August 25, 2019 (Steven O’Reilly) – Scott Eric Alt recently published an article on his Patheos blog re what he calls the Francis Derangment Syndrome, apparently this article is part 24 or something of a series. Mr. Alt was set off in this most recent installment by Patrick Coffin’s interview with Cardinal Burke which touched upon issues related to the potential invalidity of the conclave (see here) [NB: one topic touched upon in the interview was the “influential Italian gentleman” who visited McCarrick before the pre-conclave general congregations. In my article, I provide my theory as to identity of this Italian. See The “Influential Italian Gentleman” . In a separate article, I identify a probable violation of Universi Dominici Gregis by the late-Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor. See 2013 Conclave: Was there a violation of Universi Dominici Gregis 12?].
The purpose though of this article is not to address Mr. Alt’s “derangement syndrome” files. Rather, his article did provide the occasion to peruse his writing on Amoris Laetitia which I found to be of greater interest. Roma Locuta Est has published a couple responses to Mr. Alt’s articles in the past (see To Be or Not to Be a “Correctionist” and Why the Case of Pope Honorius Matters, Mr. Alt).
There are reasonable and decent Catholics who have real concerns about (1) things Pope Francis has said and written, and not said or written; and, (2) things Francis-apologists [note 1] write about things Pope Francis has said and written, or not said or written. Now, granted, I am not a regular reader of Mr. Alt’s articles. So, my recent perusal of his library may have been insufficient, but the articles I did read leave me a bit puzzled. I suppose I would place Mr. Alt into the category of Francis-apologists somewhere in the group described in recent articles (see The Confusion of the Francis-Apologists) and Mark Shea (see Mark Shea – aka he who exudes the “Odor of Sanctimony” – and other apologetic hacks).
To explain my puzzlement, let’s take a brief stroll through the Alt library on Amoris Laetitia. Soon after the release of Amoris Laetitia, Mr. Alt attacks “chicken little blogs” for concerns over footnote 351 (305).
“Now, all this is important because for a very long and tedious April we have been told, on all the Chicken Little blogs and across the social media Webosphere, that footnote 351 is the “smoking gun” that permits communion for those in an irregular union without requiring them to abandon their sin.” (Alt, May 1, 2016)
By November of 2016, in the face of the many calling for Pope Francis to clarify Amoris Laetitia, Mr. Alt loudly lamented “how many times must Amoris Laetitia be clarified” in an article entitled “how many times must Amoris Laetitia be clarified?” In this article, Mr. Alt writes:
“Back in April, the wery month the pope released Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Schonborn addressed “the question of this little footnote.” (That’s footnote 351, if I may refresh your memory, dear reader, the smoking gun, the elephant in the corner, the heresy in the Church, the prevailing of the gates of Hell, which, if we are to believe 1 Vader 5 and the other usual suspects, says that unrepentant couples in an adulterous union may nevertheless receive communion.” (Alt, November 16, 2016)
Mr. Alt goes on to say later in the same article (emphasis added):
“Why, dear me, what Schonborn and Muller say about Amoris is exactly what I said about it all through the month of April!
Don’t doubt me, dear reader.
More importantly, don’t doubt the princes of the Church who have already given this same clarification multiple times. I fail to understand why prelates must rush out upon demand to clarify Amoris Laetitia over and over and over again. How many times is enough? Seven? Seventy? Seventy times seven? 35 quintillion?” (Alt, November 16, 2016)
And then Mr. Alt concludes the same article (emphasis added):
“I just fail to understand what more should be clarified, and so does Dave Armstrong.
Perhaps you can help me, dear reader.” (Alt, November 16, 2016)
So, in this article, Mr. Alt brags that Müller and Schonborn have clarified Amoris Laetitia’s meaning for us, just as he, Mr. Alt, had done “multiple times.” He said, in fact he fails “to understand why prelates must rush out upon demand to clarify Amoris Laetitia over and over and over again. How many times is enough? Seven? Seventy? Seventy times seven? 35 quintillion?”
Yet, just a fortnight later, Mr. Alt had changed his snarky, arrogant, and infallibly confident tone, to declare he’s changed his mind about Francis’ in an article rightly entitled “I’ve changed my mind about Pope Francis.”
“I mean, I do like Pope Francis. I’ve defended Pope Francis. I want to believe—I really want to believe—that footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia can (and should) be read consistently with Familiaris Consortio 84. I have argued as much multiple times on this wery blog.
