Saint Francis de Sales on Popes and Error June 23, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, episcopate, Francis, General Catholic, Papa, reading, Saints, sanctity, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.
I am staking out no position by excerpting the below from St. Francis de Sales The Catholic Controversy (pp. 225-6). I read this yesterday, it is interesting, it is topical, and I think it is at least somewhat helpful. This is not an endorsement of any claim with regard to the status of the pontificate today or its present occupant. This is in fact a very high-level overview of an immensely complex and nuanced subject, so please bear that in mind. Those for and against claims of sede vacante can stack up piles of quotes from Saints and Doctors on both sides of the issue, and a combox on a blog is not a place where such issues can or will be resolved. Nonetheless, I’ll be watching comments closely, or at least more closely than usual [my comments]:
[W]e do not say that the Pope cannot err in his private opinions, as did John XXII, or be altogether a heretic, as perhaps Honorius was. Now when he is explicitly a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church, and the Church must either deprive him of, or, as some say, declare him deprived, of his Apostolic See, and must say as St. Peter did, let another take his bishopric (Acts i). When he errs in his private opinion he must be instructed, advised, convinced; as happened with John XXII………But when he is clothed in pontifical garments, I mean when he teaches the whole Church as shepherd, in general matters of faith and morals, then there is nothing but doctrine and truth. [Until now? Amoris Laetitia and Evangelii Gaudium are magisterial documents, and many judge them to contain error. But not every word or phrase from even a magisterial document is magisterial. Are footnotes? These are issues beyond me. It will likely take a future pope, in a better age, to make these determinations. At least, that is my belief. The wheat will have to be separated from the chaff, and necessary distinctions made, I am certain of that. Whether that means Francis is pope or not, who am I to judge?]
….So everything the pope says is not canon law or of legal obligation; he must mean to define and lay down the law for the sheep, and he must keep the due order and form. Thus we say that we must appeal to him not as to a learned man, for in this he is ordinarily surpassed by some others, but as to the general head and pastor of the Church. And as such we must honor, follow, and firmly embrace his doctrine [when it is wholesome, I presume. At the very least, what the pope proposes as Doctrine cannot contradict what was held in the past, right? And thus the problem.] , for then he carries on his breast…….doctrine and truth. And again, we must not think that in everything and everywhere his judgment on a matter of faith in questions necessary to the whole Church, for in particular cases which depend on human face he can err, there is no doubt, though it is not for us to control him in these cases save with all reverence, submission, and discretion. Theologians have said, in a word, that he can err in questions of fact, not in questions of right, that he can err extra cathedram, outside the Chair of Peter, that is, as a private person, by writings and bad example. [So at some point Amoris Laetitia, or some of it, must be declared private, non-binding, or?]
But he cannot err when he is in cathedra, that is, when he intends to make an instruction and decree for the guidance of the whole Church, when he means to confirm his brethren as supreme pastor and to conduct them into the pastures of the Faith. For then it is not so much man who determines, resolves, and defines as it is the Blessed Holy Spirit by man, which spirit, according to the promise made by Our Lord to the Apostles, teaches all truth to the Church…….
Well, that had been quite safely the case for 2000 years, but now it is certainly open to question. I don’t see anyone in a position of authority in the Church today willing to hold the current pope to account…….thus my belief it will be quite some time before the crisis of this pontificate is dealt with, probably long after I’m dead. In the meantime, doctrine will suffer, millions will fall away, and hell shall be filled by so many lost snowflakes.
Well, at least there’s some good TV these days, so we have that going for us………