the pope. It is determined by Christ and handed down in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium – with the Magisterium understood not as anything and everything that emanates from bishops or popes, but as the cumulative public, official, definitive, and universal teaching of the Church enshrined in dogmatic canons and decrees, anathemas, bulls, encyclicals, and other instruments of teaching in harmony with the foregoing.

One serious problem that faces us is a “papalism” that blinds Catholics to the reality that popes are peccable and fallible human beings like the rest of us, and that their pronouncements are guaranteed to be free from error only under strictly delimited conditions [2]. Apart from that, the realm of papal ignorance, error, sin, and disastrous prudential governance is broad and deep – although secular history affords no catalog of greatness comparable to the nearly 100 papal saints, and plenty of worse examples than the worst popes, which says a lot about man’s fallen condition.

At a time when Catholics are confused about whether and how a pope can go wrong, it seems useful to compile examples in three categories: (1) times when the popes were guilty of grave personal immorality; (2) times when popes connived at or with heresy, or were guilty of a harmful silence or ambiguity in regard to heresy; (3) times when popes taught (albeit not ex cathedra) something heretical, savoring of heresy, or harmful to the faithful.

Not everyone may agree that every item listed is, in fact, a full-blooded example of the category in question, but that is beside the point; the fact that there are a number of problematic instances is sufficient to show that popes are not automatic oracles of God who hand down only what is good, right, holy, and laudable. If that last statement seems like a caricature, one need only look at how conservative Catholics today are bending over backward to get lemonade out of every lemon offered by Pope Francis and denying with vehemence that Roman lemons could ever be rotten or poisonous.

Popes Guilty of Grave Personal Immorality

This, sadly, is an easy category to fill, and it need not detain us much. One might take as examples six figures about whom E.R. Chamberlin wrote his book The Bad Popes [3].

  • John XII (955-964) gave land to a mistress, murdered several people, and was killed by a man who caught him in bed with the man’s wife.
  • Benedict IX (1032-1044, 1045, 1047–1048) managed to be pope three times, having sold the office off and bought it back again.
  • Urban VI (1378-1389) complained that he did not hear enough screaming when cardinals who had conspired against him were tortured.
  • Alexander VI (1492-1503) bribed his way to the throne and bent all of his efforts to the advancement of his illegitimate children, such as Lucrezia, whom at one point he made regent of the papal states, and Cesare, admired by Machiavelli for his bloody ruthlessness. In his reign, debauchery reached an unequaled nadir: for a certain banquet, Alexander VI brought in fifty Roman prostitutes to engage in a public orgy for the viewing pleasure of the invited guests. Such was the scandal of his pontificate that his clergy refused to bury him in St. Peter’s after his death.
  • Leo X (1513-1521) was a profligate Medici who once spent a seventh of his predecessors’ reserves on a single ceremony. To his credit, he published the papal bull Exsurge Domine (1520) against the errors of Martin Luther, within which he condemned, among others, the proposition: “That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit” (n. 33).
  • Clement VII (1523-1534), also a Medici, by his power-politicking with France, Spain, and Germany, managed to get Rome sacked.

There are others one could mention.

  • Stephen VII (896-897) hated his predecessor, Pope Formosus, so much that he had him exhumed, tried, de-fingered, and thrown in the Tiber, while (falsely) declaring ordinations given at his hands to have been invalid. Had this ill advised declaration stood, it would have affected the spiritual lives of many, since the priests would not have been confecting the Eucharist or absolving sins.
  • Pius II (1458-1464) penned an erotic novel before he became pope.
  • Innocent VIII (1484-1492) was the first pope to acknowledge officially his bastards, loading them with favors.
  • Paul III (1534-1549), who owed his cardinalate to his sister, the mistress of Alexander VI, and himself the father of bastards, made two grandsons cardinals at the ages of 14 and 16 and waged war to obtain the Duchy of Parma for his offspring.
  • Urban VIII (1623-1644) engaged in abundant nepotism and supported the castration of boys so they could sing in his papal choir as castrati. Cardinals denounced him, with Cardinal Ludovisi actually threatening to depose him as a protector of heresy.

There are debates about the extent of the wrongdoing of some of these popes, but even with all allowances made, we must admit there is a papal hall of shame.

Popes Who Connived at Heresy or Were Guilty of Harmful Silence or Ambiguity

Pope St. Peter (d. ca. 64). It may seem daring to begin with St. Peter, but after all, he did shamefully compromise on the application of an article of faith, viz., the equality of Jewish and Gentile Christians and the abolition of the Jewish ceremonial law – a lapse for which he was rebuked to his face by St. Paul (cf. Gal 2:11). This has been commented on so extensively by the fathers and doctors of the Church and by more recent authors that it needs no special treatment here. It should be pointed out that Our Lord, in His Providence, allowed His first vicar to fail more than once so that we would not be scandalized when it happened again with his successors. This, too, is why he chose Judas: so the treason of bishops would not cause us to lose faith that He remains in command of the Church and of human history.

Pope Liberius (352-366). The story is complicated, but the essentials can be told simply enough. The Arian emperor Constantius had, with typical Byzantine arrogance, “deposed” Liberius in 355 for not subscribing to Arianism. After two years of exile, Liberius came to some kind of accord with the still Arian emperor, who then permitted him to return to Rome. What compromise doctrinal formula he signed or even whether he signed it is unknown (St. Hilary of Poitiers asserted that he had), but it is surely not without significance that Liberius, the 36th pope, is the only one among 54 popes from St. Peter to St. Gelasius I who is not revered as a saint in the West. At least in those days, popes were not automatically canonized, especially if they messed up on the job and failed to be the outstanding shepherds they should have been.

Pope Vigilius (537-555). The charges against Vigilius are four. First, he made an intrigue with the empress Theodora, who offered to have him installed as pope in return for his reinstating the deposed Anthimus in Constantinople [4]. Second, he usurped the papacy. Third, he changed his position in the affair of the Three Chapters (writings that were condemned by the Eastern bishops for going too far in an anti-Monophysite direction). Vigilius at first refused to agree to the condemnation, but when the Second Council of Constantinople confirmed it, Vigilius was prevailed on by imperial pressure to ratify the conciliar decree. It seems that Vigilius recognized the condemnation of the Three Chapters as problematic because it was perceived in the West as undermining the doctrine of the Council of Chalcedon but nevertheless allowed himself to be cajoled into doing so. Fourth, his wavering on this question and his final decision were responsible for a schism that ensued in the West, since some of the bishops of Italy refused to accept the decree of Constantinople. Their schism against both Rome and the East was to last for many years [5].