The pope, in footnote 351, says that “in some cases” couples who are in an irregular marital union but unable to separate for the sake of children can “receive the help of the sacraments.” In the main text (par. 305), he says that such couples are in “an objective situation of sin,” even if “not subjectively culpable.”
Now, it is standard Catholic teaching that, if grave matter is present, mortal sin nevertheless may not be. If a person has a cocaine addiction, for example, the presence of addiction impairs freedom of the will sufficiently that there is no “subjective culpability.”
Of course, once such a person acknowledges this problem, he needs to get help to break the addiction.
Similarly, a couple who contracted an irregular marriage (divorce and remarriage without annulment, for example) may not be “subjectively culpable” if their conscience had not been fully formed at the time of the wedding. Or perhaps they were not Catholic at the time, and their church permitted such a marriage.
Again, once the couple become aware of the “objective situation of sin,” it is their responsibility to correct it. They can no longer appeal to their lack of “subjective culpability.”” (Alt, November 30, 2016)
Recall, in his earlier screed Mr. Alt had confidently assured his readers, that Cardinal Schonborn had clarified (just as Mr. Alt himself had done for his reader multiple times!) clarified Amoris Laetitia. However, in his November 30th article, Mr. Alt now declares “Schonborn’s words have been inconsistent and themselves not at all precise.” Similarly, while Mr. Alt had previously pointed to the supposed “35 quintillion” clarifications of others in his earlier articles, now two weeks later (November 16, 2016) he admits “None of these clarifications carry Magisterial weight.” Mr. Alt’s infallible confidence and certitude have deserted him by the time he concluded this November 30, 2016 article (emphasis added):
“And because of all this, many believe that the pope wants confusion, likes confusion, does not wish to clear up confusion, and if there is confusion he must scoff at confusion.
No. We have a pope, in part, so that he can answer questions such as these, which arise from time to time in the Church. They have arisen now. For the good of the body, for the unity of the Church, the pope must answer them. He alone can do so with authority. That is why we have a pope.
I want to believe Amoris Laetitia is consistent with Church teaching, but if it is, why does the pope have such a difficult time clarifying that consistency?
My point in all of this is not to knock Mr. Alt for changing his mind. Amoris Laetitia and all that swirls around has been confusing. It certainly took intellectual honesty on Mr. Alt’s part to make his about face. I commend him for it. Sincerely. Above he even seemed to both magnanimously recognize and to be sympathetic with the sort of confusion prevalent among many Catholics as being real and understandable; the same confusion he had heretofore abused with mockery and derision dripping with undisguised contempt. So, that article was something of a breath of fresh air.
However, Mr. Alt’s sympathetic understanding of the confusion of others was not to last long. The ill winds of snark and contempt had returned to his Patheos page by at least April 2017. By then, while Mr. Alt admitted while “true it is that I have said myself: Pope Francis should answer the dubia on Amoris Laetitia…” (Alt, April 24, 2017), he seemed to have lost a sense of heart for those not as equipped as he to handle confusion on a question of faith and morals. Now, in April 2017 he spoke of the “the Incoherence” of those wanting a clarification of Amoris Laetitia, and answers to the Dubia in an article entitled: “The Incoherence of “Just Clarify Amoris! Answer the Dubia!””
In that article, Mr. Alt says, in part:
“But all this sheds light, too, on Cardinal Burke’s refrain that, without answers to dubia, he will have no choice but to “formally correct” Pope Francis? On what? If Amoris Laetitia is heretical, why do you submit dubia? For a clarification or a conviction? If Amoris Laetitia is not heretical, what are you correcting? If you don’t know, why do you presume guilt?” (Alt, April 2017)
In my opinion, Mr. Alt contradicted himself. The point of asking for clarification, which Mr. Alt agreed to in late November 2016 article, was to clarify how or whether Amoris Laetitia was consistent with Church teaching. Mr. Alt said that himself in his article five months earlier: “I want to believe Amoris Laetitia is consistent with Church teaching, but if it is, why does the pope have such a difficult time clarifying that consistency?” Furthermore, he himself had then said of the Dubia: “These strike me as fair questions.” Mr. Alt himself expressed the doubt previously over whether Amoris Laetitia (or certain interpretations of it) were or were not consistent with Church teaching. Why the seeming turnaround? Now…he declared this all incoherent!
