Cardinals can declare that a heretical pope has ‘lost his office’: Church historian

Stephen Kokx

Cardinals can declare that a heretical pope has ‘lost his office’: Church historian

DEERFIELD, IL, April 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – True devotion to the Chair of St. Peter is essential to a Christian spiritual life, but today there exists a “false devotion” to the Pope that claims he “must always be obeyed, no matter what,” renowned Church historian Roberto de Mattei told a gathering of Catholics just outside Chicago this past weekend.

Speaking at the 2018 Catholic Family News conference, de Mattei called on laity and clergy alike to oppose the “theological error” of “papolatry” and to live out a “true devotion” to the papacy.

“True devotion to the Chair of Peter is not the worship of the man who occupies this Cathedra, but is the love and veneration for the mission which Jesus Christ gave to Peter and his successors.”

Professor de Mattei’s talk — delivered to approximately 100 Catholics hailing from multiple continents — touched on a variety of topics, including collegiality, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, and the claim that Pope Francis has fallen into heresy and is no longer pope.

Obedience to God first

Central to de Mattei’s hour-long address was an urgent request for Catholics to expose by name the pastors who contradict perennial Church teaching.

Opposing errors is not enough, Professor de Mattei said. “We need to have the courage to say: ‘Holy Father, you are the first one responsible for the confusion which exists today in the Church. Holy Father, you are the first one responsible for the heresies which are circulating in the Church today.’”

Papolatry views the Pope as a “new Christ.” It takes the position that “there is no need to worry about anything” and that the pope “perfects the doctrine of his predecessors, adapting it to the changing of the times.”

Papolatrists “deceive themselves” and “tranquilize” their conscience by thinking the pope is “always right, even when he contradicts himself or his predecessors.”

In reality, “Tradition remains the criterion for discerning that which is Catholic and that which is not.” “Tradition comes before the Pope and not the Pope before Tradition.” Otherwise the Church’s perennial magisterium is replaced with a “living” magisterium that has “its rule of faith in the subject of the authority and not in the object of the transmitted truth.”

Obedience to the Pope “has its limits in the natural and Divine Laws, and in the Tradition of the Church, of which the Pope is guardian and not creator.”

Catholics cannot remain silent

Professor de Mattei, who will be speaking at LifeSiteNews’ Roman Life Forum in May 2018, also pointed out that Catholics cannot succumb to a “catacombist” mentality in response to the crisis in the Church.

Catholics cannot “retreat from the battlefield” and think they can “survive without fighting.” It is not permitted for a Christian to leave behind their militant attitude. “To make silence a rule of behavior…would be an error.” It would be to commit a guilty silence.

Who then must speak up and what must they do? Professor de Mattei said the responsibility falls not only on ordinary Catholics but also on Cardinals who in their silence “don’t fulfill their duty.” It also falls on the shoulders of Pope Emeritus Benedict.

“The politics of silence has become a jail which imprisons many conservatives.” “Today is the moment to speak.” There has been a “modernist infiltration inside the Church” that is “wreaking havoc” in Rome. Catholics must oppose this infiltration with filial resistance, not with sarcasm, irreverence, bitter zeal, or pride.

Is the Pope Catholic?

Professor de Mattei then shared his thoughts on the historic resignation of Pope Benedict.

It is “incorrect” for Benedict to refer to himself as Pope Emeritus. Quoting Cardinal Brandmüller, de Mattei said “Canon Law doesn’t recognize the figure of a Pope Emeritus.” For Benedict to still dress in the white papal vestments and to still live in the Vatican “creates confusion,” de Mattei told LifeSiteNews. Benedict “seems to be convinced of still being Pope.” But “it is impossible that two Popes can exist. The Papacy is not dismountable: there can be only one Vicar of Christ.”

Professor de Mattei also addressed the increasingly relevant, and increasingly important, question of whether Pope Francis is still the pope.