Pope Honorius I (625-638). In their efforts to reconcile the Monophysites of Egypt and Asia, the Eastern emperors took up the doctrine of Monothelitism, which proposed that, while Christ has two natures, He has only one will. When this was rejected by theologians as also heretical, the further compromise was advanced that, although Christ has two wills, they have nevertheless only “one operation” (hence the name of the doctrine, Monenergism). This, too, was false, but the patriarch of Constantinople made efforts to promote reunion by stifling the debate and forbidding discussion of the matter. In 634, he wrote to Pope Honorius seeking support for this policy, and the pope gave it, ordering that neither expression (“one operation” or “two operations”) should be defended. In issuing this reply, Honorius disowned the orthodox writers who had used the term “two operations.” More seriously, he gave support to those who wished to fudge doctrinal clarity to conciliate a party in rebellion against the Church.

Fifteen years later, the Emperor Constans II published a document called the Typos in which he ordained precisely the same policy that Honorius had done. However, the new pope, Martin I, summoned a synod that condemned the Typos and upheld the doctrine of two operations. An enraged Constans had Martin brought to Constantinople and, after a cruel imprisonment, exiled him to the Crimea, where he died, for which reason he is revered as a martyr – the last of the papal martyrs (so far). In 680-681, after the death of Constans, the Third Council of Constantinople was held, which discarded the aim of harmony with the Monophysites in favor of that with Rome. Flaunting solidarity with the persecuted Martin, it explicitly and famously disowned his predecessor: “We decide that Honorius be cast out of the holy Church of God.” The then reigning pope, Leo II, in a letter accepting the decrees of this council, condemned Honorius with the same forthrightness: “We anathematize Honorius, who did not seek to purify this apostolic Church with the teaching of apostolic tradition, but by a profane betrayal permitted its stainless faith to be surrendered.” In a letter to the bishops of Spain, Pope Leo II again condemned Honorius as one “who did not, as became the apostolic authority, quench the flame of heretical doctrine as it sprang up, but quickened it by his negligence” [6].

Pope John Paul II (1978-2005). John Paul II designed the gathering of world religions in Assisi in 1986 in such a way that the impression of indifferentism as well as the commission of sacrilegious and blasphemous acts were not accidental, but in accord with the papally approved program. His kissing of the Koran is all too well known. He was thus guilty of dereliction in his duty to uphold and proclaim the one true Catholic Faith and gave considerable scandal to the faithful [7].

Popes Who Taught Something Heretical, Savoring of Heresy, or Harmful to the Faithful

Here we enter into more controversial territory, but there can be no doubt that the cases listed below are real problems for a papal positivist or ultramontanist, in the sense that the latter term has recently acquired: one who overstresses the authority of the words and actions of the reigning pontiff as if they were the sole or principal standard of what constitutes the Catholic Faith.

Pope Paschal II (1099-1118). In his desire to obtain cooperation from Emperor Henry V, Pope Paschal II reversed the policy of all of his predecessors by conceding to the emperor the privilege of investiture of bishops with the ring and crosier, which signified both temporal and spiritual power. This concession provoked a storm of protest throughout Christendom. In a letter, St. Bruno of Segni (c. 1047-1123) called Pope Paschal’s position “heresy” because it contradicted the decisions of many church councils and argued that whoever defended the pope’s position also became a heretic thereby. Although the pope retaliated by removing St. Bruno from his office as abbot of Monte Cassino, eventually Bruno’s argument prevailed, and the pope renounced his earlier decision [8].

Pope John XXII (1316-1334). In his public preaching from November 1, 1331 to January 5, 1332, Pope John XXII denied the doctrine that the just souls are admitted to the beatific vision, maintaining that this vision would be delayed until the general resurrection at the end of time. This error had already been refuted by St. Thomas Aquinas and many other theologians, but its revival on the very lips of the pope drew forth the impassioned opposition of a host of bishops and theologians, among them Guillaume Durand de Saint Pourçain, Bishop of Meaux; the English Dominican Thomas Waleys, who, as a result of his public resistance, underwent trial and imprisonment; the Franciscan Nicholas of Lyra; and Cardinal Jacques Fournier. When the pope tried to impose this erroneous doctrine on the Faculty of Theology in Paris, the king of France, Philip VI of Valois, prohibited its teaching and, according to accounts by the Sorbonne’s chancellor, Jean Gerson, even reached the point of threatening John XXII with burning at the stake if he did not make a retraction. The day before his death, John XXII retracted his error. His successor, Cardinal Fournier, under the name Benedict XII, proceeded forthwith to define ex cathedra the Catholic truth in this matter. St. Robert Bellarmine admits that John XXII held a materially heretical opinion with the intention of imposing it on the faithful but was never permitted by God to do so [9].

Pope Paul III (1534-1549). In 1535, Pope Paul III approved and promulgated the radically novel and simplified breviary of Cardinal Quignonez, which, although approved as an option for the private recitation of clergy, ended up in some cases being implemented publicly. Some Jesuits welcomed it, but most Catholics – including St. Francis Xavier – viewed it with grave misgivings and opposed it, sometimes violently, because it was seen as an unwarrantable attack on the liturgical tradition of the Church [10]. Its very novelty constituted an abuse of the lex orandi and therefore of the lex credendi. It was harmful to those who took it up because it separated them from the Church’s organic tradition of worship; it was a private person’s fabrication, a rupture with the inheritance of the saints. In 1551, Spanish theologian John of Arze submitted a strong protest against it to the Fathers of the Council of Trent. Fortunately, Pope Paul IV repudiated the breviary by rescript in 1558, some 23 years after its initial papal approval, and Pope St. Pius V altogether prohibited its use in 1568. Thus, five popes and 33 years after its initial papal approval, this mangled “on the spot product” was buried [11].

Pope Paul VI (1963-1978). As the pope who promulgated all of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, whatever problems are contained in those documents – and these problems [12], neither insignificant nor few in number, have been identified by many – must be laid at the feet of Paul VI. One might, for example, point out materially erroneous statements in Gaudium et Spes (e.g., n. 24, which asserts that “love of God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment” [13], or n. 63, which asserts that “man is the source, the center, and the purpose of all economic and social life” [14]), but it is perhaps the Declaration on Religious Liberty Dignitatis Humanae (December 7, 1965) that will go down in history as the low water mark of this assembly. Like some kind of frenzied merry-go-round, the hermeneutical battles over this document will never stop until it is definitively set aside by a future pope or council. In spite of Herculean (and verbose) attempts at reconciling D.H. with the preceding magisterium, it is at least prima facie plausible that the document’s assertion of a natural right to hold and propagate error, even if it be misunderstood by its partisans as truth, is contrary both to natural reason and to the Catholic faith [15].

Far worse than this is the first edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, promulgated with the signature of Paul VI on April 3, 1969, which contained formally heretical statements on the nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When a group of Roman theologians headed by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci pointed out the grave problems, the pope ordered the text to be corrected so that a second revised edition could be brought out. In spite of the fact that the differences in the text are astonishing, the first edition was never officially repudiated, nor was it ordered to be destroyed; it was merely replaced [16]. Moreover, although expounding the claim would exceed the scope of this article, the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae itself was both a dereliction of the pope’s duty to protect and promote the organic tradition of the Latin Rite and an occasion of immense harm to the faithful.