What seems missing in Mr. Alt’s discussion of Amoris Laetitia in his articles is his own clear statement of his understanding of what he believes it to mean, and which interpretations that are out there which he believes are erroneous. He seems to approach more definitive statements by November 2017, in his response to the Filial Correction.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ wills”—The Correctors boldly claim this final and seventh heresy is to be found in Amoris Laetitia—“that the Church abandon her perennial discipline of refusing the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried and of refusing absolution to the divorced and remarried who do not express contrition for their state of life and a firm purpose of amendment with regard to it.”
Hmm. Now, I have refuted all the other charges of heresy the filial ones have made against the Holy Father. And you will recall, dear reader, I often had the difficulty in finding out exactly where in the text of Amoris Laetitia they think they find those notions. This is because they do sloppy work. They never say, “Well, heresy 3 is to be found in paragraph 297 in these words.” No. And thus I find the same trouble with supposed heresy 7. I find no passage in Amoris Laetitia—certainly not the passages quoted by the filial ones as smoking guns of some sort—where Pope Francis invokes the will of Christ or says anything about the Church “abandoning its perennial discipline” with regard to the Eucharist. Search for yourself.” (Alt, November 2017 – Part VII)
There are two observations I have here. The “filial ones” as Mr. Alt mocks them, are really making two points regarding the perennial tradition of the Church in the citation above. The first is the doctrinal truth that D&Rs in an objective situation of sin cannot receive Holy Communion if they continue to live more uxorio, i.e., this teaching doesn’t even touch upon subjective guilt for the act of adultery.
While Mr. Alt may disagree with the “filial ones” that a denial of this truth is to be definitely found in Amoris Laetitia in his November 2017 article, he had previously allowed there was sufficient doubt to warrant clarification on this very point (cf Alt, November 30, 2016). Thus, it appears to me that Mr. Alt as of November 2017 denied Amoris Laetitia actually allowed communion for D&Rs in an objective situation of sin. What is not as clear to me is, what would Mr. Alt believe if it could be demonstrated to him Amoris Laetitia did actually allow it? Would he hold Amoris Laetitia to be erroneous — or a new “doctrine” to be true? He doesn’t tell us.
The second observation involves what the “filial ones” (in Mr. Alt’s terms) alleged regarding the perennial tradition of the Church which would refuse “absolution to the divorced and remarried who do not express contrition for their state of life and a firm purpose of amendment with regard to it.” Mr. Alt denied in his November 2017 article that this truth was abandoned in Amoris Laetitia. Indeed, at one point of his rebuttal of the “filial ones”, Mr. Alt wrote:
“Third, to find this particular heresy here, the filial ones would have to assume that the “particular situations” the pope has in mind involve people who express no contrition or purpose of amendment. But here the “reading into” problem arises again. Pope Francis does not say that.” (Alt, November 2017 – Part VII)
Ok, fine. We are now to understand, per Mr. Alt, that those finding this particular error have “read it into” the text of Amoris Laetitia. Okay. That is Mr. Alt of November 2017. But if we refer to “early Alt” of November 2016, Mr. Alt then had noted a clarification of Amoris Laetitia was necessary to “forestall” such an interpretation (emphasis added): “If someone in a state of mortal sin, not disposed to receive the Eucharist, receives the Eucharist anyway, that compounds the problem. It is a harm to both the individual who receives and the priest who knowingly distributes. A definitive clarification would, potentially, forestall this.”(see Alt, November 30, 2016).
So, let’s try to sort this out. Mr. Alt faults the “filial ones” for reading a denial of this truth into the text of Amoris Laetitia, which he himself stated needed a clarification to forestall such an interpretation. Okay, fine. Mr. Alt does not see such a denial in the text. What is less clear, to me at least, is whether Mr. Alt would agree with the “filial ones” that if such an abandonment of the perennial tradition of the faith was found in Amoris Laetitia that this would, in fact, be a problem. Does Mr. Alt hold it would be or not?
Now, by May of 2019, Mr. Alt was onto mitigating circumstances. Replying to an article by Richard Spinello in Crisis magazine, Mr. Alt in an article wrote:
“Well, it sure does not sound as though Pope Francis believes in a “pliant moral doctrine.” Does it? Where there is some pliancy in Amoris Laetitia, it has to do with the reality that grave matter does not always equal mortal sin. This is standard Catholic moral theology. The Catechism lists three conditions for mortal sin, and only one of them is that grave matter be involved. But there must also be “full knowledge” and “deliberate consent.” And Pope Francis recognizes, as did St. John Paul II before him in Familiaris Consortio, that individuals approach full understanding of the moral law gradually.” (Alt, May 2019)
Now, this brings us somewhat up to date. Above, Mr. Alt seems to me to suggesting that D&Rs can engage in adulterous acts without these necessarily being mortal sins, perhaps due to some lack of “full knowledge” or “deliberate consent” (NB: I addressed this notion in a recent article On the Doctrine of Mitigating Circumstances and in The Errors of Mr. Walford’s ‘Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce’). It is not clear to me, at least in the recent articles I’ve read, whether Mr. Alt would, therefore, argue such D&R’s engaging in adulterous acts — which Mr. Alt might consider venial sins in certain limited conditions — could receive communion per footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia — but still in direct contravention of Familiaris Consortio 84.
