Becoming a saint today means ‘resisting’ erring religious leaders: Catholic historian

Becoming a saint today means ‘resisting’ erring religious leaders: Catholic historian

Rome, May 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – “Is it possible that a bishop, Episcopal conference, Council or Pope can fall into error or heresy, and expect to be followed on this path? What, in such circumstances, should the faithful do?” asked a renowned Catholic historian at a conference in Rome today.

Professor Roberto de Mattei, founder of the Lepanto Foundation, suggested that some Catholics today have a mistaken understanding of “obedience” that makes them reluctant to “resist” religious authorities “when they violate divine and natural law.”

But the Professor said that it was precisely in virtue of obedience to God and his divine laws first and foremost that make Catholic resistance to erring religious authorities “lawful.”

He made these comments at the Rome Life Forum held at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum).

“To become saints means doing the will of God, doing the will of God means obeying His law always, in particular when this is difficult.”

Quoting the Acts of the Apostles, he stated that when it comes to discerning whom to obey, “it is proper to obey God rather than to obey man.”

He also quoted St. Thomas Aquinas to back his point that “where the faith is at risk, it is lawful, even proper, to resist a papal decision publicly, as did Saint Paul to Saint Peter”:

Saint Paul, who was subject to Saint Peter, publicly rebuked him because of an imminent risk of scandal in a  matter of faith. And Saint Augustine commented ‘even Saint Peter set an example so that those who governed, but on occasion strayed from the right path, should not refuse as improper a correction, even if originating from their subjects’ (ad Galatians 2, 14).

De Mattei said that while there is no “authority on earth superior” to the Pope, “disobedience” may be in order if he makes an unjust order.

The Pope “cannot change the rule of the faith or the divine constitution of the Church; if this happens, ‘disobedience’ of an order which is inherently unjust may even lead to resistance against the Supreme Pontiff,” he said.

He provided three instances where Catholic resistance today is “morally lawful and proper.”

His first example was of a priest being “compelled to celebrate the new Mass” by a superior or being prevented by the same from “celebrating the traditional Mass.” His second example was of Catholics in China being forced by the Vatican to adopt a “policy of appeasement of a regime” which “openly violates natural law and brutally persecutes Christians.” Finally, he gave the example of Catholics being forced to adopt novel practices introduced in Pope Francis’ post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris laetitia. In all these cases, he said, “resistance and fraternal correction are morally lawful and proper.”

De Mattei said that Catholics wanting to be faithful to Christ must be like the apostles and choose to obey God rather than man.

“We wish to obey the Pope: all Popes, including the current Pope, but if, in the teaching of any Pope, we find an (at least apparent) contradiction, our rule of judgement is natural and divine law, expressed by the bimillenary tradition of the Church.”

“Unfortunately, there is a spirit of rebellion in many in the Church, who rebel against its Tradition and immutable laws. They want a Church which is not that intended by Our Lord. For our part, we wish to consume our souls in an act of obedience and love for the Church and its Tradition,” he said.

The professor addressed those who hold that the Pope should be obeyed, no matter what he says or does.

“We must explain that obedience has a foundation, has a purpose, has conditions, has limits. Only God has no limits: He is immense, infinite, eternal. Every creature is limited and that limit defines his essence. Therefore neither unlimited authority, nor unlimited obedience, exists on earth,” he said.

“Authority is defined by its limits, and obedience is also defined by its limits. Awareness of these limits leads to perfection in the exercise of authority and perfection in the exercise of obedience. The insuperable limit of authority is respect for the divine law and respect for the divine law is also the insuperable limit of obedience. We must be aware of the limits of obedience and respect them, in particular when these limits are not respected by the authority concerned.”

De Mattei concluded by calling obedience to God in the face of erring Church leaders the “gravest path to sanctity today.”

“To the authority which exceeds these limits, we must mount firm resistance, which may become public. This is the heroism of our time, the gravest path to sanctity today,” he said.

“To become saints means doing the will of God, doing the will of God means obeying His law always, in particular when this is difficult, in particular when this places us in conflict with the law of man,” he added.

The professor said that everything in his talk can be reduced to two words: “God alone.”

LifeSiteNews is pleased to provide de Mattei’s talk in full at

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One comment on “Becoming a saint today means ‘resisting’ erring religious leaders: Catholic historian

  1. The current Pope is a crazy modernist heretic. Resisting the modernist errors and heresies of a crazy modernist heretic is a moral duty for believing Catholics and admonishing such heretics for their errors is a work of mercy.

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