Pope John Paul II asserted on multiple occasions a right to change one’s religion, regardless of what that religion may be. This is true only if you hold to a false religion, because no one is bound to what is false, whereas everyone is bound to seek and adhere to the one true religion. If you are a Catholic, you cannot possibly have a right, either from nature or from God the author of nature, to abandon the Faith. Hence, a statement such as this: “Religious freedom constitutes the very heart of human rights. Its inviolability is such that individuals must be recognized as having the right even to change their religion, if their conscience so demands” [17] is false taken at face value – and dangerously false, one might add, because of its liberal, naturalistic, indifferentist conceptual foundation.

Pope Francis. One hardly knows where to begin with this egregious doctor (and I do not mean it in the complimentary sense of doctor egregius). Indeed, an entire website, Denzinger-Bergoglio, has been established by philosophers and theologians who have listed in painstaking detail all of the statements of this pope that have contradicted Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, we may identify several particularly dangerous false teachings.

(1) The explicit approval of giving Holy Communion to divorced and “remarried” Catholics who have no intention of living as brother and sister, expressed as a possibility in the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia and confirmed as a reality in the letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis [18].

(2) The attempted change in teaching on capital punishment, first raised in a speech in October 2017 and now imposed on the Church by means of a change to the Catechism, in spite of the fact that the new doctrine manifestly goes against a unanimous tradition with its roots in Scripture [19]. The worst aspect of this change, as many have already pointed out, is that it loudly transmits the signal, most welcome to progressives, liberals, and modernists, that doctrines handed down over centuries or millennia, printed in every penny catechism that has ever rolled off the printing press, are up for revision, even to the point of saying the opposite, when the Zeitgeist pipes and the pope dances to the tune. There is no telling what further “development of doctrine” is in store for us enlightened moderns who see so much farther into the moral law than our barbaric predecessors. Ordination of females, overcoming the last vestiges of primitive patriarchalism? Legitimization of contraception and sodomy, finally letting go of the reductionistic biologism that has plagued Catholic moral teaching with the bugbear of “intrinsically disordered acts”? And so on and so forth.

As a Benedictine friend of mine likes to say: “The issue is not the issue.” A Dominican priest perceptively wrote: “This isn’t about the death penalty. It’s about getting language into the Catechism that allows theologians to evaluate doctrine/dogma in historicist terms; that is, ‘This truth is no longer true because times have changed.’ The Hegelians got their wish.”

(3) The annulment reforms, which amount, in practice, to an admission of “Catholic divorce” because of the novel concept of a “presumption of invalidity” [20].

This overview, from Paschal II to Francis, suffices to allow us to see one essential point: if heresy can be held and taught by a pope, even temporarily or to a certain group, it is a fortiori possible that disciplinary acts promulgated by the pope, even those intended for the universal Church, may also be harmful. After all, heresy in itself is worse than lax or contradictory discipline.

* * *

Melchior Cano, an eminent theologian at the Council of Trent, famously said:

Now one can say briefly what [those do] who temerariously and without discrimination defend the supreme pontiff’s judgment concerning everything whatsoever: these people unsteady the authority of the Apostolic See rather than fostering it; they overturn it rather than shoring it up. For – passing over what was explained a little before in his chapter – what profit does he gain in arguing against heretics whom they perceive as defending papal authority not with judgment but with emotion, nor as doing so in order to draw forth light and truth by the force of his argument but in order to convert another to his own thought and will?  Peter does not need our lie; he does not need our adulation. [21]

Let us return to our point of departure. The Catholic faith is revealed by God, nor can it be modified by any human being: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb. 13:8). The pope and the bishops are honored servants of that revelation, which they are to hand down faithfully, without novelty and without mutation, from generation to generation. As St. Vincent of Lerins so beautifully explains, there can be growth in understanding and formulation, but no contradiction, no “evolution.” The truths of the Faith, contained in Scripture and Tradition, are authentically defined, interpreted, and defended in the narrowly circumscribed acta of councils and popes over the centuries. In this sense, it is quite proper to say: “Look in Denzinger – that’s the doctrine of the Faith.”

Catholicism is, has always been, and will always be stable, perennial, objectively knowable, a rock of certitude in a sea of chaos – despite the efforts of Satan and his dupes to change it. The crisis we are passing through is largely a result of collective amnesia of who we are and what we believe, together with a nervous tendency toward hero-worship, looking here and there for the Great Leader who will rescue us. But our Great Leader, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is Jesus Christ. We follow and obey the pope and the bishops inasmuch as they transmit to us the pure and salutary doctrine of our Lord and guide us in following His way of holiness, notwhen they offer us polluted water to drink or lead us to the muck. Just as our Lord was a man like us in all things except sin, so we follow them in all things except sin – whether their sin be one of heresy, schism, sexual immorality, or sacrilege. The faithful have a duty to form their minds and their consciences to know whom to follow and when. We are not mechanical puppets.

Neither are the popes: they are men of flesh and blood, with their own intellect and free will, memory and imagination, opinions, aspirations, ambitions. They can cooperate better or worse with the graces and responsibilities of their supreme office. The pope unquestionably has a singular and unique authority on earth as the vicar of Christ. It follows that he has a moral obligation to use it virtuously, for the common good of the Church – and that he can sin by abusing his authority or by failing to use it when or in the manner in which he ought to do so. Infallibility, correctly understood, is the Holy Spirit’s gift to him; the right and responsible use of his office is not something guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. Here the pope must pray and work, work and pray like the rest of us. He can rise or fall like the rest of us. Popes can make themselves worthy of canonization or of execration. At the end of his mortal pilgrimage, each successor of St. Peter will either attain eternal salvation or suffer eternal damnation. All Christians, in like manner, will become either saintly by following the authentic teaching of the Church and repudiating all error and vice or damnable by following spurious teaching and embracing what is false and evil.

I can hear an objection from some readers: “If a pope can go off the rails and stop teaching the orthodox Faith, then what’s the point of having a papacy? Isn’t the whole reason we have the vicar of Christ to enable us to know for certain the truth of the Faith?”

The answer is that the Catholic Faith preexists the popes, even though they occupy a special place vis-à-vis its defense and articulation. This Faith can be known with certainty by the faithful through a host of means – including, one might add, five centuries’ worth of traditional catechisms from all over the world that concur in their teaching. The pope is not able to say, like an absolute monarch: La foi, c’est moi.

But let us look at numbers for a moment. This article has listed eleven immoral popes and ten popes who dabbled, to one degree or another, in heresy. There have been a total of 266 popes. If we do the math, we come out with 4.14% of the Successors of Peter who earned opprobrium for their moral behavior and 3.76% who deserve it for their dalliance with error. On the other hand, about 90 of the preconciliar popes are revered as saints or blesseds, which is 33.83%. We could debate about the numbers (have I been too lenient or too severe in my lists?), but is there anyone who fails to behold in these numbers the evident hand of Divine Providence? A monarchy of 266 incumbents lasting for 2,000 years that can boast failure and success rates like this is no mere human construct, operating by its own steam.