In an earlier article in which he tried to rebut Dr. Brugger on AL 303, Mr. Alt wrote (emphasis added): ”
“But the pope’s exact words are “what is for now the most generous response that can be given to God.” That is “what God is asking.” Perhaps you may not, overnight, be able to abandon a sin you have been guilty of a long time. Things you do by habit you often need to abandon in stages. Yes, I avail myself of the confessional; I make a firm purpose of amendment; but perhaps in three days I fall again. The “most generous response” is to recognize the error, return to confession, and try again. God does not say, “I want you to keep sinning.” He does say, “If you can’t abandon your sin overnight, I want you to move in that direction.”” (Alt, May 4, 2016)
Mr. Alt at least appears to admit a “firm purpose of amendment” is required, i.e., with the intent not to engage in adulterous acts. However, is Mr. Alt unaware that many Francis-apologists advance the argument that such an intention is not necessary to receive sacramental absolution and receive Holy Communion? Does Mr. Alt agree with them or not? If not, then some of these same Francis-Apologists are as confused by Mr. Alt’s true position as am I, as one such Francis-Apologist website cites Mr. Alt as a resource on Amoris Laetitia (see Where Peter Is Resources)!
For example, the Where Peter Is website holds the position that adulterous acts by D&Rs in some cases may be only venial sins, and that these sins need not be confessed with the firm intention not to engage in them again. Where Peter Is holds to Stephen Walford’s interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, where a D&R individual or couple under certain conditions, can intend to continue adulterous sexual relations (NB: Mr. Walford makes this claim in his book “The Pope, The Family and Divorce” on pages 102-104. I rebut his example in my three part rebuttal The Errors of Mr. Walford’s ‘Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce’ and Pope Francis, the Open Letter and the Pesky Preface). Others have offered variations of Mr. Walford’s example [see note 3], which I rebut, also along with Mr. Walford’s, in my article On the Doctrine of Mitigating Circumstances.
As the reader here will recall, Mr. Alt seemed to previously defend the notion that Amoris Laetitia could not mean an overturning of Familiaris Consortio 84, which denied communion to D&Rs in an objective situation of sin (irrespective of their subjective culpability for that sin) living more uxorio. Recall, in November 2016 he had told us that “A definitive clarification would, potentially, forestall” such an interpretation (i.e., one that contradicts FC 84). Indeed, again in November 2017, he denied Amoris Laetitia could be read to deny the perennial teaching reaffirmed by John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio 84.
So, here is my conundrum. For most seeming “Francis-apologists” (see note 1) I’ve read, their positions are pretty clear. I’ve written quite a number of articles to oppose what I see and firmly believe to be errors in the writings of Mr. Walford (see Summa Contra Stephen Walford) and of Mr. Gabriel at the Where Peter Is blog (see here and here). These Francis-Apologists say that Amoris Laetitia has changed the discipline of Familiaris Consortio 84. Does Mr. Alt now agree with them? If not, where are his articles against them? For where the “filial ones” might fear heresy, the Francis-apologists are engaging in it. Where is Mr. Alt’s ire?
However, for all the quantity of what Mr. Alt has written, it is not clear — to me at least — where he really stands on Amoris Laetitia. Yes, yes. We know he dislikes ‘reactionaries’, Cardinal Burke, One Peter Five, Republicans, LifeSiteNews, etc., etc. We know that…a “quintillion times over” by now in Alt-speak. But where has Mr. Alt said firmly and clearly what his full position is on the question of Amoris Laetitia and the various interpretations of it in circulation? Like I said…I haven’t read all of what he’s written on the subject…so the fault is mine if somewhere in his body of work there is a clear statement (and I do apologize–there might be such an article from him)…but the thing is…I have read a lot of his articles while researching my article, and in all of them no real definitive statement emerges).