After citing others scholars who have suggested Francis has fallen into heresy, de Mattei said “we must admit that the Pope himself promotes and propagates errors and heresies in the Church.” But, “as a tree can live for a certain time after its roots have been severed, so can jurisdiction be maintained…even after a fall into heresy. Jesus Christ maintains the person of the heretical Pontiff in his jurisdiction provisionally, until the Church recognizes the deposition.”

Speaking to LifeSiteNews, de Mattei said “nobody can depose the pope” but the Cardinals, can, in principle, “declare and recognize that being a heretic, [the pope] has lost his office.”

Until such a time comes, de Mattei added, Catholics must “clarify to people that unfortunately [Pope Francis] propagates heresy.”  However, Francis “does not lose his office until his heresy becomes manifest” and widespread. This “has not yet happened.”

Occupying powers in Rome

Professor de Mattei proceeded to issue what appeared to be a warning to Catholics concerned with the direction Francis is leading the Church.

“We need to be careful of speaking of the ‘Bergoglian church,’ or of ‘the new Church.’ The Church today is occupied by churchmen who betray or deform the message of Christ, but it has not been substituted by another church. There is only one Catholic Church, in which they cohabitate in a confused and fragmentary way, different and counterpoised theologies and philosophies. It is more correct to speak of a ‘Bergoglian theology,’ of a ‘Bergoglian philosophy,’ and, if one wishes, of a ‘Bergoglian religion’ or ‘irreligion.’”

There are not two Churches, but one Church, he continued. It is, to be sure, a Church where bad tendencies have been introduced but it is a Church still governed visibly by its Vicar Pope Francis, whose election has not been contested by any Cardinal.

Professor de Mattei urged Catholics to unite themselves to “the good priests” inside of the one Church.

Assisting the auto-demolition of the Church

Drawing on his vast knowledge of Church history, Professor de Mattei explained how Pope Francis’ support for decentralization and collegiality is undermining the papacy.

Reminding his listeners of how ultramontanists were victorious at Vatican I, Professor de Mattei noted that the real protagonists of Vatican II were Liberal Catholics, and that among other things Liberal Catholics seek to transform the “monarchical and hierarchical constitution of the Church into a democratic and parliamentary structure.”

Professor de Mattei pointed out that this is precisely what Francis is attempting to do. He wants to usher in a “polycentric or multi-sided church” where the papacy is “conceived as a form of ministry at the service of the other churches, renouncing the juridical Primacy or government of Peter.”

But, de Mattei continued, such a view of the papacy runs counter to what has been handed down through the ages. The Pope is not an equal with the other Bishops. “Jesus Christ entrusted the mission of governing to Peter, after the Resurrection.” To democratize the Church and to “reduce her to a purely-sacramental dimension” is to “transition from a juridical Church to a sacramental Church, a Church of communion.”

Moreover, Professor de Mattei added, to destroy the Primacy of Peter is to accomplish what the enemies of Christ have been attempting to do for centuries because “they have understood that it comprises the visible foundation of the Mystical Body [of Christ].”

Editor’s note: Read the full text of Professor de Mattei’s talk here.

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One comment on “Cardinals can declare that a heretical pope has ‘lost his office’: Church historian