These numbers teach us two lessons. First, we learn a sense of wonder and gratitude before the evident miracle of the papacy. We learn trust in a Divine Providence that guides the Holy Church of God throughout the tempests of ages and makes it outlast even the relatively few bad papacies we have suffered for our testing or for our sins. Second, we learn discernment and realism. On the one hand, the Lord has led the vast majority of his vicars along the way of truth so that we can know that our confidence is well placed in the barque of Peter, steered by the hand of Peter. Yet the Lord has also permitted a small number of his vicars to falter or fail so we will see that they are not automatically righteous, effortlessly wise in governance, or a direct mouthpiece of God in teaching. The popes must freely choose to cooperate with the grace of their office, or they, too, can go off the rails; they can do a better or worse job of shepherding the flock, and once in a while, they can be wolves. This happens rarely, but it does happen by God’s permissive will, precisely so we do not abdicate our reason, outsource our faith, and sleepwalk into ruin. The papal record is remarkable enough to testify to a well-nigh miraculous otherworldly power holding at bay the forces of darkness, lest the “gates of hell” prevail; but the record is speckled just enough to make us wary, keep us on our toes. The advice “be sober, be vigilant” applies not only to interactions with the world “out there,” but to our life in the Church, for “our adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8), from the lowly pewsitter to the lofty hierarch.

Our teacher, our model, our doctrine, our way of life: these are all given to us, gloriously manifested in the Incarnate Word, inscribed in the fleshy tablets of our hearts. We are not awaiting them from the pope, as if they do not already exist in finished form. The pope is here to help us to believe and to do what our Lord is calling every one of us to believe and do. If any human being on the face of the Earth tries to stand in the way – be it even the pope himself – we must resist him and do what we know is right [22]. As the great Dom Prosper Guéranger wrote:

When the shepherd becomes a wolf, the first duty of the flock is to defend itself. It is usual and regular, no doubt, for doctrine to descend from the bishops to the faithful, and those who are subject in the faith are not to judge their superiors. But in the treasure of revelation there are essential doctrines which all Christians, by the very fact of their title as such, are bound to know and defend. The principle is the same whether it be a question of belief or conduct, dogma or morals. … The true children of Holy Church at such times are those who walk by the light of their baptism, not the cowardly souls who, under the specious pretext of submission to the powers that be, delay their opposition to the enemy in the hope of receiving instructions which are neither necessary nor desirable. [23]


[1] On the changelessness of the Faith that derives from Christ’s nature and mission, see my Winnipeg addressand my article at OnePeterFive, “The Cult of Change and Christian Changelessness.”

[2] To understand this point better, I recommend reading the words of Fr. Adrian Fortescue and the excellent posts of Fr. Hunwicke, such as this, this, and this. This explanation of infallibility is also worthy of consideration.

I define “papalism” or its more extreme version “papolatry” as follows. If the Faith is seen more as “what the reigning pope is saying” (simply speaking) than “what the Church has always taught” (taken collectively), we are dealing with a false exaltation of the person and office of the pope. As Ratzinger said many times, the pope is the servant of Tradition, not its master; he is bound by it, not in power over it. Of course, the pope can and will make doctrinal and disciplinary determinations, but relatively few things he says are going to make the cut for formal infallibility. All that he teaches qua pope (when he seems to be intending to teach in that manner) should be received with respect and submission, unless there is something in it that is simply contrary to what has been handed down before. The examples given in my article show certain cases (admittedly rare) where good Catholics had to resist. This, I take it, is what Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider have also been saying: if, e.g., the synods on marriage and family or their papal byproducts attempt to force on the Church a teaching or a discipline contrary to the Faith, we cannot accept them and must resist.

[3] E. R. Chamberlin, The Bad Popes (Dorchester: Dorset Press, 1994).

[4] Following (sometimes verbatim) Henry Sire’s account in Phoenix from the Ashes (Kettering, Ohio: Angelico Press, 2015), 17-18. I recommend Sire’s book as the best analysis of modern Church history that I have yet read.

[5] He did not carry through with this move – but only because the Emperor forbade it.

[6] Again following the account in Sire, Phoenix, 18-19.

[7] See Sire, Phoenix, 384-88.

[8] Following the detailed account of Roberto de Mattei. It is true that the term “heresy” was used rather widely in earlier times, almost as shorthand for “anything that looks or sounds uncatholic,” but there is implicit in Paschal II’s temporary stance on investiture a false understanding of the true, proper, independent, divine, and non-transferable authority of the Church hierarchy vis-à-vis all temporal authority. It is, in other words, a serious matter, not a mere kerfuffle over bureaucratic procedure.

[9] For full details, see this article.

[10] See Alcuin Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), 37.

[11] We should not be surprised to find that, almost 400 years later, Archbishop Bugnini in 1963 expressed his unbounded admiration for the Quignonez Breviary, which in many ways served as the model for the new Liturgy of the Hours.

[12] In Phoenix from the Ashes, Henry Sire provides excellent commentary on many of the difficulties of Vatican II. One may also profitably consult Roberto de Mattei, The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story (Fitzwilliam, N.H.: Loreto, 2012). Msgr. Bruno Gherardini has made excellent contributions. Paolo Pasqualucci has provided a list of “26 points of rupture.” While I do not necessarily agree with every point Pasqualucci argues, his outline is sufficient to show what a mess the Council documents are and what an era of unclarity they have prompted. The simple fact that popes over the past fifty years have spent much of their time issuing one “clarification” after another, usually about points on which the Council spoke ambiguously (one need only think of the oceans of ink spilled on Sacrosanctum Concilium, Lumen Gentium, Dignitatis Humanae, and Nostra Aetate), is sufficient to show that it failed in the function for which a council exists: to assist Catholics in knowing their faith better and living it more fully.

[13] G.S. 24 states that “love of God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment.” This contradicts Christ’s own words: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Mt. 22:37-40). Are we required both to assent to Christ’s words that the first and greatest commandment is the love of God while the second is love of neighbor and to assent to G.S. 24 that the first and greatest commandment is the love of God-and-neighbor (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem 8)?

While the love of God and of neighbor are intimately conjoined, love of neighbor cannot stand on the same level as the love of God, as if they were the very same commandment with no differentiation. Yes, in loving our neighbor, we do love God, and we love Christ, but God is the first, last, and proper object of charity, and we love our neighbor on account of God. We love our neighbor and even our enemies because we love God more and in a qualitatively different way: the commandment to love God befits His infinite goodness and supremacy, while the commandment to love one’s fellow man befits his finite goodness and relative place. If there were only onecommandment of love, then we would be entitled to love God as we love ourselves – which would be sinful – or to love our neighbor with our whole heart, soul, and mind – which would also be sinful. In short, it is impossible for one and the same commandment to be given for the love of God and the love of neighbor.