Does Mr. Alt still accept the teaching of Familiaris Consortio 84 which absolutely denies communion to all D&R in objective situations of sin — regardless of subjective guilt — who continue to live more uxorio — without exception? If he accepts it, why doesn’t Mr. Alt direct at least some of his ire and mockery against writers like Mr. Walford or the writers at Where Peter Is [See note 2] who defend an interpretation that Amoris Laetitia allows such D&Rs to receive both absolution and receive Holy Communion while intending to continue engaging in adulterous acts? Those suggesting this is possible have provided a number of examples claiming these examples are not mortal sins (see note 3). Does Mr. Alt agree with their analysis of these examples or does he believe it is rash to suggest these examples are only venial sins? Does he believe D&R’s who intend to continue to live more uxorio can receive sacramental absolution and receive Holy Communion? Mr. Alt has found time to write 24 “derangement syndrome” articles, but where are his articles on these key issues which are at the center of the debate?
So, I am flummoxed. How is it possible for someone like Mr. Alt who has written so much on Amoris Laetitia to have actually said so little that is definitive about his opinion? I am unsure. Alt right vs. Alt wrong? Which Alt is Alt? Perhaps his readers might ask him. They, at least — as well as the many he has attacked over the years on matters related to Amoris Laetitia — deserve a straight and full answer on his true opinion on all these questions if he is going to be dishing out infallible accusations of “derangement” in others.
Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. A former intelligence officer, he and his wife, Margaret, live near Atlanta with their family. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, entitled Pia Fidelis, set during the time of the Arian crisis. The first book of the Pia Fidelis trilogy. The Two Kingdoms, should be out later this summer or by early fall (Follow on twitter at @fidelispia for updates). He asks for your prayers for his intentions. He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).
- By “Francis-apologist” I mean “Francis” not as in the real Pope Francis, but the Pope Francis as interpreted by said apologist. Thus, the “Francis-apologist” may or may not actually be interpreting the real Pope Francis correctly.
- Where Peter Is references Alt’s blog as a resource for defending Amoris Laetitia, but their view of Amoris Laetitia is that D&Rs living more uxorio can continue to receive communion under certain circumstances, and that their adulterous acts in certain cases are only venial sins.
- In Mr. Walford’s example, found on p.102-104 of his book, The Pope, The Family and Divorce, the focus is on a couple, where both spouses share the same mutual duress or coercion. Both decide to continue their adulterous sexual relationship in the face of their supposed constraints (NB: I rebutt his argument here and here). Dr. Jeffrey Mirus, in a September 13, 2016 article on CatholicCulture.org, offers an example where one of the spouses decides to continue sexual relations under supposed “duress” (see Not heretical: Pope Francis’ approval of the Argentine bishops’ policy on invalid marriages). Cardinal Coccopalmerio offers a slight variation of the supposed hard case in an interview with the Jesuit magazine America (see here), which I commented on here. The cardinal’s scenario is the same in the essentials. A spouse who knows what is right, intends to act contrary now and into the future. My recent article addresses the principles used in all of these cases (see On the Doctrine of Mitigating Circumstances).
15 thoughts on “Alt right vs. Alt wrong…which Alt is Alt?”
Lets consider the case of adultery between Catholic neighbors.
Al and Ali Allen live next door to Bo and Betty Brown in a small town in Texas.
One day, Al comes him from work early and finds Ali in bed fornicating with Bo and so he shoots and kills both of them.
The D.A. does not charge Al with a crime because passion and all of his life Al had been learnt that is what a man ought to do if he finds his wife fornicating with another man.
Is Al in a state of sanctifying grace even though he broke the Thou shall not kill Commandment or is breaking of a commandment only excused if sexual lust is involved?
Vermont, thanks for the response. God judges who is in his friendship. The problem for those saying D&Rs in some cases may sin only venially, is that in all cases they’ve provided in aggregate, it turns out the hypothesized individual(s) in question *INTEND* to continue engaging in adulterous acts, i.e., there is no firm purpose of amendment. The Council of Trent defined that contrition is necessary to obtain absolution. It is hard to see how those apologists can make a case that INTENDING to commit acts of adultery, regardless of conditions, are not mortal sins. It seems rash to tell someone in such situations that this might be the case. Here is my article on the subject: https://romalocutaest.com/2019/08/13/on-the-doctrine-of-mitigating-circumstances/
Aside from the question of subjective guilt for grave sin and absolution, FC 84 said the “objective situation” excludes D&Rs living more uxorio from communion irrespective of subjective guilt.