  1. The FrankenPope effect: Intelligent men denying reality
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    Louie April 11, 2018
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    Catholic Family News has published a transcript of Dr. Roberto de Mattei’s talk as given on April 7, 2018 at the CFN Conference; writer Stephen Kokx provided an overview of the same at LifeSite News.
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    Here, I will touch on some of the more noteworthy parts of the presentation.
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    Dr. de Mattei is no progressive; not by a long shot. His book, Vatican II – An unwritten story, is magnificent. That said, some of his thoughts are puzzling to say the very least. For one, he states:
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    The Nota explicativa praevia, [preliminary explanatory note] desired by Paul VI to save the orthodoxy of the document [Lumen Gentium], was a compromise between the principle of the primacy of Peter and that of the collegiality of the bishops.
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    Especially in light of the pending (FAKE) “canonization” of Paul VI, we need to be clear:
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    First, it must be said that Dr. de Mattei’s statement is contradictory in itself, as orthodoxy is never “saved” by way of “compromise.”
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    That said, and more importantly, there is precious little evidence that Paul VI “desired to save the orthodoxy” of Lumen Gentium on this particular point, or any other for that matter. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.
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    Paul VI revealed his true desire when he issued the Apostolic Letter, Apostolica Sollicitudo, which established the Synod of Bishops as we know it. In this document, he listed among the “general purposes of the Synod”:
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    …to facilitate agreement, at least on essential matters of doctrine and on the course of action to be taken in the life of the Church.
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    The diabolical nature of this initiative cannot be overstated.
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    At this point in time it is perfectly clear that Apostolica Sollicitudo quietly, and with a subtlety worthy of the Master Deceiver himself, set the stage where upon the “God of surprises” would one day issue the Bergoglian Trilogy; Evangelii Gaudium, Amoris Laetitia, and Gaudete et Exsultate – each of which is ordered toward laying waste to “essential matters of doctrine” by treating them as if they are subject to legitimate disagreement.
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    In short, we can thank the Council first and foremost, of course, but in no small measure we owe it to Paul VI for the present Bergoglian scourge on the Mystical Body of Christ.
    /
    Dr. de Mattei went on to say:
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    Synodality, collegiality, decentralization are the words which today express the attempt to transform the monarchical and hierarchical constitution of the Church into a democratic and parliamentary structure.
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    Indeed! And let us not forget that it was Paul VI who, in addition to establishing the Synod of Bishops to deliberate matters long since defined, with great fanfare relinquished the papal triregnum, thus making plain his intent to transform the monarchical and hierarchical constitution of the Church.
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    So much for desiring to save orthodoxy.
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    Of the more interesting, and ultimately troubling, comments offered by Dr. de Mattei concern the matter of Benedict’s so-called resignation.
    /
    He states and correctly so:
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    The Pope is he in whom this visibility of the Church is concentrated and condensed …
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    He later went on to speak of:
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    … the existence of a false premise, accepted by all: the existence of a sort of papal diarchy, in which there’s Pope Francis who carries out its functions, and then there’s another Pope, Benedict, who serves the Chair of Peter through prayer, and if necessary, with counsel. The existence of the two Popes is admitted as a done deal: only the nature of their relationship is argued. But the truth is that it is impossible that two Popes can exist. The Papacy is not dis-mountable: there can be only one Vicar of Christ.
    /
    Truer words were never spoken! And the professor is just getting warmed up:
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    Benedict XVI had the ability to renounce the papacy, but consequently, would have had to give up the name of Benedict XVI, dressing in white, and the title of Pope emeritus: in a word, he would have had to definitively cease from being Pope, also leaving Vatican City. Why did he not do so? Because Benedict XVI seems to be convinced of still being Pope, although a Pope who has renounced the exercise of the Petrine ministry.
    /
    OK, let’s recap the events of February 2013 according to Dr. de Mattei’s observations, shall we.
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    Pope Benedict XVI, could have renounced the papacy, but in order to do so he would have had to do a number of things that he did not do. And the reason is obvious – he still considers himself Pope; albeit with a diminished sense of responsibility.
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    There is only one way to add all of this up, folks:
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    If Dr. de Mattei is correct, the See of Peter simply was not vacant when the conclave assembled in March of 2013; rather, it was still, and continues to be, occupied by Benedict XVI.
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    Dr. de Mattei, however, stops short of drawing the obvious conclusion to which his own observations lead, opting instead to take refuge in two magnificently flawed notions, the first of which states:
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    Canonists have always taught that the peaceful “universalis ecclesiae adhaesio” (universal ecclesial acceptance) is a sign and infallible effect of a valid election and legitimate papacy, and the adhesion or acceptance of Pope Francis by the people of God has not yet been doubted by any of the cardinals who participated in the Conclave.