The same erroneous view is found in Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium 161: “Along with the virtues, this [observance of Christ’s teaching] means above all the new commandment, the first and the greatest of the commandments, and the one that best identifies us as Christ’s disciples: ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’ (Jn. 15:12).” Here John 15:12 has been taken for the first and greatestcommandment, which it is not, according to Our Lord’s own teaching. Characteristic of the same confusion are the misleading applications of Romans 13:8,10 and James 2:8 that follow in E.G. 161, which give the impression that “the law” being spoken of is comprehensive, when in fact it refers to the moral law. In other words, to say that love of neighbor “fulfills the whole law” means that it does all that the law requires in our dealings with one another. It is not speaking of our prior obligation to love God first and more than everyone else, including our very selves.

[14] G.S. 63 claims: “Man is the source, the center, and the purpose of all economic and social life.” This might have been true in a hypothetical universe where the Son of God did not become man (although one might still have a doubt, inasmuch as the Word of God is the exemplar of all creation), but in the real universe of which the God-Man is the head, the source, and the center, the purpose of all economic and social life is and cannot be other than the Son of God, Christ the King, and, consequently, the realization of His Kingdom. Anything other than that is a distortion and a deviation. The fact that the same document says elsewhere that God is the ultimate end of man (e.g., G.S. 13) does not erase the difficulty in G.S. 63.

[15] See Sire, Phoenix, 331-358, for an excellent treatment of the problems.

[16] For details, see Michael Davies, Pope Paul’s New Mass (Kansas City: Angelus Press, 2009), 299-328; Sire, Phoenix, 249, 277-82.

[17] Message for the World Day of Peace, 1999. Compare the formula in a letter from 1980: “freedom to hold or not to hold a particular faith and to join the corresponding confessional community.”

[18] See John Lamont’s penetrating study.

[19] See my articles here and here, and Ed Feser’s article in First Things online. There will undoubtedly be a thousand more responses, all equally capable of showing the magnitude of the problem Francis has (once again) created for himself and for the entire Church.

[20] First, such a presumption contradicts both the natural moral law and the divine law. Second, even if there were nothing doctrinally problematic in the content of the pertinent motu proprios, the result of a vast increase in easily granted annulments on thin pretexts will certainly redound to the harm of the faithful by weakening the already weak understanding of and commitment to the indissoluble bond of marriage among Catholics, by making it much more probable that some valid marriages will be declared null (thus rubber-stamping adultery and profaning the sacraments), and by lowering the esteem with which all marriages are perceived. For good commentary, see Joseph Shaw here, here, here, and here.

[21] Reverendissimi D. Domini Melchioris Cani Episcopi Canariensis, Ordinis Praedicatorum, & sacrae theologiae professoris, ac primariae cathedrae in Academia Salmanticensi olim praefecti, De locis theologicis libri duodecim (Salamanca: Mathias Gastius, 1563), 197. This is often cited in a paraphrase: “Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See – they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations.” (This is how it appears, e.g., in George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of John Paul II [New York: HarperCollins, 1999], 15.)

[22] St. Robert Bellarmine: “Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff that aggresses the body, it is also licit to resist the one who aggresses souls or who disturbs civil order, or, above all, who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and by preventing his will from being executed; it is not licit, however, to judge, punish, or depose him, since these acts are proper to a superior” (De Romano Pontifice, II.29, cited in Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods, The Great Façade, second ed. [Kettering, Ohio: Angelico Press, 2015], 187).

[23] The Liturgical Year, trans. Laurence Shepherd (Great Falls, Mt.: St. Bonaventure Publications, 2000), vol. 4, Septuagesima, 379-380. He is speaking here of opposition to the Nestorian heresy.



An Open Letter to Cardinal O’Malley Regarding the Seminary Investigation

Your Eminence, Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley,

It is with a spirit of faith, hope, and love that I write this letter to you, the shepherd of all Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston. During his apostolic journey to the United States, our Holy Father Pope Francis exhorted you and all of the U.S. bishops in attendance to be “close to people,” becoming “pastors who are neighbors and servants.” Citing the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Holy Father asked that you and your brother bishops be men of pastoral sensitivity, examples to the priests under your care, so that they too may “be ready to stop, care for, soothe, lift up and assist those who, ‘by chance’ find themselves stripped of all they thought they had” (Lk. 10:29-37).

As a victim of sexual abuse and misconduct, I, like the man in the parable who was attacked by robbers, found myself stripped of all I thought I had. I thought I had security and safety within the walls of an institution dedicated to forming men after the Heart of Jesus. I thought I had trust in those in power to promptly address issues of misconduct, especially seeing how past failures in this area damaged Catholics worldwide. Lastly, I thought I had a priestly vocation – something I have now given up in exchange for a prophetic one.

As you know, news of the abusive “Uncle Ted” McCarrick caused a firestorm among the Catholic faithful in this country. Many of us faithful Catholics find ourselves baffled at how the public face of the Catholic Church in America could have gone on to enjoy a successful episcopal career despite common knowledge among the Church and media that he was a predator. Reflecting upon the way McCarrick and other clerics with power were allowed to commit abuses and cover them up, I realized that silence was what allowed additional violence to be committed against more and more victims. So I decided to write about my experiences of wrongdoing, first published here by One Peter Five.

Out of courtesy, I declined to disclose the names of these seminaries I attended and faculty members guilty of misconduct, preferring to focus on the troubling issues themselves. However, as my story spread across social media, former seminarians spoke out publicly and confirmed that I was telling the truth – and went so far as to give the name of the seminary itself. It is now public knowledge that my tragic experiences took place at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary from 2010 to 2011 and at Saint John’s Seminary from 2014 to 2016, the latter of which is directly under your care.

Please allow me to make a few important distinctions that can hopefully help the investigation. First, my complaints regarding Saint John’s Seminary were not specifically about sexual abuse; they were about general misconduct, scandalous behavior by faculty and students, and an overall unhealthy seminary culture. Such misconduct includes former seminarians engaging in sodomy and a “sexting” scandal that disturbed many of us in the house. However, should the investigation focus exclusively on the issue of sex and sex abuse, it will be a relatively easy case to dismiss. On the one hand, the two seminarians were rightly expelled – but on the other hand, the sexting scandal was improperly addressed by priests on the faculty and outside the faculty alike. These two instances are not enough to address the many issues plaguing Saint John’s. Sexual misconduct is not the main problem – it is symptomatic of larger issues regarding immorality and accountability.

Secondly, as I have consistently stated, my motivation for speaking out was out of a sincere love for the Catholic Church. I am not a “disgruntled seminarian,” nor am I a seminary “failure.” I received a positive vote to advance in major seminary both years; it was my free and honest decision to leave the toxic environment. I, along with others, have seen the way silence has allowed sin to spread more pervasively. I have heard whispers that my story was “slanderous” and “dishonest.” Let it be known that I have corrected multiple news outlets in their erroneous reporting of important details of this investigation, which should testify to my claim that I care only about truth and justice, not sensationalism and embellishment. Should anyone doubt my honesty, I urge you to note how part of my testimony has already been confirmed through Pennsylvania’s recent grand jury report. Moreover, I have proof and witnesses of the misconduct at Saint John’s.