Thanks for reading.
Dear Steve. I love your blog and straight thinking.
I always refer to the Catechism of the Council of Trent (AKA. Roman Catechism) when it comes to any Catholic controversy because it is so superior to the current universal catechism.
Here it is on Adultery;
Please keep up your great work.
Vermont…thanks for the positive feedback. Much appreciated! Thank you! And…thanks for the link as well.
I think of Scott Eric Alt (SEA) as the SEA upon which novelties and heresies float.
On the other hand, my Uncle is a bank robber but he intends to stop once he has paid off his mortgage so we can no longer say that bank robberies are sinful
Of course, these examples of the seven deadly sins can be multiplied in a number of different situations that reveal how seriously sinful are these attempts to explain away sin.
That these attempts are popular is prolly owing to the fact that there now exists virtually no horror of sin AND the feminisation and homosexualisation of the Catholic Church; those are the two whips that have been scourging the Body of Christ since the 1960s and our epicene ecclesiastics want to be loved and when one finds himself nearly submerged by a tsunami of sexual sin, surrender to the waves seem sensible to some and much preferable to being mocked by the world as some sort of Canute helplessly trying to stem the tide.
I’ll just take a quick huge gulp and the pain will end.
Jesus established His Catholic Church for two reasons:
and Salvation is now seen as universal and Sanctification is seen as aught but mean-spirited legalism
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Vermont, thanks for the comments.
I see your point about Mr. Alt, but I am not prepared to state that he is in my opinion advancing heretical opinions.
Again, I’ve not read all he’s written…so clear statements from him might be there. Based on what I have read, my impression is that he has studiously avoided saying precisely what his current opinion of FC 84 and Amoris Laetitia are.
My hunch — and I can certainly be wrong on this — is that he doesn’t have an answer (yet). There are two conflicting views in the “Francis-apologist” camp (see https://romalocutaest.com/2019/03/01/confusion-at-vatican-insider/). So, in the meantime, it’s easier to snipe at ‘reactionaries’ and others who ‘read Francis incorrectly.’
But…a time for deciding will come, as the conflicting views noted in my Vatican Insider “confusion” article are irreconcilable.
I think Mr. Alt’s gut instincts were shown to be on the right track in his November 30, 2016 article. Perhaps those instincts will serve him well once again. Let’s pray so.
Yeah, I see your point and I was just having fun with the initial’s SEA metaphor – in that it is men like him that help keep the Barque of novelty and heresy afloat.
I do hope you are right
Vermont, thanks for the comments.
I think at some point in this crisis each person will need to commit to a side. May be just me…but choosing the side that believes adultery is okay in certain circumstances does not seem a winner. While many Catholic are unaware of the debate, the principles underlying such a belief are bound to infect ones view of other acts, such as homosexual acts, etc.
Mr. O’Reilly, are the choices that you mention specifically the ‘sides’ of “adultery or not adultery” and are they the same choice as choosing Bergoglio or not Bergoglio? Also, would the possible choices of ‘sides’ include FiP, BiP, or sede?
OT: Isn’t it just great news that on October 5, 2019 there are absolutely ZERO female Cardinals that have been elected? Way to keep the Church Catholic, Bergoglio! Awesome job! No examples of malice, heresy, or apostasy represented in his particular choices of men now elected to be cardinal and cardinal electors. Nope, none at all. Nothing to see here. FiP is the way all the way. Only choice for the faithful to have–only ‘side’ to choose.
Serious question: Is this only visible unifier of Catholicism the person of the Pope?
Islam, thanks for the comments. The “sides” I mention? You mean Alt vs Alt? Not sure of your point. The article doesn’t address FiP, BiP or sede. Alt has been on one side and then the other. If I had to guess, but if he provided a definitive statement, my guess he’d come out with a view similar to the “Where Peter Is” blog.
PF has made some horrible choices for cardinal, just now and all along. I would guess I would probably agree with many/most/all of your observations about the current papacy. But, all these combined do not make Benedict still pope. I’ve looked at the arguments in detail, and provided at least my assessment of them on this blog, which is Benedict no longer pope.
Like my arguments or not, that is my honest conclusion. You conclude differently, Fine. But, I must follow the evidence where I believe it leads. Benedict is NOT pope.
As for Francis, as of rIght now, based on the evidence, I believe one *must* operate on the basis that Francis is pope.