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    Note the doublespeak; even if inadvertent:
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    Does universal ecclesial acceptance concern “the people of God,” or does it pertain only to “the cardinals who participated in the Conclave”?
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    In either case – and it is my understanding that it is the former, otherwise it wouldn’t be universal – the argument is weak.
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    For one, how does Dr. de Mattei know whether or not any of the cardinals harbor doubt, much less the people of God at large?
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    It is my experience (and certainly that of many others) that numerous persons had serious reservations about Francis from moment one; quite the opposite of peaceful acceptance.
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    The truth is, Dr. de Mattei has no idea just how widely accepted Francis was upon his introduction on the loggia at St. Peter’s, and given the fear that has been gripping Rome for some time, the lack of public statements from members of the hierarchy is hardly evidence that the legitimacy of Francis is not subject to serious doubt.
    /
    That said, if indeed the See of Peter was occupied as the conclave met (as Dr. de Mattei appears to believe), then no amount of “acceptance” of a new occupant on anyone’s part – lay or ordained – could possibly change that reality.
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    Consider as an analogy a married man who by all appearances is unmarried, but is subsequently “joined” in Holy Matrimony to another woman as witnessed by a well-intended priest before a gathering family and friends.
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    No amount of acceptance and adherence as to the validity of the second marriage can make woman #2 the man’s spouse. Why not? Simple – that “office” was not vacant; rather it was already and presently occupied, and the ignorance of the masses on this note did nothing to change that fact.
    /
    Dr. de Mattei unfortunately has fallen prey to the following unsupportable related argument:
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    The acceptance of a Pope by the universal Church is an infallible sign of his legitimacy, and heals at the root every defect of the papal election (for example, illegal machinations, conspiracies, et cetera). This is also a consequence of visible character of the Church and of the Papacy.
    /
    Those who hang their hat on this argument are utterly unable to provide any citations whatsoever in support of it. The best they can do is to cite theologians that affirm (and rightly so) that defects in a validly assembled conclave are healed at the root upon universal and peaceful acceptance of a new pope.
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    This is a far cry from insisting that a new pope can be made even when the See of Peter is occupied if only the faithful are sufficiently duped into believing that it was vacant.
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    Finally, and equally as relevant to the present state of affairs in the Church, is Francis’ claim on the papacy in light of his heresy.
    /
    Dr. de Mattei rightly states:
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    … the cardinals would be limited to only certifying the fact of heresy … without exercising any deposition of the Roman Pontiff. The cessation of the primatial office would only be acknowledged and declared by them.
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    Note very well the chronological order of events:
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    ONE: The heresy of a pope results in his loss of office. Precisely when Christ removes the office from the man (which is precisely what must happen) isn’t germane to the present discussion.
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    TWO: The cardinals acknowledge and declare the loss of office after the fact.
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    So far so good, but Dr. de Mattei veers immediately into denial when he states, as reported by Mr. Kokx:
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    Catholics must “clarify to people that unfortunately [Pope Francis] propagates heresy.” However, Francis “does not lose his office until his heresy becomes manifest” and widespread. This “has not yet happened.”
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    For the record, “manifest” in this case is not some esoteric concept that only doctors of canon law can fully grasp; it simply means publicly known as opposed to merely private.
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    How anyone, never mind a man of Dr. de Mattei’s intellect, can possibly argue that Francis’ heresy is not yet widely known in the public realm is well beyond my imagination! It truly is nothing less than a denial of objective reality.
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    At this, I will invite you to watch (or re-watch as the case may be) and perhaps share the following video which addresses yet another denial of objective reality; namely, the preposterous notion that Francis has yet to be corrected. (Don’t laugh, the traditional Catholic media magnate who said this was dead serious. No, I won’t name him as that would be most uncharitable.)

    The bottom line is this, folks:
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    Apart from denying what our eyes can plainly see and our ears can clearly hear, one must admit that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the walking definition of a manifest, formal, pertinacious (add whatever adjective you’d like provided it does not excuse the man) heretic who has severed himself from the Mystical Body of Christ.
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    Will the cardinals declare it?
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    Probably not and that’s a crying shame, but then again I don’t need them to tell me that it’s raining outside when my clothes get soaking wet as I’m walking to the mailbox.
    /
    To put it in more serious language, one is never required to deny objective reality in order to remain a faithful Catholic; indeed, the exact opposite is true, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, no matter how impressive their academic qualifications may be.

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