In speaking the truth, I sacrificed everything – my name, my reputation, my family, my friends, potential future jobs, connections, and more. I now understand what Our Lord meant when He said, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mt. 16:25).

Thirdly, this investigation must address the disturbing reality that these allegations were brought to the public eye precisely because they were previously ignored. As I mentioned in my story, I went through the proper channels in my attempt to address the misconduct. I brought my concerns to my formation adviser and my vocation director multiple times. There are only two options with regard to my allegations about the culture at Saint John’s Seminary – either the seminary faculty were so obtuse that these complaints went unnoticed, or worse, those in power are lying about their ignorance of my allegations. Either of these options is damning; in either scenario, those entrusted with proper leadership failed in their duty to uphold (in your words) the “moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood,” whether by sins of commission or sins of omission.

I hereby request that the investigation focuses on three major areas:

  1. Immoral and unprofessional misconduct by faculty and students alike, including, but not limited to:
    • “Private parties” where certain faculty members would invite an exclusive clique of seminarians into their room late at night.
    • Widespread alcohol abuse, including a bachelor party hosted at the seminary in which a faculty member, drinking with seminarians until 2 A.M., fell out of his chair.
    • Allegations of grooming and its subsequent cover-up.
    • A mismanagement of seminary finances.
  2. A toxic culture of fear, intimidation, and discrimination at Saint John’s Seminary:
    • Bullying by certain faculty members.
    • Threats of a lawsuit against those exposing the misconduct.
    • Certain faculty members seen as “untouchable” and who survived over a decade of credible allegations.
    • Fear from seminarians, priests, and laity of speaking out.
  3. Subsequent cover-up of such misconduct and unhealthy culture by leadership:
    • The fact that my complaints – and others’ – went ignored and mishandled.
    • The insistent denial by leadership regarding the basis of these allegations.

Since this is an open letter, I sincerely hope that anyone who is reading this who has experienced, witnessed, or heard of misconduct in regards to Saint John’s Seminary will come forward – publicly or anonymously – so that additional light may shine on the darkness that has been hidden. Since coming forward, I have received dozens of messages from seminarians, former seminarians, and Catholic laity across the country. Some of these messages include their own experiences of abuse and misconduct at the hands of the Catholic Church; others include their own suspicions about Saint John’s Seminary, which my testimony confirmed. Many, including priests, are afraid to speak publicly because they are afraid of the repercussions. Such is the culture of our Church today – those who speak truth to ecclesial power find themselves ostracized and hated.

Your Eminence, it is my sincere hope that you continue to take seriously these allegations and guide the investigation accordingly. Admittedly, I am perturbed that you appointed a former member of the seminary faculty (who was on the faculty during my time at SJS) to lead this investigation. The Catholic faithful have seen how bishops policing themselves and conducting internal investigations can jeopardize the objectivity so desperately needed for the pursuit of justice. That stated, I trust in your judgment, as I know that Bishop Mark O’Connell is a true shepherd and a man of integrity.

I witnessed and experienced improper behavior by those entrusted with forming men to the Catholic priesthood, and I pray that others may not have a similar experience. You have my utmost support and prayers during the days ahead. May this investigation result in the light of truth and the freedom that only Truth Himself can give.

In the Sacred Heart,

John A. Monaco

Editor’s note: This letter was originally published at Medium. It is edited and republished here with the author’s permission.




Newt Gingrich: Democrats better be ‘careful about the demons they’re unleashing’

New Gingrich warned Democrats who are welcoming socialism into their ranks to be careful of the “demons” they are unleashing in the hopes of winning elections.

The former Speaker of the House reacted in an op-ed for Fox News on a recent Vox articlewritten by a member of the Democratic Socialists of America in which the movement’s goals to end capitalism and radically change America were shared.

“In normal times, the declarations of a fringe party and ideology in America would not merit much attention. However, these are not normal times,” Gingrich wrote, noting a new Gallup poll showing that 57 percent of Democrats have a favorable view of socialism.”

The “pattern” has been in the works for a while, Gingrich explained, pointing to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ popularity in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries and the emergence of “a telegenic young member of the Democratic Socialists of America named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

The young New York Congressional nominee has been “spreading the gospel of socialism” since she defeated senior Democrat in New York City’s 14th Congressional District.

Gingrich admitted he appreciated the “honesty” of author, Meagan Day, a member of the East Bay Chapter of DSA, in the Vox article as she revealed that “in the long run, Democratic Socialists want to end capitalism.”

However, he asserted that this “is a clear threat to the system which has made us prosperous and the envy of the world.”

“If Day, Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders want to try and convince most Americans to end capitalism and embrace a planned, totally redistributionist economy, they are welcome to use the democratic process to do so. It is up to those of us who know better to convince Americans of socialism’s folly,” Gingrich wrote.

What alarmed the 75-year-old Republican was the connection of Day and several members of the Democratic Socialists of America to Jacobin magazine, named after the violent and radical political group of the French Revolution.

Gingrich elaborated on their history and modern-day activities, adding that Sanders and others have shared articles from Jacobin magazine.

“Make no mistake: This is the history of violent revolution, religious oppression, and dictatorship that Jacobin magazine, the DSA, and opportunistic Democrats are embracing – whether they know it or not,” Gingrich wrote.

“It is hard to imagine a modern-day Reign of Terror happening in America. But consider the recent phenomenon of outrage mobs on social media demanding people be fired and ostracized for expressing un-PC points of view,” he continued. “Think about the left-wing activists taking over classrooms to prevent conservative voices from speaking. Think about the rash of people being attacked for wearing MAGA hats. Think about the violence of Antifa.”

Gingrich added, “perhaps it is not so difficult to imagine.”

While he admitted Sanders, whom he has “interacted” with on several occasions, would probably not espouse violence in pursuit of his goals, Gingrich warned that those cheering the new wave of Democratic Socialism should beware.

“Sanders should keep in mind, however, that the Jacobins eventually turned on Robespierre (in fact they executed him). So perhaps Sanders and Democrats rushing to embrace Democratic Socialism should be a little more careful about the demons they are unleashing to win elections,” he concluded.



About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. Sheepdog says:


    I confront lies every day and I shed light on things including this so called “Papacy”. Almost daily I am still tweeting and yet again I drew attention. Please make sure my Twitter page is shared, but more importantly keep putting out the link to this BLOG post. Also start getting the word out there NOW. Hope others will join me. Still working on the letters.

  2. abyssum says:

    My Dear Mary D,

    Thank you for your comment and for your ehcouragement. You are doing all that you can do in your present state of life and if you do it heroically you are on the path leading to sanctity. Again, thank you for your comment.