Though the odds are slim, I do not exclude the possibility a *future* pope may rule Francis was a false pope, There are three general grounds upon which this might happen, as I see it at least. Each theory has its own difficulties. The three are:
(1) invalid conclave due to UDG violations and or conspiracy;
(2) Cardinal Bergoglio was not properly dispensed from his Jesuit vows (I have an article on this: https://romalocutaest.com/2018/07/31/curiouser-and-curiouser-who-dispensed-jorge-bergoglio-sj-from-his-vows/ ), thus his *election* was valid, but his *acceptance* of it was invalid, illicit and null; and
(3) though there are significant problems with the document and its current day relevance (e.g., is it still in effect?), there is a *very* outside chance Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio applies.
The problems include the fact one is probably not going to find an active canonist who agrees 1,2 or 3 might cast doubt on the validity of this pontificate.
The slim chance is this. The above said, the Pope is the ultimate interpreter of canon law…so *theoretically* a future pope could interpret the relevant scenarios (and canons, documents, evidence) in such a way as to nullify PF’s papacy.
But, I would not hold my breath. Personally, I continue to research #1 and #2 to see what facts *if* any might be found. For example, though not conclusively proved, I think I have testable hypothesis as to who the “influential Italian gentleman” is (I have an article on that too)–but even if I am right, that doesn’t provide sufficient evidence of a UDG violation.
So…as a round about way to your “serious question”…the pope is the visible center of unity in the Church. Without concrete evidence to the contrary at this point in time, it would be wrong and rash to assert Pope Francis is not pope.
And, “no”, I don’t think the BiP theory has any concrete evidence.
Thanks for the comments.
I am thankful that we agree that the Pope is indeed the visible center of unity in the Church; therefore, you would at least agree in theory that it is neither wrong nor rash to definitively and concretely locate Peter. Right?
Moreover much of the concrete evidence demonstrated in Canon Law that has yet to be examined is presented here: https://nonvenipacem.com/2019/06/15/words-matter-in-law-and-in-actions-canon-131-1-and-the-retention-of-office/ and (as you are already aware) other of the concrete evidence located firmly and soundly in Canon Law is discussed here: https://www.ppbxvi.org/quaestio-English.pdf
Your previous “Never BiP” articles (as much as they have addressed the concrete evidence that is presented and that you agree should be examined at sometime) do not establish FiP with certainty. And yet since the Pope is the visible center of unity in the Church, Catholic unity demands the choice of FiP or BiP (I do not consider sede a Catholic choice).
Although there are always mitigating circumstances at our personal judgements, the evidence upon which to base our individual choice–FiP or BiP–becomes more and more replete with “final straws” day-by-day. Which will be your personal final straw? Knowing that the strategy of Modernists is to never directly deny dogma but instead to attack practice and language, seriously, Mr. O’Reilly, what would your “final straw” or “red pill” look like? What will it take for ontological reality to win out over “practical” reality? Practical reality being, “for all intents and purposes–no matter the yet-to-be-examined ontological reality which is spelled out in the words of Canon Law–since all the Cardinals agree that Bergoglio is Pope and he’s making rules, bishops, and cardinals then he is pope”.
Islam, thanks for the reply. The FiP argument is simply that BXVI resigned, he said the see would be vacant, a conclave would be needed to elect a new pope. There was a conclave, and Francis is that new pope. So, for all appearances of procedure and process, it is exceedingly rash to say Francis is NOT pope.
The evidence that BXVI still is pope is weak (at best). I don’t say that to be mean, but that is how I at least evaluate the evidence for it. I have spelled that out a few times on this blog. I certainly believe a future pope should examine everything about Francis, including how his election came to be. Who knows…perhaps more info may come out to say the conclave was invalid for X, Y or Z reasons. Maybe because of reasons surrounding Benedict. However, the evidence available at this *present* time — the evidence that MUST inform our opinion and actions — does not, in my opinion, rise any where near to the level of allowing one moral certainty to claim Benedict is still pope. It is unjustified in my opinion. Thus, it is wrong, in my view, to assert it or claim it as dogmatically as many BiPPers do.
As far as “red pill”….I believe this. I believe we must accept Francis is pope; though I leave open the theoretical possibility there are grounds upon which a future pope could declare him a false pope. I’ve discussed some of those theoretical grounds before. Right now, my personal view is that Francis is likely a combination of John XXII, Honorius, Vigilius, Alexander VI, etc, multiplied by 10 raised to the 1000th power. That hypothesis currently fits within the framework of papal infalllibility and all we’ve seen to date with this pontificate. I think BiPPers are rash in jumping to their conclusion with certainty, because I fear for them: that they will be unprepared for what may come.