    +Rene Henry Gracida

  3. Mary D says:

    Dear Bishop Gracida, since I am late in commenting on the Open Letter, much of what I would have said..has been said. I agree with you that PF is not a validly elected pope and so I am doing what I can to change this situation. First of all, I never give to the special bishop’s collections because I believe they don’t make good use of the money. Second, I pray and fast for the Church,
    for the valid Cardinals and Bishops, that they may have courage and fortitude to correct the errors of Francis the merciful. Third, I spend much time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament,
    being with the Lord to console His Heart in reparation for all the sufferings He is enduring. I pray
    especially for priests, some by name, since I know they are under attack from the enemy. I pray to their guardian angels to help them through this time of troubles.
    This is all I can do, as I see it, right now. If it is His Divine Will that I do more, in any way, I
    will do so.
    God bless you ,dear brave Shepherd! May you continue to do this important work that God has
    entrusted to you . You are an inspiration to everyone! Thank you so much for answering the Great Call of God!

  4. abyssum says:

    Thank you, Joan, for your comment.

    The truth is that the laity are not powerless sheep. The laity supply the clergy with the financial basis which enables them to live a life of relative luxury compared to the lifestyle of the laity. Therefore, while the laity must make their concerns known to the clergy by means of conversation and letters, the laity must give or withhold their financial support in relation to the sexual purity and doctrinal purity that they and the Lord Jesus Christ expect and have a right to have..

    +Rene Henry Gracida

  5. Joan Flood says:

    Thank you so much. The laity are so thirsty for affirmation of the truth and infallibility of the previous popes from our clergy. We are also desperate for leadership from the clergy.

  6. abyssum says:

    Dear hellenback7,

    Thank you for your comment!
    Yes, the CCC has been formally breached with the abolition of the death penalty, but it cannot stand. The arrogance of the Francis Clones is intolerable,their previous assaults on the CCC, e.g. the open borders disaster that is changing Europe forever. The fact that Fisichella first achieved notoriety in a case involving abortion marks him as an enemy of human life. One thing is certain, before they are through the Francis Clones in the Vatican Curia will have rewritten the entire CCC. All the more reason to use canonical weapons as one would use Roundup and kill the weed at the root as my Open Letter demands. The valid cardinals need our support through our prayers and sacrifices. We must have confidence that they will act. Their present silence is necessary since they are in danger of being losing their red hats and perhaps their heads also.

    Continue sending your good comments, hellenback7, they are helpful to all who read them.
    +Rene Henry Gracida

  7. hellenback7 says:

    Bishop Gracida, thank you so much for your detailed reply.

    I had read some of the Fisichella “commentary” previous to this but the quasi-intellectual and theological(?) gymnastics became obvious and tiresome in a very short time.
    I was happy to see Kwasniewski expose him so thoroughly but missed the perfect…”Orwellian twists and turns” comment, so thank you for that as well.

    Please take care of yourself Excellency. My previous confidence that we have the Catechism is not quite as rock steady anymore.
    I’m not trading mine in or adding any “corrections” to the ’92 edition but it will be more difficult to call others to attend to it, now that it has been breached.
    I pray the Lord prevents further alterations in the CCC. I also pray, as I’m sure many do, that He continues to grant you the strength and courage to fight through the thickening “fog”.

    We just need to remember that “The gates of hell will not prevail” (not that they won’t storm the ramparts).

  8. Sheepdog says:

    The Most recent video of the “Two Popes” is here. Just so everyone knows, I feel like this is a strange video and Benedict may not be “Emeritus” he may still just be “Pope”. Also since he always blesses them, are the Cardinals still invalid since they were illicitly appointed by Francis?

  9. Sheepdog says:

    “abyssum says:
    August 7, 2018 at 12:04 pm
    Bravo Sheepdog,

    You are a wonderful example of the SENSUS FIDEI, the laity making known to the Hierarchy their agreement or disagreement with questionable statements or actions which seem heterodox or even outright heretical. Keep it up !!! May your tribe increase !!!”

    Thank you. And thank you for embedding my Twitter so people here can see it. However, with newer comments, you have to click on “older posts”, so now not everyone will see it. Maybe put it on the side or in a Tab. I am tweeting daily about what is going on. It would be a huge help as I also tweet things that I take the time to look for that no one else has the time to find. Just refuted some Sedevacantists as well. Said “No SSPX”. They wondered why I was equating SSPX with Sedes; when I have always alluded that the SSPX and Michael Matt Groups are not the path I am taking, although they are good in some cases. I know I mention my Twitter, but it is playing a key Role. I will screenshot why in another post as it relates to the Reign of Francis the merciful!!!!!!

    Can everyone on here imagine when I take some letters to the post Office? Standing in line with yellow envelopes that are going to go to the good Cardinals Sarah and Burke? Its happening. I am the one who is going to do it. This is a huge moment for me. It is surreal. I could very well affect the outcome of this by what I write, so carefully I will do it. Forgive me everyone if I am taking my time, but at least I Have some days off each week that I can fully devote myself to this. God truly works wonders, but pray for me since I am often a voice of one online. Sometimes there is also a fog of confusion when I do this. Hard to explain.

  10. Sheepdog says: you can easily refute this Excellency. I am not going to “buy in” to their Sedevacantism here and on Twitter.

  11. abyssum says:

    Dear Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your comment.
    Yes only the future will reveal if there are any courageous cardinals who will do what I have asked them to do. I do not expect any of them to contact me it would be too dangerous for them since they could lose their red hat immediately if that were found out and it would then be too dangerous for the Church since they would not be able to participate either in the special conclaves I am asking them to call or the next ordinary conclave which would then proceed to elect a clone of Francis the Merciful to be the next pope; a fate worse than the present.
    +Rene Henry Gracida

  12. Elizabeth G. says:

    Your Excellency, as with most everything on your blog, this letter makes so much sense to me. I have just passed it on to a priest I trust. …I would be so grateful to know that that there are faithful Cardinals who would be willing to risk possible martyrdom to defend the Church. Afterall, there have been martyrs in all ages. Perhaps this will even be accomplished in our lifetimes. But God has His own time to keep. We may feel that nothing in the Church is as it has been or should be. We are not Cardinals so it seems it will not be up to us, but we can pray for the Holy Spirit to ignite our hearts and theirs. You are a brave and faithful bishop who has surely been inspired. You have certainly given me great hope. And with that I ask Sainte Marie-Madeleine and all the saints to pray for our Church.

  13. abyssum says:

    Dear hellenback7,

    Ye, you are correct. The decision to change the Catechism teaching on capital punishment is typical of the Bergolian revolution to reduce everything to relativism. Witness the latest hodgepodge offered by Francis Clone, Rino Fisichella as exposed by Peter Kwasniewski.

    Vatican archbishop: Critics of Pope Francis are not faithful to Tradition

    Catholic, John Paul Ii, Pope Francis, Rino Fisichella, Vatican, Veritatis Splendor

    VATICAN CITY, August 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Those who criticize the teaching of Pope Francis on the basis of former magisterial documents are not faithful to the tradition of the Catholic Church, a high-ranking Vatican official has said.

    In an interview with Vatican News, to mark the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Veritatis Splendor — Pope John Paul II’s 1993 landmark encyclical on certain fundamentals of the Catholic Church’s moral teaching — Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, said “there is no foothold for challenging the magisterium of Pope Francis in the light of the previous magisterium.”

    Asked about “sectors of the Church” who criticize Pope Francis for “depart[ing] from Catholic doctrine” — and who often point to Veritatis Splendor as the basis for their criticism — Fisichella said he believes “one should never use the magisterium as an instrument to dispute the development of doctrine. When it is used as an instrument, then I fear there is no desire to discover the truth, and that there is also no fidelity to the tradition of the Church.”

    Instead, he said, “we must reiterate how much continuity there is in the development.”

    The Italian archbishop also said he believes it is important “to read carefully all of Pope Francis’ teaching and not just some of his interviews. A mosaic is revealed by the whole set of tiles, not just one tile,” he said, adding that the “mosaic” of the current pontificate displays “a great openness” in the work of Evangelization, of not “putting the norm before proclamation.”

    Archbishop Fisichella is perhaps best known to pro-life advocates for an article he wrote for L’Osservatore Romano in 2009 criticizing a local bishop and seeming to support the actions of Brazilian abortionists who aborted the twins of a sexually abused girl. Pope Benedict XVI removed Fisichella as the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life after the article appeared in the Vatican newspaper.

    In this week’s interview, Fisichella says the three “great elements” of Pope Francis’ pontificate are “the encounter with the person of Jesus, the constant proclamation the Church must announce, and that pastors are called to go out to meet everyone.”

    “This is the idea of the Church ‘going forth’ and therefore also the ability — as Evangelii Gaudium notes – to accompany our contemporaries, to walk alongside them in order to understand them, to really understand their needs and at times even, perhaps, to take a step backwards. This dimension emerges together with the need for mercy. The Jubilee of Mercy was the concrete sign of how Pope Francis has identified and guided his Pontificate,” he explained.

    Archbishop Fisichella said that Veritatis Splendor (promulgated by Pope John Paul II on August 6, 1993) was released in a “cultural context marked by secularism and, consequently, by a strong philosophical relativism.” Within this context, he said, the encyclical, presents “the fundamental points which remain as references for Christian doctrine.”

    When we speak of truth, he said, we have to always keep in mind a “dynamic” concept. “Truth is not a fixist dimension,” he added, applying a biological evolutionary model to theological truth.

    Fixism is the non-scientific theory that the species alive today are identical to those of the past and that evolution does not happen.

    “For Christians, truth is first and foremost that living World that the Lord has left us. Let us not forget that Jesus said: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ Therefore, the dimension of truth opens to personal encounter: it is the truth of the Gospel, the truth represented by the person of Jesus Christ,” he said.

    The truth, he explained, “is the entire content that Jesus wanted to transmit to his disciples and that comes to us through the Apostles. It is a truth that opens more and more to a discovery of the mystery that has been revealed. There are some fundamental points that remain as in the dogmatic and moral teaching of the Church. These are elements that remain in their immutability,” Fisichella said.

    “Obviously, all of this requires on the part of theologians — as the encyclical Vertiatis Splendor maintains — a great work of interpretation. The unchanging norm is based on the truth of the Gospel.”

    Fisichella also insisted that the Catholic Church cannot accept an idea of truth which is “closed in” on itself. “The truth, by its very nature, refers to fidelity but also to freedom. ‘The truth shall make you free.’”

    “A truth that opens up more and more is a truth that makes every believer, every man, discover a deeper freedom. This, however, also requires fidelity. The link between fidelity and truth is a typical link of the biblical conception of truth.”

    In comments to LifeSiteNews, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski — a Thomist scholar who issued an open critique of Pope Francis’ change to the Catechism’s treatment of capital punishment as contradicting both the natural law and the deposit of faith and who argued that the change is not a mere prudential judgment but a matter of principle — offered this response to Archbishop Fisichella’s remarks:

    All of the proponents of the revolution in moral doctrine always invoke a specious and vague concept of ‘development of doctrine.’ It has become a mantra by which any position can be defended, so long as it bears some element of remote resemblance, without the need for argumentation or the actual preservation of substance. Remember, the rule given for development is that any new insight must totally respect the truths already attained, in their very specificity. So there could be a new insight into Christology, but not such that Jesus Christ ceased to be confessed as true God and true man. Similarly, in the field of morals, there are many new insights into marriage, but none that would ever justify its dissolution, or the use of contraception, or communion for adulterers; and it is no less true with regard to the death penalty, which, however often or rarely it should be used, is contained within the very power of the state as God’s representative in the governance of human affairs.
    Unpacking the August 6 Fisichella interview, point by point, Dr. Kwasniewski said:

    Characteristically, Fisichella hides in vagueness: “we must reiterate how much continuity there is in the development.” Translated from Vaticanese, this means: “we must keep repeating, till we’re blue in the face, that the rabbit we pulled out of the hat is the same as the frog we put in.” Using code language, he speaks of putting “proclamation” before “the norm,” which means, there are no absolute norms that govern proclamation and pastoral accompaniment.

    Then, in a move familiar from Walter Kasper’s theology of revelation, Truth is a “dynamic concept, not a fixist dimension, a ‘living’ word,” i.e., not capable of being propositionally expressed once and for all (as in the Church’s de fide statements and judgments). In this way, rather than having a fixed point of reference for Christian life and thought, which in Fisichella’s way of thinking would be “closed in on itself,” we have a “truth that opens up more and more.”

    Whatever this means, it apparently means that we have to be prepared “to take a step backwards,” i.e., renounce the traditional moral teaching of the Church for the sake of “accompany[ing] our contemporaries.” This, again in code language, is what he means by “a great work of interpretation,” which here translates to a clever work of deconstruction, utilizing points in John Paul II’s encyclical as “references,” but not as indisputable givens.
    Kwasniewski summed up Fisichella’s comments, saying: “The cumulative effect of Fisichella’s Orwellian twists and turns is that we can chuck out whatever in Veritatis Splendor (or Humanae Vitae or Familiaris Consortio, etc.) no longer seems to fit with the needs of modern Western people as seen by Pope Francis.”

  14. abyssum says:

    Dear christopherlawrence,

    I regret to have to say that I am under such pressure of time due to the volume of emails that I receive plus health problems that I simply do not have the time to do as you ask.

    +Rene Henry Gracida

  15. abyssum says:

    Dear unwillinggecumenist,

    Thank you for your encouragement, I need it !!!

    +Rene Henry Gracida

  16. abyssum says:

    Dear hellenback7,

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church as published by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, is an entirely infallible document and never validly subject to material change because this work entailed both the wide consultation by His Holiness, and his intentional invoking of Petrine power by the direct citation of Luke 22:32. Period. The distinguished theologian, Father Basil Cole, O.P. has explained this in an article, as I recall, perhaps some years ago in The Priest magazine published by Our Sunday Visitor Press.

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