Thanks for the comments.
Thank you, Mr. O’Reilly, for your reply. To be clear you have moral certitude that FiP and that therefore Francis exercises binding and loosing powers. He’s just exceptionally bad at being pope even to the badness level of combining some historically known baddies “multiplied by 10 raised to the 1000th power.” Although he has yet to speak ex cathedra, are there any instances where he has actually used binding and loosing powers? If so what are they? Also do “appearances of procedures and process” necessarily reflect ontological reality or might they sometimes only reflect practical reality? Practical reality is what the world views in practice e.g. Christ is not God.
Three more questions: To what do you refer as the “framework of papal infallibility”? I ask because this is how i understand it: The pope is not right because he says he’s right, and he’s not infallible in the very specific and limited matters of Faith and Morals simply because he has the power of infallibility–human intellects are always fallible only God’s is immutable. No, Vatican I is very precise. The pope is infallible because Christ gave the Keys to Peter and his successors, and Christ guaranteed by His divine power that the pope would never err in his solemn teaching capacity regarding Faith and Morals. (Those conditions of solemn teaching are that the Pope must overtly state that this is what he is doing, that he is binding the Church from the chair of Peter or ex cathedra.) This means that our faith rightly formed is not centered on the person of the pope, but it is centered the on the Person of Christ. Right?
So when we come across a pope who, according to some authorities, appears to be erring in doctrine (to the extent that letters of correction as well as dubia have been published and sent to him), shouldn’t we first determine whether he is really erring or not, and if it turns out that he is erring, is it not then reasonable to ask if his papacy is legitimate or if he is an antipope who cannot demonstrate the power of infallibility because he lacks it and therefore he errs? As you know, we’ve had over 30 antipopes already; it could happen again.
In fact, it’s crossed my mind that perhaps the reason there has yet to be an answer to the dubia is because only the pope has the authority to answer them and Bergoglio quite possibly knows that he’s an antipope; so he doesn’t answer them.
Third question: What exactly is it that you fear is to come for which BiPpers with moral certitude (or even those who call for an examination of the renunciation declaration NOW rather than hope for a theoretical one in the future) will be unprepared?
Thank you again for your thoughtful responses.
Islam,thanks for the questions. Responses below.
1. Papal infallibility applies if certain conditions have been met. Outside of those conditions, popes can and have erred (e.g., John XXII). Francis has not met the conditions, thus he could be another John XXII, Honorius, etc.
2. Following from point 1, answering your question is straightforward. Francis has not met the conditions of infallibility. Thus, error in what he has said and done is certainly a real possibility. As you know, there are grave problems with AL as just one example.
3. My fear for BiPPers is that their dogmatism on the question will make it difficult to relinquish the theory if events move beyond them. Say Benedict dies. Francis lives for a few years, We get a great pope a couple or more popes down the line in succession from him. The logic of your theory would suggest you reject all these popes, even an eventual reforming, great pope. BXVI will have had not successor…thus you are in real danger of backing into a sede vacante position from which there is no alternative other than to admit you are wrong. That is easy at this point, but time and pride will make it more and more difficult to back down.
My suggestion in this crisis is to believe no more and no less than what the facts and the Faith require of you. To my mind, process and procedure, plus Benedict’s own words he is a “former pope”, etc., make it impossible to accept BiP as *the* answer. It might be conceivable future evidence might arise, but current belief cannot be based on what *speculatively* might pop up as evidence. Thus, to me, the more rational BiP position might be something like: “Yes, I must accept Francis as pope; however, I do not exclude the possibility a future pope might explore the evidence and definitively rule on the validity of BXVI’s resignation — but excepting that…I have no choice but to accept Francis’ validity and no authority to reject it.”
That’s my take. Hope that answers your questions.
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Answers one and two help me to understand much more clearly how the FiP position in maintained. Thank you.
I also thank you for presenting your genuine concerns for dogmatical BiPpers and perhaps even for speculative BiPpers. On that matter of speculation, what about a combination scenario of what you have presented? Pope Benedict dies and Bergoglio lives on a few more years. The future great reformer pope that we all hope and pray for determines that BiP is all that proponents had been saying all along. As a great reformer pope that he is, in justice to process and procedure he rightfully steps down as an anti-pope successor and then in a new conclave is rightfully chosen to replace himself. I could live with that.